This year was a change for me I started graduate school a little over a year ago, and the books I want to read are now waiting for me because of books I have to read are taking precedence. I have learned a couple of things about reading this year.
1.Reading books above what you typically read or are comfortable reading push you to read more efficiently and read more widely. There are books I would never have read this year if it were not for that.
A while back I did a blog post on the 6 things I tell every worship leader. I thought I would do one for every story teller. Our church is blessed to have story tellers who have done what they do for years, but what I have found is the things that make good story tellers great story tellers is they are constant learners.
Here are some practical tips I give our story tellers no matter how long they have been at it.
1. Internalize the script – I don’t tell them to memorize the script because I have found there is something so powerful and profound when people take the script internalize it and express it through their own experience and in their own style. I have one story teller that makes every week a production with actors props and scenery to boot, and the kids love it. Another finds incredible personal illustrations to highlight their point and still another uses props and vocal intonations to captivate the kids. Take the truth, leave it unchanged and add the uniqueness of you.
2. Maintain eye contact ALWAYS – Any time you look down at a paper in your hand you place an impenetrable wall between you and those you are ministering to.
3. Be over animated – you always come across more subdued that you really are.
4. Bring your Bible up with you – Put the sheet with the bible verse in your bible and read from that if you must but preaching from the Bible reinforces in the mind of the kids you are speaking to that these are more than stories.
5. Use peaks and valley’s – Few things create tension for a story then proper use of vocal inflection. Most people are comfortable with one particular vocal range. The problem is kids get used to your “normal” voice. If you want kids to be on their edge of their seats speak softly and then build to get much louder.
6. Elevate Christ – Elevate Christ make sure that every story points the kids to a place where they can see the greatness of God. Where they realize and recognize their need for a savior. When it comes to the application portion think of practical illustrations for young kids, and older kids, making sure that not only reference Christ but you help kids understand that Jesus is everything.
If I could speak to adult worship leaders or youth worship leaders most of the items on this list wouldn’t change. I actually have a theory that leading worship for kids is the most raw and most under realized way to develop future worship leaders. If you can’t lead worship for kids chances are you won’t be as engaging and successful with adults. Leading worship for kids strips away the showmanship than can creep into the practice of even the most accomplished worship leaders out there. Here are a few practical tips I constantly remind every worship leader in our kids ministry.
1. Smile – You don’t want to convey worship is painful (actually I have heard of kids pastors who have used worship as a form of punishment. “If you don’t stop talking we are going to worship for 5 more minutes.” I kid you not.)
2. Sing – Even if your voice isn’t that stellar having a vocal focal point helps kids enter in.
3. Make eye contact – When you are leading kids in small group, worship, or large group eye contact is huge. Eye contact is the time out chair of the soul. When kids are messing around eye contact does wonders believe me. If you don’t believe me ask a mother.
4. Make it personal – Share a scripture or something God is speaking to you this week – Kids learn by example be an example
5. Teach kids – Having kids in a kids ministry setting is a huge advantage. We can break down what we do and why we do it, something that will never happen in “Big Church” We need to take advantage of this opportunity to teach them the heart of worship.
6. Be a worshiper yourself – The best way to teach kids to worship is to show them how to worship with your life.
During this campaign cycle, we have heard Hilary Clinton quote the infamous misattributed quote from Alexis de Tocqueville. She has said as many Politicians before her have said: “America is great because America is good.” This is correct but incomplete. What is good? We need fewer Chants of “Lock her up” fewer emails colluding to steal our parties nomination. We need more conversations about what we as a country can agree on what is good, true and beautiful.
I thought the last four presidential elections were bad; this one is by far the worse. The problem I have come to realize is everybody. Both sides have turned the political discourse in this country into us vs. them. Tomorrow 50% of our nation will feel like they have lost. America loses when we demonize our opposition for the short-sighted goal of winning an election. Everyone loses when we win at our own expense.
I have also come to the conclusion that both sides are right. They both see problems with our country and see that we are in need of reform. While both see different parts of the whole that are broken, if we can refrain from chucking bombs at each other long enough to listen to each other perhaps we can realize that the common ground we are losing with every vicious election is the founding principles of our country. If our republic is to survive, we must return to our first principles. The Brilliant Os Guinness says it this way:
…what the Jews understood by the hope of national renewal through a return to the ways of God and the Puritans understood by the hope of renewal through personal and corporate revival was paralleled politically in the ideas of the founders. George Mason, characteristically more conservative, spoke of “a frequent recurrence to fundamental first principles,” whereas Thomas Jefferson, who was more liberal, spoke of the need for “a revolution every twenty years.” Even Machiavelli agreed with this, though sadly not his modern disciples: republics must frequently return to their first principles. ‘“Things are preserved from destruction by bringing them back to their first principles,’ is a rule in Physics; the same holds good in politics.” …I am convinced that America faces no problem today that cannot be resolved through a return to America’s first principles. Yet the plain fact is that those who reject the founders’ understanding of sustainable freedom are hardly likely to take seriously their views of national and civic renewal, so the folly and madness continue unabated, at least for the moment. If there is no American renewal, American dominance can be followed only by American decline. America has reached the point where, apart from restoration, there is no other choice.
So today go vote. Tomorrow no matter who wins remember that our Republic will prevail not through policies on the left or the right but reformation through going backward together to go forward stronger. We have to get this right.
If justice is not to be denied and if, as Lincoln said in his noble second inaugural address, the judgments of heaven are “true and righteous altogether,” then America will face the fate of all overreaching empires: the United States will be indicted for its hubris and judged before the world by whether it has lived up to the standard of its own ideals.
The world we live in has changed. It has not been an overnight change and it has not been dramatic shift it has been a slow drift from a country that had a baseline understanding of morality, and the Bible as true and Christianity as the framework for society. We now live in a world that is based on a pragmatic, pluralistic view of life. A world that is generally skeptical or indifferent to Christianity. The problem is that we are still trying to reach that world based assumptions that are no longer true.
If I were to give advice to a young person who wants to be in the ministry I would tell them to think like a missionary. I would tell them to avoid Bible College not because Bible College is bad but because our world has changed. I would tell young people to approach ministry from a minority position
rather than a majority position. In a majority position, you go to Bible schools because you intend to be a full-time paid religious worker. When in a minority position you think in terms of having a skill that you can use in the marketplace. Get your bachelor’s degree in a skill you can use that can create income for you as a church planter or if churches lose their tax exempt status and are forced to lay pastors off. Then go to seminary to get your religious training.