Honored to be speaking at Lifeway’s ETCH family ministry conference. Really looking forward to learning, growing, and connecting. If you are looking for a conference to attend as a kids or youth pastor I hope you consider ETCH. Really love the new direction the LifeWay family ministry team is going. From the keynotes to the breakouts they going out of their way to make the gospel the main event. For that I am grateful. I will be doing two breakouts for the 2016 conference.

  • Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way – This breakout is geared to anyone who leads at any level. It will focus on the reality that to be a great leader you must be a great follower. That in order to disciple others you must first be a radical disciple of Christ. That who you follow is ultimately more important than who you lead.
  • Why Theology Matters in Family Ministry – This breakout I will make the case that we are all theologians the question is not whether we think about God it’s are our thoughts about God true? We will also talk about how what we believe does and should impact how we lead the kids and students God has entrusted in our care.

If you are coming let me know I would love to connect at some point during the conference.

Date: March 10, 2016—May 10, 2016
Event: ETCH Conference
Sponsor: Lifeway
Venue: Music City Center
(615) 401-1400
Location: 201 5th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37203
United States
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

Looking for a Great Bible for Kids 6-9 Years Old

The ICB is a solid option

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A while back I wrote a blog post on why you need to make sure your kids have the right Bible. One of the key points in helping your kids love the bible is finding the right bible to transition your kids from a picture/story Bible to a full-text bible. This transition is so important as it is the time when kids typically start to read their Bibles on their own. There are several questions that you should consider in selecting a bible for your 7-10-year-old.

1. Are the illustrations age appropriate?
2. Does it have helps to help kids go deeper?
3. Is the translation readable?

I think the ICB passes each of these tests really well. In particular, the translation of the ICB is very accessible without losing or muddying the original meaning. If kids can’t read their bible because they don’t understand it they will most likely not develop the habit. They also highlight a couple hundred texts that they feel are essential for kids to know. I was given the hardback version of the bible for review but I also downloaded the Kindle version on my iPhone on my own. Many times reference bibles are difficult to navigate in the kindle app the ICB was very simple. There were highlighted words that you could touch that would bring you to more information about them yet returning back to the text was intuitive and easy definitely something to consider if you are looking for a bible on the go, the kindle option is great. If you are looking for more info check out Tommy Neilson’s blog.

If you have kids between 8-12 years old, you definitely want to check this out

The 6 Truths About Multi-site Every Kid’s Pastor Need to Know

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Let me be frank. Multi-site is not easy and is not for everyone. I have hated it at times and am thankful at other times. One of the things I love about multi-site is it forces you to grow, invest in and pray for more leaders.  Sometimes people will call asking about Multi-site kids ministry I always tell them we have far from figured it out. Here are the other six things I tell them.

1. Two sites will stretch your parents more than you. Three sites plus will stretch you and your staff more than your parents.

2. There is no perfect model. Everyone has a different take. What you need is not a model to follow but clarity from your pastor on his desire and what that looks like in the context of your church.

3. Multi-site is hardest on the kids ministry because of the massive amounts of leaders and infrastructure need to pull off a Sunday. Once your pastor does one location start planning for five.

4. You have to be more sure of your values they need to be more clear and more simple than ever before.

5. You need a point person staff or volunteer who you trust and who understands the churches DNA and understands you and how you work.

6. You need to trust God more than ever because it really is bigger than you. One site you can manage but get to three or four and your God dependence gets greater. A greater dependence on the work of the Holy spirit and our trust in a God who works all things according to the counsel of His will in our kids ministry has been by far the best thing to come out of our multi-site experience.

12 years in and as we start our 5th campus I still have much to learn.

Why Revisionism Matters.

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I have been reading a book by Os Guinness entitled “Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Lost Art of Christian Persuasion.” In his book Dr. Guinness talks about how we have to move from convincing people to become Christian to persuading them to search for Christ. Towards the end of the book he talks about the dangers of revisionism. Revisionism advocates for change in longstanding doctrines that the church has believed to be true over the course of thousands of years. Guinness speaks to the dangers that revisionism has on the Church and Christian Orthodoxy. Revisionism is not just a liberal concept it can be found in both the liberal and conservative wings of Christianity. What Guinness has to say is both telling and challenging. It is telling because it is becoming more widespread it is challenging because it calls us to action. It requires us to do more than sit back and wait for the dust to settle. What we believe to be true must be founded in love but we must be faithful to what is true.

How does this play into kids and youth ministry? We can no longer teach our kids to be good citizens we must prepare them to be Christian advocates. We must teach them what is true so they do not make decisions based on what they experience, that feels true. Our job as pastors of the young in our flock is not just to create spaces that are creative and fun but we must teach them what is true.

Relevance is not giving people what they want, it’s giving them what they need. Sometimes they don’t even know they need it. What kids need from us is a is not just facts about life and ways to do life better they need a new framework to see the world. Without a framework their facts about life will wither under the relentlessness of the experience that our generation uses to trump truth. We can not run away or put our head in the sand we must meet the challenge of our day full force with the timeless truth that has been handed to us. Here is what Os Guinness says in his book “Fools Talk” about liberal Christian revisionists.

Christian advocates, then, must be ready to focus their attention on those inside the church as well as those outside— resisting modern revisionism just as St. Paul resisted ancient Gnosticism and St. Athanasius stood fast against Arianism and the world of his day. Are today’s evangelists and apologists prepared to count the cost and pick up their crosses again and truly be contra mundum— even to the point of scorn, shame, and perhaps imprisonment and death? Let there be no misunderstanding: the greatest crisis now facing the church in the West today is the crisis of authority caused by the church’s capitulation to the pressures of the sexual revolution, and in particular to the bullying agenda of the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer coalition. It will not do for evangelists and apologists to keep silent for fear of losing opportunities to present the gospel. As Luther made plain in his day, to fight the battle at any point other than where the battle is being fought in one’s day is to lose the battle.

Pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous regret in failing to stand against National Socialism in his time carries an equivalent warning for evangelists and apologists today. They raised the question of authority, but I was an evangelist and an apologist and not a theologian, so I didn’t stand up . . .

Can Partnering with Parents Become a Reality?

FIRST STEPS CARD Bible Front

One of the things I am learning nearly 20 years into family ministry is that we often give parents good information at the wrong time. We have more tools at our disposal and bigger budgets than ever before, but we seem to be missing it. We have better looking take home papers than we did 20 years ago and amazing apps to help parents but most things I’ve tried haven’t really hit home. Our problem is that we give them amazing resources but at the wrong time.

If we really want to partner with families and most people I have talked to do want to partner with families, we have to think not in terms of what do I have to offer but more in terms of what questions do the families in my church need answers or resources to. Partnering with parents primarily requires a church that sees the value of families and provides resources and programming that make that value an experienced reality.