Lifeway’s Kids Ministry Conference: Leading for the long haul.

lifeway kids ministry conference

Leading for the long haul

Lesson #1 Motivation: who benefits from what i do. –  The My kids and the team I am apart of. –

Motivation gets tested early –
Need a kingdom mindset. No job in kids ministry is more important than the other – We are all building the kingdom by using the gifts God has given us
That can feel sort of vague but when you understand who you work for Jesus Christ and who benefits from what you do? Your kids, your pastor and ultimately your church. It helps you with your motivation.
Watch for wrong motivations

God and children share a divine quality – They both have the divine ability to destroy ego.

We all have a very active sin nature and can sometimes think more of ourselves than we should but if you and I want to last for the long haul we need to ask ourselves do I have the same attitude as Christ Jesus? What helps me make it for the long haul reading Philippians 2 and asking God to do this in me.

Philippians 2:1-11
1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Lesson #2 Maturity:

If you want to grow as a christian and as a leader you need to learn how to be a self-feeder.

How do you become a self feeder –
1. Read your bible. – Is more than a textbook it’s a guidebook
2. Practice Transparent Faith – TF only takes place in the context of relationship – Find a small group and live transparently.
Do I think we as leaders should talk openly about everything we are dealing with? No. I do think that creating a healthy church environment starts by doing what James tells us to do: confess our sins to each other that we may be healed.

I believe that people who are far from God can identify more with our transparency
than they can with our super-spirituality
3. Leverage Collaborative Connections – This is something that was missing from my life up until 5 years ago. I wanted it just didn’t know how to make it happen. – It makes all the difference.

Your Pastor
Other kids pastors

You may say I’m just a kids pastor why would I bother using twitter to talk to other kids people. You may not but you can talk to other small group leaders in your church and learn from each other. Ask your leaders questions the more you know the more you grow the better it is for you kids, for your leaders and ultimately the church.
[It’s important that you network and ask others for input children’s ministry can be very isolating you need to make sure you don’t get isolated or overwhelmed because that will lead to discouragement.]

Lesson #3 Dealing with discouragement:

A big reason many leaders quit kids ministry is due to prolonged periods of discouragement.
Early warning signs I look for in myself:
1. Irritability
2. Lack of Focus
3. Pessimistic outlook on life
4. Tired
5. Apathetic
6. Frustrated by small things

I look for any of these things starting to creep up in my life if and when I notice them I realize that the clock is ticking and I need to take steps to counter them or it will only get worse.  Here are some of the things I do when I start to see signs of discouragement in my life.

1. Ask God for help
2. Talk to accountability partners and close friends about what I am feeling.
3. Make sure I am reading my bible.
4. I am a big music person – Listening to worship music does wonders for me personally
5. Practice Thankfulness  – Jim Wideman taught me this one (to be honest if this is all I learned from Brother Jim it would be enough. This his helped me more than anything. When I feel discouraged thanking God helps me with my perspective.)
6. Spend time with friends and family – nothing helps discouragement more than surrounding yourself with people who know your good, bad and ugly and  love you any way.

If you want to last for the long haul and leave a legacy

1. Always support your Pastor. If you find yourself in a place when you no longer do, it’s time that you need to find another Pastor who you can support.
2.  Make sure you measure success by the right standards. Tools we use do not measure our effectiveness but by life change that results from the tools we may or may not have.
3.  Life change is not measured in weeks and months but rather in years and decades.
4. Your family is the best indication of your success in life and ministry.”
You will have short term successes but true success is not measured in weeks or years but in decades. To see fruit that remains in your life and ministry you need to lead for the long haul.

People don’t notice. – Our church is huge on kids ministry and still some people said to me when I transitioned to campus pastor people said how does it feel to finally be a pastor.

My mom said about the applause of man vs. applause of God.

One of the coolest things I’ve experienced In kids ministry happened to me just this week. In teaching kids you get cards and notes from kids some recognizable some not so much. But for pastor appreciation month one of my volunteer staff made a scrap book of notes kids and volunteers wrote tell of the impact I’ve had on them. What was crazy for me was some of those kids who 13 years ago had made squiggly pictures

My Prezi for this talk.


Lessons for the long haul: Be a self feeder

Here is an excerpt from an article about being a self-feeder I wrote for K! Magazine. If you don’t subscribe you need to.

Being a self-feeder is a must for any growing healthy Christian.  It is even more essential for those involved in leading kids. We are often in that position of giving out and pouring into kids and families. Without learning this principle we will dry up and burn out. It’s imperative that we not neglect our own spiritual growth. So what does it look like “to fill your own tank”?  Here’s a few things you can do:

Read Your Bible

It’s not a textbook for ministry, but a guidebook for your personal life. It’s huge. Something that I find intimidating, if not down right frightening, is the fact that you reproduce who you are. I want to make sure I can say to those I am leading, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” We live in an amazing time in history, and yet we face some very unique and serious challenges.

One of the challenges we need to overcome is how to produce young people who are passionate about the Bible. There are a million things vying for our attention; we are bombarded by information. Our kids have more options today than we ever had growing up.  That is why we need to be more intentional than ever about reading our bibles.

One of the best ways to get our kids reading their Bibles is to read our Bibles. I think the more we model this to our kids, the more we are going to be able to give them a biblical answer when they need one. The more we read our bibles, the more we are going to shape their world view.  As a result, they will see the value of God’s word in their daily lives. I think we do our kids a huge disservice by treating the Bible as a textbook only to be studied or a storybook to entertain. I think we need to model the Bible to our kids as a handbook for life. If we don’t read it, they won’t read it.

Listen to Podcasts

I am not in the auditorium sitting and listening to the pastor’s sermon very often and when I am, I struggle with my ability to focus on what is being said because my thoughts so often drift to my kids and volunteers. One of the things I have found over the years to help me is to listen to messages during the week when I am able to listen without interruption. I try to get podcasts from my church and from many different leaders from around the country. I have to admit I am like a 13 year old girl buying concert tickets to Hannah Montana, when I am downloading Andy Stanley’s leadership podcast. If you are in ministry and don’t listen to Andy’s podcast – shame on you! Either way, find some podcasts of leaders you like and leaders who stretch you, and you will grow.

Practice Transparent Faith

This could be a whole article in itself, but I think another sign of maturity is transparency. Accountability has been a buzz word for years, and I believe it is very important, but I think as a leader of kids in today’s culture you need to practice, model and teach transparent faith. I grew up in church, and I honestly can’t ever remember any of my pastors talking about a personal struggle, a failure or misstep they had made. Do I think we as leaders should talk openly about everything we are dealing with? No. I do think that creating a healthy church environment starts by doing what James tells us to do: confess our sins to each other that we may be healed.

I often tell kids that there are times when I don’t feel like coming to church. Why do I say this? Because it’s the truth, and the more I can model transparent faith, the greater chance we will have of creating a community that also values it. I believe that people who are far from God can identify more with our transparency than they can with our super-spirituality.

Leverage collaborative connections

The last thing that I believe we need as leaders is other leaders that are fighting along side us. I remember as a young guy starting out in kids’ ministry and not knowing what the heck I was doing.  I would have done anything to have 10 minutes with someone like Jim Wideman or Craig Juntila or anyone for that matter who had been doing kids’ ministry longer than me. When I was starting out, I was not connected to any other kids’ pastors, and I made some bonehead mistakes simply because I didn’t know better. I also did some things well but could have done better had there been other voices speaking into my life.

Fast forward to today, and I can tell you I have met more awesome kids’ leaders in the past year than in all my years of ministry combined. There are so many phenomenal tools like Twitter, and to help you connect, learn, and grow. Hard to believe that 12 years ago I would’ve had to spend $2,000 to attend a conference to wait in line for the slim chance of asking Brother Jim one question. Today I can sit on my couch, unshowered, eating cheetos while watching the Yankees slaughter the Red Sox , and Tweet my question to Jim (@jimwideman by the way).  I get my response before the baseball game is over. Or I can think of a joke that would make @funnymandan laugh all the way in Australia. That, my friends, is amazing.

If you are not leveraging the power of collaboration, you need to start for your sake, for your kids’ sake and for the kingdom’s sake.

Lessons for the long haul: Calling

For me the hands down number one thing you need to make it for the long haul in children’s ministry is an overwhelming sense of calling. I have talked to many people in ministry who have lasted over the long haul nearly all of them can point to a specific sense of calling, an event where they felt God was leading them to do what they are currently doing.

Many times I have felt like quitting. The thing that keeps me every time is knowing that when I was 12 years old God spoke to me in such a profound way calling me to do what I currently do that I can’t shake it. I know that I know that I know. If you are going to survive all the ups and downs the disappointments and the triumphs you have to have that calling that centers you.

I remember when I was 12 years old I attended a Phil Driscoll concert with my parents. While Phil was playing his trumpet I felt God speak to me that I was going to be a pastor and work with youth. I was upset because growing up a pastor’s kid I had no illusions as to what that meant. I told God that if that’s what he wanted me to do I would need a confirmation that what I was feeling was God and not pepperoni pizza. Right then Phil put down his trumpet and pulled out a letter. Before he started to read the letter he explained that he doesn’t normally do this but felt he needed to. Phil went on to read a letter sent to him by a young man that attended one of his concerts and while Phil was playing his trumpet this young man felt God speak to him that he was to enter full time ministry. I felt numb, tears filled my eyes, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I knew then with the same assurance that I know now God wanted me to spend my life speaking, training and leading the next generation.

When you are sure of the call of God on your life it helps you to see past the day to day struggles. Do I have bad days? Oh ya. Do I ever doubt I am doing what God created me to do? Never.

If you want to make it for the long haul know your call.

Lessons for the long haul

I want to start a new blog series talking about lessons I have learned and am still learning about how to last in kids ministry.

I haven’t been around as long as some have but I have been around long enough to see many people come and go in kids ministry. Ministry in general can be very hard at times, I know I have felt like quitting many, many times before. I want to discuss what are the things you need to remember if you want to make it in kids ministry.

It should be the goal of every kids pastor to train a generation behind them the value of ministering to the youngest among us. If we do not have what it takes to last we will never have the voice of authority to speak to those God is calling to come along side and eventually replace us.

If we do not last, if we take the path of least resistance we make the road for young leaders difficult to navigate because they have no one speaking into their life. When I started in kids ministry I didn’t have another kids guy or gal speaking into my life helping me avoid some of the bonehead mistakes I should have avoided.

Ecc. 4:12 says:

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

We were not meant to do life or ministry alone. When Jesus sent out his disciples he sent them out in two’s. He knew that ministry alone is never a good idea.

I don’t know everything about this topic, and I ask you to join the discussion. In my experience there are clear principles that can be learned and need to be rehearsed and most of all practiced if we are to survive the challenges we face in leading no matter what size church you have or where on earth you minister. We are are called to make a difference not just in terms of weeks or years but in terms of decades.

2013 NEXT Title Slide Simple - with Tagline

Honored to be speaking at Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches “Next Conference.” If you are in Eastern Canada I would love to see you at this event. Love the heart and the passion behind this event. Here is what I will be doing.

Pre-Conference: Leading for the long haul
Friday Night Key Note: Communicating to Kids  /
Saturday Morning Key Note: Theology and children
Saturday afternoon Key Note: Never Serve alone / Collaboration in ministry

Date: April 17, 2015—April 18, 2015
Event: NEXT Conference
Sponsor: Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches
506-635-1922 ext. 115
Venue: Immanuel Baptist Church
(902) 895-8857
Location: 295 Young St
Truro, NB B2N 3Y4
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.