Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What is Orange?

For the fifth year in a row, thousands of leaders will gather in Atlanta to talk, not only about what they are learning, but what they feel compelled to do about it. These are leaders who dare to rethink and who are willing to move in radical ways to influence the next generation. Some have created unique churches. Some have sacrificed immensely to rescue those in crisis. Some have launched innovative ministries. Some have recently stepped out of their comfort zone, to start over. They are pastors, leaders, parents, educators, and innovators who have a burning passion for the faith of the next generation.
I happen to be one of those thinkers!
Orange is more than a conference it's more than just a movement. It's a way of life based on a belief that the family and the church can accomplish more together than either one of them can accomplish on their own.

Once again I have the honor of not only attending but I'll also be sharing in five workshops as well as some different fellowship options. Beginning Tuesday, April 26th my good friend and fellow infuse coach Sam Luce is flying into Nashville to drive over with me and my family to Atlanta. When I'm not speaking I'll be hanging out with Sam and others in the blogger's lounge.
Some of the sessions and workshops will be streamed. I hope you'll look for me If you are going. I'd love to connect and talk and dream with you about how we can effectively reach the next generation. I'm posting my schedule just in case you want to connect. Also you can download my workshop notes here as well. If you can't attend this year I hope you'll make plans to join the conversation at http://www.whatisorange.org/orangeleaders/ also feel free to download my sessions as well.

Pre-conference Workshop #3 1:00-1:45pm - How To Get More Done In A Day Room 8
Pre-conference Workshop #4 2:15-3:00pm - How to: Create a Worker Application for Children's & Student Ministries Room 11
Pre-Conference Workshop #5 3:30-4:15pm - How to: Create A Worker Orientation Manual Room 11
Infuse Dinner-  5:30 pm Taqueria Los Hermanos 
4955 Sugarloaf Pkwy Suite # 122 Lawrenceville, GA 30045  (Sugarloaf Promenade Plaza) If you have been in any of my infuse mentoring groups past, present or future join us for dinner and a time of catching up.


Live Streaming Interview with Tripp Crosby 12:20(EST) - 12:35PM

Hosting a VIP Lunch @ 1:00PM

Breakout B 2:30-3:30pm Room 1 - Aligning The Children's and Student Departments

I'll be attending the Student Pastors Meet Up @ Dave & Buster's @ 7:00PM

Breakout C 11:30-12:30pm Room 8- Recruiting Secrets That Work

Friday, April 22, 2011

Keeping Life Simple- 18 Steps to do when life gets crazy-Part 5

17.      When it’s over, crash! Get some rest. I try to always schedule a break between big pushes. Watch out for too many irons in the fire. Be realistic on the amount of projects you take on. I have learned to get others on board to help you limit what you do. I have a group I run outside projects b so I don’t take on more than I can handle.

18.      Do more by doing less. Focus on the main thing. Why were you put on the earth? If God has a wonderful plan for your life, (and He does!) then what is that plan? Focus on your main thing. Focus calls for a concentrated push or intentional actions. What are you doing presently that’s keeping you from your main thing? Just because it a good idea doesn’t make it a God idea.

            If you are serious about mastering the art of simplifying life you must master the habit of evaluating constantly. Listen to your spouse. Ask the timeless question…”Where’s the beef?” Examine and inspect fruit, gains, and losses. Evaluate efficiency and look for ways to build systems and streamline efforts. Every experience in you life teaches something a great question is what did I learn today from life?
Ask daily “What should I discontinue, change and/or add to my life? Last but not least, look for your next step. God leads us in steps not leaps or jumps. We calm the crazy and simplify life by walking life out in steps and climbing them one at a time.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Keeping Life Simple- 18 Steps to do when life gets crazy-Part 4

12.      When you are tired and busy, don’t think, rely on a checklist. I’ve been saying this before I got gray hair, “Paper is for remembering not my brain. I don’t try to remember anything that I can know by having information with me.

13.      Don’t ever quit or make big decisions during the madness. Major decisions and crazy times don’t go together. This is a key rule to remember.

14.      Don’t make people decisions when time is limited. When it concerns someone else, take your time and consider things from every angle. Always treat others the way you would want them to treat you or your kids. Don’t let the shortness of the hour keep you from making a wise decision, slow things down and think it through when it affects people.

15.      Develop a plan to make next year better.  Learn from your experiences. As soon as an event is over I ask my team what did we learn? How can we make it better? What do we need to simplify?  Do this while it’s fresh on your mind, go ahead and start next year’s file.

16.      Get feedback from others. A good leader is a good listener. I consult others before hand, during, and afterward and get a cross section of opinions from different perspectives.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Keeping Life Simple- 18 Steps to do when life gets crazy-Part 3

5.      Do more than one thing at a time. I try to always make the most of waiting, commute times, and meals. All 3 of these are great times for study, meetings, and people development, time to return messages and emails and to make assignments as well as plan. Take something to read with you where ever you go. I even use a hands free phone so I can type and check emails while I talk.

6.      Decide what can be postponed or eliminated. This step goes back to priorities. You are the only one that can determine what’s urgent and what can wait.
Don’t just look at the task look at the time you have and the time involved.
Learn to say no! This is a key skill required to simplify life. I’ve also learned that a big part of saying yes to urgent and important matters means you MUST say no to less urgent or unimportant things. When time is short I look to managing me first, then others and manage things last.

7.      Get creative with your family time. I try to take a family member with me every chance I get. I also try to combine my family time with something else. I go walking with Julie, cycling with Julie and Whitney, tennis with Yancy and Julie, movies with my son-in-law and shopping with them all. Call them when you can just to say hi.

8.      Schedule a break even if it’s only for a few hours when you are at you craziest. Even convicts get time off for good behavior. If I can’t go out of town or schedule a massage I make time to play my guitar or visit a music store or make a Starbucks run, or a bicycle store. These kinds of breaks are real therapy for me and all take me to a happy place.

9.      Be open to change in your lifestyle. Different results require different actions.
Don’t despise change. Change is not a four-letter word it’s a six-letter word and can be your friend. (Which is also a six-letter word.) When I have to change something that I know is not a permanent change I remind myself this is only for a short while and I can do this! As with anything else guard your thoughts and your tongue and line them both up with scripture.

10.      Do your homework and see what others do in hectic times. I love to study busy people. I check up on busy people by calling, emailing, read their books and blogs, network at conferences or on facebook. I look for new places to learn all the time.

11.      Stop and listen to Jesus.  I shouldn’t have to say this to Children’s ministers but make time for the Word! You are the only person who can make sure you stay refreshed spiritually, and that you feed your spirit. If you can’t go to church, listen to the CD. Sing and praise God in the car in the shower and in the craziness of life.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Keeping Life Simple- 18 Steps to do when life gets crazy-Part 2

We must choose to keep life simple! It’s our choice when things get crazy.
Sometimes our responsibilities and the pressures of life affect us in a negative way.
We see this in the story of Mary and her sister Martha. Luke 10:38-42 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said.  But Martha was distracted by all the   preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"  "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." We all are faced with this choice so to help me keep my crazy world on track here are 18 steps I use to keep life simple when things are crazy.

1.   Set your priorities! You can’t keep priorities if you don’t have priorities. If you can’t name your priorities by number at gunpoint then they are not how you order your life.
Arrange your events, tasks and duties by your priorities. My first 3 never change. My relationship with Christ, my relationship with my family, and my pastor’s problems. All other priorities in my life can change daily. I must be willing to make their choices on a daily basis. Could you make a list right now of your top 10 priorities?

2.   Keep your priorities in order. As I said above this is a daily choice. The order of your priorities may be different at different times; this is where your leadership must become intentional. My favorite scripture in the whole wide world is Proverbs 28:2 “When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a man of understanding and knowledge maintains order. Maintaining order is the missing element in becoming a super leader.

3.   Delegate to others those things that they can do for you even if it’s short term.
When you’re out of time use someone else’s. There are times I need to delegate something long term there are times I do it for a season. Make a list of everything you are doing that someone else can do. I hear you saying “but they can do it as well as me.” I know, I’ve been there. This is why you use checklist and job descriptions as well as special assignments to get them to do it your way. If you have not identified where you need help and what you need to stop doing you’ll just keep doing what you’ve always done and have the same results.

4.   Use time saving tools. Every job goes smoother when you use the right tools. Here are the tools I rely on to help me keep my life simpler: Cellular phones, (a smart phone is the best of both worlds, and yes I am an iphone guy.) a timer, thank God for Radio Shack! I use it to stay on time and end meetings, phone calls and sermons at the time I have allotted.  My most valuable tool is my calendar. You can’t manage time without a day planning system. I use a smart phone because I had reached a place where my calendar system was a time waster. How did you know that, Jim? Because I have developed a habit that saves my bacon on a regular basis, I account for my time daily as I spend it. Another wonderful tool is voice mail. It can eliminate some memos and even a meeting. A tip to remember is when you can leave details instead of needing a call back. Next is a tool that is where my master calendar is kept is my computer. I use a laptop because it helps me keep life simple everywhere. (Have you seen the new macbook air?) By having a computer with me everywhere I am it helps me meet deadlines, network and brainstorm with others, do things once rather than constantly redo. I depend on a computer so much I have a spare just in case I need it. Other tools I use include email groups and drafts so things I say over and over I can send without retyping and those people I send to a lot I make a group. The problem with email is knowing when to talk and not type, it’s all about keeping life simple. I’m also a big fan of two other tools: blogging and websites. Both can be huge assets in communicating with key leaders, workers and parents.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Keeping Life Simple- 18 Steps to do when life gets crazy

It's Easter week and most of us in the kidmin world are up to our eyeballs in busy, so I thought I would do a post  on my steps to keep life simple...
     Life can sure get wild in the ministry.  Have you ever noticed how just when you don’t think things can get any busier they do? We’ve all been there, but really and truly busy is a relative term. What’s busy to me might not be busy to you and what’s manageable to me might be crazy busy to someone else. Whatever your definition of busy is it is a source of pressure in your life. Pressure is not always bad it can cause you to grow or it can expose weakness. The more pressure you are able to handle well the more responsibility and authority will be handed over to you. The bottom line is our worth to the pastors and churches we serve is tied to our ability to handle the craziness and pressures of life and ministry.

     I was forced to delegate. Delegation did not come easy to me. When things would get overwhelming I would think just find someone to help. But it was hard to let go of things I enjoyed doing and were good at to let others do. It wasn’t until I moved to Tulsa that I really had no choice but to delegate. When I started working at the church it was in addition to the job I was already doing traveling and training children’s workers. This was before Southwest Airlines came along and in those days there were cities where a Saturday night stay was required for the plane ticket to be reasonable. I had not choice than to allow others to help me at the church when I was stuck in another state. It was the best thing that could of happened it forced me to let others help me. Over the years some of the best lessons I’ve learned have been from situations I found myself in that made me ask myself “What am I doing that someone else can do and what do I need to be doing that only I can do?”
Jesus is our help and peace in stressful times. Are you glad you don’t have to face life alone when things get complicated? Here’s what the word says…
“Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Not only was Jesus called the Prince of Peace; He is our Prince of Peace. John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:16 tells us,  “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-
Jesus never leads us into something that will harm us. This helper or comforter guides us and leads us to God perfect plan for our lives. God’s plan includes a peaceful life.
      Jesus is the master of simplifying life.  The laws of the Old Testament were many and complex but Jesus made it very easy to follow them (Matthew 22:36-40) 36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘You     shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Jesus’ answers concerning life are always simple even though it may not always be easy to carry them out.  Paul too had a quest to keep life simple in 2Corinthians 1:12, he writes,  “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly    wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward. Paul had a heart for following the Lord.  He patterned his life after the example of Jesus (see 2Corinthians 11:3) The devil tried to complicate God’s simple instructions to Adam and Eve.  He still tries today to complicate our lives by injecting thoughts into our minds.  
more to come...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Developing Depth Through Ministry-Part 5

8.      Support and encourage those who help you.  It is imperative that you build a support structure around your volunteers. Our job is not to do all the work in Children’s Ministry but to train up others and prepare them for works of service.  In the same way we must lead others by encouragement.  This is not as hard as you may think.  Here are five sure fired ways to encourage your volunteers. #1. Say thank you constantly. #2. Catch people doing things right.  Complement your volunteers in a job well done.  #3. Take the calls of your volunteers. #4. Check on your volunteers and see how they are doing.  Use your M.B.W.A. degree. Management by walking around. #5.  Help others be better at what they do, every chance you get.

9.      Make corrections and changes when necessary.  What if they quit?  Why be negative, If they quit they quit but what if they change and become a super leader?  If it’s not broke don’t fix it, in other words don’t make changes just for the sake of change.  Every service can be better than the last one if you make changes and corrections each week.  I make a list each Sunday, then spend my week correcting that list then next week, I get to make a new list.

10.    Always set the pace, be the leader.  Be the kind of person you would like to work for.  Dare to lead no matter what.  Give your volunteers an example to follow and a model worth imitating. 

                  Delegation is not an option for those who want to succeed in ministry.  But to succeed you must take inventory of where you are.  Start small and go from there.  I try to recruit my team one worker at a time.  Ask yourself and your volunteers, “What do I need to do differently?” What volunteers do you see potential in?  Commit to coach volunteers and let them learn by doing and you’ll have depth to win championships!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Developing Depth Through Ministry-Part 4

4.      Define exactly what you want done.  Everyone needs a job description.  Especially volunteers!  They also need checklist to show them what you want them to do as well as to provide a way to communicate with you what was done.  Remember to always do what is best for the children and not what is only best for adults.  Rotation doesn’t work in building volunteers through action.  Look at verse 22 of Exodus 18, “Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you.  This was not a once a month job but something that was an all the time commitment.

5.      Train and teach those you recruit. Exodus 18:20 tells us to “Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform.  You must model to others how you want it done.  Classes are good, but hands on training is better.  Christians are the only people group I know that confuse the word training with verbal instruction.  Every secular job that offers training does so by verbal communication in addition to the hands on training and mentoring.  You don’t have to be the only model.  I use my staff, master teachers and coordinators to help me train and equip others.  Everyone  should be helping in the training and equipping process.

6.      Push authority down!  It is extremely important that you always delegate authority along with responsibility.  One of the dumbest sayings I know is “The buck stops here.” There are many places for the buck to stop when you give authority to others.  Those you delegate to can mot carry out the tasks that you desire without the  authority.

7.      Put your heart into the level of leadership under you.  A person cannot represent you well if they don’t have your heart.  You cannot put your heart into your volunteer leaders without making a commitment to spend time with them. Always take someone with you whenever you can.  Be quick to pass on what you know to someone else.  Allow those around you to ask questions. Establish excellent lines of communication.  Take advantage of every communication tool available.  I use meetings, newsletters and e-mails.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Developing Depth Through Ministry-Part 3

With these things in mind let’s take a look at ten steps I use in  effective delegation that will help you to develop depth in your volunteers through action and cause you to be a master of delegation and duplication.

1.      Identify what you need to be doing.  Let’s take a look at Acts 6: 2 one more time.  “So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.”  The disciples were not too good to wait tables but this project was keeping them from what they needed to be doing.  There are loads of good ideas and projects that keep us from doing the God inspired and directed projects, He has for us to do.  I have come to realize that It’s more important that I train, guide, manage and recruit than teach, sing, perform and be the only person that the children identify with.  The best thing I can do to grow is to allow others to be involved and not be a one man show.

2.      Identify things others can do and let them do it.  Start with jobs you are doing that others could do if they were properly trained and coached.  Next identify areas you could use a worker if people were no problem.  Don’t think that the same actions will bring different results because same actions always bring the same results.  “If you want what you have never had, you must be willing to do what you have never done!”  The same is true for every volunteer. You can’t build depth without allowing others to have playing time!

3.      Qualify all workers.  The disciples didn’t just turn this responsibility over to just anybody.  They found people from among them.  People who were known.  There were requirements needed to do the job like being full of the Spirit and being full of wisdom. Jethro also gave Moses requirements for workers in Exodus 18:21   “But select capable men from all the people --men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.  A major rule of delegation is qualify who you delegate responsibility to.  Are they capable and able?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Developing Depth Through Ministry-Part 2

If you are doing things that others can do, it will keep you from doing what only you can do.  When you are doing the things in ministry that only you can do that is when you will hear well done my good and faithful servant.  Let’s take a look at the most famous biblical account of delegation.  It’s found in Acts 6 verses 1-4 “In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.  Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word."  Here we see it first hand, the disciples were being kept from doing what only they could do, by doing a project in ministry that others could do.  There are people in your church who need to be needed more than you need the help.  They will never be able to rise up and free you to do what only you can do and to accomplish what you have been put on this earth to accomplish if you continue to do most of the ministry as well as the majority of the oversight yourself.
                  The world would be in a mess without supervisors and coordinators to serve us in middle management positions. Why can’t we set up middle managers to help us. Phone calls and the returning of messages are some other projects that can be easily delegated to others.  I would recommend that you be slow to delegate the handling of difficult decisions to others.  Jethro warned Moses of this very thing in Exodus 18: 21-22.”But select capable men from all the people --men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain --and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. “  You cannot delegate the responsibilities of building relationships with your key workers. This is a job that you must do.  Defining the vision, evaluation or fruit inspection as well as being ultimately responsible for the success of the children’s ministry of your church are projects only the leader should do.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Developing Depth Through Ministry

Over the years I have learned the hard way that doing the job alone, just doesn’t work.  I should have listened to Three Dog Night.  They tried to teach me that “One Is The Loneliest Number That You’ll Ever Do”, but I just would not listen.  Being a avid football fan I should have noticed that the teams with the most depth at key positions always win championships! (Roll Tide, Go Saints!) Moses also learned the hard way about doing the job alone.  In Exodus chapter 18 we are told about how Moses did everything in ministry by himself and it was causing problems on the job.  It was hard on the people as well, it was also not good for Moses, and it was not good for his family.  Jethro, Moses father-in-law gave him some very wise advise and counsel.  Simply put he was told to build depth!
.                 I know what you are thinking, “My volunteers can’t teach a class or do children’s ministry as well as I can.”  That may be true but there was a time in your life when you could not minister as good as you can now.  Someone allowed you to sorry all over a group of kids and get better by doing the ministry hands on.  We must give our volunteers the same chance we were given to learn by doing.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Leaders are examples- part 4

Third we should be examples of commitment and faithfulness. It takes time to establish relationships. Every time I commit more and practice being faithful to establish deeper relationships I grow as a leader. Helping others find their fit within your team will help them make and model commitment. Kids today as well as adults need an example of consistency. Always come when you are needed. (It’s sad you can stick out in ministry by being on time. My mom always taught me early is on time. Dependable people can be leaned on. The question here can you be leaned on for no matter what? Go to church. Ministry is like a checkbook you have to make deposits before you can write checks. Model faithfulness to take in as well as to give out! Desire to be an example for others.
Be an example to your workers what you want them to do, be an example to parents what you want them to do also. Model to the kids what you want them to be and give them the word on it! It’s up to each leader to make their “want to” the same as what is expected and what is right. 
Lastly be an example of excellence in ministry. Always be prepared, study to show yourself approved. Learn and grow constantly you have to model this to others if you want them to do the same.  It’s up to you leader to give others an example to follow.
       No matter what your title, you are not really a true leader if you’re not an example. Remember a leader must set the pace. A leader must be honest.
A leader must be loyal. A leader leaves no one behind without a helper.
Being the example you need to be qualifies you to: feed, care for the flock,  oversee and be willing and able to serve.  Your integrity fuels your ability to be the example you need to be to others to be the leader you desire to be!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Leaders are examples- part 3

     Children need role models, so do the adults we lead and the staff we direct! If leaders are to desire to be examples, what should we be examples of:  First we should be an example of Christ Jesus and be a follower of Him. Salvation is the starting place, not the end. The great commission isn’t to go make decisions but disciples. It’s simple we must be a disciple to make disciples. A follower is more than a believer they are also a doer of the Word. John 14:15 is very plain Jesus said “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
      Whatever requirements to serve we have on our worker applications they should me modeled in our own lives. I desire that my life and choices show I have been born again, that I’m in agreement with my church’s Statement of Faith. (Agreement means practice) It’s always the correct choice to practice what we preach, to live the Bible twenty-four, seven! To me holiness is not just saying no to wrong things, it’s saying yes to the right things. It’s always the right thing to model being a giver. Make it a practice to run from the appearance of evil just like the real thing. If you’ve heard any of my leadership lesson or read any of my books you know I believe your family is your greatest sermon. Leaders must have your home life in order. I love Proverbs 28:2 it says “When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a man of understanding and knowledge maintains order.” This begins with evaluating daily if Christ is truly king of our hearts and our choices. A question I ask myself on a regular basis “Has there ever been a time in my life where I have been more in love with Jesus than I am right now?” If I can ever say yes, I fix it!

     Secondly we should be an example of “flowing with authority” or being submitted to the leadership above you. Lot of leaders claim to be loyal to their Pastor and leadership but the proof of this attitude is reflected in your actions.
You’re really not loyal to your leader if you treat his or her representatives differently than you treat them. It’s always the right thing to say no to sowing seeds of discord. Sharing a non-Biblical opinion with others can be a form of this. I have found gossip is never a good thing. Being teachable is also a form of submission to authority. Fighting change is not standing with authority.  Going where you’re needed to go is an example of one who is under authority. Jesus said if you have seen Him you have seen the father can that be said of us if people see us they also see those we represent and serve?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Leaders are examples- part 2

This kind of leader desires to become examples, worthy of being imitated.

What and who we are shapes what we do. Christ Jesus did not tell His disciples to believe in Him but to follow Him. (Mark 2:14) The key to being His sheep is following Him. John 10:27 tells us “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 12:26 also says “Whoever serves me must follow me.”

You may have heard me teach about the five duties of a shepherd from1 Peter 5:2-4. It says “Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers --not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. In these verse we see five main duties or descriptions of a shepherd

1. Feeder

2. Care giver or tender

3. Overseer

4. Willing and eager to serve

5. Example

What qualifies you to do the top four and truly be a leader is your willingness and desire to be an example. Being an example is more important than talent.

1Timothy 4:12 says “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” Titus 2:6-8 says “…encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Leaders are examples

Have you ever been told “Do as I say, not as I do!” when I was a teen it made me mad. I still don’t like it when leaders think there is a different set of rules for themselves than the rules for the people they lead. In 1Corinthians 11:1 Paul let’s us know that leaders should be examples by writing “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” The starting place for any leader is to give themselves a check-up from the neck up and examine their integrity.

Integrity is uprightness of character. It’s honesty. It’s lining up with God’s Word. For people with integrity, their word is their bond. When they say they’ll do something, they do it. Promises matter. And what they say they believe is reflected in their actions.

To lead in ministry you don’t have to be right all the time—which is a relief for me, because I flunked the perfection test a long time ago. But you do need to give up the desire to have people think you’re always right.

Admit it: you like having people think you’re right. It’s just human, especially when we’re leaders. We think it builds confidence in the troops when they see us make decisions and stick to our guns.

Except we aren’t always right. We’re wrong a lot. And people don’t admire leaders who are too proud or scared to admit they don’t know it all.

When you’re willing to let others know you—the real you—then you’ll have integrity. But if your leadership depends on people not knowing what you believe, or what you do when you’re flipping through the cable channels or surfing the net, then you’ll never be an effective leader.

You’ve got to get your own house in order before trying to lead others. Are you willing to be a leader who doesn’t just talk about integrity but lives it?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

What does a discipled child look like anyway?- part 2

Stephen Covey in his book “7 Habits Of Effective People” said it this way, “Habit number 1 is to start with the end in mind.” Why don’t we as staff and ministers sit down together with our next generation ministries and our lead pastors and just plan backwards. What do we want a young adult to know as a part of the congregation then let’s back up and look at the college ministry and see what we need to teach there. For this to work we have to then look at the Senior High Ministry then to the Middle School Ministry then to the elementary ministries. Then working backwards we evaluate our preschool and nursery ministries to see what should be learned. (Did you notice I didn’t use the word taught? I believe just because teaching takes place doesn’t mean learning ac cures.) We must get in the habit of defining and evaluating what we do and the results those actions are yielding if we are going to be successful at discipling children. This is just the first step in making this process a way of life at your church. Years ago I set down with my youth pastor and I asked him what do you want the sixth graders I promote into your youth ministry to know and be? That was a question that took some time to develop. I also think that this list could and would be different from church to church. The bottom line is this, make a list. If you aim at nothing. you’ll hit it every time. Make it a matter of prayer and work on your list as a team. It’s more than getting children “saved”.  It’s time we all move past just getting children saved and help them to live saved. Disciplification is all about how each day gets lived by someone who is saved. Luke 2:49-52 tells us about Jesus at twelve. It says that he had a desire to be about His Father’s business. It also says he was obedient to His parents. It’s also says he continued to grow in wisdom. (That’s understanding and knowledge of the Word.) I believe this with all my heart the voice of wisdom and the voice of the Word is always the same. He also grew physically as well as grew in His relationship with God and with others. I believe this should also take place with those we seek to disciple.
No matter what you place on your list the children you lead won’t become those things if you don’t do four important things:
Number 1- We must become all of those things. My mom used to say, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander!” What we expect others to do we must become these things first. I never want to forget that when I point to others there are three fingers pointing back to me! Number 2- Place others who will also serve as models before those you lead. A disciple cannot be made without someone who is willing to be an example. Jesus said something powerful in John 14:9 “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” Think about that, it’s almost mind boggling. Jesus modeled the Father so others would know God. Could children understand what God is like from us? They should! Children must have someone who is willing to say, ”Come follow me as I follow the Lord” Gone must be the day of saying do as I say not as I do. We must be willing to set an example and model to both kids and adults. Number 3- Give those you lead what the Bible says about each of the things you want them to do to be a true follower of Christ Jesus. Number 4- Give them opportunities to do these things. Learning is more than sitting and listening it’s all about doing. I never apologize for giving people an opportunity to serve and put what they are learning into action.

My dear friend Alan Root goes on to say in “Disciplification!” that Jesus doesn’t expect us to live the Christian life. Alan writes “It’s so simple we have a hard time getting it. You see the Christian life is lived by dying. Dying to having to have everything your own way that is.” To be a follower means you are not leading you are being obedient. That means we obey Him. How can we obey Jesus? it’s simple we must know His word and do what it says. That’s the art of being a disciple. I believe our kids can be saved and live saved and have a desire to be about their Father’s business more so than desiring the things of the world. We know we have been successful at making a disciple when kids and leaders drop their defenses and surrender to Jesus’ control. 

To me the proof of the discipleship process is in the living. It’s not what you know or what you feel, or what you think, it’s knowing Christ, walking by faith, thinking the Word and doing exactly what it says. That’s the mark of a discipled kid!

Monday, April 04, 2011

What does a discipled child look like anyway?

After writing about “Developing a Biblical World View in Children”  I have not been able to get this question out of my head. If our job as children’s pastors is to do what Matthew 28:19 tells use to do, (and I believe it is) “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations", then what does a discipled child look like? How can we tell where we are hitting the mark if we have not defined and determined what a discipled child is in the first place? Mr. Webster says that a disciple is a follower. Alan Root in his book “Disciplification!” defines disciplification in three ways 1. The travels of a disciple. 2. The practiced habit of “following” 3. A made up word which simply means the life-changes made to become more and more like Jesus each day. So if our job is to make followers who through life changes and good choices cause them to be more like Jesus, then what actions, habits and character traits should a twelve year old Christ follower possess? 
For years I think we’ve been guilty of using faithfulness as the major evaluation if a child has been discipled. If a child was faithful to attend plus participate in loads of other children’s ministry activities and programing then we would send them into the youth ministry and feel like we succeeded. In a few years we would look them up in the youth group and find they were not there and wonder what did the youth pastor do to  make this child loose interest? I have said for years that those of us that teach kids should think of ourselves as a foundation specialist. But anyone who has ever built any kind of building knows that the type foundation you build has everything to do with the type of building you can build. In construction you start with the building plans and then determine what kind of foundation does it need for what you are building. In children’s ministry I think many of us have been guilty of designing the foundation then saying to the youth ministry now go fit your building on the foundation we have built never one time sitting down and working together toward the end result. Sometimes the problem has started long before we promote them into the youth ministry even from one department or ministry to another within the total children’s ministry we are so territorial we haven’t worked as a true team and prepared them for the now as well as  the next age group.  Instead of looking ahead we have focused on the present which centers on and around our own ministry responsibilities. When we help other departments and ministries around us be successful then we’ll be successful. We are all on the same team working toward the same goal. Our mission here at World Outreach Church is to help people become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Our mission for the children’s ministry as well as for our student ministries is to help young people and parents become fully devoted followers of Christ now and forever. You can’t hit the church’s mission without every ministry that makes up the church working on that same mission statement just breaking it down for their age groups.

Friday, April 01, 2011

My Easter Nightmare!

Back in 1988, I decided to drop Easter eggs in a field behind our church building instead of having a traditional egg hunt. Not real Easter eggs; instead we bought 17,000 individually wrapped Candy eggs. I chartered a helicopter from which to drop them down on the thousands of kids I was sure would show up for this event.

The field in back of our building was bordered on one side by a subdivision, by a horse pasture on the opposite side, and on the third side there stood a huge oak tree.

We advertised for weeks, and on the day of the event the field was full of kids. It was also full of gusting wind, courtesy of Springtime in Alabama. Word got to me that the helicopter was grounded out at the airport.

Thousands of kids, 17,000 Easter eggs, and no way to get them together. I had a problem.

What could I do? I’d promised an egg-drop so I had to deliver one—no matter what. The pilot scratched his head and offered to fly a small plane he owned instead of the helicopter. The plane wasn’t grounded even with high winds in the area. He couldn’t make as precise a drop, but if his brother hung out the door of the plane and they made a couple passes to calculate the drift of the eggs…it might work.

On the first pass, the pilot’s brother emptied a box of eggs out of the door and they caught a wind gust. Over in the subdivision eggs shelled everything: cars, roofs, and yards. People were running out of their houses to find out why they were under attack.

During the second pass, as the plane dove, the horses decided they were under attack. They went berserk, running back and forth, wild-eyed and frantic. But the eggs hit the target. Kids were scrambling for eggs.

That’s when someone pointed at the plane. Apparently the pilot was concentrating so hard on the egg drop that he’d forgotten about that big oak tree. He was racing straight at it, his brother hanging out the window and pointing.

The good news: the pilot missed the tree. By inches.

The bad news: between aggravated neighbors and an irate horse owner, the Federal Aviation Association pulled the pilot’s license for a time. And our church’s neighbors weren’t too thrilled with us, either. 

It all worked out, the kids who were there had a great time but I still don’t like outdoor events to this day. 
Every Easter I think about this story. About a year or so I was in Montgomery and went and saw the place where this all went down the tree has been cut down and the horses have been long gone. I'll never forget that day 23 Easters ago!