Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Have You Heard What Everyone Is Saying About infuse and Infuse Lite?

mentor |ˈmenˌtôr; -tər|
an experienced and trusted adviser 
If you have a desire to take your kidmin leadership to the next level, I can think of no more effective way than to plug into Jim Wideman’s mentorship program Infuse.  Jim will help you evaluate and find those blind spots that are holding you back, and equip you to move forward with purpose and direction.  I am so glad to have the voice of Jim Wideman as a mentor and leader in my life.  Let Jim infuse your life and ministry with a lifetime of leadership wisdom. You will grow both personally and as a leader in ways you never dreamed possible. Sandy Lawson Element Church, Wentzville, MO

Join me this August for a special one month version of my infuse coaching program for a fraction of the cost of a 6 month session...

After all the success stories of infuse I still hear from folks they say a six month session is just out of reach for their budget. So I decided to created a version of my mentoring/coaching program for those of you who would like a taste of what infuse is all about. It's not just a retreat or another conference, it's a month long coaching program with testing for you, your spouse & your leader which includes1 conference call, 30 days of access to Jim and his coaches online and a two day retreat in Murfreesboro, TN (August 30 and 31, 2012) all for just $325 per person.

INFUSE -LITE is limited to 25 leaders on a first come first serve basis. If a former infuser recommends you, you do not have to send in a video with your application however if you do not know a former infuser please complete the entire infuse application with video. Travel, lodging and meals are not included in the price however I will include a path element profile for you, your spouse and your pastor or supervisor (A $150 value). You can download your application here. If that's not a good enough I'll sweeten it a little more for you. After attending INFUSE-LITE you go on to do a full session of infuse (September 2013) I'll discount the tuition an additional $200.

So far I've posted 17 recommendations if that's not enough here are 4 more...

The Infuse program has impacted not just my ministry but also my personal life.  The time that Bro Jim invested into me during the program will stick with me forever.  When it comes to getting the right tools on your ministry belt, this is the one thing that has equipped me more than any conference that I have ever attended.  Thanks Bro Jim for your continual investment into those who have a desire to learnMatt Payne Family Worship Center McKinney, TX

Infuse is something that every children's ministry leader need to experience. I have been in children's ministry for many years and what I learned in Infuse helped me more that everything else put together. If you want to see a real increase in your personal leadership skills and bigger results in your ministry, Infuse is something you can't pass up.   Larry Hillman, Tampa, FL

Infuse has significantly increased my leadership ability in my church, my home and even over myself; causing me to be more responsible, and have better management skills over myself and others. Matt McDaniels

What an awesome opportunity to get one on one answers to those questions you were afraid to ask, thinking that maybe you were crazy! I found that in meeting with Jim Wideman and other children's pastors in a small group setting allowed me to get immediate responses to questions and concerns I had.  I met people who were experiencing the same challenges I was, or had gone through them and was willing to help.  We are better together, and the friendships continue…Diana Lane

Still got questions? email me from

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Tour de Cure Is Done

Sorry I haven't posted with the final report. Since I rode on Saturday, I've attended a reception,  worked five weekend services, helped run our cafe, hung out with my family and went to a movie. Then there was Monday...need I say more. So finally here's the scoop.

I woke up Saturday morning at 5:00AM with my back still tight. I was so thankful Whitney's husband, Dustin had come over and pumped up my tires and put the bike rack on my truck the night before all I had to do is load the bikes, the pump, the helmets,  and the shoes while Julie fixed the water bottles. We got everything loaded and ate breakfast and headed over to Barfield Crescent Park. We arrived a little early and my team mates Fred & Wes were already there. We got all ready to go making the last minute adjustments to our gear and our bikes. After some pictures of team red and all the red riders like myself we made our way to the starting line and there were over 500 riders. 

The first group to leave were the 100 mile folks, then the 62 milers the n our group the 30 milers then the family fun ride folks. They asked all of the red riders to come to the front which meant I was at the start of the pack and the rest of my team was in the bike. After we started the next time I saw my team mates were 8 miles later. Wes was the first to reach me it is so much more fun to ride with people than ride by yourself. The rest of the ride was the four of us. When we got to the first rest stop after 12 miles. Fred and Wes had to help me off my bike. I walked over to the water and saw it was ice cold and took two bottles one to drink and one to use to numb my low back. After a little stretching were were off. 

It was a beautiful Middle Tennessee morning and a great course, the four of us were enjoying each other so much that the time flew by so fast that the next thing I knew we were at the next rest stop. My back was really starting to tighten up so we didn't stop for long but with 22 miles done and just 8 and half to go I knew I could do this. We took off strong after a few miles we turned on a stretch of road that Julie and I ride all the time, so I knew where the turns and hills were. With the wind to our backs we were riding hard. The last 3 miles we rode single file because we were in the most traffic we had been in all day. It had been 5 years since I had ridden in an event ride and boy I had missed it. While I was on the bike I had forgotten about my back but as we turned into the park to head across the finish line my low back started barking. When I crossed the finish line the DJ called my name. It was a great feeling I had done it push back and all. I rode straight to where the chair massage folks were set up and got a massage. After checking out all the after the ride stuff we headed back to the truck to start load up. 

It was a wonderful ride, a wonderful day and I was not going to let anything stop me from riding. I want to thank everyone who prayed, everyone who gave ad especially all the folks who rode with me. Next year I hope all my kidmin cyclist buddies come ride with me.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tour De Cure...

Back at the end of last year I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that I had been a leader in every area of my life but one to my family and to others. When it came to my health I was not a leader. I had developed an unhealthy relationship with food. It had become the way I celebrated, my number one substance of choice and also my mistress. I knew I was in the fight of my life so I knew what I had to do. It started with repentance and making changes in me. So that's where I started eating the things God said to eat and making exercise I part of my normal lifestyle. I also felt the Lord calling me to call my family to order. So I did (more about this later.) As of today we have lost 211lbs as a family with me losing 60 of that. I'm also off every medication but one. (I'm still working on getting off it.) Also every other health problem I was experiencing went a way. I give Jesus the credit for healing me but I also determined I would not be that guy that did not lead in my health and expect God to do all the work.

So far I have my diabetes where it needs to be, under control and on it's way out.
One of the things I had let slide when I moved to Tennessee was riding my bike as much. With the new commitment to my health I also picked back up riding my bicycle. Tomorrow Julie and I plus 2 of our cyclist friends from church will ride in my first event ride in 5 years. It's more than just another ride for me. It's about being obedient to God to get my health where it needs to be. It's also a fund raiser for a disease I have. It's a very humbling experience to say the least but yet very rewarding. I've also experienced a little push back and ask for your prayers. This morning as I was preparing the bikes I pulled my lower back. I spent the rest of the day going to my Chiropractor, icing my back and getting a massage. I believe I am healed and will be able to ride the 30 miles of the Middle Tennessee Tour De Cure tomorrow.

I hope you'll pray for me but also I hope you'll use this to evaluate your own life where you are not leading and setting the right example for your family and those you lead. If you would like to do something other than pray you can sponsor me by clicking here.

The hardest person in my life to lead is me but I am going to beat this by God's grace and power and my choices and actions. What do you need to beat with God's help?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

More About Infuse Lite

Still thinking about Infuse and Infuse Lite? Here are 8 more reasons why you should send in your application today...

"Imagine gathering in a room with leaders invested in kids, dedicated to leading well, and committed to God's mission.Imagine being in conversation with leaders with years of experience, passion, and hope for the future.
Imagine an experience where you can ask questions, explore ideas, collaborate solutions.
This kind of opportunity is tailor-fit for kidmin leaders who want sharpen their leadership skills! Join Jim Wideman and his team in this once in a lifetime experience."
- Jeni Carlson
Director of Children's Ministry, Five Oaks Church

"Infuse is a game-changing experience.  The teaching, relationships, and ideas that I've come back with have an effect on more than my ministry.  It has effected the way I view every aspect of my life.  After just a few hours of being on our Infuse Retreat this past year, Bro. Jim asked, "If you went home right now, would it have been worth it?"  Undoubtedly, yes!  Everyone does better with a coach.  A conference comes and goes in a matter of days and exposes you to think bigger.  But Infuse does more than that.  It gives you a coach and a team of people to help you think through how to apply and implement what you learn.  I think Infuse Lite will expose you to think differently and learn from Bro. Jim who has been blessed with years of experience but also has a passion to see you succeed in your calling."- Aaron Jack Bauer, Journey Church

"Attending Infuse has been an experience that stands above the rest in regards to my ministry training and growth. The things I have learned have helped me grow to a point where I now pastor over 1000 kids a week.  I highly recommend that anyone in ministry apply and take advantage of this amazing opportunity." -Joe McApine

"Infuse has helped me in every facet of my life. Brother Jim coached me to be a better believer, husband, dad, and pastor. Every children's or youth pastor should go through Infuse for at least one session. Don't let the money stop you,  seriously, figure out a way to make it work." -Jason Martin

"Infuse gives you the opportunity to ask questions you didn’t even know you had.  The interaction with a team of people experiencing life in the same arena, but each with a different level of experience, a different way of thinking, and a different method to the madness…it is like creativity blender with Brother Jim’s experience and leadership to bring direction, definition, and meaning to it all.  There is one goal throughout the entire process – to help you become better and more effective for the Kingdom of God and name of Jesus Christ!"
Timothy E Posch- World Outreach Church

"Infuse has changed my ministry!  Jim and his team has helped me develop the tools and abilities to take my ministry to the next level." -David Rinck, First Assembly Of God, Fargo

"If you have a desire to grow, learn, and develop your Leadership, Infuse is for you! If you want to go to the next level you must surround yourself with others that will challenge you! Infuse will definitely help you accomplish that goal! The insight and wisdom I gained from Brother Jim is simply priceless! I highly recommend making the investment, it will be a life-changing experience!" - Mindy Fenley, Church On The Rock, St Peters. MO

"If you haven't tried Infuse yet, don't wait any longer! This is a life-changing, ministry impacting, experience you won't want to miss. Bro. Jim's love for helping people comes out the minute you meet him. You will learn something from every minute you get to spend with him. Through Infuse you'll learn how to maximize your time to be more effective, how to be a better leader to your staff and volunteers, and you'll learn how to increase and grow your ministry. My time in Infuse has been invaluable and I know it will be for you too!"- Sara Richards, Minneapolis, MN

 Now here's your chance to join me in Infuse this August for a fraction of the cost of a 6 month session...

After all the success stories of infuse I still hear from folks they say a six month session is just out of reach for their budget. So I decided to created a version of my mentoring/coaching program for those of you who would like a taste of what infuse is all about. It's not just a retreat or another conference, it's a month long coaching program with testing for you, your spouse & your leader which includes1 conference call, 30 days of access to Jim and his coaches online and a two day retreat in Murfreesboro, TN (August 30 & 31, 2012) all for just $325 per person.

INFUSE -LITE is limited to 25 leaders on a first come first serve basis. If a former infuser recommends you, you do not have to send in a video with your application however if you do not know a former infuser please complete the entire infuse application with video. Travel, lodging and meals are not included in the price however I will include a path element profile for you, your spouse and your pastor or supervisor (A $150 value). You can download your application here. If that's not a good enough I'll sweeten it a little more for you. After attending INFUSE-LITE you go on to do a full session of infuse (September 2013) I'll discount the tuition an additional $200.

Don't put this off any longer send in your application while there is still room. (I excepted 3 more folks this week.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Infuse Lite Is Coming...

After all the success stories of infuse I still hear from folks they say a six month session is just out of reach for their budget. So I decided to created a verson of my mentoring/coaching program for those of you who would like a taste of what infuse is all about. It's not just a retreat or another conference, it's a month long coaching program with testing for you, your spouce & your leader which includes1 conference call, 30 days of access to Jim and his coaches online and a two day retreat in Murfreesboro, TN (August 30 & 31, 2012) all for just $325 per person.

INFUSE -LITE is limited to 25 leaders on a first come first serve basis. If a former infuser recomends you, you do not have to send in a video with your application however if you do not know a former infuser please complete the entire infuse application with video. Travel, lodging and meals are not included in the price however I will include a path element profile for you, your spouse and your pastor or supervisor (A $150 value). You can download your application here. If that's not a good enough I'll sweeten it a little more for you. After attending INFUSE-LITE you go on to do a full session of infuse (September 2013) I'll discount the tuition an additional $200.

So what are you waiting for send in your application today once you're approved I'll let you know how to pay. The deadline for registration is July 1st but this event will fill up before the deadline. Still not convinced? Here's what a few of my past infusers have to say about it.
"Infuse allowed me to ask tough Children's Ministries leadership questions.  The answers I received were accurate, direct and full of wisdom which helped me move our ministry to a new level.  I would strongly recommend this experience to any rookie or veteran C.M. Leader who is serious about leading a ministry of excellence." Kris Smoll, Director of Discovery Land - Appleton Alliance Church - Avg weekly attendance 3,000

"My favorite part of Infuse is definitely the retreat. Getting one-on-one time with Jim & his family and connecting personally with kids pastors from around the country is invaluable.  Adding 30 days of coaching and a conference call for about the cost of any other conference makes the one month version of Infuse the most attractive coaching option Jim's ever offered." - Christopher Sykes, @kidminchris

"Being mentored by Jim through Infuse has been the "shot in the arm" I needed to keep me enthusiastic about Children's Ministry!  I had been serving for 15+ years when I joined, but there were still plenty of things I learned.  Being able to talk with the group about issues in my ministry and getting both their advice and Jim's input was a huge blessing.  I was pushed to go outside my comfort zone in ministry and encouraged to rethink how and why I did so many things.  You'll grow tremendously from your Infuse experience!" -Kathy King Minister to Children, FBC Opelika, AL

"Sitting under the wisdom and and teaching of Brother Jim for this experience will greatly equip you to lead whatever God might be placing in front of you in the future.  If you want to be do greater things in the future, you better be prepared for greater things." -Jonathan Mittchell, Demotte, IN

"Infuse has had a tremendous effect on both my ministry and my personal life.  Bro. Jim doesn't just give you the tools to move further faster, he moves the starting line, allowing you to benefit from his 30+ years of ministry.  Through Infuse, I've avoided unncessary mistakes and have been given new perspective to make healthier decisions, both at home and at church." -Jared Massey, Smalltown Kids Ministry

"Conferences are great - you get an intense amount of training in a shotgun style delivery. Infuse is better! You still get an intense amount of training, but it is designed specifically for leaders! The level of access and information received from Bro. Jim through the coaching phone call and retreats is unparalleled anywhere in Kidmin! Infuse is an opportunity to experience exponential growth in your leadership journey. I learned more in my time with Bro. Jim in infuse than several years of conferences combined. Being able to walk through this leadership experience with other great leaders just adds to the learning opportunity. Relationships are developed, experience is gained, and you will not be the same as when you started. I cannot say enough about the value of being a part of infuse!  Not everyone can afford the full infuse experience - this shortened time Bro. Jim is offering is a unique opportunity to reap the benefits from infuse, but makes it more accessible. If you were considering a conference for this year--reconsider. You will get more bang for your buck with this one-month session with Bro. Jim." -Spencer Click, Bethel Temple, Hampton, VA

"The time I spent with Bro. Jim in Infuse was invaluable! With each interaction during my Infuse experience, from the retreats, to the calls, to the homework, I gained more and more confidence not only in my ability to be a successful Children's Pastor but to take our Ministry to the next level.  I can honestly say that the wisdom and insight that Bro. Jim shares during the Infuse experience will change your life forever!  It was the best decision I've made!  #Blessed"- Tony Giordano, 7HillsChurch

"Don't miss a great opportunity to gain wisdom and insight from one of the best and most innovative leaders in children's ministry! Infuse will help you will grow as a leader and minister. This is a great cost for something that will benefit you personally and professionally! You will not regret joining Infuse and having an opportunity to learn from Jim Wideman.
*I would love to do Infuse again in the future, it was a fantastic experience!" -Lynne Payne, First Wesleyan Church, Tuscaloosa, AL

more to come...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Children's Ministry Brain Trust

Check out CHILDREN'S MINISTRY BRAIN, the newest Children's Ministry Website. CMBT provides a singular location for all knowledge and wisdom relating to Children's Ministry. Everything they do within the Children's Ministry Brain Trust is created with the specific purpose of assisting you in being the best Children's Ministry Professional you can be.

CMBT can be defined as follows:
"A collective of children's ministry experts sharing insights and best practices to assist in the wisdom and knowledge of all who are called to Children's Ministry."

Knowledge: this refers to all practical information that relates to Children's Ministry. Sources of information include but are not limited to products, services, administration, leadership, teaching, recruiting, policies and procedures, resources, etc relating to Children's Ministry.

Wisdom: this refers to wisdom gained by Children's Ministry professionals who have been in the field for many years and are willing to share it freely, with those who could benefit from it.

CMBT's Mission is to assist those who have dedicated themselves to seeing children accept Jesus as their personal savior and nurture their spiritual growth as outlined in the Holy Bible by creating the largest, daily useful and relevant, information database of knowledge and wisdom in the world.

Plus this month all who register with CMBT are automatically entered in the Laptop giveaway.

Inside The Eric Trap- Part 3

In Chapter 3 of The Eric Trap. Sherri Epperson offers 3 ways we can Activate Parental Leadership; Inspire, Equip, and Support...

As children’s ministers, we must give family members hope. Parents need encouragement so they, too, can investigate God's Word with their children without feeling the need to be a Bible scholar. Parents have great potential to influence their children, so they must be encouraged to let the Bible be alive and active in their lives so that they can transfer this truth in the lives of their kids. 

One of the best ways to inspire a parent is to get him or her involved in a way that isn’t intimidating. For example, this past year my church started a new program for upper elementary and youth who are taking our baptism class. We asked that a parent stay with his or her child during the class so he or she could be involved. The feedback from the parents has been incredible. Parents enjoy the time with their kids while learning alongside them, and many have felt their spiritual relationship with their kids has been deepened. This kind of experience, where the church provides a venue for spiritual conversations, may provide a starting place for parents to continue similar conversations at home.

My church also gives parents a chance to serve in the kids’ ministry. Engaging parents to serve in the children’s ministry has many incredible benefits. Serving in the church gives parents confidence in how to communicate spiritual truths to children. Over time, they become more comfortable with the Bible stories and even answering the difficult questions kids ask. This experience gained transfers directly to conversations parents can have with their own kids at home. In some cases, entire families can serve in some of the younger age groups. Not only do the spiritual truths come to life in a totally different way for a family who is teaching, but also serving binds a family together and gives them something meaningful and significant to do together. This kind of experience allows families to live out their faith together, and it relationally engages the whole family in a powerful way.

Not only should we inspire parents, but we must also equip parents and family members with the tools for accomplishing the final goal of a Christ-centered lifestyle. We cannot lead efficiently without help from others. We have to have an army of workers to assist us in accomplishing this goal for the families who come to our church. We need mentors for leading small groups, leaders for teaching, and leaders who can walk alongside parents. With an army of leaders like that, we can equip parents by teaching them through family-training classes, by providing family activities that nurture family development, and by giving them chances to have fun as a family. 

One summer, my team and I decided to have a weekend-long, family-style vacation Bible school. This was done off campus at a local park at the beginning of the summer. The families had uninterrupted time together outside of their normal routine, which gave them time to focus on just their family through games, Bible study, and loads of activities. Because of the fun we all had, even we leaders who had set all this up wanted to start up a regular Sunday-afternoon meet-up in the park for the rest of the summer.

Another effective method for equipping parents is to establish family-training classes. Family-training classes help parents guide their children as they grow in their relationships with Jesus Christ. Training can consist of classes, seminars, and information posted on the church web page or in an informational flyer passed out to new families. As we equip families, it’s important that we take time to continually assess the needs of both individuals and families in our church community.

Families are in a constant forward motion nowadays. It’s vital that we be intentional about what opportunities we provide for families to connect. Not only will our church attendance rise, but there will also be more families coming together with their kids and enjoying church. The church’s goal should not be to make families feel as if they need to attend all classes and activities but to equip families with instruction on how to live a godly lifestyle in today's world.

Once we have inspired and equipped the parents of our church, we need to lend parents a hand as we come alongside them through their parental journey. Here is a place we can train some of our leaders who are gifted in nurturing others to be mentors to younger parents. A mentoring program can easily be established by using older parents that have the wisdom, insight, and experience to help families. While I am fortunate to have my parents nearby, I have found that many people live a distance from their own parents and miss that support.

While I was serving in our MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) program, we recruited the older mothers to mentor the young mothers. This was a huge success. Each group had a leader and a mentor mom to facilitate the group. During discussions, so much good Biblical advice came from the leader and the mentor mom. Ladies who didn't live near their parents appreciated the advice, love, and support from their mentor moms. In fact, I am still in contact with my mentor mom, and I enjoy our relationship even though my mom lives close. It's a blessing to take time with my mentor for a coffee during a crazy-busy week to help me refocus on what I have been working on. I see it as God's way to gently remind me it's His work, not mine.

Although the church may have stepped over its boundaries in years past and attempted to be something it was never intended to be in the life of kids, there’s no doubt that the church is the absolute best place to engage families in spiritual matters. This may mean that our children’s ministries need to reshape some of our priorities. We might need to spend less time developing that new kidmin discipleship program and figure out how we can better resource parents. Our parents need to be inspired in a way they’ve not been before. They must see that they’ve got what it takes to be successful. They need great resources and tools that are simple enough to implement at home. Lastly, they need a system of support, one that the church can easily provide. When we make this our focus, we align our priorities with God’s plan for the spiritual formation of children, and we give the children in our churches the best opportunities for long-term success. 

more to come...

Sunday, May 13, 2012



Thanks ladies for all your love and support!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Inside The Eric Trap- Part 2

The next author who wrote about Eric's second trap was Deana Hayes. Deana is now the Family Pastor at Light and Life Church in Avon, IN. Deana is one of my favorite infusers, she's really quiet but she's always thinking and asks great questions. She wrote about "Leadership Under Authority" Here's just a little bit of what she added to THE ERIC TRAP...

I remember the first day on the job like it was yesterday. I strolled into the church building not really knowing what to expect. The senior pastor greeted me with some warm and welcoming words, and then he escorted me to my office and asked that I meet with him in his office in a few minutes. The first thing I noticed was that my office had windows, a supposed luxury in the world of kidmin, so I knew things were already off to a good start. After setting some personal things down and again admiring the view from my window, I strolled down the hall to meet with my senior pastor. We went over the typical personnel and administrative stuff—those fun yet necessary tax and insurance forms. And afterward, he sent me to my office to begin my job.

I was so excited to get things going in children’s ministry at this church. I was the first children’s pastor my church had ever hired. It was a new venture, and I was eager to do a great job. Isn’t that what we all desire—to be the best at what we do? We attend school and conferences, and we network with others to be the best at our job. We dream of new and better programs that will reach more and more kids. We seek to acquire the newest tools and resources so that we can be the best (not in a conceited way, of course). We’re passionate about what we’ve been called to do, and we can quickly become absorbed in this huge and complex world of our vision for ministry. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Well, did I have a lot to learn.!

Having a huge vision for children’s ministry isn’t wrong. Actually, it’s essential. But one of the biggest and most important things I have learned is the importance of knowing the vision of the house and submitting to my senior or lead pastor. To submit means to yield oneself to the will or authority of another. More personally, to submit as a children’s pastor means to know my senior pastor’s heart. Where is God leading him for the congregation in which we both serve? It is crucial to our personal well being as well as the success of our church to know that vision. Mark 3:24-26 NIV says, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.”

Naturally, as children’s pastors, we may wonder, how exactly do I serve my senior leader? or why do I put his calling before my own? Well the why is an easy one to answer. The relationship between a senior pastor and his associate pastors is often the key to the health and ministry of a church. Although we may have been hired because of our vision the for the children's ministry and our stated expectation is to lead the children's ministry, our top priority must always be to assist the pastor in his vision for the church. Period.

I have often heard children’s ministers argue, “But I went to school to serve the local church as the children’s pastor,” or “I was hired as the children’s pastor; therefore, my job is to lead and oversee the ministry to children, so what does getting to know the vision of the house or serving my senior pastor have do with my key responsibilities?”

Well, everything!

When the local church hires a person to oversee any area of ministry, what they are actually doing is hiring an associate to the pastor. The church is hiring an associate pastor who will assist the senior pastor in moving the church to accomplish the vision God gave him for that particular church. Once on staff, the senior pastor will delegate authority to the associate in overseeing and leading a ministry in a specific area. In our cases, that specific area happens to be a vibrant ministry to children. Therefore, it is not your ministry; it’s but an extension of the ministries offered by your local churches. Let me say that again. It is not YOUR ministry. Sometimes I think that we get that confused. Plainly said, we you have been entrusted to lead that area of ministry in the way it should go in line with the vision of the house. Our work should reflect highly on our senior pastors. Remember, we were hired to serve our senior pastor and his vision for the church, not the other way around.

Why did I have to learn this the hard way? I got to the point where I wanted the church to grow so badly that I was very eager to do something, anything, to move it forward. I failed to listen to my senior pastor. I did not honor him, nor did I extend the respect that he deserved as an ordained man of God. I had my own ideas of what could be done, and I knew they were great ideas.

Don’t get me wrong, having a desire, in and of itself, to grow and move a church is not wrong, but the way we try to see it through may have its faults. We must be careful in how we build and direct the ministry we’ve been given authority to lead. Building a ministry to children that teaches, encourages, challenges, strengthens, and leads children to the throne of grace for our own success is wrong. Reaching out to equip families, encourage moms, and develop dads in spite of what your our leadership has asked you us to do is failure. The ends never justify the means. In all that we do, we must build our ministry to children in a way that aligns with and reflects the vision of the house.

It is so easy to sit in our offices and totally get lost within our own ministry. Praying for, planning, and dreaming of what to do next are consuming. We wonder, how can we can improve our safety and security system in a way that gives parents more confidence? What tools can we seek or develop to better train and equip our staff? Which conferences should we attend to grow in both faith and skills, learn from great communicators, and network with other like--minded pastors?

As a children’s minister, there’s always more to do than we’ll have time for. There’s more to think about than weyou’ll have time to actually think about it. There’s nothing wrong with all of these things, right? This is what we were hired to do, isn’t it?

Stop. Get up from your desk. Walk out of your office, and go join a co-worker in his or her office. Ask him or her about plans he or she has for the ministry he or she has authority to lead. Probe deeper. Ask questions. How does what this person is talking about intersect with the children’s ministry? How can you help him or her be successful? How can he or she help you to be successful? Are you both headed in the same direction, following the vision your pastor laid out for your church?

We have a tendency to isolate ourselves in our own world and ministry, and we forget our place. We’re on a team. We’re working together. We are working for our senior pastor. We must not forget this.

Want to read the rest? Order your copy of THE ERIC TRAP today!
You can buy the book on my site, or Amazon. It's also available for the Kindle.

I'm also going to be giving away some free Ebook copies... to be eligible to win leave a comment and then retweet my tweets about THE ERIC TRAP from now through the weekend.
Have fun!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Inside The Eric Trap: Delegation

Besides Sam, Kenny & myself, there were some amazing Kidmin folks who wrote part of this book. Each one wrote practical answers and solutions to offer suggestions to each of the 5 traps Eric and the rest of us get traped in doing ministry. One of those wonderful leaders is Craig Gyergyo. Craig is the Children's Pastor at Hope Church in Memphis, Tennessee.
Craig had the asignment of writing about delegation or doing the job allone.
Here's just a sampling of what he had to say...

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to be a summer intern at a church in my hometown. I was really excited about this particular opportunity because the senior pastor of this church happened to be one of my personal church heroes. All summer long, I followed in the footsteps of this wonderful leader as we ministered to kids at camps, went on mission trips, and delved into all of the business of the church. That summer I spent hours upon hours with this hero of mine. We shared a cabin at camp and a cot in a rundown hotel room in Mexico. (It doesn’t get much closer than that, folks.) I walked away from that internship a better minister and leader than I was when I began. It was truly a thrill to serve alongside this man that I had looked up to for so many years. I learned how to communicate the gospel more effectively, and I observed as this pastor masterfully planned and executed faith-rich programs for kids of all ages. I was in awe (and still am).

Ninety-five percent of what I learned about ministry that summer was from the pastor’s example. I learned lessons on everything from the importance of keeping a timely schedule to leading worship. As for the other five percent of my “summer education,” well, no one is perfect, right? Early on, it was clear that this pastor liked to do things himself—with no help from anyone else, thank you. For instance, one day while in the office, the pastor gave me a to-do list. The list included, among other things, database work. The pastor took time to explain to me exactly what he wanted me to do. He began to tell me exactly which information was important to enter into the database and how to do the job. Then, abruptly, the pastor stopped what he was saying, looked at me, and said, “You know what? This job is going to take you twelve hours to complete, but it will only take me about an hour and a half . . . outta my way.” Just like that, my to-do list got a little bit shorter. This was the beginning of a trend. Throughout the summer, items from my task list were transferred from my file to his.

You’re probably thinking, well, maybe you were just not up to the task. (It wouldn’t be the first time that someone accused me of that, by the way. Did I mention that I work at a church?) In the right circumstances, this accusation could be true of any of us, but in this case we are talking about tasks such as data entry and organizing camp skits. It’s not as if he were asking me to fly a group of fifth- grade boys from the campfire to the moon in a rocket ship. No, this pastor had an underlying belief that he would often quote: “If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.”

How many of us subscribe to that same thinking? Far too many of us if the truth be told. Contrary to what we tell volunteers, parents, and staff; we all too often believe deep down that we are the best (and maybe the only) people to do the job right. Sure, we’ll allow someone else to sort the popsicle sticks into bins or maybe let someone else decide which toppings to get on the pizza now and again, but all of the really big stuff—the important stuff—is left for us. That means that the lesson making, speaking, teaching, e-mailing, recruiting, advertising, praying, and all other verbs associated with our ministry that have the -ing suffix are our jobs. Why? Because if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself. That’s why.

There’s something that you and I need to know. Make sure that you are sitting down for this because you may find this to be surprising: GOD NEVER INTENDED FOR ONE PERSON TO RUN THE ENTIRE CHILDREN’S MINISTRY. Though Jesus, in fact, did say, “Let the little children come to Me,” (Matt. 19:14), I don’t believe that it was his intention to be a solo act. You see, the Scriptures compare the church to a body. A body has many different parts, and those many different parts have many different functions. All come together under one head, however, to work in a concerted fashion. A heart cannot do what a stomach can do; a mouth cannot do what an ear can do, and so forth. Still, all of these body parts are indispensibleindispensable to the functioning of a healthy body. So it should be with the church.

The healthy church or ministry looks like a body with many different people bringing many different gifts and talents together under one head—the Lord Jesus—to work in unison and bring God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. What would our churches look like if we took steps toward forming a community of people with God-given gifts and talents within our ministries rather than staging a one-person show? Our ministries would look a lot more like what God intended. In order to make this vision a reality, we have to be willing to delegate and start acting on our belief that God has created the church and all ministry with a team in mind.

What more Eric Trap? You can buy the book on my site, or Amazon. It's also available for the Kindle.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

A Lot Has Happened In 5 Years

Last night marked the 5 year since I spoke here at World Outreach Church for the first time.
I had come once before in December 2006 to consult on the Children's Ministry and help with the new building they were designing. (We moved into that building in January 2010) 
In 2007 Yancy sang and I was the guest speaker. In 2012 Yancy was still singing and playing keyboard but this time as a member of our Student Ministries Worship Team and rather than be the guest speaker, I got to host the event and intro the guest speaker. 

As I look back over the past five years of my life there are two things that standout to me: God has done amazing things in my family and my ministry and I have so much to be thankful for! 
Five years ago I had just resigned my position on staff of a great church that I held for 17 years.
God has opened door after door for me and my family. He has blessed us and protected us and five years later we are all in Tennessee. All in the same wonderful church. Whitney is married and her carer has taken off. Her and Dustin are enjoying their first home and about to celebrate their first anniversary. Yancy and Cory have a son who is my little bright spot and they are blessed beyond words at work and home. I love watching them be parents and they are good ones!  My whole family is active in our church and they help me bunches! I could not imagine doing ministry without them on the team.

Five years ago, Infuse was just a dream. Now more than 100 leaders have taken part in this mentoring program. TheClub is still going strong and I've been able to give it away free to thousands of Young Guns as well. I've just launched a new book The Eric Trap and the stories of how it's helping people have just been amazing!

But as I think about last night I am so thankful for all the families I've gotten to do life and walk with here at World Outreach Church. We've added a lot of folks to our Kidmin and Stumin teams over the past 5 years. We have more teenagers and college kids helping and giving back. God has allowed all of our God stories to be shaped and edited as we get to help others have their God story written. The truth is we all have a story about what Jesus has done for us and who He is in our life. I am so thankful He has placed me at  a church that values serving young people and helping shape their God story. As I think about the faces I looked into last night I remembered each of their stories of a faithful God at work in their lives and today I am smiling.

I am thankful for God's direction in my life! I am thankful for all the people who are making a difference in the lives of families in Middle Tennessee. I am also thankful in advance for the things that are coming next. God is faithful and I can't wait to tell you about the next 5 years what He will do in my family, in my church and in my life!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

More Eric Trap

Sunday, February 17th, 6:45 a.m.

It wasn’t much different from any other Sunday morning for Eric. Although he wouldn’t quite consider himself a “morning person,” Eric enjoyed getting to the church early. Typically he’d pull in while it was still dark, several hours before the 9:00 a.m. service. Usually, Eric was the first one there, and he liked it that way.

Others might call it routine or a chore, but Eric considered it therapeutic to move throughout the building in the stillness of the morning turning on lights and adjusting thermostats. Those were the moments that he used to prepare for the day before him. Sometimes Eric would spend this time praying for the programs, the songs, and every little activity that was planned. Most importantly, he used the time to pray for all the laughing and smiling kids who would barge through the doors later that morning.

Specific names and faces came to mind. Under his breath he whispered, “Lord, I pray for Simon today. He’s had such a hard year since his parents divorced, and he’s really struggling to make friends with the other second and third grade boys. God, I pray that today would be the day that he connects with his peers.”

A big smile flashed across Eric’s face as he thought about seven-year-old Katie Martin. “Jesus, thank You so much for little Katie’s great faith! Thank You for helping her see You and have the courage to ask You into her life last week. Lord, I pray that she not lose the joy of following You.”

Eric continued walking the halls completing his mindless tasks amid the blaring silence. His mind wandered from thought to thought, wondering how each preschool lesson would go, if the first and second grade girls were going to like the activity in their small group, and whether Billy was going to pick a fight with Gregory again this week.

His mind also drifted to thoughts far more carnal. He relived the plot twists and cliffhanger endings of the movies he stayed up too late watching. Subconsciously, Eric’s mind returned to his personal, never-ending debate of his favorite superhero: Batman or Superman? The heater kicked on loudly and jolted his mind back to the present. His eyes darted around, and he breathed a sign of relief finding safety in the empty hallways. Smiling, he wondered what his kids would think if they really knew what went on in the mind of a children’s pastor.

If someone asked Eric which day of the week was his favorite, he’d readily answer Sunday. It was the day he looked forward to most. His staff and volunteers could all readily recite his favorite phrase, “Sunday is a day of promise and potential, a day boys and girls come to experience Jesus.” Pretty much everything Eric did all week pointed to Sunday morning. It was the pinnacle of his week.

However, in the safety of those empty corridors, Eric’s mind sorted through repressed compartments and pulled out feelings of insecurity and dread. Yes, Sunday was the pinnacle of his week, and it was the day that he got to do the jobs he loved most and was best at. But Sunday was also the day the worst parts of his job also surfaced. No matter how much he wanted those dreaded pests to simply disappear, they were his reality. More than once in the privacy of his home, Eric found himself confessing to his wife, Rebecca, “If I didn’t have to deal with the hassle of undependable volunteers or clueless parents, this job would be absolutely perfect.”

When Eric was just a volunteer, all he knew was showing up and leading his small group of third-through-fifth-grade boys. He’d prepare for his lesson for days, and the forty minutes he had with them was the highlight of his week. When Eric came on staff, he naively thought that that forty minutes of pure joy would translate to forty hours of the same. He didn’t expect the constantly complaining parents asking him why the church didn’t do this or why the church did do that. Eric got a fair share of compliments and praises, but he couldn’t figure out why those select few parents could sap his joy so quickly. A run-in with two or three of those parents quickly sent him to a dark place.

Even worse were the volunteers. Most of them showed up on New-Hope time (i.e., five minutes before church began—well after most of the kids were already there). It didn’t matter how many times he begged and pleaded with them to arrive twenty minutes early, they always showed up when they felt like it, if they showed up at all. On Saturdays, Eric cringed every time his phone rang. On average, three to four volunteers would call to let him know that they would not be there the next day. Some had legitimate excuses; some didn’t. Some volunteers didn’t even call. Whether they actually forgot they were on the schedule or just ignored their duties because of a better opportunity, Eric never knew. Usually he didn’t ask either. Somehow it felt better to assume an emergency or sickness rather than face the reality that something they’d rather do came up.

Truth be told, Eric was a bit of a pushover. Sure, his pastor would be hard pressed to find a guy as kind and caring as Eric Newman. And he would be unlikely to find anyone with something bad to say about Eric, well, beside those few parents with their weekly list of complaints. But Eric didn’t rock the boat. When a herd of late volunteers ran into the classrooms at the last minute, Eric would let out a sigh of relief and say, “I can’t tell you how glad I am to see you!” Only later would he send his volunteers a blanket e-mail not singling anyone out but reminding all of them to be early each week.

In the darkness and stillness of that early Sunday morning, inevitably Eric’s thoughts exposed what he dreaded most: Which volunteers are not going to show up today? We’re a little low on help this morning, but if everyone shows up, we can just about cover every room. Wait, who am I kidding? Everyone never shows up on the same week, and I’m going to spend the first fifteen minutes of both services shuffling volunteers around, and at least one of our rooms is going to have a whacked-out ratio of children to teachers. I’ll walk on the stage of Kids Church five minutes late and drenched in sweat, just like every Sunday.

As Eric finished up his duties around the church, he reflected on the stillness of that Sunday morning. He loved that early Sunday-morning solitude and the extra time to think, pray, and contemplate. He considered it his time to just be. However, more often than not, it ended up being the calm before the storm—that raging storm that came every seventh day at 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

Sunday truly was the best day of his week, but buried in the background was a constant sense of dread. It was an ever-present dread that made Sundays so much less than what they were supposed to be for Eric Newman.

More to come...