The Undeniable Benefits Of Longevity In Ministry

Brian 1999

Me and my daughter, Ashton, in my office at church circa April 2000

Just a few days ago, October 31, 2017 – I celebrated the fact that 18 years ago my wife, Cherith, and I came to Arkansas to be the Kids Pastors at First NLR.  What a ride it has been!  We have been blessed to serve under two incredible pastors, Dr. Alton Garrison (the first 18 months) and Rod Loy (the past 16.5 years).  To serve on such an incredible team (many of whom have been along for MOST of the ride as well) is more of a blessing than I could describe.

There’s something to be said about longevity in ministry – especially longevity in ONE place.  It’s so incredible to look around at every Staff Meeting and see FOUR kids who grew up in my Kids Ministry and are now Kids Pastors, Student Pastors, Online Pastors on our team (and other campuses).  It’s such a joy to be able to be able to teach and hold the children OF the children I taught in SLAM long ago (I call them my GrandSLAMs and I am their “SLAMpa” haha).  I am so thankful to have been able to remain in one place for this long.  Sadly, this is not the norm.

Probably all of us in ministry have heard the stats, and they are troubling.  The average Children/Youth Minister only stays at his current church for about 18 – 24 months.  Some studies have stated that it may be more like 3 years, and others I have seen say it’s more like 9-11 months.  But suffice it to say, the tenure of the average Children/Youth Minister is way too short.

When you move on too quickly, you miss out on the incredible benefits of longevity in ministry:

  • Improved Perspective – the longer you stay in one place, the greater perspective you have.  You know the history of the ministry – what worked and what didn’t work.  You know the struggles and victories of the people in your ministry.  You are able to minister from an increased awareness of their needs.
  • Deeper Relationships – it takes time to get “beyond the surface” in relationships.  The longer you stay, the more highs and lows you experience with people.  The longer you stay, the more they trust you to “stick it out” and be there for the long haul.  When they trust you, relationships go deeper.
  • Increased Wisdom – the longer you stay, the more mistakes you will make.  Hopefully, you will learn from those mistakes and grow.  Then, you will gain wisdom and not make those same mistakes again.  In addition, it seems that around the 6th or 7th year of being at a place, suddenly people begin to see you as smarter.  You may not be that much smarter, but their perception of you begins to become more of a wise mentor than a “new pastor on staff.”
  • Sharper Skills – many people claim to have “ten years of Children’s Ministry experience” when in actuality they have “2 years of Children’s Ministry experience in five different churches.”  Too many leave a church and move to the next one once they have run out of ideas.  Then, they move to the next church and put the same two years worth of ideas into that church – and so on.  When you commit to be at the same spot for the long haul, it FORCES you to develop your skills beyond your comfort zone.  Your communication skills, leadership skills, and relational skills are stretched when you choose to stay beyond the “itch” for something new.  Don’t go looking for that “something new” elsewhere, develop that “something new” right where you are!
  • Unparalleled Fulfillment – there is nothing that compares to being able to watch the children you minister to grow up and become strong leaders in the church.  I now have had the privilege to perform marriages of kids who grew up in my Kids Ministry.  Our lead Kids Pastor here at First NLR was a 3rd Grader when I came to the church.  There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing your ministry come full-circle.

Longevity in ministry may be rare, but I believe that is slowly changing.  As Kids Ministry Leaders begin to recognize the benefits of longevity, this will begin to become the norm instead of the exception.  I am so thankful to God that I have had the opportunity to serve First NLR for the past 18 years, and I pray that I have another 18 (or more) left in me!

What about you?  What are some benefits to longevity that I may have missed?

Communicating So Kids WANT To Listen (FREE VIDEO LESSON )

I am super pumped to share this FREE video lesson with you!  How would you like to learn some of the great principles and practices used by some of the most dynamic and effective communicators?

Well, now you can!  In this video, I share some of the best tips and practices that I have learned in my 25 years of Kids Ministry!  It’s a FREE video lesson from my Online Video Course called: “ACCELERATE: Boosting Your Ministry Effectiveness.”

 

Here’s the FREE VIDEO LESSON:

Want MORE helpful videos like this?  You can find them in my  Online Video Course I just created:

“ACCELERATE: Boosting Your Ministry Effectiveness.”

Every lesson comes with video teaching, slide decks, outline, worksheet, audio file, Keynote/PowerPoint so you can teach it to YOUR team!  Check it out HERE!  Available for a limited time!

This Is Why Real Success Often Feels Like Ultimate Failure

If you’ve ever failed, then be of good cheer…you are just like Elijah!

Think with me for a second back to 1 Kings 18. Elijah and King Ahab are atop Mount Carmel. The prophets of Baal are facing off against Elijah to decide once and for all whose god has ultimate power.

The prophets of Baal make utter fools of themselves, spending nearly the entire day doing everything they can think of to get Baal to act in their favor. Of course, Baal isn’t real, so nothing happens.

Elijah then steps up to take his turn. He has a truckload of water dumped on his altar. And then, after praying, the Almighty God sends down fire to consume Elijah’s well-soaked sacrifice.

But as the prophet of God descends the mountain and continues his journey, he becomes incredibly…discouraged.

1 Kings 19:10 is where Elijah vents his frustration before the Lord. He says that despite all his service, and despite the decisive victory on Mount Carmel, the people still haven’t turned from their evil ways. And now Elijah himself is a wanted man!

Elijah feels like a failure. All of his work has been in vain!

But do you remember what happens next?

God takes him up another mountain to show Elijah, and I believe to show us, what the work of God often looks like.

Elijah experiences a mighty wind, an earthquake, and a fire. All of which the Lord was not in.

You probably know it well…

The Lord was there in “…the sound of a gentle whisper”.

God wasn’t going to transform the hearts of Israel through a miraculous display as Elijah might have thought. Rather, God’s work was going to be done in the still small voice the Almighty uses to speak to the human heart. 

This runs contrary to what we all want. We want big attendance, and lots of decisions made, and life-changing experiences all around. I think, too often, we anticipate God is about to work when our effort is peaking…when we’ve gone as ‘big’ as we can.

But as God was teaching Elijah, I think He also teaches us.

God’s work isn’t always most visible in the spectacular moments we orchestrate. Rather, He’s working in a whisper to turn hearts toward Him.

So the next time you think you’ve failed, the next time your big event doesn’t seem to generate the response you’d hoped for, remember Elijah. God is always at work, but often He chooses to do His best work…in a whisper.

This is a guest post by our good friends over at BetterBibleTeachers.com

Book Review: “Emily Lost Someone She Loved”

 

The death of a loved one.  The death of a pet.  These are some of the most difficult tragedies and losses that parents struggle to explain and help their children through.

The questions abound…

  • How much do I tell my kids?
  • Do I tell them everything is fine when it isn’t?
  • Do I allow them to be a part of family discussions?
  • Do I let them go to the funeral?
  • Should I let them look at the body in the casket?
  • How do I handle their questions about death?

These are all legitimate questions.  They are all not so easy to answer.  Kids Pastors are often in the position of needing to help parents navigate the treacherous waters of grief with their children.  There are not a lot of resources to help the child process their own grief and understand what is happening to them emotionally.

I am so thrilled to recommend this book to you.  Whether you are a parent, a teacher, or a Kids Pastor – this is a resource you will want on your bookshelf.  In “Emily Lost Someone She Loved”, author Kathleen Fucci does a great job of describing the pain and loss in words that children can understand.  The illustrations are beautifully done and the story is short and simple.

You can purchase the book on Amazon – HERE!  Also, I am giving away a FREE copy of the book.  Just email krista@highvoltage-kids.com and let her know you’d like to be entered.  We will draw the winner on Friday, June 16, 2017.  Winner will be notified by email.

“Talk Now And Later” Video Small Group (Special Opportunity)

I am SO THRILLED to be able to share this news with you!

Many of you know that last year, I wrote a book called Talk Now And Later: How To Lead Kids Through Life’s Tough Topics. The book ended up reaching #1 on Amazon in the Christian Families category of New Releases.

I have heard countless stories of how the content of the book has helped parents begin and continue many important life-changing conversations about life’s toughest topics such as: God, Sex, Death & Tragedy, Divorce, Friendships, and more!

Well, ever since the release of the book I have been inundated with requests from Pastors and Kids Pastors to release a video-based Small Group Curriculum based on the book. That time has FINALLY COME!

Introducing the “Talk Now And Later” Parent Small Group Video Curriculum.  It contains SIX sessions of me teaching parents on the topics of the book.  ALSO, includes five copies of the book, “Talk Now And Later” for attendees of the Small Group – as well as Facilitator’s Guide with group share questions and more!

Here’s the deal – this product technically is still not released yet! (it won’t release from my publisher until July) But, I was able to get my hands on a LIMITED number of these kits and I am making them available to YOU, my blog readers, only!

These kits will be released in July and will retail for $149.99.  I am making them available to you (for a limited time) at $129.  So, not only do you get them BEFORE they are released to the public, but you get them at a reduced price!

Click Here for more info or to place your order!

Again, I only have a LIMITED NUMBER of these available. So, get one for your church to use for Small Group, Parent Training, Retreats, or however you see fit!

God bless you all!

Justin Graves Band Provides Fun Music For The Whole Family

JGB

I am so excited to introduce you to some friends of mine!  I met Justin, Michelle, and Gabi at a Kidmin Conference in Tennessee several years ago.  I was instantly drawn in by their infectious personalities, melodies, and love for the Lord!

Several months ago, Justin showed me some of the music they had been working on.  He also let me know that his family was expanding their ministry and had made a HUGE move recently.  As we talked, I felt strongly that I should share with my “blog family” all about Justin Graves Band and how YOU can be blessed by their ministry.

The Justin Graves band has a way of connecting with kids through fun, energetic music that teaches God’s Word.  When the JGB leads kids the first thing you MUST know about them is that is is NOT a performance.  They are interactive and intentional in the way they lead.  There is no show, nothing fancy…just true, honest praise and worship from the heart.  It is fun, real and filled with JOY!  Their hope is to encourage kids and families to be Strong and Courageous, always Trust in the Lord and tell them that they are a unique creation created by God for a purpose!

Check out this video below.  It will help you see the heart behind the ministry!  Then, head over to their website www.justingravesband.com and check out their music!  It’s perfect for church, home, or rides in the mini-van!  I hope you love JGB as much as I do.

“Miracles From Heaven” – Movie Review

Miracles From Heaven

I was honored to be sent a “screener” version of the upcoming film, “Miracles From Heaven.”   I was unfamiliar with the true story it is based on, so I was watching from a completely ignorant perspective.

This movie was produced by the same folks that brought us “Heaven Is For Real.”  It has many of the same elements that I totally appreciated about that movie:

Excellent Acting –  Jennifer Garner, Queen Latifah, and the rest of the cast (especially the young actress, Kylie Rogers, who plays Anna Beam) nail this film.  They brought me nearly to tears multiple times (and I DON’T cry in movies).

Beautiful Cinematography – This movie has some of the best shots I have ever seen in a faith-based movie.  Apparently, the director has done some films for the Disney Channel, but this movie looks nothing like anything you would see on that network.  It was brilliantly shot.  Every scene evokes strong emotion.

Great Story –  The story of the Beams dealing with their daughter’s mysterious sickness is one that so many parents will identify with.  Their faith is tested, their family dynamic is disrupted, and their future is in question.  As you watch the movie, you are truly taken on an emotional roller-coaster of emotions.

There were several elements about the movie that I wasn’t pleased with.  The pastor (played by John Carroll Lynch) is a nice guy, but is portrayed as a bit shallow.  His “preaching” is also a bit shallow (more like small-time storytelling and entertainment).  The church looks almost identical to the church used in “Heaven Is For Real.”  But, that scene is totally saved by some incredible music played by the church’s worship band – which happens to be Third Day.  🙂

Overall, I was extremely pleased and entertained by this film.  It is definitely family-friendly, faith-based, and well worth the money you’ll need to shell out to see it.  I highly recommend that you do!  “Miracles From Heaven” releases on Wednesday, March 16th.   Here is the official trailer for the movie:

 

 

“Fresh Prince Of Time Change” (parody of “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”)

Fresh Prince Time Change

 

So many of you watched our other “Time Change Sunday” Parody Video (“Time Change Funk”) and asked, “Do you have more?” Well, yes we do!  Here is a great parody of the TV theme song, “Fresh Prince Of Time Change” by Will Smith.  This one stars one of my best friends, Shelby.  You’re gonna love this hilarious video that reminds everyone to Spring Forward on Time Change Sunday! Enjoy!

 

“Time Change Funk” (Parody of “Uptown Funk”)

TimeChangeFunk

Every year, our church does a great job at poking fun of Time Change Sunday (the day that clocks Spring an hour forward and for some reason people freak out because they are losing an hour of sleep).  To keep people from forgetting and ultimately being late for church that day, we create crazy videos to remind everyone.

The last few years, we have done parody songs and videos of the hottest pop songs of the day.  Well, this year is no different.  For your entertainment, here is a parody of “Uptown Funk” (Grammy award winner for Song of the Year 2015).  You’re gonna love it!

 

Jumpstart Your Bible Reading In 2016 (FREE WEBINAR)

Jumpstart 2016

Happy New Year!

Lots of people make New Year’s Resolutions (or goals…or plan-of-attack…or fresh start). Whatever you call it, for Christians at least, Bible reading is typically somewhere on the list.

Is time in God’s Word on your list? Do you have a plan? (Hint: You need one.)

I want you to start well…so you can sustain a vibrant time with God all year long (ahem…and longer). That’s why I’m hosting a brand-new, FREE webinar This Friday at noon (CST).  I will be interviewing one of the foremost experts in this area, Keith Ferrin.  Keith is an author of several books and has developed many tools that will help you in your pursuit to make God’s Word a PRIORITY in your life this year. 

These are some of the questions Keith will answer…

  1. Is it really possible to enjoy the Bible?
  2. How do I keep my mind from wandering?
  3. Where do I start if I’m new to the Bible?
  4. What do you recommend for people who have been around the Bible a long time?
  5. What translation do you recommend?
  6. How do I remember what I read?

Are you in? Register today!

Can I ask one small 30-second favor?  Will you help me spread the word over the next few days? (I want heaps of people to hear this!)

You can also simply copy/paste this link – – into an email/text/etc. and that will send people directly to the registration page…or you can share this blog post via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+. 

Thanks! I am so excited I can hardly wait for this FRIDAY!