Make Ministry Simple, Not Easy

Simple

Today’s post is written by Jeffrey Kranz and sponsored by Disciplr, a new interactive curriculum platform for KidMin leaders. Check out their free ebook for Sunday school teachers!

It’s a blessing and a curse to be a leader in this day and age, isn’t it?

It’s a blessing because it seems like almost every area of life is getting easier. It’s a curse because you’re expected to make things exponentially easier for your volunteers, too!

That makes sense, though. Almost everything is getting easier.

  • I can’t remember the last time I had to ask for directions. (Thanks, Google!)
  • I can keep in contact with all my old friends and make new ones around the world. (Thanks, Twitter!)
  • I’m automatically reminded of my next appointment. (Thanks, Siri!)

 

But ministry? I don’t think ministry is getting easier—for leaders or volunteers.

It seems like no matter how advanced the technology gets for the local church, ministry is still tough work. (And this is coming for a guy who has worked for two software companies that specialize in ministry tools!)

But that begs the question: Should ministry be easy in the first place?

Ministry isn’t easy in the Bible

I suppose it makes sense that ministry isn’t necessarily easy. “Ministry” literally means “service,” and service usually involves some work!

Plus, when I look at what some of the characters in the Bible experienced while they did ministry, “easy” isn’t exactly the word that comes to mind.

  • Ministry wasn’t easy for the prophets. The Israelites planned to kill Moses a few times. Jeremiah was thrown in a pit. Daniel was thrown to the lions. Elijah was considered an enemy of the state.
  • Ministry wasn’t easy for the apostles, either. James was beheaded. John was exiled. Peter was crucified. Paul had quite the list of hardships (2 Corinthians 11:23–29).
  • Ministry definitely wasn’t easy for Jesus!
  • Paul doesn’t think ministry will be easy for the people he taught, either. He tells Timothy that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12).

 

Ministry isn’t easy. It probably never will be.

So what can leaders do?

Your volunteers see everything getting easier around them, and they’re going to expect ministry to keep pace. How can you, as a leader, help them out—even though ministry will never be easy?

I can think of one huge way you can help them:

If you can’t make it easier, make it simpler.

 

Easy vs simple

“Easy” and “simple” are often thrown around as synonyms. However, when it comes to ministry, there’s a difference.

“Easy” means something takes less work.

“Simple” means something is less complex or convoluted.

You can make lots of things easier. But for the stuff that’s irreducibly hard work (like ministry!), you can always look for ways to make the process less complex.

For example: many people are afraid of public speaking—it’s been said that people are more afraid of public speaking than death and spiders! You won’t make that easier for the brave volunteers who agree to teach large group.

But you can make the process simpler for them. You can get them a script ahead of time. You can have all the props ready to go backstage (or onstage). You can do a mic check before the session begins. You can put a clock in the back of the room so they know how they’re doing on time!

You see the difference? You’re not making it easier for the volunteer to speak in public. But you are making the whole process surrounding the hard work a lot less complex. There’s less that the volunteer needs to think about—they’re free to focus on what they need to do.

It’s simpler.

You won’t make ministry easier. But you can definitely make it simple.

3 ways to simplify your children’s ministry

There are many ways you can start making your children’s ministry simpler. Here are a few to consider as you gear up for the beginning of the school year.

Consider fewer programs

Church consultant Tony Morgan recently warned churches not to launch too many programs this fall. Consider how many programs you have going on—and how your volunteers are spread across them. Is there a way for you to consolidate your programs? Can you cut some of the good programs to make the others great?

Make an internal communication strategy

Take an afternoon and plan out when you will send messages to your team. The more consistent you are in your messaging, the more consistent your volunteers can be in reading and responding to your messages! Some messages you will want to strategize may include:

  • Weekly reminder of Sunday morning’s agenda
  • Monthly lesson assignments
  • Encouraging notes for the team

Take an afternoon to determine when the best times might be to send these (and other) to your volunteers. By being consistent, you make the whole ministry experience simpler for your volunteers—they know when they’ll hear from you!

Consolidate your systems and services

It’s easier for volunteers to buy into one platform than many! While some of your volunteers will be quicker to pick up on digital tools than others, even the tech-savviest of them don’t want to get bogged down with too many platforms and services.

(This is one of the reasons we made Disciplr. It’s a single platform that handles all the shopping for Sunday school lessons, managing volunteers, and even your shopping lists for classroom materials. Plus, the lessons are cloud-based, so your volunteers don’t need to think about hunting down attachments in their inboxes.)

If you consolidate the tools you use, your volunteers will have less of a hassle learning the ropes—and you won’t find it as difficult to retain them! Again, this doesn’t make the ministry itself easier, but it sure does make it simpler!

Conclusion

Volunteers want to serve. And though you can’t make ministry easy, there are plenty of ways you can make it simpler for them!

And if you’re interested in getting some more tips for growing as a KidMin leader, I recommend you check out Greg Baird’s free guide: 8 Qualities of a Great Sunday School Teacher.

8-Qualities-Cover

#TalkNowAndLater briandollar.com/talknowandlater

Only 7 DAYS until the release of “Talk Now And Later: How To Lead Kids Through Life’s Tough Topics” on September 1, 2015.  You can download the first chapter now at briandollar.com/talknowandlater

4 Reasons The Kids In Your Ministry Are Misbehaving

child misbehavior

We’ve all been there.  It’s Sunday Morning, and you are ready for an awesome day of ministry to the kids in your church.  But, things just didn’t go according to plan.  Johnny wouldn’t stop throwing paper airplanes, Suzi wouldn’t stop talking to her neighbor, and the Jones kid decided to bring a laser pointer and virtually blind you while you were teaching.  It seemed like the entire class had obviously eaten a dozen powdered donuts for breakfast and were on a major sugar high.

Now, when this happens you have a choice to make.  You can get angry, threaten to quit, or bury your head in your pillow for the rest of the day.  OR, you could ask yourself – “Why were the kids acting this way?”  The truth is, there are several common reasons why kids misbehave in class…

Common Reasons For Misbehavior

1) A Desire to Belong

One of kids’ greatest desires is to connect with their peers.  Sometimes a child’s misbehavior results from a mistaken assumption that an inappropriate action will help gain peer recognition. When kids feel disconnected from a group, misbehavior is often actually a misguided tactic to belong: “If I refuse to participate, others will think I’m cool, and I’ll fit in with the group.”

2) Lack of Direction

Unclear rules, inconsistent enforcement, and lack of consequences can ignite misbehavior.  If kids believe they’ll get away with inappropriate behavior, and there’s a history of tolerance without repercussions, the spark of misbehavior can spread like a wildfire.

3) Environment

Sometimes the room arrangement encourages kids to act out.  Seating arrangements, physical distractions, and space issues can lead to a child’s poor behavior choice.  One church had kids who constantly goofed off in chairs during class time.  Their leader removed the chairs and had kids sit on the floor.  This simple change eliminated the distraction and kids were instantly more engaged in the teaching.  Group chemistry and personal circumstances may also create a hostile environment.

4) Boredom

If kids aren’t engaged in learning, they’ll engage in something else.  And an unprepared leader is a doormat just waiting to be stepped on.

Successful Discipline comes down to two words: Clear Expectations

There is no way that kids can be expected to be held accountable to follow rules that are never clearly communicated to them.

Keep It SIMPLE

Don’t develop so many rules that kids can’t remember them from week to week. The rules I have used my entire ministry are the C.O.O.L. Rules

Care about your neighbor – don’t be a space invader

Only get out of your seat when you have permission

Obey the leader and don’t interrupt

Let’s work together – and be WINNERS!

To help kids understand, ask them what it looks like to follow the stated rules.  For example, “Care about your neighbor and don’t be a space invader.”  Ask kids, “What does this rule look like?”

Keep It CONSISTENT

Wavering in your discipline approach weekly causes confusion with the kids. Being extra sensitive and calling down everyone one week, then being extra care-free and allowing all kinds of disruptions will NOT help your kids at all. Be consistent.

Keep It FAIR

Many of our kids face life with a list of personalities, disorders, and issues attached to them. Each week may bring a different set of behavioral problems and challenges in your class. In the heat of the moment it can be easy to label the child instead of the inappropriate behavior.

Take care when confronting a child about his or her misbehavior.  Announcing to the class that Sally’s a chatterbox when she constantly talks out of turn doesn’t model respect and may inflict damage to her developing sense of self.  Instead, remind Sally that one of the class rules is to be respectful and when she talks out of turn, her behavior is disrespectful.

Consequences

If you want kids to follow your policy, follow through with established consequences. Consequences help kids own their behavior and teach them to make better choices. Here are the established steps to follow when applying consequences.

  • Remind the child of the rule they have broken.
  • Official Warning
  • Move the child to a different seat
  • Remove the child from the room (bring them to office)
  • Pastor discussion
  • Parent meeting
  • Suspension for one week
  • Suspension for three weeks
  • Permanent suspension

Above all, let’s take a POSITIVE approach.

You get what you celebrate!  So, don’t blame the kids when they misbehave.  Take a step back, evaluate your approach, and modify it accordingly.  Good luck out there!

Last Chance To Get Autographed Copy of “Talk Now And Later”

TNAL Facebook Ad (20 percent TEXT)

I am so excited about the upcoming release of my brand new book, “Talk Now And Later:  How To Lead Kids Through Life’s Tough Topics” on September 1, 2015.  It’s a book I wrote to help parents, grandparents, and anyone who is a spiritual influence in the life of a child to help them navigate the tough conversations about today’s “taboo” subjects such as sex, bullying, money, divorce, self-image, and more.

I have talked to a lot of people who have read Talk Now and Later.  Many of them expressed feeling encouraged and equipped to guide their child through tough conversations.

It makes my heart jump when I hear those testimonial stories.  This is the very reason why I wrote the book, created my video series and why I blog about parenting so much.  I simply love to help equip you to talk to your kids about difficult stuff.

Tonight at midnight (August 15, 2015), the discounted offer for an autographed copy of Talk Now and Later is going away.  Obviously, the book will still be for sale through Amazon and other retail outlets, but I won’t be signing copies anymore.

I want you to consider something:

1.) If you have read the book and it positively impacted you, please consider purchasing a copy for others that may benefit from it.

At this time you can still benefit from an (up to) 40% discount on bulk orders.  And yes, these will also be signed by me!

2.)  If you haven’t read the book yet, you may want to consider getting one now.  I confidently believe that it will bless you tremendously and that the practical information as shared in the book will fuel memorable conversations with you and your children. 

If you’d like to get an autographed copy at a discounted price, then now is your chance to get one.  CLICK HERE to order your autographed copy!

Instagram TNAL

briandollar.com/talknowandlater

[VIDEO] The Two Most Important Words A Parent Can Say

Two most important words

Words have power!  They can either lift up or they can tear down!  They can either raise our child’s self-esteem or they can destroy it.

There are a LOT of words we use as a parent.  Five words I find myself uttering often are, “Go Clean Your Room, Now!”  Three words my kids need to hear every day are, “I Love You!”

But, did you know that there are TWO WORDS that, when strung together in a sentence, can create a powerful bond between parent and child?  In fact, these two words are SO powerful that those who refuse to say these two words place a huge divide between themselves and their children.

What are these two words?  In this video, I share these two words with you and how you can use them to spark incredible conversation – DEEP conversation – with your children.  Using these two words will create an atmosphere where real bonding and healing can take place.  I pray that you take the few minutes and watch this video.  It might save your family!

This is PART 4 of a 4-part video series.  In case you missed the first three, here you go:

Video #1

Video #2

Video #3

Every Conversation Is A Spiritual Conversation

spiritual conversations with our kids

 

In my twenty-three years as a kids’ pastor, I can’t tell you how many times a parent has walked up to me after church and asked, “My son was asking me questions about baptism last night.  Would you meet with him to explain what water baptism is all about?”  I’ve received countless emails that say something like, “My daughter asked me what it means to be saved.  I don’t want to confuse her, so can I set her up an appointment with you this week?  I’m sure you can explain it better than I can.”  Parents have asked me to talk to their kids about every conceivable spiritual question.

I’m happy to help, but when a parent asks ME to talk their kid about spiritual issues instead of them…my answer is always, “No.”  Now, before you decide I am the meanest Children’s Pastor on the planet, watch this video and you’ll understand where I am coming from.  In this video, I explain why I believe the primary sources of spiritual conversation for these kids should be their own parents.  Too often, parents and grandparents believe they aren’t qualified to impart spiritual wisdom to kids.

Take a few moments and watch what I share in this video.  I think it will cause you to have a seismic shift in your view of what “Spiritual Conversations” with your kids can look like.

This is the third in a series of videos taken from my new book, “Talk Now And Later:  How To Lead Kids In Life’s Tough Topics.”  If you missed the first two videos, you can find them here:

VIDEO #1:  “Are You A Proactive Or Reactive Parent?”

VIDEO #2:  “Don’t Miss The Cues”

My book releases on September 1, 2015.  For a limited time, you can purchase a pre-release autographed copy of the book HERE!

Facebook_TNAL_Book_Signing

I am honored to have been invited by Barnes & Noble in West Little Rock to host a book signing for my latest book, “Talk Now and Later: How To Lead Kids Through Life’s Tough Topics” (which releases September 1st).  I would LOVE to have all of my local friends and family come out to support the book, purchase a signed copy, and enjoy a night of fun and fellowship.  Help give this book a STRONG start!  I fully believe it is going to be a blessing to many Christian parents as they seek to have lasting and impacting relationships with their kids! Hope to see you there!  CLICK HERE for more info!

Date: September 3, 2015
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Event: BOOK SIGNING - "Talk Now And Later" (Barnes & Noble, Little Rock - Sept. 3, 2015)
Venue: Barnes & Noble; 11500 Financial Centre Pkwy, Little Rock, Arkansas 72211
Public: Public

Brain Science & The Bible: Are They Enemies?

Brain vs Bible

 

I will never forget sitting in the company of a preacher while I was in Bible College.  This preacher railed against Science and technology.  He viewed them as vehement enemies of the Kingdom of God.  He firmly believed that any sort of connection between Science and The Bible was a lie.

Growing up in a Spirit-led church community, I often heard arguments against “those churches who plan and prepare their services.”  It was believed that those who use their human minds to plan Church services were “not allowing God’s Spirit to lead them.”  The assumption, of course, was that God is not interested in the human brain and any suggestion that God would speak ahead of time to lead a pastor as to what He wanted to do in a particular service was just not probable.

Although I am a FULL believer in the commands of God to have “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) and to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), I think to dismiss any value of our human brain which was created by God in all of its complexity – would be a huge mistake.  God created us with a brain for a reason.  It was not to rely on human wisdom alone.  But, it was to be led by the Spirit to use the brain and all of its catecholamines, action potentials, and neuroplasticity for HIS glory!

Throughout history, there have been incredible minds that have intersected the study of God’s creation with the study of the scriptures:

  • St. Thomas Aquinas and his work regarding Aristotle and the formulation of natural law
  • Francis Bacon, the founder of the scientific method
  • Albert Einstein (though not a Christian, stated, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

The fact is, “God gave us a brain not just because our body needed a command and control center to direct it but because God enjoys seeing us steward our brains for his glory.” (Dr. Charles Stone, Brain Savvy Leaders).

Why is understanding the human brain so important?

1.  What goes on in our minds can cause us to stumble.

“But he turned to Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan.  You are a stone that could make me stumble, for you are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.'”Matthew 16:23

2.  We are to love God with our minds.

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind.” – Matthew 23:37

3.  Our spiritual battle largely occurs in our minds.

“But I see a different law at work in my body.  It wages a war against the law of my mind and takes me prisoner with the law of sin that is in my body.” – Romans 7:23

4.  Spirituality engages the mind.

“If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind isn’t productive.  What should I do?  I’ll pray in the Spirit, but I’ll pray with my mind too; I’ll sing a psalm in the Spirit, but I’ll sing the psalm with my mind too.” – 1 Corinthians 14:14-15

5.  We’re to purposefully focus our minds’ attention on certain things, and attention is a core component of learning.  In other words, thinking affects behavior.

“Think about the things above and not the things on earth.” – Colossians 3:2

“From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things:  all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise.”  – Philippians 4:8

This is why I have enjoyed reading the book, “Brain Savvy Leaders:  The Science of Significant Ministry.”  Dr. Stone began his interest in the human brain when his daughter, Tiffany, developed a brain tumor.  As he began to see the human brain for what it is – a fantastic creation by our Heavenly Father that is to be used by human beings for His glory – he embarked on a journey of deeper understanding of what it means to be a good steward of this powerful human organ.

Here is what several leading voices are saying about this book:

“Brain Savvy Leaders is the best book I have read on the brain science of healthy thinking and effective leadership.  Dr. Stone has done an incredible job of balancing modern brain science with biblical truth, making complex ideas simple to understand, and providing practical tools to enhance mental performance.” – Dr. Timothy R. Jennings, President, Tennessee Psychiatric Association

“This book will help you with emotional regulation, personal productivity, team collaboration, and change management.  It’s a winner!” – Dan Reiland, Author of Amplified Leadership

“Brain Savvy Leaders shares helpful tips on how to master leadership in the church.  I needed this book.” – Ron Edmondson, Senior Pastor, Immanuel Baptist Church, Lexington, KY

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it for those who want to gain a better understanding between the Science of the human brain and its Divine purpose!

Purchase your copy of Brain Savvy Leaders by Dr. Charles Stone HERE!

Brain Savvy Leaders