Should Kids Pastors Talk To Their Groups About “Gay Marriage”?

With the news yesterday of the Supreme Court striking down the “Defense Of Marriage Act”, the topic of “Gay Marriage” is once again a major story in the news.  No doubt, our kids are hearing all about this topic both on the TV and, many times, on the playground.  It’s hard for a Christian parent to control the context in which their child may have conversations regarding this important topic.

I received a question yesterday from a fellow Kids Pastor asking my opinion on whether or not he should “address” his Kids Ministry on the topic of Gay Marriage and/or Homosexuality in general.  I gave him my opinion, so I thought I would share it with you here – in case there were others who were wrestling with this same question.

In short, my answer is, “No.”

I think you have to be careful what issues you are addressing “as a group.”  So many children are at different parts of the journey regarding both mental and emotional maturity.  When you address something as serious as homosexuality and gay marriage to a large group of kids, it is very difficult to do so in a way that is appropriate for EVERY child.

In addition, many parents (as they should) want to be THE ones to discuss topics such as this with their kids.  I understand, many parents DON’T ever discuss it with their kids.  That’s unfortunate.  However, you don’t want to undercut parents by addressing it publicly in a large group of kids.  This should be something that parents include in their general talks about “sexuality” with their kids.

Of course, if a child asks you a direct question about it – treat that just like you do any other question about sex or sexuality.  Answer with, “I would be happy to share my thoughts with you about this subject.  Let’s talk to Mom or Dad when they come to pick you up.  Perhaps together, we can answer your questions in a healthy way.”  Then, follow the cues of the parent.  If they do not wish to discuss it right then and there, follow their lead.  Allow them to do so on their own terms and in their own timing.

An alternative to discussing this with the large group is to offer a special class or “discussion” in which you allow parents to sign their kids up to attend.  Allow parents to attend with their children if they wish.  Rather than coming at the topic in a negative manner (i.e. “We are AGAINST gay marriage”, etc.), discuss the topic within the overall umbrella of God’s plan for our sexuality (“God created male and female to complement one another.  Marriage is the life-long commitment between one man and one woman.”).

The topic of “gay marriage” and “homosexuality” is a difficult one.  It is polarizing.  While we don’t ever shy away from the truth, we also must be wise and careful when dealing with the youngest among us.  We want clarity, not confusion.

Do you agree?  Disagree?  Do you plan to address it as a larger group?  In small group time?  I welcome your thoughts.

The Forgotten Value Of Asking Questions


I have observed over the years many Kidmin Leaders make the mistake of “arriving” in ministry.  They achieve a certain level of “success” and decide they know it all (or at least all they care to know).

When this happens, they move into protectionism.  They are constantly trying to protect their reputation as a “knowledgeable and capable leader.”  I have watched as these leaders begin to sink because they are not willing to do something that could help them keep rising in leadership – ASK QUESTIONS.

Admitting you don’t know it all and asking others for their input is difficult for insecure leaders.  Sadly, you miss out on incredible opportunities to continue growing when you fail to ask questions.  Here are some of the questions I ask and the people I ask them to:

My Pastor/Boss
*  Is there anything I am not doing in ministry that you would like to see me begin doing?
*  Is there anything I AM doing in ministry that you would like to see me STOP doing?
*  Is there any area of growth in my life that you see needs to be addressed?
*  What can I do to serve you better?
*  What can I do to serve my team better?
*  What is the biggest challenge you face in leading me?
*  How can I pray for you and your family?

My Team
*  What is the biggest challenge you find in having me as a leader?
*  What is the biggest thing you appreciate about my leadership?
*  What is one thing I can do NOW to help you grow personally?
*  How can I pray for you and your family?

The Parents In My Ministry
*  What are the ways we can serve you better as a parent?
*  What is the thing we do BEST as a ministry?
*  What is the area we most need to IMPROVE?
*  How can I pray for you and your family?

Take some time in the coming weeks and meet with your pastor, team members, and a group of parents in your ministry.  Ask some of these questions (and avoid the tendency to have a rebuttal to their answers – after all, the goal is to GAIN KNOWLEDGE, not prove them wrong).  They will be impressed with your desire to grow.  And, you just might gain some information you were not aware of that may take your ministry effectiveness to the next level.

What are some questions you ask yourself, your pastor, your team, and your parents?  Share them in the comments section!

Making The Most Of Your Mistakes

WEEKLY KIDMIN QUESTION:

“How do you respond when you really blow it?”

I am excited to announce that my brand new book, “I Blew It!” will be released next week (you can pre-order it now by clicking here)!  In this book, I document the BIGGEST mistakes I have made in Kids Ministry and how YOU can avoid them.  Since I started talking about writing the book, many have asked me, “How did you keep from giving up when you made such huge mistakes?” or “How were you able to use your biggest mistakes to move forward instead of backward?”

It’s not an easy process, nor is it one that I learned very easily.  But, over the years I developed a series of questions that I ask anytime I really blow it big-time.  These are questions that might help you through the process of learning from your mistakes:

1)  Why did it happen?  Was it a lack of planning, unrealistic expectations, poor communication, wrong motives, unforeseen obstacles, or some other reason?

2)  Was it avoidable? Many of our goofs can be avoided with better planning, communication, and execution, but some can’t.

3)  If it could have been avoided, what specifically could I have done to prevent it?

4)  What do I need to know, be, or do to avoid repeating the mistake? 

Sometimes this is a process you can do all on your own.  Other times, you may need to bring a trusted outside voice into the situation to help you evaluate and answer these questions.  The number one rule in this process:  DON’T BE DEFENSIVE!  You can’t come to the table with a defensive posture.  If you spend your time defending your motives, your intentions, and your methods – then you defeat the purpose of evaluating.

Instead, be open.  Every mistake is an opportunity to grow.  Learn from them.  That way you don’t ever have to repeat them.  We are going to make mistakes.  Let’s just be determined to make NEW ones – not repeat the old ones.  Learn from your mistakes – and keep growing!!!

How about you?  What do you do in order to help you make sure to learn from your mistakes?  Comment and let us know!

Have You Prayed For Your Pastor Today?

pastor-stress

Last week I had the privilege of traveling with my Senior Pastor, Rod Loy, for a very important trip.  We were meeting with some of the leadership of our denomination to discuss the possibility of a VERY cool project that could make a major impact on Kids Ministry.  It was exciting!

During that quick, 24 hour trip, I was able to be a “fly on the wall” of sorts and get a glimpse into the kind of pressure my pastor faces on a daily basis.  While I drove, his phone rang almost nonstop.  In that short amount of time he had to handle phone calls and emails dealing with several people’s health crises, someone’s job loss, talked another pastor who he is coaching through a crisis in their church, and dealt with several emails from people who were personally attacking and criticizing him.

All the while, he never complained or showed any signs of frustration.  He graciously prayed with, counseled, and shared with each person – giving them individual attention and care.  It was amazing to see.  I wasn’t sure I could have handled it as well as he did.

I began to think, “If I hadn’t been right beside him, I wouldn’t have known this day was as tough as it was.  He never would have told me about it.  He never would have come crying or complaining to the staff about how tough things are.”  That convicted me.

Too often I am guilty of assuming that just because I don’t hear about the stresses and pressures my pastor is dealing with, then they must not be happening.  I assume things are fine and dandy, all the while he is battling tremendously in the spirit realm with all sorts of crises.  He needs a solid prayer covering DAILY!

I committed that day to step up my game and pray even more earnestly for my Pastor, my leader, my mentor.  He and his family are under constant attack of the enemy, and they need prayer to withstand these attacks.   I repented for not praying enough for him and committed to change that.

What about you?  Are you praying daily for your Senior Pastor and his family?  Are you praying earnestly for them, doing battle in the spirit realm?  God has placed you under his leadership.  It is your responsibility to cover your pastor and his family in prayer.  Let’s commit as Kids Ministry Leaders to pray DAILY for our pastors.  You’ll be glad you did!

Why I Wrote “I Blew It!”

WEEKLY KIDMIN QUESTION:

“So, why did you decide to write a book?” – submitted by Aaron in Arkansas

Since I announced that I was writing a book several months ago, this question has been asked of me many times.  I will have to admit, I asked it of myself many times – in many various forms.

I have read many books relating to Kids Ministry.  There are some that focus solely on practical ministry helps (i.e. Learn To Juggle In 15 Short Lessons or Understanding Your Pre-Teens).  There are others that focus solely on Leadership Lessons (i.e. 12 Habits Of The Post-Modern Kids Pastor).  Still others focus on challenging the status quo and making a BIG paradigm shift in the Kidmin World.

Most books I read come from the angle of “learning from the expert.”  That’s not the book I wanted to write.  Although I have been a Kids Pastor for nearly 20 years now, I in no way consider myself an “expert.”  I have failed more times than I can count.

That’s why I decided to reflect on my first 20 years of Kids Ministry and document the biggest mistakes I have made.  These mistakes range from leadership mistakes, personal failures, and practical ministry blunders.  I have written about them all in I Blew It!: the biggest mistakes I’ve made in kids ministry and how you can avoid them.

All of us must learn how to handle it when we make mistakes—and we certainly are going to make plenty of them.  We’re human, and mistakes are a normal part of life.  Ministry (and every other part of life) is packed with difficult choices that require wisdom, and often, we have to face problems we’ve never encountered before.  Mistakes are inevitable—sometimes really big ones!  No matter how hard we try to do things right, the question isn’t “Will I make mistakes?” but “How will I respond to my mistakes?”

This book is a collection of stories (some funny, some devastating) documenting mistakes I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned in more than twenty years of kids’ ministry.  I hope you can learn from my mistakes so you don’t have to make them yourself.

I Blew It! will be released by Influence Resources in January 2012!  You can pre-order an autographed copy through High Voltage Kids Ministry Resources now!

Involving Kids In Ministry

WEEKLY KIDMIN QUESTION:

“I am wanting to get kids more involved in leadership.  Do you use kids to help lead?  If so what have you found works or doesn’t work in training them?” – submitted by Chuck in Georgia

I am a firm believer of allowing kids to use their God-given talents in areas of ministry.  It is VERY important that children begin serving in ministry as early as possible.  It helps them avoid developing a “church is here to serve me” mentality.  Instead, they focus on serving and leading others as a means of worship.

God has, can, and will use children in ministry.  They often have the simple faith that delights God’s heart, and He responds by pouring out His blessings on them.  God doesn’t seem to be waiting on them to grow up and become “the future of the church.” Children who have been saved by God’s grace and filled with His power have the same anointing that adults have with the same experience.  As children’s evangelist, John Tasch observes:

“A child doesn’t have a Junior Holy Spirit while adults have a big Holy Spirit. It doesn’t work that way. When God gives out His Spirit, He gives it without measure and without size. Children just need someone to train them to do the work of the ministry.” (“Training And Equipping Children,” K! Magazine, Sept/Oct 2011)

If we will equip and release them, I believe kids will be some of the strongest leaders and ministers in the church.  Some of the areas we have kids involved in ministry are:
*  Worship Team
*  Greeters
*  Offering Time (holding the buckets)
*  Visiting Nursing Homes
*  Drama
*  Special Music
*  Prayer Partners
*  Serving Ministries
We have special training and rehearsals for most areas.  We treat the kids with the same level of expectation as adults.  We expect them to be on time, consistently present, engaged, and pure in heart.  We have noticed that the kids rise up to the level we expect from them.  Our kids are some of the most amazing ministers I know.
Thanks for the question, Chuck!  It shows that your heart is to engage and equip your kids for ministry.  I believe that is what our charge is as Kids Pastors (Ephesians 4:11,12).
How about each of you reading this blog?  What are some areas you have kids involved in ministry?  What kind of training do you do for them?  I welcome your thoughts and comments!

The Procrastination Trap

WEEKLY KIDMIN QUESTION:

“I struggle with procrastination.  I’m a spontaneous type of guy.  Do you think that hurts my leadership?” – submitted by David

As I’ve talked to hundreds of people involved in kids’ ministries across the country, I’ve observed that there’s an epidemic of procrastination.  We excuse it in all kinds of ways, but all our reasons lead to the same result.  Yes, you have to be quick, and you never know what a kid is going to say or what kind of crazy thing will happen next.  But many kids’ leaders believe their enthusiastic personalities and the spontaneity of their ministry give them a license to walk in unprepared.  They try to get by, doing the least they can do, and it shows.

I know what this is all about.  I used to fall prey to this procrastination trap for many years.  I wrote about it in my upcoming book, I Blew It! (the biggest mistakes I have made in Kids Ministry and how you can avoid them)”.  In the book, I tell about how the spontaneity bug bit me and caused me to lose credibility.

There’s no excuse for procrastination in preparing for children’s ministry.  God has given us an incredible privilege and responsibility to lead kids on their spiritual journey to becoming life-long followers of Jesus Christ. Someday, we’ll give an account for our motives and actions.  I don’t want to stand before God on that day and tell Him, “I would’ve been more intentional about my ministry to Your children, God, but I had more important things to do.”

Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the day that’s coming: “So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10, cf. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15).  There are many good and noble motivations to live for Christ, to pay attention to His purposes, and to devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the work He has called us to do.  We serve kids because we love God with all our hearts and He has given us a love for children.  And we work hard to prepare and serve because someday we’ll give an account of our lives.  On that day, we want to see Him smile and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.  Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23)

That’s what I want to hear.  How about you?

Discipline In Kidmin pt. 2

WEEKLY KIDMIN QUESTION:

“How do you handle discipline issues at your church?” – submitted by “Anonymous” in Dallas, TX

In my last post, I explained what our discipline policies for Kidmin. 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 we follow when applying consequences.

1.  Remind the child of the rule they have broken.
2.  Official Warning
3.  Move the child to a different seat
4.  Remove the child from the room (bring them to office)
5.  Pastor discussion
6.  Parent meeting
7.  Suspension for one week
8.  Suspension for three weeks
9.  Permanent suspension (we have NEVER had to do this so far)

Above all, let’s take a POSITIVE approach.  You get what you celebrate!

Discipline Issues In Kidmin pt. 1

WEEKLY KIDMIN QUESTION:

“How do you handle discipline issues at your church?” – submitted by “Anonymous” in Dallas, TX

Discipline is a hot button issue for people who work with kids.  While public and private school systems have five days a week to instill a discipline plan with students, the church typically has about one hour per week to do the same thing.  It’s important to have a clear system in place.  The last thing you want to do is expect volunteers to come up with their own discipline plan without guidance or expectations.

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 (these are NOT original)

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!

Keep It Consistent

You have to be consistent in how you apply discipline.  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.

In my next post, I will share what our specific steps are for dealing with discipline issues.  So, don’t miss “Discipline Issues In Kidmin pt. 2”

Does a Kidmin Volunteer have to be a Christian?

KIDMIN QUESTION:

“In a small church, it can be difficult to get enough volunteers since you are just starting out.  What do you think about people who aren’t
Christians volunteering with kids?” –
submitted by Dan in Santa Monica, California

I understand that many of you will have differing opinions than I have on this subject.  I want you to know that it is OK – and I welcome the discussion.  Please leave comments below.  Let’s share our approach and reasons for it.

My personal opinion and conviction on this matter is that all volunteers in Kids Ministry should go through a screening process.  Part of that process should be affirming the fact that they are committed believers and daily followers of Christ.  I think it should definitely be a requirement.  Here are my reasons:

1)  Kids Ministry is not child-care – it is discipleship.

Kids Ministry is exactly that – Kids MINISTRY.  It is working hard to share the Gospel with the children through our actions, words, love, and concern.  We are to teach the children to be life-long followers of Christ.  It is very difficult to teach what you have not yet become – a follower of Jesus.  As John Maxwell always says, “We teach what we know, but we reproduce what we are.”

2)  We must protect the kids.

I think you have to have the HIGHEST level of safety and security.  By ensuring that every person that works in your Kids Ministry is saved, has been trained, and has gone through a background check process – then you can assure parents that you have done EVERYTHING you can to ensure their child’s safety.

3)  We must protect the volunteer.

Allowing someone who is not a Christian to become an influence in the lives of children is setting them up for failure.  Asking someone who is not a Christian to “act like a Christian” only when they are around the children is not only asking them to “be a hypocrite”, but it is setting them up for failure.  There are tremendous repercussions when that happens, not only for the child, but also for the volunteer.  Remember, Jesus said, “It would be better for someone to tie a mill stone around their neck and be thrown into the sea than for them to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”

4)  We must have a higher standard in Kidmin.

I personally think that Kids Ministry should have the HIGHEST standard of any ministry in the church, not the lowest.  I understand that in a small congregation it can be hard to get volunteers.  That means we have to work doubletime to communicate the vision and goals of the Kids Ministry.  INSPIRE others to be involved, don’t GUILT them into it.  I think the higher the bar is raised, the higher level of volunteer you will end up with.  If we won’t require someone to be a believer in order to work with our most prized possessions (our kids), then what WILL we require salvation in order to do?

5)  It’s not discrimination.  It’s wisdom.

Those who do not yet know Christ are one of THE REASONS we exist as a church.  We love them and are motivated to pray for them, love them, help them, and demonstrate Christ’s love to them.  However, we can not have those who do not yet agree wholeheartedly with what we are teaching be involved as a leader in the lives of the kids we are responsible for.  Too many opportunities for confusion to be sown in the minds of the children.

6)  It’s not about being “perfect.”

Many who have a differing opinion on this subject may say, “Well, no one is perfect.  Even the Christian volunteers you have are bound to eventually slip up and make a mistake, have a wrong attitude, say a cuss word, etc.”  This is true.  No one is perfect.  It’s not about whether or not they will make a mistake or not.  The bottom line is – we have to take every precaution we can to ensure that those we place in leadership over our children are going to represent Christ to the kids.  They are the “only Jesus” many of our kids will ever see.

7)  There are many other opportunities to serve.

I never turn someone away outright.  I explain to them the reasons behind my decision not to use them in Kids Ministry, then redirect them to an area in the church where they are not working with minors.  I might even put them on one of the Kidmin teams that does not interface directly with kids (setup, cleanup, etc.)  I do see the importantance for them to work alongside those are committed believers so as to be able to see the love and service of Christ weekly.

I also commit to pray for their salvation and step up my efforts to communicate Christ’s love to them through my life.

Again, I welcome your comments and other points of view?  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Let’s discuss…