“I Blew It!” Officially Released!

I’m very excited to announce that my book, “I Blew It!”, officially released this week!  This has been a labor of love that was nearly a year in the making (well, 20 years if you want to be technical LOL).  It chronicles my twenty years in Kids Ministry and all the biggest mistakes I have made – plus offers insight and principles to help YOU avoid those mistakes.

I was honored to have one of my heroes, Jim Wideman, write the Foreword for the book.  Jim is a legend in Kids Ministry and has served at some of the largest churches in America.  I appreciate his friendship and willingness to contribute to this project.

This book is filled with hilarious stories of incredible blunders I have made.  You will laugh until it hurts at how stupid I was in my early years of ministry (and probably will identify with many of the mistakes as well).  My prayer is that you will also be challenged to look at failure in a whole new way.  “Failure is never final.”

I was blessed to have some of the top leaders in Kids Ministry read a pre-release copy of the book and write endorsements.  These leaders include Kenny Conley, Sam Luce, Gina McClain, Ryan Frank, Michael Chanley, Karl Bastian, and many more.  I am humbled that these men and women of God with a passion for kids would lend their names and credibility to this project!

Many have asked, “What are the topics you cover in I Blew It!?”  So, I thought I would share those with you – CLICK HERE!

Thanks, everyone, for celebrating this milestone with me!  I pray that this book will be a blessing to you and your ministry – helping you avoid some of the biggest pitfalls of Kids Ministry!

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?

Great Family Project: “The Christmas Prayer Chain”

prayer chain christmas

Looking for a great and easy-to-do project for your family this Christmas?  My wife, Cherith, started this Christmas tradition in our family when my kids were just babies.  It has meant a lot to our family, and I hope you will find it meaningful as well.

What you need:

25 strips of construction paper (approx 2 inches wide and six inches long); a sharpie marker; glue

What to do:

1)  Prior to Dec. 1st, gather your kids together and take turns naming the name of someone the family will pray for (friends, family, pastors, teachers, and others)

2)  Write one name on each strip of construction paper, then glue each strip together end-to-end, linking each to make a long paper chain (see graphic above).

3)  Place the Christmas Prayer Chain on the mantle or on the Christmas Tree

4)  Starting Dec. 1st, gather the family together to remove one link of the chain and pray together for the person listed on that link.

5)  This is a wonderful way to countdown the days until Christmas and have meaningful family prayer time.

May you and your family enjoy your Christmas holiday!

Lessons For Kidmin From The Penn State Child Abuse Debacle

The news from the Penn State scandal has dominated the news cycle for the last week, and it has dominated my thoughts as well.  I couldn’t believe the heinous crime that was perpetrated on young at-risk boys in such a public place for so long.

There are many lessons to learn from this tragedy and it’s aftermath.  We spent a good deal of time in our staff meeting today discussing this.  Here are some of the BIG lessons I believe we in Kids Ministry MUST learn from this:

1)  We must be VIGILANT in protecting His children.

Every child must be vigilantly protected.  We must have policies, processes, and procedures in place that put safety for God’s children at the HIGHEST priority.  Some of the policies we have in place at HVKM are:

*  Six month rule – an adult must have attended our church for a minimum of six months before being allowed to work with minors.  NO exceptions!

* ALL adults must go through a criminal background check process

*  No adult is EVER alone with a minor – not in a car, not in a classroom, not in a hallway, NEVER.  This not only prevents the opportunity for abuse, but also protects the volunteer from false accusation.

2)  When you see abuse taking place – INTERVENE!

It is not enough to just “pass the info up the chain.”  A child is in the act of being harmed, intervene!  Scream, yell, throw something, call the police, draw attention to the area like a crazy person.  Do whatever it takes to cause the abuse to stop.  Then, report it immediately!

3)  Never allow the failure underneath you to remain.

Coach Paterno wasn’t the one who perpetrated the acts, but he was the one who allowed the person who did to stay on his team.  Then, he tried to just ignore the problem and hope it went away.  When a leader allows a member of his/her team to continue in moral failure (of whatever nature) unchecked, then that leader is equally to blame.  It seems easier to just ignore the problem – it never is in the long run.

4)  The truth will always come to light.

The Bible puts it this way, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” – Numbers 32:23

We need to talk with our volunteers about this issue.  Remind them of the importance of protecting all of God’s children.  They are innocent, fragile, and precious!  They are the gifts God has given us the opportunity to serve.  We CANNOT fail them by not protecting them.  We must be VIGILANT!

Let us also pray sincerely for the victims and their families.  Recovery from abuse can be a life-long journey.  God, in His infinite power, can help bring peace and healing to hearts and lives that have been broken by the abuses of others.

For more great info on this subject, see my friend Roger Fields’ post!

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”