Sacrifices for Ministry Families

Most people don’t understand the sacrifices of a family that has someone who works full time at a church. This includes pastors, directors in operations, media, youth, kids, senior leadership, worship, creative arts, and everything in between.

Weekend interruptions
Most families get to enjoy the weekend – sleep in, family breakfast, sporting events, relaxing, etc. Families of full time church employees spend their weekend preparing, adjusting schedules, answering questions, building emergencies, etc (mental Rehearsal at the least). No matter how much we plan and prepare there is usually at least a few last minute weekend things that arise.

It is also very common to have ministry events on the weekend because during the week most people are working. This means that weekends are the most accessible time for community events.

Difficult holiday worship services
The fact that most holidays are founded on religious beliefs and/or ceremony it makes celebrating holidays difficult for those in ministry. When most families can travel for holidays many ministry workers have to stay in town for a holiday church service (i.e. Christmas Eve, Easter Sunday). Also, one of the traditions that many families have, especially mothers, is having the entire family sit together at church and worship together on these special days. This usually doesn’t happen for those in ministry.

Opinions and Questions directed at family
When you have a family member in ministry, people regularly ask other family members questions and feel free to give their opinions – usually to the spouse. This is can be overwhelming for the spouse as they usually don’t know the intricacies of ministry events or procedures. The kids usually get the opinions and criticisms.

It’s a challenge for the entire family, but for most of us when you ask each family member they wouldn’t want it any other way.

Entering full time ministry shouldn’t be decided by one person but by all those involved. There aren’t too many other careers that encapsulate the entire family in such a way.

I say all this to say – this is what we signed up for. We care so much about the people and them discovering love and acceptance from Jesus and growing in all areas of their lives.


#PlayTheMan Book

Today Mark Batterson releases a new book entitled Play the Man. I had the privilege of receiving a pre release copy from his publisher.

I love plane rides for the enjoyment of opening up a book without any interruptions except for the occasional stewardess bringing me peanuts and Ginger Ale. I could get use to this.

I recently took a trip to Atlanta, GA for the Orange Conference and was able to almost read Play The Man in its entirety.

Here are my thoughts as I contemplate Mark Batterson’s NEW book, Play The Man.

  1. Kabash!

“Picture a submission move in mixed martial arts. Kabash is an arm bar, a choke hold.”

I love this word! It has a ring to it that makes it memorable. It is the Hebrew word for subdue. Mark makes reference to this word in the chapter about the virtue of manhood — true grit. Men are made of true grit when they have “resilience in the face of rejection, fortitude in the face of fear. Its a no guts, no glory approach to life, even in the face of impossible odds.” 

This is were the word Kabash comes into play. To have true grit and put our full effort into what we do we must have Kabash. We must constantly subdue our selves. If we have Kabash and subdue our human nature, King Solomon says, we will be greater than someone who conquers an entire city. (Proverbs 16:32)


     2. A Man on a Mission

“If you aren’t on a mission from God, “

One of the virtues of manhood that Mark lays out in Play The Man is a clear vision. Without a clear vision or a mission we become sidetracked. When we have a clear vision we are motivated on the right thing and demotivated to do the wrong thing. Mark suggests having a vision retreat with your spouse and even older kids to form a family vision and values.

These are the steps to crafting a family vision and core values:

  1. Start with prayer
  2. Do your homework – ask other couples, read biographies, etc.
  3. Take a vision retreat — a change of pace + a change of place = a change of perspective
  4. Write down the vision
  5. Rewrite the vision

What is your vision?

What are your values?


3. Make the Man

“Its the father’s job to recognize teachable moments. It’s the father’s job to create teachable moments.”

And you thought this book was called, Play The Man! And I’m talking about make the man. Well, in my opinion the best part of the book is the call for fathers and men to pass on Godly manhood and instill the virtues of manhood into their sons and other boys. One of the greatest responsibilities of adults is to pass on their faith to the next generation.

Mark, using his experience with his own boys, gives examples of The Discipleship Covenant. It is a paper that sons and fathers agree upon as a year of discipleship. An example is included in Play The Man. It is reminiscent of an internship but the most important one ever. In my opinion, this tradition is missing entirely in the post-modern culture of America. Mad props to Mark Batterson in doing this with his kids.This year of discipleship includes three challenges they father/son complete together:

  1. The Spiritual Challenge — read entire New Testament
  2. The Intellectual Challenge — read 12 books together
  3. The Physical Challenge — marathon, triathlon, mountain climbing, etc.

At the end of the Year of Discipleship, they go on a Rite of Passage. A strenuous overnight trip that will challenge the boy and challenge him. On the trip, the father takes moments to speak into the boys life or even have other mentors and father figures be involved. For the Rite of Passage, Batterson recommends there be a memorable gift given to the boy

Mark Batterson ends the book with a call to men and I close this post with the same chant:




Spiritual Leadership Book

The pastoral staff is on a journey to read 1 book a month together and then share the 2 most personal takeaways from the book that we read. 

This month’s book is Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders. This book has been around many years but this is my first time reading it. It is chalked full of leadership principles that are Scripturally based. I loved it and will be reading this book again. It had many principles that were thought provoking and challenging. 

Quick Hitters

In this section of the book review, I will point out some sections of the book that I especially liked and will try to use in my own life, character, and/or ministry.

1. “In the same way, appointing leaders with a secular or materialistic outlook prevents the Holy Spirit from making spiritual progress in that place.”

“[S]piritual leadership transcends the power of personality and all other natural gifts. The personality of the spiritual leader influences others because it is penetrated, saturated, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.”

Many leaders confidently lead from their own ideas and direction. The trait that makes spiritual leadership different than leadership is the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit. When our churches and organizations are lead by secular leadership and business principles instead of the Holy Spirit their will be no discipleship and no blessing from the Lord. The Church is to be the influencer for society instead of society being the influencer for the Church. When we are led by the Spirit we will see results in this world and the next. When we are led by our flesh and our own strength we end up sabotaging the very people we are leading. There are costly repercussions for leading without the guidance and presence of the Holy Spirit. 

2. “They were not leaders because of brilliancy of thought, because they were exhaustless in resources, because of their magnificent culture or native endowment, but because, by the power of prayer, they could command the power of God.”

This idea of the power of prayer takes the pressure off the leader. One doesn’t need to have all the skills or knowledge. They need the discipline of prayer and their dedication to communion with God. Oswald talks a lot about people are moved by God through prayer by the leader. Sometimes we forget how important prayer is for leadership and success in life and ministry. 

Spiritual Leadership is very challenging to your soul and as a leader. It is a foundational leadership that should be read by all. We need this type of leadership back in the Church and in the world. 

Read the rest of the book for yourself. There is much more to learn and only a limited amount of time.

Guest Post: Hope Unfolding Book

My wife Allison joins the blog today to post her thoughts about a new book out by Becky Thompson entitled, Hope Unfolding. It’s a book for mothers, which I am not, so I got my wife to read and post about the book. So without further ado here are some wise words from my wife about the book, Hope Unfolding.

I began following Becky Thompson on her Facebook page, Scissortail Silk, about 5 months ago when my baby was born. I also read her “Midnight Mom” devotionals. Motherhood is new territory for me and I have found her posts and devotionals to be the perfect  combination of truth and humor. Her book is no different.

I found myself nodding in agreement as I could relate to her reflections in motherhood. I also found myself tearing up at the very real and raw emotions Becky expressed throughout the book.  She reached through the pages and made the lonely world of motherhood less lonely by putting into words what I, and millions of other women experience everyday, exhaustion and feelings of failure. Failure in motherhood, marriage, faith, etc. Fortunately, that is not all that this book is about.

This book offers hope in the midst of these feelings. Hope that can only be found in Christ. Because without Christ’s strength we will fail every time, but with Christ we are unstoppable. My favorite part of this book is how Becky illustrates her points through her own personal stories and reflections. Everyone wants to know that they are not alone in this journey of life and faith. Becky lets her reader know that they are not alone because we have each other, and most importantly we have God.

This was an uplifting and genuine read that would be a blessing to any mom. I received this book FREE from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.


Book Review: Praying Circles Around the Lives of Your Children

As a brand new father to my daughter, Ava, life is very different and full of different responsibilities that I am still adjusting to.

I have a new area that I need to learn and grow in quickly, PARENTING.

As a Kids’ Pastor I have dabbled in topics of parenting, but having a child has made this area in the forefront of my mind and heart.

I want to be the best father I can be and learn everything I can about parenting so I can give the best to my wife and to my daughter.

To help me learn about parenting and being a father I was given a gift at Christmas. It was Mark Batterson‘s book, Praying Circles Around the Lives of Your Children. I know a crazzyyy long title!

It was a great book to read when starting a family and adding children into your lives. It speaks to the foundation of what parenting is about and what parents should be instilling into the lives of their children. Batterson makes you realize the importance of your role as parents and the skills to set you in the right direction.

Quick Hitters

In this section of the book review, I will point out some sections of the book that I especially liked and will try to use in my own life, character, and/or ministry.

1. “As a parent you cannot practice the spiritual disciplines for your kids. You have to practice them with your kids.” 

As our children grow we have to involve them in spiritual disciplines. We cannot just model how to pray, but we have to give them the opportunity to pray. Batterson talks about your children being spiritually codependent. Parents primary role is to instill personal faith into the lives of their children. This is why so many teens and young adults leave the church and abandon their faith. Their parents have shown them how to have a relationship with Jesus, but have not cultivated a faith inside of their children.

2. “If you repeat them often enough, those truths will get integrated in your child’s way of thinking and way of life.”

Coming up with a prayer mantra is life changing. Praying a specific prayer of your child will help shape your child’s future. Your child is looking to you to help define who they are and help shape their character. As they hear the same prayer every day it will make a lasting impact on them. As we pray, I believe, that the Lord will bless us and take care of our children. Come up with a simple prayer that you pray over your child multiple times a day. Great times to pray are in the morning, at bedtime, in the car, and at the dinner table. God answers the prayers of the faithful.

3. “Your devotion to God will lay a foundation and set a standard for your children to build on.”

The next generation is better, faster, smarter, taller (fill in the blank) than the last generation. You have the choice as parents to help set your children up for success in their relationship with Jesus and in their prayer life. Your spiritual life will directly change the next generation and the next generation. What an important thought. The Bible talks about this concept in Judges 2:10, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.” How you pray will dictate how your kids prayer and how your grandchildren pray and how your great-grandchildren will pray.


1. “As a parent you cannot practice the spiritual disciplines for your kids. You have to practice them with your kids.” 

2. “If you repeat them often enough, those truths will get integrated in your child’s way of thinking and way of life.”

3. “Your devotion to God will lay a foundation and set a standard for your children to build on

Praying Circles Around the Lives of your Children is foundational to parenting and I recommend it to all parents out their. Its never too late to start a spiritual prayer revolution in your family and change your family tree.

What’s Your Mark?

Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about what my mark is on my current place of ministry. I have been at Bethel Church for 4 years in December 2015. 4 years is long enough that you should be able to look around and see programs, people, and/or places that you have influenced as the leader. As I had this thought and reflected I had two thoughts that were counter-intuitive to each other. Take time this week to think of what is your mark? What has been accomplished since you have been at your current place of ministry? The results will probably lead you to the same two thoughts that I had.

1. You have left a bigger mark than you realize.

In my reflections about my mark and influence at Bethel I first thought that I haven’t really left any mark of significance. I haven’t really started any new ministries or any new initiatives. Since this is my first full-time position I have been primarily a manager. I have spent a lot of time just trying to stay afloat. From my perspective I can see that I haven’t accomplished that much. I want so much more. Then I had an encouraging thought. I have made a difference in people’s lives. I haven’t done or started magnificent things that have revolutionized my church or the kidmin community, but I have influenced individuals. Isn’t that what ministry is all about? Think of the notes or cards you have received. Think of the hugs from countless kids that you have embraced. Thanks be to God! You have left a bigger mark than you realize.

2.You haven’t left your mark as much as you want. 

Leaders are hungry for change. Leaders aim for success. If you call yourself a leader then inevitably you have much more to give and much more passion to leave your mark wherever you go. When you look around your ministry and your sphere of influence you can see all the holes and opportunities to leave your mark. We see the opportunities and dream of the possibilities. No matter how long you have been in ministry never lose become complacent and think that you have arrived. Never think that you have left your mark as much as you possibly can. When you come to this point you might as well call AARP and call it quits.

There is a balance between these two thoughts.

What’s your mark?

Talk Like TED

As a shy, quiet boy growing up who wasn’t really interested in talking to people or giving speeches or sermons, I have come a long way. I still have a lot more growth and learning to do in my presentation and public speaking skills. But, public speaking is a skill and can always be improved upon. You aren’t stuck where you are. You can always become better if you put in the work and the grit. I am always working on my craft of speaking and preaching to kids and to adults that’s why I picked up Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo. The premise of Talk Like TED is the results of watching every TED talk and discovering what they all had in common. TED talks are 18 minute long talks that are orchestrated by some of the top thinkers and leaders in the world on subjects in Technology, Education, or Design. Carmine discovered 9 traits that the most popular TED talks have in common and how we can make our presentations and sermons just as captivating and effective.

Quick Hitters

In this section of the book review, I will point out some sections of the book that I especially liked and will try to use in my own life, character, and/or ministry.

1. It Starts from Within.

The biggest take away from this book was that no matter what the topic is the content has to be a part of you and your passion. If you are not passionate about the content of your presentation then you will not be good at communicate the subject matter to the audience. I remember watching the show, The Voice, on one occasion and the celebrity coaches telling the contestants that they need to have emotion in their song and find something personal that you can relate to in the song. This same skill applies to public speaking. Singing is like a speech except your singing instead of talking. So the same truth applies. When you are giving a speech or a sermon get the content in your soul and in your heart. When you do that it will come across as important and convincing to your audience. You have to be passionate about the speech for your audience to be passionate about it. The congregation will feed off your emotions and passion. I am passionate about the Gospel. If I wasn’t passionate I wouldn’t be in ministry, but  I need to spend time praying and applying the specific passage or lesson to me. If I don’t spend time applying the message to me personally it will be harder to communicate the message to others. That is why it is so important for your passion to be ‘hot’ as Bill Hybels says. When I make the message personal and I see how life-changing the Gospel is to me then I am ready and prepared to share the message on Sunday. This is the most important aspect of communication and preaching. Passion preaches.

2. Make it Memorable.

People are bombarded with information every second of the day. From instance internet access, to advertisements around every corner. There is something trying to grab our attention all of the time. To make your sermon or presentation stick and thought provoking you have to communicate in a way that makes it memorable. Carmine Gallo gives a few suggestions backed by science to make your talk memorable. The first is to keep your speech to 18 minutes. This is the goal for all TED talks. It is the perfect amount of time to communicate your point, while still keeping the audiences’ attention. The second is to use stories. People can relate to stories and place themselves in that situation. This gives them a bookmark to remember the content. The third is to teach your audience something new. When we are being taught it releases endorphins. Those endorphins help our brains remember the subject matter. Our goal is to have our audience remember something about our sermon and be able to apply it to their lives. We need to craft our sermons and talks to be timely, filled with stories and little tidbits of information that will peak the listener’s ear and memory. Make it memorable by having a 18 minute speech, filled with stories and interesting facts.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice.

This is the most obvious point, but it takes dedication and serious self-control to make this one happen each and every time you give a speech. I believe we have all been guilty of this. When we are preaching a familiar passage of Scripture we take shortcuts and don’t prepare as much as we should. We don’t practice like we should. When we have been doing this long enough we are confident in our abilities and don’t think we need to practice. I remember when I was in school and had to give a speech. I was practicing a week in advance. I would practice every day of the week. The night before I would stay up and practice over and over again in my head. Now when I get ready for Sunday I practice maybe once or twice. When we do not put in the time and practice we short change the kids we are talking to or the people that are listening. We have the most important content that can ever be communicated, the Gospel. Let’s not short change our congregation. Let’s practice, practice, practice.




It Starts from Within.

Make it Memorable. 

Practice, Practice, Practice.

What a great book that gives you the facts and skills to make your next sermon or presentation a work of art. Read the rest of the book for yourself. There is much more to learn and only a limited amount of time.

3 tips for your Fall Kickoff

The summer typically has an atypical schedule. At a lot of churches, families are on the road vacationing and spending time together as a family. They are making memories just like your family did when you were a child. Summers are filled with special events like VBS and summer camps. But the fall is when churches, schools, and families get back into the groove and back into their schedule. Hopefully get back into church if they were MIA for the summer.

As the fall gets kicked off at your church let me remind you to re-engage with three different groups:

The first group is your team of VOLUNTEERS. Many of you give your volunteers a break throughout the summer. As the fall gets started have a big vision event for your team. Communicate what the vision is for this upcoming school year and get them excited about the new school year. Your team will never be as excited and enthusiastic as you are so that is why it is so important to communicate with genuine excitement continuously. This is a huge opportunity to build momentum and you will need it to have a successful year. This is also a great time to have a big volunteer push to add people to your team. Don’t miss this natural momentum builder in your ministry.

The second group to connect with and re-engage as the fall kicks off is PARENTS. Communicate with parents over and over again all the information they need to know as the fall starts. Families are busy so the sooner the better before they sign up for sports and other extra curricular activities. Let them know when their kids get promoted to a new small group, family events for the rest of the year, any clubs they need to register their kids for. The best way to communicate all this information is to have a parent meeting. It is good to have these meetings every so often throughout the year to keep the communicate lines open with parents.

The third group to re-engage is the KIDS. Give kids something to get excited about for them to anticipate as the school year starts. Build anticipation for the fall events and ministry that they can be a part of. You should aim to have an event at the beginning of fall to advertise to your kids. There is a “Back to Church Day” that you can utilize to get your kids back to church and ready to grow in their relationship with Jesus and other kids.

The fall is a busy time in kids ministry but the 19th century clergyman, Phillips Brooks, says, “Pray for powers equal to your tasks!”

I pray that prayer for you.

Talk Now and Later Book Review

I had the privilege to take a look at Brian Dollar‘s new book Talk Now and Later and share my opinion. What a book! As I prepare to have my first child in November this book was so helpful as I think about all the meaningful conversations I will have with my daughter soon. This book is perfect for parents in all seasons of parenting — new parents, veteran parents, single parents, grandparents, etc. If you are a parent you should invest in your kids and get Talk Now and Later.

As Brian Dollar writes about talking to your kids about tough topics like death, sex, self-esteem, divorce, and many other topics; there were a few themes that ran throughout the entire book. These are my takeaways from Dollar’s book, Talk Now and Later:

  1. All the tough topics that are covered in the book need to be communicated time and time again. Communicating the truths that Brian Dollar discusses need to happen consistently and often. If parents wait until the tragedy comes to have these conversations they are too late. You might even have to schedule to have these conversations with your kids, but they should also happen randomly when they present themselves.


  1. To really communicate the truths that are covered in Talk Now and Later they need to be modeled and a part of your life and character as a parent. We can only communicate so much through our words. The majority of these topics are taught to our kids more through our actions than with our words. If I want my kids to be good stewards of their finances they need to see that modeled and practiced by me. This book challenged me to be the best person I can be. This can only be accomplished through a relationship with Jesus and being covered by His grace and mercy.


  1. Many parents are overwhelmed when they think about talking to their kids about these tough topics, but Talk Now and Later teaches parents to ask questions and help their kids process through the tough topic. Brian Dollar guides parents to ask questions like, “How did you respond?” or “Why is that?” He calls these questions “funneling questions”. Parents need to help funnel kids down to the very core of the issue to help your kids get clarity and answers. Dollar recommends using the phrase “Tell more about that” to help your kids process the tough topic or tragedy. We don’t need to know everything as parents to be great parents. Admit that we don’t know everything and help your child by asking them questions.


Talk Now and Later by Brian Dollar is a great resource for parents, teachers, and ministry leaders. I highly recommend it. You can grab your copy today HERE

Leaders Give Energy!

A few years ago I listened to a teaching by Bill Hybels about energy. He said, “I’ve concluded the leader’s most valuable asset is their energy and their ability to energize other people.”

I have really learned how true his statement was over the past few months. In the past few months, I recently have taken on more responsibility after a staff change. My good friend and fellow kids pastor Dan Dillon transitioned to a different church. One of his gifts is to bring energy and excitement to his space. I am not like Dan and expressing energy is a struggle for me. As they say, “The struggle is real.”

The people that follow you and are in your ministry will not exceed the leadership of you, the leader. If you want your leaders to be excited then you have to be even more excited then them. When you get down and depressed and forget the vision and purpose that God has for you, then your team will get even more down then you. Your energy can be a driving force in your ministry or it can be a draining force in your ministry.

As we get ready to jump into the fall, remember that your energy will have a direct link to the energy of your team and your ministry.

What level of energy will you give to your team?

What level of energy will I give to my team?