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.

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#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)

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     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?

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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:

PLAY THE MAN!

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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.

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?

What is Kids Church? – Worship

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The Bible is filled with commands and examples of the early church worshipping.

“Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;he is to be feared above all gods.” 1 Chronicles 16:23-25

That leads us to the third characteristic of Kids Church – WORSHIP

God created human beings for the purpose of exalting and worshipping Him.

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” Colossians 1:16

Worship needs to be introduced at an early age. Humanity is innately self-centered. We all need to be taught that God is to be first and that He deserves our praise. The earlier we can instill worship in the hearts and minds of kids the better. When we get kids to take the focus off themselves and onto Jesus that is where the real heart and life change takes place.

As with any area of our kids ministries, when our worship isn’t engaging or high-quality enough kids will not be interested in worshipping. This doesn’t mean you have to have all the latest and greatest in lights and stage effects.

What does this look practically?

1. Worship needs to be high-energy! If we want our kids to be excited to worship, the worship leader needs to look excited too. Make sure the person leading worship is full of energy! Have motions with your songs to help. Have high-energy songs to help. Have a kids worship team join you up on stage to help. When worship is not high-energy the kids will not be interested to worship, will role their eyes and check out. (This includes picking the right songs.)

Here are 4 kids worship albums that are spot on and will get you started:

1. eKidz Worship Album – Undefeated

2. Yancy – Little Praise Party Albums (My Best Friend, Happy Day Everyday, Taste and See)

3. Shout Praise Kids featuring Planetshakers Kids – Nothing is Impossible

4. Hillsong Kids – (Follow You, Tell The World, SupernaturalSuper Strong God)

2. Have you ever heard the saying, “More is caught than taught.”? This saying has never been more true than with worship.

It is so important for our volunteers and leaders to be engaged in worship too. Tweet That!

We cannot ask our kids to do something that we do not do ourselves. This is a pet peeve of mine. I believe with all my heart that if our leaders have a heart for worship and demonstrate that during kids church, kids will also begin to worship.

3. The most important practice for an awesome worship time is to pray and invite the Holy Spirit to be present. There are too many church services where we go through the motions — We pick three random songs, we sing the songs, we pray a little prayer and all the kids sit down. Worship is a spiritual act, NOT a religious act. When we go through the motions and perform these worship songs without the Spirit of God, it is only a time-filler and not a Spirit-filler. Invite God to be in the service and watch Him work in the lives of your kids and leaders.

If you missed any of my other posts in this series, What is Kids Church?, here are the links.

Part 1

Part 2

How do you shape your worship time?

What Is Kids Church? – Serving

This is the second part of the What Is Kids Church? series. Feel free to scroll to the bottom for a link to the first part.

Each characteristic of kids church is relatively even in importance but in my opinion if one had to be the most important it would be serving. Unfortunately, it is the most often left out of kids church. Christians are to be “like-Christ” and one of the most foundational attributes of Jesus Christ is serving.

“…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

Jesus always put others first and we need to teach and allow the kids in our ministries to do the same. Tweet That!

Reasons why kids SHOULD serve.

Instructed in the Bible

Jesus did

Helps kids belong

Give kids worth

Develops leadership skills

Grows a servant heart in kids (prepares kids for serving in adulthood)

Reasons why kids DON’T serve.

Time and effort to train them

Wrong view of kids in ministry

Lack of parent support

No quality leadership to make it happen

No expectation that they should

How does serving look practically in kids church?

1. Have a kids leadership small group that trains and prepares kids to be involved in ministry and serve. Many kids ministries take breaks during the summer and have modified schedules. During the summer time is a great opportunity to train kids to serve and minister in their church.

2. Many times kids are eager to be involved in ministry, but they can’t be consistent because their parents or guardians haven’t bought in. Practically speaking, kids can’t drive. That is why parent buy in is crucial for kids to be a part of ministry. Those that serve have to get to church early and might have to stay late. Make sure you communicate with the guardian what is expected of their child and get buy in from parent and child.

3. After completing the leadership training schedule kids to serve on Sunday’s. Some of the different roles kids can fill are: running Propresenter, cleaning up after service, worship team members, greeters, and taking the offering. These are all simple roles, but can have huge dividends in the life of the child.

4. Preach and communicate regularly what the Bible says about serving. Kids will never know what is expected of them if it is not taught. It is human nature to look out for yourself and to be self-centered. Christians are taught to put others first  this includes Christians that are kids. Let kids know what Jesus’ expectation is of them when it comes to serving.

The #1 challenge in kids ministry is having enough volunteers and the continual process of recruitment. How different this might be if we instilled serving in the hearts of our kids in our kids ministries?

What are ways that you get kids involved in ministry and serving?

If you missed part 1 of this series, What Is Kids Church? check it out here.

Royal Family Kids Camp

I know…I started this blog to review books, but this is too important not to put on here. I have witnessed stories and faces of kids that have been given a week of hope, of smiles, of love. I want that to take place in Hampton, VA so bad.

There is a great organization that’s mission is to Create life-changing moments for children of abuse. Did you know that 70% of kids in foster care will end up in jail? 25% of kids in foster care in Virginia are between 7-11 years old. But there is a non-profit organization trying to change that, Royal Family Kids.

Bethel Church is partnering with Royal Family Kids, Inc. to start a week long camp in Hampton, VA to bring hope to the kids that are without hope, the fatherless. You can partner with us at Bethel Church to help bring this camp to Hampton, VA starting in the summer of 2014.

Help us rewrite the kids’ story. From a story of loneliness, abuse, neglect, hunger. To a life of hope, joy, smiles, belonging. Take a few minutes and watch this video explain the experience and how great the need is.

Interested?

We need people, churches, organizations to donate money, birthday presents, camp supplies, and prayer.

Interested?

Contact me at 757-826-1426 or pastorjoel@betheltemple.com to get involved.

God has instructed Christians to be the father to the fatherless and the hope to the world.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

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2nd Quarter Preview

Whenever I watch a preview for a movie there is one of two emotional responses after watching. The first emotion is anticipation. I get excited and think of how I really want to see this movie. The other emotion is disappointment. I become disappointed and realize that this movie should have been turned into a youtube video at the best.

I am going to give you the titles of the books I will be reading in the next three months. Let me know what emotional response you have after seeing what books I will be reviewing.

Good To Great by Jim Collins

Think Orange by Reggie Joiner

Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala

I am looking forward to reading these books and, hopefully, after reading what books I will be reviewing in the 2nd quarter you are looking forward to seeing their reviews.

 

The First Quarter of 2013

If you are familiar with sports, the majority of them are broken into quarters. Basketball has four quarters, football has four quarters, baseball has innings, hockey has periods. This year especially, I heard many football coaches and football commentators referring to the season as quarters. If you are not familiar with the most popular sport in America, the football season is broken into sixteen games. If you look at the season as one entire game, it can be broken into quarters of four games for a total of four quarters of four games each.

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All that to say that this blog will be broken into four quarters based on the calendar year. The first quarter is January, February, and March. Side note, if you break your calendar year and what you want to accomplish during this year into four quarters, it will help you make your goals more manageable and more likely to be crossed off the list. This blog is all about book reviews and the books that I am learning and my second thought on them.

The books that I will be reading and blogging about for this first quarter of the year are:

 

January – “I Blew It” by Brian Dollar

February – “Winning” by Jack Welch

March – “Volunteers that Stick” by Jim Wideman

 

I hope you will follow me through my fast-paced learning process.