Is this Really Worth My Time?

14 09 2017

“Is all of this really making a difference?”


Steve Adams, Executive Pastor of Children’s Ministry at Saddleback Church in California, asks this question in his book, Children’s Ministry on Purpose. And we all do don’t we? We wonder if our efforts developing children really means anything. Perhaps we should ignore our little ones and not make any attempts to build their character.

No! Don’t do it!

Of course, this question is not an easy one to answer and our children don’t often come running up to us to thank us for all our wisdom! But like a seed planted and watered, we watch it grow and mature over time by God’s power (1 Cor.3:6-7). As Adams says,

Farmers understand that when they plant a seed in the ground, there is a process that goes with the planting…This is a process worth every minute of our planting efforts regardless of the demands, obstacles, and sacrifices we face. God’s Word tells us that our work does make a difference.

Every word, every lesson plan, every visual aid, every story, every high five is a seed. A seed that sinks in and shapes and influences young lives as they grow, change and adopt internal core beliefs. What you do matters in the life of a child!


How a Child Grows

31 08 2017
People who work with children have the privilege of watching children grow up. Even more, we get to see them form a solid foundation for their lives with Christ. Spiritual formation is a fancy term for becoming more like Christ. Michelle Anthony, author of Family Ministry Essentials, reminds us of this process:
…Holiness is not found in some formulaic package of ingredients. It’s not necessarily defined by what we do or don’t do. Rather, it depends onwhat Christ is doing in us. This was a big “Aha!” moment for me. To see spiritual formation as something I was doing puffed me up and made me feel superior. To see spiritual formation as something Christ was doing in me as I submitted to Him was a game changer.
Recall the apostle Paul’s words in Galatians 4:19: “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth untilChrist is formed in you.”
May you see Christ formed in you and the children you serve!

Adolescence: Who Am I?

23 02 2016

Teenagers, more than anything, need to grasp firmly who they really are.

They are branching out into scary times of increasing independence. A solid family life can provide the reassurance of stable and intimate relationships. How much more does believing, with strong conviction, that they are a loved child of God help them navigate their interpersonal relationships with confidence?

The youth who is not sure of his or her identity shies away from…intimacy.

-Erik Erikson

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

-1 John 3:1-2

Andrew Root, in his book, The Children of Divorce, connects losing the stability of the family with the loss of being. Children who have been raised in highly troubled families will consistently struggle with the question, “Who am I?” And yet, even children from more stable families, who have a higher likelihood of confidence in their identity, will still, inevitably, need to work through this, especially during the turbulent teen years.

The answer to the question, “Who am I?” will largely influence the relationships they have and maintain for the rest of their lives!

When I was thirteen, I came to the point in my life where I challenged myself with this question: “Will I go with God here and now for the rest of my life? Or will I go my own way down a path of lonely confusion about what this life is really about?” I drew a line in the sand and have ever since leaned into God.

I resonate with Peter, who said, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life” (John 6:68). I am a child of God. Without him, I have nothing and am lost.

Helping adolescents navigate this phase can include:

  • Surrounding with trusted, loyal and confident influences
  • Discussing awareness of true-self and reality versus misperceived assumptions
  • Walking through a course on the topic of identity in Christ
  • Providing service and volunteer opportunities to alleviate overly self-conscious tendencies
  • Engaging in thoughtful and open conversations about deeply held values, beliefs and convictions
  • Allowing increasing freedom of choice and owning responsibility for consequences
  • Teaching that sex does NOT equate with genuine intimacy
  • Increasing the sense of urgency that the church has for impacting youth
  • Surrounding with trusted, loyal and confident influences!

Lord, equip our youth with an understanding and belief of their identity in Christ.

Jesus Loves You: The Ultimate Message

1 12 2015

…this I know, for the Bible tells me so…

-Anna Warner and William Bradbury

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life.

-Jesus (John 3:16)

The famous song, called “Jesus Loves Me,” was written as a poem by Anna Warner and later, William Bradbury added a chorus and the tune. It endures to this day perhaps because of it’s simplicity and yet also because of the profound truth it conveys. There is no greater message than knowing that God has revealed his everlasting love through his Son, Jesus Christ, our promised rescuer.

When was the last time you said, “Jesus loves you,” to a child? These are simple words that bring a powerful and lifelong impact. There’s something amazing about knowing that God, Creator of the universe, became a man, Jesus, who identified with us in our sin and struggle and made a way for us to return to a relationship with God. Say it as often as you can!

Lord, thank you for loving me in my weakness and in my misery and in my wrongdoing.

Questions: Stimulating Wonder

17 11 2015

Wisdom begins in wonder.


What do you think about this?

-Jesus (Matthew 21:28)


A good, well-timed, thoughtful question can turn drab into fab! Here are some qualities of a great, relationship-building question. Open-ended not closed allows for more than one word answers. After asking, allow silence to process. Follow it up with, “Tell me more about…” Listen for understanding without interrupting. What compelling question will you ask a child this week?

Starter examples:

  • What if…
  • Rate from 1-10 (why?)…
  • Tell me…
  • Why do you think…
  • How would you feel when…
  • Can you help me understand…
  • What did you learn from…

Lord, you asked questions that moved people to wonder about God. Help me to be like you.

Start: Sometimes You Just Need to Move

10 11 2015

I tend to over-plan. Planning is important because running around recklessly is madness. But over-planning or over-thinking can lead to stagnation; it questions, but doesn’t move. It can lead to waiting for perfect conditions and parameters and problem-solutions that will never fully form. So today’s post is for those of you who feel stuck. I give you permission to go…now!

The next quote may seem counter-intuitive to the title of this post, but hang in there, it should make sense in the end. If not, you may be over-thinking things.

Don’t think about the start of the race. Think about the ending.

-Usain Bolt

Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

-Apostle Paul (Galatians 6:9)

How you start a race matters. Are you trying something new? Volunteering in children’s ministry for the first time? Starting a new habit with your family? Then imagine the end. Dream about the results. Visualize the goal. But take the first step. Don’t overthink the potential problems. Jump in with faith. Just start. Keep at it holding on to the hope of good things coming!

Don’t THINK about the start. JUST START!

Lord, when fear cripples me, teach me to push through it for the joy on the other side.

Story: Connection Trumps Polish

19 10 2015

There is nothing like a good story. In children’s ministry, stories are king not only for capturing attention, but also for capturing the heart. In parenting, stories will do more to shape character than any lecture you can give. Stories can be personal, made up, read, told, acted out, shared in conversation or rehearsed for greater impact. Jesus used stories to grip his audience and point them to the Kingdom of God. Our culture of entertainment understands the power of story. Pixar with Disney is a powerful storytelling machine.

If there’s one thing to remember as a parent or leader when working to shape the character of the next generation of children, it’s simple: tell stories.

Visual polish frequently doesn’t matter if you are getting the story right.

-Ed Catmull, president of Pixar Animation

Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables.

-Matthew 13:34

When telling stories, I like to make sure I have the words exactly memorized. This can cause me trouble when I lose the allure and purpose of the story. Master storyteller, Steven James, reminds me to help the listeners connect with the story rather than to obsess about getting the words right. There is freedom to make ‘mistakes’ when the priority is getting absorbed in the transformational narrative.

Lord, help my stories become magnetic.

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