Jan 18, 2019

Parent's Spiritual Health is a Big Predictor of Their Child's Spiritual Health

Spiritual healthy parents are a big predictor of their child's spiritual health. 

Now this is not a blanket statement, but it is true in many, many cases. 

Yes, children must make their own decision to follow Jesus.  God doesn't have any grandchildren...only children. 

But parents normally play the biggest role in their child deciding to follow Jesus. 

We also know that many kids' view of God the Father comes from their view of their earthly father.  If their father has rules with no relationship, the child may grow up to view God as a distant Father who is ready to render wrath upon them when they sin. 

If the child's father walked out on the family, the child may be reluctant to trust God.

If the child's father is too busy to spend much time with him or her, the child may grow up to view God as someone who is too busy to listen to their prayers or get involved in their life.

If the child's relationship with their father was distant, they may grow up believing that God is distant and doesn't care about them.

I've often said, "We need more parenting ministries than we do children's ministries."  Parents are the biggest influence in a child's life.  This means if you want to influence children, you should begin trying to influence their parents. 
If you want to impact a child's life, then start by impacting the life of their biggest influence...their parents.  Seek to influence the influencers.
Praying parents raise praying children.

Tithing parents raise tithing children.

Faith sharing parents raise faith sharing children.

Parents who make church a priority raise kids who make church attendance a priority.

Bible reading parents raise Bible reading children.
We must also remember that while kids don't always do what we say, they never fail to imitate what we do.  You teach what you know, but you reproduce who you are. 
Mothers play just as an important role, or perhaps an even bigger role, in their child's spiritual health.  Couple of examples that come to mind.   Hannah influenced her son, Samuel, who became a great prophet of God.  Timothy was influenced by his mother and grandmother.  Throughout Scripture we see examples of parents influencing their children to follow God.

What if...just what if...we helped parents catch the vision of bringing up spiritually healthy children by first modeling spiritual health themselves?

What if we helped parents grow in their faith so they, in return, could help their children grow in their faith as well?

I'm afraid that many times, we get so busy trying to influence children's spiritual growth, that we neglect giving ourselves to the work of influencing parents' spiritual growth as well.  We get ourselves off the hook by saying "that's the adult ministries job."  And yes, it is part of their job, but I also know that you, as a children's ministry leader, can bring so much relevant material to the table.  So partner with adult ministries.  Work together to build some spiritual bridges for both children and their parents. 

Yes, there are exceptions.  There are children who grew up in terrible situations, but grew up to love God and do amazing things for Him.  But for most kids, as the spiritual health of their parents goes, so goes theirs as well.

I want to challenge you to sit down and begin to work through how you can invest in the spiritual health of the parents in your church.  And then out of that, the overflow will be children who are spiritually healthy.

Our children are watching us.  They are taking their cues from us as parents.  Oh, they won't admit it, especially if they are teenagers.  But don't be fooled.  They are watching their parents and following their lead. 

Be committed to helping parents lead well and help them set a solid foundation of spiritual health that their children and grandchildren will follow. 

Jan 16, 2019

The Greatest Barrier to Growing Your Ministry

There can be many reasons why a ministry is not growing.  Here are a few of the barriers.

You are in a very small community.  You can reach some people, maybe even a couple of hundred, but you can't reach 10,000 people if there are only 700 people that live in your town and the surrounding area.

Your building is full. Once your building capacity reaches 85%, you will stop growing until you add more space or additional service times.

The members don't want to grow.  Usually this is caused by a few families who control the congregation.  They know if the church grows, they may lose their "power" and so they push new people away.

Unwillingness to change.  Change is resisted because the members are enamored by the "good old days."  They refuse to change and so they become irrelevant.

Complacency.  The church grows content with where they are and have no desire to grow.  They like things the way they are. 

These are all valid reasons why a ministry doesn't grow.   

But I believe the biggest reason a ministry doesn't grow is because of the leader.  As the leader of the ministry, if you are not personally growing, then it will be hard for the ministry to grow.

The most challenging person to lead in your ministry is the person you look at in the mirror every morning.  The person you have to spend the most energy growing is yourself.  The hardest person to motivate at times is yourself. 

Rick Warren talks about how he stopped focusing on the church growing and instead focused on growing himself.  As he grew, the ministry grew.

Yes, it can happen.  You can become the biggest barrier to your ministry growing.  You can become the lid.

If this is you, don't be discouraged.  We've all had times when we hit a personal slump.  The key is to take steps to start growing again as a leader.

Connect with some other leaders and ask for help.

What is a book I should read?

What conference should I attend?

Who do you know that I should connect with?

Who should I ask to come alongside me and invest in me?

Who has led a ministry larger than ours whom I could ask questions?

If you are a ministry of 100, then ask someone who is leading a ministry of 200 how they grew to that level.

If you are a ministry of 500, then ask someone who is leading a ministry of 1,000 what they had to personally stop or start doing to get there.

If you are a ministry of 1,000, then ask someone who is leading a ministry of 5,000 how they grew to that level. 

As you begin to grow, you will see the ministry begin to grow.

Keep growing so you don't become the greatest barrier to the ministry growing.  

Jan 15, 2019

Servant Leadership...the Best Way to Lead

Servant leadership.  Notice what comes first - servant. 

Servant leadership is the best way to lead.  How do I know?  Because that's how Jesus led.  It says in Matthew 20:28 that...

"For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many."

Some leaders lead with fear.  They intimidate and display fits of anger when needed.  

Some leaders lead with force.  They push their agenda (which is usually an agenda of elevating themselves and pushing others down).  They are like Pharaoh, driving his army into the Red Sea.  Not caring who gets hurt or injured along the way.

Some leaders lead with their title.  They try to use their title as leadership leverage.  But people don't follow a title...at least not long-term.  Instead, they follow someone they love and respect.

Some leaders lead with finances.  They try to buy people's love and respect.  The problem?  Great team members don't make money their first determining factor if they are going to work for someone or not.  Instead, they are looking at how their potential boss leads and what the culture of the organization is. 

So many times, Jesus modeled servant leadership for us.  None more effectively than washing the disciples' feet. They arrive and go into an upper room of the house.  They anticipate a servant coming through the door to wash their feet.  That was expected in that culture.  A lowly servant of the house would come and wash the dirt and grime off of people's feet when they arrived. 

But not this time...no servant from the house appears.  There is no one to fulfill one of the lowliest tasks in the kingdom.  I can see the disciples awkwardly looking at each other...no one wanting to take the posture of a servant.  

While this is happening, Jesus goes and gets a basin, fills it with water and grabs a towel.  He then begins to wash the disciples' feet.  Showing them by example what it means to be a servant leader.  

When we use the term "servant leader," notice what word comes first.   I mentioned it at the beginning of this article.  It's the word word "servant."  The best kind of leadership starts in serving others.  As a servant leader, you are a servant first. 

A servant leader empowers others rather than trying to be powerful. 

A servant leader meets the needs of others before himself / herself.

A servant leader doesn't walk above others, he or she walks beside others. 

A servant leader creates stars rather than trying to be a star.

A servant leader motivates more than he / she manages. 

A servant leader demonstrates humility rather than hierarchy.

A servant leader demonstrates loyalty rather than by demanding it.  

A servant leader helps others grow rather than pushing others down.
 
A servant leader uses his / her ministry to build up others instead of using others to build the ministry. 

A servant leader listens more than they talk. 

A servant leader persuades people rather than pushing people.  

Can you imagine how the disciples must have felt that night when Jesus demonstrated what it means to being a servant leader?  I can, because there are times when I consider my own needs before the needs of others.  There have been times when I should have been listening instead of talking.  There have been times when I have pushed rather than persuaded.  There have been times when I led by pride rather than humility.

If you can identify, my prayer is we will be committed to leading like Jesus.  Servant leader.  It's the kind of leadership than can change the world.  

Jan 14, 2019

Training Tomorrow's Leaders Today

When you serve in children's ministry, you are training the future leaders of the church. 

Sitting in your small group...rocking in your arms in the nursery...singing in your kid's choir or praise team...
coloring in your preschool room...trying to act "cool" in your pre-teen ministry...are tomorrow's church leaders. 

Think about this with me.  When you invest in children, you are preparing leaders who will make an impact in a time you will never see.  I'm not trying to be morbid here, but we know our time here on earth is short.  We only have a short time to make a difference.  But when we invest in children, we extend our influence into the future.  

And in case you're wondering, you are also making a big impact right now.  Kids can be leaders now if we will give them the opportunity. 

When you invest in children, you are molding the church of now and tomorrow.  What a privilege and honor that is.  God has entrusted you with this very important assignment.  Don't take it likely. 

The 1st grade boy that keeps climbing on top of the table in your classroom, will one day climb up a mountain as a missionary to tell a tribe of people about Jesus. 

The pre-teen girl that talks out during class and disrupts the lesson, will one day be a bold witness for Christ in the workplace.

The little preschooler that drops his penny in the offering bucket, will one day be a successful entrepreneur who will give thousands of dollars to advance the Gospel.

The 8-year-old girl that sings with all her heart, will one day write worship songs that encourages millions of people. 

The kindergarten boy that is playing with the legos before service, will one day build churches around the world. 

A few months ago, I went to the Billy Graham memorial in North Carolina.  I learned something about Billy's ministry that I had not heard before.  And it relates to what we're talking about in this article.

In 1934, a group of men gathered under a grove of trees at the edge of the Graham dairy farm.  It was the dairy farm of William Graham.  William was the father of Billy Graham, who at the time was a 15 year-old teenager.  

The men had gathered to pray for revival in their city, state and beyond.  They prayed that God would raise up someone from the Charlotte area who would take the Gospel to the world.  A few months later, Billy attended a revival service of Dr. Mordecai Ham.  It was a tent meeting. And on November 1, 1934, Billy went forward and entered a relationship with Jesus. 

Billy would grow up to reach millions of people with the Gospel.  He has been called the "Evangelist to the World" and the "Pastor to Presidents."

The group of men who gathered to pray that day, impacted millions of people through the investment they made in a young man named Billy. 

I believe in your children's ministry there is a child who God can use to change the world.  And He is using you to train this child, who will grow up to make a world-wide impact. 

What a privilege to be able to train tomorrow's church leaders.