May 22, 2019

Better You = Better Ministry

Do you want to see the ministry you lead go to the next level?

Do you want to see your ministry be more effective at reaching kids and families?

Do you want to make a bigger impact in your city?

I have the answer.

It's improving you.

Improve you and the ministry will improve.

Better You = Better Ministry.

Your greatest challenge is the person you look at in the mirror.

Look what Rick Warren said about this

"Years ago, I stopped worrying about how to grow our church and instead focused on growing me.  As I grew me, our church grew."

Abraham Lincoln said this - "If I had 6 hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first four sharpening my axe."

If you want your ministry to operate at a level 10, then you've got to lead at a level 10.  The ministry you lead will be parallel to your personal leadership growth and walk with Christ.

John Maxwell has reminded us of this over the years when he says, "Everything rises and falls on leadership."

Children's ministry is just like any other ministry in this aspect.  The success your ministry has will rise and fall on your leadership.

Before you remind me that only God can grow a ministry, I want you to know I am in total agreement. But don't forget that part of God's process is using people who are prepared, willing and ready to make an impact for Him.

So how can you become a better leader?  How can you grow yourself, so your ministry will grow? Let's look at some practical ways you can see this happen.

Improve your personal walk with Christ.  Look what it says in Mark 3:14

"And He appointed twelve that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach."

Notice in this verse what your first calling is.  It's to spend time with Jesus. And out of that will come ministry impact.  

If you'll spend time with Jesus back stage, He will bless your ministry front stage.

Look what it says in Matthew 6:6. 
But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Private prayer sets up public blessings.  If you want to have a better ministry, then have a better prayer life.

Keep a "learn-it-all" attitude.  When you think you've arrived and you develop a know-it-all attitude, you will stop growing and the result will be your ministry will stop growing.  You see, God blesses humble people.  But He resists the proud.

I think there's a special message in that.  Someone reading this has been in children's ministry a long time.  You are a pro at it and you know it.  Beware.  No matter how long you've been in ministry and no matter what kind of success you've had in the past, if you become prideful, you will stop growing.

Read. Read. Read.  One way you can grow is by reading books.  Leadership books.  Devotional books that will draw you closer to Jesus.  Autobiographies of great leaders.  Ministry books.  Write down a list of books you want to read in the next 12 months and then go for it.

Ask a lot of questions and listen. Leaders that want to get better ask a lot of questions.  And they listen.  Really listen.  With the anticipation someone will say something they can glean from. 

Attend a conference.  Conferences are like steroids that infuse you with new ideas, fresh passion and a renewed determination to grow yourself.  Attend at least one a year.

Ask someone close to you to reveal your blind spots.  You have blind spots that are hindering you from personally growing. And it takes courage to face them.  But you can't face them until you know what they are.  Ask some people who know you to be brutally honest and tell you what your blind spots are. 

Find a coach.  Everyone needs a coach. A person who will come alongside you and help you grow. A person who will push you out of your comfort zone and into new arenas of growth.

If you would like a coach, then consider my coaching program called Advance.  I would be honored to invest in you as a leader and help you achieve your goals...while stretching you toward discovering new goals God has for you.

You can get more information below about the coaching program.  And you can apply at this link. 

One big reason I write articles for this site, is because it daily stretches me and helps me become better.  And I rejoice when I hear from someone who has been stretched, challenged and grown because of reading this site.  Thank you for support and encouragement.  My prayer is that we will all continue to grow and become better.  And as we become better, our ministries will be better.

May 21, 2019

Do You Have This Big Element in Your Lessons?

Do you ever hear kids laughing when you are taking them through your lesson, service, class, etc?
Laughter is a big, important element in a lesson for kids.  When kids laugh, they are engaged.  When kids laugh, they are enjoying your class.  When kids laugh, you are holding their attention.
In Psalm 122, David said...

"I was GLAD when they said to me, let's go to the house of the Lord." 

Notice he didn't say "sad."  He said "glad."  Church should be a happy, fun place for kids to be.  Yes, there should be a segment in each lesson where kids enter a time of reflective worship and prayer.  The key is balancing the two elements.  Don't have an entire class where the kids must sit still and quiet.  And don't have an entire class where kids just laugh and never get serious.  It takes both. And when this happens, kids will love the lesson and experience spiritual growth. 

If you want to see kids laugh, then use some of the ways below.  Write them into your lessons.

Making animal noises.  Example...

You are talking about the animals coming on the ark.  You mention an animal that came on board such as a cow.  When you say "cow" you make a loud mooing noise.  Then ask the kids to turn to their neighbor and make a cow sound.  

Using silly voices.  Example...

You are talking about David and Goliath.  Make a loud, over the top, obnoxious sound for Goliath.  Then have the kids make up and share their "Goliath voice."

Sudden opera-style outbursts.  Example...You are reading the key verse for the lesson.  Pick a few select words you want to emphasize and suddenly sing them out in a loud, exaggerated voice.  Then have the kids say the verse and emphasize some of the words in a loud opera-style tone.

Make up nonsense words or phrases.  Insert these words into your lesson.  Example...

When Moses was leading the children of Israel through the Red Sea, the Israelites saw the famous, Gugendu-cray, scalely, big mouthed,  hornbill-cross-eyed, crooked finned, see saw fish. Then go back and correct yourself and ask the kids the names of some fish they know about.

Making deliberate mistakes. Example...Jesus did a miracle and feed the 5,000 with 5 pizzas and 2 small turkeys.  As the kids are laughing, have them share the correct answer to your mistake. 

The next time you teach a class, try some of these and make a mental note about how many laughs you got out of the kids.

When kids laugh, you know they are having fun.  And when kids enjoy your class, they will come back. 

Your turn.  How do you make kids laugh in your lesson or service?  Share your ideas with every one in the comment section below.

May 20, 2019

Why Preschoolers Love Paw Patrol

My little nephew loves all things Paw Patrol.  He's not alone, millions of preschoolers love Paw Patrol as well. If you have a 3-to-5 year old, I'm sure you're familiar with it as well.

Paw Patrol is made in Canada and is an animated show for preschoolers about a team of dogs who protect a seaside town called Adventure Bay. It deputed in 2013 and is still going strong at the time of this writing.

The show is a global hit among 2 to 5 year olds.  It is aired in 160 countries.  It has also generated $300 million a year in toy sales and was named one of the top 10 Christmas toys by Amazon.  

Anytime you see a product that endears millions of kids, it's worth taking a closer look to find out why.  Why has Paw Patrol captivated children?  What can we learn from them about connecting with preschoolers?  Let's take a closer look and find out why.

Cool technology.  Today's kids are growing up immersed in technology from an early age.  The pups have transforming vehicles and backpacks.  Each season they are introduced to more complex technology.

Merch.  As I mentioned above, the show generates over $300 million a year in merch sales. Stats show that 25% of toys sold come from a TV or movie-based character.  

I believe preschool ministries should put their name and logo on as many of their "products"as possible.  T-shirts.  First time guests' gifts, video and media screens, signage, etc.

Make it age-appropriate.  Preschoolers are very different from an elementary child. They live in a concrete world instead of an abstract world.  Make sure your lessons, illustrations and stories are concrete rather than abstract, so kids will be able to make a connection with what you are teaching.

Here's an example.

Jesus is the door to heaven.  When you say that, preschoolers are thinking that Jesus is a literal door that you must find and walk through.  But a pre-teen will make the connection that the door is simply an example and not a real door.

Appeal to boys and girls.  Another popular show for preschoolers was Bob the Builder.  But 90% of the Bob the Builder's audience were boys. But puppies appeal to both boys and girls.  This is one reason Paw Patrol has surpassed even Bob the builder in popularity.  

Crossing into long-term memory.  For children to remember something long-term, it must be stored in their long-term money.  The goal for the makers of Paw Patrol is for children to remember the shows for the rest of their lives.

The same should be said about the Word of God.  We want to see preschoolers remember what we teach them from the Bible for the rest of their lives. Here are a few things Paw Patrol does for long-term member that we can learn from.
  • Use small phrases.  The show's catch phrases are short taglines like..."This pup's gotta' fly" and "Chase is on the Case" and "Rubble on the double." Use short Bible phrases like that.  A great example is "Jesus loves me."  Come up with a short phrase for each lesson or series and have the kids memorize it.
  • Repetition.  Preschoolers love saying these phrases over and over.  It makes them feel smart.  And we know repetition is one of the key ways to put ideas into kids' long-term memory.  
  • Humor.  The show has slapstick humor, puns and alliteration.  The goal is to help kids not only laugh, but to remember the show that made them laugh and have fun. 
  • Connect your message to something kids already love and are involved in.  Another reason preschoolers love Paw Patrol is because the characters are dogs.  And dogs are already a big part of children's lives.  So, when you create lessons or themes or events, think about using something that preschoolers already love.  Take that object and bring it into your lesson.  The goal is for kids to connect the Bible truth you taught them every time they see that object. 
  • Music.  One of the best things you can use for long-term memory are songs.  Think about songs you still remember now that you first heard in childhood.  The catchy little songs from Paw Patrol get stuck in children's long-term memory. 
Kids want to be a super hero and help people.  The Paw Patrol is all about helping people.  Show preschoolers some ways they can be a superhero that is age-appropriate for them.  Super hero moves like sharing toys, being kind, helping clean up, etc.  

One of the tag lines for the show is "no job is too big, no pup is too small."  Teach kids that they can be used of God no matter their age.  You see children who were used by God throughout the Bible.

Solving problems.  Preschoolers love to "figure things out" and help solve problems.  The show gives them the opportunity to do this.  You can take this process right into your lessons.  Present a problem and see how Jesus or another Bible character solved or fixed it.  Then challenge them with an age-appropriate problem to solve.

Team work - Each character on Paw Patrol is equipped with a special skill and special job to do. Together they use their skills to complete their missions.  Think about ways you can help children work together to accomplish a mission for God. 

Adventure.  Preschooler love adventure and Paw Patrol delivers.  But it's nothing compared to the adventures kids can go on through God's Word.  Get them actively involved in your lesson and take them on an adventure in God's Word. 

Here's an example.  If you are teaching about Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, then get a big blue tarp and hold up the sides to create the middle of the sea.  Have kids walk through the Red Sea while being lightly sprayed with water mist.

May 17, 2019

What Do You Want Your Children to Say at Your Funeral?

I was reading Proverbs this week and a verse caught my attention.  It's this verse.

Proverbs 31:28 - “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 'Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all."

I'm not trying to be morbid, but this verse reminds me that one day my children will be at my funeral.  What will they say about me?  What legacy will I leave for them?  What will those who know me best think about the life I lived?  

The children of the parent in Proverbs called her blessed.  Through her attitude and actions she made an indelible impression on her children and left a legacy that was praiseworthy.

What will your kids say about you?  That is up to you to live out and form now.  Here are a couple of things to remember.
An INHERITANCE is what you leave FOR your children.  A LEGACY is what you leave IN your children.
Here is another thing to consider. 
Your greatest accomplishment in life will not be something you do, but rather someone you raise.
Make a list of what you want your kids to say about you at your funeral.  Don't show them the list, but rather show them by your actions and attitude what is on the list.  And strive to live a life that will make your kids proud.  

 What will be on your list?

She lived a life of integrity?

He loved us unconditionally?

She was kind and helpful to those who needed it the most?

He walked in God's wisdom?

She loved Jesus and followed Him?

She was a person of prayer?

He was there for me when I went through a tough time?

She loved God's Word and spent time reading it each day?

He showed compassion and care for those in need?

She was a great parent? 

He was an awesome grandfather?

He put family before work?

She held me close and listened when I needed someone to be there for me?

He forgave those who hurt him?

She never turned her back on me?

He spoke words of encouragement into my life?

He served others rather than waiting for others to serve him?

She took me to church faithfully?

He gave me a hug when I needed it the most?

I heard someone say this...
Success is when those who know you best think the most of you.
Live today like you want to be remembered one day by your family.