Sep 30, 2016

What the Next Generation Thinks About the Bible (The Surprising Findings)

What does the next generation think about the Bible?  A recent survey of teens by Barna research pulled back the curtains and the findings might surprise you. 

How many own a Bible and read it regularly?  69% personally own a Bible.  44% read the Bible at least 3-4 times a year and 25% read it at least once a week.  3% read it daily.  53% say they wish they read the Bible more.

How much time do they spend reading the Bible?  36% spend 15 to 29 minutes, 22% spend 30 to 44 minutes and 10% spend 45 minutes or longer per sitting.  31% spend less than 15 minutes.

Why are they reading the Bible?  54% say they read the Bible because it brings them closer to God, 12% out of obligation, 8% for comfort, 6% when they are having a problem or need direction, 10% for school and 11% for other reasons.

Do they prefer to use a digital or hard copy of the Bible?  Lots of teens are reading the Bible digitally with 46% engaging with the Bible via their smartphone or cell phone.  But the biggest percentage still read from a hard copy.

Does they consider the Bible sacred literature?  86% choose the Bible as the book that comes to mind when they think of sacred literature or holy books.

Is the Bible a source of hope and guidance for the next generation?  47% strongly agree that the Bible is a source of hope.  35% believe the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life.

Do they consider the Bible the literal or inspired Word of God?  30% say the Bible is the inspired Word of God with no errors, though some verses are meant to be symbolic.  20% believe the Bible is the actual Word of God and should be taken literally, word for word.  16% say the Bible is the inspired Word of God with some factual or historical errors.  19% say it is just another book of teachings written by men that contains stories and advice.  7% say the Bible is not inspired and simply tells how the writers understood the ways and principles of God.

Do they believe the Bible should have more influence on society?  40% believe the Bible has too little influence on American society.  25% believe the Bible has just the right amount of influence on society, and 17% believe the Bible has too much influence.

Does the Bible influence their political decisions?  33% say the Bible influences their opinion of the candidates running for president.  53% think politics would be positively impacted by increased Bible-reading among the candidates.
David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Broup and director of the study said, “In an increasingly secular culture, the Bible remains a highly regarded and well-read text among the vast majority of American teens - most of whom believe it to be sacred.  And the fact that so many still consider it a source of hope and guidance is reason for great optimism for church leaders and parents alike.  The research also tells us that teens care deeply about the relevance of the Bible to the world in which they inhabit.  The more youth pastors and leaders can make the Bible and its teachings relevant to challenges of today, the more they will simultaneously encourage engagement.”

Author Satterwhite, senior manager at American Bible Society says, "American teens sometimes get a bad rap as being uninterested or even anti-faith.  But the report shows that a majority of America’s teens have respect for and interest in the Bible.  Many teens are recognizing that the Bible speaks to the complete human experience - the struggles and trials and triumphs of life."

Sep 29, 2016

The Proven Way to Build a Great Volunteer Team

There is no “pixie dust” when it comes to building a dynamic volunteer team. I believe the number one way to build your team is personally inviting people... one at a time...week in and week out.  Approaching people...putting your arm around them...and inviting them to join your team.

A survey was done to find out the top 10 reasons why people volunteer. Here are the results.

10. External forces –pressure from an outside group or need

9. Boredom – have a lot of free time on their hands

8. Guilt – guilt is placed upon the person causing them to volunteer

7. Experience – looking for experience (an example would be someone who is studying to be a school teacher and wants experience working with kids)

6. Social needs – respond to a social need such as hunger or homelessness, etc.

5. Spiritual reasons – believe it will make them closer to God

4. Out of gratitude - way to show thankfulness

3. Personal connection – personally connected to the need (an example would be someone volunteering in a cancer fundraiser who has a friend with cancer)

2. Compelling need – natural disaster, social injustice, etc.

1. Someone personally asks them – a personal invitation from someone

Notice the number one reason people volunteer.  87-93% of people volunteer because someone personally asked them to.

That’s how Jesus built His team.  Look what it says in Matthew 9.

“As Jesus was walking along, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow Me and be My disciple,’ Jesus said to him.  So Matthew got up and followed Him.”

And when you invite people to join your team, it’s vital to pray for divine appointments.  Look with me at the story of Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch.

“As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, ‘Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.’  So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia.  The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and he was now returning.  Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.  The Holy Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over and walk along beside the carriage.’’  Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’  The man replied, ‘How can I, unless someone instructs me?’  And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.  The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this: ‘He was led like a sheep to the slaughter.  And as a lamb is silent before the shearers he did not open his mouth.  He was humiliated and received no justice.  Who can speak of his descendants?  For his life was taken from the earth.’  The eunuch asked Philip, ‘Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?’  So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus.  As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, ‘Look!  There’s some water!  Why can’t I be baptized?’  He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.”
Acts 8:26-38
This was a divine appointment.  God had already been preparing Phillip.  And I believe He is preparing divine appointments for you as well and He will lead you to them if you will ask Him. 

Dan had been attending our church for over a year but was not serving anywhere.  We noticed him as he dropped off his kids each week.  One weekend before people started arriving, we prayed for a divine appointment for a serving opportunity we had available.  Later, as we saw Dan checking in his kids, we sensed he was the one God was preparing for this role.  We approached him and shared the service opportunity that was available.  He immediately teared up and told us God had been dealing with him about serving in the very role we were talking to him about.  He had asked God to send someone to ask him if this was His will.  We were the answer to his prayer and of course he said “yes.”  He is still serving faithfully in this role.  That’s what we need when we ask people to serve. Divine appointments.  Ask God and He’ll arrange them for you. 
We’ve all heard the statement, “The journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step."  I would propose that the journey of 1,000 volunteers begins with asking 1 person to volunteer.  In the ministry I Iead, we started 8 years ago with 300 people serving and today over 2,600 are serving.  The vast majority of these people have joined our team because someone personally asked them.  We didn’t sit down and say, “We’re going to build a team of 2,600 volunteers.”  We simply went and found one person and asked them to join our team.  And then we went and found another person and asked them to join our team.  We did this consistently...week in and week out.  After years of doing this, we looked up and we had 2,600 of those “one” volunteers.  Great volunteer teams are constructed one person at a time.  If you will consistently make the personal asks, you can grow your team.

This is an excerpt from chapter 2 of my new book - If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry.  You can get this and other great ideas that will help you build the children's ministry you've always dreamed about at

Sep 28, 2016

20 Largest Children's Ministries in America for 2016

Here's a list of the 20 largest children's ministries in America for 2016.  Though size and growth are not the only signs of spiritual health, they are important indicators.  Anything that has life grows.  God tells us to go out and compel people to come so His house will be full.  You can't reach empty seats.

There is much that can be learned from these children's ministries.  I would encourage you to click on the links and check out their websites.

Though these churches are reaching tens of thousands of kids and families, they're just scratching the surface.  There are still millions of people across the country who need Jesus.  That's why every church, no matter the size, must go all out to reach kids and families.

1.   Waumba Land, Upstreet and Kidstuf at Northpoint
      Community Church
2.   Highland Kids at Church of the Highlands
3.   KidSpring at NewSpring Church
4.   Amazing Kids at Gateway Church
5.   Saddleback Kids at Saddleback Community Church
6.   Promiseland at Willow Creek Community Church
7.   CCV Kids at Christ Church of the Valley
8.   CFKids at Christ Fellowship Church
9.   Southeast Kids at Southeast Christian Church
10. Crossroads Kids Club at Crossroads Church
11. eKIDZ at Elevation Church
12. Kid-O-Deo and Elevate at Eagle Brook Church
13. Second Kids at Second Baptist Church
14. Planet Kids, Gravity, The Edge and The Ride at
      Woodlands Church
15. Summit Kids Ministry at Flatirons Community Church
16. Children's Ministry at King Jesus International Ministry
17. Port Mariner's Kids at Mariners Church
18. Kingdom Kids at Mt. Zion Baptist Church
19. K12 at 12 Stone Church
20. Family Christian Center Kids at Family Christian

*This list is based on the 2016 Largest Churches in America report by Outreach magazine.

Sep 27, 2016

What Great Leaders Do When They Fail

As a young man, Walt Disney was hired to work at the Kansas City Star newspaper.  He was later fired from the paper because "he lacked imagination and had no good ideas."

In 1922, he started his first film company with a partner in Kansas City.  Disney couldn't cover his overhead and his studio went bankrupt in 1923.  Things got so bad at one point that he could not pay his rent and survived by eating dog food.

When Walt tried to get MGM Studios to distribute Mickey Mouse in 1927, he was told that the idea would never work - a giant mouse on the screen would terrify women.

His movie, Pinocchio, lost a million dollars in its first release.

His movie, Alice in Wonderland, initially lost a half-million dollars.
His movie, Sleeping Beauty, was a financial failure, leading to animation layoffs and a company-wide annual loss.

Walt never lived to see Fantasia become a success.  1940 audiences were put off by its lack of a story.  Also the final scene, with the devil damning the souls of the dead, was considered unfit for children.

The movie, Pollyanna, in 1960 failed at the box office.  It was concluded that the title was off-putting for boys.

The city of Anaheim originally rejected the plans for Disneyland, saying it would attract “riff-raff.”

Worthwhile visions aren’t easy.  The road is usually uphill and involves sweat and determination.  You have to work for it...sometimes for years and even decades.  And you will fail on the way.  Like any leader, Walt faced many obstacles and failure.  But the difference – he didn’t give up on his vision.  He was a finisher.  Nothing would stop him from seeing his vision fulfilled.
All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.  -Walt Disney
The reason many leaders don’t see their vision fulfilled is because they give up when things get bumpy on the road to the vision.  You see, sticking with a vision is just as important as casting a vision.
A vision fulfilled is normally the result of 1,000 failures.
What is the vision you have given up on?  What is the vision you have stopped praying for?  What is the vision you’ve stopped sharing because of the “no’s” you’ve heard?  Keep pursuing it!  Don’t give up!  It’s better to fail on the way to accomplishing your vision than to just stare at it from your comfort zone. The reward of seeing it come to pass will far outweigh the discomfort you went through to get there.  Just ask Walt!  Here’s what he said about creating Disneyland.
Well, it took many years. I started with many ideas, threw them away, and started all over again.  And eventually it evolved into what you see today at Disneyland.  -Walt Disney
This is article is an excerpt from the new book If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry, where you'll find help to fulfill the vision God has placed in your heart.  You can get it today at