Jun 25, 2019

Kids That Climb High

The mountain you see in the picture is called "the nose" of Yosemite's El Capitan mountain.  It's 3,000 vertical feet of granite.  It was once thought to be impossible to climb.  Even now it is an incredible feat to make it to the top
...even for experienced climbers. 
With that being said,  Selah Schneiter climbed it at age 10. Yes, you read it right - at age 10.  She is the youngest person to reach the top.

Selah is from Colorado and she touched a boulder for the first time at 3-days-old.  It was her idea to climb the nose of El Capitan. 

Selah is obviously not your average kid.  So what made this little girl decide she would try to climb the nose of El Capitan?  Let's look at a few reasons.  And...think about how we can use the same principles as we help kids climb higher in their faith journey.  

Look for kids with initiative.  Selah's parents said the idea to climb El Capitan was totally her idea.  Her father said, "We did this climb for her.  It was her energy and her idea."

One of our main responsibilities as children and family ministry leaders is to invest in kids and help them climb higher in their faith journey.  Who are the kids in your ministry that you see great potential in?  Who are the kids in your ministry that you can invest in?

We are called to invest in all the children in our ministry.  But perhaps not equally.  Why?  You simply don't have enough time.  But you can be like Jesus and disciple 12 kids at a deeper level.  Who are the 12 kids you can invest in?  What should you look for in the children?  What traits and characteristics should you look for?

A big one is initiative. Look for kids who are self-motivated to grow higher in their faith.

Look for kids who are faithful.

Find kids who attend your church regularly.  

Look for kids who already show signs of wanting to grow higher.  They listen during the lesson.  They worship during worship time.  They are respectful to leaders.  They have accepted Jesus as their Forgiver, Leader and Friend.  They were baptized on their own initiative.

You don't have to try and talk them into being a part of your discipleship pathways.  They love Jesus and want to draw closer to Him.  They eager to be involved.

Find parents who are committed to helping their children climb higher on their faith journey.  It didn't surprise me that Selah's parents are both avid climbers.  Her father was by her side during the climb. 

Show me a child that is committed to growing and I'll show you parents who want their child to grow in their faith.  This is not a blanket statement.  There are kids who grow by themselves.  But that's the exception.  

The majority of kids who are growing in their faith have parents who are also growing in their faith.  Look for parents who sold out for Jesus.  Look for parents who take an active role in their child's faith journey.  Look for parents who talk with their children about God during the week. 

Give kids the tools they need to climb higher in their faith.  You can't climb a mountain like El Caption without the right equipment.  If we are going to see kids climb higher in their faith, then we've got to provide them with the right tools.  

Tools like...

Bible reading plan

how to study the Bible

devotional book

deeper faith that tackles the toughest faith questions

how to share your faith with others 

basic apologetics

how to spend time with God

Help kids see that it won't always be easy.  The climb wasn't easy.  Selah said, "I don't think there was necessarily a hardest time.  It was all hard.  There were times where I would be sore and tired and sunburned, and that would kind of get me going a little bonkers."

There will times when you lose your footing.  There will be times when you fail and must ask Jesus to forgive you.  There will be times when you get tired of climbing against popular culture.  There will be moments when you doubt that you can keep climbing.

Encourage kids to not give up and to remember that Jesus is right beside them, each step of the climb.

Celebrate with kids when they climb higher in their faith.  Selah  celebrated by eating pizza once she had completed the climb.

As kids grow in their faith, celebrate with them.  Here are some key times you can celebrate with kids and families on their faith journey.

Parent and Child Dedication

Bible presentation

Faith commitment

Baptism

Graduation into middle school

There are kits available for each of these milestone events that you can share with families.  You can get more info. at this link. 

I'm not sure who is sitting in your ministry.  It may be the next pastor of your church.  It may be a a future worship leader.  It may be an amazing business person who raises lots of money to spread the Gospel.  It may be the next Christian senator.  It might be a caring nurse.

But I do know this.  If you will find some kids who are really passionate about growing in their faith and some parents who are there to support them, you will see those kids begin to climb higher and higher with God. 

Your turn. How do you help kids grow in their faith?  How do you partner with parents and influence them to lead their children spiritually?  Share your thoughts and insight in comment section below.

Jun 24, 2019

Your Most Important Ministry

Many years ago, there were two steamboats that decided to raise down the river.  They were dead even for the first few miles, but soon one of the boats pulled ahead.  The other boat that was losing, threw all of their wood into their ship's furnace.  But it still wasn't enough.  The other boat was still ahead.  Desperate, the boat that was losing, decided to throw the cargo they were transporting into the furnace.  It worked.  They pulled ahead of the other boat and won the race. 

But after the hype had passed, they realized their desire to win had caused them to make a bad decision.  Even though they won the race, they had lost all of their precious cargo.  The cargo they had been entrusted with was gone.   

Their is a valuable lesson in this for ministry leaders.  You can get so busy trying to win the world for Jesus that you lose your most important ministry, which is your family. 

Remember this verse?

"What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and forfeit his own soul?" Mark 8:36

Here is some food for thought.

"What does it profit a minister if he/she wins the whole world to Jesus and forfeits his/her own family?"

Our ministry should be in this order.

God

Family

Ministry

If it gets in this order, you will look back and have some regrets one day.

God

Ministry

Family

I can say this by experience.  When I first started in ministry, I was on a mission.  I wanted every person in the world to know about Jesus and it was my job to reach them.

This lead me to work too much, be away from home too often and not be there for my family at times.

It took years for me to get some sense in my head and get my priorities in the right order.

If you are in ministry and your priorities are out of order, please, please, please make some changes.

Be home at night with your family. 

Eat dinner with your family consistently. 

Go to your kid's games.

Take your day off and spend it with your family.

Take your family on vacation trips. 

Time moves so fast.  Before you know it your kids are gone.  Remember, the days are long (you can identify with this if you have a preschooler).  But the years are short.  Make them count.

The last thing you want is for your wife and kids to be bitter because you put the ministry before them.

As I mentioned, when I first started in ministry, I worked at the church too much.  This caused my son to be bitter toward me.  It took years for him to forgive me.  We have a great relationship now and he loves Jesus, shares his faith with others and is faithful to church.  This is because of the grace of God in spite of my misplaced priorities.

Set boundaries around your time with your family.  Block it off on your calendar - remember it's your most important ministry.  And don't let anything stand in the way of your time with your family.  Of course, their will be an emergency occasionally that you have to be at.  But it should be the exception and not the norm. 

Spend more time praying for your child than you do praying for other people's children.

Spend more time eating dinner with your family than you do eating out with staff friends.

Spend more time teaching your children God's Word than you do teaching other people's children.

Spend more time playing with your children than you do playing with the kids at church.

Spend more time with your wife than you do with people in the church.

Spend more time talking with your wife than you do talking with other people on the phone. 

Love your wife more than you love the ministry.

Spend more time working on your own marriage than you do other people's marriages.

Recently I read an article about Billy Graham and his family.

After he married his wife, Ruth, she caught a chill while returning from their honeymoon.  Instead of cancelling a preaching engagement he had in Ohio and staying by his new bride's side while she was sick, he checked her into a hospital and went to his preaching engagement.

Ruth was hurt, but she soon realized that nothing on Billy's priority list came before preaching. Billy's crusades often took him around the world and there was little time left for Ruth and the children.  At one point, Billy came home from an extensive preaching schedule and his son, Franklin, said "Who is he?"

No matter how passionate you are to reach the world for Jesus, you should not neglect your greatest ministry, your family.

I challenge you to look at your current priorities.  Is your family in second place behind God?  Do you need to re-adjust and correct your priorities?  Are you giving your family the time and attention they need?  

Your family must be your most important ministry behind loving Jesus.

Jun 21, 2019

Don't Miss This Opportunity to Grow You and Your MInistry

Great leaders never stop learning and growing.  You have to or you will get complacent and your ministry will become stagnate.

I believe God has great things in store for you.  Your best days of ministry are just around the river bend.

That's why I'd like to help you get ready.

Advance is a 6 month coaching experience designed to help you get to the next level.

With over 30 years of experience, Dale Hudson knows how to help children's ministry leaders grow and maximize their ministry.  He has helped build and lead some of the largest children's ministries in the nation.

The Advance program also gives you the opportunity to learn from and contribute to other leaders.  You'll have the opportunity to collaborate with other children's ministry leaders that lead children's ministries in churches from 250 to 4,000.  You'll gain valuable insight from these leaders.  And God will use you to speak into their ministries as well.

The registration deadline is June 25th, so grab your spot today.  You can get more info. and register at THIS LINK.

Come join me and let's go on a journey to a better you and a better ministry. 

Jun 18, 2019

Why Many Kids Make a Salvation Decision When They Are Young and Again Later When They Become a Teenager

You often see children who accept Jesus as their Savior at a young age, make another salvation decision when they are teenagers.

What causes children to do this?  Were they not saved the first time they prayed to enter a relationship with Jesus?

Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Kids get saved just like adults do.  There is no "Jr. Holy Spirit."  Kids enter a relationship with Jesus just like everyone else does.

The key is making sure they understand the decision they are making.

I often tell parents and children's ministry leaders, that our job is not to be behind children, pushing them to make a decision.  Nor is it to be in front of them, holding them back from making a decision, when God is clearly dealing with them.

What we are called to do is this - walk alongside them.  As we walk alongside them and share the Gospel with them, the Holy Spirit will draw them. 

2. Make sure you are clearly sharing the Gospel with all ages.  It is crucial that we clearly present the Gospel to children.  I wrote "Starting Point" for this very reason.  It gives children a clear picture of what it means to follow Jesus.  You can see it and obtain it at this link.  It is designed for children in grades one to five.

3. When kids get into their teen years, they are questioning a lot of things.  Be okay with that. It's in these years, they often begin owning the faith for themselves. 

4. Take them back to God's Word.  Remind them that feelings come and go.  If they sincerely entered a relationship with Jesus at an early age, God is still with them.  Our relationship with Jesus isn't dependent upon how we feel, but rather on the promises of God. 

5. When they reach their teenage years, often God is dealing with them about surrendering to His Lordship at a new level.  As they are becoming more aware of their thoughts and feelings, the Holy Spirit begins dealing with them about areas of their life they need to surrender to Jesus.  Thus it becomes a matter of surrendering those areas of their life to Jesus.

6.  If a teenager is having a hard time remembering the decision they made as a child, it's okay to pray a salvation prayer with them again, just to be sure.

7.  I personally believe that once you are saved, you are saved forever.  God will never turn His back on you.  If you made a decision to follow Jesus at an early age, He is still with you. But He is constantly dealing with us and conforming us to His image.  Again, this is where the Lordship factor must be emphasized.  It means you are totally committing your life to His will and guidance.

8. How do you know when a child is ready to accept Jesus into their life? What should you look for?
  • They keep bringing it up to you.  If a child is consistently asking about salvation, it's a good sign that the Holy Spirit is dealing with them. 
  • You sense they know they must make this decision rather than just making a decision because of their friends, parents, pastor, etc. 
What are your thoughts?  What do you do when a teenager, who was baptized as a child, asks you to baptize him or her again?