ministry

Wanna make a difference this year?

My friend and fellow pastor, Stephen Cavness: For those who follow Christ & really want to make a difference this week/year:

Don't wait until sunday morning to "get ready for church" why not start NOW by:

* praying for your pastor as he prays, finishes up preparation,etc. pray that he have wisdom, understanding, clarity, & passion, as well as that he would be faithful to God's Word in his study, life, & proclamation.

*pray for sunday school teachers, nursery workers, ushers, & other church servants

*study your small group/ sunday school lesson!!! you'll be amazed at how much more enjoyable& beneficial your time together is, if what is being discussed is something you have been thinking/ praying through before you got there!

*pray for your own heart & mind to be impacted by God's word, worshiping with the church, & by encouraging & being encouraged by your brothers & sisters in Christ

*pray for visitors who may be there & think of ways to make them feel welcomed (more than just a quick hello & handshake). pray that any who have not trusted Christ will have their hearts pierced by the proclamation of the gospel!

*get on the phone or in the car & bring people with you!!!

Now, imagine if most everyone in our churches "prepared" this way each week- think we might notice a difference?

"Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God!" - William Carey

Maximize Your Summer

Dispatches from the First Year of Youth Ministry

Student Life started a new blog series called Dispatches from the First Year. It’s all about being a first-year youth pastor: the trials and tribulations, as well as the triumphs. Four newbies will be journaling for their first year, giving insights to discipling students, as well as being on a church staff, creating relationships with parents, and much more.

Our own Cam Potts, Student Pastor at LaGrange Baptist Church, (pictured) is one of the featured bloggers!  Check it out.

New Website: Divorce Ministry for Kids

Divorce affects the lives of so many children in our society today, but how can the church respond?  I appreciate Wayne Stocks and his heart to help hurting children and their families through his new website called divorceministry4kids.com. Here's why he started the website:

Since 1972, over 1,000,000 kids each year have joined the ranks of the children of divorce. These kids face struggles which are very unique and very real. And, unfortunately, many of our churches are ill-equipped to deal with the special needs of this growing segment of their congregations. Whether they worry about addressing the issue of divorce for fear of alienating their congregations, pretend that the problem simply does not exist, or simply fail to recognize the magnitude of the issue, many churches are ill-equipped to deal with, or minister to, children of divorce.

Read the rest ... and check out Tony Kummer's podcast with Wayne about the website

Family Ministry is No Substitute for the Gospel

Brian Haynes:

The family ministry movement in our day is an awakening for sure. I believe it is a gracious move of God in our country to bring us back to His way of living. We, as churches, should implement effective strategies to equip families and minister to them in their brokenness. Never should this effort become an obstacle or an idol that hinders the Gospel. Family ministry done well will propagate the  Gospel throughout the generations and it will reach out to hurting and broken people at their deepest point of need. Give people the Gospel they are crying out for and use family ministry as one strategy to do just that.

  • Listen to Brian's interview with Tony Kummer about the topic of family ministry

Video from Children Desiring God Conference

5 Dangers Facing Over-Churched Kids

Tony Kummer with a thought-provoking post describing the spiritual dangers over-churched kids can face: 1. Familiar Stories Lose Their Power: When kids hear the same Bible stories year-after-year they can become a little boring. Even worse – these stories are often told without imagination or any listener interaction. Most over-churched kids have heard the same 100+ Bible stories since they were in the Toddler Sunday School. They no longer connect with the characters or feel moved by the plot resolution. Once I was told by a seminary professor, “ It is a sin to make the Bible boring.” I’m starting to think he was right.

2. Knowledge Can Promote Pride: Something happens inside of us when we become the expert. Children feel that same sense of superiority when they have more religious knowledge than their peers. Too often over-churched kids build their identity around that achievement, even when it doesn’t involve a growing relationship with Christ.

3. They Have Learned to Pretend Pray: A real struggle for grown-ups is connecting with God through prayer. Too often it becomes routine and dry. Most younger children learn prayer as an act of imitation. Many don’t even realize that something cosmic is happening when we address our words to God. They don’t feel the presence of God or even expect that they should.

4. They Don’t Feel Their Lostness: Many over-churched kids don’t know what life is like without the comforts of faith. Their brain say ‘forgiveness’ before their heart feels ‘I’m sorry.’ Because they know about grace, they have never really struggled much with guilt.

5. The Ugly Side of Church: Kids who hang around Christians know the yucky side of the church. They hear the complaining. They know Jesus didn’t fix daddy’s temper yet. They know that church is not always the safest place in their lives. Beyond all this they notice when adults are being fake or doing religious role play.

Read the entire post here ...

When Church is a Mistress

Jonathan Dodson with a much needed word for men who love ministry and neglect their own family:

My first year of church planting I started a new, full-time job, a new city, a new daughter, and a new church. Guess which one got the least attention? Family. As all these new things filled our lives, they began to crowd conversation with my wife. What was once natural—inquiring about my wife’s hopes, fears, and joys—became unnatural, even absent from our conversation. She patiently continued to ask how I was doing, but I was “working for the church while my family died.”

As my wife began to wither without the invigorating love of her husband, she revealed the affair. I’ll never forget her crushing comment: “I feel like there’s a mistress in the house.” I was alarmed and frustrated. How dare she make such a comparison! After all, I made a point of being home by 5:30 and on weekends. I made sure we had good family rhythms—breakfast and devotions, dinner and downtime. How could she say there was a “mistress” in our home? Then it dawned on me—you can be home without being home. I was present but absent. My thoughts, emotions, and concerns were with another Bride while I was home, not with my bride.

Read the whole thing ...

Who Will Be King? PowerPoint (NEW)

I assume most of you are familiar with the Two Ways to Live tract/online presentation of  the gospel.  And some of you know about the kid's version, Who Will Be King?  Recently I've developed a PowerPoint presentation that incorporates both the Kids Version with The Bridge Illustration (adapted from St. Peter's Barge Church in London).  Whether you work with kids or adults, I think you'll find this PP to be a helpful resource. 

Just write me a comment below, and I'll email it to you ASAP.

Good Christians, Good Husbands?

Good Christians, Good Husbands?As a pastor or church leader, how do you balance family and ministry?  Which comes first?  What are the biblical responsibilities of a husband and father?  And how should a wife respond to the many trying circumstances in ministry?  These and other questions are explored by Doreen Moore in Good Christians, Good Husbands? an "inspiring and convicting account of three 18th century Christian leaders (John Wesley, George Whitefield, and Jonathan Edwards), all of whom were passionate about glorifying God by serving Him in their generation ... how they balanced (or did not balance) their passion for ministry with being married is the subject of this book."

I'm about halfway through the book, and it's a very convicting read.  If you're a church leader who feels the weight of balancing family and ministry, you need to get this book.  My friend, Dr. Tom Nettles, Professor of Historical Theology at Southern Seminary, endorses the book saying, "each reader will receive rewards in personal development far in excess of the time investing in reading."  I couldn't agree more.

I Want to be a Children's Pastor When I Grow Up

As a pastor for children and families, sometimes it's hard to see if you're really making a difference.  But once in awhile God gives you a little glimpse. On Tuesday I met with an 8 year old boy in my office.  He had been eager to set up a time to talk with me.  I always enjoy talking with kids and their parents and leaving them with a prayer and a piece of candy from Pastor Doug.  But little did I know that on this particular day, I would be the one who was handed the greater gift.

After a few minutes, his mom finally coaxed him to say what he had come to talk to me about.  So sitting there with a big smile on his face, this little boy looked right at me and said, "I want to be a Children's Pastor when I grow up!"  I smiled big.  In fact, I'm sure it was bigger than the smile on his face.  Then I asked him WHY he wanted to be a Children's Pastor.  And his simple answer was basically this: "I love God.  I like kids.  And I want to teach them."  Cool.  How great is that, huh?!  Needless to say I was happy.  But thankfully God showed me this was also a golden opportunity. 

Instead of thinking so much about his future dreams (sounds funny to say it that way!) that obviously could change, I'm focusing on the present.  So, with his mom and dad's blessing, we've decided to set up a discipleship time twice a month to get together and talk about how to grow in our understanding of the gospel.  I look forward to these conversations and the HOMEwork assignments that follow.  And I thank God for this little glimpse of the gospel at work in children.

Building a Community of Volunteers

Every church is really a community of volunteers.  Over the years I've learned (and I'm still learning) how to encourage God's people to get involved in serving others.  There is always a need--always a place where people can get plugged in.  But how do you care for your volunteers and keep them excited about where they are serving?  Like I said, I have much to learn, but here's an acrostic (V.E.T.S.) I'm using to evaluate whether or not I'm creating and maintaining a volunteer (servant) culture in our family ministry.    Vision

  • Am I providing a clear, consistent, and compelling vision to this area of ministry? 
  • Do my volunteers see the big picture behind what they are doing? 
  • Do they know how their ministry fits into the overall vision of the church?

Encouragement

  • Do they feel genuinely supported? 
  • Do they feel like an important part of the team? 
  • Are they growing spiritually under my leadership and care?

Training

  • Am I providing the right kind of training that equips them for the work of the ministry? 
  • Do they feel prepared and ready to serve?
  • Do they know what "success" would look like in their area of service?

Space

  • Do they have room to operate in their area of gifting?
  • Am I micromanaging everything?
  • Do they feel a sense of ownership and excitement about their place of service?

I may ask these questions to the many volunteers who serve with me.  Would you add anything?

Organized?

Are you organized?  Overall, I have some room to grow!  That's why I picked up the book, Organizing for Dummies, awhile back.  Let me just say that these for Dummies books are really helpful!  I also have the Training for Dummies book and it's a great resource for anyone who trains others in business, education, ministry, etc.  Anyway, the two big areas that I've tried to get more organized in are my desk at work and my garage at home.  Organzing for Dummies actually devotes a couple chapters to each of these areas.  Here are just a few helpful acronymns that relate to pretty much anything you're trying to organize.

W.A.S.T.E. -- To decide if something's worth keeping

W - Worthwhile? A - Again? S - Somewhere else? T - Toss? E - Entire?

R.E.M.O.V.E. - To clear off your desk

R - Reduce distractions E - Everyday use M - Move to preferred side O - Organize together V - View your time E - Empty the center

P.L.A.C.E. - Putting everything in its place

P - Purge L - Like with like A - Access C - Contain E - Evaluate

I would also highly recommend my friend Matt Perman's blog called, What's Best Next.  He is probably the most organized guy I know, and it seems his passion is to help you do things more efficiently in order to serve people more effectively.

Success in Ministry

My twin brother, Mark, has always been a huge encouragement to me in my faith.  As a missionary in Japan, Mark understands what it means to do hard things in a hard place.  We often talk about the challenges of ministry and how we want to make a difference for the kingdom.  I love his challenge here:

Will you be faithful to your call, even when it seems fruitless?  Are you committed to Jesus and His glory in your ministry, and not towards numbers?  God is in charge of the results as long as we are simply obedient.

I recall my good friend and mentor as a college student, Jim Luebe, saying, "I just want to be a faithful laborer over time."

That is my goal as well.

  • Read his entire post here

The Orange Conference

My friend and fellow pastor pointed me to what looks to be a great conference below.  Instead of Going Green ... Go Orange!  What is Orange? (taken from the Conference Website)

The Orange Conference is an opportunity for churches to have their key leaders in a room together being challenged about what it means & what it takes to reach the next generation by...

...equipping parents with kids at every age level to become the primary spiritual leader for their kids - to partner with them so that the one hour the church has with kids each week is multiplied at home.

...creating opportunities for families to invite their neighbors to a relevant and engaging environment at your church - to see what happens to their own faith when they begin investing in those around them.

Why Orange?

Orange is a color that symbolizes INTEGRATION. It's the brilliant result of a merger between two more traditional influences - red and yellow. Just like something radically new happens when red and yellow come together, there is a different kind of culture that is established when the Church understands the value of a true partnership with the family.

  • Conference Details:  When: 04.29 - 05.01, 2009     Where: Duluth, Georgia
  • For more information:  Check out the Conference Website