Ministry lessons learned from Underwear and a Toybox

When I was younger I can always remember that dreadful time when I had to go shopping with my mom and she would tell me how she had to go get some new underwear. Please no, not the new underwear time!!

Off we would go into the women’s underwear aisle we would disappear too. The whole time all I could do as a young 6-year-old boy would be look down at the floor and wish we could get out of there. Everything there made me feel uncomfortable. I knew I would never find anything that I wanted while we were in those aisles. I had no conversation that would be joined, thoughts or opinions to give, basically, I knew I was about to be as miserable as a 6-year-old boy could be for the next 15 minutes or so.

Now come with me to this toy box I have in my office.

Every time, I meet with families in my office and they have younger kids as they enter my office those kids will lock their eyes upon this toy box that I have and immediately go to it and start to play. I have yet to really have to tell any child that the toys are for them to play with, they just know. While they play, the parents and I will meet. I love watching the kids play with their imagination being set free build new worlds, conquer territory, cook at the fanciest restaurant in town, entertain Kings, and Queens and so much more.

What lessons did I learn from these experiences? The lesson of an atmosphere. In all of our ministries, and churches we are creating either an underwear type experience for kids, students and yes even adults or we are creating a toy box time for each.

When visitors come, do they feel miserable? Uncomfortable because they can’t give anything or that everything around is irrelevant for them?

Let us all try to strive for those toy box experiences for people. People will know as soon as they come into your ministry if there is anything for them or not.

How will you change your environment to be more welcoming to those who just come in?

Ministry Staff Accomplishing More

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Often in ministry, we tend to feel we don’t have as much time as we need to carry out what needs to be accomplished. The truth is, you do have enough time to do exactly what you choose to do. We have the same amount of time each day as the greatest leaders that we know or have heard of.

So why does it feel like we never get what we know needs to be done accomplished? Why is it that these great leaders we are thinking of seem to carry out so much more? They have learned to put the right people in the right seats and know what Exodus 18:21 says is true.

Exodus 18:21 it says: “But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens”.

For too long too many in the church have thrown anyone into leadership. The proof can be seen as we continue our dependency on mass recruitment from the pulpit, newsletters, bulletin inserts etc.. We also promote people out of areas of their strengths because we concern ourselves more with the positions we need to be filled over who God has made them. Then we get disappointed when they don’t live up to what we were expecting or needing. It’s not fair to them or those we put them over. We are exactly designed for the results we are getting.

Let’s re-examine who we put over what. Leaders of 10’s will lead 10’s not 50’s. Leaders of hundreds will lead hundreds not thousands.

Fewer Ministry Staff can do more if everyone is in their right places and developing their 10’s, 50’s, 100’s or 1000’s.

Some resources I have enjoyed recently and think you may too.

Carey Nieuwhof – 5 things Every leader should tell their top leaders.

Nick Blevins Family Ministry Podcast. This podcast is one that has a few that had sparked many thoughts, so I am not going to list just one or two. Click on over and subscribe to hear all of them if you work in children, youth, or family ministry.

Tony Morgan and then there is Tony’s Vital Signs book

doing more with fewer podcast.

How do you learn who should be in what seat in your ministry?
Do you have officials of 50’s and your holding them accountable for the 1000’s?

Leave your thoughts, comments and any resources you have found good to further this conversation.

Being Productive NOT for Dummies

not-for-dummies

It never stops amazing me when I meet people and ask them how do they stay productive and then to hear for the next 10 minutes of their very complicated methods and systems that they use.

This was the very reason I was an apple user before it was ever cool to be one. I enjoyed their complete all-inclusive “simple” ecosystem. One of the main draws of using Apple products was how well they worked with each other and made it so I didn’t have to go around to a bazillion other places to get what I needed to do what I wanted to. It felt seamless because everything you needed was already built-in; there was no need to download or install anything. It saved time, was easy and uncomplicated. Now I do understand this may not be as true today, which is why I used all past tense in my statements above. I sadly now watch Apple try to become everyone else instead of who they are. I will stop here as this is a whole other blog post rant that I would go on.

Successful task management (the task is used because I strongly believe no one but God can manage time only the task that happens within the time given) is putting into place systems and strategies that enable you to work at your highest capacity without losing sight of your personal identity or your calling in Christ. Here are some ways that help me manage my task and maximize my impact.

Use Technology. I know some of you once you read that you groaned, and started to tune me out. Please wait and finish reading before you do this. Some of you who read this would also be those who are just like those I started this post off describing, the over complicated system type. Hold in there with me and let’s see if we can’t simplify your system a bit.

“Technology is our friend”, go ahead and say it again. It is about finding the right technology tool for you. Below I will list some of the tools I use that you may want to start with and then branch out to find your own. Remember, K.I.S.S. is important here. Keep It Simple Silly.

Trello for group short project management. This is a free tool.

Evernote for all things filling and serves as my electronic brain. This is also free but can cost.

DropBox for my group collaboration projects that will need to be stored long-term. This can be free but cost.

Kindle app. I first buy a book electronically because they are cheaper and I can read them, highlight them and print all of my highlighted stuff off quickly for free. If the book is good enough then I will buy a paper version.

1Password. This does cost but it is well worth it to me as it stores, fills in and secures all passwords everywhere for me.

Unroll.Me is a web service and app that helps me to mark all email as keep, Unsubscribe or add to roll up. This is a free service.

Hootsuite is for all things social for me. It keeps all my accounts in one place for easy posting and reading.

doodle is for all group calendar setting. It allows me to pick some dates and times and then sends to those I’m trying to pick a scheduled appointment with. They will mar all that work for them and then I pick the one that can be attended by most. It then sends an email out telling of the agreed upon date and time. No more back and forth.

Closing, take a look and see how I don’t use a variety of tools for the same function.Try and keep it all very short and sweet. Staying simple is not really simple after all. If we are left to our own ways we will over complicate everything time after time. Now you have taken long enough reading this post, go and be productive.

Connect with the top 20 Children’s Ministries

push-pins-several

I enjoy reading outreach magazine for many reasons, one of those reasons would be when they compile a list for me where I do not need to do the work.

Here is a list of the top 20 children’s ministries. I would urge you to reach out to them because there are a ton of lessons that they can share with you if you stop asking so much of the “what are they doing” and move more to the “why are you doing this or that?” type questions.

By the way, don’t be intimidated to contact them thinking that they will never talk to you because your ministry may only have 25 kids. You may just be pleasantly surprised to see how nice they are and willing to help the Kingdom grow if you just ask them. Do have your questions in order of importance of what you want to ask them, have a list of 3-5 questions that are the most important to you, do your homework on each church so you may ask them very specific questions that their unique ministry may help give you great advice in a specific area.

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
Center

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

The time between meetings is important as well

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My life can be filled with meeting after meeting after meeting and well, you get the idea. I can stay busy running from one type of meeting straight into the next meeting without getting any type of break.

This schedule had me thinking, is there a better way? Meetings are always going to be a large item in my daily agenda due to all the ministries I oversee. Being a family pastor opens up times where I could in any given day run between meetings like:
* Budget meetings
* School luncheons
* Pastoral luncheons
* Volunteer Trainings
* Staff meetings
* Webinars
* Marriage Counseling
* Parental Counseling
* School Assemblies
* Networking
* Coaching Video Calls
* Board meetings for ministries I sit on their advisory board
* Neighborhood association meetings as we build connections with our community

And again this is only the start of the types of meetings I meet on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. With so much of my time being invested in meetings, I wanted to make sure I stayed as productive as I could. I started to notice that my energy would get zapped quickly depending on meeting and how many I had that day.

What to do? I finally figured it out for myself when I ran across this poem by Judy Brown.

Fire.
What makes a fire burn

is space between the logs,

a breathing space.

Too much of a good thing,

too many logs

packed in too tight

can douse the flames

almost as surely

as a pail of water would.

So building fires

requires attention

to the spaces in between,

as much as to the wood.

When we are able to build

open spaces

in the same way

we have learned

to pile on the logs,

then we can come to see how

it is fuel, and absence of the fuel

together, that make fire possible

We only need to lay a log

lightly from time to time.

A fire

grows

simply because the space is there,

with openings

in which the flame

that knows just how it wants to burn

can find its way.

Judy Brown

That was it. I needed to make sure I made space between the meetings. I stop and pause long enough to ask God for indifference. Asking God to help me be indifferent to every outcome except His will. I want nothing more or less than His desire for what was going to happen in the meeting that I was going to attend. I remind myself as I build this space, as I open myself to being indifferent to anything but the will of God. I am learning that the degree to which I am open to any outcome or answer from God is the degree to which I am ready to really hear what God has to say.

When I build between each meeting this kind of space, then I’m ready to engage in the next meeting. And to God be all the Glory as each meeting now profits more because of the space I chose to give between the meetings.

Are you worth following

orange-shoes-going-up-stairs

Do you have what it takes to lead others, not just in the ministry that you may oversee, but lead them into being what all God has called them to be?

Why would anyone want to be led by you?

Is your leadership truly worth reproducing for today? Do you still do what you did 5 or 10 years ago, except your calling it something different?

Many today in churches want volunteers to join them in what they are doing. Many wonder and complain that others are not following them or jumping on their teams. Many are finding (maybe I should say, making up reasons) why people are not joining their teams, all the while they can see some teams thriving. Why?

For years I have trained my teams on how God is a great shepherd and not a butcher (excuse the extreme verbiage) so He will not call people to join a church or a ministry to just get hurt. His Love for us is too great. This is why I always stress that we need to prepare ourselves and be truthful for where we are now at and where God is calling us to be at, so we can shepherd His people correctly.

How do we do this?

1. Be strategic about your growth.
There are reasons you see terrible odds for people who choose to throw their money away in playing the lottery. Odds like 1 in 293 million! Because it is by CHANCE. People becoming who God is calling them to be should not and can not be put in the chance category. It cost Jesus everything, and so should at least cost us the time and effort to be purposeful in growing ourselves.

2. Attend to your prayer and Bible reading life.
If it is Gods Kingdom that we are getting the privilege to take part in growing then why do we often time either not consult Him or ask Him to join us after we have started something. Spend time with the owner and do what He wants and then we will see success in being that leader that will help others be who and what all God wants them to be.

3. Surround yourself with others who are stronger than yourself in leading.
There are always others who are around the corner from where you are or have been. They can speak into your life but usually will not unless you have made it clear they have the red carpet invite to do just this.

To help this previous suggestion, allow me to let you know that I am more than happy to help you grow into all that God has for you. I am a National Trained coach for Kidology and with Open Bible as well. You can also get me through my link on this blog of mine here. All of these are designed to help you but they go about them in different ways. Pick the one that works best for you.

These 3 suggestions should you get you going in the right direction to be a leader worth following. What others would you add to this?

Two tools that help my email inbox

keyboard

It started with just one, and before I knew it, there were 8 of them. Eight of what, you ask? Email accounts of mine.

Really, it did start as a great idea and a way to handle more through a better system. Wrong, wrong, wrong. But, now I need all of them for a variety of reasons. I have done the usual with batching emails, answering only a couple of times of day, passing some accounts off to virtual assistants who answer all the ones that come into their email accounts that I have handed over to them and the list goes on and on of what I have tried to do to handle the amounts of emails.

There are 2 tools that I want to make sure you are aware of that have been a great help to me and feel it would do the same for you. Here are the two tools.

Unroll.me
Here is a tool that will collect all of my subscription emails or non-subscription emails that will fill up my inbox quickly. This tool sorts through and then gathers these emails and then will ask me once a day what I want to do with each of these emails. Your choices are, Keep in inbox, Unsubscribe, add to roll up. If you choose to unsubscribe, this tool will take care of that for you. If you choose to keep in inbox, well then, it stays in your inbox. If you want it added to roll up, then it adds it to this list that will be sent to you once a day or however often you choose to have it sent to you. You never miss a thing, except, a full inbox that is out of control.

The next tool is called Slack.
In Slack, what is called Channels, they Organize your team conversations in open channels. Make a channel for a project, a topic, a team, or anything—everyone has a transparent view of all that’s going on.
Then you have Private Channels for sensitive information, create private channels and invite a few team members. No one else can see or join your private channels. The lastly you have Direct Messages
to reach a colleague directly, send them a Direct Message. It’s completely private and secure.

Go and check these 2 resources out and see how it will free up your email box or boxes and allow you more time for your productivity.

Stop wasting your on loan opportunities

ipad-stock-trend

The Pareto principle of 20/80 really does apply in ministry as well. Actually, because of the eternal outcomes we deal with, I would say it applies even more!

Look over your past week and see how you spent your time? How much went into eating lunches with friends? Working on the computer to build a better data-base or write another policy manual? Creating t-shirt designs for your youth or children’s ministry? Looking for that perfect app that will solve all of your problems? Watching T.V., enjoying your favorite hobby with all of your Christian buddies? The list will go on and on probably with all the diverse activities that we all take part in.

What if…we not only knew that we needed to invest 80% of our time into the top 20% of activities that we are in because that is what gives us the 80% of return, but we actually lived this out? What would happen if we understood that God has loaned us every minute we have here on earth to carry out what He wants to see happen?

Read this and give it some thought.
Matthew 25:14-30 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Parable of the Talents
14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[a] and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents,[b] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Are you really investing your time into the things that matter? Or are you burying the time that has been given to you through activities that do not pay off? They are not in the 20% that will give back the 80% return.

Stop wasting your on loan opportunities. Remember, delayed obedience is disobedience.

Parenting is more modeling than anything else

Jenelle in viking shirt

Parenting is more about modeling than anything else. It’s a really scary thought for most parents that the values, core beliefs, and more come from our children watching what we model and copying us! There may be a handful of parents who are relaxed about this having a clean conscience about their language, their attitudes, their manners and other behaviors. But for many this can be a very heavy thought. Especially if you consider all the possible areas our children are subconsciously absorbing values that we didn’t intend to pass on to them.

When my children were little, I will admit that I tried to influence them into liking the Minnesota Vikings and my wife tried to get them to sway toward the chiefs. But there are so many other areas that are not as easy of topics or values that we will model for our kids through our behaviors that will come out in many ways that they will pick up on. For example, what attitudes do we model? When something is hard do we give up? When our football team wins how do we handle winning? If they lose how do we handle that? What about our regular attendance at church? Our Bible reading or prayer?

How do we handle our feelings? When I’m sad, do I do we turn to the ice cream in the freezer and then wonder why kids obesity is on the rise? When I’m angry, do I put others down or criticize or resort to sarcasm? What do I do when my self-esteem is low? Do I go shopping or give up and withdraw?

When someone has upset me do I speak rationally to the person concerned or do I bottle up my feelings or explode? Do they see you resolving conflict well? Do they know you’ve made up with your spouse after a fight and do they learn how you resolved things?

If you’re feeling a bit sick by now, keep reading as it gets better.

If I want my children to develop good social skills, how am I modeling that? Do we all eat together at the table having conversations? Do they see me with my friends? Do they hear me talking positively about friends and family or do they hear a list of complaints? How you talk about your parents is how they’ll talk about you in adulthood!

What about lifestyle? We all know how important it is to encourage our children to eat well and take exercise and get enough sleep, but what do they see us doing in these areas? Is your breakfast a cup of strong coffee and do they hear that you were up half the night? Do you exercise with your kids or on your own where they don’t see it?

I have not arrived myself and this post comes from being as large of a challenge for me as it is for some of you, but it is one I must work on. Our families depend on it.

Will you join me? What are some ways you will change what you are modeling?

Back to school and Back to blogging

sitting at desk with computer

The summer of 2016, where did it go?

During summer in Take TWO Family Ministries it was a whirlwind of incredible activity, and, a ton of fun.

Here are only a few of the fun times had by all.

Soccer Camp.
soccer camp 2016 503x503

Marriage Scavenger Hunt. (For the record my wife and I won this one with another couple from our church, the Underfers)
Marriage scavenger hunt 2016 503x503

Kids Camp
Kids Camp 2016 500x503

Family Service week with KidzTurn
KidzTurn at First 2016 503x503

Stay tuned as I will be getting back on a regular schedule for posting blog post.

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