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Stir up the waters

During a time with God I was reading this:
Matthew 19:14 Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” This caused me to think “What hinders kids that I may do or my ministry?”

I know that I will never be able to answer all of this just in this quick post but here are a few ideas I think are good for all of us children’s pastors, Sunday school teachers, and anyone who works with kids to look at.

I think we can hinder kids in many ways. I think that many of us hinder kids when they come into our churches and:

* We don’t treat them like they can make a difference now!! Lately I have been getting a lot of parents telling me that they appreciate that their kids come into Take TWO Kids and now feel that they are important. That is good news but it is also not so good news. The reason it is not so good news is that statement says that there are places that kids go that do not make them feel that they are not important. This is hindering them.

* Our ministries are in stagnation. Our Sunday schools, kids churches, ministries to kids should be vital, exciting, growing, and going places. When we accept anything less we will see stagnation, and that will hinder kids from really seeing how relevant God is. Often times I think that since teachers, pastors, church members, volunteers , moms and dads get to show Jesus to kids, what actually happens is that we just show kids how irrelevant we may be but and God gets the blame.

Working with kids is not always easy, but is incredibly important. Children’s ministry should constantly be changing because the world of kids is constantly changing. So fight stagnation in all areas of your ministry with kids. If you are still doing what you did even last year and doing it in the same way, most likely stagnation is taking place and you are not even aware of it. Take a look at your decor, facility, teaching style, what you are reading or not reading, who do you net work with, classroom set up, what was the last thing that changed in your ministry? The list can and does go on but these should be good starter type questions for you.

Stir your waters up!! Families depend on us.

Did I do that?

I am not sure how many people have watched, still watch or will admit that they have watched the show with Steve Urkel in it, but I will admit that I have seen it. Every time he does something that causes grief, trouble, blows up, spills, and the list can go on and on, he always says in his Steve type way, “Did I do that?’

I have been thinking about how many Steve’s we have in the world. Steve type people who all of a sudden notice their marriage going down hill – Did I do that? Families who have let their children run the home and now they have no control over them – Did I do that? It is time we start to take responsibility for the results we are getting.

I am a firm believer in not just letting stuff happen but I want to make a plan on how to achieve as much as I can and profit my relationship with God, my family, my church and friends, I want to have a strategy in place. So when I hear people say that they have no strategy all I can think of is: Your strategy is perfectly designed for the results you are getting. To get different results design a different strategy. Often times I know that we have all heard and may have preached several times, “If you want something different then you must do something different.” If you are digging a hole in the ground and you see that you need a new hole you don’t keep digging deeper, no you go and dig somewhere else.

Growth through Vision

We all seem to want to grow our churches, ministries, businesses and the such but more often than not we don’t see that growth. I have spent tons of time at conferences with the best of them, listened to story after story, read book after book about how to grow and yet I still hear and see things remain the same in so many places, churches, and businesses. What is some of the cause of this stagnation or decline after a while? Do we bring it on ourselves? I believe in a saying that I heard John Maxwell say (I am not sure if he created the statement but it was him that I heard say it first for me) “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” It is over the years that I continue to realize the truth in this statement.

I see that once leadership has traveled down a certain path, it is difficult to choose a new path but not impossible. Often times barriers to the growth that so many are after come from the leadership (Even as I write this today I too am part of leadership in many of my circles, so my hands are not completely innocent either) that is caused by repeated patterns of behavior, otherwise know as “path dependency” which is the term I first read about in the book, “The very large church” by Lyle Schaller.

I have always been taught by some of the greatest mentors out there in the church and business world that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. How many times have we constrained ourselves to destructive patterns in our churches or businesses that prevent the growth we are talking about? Our churches and businesses are to grow and have an impact into our culture for Christ.

I want to take a few moments and look at only two even though there are several fundamentals that could help us break through and into the growth we should be part of.

1. Clarity of Vision

Churches must have a heart for people. If your vision is to care for the contented, then you will not produce passion in your people or volunteers to reach outside your current boundaries.

One of the exciting things of having a clear vision is recognizing the needs currently in your communities. Instead of waiting for the community to show up at our doorsteps, churches break through a barrier by being present in normal ever day society, meeting actual physical, emotional, spiritual needs of the people. Churches that are effective reaching people are those who see the needs of those outside of the church and establish ministries that allow the church to be present in the community, and they also have a process by which they are able to draw these people into the safety and care of the church.

Leaders of growing churches or businesses also know who they are, why they exist, and where they are going. They communicate this and communicate this over and over very clearly and assume always that they must continue to communicate it. Leaders in growing churches and businesses build bridges to the future while they are walking there.

2. Unity of leadership

I had read a book by Larry Osborne, pastor of North Coast Community Church in the San Diego area which he titled, “The Unity Factor”. The key message of this book was, “Get the key influencers in your church to share a common vision.” Without leadership in leadership there will never be a lasting ministry or growth that breaks through their barriers.

I think a lot of times their isn’t unity due to leaders who are afraid for one reason or not to confront those not in unity. Often times we can hear from these leaders words like these: “oh that’s the way they are”, or “I don’t think God wants us to treat people like that”, or “someday they will come around and understand”. Let us keep in mind that each of our visions for each of our churches will not be for everyone. That’s ok, let them go to the church where the vision fits them. I love the way Ed Young the pastor of Fellowship church in Grapevine, Texas says about his church, “That Fellowship Church is not for everyone”, and because he and his unified team are willing to stand by that that have found thousands of people who find that Fellowship Church is for them.

In closing this, I think some of us have done the math wrong, since we haven’t been willing to stand by a clear vision for our church we have seen a couple stay happy for a season but have lost 10, 20, 50, 100, 1000’s of people who have come in our churches and sensed something wasn’t right and left to go where there is a clear vision and people who will stand by what that means for that church.

God does want us to break through barriers, we need to take steps necessary to see those growth barriers removed, today , because people are counting on us.

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