Book Review: Steering Through Chaos by Scott Wilson

Pastor Scott Wilson has definateley hit a home run with his book “Steering Through Chaos“. This book by title alone could have taken a few different unconnected but much desired directions. Pastor Scott has found a way to take all of those potential unconnected directions and mold them all into a very connected practical and often times insightful way.

My temptation here is to want to do a chapter by chapter review of this great book because I feel if you do not consume the whole book, you are definateley missing out. But, I will resist temptation and try to mention only a few items.

Scott does begin the book by setting up for his readers the guaranteed pain that will and does come from growing and changing. As a matter of fact Pastor Scott quotes Gerald Brook’s words: “Your church will grow only to the level of your pain threshold.” I must say that I added this to my Evernote file. Scott goes on and says that “Ultimately, leading transitions isn’t about changing the direction of the church or changing the staff. It’s about God changing me as a leader so that I can trust him more fully, listen to Him more intently, and obey Him more gladly.” Scott then goes on and finishes this particular paragraph on page 31 with this reminder: “A disciple is not above his teacher. If Jesus faced challenges i ministry, I shouldn’t be surprised if I do as well.”

Pastor Scott continues now that he has adequately set up the scene for change, challenging our norm and comfort to laying out through the rest of the book some very practical but yet deep ideas of how to grow through all of this. He shares the battles he had early in his ministry of aligning the right people for the right ministry fit. Scott shares the realities of the people not knowing truly what the church was to do and why and how he corrected this. The ways he brought people on board with the direction and much more. But I must admit that throughout the book Pastor Scott does a good job of reminding us: “When we aren’t driven to prove ourselves or please others to win their approval, we can breathe a bit more easily and make it a priority to spend quality time with God and with our families.”

To keep true to my purpose of not writing a chapter by chapter over this great book that will go on my “must have book shelf”, I will close this off with one of the chapters that really helped me see the way that many churches end up in decline and often times have such a hard time getting out of, because of when they do realize it is happening, they are in decline. Pastor Scott tells of how to prevent this and lead through the “Chaos”.

Pastor Scott, thanks so much for sharing these brief nuggets that I have quickly mentioned, and so may more that you have shared in your book, “Steering Through Chaos”.

Fun and Fast Teams Win

I really enjoyed my subscription to Fast Company (actually my subscription just ran out and I am going to have to renew). I actually think I like the title just as much as the contents, and I really enjoy the title. I love to move quickly, I am not known for patience, just ask my wife. If I had lived back when Jesus was walking with the disciples I would have been a lot like Peter. I would love the invitation from Jesus to walk on water. I often times hear people preach about him asking Jesus to call him on out onto the water and people often ask “why” he would have done that? I always think “why would he not?” I would have been quick to cut the ear off of someone as well and then have to have my leader (Jesus) come and give me a lesson on knowing that they have everything under control.

Okay, I said all that to just say I really enjoyed a recent article that “Fast Company” had in it recently called: The Four Rules for Fast Teams. Here are the four rules they mention with a little more commentary from me on them as well plus how they may apply to Take TWO Ministries and possibly yours as well.

Let the Group Make Its Own Rules.

“You want to make sure people have a say in how they’re going to work together”. It is great and extremely important according to me to have a defined and owned set of core values, mission and vision. I also think it is very important to allow your team to have input into creating those. As time goes on and time seems to speed up even more, I am leaning more and more toward knowing that Jesus set the mission for all of us already through the Great Commission and the Great Commandment (This is truly the Take TWO), the vision for each ministry, place of employment and all can and will be different but we will accomplish it through our core values. Those core values need to be held tightly and always used as a compass.

Speak up often.
Here is something I am continuing to learn is so important. You have to have an environment that encourages people to speak their mind, their opinions and for that to be okay to do. You need to build into your culture of children’s ministry an environment that not only says we are safe but shows that it is safe to challenge things if done well. In this kind of safe environment after all has been discussed we need to recognize what we heard, maybe implement some, but then move on to accomplish the vision. People want to be heard and they want to know they have a voice. It is better to allow this to happen upfront in a safe environment than allow your people to feel that they can not voice their opinion publicly, because they will still voice their opinions, just behind closed doors and behind your back. This is often times a time that ministries become derailed. Let your people speak honestly. You will win more people that way.

Learn as You Go.
Here the main thought is as you learn share what you learn, take people along on the journey with you. This will profit the whole church and/or organization.

Fast Has to Be Fun.
The title says it all, to keep people and build a great team that can move quickly, it is important to build a place that is fun. If you have been in children’s ministry long and even if you have not been here long, you probably noticed the world the kids live in and your volunteers live in moves rather quickly. So let’s keep it fun and enjoyable. If it doesn’t stay fun you spend valuable time trying to always recruit people to come along with you in a non fun environment. Doesn’t that make you just want to jump in and be a team player? No, so why would anyone else want that?

So quickly, go and have some fun adapting these points in your own ministry.

A Eutychus Generation

I am a person who loves to read and has tons of books. I find that there are times or seasons in my life when I need to return back to the books that I have read and reread some of them. That seems to be the season that I am in at this time. Yes lately I have been going back and re-reading some children’s Ministry topic books for myself and this has served as a good refreshing time for me. One of the books I have picked up and reread recently is a book called: “Crucial Concepts in Kids Ministry”by Randy Christiansen.

In the book at the very beginning Randy starts off talking about a Eutychus generation. Randy begins to talk about that is one of the foundational reasons that churches are suffering today is that, deep down inside, their ministry to children is suffering. Many church bodies have grown to have a high pain threshold in the area of children’s Ministry. There is something vitally wrong, the leadership has grown to ignore and live with the pain. Often times churches don’t sense something is even wrong because of their high threshold of pain until children hit the teenage years where many churches then begin to see these kids as possible contributors to their volunteer base and tithers. I think usually at this time then churches can begin to diagnose the problem incorrectly, and give blame to other various causes and treat only symptons instead of the root cause. The whole local body is being affected, but they have not yet diagnosed the root problem. Few look at the ministry to children at their church. We must realize that healthy Ministry to children is a central part to the overall health of the church.

Acts 20:9-12: “….in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, “to not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.“and they brought the young man in alive…”

There are many children in the church today who we could see are just like Eutychus. Eutychus had a desire to hear the things of God and most likely desired more of God’s presence in his life. He wanted to grow in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. He probably sat in the window because the fresh air would help him stay more attentive to Paul’s message. Children today are also attentive spiritually. Spiritual sincerity and curiosity envelope our children. Saturday morning cartoons grasp their imaginations. They want to believe that a greater spiritual creative force (God) exist. Children are searching for the reality of a supernatural power in an everyday world. This is the theme of most popular children’s books,movies and toys.

Eutychus probably exemplifies church young ones in another way. Simply stated, Eutychus fell asleep. His attention was not focused and captured. His flesh over rode his spiritual desire at the time. No one can ignore a true move of God. When children’s sense the presence of God during worship, when they lay hands on a friend and see a healing occur, when they see the unsaved walk the aisle in response to the gospel, one will not have a problem maintaining children’s attention! The reality of a relationship with the all-powerful God is not something that a person can sleep through. This spiritual atmosphere must be fanned into a flame by church leaders and committed parents. This expectation level must be set as an everyday standard. Too often our expectation level of children and ministry to them and with them doesn’t match God’s level of expectation.

Notice what Paul did, He stopped his Sermon and went down to Embrace Eutychus. Paul was not satisfied to leave Eutychus in a state of sleep, or a state of death. We face the same question today. Will we be satisfied to ignore the spiritual condition of our children? Will we stop what we are doing, to bring life back to these young ones?

Gods word is family business

One of the greatest treasures God entrust to any man or women is the gift of a child, and there is no substitute for a child other than the parents. What are we doing to keep these great relationships growing together in Christ? Here are just a few suggestions:

1. Relate God’s word to everyday life and activities.

– Use your car time to discuss God’s word or His character.

– Take walks and discuss the wonder of His creation

– Let your children see how you handle crisis that may arise. It is better to be strategic about this because they will see even if you don’t want them to.

– Discuss their day at the end of the day and share with them how they acted in Christ like ways.

2. Plan structured times of Bible teaching for the family.

– Choose a time that works for everyone

-Keep the Bible age appropriate.

– Encourage kids to take part. This time should not always be mom or dad preaching to their kids for 20 minutes. Remember, kids learn best by doing.

3. Vary what you do during your family devotional time.

– Collect missionary cards (you know those cards that they give out that look like business cards and they want you to put them on your refrigerator and think bout them etc.). Well put these cards in a basket and at the end of the day have your child pull out a card and pray for the person who is on the card you pulled out, pray for the place they are a missionary to.

– Vary the amount of time you have family devotion. Sometimes family devotions can stretch out to long.

– When you go and pick up your child from kids church, stop asking if they had “fun” and start digging into what they “learned.” Use these lessons to continue to teach them throughout the week.

Have fun, and make sure you take this time.

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.

Someone who gets it

I am posting this letter that I just received from a student I had in my ministry years ago. This is one of those letters that when you read, it just overwhelms you with happiness.

Hey Pastor Todd!
Wanted to send you a quick note. Shaunda and I were reminiscing about the good old days with you! I wanted to say a big thank you. You were a great teacher and I was and am so thankful for that opportunity to be involved as an “M&M”! Having little jobs as a kid in ministry gave me a great foundation for leadership.

I have so many good memories of kids church with you. I remember a missionary came and gave a prophetic message when I was in the fifth grade. The Lord gave me such a clear message about evangelism and called me into ministry. That’s just one memory. I have so many! My family just drove through the area where we did ministry that one time at that inner city church- remember that??

Anyway, the Lord has done many great things in my life and called me to mighty things in his name! I am now interning with our creative arts pastor this semester since I graduated last December. Trying to develop and learn as much as I can.

I think so many kids grow up and their children’s pastors never get to hear what an awesome impact they had. I wanted you to know you impacted me greatly! I hope things are going well in AR!

In Christ,

Can I say, that when I got this note from Logan, I was completely overwhelmed with joy. Here is one of those times that someone just gets it. Get’s what? The spirit of “thankfulness”. This is the same kind of spirit I try to have with Jesus as well. Do we take the time as Logan did here, to go back and thank our Savior Jesus Christ for everything He has done. There is a story in the Bible as well about some really sick people who were all healed but only one returned to say “Thanks”.

Jesus may I be counted guilty to be the one who will say “Thanks, and I love you”.
Logan, thanks for the kind letter.

Risk to become better

I am always challenged to think through how we do ministry, and why we do things a certain way. I must admit that these times of constant self examination can be painful or at least provide a little discomfort. It is a firm belief of mine that children’s ministry or any ministry for that matter was not designed to stand still. We have always got to push ourselves to get better, make continuous improvements, and expect to see more fruit.

Jesus told us to strive for more than simply maintaining the status quo. His parables about the talents (Matt. 25) and minas (Luke 19) reinforce that we should constantly look for ways to make more out of the ministry that’s been entrusted to each of us. Yes, in both stories people were given something of value and then later asked to show what they accomplished with their portion. Those who could show an increase were rewarded. Those that played it safe and tried nothing new were chastised.

The point of this to me is very clear. We need to be creative, take risks, explore new ways to make more stuff happen for the glory of God. It never seems to amaze me how quick the world around us changes by the year, month, week, hour, and even every second. The sad thing is that often the church is to scared to make changes. Too often ministries become satisfied to stay where they are because they may be seeing some results, but not as many as God may want them to experience. We need to remember that it is the message that should never change, but the method we use to share that message should constantly be changing.

Remember, change is not a bad word. An unresponsive kids ministry is on a path toward being irrelevant, and will reach less kids for Christ.

God’s Style Pouring

Have you ever noticed that children love to “pour out love“? A child will run across the room to give a big hug to someone he/she loves. It’s often all or nothing for that child. He might hang on his mother’s leg around most people, but for the one special individual whom she loves, she will explode with exuberant lavished love.

God is the same way with us. He has poured His love on us. Ephesians 1:7-8 states, “In Him (Jesus) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us.” Imagine the love God poured on us “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God poured His love out by sending His Son to the earth to experience pain and suffering and to experience death on the cross so that we might be forgiven of our sins.

It’s easy to get caught up in life and take for granted the wonderful gift we have been given by God to have our sins washed away. Let us determine to live a life based on pouring upon others the love of Christ. Let’s continue to pour love on all the hurting people who surround us every day. Look around and you will find single moms struggling to keep up with everything life demands. You will find lonely children who are walking a road that will lead to destruction. You will find broken senior citizens who are suffering from years of living a life away from Christ. You will find couples who are struggling in their marriages, dad’s who are struggling with their self worth due to being laid off and the list can and does just go on and on.

Let’s make a commitment today to return the favor given to us by Christ. Let’s pour God’s love out on someone else today.


“Devoting a little of yourself to everything means committing a great deal of yourself to nothing”, says business consultant and author Michael LeBoeuf.

Time is the one thing that in today’s world has become extremely valuable. You can make up a lot of stuff like: the few dollars that you may have missed out on, a favorite television show, a meal, but you can never regain the time you have lost. To help me from losing too much time I have been figuring out what big decisions I need to make and I am making them, and I am making sure that I manage them daily. Yes one of my goals is to determine and act on important priorities.

Finally after all these years in full time ministry I am beginning to understand that since I can’t change time, I must change my approach to time. When I was younger in ministry about 17+ years ago or so, I thought I could do everything. Yes I heard from those much wiser than me that this was impossible but I demanded that they were wrong and that I was different. It has been a long hard road at times to finally convince me that there is wisdom in, yes, getting things done but also leaving things undone. True wisdom lies in the elimination of non-essential’s. We can have anything we want, but we can’t have everything we want.

I have read where author Robert J. McKain says, “The reason most goals are not achieved is that we spend our time doing second things first.” If we were to be honest we would have to admit that there is a ton of stuff that is fighting for our time and energy. I have noticed that people who are able to reach their potential and fulfill their dreams have determined and act on their priorities daily. They do first things first and eliminate their non-essentials.

Will you make a commitment with me to examine your time and priorities and lets get rid of the non-essentials and major on the essentials for ourselves?

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.

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