It is the middle of May and you know what that means…summer stress! Yep. My semester is over, but the stress is just beginning haha. The summer in ministry is awesome, but the summer never looks like it does during the rest of the year.
Certain areas and ministries shut down, while new and exciting areas open.
Camps are being planned.
Mission retreats are being organized.
And vacations are just weeks from going down.
The summer brings all new kinds of visitors and shifts your regular congregations attendants, because of all the summer craziness.
I’m learning a lot this month. I have been planning for our brand new Preteen Camp for June. I am incredibly excited, but I do feel the stress.
I am by no means an expert at camp planning, but so far here is what i’ve learned.
I am one of those people that HAVE to have certain things planned out WAY in advanced. I had a rough draft of our camp schedule, our messages, and our theme made out in February haha. Now that is pretty early and a little excessive, but you do need to plan much earlier than you’d think for camp. You need time to troubleshoot, fix things that won’t work, add things that could be next level, and have plenty of time to allow people to sign up. Which leads me to the next thing…
Have Plenty of Time for Registration
This is HUGE! You have to give your parents plenty of time to register their kids for camp. I’m talking a month, at least, in advance. The more time you give parents the more you can fill up your camp.
Recruit Early and More
Camp is always more stressful than you imagine it will be. That doesn’t make it less fun just more stressful. Make sure you recruit your volunteers early and that you recruit a bit more than you think you’ll need. Put at least two leaders to each group of six or more. Have key roles mapped out for home run volunteers to run administrative positions, large group overseers, small group coaches, rec leaders, etc. That will free you up to work on specific areas and to help where needed without being pulled in forty different directions.
Make Camp Next Level
Trust me, the majority of your students could go to any other camp, so make your camp worth going to. Add several things to make your camp better and more special than the typical camp. Add blow up platform lake toys (such as a slide or a blob), make rec activities something they can’t normally do at home, make large group bigger than your normal Sunday large group, and most importantly have leaders that are ready to invest and make relationships with the students.
Camps are stressful, but if you plan early, register early, recruit early, and fight for a next level camp you will have an awesome summer experience.
What are some things you have learned from planning summer camps?
I wrote yesterday about how God calls us to serve, especially when we feel inadequate. This is something i’m incredibly passionate about, so i’ve dedicated another post to the subject. This is such a big deal to me because so many people that claim to be a part of the church today are just attending the church and making no effort to move the church.
The church is not a building, the church is the body of Christ in movement. If we are not moving the church then are we really a part of the church?
We move the church by serving Christ and by telling about Him to all. One of the best ways to become a part of the church, by moving the church, is to serve on Sunday’s. Every single person that attends their church can tell a story about how their church felt different the first time they started going. The things I hear most when I ask people why they chose Grace is:
“It just didn’t feel like any other church I had been to…”
“For the first time I felt like I was a part of something…”
“I felt like I was part of a family…”
That is beautiful. Seriously. And the people felt this way because people legitimately cared to serve on Sunday’s. When these visitors entered and the volunteers welcomed them with a smile, eagerly checked their children into an exciting kids ministry, and gave them opportunities to learn more about this church’s cornerstone movement, it made an impact on that visitor that shifted them from visitor to regular.
But the truth is most churches are being run off of about 30-40% of the congregation. 30-40%. 30-40% of the people that claim to be a part of the Christ movement are just showing up on Sunday’s and then just leave after. That stinks. That really stinks.
Some have good reasons for not being able to serve on Sunday’s, but most would admit that they simply feel inadequate. They feel too new to Christianity or just don’t feel as if they know enough, but as I addressed yesterday God calls for the inadequate. His disciples were incredibly inadequate, but He knew their potential. He knows ours too.
The biggest thing here is that if we are not serving then we are ignoring a major faith discipline. A major call from God that stretches our faith and confidence in God. Serving is a tool God uses to help others, but also us in HUGE ways.
Here are just a few:
Serving Stretches us
Serving helps us to enter into environments we probably never would have entered before. When we start serving in these environments we meet new followers, are introduced to their stories, are moved, are impacted, and build new relationships. Serving stretches us.
Serving Helps us Grow in Dependence
Pride is every man, woman, and child’s big flaw. We all have pride to some degree and if we do not regularly address it and tear it down then we will just feed it and let it tear us apart. Pride has destroyed the strongest of followers and it will do the same to us if we don’t keep it in check. Serving puts us somewhere where we have to learn. Where we don’t know it all. It forces us to break pride and depend on God for strength.
Serving Helps us Learn
That’s pretty simple. Serving forces us to learn things from the bible we may not have known before. It helps us to learn more about teaching, leading, and following.
Serving Helps others Learn
Again, pretty simple. You can bring in your input and ideas when you serve and those ideas help others think and process something they might have never thought of before.
Serving Moves us to Confidence in God
In the end, the biggest thing we will get from serving is more confidence in God. You will see His church move and His people grow into the followers He intended them to be. Serving in the church is one of the most apparent opportunities to watch God move and change lives. You will grow in faith and confidence in Christ when you serve.
Bottom Line: Serving isn’t just about others, it’s about our spiritual growth and following the call.
So, where do you serve? Where is somewhere you have always wanted to serve in the church, but felt inadequate? I’d love to hear from you. Comment below and let me know.
I have currently been diving into Andy Stanley’s book “Deep and Wide”. His book is about reaching the unchurched people to carry out Jesus’ mission of making disciples. I’m currently enveloped in a chapter where Stanley talks about people serving in ministry for the first time. It has been the most insightful part of his book to me so far and really made me begin thinking.
The truth is: serving in the church is a requirement. As followers of Christ we have to serve His church!
But why doesn’t everybody serve?
Some people work on Sunday’s, I get that.
Some people have little children and can’t make it work as hard as they try. I get that.
But the biggest reason I hear about why people won’t serve is because they feel unequipped or unprepared. That seems like the most understandable reason not to serve, but it’s actually the worst reason.
Let’s look at Matthew for a second. In Matthew 14:15-18 Jesus had just been preaching to over 5,000 people. It had grown late and the people were hungry. The disciples were confused and didn’t know what to do. They go to Jesus and tell Jesus He should probably end the night and let the people go to a local village to eat.
Jesus’ response to that is: “That isn’t necessary-you feed them.”
Yep. And the disciples respond: “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!”
That’s a classic response. They respond in fear and logic, but we should all know when you work with God logic is not His concern.
Jesus responds: “Bring them here”
His response to the disciple’s feelings of inadequacy is, “Bring them here. Bring your doubts, your fears, and your logic to me. I will break them down and let you see something amazing happen.”
This passage resonates perfectly for us that fear we are inadequate to serve. There will NEVER be a time when you feel perfect about serving. You will never feel like you have it all together to serve God and if you do then you probably don’t because your pride is getting the best of you.
Jesus calls all of us to rise up and serve for His church. He knows the potential in each and every one of us and He knows that when we serve we will grow closer to Him and depend more on Him. The biggest thing here that we need to understand is that if God is calling us He knows we’re ready, whether we do or not.
Bottom Line: God calls us to serve, especially if we feel unprepared.
What are your thoughts? When has God called you to something you felt unprepared for?
It happens almost every single Sunday in some ministry somewhere in the church. A volunteer did not show up. It happens. It literally does happen almost every single Sunday. It’s rough when that happens.
Now 90% of the time it is an extremely legitimate reason. The volunteer is sick. One of the volunteers children or relatives are sick. There was a death in the family or a family emergency. Those are all completely legitimate reasons. Sometimes a freak of nature causes a volunteer to miss their service role for that Sunday, but there is always that 10% for when a volunteer just doesn’t show up and it is no good.
When a volunteer doesn’t show up, for no reason or a reason that can be toughed out, it causes several things to happen:
The stress, of an already busy Sunday, becomes worse
A weight is put upon staff, directors, and key volunteers that now must carry the slack
Children, other volunteers, and guests are neglected
Balls are dropped
Mistakes are made easier
And overall, the win for the day is threatened for failure
It’s always rough when a volunteer just doesn’t show up. Sometimes life gets hectic, sometimes we just need a Sunday off, but the key for us, as volunteers and servants of God, is that we have a major responsibility.
As volunteers in a church we have accepted a position to lead Christ’s ministry. When we just don’t show up or just cancel the night before we are saying, “God, my life is too busy to focus on what you have called me to do.”
God knows in our hearts when we have emergencies and situations where we can’t serve and He knows when we are just being selfish and prideful.
We have to ensure, even when it’s tough, that we either commit to our call to serve or find another, less demanding, area to serve.
Let me know your thoughts. What typically happens in your ministry when a volunteer doesn’t show up?
I have a friend that I have known since middle school. We have been best friends for years and we still hang out atleast once a week. Typically we do what normal college aged young adults do, we watch movies and play video games. One of my favorite video games that we play is Halo 4: Grifball. The game is basically a more intense futuristic version of rugby. The game is epic, intense, and incredibly frustrating.
It never fails.
We will start out playing and we will be doing awesome! Then as we continue to play we start not doing so awesome, then we begin to really stink, and finally we both start to get incredibly mad at the game.
Well we were following the normal procedure this past week and we got to the point of the game where we were doing awful. We lost the game and I was so frustrated.
I immediately said, “Alright! Let’s do it again!”
To this my friend surprised me. He immediately looked at me and said, “Nope. I’m done.”
I was shocked. I said back, “Oh come on! Don’t you want to end on a good note! Don’t you want to end on a victory?!”
He was super calm and said back to me, “No. If i’m not having fun with the game anymore, i’m not going to keep playing.”
That hit me hard. He didn’t know it, but that simple phrase made me really begin to evaluate the things I do in my job, my ministry, and my relationships.
If i’m not having fun, or enjoying, what I do, or what i’m involved with, why am I still doing it?
I don’t think we consider that enough. I don’t think we consider our careers or positions to be fun or something we’re meant to enjoy, but to that I wonder why most of us chose those careers or postions in the first place.
No one consciously says, “Well i’m going to strive for this career, but i’m going to hate it.” And if you do then that is extremely depressing. We strive for the careers we want, or wanted, because we thought it would make us happy, that it would be fun.
But is it still? Are you still having fun with what you do? Are you still enjoying the life you fought for?
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my job! But there are times when I don’t enjoy some of the other things i’ve implemented with my ministry. And if i’m not enjoying it, most of my volunteers probably aren’t either.
Maybe it’s a bad volunteer. Maybe it’s a stressful program that isn’t being accomplished the right way. Maybe it’s the overall direction, but the thing I learned from that small comment my friend made was:
If you are not having fun with something in your life, that you thought you would, it is time to reassess
And when we are no longer having fun then two things are happening. Either:
God is changing your heart.
God is trying to show you something in your life that isn’t working.
I’ve talked with many volunteers that enjoyed volunteering in one area for many years, but of no fault of the people in charge of that ministry, they no longer enjoyed volunteering there. God changed their heart. He had a plan for them that no longer included that ministry and was in the process of shifting them somewhere else.
I truly believe God does that for us. But most of us just get so stuck in what we are doing and where we are. We tell ourselves if I just wait for this moment, or this one thing to come to fruition then I will be happy or I will be able to leave this position in victory, but the truth is if we are no longer having fun in our positions then we will never reach our goals.
So Bottom Line: When something you loved is no longer fun, reassess and listen to God
Listen to God, because He has a plan for us that is enjoyable, exciting, and overall fun! It’s up to us though to listen and follow, and not just stay in the same mediocre place we may be now.
What are your thoughts? When is a time you were doing something that no longer was fun?
Well April is officially over and I have to say it’s kind of sad for me. April was an awesome month for me. Besides having a Birthday, taking awesome preteens to the Creation Museum, and going to Florida for the Exponential Conference, we did something really cool at Grace this month.
In April we had a series called “Unmistakable”. The series focused on the importance of giving and sacrificing to the movement of God’s church and the movement of Grace in Clarksville, TN. It was a powerful month where we asked for many in our church to sacrifice and commit to giving in terms of finances to help us impact Clarksville by building our first of many campuses in the city of Clarksville.
But the best part of this month was that this was not just an adult service series, we made this our sole focus and series in our K-3rd and Preteen environment. It was awesome!
Typically our Kids Ministry lesson and focus is completely different from what the adults and parents are learning that Sunday, so this month was very special and the energy behind it was amazing.
Here were just a few of the positive things we noticed from having a centralized church series:
Natural Parent and Child Conversation
In Kids Min. we are always fighting for parents to connect with their children and really dive into what the child learned that Sunday. This helps the parents to be on the same page with their kids and help them think of their lesson and dive deeper throughout the week.
But we know that parents are busy and this isn’t always easy, but since the series was the same all the way across the church it was very natural for the parents to talk with their children about the lesson.
Nothing will hold you more accountable than your own child calling you out on something. With this centralized series kids were able to ask their parents questions that the parent might be fighting to ignore themselves. This made it easy for the family to grow in faith and their relationship with Jesus.
Nothing makes a Preteen or 3rd grader happier than to think they are being treated more like adults, respected. Our Preteens have their own ministry environment on Sunday and they love it. They love curriculum centralized specifically for them, but we found that they love curriculum specifically presented for them, but that is the same concept as what their parents are getting.
We heard so many kids come into our K-3rd and Preteen environment so pumped and saying “Hey, this is the same thing my mom and dad are learning today!” This was the biggest win for me because this got children excited to come to church and learn from God.
I’m not saying this will work for every single month, because it won’t. Some adult series are just that, adult. And also kids are going to lose the excitement if that becomes the norm, but it is definitely worth throwing in two to three times a year. Try it out in your ministry. See if you get the same reactions. What would it hurt?
What are your thoughts on centralizing a church series in Kids Ministry?
I had the privilege to go to the most magical place on earth last week, Disney World. I LOVE Disney World. I love all of the different rides, the different environments, the different characters, the different shows, I love it all.
During a lot of the trip though I couldn’t help but watch the children and families in the different parks. You can really learn a lot by watching people and I learned something this past week from just one miniscule moment of people watching.
One night when I was in Downtown Disney and the streets were getting pretty crowded I passed a father with his hand down to his side holding his daughter’s hand. She was walking beside her father and couldn’t have been more than about four.
At one point the crowd grew and the path for this father and daughter grew narrow, so the father, still holding his daughters hand, guided in front of her to get through the crowd. That is when I saw the weirdest thing. Her eyes were closed.
She had her eyes closed and was allowing her father to lead her way.
It was a funny moment, but the situation immediately stood out to me. This little girl had such faith that her dad would lead, guide, and protect her that she simply closed her eyes and allowed him to lead her.
This was an incredible moment to me where God spoke to me and said, “Why don’t you follow me the same way?”
The truth is: many of us have lost our childhood faith in God. There was a time when we would trust in Him and follow Him anywhere, because we trusted Him, but as the road grew narrow and life weighed on us, as people hurt us, as relationships betrayed us, and as the world grew colder around us, we let go of His hand and tried to make it through the craziness and the clutter by ourselves.
But the problem is, our eyes are still closed and so we are blind and lost.
I know that I WAY too often rely on myself, on what I know, on what I do, to make it through the day and make it through the hard times, but I have learned over and over again when we rely on ourselves to get through the tough times then we get very very lost
I have let go of God’s hand far too many times.
Today it is time I had the faith of a child again. It’s time that I let go of what I think I know and what I think I can do and completely rely upon God. He is my Father and He is the only one who can lead me to where I need to go.
So how about you? Where do you need God to lead you today?
Wherever that is simply take His hand and let Him lead you. It may not be where you thought you were going, but I promise you it is a place far greater than where you could have gone by yourself.
Tonight is the end to the first day of the Exponential Conference in Orlando, Florida. The conference has already been amazing! Today two amazing leaders spoke in the main session and it definitely opened my mind, convicted me, and has begun to change my perspective on things. Francis Chan and Jim Putman spoke this afternoon about discipleship, and more specifically our flaws and shortcomings in making disciples.
During these sessions I heard my favorite verses several times. It is one of the strongest and I think most important verses in the entire bible. It reads:
“Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.’” -Matthew 28:18-19
This is Jesus’ last recorded statement in Matthew. It is His mission for our lives and it is of vital importance that people who claim to be His followers act upon it. This is my favorite verse of the entire bible, yet today I was convicted on how I have failed to make disciples. For too long I have read this passage and thought, “as long as I preach about Jesus and devote my life to Him, then I am good”, but that is not the case.
The passage reads “go and make disciples” DISCIPLES. Making disciples means truly investing within a small group, teaching them in the Word of God, leading them in how to follow, and setting those disciples up to disciple others.
That’s the amazing thing about making disciples, it’s a ripple effect.
Yet, I have made no effort in doing so what so ever. I think many of us are in that same boat as well. Making disciples is just not something that seems to be common practice in followers and it is tragic.
We can’t be the followers Christ wants us to be, if we do not actively focus on making disciples daily. That’s the truth.
This is the true conviction I am feeling heavily weighted upon my heart right now, and I want to ensure i’m sharing this conviction with as many as I can.
Stop claiming to follow Christ when we ignore His final and most important mission for us all. Fix the disobedience today and begin to make disciples now!
What are your thoughts? How important do you think it is that we make disciples? Why do you think we have forgotten about this vital mission?
I recently posted about the impact worship leaders have, specifically in Kids Ministry. The Impact of What We Do: Worship Leaders I was amazed by the responses from my worship team. Their insight was phenomenal and I think many could benefit from their expertise in Worship Leading.
Here are just a few of the things they said:
“It’s crazy to think that we could be the difference between heaven and hell for a child. It’s such a powerful thought.”
“Children learn from us, good and bad, if we don’t give it all they will not either.”
“It is such a truly amazing experience being a worship leader for the 2-5 year olds. These kids are just now learning about Christ and it is so awesome to hear them enthusiastically respond, “Jesus!” when asked who loves them. You definitely need to share in this enthusiasm! The kids love to sing and dance and WE are the people that help them make the connection that it is a beautiful thing to publicly worship our savior.”
Breaking the Barriers
“I’ve always said that leading song and dance has to be fiercely passionate for children to grasp. Some are insecure and timid, others are looking for what’s coming next. But the excitement and energy, that we share while worshiping, breaks down barriers. It was the way I understood God at the age of 4! Through worship I gave my heart to him before I could even read…We have to be ready for these children. Their little hearts are ready for truth even now!!!”
What I Remember Before I Stand on Stage
“…I try to remember these things when I go on that stage every week.
1. God is in control and He is the reason I am here…have the kids focus on him- not just the dance moves. I can do this by shouting out things like “sing this out to God” or “show Jesus our great love for him with these dance moves.”
2. A ton of people feel self conscious about singing loud and lifting their hands. Teach these kids to not care what other people may say or think. Go outside of your comfort zone and have FUN. Jump up and down, shout the song out, wiggle, be silly, and go absolutely crazy for Jesus until the very last drum beat of that song and your breath is GONE. Plus, the kids have fun when you have fun.
3. God picked you for this job. It wasn’t just an accident or chance. He hand picked you because He knows you can do this job better than anybody else, so don’t let him down. Be ready to go every time. Always pray and thank him for this opportunity to share his love and glory.”
These are just a few of the great comments I received on the Impact of being a worship leader. I am so blessed to have such a great team, that is so passionate to serve God, and lead His children in praising Him each week.
The bottom line I saw from these comments was: Worship leaders make a difference, and leading worship makes a difference to everyone.
What about you? How does worship, whether it be Kids Worship or Adult Worship, make a difference to you?
In the last few years I have had the pleasure of being around and influenced by two amazing friends and leaders. I have been led by them, counseled by them, and able to live life with them. But the one thing above all, that stands out about these two leaders, are the examples they have shown me of what a good, passionate, and loving family looks like.
Adam and Michael Bayne, two brothers who serve in the ministry of God’s church, are beautiful examples of what a God led household looks like.
Adam is the Kids Pastor at Grace Community Church and he is constantly talking about his beautiful wife and sweet little three year old girl. He shares with me his dreams of being a better father and husband, and even shares that his goal in life is to be “the best husband and dad he can possibly be.” He sacrifices his time weekly to devote only to his family. When one looks at Adam they instantly see his deep love and affection for his family.
Michael has shown me the example of seriously fighting and sacrificing time for family. Michael has recently adopted the position of Executive Pastor at Grace Community Church. His job is HUGE and it takes countless hours of his time each week. For most, it’d be easy to get lost and distracted from work and neglect time with family, but Michael refuses to let work overshadow his family. He fights, like on the front lines of a war, every single day to be able to leave work at a decent hour so that he can spend time with his children and wife.
These two leaders stand out to me more than anyone else. I see their love and passion for their family. They are constantly fighting for them and fighting to be with them.
The bottom line, of what I have learned from their example, is: Being the leader of your family requires sacrifice and serious investment. Let me clarify too, that’s not just for being the leader of your family, it’s just part of being a mom or dad, a husband or wife.
You have to sacrifice to be able to invest.
Today, there are so many distractions around us, but none of these earthly distractions should be more important than your family. That email can wait. That meeting can be moved up. That document will be there tomorrow. Today, fight to spend time with your family.
Fall in love with your family again.
Find the passion within you to focus only on them.
Sacrifice your time, so that you can truly invest in them.
Let me know your thoughts: how do you fight to invest in your family?