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  • March 2010

    Thought I’ve done a clean comedy podcast called Nobody’s Listening and a marriage and family podcast called Geek Loves Nerd and finally this here children’s ministry podcast called Children’s Ministry Monthly… I’ve always wanted to do a show for kids.

    Jenna and I have been doing little shows here and there over the past couple of years called JennaCasts… but they were just bonus shows added to the Geek Loves Nerd podcast feed. Recently we’ve decided to split off and combine my daughter’s love of talking with my desire to produce a podcast for children.

    Podcast Kid is a podcast for kids that focuses on topics that matter to kids ages 3-8. It’s a weekly half-hour show that features conversations, advice, silly songs and stories from Jenna, her Dad and Mom and a silly clown called JoJo.

    Go check out Podcast Kid and if you like it, share it with some kids you know!

    help-1400x1400What issues and challenges to PK’s face in church? How does it influence their walk with God? What’s it like when the parent is their children’s pastor? All these questions and more answered as James interviews Christian and Lydia, his own pastor’s kids.

    [click to continue…]

    Play

    Old school teachers will demand respect from their students. New school understands the need to earn it. Lately I’ve found myself in a position of finding and striking a balance between both demanding and earning the respect of my new mini-congregation.

    I fall on the new school side of things for the most part. I believe a good teacher will be respected when they give respect, love, acceptance, guidance and useful content. It’s basically the whole, “You can’t make a withdrawal until you’ve made a deposit” thing. But it only works with children who have a typical or ‘normal’ response to a proper teacher/child relationship.

    The typical response is of course, respect. Depending on the age you may also get hero-status or even complete enthrallment (pre-school). For some children, however, your kindness is seen as weakness, a vulnerability to be taken advantage of. This is the case most typically with undisciplined children. They may see all adults as their servants, same as they do their parents. Teachers therefore become just another grown-up that is supposed to entertain them, give them treats, and cater to their whims. So kindness and caring are misinterpreted… expected and unappreciated. Any expectations you have are simply suggestions and are ignorable… unless you find the balance between earning respect and demanding it.

    For the most part, it’s the child himself who can help you find it. If earning isn’t working, it’s naturally time to move into demanding. But how do we do that without being a tyrant? Is it even possible? I believe in cases where earning isn’t working, demanding is the only alternative. But how?

    I’m a Teacher. I give respect, I deserve it in return.

    I naturally give proper respect to the students I minister to. I do not mock them. I am not mean to them. I greet them warmly and am polite to them. I am also kind and considerate when a child is in a bad mood, is un-churched, a visitor, or has special needs. These children need extra compassion. But even though I serve these children and their families, I am not their servant. I do not deserve to be mocked, made to feel stupid or unappreciated. The respect I give not only serves to show Christ’s love, but to also be an example to follow.

    I defend the Golden Rule… even in reverse.

    The Rule: Treat others how you want them to treat you. I wholeheartedly believe in this rule and will defend it. I will treat others how I want them to treat me AND you will treat me how I treat you. At least that will be my goal for you if you’re in my ministry. Not just because I deserve to be treated right. But because it will help you be more like Christ. Therefore it is a part of proper discipleship.

    I understand that they must respect me to be led by me.

    Why all this talk about respect? Why do I sound like a 67 year old football coach? Because I believe mutual respect is important. I can’t teach kids I don’t think are worth my time. And likewise kids won’t learn from someone they don’t think is worth listening to. If they don’t respect you, they won’t care what you have to say.

    I earn and demand respect.

    So I’m a little bit old school and a little bit new school. I understand it’s important to be someone worthy of respect. It’s important to pour into a life before you can expect anything from it… but when all that fails… it becomes a discipline issue. Discipline issues are handled like any other bad behavior, by discouraging it and providing benefits for the alternative. So in my kid’s church your son or daughter may find themselves in time out for smarting off… and if they keep it up… they’ll be sitting in church with you for a few weeks. When they’re ready to be respectful, they get to enjoy all of the perks that children’s ministry has to offer.

    Just about everything we do in Children’s Ministry is about the long term. It’s about the investment. This comic series by my podcast mentor, Scott Johnson, called The Bigfoot Diaries really spoke to me. It reminded me that our investment in children, no matter how small… matters.

    Start with this one, 2, 3, end here.

    Check it out and add your thoughts in the comments below.

    help-1400x1400This month we address issues that discourage children’s ministers with Children’s Pastor, Mark Turner and Pen/Florida District Children’s Education Director, Grant Foster.

    Play

    This past Valentine’s day I had a bunch of valentine’s printed up for kids to give out. They doubled as invitations to a special service back at the church. I had it set up so that the visitor and the child who invited them would both get a prize. I had high hopes for this outreach attempt.

    My wife and I bought 60 heart-shaped boxes of mixed chocolates from Sam’s Club in anticipation of at least 30 visitors. Statistically I could only expect 10 as you typically get a 1% response and I’d passed out 1000 invites… but faith and hope have to fit in there somewhere right?

    Fast-forward to the end of our Valentine’s day service and we’d given away 10 boxes of chocolate. Five to visitors and five to the kids who brought them. I can’t say I was devastated… but I was defiantly disappointed. As we geek-types say, “FAIL!”.

    The next morning during devotions I was journaling about the whole thing. I wrote up how hopeful I had been… and how stupid I felt wasting the church’s money buying way to much candy. Then God slapped me in the head. He does that.

    I wrote down the thought that suddenly entered my head:

    “When you’re disappointed, you forget to be thankful”.

    He was right… I was so focused on what I had wanted to accomplish for the Kingdom I was totally overlooking what God had actually accomplished. Five children had experienced a church service for maybe the first time. I also remembered that one of the visitors had been accompanied by their entire family! A whole family had come to church because of a Valentine’s day card… and I had not once thought to give praise to God for any of this… because I had wanted to do more. Naturally I spent the rest of the devotion time in praise. One child is precious to God… five ain’t nothing to turn your nose up at in His Kingdom.

    It’s easy to get disappointed in Children’s ministry. I’ve probably spent more time in the last 10 years being disappointed that any other feeling. Disappointed about attendance, volunteer commitment, pastoral support, storage, how many folks join the choir… on and on. My heart has been in the right place for most of the time: I just wanted to do more for God! If I had more resources, if I had more volunteers, if I had more support… how much more effective could this ministry be? But I’ve very recently realized that disappointment keeps me from being thankful for what I have and for how God is using it.

    I still set goals. I still have high hopes… but from now on, no matter how things turn out… I will remember to be thankful and give praise to God. If I believe that he is in control and that he is good… I have to believe that he knew how things would turn out… and that he had some hand in the results. My disappointment tells God I’m not happy with his work. Well, not anymore.