Monthly Archives: November 2009

10 Things To Be Thankful For in Children’s Ministry


1. Pastors

Thank God for Senior Pastors. Where would we be without them? Jobless that’s what. Love um or want to strangle them… be thankful for them. Your anointing filters through his office after all.

2. Volunteers

I know we never have enough… but remember to be thankful for those you have!

3. Parents

Where would we be without parents? We’d be preaching to an empty room! Our job is to support and educate them as they raise up their children in the way they should go. No, they’re not all doing it… but thank God for them all anyway.

4. Children

Every one of these little guys is a gift from God. The fact that we have the honor, privilege and responsibility of ministering to them is huge. Thank God for the simple trust they place in us.

5. Resources

Thank God for the Internet and

6. Facilities

Maybe you’re meeting in an old choir closet… but be thankful. Just one missions trip will be enough to make you thankful for anything with a roof, floor and air conditioning. Someone will always have it better… and someone will always have it worse.

7. The Call

God called you to minister to his kids. That Call will keep you going when almost nothing else can.

8. Peers

There are others doing what you do… and most of them are more than willing to share what they know… and need the experiences you have gleaned.

9. Mentors

Those who have them, you know why you should be thankful. Those who don’t have one or more… hurry up and get one so you can be thankful too.

10. Spouses

For almost every children’s minister out there, there is a supportive (or at least tolerant) spouse. Thank God for those who help us (or at least allow us) to do what we do.

What are you thankful for in Children’s Ministry?

Why I Renamed My Children’s Department


When I first started full-time Children’s Ministry, I had a pretty narrow view of what children’s ministry was. In my mind it was all about the Children’s Church service. Sure, I had other programs I was over (Rangers, Missionettes, JBQ, etc.) but they were just the side show to my three-ringed circus. Therefore when it came time to name my department, I naturally went with the name of the kids church. JAM City became JAM City Children’s Ministries.

Not a big deal right? Maybe not, but I soon realized that without intending too, I had set the ministry I was directly involved in as the most important program in the department… and the cost of demeaning the role of the other groups. It took me a couple of years to realize this fact… and for the feelings of my program leaders to get to me. They felt that all I cared about was “my” ministry… and everyone else got whatever was left over. This was my wake up call.

I needed a way to quickly get the point across that things were going to be changing. So along with making myself more available and getting more involved, I made another small change that made a big difference. I renamed the Children’s Department. JAM City Children’s Ministries became The Kids Life Department. I kept JAM City name for kids church only. What did this do? It was a neutral name that showed no preference to any particular program, and it equalized all of the ministries. After all, each program fulfills an equally important role in the spiritual development support we provide to our families.

  • Sunday School provides the raw materials.
  • Children’s Church is about fellowship and life application.
  • Mid-Week Programs are typically about mentoring and teamwork.

The renaming didn’t work miracles… but it was the first step in a process. Now that I’m in a new position, I’m going to be changing the name again. Kid’s City Children’s Ministries will become Suncoast Kids Department, the first step in unifying our volunteer staff and leaders and letting them know that they are valuable and valued.

Three Things I Shared When Meeting My CM Staff For The First Time


I met my new church today. I was a little worried to be honest. Here I’d moved my family halfway across the country from Kansas City to St. Pete, Florida to work as the Children’s Pastor for a church I’d never even been to. I say I was worried… but honestly, I wasn’t. Two reasons:

1. God has worked out so much and made this move so obviously a part of His will I knew this would be no different.

2. The leadership of this church is what attracted me here. They could have been handling snakes and I would have been okay. (That last part is a lie… but almost not.)

After service there was a Children’s Ministry luncheon prepared to introduce me to the lay staff. I shook a lot of hands, met a lot of great folks and forgot a whole mess of names… though I do recall that two girls who were named after Disney Princesses and a dude named Nathan with a very happy Dad.

I wasn’t prepared to say anything… but I was asked and so I walked to the front. I didn’t feel like telling them about where I had worked, how hardcore it was, how many folks I’d had working with me or any of that. The things that were burning in my heart to share were…

1. This ministry does not need me to fix it.

It’s a healthy ministry where kids are growing and being taken care of. I’m not here to fix something that’s broken, but rather to nurture and direct the growth that is already happening.

2. I can tell instantly that you are good people with great hearts.

I don’t usually talk like this… but there was a healthy, family, friendly spirit in the room. I’m sure I’ll bump heads with someone in there eventually… but they seemed eager to accept my family and hit the road running!

3. I want to honor the work you’ve all done by learning what you do.

These folks have recently said goodbye to a CP and then held down the fort for at least nine weeks waiting for us to arrive. I’m not going to barge in and ignore the hard work they’ve put in. I’m sure we won’t be doing it exactly the same 3-6 months from now… but I’ll bet I’ll enjoy the things they do as much as they enjoy the tricks I have up my sleeve.

All in all… it was a fantastic day. (Except for the part where I told the staff that I had prepared a rap for them.) It was cool seeing the church as just another person before I have to go in and be Pastor James. It allowed me to see things from a first-timer’s perspective (which is a very hard thing to do later on) and let me experience the worship service without pressure.

Tomorrow morning I start my first week in the office. Woo hoo!

What Moving House Taught Me About Compromise

<img class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-2087″ title=”moving” src=”” alt=”moving” width=”300″ height=”300″ />

While packing our house I have realized (yet again) that my wife and I think differently. Not only that, but we think differently from two different perspectives… even when we have the same goals. <strong>This isn’t because we’re two different people (it’s not a personality clash for once), it’s because we have two different roles.</strong>

Her role is the organizer. It’s her job to keep the family working during this entire process. She wants to keep us comfortable and herself sane. My role is the loader. It’s my job to do the heavy lifting and get everything from here to Florida in one piece. This translates into one person who wants everything in a box and every room cleared out… and another person who wants to keep a lot of stuff right where it is till the last moment.

This is more than about moving… It’s given me a chance to think back to past conflicts and wonder how many of them were not because of some huge, deep-seeded issue, but rather just because we had two different jobs to do.

Jennifer is a Mother, for instance. She has a different role with the kids than I do. She handles them differently than I would… but that doesn’t make her wrong. We both have the same goals, to raise great kids, but we have different parts to play in that goal. <strong>We’re not always going to be working together to see our goal reached.</strong> If it really takes two to make things go right, it takes two perspectives as well.

If two people have the same goal, there is no reason they can’t find a way to come alongside one another, even though their roles differ, to have harmony in the process. An added bonus would be to have those two roles not only accomplish the task, but benefit and enhance the other’s role as well.

In the case of our move, giving each person a chance to represent and explain their perspective can go a long way. <strong>Understanding how the other person sees things, rather than simply defending your own view, can relieve tensions and build unity.</strong> Our roles in the move appeared to be in opposition to one another. This created conflict, but once we explained our views and understood one another, a compromise was possible.

<strong>Compromise doesn’t always mean nobody gets what they want. Sometimes it means you adopt a little of the other’s way of thinking as your own.</strong> You realize that your perspective was a bit to limiting and you weren’t 100% right. A perfect compromise is when both parties do this.

So in the end… I’m going to get to pack up more than I would have… and she’s going to be able to keep out more than I had wanted… and it’s all good.

Big News (For Me Anyway)


I have been at Sheffield Family Life Center in Kansas City, Missouri for the past 10 years. Two of those were as an intern, but the past 8 years I have been involved in full time ministry for youth and children.

November 8th, 2009 will mark my last Sunday at Sheffield. I have taken a position at a church in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Why the move? Family mostly. Jenn and I have felt a ‘stirring’ for a while now. I’ve even told folks I felt like a major life change was coming… but didn’t have a clue what it would be. Jenn and I finally decided to sit town and ask God what the deal was. We started with putting together a 5 year plan for our family. I asked Jennifer where she saw us in 5 years… the first thing out of her mouth was, “I want to raise our children around family”.

I guess I had known that she had a leaning toward her folks. There had been quite a bit of travel back and forth since the kids had shown up. But this was the first time she’d just laid it out.

We prayed about it, wrote out our list, and told God that though we were making plans, it was His that we truly wanted. God rarely speaks to me directly… so we committed to two things:

We’re Moving Slow – We gave God plenty of time to let us know if we were moving the right direction. We literally prayed, “God we ask for brick walls if we’re moving the wrong way… but we look forward to mile markers of conformation if we’re headed the right way.”

We’re not going to make any decisions that we’re not willing to unmake in an instant – Though we make our own plans… we do not put our trust in our own decisions. At any point in this journey that God leads differently, we’re ready to change direction in a moment.

There were a couple of brick walls. They typically hurt when you hit them… but if you’re moving slow… not so much. Eventually after every networking resource I had in Georgia, North Carolina and Florida dried up… I got an email from a Pastor in St. Petersburg. We talked, really hit it off and the next thing I knew I was in Florida for two days of interviews.

Long story short… we’re packing up the house and moving to Florida for the next chapter of our life. The job is everything I’ve wanted. The location is everything Jenn wanted. It’s a wonderful gift from God.

Though it’s a little heartbreaking to leave the kids and folks at Sheffield, I know that they are in God’s loving hands… and that He will send someone along to replace me that will be so great that they’ll make me look like dirty dish water by comparison.

So, reader. Have you ever changed churches? Do you have any tips? Post them, or any other thoughts, in the comments.