Tag Archives: ministry

Ready For Ministry? Maybe Not.


Recently I have dared to dream about the possibility of returning to ministry… maybe even ministry to children… but I have so many restrictions for what that return looks like that I know I am still not ready.

I recently have been very tempted to jump into an opportunity that has opened up. It would be a Sunday-only, volunteer position with a limited commitment of only a few months. It seems perfect for where I am right now. The desire to do it is new and makes me wonder if I will one day return to full-time ministry. I could imagine myself doing Sunday services with the kids… even at my worst Sunday services were never really a problem. It’s all the other mess that would probably revert me into being a basket case.  Continue reading

Gaining Respect For Your Ministry, Part 1

There is a secret issue just under the surface in the ministry lives of many children’s ministers. The issue is the feeling of a lack of respect from others about what we do. We work with children and are separated from the main service. It’s easy for us to feel removed, forgotten, taken for granted and disrespected. Continue reading

10 Things That Can Ruin Your Children’s Ministry: I’m Not One Of Them

I found a link to this excellent article on ChildrensMinistry.com via a buddy on Facebook. I was sure I’d be listed as one of the top ten things that would ruin a good kids ministry… but I guess I’m number 11 or 12.

Number 1 on the list is communication.

1. Lack of communication — If people don’t know what’s happening in your ministry they assume nothing of consequence is happening. Refuse to communicate, and your children’s ministry will never be a priority to the church and community. People vital to your ministry need to know what’s going on in order to support the work. If they don’t know about it, they can’t support it.

Talk about your ministry with your pastor, other staff members, volunteers, parents, the community and children. Promote your ministry in church publications, community advertising, and best yet, word of mouth from satisfied participants.

If I had an 11 or 12 to add they would be:

11. Lack of Personal Spiritual Growth – It can be easy to get disconnected from the “Big Church” and miss the worship, sermons and fellowship that nurture and grow most Christians. It’s also easy to fall into the habit of only reading the Bible and studying in order to create lessons and sermons for ministry. Make sure some of it is just for you! Make time in your schedule to go to an Adult Service at least once a month.

12. A Bad Attitude – Children’s Ministers are often tempted to be huge complainers. Often they’re under the impression they’re just being visionary… but vision needs to be balanced with being completely grateful and content with the resources God has given you already. There’s a spiritual principal here… if you’re faithful over the little (even a little budget or a little team), God will make you master over much.

Read the article here: 10 Things That Can Ruin Your Children’s Ministry

Bigfoot Comic Speaks To Me About Long Term Impact

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.

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.

When Is It Time To Leave Your Ministry Position?


They say the average youth or children’s minister stays in a position about three years. Leaving a ministry position is apparently a common part of our ministry lives. Though I never planned on joining the statistic… my family and I have accepted a position at a church in St. Petersburg, Florida and will be moving from Kansas City in two weeks.

My wife and I have felt for about a year that we’ve been waiting for something but we didn’t know what. Apparently God was preparing our hearts for a transition. Though we weren’t planning to go anywhere, we committed ourselves to prayer and found that God had released us and was calling us elsewhere. I’m pleased to say that we’re leaving on great terms… no drama to report. Our primary reason for the move is to be closer to family. This has become very important to us since we’ve had children.

Once a few years ago, I was going through a pretty dark time in my life. No moral failure or anything like that… I was just “going through” as they say. I was feeling as if I wanted to be done with ministry… that I wanted to leave… to get away from the pressure. I talked to a mentor of mine and he gave me some sound advice that I wanted to share in this context. He asked me to recall when God called me to my current position. I was instantly able to remember that moment. He said, “When it’s time to go, He’ll release you the same way. He called you here… he’ll call you away.” His words really clarified things for me. I realized that leaving wasn’t my choice to make. I remained faithful… and God was good.

So when is it time to leave? When God says. It makes all the difference. On those bad days in ministry sometimes the Call is the only thing that keeps you hanging in there. Knowing that in spite of all of our shortcomings and flaws, that you know that you know that God put you where you are can give us the strength we need to hold on. I’m finding that I need that same assurance as I transition between seasons in ministry. Thank God I have it. I know my future is secure, in spite of all of the unknowns, because we’re following the path that has been laid out for us by our Heavenly Father.

Those of you who may be struggling where you are… I would urge you to remember that moment God called you to be where you are. If you want to leave, ask… but wait for that call to go before you throw in the towel. God still had a lot of work to do on me that would have not been possible if I had left before. If he doesn’t release you it’s because he has unfinished work to do in your life and the lives you minister to. Trust that.

Children’s Church: Should it be Super Fun or Super Serious?


There are differing opinions on the level of excitement and fun that should be used in children’s church. Some would say that it should be filled with video clips, sound effects, games, object lessons and fun. Others would fight against such things by proposing we train children to be able to handle big church by giving them their own version of an adult-like service.

I find myself falling into a different category if you can call it a category at all. I think each church has to decide for itself what atmosphere it provides based on the requirements of their congregation. Even then I don’t believe that you can set the bar and walk away. My own services have changed over the years, going from one extreme at times to the other, based on what my kids needed at the time. Sometimes even within the same service.

I have an unwritten rule that I use to gauge the amount of ‘fun’ I use in my services. I often share this with my kids as a way to improve their behavior if we’re having a ‘full moon’ Sunday. Every week we make a deal:

If you promise to learn, I promise to make it fun.

There are times when fun makes the learning go smoothly. There are other times I have to rein it in in order to get my point across. I find that I have to keep part of my mind on the message… and the other part out there in the crowd. If the one part isn’t receiving what the other part is sending, it’s time to change things up. Right there… on the fly.

Sometimes fun works. Sometimes fun looks serious, like a secret club meeting in the back yard. Sometimes it’s not about fun at all… but about interest in the topic. Mostly it’s about where your kids are and what they need. Here’s the other guideline I heard somewhere:

A child’s experience with the content is as important as the content.

If you can’t get it in their heads somehow, it doesn’t really matter how good of a point your making. I refuse to slot my children’s church into a ‘fun’ or ‘church-like’ category because doing so would limit the methods I need to use to get the Word out. My hope would be that other Children’s Ministers would keep their options open as well. It doesn’t always have to be a playground… or a funeral.

5 Things To Help With Children’s Ministry Burnout


You often see articles on how to avoid burnout in ministry… but what about when it sneaks up on you? How can you get out of the hole of despair your in? Below I’ve listed some things that help me when the well doing makes me weary.

5. Time Away – but not necessarily

Taking time off if you haven’t had a break can be a great way to recharge… but not always. Sometimes taking a break can be like running away. If you don’t do things to recharge in your time away, you’ll end up coming back right into the same situations as ill prepared as you were before.

4. Act Your Way Into Feelings

I’m not talking about faking a good mood… though we’ve all been there. That would be an attempt to feeling your way into actions… which is killer. Acting your way into feelings means that you get up, get out there and keep on trucking. If you can’t do everything you’re supposed to do, do what you can do. Give God room to move in your ministry life by continuing to do as much of it as you can. The rest of the steps depend on this.

3. Change Things Up

Most of the time we’re not burned out on ministry as a whole… we’re just burned out on parts of it. It may be time for a change in those areas. I’m a fan of giving away parts of the ministry that grind my nerves away to those who are especially gifted at it. Even if you don’t delegate everything… doing it differently can be just the thing to renew your interest and passion.

2. Ask For Help

We get burned out when we try to do more than we can handle. Sure, there are things God has called us to do that may be beyond us and all… but His yoke is easy and all that. I’m talking about when we take on to much and try to do it all ourselves. It’s time to delegate. Don’t know how? Try asking yourself, “Who would take my place if I were sick this Sunday?” and go from there. You don’t have to give everything away… just the parts that anyone else can do.

1. Pray Through

As a child I would hear people talk about ‘praying through’. I didn’t understand it then… but I sure do now. Praying through, for me anyway, is praying until my attitude changes. Literally bugging God until He helps me through. Typically for me it means Him humbling me and realizing it was some sort of independent pride that got me where I was in the first place. Along with seeking energy, attitude adjustments and such, you might also ask for creativity… or if you’re season has changed. God loves you more than the ministry you provide. He knows that you minister out of your overflow… and He will fill you if you wait on Him.

If You Only Had Three Months… What Would You Do?

If you were leaving your position in three months… and wanted to leave the ministry you’d been building in the best condition possible… what would you do in the next 30 days?

I have recently put this challenge to myself and realized I had a vision or two that I had been holding off on for no good reason. I immediately called a meeting and boldly laid out my vision and I think things are going to start moving that direction. It’s exciting.

It’s the same as when you sell your home. There are a ton of things that you suddenly realize you need to fix that you were living with and had actually grown to accept. Looking at your home through a buyers eyes helps you see things in a more honest light. This exercise can help us to light a fire under ourselves to jump on those projects, programs, tasks or whatever that we’ve gotten used to being less than what we’ve wanted them to be.

Thoughts On Children’s Ministry Effectiveness

I used to do a lot of Bus Ministry. Things have changed in the last few years where running busses is not feasible right now… but I still have a little place in my heart ready to pounce when the time is right again.

Bus Ministry is a great place to learn a lot… hard and fast. You make a lot of mistakes… and you ask a lot of internal questions… and it challenges the living crizzle out of your beliefs and makes you wonder if it’s worth it at all.

Once I remember questioning whether pulling a kid out of their situation for only a couple of hours a week was actually doing any good for them at all. I was explaining to God how they’re bombarded with family issues, inner-city pressures, peer-pressure like you’ve never seen… how was my little song-n-dance once a week going to provide any help… especially for those who didn’t half listen?

God told me—I must stop here for a moment and make sure you understand that when I say “God Told Me”, that it works like this: I get a really excellent idea in my mind that I know in a million years would never come from my own jacked up, over functioning brain—flatly”:

“When you’re in a fire… any moment you’re not burning is a great moment.”

I knew exactly what He was telling me. These kids were in the worst of situations… and though I was questioning our effectiveness, God was making it clear that every moment they were free from that situation was a precious, precious time for them. It helped me so much. Suddenly I saw their hyperactivity in a new light. They were excited to just be kids for once. They were getting a chance to play, a chance to connect with adults who truly cared about them as people. I wasn’t allowed to downplay any of the time we spent with them after that.

This concept doesn’t only apply to Bus Ministry… but to any ministry to children. Sure, we only get them a few hours a week… assuming they come every time the doors are open… but that time is precious. Especially from God’s point of view. Even if all we did was play with our kids rather than teach, for some of them it would be the most spiritually refreshing moments in their week. Experiencing God’s unconditional love in a safe, accepting environment should be the foundation of every children’s ministry experience.