The Nobody

bibleThis morning in my Bible study, I read about the first battle the Israelites faced after leaving Egypt. God had miraculously brought them out of their slavery, and now they were wandering from place to place in the desert. While at one of their campsites, Amalekite warriors attacked them. Moses, the Israelites fearless leader, turned to Joshua and told him to lead the people in fighting against the enemy. And so Joshua enters the scene. It is the first time the Bible mentions him.

Normally at this point, I just keep moving on in my reading. But today, I stopped and thought about Joshua. Usually, I think of him in regards to the warrior in the book that bears his name. He led many, many battles in the Promised Land to take back what God had promised His people. He’s FAMOUS!

But after reading the story of him again, and seeing his entrance into the story, it made me think:

1. Joshua was a slave who had come out of Egypt, just like the rest of them. Nothing super special about him.
2. He obviously showed great leadership strengths and motivation along the way to have caught Moses’ attention and earned his trust.
3. God didn’t just put Joshua over the whole shabang after Moses death, but he prepared him through smaller battles. And God gave Joshua a great leader to help and guide him.

What that tells me is that God will take a nobody (which really is what we ALL are!) and bring about in them whatever HE purposes if we are willing and teachable and moldable. And He will prepare us for that purpose through all the “small battles” in our lives. 

Are you dealing with difficulties in your life? In your ministry? In your relationships? Feeling a little under-equipped for service? Or maybe you just keep looking back at the “slavery in Egypt” and feel your past is just too much for you to ever be used by God?

Remember these things:

~Your past does not define you or determine who you are in Christ.

~The battle you’re going through now is just training for the real calling God has for you.

~God has a GREAT PLAN for your life!

My Favorite Music for Kid’s Worship

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Music is one of my great loves in this life. For me, it has a way, like nothing else, of bringing me right into the presence of God. And it can do the same for kids.

In kids ministry, music is every bit as important as the message kids hear. And it’s vital that it is given to them in a way that they “get it”. If you are still singing songs during worship from when you were a kid, chances are you aren’t connecting with the children in your room. If you are leading them in songs that are sung in the adult service, again, you’re more than likely missing the mark on connecting with them. And if you aren’t connecting with them, they aren’t getting in the presence of Jesus. They are off somewhere in their minds thinking about what they’ll be having for lunch, if they can ever get out of there.

Fear not! There is some GREAT kids music out there that is every bit as “spiritual” as what you’re going to hear in the adult service, and kids love to sing and dance to it! And you don’t have to have a full band to make it happen! Today, I wanted to share some of my favorite music options for children’s ministry.

Toddlers: 

In my toddler room, I love to play Yancy’s preschool music. It comes on a CD or DVD, but I prefer to show the DVD so kids can see the colors and movement and really get drawn in. Yancy has several preschool albums out, and they are all fabulous! Go grab your copy here! 

Elementary:

Older kids still love to see a DVD, especially when the words are on the screen and they can easily follow along and sing. But if you don’t have the ability to show a DVD, the CD option for each of these is just as great. And you can find hand motions (aka-dance moves) to most of the songs online.

Uncle Charlie music is great! He has very exciting videos for each of his songs, and dances to go with them as well. Kids love his music. Get some Uncle Charlie worship songs here! He also has an amazing life story that you can read about here. You definitely want to check that out!

Hillsong Kids has been one of my favorite music resources since I started serving in kids ministry! They are always lively and energetic. There are real people dancing on screen, a full band, and it is super exciting. It makes you feel like you are right in the room worshiping with them. Hillsong Kids stays cutting edge and kids won’t feel like they have stepped back into the dark ages of music. You’re going to want to get one of everything they have here! 

Go Fish Guys have been super fun to worship to! They have some great music and they are high energy. And very talented. Probably my favorite of their albums was their hymns remake called Kickin’ it Old School. The kids loved all the old hymns put to new music and a great beat! You can get their music here. 

With all of the great technology today, you can go check out all these great worship songs and download just the ones you want. Play them straight off your phone on Sunday morning. Super simple, and it will make a HUGE impact!

Your turn. What is your favorite music to jam to on Sunday mornings with your group of kids? What music gets your children’s room ready to be in the presence of God?

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DC4K Ministry

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Today I want to highlight a ministry that is doing some GREAT work for the Kingdom. My friend, Linda, began this ministry years ago, and it has grown beyond what could have been imagined. She has done such an amazing job building this as God has led, so I’m going to just share some things straight from her site.

“Your kids probably feel scared, sad, and confused after your divorce. They know you have been hurt deeply. As a result, they may hide their feelings because they are worried about your happiness or because they do not know how to express their feelings appropriately. DC4K helps them process those feelings and gives them tools to communicate better with you.

DC4K is a special group that provides a safe and caring place for your children to engage in fun-filled activities while learning about the divorce and the many changes they are encountering in their lives. All of the activities fit into a two-hour weekly format. Each group meets for 13 consecutive weeks.

From participating in group activities and games to eating and laughing together, children have fun at DC4K.”  

~taken from the DC4K website

I will tell you, I have been so thankful for Linda’s ministry to these kids. She has dealt with this for years, and is very able to help children from divorce situations. And since I am not familiar with ministering in this regard, this ministry has enabled me to still offer help and resources to the kids in my children’s ministry who needed this care. My eyes have been opened to the great number of hurting kids out there.

If you are in a divorce situation, go check out DC4K. If you are a ministry leader with kids in need of these resources, go check out DC4K. If you just want to get more information so you can be better equipped to help kids from divorce, go check out DC4K. GO CHECK IT OUT! You will be so glad you did!

HELP! We Need Volunteers!

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Volunteers: THE BACKBONE of any ministry! And kids ministry is no exception. In fact, in my opinion, volunteers are needed in kids ministry more than anywhere else! I have many, many reasons for believing that, but that’s for another blog post. Today, I want to talk about how to actually get those perfect people for your team so you can be successful. Success is defined by the number of lives reached for Christ. So the more people involved in that, the better.

~Let me preface this by saying, I have only served in relatively small churches where I was able to connect with everyone at some point. I realize, if you are at a larger church, this would change quite a bit. And as God is preparing me for a bigger ministry, I will update in the future how my recruiting has changed or stayed the same.~

The first thing to do is ask yourself the question, “How do I see people?” Do you see them as individuals that God has uniquely gifted and placed in your path to serve alongside, or do you simply see people as a means to an end?

Ministry is all about relationships. Jesus formed relationships with each of His disciples. Paul formed relationships with each person he worked with. Ministry happens best in the context of relationships. So if that is indeed the case, how do you see people?

1. Form a Relationship:

I start building a team first by forming relationships with people. I make a point to speak to every person I can and find out how their week went. I invite them to coffee. I ask about their job or their kids. We get to know each other. And from that, we form a bond.

2. Find the Gifting:

The second part of that equation is to look at people as uniquely created and gifted by God, and to really LOOK for the things they do well. Everybody is a 10 at something. Everybody has that one thing they LOVE to do and they do well. So in forming this relationship, I find out what makes them tick, what makes them want to jump out of bed in the morning so they can go do it.

3. Create a Job:

And then I begin thinking about how they could fit into my team.  Because people want to be used by God in the things they are good at. They want to be needed. And I have found that EVERY SINGLE GIFT can be used in children’s ministry. Not everyone is a teacher or worship leader. Some people like to talk, so they can greet kids and parents in my check in station. Some love organization, and would be willing to help build spreadsheets for my budget or list of kids or whatever. An art student can be a great room decorator! Maybe a person’s great love is to cook, and could bake snacks each week. Whatever passion a person has, I “create” a place for that to be used. I write a new “job description” for that person’s gift, listing all the things needed or required of that position. And then I make the “ask”.

4. Make the Ask:

If I have done all these steps well – built a great relationship, learned what someone’s passion is, and created a place for that gift to be used – the “ask” is the easy part. I either make a phone call or meet for coffee, and we chat. I let them know how great of a person and friend I think they are, and how I feel they would be a great leader on my kidmin team. I talk about their love for [insert whatever their passion may be] and how I just happen to need someone with that gift to help with this position. I let them know, should they say yes, what they would “GET” to do and how that would help kids hear about and have a relationship with Jesus. I assure them that I would give them some great training so they wouldn’t just be thrown to the wolves. And then, if for some reason they didn’t just love it, they could change their mind and we would still be great friends. It’s a win/win offer that I present to a potential team member.

I have built many teams using this approach. Because when you have a relationship with people, and you see them as individuals, and you are finding out what they love, and you are offering them a chance to use their gifts to do what they love for Jesus, they WANT to join you! You are no longer just filling a spot, but you are strategically placing someone in the best possible position and setting them up for a big WIN! And everybody wants to win!

The mic is yours. Tell me your best team building techniques.

 

No Limits

“[He] is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”

Ephesians 3:20 – One of my favorite verses. Because when I read it, it tells me that God is BIGGER! God is bigger than anything my small brain could come up with. And yet, I still find myself putting limits on what I think God will do in my life.

When I bring my requests to God, I find myself thinking in the back of my mind how He might accomplish that request. And I can think pretty big. So I start to imagine the different things God may do, and then plan how I will be a part of that story.

Sometimes God has given me a direction in which to walk, and as I start out on that first step, I start planning the rest of the journey for Him.

Problem is, my big thinking doesn’t even come close to God’s BIGGER thinking.

We are still in transition, and quite honestly, I’m a little confused. Because when God told me to resign my position as children’s pastor at my former church so I would be ready for the next step He had for me and my family on this life journey, I started planning in my head what might happen. And it hasn’t really worked out that way. I immediately started telling my husband what I absolutely didn’t want to do in ministry, and what I figured God probably would call us to next. He stopped me and said, “OK, well that might be fine for you, but I’m not going to put any limits on what God might do next.”

Dang it. I hate admitting when he’s right. But he was. So we agreed to no limits. And yet, I still expected God to do certain things. I based my assumptions on how God has worked in the past in our lives and ministry, but didn’t really leave any room for Ephesians 3:20. Because God is always going BIGGER!

We are presently “camping” at a very large church in our area. And I don’t know what to think about it. Because I have only ever been to very small churches my entire life. But we love this church! All of us. The kids, too! Which is crazy, because they’ve only ever been at small churches where everybody knows everybody. We’ve been afraid to say we’re “putting down roots” at this church, because there is still that thought in the back of our minds that God has something different for us at a much smaller church. Because that’s all we’ve ever known.

But God has been preparing me, over the last 3 years, for bigger. Much bigger. He wants more from me. More from our family. And He has prepared and equipped us. So why am I thinking small? Why does it surprise me that the next step might just be BIGGER? Why have I still put limits on my thinking and on God’s plan? Because really, I can’t even begin to know what the “IMMEASURABLY MORE” is that He has in store for us. I have learned, and am still learning, to just pray, “God, just BE BIG!” And I want to just be along for the ride, serving alongside my Savior wherever He has me to work each day.

How are you putting limits on God today? In your life? In your ministry? In your marriage? In the lives of your kids? Ask God to reveal to you places you need to let go of your small thinking, and ask Him to help you BELIEVE BIG for what HE has in store for you! It’s more than you can ever think to ask for and more than your small brain can ever even dream up. God is BIGGER!

Ephesians 3:20 – “[He] is able to do IMMEASURABLY MORE than all we ASK or IMAGINE, according to his power that is at work within us…”

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CPC Online Virtual Event

I AM SO EXCITED!! It’s conference season and there are SO MANY great options to choose from!! For the next week or so, I’ll be posting about different upcoming conferences, so you can make a great choice on where to best spend your resource dollars and time. I believe everybody in kids ministry benefits from attending a conference. So hang on to your seats, and here we go!

Today, I’m spotlighting something new from INCM, the hosts of the CPC – the Children’s Pastor’s Conference. The CPC is a HUGE conference that is held in California and in Florida, so you have options as far as distance. The CPC East is going on RIGHT NOW, but still to come is the CPC West. It will be held from February 16-19, 2015, and will be four days of jam packed info and resources for all involved in kids ministry!

At the CPC, you will find tons of great speakers who have been and are right where you are in children’s ministry. They have wisdom and encouragement to offer, and you will greatly benefit from their words. If you’d like more info, or to register, go check out the CPC West! There is still time to get in at the early registration cost, but that changes on January 26. So you better hurry!

But what if you are like me and are unable to physically attend due to cost or time or distance? I am so EXCITED to share some news! This year, the CPC is going VIRTUAL! WOOHOO! This online event is happening on Thursday, February 5, 2015 from 9:00-3:30CST (10:00-4:30EST), and only costs $149. It will include the 7 main sessions, and there are tons of BONUS resources that are included – my favorite being a license to open your office or home to invite as many people as you’d like to watch with you! THAT is amazing! Because for $149, I can offer AMAZING training to my entire kids ministry team at church, as well as kids ministers all around my area!

I signed up this morning for the CPC Online Virtual Event, and I couldn’t be more excited! Go check out the event to sign up, too! And if you happen to be in my neck of the woods, come hang out with me for the day on February 5. My amazing hubby is turning my living room into a theatre for the event, and we will be hanging out together in our comfy clothes eating lots of finger foods and worshiping and learning together. Hope to see you there!!

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Faith – The First Step is the Hardest

Faith is one of those things you can’t really put your finger on. It’s a belief in something you can’t really see or always understand, but you know it’s there. And when you step out in faith, the first step is always the hardest.

A few months ago, I started hearing the still, small voice of God whispering in my ear. Truth be told, it was after my husband had been yelling the same thing in my ear for several months prior. But I am thick skulled. It takes a few (or quite a few) times of hearing the same thing before it sinks in. And God always has a way of getting my attention. He was telling me it was time for a change.

I had been a children’s pastor for a local church for the past two and a half years, and was very happy in what I was doing. It was comfortable. And I loved the people I had the pleasure of serving alongside. Really, I couldn’t have asked for a better team of volunteers!

But God was calling me to a change.

Two weeks ago, I resigned my position as children’s pastor. Yesterday was my last Sunday. That was the first step. Actually, it’s the only thing I knew for certain I was supposed to do. God hasn’t shown us the rest of the plan as of yet. But God rarely shows me more than one step at a time, and He wants to see if I will be faithful in the first step before He reveals the next.

I did wonder if I misheard the voice. Did I do the right thing? Was I acting on my own? But every single time I have questioned the decision to resign, God has given me confirmation that it was right. Every single time. It has been amazing to see all the different ways God has confirmed His plan.

And now we wait. We are taking a little time off to rest and regroup. We are praying and getting in the Word of God to seek direction. And we are keeping our eyes peeled for the next step in our ministry journey. No, I have no idea where we will end up. But I know the One with the plan. And His ways are best!

When you follow the voice of God Almighty, you won’t go wrong. It’s been hard to explain that to a few people who couldn’t understand why I would want to leave. If I’m not mad at anyone and not actively looking for a new place of employment and not moving, why would I quit and leave? Because unless I step out in faith and follow His voice, He’s not going to point us to the next step.

Faith. It’s a hard thing to understand, and an even harder thing to really explain to others. But it’s what we are called to. Every day is filled with opportunities to act in faith and trust God for something. The first step is always the hardest.

Is there something God has called you to act in faith on? Somewhere you couldn’t really see the end, but you saw His hand? I would love to hear your story, so share in the comments!

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Welcome Back!

So it’s been awhile since I have written for The Children’s Pastor blog. Truth: it’s been MONTHS! Why? Well, a lot has happened.

A couple of years ago, I thought I had pretty much everything figured out. I was running a pretty good children’s ministry. God was blessing us and even sent us to a new area of ministry. Things were good. And I have learned that, when things look like they’re going really well, I’d better watch out. Because, for me, that’s when pride begins to creep in. And boy does God have a way of bringing me to my knees.

All at once, everything started to fall apart right in front of my eyes. I trusted that God would use it for His good purposes, but that didn’t really make any of it any easier at the time. I had a highly respected person of faith question my motives behind calling myself a “children’s pastor” when I had no degree to back that title. That seriously shook my thinking. And it seemed the more people I tried to help, the more God showed me how little I really knew. Every time I sat down to blog, I couldn’t shake the thought that, “I’m not really a children’s pastor. He said I’m not. And he’s right, you know. I have no degree. Just a calling. Or what I thought was a calling. But really, I have no idea what I’m doing. I know nothing.”

And that’s exactly where God needed me to be.

I let my last “The Children’s Pastor” site expire without renewing it, because I didn’t feel I had anything to say. The only reason I kept the Facebook page was because, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to delete it! But that was God.

I have spent the last 2 years humbled by how little I know and how dependent I am on Almighty God. I have realized that He DID call me to children’s ministry, and I AM a children’s pastor, no matter what anyone says. I minister to children. I lead kids to Christ. I help others who do the same. I am a children’s pastor. And I have spent that time learning a great deal about kids and leadership and God and all manner of things.

A few weeks ago, I kept seeing people (several people!) “like” The Children’s Pastor Facebook page, and I kept asking my husband, “Why are these people finding this page?! I’m not even promoting it! And I haven’t done anything with it in FOREVER!” But through that, I heard God telling me it was time to pick it back up and run with it. So I started using the FB page again and started a new blog. He has a calling for me. He has something to say through me. And so here we are.

I’m not sure where God will go with this blog, but I know it will be an adventure. I plan to post book reviews of the leadership books I am currently reading (and let me tell you, they are great!), links to other great kidmin people doing the same thing as you and I, and whatever little bit I have learned along the way in this ministry journey. I love helping other leaders dig deeper and go further in ministry. I am here to serve you. I’m glad you’ve come along for the ride.

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