We’ve got some incredible student volunteers in our ministry. Students as young as sixth grade, all the way up to seniors in high school, are critical members of our kids' ministry team. We wouldn’t be as strong without them.
And when I have an audience with my student volunteers, there are three things I want them to remember:
1. Be present. I mean, really be present with the kids. Get eye level with them, smile and let them know that you want to hear all that they have to say. Play with them, ask about their dog and tell them about yours. There is a big difference between you and me. I remind these kids of their mom. You are like the big brother/sister who actually plays with them. This is your chance to be someone’s hero. So have some fun.
Recently, I had the privilege of speaking to more than 400 Filipino children's ministry pastors, coordinators and volunteers at our annual Victory National Kids Ministry Summit. The delegates came to Island Cove from fifty Philippine cities, plus Singapore, Cambodia and Dubai.
My topic was the “why” of kids ministry. I told some stories, read some Bible verses, and asked four questions. Here are the Bible verses and questions:
Are we bringing kids to church or to Jesus? Getting kids to church is a good start, but it is only a start. The goal is to get them to Jesus. Let’s not be like the disciples in Mark 10:13 who completely missed the point: "People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them" (NIV).
As our church ramps up to plant a church a year for the next several years, I’ve had conversations with five of my key guys about becoming church planters. Church planting is one of the most challenging sub-categories of pastoral ministry.
One of my guys confessed recently, “I’m struggling with this potential call. I don’t know if I’m willing for my son to grow up hating the church.”
His statement took me back to dozens of pastoral nightmare stories of pastors' kids (PKs) who have walked away from God and the church because they felt forgotten and forsaken by parents who loved the church more than they loved their children.
I was out for a run for the first time in months. A “runner’s injury" to my right foot has been slow in healing. It was great to be off the exercise bike and back outside!
While I was out, another runner passed by me in the other direction and greeted me with a cheery “Hey, keep going!” and a big smile. It was a lifting moment and brought a smile to my face. The next runner passed by within inches of me. I offered a cheerful “Hey!” and he never looked up. The difference was staggering.
That moment was a fresh reminder of how much I appreciate people with a positive and cheerful spirit. They bring life! Others steal life. Both options can take place in a moment.
I spent three days recently at a cabin with five other pastors, holding what we call a roundtable.
I’m from California. We met in Illinois, where there was a blizzard one day and the temperature hit minus 7 degrees one night. I didn’t care. What we were doing was so important, we didn’t need to go outside. We do this every year. We plan to continue doing it until our last days of ministry.
Here’s why I’m involved in a roundtable:
1. These guys inspire me. They’re my friends, all are pastors, and seeing how they live out their commitment to God inspires me. There aren’t too many people who do what we do. One of the guys lost his wife and best friend to cancer in the same year. Another adopted and is raising four high-risk children. A third runs triathlons. All of them are devoted to their wives and to walking in close quarters with Christ. During dark seasons in my ministry, I think of them and it boosts my determination to keep going.
This past weekend, thousands of youth ministers participated in the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. As a participant in the past few, I know that feelings of empowerment and encouragement are flowing through this year's attendees' minds and souls.
The reason these conferences can be such a powerful experience is because of the camaraderie and the opportunity to take a youth ministry “time out”.
The problem with a conference like Simply Youth Ministry is that it’s only a weekend. After a weekend of euphoria you are forced to go home and face: