People are not committed

I hear this all the time, that the people in their church just are not committed. What are people talking about? Are those who say this talking about being committed to the local church? A denomination? To service? To a pastor? To a board? Committee? What is their definition of “People are just not committed”?

Our culture requires absolute commitment to very little, and then when our churches call for commitment it is kind of counter-cultural to call for commitment to an institution, a belief system, or to a person. The lack of commitment is why we do what we do, not the obstacle to what we do. The people we come in contact with daily need examples of faithfulness and commitment in order to reproduce that commitment in their own lives as dads, wives, children, employees, employers, neighbors and more.

Select carefully but select what each of us want to celebrate. When we see commitment that is being lived out and applied we need to highlight that and celebrate it loud. We can often times live with what I will call the negative child syndrome. This is where only the negative child gets the attention and the one that does right gets ignored. Should we always pay attention to the squeakiest wheel? Why not shift our attention to the wheel that is moving well?

I think often times in Children’s ministry to name just one, we can feel as though the whole world is against us. When was the last time we found a family and highlighted them and their great contributions to the children’s ministry by doing a video commercial on them and showing it in the adult sanctuary in front of their peers? How do we celebrate loudly those that live the commitment we are asking for or desire to see in the lives of those we minister to? I often times talk with Children’s pastors and hear from them that they have a discipline policy set up but I am not sure I have ever heard of one yet that has a “Attaboy” type policy set up to celebrate loudly those who are living the commitment.

So if your commitment level seems to be low where you are, check to see how well you are doing in celebrating the “Attaboy” type stuff.

Stop being lazy and trying to have your bulletin announcement do your job of helping people to see the difference they can make in an area of your ministry.

Check your volume and make sure that the celebrations are much louder the any complaint.

Clarity is a must

How often do we think that as we communicate with others that what we are thinking and saying is perfectly clear? Probably a ton of times for each of us. How many times do we share what we want people to do, or share the vision of our ministries and still people don’t exactly seem to pick it up?

I want to share with you a story I picked up somewhere over the years that i think does a great and humorous job of helping us to see how important it is to be clear when we are speaking to kids. We need to look over our words, phrases, terminology, visuals, all of it and really think through our audience we are talking with to make sure that when we are done communicating we have not just “talked” but really “communicated” clearly.

Two old boys were out in the boonies deer hunting, and somehow Ed managed to accidentally shoot Buster. It was a pretty serious thing, and they knew they needed help.

Buster reached into his pocket and pulled out a cell phone. He handed it to Ed. “Here,“buster gasped, “call 911 and the tell them what you did.” Then buster lost consciousness. Ed dialed up the number,got a signal, and in about five seconds he was talking to a 911 operator.

“I accidentally shot buster and I think he’s dead!” Ed shouted into the phone.

The 911 operator was reassuring and told Ed she’d walk him through exactly what Ed needed to do. “The first thing,” said the operator, “is to stay calm so you can take action. I can tell you’re excited. Take a few deep breaths for me.”

Ed did that and sure enough, he could feel his heart quit beating so fast.

“Great,“said the operator. “Now, the second thing is to make sure your friend is actually dead.”

The operator heard the phone as it was set on the ground then a shot rang out, Ed came back online. “OK, I made sure he was dead” Ed said. “What’s the next thing?”

In this little story Ed did really well following directions. He did everything that was asked of him. But because he didn’t catch hold of the goal (to save busters life),he ended up doing something foolish. (Now, just a s a disclaimer, this is a fictitious story and no one should really do this and no one was really hurt during the telling of this make believe story)

Even though this story was as stated a fictitious story, something happens all across the globe all the time that is not fictitious. It is when we think we are clear when we are not and we challenge boys and girls to win the world, & be all they can be for God and “we” lose them through our un-clarity and God gets the blame.

It is our responsibility as leaders to make sure people understand the goals and purpose of what we are telling them about so they can make good decisions. I believe that when kids, parents, and families have “clear” communication they will find ways to succeed.

Is this clear?

Fun and Fast Teams Win

I really enjoyed my subscription to Fast Company (actually my subscription just ran out and I am going to have to renew). I actually think I like the title just as much as the contents, and I really enjoy the title. I love to move quickly, I am not known for patience, just ask my wife. If I had lived back when Jesus was walking with the disciples I would have been a lot like Peter. I would love the invitation from Jesus to walk on water. I often times hear people preach about him asking Jesus to call him on out onto the water and people often ask “why” he would have done that? I always think “why would he not?” I would have been quick to cut the ear off of someone as well and then have to have my leader (Jesus) come and give me a lesson on knowing that they have everything under control.

Okay, I said all that to just say I really enjoyed a recent article that “Fast Company” had in it recently called: The Four Rules for Fast Teams. Here are the four rules they mention with a little more commentary from me on them as well plus how they may apply to Take TWO Ministries and possibly yours as well.

Let the Group Make Its Own Rules.

“You want to make sure people have a say in how they’re going to work together”. It is great and extremely important according to me to have a defined and owned set of core values, mission and vision. I also think it is very important to allow your team to have input into creating those. As time goes on and time seems to speed up even more, I am leaning more and more toward knowing that Jesus set the mission for all of us already through the Great Commission and the Great Commandment (This is truly the Take TWO), the vision for each ministry, place of employment and all can and will be different but we will accomplish it through our core values. Those core values need to be held tightly and always used as a compass.

Speak up often.
Here is something I am continuing to learn is so important. You have to have an environment that encourages people to speak their mind, their opinions and for that to be okay to do. You need to build into your culture of children’s ministry an environment that not only says we are safe but shows that it is safe to challenge things if done well. In this kind of safe environment after all has been discussed we need to recognize what we heard, maybe implement some, but then move on to accomplish the vision. People want to be heard and they want to know they have a voice. It is better to allow this to happen upfront in a safe environment than allow your people to feel that they can not voice their opinion publicly, because they will still voice their opinions, just behind closed doors and behind your back. This is often times a time that ministries become derailed. Let your people speak honestly. You will win more people that way.

Learn as You Go.
Here the main thought is as you learn share what you learn, take people along on the journey with you. This will profit the whole church and/or organization.

Fast Has to Be Fun.
The title says it all, to keep people and build a great team that can move quickly, it is important to build a place that is fun. If you have been in children’s ministry long and even if you have not been here long, you probably noticed the world the kids live in and your volunteers live in moves rather quickly. So let’s keep it fun and enjoyable. If it doesn’t stay fun you spend valuable time trying to always recruit people to come along with you in a non fun environment. Doesn’t that make you just want to jump in and be a team player? No, so why would anyone else want that?

So quickly, go and have some fun adapting these points in your own ministry.

Stir up the waters

During a time with God I was reading this:
Matthew 19:14 Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” This caused me to think “What hinders kids that I may do or my ministry?”

I know that I will never be able to answer all of this just in this quick post but here are a few ideas I think are good for all of us children’s pastors, Sunday school teachers, and anyone who works with kids to look at.

I think we can hinder kids in many ways. I think that many of us hinder kids when they come into our churches and:

* We don’t treat them like they can make a difference now!! Lately I have been getting a lot of parents telling me that they appreciate that their kids come into Take TWO Kids and now feel that they are important. That is good news but it is also not so good news. The reason it is not so good news is that statement says that there are places that kids go that do not make them feel that they are not important. This is hindering them.

* Our ministries are in stagnation. Our Sunday schools, kids churches, ministries to kids should be vital, exciting, growing, and going places. When we accept anything less we will see stagnation, and that will hinder kids from really seeing how relevant God is. Often times I think that since teachers, pastors, church members, volunteers , moms and dads get to show Jesus to kids, what actually happens is that we just show kids how irrelevant we may be but and God gets the blame.

Working with kids is not always easy, but is incredibly important. Children’s ministry should constantly be changing because the world of kids is constantly changing. So fight stagnation in all areas of your ministry with kids. If you are still doing what you did even last year and doing it in the same way, most likely stagnation is taking place and you are not even aware of it. Take a look at your decor, facility, teaching style, what you are reading or not reading, who do you net work with, classroom set up, what was the last thing that changed in your ministry? The list can and does go on but these should be good starter type questions for you.

Stir your waters up!! Families depend on us.

Did I do that?

I am not sure how many people have watched, still watch or will admit that they have watched the show with Steve Urkel in it, but I will admit that I have seen it. Every time he does something that causes grief, trouble, blows up, spills, and the list can go on and on, he always says in his Steve type way, “Did I do that?’

I have been thinking about how many Steve’s we have in the world. Steve type people who all of a sudden notice their marriage going down hill – Did I do that? Families who have let their children run the home and now they have no control over them – Did I do that? It is time we start to take responsibility for the results we are getting.

I am a firm believer in not just letting stuff happen but I want to make a plan on how to achieve as much as I can and profit my relationship with God, my family, my church and friends, I want to have a strategy in place. So when I hear people say that they have no strategy all I can think of is: Your strategy is perfectly designed for the results you are getting. To get different results design a different strategy. Often times I know that we have all heard and may have preached several times, “If you want something different then you must do something different.” If you are digging a hole in the ground and you see that you need a new hole you don’t keep digging deeper, no you go and dig somewhere else.