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Posts Tagged "family"

Adjust Your Lens

Posted by on May 21, 2015 in Ministry

Over the past 4 weeks I’ve visited four different churches.  Each church dramatically different from the other in terms of environment, community, and worship style.  And yet there were consistencies that were very helpful/impactful to my first-time attending family.

Here are some notables from a few of the churches:

  • Directional Signage! Once we walked in the building it was obvious where to go to check in kids.  The signage was eye-catching and the check-in space easily accessible.
  • Security! It is obvious how much a kids ministry values security when they employ a nametag policy.  Only allowing access to certain areas of the kids space to those wearing parent receipts or volunteer nametags.
  • Environments! I’ve seen some spaces that look nothing like school, daycare or home.  I love seeing the many ways creativity is employed to make a space unique for kids.  Don’t forget to get on your knees and look at your space from their perspective.  What would you add… or change?

And a few things to check into:

  • Human Signage – In one church the layout was so odd that we walked down a hallway that wraps around the main auditorium.  We walked for a few minutes without encountering a person or open kids room.  I almost thought we were headed the wrong direction.  Some ‘Human Signage’ would have been highly beneficial.  A quick smile, friendly greeting, handshake or just general availability to assure us we’re headed in the right direction.  Many times we can’t do anything about our physical space.  So we find creative ways to accommodate.  Employing some of those volunteers that are natural “huggers and shakers” can go a long way toward resolving the quirky facility challenges.
  • Inviting Entries! Wish I could come up with better verbage for this, but it’s late.  🙂  It boils down to asking yourself… are my rooms inviting from the threshold?  What entices a kid to want to enter the room?  What tells them that if they don’t cross that threshold, they’re missing something B-I-G?  I think I’m guilty of assuming that the fun things in my elementary space would entice any kid.  I’ve been reminded that if they can’t see it from where they stand on the other side of the door… they may never know what they’re missing.  It doesn’t have to be boisterous, or loud, or obnoxious.  In fact, it’s better if it isn’t.  It just has to be enticing.
  • Opportune Moments! One church we visited forced the parents to stand in the lobby while they’re child is called downstairs from the kids space.  Though the process was fairly efficient, they missed an opportunity to communicate in a unique way.  As the parents stood in line a flat screen television hanging on the wall in front of them sat completely blank.  What information regarding your ministry would you love to communicate in that 2-3 minute time frame?  Companies pay big bucks for a 30 second commercial before of a captive audience.  This church had 180 seconds.  Missed opportunity.

One of the best things to do for your ministry is to adjust your lens and view it from a completely different perspective… a new family perspective.  Put it on your calendar and make it a priority at least 2x a year.  Walk through your space… entrance to exit… and ask yourself, “If I were a new family, would I know where to go, what to do, or what to say?”

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Worms, Compost & God

Posted by on May 21, 2015 in My Life

This summer the McClain family embarks on the adventure of composting.  I’m not a particularly ‘green’ person.  I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty, but at the same time… I’m not game for complicated living.  I like throwing things away that I no longer need without thought of its reuse.  However, my kids come home on a regular basis touting the virtues of recycling, taking care of our environment and all that other ‘green-living’ jargon.  (Do I sound jaded?)

Here’s the thing.  As easy as it is to toss plastic in the trash can I can’t argue my son’s point when he reminds me that we should care about the environment God gave us.  So, over the past few years my family has made some lifestyle changes.  We began recycling and are better at taking the initiative to separate our trash and recycle what we can.  We watch our lights and make sure we turn out lights in rooms we’re not occupying.  And over time we replace equipment in our home that will conserve water and energy.

Our next ‘green’ adventure is composting.  I found some pretty simple instructions to make a home-made composter with worms and all.  (Wha?!?)  It’s called Vermicomposting.  I won’t go into detail… you can Wikipedia it here.  Essentially it will reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the McClain family garbage can.

However, this adventure opens up opportunity for a new line of conversations with my kids.  As we learn about how composting works for our environment I can connect them to how God works in our lives.  As we learn the process of how a leftover apple core can turn into rich garden soil, I can teach them how God takes the scraps of life and turns them into rich nutrients to help us grow.  How He never wastes a thing (good or bad) when it comes to enriching us so we might produce the fruits of the Spirit.

When you see my kids on the weekends, ask them how the composting is going.  This should be an entertaining summer project.

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Confessions of a Kids Pastor

Posted by on May 13, 2015 in My Life

As a pastor I confess that my job can get in the way of my family.  It’s an ongoing challenge to ensure my family comes before my ministry.  There are moments I do that well… and moments I do not.

Last week I had a moment that I did not.

Though numbers are not the focus, we certainly track attendance as a barometer to help us determine the success/effectiveness of an event.  With goals set, we chase those ‘carrots’ all year long with the best intentions.  One such goal is to maintain strong attendance in our discipleship program from August to May.

Why do you need to know this?  Setting the stage, I guess.

Last week was the first week of school.  Josie started the 1st grade.  She was puh-umped.

All day school… Lunch in the cafeteria… more nervous energy than she knew what to do with.

It was also the first day of KONNECT.  (KONNECT is our kids discipleship program.) Now that Josie is 6 years old, she gets to participate in KONNECT.  Again, she was puh-umped.

After picking the kids up from school, we ran some errands, horked down grabbed some dinner and headed off to church.  Josie was borderline psychotic clearly tired by the time we arrived at church.  She’d had a few melt-downs since leaving school.  I debated on the wisdom of sending her to church and thus being up 2 hours past her bedtime.  I envisioned the following morning and the probability of outbursts that register on the Richter scale.

Despite the wisdom of just keeping her home and allowing her opportunity to rest, I took her to church.

Why?

Numbers.

If she wasn’t there, it would count against our numbers.

Like I said, sometimes I do a good job of putting my family first… and then there are moments like these. 

(Cue music as she is crowned ‘Mother of the Year’)

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Hold Your Kids More Than Your Phone

Posted by on May 4, 2015 in D6, Ministry

When it comes to ministry, how can we do it all?

How do we care for our own families in the midst of caring for other families?

Focus on your own &%@$ family.

An interesting way to launch into the things that are most critical to long term success in ministry.

This was the focal point of Doug Field‘s conversation at the D6 Conference a few weeks ago.  Doug opened up and shared his own thoughts on ministry at the initial points of his career.  Surrounded by ministry leaders that lived on the ‘performance treadmill’, he remembers what it was like to go home and be so tired he didn’t want to engage with those under his roof.

How do we reconcile ourselves with the fact that we say we value family yet our example as ministry leaders does not reflect that value.  Leadership is primarily example.  We are called to live out what we preach and teach and set a pattern for others to follow.

When we return to New Testament scripture, Paul describes the nature of his leadership in ministry.  He consistently makes family analogies.

“…but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her children.” 1 Thess 2:7

The image of a spiritual leader in the church is not the image of a CEO but the image of a good mother/father.  Someone worthy of imitation.  Yet what do you do when values collide and you have to choose between leading your ministry and leading your family?

Doug suggests that many take the path of least resistance.  Building a ministry is easier than building a family.  In ministry, you can keep others at arms distance.   Affirmation is readily available.

But at home the guards come down and affirmation is not as prevalent.  Building your family is tougher than building a ministry… yet there are actions we can take to make sure we focus on our own &*% family:

  1. Change the channel – we’re stuck on one channel broadcasting the unrealistic expectations of your leadership.  How do you change the channel?
    1. Redefine spoken and unspoken expectations placed on you.
    2. Deflect the idea that “the devil doesn’t take a day off”.  The devil’s not the role model.
    3. Saying No is tricky in an environment that values you saying yes to everything and everyone
    4. It’s easy to say no to the bad things, but tough to say no to the many good things.  Every yes to the church is a no somewhere to your family – what’s the worst thing that could happen if you say no
  2. Unplug from Church
    1. There must be a time when you’re at home and totally available to your family and not to ministry
    2. Work at making your home safe where you can retreat, disconnect and be totally available to your family
    3. The challenge isn’t to come home from church.  You can change your location but may never leave there mentally
    4. Don’t answer the phone with your kids in the car.  Capitalize on the opportunity
    5. Struggling with the idea of ‘building the church’ – When you leave the church they will not remember you
    6. There are other people that can shepherd the flock.  But no one can speak into the life of your kids or shepherd their heart better than you
  3. Serve ice cream
    1. Put as much effort into making your home attractive as you do making your church attractive.  Make your home a fun place to be.
    2. What could you do to make your house fun?  When can you start?
    3. What are you doing to make it a privilege that mom or dad are in the ministry

To do accomplish these 3 things you have to take the reins.  If you’re waiting for your church environment to change, it’s not going to happen.  An indicator of your future is looking at the performance of the past.

A great comparison… look at the life of Jesus.  He didn’t go everywhere.  He didn’t meet everyone.  He didn’t heal everyone.  He said no to some very good things.

Doug closed his session with 3 dreams he holds for those of us in ministry…

Hold your kids more than you hold your phone

Date your spouse with more passion than you give to build your ministry

Works more to build energy and fun into your family than you do your ministry

This is the second time in 2010 I’ve had the privilege of hearing from Doug Fields.  The first time was at the Orange Conference sitting with my team.  I got a few elbows in the midst of his talk.

Sitting by myself 6 months later at D6… I was elbowing myself.  These are notes to return to on a regular basis.

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The Sabbath Skipper

Posted by on Dec 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

Kenny Conley is the Next Generation Pastor of Gateway Community Church in Austin, Tx.  True to Texas, Kenny thinks BIG.  I’ve yet to hear anything out of Kenny’s mouth that isn’t bigger than all of us put together.  He’s joining Jabberfrog today to share glimpse of what God has done inside of him lately.  Enjoy, comment, then skip over to his blog, Children’s Ministry Online, for more.

Hello. My name is Kenny and I’m a Sabbath Skipper.

I’ve known better for years, but I habitually work on the Sabbath. It wasn’t until just a few weeks ago that I realized how out of control I was and began to put guidelines back into my life concerning the Sabbath. Actually I jumped into a small group of other men on staff and we’re on a Bible reading plan. While we were in the books of the Law, the thing that convicted us the most was the importance of the Sabbath and how pitiful we all were at celebrating it. Being in ministry, we’re all busy with really good things. Unfortunately our family was taking a back seat to unrealistic and out of control schedules.

For us, we first had to recognize what our Sabbath was. Sunday is a workday, so it wouldn’t be fair to our families if that was our Sabbath. We chose to go OT style and do the sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. It was a schedule that allowed us to have a full 24 hours with our families without school or work getting in the way. It also gave us flexibility to start ramping up for work again on Saturday night. We then surrounded each other with accountability, making sure we’re all celebrating the Sabbath.

I’m five weeks into my new practice and I’ve only blown it one weekend. Here is what I’ve learned:

  • I’m just as productive as I was before. I’ve got the same about of work, but I seem to be getting it done in one less day of work. Who knew. I think it’s like the tithe. For many people it is a step of faith to first begin giving that 10% and they have to trust God with the tithe. When choosing to celebrate the sabbath, you have to trust that God will multiply your ability to get everything done with one less day to work.
  • Celebrating the Sabbath changes the way I work during the week. Every day I’m thinking about that Sabbath and and prioritizing my week so that when Thursday comes, I’m able to wrap up what needs to be done for that week. I’ve found that it has helped me become more efficient.
  • I’m happier. Seriously, I’m less stressed, I feel more confident about the direction we’re going and I’m having such a blast with my family on my days off. My relationship with my wife is better and I’m making great memories with my family.

It’s funny how as pastors, we’re sure to tithe and stress how important it is for others to follow this suggestion, yet so many of us totally neglect taking a Sabbath rest. The irony of it all is that taking the Sabbath rest is one of the ten commandments, which is pretty important.

So, schedule your next Sabbath rest day. Enjoy it and be sure to honor God this way!

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