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Posts Tagged "Jesus"

The fly

Posted by on Dec 16, 2014 in Community

I’m a fly.

A silly, tiny, clueless fly that flitters around a window banging against it knowing that freedom lies on the other side of the glass but absolutely powerless to get there.

I know freedom is found in Jesus. I know the fresh, sweet breath of Christ is found on my knees. But I continue to beat against that window that seperates me from freedom in Christ insisting that maybe one more body slam will break through this barrier.

Won’t happen. I need my Savior to show me the crack. The little hole to slip through where freedom, peace and life are found.

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Top 3 Worship Leading Skills for Kidmin

Posted by on Sep 20, 2011 in Ministry

After the past few years of observing the worship element of our kids’ experiences, I’ve discovered 3 key skills that distinguish a Worship Leader from a Worship Singer.  The former leads kids to engage in a worship song while the latter holds a microphone and sings.  There’s a big difference between the two.

Skill #1:  The Art of Prompting

Storytelling and Worship Leading share this tool in common.  Yet it’s assumed in Storytelling and taken for granted in Worship Leading.  Providing prompts seems intuitive when teaching kids.  Whether it’s in the form of Storytelling or simply expository teaching, when we want kids to engage with the message we prompt them to respond to us.

We ask them a question.

Have them repeat a word.

Lead them to create a sound effect.

These are intentional prompts used to keep kids focused on what you’re doing.  It’s active listening.

Worship leading really isn’t different.  Even though kids are singing (and maybe dancing), we still want to take advantage of active listening.  Prompting kids to respond to keep them focused on what you’re doing.

It’s talking to the kids in between verses prompting them to clap, put their hands in the air, or shout out loud.

It’s making eye contact with kids individually and giving them simple encouragements.

It’s working both sides of the stage, boys vs girls, grade vs grade.  It’s appealing to their desire to out-dance, out-sing & out-shout anyone else in the room.

Skill #2:  Filling the Gap

Every song has gaps.  Fast-paced or slow, every song has a bridge where you can lose momentum or build it.  I prefer to build.  Great worship leading is knowing the song well enough to know what to say in those gaps to elevate the momentum.

Filling the Gap is bridging one song to the next so kids are prepared for the song they’re about to sing and why it’s relevant to their lives today.  It’s taking that time to review a dance move used in that song, or prepare them for an expected response.  **This is NOT stopping all songs, and talking to the crowd in an un-energetic way in order to review dance moves.**  That’s not a skill.  That’s a break.

Filling the Gap is knowing you have 10 seconds as one song fades out and the next song fades in.  It’s using that 10 seconds to let the crowd know…

They’ll hear a question in the song and you want to hear them loud and clear.

When they see this image (pic on the screen) it’s time to shout or raise your hands or jump up and down.

This next song is their chance to release something unto the Lord.  “Think about one thing in your life that hurts right now.  The one thing you wish you could change about your life right now.  Watch yourself placing that at the feet of Jesus.  Why?  Because Jesus is your answer… sing this with me…”

A skill like this makes the difference between a worship song that ROCKS and a worship song that falls flat.  It’s not rocket-science.  But it’s definitely advanced preparation.

Skill #3:  Go Big or Go Home

So cliche.  I know.  But it’s a classic stage skill.  Whatever you want the crowd to do, you’ve got to do it twice as big.  So consider the energy level you want the kids to have… and your energy level should be twice that.  There’s nothing worse than having great momentum leading into worship only to have the worship leader tank it b/c they had little to no energy.  Treat energy levels like a baton in a relay race.  Pass the baton well and it builds momentum.  Drop the baton and the momentum is lost.  It takes more energy to recover from momentum loss.  Don’t put yourself through that.

These are the Worship Leading Skills I will use over the next year to multiply the number of worship leaders I have in my ministry.  As we continue to build up and mentor leaders, clearly defined wins like this will make the worship element of our kidmin experiences something worth talking about.

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Can We Please Get This Straight!

Posted by on Apr 21, 2011 in Leadership, Ministry

I don’t typically rant.  At least not on my blog.  🙂

I like to leave lots of room to change my mind later. 

However, today I’m on a soap box.

I recently read the testimony of a young adult and their experiences over the past few months as she rediscovered her faith and is now in a growing relationship with Christ.  The story is precious and a wonderful testimony of how God shepherds us back to Him.

But the statement I can’t shake is a common thought among adults.  She says this,

“I met Christ when I was young.  But I grew up in church just going through the motions.”

Here are some other statements I’ve heard in the past…

“I was baptized as a kid, but I really didn’t know what I was doing.”

“I accepted Jesus as a child, but it didn’t mean anything.”

This is a common mentality in adults.  That any spiritual decisions or investments made as a child were meaningless because they didn’t fully understand what they were doing at the time.

I think this is bogus.

My kids brush their teeth every morning.  They shower every night.  They eat healthy.  They look both ways before crossing the street and they don’t climb into cars with strangers.  They’re learning to respect authority, make wise decisions and to act increasingly independent of their parents.

Simply because they don’t fully understand the impact of these daily decisions does not discount the benefit of said decisions.

In other words… just because my 5 year old doesn’t understand the physiological benefits of brushing his teeth daily with fluoride toothpaste doesn’t discount the benefits his teeth gain.

I’m certain there are plenty of people out there that simply went through a ritualistic response in an emotional moment without really making a spiritual decision for salvation.  No doubt I have peers that “walked the aisle” just as I did at 6 years old yet they never really made a decision to accept Jesus’ payment for their own sin.

These very same people encounter Christ as an adult and realize they never made a decision for Him so much as walked through a set of steps their parents encouraged them to take.  I get that.

However… I think we have an epidemic of adults who discount true, sincere, heart felt decisions made as a child.  They attribute their ‘wandering’ as a young adult to a lack of sincerity or understanding of the decision they made when they were younger.  In reality, their departure from Christ is not evidence that they never received the gift of salvation.  It’s merely evidence that they took their eyes off the Giver of the Gift.

There are plenty of times in my life where I’ve taken my eyes off of Christ.  And that is evident in the decisions I make.  As I’ve grown in my relationship with Him, I stray less.  Doesn’t mean I don’t ever stray at all.  It just means I don’t get far down the road before I’m reminded that He is my source of Abundant Life… and I return.  However, none of this discounts, detracts from or eliminates the spiritual decisions I’ve made in my past… whether as a child or adult.

Here’s the reality… I made a decision at 6 years old to accept Christ’ death on the cross as payment for my sin.  At 26 years old I understood more about the realities of daily walking with Christ than I did at 6 years old.  And now at 38, I understand even more than I did at 26.  Simply because I comprehend my own humanity more today than I did as a child doesn’t discount the fact that I understood enough at 6 to make the right decision.

Scripture says we are created in the image of God.  Therefore a child responding to the Gospel message is a response they were designed to make.

Let’s stop devaluing the choices a child makes simply because they don’t know as much as an adult.

Instead let’s dive in, celebrate and commit ourselves to demonstrating for them what it looks like to live a life yoked with Christ.  So they may progressively learn that as their humanity fights to draw them away from Christ, abiding in Him is their source of Life.

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Making Preschool Rock – The Why

Posted by on Apr 20, 2011 in Leadership, Ministry

I’ve posted recently about leading worship and leading activities in Preschool ministry.

I could have started with an explanation as to why I believe every Preschool Ministry should rock.  But hey… I love being unpredictable.  🙂

It’s been my experience that Preschool ministry is an easy area to overlook.  Why?  Well, I can’t speak for others.  I can only speak for myself.

My first 5 years in kids ministry I focused more on elementary ministry because the more common milestones we celebrate in the life of a believer (i.e. Salvation or Baptism) are more likely to occur in the elementary years.  Because an elementary age child is better able to personalize scripture and understand it’s basic application.  Because an elementary age child can ‘give back’ in a conversation and challenge me as much as they are challenged.

These are not very common with kids under 6 years old.  And although we know we’re preparing preschoolers for elementary, that was really the only way I viewed it.  Preparation.

Not that this is inaccurate… I just think it was short-sighted.

The past few years in ministry I’ve seen a greater value in Preschool.  And it’s all born out of interactions with middle school kids that were products of my Preschool ministry.  There was a time that I thought all preschoolers needed to know was the basic stories of the Bible that taught them the character of God.  Again… not a bad thing.  But awfully short-sighted.

You see, these middle school kids knew the stories of the Bible.  But they didn’t seem to know the character of the One these stories depicted.  Each of these kids wrestled with the most basic Truths of scripture.

Who created them.  Who loves them.  Who has a plan for their lives.

It seems to me that much of the biggest challenges we deal with in our intimacy with Christ can be traced back to this very fear… God doesn’t love me.  Therefore I can’t trust Him.

Knowing this, my goal in Preschool is two-fold. 

First, it’s to capture mom and dad’s attention, help them take the long view and to incorporate habits in their family life to help their preschoolers know what’s most important in life.   i continue to experiment with different tools, events & tactics to partner with parents and better equip them for the journey of leading their kids to love Jesus. 

Second, to teach each preschooler in the most effective way we can that God created them, God loves them & Jesus is the most important relationship they could ever have.  And we’ll do this with engaging worship, activities, storytelling & relationships.

There’s more to chat about.

There’s more that I can learn.

What would you add to this?

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Making Preschool Rock- Worship 0

Making Preschool Rock- Worship

Posted by on Apr 12, 2011 in Ministry

One of the many challenges about leading kidmin is the variety of personalities among your team of volunteers.  Some are boisterous, while others are more quiet.  Some are willing to crawl on the floor amidst the kids while others prefer to hover around the room making sure everyone is included in the activities.

Each person brings a unique contribution to the table.  And all are needed to make the experience complete.

And when it comes to leading Preschoolers, you want the right personality with the right skills to take your Preschool worship from snoring, boring to Rock!

First, it’s important to make sure you have the right personality on stage.  The ability to sing is admirable, but actually isn’t the most important element.  They’ve got to know how to engage a preschooler through body movement and facial expression.   You may just find a combination of people works great.  For example, in one of my services I have a team of 2 volunteers that lead worship.  One is amazing at singing and talking to preschoolers but back injuries limit her from moving and shaking too much.  So she’s teamed up with another high-energy volunteer that demonstrates all the motions.  He works in conjunction with worship leader to make sure the kids are fully engaged.

Second, it’s critical to make sure you train your worship leader for success.  In my experience there are specific elements that are non-negotiable for successfully leading preschool kids in worship.

  1. Mic Up! Always, Always, Always have a mic.  If you’ve got more than 10 kids, cut yourself a break.  Everyone thinks their voice is loud enough.  But the truth is… there’s a 3 year old in your audience that is louder.  Put the mic on.
  2. Make the Connection! Introduce each song and how it ties into what you taught.  These are simple “three-line” statements that help the kids connect the song to the Bible verse.  For example, “What a great story about how Jesus wants to be my friend forever.  Do you remember what a good friend Jesus is?  Here’s a song that reminds us of what a Good, Good Friend He Is.  Let’s sing!”
  3. Fill the Space! There are always musical interludes.  Take advantage of this space to coach the kids on what you want them to do next.  Don’t miss the chance to refocus them and charge them up for the rest of the song.
  4. Talk ’em through it! Leading worship means you are leading the kids.  Leading implies that you know the way and they are to follow.  So lead them by preemptively telling them what it coming next.  Demonstrate the moves to the song in a very clean, simple way so kids can mimic.  Tell them when you want to sing softer and when you want to sing LOUDER! Generally, make it easier for them to engage with the song!
  5. Ride the Momentum! Help the kids celebrate what they just did.  Don’t just stand there as the music dies down.  Keep the energy level up by telling them what they did right.  Short, sweet, succinct phrases to keep the momentum going.
  6. Sit ’em down! Our line up is typically 2 peppy songs and 1 slower.  We sit them down on the slower song.  Most slower songs only engage the upper body for movement (i.e. you’re typically not jumping or spinning) and the change in position refocuses them.

Songs are contagious.  They infiltrate the middle of the week as preschoolers sing them randomly in the bathtub, at the dinner table and in the back seat of the car.  Use these simple tactics to make your preschool worship the most contagious part of the hour.

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