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Posts Tagged "parent"

Finish your swing

Posted by on Feb 6, 2015 in Ministry

What would happen if Blake didn’t finish that swing?

His form is flawless.  His timing is perfect.  Connecting with the ball is inevitable.

I’m no baseball expert, but I know enough to know that if he doesn’t finish his swing, every other step he took won’t make a difference in the world.  The ball is not going as far as he wants it to go.

Many times in ministry we don’t finish our swing.

We approach the plate, set our feet, and keep our eye on the ball.  We make great contact but if we don’t finish our swing… all other efforts are diminished.  The ministry ‘hit’ doesn’t go as far as we want it to go.

What is finishing our swing?

It’s follow up.

Good relational ministry demands that we follow up.

  • Call the parent within 24 hours after a challenging conversation.  Ensure them that you are available to them.  Then make it easy to get in touch with you.  Don’t avoid their call
  • Contact that volunteer within a week after a great training event.  Recap to ensure they know what direction you want them to go.  Equip them with tools to go deeper, should they desire (i.e. books, articles, podcasts, etc)
  • Provide ‘next step’ opportunities for a new believer immediately after their decision.  Don’t let them leave without knowing where to go, what to read and/or who to turn to with this life-changing decision they’ve made
  • Set a calendar reminder to follow up with someone walking through difficult life-circumstances.  Don’t let the worst part of it be the only time they have your attention.  That’s when everyone flocks.  Let them feel your presence & concern when they’re not on anyone’s radar

[bctt tweet=”Relational ministry is more about consistency through the varying moments of life… mundane and life-altering.”]

Consistency requires follow up.  Follow up is finishing your swing.  Finishing your swing takes the ministry efforts and knocks them out of the park.

Finish your swing.

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girls have lots of words

Posted by on Oct 25, 2013 in My Life, Parenting


There are proven statistics, apparently.  I’m sure someone reading this blog will know their source.

When my 14 year old was younger, there were days I would completely forget to drop my son off at school.  I’d be within a mile of my office and glance in the rear view mirror only to see my son sitting in the backseat… lost in thought.

He was so quiet, I forgot he was there.

Lost in my own thoughts, I would drive right past his school.

Not much has changed today. He’s a man of few words. I have to ask very targeted questions in hopes of gaining insight into what’s going on inside his teenage head.

Not so with my daughter. She has lots of words. And they must be released in a steady stream of dialogue throughout her day.

A few days ago I picked her up from swim practice. As we walked into a nearby McDonald’s to buy ice cream, I said,

“Tell me everything that happened today.”

It was like releasing the green flag in a NASCAR race. The words burst forth.

As we drove to pick up her little brother from Boy Scouts, the torrent of topics abated she grew quieter and started thinking internally. She sighed with a sense of satisfaction.

It’s such an odd dynamic between my son and daughter.

My son needs time to internally process before he can externally communicate.

My daughter needs time to externally communicate before she can internally process.

And giving her a defined time and opportunity to externally communicate to me shows her how much I value her. It’s a great reminder for me that she needs my time. Not just quality… but quantity. Where the only equation his mom’s attention and daughter’s words.

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Easter Thoughts – Leadership Challenges

Posted by on Apr 25, 2011 in Leadership, Ministry

Easter Weekend holds a myriad of topics to hash out in the aftermath. Anywhere from curriculum to activities to environments to volunteer teams. But today what occupies my mind is the leadership test that Easter Weekend always seems to be.

Easter Weekend is intense in my world for random reasons. Here are a few and the best way I know to lead through them:

  • Wacked Routine: The general routine is off. No matter how much prep work goes into the weekend, the reality is… the routine is different and the kids know it. This goes a long way toward making the start of the hour incredibly chaotic. The scent of “change” is thick in the air and kids don’t know how to respond to it. So the cope the best way they can… they go wacky. The best way I know to lead through this is honesty. There is little I can do to tame the excited energy of the kids. We can plan for activities that will tap into the excited energy and use it in our favor. However, on some level I just need to be honest with my volunteer team. It’s going to be an amazing weekend but it won’t be without it’s crazy moments. When volunteers are expecting crazy moments, they’re not caught off guard by them.
  • Things Break: It never seems to fail. The most vital pieces of equipment that show no signs of problems leading up to the weekend suddenly go on the fritz. This is huge. Something is going to break. Like the computer that controls your parent page system at the very moment you need to page a parent. Plan B is everything. I’ve immediately got to think of Plan B. After briefly considering parading a sign across the stage as my pastor preached, I decided better of it. Instead I find and appropriate place to vent any frustration 🙂 and I move on. Perspective is everything. There was no danger to anyone. Just a tense situation with an upset 2 year old that knows how to open doors. So I put people on the alert for bolting toddlers and move forward.
  • Volunteer Holiday Hic-Up: Illness, family visitors, & special plans whittle away at the volunteer team that looks so great on paper. The phone calls start Saturday morning and don’t seem to stop. It has a way of whittling away at your excitement for the weekend knowing the your 2 year old room is void of adults. Again, my best mode of operation here is honesty. It’s really a balance. I sat down with my team this morning and spoke honestly with them. I don’t know how it’s going to play out when half my team in one room can’t be there, but I do know this… What we do this next hour is our spiritual worship. It will be imperfect, but it will be sincere. We’ll love on every child that walks through the door. We can do anything for an hour.
  • Parking Lot Wars: The routine of emptying out for one service and filling up for the next is a miracle even on a regular weekend at FPC. Double the numbers and you’ve doubled the challenge of making it happen within that allotted amount of time. Results? Our two largest services begin 10 minutes later than planned. Ouch Systems, Systems, Systems. We’ve got to have a system of reliable communication to make sure all volunteer teams know to adjust their times. We’ve got to have a system for engaging additional activities if time requires.

These random situations chip away at any sense that I have control of what is happening within kids ministry. But then I’m reminded that control is an illusion. The only thing I have control over is how I choose to respond to the circumstances.

And how I respond communicates how well we will adjust. We don’t just ‘make-do’ in kidmin… we make it happen no matter what the weekend throws at us.

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Spiritual Parenting – A Review

Posted by on Nov 17, 2010 in Leadership, Ministry, Product Reviews

I recently read Michelle Anthony’s book, Spiritual Parenting.  In my opinion it is a must read for all kidmin leaders and parents.  I enjoyed Michelle’s approach to the spiritual development of kids.  She paints a fluid picture of the journey of ups and downs as parents… sometimes good, sometimes not… but ultimately our goal as parents is best summed up in the quote on the back cover of the book.

It’s not about perfect behavior,

It’s about passionate hearts.

Few quotes sum up the role of Christian parents than this one.  Throughout her book, Michelle takes the reader on a journey through her own challenges, successes and failures as a parent.  She describes the relevant environments we want to foster in our homes. 

Here are a few take aways from my reading:

“Raised in a Christian home, I often felt defined by the things that I didn’t do… But what would it look like if we parented a generation of young people to define themselves by what they did do?  What if they were defined by their actions of justice and mercy, forgiveness and love…What if they were a generation who lived in the world and still proclamed these things by their lives?”

I love ‘What If’ questions.

“I parent in a way that does not simply spend my hours but also allows me to invest my days toward eternity.”

A perspective I’ve not considered when it comes to parenting.  Yet one that is firmly rooted in the truth that this is not our home and our investment is to be in heaven and not here.

“Whe we really believe that what God is preparing for us in eternity is far greater than anything we could suffer here on earth, then we are free to live a life of risk and abandonment not bound by fear.”

As ministry leaders, how many parents do we encounter that parent with abandonment?!?

“To be a spiritual parent means that I will live an authentic life before my children and allow them to be eyewitnesses to my own faith journey.”

The idea of authenticity with my kids sounds great.  But (in truth) I always want to maintain the upper hand.  And that doesn’t include being vulnerable.  I know the truth of this statement but don’t live it out as well as I’d like. 

Parents, this is a great book to add to your library.   Order your copy here.  Share your own review here.  And share your thoughts below. 

What are your thoughts on Michelle’s summation of parenting, “It’s not about perfect behavior.  It’s about passionate hearts.”

Disclosure:  A complimentary copy of Spiritual Parenting was provided by David C Cook for purposes of review. 

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Guest Blog: Reggie Joiner

Posted by on Nov 15, 2010 in Leadership, Ministry

The following post is provided by Reggie Joiner, founder of Orange (an organization that strives to equip families & churches to effectively lead the next generation to life in Christ).  Reggie writes regularly at OrangeParents.org & OrangeLeaders.com.  You can also catch tidbits of twitter-wisdom (aka “twisdom”) by clicking here.  Please enjoy and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comment stream below.

Parents in Transition

Time flies fast from elementary to college age, so get ready to change your parenting habits. Every child seems to move in warp speed toward the teenage years.

I was caught by surprise when a new declaration of personal independence was automatically assumed the day my son got his driver’s license. It was as though I represented an oppressive and extremely unfair regime whenever I tried to enforce any rule. (Whenever I said no to one of my teenage daughters, she would go to her bedroom, close the door and play Britney Spears’ “Overprotected” over and over again for over an hour, loud enough for me and the whole house to hear.) I have to admit, it was difficult for me to transition from parenting children to parenting teenagers. I had worked with teenagers all of my life, but I had never actually had any living in my home. I am still a recovering parent of teens, but here are a few things I have recognized about this chapter of parenting:

It’s a complicated time.
While your children are transitioning from being dependent to independent, you are transitioning as a parent from having authority to leveraging your influence. You can’t parent them the same way you did when they were in elementary school.

It’s an urgent time.
Face it. You know a window is closing fast. Ready or not, in a few short years your children will be leaving home. You are running out of time, and it is easy to feel a little panicked. Everything seems to matter more (grades, decisions, relationships.) And to make matters worse, everything costs more too. Have I mentioned the price of college these days? Feeling better?

Keep fighting for your teenager’s emotional health by investing in relational time with them. Especially during this uncertain season, they need a positive relationship with you more than you or they may realize. Here are a few things to remember that might help you make the time you spend with your teenager more meaningful:

Find a common activity you can both enjoy.

Go to favorite restaurant, movie, or concert. Discover a hobby or a type of recreation you can do together. Find common interests. It only takes a few.

Make sure there is no agenda.

They will see right through a masked motive and interpret your effort to hang out as manipulation. Don’t forget. This is about building your relationship. So don’t use this time to deal with issues. Guard the fun.

Keep it outside the house.

You probably already spend most of your time together in your home. It can be full of duties, responsibilities, and distractions, so get out and do something that is a contrast to your normal routine.

Do it without friends.

Anyone you add to your time will drastically change the dynamic. Give your teenager individual and undivided attention, without your friends or their friends, and even without siblings.

Mutually agree to turn off cell phones.

Make at least part of your time a no-electronic zone. Phones have a way of distracting you from meaningful and engaging dialogue.

Put it on the schedule (but not on a Friday).

Be sensitive to how a teenager wants to organize his or her life. Discover the rhythm that exists in their schedule and agree with them on the best times to hang out.

Stay flexible (and be willing to reschedule frequently).

A teenager’s world is always changing. They could feel trapped if you are rigid about your scheduled time with them. Don’t let your time with them become a competition with their other interests and priorities. Avoid making them choose between you and something else they really want to do.

Remember your goal is not to change them.

Avoid getting into conversations where you are trying to correct or improve a behavior. Save those conversations for another time. You can shut down a positive experience if you try to leverage it to fix something.

Keep working at it.

Learning to communicate with those you love can be awkward at times. Strive to ask the right kind of questions and listen more than you talk. You are not trying to become your teen’s best friend, but you are laying an important foundation for the kind of friendship you want to enjoy with them during their adult years.

Use it as an opportunity to give your teenager approval.

I’m amazed at how many adults left home without ever really feeling like their parents believed in them. Look for numerous opportunities to encourage their specific strengths and skills.

 Having fun and spending quality time together is increasingly important as your relationship with your child changes. This week, find out what kind of activities your teenager likes, and schedule some intentional time together when you can simply enjoy being together.

 And if you have other tips you’ve discovered about spending time with a teenage son or daughter, please post them in the comments so we can all learn from our shared experiences.

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