Currently I am running a million directions trying to meet deadlines for many things. We have huge transitions this week with our classes, ages, and classrooms. New teachers starting. New large group environment starting. Our weekday preschool program is finishing up its second school year and we have record enrollment for the summer program we’re offering with 10 new teachers being hired and orientation next week. Not to mention I am deaning a week at our state’s Christian camp for elementary age in 3 weeks and writing curriculum for it.
Honestly, I am feeling slightly overwhelmed. I need to delegate better. Does anyone else struggle with that? I have some key individuals who are awesome at helping where needed, but it is a weakness of mine. But that aside, what do you do when you feel overwhelmed and your to-do list keeps growing??
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It’s that time of year again, kids are getting out of school, being promoted grades, and everything at church changes. At least at ours it does!
This week will mark the new classes for kids in the Children’s Ministry. We don’t do any hoopla for “promotion” – personally, I think that’s silly. But we are having to redivide all our preschool classes due to growth and lack of facility space. We are simply at capacity in most of our preschool classes.
Change like moving kids, starting new classes, recruiting new teachers, implementing curriculum with new ages, moving fixtures and materials, etc. drives me to do what I do. I love the energy, work, and time that go into making things better for everyone. Sure it’s a lot of work this week and next, but in a few weeks we’ll be able to step back and see what the implication of the change bring. I’m excited about what God does when there is change happening.
Why is it that so many run from change rather than embracing it? In times of change we are stretched and we grow. God moves.
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So as a church leader, when you attend a conference or something at another church, if you are not a mega-giga, huge church. you have the potential to walk away feeling discouraged and deflated. Often you think, “Well, I can’t do that! We’re only __(fill in the blank)__ people!” I’ve felt that way many times. But I can’t use it as an excuse anymore, and that’s what it is.
We attended a church this evening that was about half the size of our current church, Ridge Church in Charlotte. However, being there and seeing the excellence they used to execute a worship experience it could have been a church of thousands. From the moment we pulled in the parking lot, we noticed the climate in which they crafted everything they did from music in the parking lots to themed decor in the lobby for their message series. Their staff was available, informative, and friendly – both volunteer and paid. Their children’s environments were the best that I have seen done in a church, and in a church of many many more. Not to mention the quality of the adult worship experience and everything that goes into that.
It was evident that bringing people far from God, close to God is the heartbeat of Ridge Church. If a family walks in on a Sunday and feels uneasy about leaving their child in the preschool class, they may totally miss the message God has opened their heart and mind to hear. Or it could be something that serves as a distraction. It was so very refreshing seeing a church that is smaller (they are only 6 months old!) doing things wayyyyy better than most larger churches do them. Money wasn’t the factor. Resources weren’t the factor. Just a climate of excellence and detail.
So the next time you think you can’t do something in your ministry because the size of your church or ministry, I urge you to think again. Evaluate places that can be done better. Think about what the non-Christian or first time visitor sees and feels. If you can – take a trip to Charlotte. Be a learner from other churches of all sizes. They keep us fresh, they keep us on our toes and something can be learned from a church of any size. Don’t make more excuses.
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Some thoughts spoken by Louie Giglio ar the Orange Conference have been on my mind for a week now. He was talking in our last main session that the church has made relevancy the idol of the contemporary church. That we need to focus on cultural transcendence rather than cultural relevancy. The bottom line was that He IS. If we focus on He Is and bring Jesus into everything we do, we will always be relevant. Once we look to culture for relevancy in the church, we are already out of step. It was an interesting challenge, especially coming from a church leader that I would say has followed the course of relevancy in his ministry.
After thinking about it this past week though, I see the truth in it. How many days go by without hearing with word “relevant” in your church? When we describe our message or worship, we describe it with this term. As leaders in the church, we sometimes think that if what we do is just relevant with non-Christians, then they’ll relate and see Jesus in a new way. BUT….they won’t be able to see Jesus in a new way if we’re leaving Jesus out of it.
I believe that we need to find new and creative ways to relate to individuals. We need to tie what culture gives us into our teaching. Psychology has a term for this – “creating schemas.” Much like an index card system we have in our minds of past experiences, as we approach something new, we try to assimiliate it into what we’ve already experienced. This maximizes learning. In the church, presenting things in a relevant manner acts in such the same way. It draws connections from what is familiar and known to what is being taught. Not to mention, how people spend their time. If we’re going to “compete” for people’s time and attention, then we’d better “bring it” and a message worth hearing.
However, if in the name of cultural relevancy we leave Jesus out of it, they won’t see Him anyways. They’ll see the church being just like everything else they encounter day to day. What sets you apart in the name of cultural relevancy?
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Day 3 of Orange was awesome. We wrapped up with hearing from Andy Stanley and Louie Giglio. Some thoughts:
- Don’t think in terms of evangelism – think in terms of people. Christians and non-christians have more in common than we think.
- A small group leader has more potential to assist a Christian in their spiritual development than any other position in the church – pastor, worship leader, teacher, etc.
- Some concern regarding bring critical of other church models. Just do what God has called YOU to DO.
- If you’re not teachable, you have to learn everything the hard way.
- Many new models leave out evangelism
- Common ground for all churches and believers must be “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” – make sure this doesn’t get lost in the message of social justice, relevancy, compassion, etc.
- Our goal is to BE the church of Jesus Christ, rather than DO
- We are the presence of God in the neighborhood – the church is
- We need to be “culturally transcendent” rather than “culturally relevant”
- As soon as we think we are being relevant, relevancy has changed and we are behind and out of it.
- Cultural infatutaion is the “golden calf of the contemporary church”
- The church today is the greatest consumers of worship without understanding what it means to be a sacrifice to Him.
- Jesus needs to be our culture.
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I loved hearing Francis Chan speak on Day 2 of Orange. He spoke in our 1st main session of the day and blew me away. Some thoughts:
- so much of what we call success in our churches isn’t necessarily the Holy Spirit working, but just having the right team in place – we need to look for the supernatural
- Are you experiencing God in your ministry/life? Are you sure it’s Him?
- The church could learn a thing or two from gangs about unity, brotherhood, loyalty, and community
- God’s desire isn’t for individual followers. In Israel, He wanted them as a nation. Scripture refers to the “chosen people” - YOU is plural many times.
- A miracle today would be loving your neighbor as your self.
- Tough question: What are we doing that is Biblical or what do we do that is American?
Session 2 – Donald Miller
- a good leader is one who gets to know me in wuch a way that I want to take ownership in their vision
- a leader gets to know people
- a leader invites those people into a vision
- a leader leads by consistently involving others in the vision
- a leader is able to be mentored
- a leader has peers
- a leader speaks something into the nothings
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Wow! Just returned from Orange Conference 2008 today and am feeling pretty full right now. It was great and I came away with a ton of inspiration, ideas, and vision not only for Children’s Ministry but for the church as a while. I’ll share a few tidbits from the speakers:
Day 1 – Reggie Joiner
- He opened the conference with a very challenging thought by looking at the story of the Prodigal Son – we can either be the loving father or the older brother in regards to that passage.
- The one things that sets apart churches for success or not is whether or not within the DNA of the church is the ability to treat EVERY prodigal in the way a loving Father would treat His own son.
- Loving fathers (1) are preoccupied with who is missing, (2) operate from the context of forgiveness, (3) throw parties/connect people to community, (4) confront older brother thinking (must be willing to say “this is who we are”), (5) keep the lights on for as long as it takes (maintain hope)
- This “prodigal generation” needs a different kind of thinking church – the church needs to live out a loving father mindset to prodigals and set the model for the future church
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