The Art of Childrenâ€™s Ministry
It’s with real excitement that we have created this book with a combination of authors who all have fast knowledge and experience in Children’s Ministry. As you read the following chapters you will notice that the main theme is not about ‘how to do’ Children’s ministry but more to do with ‘you as a person’ so you can do Children’s Ministry. Just like the annual Kidshaper Conference I believe this book will take you on a journey to help refine you and in turn outwork all the gifts God has placed inside of you. I hope you enjoy reading it and I pray God does amazing things because of the result of it. God Bless,
Andy Kirk Kids R Us National Director
Table of Contents
Forward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Chapter One: Andy Kirk – Art & Craft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Chapter Two: Nathan McLean – The Art of Productivity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Chapter Three: Barry Newton – In a Room Full of People, But . . . . . . . 12
Chapter Four: Steve Adams – His Masterpiece . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Chapter Five: Andrew Shepherd – In it for Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Chapter Six: Shaun Hunter – The Heart of the Art . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Chapter Seven: Alice McInnes – Behind the Scenes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Chapter Eight: Michael Chanley – Three Leadership Art Essentials to Children’s Ministry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Chapter Nine: Stephanie Sewell – Tsunami Ministry Tips . . . . . . . . . 32
Chapter Ten: David Wakerley – “Why Do We Stop Being Artists?” . . . 36
- Chapter One Andy Kirk – Art & Craft
I haven’t done extensive research into this but I often wonder how many other Children’s Pastors out there are like me and absolutely dislike Art & Craft. I know the kids love it, I know many adults actually love it but for me I really don’t like it. I think it may have something to do with my mild case of ‘CDO’, that’s OCD if you weren’t aware but the letters are in the correct order as they should be. All jokes aside though I actually really don’t like Art & Craft especially glitter!
So here I am writing a chapter in a book for Kidshaper 2012 as the new National Director and the ironic thing is it’s called “The Art of Children’s Ministry”. Luckily for me its not called “The Art ‘IN’ Children’s Ministry” so with this title I have explored many options as the other 9 Authors have.
The first train of thought I went down after avoiding anything to do with Art & Craft was another book that started with the title “The Art of…” and straight away my mind went to the world famous book “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. This book has influenced military, business, corporate and now even Church strategy for about 2000 years. The book contains some great strategic thoughts and by just reading the chapter titles you can see why it has been so influential for so long. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.
Laying Plans/The Calculations Waging War/The Challenge Attack by Stratagem/The Plan of Attack Tactical Dispositions/Positioning Energy/Directing Weak Points & Strong/Illusion and Reality Maneuvering/Engaging The Force Variation in Tactics/The Nine Variations The Army on the March/Moving The Force Terrain/Situational Positioning The Nine Situations/Nine Terrains The Attack by Fire/Fiery Attack The Use of Spies/The Use of Intelligence
These 13 chapters I could have expanded on in the context of Children’s Ministry or each Author turned them into a book about Children’s Ministry however the truth is you will be more blessed by the 10 open transparent Chapters in this book so we didn’t do that.
So a great thought came to me that I would be creative as it’s in line with the book and write using words that have the word ‘ART’ in it. Just in case you were wondering there is 1158 words that contain ‘ART’ in it, so after I got rid of the thought of just having all of these as my chapter I realised I would fall short of the required word count and again another good idea comes crashing down.
So as I have been praying for quite a while for God to show me what words to put down I stop all of this thinking about how to spin the word Art into something super creative but instead just be me and share about some of my journey and hopefully this will be able to help any Children’s Pastor or leader that reads this book. In 2001 as I was working in my first church part time and part time building I met a young guy at my Rugby club who unfortunately lost his father to Cancer. At this time this young guy who happens to be a 6ft 8 Samoan weighing 110kgs found Jesus as his Lord and Saviour and soon after he moved into a house along with myself and two other friends. God was doing something great in all of us and Josh had choices to make about his future as he had just turned 18 and he felt called to play professional Rugby. I never forget the time when people were trying to help and give advice as what he should do with his future and I simply encouraged him to go to the gym. In fact I remember many mornings coming out to go to work to find my car was gone as he had used it to do just that and go to the gym. Long story short Josh has represented Australia in Rugby 7’s, been to the Jnr World Cup, played for two Super Rugby franchises and now lives in Japan playing professionally. I tell this story as an introduction to a scripture that I have taught to so many children in the last decade after I learnt this lesson from Josh.
Who has saved us and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time - 2 Tomothy 1:9 This verse has four key words that jump out at me: 1- 2- 3- 4-
SAVED CALLED PURPOSED GRACE
Now everyone of us have all been saved (I hope) and it is by grace that this has happened but in between there is two words that I want to draw your attention to and get you to understand something that I believe that will help you relax into your ‘Art’ (and I am not speaking about ribbons and glitter again). For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do - Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
You see I believe every person is uniquely made and when you actually rest in who you have been made you will truly outwork all that God has predestined us to be & do. God new us before the foundation of the earth was laid and knew both how he would make us (purpose) and also use us (called). But so often in church life and I can speak from experience we run around asking “what am I called to do?” All along the answer is right with us because God has made you with the right gifts and talents to fit your purpose.
Josh was made with his physique to play Rugby not do Ballet, or sit in a small office cubicle for that matter. He was made to play Rugby but he was also called to use this gift to reach people for Christ and proudly I can say that this is exactly what he does. When I consider this mode of thought for myself I recall the stories from my mum that I didn’t start talking properly until around 3 and she actually was quite worried but once these
floodgates broke I have never stopped!! God made me this way so what else would He do with this gift but use it and call me to be a voice to Children & Children’s leaders. My question to you is what is it you actually enjoy doing because you don’t have to look to far from how God made you to find what you have been called to do. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - Ephesians 2:8
The last piece of this puzzle is the fact that it is all because of His grace. We are saved by grace, we are made with gifts and talents by his grace, we get to take these gifts and lay them at His feet and ask how to use them with the opportunities He provides and then we outwork these gifts by God’s grace. Sounds like He’s sort of doing a lot of the work doesn’t it? Now before you put your feet up and do nothing let me remind you that after verse 8 in Ephesians 2 come verse 10 that says; For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
So we are actually called to do something, in fact that is the whole point I am making here is that you are uniquely called & purposed to outwork your ‘Craft’ or your ‘ART’ within Children’s ministry but right from the start of this book I want to remind you that the moment you focus on what you are doing, what you are called to do or anything with you focused it’s the moment you will stop outworking all He has for you. Now I’ve been there and burnt out whether you believe in such a thing or not I have experienced the time when you have no more to give and you are empty. Reading the bible I see so did some early Christians.
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? - Galatians 3:1 (NIV) These verses speak of the Galatians who have started out under the new message of grace but have switched back to the Law and been bound again. Today in Church we start with being freely saved by His grace and then we get caught up in protocol, politics, trying to prove ourselves, or anything else that resembles with us and our own strength and from here it’s a downward spiral to being ineffective and NOT outworking exactly what God has called us to be.
So my challenge in this first chapter is to go back to the beginning of how you started your journey with God and receive His grace freely and fresh again in order to outwork His calling on your life with the gifts he purposed in you before the world’s foundation was even laid. If you do this then you are operating in ‘The Art of Children’s Ministry’ exactly how God has called YOU to do it not anybody else.
- Chapter Two Nathan McLean – The Art of Productivity Achieving more by doing less
It’s 11:59pm and I’m frantically trying to make some sort of a list of what I’m yet to do, yet to work out, yet to get my head around. Stress and nerves are all that’s keeping me awake when suddenly I hear the worst possible sound that I could imagine. It’s the footsteps of Christine, our night receptionist, coming to kick me out of the building so she can lock up and set the alarm. You see it’s the final night before my first ever time running KIDSONG as part of Hillsong Conference, I’m a 20 year old kid in my first year of full time ministry and I find myself with more responsibility than I’ve ever had in my life. I feel like I’m drowning. After not having a full day off (through my own choice) for over 3 weeks my head is rattling and all that separates me from the first day of conference is a brief 6 hours sleep. After preparing as well as I possibly can I still feel under prepared but I’m ready to do all that I can to ensure that thousands of kids have the time of their little lives and have the opportunity to encounter Jesus.
Fast forward, to Hillsong Conference 2012 and the atmosphere of my life and leadership is dramatically different. Sure, I’m still nervous as anything, but this time it’s more of a spiritual nervousness, knowing that God wants to use me to impact the next generation. This time I have managed to have a day off each week to spend with family and I feel more prepared than ever before.
What has changed from previous years? The conference has only grown and my role has continued to expand, yet things seem to be getting done easier than ever. The reality is that the productivity not just from myself but from the entire team has increased dramatically resulting in more getting done, at a higher quality than ever before and with less effort than ever before. Sure the effort required is still astronomical but compared to what it felt like all those years ago the productivity has increased dramatically. If productivity is the measure of how much is produced in relation to how much is put in then productivity can be simply put as getting more done by doing less.
When it comes to a weekend service, the art of productivity will take you from a place of surviving Sundays to one where you are actually celebrating Sundays and trust me the difference is unbelievable. When simply surviving Sundays you pray for growth while at the same time feel exhausted at the thought, whereas when celebrating Sundays you can honestly pray for growth and know that you have a team that are ready to stretch to take on all that God entrusts to you. I’m sure if you have been in ministry for any longer than 2 minutes than you have felt out of your depth with more to do then humanly possible. I don’t know about you but I have asked God at least 1,000 times if I could please have a few 26 hour days in this season, even a 25 hour one would be brilliant but no, He has yet to answer this prayer so I have come to the
conclusion that I need to grow in order to get more done.
Well, my prayer is that the following few thoughts would help you learn and apply the art of productivity so that you can increase the amount you get done without having to necessarily do more. PRODUCTIVITY DEPENDS ON PEOPLE The major difference in the previous two KIDSONG scenarios was people. In my first year of ministry I was still at the ‘Do it all yourself’ stage. When you first take on a new role there is a sense that you need to do everything, I mean how can you ask someone to vacuum the floors if you never do yourself, however there comes a time where you need to increase your productivity through people and focus on the things that only you can do.
Tip for younger leaders: If you want older more seasoned leaders to follow you and eventually become people that would do anything for your ministry, then always be the first to pick up the vacuum. As a leader we never graduate from the basics and more often than not, I find that if the leader sets the example than the entire team will rise to that example and do the same. By the time KIDSONG 2012 came around the team that had been established were some of the greatest kids leaders I’ve ever seen and the productivity was through the roof.
If you want to increase what you do without even doing more the answer is to simply replicate yourself in another leader. As Ecclesiastes 4:9 says “two are better than one”. One of the greatest structures for this is to develop a key team and then spend the majority of your time at church investing into them and helping them to be the best leaders they can possibly be. As the old saying goes, 10% of the people normally do 90% of the work, so why not sow as much of your time as possible into that 10%.
A key team is the hand full of leaders that are the most key to making the weekend function successfully. The team that break down everything that happens and help carry the load (Exodus 18). For me they are my service oversights, media and tv oversights, Kids Creative oversight, junior leaders coordinator as well as a few up and coming leaders who I’m wanting to invest into with the hope that one day they will carry things at a high capacity. In order to develop your key team plan regular times that you can meet up with them all as a group, communicate everything that is happening within your ministry to them so they can help run with it and keep every other leader on the same page with where you are going, and meet with them one on one so they know your heart and you know theirs.
So often the difference between surviving Sundays and celebrating Sundays is the team of people that you build around you. If you have just taken on an area of ministry or desperately want to see growth I’d encourage you to write out a list of every leader needed in order to set your ministry up not just to survive but to thrive. How many small group leaders do you need, what about setup team and welcome areas? On top of that write down what the key team will look like and from there you will see people different. You will see the potential in people to not just take ‘YOUR’ ministry forward but to be given the same blessed opportunity you were given when you came on board, to build the Church of Jesus Christ through serving children. Always remember that there is no greater privilege on earth than building His church! The productivity of your ministry and ultimately your leadership depends on you raising up
people who can not only do what you can do, but do it better! PRODUCTIVITY DEPENDS ON PLANNING “He who fails to plan is planning to fail” – Winston Churchill during World War II
Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed by the task ahead I force myself to take a few minutes out and actually write down everything that needs to be done. Doing this usually results in one of two emotions in me, peace, because I see that the reality of what I need to do isn’t nearly as daunting as what I thought or results in fear, because I realise I have way more to get done then I could possibly ever do myself. At least it’s the latter emotion then you know what you need to get done and can get people to help. One of the greatest limitations of leaders is procrastination. This is often caused by the inability to recognise what actually needs to get done. I could not tell you how many times have I sat in my office wasting time trying to work out what I need to do, yet knowing deep down that I have more to do than time to do it in! For me I have been able to grow my productivity immensely by simply spending a bit more time planning.
Planning results in less stress as you feel more in control. It results in a greater ability to articulate what you are wanting to achieve which creates better buy in from team members and less confusion all round. As indicated earlier, the ability to know what team members you require or what key team position you are wanting to create can result in you being able to strategically talk to potential new leaders or someone looking to step up, in a way that would match their strengths with a role you know you need to fill. On a practical level, planning enables you to look at every single thing that needs to happen, week in week out, to enable your area of ministry to function. Knowing this level of detail will allow you to find the right people that can own each step in that system so that everything in the ministry doesn’t fall back on you. For example, in any given week in Hillsong Kids, leaders need to be called, activity sheets need to be photocopied, cards need to be sent to children, calls need to be made to new families, references need to be written for schools, rosters need to be rostered, props need to be built, communication needs to be passed on, run sheets need to be written, curriculum needs to be created, plus much, much more! My leadership goal is to have a system in place for every single thing that needs to happen regularly in Hillsong Kids so that I, as the Children’s Pastor, can focus on doing what only I can do. Only I can interview a new leader and ensure they are a safe person, only I can call that young guy who kicked his first goal in football to say well done, only I can get the heart of the leadership above me and ensure it is being passed on, only I can build relationship with those in my key team. If I want to increase my productivity overnight it depends on me creating systems and structures that ensure everything gets done. From there I can train and develop leaders to outwork these structures enabling me, as the leader, to focus on what only I can do. PRODUCTIVITY DEPENDS ON PRAYER Finally and most importantly we need to always remember who is more passionate about building the church than we are, Jesus. Matthew 16:18b Jesus says: “ I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”
If you want to increase your productivity as a leader then I know there is nothing more powerful than getting on your knees before God and asking Him for the increase. Need more leaders for the harvest that God is sending your way? Then ask the Lord of the harvest then to send more workers into His harvest (Matthew 9:38). Understand that God can do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20), yet if you never ask for anything than no wonder God hasn’t sent it! The same God that gave His Son Jesus for you and I, is the same God we are serving so as Romans 8:32 puts it, if ‘he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?’
I encourage you to get passionate about the children God has entrusted to you, so passionate that you will fight spiritually to see them become all that God has called them to be and in turn see your productivity increase to a whole new level. My challenge to myself and you, if you want it, is to take our areas of ministry to never before seen heights through intentionally building key leaders that will help us carry what God has given us. It’s to know the details that need to happen to make our areas of ministry function and be brave enough to train people to do them, enabling us to take things forward. It’s to lean not on our own understanding and leadership ability but to trust in Christ for everything. Finally it’s to stick around long enough to see the results of our productivity and in the process have every child in our churches draw closer to God, starting with our own kids.
- Chapter Three Barry Newton – In a Room Full of People, But...
When I was asked to write a chapter for this book, I knew what I wanted to write about straight away. While Steve Adams and Dave Wakerley argued over who would write about ‘Creative forms of Worship’ I was already structuring the following chapter in my mind. While the boys were debating the pros and cons of Chinese silk versus Egyptian cotton in their flag waving section my points were forming, the word count was soaring and the font was locked in. Why? It’s simple... This is something I know a thing or two about. I’ve been there, done that, bought the hoodie and uploaded an instagram. I know this topic inside and out and I’ll tell you why. This is a topic that I have lived for many years and I’m convinced I’m not the only one. The enemy whispers in my ear and tries to convince me that I’m the only one struggling with it, and again I’m convinced he whispers in more ears than just one clown.
I believe that as Christians, we need to connect with each other. This may seem like an obvious statement but I think we often get it wrong. I would suggest that we all too easily allow ourselves to get isolated from those we serve with and those we need to ‘do life’ with. When it comes to kids ministry, we are artists, no two ways about it. We sit on the same stage as painters, musicians, actors, comedians and any other colour that squeezes into the artist spectrum. The similarities between us and other artists are very confronting when we look at our tendency to isolate ourselves from our peers. History and modern day is brimming with examples of the isolated artist. Leonardo Da Vinci was one of the most brilliant minds ever to draw a breath. He changed the course of many fields of science and art. His mind was so alert and focussed that his personal notebook was written in ‘mirror form’. That is, written right to left and backward so his notes could only be read while looking at them in a mirror. Da Vinci led a full, busy and tragically, an extremely lonely life. With no real friends and shallow relationships, Leonardo is often referred to as the ‘Lonely Artist’. Charlie Chaplin (one of my personal favorites) referred to himself often as lonely. His on screen persona advertised what was so often buried in his soul. Regular times of solitude were a staple in his life and again, no real connections are noted in the life of this comic genius. More contemporary examples reveal the same patterns. ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ star Johnny Depp lives a reclusive life and by his own admission ‘sits alone a lot’ and doesn’t enjoy the company of others. Jim Carey describes a depression that stemmed from isolating himself from his peers. Sometimes, due to our area of ministry, we are given an ‘artistic license’. Kids ministers are allowed to be a little ‘unique’, it’s often expected and sometimes encouraged to have weird habits, sing funny songs and work late hours. Don’t get me wrong, I own a Super Soaker that will knock your eye out, play the Ukulele and have pulled more than my fair share of allnighters but I can tell you that in my life, due to the uniqueness of what we do, I found it very easy to become isolated. We are unique breed and because of this we face unique struggles and pressures and we must be very careful not to face that battle by ourselves.
I believe from my own experience, that we isolate ourselves for 3 main reasons... 1.
I’m the only one who can do what I do.
For a very long time I got my worth out of what I ‘did’ for God. Because of this I fell into the trap of believing that the more I did the more I was worth. It wasn’t long before I was setting up the the powerpoint presentation, leading praise and worship, jumping behind the puppet stage, preaching, whacking on a red nose and then farewelling the kids at the door. While this wasn’t a conscious decision of mine, the fact remains that I desired to be the ‘swiss army knife’ of kids ministry. While this isn’t a bad thing, pulling out every blade during a 90min morning service will eventually lead to you cutting off a finger. There were other capable, anointed people in the room but in my efforts to do it all myself, I isolated myself from them. Worried that they might steal some of my spotlight, I continued to push myself to the detriment of any possible real friendships at church and sadly, my relationships at home. Another pitfall of this belief is that if anyone comes into your team who you can learn skills from you automatically push them away isolating yourself even further. The people who can help us in our journey never get a chance because we push them away. If you find yourself relating to this example, can I encourage you to shift your focus from getting your worth from ‘what YOU do’ and refocusing on ‘what HE did’. I can assure you, the pressure of having to be the ‘Da Vinci’ of kids ministry will soon ease. Invest into the people around you and you will soon see their investment in you as a blessing, not a threat. 2.
I’m the only one who CAN’T do what I do.
Have you ever felt out of your depth? I know I have. More times than I care to mention. I remember when I was asked to come up with a clown character. I was terrified. I’d never done any form of clowning other than making that noise with my armpit in chemistry when I was in High School (best 8 years of my life). Squirt the Clown started off as the worst clown you’ve ever seen. I struggled with Squirt for a very long time before I realised what I was doing wrong. I wasn’t connecting with other clowns. My failure to take advantage of the skill and knowledge of my peers was due to my insecurity in my own ability. I was scared that if I asked for advice or took notice of someone else’s skills, I was somehow admitting that I had failed in my own skill-set. I was convinced, that everybody else was doing a better job than me, so in my efforts to keep my own perceived shortcomings hidden, I pushed my peers away. I simply didn’t want them to see me struggle. It’s interesting to note that other artistic fields have identified this behaviour and actively warn against it. An online article on the ‘Skinny Artist’ website lists the ‘9 warning signs of an amateur artist’. One of those signs is that “Amateur Artists isolate themselves from the artist community”. It states... “We also need to connect with other artists and the larger arts community. Far too often amateur artists tend to isolate themselves from other artists because they either feel envious of their success or unworthy of their attention.” (www.skinnyartist.com/9-warning-signs-ofan-amateur-artist) I believed (and still do) that the ‘Clown idea’ was a ‘God idea’ so I was determined to make it work. Some of you may not be aware of this but I speak with a stutter. You catch me on a bad day and I’ll make you late for your next appointment. Nowadays I speak and perform in front of thousands of people at a time and my impediment has no hold on my ability or my nerves. If God has asked you to do something that you see yourself struggling with, it’s an opportunity for God to shine through you. Generally, God won’t download everything you need to your harddrive or your ‘cloud’. Of course, everything you need is in Him but He’s also given skills to others to help you. You just need to be secure enough in your shortcomings and
confident enough in His strengths to allow those people access to your struggles. If you’re feeling out of your depth, I urge you to stop drowning in your doubts and start floating in God. 3.
I’m too busy doing what I do.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve inadvertently said to someone “Hey, we gotta catch up” as I’ve stormed across a foyer on my way to another meeting. My intentions are pure, I sincerely want to connect with the guy but I’m also very aware that it won’t be till December 2026 due to the fact that my calendar is so full. My days aren’t even full of coffee with friends or dinner with my wife and other married couples. Sure, my meetings, conferences and prayer meetings involved ‘people’ but I’m never really connecting with any of them. I can be surrounded by people and still be very, very lonely. Isolation isn’t about a lack of people, it’s about not feeling connected.
There’s nothing lonelier than being isolated in a room full of people. Don’t get me wrong here, I believe that we should get our PRIMARY support form God but if thats all He had in store for us he wouldn’t have us in relationships with EACH OTHER. We would all be living on our own little isolated planet never seeing each other (mine would have a waterslide and a Hogsbreath cafe). As much as we all love it, I’m sorry to say that Social Media isn’t going to cut it if you want to really, truly connect with people. You Tube, Twitter and Facebook are all good things, we just need to be careful that we aren’t only forming ‘You-Twit-Face’ relationships. I want to be mates with Jake, not his Avatar. Jesus Himself did life with his disciples and that wasn’t a surface relationship, those boys would have eaten, wrestled, built, broken and repaired together and would have held a deep connection with one another. If Jesus needed that connection in His humanness, I can confidently say that you and I are wired in such a way that we also need deep, lasting connections with those we do life with. If you’re only seeing your friends at meetings, perhaps you’ve got too many meetings. If you’re not spending time with mates outside of ministry time, maybe you need to schedule something in. Go out, don’t go through your 2 year ministry plan, discuss programming or debate whether or not you should get Squirt the Clown for your Christmas carol service, just hang out! Talk about the footy or the cookbook you just bought. Talk about your struggles and triumphs with each other, talk about marriage and babies and laugh about bodily noises and Monty Python. If your diary doesn’t have any time for that sort of stuff, I believe it’s time to reevaluate. Let me add to that by saying if you’re married with kids and your’e too busy to kiss your children goodnight and give your spouse a cuddle, you... are... too... busy. Take it from someone who’s been alone in a room full of people, take a moment to check if you are becoming isolated. Not because your intentionally building walls around yourself but perhaps the busyness of it all and the unique pressures that we have to deal with have pushed out those we need the most. Why not start today, grab someone and go out for coffee. Don’t talk about the conference (as good as it is), ask them about their favourite movie or show them a picture of your kids. Sing all the words to ‘American Pie’ or show them your most loved step from the ‘Ministry of Silly Walks’. Make a new friend or become tighter with one you’ve already got. I don’t know about you but I want to do life with a family of great friends. Give me family over friend any day. So artist, the next time you take the stage, tune a guitar, don a puppet, struggle sticking on your red nose, lead a kid to Christ or whatever it is you do for Gods glorious kingdom, do it with the breath of God in your nostrils and the strength of great friends at your back. I do believe that paint fades, melodies are forgotten and giggles subside but what we do lives on. Not just from generation to generation but through all eternity. Let’s do it with family.
- Chapter Four Steve Adams – His Masterpiece
I am what you might call a “misunderstood” artist. Every piece of art I have ever tried to make was so unrecognizable that I had to explain to people what it was and why I created it. In fact after some time had passed, I could not make heads or tails of it and forgot myself what it was. I felt a little better once I discovered “abstract” art. If my sculpture did not turn out the way I wanted it to, I simply said it was abstract art. I thought that would work, but it did not. The truth is, I am not much of a sculptor. Using clay to express my creativity is probably not the best use of my gifts. I have been to too many museums and art galleries around the world in my lifetime. Come on, who has not seen that piece of art with the solo red dot on the white canvas and thought, I could have done that? During those visits, I have been impressed with a few pieces of art, completely mesmerized by some and totally confused by others. Yet each artist has that one piece of art that they are the most proud of because it is their masterpiece. Maybe I did not understand the objective of the artist and most of the time I did not know the story behind the art, but the artist did. The artist knew exactly what he or she was doing. They had an experience, a feeling or a specific mood they were trying to create. The artist identified themselves with their work, there was a reason for their art and they hope the world is a better place because of their creation. It is one thing to misunderstand the work of an artist, but to ridicule, abuse or even ignore their art is something no artist wants to endure. I wonder how God feels when He sees His creation looking in the mirror and saying to themselves that “I am ugly” or when one of His pieces of art believes the lie that they have no talent and no purpose in life. It must break His heart. Look at this verse, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT). In this verse, we clearly see who we are and why we were created. We have: 1.
Identity - “For we are God’s masterpiece”
We are His crowning glory. Think about it, the beauty of planet earth and the majestic and vast universe. Of all His creation, the creator is most proud of us. Planet earth is full of incredible and breathtaking wonders. But more than the most awe inspiring landscape, sunset or creature deep in the ocean, He is most proud of YOU! 2.
Purpose – “He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,”
We were created to have fellowship and connection with our creator. Remember, He loves us SO MUCH that He was willing to sacrifice His only son so that we can have freedom and fellowship with Him. This is the one purpose in life that we all share, to live a surrendered life to the living God.
Destiny – “so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Once we know Christ, we can discover the specific role we play in this world. We each have a role to play in this life and God has given us the necessary gifts to successfully accomplish those objectives. This is an overwhelming thought. I have a destiny. I play a part in the big picture of God’s plan for His creation. So what is the problem? The problem is this; our children have bought into one of the biggest lies of all mankind. The enemy has spun a web of lies and our children have walked right into it. A lie that says “you are not good enough,” “you are not pretty enough,” “you will never be accepted,” “you have no talent” or “you are not creative.” These are all lies. In both obvious ways and small subtle ways, the enemy plants these thoughts into the minds of our children and then reinforces those lies through the media and peer pressure.
Ephesians 2:10 is clear that “we are God’s masterpiece.” We are not a secondary work that was thrown together at the last minute. We are His prize creation. God did not only create us, but He entrusted certain gifts and talents to each of us. It is not always clear why He created us the way He did or why we have certain gifts and not others, but the creator understands. We were not the result of an experiment and we were not created by accident. He had a big picture plan from the beginning and each one of us plays a role in that big picture. The artist always knows best, not the lump of clay or the canvas. Consider this verse, “And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.” Isaiah 64:8 (NLT). God is the ultimate artist. He formed us with His own hands. His word also tells us that the pot does not tell the potter what to make with the clay or how to make it. How can the clay possibly know more than the artist? “What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator? Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’ How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, ‘Why was I born?’ or if it said to its mother, ‘Why did you make me this way?’” Isaiah 45:9-10 (NLT). We are to live a surrendered life, as moldable clay in the hands of the potter. He knows what is best for us. He knows why we are created the way we are. He knows what the kingdom needs and He has created us accordingly. Play your part and not the part of someone else. You are the only one who can be you and do what only you can do. Embrace the creation you are intended to be. So how can we apply this in our lives? How can we counteract the lies of the enemy? Here are three things to STOP doing: 1.
Stop comparing yourself to others.
Stop making excuses
Stop thinking less of yourself.
Here are three things to START doing:
Start embracing the fact that you are God’s masterpiece.
Start utilizing the gifts God gave YOU.
Start accepting your role in the kingdom.
Our children need to know that they are God’s wonderful masterpiece, that they have a purpose for their life and that they have a destiny. However, it begins with you, the leader. Here are some questions for you: 1.
How do you view yourself?
How are you utilizing the gifts that He has entrusted to you?
Do you see yourself the way your creator does?
If you and I as leaders do not embrace the fact that we are God’s masterpiece and live it, our children will continue to walk right into the enemy’s web of deception. “You are God’s masterpiece.” Act like it!
- Chapter Five Andrew Shepherd – In it for Life The Art of Longevity in Ministry to Children
“Now, as you can see, the Lord has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise—even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. So give me the hill country that the Lord promised me. Joshua 14 NLT Caleb mastered the art of longevity in ministry. Here in his mid eighties he is still strong and passionate about serving God and still has vision to advance God’s kingdom. What an inspiration and example to us. It really is not about how we start but how we finish. I want to finish strong and be an inspiration to the generations that follow me. For some reason the church has not been great at producing Caleb’s in kid’s ministry. There has traditionally been such a high turnover of kids ministers over the years and very few Caleb’s standing strong asking for God to give them their next mountain.
After almost 30 years in ministry to children I am as passionate as ever and believe that one of the mountains that I desire God to give me before I finish my race is a legacy of younger Caleb’s coming through in kid’s ministry that will take land way beyond my time. I desire the ceiling of my time in ministry become the floor that future generations launch from.
In this quest for rising up Caleb’s that discover and live out the art of longevity I would like to submit to you 12 keys for longevity. In Joshua 4 after the children of Israel had crossed the river Jordan into the Promised Land Joshua asked 12 men to make a memorial for future generations. It says that one day the children would ask what they mean and they would share the stories of God’s miracles.
Joshua called out the twelve men whom he selected from the People of Israel, one man from each tribe. Joshua directed them, “Cross to the middle of the Jordan and take your place in front of the Chest of God, your God. Each of you heft a stone to your shoulder, a stone for each of the tribes of the People of Israel, so you’ll have something later to mark the occasion. When your children ask you, ‘What are these stones to you?’ you’ll say, ‘The flow of the Jordan was stopped in front of the Chest of the Covenant of God as it crossed the Jordan—stopped in its tracks. These stones are a permanent memorial for the People of Israel.’ Joshua 4:4-7 The Message (MSG) I now present to you 12 longevity stones that I pray future generations will ask us about… 1.
To last long in ministry to children we must be teachers and leaders who are also passionate
learners. We should never stop looking for opportunities to learn and grow. We should be avid readers and constantly stretch and challenge ourselves in ministry. We should be people who ask questions and seek input and accountability from others. 2.
Another major key to the art of longevity is not just to pray but also to have a lifestyle of prayer. Do you keep your daily appointments with God? Do you have seasons of prayer and fasting seeking God in desperation for breakthroughs and a deeper relationship with Him? Are we alert to the devices of our enemy through our prayer life as well as being a vigilant watchman over the lambs God has placed in our care? Do we clothe ourselves in the armor of God? Is our life and ministry conducted in a prayerful and worshipful attitude? 3. Faithfulness A leader who lasts the long haul must be a faithful servant who serves in all seasons of life. We are to follow the example of Christ and serve not be served and to faithfully give ourselves to others. Those that are faithful in the small things will be given greater responsibilities. As we trust completely God’s faithfulness in our lives it positions us well to live a life of faithfulness to others. Our faithfulness must flow from faithfulness to our personal devotions with God and out of that flows a resilience to continue to serve no matter what the cost. 4. Mentored God has made us for fellowship and relationship so in order to minister successfully over a long period of time we need to have people who walk alongside us. We need a mentor’s encouragement, prayer, leadership, accountability and if necessary discipline. WE all have blind spots and weaknesses that only others can observe. You are not only to be mentored but also to reproduce yourself in others, especially the younger generations. A great test of our leadership is how many people that we influence go beyond us in leadership. A person who has mastered the art of longevity always has someone in their life that can say no to them. 5. Humble The Bible says that God gives grace to the humble. The only way to minister over time is by God’s grace for without Him we can do nothing. Humility over time is a hallmark of greatness. Some keys to a humble life are…being authentic, others focused, not taking offense, forgiving quickly, honesty, integrity and trusting God completely in every situation. Humble people always look to how they can be the solution rather than blaming others. Humble people are happy for others to be recognized even for things that they did. Humble people are happy to serve in the unseen place without recognition and understand that God rewards those that seek Him. This humble lifestyle should leave a sweet smelling fragrance of God wherever we go. 6. Hunger I want to be like Caleb and at 85 still be hungry and passionate to fight for God and take
more mountains! If we desire to have generational impact over a wide span of years then we need to stay hungry and this is achieved by fixing our attention on Christ and ensure that His presence is our passion. In Exodus 33.15 Moses tells God that unless His presence leads Him then he wants to call the trip off. We too need a hunger for God that desires that God lead and empower us to impact the generations. 7. Holiness Those leaders that walk carefully before their God will also be successful over time. The key to longevity is proximity to God. As we stay closely connected to the vine then His life flow energizes and sustains us in our ministry to children. One of our most important priorities is to guard our heart as all the issues of our life flow from there. We are called to be holy as He is holy and to have a hatred for sin. We must have a lifestyle of dealing quickly and daily with sin and walk an integrious life. The Psalms tells us that he who has clean hands and a pure heart can stand in His holy place – for eternity! 8. Revelation We can’t have successful longevity of ministry to children if it’s based on reason – it must be led by revelation. The Bible says that without a vision we perish. If we have not experienced a personal encounter with God and a revelation from heaven of our calling to minister to children it will be impossible to last the long haul. Revelation keeps you fresh and helps anchor you through the tough and testing times of life. We need to know our God shape and calling and stay in our grace. We need a revelation that we serve Jesus and that we find our personal worth in Him not in what we do. We must have eternal perspective and see through the seen of our present challenges into the unseen realm. We must fix our eyes on Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith. 9. Culture We need to establish in our lives clear anchor points or non-negotiables of how we do life and ministry. We are called to build according to His pattern not according to the latest fads. We need to declare God’s word and promises over our life. We need to ensure we establish a strong and uncompromising Biblical culture in our life, family and ministry. What are the non negotiables of your life and ministry? What is the culture you are trying to establish? 10. Refresh Whenever my computer screen gets stuck I simply hit the refresh button and it all becomes new again. If we desire longevity in ministry then we must ensure that we regularly hit the refresh button in our lives. We need to be good self-managers of our lives. Do you know what things take energy from you and what fills you? Are you deliberate in keeping yourself fresh? Do you know the signs of tiredness and stress and take action accordingly? Do you ensure you have a weekly Sabbath rest day? Do you protect family time? Do you take holidays? Do you do something spontaneous and fun every now and then? When was the last time you did something for the first time? Do you encourage yourself in the Lord like David did? Do you keep yourself from being cynical and negative?
11. Faith Without faith I cannot please Him. I want to live a life of faith right to the end. My faith at the end of my life should be at its strongest as I have been working that muscle all my life. I want to be like Caleb in my eighties saying give me another faith mountain! When was the last time you did something that if God did not show up it was doomed? Do we walk by faith or fear? Be a person who hears from God and steps out into the unknown trusting that He will go before you and make a way even when there seems to be no way. Don’t just be faithful be full of faith! 12. Relationships At the end of the day it is all about relationships. We need to be deliberate about connecting with others. Develop varied and deep relationships that enrich and challenge you. Pursue people who have gone beyond you in ministry. Be a student of leadership. Nurture and prioritize time for friendships not only in the church but also in the community. Spend time creatively encouraging and loving your friends. We are called to live in community and it is here that we find strength to finish strong. In conclusion in want to leave you with this powerful scripture from Jeremiah, which sums up how we perfect the art of longevity.
But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. Jeremiah 17.7-8 NLT My prayer for you is that these 12 stones become landmarks in your life that cause you to serve God in children’s ministry all your life. I pray that as you do this that the next generation of children will ask you…”What do these stones mean?”
- Chapter Six Shaun Hunter – The Heart of the Art
Children’s ministry is growing in significance and influence across the nation. Gone are the days where the children’s ministry was hidden out the back of the church, often no more than glorified babysitting. We are living in a time where more and more the ‘Art of Children’s Ministry’ is an integral expression of the greater church. To this day parents are amazed when they discover the things that their kids are doing in kid’s church: praise and worship, prayer, preaching and so much more. In essence, it is just that – church for kids. The danger we face in doing kid’s church so well is that we risk forgetting or being distracted from the ‘heart of the art’. The best art always comes from the heart - that place inside of us where our deepest feelings and strongest emotions reside. Regardless of whether you consider yourself an artist, each of us possesses this ‘heart’. It exists within us because God made it so, at the very heart of children’s ministry is the original artist Himself, God. He fashioned us from a place of deep connection, love and a desire for relationship. When he created you it was a work of art directly from His heart, He placed something of Himself inside of you, created you in His own image and then breathed life into you - a completely unique work of art that can never be replicated. He created us in His image, imparting us with the same creative nature that exists within Himself, that means that we are all both art and artist, commissioned by our creator to help sculpt the next generation in His image. Children’s ministry has been one of the most challenging things I have ever done; it has been like walking a tightrope - trying to maintain the balance between running a program and facilitating a ministry. You see, we can run an amazing program, it can be timed to perfection and it can tick all of the boxes – message, activity, memory verse, no lost children… Yet it can have no more impact on the kids than a commercial about carpet cleaning, we can completely miss the point of the program. We are not called to run the perfect ‘program’ we are called to a ministry to children. Ministry comes from the heart and if it doesn’t, then it will dry you up and spit you out. Just as every piece an artist creates is permeated with parts of themselves, so too should our ministry be infused with expressions of our ‘heart’ for God and for the children He has placed in our care.
Anytime an artist is commissioned to create a work of art for someone, they begin by taking the time to understand the motives and outcomes desired by the one who is commissioning them. God has commissioned you to help produce a work of art like no other! This is part of our ‘going into all the world’ Matt 28:19-20. We need to spend time asking and discovering what it is that God wants us to deliver to the children. What is it that His heart beats for? When someone commissions a piece of art, they realise that while they have some influence over the piece they understand that fundamental expressions of the artist will permeate the artwork. God too understands this - in fact He desires it! He has chosen you to minister to His kids because He knows the ‘heart’ that will shine through you. I once had a kid’s leader come to me and say, “I don’t know if I’m the right person to be leading a Children’s ministry, there are so many others that would be better at this than I am. They
are younger, have more bounce and energy, that’s what the kids need.” I replied “But they don’t have your revelation of God or your life experience. They haven’t been overseas on mission trips like you have or raised children the way you have. All you need to see is that at this time God wants to use you, not just to run a program but to minister. Throw the seed of what God has placed in your heart so that He has the opportunity to plant that seed where He wants it to grow.” I always tell our leaders to make the lesson their own, to put their own experiences and stories in, this will bring the lessons to life and they will come across more powerfully and full of passion.
If you have never sat down and really pondered the ‘why’ in your Children’s ministry then I strongly encourage you to do so. Make some time to really understand those things in your heart that are the driving force behind what you do. What is your unique and foundational revelation of God, what is unmistakeably you? You may have a heart for missions, evangelism or music these things will only enhance and flavour the ‘heart’ in your children’s ministry, as you allow God to use the seed that He has placed within you. What part of yourself are you leaving on and in your children’s ministry?
That being said, I am not saying that we should be the mavericks of kid’s church. Going about with the attitude that says, “I will do things my way because God told me!” Not only is it God’s heart at the centre of our children’s ministry but the heart of our church, senior pastor and children’s leader. I believe that the ‘Art of Children’s Ministry’ is taking the vision of the church and heart of the senior pastor and making it accessible and attainable to the children of that church, we want to empower the children to own the vision of their house.
In a recent leaders meeting my pastor was going through the core values of our church, when he got to generosity he said that our church had given $7,777.00 just to bless another church that we had a relationship with. I was ticking off each core value in my head, confident that we were carrying them through to our kid’s ministry until this one came along. I thought, we don’t have any money to give, how can we reflect this same core value of generosity in children’s church? I wanted to carry this heart through to kid’s ministry, but how? I then had the idea of blessing the other departments in the church with our generosity: we put on a trivia night for the worship team, we all turned up after youth one night to pack up for them, we had the kids baking cupcakes for the ushers on a Sunday. People were asking us “what are you doing?” and “Tell me why are you doing this again?” We would reply with “we just want to bless you.” That is the heart of the Art. When I look to promote a leader in kid’s church - in any position, I am always looking for heart over ability. I am looking for someone who has a heart for God, for the church and for the kids. I see people that are brilliant at what they do but I could not for a second imagine them serving in kid’s church, why? Because they don’t have a skerrick of a heart for kids, in fact they can’t stand kids. You wouldn’t put this person in your children’s ministry, so why do we look to promote talented people in our teams who don’t carry the heart of the church? “It’s not always about what God wants to do through you as much as what He wants to do in you” Ps Shane Baxter. I had an intern allocated to me this year, which was great, but I was told that her request when starting her internship was “I’ll do anything except kids church!” not a great start. However, this person had a great love for God and the church and a pliable heart, so God had something to work with. It turns out that she now loves children’s church, is passionate about taking it to the next level and is an amazing example of what God can do in a persons life if they let Him. We are a work in progress, allowing God to continue shaping His work of art – you, will allow you to gain His heart for your children’s ministry. Isaiah 64:8 “We are the clay, you are the potter, we are all the work of your hand.”
Be encouraged by the fact that all ministry is a work of art in progress, and it always will be. The only time that we should be concerned is when we feel that the work is complete – God is always transforming us from glory to glory and our ministry along with us. By taking the time to examine the health and vitality of the ‘heart of our art’ we will see improvement in the circulation of the lifeblood of our ministry – that is God and His amazing love for us and for the kid’s he has given us. With better circulation comes health, warmth and colour; the very things every kid’s church needs. In my opinion you are all legends, you’re reading this book because your heart is to give God and the kids your best. We all share this great privilege of being Gods artist, now go and ENJOY all that God has for you!
- Chapter Seven Alice McInnes – Behind the Scenes Lights, Camera, Action!!!
The moments right before the curtains are drawn and the lights go up are filled with activity and sometimes pandemonium as individuals find their places, rehearse their lines one last time, check their costumes and make up, last minute changes are made and instructions are given – all with the intention of making the production that is about to take place an amazing spectacular for all involved. This hype of activity and commotion brings with it a sense of anticipation and excitement as everyone is busying themselves with what they need in that moment to make sure they get ‘their part’ right.
Think about the moments just before your Sunday service begins, your outreach program in the community starts, parents begin to arrive with their children, a visitor approaches the registration area of your children’s ministry, organising last minute roster changes, making sure everyone has heard the changes to the program run order, checking people have what they need for their lesson, managing a crisis, fixing broken equipment, settling a new child into a program, talking a parent through leaving their child for the first time. The list is endless and they are all important aspects of what we do in order to run life-changing programs for the children in our community. Often as Children’s Ministers we can too easily get caught in the hype and activity of all that needs to be done and all that is vitally important to us managing and providing great programs for children in our community. I believe that what happens ‘behind the scenes’ – those moments in the unseen, those moments with our team before the children arrive – are ultimately the most important aspects of what we bring to the children we minister to.
If our world is continually consumed by hype and activity it is hard to imagine what our programs and even our own personal worlds will look like long term. Isaiah 30:15 says ‘In quietness and confidence is your strength.’ Our strength in what we do comes from settling down in complete and utter dependance on God and being able to hear from Him and rely on Him before we are faced with the many things that consume our thoughts and ultimately our actions when we are working with the children we minister to.
‘Behind the scenes’ (your private world) is a key aspect of your ministry to children and it is an area that we need to manage well so that when the curtains are opened and the lights do come on – we are well equipped with everything we need in the natural and the supernatural to be effective ministers to the children we minister to. There are several key behind the scene roles I believe will benefit you in your ministry to children as well as your walk with God. Have I got them mastered – not yet –I still need to be reminded by people cheering me on from the wings, I need to be redirected at times to stay focused and stay on cue, I still need to keep rehearsing the truths of the Word of God over and over in my life – as a good actor would rehearse their lines for a part in a production. I am praying that these few key roles would resonate in your spirit and help you to establish some
great foundations ‘behind the scenes’ in your walk with God.
Quietness and stillness are not two things that come naturally to me – I am a person who loves to be surrounded by people, noise, activity and even find myself conversing with someone while I am sleeping – talking in my sleep!!!! But I have learned the value in learning how to be quiet and be still even in the midst of the busiest seasons of life. To be quiet means: • • • • • •
Not noisy – little or no noise. Still – free from noise or commotion. Done in private – carried out in private. Undisturbed – free from trouble or disturbance. Not showy – not grand, showy or pretentious. Not busy.
Wow – what a picture that paints for us!! God tells us that our strength comes from quietness. Quietness allows room for God to come in and speak so clearly because our every thought is not consumed by what we haven’t done or what we need to go and do. When we allow moments of quietness in our world on a regular basis we learn what it is to clearly hear from God and not be moved by what is happening around us. When we spend time with God in quietness it builds in us a dependence on Him and ultimately allows us to minister from a place of strength, rather than out of reaction to what is happening around us.
We make time in our schedules to catch up with friends, to enjoy the things that we love, to eat, to sleep – how about we plan regular ‘quietness’ times in our schedules (behind the scenes) – times of little or no noise, times of no disturbance, times of privateness, times where we can sit uninterrupted in the peace and quiet and allow God to come and minister to us. Allowing opportunity for God to build a strength on the inside of us that would build us and empower us to minister out of a place of complete dependence and strength in God. It has been in the quiet times in my life that God has spoken the loudest, that God has prompted an idea that has then become some of our greatest successes in ministry to children, that God has built into me an immovable confidence in the fact that He is God and He is good – and that will never change. A key scripture that has been woven into my life ‘behind the scenes’ is Galatians 6:9 (NLT) ‘So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.’ The Message Bible puts it like this: ‘So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit.’ I rehearse this scripture in the good seasons and in the seasons where things are a little tough. Doing the right thing and that which we know is good speaks to me of doing the daily disciplines of life over and over and over again, building consistency and faithfulness – keeping on, keeping on! In season and out of season we would continually put God first, seek Him always and allow Him to strengthen us no matter what is going on around us.
Psalm 42:6 (MSG) says ‘When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you…..’ To rehearse something means to: practice something before performing; train somebody for performance; to go over. Doing the same thing over and over again until it sticks. I believe ‘behind the scenes’ we need to get great at rehearsing all that we know of God, keep rehearsing the daily disciplines that we know will hold us strong and confident – reading the word, prayer, worship, devotion etc and keep reminding ourselves that if we don’t get tired and if
we don’t quit we will reap a great harvest when the time is right.
There is no greater reward than being able to minster out of a place of strength and confidence. That doesn’t come by simply rehearsing your lesson material and being able to communicate effectively in front of the children you are ministering to. I believe the greatest ministry happens when the person ministering does so out of a confidence that has been built ‘behind the scenes’ in quietness and based on the strength of who God is and what that means in their life. Build your confidence and strength through mastering your ‘behind the scenes’ moments. Build ‘behind the scenes’ moments into your every day life enabling there to be times of quiet and still amidst the busyness and activity that happens in and around you. ‘In quietness and confidence is your strength.’ - Isaiah 30:15
- Chapter Eight Michael Chanley – Three Leadership Art Essentials to Children’s Ministry Patterns and Wisdom
Patterns simplify things. They show repetition which enables one to predict what comes next. The predictive nature of a pattern is something we teach children at the earliest ages. You see it in preschool handouts and in elementary-aged math. Recognizing patterns is important because they allow us to adapt to the unpredictable. Additionally, they allow us to look from results back to the source to then draw logical conclusions about what it took to get from point A to point B. We draw truth from patterns everyday. We are shaped by them in ways we are not even aware. Collectively, we call decisions based on patterns wisdom. Wisdom, however, stems from God’s Word. We see this in Proverbs 2: “For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, or he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.”
Wisdom comes from the Lord. I believe God grants wisdom to those who have seen things played out over and over and then have chosen those paths which lead to the desired effect... and have veered away from those which do not.
We are wise, then, when we take heed of patterns which lead to success and employ them to our benefit. What are the patterns we should apply to successfully lead children to Christ? How do you find these patterns; where do you begin your journey as a leader? About four years ago I was blessed to have God lead me to create a free social network for those called to serve in Children’s Ministry. In a matter of weeks, CMConnect.org quickly became a network of over 1,000 members. Four years later, there are over 9,100 members from over 110 countries. Being at the center of this network allowed me to learn from a vastly diverse number of people called to Children’s Ministry. I invested myself in thousands of conversations via blogs and forum discussions. These conversations changed everything about my ministry.
Early in the formation of the community, I remember seeing certain patterns evolve. At first they were topical; then, they became sub-topical as people drilled down into deeper truths. Members questioned basic assumptions about what it means to minister to children. Do you need puppets? Is flannel board valid? Are clowns really scary? Can men serve in Children’s Ministry? Not once did the conversation delve into denominational-based arguments we see at the root
of so many church splits. I expected it to happen. I had some friends who warned me to watch out for it. On the contrary, a noteworthy pattern emerged. There is unity in the hearts of those called to serve children in ministry. I think this is uniquely profound and worth celebrating.
I almost missed it; but God did something incredible a little over a year ago. On a flight to Sacramento, California I fell asleep while journaling. I had just accepted my role as Executive Director of the International Network of Children’s Ministry (INCM) and had been reading and praying about the core things at the centre of our calling. I was searching for patterns. I woke up as we were descending over the mountains, and I can only describe it this way, God inspired me to write. What I wrote that day evolved into a 100-day conversation about the concepts central to succeeding in ministering to children. Five Initiatives for Children’s Ministry Our team at INCM took my notes and began a discussion which lead to the development of our five initiatives. Last year at the Kidshaper Conference in Melbourne, Australia, INCM unveiled these bright spots... all key things we see as patterns in churches and ministries that truly understand our calling to Children’s Ministry: 1.
Impart God’s truth to this generation
Communicate with families
2. 4. 5.
Provide a safe and relevant environment Network with a community of leaders
Pray for the international children’s ministry community.
The five initiatives represent a pattern worth replicating. They represent bright spots where God’s blessing is evident. The fruit is there! As leaders began to commit to the five initiatives and join INCM, a seemingly spontaneous conversation ensued. This new conversation was stemming from those serving in the most dynamic children’s ministries in the world.These experienced veterans had lived the pattern. They heard the initiatives, and said, “Oh yeah, I get that... this is what we’ve been doing for years.” The response confirmed that we had unveiled a pattern evident of God’s blessing. Yet, it begged the question, “Is there still another pattern?” Indeed, there is.
As we met with these experienced leaders, we began to look for other patterns asking, “What are the leadership arts essential to growing a healthy Children’s Ministry?” Again, God revealed a pattern evident in leading churches where His blessing is apparent. When we opened the conversation we discovered the online community resounded with little evidences of these patterns. We dove in deeper.
In studying these essential leadership arts, we see the beginning of a growth process in the specific challenge areas for anyone serving in children’s ministry. Simply stated, the three arts essentials for Children’s Ministry leaders are develop, lead and disciple.
Develop One of the major challenges facing those called to serve in Children’s Ministry is their ongoing spiritual development. It can be a challenge to stay plugged in to the Spirit when you are serving every weekend. Leaders who stay the course for many years have this in common they have learned to walk in faith, assured of their salvation and are constantly renewed by a devotion to God which keeps them refreshed.
Leaders have taken the time to develop their personal relationship with Christ. Sounds simple, but it is essential; furthermore, we see this pattern repeated over and over again. The leaders who stay the course are assured of their calling first from God, then from their family as well as from their leaders. If you are starting out in Children’s Ministry and want to become a leader, take time to determine why and if it is truly God’s calling on your life. Look for affirmation from Him and from others. Search the scriptures as you develop your own leadership style and calling. It is the development of our personal walk with God which leads to a broader development from our community and, eventually, the ability for us to develop others... including the children we serve.
Developing others hinges on one’s ability to lead a team committed to the vision of the local church. It is this art which we see leading churches looking for when hiring full-time ministry staff. Over and over Senior and Executive Pastors searching for a Children’s Minister look for a “leader of leaders.” Lead Churches with healthy Children’s Ministry teams have at the helm a “leader of leaders.” We consistently see a commitment to lead. The leaders who quickly understood the five initiatives had moved from a place where they understood God’s calling on their life to a personal commitment to allow Him to use them as a leader. The fact they see God as the leader and themselves as His tool is an important point to note and it is evident in how and why the lead. The pattern we see emerging is one of confidence in God’s calling which leads to a realization of God’s vision for the local church or community. The successful leaders move from this realization to the drafting of a strategy. While the strategy will be unique to the needs of each ministry community and align with the leader’s vision, it will be grounded in humility and is submissive to the bigger vision of the church. Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Innovation is necessary because a leader is constantly navigating change. So, once the vision is discerned from God and a strategy is communicated to see that vision implemented, we see leaders committed to evaluation and reevaluation in a constant cycle of change. Another bright spot worth noting, CM leaders don’t ever lead alone. The develop art comes into play as successful leaders are, while leading change, leading others. It is this mix of the first two arts, develop and lead, which births the success of the third leadership art: discipleship. Disciple Discipleship is exemplified in Jesus’ uniquely divine leadership repertoire. Leaders
understand and commit to the Great Commission. They see their role as fulfillment of what Jesus commands in Matthew 28 “... go and make disciples of every nation...” This calling is central in the lives of leaders. There is no way to escape the significant role of discipleship in today’s thriving children’s ministries. Leaders are consistently identifying potential leaders and training them to serve in ministry, going well beyond managing volunteers. They are empowering a “royal priesthood of believers” to do the work of the gospel. When discipleship is successful, we see CM leaders releasing those they have trained to lead in their own ministry. Releasing disciples takes many forms. It ranges from moms who are recruited to direct vacation Bible school programs to preteens tasked with running sound booths or students leading small group discussions. Three Leadership Arts for Children’s Ministry
Leadership in any ministry runs a wide array and spectrum of skills. What we have found, in summary, is not an exhaustive list of leadership arts. Rather, we see a pattern worth replicating. Summarizing the pattern into three points allows for a deeper evaluation and an ongoing conversation. This is the starting point: 1.
Develop - walking in faith, developing self, developing others
Disciple - identifying leaders, training them to serve, releasing them to lead
Lead - casting vision, creating strategy, navigating change
The patterns are there. We see the evidence of them in thriving, fruitful Children’s Ministry programs and teams. If it is true that the study of patterns leads to a sum knowledge from which to draw conclusions... and if the study of such things leads to wisdom... should we not commit to them in our ministry to children? If you would like to discuss this article, and I hope you do, I invite you to join the free, online conversation going on now at CMConnect.org. Join us as we, “... consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds...” and help develop a movement of leaders committed to taking a knee to teach a child about God’s eternal love.
- Chapter Nine Stephanie Sewell – Tsunami Ministry Tips
When I think of the “Art of Children’s Ministry”, I always think about the challenges that we experience in our ministry. In many ways, it is these challenges that define us, that grow us, and that ultimately determine if we become great Kids workers, leaders and pastors.
Challenges, like Tsunami’s, will always come, so the question is “How will you react to them? Some challenges are small and we barely even notice them lapping at our feet, but others are so big that we need to turn and run. God can use these “life changing Tsunami’s” to teach, correct and grow us. I know this from personal experience! It was around 8am, Boxing Day in 2004, and I was sitting in bed reading my bible. My husband, Mark, and our daughters were at a beach resort in Southern Thailand. After five years on staff at New Zealand’s biggest church, Life, I felt burnt out. Juggling my multiple roles, including mother of three young girls, Children’s Pastor, public speaker and wife, I felt stretched to my limits. I gave notice to our Senior Pastor and headed to Thailand for our Christmas vacation with my Dad, two sisters and their families. I went with the feeling that the decision was the right one. God didn’t want me burnt out, right? Christmas with the extended family was awesome and I thought I was where God wanted me to be. Life was feeling good – sand, sun, husband, family and a great relaxing holiday. Mark is snoring away and I am in the middle of spending time with God. I was feeling like the spiritual giant of the family when the bed started to shake. My first thought was “Mark” but he was asleep. It soon subsided and having previously lived in southern California, I could not get too worried about a small earthquake. How wrong I was!
An hour later we enjoyed a big family breakfast, whilst the kids played on the beach. We were meant to be going rock climbing so I hurried off to make some phone calls at the hotel reception. Whilst on the phone, I felt a strange sensation down deep in my stomach. The birds stopped singing, the cicadas were un-seasonably quiet, no manky three legged dogs barking, but the real give away was the silent monkeys. Not really a God moment, but God was doing something and I was listening. I wasn’t listening to the woman from Thai Airways, but I was listening to God in the hollow silence. I looked out into the bay, normally one of the most beautiful settings I have ever seen, but at that time all the water was gone. The bay looked empty and there was an ominous white line on the horizon. It was heading straight towards me at a very fast speed and I was on an Island no wider than two football fields.
I dropped the phone without even a polite “sorry, I have to survive a Tsunami” and yelled, “Run! Run! You’ve got to Run”, to anyone who would listen. You see, I’ve visited Florida many times and they tell you that if the water gets sucked out quickly, then you have five to six minutes to escape because a Tsunami is coming your way. It might have been a “teachable moment” but I had so much adrenalin in my blood that I was like a ferret on steroids. A mother ferret, in overdrive, who has just realised that her girls were on the beach. My immediate thought was that they were likely to go shell collecting in the recently created rock pools, created by the awesome power of the Tsunami, estimated to have the energy of 23,000
Hiroshima-type atomic bombs.
On that day, I experienced one of the deadliest natural disasters in history. The morning earthquake had triggered a series of devastating tsunamis that would kill more than 225,000 in eleven countries. People around us died that day, but my family survived. In the following paragraphs are the lessons that I learnt from that terrifying experience. I observed people responding in different ways during the tsunami, and these lessons can be applied to the challenges that each of us encounter in our everyday lives. Fear and Anxiety
Firstly, the “fear” was so suffocating that many people were emotionally paralysed and were unable to act. One Thai woman was so scared that she was being dragged by her two friends. She was screaming, her eyes were wide open and she looked like she was in a trance. She was so consumed by her own chaos that she stopped functioning effectively. Another woman, sitting at the swimming pool, was like an opossum or a kangaroo “caught in head lights”. Next to her was a child in a pram. She should have been acting but her mind had shut down and she was lucky that the first wave was small. Sometimes we can get so self-consumed, particularly by fear and anxiety, that we don’t hear the “God whispers”. If we get scared and intimidated, then we will forget our responsibilities and don’t operate effectively. Fear will stop you from moving forward and, particularly in ministry, we have to be careful that fear does not enter our hearts. Fear will stop you moving forward, stop you acting and will stop you listening to God. 2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
The answer is in Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen, yes, I will help you; yes, and I will hold you up.” The simple lesson is “Don’t limit God” with fear and anxiety, he is a big God with a big vision for your life. Distraction
One of the most dangerous responses to the tsunami was the trap of “distraction”. People literally died of put their lives in danger because they got distracted. They were so busy trying to “read the tea leaves” in God’s tea cup of an ocean that they missed the big message. One man ignored my cry of warning, pulled out his camera and headed down to the waves, now about 200 metres further out than normal. He was so distracted by the low tide, and the cute little fish flopping everywhere, that he missed the big picture. God didn’t put up a big sign saying “massive wave coming, please run” but he did drop some big hints for those that were not distracted. In ministry it is very easy to be like the camera man. We get distracted with our own agenda, we do the things that we like to do, and we forget about God’s agenda. Listen to Jeremiah 6:10: “To whom can I give warning? Who will listen when I speak? Their ears are closed, and they cannot hear. They scorn the word of the LORD. They don’t want to listen at all.” This is God telling the Israelites that they were totally distracted. They wanted no part of God because living for him didn’t appear very exciting and other things did. We think our agenda is so much better my advice is to keep our eyes on God’s agenda and not get distracted.
Denial Another response observed during the tsunami was “denial”. My own father refused to believe that there was a tsunami and he would not even leave his room to investigate the situation. The day after the Tsunami, when virtually all of the Hotel guests had left, a young woman put on her running shorts, plugged in her iPod and went for a run, like it was any other morning in paradise. For some of us in ministry, it is easier to deny the truth and try to live in an “alternate reality”. We go through a tough situation and it is easier to go into a state of denial than do the tough stuff that will get us to the “next level”. Don’t be like my Dad or the young runner. You can’t put your head in the sand and expect God to work some miracle because he is more likely to just bring another challenge if we deflect the first one. You don’t get great by embracing denial. God put’s challenges in front of us so that we will grow! Indecisive
I saw a boat driver try to outrun the wave only to change his mind, and turn his boat around, only to be picked up like a matchstick and smashed against the rocks. He died being indecisive, with my daughter asking us, “why was the man floating upside down?” Consider James 1:6-8: “Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” Many of us are like this in ministry. We have heard the calling of God but we are indecisive. Acting indecisively is one of the worst ways to go through a Tsunami sized challenge. Stopping saying to yourself, “am I really the best person for the job” or “can I really do this?” You can take your ministry to the next level and if you don’t then God will find someone else who will. Words Of Advice
God saved us from the Tsunami and I learnt some important lessons through that experience. God’s wisdom allows you to learn these lessons without a single drop of water. Be Bold
In the Tsunami some people reacted well, in fact, some were even decisive and brave. For instance, a Swedish Lady ran out to the water to save her kids with no chance of success, but she went for it all the same. She and her Kids got hit by the first wave and where scratched up, but fine. If they had stayed on the beach for the second wave, they would have been a distant memory by now.
Joshua 1:7 is “be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” God wants us to be bold and decisive. It takes faith and courage to transform a world, one person at time. It will stretch us and make us feel uncomfortable but ultimately we will succeed because God doesn’t ask us to do anything outside his will. Be bold and decisive in your ministry because God wants you to succeed.
Fight the battle on your knees A major change in the way that I do ministry, after the Tsunami, is that now I pray a lot more. During the Tsunami, when I went to the beach, I couldn’t see our girls in the mad chaos of humanity. Almost without thinking, I stopped for a moment and called out to God. I heard a God whisper saying “Flee”, which is not what a Mother wants to hear when she wants to do the opposite and go find her children. You see, God was looking after my children but I needed to be obedient. I did not know but my husband had taken the girls back to our Hotel room, so halfway across the island, I found them all happily walking down the path oblivious to the danger that was rushing at hundreds of miles per hour towards them. The application study bible commentary states that “there will never be a weight too heavy for you or me to bear, but when our blow comes, when our midnight falls, when our enemies can be heard in the distance, before we do anything else, we must pray!” As we climbed a hill, with the sounds of death below us, my oldest daughter, then 10, was calling out to God. As we reached the top of the hill, she looked up and thanked God for saving our family. My advice is that during the heat of battle don’t forget to tap into the source. Take two minutes out and call to God (preferably before the Tsunami hits your ministry). Every prayer counts! Don’t give up
There was one point in the tsunami challenge when I thought that we were going to die. Just when I thought we were safe, the God of “fluid dynamics” sent me a physics problem and I almost gave up. Standing on the seashore, I realised that we had run to the other side of the Island and the Tsunami wave had come around the island and was coming towards us like a bullet with our name on it.
My first thought was “God, not a bad way to go!” My second thought was “I haven’t finished what God wants me to do.” Three months before this Boxing Day adventure, I had walked into our senior pastor’s office and I said, “I’ve had enough. I can’t do ministry anymore. I can’t be a mother, have a husband and then do full-time ministry. It’s way too much. Something has got to give and it’s church that’s going to give.” So I walked. My simple message to you is “please, finish what God has put in your hands and don’t give up.” We all fail – get over it. Expect failure. Failure is the way we learn so learn to embrace the pain and move on. If you are going to leave ministry then go out when you are on top. Failure is not a good reason to give up. So give yourself space to fail but don’t give up. After staying behind for three days to help clean up after the Tsunami, we were finally evicted with dead bodies washing ashore, monkey attacks on the kitchen, and rice and “unidentified green stuff” dropped from helicopters as our staple diet. Our family returned to New Zealand and I soon returned to my work at the church. One of the major changes in the way I now live is with the sense of balance. It is about making wise choices and growing my capacity for ministry. God gave me a Jonah like experience. He spat me out and said, “Now do it in My Strength.” At times I’ve slipped back, but I’m getting much better! I now try to finish what God has asked me to do. Don’t be a statistic when a Tsunami hits your life. As sure as the sun rising, Tsunami’s will come but they will not last forever. Be bold, fight the battle on your knees, and don’t give up.
- Chapter Ten David Wakerley – “Why Do We Stop Being Artists?”
When I was thirteen we moved houses. I left the town I had grown up in my whole life to move into the ‘big smoke’, which in hindsight is really only a slightly larger smoke than the previous smoke. I remember a conversation I had with Jason; another kid in my class, on what was probably my last day at my current high school. Jason: “Well when you leave...”
Dave: “You’ll be the best drawer in class” Jason: “Yes... I suppose I will be...”
Now I said this with complete confidence in my status as the ‘Best Drawer’. I remember this time fondly in my life, I was the best at something and considered myself excellent at drawing and art.
Now I cannot recall if I held on to this prestigious title in my tenure at my vastly larger new high school, but having decided that I had reached the dizzying heights that I thought my art could take me, I moved on to music and left my drawing skills to lie dormant.
But most of us, somewhere around the age of 7 or 8 decide that the other kid in our class who can draw an awesome Spongebob Squarepants way better than us is the artist and we are not. I have heard the following anecdote a number of times; that if you ask a group of children in their first year of school who is an artist, most if not all of the kids will put up their hands up. But ask that same question to a class about to enter high school and you find a vastly different answer, just myself and Jason with our hands in the air. As children, most of us think we are highly creative; as adults many of us think we are not. What’s going on here?
Not matter the field of study, no matter the career path; creativity is vital. Organizations across the globe are competing in a world that is changing faster than ever. They say they need people who can think creatively, who are flexible and quick to adapt. And to say nothing yet about the kingdom of God. Think how much creativity is required to plant a Church in our culture! Think how much creativity is needed just to engage and reach the connected, multimedia savvy, over-entertained child in our Churches today.
Sir Ken Robinson who led the British government’s 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education and was knighted in 2003 offers particularly interesting insight on this issue especially with respects to the education system. He argues that it’s because we’ve been educated to become good workers rather than creative thinkers. Instead of cultivating their energy and curiosity, he says students with restless
minds and bodies are ignored — or even stigmatized — with terrible consequences. “We are educating people out of their creativity,” Robinson says.
There is a wealth of research into this topic, but what I really want to highlight is what the Church can do, what we represent in a life of a child. There is no doubt in my mind that our educational system needs a revolution but I am even more certain that the Church has no excuse not be revolutionary in this area. We have no government body overseeing our ‘educational outcomes’, no committees monitoring our curriculum, we are free to choose whoever and whatever we want to reach and influence our kids. We can try a completely different approach this weekend and probably no one is going to tell you off! This is why calling the people that serve with your kids on the weekends ‘teachers’, calling your ministry ‘Sunday School’ or running your ministry in line with school expectations is slapping opportunity in the face with a large fish and saying “It was good enough for me when I was a kid, so it will be good enough for you”. What child wants to come to Church for something you call ‘school’? They just had five long days of that.
Your children’s ministry is the expression of what God wants to do through you and your Church and is limited ONLY by your imagination. Have the courage to seize the day and use it! What if the educational world saw the innovation and excellence with which Churches were reaching kids and sent delegations to find out what was going on? What if our children were learning about their great God in astounding ways that stick with them even in the short 6090 minutes that we have with them? The expectation from parents, on you, the ministry leader have never been lower. Believe me, the pressure that comes on preschool/child care centre teachers can be quite frightening. Career parents expecting ABC’s and 123’s at ages hitherto unheard of!
Rather than lament this seeming lack of interest in the spiritual development of your Church kids, take the opportunity to completely reinvent, innovate, spear-head and shake-up. Don’t just get on the cutting edge, get on the bleeding edge!
Be prepared and ready to fail spectacularly, it’s really the only way to fail. Otherwise you don’t even get a good story out of it. But also be prepared to succeed because every one of us is an artisan of the gifts that God has given us. What could happen in the Church if our kids grew up believing that they were here to create beauty, grace and hope through whatever God has called them to be? You could be the one of the only people in the lives of your kids speaking creativity and life over them. Start this weekend by asking them who thinks they are an artist! Then tell them they are! Make it your goal to convince the children that God has entrusted to you that they are creative artists capable of creating incredible things not just because of their gifts and talents but because they serve a creative God.
And he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze - Exodus
35:31-32 (ESV) Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men. - Proverbs 22:29 (ESV) So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. - Genesis 1:27 ESV So Carpe Diem! Make their lives extraordinary. •
Accept unusual ideas from children by suspending judgement of them - in fact acknowledge the creativity of the answer.
Emphasize process rather than outcome. Never make it a goal just to simply finish your curriculum, but instead make it a goal that God will get to do what He wants in their lives.
Use creative problem-solving in all parts of your ministry. Use the problems that naturally occur, and lets be honest in ministry to children, they occur.
Not all repetition and imitation is bad, but repetition and imitation is certainly not creative. Unfortunately, imitation is very habit forming.
A significant portion of today’s Church leaders had extended interaction with a Church as a child. So the statistics suggest that most of the leaders of the Church in the future are not at home on Sunday mornings having a BBQ but they are hanging out with you at Church. I dream of a generation being raised up knowing that no matter the opposition and uncertainty, they believe in a God big enough to work with their gifts and talents to creatively move every mountain. Are you an artist?
It's with real excitement that we have created this book with a combination of authors who all have fast knowledge and experience in Childre...