I live in a baseball town. We’ve already had our winter warm event a month ago when it was about 20 degrees. The players showed up. The coaches showed up. The fans showed up. No game was played, but something was in the air. I think it was the anticipation of what is to come in 2010. And expectations are always over the top for our team. Cross home plate enough to go to the world series. Cross home plate.
Some would think it strange how stuff ties into ministry for me, but it does. I thought about how funny it would be if the players, coaches and fans showed up to the ballpark and there was one thing missing… home plate. There would be no way to define a win without a score. Baseball is about strategy. Hmm… wow, ministry to kids and families (which if FAR more important) is about strategy. If you just pick curriculum and run the program, its like you forgot to put home base out on the field. DEFINE the win. Do children’s ministry leaders PLAN on kids succeeding as they plan for the weekend? Put home plate on the field. I believe God is honored by that! Simple lessons (less is more) with strategy for a child to know and grow in their relationship with God is the plan. Partnered with parents and volunteers saying the same thing translates to a home run. A score. And as we say here in baseball heaven- “that’s a winner!“
Mix it up!
Traditional vs. contemporary.
Sunday school vs. Children’s Church.
Biblical content vs. Biblical application.
How many times have these topics been debated?
God has been dealing with the collision of tradition vs. real issues of the heart way back to Adam and Eve. The Old Testament is just that. It is a testament filled with applications on why the Law wouldn’t work. We were separated. We couldn’t do anything to approach God and find our way to Him. But, oh how we tried. (one of my favorite fake outs was the furry arm trick and stew… like God wouldn’t notice THAT).
Then, God sends Jesus (Himself clothed as a human), to mix it up. People didn’t know how to handle that! Everywhere He went Jesus mixed it up. They referred to him as Rabbi (teacher). At twelve He taught in the temple. He followed the Jewish law of his parents. Pretty impressive! Quite the credentials. Tradition!
But then Jesus would go and mix it up by using everyday things to teach followers, and hang out with average people who weren’t the religious types and produce grateful heart changed people . Mud, spit and trees and fish. All of these were practical, tangible things used to demonstrate the power of His Word. Not very religious of Him. But there was wonder in that! There was discovery. There was passion. It all pointed to the Father and His heart of love and mercy. And He was the fulfillment of the old and new.
People who were around him were changed. He was the LIVING Word in action. People wanted to follow that relationship rather than just the rules. Jesus was able to cast light on traditions. He then pointed out that THE most important part of all of it all was LOVE. His command to us rings true to us who minister to kids and families: go tell them. Mix it up. Contemporary. Mix it up. Traditional. But LOVE has to lead it all.
In conclusion, one of my favorite Andy Stanly quotes is:
“”Engage culture so as to present that which is EVER changing to that which NEVER changes.”
You don’t compromise the Message, rather you do whatever is possible -with excellence– to engage and present the Message to a dying world. Jesus did. Mix it up.
Children’s leaders prepare! What about the end of 2010? Have you planned for it? Part of achieving success in any venture is to know what success will look like. An example of this SOME people desiring to get back into their skinny jeans after the holidays have found it motivational to post a picture where they can see what they looked like before those Christmas cookies. There is a target. No target- no bulls eye people!
My favorite biblical example of how helpful it is to see the END at the beginning was Abraham. God showed up and changed his name to father of many, yet he had no children. To keep him looking ahead, God told Abe to look at the stars. The stars equated to number of descendants God said Abraham would have. Even his new name meant what the future held. Wonder how many times he had to make himself just go outside and look up. It must have been many, many times. But each time he viewed the promise by looking up, God was saying no matter what was going on…plan for the end in mind- and plan for a win!
Kids ministry can be overwhelming. You can be a victim of a church calendar. It can feel like juggling plates- just keep ’em going. I challenge you to BE a person of action this year and stop spinning plates by planning on what you want the ministry you oversee to look like by the END of this year. Plan BIG. Plan for excellence. Plan a big STRETCH. Plan SO big that by the end of 2010 you will be able to look back and see how faithful God was in His plans. Lead up. Look at the stars.
The lyrics are haunting me. “I’m gonna swan dive baby, right into the irresistible future.” I think about lyrics through the eyes of ministry. Kinda weird, but I do! In 2010 I am confident churches that will take steps to become more engaged in strategy rather than just offering a childrens ministry. Kudos for even baby steps! BUT, the churches that swan dives, with undying passion to see kids and families reconnect with a plan in place? Wow! Those who are emphasizing shared experiences in spiritual growth? Look out! Those churches will grow. More than that, they will abound! Why? Because God has a plan. And that plan has never been random. It has been well thought out- with an end in mind, (and a real good one, I might add.) If you teach in silo’d uncreative methods in your ministry area in 2010, you will get what you have always gotten.
An alternative idea? Swan dive. Swan dive with me into the future of 2010 with a new strategy of engaging kids and families. Start by reading Think Orange by Reggie Joiner. Better yet, swan dive and have your church staff read! Happy New Year!
So I received a Christmas card today. Not an unusual occurrence for this time of year. When I opened it there was a stuck on return address label where the signature goes. Really? I felt someone had “checked me off on the list” of cards to get out. Didn’t really “feel the love” from the sender. I know- intentions were good. Seems like a convenient way to crank ’em out and count it as done. But strange, it makes me think about ministry!?! How many things in Children’s Ministry do you check off to “get r done?” I hope that programming and curriculum decisions are never made that way. I’ve been there. Check it off the list of to do’s. Never mind it’s just not life giving to kids- its the Bible, right? Wrong. That’s why I love the curriculum I represent. It is an entire month centered around ONE virtue that comes from so many creative angles to present it in a life giving way. It’s part of the strategy of ORANGE. No “get r done” mentality, but targeted programming that sets everyone up for a win. Kids, volunteers, parents ALL “feel the love” It feels sincere to teach less for more. Think BIG in 2010!
( Great Christmas read for you… THINK ORANGE by Reggie Joiner. Carve out some time,curl up by the fire and read!)