In the fall of 2006 I reached a breaking point. I was last person to admit I could no longer handle being a full time pastor, a full time “kidologist” (whatever that is!) – run a non-profit ministry while writing, speaking, training, etc. and be a husband and then over-night I became a father. Six months later I snapped. That is over-simplifying the breakage that took place – but this is a public blog. But the Sunday after I resigned my pastorate and canceled all my speaking engagements and headed into what would be two years of healing and rebuilding my life from the inside out – I went to a board member and friends church ready to soak in instead of put out.
As though a conspiracy against my heart, the sermon series was tited “Out of Control.” Go figure. Who told them I was coming?
On the stage was a giant TV Remote control. Each button related to a sermon. Here is a QUICK overview getting to the point of this post:
Stop - Sabbath: Me? Guilty.
Fast Forward – Vision, living with the future in mind. Me? Oh, boy. I had that button stuck. All I used to talk about was Vision! I’m all about Vision, which is good, Great even! But I failed to live in TODAY. Guilty.
Reverse – Dealing with the past. Luckily, I got a break that week. This sermon dealt with dealing with childhood wounds and I had a wonderful childhood, and I really don’t have baggage there, so I was received. It was a good message, but I enjoyed a week of not feeling beat up.
Pause - Reflection – stopping to reflect on how is your walk with God is TODAY, your marriage, your relationship with kids, friends, etc. I was always about where I was going – I needed to plan periods to stop and ask, how are things right now? Guilty.
But the one that got me the worst – and that I didn’t see coming, and the point of this post, and the reason I am heading to Yosemite this week, and why my post says “Thank you Pastor Jeff Griffin” -
WAS PLAY: RECREATION. I totally did not see this one coming!
Pastor Jeff defined recreation as RE-CREATION. That which re-creates you.
Let me explain.
Up to that point, I had always said,
“I am so blessed that my occupation, my vocation and my recreation are all the same: children’s ministry!”
I couldn’t have been more wrong!
I mistook FUN for re-creation. It IS TRUE that children’s ministry is FUN – there is no more fun and enjoyable ministry than working with kids – but it doesn’t re-create me, it DRAINS ME! And I had been being drained for fifteen years.
This may come as a shocker to many who know me, but I am an introvert.
WHAT?!?!? But I am a public speaker and love to entertain and make people laugh and am comfortable in the spotlight. Yes, that is where my gifts and talents are – but I recharge and refresh and renewalone.
HERE’S THE POINT:
That Sunday Pastor Jeff challenged us to intentionally plan a way to be re-created explaining that this is the true nature of recreation. I leaned over to my wife, almost sarcastically, because at that moment, I thought his challenge was IMPOSSIBLE, and I said, almost bitterly, as I was so empty and drained and exhausted and hurt and in pain and said,
“The only way I could be re-created would be to go to Yosemite alone for several days with just my camera and worship music and be alone with God.”
Granted, in September 2006, I was in no place to do such a thing – but the seed was born and the idea took root and would not go away. A year later I got the courage to ask my wife seriously if she would let me pursue this dream, and she said if I would go with some other men. (She feared me falling off a cliff for the sake of a picture!) I also had shared with her that I knew I couldn’t be the only children’s pastor who needed this!
As a result, Yosemite Summit was born. Me and eight men have since gone twice. You can read and view pictures and video of the Summit of 2008 and 2009. If you need this event and can not afford it, a 100% scholarship has been given for this year.
But today, over four years after I heard that sermon, my dream of going alone for several days to Yosemite for a one on one with God in Yosemite is coming true.
I want to thank Pastor Jeff for that sermon. I also want to thank him for taking time with me for several meals and meeting during those two years of healing in Illinois. His grace, love, advice and belief in me was healing.
Some see me as some children’s ministry blogger or ‘guru’ or expert. Some have called me a ‘giant’ of children’s ministry – those words scare me. My other website may be giant, but I’m no giant. I’m a little man with huge flaws and I thank God for men like Pastor Jeff who saw only the man and who saw none the stuff around me and cared less about my ministry, and more about me and loved me into a new place of health and vitality that has equipped me for the next phase of life and serving God with new energy and perspective that is free from the old drive that while accomplished a lot, about killed me and my marriage.
I finally understand what it truly means to be dead to self, and alive in Christ.
Thanks Jeff – I’m in Yosemite this week, hangin’ with God because of you!
It’s hard to believe, but my little boy that entered my life rather suddenly four years ago, is now a little man.
It was a very special birthday – as we had both sets of grand parents in town. My dad and his wife live in Colorado, and Sara’s parents flew in from California for this special event and to visit for a few weeks.
We took advantage of this unique opportunity and went to a photo studio to get nice photos taken of each of the grandparents with Luke, as well as some shots of mommy and daddy with our little boy.
Lukey was an absolutely sweet heart the entire time and we got some wonderful pictures.
Here is Luke with my dad and his wife Patty…
Luke with Sara’s parents, PJ and Dave…
Here is Luke with all his Grandparents!
I can’t believe Luke is four! Here is the post when we first got luke, looking at those pictures brings back so many memories. When I ask Luke what happened to my “baby Luke” he answers, “He grew up!”
Four is an amazing age! It is the age I asked Jesus in my heart. It is also the age at which I have the earliest memories! So it is an awesome realization that I now begin creating memories for Luke that he might remember his entire life! It is a big part of why I moved to Colorado, I want him to remember mountains and the adventures we will start to have living here.
Obviously, his ability to talk and play and interact is incredible now and growing daily! I am so looking forward to his fourth year!
I have had this framed poster hanging in my home or office for over TEN YEARS (I think much longer!) and have offered a cash reward for years to whoever was the first to “find the identical pen men” if only to solve it for me! I have starred at it and wasted much of my life wondering if it wasn’t a cruel joke.
And then tonight, I SOLVED IT!
I have used all kinds of systems. I have had post-it notes on it, going row by row. I have made photo copies and cut it up and tried sorting it. But I never finished any system. Then here, in my new house in Colorado, I hung it up in the restroom in the new Kidology office thinking there I might have more time to devote to this evil poster. (I know, TMI!) And today, I was in there patiently dealing with one of my Colorado bloody noses (I get those a lot here, part of my adapting to the altitude, and since I’m on blood thinning meds due to my heart episode, they take longer to stop… yeah, more TMI!) I was looking at this infernal poster and tried a new strategy…
If I was the artist, where would I put the two identical pen men?
and suddenly, I SAW THEM! Seriously! All these years of starring, and systems, and going row by row, and all I had to do was get into the mind of the artist, and WA-LA! I solved it!
So…. can YOU find the two identical Pen Men? You can click on the photo for a larger view. Don’t put the answer in the comments (moron) but send me the answer (row and number from the left) via e-mail me or private message via FB or DM via twitter and the first person to tell me I will mail you a prize! Seriously, I will! I PROMISE, and it will be a GOOD PRIZE! I’m very generous.
UPDATE: Congratulations to Justin Brooks! Many tried, but he is the only person to send the correct answer, so he got his choice of a prize and chose a free copy of the Kidology Handbook! (A $60 value!) and it is IN THE MAIL!
What is the Kidology Handbook? CLICK THIS TO FIND OUT:
It’s the craziest video I ever made! The “back story” is I spent all day on a promo video that I had to trash because of a table saw in the background that I didn’t hear until I went to edit! My webmaster left on vacation with the Kidology newsletter already cued and ready to go with a file name where I was to upload a video! So I had to head back to the Kidology headquarter after midnight to film… late, tired, wired on Dew, and desperate for a promo video… and this was the result! Turned out to be one of the best promo videos I’ve ever done. Last minute wackiness at its best! Order a Kidology Handbook Today. And just for reading this far, use the coupon code ‘penmen’ get $5 off your order, never expires! How’s that oh faithful blog readers! (Will work only on the handbook, once per e-mail address.)
TONIGHT AT 7pm Eastern you can watch (Live via U-Stream) the LAST $1000 BEING RAISED FOR LEUKEMIA RESEARCH!
A Kid Making a Difference
Cam is the son of a woman I met at CPC last week:
Heather and Me @ CPC Nashville 2010
I first ‘met’ Heather when she e-mailed me via Kidology.org and told me about the amazing and moving testimony on YouTube by her pastor’s 19 year old son just ten days before he died of lymphoblastic leukemia last August. He died on Wednesday and her team needed to lead VBS in the midst of their grief knowing that Ben, who had once been a prominent leader at such events, was now with Jesus. His story is both sad and yet moving and wonderful at the same time. I was moved to tears hearing of how it has impacted their church and was delighted to meet Heather after one of my workshops.
I then got to hear about the “Ben Ripple” – how Ben’s life and testimony has been impacting the children since he died, including Heather’s son, who announced to her recently that he would be hosting a concert to help others survive what took Ben’s life.
Why did I title this post “The Last $1000 Needed for Leukemia Research” ? When Cam was at the Canadian Cancer Society setting up his event so they could accept donations, he said to them “Wouldn’t it be awesome if this were the last $1,000 that needed to be raised for leukemia research?” I love the faith of children! I think it would be AWESOME if it was the last $1000 needed!
Cam at the Keyboards Practising
I was so moved by this boys desire to make a difference and I was disappointed I couldn’t be there for the concert, so I gently pushed Heather to live web-stream the event and guess what, she is doing it!
So let me encourage you to DONATE, even a little. Here’s the scoop:
If Cam raises $1500, his dad has to shave his head! I don’t think his dad was counting on a guy with a highly read blog helping his son, so let’s make sure his dad goes bald folks!
And, if you want to bless them a little more, drop in for the concert, as you’ll be able to chat during the concert too. I’ll be there, so let’s encourage this young boy.
I’ve always said, kids don’t yet believe they can’t make a difference – so we need to encourage them!
UPDATE: The event is over, here is a video hightlight, enjoy, it only 50 seconds:
I’ve been working on writing DiscipleTown Table Talkers all day, for the fifth unit due to come out soon, and one of my favorite parts of this curriculum is the Table Talker family devotional component.
So I thought I’d put a sample on my blog to give my blog readers a “taste” of a family devotional that will be part of the next DiscipleTown unit. Each devotional has an easy “Let’s Play” component that gets families playing together with no complicated preparation – just something they can do with stuff usually right at the table, tho this one uniquely has them using the whole house due to the lesson point. Then there is a “Let’s Talk” discussion question to get every member of the family talking – but it is a targeted question that is setting them up for the topic. Next they are in the Word with “Let’s Read” followed by a short devotional “Let’s Think” that helps guide a parent on a spiritual discussion. But it doesn’t stop there. I always end with a “Let’s Do” practical application. Most are just a verbal application, but one of the three will be an assignment that can impact the family in a practical way, but I’m careful to balance them so that they don’t get overwhelmed. I want them coming back for more.
Well, with no further a-do, here is a sample – pre-edited by DiscipleLand, soon to be a part of DiscipleTown: How To Follow God’s Plan
Choose someone to start as the “seeker.” Give every person five pennies. Everyone else will go hide somewhere else in the house. When the seeker finds someone, they have to give the seeker a penny. The person they find becomes the new seeker and goes to find someone else. The old seeker now hides. Every time a person is found they have to give the seeker a penny and they become the new seeker and the old seeker gets to hide again once the new seeker is out of sight. If a player runs out of pennies, they become a seeker in order to get more pennies! The object of the game is get as many pennies as possible. A parent determines when time is up.
What is the best reward or prize you have ever received?
Read Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Which did you like better? Hiding or seeking? Are you a better hider or seeker? Do you think God is a hider or seeker? (Take some time to discuss this!) It may depend on whether you are seeking Him or not. But this verse tells us that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him. What do you think it means to earnestly seek God? What does that look like? How do you think He rewards people who seek Him? Would you say that you have earnestly sought Him? If not, what would it take for you to do so? What would need to change? What is holding you back? What do you think would need to change in your life? What can you image God might do in your life as a result if you did? It is kind of exciting to image what it might look like if you truly did earnest seek God. Go for it, I dare you!
Think of one thing you could do to earnestly seek God this next week as family or as an individual. Share it with each other and then check up on each other!
For this year’s CPC Report, I’m going to do a series of reports, and this first one will feature some of the COOL DUDES of CPC! And of course, it is not an exclusive list! (Sorry if you got left off!) Next will be the GROOVY GIRLS of CPC and I’m sure it will be easier on the eyes, but I’ll start with the guys since their my best buds!
One of the neatest things about CPC is the friends you make over the years as we minister together!
So here it goes:
Me and Jack Daniels. OK, we are exactly buds, but he was the only guy around the night I arrived, so we hung out the first night while I worked on my lap top to get some last minute work done for my workshops. I promise I only had root beer!
Byron Ragains from David C. Cook was the first friendly face I ran into. I’ve known this CM Dude since I was a green thumb back at Moody Memorial Church in Chicago back in the early 90′s. Byron is enthusiasm on steroids and a constant encourager of everyone he meets. But of course he is – he roots for the Cubs, he is well trained in rooting even for losers! How much easier to cheer on CM folks!! All kidding aside, I always tell people Byron is one of those people you meet him once and you feel like you’ve been his friend forever.
Greg Baird has been the chidren’s pastor for some household name senior pastors – but that isn’t what makes him so appreciated – it is his humble desire to help everyone who crosses his path. I’ve been lucky enough to have him as a trainer for Kidology and even luckier to have sat under his training when I was starting out. He has most recently joined the staff at Kidz at Heart.
Steve Foster of Seeker Communications is more than just a familiar face at CPC events. He has been a friend long before I was ever a customer, which I eventually did become. Waaaaaaay back in the mid 90′s I shared a rental car bus with Steve and struck up a conversation with Steve and we’ve been friends ever since. Years later when we needed pagers, I was happy to find they did indeed have the best pagers for the best prices and was able to give him my churches business too! (As should you!)
It was great to finally meet Andy Johnson of Free CM Stuff.com in person! Here’s a guy who shares my heart for equipping and encouraging others in children’s ministry and spends hours a week finding ways to resource and help others to prove it!
Brian Dollar is the man behind High Voltage . I’ve not only only teased him about his name on my blog , on twitter, and on my podcast but at CPC every time I saw him, I offered him a dollar so I could say “I was giving Brian Dollar a dollar.” Well, he finally took my dollar and that brought an end to that!” He’s a great guy, though, and he produces some amazing CM resources all available on Kidology.org and the price won’t shock you!
Doncha just love that tie? This guy is a GENIUS! He creates some amazing resources that I hope we will be getting on Kidology.org. They are visual teaching tools where you write these words that transform into another word when you read them upside down or sideways or standing on your head or in a mirror. Check ‘em out on his website: CrazyTieGuy.com His son will be featured in an upcoming report: The Babies of CPC
Few know that Dale VonSeggen, founder of One Way Street, played a major role in starting CPC back in the early 80′s – but is such a humble guy he’d never tell you that himself. He’s just one of those guys who makes things happen for the Kingdom in children’s ministry with no regard for the spotlight, which is why he is one of my heroes.
Pay no attention to that red character over my shoulder! But the guy next to him, is Todd Liebenow, the new president of One Way Street, who went from employee to owner a few years ago. Now he’s got his hands in the business, so to speak.
I met Chad Miller when I was speaking at the Cove for the Billy Graham School of Evangelism a few years ago. Chad was assigned to me as my “ambassador.” Basically, just to help me with whatever I needed, and boy did I need it, since I came with a foot injury having just fallen off a boat on Labor Day and was hobbling around with a Moses-like staff hardly able to walk! If you ever meet Chad, you HAVE to ask to hear his Billy Graham impersonation – it is SPOT ON!
Roger Fields, of Kidz Blitz, holds a special place in my CPC memories – as he was my FIRST CPC workshop presenter I heard when I was a first time attender! He radically challenged my thinking and to this day many of my radical ideas in children’s ministry came from this cool dude! (Like not accepting any volunteers – “we’ll approach you”) We’ve had him at our Kidology conferences and love him because this guy is always rockin’the boat in children’s ministry – literally! I’ve since been on his Children’s Ministry Conference Cruise, and next July Kidology will be at his Children’s Ministry Expo! Will you?
Sorry the pic is so dark, but CPC is a great place for reunions. What a treat to run into Dave Ruckel, one of my Summiteers – a title I give to an elite group of guys who have been to Yosemite Summit with me. So far, only 15 guy have the honor of that title, and with only four spots left for 2010, you’d better sign up ASAP if you’d like to join this small group of guys who have experienced one of the most incredible life experiences in children’s ministry. Check it out at www.yosemitesummit.org
And who doesn’t know Mike? The man who has “Elevated” children’s church for countless churches? And rumor has it, he has the coolest office in children’s ministry – though I’ve not seen a picture myself, I just heard that via Twitter. I’d like to have one e-mailed to me! Mike is from Fellowship Church and has raised the bar for children’s church curriculum across the board. Gone is cheesy children’s church curriculum. I credit Mike with challenging every curriculum creator everywhere (including me!) to step it up a notch!
I’ve known Ryan Frank longer than most of you reading this. In fact, he was helping me on Kidology long before Kidz Matter or K! Magazine, so I feel a bit of pride seeing all the awesome stuff he is up to today. Ryan was my right hand man at Kidology at one time before God called him to launch his own ministry, and you can still see his name on posts all over my site. He’s an awesome networker and collaborator in children’s ministry – I have no idea how he does it all, but I’m impressed!
Here I am with a couple of giants of children’s ministry! It was fun to meet the different folks who would drop by to say hello and hear the different ways that they have appreciated either Kidology.org or DiscipleTown. I deal with e-mails and forum IDs all year long, and it is so nice at CPC to finally get to put some faces to those electronic identities!
I was so glad to learn that Hester Drew from UW Sports Ministry lives in Colorado, which means that I no longer will have to wait until CPCs to hang out with this cool dude! If you are looking for a sports ministry that comes to your church and does all the work for you (well, most of it anyway) you NEED to check them out! I used them in my last ministry and they were fantastic!
This is the only dude I don’t know personally, but hey, you gotta pose with Bible Man!
If you haven’t seen my Ronnie Video on YouTube, what are you waiting for? Ronnie’s been a staple of children’s ministry for years, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still cutting edge! I love his music and his heart for reaching kids. During some tough times in life, he has been a good friend I’ve been able to call on. And that’s worth a million bucks.
I always wonder what new friends I’ll make at CPC and this year one of them was Andrew from Concordia VBS. (ConcordiaVBS on Twitter)
Another Tweeter I got to get to know in person both at CPC and later at the airport was Dean Butterfield. I tweeted several “guess who” tweets, and he won by guessing the most correctly!
Greg Sanford is not only a regular CPCer and Kidology groupie, but I learned at our gathering, has a rather unique claim to Kidology fame… he is the mysterious “Hose Head” in this Kidology Post. Though, he doesn’t even know who submitted the picture, since he didn’t submit the game!
Before the Kidology Gathering, I met this boy (and his mom). He told me that when he grows up he wants to be either a pastor or a zoo keeper. I informed him that if he becomes a children’s pastor, then he automatically is both! Since his last name is “Best” I also let him know, that he will be the Best children’s pastor!
Last, but not least, my favorite Cool Dude of CPC, had to be Caden Laflin! It has hard not to just bring him home with me! Luke could use a little brother after all.
I was reading a discussion over on the Kidology.org forums about how to teach to a wide age range and there were some comments suggesting different age ranges to aim for. Some were suggesting “aiming for the middle” or “targeting the older kids” so as not to bore them, whereas others thought it better to teach to the younger ones so as not to lose them.
I’d like to suggest a different approach after having taught over 1,000 children’s church services to first through sixth graders for over fifteen years. It’s a rather simple suggestion: AIM FOR EVERYONE!
The key in a large group with a large age range is to shift your focus constantly. The secret is to be highly visual and to be physically moving and animated to keep the younger ones tracking with you (don’t stand still and never sit, meaning you the teacher) and use humor constantly to keep a connection with your audience.
Think about it: Senior pastors preach to a wide audience range of age and intelligence and education and world view and learning styles and they can do it! They don’t break their audience into groups! How do they do it? It isn’t through the content or aiming for a specific part of the congregation! They don’t decide, “well, I’ll just aim for the intellectuals.” or “I’ll just target the simpletons.” No!
It is through THEM and their delivery. YOU can do the same! When you work on your delivery and becoming a vibrant communicator you can communicate effectively to young and old kids at the same time! When you speak loudly and enthusiastically and creatively you can capture the attention of a group of kids no matter what the age. I’m telling you, you CAN capture the eyes, minds and hearts of kindergarten through sixth grade all in one room! No, it isn’t the ideal educational model, but when it is all you can do, it CAN be done very well. Sometimes it is the only model available to you during the service time. So don’t fret, work on your delivery and style, and be upbeat and confident and animated and funny and sincere and visual and pacing and creative and use big gestures and props and humor and stories and jokes and LOVE what you do, and the kids will be on the edge of their seats, and learning, at any age!
All that to say – I don’t target one age – I target EVERY AGE in the room constantly! I’ll even say, “for you little guys, that means…” if I need to. And I won’t hesitate yo define a word in the original Hebrew for the big kids! But the key is YOU and your delivery – be animated, creative, visual, funny when you can, serious when it matters, walk out among the kids for emphasis and keep it moving.
And do check out DiscipleTown, you will find it packed with creative and fun ideas and a visual PowerPoint to back you up. You can do it!
WEDNESDAY EVENING (9:30 p.m. – midnight) We’ll be meeting during and after the “Let’s Make A Deal” event and concert. Our meeting place will be meeting in the seating area across from Christie Cookies where the Garden Conservatory meets Magnolia. It’s #9 on your map. There is a small place to buy snacks/drinks. If you were coming from the front registration, it’s at the end of the long walkway through the Garden Conservatory that ramps down into the shopping area on your way to the Resource Area. Easy to find! We’ve gone past midnight in the past – so come when you can, leave when you must. The fellowship is always nice. I’ll be givin’ away some free Kidology Handbooks for some Kidology trivia winners!
I will be teaching two workshops and I would love to meet you at the workshops. If you are not at CPC, I plan to record them and post an MP3 and PDF of my notes as long as the recording turns out OK.
Jan. 5th, 8amTwitter My Facebook (Room: Jackson AB)
Jan. 6th, 8am Making Your Disciple Problems Disappear (Jackson EF)
It seems like just yesterday I was blogging about how I hoped 2009 would be better. And here it is 2010! Aren’t we supposed to riding around on hover boards and beaming from place to place by now? I read that post, and instead of writing a post about my New Year’s Resolutions, I think I can just say “ditto” to that post!
But I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that an entire year has passed by when I reflect on all that I accomplished in 2009 – it’s actually quite an astonishing list – no wonder I am so exhausted!
And I wonder why I’m feeling exhausted?! No wonder I wasn’t ready for 2010 to arrive! I usually spend the last week of the year doing evaluation of the year just past and planning for the year to come, but I had some projects culminating and family visiting and am writing at CPC in Nashville (which I really don’t like being right after the new year) so I missed out on my week of margin for reflection and I can really feel it. Just reviewing my blog and making that list above has been very encouraging and eye-opening. For now – I need to survive this week at CPC – finish a few deadlines that still loom over me, and then do the planning and reflecting I wanted to do last week.
I’m excited that 2009 is behind me, and have NO desire to see 2010 “top” last year. In fact, you know what I am MOST excited about in 2010? Starting a guys hiking group here in Colorado for children’s pastors! Yup, I’m calling it “The Fellowship of the King.” (I know it’s corny, but I do like to hike to LOTR music.) I’ve been collecting a list of guys in Colorado, friends and soon-to-be friends via facebook ad twitter, and I’m going to be inviting them to join me hiking around this beautiful state to spend time away from ministry and with God. One thing I learned from Yosemite Summit was that once a year just isn’t often enough to disconnect from normal life and connect with God out in nature with others who share your passions in life. Most of them already know about this and are just waiting for info on the first hike – if you live in Colorado and are a guy – let me know, and I will add you to the list! (No, you do not have to be a children’s pastor or even in ministry to be included. But you may have to endure some worship music, prayer and spiritual conversation if you are not a Christian.)
I am personally convinced that one person can be a change catalyst, a “transformer” in any situation, any organization. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a transforming leader.
~ Stephen R. Covey