I received a Facebook message today from a children’s pastor with an interesting question. His church was encouraging him to pursue a seminary degree, but he wasn’t convinced it was necessary. As he looked over the landscape of ‘successful’ children’s ministry professionals, he saw many (including me) whom he didn’t think had seminary degrees, and that didn’t seem to hinder their success in ministry. I won’t list those he mentioned, because he was wrong in assuming that I don’t have a degree, and I wouldn’t want to make the same mistake by stating publicly that someone else doesn’t have a degree if indeed they do.
Me and My Degree (and the Dew that got me through!)
The point is that this children’s pastor poses a great question. I wanted to share here some of what I shared with him, in case others are wrestling with that difficult decision.
Getting a degree is difficult when you are in full-time ministry! As one who has pursued my education while in ministry, I know it is very hard but also extremely valuable. I saw how disconnected the academic work could be from the practical side of ministry, and yet the biblical foundation was essential and critical. Too many pastors desperately need it. If a good school is not near your church, one good option is an online school such as Children’s Ministry University Online, www.cmuo.com, where I have served on the faculty. I only stepped down from my role there when my plate got too full.
As I said to this children’s pastor, yes, it is true that a lot of people you see with ‘success’ have done so without a degree. But if your church is encouraging you to pursue your degree (as did one of mine), and if they are willing to help FUND that pursuit (as did mine), I would take advantage of that! When I started my Master’s degree, I did not see the value of it as much as I do now. I was receiving invitations to speak places and starting to be a published author, and I thought, “Why do I need a degree?” (I was in my 20′s.) But by the time I had earned my degree, I was hearing more and more, “Why should we listen to this guy?” They started asking about my credentials, and the older I get the more they look at my degrees, especially when I am asked to speak on college campuses – suddenly a degree is very important!
Bottom line: Do you NEED a degree to succeed? No. You’ve seen that you need only to follow God’s calling. But if you have the opportunity for a degree, you should jump at it. It will be hard work, but it will enrich you. It will open more doors and gain more respect for you, as well as higher salaries in the long run and an edge over other candidates when applying for jobs, etc.
To have a church encouraging you to further your education is a blessing. I’d do it with gratitude, especially if they are willing to free up some time and provide some financial support to do it. What a great opportunity to invest in yourself as a person and as a minister. I say go for it! No one who got a higher education ever regretted it, and many who did not DID regret it.
What are your thoughts on the subject of ministry and education?
NOTE: Be sure to take the Education Poll related to this post in the Kidologist Forum on Kidology.org
I’m always bummed when CPC is over. I’ve lost track of how many IN A ROW I’ve been to – but it’s over 30! Since 1995 I’ve not missed a single CPC at any location! So that’s at least 30, but for awhile there, they had 3 a year so its well over 30! It doesn’t matter whether I’m speaking, exhibiting or “just” attending, I’m there. CPC is THE place to be.
Don’t get me wrong – there are a LOT of other great conferences. I’m not knocking any of them! Go to them if you can. Each had a unique focus and purpose and I like the intimacy of small conferences. Some I still want to get to and have been unable to. But I don’t skip CPC to go to them. I go to them only if I can go in addition to CPC. But I’ll leave it at that, if you want all the reasons I attend CPC, read this post.
It was a great conference, and I’ll be posting more pictures in the weeks ahead, but tonight I just want to post the funnest moment. (Yes, I know that ‘funnest’ isn’t a word, but my parents gave up on convincing me of that years ago!)
While I was at the D6 booth, I saw they had this giant pillar of box as part of their display – and since I’m speaking at the D6 Conference this fall, I thought it would be cool to get a promo picture of myself inside the pillar of boxes… but HOW to get inside the pillar of boxes?
JUMP! (of course!) Watch this video to see if I make it in a single bound or crash in a pile of limbs and boxes! (This was originally intended as a twitter stunt, as you’ll hear me say on the video)
They gave me a A- for touching the boxes so I did it again later without touching the boxes, but someone else filmed, (INCM staff) when I get that footage, I’ll post it to prove it! (I was given an A+ that time!) LOL
Here I am trying to be more serious. Come to D6 people! D6 is focused on helping the church connect with the home to bring back the Deuteronomy 6 model in this fast paced modern era where we have allowed the church to do the parents job of raising spiritually mature children. It’s for church leaders of any age group, pastors, teachers, parents and anyone who wants to engage in the challenge. I hope to see you there!
I can not even begin to tell you how EXCITED I am to announce that the Great Adventure Cards ARE BACK on Kidology.org!
Created by our own board member and children’s pastor Dan Huffman, these amazing Bible trading cards are a wonderful way to get kids to participate at church. They are more than just Bible cards, they are a complete FUN Bible trading game! There are 25 sets of 80 cards with a variety of series, each is a Bible story, and each is a different number of cards, depending on the story. The artwork is very cool. Each card has a question and a Bible reference. The questions were carefully written so that they are hard enough that most kids (and adults!) aren’t going to “just know the answer” but easy enough that by looking up the answer they can find it in that one verse. The kids collect the cards by coming to church, bringing their Bible, a friend, participating, answering questions, etc. and when they complete a series, AND can answer all the questions (from reading their Bibles and working on them with Mom and Dad at home!) they give the series to a leader who quizes them, and then they get a prize. A hole is punched in the corner of the card so that they can keep the cards, and they can’t be used again (or traded with others) to be used again for a prize. I can tell you as a children’s pastor who used these in ministry – it is VERY EFFECTIVE in engaging kids and getting them to work hard at learning and participating. They haven’t been on Kidology.org for several years and we have had requests regularly for them to be back in print – and we are so excited to be able to offer them once again through the birth of a brand new ministry called Tadpole Tales, view all their exciting new resources on Kidology!
The Kidology Gathering was a great time of fellowship! Thank you to everyone who dropped by! It is always nice to put faces with e-mails, see old friends and meeting new folks. It was also nice of the restaurant to unlock the doors for us, since starting this year they closed early!
Probably the greatest moment was when Barney Kinard got to meet the mother of a child he led to Christ over 16 years ago and she gave him a big hug and a thank you in the center of the circle! What a reminder that we never know when we will get to see or hear about the fruit of our efforts!
BACK TO ORIGINAL POST!
Well, I have arrived in Sunny Southern California! And am ready for CPC 2010 San Diego! After LIVE TWEETING from CPC Nashville, INCM has given me an All Access Pass here in San Diego so I can expand my coverage here in San Diego to include General Sessions, so if you were not able to come to CPC this year, be sure to follow me on Twitter so you can get even more inside access to the happenings here at CPC 2010!
HOW TO FOLLOW TWITTER: You do not need to sign up for Twitter to follow my updates! If you do, you can choose to turn on Mobile Updates* just for this week to get my tweets as texts just during CPC, but if you don’t want to do that, then just make http://www.twitter.com/kidologist your home page Sunday through Wednesday! (*Only do this if you have an unlimited text plan!)
IF YOU ARE AT CPC, BE SURE TO JOIN US MONDAY EVENING AFTER THE EXHIBIT HALL CLOSES FOR SOME FOOD AND FELLOWSHIP. ITS ALWAYS A GOOD TIME.
This is always a highlight of CPC for me. I get to meet some of you, hear about your ministry, and put some faces with e-mail addresses or forum IDs! There is no agenda other than some warm fellowship. It starts around 9:30 p.m. and just ends whenever it winds down. Come when you can, leave when you must. But I’ll probably be there until midnight, so if you are around anytime through then, drop on by!
I hope to meet several of you there!
Here are the workshops I’m doing as well as when and where. I also make my handouts available to Basic (free) members of Kidology.org for two weeks after CPC.
I’m doing the final editing for the next DiscipleTown unit, “How to Make Good Choices” due out March 15th. Hard to believe I’ve written six of these! (and that I have 18 more to go!) I always marvel how each and every unit convicts me and how each unit seems to be exactly what I needed to review in my own walk with God and how much I enjoy developing a four week spiritual journey for children to explore as so that they can grow closer to Jesus and become better disciples.
Let me share one of my favorite elements from lesson three, it is a routine I use with my puppet, Gus. Of course, in the curriculum Gus’ name gets dropped (Sorry Gus!) so that teacher’s can replace him with their own puppet, I remember this routine fondly for both the humor and yet the poignant impact this routine has made many times on children. It’s a description, not a script, but you’ll get the idea:
Puppet has a black eye, a broken arm, and bandages all over his body. Leader asks what is wrong and says, “I hope you didn’t try to fight sin to the death like you were talking about last week!” Puppet says, “Oh, no. I did this all by myself.” Leader looks shocked, “You did this yourself? Were you in some kind of terrible accident?” Puppet says, “Oh, no. It wasn’t an accident. I did it on purpose.” Leader is even more shocked, “On purpose!? You did this on purpose? But why on earth would you do this on purpose?” Puppet looks sad and solemn. “Because I’m such a bad puppet. I needed to be punished.” Leader looks very concerned, “Punished? Punished for what?” Puppet continues, “Oh, I’m too embarrassed to tell you. But you said last week to turn to God and I’d stop sinning. Well, it didn’t work. I sinned again. And since I know better than to try and fight sin, I decided to beat myself up instead. I wanted to teach myself a lesson. God can’t have bad people on His team, you know. I’ve got to knock some sense into myself—beat myself into submission, you know. I tried to knock myself into the middle of next week. What is today’s date, by the way?” Leader is shocked and sad. “Oh, Puppet, you don’t need to beat yourself up. God will forgive you.” Puppet looks up, “Oh, I know He did, but not again and again.” Leader says, “Yes, again and again, and then again and again and again and again.” Puppet asks, “And then … again and again?” Leader smiles, “And then again and again.” Puppet says, “And then again?” Leader says, “And then again.” Puppet asks, “How many agains?” Leader says, “Until you’ve lost track.” Puppet says, “I already have.” Leader: “Then you still have more agains left over.” Puppet, looking more cheerful: “That’s a lot of agains!” Leader smiles: “As many as you need—that’s how much He loves you.”
Jesus sure has given me a lot of “agains” and I know I have a tendency to beat myself up to. I recently was with a good friend and brought up a sin I had committed in the past and this godly leader cut me off, looked me in the eye and said, “Do you believe in the cross?” I said “Of course,” and this person said, “then don’t ever mention your sin to me again. Just keep moving forward and serving the Lord.” Wow. That’s far as the East is from the West! We need more Christians like that, don’t we? We teach this stuff to our children, but sometimes its so hard to live and believe it for ourselves!
What are you beating yourself up for? What do you keep reminding yourself of?
Jesus has as many “agains” as we have sins. Need another “again?” He’s got one for ya!