Kidologist.com: Karl Bastian's Personal Site and Blog
Archive for April, 2010
Is life crazy busy for you? Have you tried to get it in balance and failed? Have you strived for margin and seen it fill up over and over with church and other stuff and fought to get it out again? Have you wondered, “Can I ever win this battle to get control of my life?!”
But at least something is different now. I have a built in pit stop in my life, called Yosemite Summit.
Every May, me and eight other children’s pastors (or ministry leaders) go to Yosemite National Park for a complete break-away from ministry to just fellowship with each other and focus on our relationship with God and our relationships with our wives and kids. And nothing else.
We WALK AWAY FROM IT ALL. I’ve had to accept that while I will always be working on it, I will never master getting my daily life or week under control. There is just too much to do all the time. But at least I can look forward to once a year, every year, when I walk away from it all for four glorious days when I just enjoy God’s incredible creation in THE most spectacular place on earth. (Seriously, it is!)
If you are stressed out and thinking you don’t have time for Yosemite Summit – than YOU are exactly who DOES NEED Yosemite Summit, and believe me, not only can you leave everything and it will be waiting for you when you get back – but you will be different when you return, and everything will be lighter when you pick it upon your return, for reasons I can’t explain until you join me there…. it’s kinda a secret until you arrive and experience what happens on this retreat.
There are only THREE SPOTS LEFT on Yosemite Summit 2010. I know the economy has been rough and many church budgets have been cut. I have to pay for these spots no matter what. So if you need a scholarship to attend this event, please contact me and let me know. I will personally assist you so you can join us. I want to see this event filled with eight children’s pastors who need this retreat. You have no excuse not to come – if you need Yosemite Summit – you need only step out in faith and register to attend.
Why not trust God and build this Spiritual Pit Stop into your busy life? Your family and your SOUL will thank you… and so will your Savior.
I’d like to ask a question for some honest reflection – and ask readers to be reflective, not defensive, because this is an issue that I have seen all over the country and was brought to my attention via an e-mail via facebook today. I have removed all personal information and name of church and some other details to protect both the person who sent it and the church they are talking about:
Overall we really like the children’s ministry at our church. One area of concern, though, is the music played before, during, and after the children’s large group time. Basically, it’s often rock or heavy dance music and it’s played REALLY loud. I’ve talked to the children’s staff a few times and they seem to think it’s fine.
This past Sunday I was helping out and a kid in my group was autistic – the music was really overpowering to him and later when I mentioned that to one of the kids’ staff, they said that special needs kids could wait in the hallway during singing if the music bothered them. What?? I was shocked. Why not just turn it down?
Anyway, I wondered if you have any thoughts about children’s ministries today wanting to be “cool” and “digital” and “relevant” at all costs – because that is the type of ministry our church is running. Attempts to talk to them are fruitless, because the gap between their viewpoint and ours is so wide. No progress is made.
And yet they consistently talk about how much they love kids and want to reach them for Jesus – but the words and deeds don’t seem to match up.
(reposted with permission)
I think this concerned parent has a very valid concern. How can we claim to love kids and be so indifferent to the needs of children? Why must music be so stinkin’ loud at church? I’m blessed with 50% hearing, but most kids are not. I’m often appalled at how loud music is played at some churches. Is that really necessary? Does God need it that loud to hear our worship? Wouldn’t he rather hear the kids voices anyway? (I’m having a little fun here!)
But seriously, I have been in many children’s ministry situations where the people on stage were so “into” their performance on stage they couldn’t even see children covering their ears and in many cases even crying in the front row! I’ve been a speaking at places where children were sitting outside because the music was PAINFUL to them, and the “rock star” worship leaders were oblivious that they were not connecting with the kids because they could only see the “sea” of kids moving and jumping – and could not see the individual kids who were hating it. And when I tried to talk to them about maybe playing “kid appropriate music” the answer was, “they love it.” One older Godly lady said (just to me), “Well, they’d love drugs too, but we don’t give them drugs.” That was a little harsh, but she had a point. Just because kids love something – isn’t an argument for doing it.
What do YOU think? Do you think we have gone too far in the rock n’ roll worship music? Have we lost the innocence of children’s music so they have nothing to look forward to as a teenager? Do you miss kids songs, the fun, the lyics, the motions, the silliness?
I can tell you, when I lead music with my guitar – I lead “old style” and the kids love it and often tell me they prefer it – and it is requested all the time over the big bands and and rock n roll, even though they “love” that too. And I have NO musical talent! I’m a 3 chord (D, A & G) guitar player! But I can jam and sing all the classics super fast and super sloooooow and silly and then worshipful and reverently. I don’t use CDs or a backup band, and the kids worship from their heart. But that’s just when I lead. I often delegate that and then my team has used CDs, and I’m not against that at all. I’m just asking about the volume and if you think sometimes it gets out of hand in some venues.
This email today, made me want to ask what you think??
Loved this story from the sermon this morning, so had to post it:
A man arrives at a little league game late and asks a boy in the dug out what the score is and he says, “Them 18, us zero.” The man says, “You must be discouraged?” The boy answers,
“Why would I be discouraged? We ain’t even been up to bat yet.”
That’s HOPE! Friends, no matter what you are going through, Jesus ain’t even been up to bat yet!
I’m excited to be heading to Canada in May for the Kid Builders children’s ministry conference in Ontario. It is looking to be a wonderful gathering of practical trainers bringing a wide variety hands-on skills for leaders and volunteers who are in the trends of ministry to children. If you are one of the many who have e-mailed us asking when the next Kid U is, this will have the feel of a Kidology University in the quality of speakers and desire to provide real help to children’s workers. I’m honored to be a part of this event.
(Download Fullsized Poster Here with COMPLETE DETAILS 3mb)
Here is how I will be serving:
Friday Evening, May 7th – Family event, open to the public! Come experience the humor, comedy and story telling of Karl Bastian live! Lions and Bears and Fire, OH MY! (The Power of Story why TODAY is the Best Day of Your Life!)
Saturday Morning, May 8th, General Session – Kidology 101 – Shooting Straws and Other HIgh Tech Ministry Techniques!
Saturday Afternoon, General Session – YOU! The Missing Piece in a Children’s Spiritual Puzzle
Saturday Eventing (Leaders Only) – Putting the “Pastor” Back into your Job Description
Sunday Morning Worship Service, May 9th (open to the public) Shepherding the Hearts of God’s Children
I hope that you will be able to join me and the other wonderful speakers that will be gathering a Kid Builders in May – it is shaping up to be a fantastic conference! Don’t miss this first annual event! There is just something exciting about having been at the first one. Years from now, you can say, “I was at the first one!”
CHECK OUT THE WEBSITE: www.kidbuilders.ca
Guest Blogger, Patrick McWhorter
Why go back to Yosemite? I prayed about the opportunity and tossed it around for a while. Would this year match the experience I had last year? Would it be better? Would it not be as good? There were so many reasons to go back and really no reason to not go.
The number one reason to go back – I know that I need the time away. I love what I do, don’t get me wrong. But throughout the year, the emotional stress can wear you out. The “normal” people issues that come up can wear on your soul, especially when the people are not just bodies in the congregation but are your friends, your family, your brothers and sisters in Christ. I know that I need the time away to leave the work of ministry behind, to leave the daily tasks behind, and to focus on ultimately what is most important, my own personal relationship with Christ.
Words cannot describe the feeling you have when you are 8,000+ feet up, looking over God’s awesome creation and it is just you, Him and His Word. God revealed things to me during the week at Yosemite that I was not expecting.
The time away last year allowed me to refocus my life and set my eyes on what was most important once again. I am looking forward to the time once again to refocus my life and to continue to grow as a child of God.
The opportunity to get with other guys from across the country and share life together was amazing. We all shared the common ground of children’s ministry but it was great to get to know each other, pray for each other, and encourage each other in our personal walks with Christ. I am looking forward to that fellowship again this year.
The cost was an issue that I had to weigh out. But when it came down to it, I could spend the money going to conferences getting new ideas for ministry or I could spend the money and take the time away I need to grow in Christ and re-energize my walk with Him.
I don’t know about you, but I have so many ideas that I don’t know what to do with them all. And the thing is, if I am pouring my energy into ministry and not taking care of my own relationship with Him, those new ideas are not going to take off anyway. Over the last couple years I have been doing what I can to do what I have always known, to put my relationship with God before my ministry. This is easier said than done, especially during the day to day things of life. Yosemite Summit is a great way to get away to leave the other things behind for a week and focus on what is most important.
Whether we realize it or not, we all need this time away with God. We fool ourselves into thinking that it is not a good time. We tell ourselves that we have too much going on. The things is, when don’t we as children’s pastors have too much going on? When are we just waiting around with nothing to do? There is always something to do!
There is never going to be the “best” time in our eyes to leave things behind. But as I came to the conclusion last year and this year, I need this time more than I need to hold the next event for the children. I need this time more than the next new activity or idea for the children’s ministry.
I realized that I needed to trust God and that He would provide the way to get things done that needed to get done – He would clear the path even if issues came up while at Yosemite. So with that said, I look forward to the discussions God and I will have on that mountain top. I look forward to the time with Him. I look forward to the continued strength from Him and how I will grow closer to Him that week. It will be an awesome week. Don’t miss it.
- Pat, April 2010
Learn more about this retreat at www.Yosemite Summit.org
Only four spots remain for 2010
What are a bunch of Christian’s doing hangin’ around the Devil’s backbone? As I mentioned awhile ago, I have started a guys hiking group here in Colorado, and a few weeks ago, we finally enjoyed our first hike. We explored the Devil’s Backbone up in Loveland, Colorado. Here are some pictures from the day.
(As always, you can click on any picture for a larger view)
Here I am at the entrance, it was a beautiful day!
Here is the Fellowship of the King on one of our stops!
The guys got along pretty well for the most part. (note the sign!)
“Devil’s Backbone” is the name of the rock formation that sticks up and runs through the center of this open space.
At one point, I climbed to the top and got a picture of my shadow…
And a picture through one of the holes in the formation. Cool, huh?
We hiked for about seven hours and nearly nine miles, but it was worth it.
At times the lighting was spectacular, even as clouds began to roll in…
I especially love when there are shadows of clouds on the hills…
Some lonely trees on a distant hill were neat to photograph as well…
We spent some time walking together and sharing what was going on in our lives and ministries, but we also split up and just spent some time alone with God enjoying the scenery and the solitude that an quiet open place like this provides away from people and phones and interruptions…
Sometimes taking the “road less traveled” is exactly the road you need to travel. I know that this day away came right in the midst of a bunch of impending deadlines for me. I actually didn’t “have the time” to take the this day away. But then, when do I truly ever have time to take a day away? Never.
That’s one of the lessons I’ve learned in life, the hard way, that it is precisely when you don’t think you have time to get away, that you need to get away. And you know what? All that stuff that you think can’t wait… it can. There are few things in life that can’t wait a day. In fact, everything can wait a day.
I’ve got a list now of about a dozen guys in the Denver area who are on my invite list for this “Fellowship of the King.” I know only a hand full will be able to make each hike, but that’s O.K. But I’m going to keep inviting them. Each time I can schedule a hike, those who can make it, will be my band of brothers who will join me as we hike and journey together and hang out with God and His amazing creation. I’m already excited about the next amazing hike!
If you aren’t in Colorado, let me encourage you to start something for ministry folks near you! It doesn’t have to be hiking. What refreshes you? But don’t make it “ministry.” And I’m not talking about starting a “ministry network.” I’m talking about getting away from work and talking about work, to just be with God and talk about life and family and what God’s doing in your heart and what on your mind.
That kind of thinking and reflecting just doesn’t happen in your office. You need to get away. You need to get where you can hear God and feel His presence. Where is that for you?
Find it! And go there regularly. God puts places to find Himself everywhere, if you look for them, they can be found, you just have to be looking.
Man, I wish I lived up in one of those homes on top of those cliffs! Those folks have got a view!
And if you are a guy and want to really get away, consider joining me on Yosemite Summit this may – it is the most spectacular place on the earth where God showed off His creative talents and where you will be awe struck at the things He made!
One of the guys e-mailed me this and said he thought perhaps he found the real “devil’s backbone!”
If you are a male ministry leader in Colorado and would like to know when the next Fellowship hike is, be sure to contact me and let me know so I can add you to the invite list!
From my article in CM Pro in February 2010: (the article, scratch that, the entire ISSUE is FREE for downloading below!)
There is an old saying that says, if you want to get a message across to a large group of people you must say it “seven times in seven ways.” When it comes to church ministry, there is no doubt this is a great principle to take into every planning meeting for any program or event. The chances are you know them all and have used them all. As you should, and should continue!
Rather, my aim is to change your thinking from “how can I better get information out” to “why aren’t they listening?” I bet those you are trying to reach have no problem knowing when their sports teams are playing and on what television channel, or where they need to drop off their kids for all their various non-church activities and at what time and at what theater the latest blockbuster movie will be playing. (Is the hair on the back of your neck rising?) Before you wring your hands and start complaining about how the church is such a low priority in the lives of Christians today, a more positive approach is to ask some honest questions of ourselves as leaders and proactively and creatively begin to think about how we can better attract people to what God has called us to do in His House. I contend that if what we are doing at church is truly valuable and important – people will look for the communication! Your job isn’t just to get the information out – it is to raise the bar and make church activities something they won’t want to miss out on!
But let’s take a step back, and look at some of the communication problems that plague the church. Perhaps our people are as frustrated with us, as we are with them! A proactive leader takes a look at him or herself instead of just blaming his audience. Some of these may be tough questions – but if you are willing to make an honest assessment and then make some changes as a result, you will see a marked improvement in the response to your communication efforts!
Are you a leader in children’s ministry? Do you subscribe to Children’s Ministry Professional Edition? If not, you are truly missing out!
But here is the GOOD NEWS! As a regular contributor to CM Pro, I get a print and electronic version and the good folks at Group have given me permission to give away or post copies at my discretion, and I am “discresing” to give you a FREE copy of the February 2010 issue on the condition that you read my article titled, “Speak! Your Audience Listens!” on communicating when no one is listening!
It is the 3rd in my 10 part series on Proactive Leadership that began with my November 2009 article.
DOWNLOAD HERE: CMPro-feb2010-KarlBastian-speak.pdf (754kb)
I love this publication so much, I asked Group for a discount for our members and they responded!
SUBSCRIBE ON KIDOLOGY and SAVE $15 OFF THE REGULAR PRICE!
If you follow me on twitter, you may have caught that I was not initially that excited about the iPad. Yes, I’m a Mac fanboy who even waited in line for an OS release and have done other silly Apple posts. After waiting in line to be one of the first to get an iPhone, and later reviewing it, and suffering through some of the early iPhone issues (even getting the $100 credit when they dropped the price!), I initially decided I would wait out the iPad rush.
My first evaluation was that this was a consumption device rather than a creative device, more for those who don’t already own a Mac and/or iPhone, and since I already have both, I saw no need for one. I liked the look and feel of it, but thought I had no need for one personally. I was in the “its just a giant iPod Touch” camp.
But I slowly caved for a number of reasons. First, I decided to get my wife one for her birthday (which was today) because I had given her aging laptop to a new employee last fall and it died and she needed something for around the house and travel for doing e-mail/calendar/facebook and basic computer tasks and the iPad seemed perfect: easier, faster, lighter and ideal for the mother of a four year old, especially around the house. Then came the realization that if she had one, I’d be playing with it all the time and she would be annoyed at me constantly for taking her iPad and that could lead to unhealthy marital tension, something worth avoiding at any cost. But the final straw came in the last two weeks as I came to the realization of just how much REAL WORK I actually do ON MY IPHONE! Seriously, I screen, respond and manage most of my e-mail on my iPhone, as well as basecamp (Kidology’s online project management solution), as well as many other things on my iPhone – all on a very small screen. It dawned on me that doing all this on a larger screen would be a dream.
Karl with his new iPad
Having only owned it for a few days, I could already describe just how incredible it is – but it would be all the same stuff you read everywhere else. Instead, let me share with you a unique story that happened today at lunch that shows the power of an iPad. We were out for Easter lunch at Texas Roadhouse. Since it was Sara’s birthday I told her she was not allowed to cook as she usually does on Easter Sunday, but was to pick a favorite restaurant to eat out. We were out enjoying our meal when a family walked up that I have not seen since childhood! He now has a wife and kids of his own, I had not seen Eliot since we were boys! As we were catching up on decades of having not seen each other, he asked what I do. How do I explain Kidology.org in a nutshell? Toyboxtales.com (to his kids?) and the various websites? DiscipleTown which I write and Children’s Ministry Magazine which I contribute to? etc. quickly and succinctly? I pulled out my iPad, turned on my Verizon MiFi wireless access card for Internet (explained below*) and was able to SHOW HIM Kidology.org and other websites with ease instantly.
In a point: I WOULD NOT DO THAT WITH A LAPTOP. Not even my awesome MacBook Air could have done that so quickly. I would have had to get it out, plug in my broadband card, open a browser, and it would have been clumsy and awkward compared to how it was with the iPad. Especially when you click on videos and they can instantly go full screen, and rotate the iPad horizonal and they rotate and go full screen to show full screen horizontally with beautiful sound. In a crowded restaurant, where I had only a few minutes, I was able to introduce an old friend to the my ministry on a super thin beautiful crystal clear and sharp bright screen they could pass around. That is powerful!
All the rest – the countless apps, the productivity on the go, the amount of potential I can carry with me is mind boggling. When I went to church, I had my Bible and notepad with me, inside the iPad. The Bible I bought in the iBooks store is incredible, the pages turn like a real book! No more paper notebooks! No more pen or paper! With my iPhone and iPad, its all I need to take with me around town or to meetings. On trips, I’ll still take my MacBook Air, as the iPad is NOT a laptop – but it can do a LOT.
WHICH BRINGS UP THE COMPLAINTS…
Everyone is talking about all the stuff it can’t do. I have two responses. First of all, it is fine to wait. Of course, later models may do more. I’m sure I’ll be upgrading later, and selling mine, or giving to an employee as a “hand me down.” But I don’t recommend waiting. Why? Every month you wait, is a month you didn’t get to use one. You might pay more getting the first model, but you are getting to use one more, and that’s worth paying a little more. Personally, I don’t think the price is going to drop significantly more. Don’t count on it. The features will increase, so I predict the price will stay steady.
The other response I have, is that this ISN’T A LAPTOP. All the so-called “missing” things would make it not what it is. If you want all that other stuff – buy a Mac. That’s why I have a MacBook Air. THAT is your thin dream machine that has everything – and I LOVE mine! Plus, if an iPad had all these “missing” things everyone is whining about, it would cost a lot more. I think it has everything it needs.
NO CAMERA? The issue with the camera is what side to put it on? If they put it on the back to take pictures of things, like many would want, using the screen for preview, it would be just like an iPhone. That’s what an iPhone is for. However, others would argue, they should have the camera facing the user, like on a Mac, for video conferencing or photo booth – which would make taking pictures of other things, other than the user, very difficult to preview the subject, so you would have people upset and frustrated. So Apple would have to put in two cameras, or install a rotating camera, which would drive up both the cost, and the risk of damage and repairs and apple care cost. Or they’d have to offer a “Camera Model” which opens another whole can of worms. Bottom line: you don’t need a camera – that’s what an iPhone is for. I PREDICT: an external camera is coming that plugs into the port, you turn your iPad upside down, screen rotates, and wa-la! A camera. Probably not even made by Apple.
That is the beauty and power of the iPad, Apple doesn’t have to do everything – they designed something others can improve and add on to.
MULTI-TASKING MYTH: “It doesn’t multi-task!!!” This complaint I find kind of silly when you understand the purpose of this device and after having used it. Let me repeat, this isn’t a laptop – you don’t need to be running multiple applications at the same time, and besides, as a human being, you CAN’T TRULY MULTI-TASK ANYWAY! You can only DO one thing at a time, and you can only LOOK at one thing at a time, and on the iPad, the experience feels like multi-tasking since when you open something, for most applications they open where you left them last. So what’s the big deal? Why do you need something actually running in the background using up valuable resources? You aren’t rending video on this thing! Seriously! You are reading e-mail, managing documents, looking at pictures, reading websites, etc.
AND (good news) if this whole “IT DOESN’T MULTI-TASK!!!” cry is simply because you are worried you can’t open the iPod section, start music and close it and do something else, relax, YOU CAN. Just as you can on an iPhone. “No multi-tasking” has never meant that the native applications couldn’t run in the background – it means you can’t run secondary applications simultaneously, which for me is a “DUH” you have to launch them. Apple’s apps DO run at the same time in the background constantly. (depending on your settings, watch your battery life based on those settings!)
MISSING PORTS: Folks, haven’t you learned by now? Ports come and go, but one thing remains – third party products. Nuf said.
BOTTOM LINE: All the nay sayers were wrong about the iPhone and continue to be wrong about the iPhone. And they are all wrong about the iPad too.
Setting up my iPad
WHY I BUY MAC: I didn’t buy an iPad because I’m a Mac Fan. For the record, I didn’t buy a Mac because I’m an Apple Fan. People forget I was once a Mac user who converted back to PC when Macs ceased to be the best solution for my ministry. (When Windows 95 came out, it was better than my OS Classic Mac) I converted back to Mac again when OS X came out. I am a Children’s Ministry Fan and Productivity Fan and Efficiency Fan and a Don’t Waste My Time With Viruses and Stupid Errors and Pop Ups and Spyware and Stuff That Just Plain Doesn’t Work Fan.
The reality is, Apple is the company that knows what they are doing and the iPad is just the lastest in a long line proving it. This thing is a beautiful piece of engineering genius. It is simply a dream to work on.
DO YOU NEED ONE?
That is a question only you can answer. For me, I run an IT company with employees and volunteers all over the country. Our main form of communication is e-mail. I manage multiple web-based databases and I am responsible for over a dozen websites plus social networking is a major part of my daily networking both personally and professionally. I do over half of this Mobily on my iPhone, and now can do it on my iPad instead of my cell phone. The iPad makes it much easier on the eyes as well as makes access quicker than a laptop. You will need to assess how much you access e-mail, the web, social networking, and the other apps available on the iPad and if instant access would be helpful to you.
*DO YOU NEED THE iPAD 3G? (AT&T vs. VERIZON)
I do NOT recommend you get the iPad 3G when it comes out. BAD IDEA!!! As someone who loves his iPhone let me warn you. AT&T service is TERRIBLE. It is the only thing I HATE about my iPhone. I usually hesitate to use the word hate, but not in this case. I don’t know what AT&T is doing with the millions of dollars they are making off iPhone users, but they aren’t spending it on cell towers. Coverage is terrible. I get dropped calls everywhere, even in highly populated places like airports and shopping malls! I will say, it is still worth getting an iPhone, unfortunately, because the iPhone IS that much more superior to ANY other phone, despite what other may say. The droid and other wannabees do NOT come close despite their claims. But I get dropped calls every single day no matter where I go.
So why oh why would I want to PAY to have an iPad by online with AT&T? NO WAY!
But there is another reason not to! It is foolishness to pay for ONE IPAD to be online with AT&T when with Verizon (who is has a GREAT NETWORK) you can have ANY FIVE DEVICES online regardless of whether they are iPads, or laptops or what!
That is what I have! I have a pocket MiFi card that allows my MacBook Air, iPad, and up to THREE MORE devices to ALL be online AT THE SAME TIME to be online! In fact, I can be walking in the mall, with my MiFi card in my pocket, with my iPad WiFi online, and I’m a Walking Walking Internet Hub! If I’m out, my wife’s iPad can be online too! If you are near me, I can give you the password and your iPad or laptop can be online too!
So, why would you pay to have ONLY your iPad be online with terrible AT&T, when instead you can have ANY 5 devices (or your choosing) be online with reliable Verizon at any time anywhere? It’s awesome!!
Even Luke loves the iPad!
I’m still getting to know my iPad and exploring all its potential – but so far – I’m impressed!
Go into settings and under Accessibility go to Triple-click Home. Choose White on Black. Then, any time you click the home button three times quickly, it will turn the screen into negative resolution. (Repeat to go back to normal) It is designed for night reading, but it just looks cool. (Its also a good prank to play on someone who has an iPad if you can get your hands on their iPad and do this to them! FYI: Control-Option-Command-8 will do the same thing on your Mac! Go ahead, try it!) Have fun!
Core Vales Matter and they shape everything you do.
I just got back from spending three days at Group Publishing Headquarters for their reGroup conference and it was a fantastic time of fellowship with the staff of Group I’ve gotten to know and appreciate over the years, some Kidology friends both that I’ve known and some I got to meet for the first time, and as always, I got to make new friends. I may still blog more about reGroup – but here I wanted to write about something that struck me about the power of Core Values while at this event during a tour of the Group Headquarters.
I’m often in an odd spot in the CM world – I play on a lot of teams, even as we all play on the same Kingdom Team. And as such, I often get to know many ministries and companies on the inside at times better than they perhaps get to know each other. For example, I am on the board of directors of, and write DiscipleTown, for DiscipleLand Publishers, while also being an author and columnist for Group Publishing (CM Mag and CM Professional Edition).
I also serve as a consultant to many Christian business organizations in the area of strategic ministry planning, financial planning, product development, web presence, online marketing, etc. and I end up hearing their opinions about other ministries. While shared sincerely, they initially share negative opinions until I coach them in understanding that they are evaluating their competition through the grid of their own core values without understanding the core values of the other company, which usually are entirely different.
Most of my consulting roles are confidential, so I can’t blog about them, but since everyone knows my roles with DiscipleLand and Group, and publicly they are ‘competitors’ (in the business sense) I’d like to use them as an example of how two organizations can be very different and yet be driven by two completely different Core Values and have as a result two very different outcomes when it comes to product results, and yet both be fantastic companies with wonderful products worthy of churches considering, and why I am so passionate about both of them and how I would describe their Core Value and the impact it makes on what they produce.
DISCLAIMER: This is MY OPINION from what I have observed. I have not gotten any of this from any official statement or documents and either company could very likely disagree with me and I am not speaking on either companies behalf in any official manner – this is my personal blog – I am offering what I think from what I extrapolate from their product and company behavior. I’m not intending to be either complimentary or critical, merely observatory. OK?
DISCIPLELAND: It is my conclusion that DiscipleLand’s Core Value – the thing that drives them is to MAKE DISCIPLES. Everything they do flows out of this single focus. I think this is what keeps Mark Steiner awake at night – wondering how Jesus intended us to make disciples, and he turns to the Word of God for the blueprint. Every product DiscipleLand creates flows out of that passion. He isn’t thinking of what would be a neat product, what’s cool, what will sell, or studying trends. He has a comprehensive strategy for what a fully developed disciple of Jesus looks like and has produced a curriculum that strives to equip teachers to help guide children closer toward that end in knowledge, conduct and character. Even when I offered to write children’s church curriculum it couldn’t be on just anything, it had to be on the 24 disciple skills he had already identified every child needs to develop in order to be fully equipped for the Christian life. When you look at DiscipleLand and what it has, or doesn’t have, even if you are critical of it, it helps to understand that underneath and behind everything is this passionate drive to MAKE DISCIPLES. That will often help explain why they don’t have some of the neat things others publishers have. They might be good things, but DiscipleLand has a laser sharp focus on equipping churches to making disciples and are content to allow others to help them with the rest.
CHECK OUT my Kidology Spotlight Ministry Report on DiscipleLand which highlights the many reasons I am so highly supportive of DiscipleLand’s Core Bible Curriculum and it’s strategic approach to disciple making and why I have used it in every church I have served in. It is truly unique.
GROUP PUBLISHING: It is my conclusion that Group’s Core Value is to SERVE PEOPLE BY MEETING NEEDS believing that when they do, incredible things will happen. Of course, I stole that second half from their current marketing slogan, “Incredible Things Will Happen!” Otherwise, I would have just said, Group exists to serve the church by meeting people’s needs, and I might add, one of the amazing and unique things about Group is that they aren’t just concerned about the needs of Christians! Did you know they have an outreach cafe as part of the headquarters in Loveland, Colorado that draws non-Christians onto their campus on Friday nights for non-threatening spiritual conversations? (See www.lifetreecafe.com) I thought only churches were supposed to do that? Did you know they send 25,000 teenagers around the country and over seas every year to serve in needy areas? Did you know the site of Group’s headquarters was the site of the first Group Youth Work Camp in 1977 when Group founder Thom Schultz saw the need to serve and invited youth groups across America to come to Loveland and help when there was a flood there? His passion is to serve wherever the need is, Christians and non-Christians alike. This is a publisher we are talking about! Doing evangelism out of a publisher headquarters? Sending short term missions from a publisher? It almost doesn’t make sense. But it does, when you understand their Core Value. THEN we can get to the magazines, and the curriculum, and the Vacation Bible School, and over 1,000 published books since the late 1970′s – all to help people – and why they are always hosting focus groups and doing survey’s and being so responsive to their customers? Because they exist to SERVE. And why they just hosted reGroup. An event they charged a $75 deposit for, and then gave us $100 to spend in the store, plus other gifts, and books, and provided training, and networking and a personality assessment test and (most valuable) the investment of their time and energy for three days.
and forgive me for adding one more organization you might have heard of:
KIDOLOGY: Can I share with you what makes Kidology tick? Just in case you never caught it, or read it at the top of our website, our Core Value is EQUIPPING AND ENCOURAGING those who minister to children. That is what gets us out of bed in the morning, and if you want to put wind in our sail or make our day, send us an e-mail telling us how we equipped you or encouraged you. It is what drives us and what is behind everything we do. Every product I create – every blog post I write – every tweet I tweet – it is what we exist to do, and if I ever quit, it will be because I think I’m no longer equipping or encouraging anyone any more.
1) What is your Core Value? What drives you? What is your passion? What gets you out of bed? What is the thing that influences everything you do? Can others tell? And don’t try to be everything to everyone – pick your passion and focus on that, and let others do the other stuff. I chose my life mission at age 19 and this is what I do. I don’t bother with all the other good stuff, I just focus on trying to be great at equipping and encouraging childrens workers. I’ve got one life to devote to that. I hope I can do it well!
2) Look for the Core Value of Others. See if you can identify the core value of others and then appreciate it. Often when you are critical of someone or an organization you are missing their core value. You are being critical because you are assuming they have the same core value as you, or imposing a core value on them they don’t have. This doesn’t mean that an organization won’t have the value that you have in mind, but it may not be their CORE value – they are focused on something else at their center and therefore coming from a different emphasis. When you learn to appreciate the Core Values of other individuals and organizations who come to realize the balance and variety they bring to the Kingdom and the Family of God – if we all did life and ministry the same, what a boring world this would be! Celebrate our different emphases and get on with it!
PLEASE TELL ME IN COMMENTS: What is your Core Value – what are YOU most passionate about in life and/or ministry?