Kidologist.com: Karl Bastian's Personal Site and Blog
Archive for September, 2010
Michael n Karl, er, Karl n Micheal!
Now there is an easy and uniquely visual way for you to connect with others in children’s ministry who live near you. You’ve long been able to interact with your “kidmin” peers in the free Kidology.org Forums or on sites like CM Connect, but a discussion forum doesn’t easily help you know where people live – and more importantly, who lives near YOU!
But now, Micheal Chanley, the same mega-networker and innovator who created CM Connect has done it again, this time creating IMAKIDMIN.com, a site specifically designed to help those in children’s ministry find who lives near them. And like CM Connect, it is completely free to the users.
You can list yourself on the main map page, but also on the blog page, twitter page and facebook page too. Eventually there will be individual maps for each state as the population of the site grows, a few states have already been launched.
HOWEVER – I’m most excited to announce an IMAKIDMIN KIDOLOGY PAGE where Kidology Members can list themselves so that Kidology Folks can network and find out where each other live as well.
Here is a cool historical image of what the Kidology Imakidmin Map looked like blank, as it is already filling in! We even have a global map below this USA Map since we have members all over the world.
So visit: www.kidology.org/imakidmin and sign up and find out what other Kidology Members live near you! And if they aren’t too far, plan a get together to visit each others churches and network and share ideas and encourage each other. After all, that is the ultimate purpose of this site, that we get off the web and get together in person. I can’t wait for my first IN PERSON MEETING that came about as a result of IMAKIDMIN.com
Yosemite Summit was first a dream – a weak sliver of a dream in the mind of a frail and broken man who was issued a challenge by his pastor to dare to intentionally build re-creation into his life.
I have written the story in detail in the post, “Thank You Pastor Jeff Griffin.”
It took another two years for that dream to become a reality. First, I needed to heal the wounds of my own brokenness – and the consequences of overextended ministry passion. My marriage, my soul and many relationships needed focused repentance, repair and restoration.
Only then was I ready invite others to join me on a retreat in Yosemite for a week of hiking, reflection, and connecting with God in a way I had never done before.
At first I was going to go alone. Then with just one friend. And then I realized – I can’t be the only children’s pastor who needs this. So I created Yosemite Summit – an annual event where I CHECK OUT of ministry and CHECK IN with God and make sure I never again get going so fast, I out-pace God.
I’ve now done this event three times and every year has bee so unique, I can’t wait to see what God does in 2011 to make the fourth Summit special.
The event isn’t cheap – it costs me over $5000 to pull off this event, regardless of whether 3 or 8 guys come. The cost is basically the same, for the lodge, the van, the fuel, and all the food. If I can fill the lodge, it averages out to about $600 each. So that is what I charge, I actually lose money every year. But I don’t do this to make money – I do it because I need it. And because I know other men need it too.
However, I know that there are guys who need this event, but can’t afford to pay that much – plus the airfare to get to Sacramento. So this year, I’m taking a step of faith, and instead of offering a few scholarships, like I did last year – to help a few guys come for free – instead, I am going to offer the option of allowing guys to optionally pay less – on their honor – if they need to.
Hear me out, if a guy’s church can afford the full $625 plus the Sacramento lodging (that’s an extra $100 that everyone pays) then I expect ‘em to pay. BUT if they need to pay less, I’m giving that option, between them and God.
One year, I had a guy from a big church who picked up the gasoline on the 15 passenger gas a few times to help me out. I’ve had others who have donated. I’m gonna trust God to honor this, because I have a sense there are a few guys who NEED this trip, and I want them on it…
There are only a few openings available. My only concern with this is, I don’t want to scare off guys who CAN afford it. This retreat is open and available to anyone who needs it. Big church, little church – doesn’t matter. There are guys at big churches who can easily afford it – and they need it! They are crazy busy, and NEED to get away and disconnect and hike and commune with God.
But I just want to also make sure that guys who look at that $625 price tag and say, “I could never go to Yosemite Summit” to know that they CAN come… I’m willing to work with them and they can opt to pay several hundred dollars less.
Details are on the COST page of the Yosemite Summit site.
Please pray with me that God would bring together, again, just the right group of guys for Yosemite Summit 2011.
Help Spread the Word: http://tinyurl.com/YS11reg
One of my “Kidologist Secrets” of relating to kids is to have fun games or “inside jokes” with the kids who I love. It makes them feel special – and let’s them know they are more than just another kid to me. They are unique. They are one of my favorites. I’ve always had a running joke that I was my Grammy’s favorite of her nine grandchildren. Of course, I assumed every grandchild believed that! But it was a theory I loved to humorously defend. In fact, at my grammy’s wake last week, in one of the photo albums featuring full sized photos of her grandkids, when I discovered I was on page one, I proudly declared, “See!? I was her favorite!” and was greeted with groans and rolled eyes.
Imagine my surprise when during the memorial service my father read a note written by my Grammy where she wrote, “To set the matter straight as to my favorite grandchild, not withstanding Karl’s claims to whit – I loved all my grandchildren the same.” Everybody laughed. I had no idea my claimed to favoritehood had gained Grammy’s attention to the point she decided to set the record the straight in her service! It was all in good spirit, and the teasing I got afterward was well deserved!
But there was a reason I felt extra special I can now reveal that I shared during the service that began some thirty years ago, and that applied to children’s ministry and what I mentioned as I began… the power of secret game that makes a child feel extra special, even for thirty years!
When I was ten years old I saved up my money and bought my own ticket to fly from California to Indiana to spend a summer living with my grand parents. (I did this several times actually.) During the first visit they set up a room for me in the basement that became my home-away-from-home. And I loved these stays with Grammy and Grandpa!
I went to Cubs games with Grampa and learned to sew from Grammy. (That Garfield puppet was the beginnings of making puppet costumes, though Grampa didn’t really approve of that.) I went downtown Chicago on the train with Grammy often and in the evenings watched Columbo and played Rummy – a card game. However, one of my ways of entertaining myself was to toss tennis balls at the stairs in the basement like a pitch back and one time I left them on the stairs and later, Grammy gave me a very gentle scolding not to leave them on the stairs lest she step on one and fall down the stairs. But the next day, I accidentally left all four on tennis balls on the stairs again. Instead of just scolding me, she instead humorously reminded me by saying that she thought my tennis balls were out to get her as they looked like they were coming to get her, because they were higher up the stairs this time, each on a separate stair, and I’d better lock them up, because obviously, I couldn’t have left them there, since she told me yesterday to put them away after I played with them. I played along and said I had put them away and that they must be alive. (I said it in a way that she knew I wasn’t lying, I was playing along.)
The next day, to keep the joke going, after I played with the four tennis balls, I remembered the kind way she had reminded me, but instead of putting them away, I put them in the kitchen, at the top of the stairs, four in a row, across the kitchen, as though they were “alive” and heading toward her room. Instead of her making a joke about it, she simply moved them later, placing them four in row in the basement heading toward my room.
This began an unspoken joke, that lasted thirty years. All that summer, the tennis balls continued to be placed, when the other wasn’t around, four in row closer and closer to the others room, until they were in each other’s bed. Then in our clothes, and then finally just being hidden in places we were sure to find. When I finally flew home, I found the tennis balls packed in my luggage. Grammy assumed the game was over. Little did she know!
When I returned the next summer, the tennis balls returned with me! Any time I came to visit as a young college man, a tennis ball was hidden in her home. I once lived with her for a summer in college and the tennis ball war was resumed though we never spoke a word of it! When she came to visit me, as a young married man, soon after, I would find a tennis ball somewhere in my house. Even as she lived in different states around the country, and me too, the tennis ball war continued, often with years between the secret placement, though over the years, it had at some point gone from the original four to just one strategically placed tennis ball. Many times we simply had to just buy a new one. It didn’t matter. It was more about leaving a tennis ball behind. It was our way of saying, “I love you, you’re special.” It was Grammy’s way of saying to me, “You’re still that little playful boy to me, and you always will be.”
I’ll look at tennis balls and cry sometimes now and people will think I’m nuts. But you will understand. A silly yellow ball holds a lot of love for me. All because my Grammy decided to be playful with a child, and then just decided never to stop. And people wonder why I thought I was her favorite. I’m O.K. with all her grand kids thinking they were her favorite. They all were, in different ways.
The same can be true in your kids ministry. You can have favorites. EVERY kid can be convinced that they are your favorite. And they can all be right!
People ask me all the time what’s the secret to connecting with kids. Have you figured it out yet? YOU are the secret.
Imagine getting a brochure in the mail: Salvation Conference – O’Hare Hyatt – Jesus, God’s Son, lecturing on God’s Eternal Plan for the Salvation of Mankind. Admission Free. Come ready to study the prophetic Old Testament Scriptures and the Types of Christ that point to the Soteriological Position and Role of Jesus.
Not many people would be drawn to a training seminar on Semitic salvation – and that is why Jesus didn’t come and undertake an educational ministry, but rather a relational ministry! Jesus came to this earth, born as a child, grew up within the culture, ministered to felt needs, and made friends who He made into disciples to carry on the ministry after His redeeming work on the cross.
And yet, so often we try to minister to children through a primarily educational ministry instead of a relational ministry! Yes, Jesus had a message to communicate and did a great deal of teaching – but He delivered His eternal message within the culture and within a relational context. In Children’s Ministry we must do the same!
Jesus ministered within the culture.
Jesus could have made a ‘grand entrance’ as an adult – much in the same style as when He left for heaven. From one perspective, some might say this may have helped his reception as the Messiah, but instead, He chose to come as a child. Jesus chose to grow up within the culture. No one could say of Jesus that He didn’t ‘understand’ or had never ‘walked in our shoes.’ The book of Hebrews teaches us that He suffered and was tempted in all ways as we are. He knew whom He was ministering to, not only as their Creator, but as One who had experienced it first hand as well. Perhaps this made His ministry more difficult, but it certainly made it more effective. Ministry to children is not much different! We need to be willing to get into the culture of children and minister to them from within that culture. Yes, this will make ministry more difficult! Some will even misunderstand and accuse you of untrue things (being immature, childish, a clown, etc.), BUT your ministry WILL be more effective!
Jesus ministered to felt needs.
The multitudes that Jesus was ministering to were in desperate need of spiritual salvation and freedom from the bondage of superficial religion and the eternal consequences of trying to work themselves into God’s favor. However, their focus was more on their temporal aches and pains and political struggles. Jesus could have rebuked them for worrying about the wrong things and tried to redirect them toward the things that truly mattered in the scope of eternity. But instead, He graciously and patiently chose to attend to those temporal concerns, all the while drawing them to the things they should be thinking about. The same is true in a children’s ministry! Are kids thinking often about spiritual things? Their eternal destiny? How they can please God in day-to-day life? The salvation of their friends? Probably not. It’s more likely they are thinking about toys, television, the next time they will get to play outside or some other activity that is fun and certainly eternally irrelevant! That’s O.K. (Adults are not much different!) It is the children’s minister’s job to accept those ‘less than spiritual’ concerns and while addressing them, be continually drawing them up to the more important eternal concepts they should be thinking about. That is why church needs to be fun – but a strategic fun with a purpose. Not merely entertaining, but engaging the kids so as to lead them on to more essential concepts.
Jesus made disciples who would carry on the work after He left.
While Jesus certainly ministered to the multitudes, He focused the majority of His time on a few men we know as the disciples. It was these twelve men and those they in turn trained, that turned the world up side down for the rest of history. Without the development of the disciples, Jesus’ ministry would have only been a great show for three years. Instead, His ministry was the stone that was dropped to start a tidal wave of ministry that has only grown larger over time! Yet all too often in ministry, you see people who put on a great show for awhile – some fantastic kid’s program, for example – and then when they are gone, all that is left are great memories of a wonderful time, instead of a lasting memory. This need not be! In children’s ministry, it is essential that we continually build a team that will outlast us – not only in our particular church – but outlive us in life. This means not only training fellow adults – but also enlisting and equipping children to serve as well!
This is why later, we will address in detail how to start a “Kids Church Crew” of children who can learn to plan, organize, lead and minister in the Kid’s Church program!
A PRINCIPLE-DRIVEN MINISTRY
- Jesus ministered within the culture.
- Jesus ministered to felt needs.
- Jesus made disciples who would carry on the work after He left.
THEREFORE CHILDREN’S CHURCH MUST ….
- Be kid-centered. Minister from within the “Kid Culture.”
- Be aimed at kids’ interests and contemporary needs.
- Be disciple – driven. Equip kids for ministry after you are gone.
- Is your Kid’s Church service kid-centered? Does it minister from within the “Kid Culture?”
- Is it aimed at kids’ interests and contemporary needs?
- Is it developing disciples? Are there kids being equipped for ministry after you are gone?
This is an excerpt from Part One of The Kids Church Cookbook
, Called to be a Chef of God’s Word.
I am sad to report that my 94 year old grammy passed away just weeks before her 95th birthday after going into the hospital on what would have been my grandpa’s 101st birthday. She passed quietly and peacefully while listening to Psalm 23 and the Lord’s Prayer.
Me and My Grammy Maggie Just One Year Ago at Navy Pier
I was supposed to be traveling to speak at a family ministry conference, but when she got ill, family suddenly was more important than a “family ministry conference” – so I called and asked if I could back out last minute. They were very gracious and understanding. So instead of speaking at this national conference I had been looking forward to for two years, I was at my Grammy’s funeral.
My Grammy with Her Favorite Grandchild ;)
In love with Downtown Chicago, last year I had the honor of taking her on a “date” downtown with my wife and four year old for what we knew would probably be her last excursion downtown, as it was getting harder and harder for her to venture out. This was an annual dinner cruise my wife and I did to celebrate our first date as Moody Bible students, and since we were moving to Colorado last October, we knew this 20th occasion would conclude our tradition and she was so honored to be invited – though it did take some arm twisting to get her to go through with it, even after I’d bought the tickets. But oh how she loved the outing, and she has thanked me probably a hundred times over the past year for “making her” go. Later I will post more pictures from that special day.
This amazing lady lived on her own even thought she never got a drivers license. She always remembered your birthday and anniversary and believed in hand written cards and letters, even though she did pick up e-mail over ten years ago knowing it was the only way she’d get us to write to her.
Teachin' an Old Lady New Tricks
I did try to teach her the way of the Mac – but in the end, she decided to stick with her text only e-mail machine, even though she couldn’t get pictures. The laptop had too many buttons and the things on the screen to click was a little much!
Gonna Miss That Smile a LOT
It was really fun the time I was “borrowing” a wireless Internet connection from a neighbor upstairs by holding my laptop up to the ceiling to get some e-mail, and was trying to explain why I was holding my laptop to the ceiling because her upstairs neighbor had an unsecured wireless network and I could borrow their Internet and get my e-mail…. she just laughed and said, “what will they come up with next?” But after asking several thoughtful questions – I think she actually got it!
I have the joy of putting together a photo video for her memorial service, and am actually posting this via broadband card as we drive across the country. I’ll post the video once it is done and the service is over.
Good Bye Grammy... I'll Walk With You Again Someday.
Here is a Sneak Peek into Part 6 of the Kids Church Cookbook – just to give you a glimpse the material it deals with. Someone was telling me the other day how the Cookbook gets a lot deeper than just how to use Puppets and Balloons and I need to share that more – so here is a “taste” of one of the “meatier” topics covered in the section of staffing your children’s church. (This was posted prior to the final editing.)
Dealing with Parent Conflict
Ben Franklin said that in life, two things were certain: death and taxes. When it comes to children’s ministry and parents, there are two things that are certain: kids and conflict. The kids are the easy part! The conflict… not so easy. Invariably, you are doing to do something that a parent is not going to like. Occasionally, you are going to do something wrong. A parent is going to call you on it. When that happens. Be humble, don’t make any excuses, don’t explain it away, don’t give the circumstances – just admit it and apologize. They know you are human and their respect for you will go up. And even if it doesn’t, the Lord will be pleased. That’s what a disciple does. But that’s not what I need to address here. What about the other times? You didn’t do anything wrong? You were just doing your job or being consistent or using something from the world of kids or (gasp!) correcting their child? And suddenly you have an offended parent! It can be ugly, I know! I’ve had one storm into the kids church room yelling right in front of the kids that I’m the worst children’s pastor in America and I oughta be fired! I remained calm and asked him his name, which he wouldn’t tell me. I asked him why he was so upset, and he said I could ask my boss after I’d packed my desk. Turns out it was because of my pastor-approved policy of making the parents wait when the adult service gets out early. He actually came and apologized to me after my pastor explained to him that the reason the adults wait is that our children’s service isn’t child care, it is a carefully orchestrated service that leads from high energy worship to a fun game to interactive learning to a serious conclusion with prayer and application and that if we dismissed the children as soon as the adults were done, the children would miss the conclusion of the service that every element had been working carefully toward and the impact of the entire hour would be lost. He then saw that his bursting in yelling probably ruined the conclusion of the service. He asked for forgiveness and even told me his name.
When dealing with an angry parent, be gracious. First of all, realize that you work for God – and they treated Jesus worse than you. So relax. Also realize, that if it about their child, this isn’t the only time they are dealing with this. It probably happens at school, on sports teams, and in other contexts as well – even if they deny it. So let church be the one place that responds differently, and with extra grace. In case you haven’t heard it – the definition of grace is getting what you don’t deserve. (As opposed to Mercy, which is not getting what you do deserve!) Reflect on that. What can you give this parent, or the child, that they don’t deserve? A another chance? A warmer voice? A hug? Some time spent in prayer? A book that might be helpful? Keep in mind that our goal at church isn’t well behaved children! It is making disciples.
Let me recommend Parenting is Heart Work by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, my #1 Recommended Book for parents who are struggling with a child’s behavior.
One of the things I love about God is His patience. If I was God, I would have given up on me a long time ago! Every year, I take a group of children’s pastors to Yosemite National Park for an UNconference called Yosemite Summit. I am struck every year by the agelessness of the massive rock formations and am reminded of how patient God is. He isn’t into instant results. Nor should we be. We want to see kids become disciples of Jesus and stop misbehaving by the end of the month, or else! God has a longer view of things. I employ a three warning process with kids before I engage the parents. That way, once the parents are brought into the picture, I have a track record of patience already established. They can’t accuse me of picking on their kid or labeling them as “bad” or just trying to kick them out of the program. After the child’s first offense, I talk to them and make sure they understand that what they did isn’t permitted, and let them know that I’m letting it go, but it is their first warning. I hug them, let them know I’m so glad they came, and I can’t wait to see them next week. I call it an “accident” and let them know I don’t expect it to happen again. I usually place them with one of the K.C. Krew girls to help prevent a second occurrence that week. I really want to see success! If it happens again, I act surprised, and when I talk to them, I remind them I called it an “accident” and ask if they understand it is wrong. They affirm. I explain why it is wrong again and express my concern. I then let them know I’m going to chalk this up as a ”coincidence” BUT if it happens again, I’m going to need to involve their parents as I will have a pattern. I explain that three times is a pattern. That usually is the end of it, as kids don’t want their parents involved! However, IF it does happen a third time, and I need to bring the parents in, letting them know that I first called it an “accident” and then a “coincidence” goes miles for me with the parents, as usually other leaders have called them on a first offense, not giving their child the benefit of the doubt. They can’t really jump on me, because I have already extended so much grace and patience toward their child. The next step is to ask the parent to attend with the child, or for the child to go to Big Church with their parent. (Stay home for a week is not an option – the next week they are at church, I want them either in Kids Church with a parent, or in Big Church, a week off church does not count.) Then, I assure the parent that when their child is back, they have a CLEAN FRESH START. No counts against them. Even if we have a repeat, the next offense would be a first warning. Worst case scenario, a child would be out every four weeks. (Unless, of course it was violent behavior of some sort.) When you are patient and loving, you not only see change in the child’s behavior, but you see a softening of the parents heart. After all, you may be the children’s pastor in title, but you are still a pastor to whoever crosses your path.
Even before I became a father, one thing I kept in mind when I dealt with parents was that I was dealing with their greatest treasure in life. No matter how badly their child had behaved – I was still talking to them about their treasure. Ever watched a documentary about a prisoner and watched a mother talk about her son in jail? There will still be tenderness in her voice, even though her son is a criminal. She may acknowledge his crimes, but she loves him still. Be respectful of the children – Jesus wept over Jerusalem, even those who would crucify Him. Yes, we have rules to uphold and enforce – but with gentleness and meekness. I’ve seen too many volunteers be forceful and harsh when talking to parents. I’ve had to pull some aside over the years and say, “Your words are all 100% right, but your tone and body language is 100% wrong. That may be a lost soul you are talking to. Remember, we are to be known by our love, not our kids church rules, O.K.?” That obnoxious boy is someone’s treasure. Never forget it.
Too often, parents are seen as the enemy. I hear it at conferences and read it on blogs and in books. It’s like a we vs. them battle is going on. Parents don’t do this, and don’t do that – and poor us – we are just trying so hard to raise their kids to love Jesus! Hog wash! Don’t even get me going! And I’m not one to toss it entirely back at the parents as many are doing today either. We are on the same team. Parents need us, and we need them! We are on the same team, and we have the same goals. We need to work together, and part of that happens by listening to each other and asking each other what the other needs to succeed. Don’t be afraid to get feedback from your parents on Kids Church or to ask them what topics they would like you to teach on. Their answers just might surprise you!
This is an excerpt of The Kids Church Cookbook – Part 6.
And don’t miss the Kids Church Cooking Show training videos! They are FUN and informative! And FREE for Kidology.org Members. The following are a few of topics covered: Hats! – Puppets! – Balloons! – Magic! – Stories!
If you were asked, “Do you partner with parents?” it’s been my experience that you are most likely to answer, “I try.” And if I were to ask you, “How do you partner with parents?” you are likely to list types of events you’ve done, resources you’ve sent home, or things that you’ve tried once, but didn’t seem to quite you pull off. My guess is that when it comes to the concept of partnering with parents, you feel defeated, or in a quandary as to how to do it. You are not alone! What if you could say with confidence, “YES! We partner with families in my church.” I believe you can.
I think it is safe to assume that you are very concerned about the spiritual welfare of the children in your church. If you are a parent, you have your own children in mind as you think about the challenges that they are currently facing and the battles that lie ahead. Perhaps the title “Partnering with Parents” resonates with you as something that is desperately needed in your church. However, it may be a phrase that conjures up feelings of doubt, discouragement or frustration because as much as you know it is needed, you’re not sure how to do it. Perhaps you’ve tried, but nothing seems to be working, at least not as well as you’d like.
First off, I need to confirm that you are right, it’s NOT easy. But I also want you to know that I have discovered a completely different approach to partnering with parents. It is an approach that you may find radical, or you may simply find it a relief.
But it is an approach that enables you to say with confidence, “Yes, we genuinely partner with parents in our ministry.”
Why are children’s ministry leaders clamoring for books on family ministry and packing out workshops on “partnering with parents?” Because they are coming to the realization that the church is failing to produce children who are fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. Even a casual look at our youth groups, often filled with kids who grew up in the church, our hearts break to hear about the language, drinking, drug use, immorality and general abandonment of core Christian values and beliefs.
In his latest book, Raising a Modern-Day Joseph, Larry Fowler presents three sobering realities facing the church, and the parents who drop them off.
Christian young people are leaving the church and the faith of their parents as they leave home for college and work. Christian researcher, George Barna, reports that “the most potent data regarding disengagement (of youth from their faith) is that a majority of twentysomethings – 61% of today’s young adults – had been churched at one point during their teen years but they are now spiritually unengaged.”
Christian young people are not transferring the biblical knowledge they have into a biblical worldview. Christian apologist and researcher Josh McDowell claims that between 69 and 94 percent of teenagers leave the church after high school. He also reports that only 15% of Christian young people have a biblical world view. George Barna says it is only 10%.
Declining Bible Knowledge
Christian young people don’t know nearly as much about the Bible as they used to.
Christian Smith, principal investigator of the National Study of Youth and Religion states that
“Most U.S. teens have a difficult time explaining what they believe, what it means, and what the implications of their beliefs are for their lives.”
How can this be? (!) Not so many decades ago “children’s ministry” hardly existed. “Children’s Pastors” are relatively new on the church staff scene. As Linda Massey Weddle points out in her book, Driveway to the Highway, most churches now provide fully staffed nurseries, Sunday School, children’s church, mid-week and after school programs, and much more! Children’s Ministry curriculum is more entertaining, colorful and professional looking than ever before. Publishing houses have flooded the market with “Christian” books, toys, resources and more. Radio stations play Christian music and messages twenty-four hours a day. Why is it, we wonder, do kids walk away from the faith of their parents and church when we have all these “advantages” in the church in America?
Church leaders look at statistics and are concerned. (They ought to be alarmed!) Parents, on the other hand, often don’t need stats. They are concerned, and often alarmed, simply by what they see in their own home or in the homes of their kids’ friends and classmates. There is little doubt the church is doing its best – sincerity and effort are not in question – but the results are coming in, and it’s not looking good. Parents are also doing the best they know how, and are feeling the sense of failure more personally, for it is their own children, whom they deeply love, that who they are watching fall away – or are afraid might.
George Barna, in his book Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, confirmed through scientific research what children’s leaders have long undertood – Christian education during childhood is the most critical of a person’s entire life, as it will most likely determine what they believe their entire life! Children’s ministry leaders and parents who are awake see the dangers and the spiritual casualties and are desperate for change. It is more critical than ever that the church and parents start partnering to do a better job of preparing children for a life of faith in a world that is ever increasingly seeking to mislead and destroy them.
We have a choice. Keep doing what we are doing or step back and take a serious look at how we can do a better job.
That is why I took a completely new and radical approach to “partnering with parents” – but you know what? it worked.
You can learn about it in my Leadership Lab, “Partnering with Parents.” Be prepared for a totally different way of thinking about partnering with parents. But be prepared for results too.
We were sitting in a Mac n’ Erma’s to enjoy a meal, and as a nice twist of fate, this strangely mature looking college aged young man was treating his pastor to the meal.
He had driven up to meet me asking to pick up in person the Moody Bible Institute reference I had written for him.
Noah and Karl, circa mid 1990's
Noah was one of my “krew kids,” all grown up and heading to Bible college to prepare for a life of ministry. I was bursting with pride. Mostly godly, but some fleshy too. I couldn’t help it. I had taken this boy under my wing when others hadn’t seen the potential I could recognize. I saw only myself as a boy. We enjoyed our meal, caught up on the years we’d been apart and finally, I had to ask, “So what made you decide to go to Moody and go into children’s ministry?” Instead of answering, he did something that will always be a lifetime memory, and I’ll admit the pride burst a little more. He simply pointed at me.
Of course, the glory goes to God. But all those K.C. Krew meetings, all the late nights getting ready, all the puppet rehearsals yelling, “higher, louder, slower!” All the pepperoni pizza, all the overnighters and all the times I laid on the floor exhausted for thirty minutes after the krew kids had left, was worth it.
He pointed at me. He was going to Bible college and giving his life to Christian service. No, he wasn’t my disciple, he was Jesus’ disciple. But I was who he could see. I had recruited him, believed in him, inspired him, trained him, and showed him a path that was outside the normal path of his family and experience. A path he otherwise most likely would not now be on. He pointed at me. I, in turn, point to Jesus. But that is the impact of empowering kids into service. It changes the very direction of their life.
(Can you spot Noah in this post?)
I am currently writing The Kids Church Cookbook – Part 6, on the K.C. Krew, and I can’t wait to release it. Of all the workshops I’ve ever taught, whenever I speak on this, people come back to me 5, even 10 years later, and say this is the topic that has had the most impact on their ministry. It not only changes kids, it changes churches and pastors. It is what discipleship is all about.
Everywhere I go I run into Kidology Members who ask me where they can get affordable Leadership Training and I am surprised how often they are unaware that they have access to FREE online video Leadership Training as part of their Kidology Membership.
I created Kidology Online Training specifically because I can’t go to every conference I’m invited to and because I know not every leader can go to conferences.
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Then, to add to the learning experience, each training session has an optional add-on download kit that provides a RICH 30+ page PDF that goes even deeper into the material, has bonus material, a downloadable version of the video so you can go mobile with it or full screen and even gives you a PowerPoint so you can then, in turn, train YOUR leaders!
When you are done and compile all FIVE PDFs the sum result is the Kidology Handbook Leader’s Edition, your companion to the highly popular Kidology Handbook Teacher’s Edition.
But remember – while the download kits have a modest fee, the VIDEOS ARE FREE TO VIEW as a part of the Member Benefits!
There are FIVE Leadership Labs:
#1 First Things First – The foundational Leadership Lab that looks at why the most important aspects of ministry have nothing to do with ministry. Put first things first and you will not just survive in children’s ministry, you will thrive.
#2 Visionary Leadership – What does it mean to have vision? How can a clear vision for ministry increase your effectiveness? How do you get your volunteer team working together toward a God-focused vision?
#3 Kid-Focused Ministry Foundations – Let’s take a serious look at the foundation of your children’s ministry. At a time when creating a “fun ministry” has almost become the ultimate pursuit, its time to analyze where your focus should be.
#4 Partnering with Parents – If the very thought of ‘family ministry’ and ‘partnering with parents’ stirs up feelings of failure and discouragement, maybe it’s time to change the way you think about ministering to kids and parents!
#5 Define, Refine and Shine – Are you exhausted? Stress robbing you of the joy of service? Let’s learn how to evaluate your children’s ministry, while also looking at keeping your life organized.
AND THE BEST DEAL is to get all five AS A BUNDLE. But remember, WATCHING the online training videos – is 100% FREE for Kidology Premium Members.
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All you need to do is take the time to watch AND LEARN! My life’s Mission and heart’s Passion is to Equip and Encourage Those Who Minister to children.
Please take advantage of these Leadership Labs. I can’t tell you what a difference they will make in your ministry. And if you are one of our scholarship ministries and need this training, let us know. We will make this material available to you at no cost. We trust your integrity when you ask.
Because Jesus Loves Children,
Pastor Karl Bastian
Karl and Gus, circa early 1990's
TWO LISTS: The “Sorry List” and the “Lightening List!”
Everyone who listens to my podcast knows I’ve been ministering with Gus, my teaching partner, since Bible College – they may not realize, that one of our routines is included in every lesson of DiscipleTown! (The children’s church curricululm I write for DiscipleLand, which you can use regardless of what Sunday School curricula you use.)
Here is a sample from Lesson Two of How to Pray! Yes, now you too can can do a wacky puppet routine – or convert it to a skit – and introduce the topic of your lesson in a humorous, and yet very thought provoking manner, that really gets the point of the forthcoming lesson across.
The Lesson is on Repentance and the the Main Point of this lesson is: In prayer, God shows ways we need to change!
Note: “Puppet” refers to “Gus” but in the curriculum, you are encouraged to use your own puppet so I leave it generic. (This is my pre-edited version, the final version from the publisher may be slightly different.)
Puppet comes out and is very excited about the lesson today because he understands that it is about repentance. Teacher says it is indeed. Puppet says that he has put together two lists. Teacher asks what the lists are. Puppet says, “Well, the first list is my ‘Sorry List.” Teacher, says, well, that sounds great! What’s on that list?” Puppet says, “Well, I wrote out all the stuff I’m going to do that that I feel sorry about.” Teacher says, “What?!?!” Puppet says, “Well, there’s just some things I gotta do, but that I know are wrong, and I feel really bad about ‘em, so I thought I’d better confess ‘em ahead of time, just to make sure God knows I’m sorry about ‘em. You know, then it’s not as bad, as if I just did ‘em and didn’t feel bad, you know, like some people we know.”
The teacher is flabbergasted, and says, “That’s doesn’t make any sense, “If its wrong its wrong, it doesn’t matter if you feel sorry or not, if its wrong, it’s… well, its still wrong. Even if you say you’re sorry about it in advance. It’s almost worse then.” Puppet says, “Well, I’m confessing it? Doesn’t that count for anything?” Teacher says, “Yeah, its premeditated wrongness! That’s what it counts for!” Puppet says, “Bummer, I was afraid you were going to say that. So feeling sorry isn’t enough, huh?” Teacher replied, “No, to repent means to change your mind about it, it means to go the other way – its more than just being sorry, its deciding not to do it.”
Puppet sighs and scratches his head. Pauses, and then says, “O.K., I repent then, I’ll rip that list up, I repent then. I won’t do anything on that list, and I’m so glad God forgives me. I’m forgiven, right?” Teacher says, “You sure are.” Puppet says, “That’s good news. I feel so much better.” Teacher asks, “I’m almost afraid to ask, but what’s the other list?” Puppet says, “Oh, that’s my Lightening List.”
Teacher is exasperated again. “Lightening List! What is tar-nation is that?!?!?” Puppet answers, mater-of-factly, “Why the people I want God to strike with lightening, that’s all, why? Something wrong with that too?” Teacher is about to lose it. “Yes! How can you have a list like that?” Puppet says, “Simple, they all did something to me, and unlike me, they haven’t repented yet. So I think they should be struck by lightening.”
Teacher takes a deep breath and says, “Didn’t you just say it was good news that God forgave you of your sins?” Puppet answers, “Yes, but what’s that got to do with anything?” Teacher says, “Everything! The Bible says you will be forgive as you forgive others. In fact, in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus instructed us to pray, ‘forgive us our sins as we forgive others who have sinned against us.’ So that means, if you don’t forgive the people on that there list – why should God forgive you?”
Puppet stutters, “Uh, well, uh, gulp – I guess, if I get forgiveness when I don’t deserve it, they should get it too, even though they don’t deserve it?” Teacher says, “I think so.” Puppet throws his hands up, “Do you know what this means?” Teacher says, “No, what does this mean?” Puppet answers, “This means I have to rip up my last list, and now I don’t have any lists left.”
Teacher says, “That’s O.K., you’re on a better list, the list of the forgiven – and there is no better list than that!” Puppet says, “I’m gonna start a new list, my Blessing List, all the ways God has blessed me!” Teacher says, “Now you’re talking!”
To learn more about my lastest DiscipleTown unit, How to Pray, I’d encourage you to read all about it.
Prayer is not an unfamiliar topic to children – but do we truly teach children How to Pray? For too many Christians, of any age, prayer is something reserved for times or trouble or perhaps meal times, instead of being a means for connecting with their Creator on a daily basis and deepening their walk with God. That is the meaning the purpose of prayer, but it is a skill that must be taught to children so that they can discover the richness of having a meaningful prayer life. Teach a child to pray, and there are a great many other things you will not have to teach them, for the Holy Spirit will do it for you.
That’s why I was eager to write a series that taught children How to Pray! In order to give children a simple mental framework, the many aspects of prayer are broken down into four areas that start with the letters of the word P.R.A.Y. – Praising, Repenting, Asking and Yielding. While there is certainly more to prayer than can be captured in four simple words, each of the lessons expands on these and hints at the broader aspects of prayer and that they will have a life time to explore the power and joy learning How to Pray!