Kidologist.com: Karl Bastian's Personal Site and Blog
Archive for March, 2012
On Kidmin Talk this week, my focus is Secrets to Keepin’ it S.I.M.P.L.E. in Ministry.
Every show focuses on a “Kidmin Keyword.” This week brings us to the letter “S.” There are a host of great “S” words – silliness! strategy! servant leadership! and of course, Star Wars! (LOL)
But when it comes to children’s ministry – we are pushed and pulled in so many directions, I think we constantly need to be reminded to “keep it simple.” This doesn’t mean to abandon excellence or quality, but it means to not do more than God is asking us to do, and to focus on the basics and do those well, before we add more.
Keeping it S.I.M.P.L.E.
Tips on how to staff your ministry; building a leadership team; recruiting volunteers; building a substitute strategy; and Karl’s “Secret Ace” streategy! (shhhh, don’t tell anyone!)
Evaluating your program plan. This is the framework of your ministry. Ask a lot of “Why’s” – don’t assume every ministry should accomplish every ministry goal. They shouldn’t and can’t! And don’t be calendar-drive, be ministry driven. A blank calendar is O.K., if ministry is taking place!
Evaluate your meetings! WHY do you meet? When? What is the purpose? Expected or needed outcome. Start and END on time! Cancel if not truly needed.
Look ahead. Karl gives his One Page Strategic Planning Secret. (Sorry, you gotta listen to get this valuable tip!)
This one is about YOU! What do YOU love about ministry? Why did YOU get into ministry? Don’t lose sight of this! Schedule it into your ministry week, or you will get dry and start to recent your ministry. Whether it is teaching, training, performing, coordinating a large even annually – make it a part of what you do!
You are a Shepherd of kids and leaders/volunteers. Don’t lose sight of that in the midst of administrating. Start calls and e-mails with a word of encouragement. End with a short prayer. Bring back visitation. Surprise people by calling with no agenda. Be a pastor, not just a recruiter and scheduler. Make encouragement a priority by resurrecting hand written notes.
Let me encourage you to LISTEN TO THE SHOW and check out all the helpful links in the Show Notes. Every week the show notes are LOADED with helpful links to resources and webpages mentioned on the show!
I got into cooking shows while researching for the Kids Church Cookbook, and I was amazed at the wide variety of shows on the Food Network. One I discovered was called Dinner: Impossible! Loosely hinting at the 1960’s show Mission: Impossible, the host is given a challenge that includes some kind of meal he needs to prepare, some obstacles he has to overcome, and a time limit. He doesn’t know what the challenge will be until he arrives, and then the clock starts counting down. If I were put in that situation, I’m sure everyone would either starve or be forced to eat terrible food.
I would love to be the host of a show called Kid’s Church: Impossible! I think it would be a wonderful challenge to be given a Bible story or Biblical topic, some limited props or supplies, and a time limit and have to come up with a complete lesson and then teach it. Perhaps that sounds like a nightmare situation to you, but the reality is, it happens all the time in children’s ministry. Maybe it doesn’t happen on Sunday mornings, because you ought to be planning your lessons weeks in advance.
But you don’t have to be in children’s ministry long to learn that there are many situations in which you find yourself suddenly needing a lesson. Perhaps your senior pastor comes up with a special program and asks you to provide “child care” at the last minute and even says he’d like you to teach on the same topic as he will be teaching to the adults. Or maybe one of your volunteers calls in sick the night before and can’t send you the lesson plan but says, “we are learning about Joseph and are right up to the point when he becomes second in command and his brothers show up.” You’ll need to pick up right where last week’s lesson left off. You may even be out of town on vacation and visiting your family’s church when the children’s pastor gets ill, and they say, “Aren’t you a children’s pastor? Can you do Kid’s Church? It’s Missions Sunday, can you take over?” No sweat! You can jog your mind through the C.R.E.A.T.E. mental triggers or whip out your CREATIVE IDEA THING-A-MA-JIGGER*, and you will be good to go!
I hope that you have been encouraged to start flexing your creativity muscle. The more you create, the better and faster you will become. Soon you will be amazing yourself and your students with your creative ideas. And don’t forget, you can share your ideas on Kidology.org so that other teachers all over the world can use your them too! Imagine…children in classrooms all over America, literally in classrooms thousands of miles away, laughing and learning because of YOUR idea!
Because Jesus Loves Children,
Chef Karl D. Bastian aka The Kidologist
[Reprinted from the FINAL TOUCHES conclusion to Chapter 5 of The Kids Church Cookbook: Getting Creative]
*The CREATIVE IDEA THING-A-MA-JIGGER is a device that comes with the Kids Church Cookbook Part 5 that I invented that helps you trigger creative ideas… Here are some quotes about my little invention and how it has helped people who didn’t think they were creative:
These are words that get tossed loosely around the Church between the donuts and Sunday bulletins. They are often just technical jargon we all must learn to speak in order to fit in with little impact on hearts and souls. We can hide hurt behind smiles and speak the church lingo without really understanding the depth of what these words were meant to provide.
But there comes a time in everyone’s life when the meaning of these words is transformed from church jargon to life-saving concepts that truly save a person from self-destruction and despair.
It may be the discovery of a painful truth, a deeply hurtful choice of another person, or a sinful choice for which the consequence was far greater or faster than one imagined. Suddenly Grace is sought. Forgiveness is desperately wanted. Healing is needed. But it can seem to be a thousand miles away.
Such is the story behind the movie October Baby. It opens in select theaters MARCH 23rd, and it is well worth your time to go see, even if the topic doesn’t appeal to you initially. The story is one of a young girl struggling with Asthma and Epilepsy who discovers at age 19 that not only is she adopted, but she is an ‘abortion survivor.’ These are two words most people have never even seen next to each other. Against her parents wishes, she heads off on a road trip to discover the truth about her past. The movie is beautifully filmed, superbly acted, and has an engaging sound track. While the story itself is touching (and a bit romantic), the underlying message was of greater significance to me.
While the website for the film offers lots of help for teens and woman who are certain to be impacted by the messages related to adoption, abortion, recovery, etc. – and this is a good thing – I found the overall message of grace and forgiveness to be the most moving aspect of the film.
Forgiveness is needed in several directions throughout the film – to be given and received. Too often we are focused on wanting to be forgiven and forget we need to give forgiveness. Or we realize we need to forgive someone but fail to realize that they need to hear that we forgive them.
As an adoptive dad, I loved the underlying message of this movie that every child needs to feel wanted. More parents need to take the time to make sure their children KNOW they are loved and wanted unconditionally, regardless of their mistakes and failures; that nothing threatens that love.
This is a movie worth going to see. First of all, just from a cinematic point of view, it’s not one of those lame Christian movies. (Thank goodness.) While the topic may seem “heavy,” the producers did an excellent job of keeping it fun, romantic, and engaging, with a bit of detective work on the main character’s part and some family drama It’s not too preachy, and it accomplishes its purpose without insulting the audience by spelling everything out for them like most poorly made Christian films do. Secondly, it draws you into the story and characters while never creating any real antagonists – just real people dealing with real life. Things are tied up in the end, but not too perfectly to make it unrealistic.
Lastly, I get tired of Christians complaining that no wholesome movies are made anymore, and then when those rare movies do come out, they don’t go see them, opting for the DVD release instead. Then they go spend their money at the box office on the movies that supposedly offended them. If you truly want to see more wholesome movies at the box office, dollars are the only way to vote for them. So visit a theater on March 23rd, and go see October Baby!
I am not one to toss around the words “favorite” or “best” lightly or often, so when I say that W. Bruce Cameron’s novel Emory’s Gift is my favorite novel, I mean it quite sincerely.
It is TRULY the best novel I have ever read. Never before have I laughed out loud reading a book, turned away from others lest they see my tears, or just cried boldly on a plane because I no longer cared if anyone saw my tears. I have read lines to strangers who had no idea what I was trying to express because they lacked the context, but I didn’t really care, because I just couldn’t keep that line or paragraph to myself. Cameron’s writing style and insight into the mind of a young boy is truly amazing, insightful, and downright hysterical at times.
Truly, I am Charlie Hall, the main character – a middle schooler, around whom the book revolves. And I miss him now like I lost a childhood friend I’ll never get to see again. So real did the author make him, and so vivid did he paint his memories, his experiences, his deep loves, such as Kate, a teacher he was convinced returned his love. (What boy hasn’t fallen head over heels for a teacher and pretended in his mind that it was mutual, even while he knew he was only kidding himself?) But eventually he found “true love” in Beth, a girl much closer to his age, who both befuddled and enchanted him with her spunk and charm.
Indeed, Cameron has written one of those rare novels where the greatest agony is not that the bear aspect of the story may or not be true, but rather the agony that Charlie Hall isn’t real. In the end, he hints at a conclusion the reader is perhaps to come to without directly telling it to him. It’s genius. I’ve never read a novel twice, but I will put this away only long enough to forget the details so that I can relive it. It might take several years, though, since I remember it as though I lived it. But when the time comes, I will journey with Charlie Hall again down memory lane.
Charlie is a boy who lost his mother to cancer and lives in a home with a nearly silent father who, while not a bad father, is withdrawn and dealing with his own grief while leaving Charlie to cope in his own way. An encounter with a wild grizzly bear in the woods that ends up becoming his best friend becomes central to the story – especially when the bear turns out to be perhaps more than just any bear. But I don’t want to include any spoilers, so I’ll leave the mystery of “Emory’s Gift” to those who are lucky enough to pick up a copy of the book.
Part of my connection to the book is that, like Charlie, I also lost my mother to cancer in 1996. It was also slow and painful. While I was a young adult at the time, my much younger brother was Charlie’s age, and he was still at home with an agonizing father. I saw a lot of my dad and brother in this story and in their journey toward moving on without the most loving mother this world has ever known. I am giving a copy of the book to my brother, an MLB reporter and writer who I think will greatly appreciate Cameron’s gift for storytelling. I believe it might bring some healing to his heart regarding the loss of his mom at that tender age and perhaps help him understand his dad a little better, who is now remarried and happy again. This book helped me heal some too.
I may have read somewhere that this is a book for children; however, I certainly would not recommend it for kids.* I do recommend it for the child in each of us, especially for grown men who remember the struggles of transitioning from childhood to manhood and the awkward inner (and literal!) battles they caused. Charlie’s former best friend Dan becomes a bit of an ‘enemy,’ even culminating in a classic school fight that is described both with heart and humor. It is certain to bring back many memories for men who faced the same coming of age battles in their younger years.
But it was the story of the bear that drew me to the book initially, for I encountered a bear at the age of ten, as well.
My First Yosemite Black Bear as an Adult, 2008
I was camping in Yosemite National Park at the time. I love to sleep outside, and since my nylon sleeping bag kept slipping off the plastic folding cot in the night and I’d awake in the dirt, one night my dad devised a plan to bungee cord my sleeping bag to the cot. I awoke in the middle of the night to gentle nudging in my side. Thinking someone was trying to awaken me, I peeked and discovered a large black bear sniffing me! Terrified, I only stared at my “Emory,” wondering if I was a midnight snack. Unable to speak or move, I just froze and watched (and felt) as he continued to sniff me, gently nudging into me. I remembered Forest Ranger Nina (my Kate of the week) telling us that bears never attacked campers, but that they had mauled people just trying to get food. With that thought came the realization that I had some jolly ranchers in my pocket.
The bear’s nose went under my cot, and as its massive head vanished, so did my hope of survival. I figured my final memory would be the shadow of its body without the head, when suddenly the bear lurched up, flipping my cot. At that point I figured it was “flip and slash” so I broke my silence and screamed like a girl. No offense to girls, I mean it actually as a compliment! (Did I mention I was bungee corded to the cot?) As I landed face down in the dirt, the cot on my back, my dad came out of the Winnebago Camper to save some screaming girl and saw the bear lumbering back into the woods, jolly-rancher-less, and discovered the screaming girl was actually his ten-year-old son.
Like a grown Charlie Hall, I have become a bear hunter in Yosemite ever since. You can read of my first bear discovery here: A Prayer BEARly Answered (Bear pictured above.)
The Black Bear I spotted last year, 2011
There are only 400 bears in Yosemite and over 5 million visitors annually, and every year God has blessed me with a bear sighting and the opportunity to photograph them. I have a series of photos now. I wonder, like grown Charlie Hall, if one of them is “my bear.” Of course, thirty years later, they can’t be…but its fun to wonder.
The Black Bear I spotted in 2010
So you can imagine the special connection I had to Charlie Hall reading Cameron’s novel.
Yosemite Black Bear from 2009
I hope Emory’s Gift causes many to pause and consider ‘mystery’ (for the book allows for mystery) and that the message that the book delivers (that I’m keeping from you to not spoil it) will open hearts to God. For parents, I hope that it will help them to connect better with their kids in difficult times, and for others, that it will encourage them to seize life and not allow hurt and pain to hold them back from enjoying what is next in life, to not let their Beth get away, because there may not be a second chance for everyone. (slight spoiler, but it ends well!)
WANT A FREE COPY?
The author mailed me a stack of hard cover copies to sponsor my podcast where I talk about the book, and I’ll be giving several copies away there, but I’ll give away a THREE FREE COPIES here on my blog as well! All you have to do is COMMENT ON THIS REVIEW and tell me a story about YOU and an ANIMAL. I will choose three people at random and contact you for your address!
It doesn’t have to be as dangerous or exciting as mine – you fed your cat this morning is fine! Just tell me a true animal story and you will be entered to win!
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you pick up a copy of Emory’s Gift as a gift for someone you love, especially men, for birthdays, Christmas and this upcoming Father’s Day! They will thoroughly enjoy it!
*Why don’t I recommend the book for children? While I found nothing offensive in the book at all, as an adult, it is a book that reflects on life as a young boy becoming a man. Therefore, there are a few references to girls and women in that context from the perspective of a grown man reflecting back on his discovery of girls, their development, the beauty of women, and relating to both. There is one mild reference to sex that while a child might miss it, is there nonetheless. It is a reference to his dad having sex with a woman that he didn’t figure out until ‘years later’ but the reader puts it together because the reader is assumed to also now be older than Charlie and also reflecting on the situation. (The whispering and giggling in the other room when the women spends the night. They eventually marry.) I’m curious how a child reading a few of these passages would process them, being in the middle of those life changes and discoveries. It was delightful and fun, never really offensive, but read like a book for adults reminiscing over those difficult years of discovery.
Next entries »
At CPC last month, I did a workshop titled “10 Steps to a Ministry Reboot.” You can listen to it and get my notes for a limited time here: www.kidology.org/cpc12
In short, it was 10 basic areas of ministry / tips you need to address in order to both keep your sanity and have a well functioning ministry. Some of the tips are a little shocking to newer administrators. Like “Don’t Recruit” and “Stop Leading.” In other words, you should only recruit a leadership team, and they should do the rest of the recruiting (under your guidance), and don’t lead any ministries yourself. Equip leaders who lead under your leadership. It’s a workshop that often saves the sanity and ministry of those who hear it.
In response, I got the following e-mail today:
….Last week I had the opportunity to attend CPC in San Diego. I attended your breakout: ”Ten Steps to a CM Reboot…” I appreciated the things you shared. I am currently on a sabbatical that my church has blessed me with and this is exactly where I am at right now… I am at a point in my life where I need to re-invent myself as a leader and our ministry.
My question is, HOW does one make these changes. It seems impossible and impracticable to implement all of these at one time. So where does one start? How do you implement these in the midst of trying to keep everything afloat?
Thanks again for sharing your wisdom and insight.
Blessings… [name removed]
It’s a GREAT question! I wanted to share here on my blog a little of what I shared with the person who wrote to me:
You are correct. You can’t do them all at once! Reinventing yourself and ministry WHILE keeping it going is the trickiest part of ministry, isn’t it? The key is prioritizing what needs to change and working on one area at a time.
What a blessing to have this sabbatical to refocus and get an opportunity to step back a bit and get some perspective. There is no “quick answer” – but I can encourage you to consider a few things.
1) Take a look at the Kidology Online Training I’ve put together. It contains five leadership labs to help leaders do just that. There are five training videos and five download kits to help walk you through this very process.
There is also a pack of all five available. If you work through these, it will really help you! It’s almost like having me as a personal coach.
2) That leads to the next best thing, getting yourself a personal coach, which we also offer on Kidology, known as Kidology Coaching.
A coach can really help you step by step to take things to the next level in your ministry by helping you set goals, holding you accountable, and helping you troubleshoot and problem solve specific problems while also identifying areas you can improve both personally and in the ministry itself. Perhaps a church that will invest in a sabbatical would also invest in coaching?
But the simplest answer is to take those “10 steps” and put them in priority order and address them two or three at a time. When I started my last ministry, I made a list of 12 areas I saw that needed to be addressed, and it took me eight years before I felt like I had addressed all 12 (and none to perfection, mind you!). I didn’t get to the ugliness of the facilities until the 7th year, and most CPs seem to start there – decorating. I wanted recruiting and the strength of the educational ministry to be my foundation, therefore I addressed those first, but not before I first addressed forming a leadership team. I had a list of my priorities (that no one saw but me, or I’d scare them all away!), and I hit them one at a time (or maybe two) and worked my way down the list, sometimes going back to refix things that were breaking because I had turned my attention to other things.
3) If you are not a member of Kidology.org yet, do join, and use the forum to ask specific questions as well, and you will find people answering with great advice.
Bottom line: you are not alone, there is help, and you can do it! Being willing to seek help, digging for answers, trying new things, and knowing you need to do some reinventing are half the battle. It is those who are content that have a problem.