As many of my readers know, I write the Kid’s Church curriculum for DiscipleLand and it is called DiscipleTown. It’s focus is on “Disciple Skills” – 24 units that cover twenty-four skills every fully developed disciple of Jesus needs to master. I am currently writing the 22nd unit. The series is designed for larger group with small group option and to be teacher led with many creative options (more than you can fit in a single week!) with several multimedia options.
I was very encouraged to get the following note this week from Marion Tims, a volunteer minister who describes herself as a 10 year veteran professional educator and home school mom and “to be honest, hard to impress.” She writes about DiscipleTown…
Karl, I just want you to know how much I have enjoyed finding the DiscipleTown curriculum. As the Children’s Director of a 300+ church, we started a Children’s Church in 2011. With my background in education, I knew I wanted a curriculum that would teach clearly and concisely Biblical principles in a creative, multi-media format. Having attended a mega church in the Atlanta area where they had a vibrant, active children’s ministry, I knew I wanted to duplicate that kind of ministry in our smaller church but with our much smaller budget.
I did, also, believe that we could teach Biblical truths at a deeper level. I feel like I have found it all with DiscipleTown.
I do not have the time, energy or gifts to plan on my own what I can purchase with DiscipleTown. I praise God that you have chosen to use your God given gifts to help those of us who are convicted to share the Gospel with kids in a fun, creative way.
The curriculum has also been a blessing to our youth ministry team who helps in our Children’s Church. They frequently tell me how much they learn and I have seen them grow as they come alongside their younger brothers and sisters in Christ as they help lead the different aspects of our worship. I look forward to teaching your future units. Keep pressing forward and looking up! It is exciting to see God using your gifts in our ministry!
Grace and peace, Marion Tims
I appreciated this note because she hit so many of the strengths of DiscipleTown. My goal as a curriculum author is to balance making your job as easy as possible, but at the same time to provide a curriculum that stands out from the crowd providing a tool that teaches clearly and concisely solid biblical truths. I often like to toss out a friendly challenge for folks to find any other children’s church curriculum that uses as much Scripture or that does as much biblical teaching as DiscipleTown. And yet, it doesn’t get too heady and is never boring! It does enable small churches to feel like they can offer the same multimedia like service that big churches do. As an added bonus, it’s super affordable! The statement, “I feel like I have found it all with DiscipleTown,” has always been my goal – lots of options, while keeping it creative, deep, solid, while staying user-friendly. It’s a tall order and countless hours go into every unit.
If you’ve never tried DiscipleTown, I encourage you to give a unit a try – there are currently 21 topics to choose from:
Worship is not a new concept to children, but it is often misunderstood. Too often, kids do not realize the significance of worshiping the one, true God. Children assume that “worship” is synonymous with “singing.” This unit provides an understanding of what true worship is — and it offers some very practical ways that children can incorporate worship into their lives. The first lesson explains the core meaning of worship “to show worth.” This second lesson imparts practical instruction on how to have daily quiet-times with God. The remaining two lessons will demonstrate how kids can worship through giving and by serving others.
For children, the Bible can be a very intimidating book simply due to its size. This unit will erase kids’ impressions of the Bible as a giant, overwhelming volume that will take years to wade through. Instead, they will view the Scriptures as a collection of smaller books written personally for them. You will introduce children to exciting tools that will help them delve more deeply into the Bible. Watch their confidence grow as kids gain a broader understanding of how the Bible is organized and how to navigate its pages! Students will be motivated to practice applying biblical principles to their daily lives. The Bible is not just a book to be studied —- but God’s Book that can change their world!
The Fruit of the Spirit may be a familiar topic to children, but the concept of how to grow spiritual fruit is one that is often misunderstood by adults, not just by kids. Unlike many curriculums on the fruits of the Spirit for children, this unit is not an overview of the nine fruits. Rather, it is a 4-week series that will walk children through the process of how to nurture the soil of their soul so that the Spirit of God might produce genuine spiritual fruit in them. Starting with the seed of salvation and being watered with the Living Water, children will discover that their spiritual life is like a plant and God is like a loving gardener. They will learn that it is only by being pruned through loving discipline and abiding in Jesus that spiritual fruit will blossom in their lives. This unit will guide them, not into working harder to be good, but to draw closer to God so that he can make them more like Jesus.
One of the more important skills we can impart to children is the wise ability to choose good friends. Few things will have greater influence on the rest of their life. The friends children choose will have significant influence on their character, their choices and therefore the direction of their life. Helping children to be intentional and thoughtful about their choices in friends is a skill that if gained as a child can have life-long benefits. This unit will help children understand that friendships are not only a gift from God, but something that we are to be intentional about.
Many people, including Christians, settle for a very self-focused life goal — to arrive at death safely, with as much comfort as possible along the way. This is hardly God’s best! Though the world offers fun and excitement, only the Lord’s plan promises deep, rich fulfillment. We can help kids elevate their perspective to see that life can be thrilling when they follow God’s plan. This unit will help your kids discover God’s will for their lives! They will learn that growing in Biblical knowledge, in Christlike character, and in godly conduct are key to fulfilling God’s wonderful plan.
Many parents pray long and hard that their children will make good choices. It is essential that we equip children while they are young with decision-making skills that will enable them to weigh and evaluate alternatives. This unit will help your children understand the power they have to choose between right and wrong. They will learn how to win the spiritual battle that rages inside, as well as what to do after they make a bad choice — as we all do far too many times. You will encourage your kids to listen to the positive influences that help guide them toward sound choices along the way.
The topic of work may not immediately appeal to children (or adults for that matter), but God invented the whole idea! Beginning with the first chapters of the Bible and throughout Scripture, God presents work not as a chore but as a gift from Him. Work allows us to engage in God’s plan for His wonderful creation. In this unit, you will introduce children to the gift of work, and they will learn how to be faithful workers — as they use their attitudes, their abilities, and their actions. Teach children that when we accept the gift of work, have a good attitude, learn new abilities, and get into action, God can provide for our needs!
Prayer is a familiar topic to children — but do we truly teach children how to pray? For too many Christians (of any age), prayer is reserved for times of trouble or cursory meal blessings, but prayer is so much more. It connects us with our Creator and deepens our walk with God. Teach prayer as a skill so that children can discover firsthand how it enriches their lives. Teach children to pray, and there become many things you will not have to teach them — the Holy Spirit will do it for you! In order to give children a simple mental framework, break down the many aspects of prayer into four areas, each starting with a letter of the word “PRAY” — Praising, Repenting, Asking, and Yielding. While there is certainly more to prayer than can be captured in four simple words, each lesson will expand on the broader aspects to show kids that they will enjoy a lifetime exploring the power and the joy of connecting with God!
Children grow up being told what to do and what not to do, learning behaviors that keep them out of trouble and earn them rewards. In this short-sighted approach, their walk with Christ becomes limited to seeking to please the adults in their lives. Remove those adults, and the kids’ pursuit of Jesus evaporates as well. Teach children to build solid Christian character, however, and you have disciples who can live victoriously, independent of adult supervision yet dependent on God. Isn’t that our ultimate goal? This unit trains children to evaluate and take ownership of their spiritual growth, following the model of Jesus’ growth in the short but powerful verse, Luke 2:52. In this verse we discover a comprehensive formula for Christian character in young people — wisdom, character, integrity, and reputation. Children can intentionally develop in these same areas, if we are willing to guide them!
Jesus’ final command before leaving earth was to “Go and Make Disciples!” For kids to be disciplemakers, they need to know how to explain their faith to their friends. During this unit, your students will discover the joy of sharing their faith with others. As they learn a simple Gospel message, “Good News for Kids,” they will explore each element that Jesus told His followers to take to people everywhere (Matthew 28:18-20). During each lesson, children will unpack Biblical principles that explain how to communicate their faith to others. They will discover how to prepare to share, how to be wise with words and actions, and how to develop the courage to share their faith with people who desperately need the Gospel.
One of the most exciting things about being a Christian is that God gives His children special gifts in order to help them serve Him. While all of His creatures are born with talents that are a part of what makes them unique, when we become a part of God’s family, the Bible tells us that we receive special abilities — spiritual gifts — that help us serve God and advance His kingdom. In this unit, children will be encouraged to learn about both their talents and spiritual gifts and will be guided through a process of exploring what their spiritual gifts might be.
The purpose of the Christian life is to have a relationship with God. Too often people in the church place an emphasis on “getting saved” — but then what? While our ultimate destination with our Creator is to be cherished and celebrated, Jesus also died to welcome us into a relationship with Him during this life on earth! In this unit, your kids will learn tried-and-true techniques for enjoying a personal “quiet time” with God so they can deepen their friendship with Him. They will also discover how to enjoy the Lord’s presence throughout the day and how to call on Him in times of need. Meeting with God is something we can do in a focused “quiet time,” but God is also available anytime we want to experience His presence and power.
For many kids, the Bible seems so big and complex that they feel overwhelmed. They don’t know how to start mining the riches in the New Testament. In this unit, you will take children on a tour that will unlock the mysteries of God’s Word and give them confidence to navigate through the New Testament. Your kids will learn how the New Testament fits together. You will show that the 27 New Testament books fall into three groups: History, Living Letters, and Prophecy. In addition, they will “meet” some key authors of the New Testament. Finally, you will guide children to apply Bible truths to their lives.
For 4,000 years, the Old Testament has molded Jewish civil, religious, social, and economic life. Never has one book so greatly influenced the way of life of an entire nation! Few children today, however, can relate to OT customs that appear to be outdated and irrelevant. This is your opportunity to open their eyes to the enduring significance of God’s Word. During this unit, your kids will learn how the Old Testament fits together. You will show that all thirty-nine Old Testament books belong to these three groups: History, Poetry, and Prophecy; seventeen History books illumine the past, five Poetry books imprint the present, and seventeen Prophecy books inspire the future. The Old Testament may be an “old” book, but it has a new message for kids today! Bring this ancient manuscript to life for your students.
People often say: “Kids today have no respect.” But what is respect and where does it come from? In this unit, your children will learn basic skills to help them show respect to God, themselves, their families, and others. They will realize that respect begins as an attitude. If we develop a respectful attitude, respectful behavior will soon follow. We can help children become more respectful by helping them accept who God made them to be and by encouraging them to improve their attitudes toward other people.
This DiscipleTown unit introduces kids to basic questions and answers related to understanding and defending the Christian faith — the study of apologetics. While apologetics is often used as a witnessing tool, its proper place is to strengthen the faith of believers. This unit will help prepare children to answer questions about their faith, while teaching them that having questions is okay. Children need the confidence that when they think logically and search God’s Word, He will provide His answers!
Christians must expand their horizons and embrace God’s heart for people all over the world. By broadening kids’ perspectives to see beyond their local church and community, this unit will enable your children to grasp God’s great plan and to participate in His Great Commission. First, children need to see that God has a plan for every person to know His Son, Jesus. Next, they need to understand the good news that Jesus came to bring salvation to every person — everywhere — so they will be able to share it. Then, they must understand that God uses His Church to spread His Good News around the world. Finally, they need to be challenged to have “beautiful feet” by sharing God’s wonderful message.
You and your students are about to begin a wonderful journey together — the joy of personal Bible study. The Bible is a powerful book! It has the potential to change kids’ lives! However, too many children view this amazing book as one that adults study and then tell them about. God gave His Word to all believers to read and study, and that includes children. When we equip our children to read and study the Bible, they experience its power for themselves! In these lessons, you will introduce children to four inductive Bible study steps. First, they will learn how to survey a Bible passage (Zoom!); next, how to carefully observe a passage (Look!); then, after learning how to correctly interpret a passage (Think!), they will discover how to apply biblical principles (Live!). Soon your students will be exploring their Bibles in a whole new way!
God declares that His Word is authoritative and effective, and when “hidden in the heart,” it has the power to keep us from sin. But the idea of memorizing Scripture can intimidate children and adults alike. In this unit, children will appreciate the incredible mind that God has given them, the importance of memorizing God’s Word, and the benefits of doing so. Furthermore, kids will learn to meditate on Scripture in order to allow it to sink into their very characters and wills, resulting in deeper, richer insights. Using fun science, they’ll know that God has wired them to learn and to apply what they learn.
When Jesus was asked to identify God’s greatest commandment, He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). But what does this truly mean? What does it look like? Too often we give children “pie-in-the-sky” platitudes but without supplying practical steps they can apply in everyday life. This unit will help your children know what it means to love God with actions — not just words. Your kids will discover how to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. They will also learn that loving God involves loving other people, too.
We spend a great deal of time in ministry doing a great many wonderful things—reaching, teaching, and training kids for Jesus. However, Jesus gave just one primary command when He returned to heaven: “Go and make disciples.” What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? Can young followers of Jesus experience victory in their Christian walk? This unit introduces children to five basic principles for having P-O-W-E-R to follow Christ in their faith: Praying from the heart, Obeying the Holy Spirit, Worshiping with the Church, Explaining their faith to others, and Reading their Bibles daily. Yes, children can experience profound P-O-W-E-R in their walk with God when they begin to apply these life-changing disciplines.
If you have been discipling with Awesome Adventure over the years – you are in for an EYE-POPPING surprise!
You will find the same Bible-Rich Content that covers the same 12 Basic Discipleship Lessons – but communicated in an entirely new exciting way!
I’ve been personally transformed into a cartoon (!) – and entered into the book to take Dee, Cy and Paul (and their trusty dog, Chip) and two other new Christians, Luke and Laura, on a hike in Yosemite National Park to learn all about God and what it means to walk with Him!
Along with way they visit actual historic sites in Yosemite while learning about the Bible, Prayer, Fellowship, Spiritual Gifts, and many other important topics – while discovering the parallels between hiking and walking the Christian life! They learn that discipleship comes with dangers, and decisions and even a run in with a bear!
Your young diciples will learn right along with the kids in the book what it means to live for God along the path of life. There are fun interactive puzzles, codes, mazes, word searches, and colorful illustrations that make the book seem to come alive. I’m especially excited that a lot of my own photography from over ten trips to Yosemite was used, often integrated with the graphical cartoons for an amazingly unique look that you just have to see – its photo-realistic, and yet cartoony, because it is a blend of actual photos and art, for a look that I’ve never seen done before.
But beyond the amazing visual appeal, and engaging elements to attract kids – it is still the strongest tool on the market for discipling kids one on one, which is why my wife and I wrote it years ago, and why DiscipleLand published it and began their entire Adventure Series with this edition.
Sunday School and Kids Church Curriculums do a lot of good in teaching kids the Bible – BUT unless a parent or caring adult takes the time to disciple a child one on one through the basics of the Christian Faith, how do you know they understand and ‘own’ their faith? How can you be sure they understand the basics and can stand firm when they hit their teenage years? How can you help them establish the important habits that will last them a life time?
That is what Awesome Adventure was designed to do! The attractiveness and fun is to engage kids, the solid biblical content is to help make a disciple of Jesus out of them as they dive into the Word of God! Awesome Adventure gets kids into the Bible! There are over 220 scripture references in Awesome Adventure. When kids look these up and highlight them in their Bible over the course of this study, it gives them a powerful overview of Bible and a great sense of confidence in their ability to rightly handle the Word of God.
Awesome Adventure comes in two age levels. It is the same study with the same basic content, but the lower level is simplified for a younger learner:
My good friend and a very wise and experienced children’s ministry guru, Dick Crider, who has decades of teaching experience both as a professional and as a father and grandfather, provides LIVE online training seminars via DiscipleLand that you can sign up for and attend FREE of charge.
HOWEVER – attendance is LIMITED so it is important to sign up in advance for the online workshops that interest you.
PLUS!Kidology Has EXCLUSIVE Buy One Get One Free Offer!
DiscipleLand, the publishers of DiscipleTown, are coming out with the most beautiful preschool Bible this Spring – BUT RIGHT NOW – you can get exclusively from Kidology.org a gorgeous Easter Story Book for your children at an amazing BUY ONE SET OF TEN and get a SECOND SET FREE!
This special offer won’t last long – and it is unique to Kidology.org due to my special relationship with DiscipleLand as the author of DiscipleTown.
You will get TWENTY 16-Page books for the SAME PRICE as TEN over on Discipland.com! (compare)
You’ll want to give one of these beautiful books to every one of your children on Easter Sunday Morning! VISITORS COME ON EASTER SUNDAY! This bibllically rich book tells the Story of Easter and shares the Gospel Message!
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!
THIS OFFER HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED. Well over 1000 Churches responded to this free offer and are now teaching How to Use the Bible. It is our best selling unit that equips kids to USE their Bibles for life. It’s only $44.95 for 4-5 weeks and is PACKED with creative tools and resources. It is well worth a closer look. (Only $39.95 for members of Kidology.org) Order Today!
Yes! I’m excited to let you know that DiscipleLand.com is giving away 100% free full copies of my How to Use the Biblechildren’s church curriculum this month to subscribers of their free newsletter.
THIS IS NOT A SAMPLE!
This is the full and complete 4-5 week curriculum that you can use in your children’s church.
This is your opportunity to find out why churches all over the world are using DiscipleTown – even if they don’t use DiscipleLand’s Sunday School materials. It is a strong stand alone children’s church curriculum that is highly creative, scripturally rich, incredibly flexible, engages the family and makes you look sharp!
AND THIS MONTH ITS FREE!
Why would a publisher give one of their BEST SELLING units away?
Because they are a mission driven publisher with only one line of curriculum that flows out of a philosophy of making disciples.
They share my passion for getting children into the Word of God. I’ve written before about the crisis of kids not using the Bible.
One of the distinctives of DiscipleLand is the absence of printed scripture and the abundance of Bible references – so kids actually need their Bibles.
I remember when my church switched to DiscipleLand and we had to buy new furniture, because the kids needed room on their desks for Bibles!
The #1 compliment I get for DiscipleTown is how much Scripture there is in each and every lesson.
That is why HOW TO USE THE BIBLE is the unit that is being given away for FREE. Both DiscipleLand and I believe passionately that there is a great need today for our children to be equipped to use the Bible!
Too much of what is out there today in churches has become entertainment-rich but Bible-poor and children don’t know how to USE their own Bibles, IF they even bring them to church. This needs to change if they are going to STAND FIRM for God in this changing culture.
For children, the Bible can be a very intimidating book simply due to its size. These lessons will erase kids’ impressions of the Bible as a giant, overwhelming volume. Instead, they will discover that the Scriptures are a collection of smaller books written personally for them. You will introduce children to exciting tools that will help them dig into the Bible. Watch their confidence grow as kids gain a broader understanding of how the Bible is organized and how to navigate its pages! Your students will be motivated to practice applying Biblical principles to their daily lives and learn how to have a daily Quiet Time. The Bible is not just a book to be studied–it is God’s Book that can change their world!
SO HOW DO YOU GET THIS UNIT FOR FREE?!?
Simply visit the DiscipleLand.com website. Click on the “Free Curriculum” banner on the right hand side of the web page and follow the prompts. This is a limited time offer, so don’t delay!
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.
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?
I’ve been working on writing DiscipleTown Table Talkers all day, for the fifth unit due to come out soon, and one of my favorite parts of this curriculum is the Table Talker family devotional component.
So I thought I’d put a sample on my blog to give my blog readers a “taste” of a family devotional that will be part of the next DiscipleTown unit. Each devotional has an easy “Let’s Play” component that gets families playing together with no complicated preparation – just something they can do with stuff usually right at the table, tho this one uniquely has them using the whole house due to the lesson point. Then there is a “Let’s Talk” discussion question to get every member of the family talking – but it is a targeted question that is setting them up for the topic. Next they are in the Word with “Let’s Read” followed by a short devotional “Let’s Think” that helps guide a parent on a spiritual discussion. But it doesn’t stop there. I always end with a “Let’s Do” practical application. Most are just a verbal application, but one of the three will be an assignment that can impact the family in a practical way, but I’m careful to balance them so that they don’t get overwhelmed. I want them coming back for more.
Well, with no further a-do, here is a sample – pre-edited by DiscipleLand, soon to be a part of DiscipleTown: How To Follow God’s Plan
Choose someone to start as the “seeker.” Give every person five pennies. Everyone else will go hide somewhere else in the house. When the seeker finds someone, they have to give the seeker a penny. The person they find becomes the new seeker and goes to find someone else. The old seeker now hides. Every time a person is found they have to give the seeker a penny and they become the new seeker and the old seeker gets to hide again once the new seeker is out of sight. If a player runs out of pennies, they become a seeker in order to get more pennies! The object of the game is get as many pennies as possible. A parent determines when time is up.
What is the best reward or prize you have ever received?
Read Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Which did you like better? Hiding or seeking? Are you a better hider or seeker? Do you think God is a hider or seeker? (Take some time to discuss this!) It may depend on whether you are seeking Him or not. But this verse tells us that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him. What do you think it means to earnestly seek God? What does that look like? How do you think He rewards people who seek Him? Would you say that you have earnestly sought Him? If not, what would it take for you to do so? What would need to change? What is holding you back? What do you think would need to change in your life? What can you image God might do in your life as a result if you did? It is kind of exciting to image what it might look like if you truly did earnest seek God. Go for it, I dare you!
Think of one thing you could do to earnestly seek God this next week as family or as an individual. Share it with each other and then check up on each other!
It seems like just yesterday I was blogging about how I hoped 2009 would be better. And here it is 2010! Aren’t we supposed to riding around on hover boards and beaming from place to place by now? I read that post, and instead of writing a post about my New Year’s Resolutions, I think I can just say “ditto” to that post!
But I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that an entire year has passed by when I reflect on all that I accomplished in 2009 – it’s actually quite an astonishing list – no wonder I am so exhausted!
And I wonder why I’m feeling exhausted?! No wonder I wasn’t ready for 2010 to arrive! I usually spend the last week of the year doing evaluation of the year just past and planning for the year to come, but I had some projects culminating and family visiting and am writing at CPC in Nashville (which I really don’t like being right after the new year) so I missed out on my week of margin for reflection and I can really feel it. Just reviewing my blog and making that list above has been very encouraging and eye-opening. For now – I need to survive this week at CPC – finish a few deadlines that still loom over me, and then do the planning and reflecting I wanted to do last week.
I’m excited that 2009 is behind me, and have NO desire to see 2010 “top” last year. In fact, you know what I am MOST excited about in 2010? Starting a guys hiking group here in Colorado for children’s pastors! Yup, I’m calling it “The Fellowship of the King.” (I know it’s corny, but I do like to hike to LOTR music.) I’ve been collecting a list of guys in Colorado, friends and soon-to-be friends via facebook ad twitter, and I’m going to be inviting them to join me hiking around this beautiful state to spend time away from ministry and with God. One thing I learned from Yosemite Summit was that once a year just isn’t often enough to disconnect from normal life and connect with God out in nature with others who share your passions in life. Most of them already know about this and are just waiting for info on the first hike – if you live in Colorado and are a guy – let me know, and I will add you to the list! (No, you do not have to be a children’s pastor or even in ministry to be included. But you may have to endure some worship music, prayer and spiritual conversation if you are not a Christian.)
I am excited and honored to be the first to tell you about a BRAND NEW curriculum for children’s church! It is called DiscipleTown! While it is part of the comprehensive children’s discipleship strategy from DiscipleLand, it is a highly creative and fliexible children’s church curriculum that will work in ANY church setting. More details and a chance to pre-order will released NEXT WEEK.
Here is a SNEAK PEEK VIDEOleaked on YouTube direct from the author, who you just might recognize, even with the shades on!
FORWARD TO YOUR FRIENDS AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD!
If you are still choosing what to teach in September, let me encourage you to plan on DiscipleTown! The first unit will be a four week series on How to Worship, which is a wonderful way to start out the school year – and as a downloadable product, it will be in your hands soon! You can then use whatever else you have planned in October. You are welcome to ask questions in comments, and I will answer the best I can. Complete details will be coming NEXT WEEK!
I am personally convinced that one person can be a change catalyst, a “transformer” in any situation, any organization. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a transforming leader.
~ Stephen R. Covey