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Archive for Moody
Imagine if the President of the United States heard about your kids ministry and decided he needed to see if for himself?
That’s exactly what happened to a Sunday School Director named Dwight Lyman Moody… and the President was none other than Abraham Lincoln!
I have the honor of being the first children’s pastor on staff at the church he founded well over 100 years ago, The Moody Church.
While he is known primarily as the Billy Graham of the previous generation, his ministry began as a children’s evangelist and he had a HUGE impact on the creation and growth of Sunday School. At a time when many churches were supported by ‘rented pews’ Moody rented pews for street kids. When he was told the children weren’t welcome in church (Big Church) he started a Sunday School for street kids that grew so big and well respected that Abraham Lincoln visited one Sunday to see it for himself! Imagine having the President of the United States drop in to see your kids ministry. Moody was passionate about kids but as his ministry grew, his focus shifted to adults.
He said at the end of his life,
“If I had my life to live over again, I would devote it entirely to reaching children with the Gospel.”
His school is still training kids workers to this day!
You may not see the President of the United States visit your kids ministry, but someone who far out-rankes him visits every week… Jesus! Is your ministry worthy of Him? Are you doing your best? Are you reaching as many kids as possible, and not just the ‘easy’ ones, but the ones that others reject or overlook?
If so, Jesus will show up at YOUR MINISTRY to see it for Himself, and to add His blessing and power while He’s there!
PS: If you are curious about the history of children’s ministry, you may enjoy this thread in the Kidology forums.
This is part of a series called 24 Days of Thankfulness. These posts are in RANDOM order, NOT priority order. Each is something I am thankful for leading up to Thanksgiving.
DAY #3: My Mom
It’s hard to believe this Christmas Day will be 15 years since my mom went to meet Jesus. Yes. The day we celebrate “God With Us” – is the day my mom went to be with God. Peacefully, after my little brother gave her permission to go. Though ill with cancer, she had kept her humor and loving gift of encouragement. My favorite inheritance is the boxes of cards of and letters from all over the world of lives she touched.
Me and My Mom
Those who have heard me speak, have heard her words through me, even when I wasn’t crediting her. She is a part of me. They have heard the story of my call to ministry – when I said at age ten, “I want to me a children’s evangelist when I grow up,” and she said, “What’s growing up got to do with anything? You start next week,” and the kidologist was born!
I am thankful for a mother who saw past the boundless energy and unbridled creativity that exasperated most – a mother who through exhausted eyes and weary hugs only whispered in my ear, “Watch out world, when this boy learns to focus this creative energy, watch out world.” She gave me hope in my future when others told me to go stand in the corner, if only to get me out of the way. She caused me to believe in myself when others made me stay after school. She taught me there was nothing I could not do, if God was asking me to do it, and if I relied on Him for the strength, vision and ideas to see it through. She told me people would help me if I asked them. And they would follow me, if I followed Jesus. She implored me to make the Bible my guidebook for life.
On her deathbed she told me that God had given her a dream for her life as a young girl that she knew would now be fulfilled in mine instead. Like King David who wanted to build the Temple but had to let his son build it instead, she knew her dream would fulfilled in her children. My life was saved miraculously several times growing up, and those stories had become my bedtime stories… stories of her gratitude for me and of God’s Providence because of His Plan for my life. Stories that inspired me to live for something far more important than myself for as long as He would give me to serve Him.
To live for other children. I became a children’s evangelist when I was only ten because of my mom’s belief in me and her training in children’s ministry. I was her student and I carry on her legacy out of a heart of gratitude. It is why I established a scholarship in her name at Moody Bible Institute (where she and my dad met) for other young students so that long after I am gone and finally reunited with her in heaven, her legacy will continue to enrich and equip the next generation of students who want to reach and teach children for Jesus.
Because, what does growing up have to do with anything?
Thank you, Mom, for inspiring me still.
Today I launched a little Thanksgiving Project over on Kidology.org called “24 Days of Thanks-Giving” – basically I am providing a simple Word doc you can download and every day from Nov. 1 until Thanksgiving add ONE thing you are thankful for.
It’s really just something I need to DO MYSELF – but I thought maybe others might want to join me, and I’d enjoy reading/seeing what others are thankful for. So you are welcome to use the Word doc, or just post in the forum what YOU are thankful for! So let me begin today, with my first post. These are NOT going to be in priority order, otherwise I’d have to go God, Family, etc. and then later on, people might judge me for putting one thing “above” or “before” another – so right out of the gate let me say, these posts will be in RANDOM ORDER of things I am THANKFUL FOR!
DAY 2 – God’s Word
DAY 3 – My Mom
DAY 4 – Photography
DAY 5 – Pandora
DAY 6 – George Lucas
DAY 7 – Breckenridge
DAY 8 – Barq’s
DAY 9 – Mercy & Grace
DAY 10 – Steves
DAY 11 – Freedom
DAY 12 – Luke
DAY 13 – Sara
DAY 14 – My Bookkeeper
DAY 15 – Science
DAY 16 – Da Cloud
DAY 17 – Awana & Sunday School
DAY 18 – My Dad
DAY 19 – True Friends
DAY 20 – Scottevest
DAY 21 – My Customers
DAY 22 – Tennis Balls
DAY 23 – Flight
DAY 24 – Jesus
Seventeen years ago today I said, “I do!”
But that was seven years after seeing her picture during my junior year of high school in a missionary slide show and deciding to write her a letter! Soon we were pen pals and an overseas friendship began from Chicago to Manila long before the Internet would have made it much easier to write back and forth. Each letter took two weeks to be answered so we maintained at times up to ten separate conversations as letters crisscrossed the globe. Eventually, I developed a growing love for the, uh, Filipino people, (yeah, that’s it!) and asked her father if I could come to the Philippines and be, uh, mentored by him during the summer after I graduated high school. Perhaps suspecting my ulterior motive, he requested I get a year of Bible college first before I could come as part of his mission’s summer intern program.I figured that was better than working for him for seven years and being given her ugly sister in marriage, and since she didn’t have a sister, the year of Bible college requirement seemed safe. So off to Moody Bible Institute I went. (I was going anyway, just for the record. I didn’t go to Bible college for a girl!) I did date in college, but no girl could compare to my pen pal over the sea, so I wrote to her dad again requesting a summer internship and he relented and let me come. He kept me busy! I did over 80 evangelistic programs in the 60 days I was there, discipled young men and did teacher training, but managed to sneak in some dating time (and a first kiss!) all with her parent’s blessing. (O.K. maybe not the kiss!)
A year later Sara arrived at Moody and was shocked that everyone knew her name, even the President of Moody greeted her by name and said, “You must be Sara!” She was embarrassed by her welcome. Little did she know how well known she was before she arrived. I had even hosted a birthday party for her attended by hundreds of students while she was only a senior in high school! Her picture was on a table while every one ate cake provided by the famous Rock n’ Roll McDonald’s in downtown Chicago where I was the “House Magician” and everyone signed a birthday card which we then mailed to Sara. The largest birthday party of Sara’s life, she wasn’t even at!
We finally got to date like a “normal” couple, fell in love with downtown Chicago, walking for miles along the lake shore, “parking” at romantic spots, and eventually getting engaged at the top of the Prudential Tower where my parents had their wedding dinner (as did we), got married at Moody Church with a horse and buggy ride through downtown Chicago to the tower for dinner.
While marriage isn’t always bliss, it is always a blessing to have a partner and friend to share life with through thick and thin. I have been so blessed that my pen pal has been my life pal now for seventeen years, but truly twenty-four years since she wrote me back! The day I got that first letter, August 26, 1986, I was painting a shed at a side job and my dad drove the letter to me. I put baggies over my hands to open the letter and read it. He knew I wouldn’t want to wait until I got home to read the letter from this beautiful girl overseas. Little did I know, my life would never be the same. She would one day be my wife.
I’m not sure she knew what she was getting in to when she married me – I hope she’d do it again! But as for me, I’d sure marry her again. I’m not anyone else could be as patient with me. I’m not an easy guy to keep up with or put up with. A patient and gracious wife was custom ordered for me. The story of why and how that slide show was even being showed at the church my dad was pastoring is pretty amazing, and not worth the space to type out here – but it was a fluke. Most of Sara’s dad’s supporting churches were in the upper North West of the United States, except for one lone church in Chicago because of a chance encounter that led to one church supporting them, that led to me seeing that slide show.
I think it’s because when a five year old boy starting praying for a wife – heaven went into a panic, and had to start working in overdrive to find a woman who could handle this man, and then once they found her, across the globe, they had to rearrange circumstances so that they could miraculously meet. It was a challenge, but they pulled it off. Sure, they had to use a slide projector and pens and paper and five years of letters, but eventually they met.
And seventeen years ago today, they both said, “I DO!”
I received a Facebook message today from a children’s pastor with an interesting question. His church was encouraging him to pursue a seminary degree, but he wasn’t convinced it was necessary. As he looked over the landscape of ‘successful’ children’s ministry professionals, he saw many (including me) whom he didn’t think had seminary degrees, and that didn’t seem to hinder their success in ministry. I won’t list those he mentioned, because he was wrong in assuming that I don’t have a degree, and I wouldn’t want to make the same mistake by stating publicly that someone else doesn’t have a degree if indeed they do.
Me and My Degree (and the Dew that got me through!)
I actually have a Bachelor’s Degree in Bible Theology from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois, and a Master’s Degree in Children’s Ministry from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, but that isn’t the point.
The point is that this children’s pastor poses a great question. I wanted to share here some of what I shared with him, in case others are wrestling with that difficult decision.
Getting a degree is difficult when you are in full-time ministry! As one who has pursued my education while in ministry, I know it is very hard but also extremely valuable. I saw how disconnected the academic work could be from the practical side of ministry, and yet the biblical foundation was essential and critical. Too many pastors desperately need it. If a good school is not near your church, one good option is an online school such as Children’s Ministry University Online, www.cmuo.com, where I have served on the faculty. I only stepped down from my role there when my plate got too full.
As I said to this children’s pastor, yes, it is true that a lot of people you see with ‘success’ have done so without a degree. But if your church is encouraging you to pursue your degree (as did one of mine), and if they are willing to help FUND that pursuit (as did mine), I would take advantage of that! When I started my Master’s degree, I did not see the value of it as much as I do now. I was receiving invitations to speak places and starting to be a published author, and I thought, “Why do I need a degree?” (I was in my 20′s.) But by the time I had earned my degree, I was hearing more and more, “Why should we listen to this guy?” They started asking about my credentials, and the older I get the more they look at my degrees, especially when I am asked to speak on college campuses – suddenly a degree is very important!
Bottom line: Do you NEED a degree to succeed? No. You’ve seen that you need only to follow God’s calling. But if you have the opportunity for a degree, you should jump at it. It will be hard work, but it will enrich you. It will open more doors and gain more respect for you, as well as higher salaries in the long run and an edge over other candidates when applying for jobs, etc.
To have a church encouraging you to further your education is a blessing. I’d do it with gratitude, especially if they are willing to free up some time and provide some financial support to do it. What a great opportunity to invest in yourself as a person and as a minister. I say go for it! No one who got a higher education ever regretted it, and many who did not DID regret it.
What are your thoughts on the subject of ministry and education?
Be sure to take the Education Poll
related to this post in the Kidologist Forum
Moody Ministries has recently redesigned their website and are in the process of reworking all of their sites to integrate better. Kidology’s own Director of Web Operations, Steve Tanner, has some connections on that team and has been showing me the work they’ve been doing, and we’ve been impressed! So it came as a surprise when I got a call from Moody (via a totally separate connection) asking if they could do a little story on me since I am a Moody grad. I was honored! I have MANY Moody connections in my life!
Well, the story is now live! I kept it a secret from both Steve and my wife just for fun. Steve saw it live even before me as his friend noticed it and recognized the Kidology connection, and tonight I instant messaged the link to Sara to surprise her. I’m on Moody’s website! I think I can just go to heaven now. What an honor. Also mentioned in the article is fellow blogger Barney Kinard, who also graduated from Moody at the same time as my parents. (1964) And, since it’s not mentioned in the article, my wife also graduated from Moody (1993) with a degree in Educational Ministries, and with Straight A’s! (Smart and beautiful!)
MY MOODY CONNECTIONS:
- Moody student introduced my mom, as a little girl, to Jesus.
- D. L. Moody, through a chain of conversions led Billy Graham to Christ, who in turn led my dad to Christ.
- My parents met at and graduated from Moody
- My father-in-law graduated from Moody.
- His daughter (my wife) graduated from Moody.
- Received my Call to ministry via a Moody grad.
- My sister Melissa has attended Moody.
- My mom worked in the Graduate School.
- My dad was on staff at Moody Church. (Adult Ministries and Missions Pastor)
- My dad made the cover of Moody’s Servant Magazine!
- I was Moody’s Church’s first children’s pastor (my first ministry)
- I was married in Moody Church.
- Kidology’s first endowed student scholarship is the Patti Bastian Memorial Children’s Ministry Scholarship at Moody Bible Institute.
Is it any wonder I love Moody?