Monday, July 27, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Hate People!

Ahhhh, got your attention, didn't I.

This is a title of a book I heard about on my way to work this morning. It also has a corresponding website. The interview I heard on the radio was from one of the authors discussing some of the elements of the book. Briefly, it lists out 10 types of personalities that exist in the workplace and how to best interact with them. For instance, "Stop Sign" is someone who puts the kabosh on any and all creative ideas or thoughts - saying things like "I think you've had enough fun" or "You'll put an eye out with that thing."

There are dozens of books out there on this kind of topic; that is, how to relate to the differnet types of people in your work/school/family/world....

What makes this one interesting is that the authors chose the title for thier book, "I Hate People." There is an implication here that I don't agree with, nor do I think it is Biblical - that implied idea is that "I HATE the poeple who are not like me!" Think of it, why would "Stop Sign" bother you? Why would "Spreadsheet" bug you? The issues they would bring up are ones to be dealt with in business, ministry or life... We "hate" them because they are not like us, and whatever type WE may be. Afterall, all of us is one type or another, right? What if YOU are Mr. or Mrs. "Smiley Face?"

God's Word tells us something very different: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves" (Phil. 2:3). We are to put the needs of others before our own! I could go on, but you get the point.

In the way of recommending a good book on dealing with personality types, especially those in your church or business, check out "5 Dysfunctions of a Team" by Patrick Lencioni. Great book that helps us all realize what we bring, and don't bring, to the table.

Til next time, Dean

Monday, July 20, 2009

Is Bigger Really Better?

I posted this orginally on a blog that I do some guest work on for The Cory Center for Children and Families, but thought I would repost it here too.

I have often wondered about the phrase “Bigger and Better,” and whether or not there is any truth in that statement, especially as it relates to Children’s Ministry?

I mean, it appears that the best Children’s ministries are the ones at churches larger than 2000 and have large budgets. It also seems that the CM directors that are most talked about and well known in the blogging world are the ones @ these larger churches as well. But what about the little guys? (Of which I still fancy myself one.)

For instance, I know some great CM directors from seminary that are in small to medium churches doing great things in bringing about the spiritual formation of children. I look at Ryan Frank, Children’s Pastor at little known Liberty Baptist Church in Sweetser, IN, a church of less than 900; but his ministry at Kidz Matter provides CM resources all over the country. Is Bigger REALLY better?

Certainly having a treasure of resources and access to a bigger pool of volunteers (though I am sure we all struggle with finding qualified CM volunteers) does have its advantages and allows for greater flexibility. But being smaller comes with some great opportunities as well: necessity for creativity, ability and time to develop more 1:1 relationships, flexibility if one happens to make mistakes, etc...

So, if you are reading this and struggle with being at a “small church/ministry,” take heart!!! God can and will use you to make a difference in the lives of kids & families. Remember, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ (Col 3:23-24).

In Him, Dean

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Are we Making a Difference?

We are in the process of making some decisions about bussing at our church and whether or not to continue carrying out that ministry. You may or may not have been part of that ministry or even known it to have existed. It's a hard decsion to make given how much of a struggle it is to keep it going and the fact that very few people seem to care to keep it going - myself included!!!

But let me provide a different perspective on it....this blog entry came from a fellow Children's Minister this morning. It is POWERFUL and helps shed some new thoughts on this debate. Perhaps it will strike you like it struck me........

I used to do a lot of Bus Ministry. Things have changed in the last few years where running busses is not feasible right now… but I still have a little place in my heart ready to pounce when the time is right again.

Bus Ministry is a great place to learn a lot… hard and fast. You make a lot of mistakes… and you ask a lot of internal questions… and it challenges the living crizzle out of your beliefs and makes you wonder if it’s worth it at all.

Once I remember questioning whether pulling a kid out of their situation for only a couple of hours a week was actually doing any good for them at all. I was explaining to God how they’re bombarded with family issues, inner-city pressures, peer-pressure like you’ve never seen… how was my little song-n-dance once a week going to provide any help… especially for those who didn’t half listen?

God told me—I must stop here for a moment and make sure you understand that when I say “God Told Me”, that it works like this: I get a really excellent idea in my mind that I know in a million years would never come from my own jacked up, over functioning brain—flatly”:

“When you’re in a fire… any moment you’re not burning is a great moment.”

I knew exactly what He was telling me. These kids were in the worst of situations… and though I was questioning our effectiveness, God was making it clear that every moment they were free from that situation was a precious, precious time for them. It helped me so much. Suddenly I saw their hyperactivity in a new light. They were excited to just be kids for once. They were getting a chance to play, a chance to connect with adults who truly cared about them as people. I wasn’t allowed to downplay any of the time we spent with them after that.

This concept doesn’t only apply to Bus Ministry… but to any ministry to children. Sure, we only get them a few hours a week… assuming they come every time the doors are open… but that time is precious. Especially from God’s point of view. Even if all we did was play with our kids rather than teach, for some of them it would be the most spiritually refreshing moments in their week. Experiencing God’s unconditional love in a safe, accepting environment should be the foundation of every children’s ministry experience.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I'm just curious...?

My wife and I have mentioned to each other before about how we would like to talk with some folks from the fundamental Baptist movement. You know, the one in which ladies wear long skirts and the men/boys are typically in collard shirts tucked into pants??? I am fairly conservative myself and have often wanted to strike up a conversation (dare I say a friendship) with their families.

But here's the thing - they seem closed off??? Perhaps they get tired of people making fun of them or staring at them, but I am genuinly curious. So, are any of you fundamental baptists? Would you be willing to talk about your beliefs with me and my family?

This may not be the best place for it, but I don't have any other option to try and communicate these questions. Perhaps I am a little strange (no comments about that, ya hear?), but I thought I'd give it a shot!


Why is Family Ministry Important?

I have posted before about the importance of Family Ministry and the necessity of parents discipling their kids in the home. Chances are you guys may even be sick of hearing me talk about it. But a lot of the reasons I am so passionate about family ministry are things that weigh heavily on my heart, and should be on ALL of our minds as Christians. Let me explain:

Reasons Why Family Ministry Should Be Important
  1. It is Biblically mandated for the church and all Believers to teach the things of God to children (Psalm 78:1-8, Deuteronomy 6:1-9).
  2. Jesus warned us not to hinder children from coming to him (Matthew 19:14).
  3. The most effective way to make disciples is by raising them yourself! Having more children means more people for you to disciple (Matthew 28:19-20), which is the goal of the Christian life!
  4. We are loosing Christians FASTER than we are replacing them! This includes stats from both new conversions and new births into Christian families. For more stats on this, listen to my previous post: Click Here!
  5. If what happens in the home becomes the center of one's life, personality, goals, etc., then God NEEDS to be taught in the home. Otherwise God becomes someone one "does" once per week.
  6. Kids will eventually grow up and become adults. If they are set to believe God is the center of their life, they are more likely to stay connected to Him when trials come and big decisions are made.
  7. The end goal here is to produce Fully, Committed Disciples of Christ who go and make a difference in the world. We can all use reminders to keep that in mind while we make decisions for and about our kids: Homeschool, public school or Christian school; sports, music, community, or no activities; devotions at home or no devos at home, etc. KEEP THE END IN MIND!
This list is not exhaustive, but hopefully get people thinking. Do you have any "Reasons" to add?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Bring God into the Equation

Typically, when my family is out and about, we get lots of people looking at us - some even make comments about / to us. You see, with 5 kids we are one of the larger families in the area (Port Huron, MI). We hear things like:
  • I could never do that!
  • It's hard enough with the two that I have!
  • She must be a saint! (Interesting they never say 'He' must be saint??)
  • You know what causes that right?
  • Are you done yet?
And those are more nicer comments!!! Let me say out of the shoot - these things are offensive to large families! They may seem like innocent comments, and we may laugh them off along with you; but at the heart of these comments us an un-Biblical, erroneous and sinful thought: That children are a burden and not a blessing! (Understand that I do NOT have anyone in particular in mind right now, but am making general comments on a personal blog.)

It is clear that God calls children a blessings - so why would I want to hinder that blessing? I have heard all the arguments and most of them stem back to selfish desires and wants. I AM NOT SAYING THAT EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE A LARGE FAMILY!!! That is not the point! There are some families that have tried for years to have children but have been unable to. Honestly, that breaks my heart! I would love to see those couples be able to have as many children as they want, but that is NOT our call!

What I am saying is that we should allow God to influence the size of our family - whether that's 1 child or 18 blessings! We should prayerfully consider these decisions in light of God's Word and Wisdom. I can give you lots of reasons why we should limit our family size, but just about all of them are un-Biblical. I can give you an equal number of reasons why we should ALLOW God to have control of that area of our lives. At the very least, bring God into the equation! Talk with Him, ask Him, then wait for a response!

My wife has had 5 C-sections and we are not sure if her body can handle any more. But we are equally unsure if her body will handle 1 more, or 5 more. We are not going to be irrational about it - we trust and value the opinion of her OB-GYN (who is the best in the area according to just about everyone). We believe God will make it know when he wants us to be finished. We also believe God has given us wisdom and discernment to process through these decisions.

OK, I had to get that off my chest.