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In the past 25 years of ministry I have done everything but children. Yet here I am working with a small team to build this ministry. Understanding that having a good children’s ministry is important for attracting and ministering to families, I am passionate about doing all I can to make it happen. Will you help me?
1. What do you think about this outdoor play set for a small church children’s ministry?
2. What is your experience in raising funds for children’s ministry at a small church? The play set cost is $3,000 wholesale. The church does not have a budget for children. Have any of you had any experience with Silent Auctions?
We recently helped start a 2nd service (Modern) on Easter and it is attracting some younger families with children. Appreciate any thoughts. You can comment here or email me at DuAnne@MSWChurch.com.
It’s official. Aaron is 13. We love to celebrate and for his 13th we took the fam to Disney World. We were at Animal Kingdom on his big day and lunched at Rain Forest Cafe. Very Cool. Keeping with our tradition I want to share 13 things I like about my son. Forgive the gush. Hey, it’s who I am.
1. I like that Aaron is sensitive. Praying that God will use his sensitivity for his glory one day.
2. I like that he has a good work ethic. He is a hard worker and after a quick calculation it looks like he averages over 15 hours a week working at the church. Not bad for a 13 year old. Most important is that he really does seem to do it for Jesus, with a great attitude and without being asked.
3. I like his passion. Aaron has a passion for the right things. Jesus, Scripture, Music, Excellence, Family, Learning.
4. I like that Aaron is a perfectionist. Praying that this does not drive him crazy one day but serve as a catalyst for good.
5. I like that Aaron is a reader. He reads books not for entertainment but for personal growth. Not bad for a 13 year old.
6. I like that he is not a crowd follower. A benefit to this is that he is willing to stand up for what is right.
7. I like that he chooses his heroes and mentors carefully. In January he attended The Gathering with his father and was thrilled to meet some of my old heroes like Dan Reiland, John & Margaret Maxwell, Steve Babby, Harry Wood, etc. Getting his pic made with some of these giants was on his bucket list.
8. I like that Aaron desires to make good grades. Appreciate that he is already looking at colleges.
9. I like that he is independent. Since 2 he has said “I can do it.”
10. I like that he has a soft heart for animals.
11. I like that Aaron is organized.
12. I like that he keeps his room clean without being asked.
13. I like that he still enjoys spending time with his parents.
My boys are not perfect because we are all sinners. But without a doubt I can say of all the 13 year olds in the world he is the one I would choose to be my son.
Aaron, I will love you forever and like you for always.
Last week my sister had to call the fire department because her kitchen caught on fire. Because they acted quickly the fire was contained and the damage was minimal. It reminded me of a time when my kitchen caught on fire while living in La Jolla, CA. Wish I could say I acted quickly but I didn’t. In fact I just continued what I was doing because I assumed it was a false alarm. I was meeting in my office with a student for discipleship and expected one of my roomies to reset the alarm. Problem was no one was home. Long story short is that though the house was saved and no one was hurt, we did have damage in the kitchen and it could have been much worse. I realized later that the fire was my fault because I had not turned the stove completely off when assuming I had. Assuming is not a good thing and especially when it is an alarm. The purpose of an alarm is to save lives. This morning as I was reading over some church consulting material I got to thinking about how we as leaders can ignore alarms. Not very smart but it happens all the time. Here are 5 ministry alarms that we should always respond to:
Declining personal devotions. For the Christian leader this is the most deadly alarm to ignore. Without a consistent quiet time with the Lord everything will begin to crumble. Sure a person can go on natural gifts and abilities for a while but eventually it will all crash. John 15:5 is one of many verses to support this Biblical principle.
- Declining family time. How is your time with your spouse? Do you have a regular date night? Do you invest time to connect? Do you keep short accounts? How is your relationship with your children? How are they doing? Whenever you put your ministry ahead of your family watch out. Sure there can be crunch times like special projects or deadlines you are working on. But whenever you short change your spouse or children it will destroy what you are working so hard to accomplish. Not to mention that we can miss out on the greatest blessing God has given us.
Declining Vision. Have you been so busy that you have forgotten your vision? Do your team members know it? I’ve seen it happen time and time again…a person gets so busy that they forget it and that means everyone around them will also forget it. Are you recruiting to a vision? Without a vision the people will perish.
Declining Passion. Are you excited about Jesus? Are you passionate about following him? Do you feel ablaze for God? Passion is like cream in your cofffee. Without this you miss the best part. For you non-coffee drinkers what about sugar in your cake?
Declining Growth. Is your church growing? Are people coming to Christ? It’s a temptation to live in denial and ignore a decline in your church. But the principle still stands if you are not growing you are dying. Are you growing? Do you have a personal growth plan? If you are not growing you are dying.
Have you experienced any of these alarms recently? At the next post let’s discuss healthy ways to respond.
I remember 25 years ago when Skip Gray, (who btw is one of the best staff by far The Navigators ever had) informed me that your best ministry opportunity will never be 9-5. Skip was speaking at a Campus Outreach Christmas conference for college students in Gatlinburg, TN. Soon after when I went on staff at UCSD for ministry to students I quickly found out that was very true. Good thing I was a night person at the time. I didn’t get a lot of sleep but we had a great time and built lots of wonderful memories. During my nine years at UCSD many students came to Christ, were discipled and are laboring in the harvest today.
Little did I know that statement would one day make me a better parent. Your best ministry opportunity will not be 9-5. Last night I had a full day and was grateful that I could go to bed at 11PM. Since becoming a mother I have become more of a morning person. I slipped into bed and my son sat on the edge and talked. I told Matthew it was past his bedtime and I got up to tuck him in and pray with him. I discerned that I had a window of opportunity. My introvert son who often keeps his feelings and thoughts to himself was still in the mood to talk. We talked for at least an hour and I never once looked at the clock. Our time was more precious than gold to me. I would have continued but he looked at the clock and said he was ready to go to sleep. As I left the room I remembered the words of Skip Gray and prayed that I would see every opportunity before this window is closed forever.
Recently I heard an interview with a newly drafted NFL player on the radio. Sorry that I can’t remember his name. The player became an orphan and homeless at a young age. When he was a teenager he met a Christian family who adopted him. The interviewer asked him “What was the best thing about being adopted?” The football player paused for a moment and then said “being tucked in.” I cried upon hearing his statement and the words resonated within my heart.
Relationships are important to me. And I enjoy connecting with new people. My desire is to know and minister to my neighbors and others that I come in contact with. A primary motivation for anyone going into full time ministry should be a burden and love for people. But working with people is going to be painful at times. I can’t tell you how many pastors I’ve talked to who are afraid to open up. They have a wall up because they are afraid, certain that if they let someone in, they will get hurt — again.
Honesty is important in any relationship. It is a requirement for authenticity. But sometimes the church reminds me of the the court room scene in the movie “A Few Good Men” with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. Do you remember that? Jack is being interrogated by Tom Cruise and then screams “You can’t handle the truth.” Have you known people like that? You begin to ask questions or share observations and they freak out. And then maybe turn on you. All of a sudden they don’t want a relationship with you and blow you off. They don’t return calls or emails. Maybe they leave the church.
Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation church posted a great blog in 2008 titled “People Will Turn On You.” But if we don’t let people in we will never become all that God wants us to be. Nor will be be effective in ministry. Even if one is not in ministry, a life without rich relationships is a pitiful and lonely existance. Going deep with individuals is a requirement for real fellowship. Our responsibility is to work through the pain of relationships, discover what we can learn from the experience, get up, brush ourselves off and continue the race.
The following is an excerpt from Pastor Craig Groeschel in his book “It” on ministry in the church: “It’s not surprising that many twenty-first century people are afraid. With as much relational pain as they endure, especially those who have served in ministry and leadership roles, it’s no wonder they’re gun shy. Amy and I talk often about our ministry scars. We’ve lost some of our closest friends to misunderstandings and false accusations. Doing what we believed was the right thing, we’ve had to fire people we cared about. Some still hate us to this day. Good friends have left the church bitter at us, or God, or both. People we opened up to betrayed confidences, dragging us through awkward seasons of pain and fear. For a while, we didn’t ever want to trust again.”
Regardless of past pain and current fear, God want’s you to share your life with others. Beware of the temptation to protect yourself by becoming emotionally isolated and independent. Watch carefully against the attitude of tolerating one another. (see previous post titled “Do You Love People or Just Think You Do?” ) To be independent is to be distinctly non-Christian. God designed us to be inter-dependent. To experience the rich and abundant life that God desires for us we must live in authentic community with God’s people.
Are you afraid to trust people because of past hurt? Has a betrayal motivated you to set up relational walls? Do you feel that something is missing in your life?
Here is a verse that has helped me through every time someone has turned on me: No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgement shall be condemned. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from me says the Lord. Isaiah 54:17
A little boy in our neighborhood has been eager to make new friends. New in town, only child, left with a babysitter during the day and long summer days fill his world. Having some medical issues don’t help in his quest for friendship. After observing my boys play nerf gun on our property he asked if he could join in the fun. It wasn’t long before Matthew and Aaron saw there was something different about him. Nevertheless they included him and said yes to his request to come inside and play. After two hours of playing his mom came to take him home. That night my sons forgot the rule of Everyone must help clean up and return one toy before getting a new one out. The rooms were a mess not to mention some damaged items. Seeing the disappointment on their faces I offer a lecture about when you have kids over to play stuff happens. It’s just a price you pay for friendship. If you don’t want to have boys inside to play then don’t. My first born son then replies..But Mama, you make it sound optional. What about the good commission? What I asked? You know, the good commisson in Matthew 28:18-20. Ouch. My heart was pierced. You’re right son. The Great Commission.
After praying with Matthew at his bedside and tucking him in, I thanked the Lord that he saw the importance of loving others even if they were a little different. Both of my sons learned that this boy has never been to a VBS and does not attend church anywhere. I learned again that God will put people into our lives for a reason. And that He blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others.
“The Great Commisson is not an option to be considered, but a command to be obeyed.” Hudson Taylor
After over 20 years of ministry I continue to learn that serving the Lord in any capacity requires spiritual, emotional and physical strength and endurance. Spiritual labor makes serious demands on us. Three years doing church consulting in the Northeast and then church planting took a heavy toll on me in all three areas. Yes it was fun, exciting and rewarding but the demands were high. WIN and serving as the Executive Director of the church was very full time. In additon to the norm I also lost my father in 2007. Not being in driving distance during his last few months was difficult. I am convinced that God used 3 things to keep me going in a demanding season of ministry. They are:
- Consistent devotional life (prayer & in Word apart from Bible study prep)
- Consistent family time
- Consistent day off
But there is a 4th area that I neglected which is diet and exercise. To serve Jesus well we must be as diligent in this area as the other three. This month Todd and I made a decision to eat healthier and get in shape. We have cut out processed food, unhealthy fats, sugar, white flour, soda, fried foods and high fat dairy. I’m not saying we will never eat fried okra or fresh peach cobbler again but we are going to get our unhealthy weight off and make better choices so that we can labor for a lifetime.
Even when you feel good it is still important to take time off. This means a regular off day each week in addition to a vacation a couple times per year. In one hour we leave for a vacation week in Virginia. Someone in the church blessed us with a week at his resort condo. We accepted. As much as I enjoy blogging I will be unplugged while we are out of town. My husband and children appreciate my undivided attention so they will have it. Expect it will be okay to post cell phone pics on facebook every now and then. You can also follow me on twitter @DuAnneSeeley.
What do you do to unwind?
Today one of my FB friends, Penny Maxwell, posted this comment…”You know how much you value a relationship based on the level of discomfort you are willing to endure to see it progress and develop.” I love this! This is who Jesus is and what he did. She went on to share…Real relationships demand something from you. When iron sharpens iron sparks will fly. Have you felt sparks in any relationship lately? With friends? Family members? Spouse? Neighbors? Co-Workers? Do you really love those people God has put in your life? Or do you see your relationships as dispensible as a used kleenix? It disturbs me to see someone blow a person off. When we do this we totally miss who Jesus is to be within us. God tells us in I John 4 that we do not abide in Christ when we choose to respond this way. If we are Christians and do this we will sometimes attempt to spiritualize our actions. Deep down we usually know what we are doing but we put on a fake front that there is nothing else we can do to be a peacemaker. So we wash our hands of it so to speak and move on to the next relationship, until they do something to tick us off.
Over 20 years ago I attended a workshop in Colorado that I never forgot called Conflict is Positive. It was great and certainly changed my perspective. Do I still have conflict? Absolutely. Do I always respond the Biblical way God commands? Unfortunately not. Do all of my relationships end happily ever after? Sad but no. Sometimes you can try to work through an issue and the other person insists on holding onto the anger and will blow you off. I once had a friend blow me off because I told her our preschool teacher informed me her son ate 7 pieces of pizza at the school party. She was very sensitive about her son and refused to speak to me ever again. She was in the church we served for years but to this day refuses to speak to me and others who unknowingly have offended her. She never told me how I offended her even when I asked her. I heard that she was offended from others she had shared with. By the way, Proverbs 6:16-19 tells us God HATES it when we spread strife among people.
Can you imagine how our marriages would be if we refused to deal with conflict? I imagine we would all be divorced many times. Can you imagine if your children refused to deal with confict? Conflict is good. Unresolved conflict is not good. Micah Vanderburg commented on FB page that “people need to understand that the willingness to go through discomfort is for the development of the relationship and not the demise.
Is there anyone in your life today that you need to call? Meet with face to face? Don’t be a wuss and send an email or letter in the mail. Put on your BGP and do the right thing. Will every relationship you do this with develop? Many will but a few probably will not. Spiritual immaturity, dysfunction and our baggage will sometimes hinder our doing the right thing. If a person holds a grudge and blows you off then your hands may be tied. But you can pray for healing and live out how Jesus taught us we should value people.
To check out a great blog by Penny Maxwell go to www.PennyMaxwell.wordpress.com or you can reach her on my blogroll.
Have you ever run out of gas? I did once. I was driving a 2 hour trip from Birmingham to Madison and my mom was with me. Mom noticed the gauge was close to empty and suggested we stop. I didn’t want to stop on I65 for gas. My preference was a different location. We were already late and had an agenda. And I felt sure I could make it. We almost made it but the car stopped soon after exiting the freeway. Bummer. Running out of gas was a much bigger setback than if I had taken just a few minutes to fill up.
Driving on empty is not smart. Leading on empty is less smart. Did you know that the majority of Christian leaders burn out? The research is startling. Few finish well. Just as I had a choice to fill up with gas and avoid running out, you too can choose not to burn out in ministry. The choice is ours.
Make the decision not to lead on empty. Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. Make the decisions today that will help you go the distance. Here are 6 decisions that are necessary to stay fueled…
1. Guard your time with God. Choose to make your time with God a priority over anything else. A daily devotional time with the Lord in prayer and His Word will enable you to minister from an overflow of your walk. Without plugging into the power source we minister in the flesh. Preparing for a sermon, Bible study or any other type of ministry is not a quiet time. I’ve known plenty of people in ministry burn out who were actively studying and teaching the Word but were not spending personal devotional time in the Word.
2. Choose your inner circle carefully. Everyone needs an inner circle. Finding one can sometimes be a challenge but it is a necessary part of refueling. The inner circle is a topic I will blog about next month.
3. Be willing to unplug at least once a year. I choose to go dark at least once every 12 months. During this time I don’t email, blog, twitter, FB, or take ministry phone calls. I totally unplug for an extended period of time. In case of a real emergency there is at least one person I trust who can reach me. The extra time this allows is great for refueling.
4. Protect one day a week. If we want to model obedience to God and His Word we will take one sabbath a week. If you are in full time ministry this will not be Sunday. You are cheating your family when you don’t do this. My children feel very loved and affirmed when I don’t engage in ministry on this day. Kids are smart. They know when you make them a priority and they know when you don’t.
5. Be willing to say no. You can’t do everything and do what God called you to do. If you don’t design your life other people will be happy to. Just say no.
6. Keep growing. What is your personal growth plan? A leader who stops growing stops leading.
These are what I feel are the top 6 decisions we can make to refuel. Which one is the greatest challenge for you personally? Our decisions will determine our destination.
Have you experienced burn out? Would love to hear what helped you to refuel.