Friday, November 17, 2017

God's Big Christmas Adventure Now Available On Kindle

This Christmas God is on an adventure, and your family is invited to join Him. In God’s Big Christmas Adventure we’ll follow God on His epic quest to save the world beginning in Bethlehem on that first Christmas night.

God’s Big Christmas Adventure is packed with six family devotions written to help your kids experience the wonder of the Bible throughout the holiday season and in the new year beyond.

This devotion book also includes includes a special bonus section with ideas for new Christmas traditions to help your family make unforgettable memories and experience the power of God’s love. 

Don’t settle for an average Christmas. Dive into God’s Big Christmas Adventure and let your family’s holiday adventure begin!

God’s Big Christmas Adventure is now available for $.99 in the Kindle store.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Free Christmas Bible Study

Believe it or not the holidays are right around the corner, and if you’re anything like me, that means you’re about to enter one of the busiest times of the year.  Ironically the season that is all about celebrating the birth of Christ can be one of the hardest times to connect with Him.
That’s why I created a free resource, The Holiday Road Bible Study, to give us an excuse to take some time during the weeks leading up to Christmas to reconnect with God.
The Holiday Road Bible Study is a four-week Bible study based on the book Holiday Road: A Christmas Devotional.  It can be used as a companion to the Holiday Road devotional or as a stand-alone study without reading the book.
Each week’s study contains a devotion from Holiday Road: A Christmas Devotional, along with an in-depth Bible study packed with verses and questions to help you dive deeper into God’s Word.
The Holiday Road Bible Study can be done on your own to enhance your personal quiet time during the Christmas season or with a group of friends to get you talking about the Bible and learning together.
The Holiday Road Bible Study is totally free and is just an early Christmas gift from me to you to help you have a meaningful and joy-filled holiday season.
If you like the study, I would love it if you would share it with your friends on social media or drop me an e-mail at and let me know what you think.
The Holiday Road Bible Study is available as a printable PDF, a MOBI file for your Kindle and as an ePub that can be read in iBooks or other e-readers.
I hope you have a joyful holiday season!

Family Devotion: Best Toy Catalogue Ever!

Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIrV)

Bible Story: Luke 17:11–19, Jesus Heals Ten Lepers

Terrific Truth: I can be thankful every day because of Jesus.

Wow, can you believe that the holidays are just around the corner? Before you know it, you’ll be making Christmas lists and decorating the tree. Speaking of lists, have you ever noticed how many stores like to mail you toy catalogues this time of year? They love to show you pictures of all the things you don’t have, so that you can make a list of everything you want. Their job is to try to convince you that you need everything in their store.

What if one year you got a different kind of catalogue in the mail? What it didn’t show you pictures of everything you don’t have, but instead showed you all the stuff you do have? Can you imagine if you had a catalogue with all the cool stuff you own? You may even discover some fun things you forgot you have.

But what if it didn’t stop with just toys? What if it also showed you pictures of your clothes and your food and your home? What if it showed the blankets that keep you warm at night and the hot water heater that heats up your water for a bath? What if it was filled with pictures of people who love you and even pictures of God and all the good things He is doing in your life?

That would be an amazing catalogue, wouldn’t it? Instead of making you think of all the stuff you don’t have, it would make you thankful for all the things you do have.

We probably won’t have a catalogue like that waiting for us in our mailbox, but God wants us to have one in our heart. It’s called gratitude. God loves it when we spend more time focused on all the goods things we have instead of complaining about the things we wish we had. It sets us free from greed and envy and lots of other bad stuff.

There’s a great story in the Bible where Jesus healed ten men of a terrible skin disease called leprosy. Not only did this disease cause the men a lot of pain but it meant that they had to leave their families and their jobs and couldn’t even go to the place where they worshipped God.

When Jesus healed these ten men, He gave them their lives back. They were so excited that they ran off to tell everyone what happened. Except for one guy. He didn’t run away. He ran back to Jesus. Why? Just to say thank you.

You see, his heart was full of the pictures of what God had done for him, and he was truly thankful.
This holiday season, before you make any Christmas lists, make a gratitude list and tell God and your family all the things you are thankful for in your life. It’s the best way to get what you really want this Christmas, a heart that is full of joy.


God, thank you for loving me and giving me so much. Help me to keep my eyes on the good things I already have in life instead of the things I don’t have. Help me to be thankful today. Amen.

Don’t miss out. Sign up here for the Family Devotion Newlsetter to receive free family devotions like this one delivered straight to your inbox each month.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Episode 007: Challenging Parent Conversations Part 1

If you’ve been in serving in Children’s Ministry for more than a week, you’ve probably already had to have some hard conversations with parents. Whether they had a complaint about Children’s Ministry or you had to talk to them about their child’s behavior, these conversations are never fun, but if we handle them right, they are a great opportunity for ministry.

In today's podcast we'll cover nine tips that will help you take these potentially challenging conversations and use them to build bridges between your Children's Ministry and the families you serve.

Click here to listen in iTunes.

9 Tips for Handling Tough Conversations Download

9 tips are a lot to remember so make download the Parent Conversation Cheat Sheet and keep it on your phone or some place handy as a reference for when you're dealing with a tough conversation.

What kind of problem are you facing?

To address a parent's concern, it's helpful to know what kind of problem you're facing.  Is it a people problem?  A process problem?  A programming problem?  Or maybe a preference problem?  Download the Problem Analysis Tool to help you figure out which one you may be dealing with.  

Keep in the mind, there can be quite a bit of overlap between these four areas, and the challenges we face are often a mixture of one or more of these categories.

Finally, there's one category of problem I didn't mention, and that is a perception problem.  Sometimes the problem you're dealing with appears to be one category but it turns out to be more of a perception issue.  For example, several years ago a well-meaning mom suggested that we should consider doing a lesson or a Bible story while her kids were in Children's Ministry.  It was hard not to laugh because that's pretty much all we do.  

In her mind, this was a programming problem, because she thought we just spent the whole hour playing with the kids.  In reality, however, it was a perception problem, because the only thing she was kids playing with their leaders during check in time and watching a video during check out.   It was up to us to help her learn about what we were teaching and to point her toward the tools we provide parents so she could continue those conversations at home.  

Is this a problem to be solved or a tension to be managed?

In this fantastic leadership talk by Andy Stanley, Andy talks about the difference between problems in our ministry that need solutions and tensions that need to be managed that actually help us make progress as a church.  


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Episode 006: Are You Taking Time to Rest?

Are you taking time to rest? Rest your body. Rest your mind. Rest your soul. Are you taking time to reconnect with God and the people you love? In the hectic world of Children’s Ministry, this topic is mission critical to our success, and so that’s what we’re going to be talking about today on Episode 006 of the Simple Kidmin Podcast.

A picture of neglected rest
Here is the picture that I took on vacation that I mentioned in today's podcast.  It's a powerful visual reminder for me of those seasons when I neglect spiritual and physical rest in my life.

Personal Evaluation

How about you? Read through the following signs that you may not have a healthy rhythm of rest and work in your life. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • You feel overwhelmed. 
  • You’re irritable, anxious or depressed. 
  • You find yourself thinking more about what you don’t have (volunteers, big enough rooms, budget, time, support from you senior leadership, etc) instead of being thankful for what you do have. 
  • You can’t see where God’s at work in your life and ministry. 
  • You’re envious of other churches or ministries. 
  • You struggle with being present and enjoying the moment in front of you. 
  • Little things seems like a big deal and you have a tendency to overreact. 
  • You resent interruptions. 
  • You feel underappreciated. 
  • Kids are stressing you out.

A Healthy Rhythm of Work & Rest

In his book, Building a Discipling Culture, Mike Breen uses the picture of a swinging pendulum to illustrate God's plan for a healthy rhythm of working from a place of rest. If we push into the work side, eventually that pendulum is going to swing back towards the rest side (burnout, illness, etc) whether we like it or not. If we don't choose rest, rest will choose us.

Illustration by Blake Berg
You can read about how I explain this concept to kids in the God’s Big Adventure family devotional.

A Few Practical Steps

Here are the three things I did on vacation last month that resulted in an incredible week of Sabbath with my family. I'm working on applying them in daily and weekly doses so I can build this same rhythm into my every day life.

1. I unplugged from e-mail, social media, news websites and texting.

2. I leaned into intentional time with God.

3. I exercised regularly.

A Healthy Rhythm for Your Children's Ministry

Here are a few questions to evaluate the health of your ministry:

  • Is your ministry calendar always full or do you have strategic seasons where you pull back? 
  • Are you and your leaders running from event-to-event or are you building in time for planning, praying and relationships? 
  • Do you need a season of pruning, where you deliberately cut back some things from the church calendar to make ministry more sustainable and fruitful for the long haul? 
  • Do you keep going to back to the same leaders asking them to jump in and do extra or are you raising up new leaders to share the load of ministry? 
  • Finally, are you giving leaders time away before they burn out or are you overworking people until one day they’ve just had enough and they quit? 
  • And are you relationally connected enough to your leaders (or have other leaders who are shepherding them) so that you know where they’re at personally and if they need a break?

For a deeper dive on this topic, check out Matthew Sleeth's 24/6.  I just finished it on vacation, it's a very practical and helpful guide for practicing Sabbath in a hectic world.  

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What Every Kidmin Can Learn from Gregg Russell

As Children’s Pastor I’m constantly looking for examples of people and organizations that do a great job of engaging families.  Whether I’m at a restaurant, grocery store or even on vacation, my kidmin radar is always going, searching for new ideas and transferrable principles I can apply at church.
So, when my family sat down at our first Gregg Russell concert on spring break, it was a no brainer.  This guy is a master at engaging families, and I knew immediately I could learn some valuable lessons by watching him in action. 
In case you’ve never heard of him, Gregg Russell is a musician and comedian who has been entertaining families on Hilton Head Island for the past forty-one years.  Russell performs six nights a week on a stage under a picturesque live oak tree at the edge of the water in Harbour Town in the Sea Pines resort.  Dozens of kids sit on stage at his feet singing, laughing and begging to get picked to be a part of the show.
Here are five things every kidmin can learn from watching Russell in action.  
1. Create space for families. 
Back in the seventies, Charles Frasier, the man who developed Sea Pines, made a brilliant move by putting Russell front and center.  The stage and benches, nestled under the 300 year old Liberty Oak, make it obvious that Sea Pines values families. 
So how can we make family experiences central to our ministry?  Do our facilities say, “We value families?”  Do we create opportunities for families to come together as a part of the regular rhythm of our church? 

2.  Engage kids and you get the parents.
Half the fun of watching a Gregg Russell concert is watching the kids’ reactions.  He’s hilarious and they love him.  As a result every parent and grandparent loves him too. 
One of the best ways to reach parents is to make sure their kids are having an amazing experience.  Are our kids engaged and do parents notice?
3.  Include parents in the fun.
Just because kids are on stage doesn’t mean Russell leaves parents out.  Throughout the show he directly addresses the parents, includes jokes just for them and sometimes even has some parent sing-alongs.
Are we including parents in our ministry too?  Do we create opportunities for them to join in on the fun?
A dad singing "My Little Teacup"

4.  Take time to listen to kids.
At every Gregg Russell concert he invites kids to come up and sing for the audience.  Many of the kids make elaborate signs to get Gregg to pick them.  I’ve always been impressed that Russell takes the time to go through the crowd and read every single sign to the audience.  He says that he knows the kids put a lot of time into it and he wants to value their effort.  You and I know that also goes a long way in connecting with their parents.
In the busyness of our ministry, are we really taking time to listen to kids and value them as individuals?

5.  Stick around. 
Russell has been performing in Harbor Town for over four decades, and because of it, he has impacted generations.  He’s had several other opportunities in the entertainment world which could have taken him away from Hilton Head.   Yet, he chose to stay planted under the Liberty Oak, and because of it, he has endeared himself to kids, parents and grandparents who return year after year to see him again.
Parents who sat on stage with him twenty-five years ago bring their kids to the concerts to share their childhood experience.  It’s really like Russell is a part of their family.
Are we committed to staying in Children's Ministry and in our church for the long haul?  Are we sticking around to develop relationships with multiple generations?   Are we raising up leaders who will do the same?

So those are my five take-aways and the questions I'm asking myself.  How about you?  If you've ever seen Russell in concert, what could you learn and apply for your church setting?  
If you haven't been to a Gregg Russell concert, who else have you seen who engages families effectively and what can you learn from them?  The important takeaway is that we're constantly looking for these examples and learning how to make our children's and family ministries better every chance we get.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Episode 005: Baby Dedication Services

Does your church do a dedication service for parents who want to make some kind of public commitment to raise their child to know Jesus?  Have you ever thought about making it more intentional?  

Last year we did a total reboot of the service we offered and created an experience for parents of babies called Rooted.  Check out the newest episode of the Simple Kidmin podcast to hear more about it.  

Click here to listen in iTunes.

Parents committing to raise their child to know Jesus

Rooted welcome desk where families check in and pick up their gift bag