Monthly Archives: March 2015

6 Tips for a Successful Easter Egg Hunt

Last year, I wrote how to plan an Easter Egg Hunt for the community.  This time, I’d like to follow-up with six quick tips to help you have a successful hunt.  Feel free to comment with ideas you have…Easter_0000_Egg-hunt

Gospel-Driven. I put this first for a reason. I believe these events can be an opportunity for Jesus to be shared. I’m not suggesting a 4 act play on the story of Easter, but a simple object lesson that would be enjoyable for the kids and their parents.

Church Effort. Listen, the idea of a community Easter egg hunt seems pretty overwhelming to do by yourself…so don’t. Allow it to be a church effort. Encourage your church each year to donate the candy and eggs.

Sunny Bunny Eggs. Even though we support this event mostly with donations, I would suggest purchasing a base amount from Sunny Bunny Eggs for two reasons. One, it helps ease your mind that at least you will have some eggs if donations go awry. Second, it is a great organization that supports those with mental disabilities.

Divide the Ages. Too often, I see Easter egg hunts that are not divided by age and the older kids run over the little ones, like Bigfoot over cars at a monster truck rally. Splitting up the ages is always appreciated by the parents.

Bounce House. Book it right now. Book two if you can. Trust me on this one.

Teen Leadership Opportunity. Our student leaders plan and administrate this entire event. You heard me. They recruit volunteers, plan the games, contact the bounce house people, and even give the lesson. Never underestimate what teenagers can do for their community for God’s glory.

 

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Book Review: Replenish by Lance Witt

Book Review: Replenish by Lance Wittreplenish

The Good:

You need this. As someone in ministry, the introduction wakes you up and sets up the need to read this book. Let me just save you the time from reading the introduction, because I know many of you will skip it anyway, and just know there is reason for every pastor, missionary, or anyone in a ministry…you need to read this book.

Transparency. When an author shows transparency appropriately, it brings the book to life, in my opinion. The author is willing to show his weaknesses and mistakes made in the past to bring a more personal touch and more valuable for the reader.

Short & Sweet. I love short chapters. As a father of many kids, I have like 3 or 4 kids now (kidding, kidding)…but sometimes I get interrupted in my reading and thoughts and momentum of the read can get disjointed. This book provides short chapters that pack a punch. Plus, if these chapters were longer, I honestly think you’d walk away from the chapter like you were just in a heavyweight fight.   Great, challenging content in every chapter.

41 Chapters…There’s One for You. Seriously, if you cannot find one chapter out of the forty-one chapters, you must have reached sainthood or just are too proud to admit your flaws. Everyone in ministry will be able to find something they need improvement. Plus, each chapter provides reflection questions to help you get started on your self-improvement.

The Bad:

Repetitive Beginning. For some reason, the first four chapters seem to repeat the same thought over and over. Not sure why. But, for what it’s worth, it is a very good thought!

Missing Verses. If you’ve read my blogs before, writers should include references when they are quoting the Bible. Do I need to start a petition?

Too Honest? For me, as a reader, I enjoy the honesty of the author. Some readers may be turned off by the honesty and personal stories. This may be less of a bad thing, but more of a toss-up depending on the reader.

The Grade: A. Pastors, buy this. Church people, buy this for your pastor. For someone in ministry, it is a refreshing read. It will save you from years of trouble and burnout down the road, and improve the ministry you are currently serving. This book came strongly recommended from a missionary friend to my pastor, and he liked it so much he bought me a copy. So what does that tell you?

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Book Review: Multiply by Francis Chan

Book Review: Multiply by Francis Chan

The Good:31Tm11DrPAL

Reading and Doing. With the application questions at the end of each completed thought, the book promotes life change. It allows the reader to interact with the material for not only greater understanding, but also provides an introspective look at their personal life.

Challenging. Reading God’s Word, sharing the Gospel, and discipleship are not optional in the life of a believer. Chan does an incredible job of challenging the reader, without disgracing or manipulating Scripture. The Bible interweaves throughout its pages effectively and reaches the heart of the reader.

Great for New Believer. For a new believer, young believer, or one lacking in Biblical knowledge, this book would be most beneficial. Chan provides an easy-to-understand Bible survey where a beginner believer could follow along, but still provides depth for any reader. It provides the reader with a great ride from Genesis to Revelation, taking necessary stops to allow for understanding and clarity.

Promotes the Church. As a pastor, I appreciated the elevation of the church in the latter part of the book. As the Bride of Christ, the church should be treated such, and this book does a masterful job of describing the early church and challenges the present church to step up.

The Bad:

Not What I Expected. Honestly, I was expecting a book on discipleship and multiplication of the church through making disciples. Little did I know that this book would primarily be a Bible survey. Although it was presented very well, it caught me off guard, and I walked away a little disappointed. So there’s your spoiler, but will help you enjoy the read more than I did.

The Grade: B

As I stated before, if I knew what this book was all about, I may have graded it higher. However, expecting more training on discipleship, I was a little disappointed. However, the presentation of the Bible, and weaving in and out of God’s Word made for an interesting, enlightening, and challenging read. Again, if you are a new believer and want a better understanding of the first page to the last of your Bible, this book is a strong suggestion for you. Otherwise, it was good review, with enough depth that you will still learn.

 

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5 Practical Ways to Balance Ministry and Family

We’ve all heard the “only work on Sundays” jokes (well, some aren’t joking) over the years.  But for those in full-time ministry, you know your only “workday” is not just on Sundays, but the hours can often overflow into the evening and into the weekend.  Still young in the pastorate, I’ve learned lessons the hard way, and am still learning ways of balancing my precious young family with the ministry that I cherish.  And, it is a question that I often ask veterans in ministry, who seem to have a great handle on balancing family and ministry.  So, here are just a few practical ideas that I’ve heard from my mentors.New Years Vacation2

  1. Take Them With You. This may be the advice I’ve heard the most from ministry veterans. And it is to take your family, especially your kids, with you while you do ministry. Take your kid with you to a hospital visit, allow your wife to participate in counseling when appropriate, and if in youth ministry, let your teens enjoy your kids and not see them as a hindrance. *Here’s another key: Teach your kids that being in ministry has benefits too. Although daddy may have late nights, they also have a day off during the week; can take them to conferences at cool hotels, and other perks. Show your family ministry is a blessing, not a burden.
  2. Go On Dates. Make dating your wife a priority in your life. Put it in your schedule on a regular basis. Plan ahead for babysitting and other arrangements that need to be made. But don’t stop there; take your kids on “dates” too. You’ll see this guy in line for the new Cinderella movie this weekend, not because it’s my favorite Disney movie (Beauty & the Beast and Tangled all the way!)…but because I want to spend special time with my kids, get to know them more personally, and let them know I value time with them. But this too takes planning and intentional work.
  3. Take Your Creativity Home. One of my mentors laid this dagger into my heart. He asked me the question “Is your time with your kids at home as creative as your activities with your teens/children ministries?” OUCH! That one hurt. So, in the months after, I’ve tried my best to be more creative in my time with my kids. This means I’ve set up obstacle courses in the basement, taken magazines out of the mail and put together “favorite things” craft projects, and even did a neighborhood soccer camp (I had 8 little girls from the neighborhood in my front yard!)!
  4. Drop Your Work Off at UDF. Another friend told me to drop off your ministry at a place on your way home. Simply pray to God and ask Him to take the burden of ministry, put the criticism, the challenges, and the difficult counseling appointment at the feet of Jesus. Sure, those things will still affect you, but your kids and wife still need your best when you get home. So, my goal is to drop off the struggles of ministry at the UDF on the way home.
  5. Your Phone Can Be Your Enemy. Put your phone down. One pastor mentor of mine even said he does not come into the house on the phone, but will either pull over or stay in the garage to finish the call. Other ideas given are to take the phone out of the pocket or belt holder, and place it on the coffee maker or dresser (just don’t put it in the microwave). This will allow you to hear it for emergencies, but lets it go when someone liked your picture of your cat playing the piano.

Please let me know how you balance ministry and family. I’d love to learn from you!

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What Happens When Senior Citizens Come to Youth Group?

Bridging the generation gap in our church has always been a goal of mine.  I’m a proponent of inter-generational youth ministry.  If you don’t know what that is, then go here and read this book.  Many churches are going to the model of separation and segregation of age groups so much that the generations never interact with each other.  Do I see value in age-segregated ministries?  Absolutely.  Hello, I’m a youth pastor!  But there is real value in generations coming together, getting to know each other, and truly becoming ONE church.  But it just does not happen over night.  You need to be intentional.  Sure, there are select few older generation that will take time to get to know younger generations.  But, for many, you must have a “Field of Dreams” model of ministry –  if you build it they will come.  if_you_build_it_-_olv_mens_cu_4_1

How does this happen?  Here are few ideas:

Serve Them.  Every year, our teen ministry hosts a lunch for the senior citizens.  The sky is the limit for the theme of the lunch, and thankfully I have very creative and talented youth lady leaders (because I could only host a grilled cheese or hot dog lunch).  We have done Valentine’s Day lunches, Brunches, Tour of Italy…the themes are endless.  And so is the value of teens serving the older generation.  The teens dress up, take the seniors to their seats, take their orders, and serve them lunch.  After everyone is served, the teens then find seats next to them and have genuine conversation.  Sometimes, the conversation is guided, other times it is just natural.  Another idea:  Form a team of teens and adults to serve the elderly through the year – yard work, general house issues, etc.

Have Fun Together.  Typically, either following lunch or another time during the year, we will have an informal time of generations coming together.  I’ve hosted a “Man Day” which includes a Bible study, hearty breakfast, and man games like “Name That Tool” and “Power Drill Relay.  Other ideas include:  speed dating & board game night.

Serve Together.  Our youth group has a service project every month, and we often invite adult small groups to participate with us.  This is a great way to bring generations together, by serving together.  Often, they see how teens can be hard-working, caring, and approachable.  It breaks down walls when you are serving Christ together.

Worship Together.  Please do not make the mistake of never allowing generations to worship together.  I’m a proponent of children’s and youth ministries as much as the next guy, but it is important that the generations have opportunities to worship and hear God’s Word together over the course of the year.  Maybe consider trimming down the age of children’s church, save holidays for all-church gatherings, and do not host a youth service during main worship times.

Pray for One Another.  Before I arrived at my current church, they already had this wonderful practice in place.  The senior citizen group had a prayer sign up list of all the teens and college/young adults.  What better way to bring generations together than to pray for them.  Our teens often pray for our seniors as well.

Invite Them to Youth Group.  Last but not least, invite them to your youth group!  Sure, many youth groups have a parent night which is a great idea.  But let’s take it a step further and invite the senior citizen group to your youth group.  A friend of mine in ministry gave me this idea, and we tried it yesterday.  Judging by the picture below, how do you think it went?  Seeing the elder generation, singing, playing games, and praying with the younger generation…it was incredible.  IMG_1376[1]

Sure, we are not there yet.  But we are intentionally trying to bridge the generations together.  Praying, serving, having fun,  and worshiping together as ONE church.

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