Non-Negotiable #3: Church

Wayne —  December 5, 2013 — Leave a comment

churchWelcome back to the series where we are examining those activities and pursuits in our day-to-day lives which we can not afford to sacrifice in order to make time for other pursuits.   Thus far, we have introduced the series and talked about both prayer and time in the Word as activities which we cannot afford to forsake.  That brings us to our third Non-Negotiable – church.

In My Testimony, I talk about the general distrust I has of the church prior to accepting Christ as Lord and Savior.  The history of atrocities and abuses committed in the name of the church is undeniable.  Furthermore, there is no doubt that such abuses and atrocities continue today in so called churches around the world.  All of that to illustrate that I did not come from a place where the church was prominent in my life.  Indeed, my relationship with the church has been an area where God has worked mightily in my own life.  I have gone from a true skeptic of organized religion to such an extent that God worked through a very atypical church to draw me to himself in the first place to someone who has become a member of a local church and a proponent of regular church attendance.  My love for Jesus has manifested itself in a love for his church.  That said, it is still easy to miss church, or not get involved enough, or make excuses not to participate – something which we can really not afford to do.

God did not create us to live the lives of hermits.  He created us to be in relationships with one another.  As Christians, this is accomplished primarily through families and the local church.  We will deal with family later in this series, but today let’s look at the need to the local church.

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bible2Welcome to our continuing discussion of the The Non-Negotiables – those things in our lives which must be given the place of first priority and be closely guarded.  These are the things which we must plan for, make time to do, and guard against interruption and skipping.  In previous installments, we have Introduced the idea of Non-Negotiables and examined the importance of Prayer.  Today, we will be discussing the next Non-Negotiable which is near and dear to my heart, and that is the Bible.  I love my Bible.  Ever since I became a Christian and read it for the very first time, I’ve been hooked.  I’ve written about 100 phrases which describe God’s Word…. I’ve written about Psalm 119 – The Word of God, and I started a series featuring 25 Reasons I Believe the Bible. I’ve written about 10 Way to Get Kids Excited About the Bible and cited hundreds, if not thousands, of Bible verses in my articles. And, I’ve done it all because I love my Bible.  I do not worship my Bible, but I worship the one my Bible tells me about.

All that to say – I love my Bible.  Even so, there are times when I struggle to make sure that I read it every day.  There are times when several days slip away, and I realize that I haven’t read my Bible at all.  It’s like Paul writes in Romans 8:

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Non-Negotiable #1: Prayer

Wayne —  November 26, 2013 — Leave a comment

prayerIn this series, we are looking at certain activities and undertakings that can not be sacrificed in our attempt to “find” more hours in the day.  During any given day, our time is consumed with so many things including ministry, family, work, chores, relationships, and more.  None of these things are bad, but they all take time.  When we are prioritizing all the things that must get done each day, these items must be placed at (or near) the top of the list.  Bold them.  Highlight them.  Write them in red ink.  Whatever it takes, you have to make sure that these items get done, or the remainder of your list will be rendered completely meaningless.

The first Non-Negotiable we’re going to discuss is prayer.  Every day should be bathed in prayer.  Frankly, every day should start with prayer, end with prayer, and be punctuated by times of prayer as often as possible.  Before we jump write in to talking about prayer though, I feel like I should be a little bit transparent with those of you reading this.  I chose prayer as the first non-negotiable, not because I feel like I have mastered it, but because I realize how far short I fall in this area.  All too often, I find myself praying something to the effect of:

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non-negotiables1As volunteers and/or bi-vocational children’s ministers who are passionate about reaching kids for God, there is one constant battle that we all face.  It is something that we all battle with every day.  That thing is TIME.  More specifically, it finding time to accomplish all of the things we have to accomplish and those things we want to accomplish.  I think that is because it is a universal problem.  God only gives us a certain number of hours in each week, and between our commitment to our ministries and our other responsibilities outside the church, there never seems to be enough time.  This issue is certainly not unique to volunteers and bi-vocational ministers, but it is certainly prevalent and perhaps compounded by other fulltime jobs and responsibilities.

So, what are we to do about it?  Well, today marks the beginning of a new series titled “The Non-Negotiables.”  This is not a series general about time management.  I am sure we will see plenty of that here on this site in the days and weeks to come, but that is not the purpose of this series.  If you’re looking for good resources on time management (especially from a children’s ministry perspective, I suggest you check out Brother Jim Wideman’s book Beat the Clock.  It is chocked full of great advice and ideas from a trusted leader in the field of children’s ministry.  A review and give away of the book will be coming up soon here on Kidmin1124 as soon as I can find the time to write it (and, yes I appreciate the irony of that comment).

This series will address one critical component of time management though, and that is prioritizing.  In order to own your time, you must learn to prioritize the tasks that you need to get done.  In that process, you must determine what is important and what is not so important, what needs to get done first, and what might not need to get done at all.  All too often when we do not prioritize, we end up ignoring the things which should be most important in our lives.  By not managing our time, we end up not doing those things which we simply can not afford to eliminate from our lives.  We will call those things the “Non-Negotiables.”  For those of you already planning out your comment in your head, please see the grammar disclaimer at the bottom of this article. :)

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Making Drive Time All About God

Wayne —  November 19, 2013 — Leave a comment

commuteAs volunteers and bi-vocational children’s ministers, one of the things we all struggle with is finding enough time to get everything done.   I know that one place I used to waste a lot of my time was commuting back and forth to work.  Then I decided that that didn’t have to be wasted time.  There are plenty of ways you can redeem your drive time and get things accomplished all at the same time.  Before we get to that though, here are some things I have seen people doing while driving which I would not suggest you try:

  • Texting
  • Checking E-mail
  • Putting on makeup
  • Doing your hair
  • Reading a book
  • Eating cereal
  • Watching TV

If you do any of these things, and I’m guessing we all have at one point or another, I suggest you stop now.

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Are You “Just a Volunteer?”

Wayne —  November 15, 2013 — Leave a comment

justavolunteerA while back, I made myself a promise.  I resolved that I would no longer refer to myself as “just a volunteer” when people asked me what my role was in Children’s Ministry.  You see, when people ask me what I do, I don’t answer “I’m an accountant.”  First of all, that sounds really boring.  Even as I write, I struggle to keep my eyes open.  Secondly, whenever I do tell people that they ask for help with their taxes.  I don’t like taxes.  I don’t do taxes.  I usually struggle to get my own taxes done on time.  No, when people ask me what I do, I tell them, “I work with children.”  If they ask how or what it is I do with children, that opens the door for me to talk to them about my passion for children’s ministry.  But, the truth of the matter is, I am a volunteer.  I am not a full-time Children’s Pastor or Children’s Ministry Director.  That is not what God has called me to do, at least not yet.  He may at some point in the future call me in to it, but for now I volunteer in my church’s children’s ministry.  I work in ministering to children of divorce, I teach a large group of kids, I lead a small groups, I run games, I work in VBS, and I do whatever else I can to help.

For a long time, this just didn’t seem like enough to me.  When I decided to start blogging, I naturally started writing about the things that I liked to talk about.  Those were God, my family and children’s ministry.  Then something funny and quite unexpected happened.  People started to respond.  People started to ask me questions about children’s ministry – can you imagine?  I started to have conversations with people about children’s ministry.  People started to send me children’s ministry products to review for the blog.  I enjoyed, and still enjoy, every moment of it.  There was, however, a part of me that felt a little bit like an imposter.  Who was I to talk about children’s ministry?  My experiences paled in comparison to the people I was talking to, collaborating with, and learning from who oversee what seems like an entire empire of children’s ministries.   What could I offer to these people?  What could I possibly have to say that would help, inspire or guide those who do so much more than me when in comes to children’s ministry?  After all, I was “just a volunteer.”

Then, in a moment of clarity that could only have come from God, I realized/remembered something.  The way we are, and what we do, is no mistake.  God made us exactly the way he wants us, and he put us exactly where we are supposed to be.  When I started writing and blogging, I did not do it to influence other people.  I did it to record my thoughts.  God prompted me to put myself out there.  I didn’t know why at the time, but figured being obedient to God is a good thing and maybe there was an outside chance that out of 7 billion people on this planet that someone might find what I was writing to be useful.  My job was to put it out there and let God use it however  he sees fit.  Whether I am a volunteer or a guru does not matter to God.

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esvsbSo, this seems too good to be true, but if there’s a catch I haven’t found it yet.  Crossway is giving away free access to their online ESV Study Bible to celebrate their 75th anniversary, and you can get it free anytime this month.  I have been using this online Study Bible since I bought the paper version years ago, and the ESV has become my favored translation for reading, studying and teaching.  I have the paper version and the version to go with my iPad Bible study app (Olive Tree), but I still find myself frequently using this online version as well.  You don’t want to miss out on this opportunity.  To get your free copy, go to http://www.crossway.org/web-apps/esv-study-bible-online-1671-regkey/.