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Book Review: The Eric Trap

Book Review: The Eric Trap

It’s been a while since I read a book as quickly as I read The Eric Trap.  But, here’s the thing, I care about Eric Newman.  Having not read the book, you might be wondering who Eric Newman is and why I care about him.  The Eric Trap, a book written as a collaborative effort by Jim Wideman, Sam Luce & Kenny Conley, is told as a fable of sorts that walks the reader through a week in the life of Eric Newman, Children’s Pastor at New Hope Community Church.  Eric is your typical kids’ pastor and is a character I could quickly relate to.  As Eric faces the typical challenges those of us in ministry face each week (disgruntled volunteers, painful meetings, time away from our family, etc), it’s easy to see a little bit of ourselves in his thoughts and reactions.  Which leads me to the things I dig.

Things I dig

Not only is The Eric Trap a fable about a guy you learn to relate to, but it offers advice throughout for how those of us in children’s ministry can avoid the mistakes and situations that seem to drag Eric down.  I love a good story, but I’m also someone who really appreciates tangible next steps – The Eric Trap is able to pull off both, which I wasn’t expecting and was pleasantly surprised to discover.  The writing style of the book makes this an easy read and something I could pass off to a friend or intern without feeling like I’m asking them to read an encyclopedia.  Before I pass it off to them, however, I’m handing it over to my wife – with permission to call me out on areas where I’m falling into the Eric Trap.  I’d encourage others in ministry to do the same.

Things that Dribbled

My one concern about this book is how a female reader will relate to the narrative.  In children’s ministry, I recognize that most people who hold my position are women – and most people who should read this book are those who are in children’s ministry.  Having said that, I think that every lesson learned is one that applies to both men and women.  My concern, though, is whether or not a female reader will relate to Eric in the same way that I do.

Wrapping Up

I now have another book that will serve as mandatory reading for my staff and for those who volunteer on our team and may one day be called to professional ministry.  This book is the best of it’s kind.  I appreciate that it was developed by those who are serving in real-life, full time ministry.  The stories within it are relatable because they happen every week in the lives of those who serve in children’s ministry.  If you have a chance to get your hands on a copy, or you’re looking for a book to add to your wish list, this is a book worth asking for.

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Want to get your hands on a copy for free?

For reviewing this book, I’ve been given a copy that I can give away to a lucky reader of this blog!  All you have to do is comment on this post (by next Wednesday, 4/18) and tell me your favorite book on leadership and/or children’s ministry.  I’m always looking to expand my library – and so should you!  I’ll then randomly choose one commenter below who will receive a FREE copy of The Eric Trap.

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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Book Review, Kidmin, Resources

 

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Guest Post: The Price of Privilege

The following is a post from our Middle School intern, Kailyn King (@kailynking).  You can share your thoughts about the book, or questions about this post, by commenting below.

I have to say I was really excited to start this book. I’m not a parent, or a teenager anymore (granted only by a few months) but I have known and now know plenty of teens that fit the demographic of this book (including my previous self) and I was really interested to see what Dr. Levine had to say about privileged teens and their emotional problems. I have known all kinds of teens struggling with the challenges of growing up, but this is the first time that I have read a book specifically about the particular needs of teens growing up in affluence. I grew up in an affluent home in an affluent town and am now graduating from UCSD with many more affluent young people raised all over the state. This book didn’t trivialize these kid’s needs, or the challenges presented to their parents and never reduced the root of the problem to some sort of “poor rich kid” syndrome. Dr Levine was able to talk about some of the challenges of raising kids in tactful and honest way that called particular attention to the difficulties in raising kids in an environment where money is no object.

The chapter on the formation of “the healthy self” stood out to me as particularly relevant to what I have seen. With statements like “It is hard to develop an authentic self when there is constant pressure to adopt a socially facile, highly competitive, performance-oriented, unblemished “self ” that is promoted by omnipresent adults” (page 65) it was hard for me not to see a little bit of myself, and tons of other teens I grew up with being described to some extent. I know young adults who were so over scheduled as kids, so encouraged by parents and adults, so socially crafted that they get to graduation and honestly have no idea who they are. I have seen people I love go away to college and have no idea how to self regulate, how to make decisions like picking a major or class schedule for themselves. They become literally paralyzed with indecision and with lack of self awareness. Having seen this in action, Levine’s book becomes an important resource for me to understand how being raised in affluence may be a risk factor for emotional difficulties instead of being a buffer as has been suggested in most of the other sources I have read.

The next chapters of the book focus on different aspects of parenting that are affected by money and the kinds of societal norms that may emerge in areas where there is money. I won’t go into details about exactly what she covers, but I will say that I would strongly recommend giving this book a read. I think parents, prospective parents, people who work with teens or their parents could really use this book as a starting point (or a continuation of) taking a hard look at the effects of monetary comfort on their kids and teenagers. Levine is understanding and sensitive to the challenges parents face while still managing to get real about how important it is for parents to understand how what they do influences the emotional state of their kids. I know my parents fought hard to make sure to cultivate in me a sense of self and of personal ownership and responsibility and I so appreciate their hard work. I know it wasn’t easy for them to do but I have to say everything they did then is greatly appreciated by me now! This book seems like it would be a resource I would want to have if I were looking at the incredible challenge of raising kids.

I hope this was helpful, either in encouraging you to read this book or helping you decide it’s not for you.

 

 
 

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Review: Spiritual Parenting DVD Curriculum

I recently had an opportunity to continue reviewing products from the Spiritual Parenting series produced by David C. Cook and written by Michelle Anthony. Michelle Anthony, by the way, has served as the Pastor of Family Ministries at ROCKHARBOR Church, the Family Ministries Architect for David C Cook and is the author of the book Spiritual Parenting (which I previously reviewed here: https://westcoastcm.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/kidmin-book-review-spiritual-parenting).

Here’s a quick video intro from Michelle, herself:

I want to keep this review concise, so let me jump straight to the Digs and Dribbles…

Things I Dig

I love, love, love the quality of these videos.  All too often, DVD curriculum is simply footage from a fixed camera that someone clearly pushed record on and walked away during a conference.  This is not the case with this curriculum.  This DVD set is creatively put together with multiple shots and great editing.  Seriously, my hat goes off to the guys and gals over at David C. Cook who put this package together – well done!

I’m also blown away with the depth of the content provided in this series.  Michelle and her team didn’t hold back when they put this series together.  There’s a ton of information to be gathered from this curriculum… I’m impressed with the effort that was put into this series.

Things that Dribbled

If you read my last review of Spiritual Parenting, you’ll know that I’m often asking what the parent who’s not already engaged in the church should do with this resource.  I’m still asking those questions with this curriculum.  As a church, we would offer a series like this on Sunday mornings at our parenting gathering/fellowship – which, believe it or not, is not a room full of Christian parents (some are… but not all).  With that said, this could be a great resource to pass on to families who are already committed believers – that’s just not our target audience.

I’d also have to agree with my friend, Gina McClain, when she noted that these sessions are LONG.  When you factor in discussion and activities, these sessions will clock in at nearly 90 minutes… an amount of time that I think is a stretch for our programming – on campus or in small group settings.  Again, it’s not a knock against the content – it would be 90 minutes of greatness.  We just don’t have that time in our context.

Wrapping Up

Overall, this is a resource that I’m going to pick up and give to a small group of parents in our church who are looking for a “next step” in nurturing their family’s faith journey.  I’ll probably even take the DVD’s for a test run with my wife as we wrestle through some of the great questions that Michelle brings up.

You can purchase the series here.

Follow Spiritual Parenting on Facebook here.

Follow Michelle on Twitter here.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Resources

 

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Book Review: 9 Things They Didn’t Teach Me In College About Children’s Ministry

At just over 100 pages, 9 Things They Didn’t Teach Me In College About Children’s Ministry is a fantastic quick-read for those of us in kids’ ministry who might not have the opportunity to spend most of our week reading books – in fact, it’s almost small enough to fit in your pocket… making it super easy to carry along on a road trip, lunch outing, or a plane ride to Maui (like I did). Ryan Frank, author and all-around good guy, keeps things simple enough to keep the reader’s attention while passing on some seriously good insights into effective children’s ministry practices. I’m trying to keep this review bite-sized (check out Elemental CM for a full directory of the other kidmin voices writing reviews on this book), so I’ll jump to some quick Digs and Dribbles.

Things I Dig

Ryan’s chapter on the importance of networking in order to keep you and your ministry healthy (Chapter 4: The World is Flat) is one of the best (and quickest!) chapters I’ve read on the subject.  Those of you who know me and connect with me regularly know that this is a passion of mine – so, it makes sense that this section would resonate with me.  Ryan offers a how-to guide for connecting – something I’ve never read in a book like this before.  If it weren’t a copyright infringement to photocopy this chapter and hand it out to my staff and kidmin colleagues, I’d be passing this chapter out at every meeting for the next year.  It’s that good.

Things that Dribbled

One of the things that works against this book is one of my favorite things about it – it’s short.  And, when I say short, I mean that each chapter is right around 10 pages and the pages of the book itself are only 7″ x 5.5″. With that said, I love how quick of a read this book is.  I never had to skip a page because the book was dragging on… which, with my busy schedule, is a rare thing.  But, if you’re looking for a manifesto or something to read over the course of a month, you might want to look somewhere else.

Wrapping Up

If you are in a network of kidmin leaders, get this book and discuss it at your next meeting.  If you aren’t connected yet to a kidmin community, get this book and read chapter 4… then discuss this book with someone you start networking with.

If you want a copy of this book, I have a free one to give away.  All you have to do is comment on this post or any other post on West Coast CM over the course of the next week and you’ll automatically be entered into a drawing for a free copy.  Consider it a “thank you” for being awesome.

If you want to check out what others are saying about this book, my friend Dan Scott (www.danscottblog.com) is scheduled to post his thoughts tomorrow (Thursday, April 7) and you can follow along with the blog tour at Elemental CM (www.elementalcm.com/9thingstour).

Disclosure:  A complimentary copy of 9 Things… was provided by Standard Publishing for purposes of review.  I didn’t promise them I’d be nice… and, I’m pretty sure they’re cool with that.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2011 in Book Review, Kidmin, Resources

 

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Kidmin Book Review: Spiritual Parenting

Earlier this week, I mentioned that I’d be reviewing Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony… and just that teaser post peaked interest from parents and fellow kidmin leaders.

I’ll tell you this up front – I think this is a great resource for some parents and it isn’t the right resource for many others.  I think there are truths in this book that any parent can take away, don’t get me wrong… I’m just not going to suggest that you put a copy in every parent’s hands.

Who is Spiritual Parenting written for?

Our goal as parents should be to endeavor to pass down our faith to the next generation in such a way that they will be able to pass down their faith to the following generation in our absence.

Go ahead, read that quote again.  If you agree with Michelle’s premise (and I do!), then you’re going to dig this resource.  If that doesn’t resonate with you, if that’s not the end you have in mind, then your going to struggle with the house that gets built on that foundation.

So… who is this resource for again?

The answer to this question is simple and complex.

The simple part – this book is for those of us who deeply desire to pass the faith on well to our children, our grandchildren and the generations that will follow.

The complex part – it’s not just for parents.  This book is for children’s minstry leaders, pastors, moms, dads, grandmas, teachers – anyone who can shape a child’s life and wants to shape it in a way that makes a lasting impact for generations to come.  Anyone who has the power to help shape a child’s environment should take the time to read through this resource.

Digs and Dribbles

Not familiar with what “Digs and Dribbles” means?

That’s okay… I just made it up.

Basically, there are parts of this book that I really dig.  They will shape the way I parent and the way I minister to families from here on out.  There are other parts of this book, as there are in any resource, where the content dribbles a bit.  That is, if the book were a fountain of take-aways, there are sections where the water merely dribbles out.

Things I Dig

The best gift we can give our children is the confidence to see that we believe everything is filtered (even the bad stuff) through God’s hands.  We need to release our control of their circumstances.

More than any chapter, Michelle’s chapter “A Heart of Dependence: An Environment of Out of the Comfort Zone” (chapter 7) is one that I want the families at our church to own.  I would buy this resource and pass it out to every parent in our Homebuilders class and every family that hangs out with us on Wednesday nights if you could guarantee me that 10% of them would own this value after reading the book.

I think what I dig most about Spiritual Parenting is how Michelle takes values that I think I own and challenges me as a parent to cultivate environments that help produce what God desires for my son and daughter.  Her concept of cultivating environments is fascinating – it’s going to help shape the way I parent.  Because, in the end, it’s not about perfect behavior.  It’s about passionate hearts. (her line, not mine)

Things that Dribbled

Throughout the book I kept wondering – what about the parent who isn’t “there” yet?  How do I walk a parent to a place where they care more about their child’s spiritual development than their test scores, their soccer practice or even their safety? (seriously, I DIG chapter 7)

The only dribble is that I think you need to have built a ton of trust with a parent to put this resource in their hand and have them begin to own the ideas behind it.  Let me compare this to a book I recently put in the hands of as many parents as I could – Parenting Beyond Your Capacity (this year alone, we handed out copies to over 100 families).  At their core, the parents in our community feel overwhelmed – and that book speaks to that in a mighty way!  It was easier to hand it out because it answered a felt need.  I’m not sure, in the hustle and bustle of family life, that parents know how much they need a resource like this. (but they do. They really do!)

Wrapping Up

I want families to be as transformed by this book as I have been – but, it’s going to take some work on my end.

If you’re a parent reading this post, you’re probably already in a place where this book can touch your life and your parenting style – heck, you’re already looking to have other voices and thoughts in your parenting circle.  However, if you’re a leader of parents, you’ll need to pick up a copy and start planning baby steps for the parents in your community to get to a place where they feel like they need a resource like this.  Because they do – they really do.

 

Order your copy here.  Share your own review here.  And, as always, share your thoughts below.

Disclosure:  A complimentary copy of Spiritual Parenting was provided by David C Cook for purposes of review.  I didn’t promise them I’d be nice… and, I’m pretty sure they’re cool with that.

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2010 in Book Review, Kidmin, Resources

 

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Book Review (Preview): Spiritual Parenting

I’ve been given the opportunity to read through and review Michelle Anthony’s new book, Spiritual Parenting.  Later this week, I’ll re-read the sections that stood out to me on my first pass and write up my thoughts.

My preview: This is a great resource.  There’s a good chance it’ll be the book I put into parents hands in 2011 when they ask me for a parenting resource.  Actually, to be honest, I may put it in their hands even if they don’t know what they’re asking for.  It has that much potential.

In the meantime, I want you to read what my friend, Dan Scott, has to say about the book.  Dan’s voice in children’s ministry should carry further than my own… so there’s a chance that you’ve already read about how much he digs this new resource.

But, if you haven’t, you need to follow this link:

http://danscottblog.com/2010/11/22/review-spiritual-parenting/

 
3 Comments

Posted by on November 23, 2010 in Book Review, Kidmin, Resources

 

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What Matters Now In Children’s Ministry: Free eBook!

Today, we introduce “What Matters Now in Children’s Ministry!”
The best thing about this eBook is that it is completely FREE!

Feel free to download the eBook here and distribute it to everyone you know. Use it as a conversation starter in your children’s ministries, your church staff and children’s ministry networks you are a part of.

I’m even more excited because this book isn’t just a resource for children’s ministry leaders!

In fact, you should read this book if you’re a…

  • Parent
    Leaders from across the nation who minister specifically to children have identified trends in this book that impact the way your kids are ministered to and cared for.  This matters to you.  Plus, this makes a great gift for your child’s Sunday school teacher or Children’s Pastor… and it fits every family’s budget: it’s free!
  • Educator
    Teachers and fellow educators have just as much to glean from this resource as those who work in the church.  Just because we’re serving kids in the arena of church and faith development doesn’t put us in some sort of holy vacuum.  Would you use the same words to describe what matters now in educating children?  You won’t know unless you download the eBook!
  • Youth Minister
    Hey, youth pastors!  Did you know that the kids who are currently in your church’s preschool will one day be in your youth group?  Crazy, right?  You should have a sense of what matters now in Children’s Ministry because it matters to you.  And… I know you don’t hang out with Children’s Ministry leaders.  So, download this FREE eBook instead.  Thank me later.
  • Senior Pastor
    I know you have a sermon to write.  You have phone calls to make.  You have a church to care for.  I get it.  What’s great is that we had your crazy schedule in mind when we wrote this book.  Each entry is about 200 words long and this is an easy resource to digest one bite at a time.  It’s my humble opinion that not enough Senior Pastors truly care about what’s going on in their children’s ministry programs… prove me wrong – check out this resource.
  • Friend of Mine
    Seriously, how often does one of your friends get published?  So… click this link, download the eBook, and tell your friends to do the same.  Seriously… it’s free.  You can’t beat that price.

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I don’t want to give too much about the book away other than you need to download and read it. For those of you who will be tempted to use up your ink cartridges by printing out the eBook, there will be a print version available come June 14th.

I want to wrap up with a huge thanks to Imago for donating their time to design and set up both the eBook and the print versions! Please check them out and see if they can help your ministry.

One last thing… we’d love to hear your favorite quotes and thoughts. You can interact with others about the book on Facebook, Twitter (use #wmnkidmin as the hashtag), Kidology, CMConnect, and on the various blogs that are showing up.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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