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VBS, Trust & Skydiving

Last year, as we trained our 300 VBS Student Leaders, I shared a story of the first time I went skydiving.  What does skydiving have to do with VBS?  Well… here’s my story:

During my community college days, my buddy Forrest and I decided to take a day off of work and school to go jump out of a plane.  I wish I could say we put more thought into it than that… but, I don’t think we did.  It was a two hour drive from our small town to the nearest skydiving location and we used the drive to talk about life, music and what we might say at each other’s funerals if our chutes didn’t open.

When we arrived, all of my expectations for what a skydiving location might look like were shattered.  The guy running the place seemed a bit aloof, there was one tiny airplane on a runway that ended with a cliff and the “training” we went through to prepare for our jumps consisted of watching a VHS tape that cut in and out as it told us how our jump might go.

It hardly helped my fading confidence in our plan when I met our pilot – a student from another local community college who was working toward his pilot’s license.

Fast-forward to a little less than an hour later and I found myself staring out of the open door of an airplane at 10,000 ft above the ground.  At that moment, as the man strapped to my back began to rock back and forth and scoot me toward the edge, I had to decide where I was placing my trust.  Everything in me wanted to grab the sides of the doors and stay inside of the plane.  Yet, I had someone strapped to me telling me that it was all going to be okay – I just had to trust him.

And then he began to count down: 3, 2, 1…

—-

Our instincts aren’t always trustworthy when we’re facing a new or scary challenge.  Sometimes, as I told the student leaders we had at our VBS last year, you have to trust the sweaty guy strapped to your back.  You have to trust that things aren’t always as they seem and that there is someone in control who has a bigger picture of what’s going on than you do.

So, this week, I’m thinking about the plane that Jesus wants me to jump out of and I’m trying to remind myself to trust that God has a bigger view of the picture than I do.  When I learn to trust and rely on the others that God has placed in my life, the blessings always outweigh the frustration.  I just have to remind myself of that the next time I want to hold on to everything I can get a grasp of.

I challenge you to do the same.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2011 in Kidmin, Thoughts

 

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The Order of Things

https://westcoastcm.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/90s_flowchart-09182008png.png?w=300

(I love flowcharts and priority lists… more of that in a moment)

After a brief summer hiatus, posts will start coming more frequently.

I have some deep convictions about what this blog is and what this blog isn’t… I’m not SO into self promotion that I’m going to sacrifice things of lesser importance in order to keep posts regular.

That said, there are just a few times I’ll bail from blogging regularly… and those times are intentional. When I began posting thoughts in this space a few years back, I drew up some guidelines and priorities to help me along the way.

Today, I want to share with you The Order of Things.

I’m no good to the conversation if I’m no good to my church

There are amazing voices in the national conversation who aren’t involved in active day-to-day church ministry. I’m not saying that their voices don’t mean anything. What I AM saying is that, in order for my voice to mean anything (… and, let’s be honest, it should never be the loudest voice in the conversation), I need to focus on my local church and our local ministry.

This last May/June, our Student Ministry Director announced her resignation and I took on the oversight of all programming for kids and youth – cradle to college. The time that I regularly set aside for blogging and other conversations went on hold until we felt like we had things under control and set for the future. Not only did I pull back from blogging, but I pulled back in my pursuit of my 5 People to Meet list (See that list HERE) and may possibly put it off until next year.

At the end of the day, I’m stoked with those choices because I set up a system of checks and balances that reminds me that I’m useless in those conversations if I’m useless at my church.

I’m no good to my church if I’m no good to my family

I’ve seen too many of my ministry friends burn their family out by reversing that statement.  For some reason, those of us in ministry often sacrifice our relationships with our kids and spouses in the name of our church.  It’s easy to do – I think that’s why we see it so often.

It’s easy for me to say that leading a family to know Jesus is more important than bedtime stories with my toddler – and, for the short term, I think you can make that case.  However, if you want to be involved in ministry for more than a couple years, your family has to come first.  I didn’t come up with that idea – but I’m owning it and trying to live it out as much as I know how to.  Now, I’ll be the first to admit (and I’m not just admitting this because my awesome wife reads and supports this blog) that I occasionally miss putting the kids to bed because of church events.  But – it breaks my heart every time.  The minute it stops breaking my heart – I need to check my motives and push the reset button on my calendar.

If I truly think that what happens in a family’s living room is more important than what happens at church, then I need to live that out in my own life.

I’m no good to my family if I’m not right with Jesus

At the end of the day, it all boils down to this.

Ministry and life have to flow out of my relationship with my Creator.  It’s a non-negotiable.  How can I expect my own children to seek out a relationship with God if I’m not modeling that for them with my own life?  How can I encourage parents to talk with their kids about Jesus if I’m not doing the same?  How can I write about equipping families and sharing the Gospel with them if I’m not ACTUALLY doing it?  This is THE first thing when it comes to priorities.

It’s not always easy.

My senior pastor and friend, Jim Miller (pastorjamesmiller.com), spoke this last Sunday (listen to the podcast HERE)  about the consequences of Genesis 3 – one of them being that one of the things that most separates a guy like me from a healthy relationship with God is my work (Gen 3:17-19).

I have to take care of the first things first if I’m going to have a voice that carries in the kidmin world… and having a voice in that conversation can never be a higher priority than my church, my family, or my faith.

—-

All that to say, I’m back.  Not because I have everything figured out – but because I’m working hard enough on the things that matter that I want to spend some time sharing some thoughts and ideas with the rest of the community.

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2010 in Kidmin, Resources

 

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Top 10 Children’s Ministry Resources: #3 Jesus Storybook Bible

https://i2.wp.com/www.st-andrews.org.uk/Images/content/879/229648.jpg

For years, I’ve wanted a Bible that could fill the gap between a board book like Baby Bible Stories about Jesus and a chapter and verse Bible like The Adventure Bible for Young Readers, NIrV.

With the Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones has not only created a book to fill that gap… she’s written my favorite book ever.

Here’s the story of how God created Adam and Eve, as told by Sally:

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I’m at a point now where I can’t read the creation story without thinking of it as a love story.  Thank you, Sally Lloyd-Jones.

When I have parents come up to me and ask for a Bible recommendation, I almost always put the JSBB in their hands.  I preface it with a statement that goes something like this: This retelling of scripture won’t teach your kids Bible verses to remember… instead, it will weave the story of Jesus into the nooks and crannies of the narrative of God’s Word.  This is the best story time Bible I’ve found.

It’s hard for me to not rank this #1 on my list… but the next two have radically changed the way I think about Children’s Ministry.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2009 in Book Review, Kidmin, Resources

 

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Group Blogging Project: Too Small To Ignore – Chapter 14 – “Imagine”

The following is a part of a group blogging project I’m a part of at ElementalCM.com

(photo originally uploaded to Flickr by Cocoabiscuit)

For more info on what this group blogging project on the book Too Small To Ignore, read this.

Review of Chapter 14, “Imagine”
by Anthony Prince

Imagine a world where kids matter…

That’s the world Dr. Wess Stafford wants to see ushered in. That’s the world that this chapter (Too Small to Ignore, Chapter 14) wants us to talk about.

So, here we go:

Stafford wants us to let go of the world in which we exist, in order to create a world where every decision is made with us first asking, “What about the children?”

Far too often, books like this live in fantasy. They speak the language of professors and pompous theologians. Books like this never talk about practical application, they simply tell us to do better – then leave us to define and create that “better” world.

This book is not those books.

If you want some real, bold, practical take-aways from Too Small to Ignore, turn to chapter 14. It’s all there.

Stafford wants your church to care about children. He doesn’t think it’s enough to say that we care… he wants us to show that we care. We should live like we care. And he gives examples.

“What if every senior pastor was absent from the pulpit two Sunday mornings a year because he was working in the church nursery? Wouldn’t that send a message to the congregation!”

I know a handful of student ministry and children’s ministry pastors who yearn for their chance to preach during a weekend service… the message it would send to the congregation of your church, if your senior pastor served in your ministry twice a year, would preach louder than your best sermon.

I dare you to try to prove me wrong.

“What if Children’s Day was as big a deal in our churches as Mother’s Day or Father’s day?”

Did you KNOW there was a Children’s day?! The ideas Stafford talks through in his 120+ words dedicated to this holiday get me excited about marking this day on my calendar. I wrestle with celebrating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in church … so this idea resonates with my soul.

Out of the nearly 30 ways Stafford imagines us changing the world around us, 11 are changes that those of us in church leadership can work toward and actually achieve tangible results.

A sidenote:

Stafford talks about the world AS IT IS for children in war torn and impoverished countries around the world throughout this book. This chapter is no exception. If you’re like me, and the idea of children being harmed makes you ill, you’re going to want to pace yourself through this book – and this chapter… especially the section marked “A World Where Kids Count.”

You still need to read this book.

The world Stafford speaks of CAN exist, all we are missing is the vision and the heart. This book can give you both.

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2009 in Book Review, Kidmin

 

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Things I should hate more than I do: #12 Sporadic Attendance.

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There’s a funny thing about our church.

We have about twice as many kids who are active in our Sunday programs (attend at least twice a month) than are showing up on a typical Sunday.  In fact, only 5% of our kids attended weekend programs at least 40 times this last year.  To me, that’s a staggering number.

We’re in the process of creating an experience for families on Sunday mornings that they won’t want to miss.  It would be fantastic if, when a family feels like they need to spend more “family time” together, they came to church instead of taking a picnic lunch to the beach.  Going to church should never be a burden on families – we should be equipping them to “do family” better.

I’d like to say that, in a lot of ways, we’re getting there – but we’re not there yet, obviously.

Here’s the kicker: unfortunately, I don’t hate our sporadic attendance… though it’s hard for me to admit.

If, somehow, every actively attending family came on one Sunday, we wouldn’t have room for all of their children.  Putting that in writing makes my heart a little sad.
As a team, we’ll soon be discussing how to creatively shift how we’re using our space in order to have room for these families when they do begin to attend more regularly.  But, for now, we can only fit so many kids into the space we have for them on our campus.

I should hate our sporadic attendance.
Maybe, with a little bit of help, I’ll get there.

Would you like to help our team develop a strategic plan for how to use our space?
Send us a tweet @prince4jc or leave your contact info in the comments section.
We’ll give you some specific information about our current layout and let you think creatively about alternative solutions ot our space issues.
Comments and suggestions will compiled and published in an upcoming post!

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2009 in Kidmin, Los Angeles

 

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Napkin 2010

napkin front page website

My first job offer was written on a Burger King napkin over 12 years ago.

My 1st rough draft of “Things I might say when I propose” was written on a yellow napkin from Susanville’s Frosty Mill 8 years ago.

It was nearly 3 years ago when I wrote my 5-year ministry plan on a napkin I found in our kitchen after moving to Southern California.

In February 2010, I’ll be bringing a handful of napkins to Las Vegas.

Why?

Well, as my friend Gina McClain puts it, “The journey from napkin to reality can be challenging.”
At the Napkin Conference 2010, I plan to hear about that journey from guys like Sam Luce and  Jim Wideman.

I also look forward to meeting this guy:

If you’re on the West Coast, you need to get to this conference.
We’ll meet up and share ideas.
We’ll even share some napkins.

It’s not too early to plan.
Are you in?

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2009 in Kidmin, Los Angeles, Orange

 

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The Calm before the Storm

Tomorrow we launch the largest Vacation Bible School in the history of our church.

We spent no money on advertising this year.

We didn’t put a banner out on the corner of our property with dates and times of our event.

We’re seeing a 20% increase in registration over last year… which was a 20% increase over the year before.

Our student leaders, youth in the 6th-12th grade, have doubled in size over the last two years. (you can follow their journey here)

This year, we’ve added an adult prayer team that has been praying for our event over the last month and will continue to do so as the week continues.

Our prayer team will be offering classes during camp to teach parents how to pray for their children.

Nearly 30% of the kids who’ve signed up to spend the week with us, leaders included, have no church affiliation.

During our 20+ hours of volunteer training leading up to the event, 29 student leaders accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Another 150 recommitted their lives to serving Him.

I’ll now spend the next 24 hours praying that I don’t get in God’s way this week.
It should be a blast.

We welcome your prayers as well.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2009 in Kidmin, Los Angeles

 

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