A Tale of Three Boundaries…

This past weekend, I had the privilege of leading a workshop on teaching preteens and teens about helping them to say YES to God’s plan for dating, marriage, and sex!  I know, God’s crazy sense of humor in that…  🙂

As we’re discussing setting rules for teens, we shared a lot of stories from our own teen years.  Three distinct stories stood out to me:

  1. One attendee shared that his parents set strict rules, very strict boundaries without explaining them to him.  He had questions upon questions.
  2. Another attendee shared that while she was given distinct boundaries, her parents never brought God into the equation.  They were rules for rule-sake, and she still rebelled.
  3. Another attendee broke out in tears as her friend next to her shared the hurt she was recounting as she thinks about lack of boundaries she had growing up.  She had many, many regrets of the mistakes she had made simply because there were no boundaries in her life.

boundaryAll of these stories made my heart hurt and yet rejoice in God’s amazing grace.  Yes, I believe without a doubt in my mind that kids and teens need boundaries at every age.  However, we also need to explain to them why these boundaries exist.  Boundaries without why’s only lead to confusion, questions, and even rebellion.  No boundaries lead to lack of discernment and sometimes even conscience to do what’s right.  We give kids and teens boundaries because we love them.  We gives kids and teens boundaries because we want to protect them.  We give kids and teens boundaries because we want to help them make good decisions.  We give kids and teens boundaries because we want to equip and develop them to be responsible, God-loving, God-fearing, and wise adults.  Boundaries are needed… but they cannot be given without the why’s… and the biggest and the most important why is because of our relationship with Jesus.  We make our life-choices based on God’s leading because of our relationship with Him.

What’s also beautiful about these stories is that regardless of the questions, confusions, rebellion, and mistakes, God redeemed all these beautiful people.  I don’t even know their names… but their faces are super clear in my mind.  I just remember thinking–wow, they’re here!  They’re at a Christian Conference, and they’re sitting in a workshop that talks about helping teens commit to Jesus Christ and making life choices that reflects growing relationship with Jesus!  What a beautiful picture of redemption!  God is so cool like that!  God uses our past experiences and even hurts to help others… and these faces were so beautiful to me!

Set boundaries for kids and teens but explain why!  And regardless of what decision kids make, know that God can redeem even the worst questions, confusions, rebellion, and mistakes.

Bivocational Ministry

October 7th – 10th marked Group’s very first KidMin Conference in Chicago.  I was privileged to be part of the Inside Track team for this big event for the past year…  It was great to be able to give feedback on what we would like to experience and gain from the conference since people like me are in the trenches of doing everyday ministry.  The conference did not disappoint!  It was amazing to worship with 1200+ other children’s ministry pastors, directors, and volunteers… to be with like-minded people with the same heart and vision.  And of course, my favorite part of any conferences is seeing old friends and making new ones.  It was really cool to meet some of my facebook and twitter friends in person (I promise, I try to limit my stalking to a minimum.. but some of them have such great insight!)  Another highlight was the honor of leading Bivocational Ministry Connect Group.  There is so much I could say about KidMin Conference, but I want to spend some time talking about Bivocational Ministry.

KidMin Conference General Session: Worship led by Brian Davis

I was in part-time Children’s Ministry for about 14 years… which meant I had to take on other jobs to make sure I can pay all my bills on time.  During that time, i also started a small business, thinking that would give me a lot of flexibility with my time… So even after I finally started working full-time as a Director of Children’s Ministry, I still had a business to run.  So I’ve been bivocational pretty much all of my adult working life!  I think I was only able to survive because I don’t have a family to look after, but the feeling of being pulled in 50 different directions and feeling inadequate was always there… not to mention I always felt the need to catch up on sleep.  Thus, I was super excited to connect with others who felt the same way as I did.

We met four times during the course of the conference, and we were never short of people who just wanted to share and gain some insight into how we can better balance our lives!  Trust me, I don’t have the answers!!!  All I can do is just share from my experience and share what has worked and not worked for me.  I think so many of us were feeling close to being burnt out, it was easy to just vent…  and I think we needed that–a safe place to vent!  But of course, we didn’t want to leave it there… we wanted support, prayer, and a community to walk with us.  We had some in depth discussions about how we can balance our lives and do ministry well… one thing that was evident was that we all needed to evaluate what wasn’t working for us, and make some changes to our lives.  That may mean having a frank conversation with our supervising pastors about the limitations of our lives and ministry, letting go of some responsibilities in our lives, or finding a new system that works better for us.

Bivocational Ministry Connect Group

For me, one of the high points came when Robin, who was considering bivocational ministry asked the group if there were any positives to having a secular job and a ministry job.  Although we had been “complaining” for awhile, we took a step back, and thought about some pros to being bivocational.  One thing resonated–and that was that we were grounded in the reality of this world and interacting with those who may never walk through the doors of a church.  We all valued having relationships with non-church people.  And for me, I was reminded that God places us exactly where He can use and teach us regardless of how “tired” we may feel… and that even being bivocational is a blessing!

I sure have a lot more to say about what I experienced and learned at KidMin, but I think I should break them down.. otherwise, this post will be forever long….

KidMin Conference Sounds Cool…

I was at a ministry conference last weekend, and I had the privilege of leading two workshops.  I have led these workshops before, and I’m always interested in the responses I get.  One thing I noticed with this group was that while they all participated, they were for the most part a quiet bunch.  I wondered if they were even getting anything out of my workshops (that’s my insecurity talking…)

Well, once my workshops were over… I had 4-8 people that came up and just wanted to talk with me.  In fact, one  person even helped me pack up and walked back to the exhibit hall back with me, and we probably talked about ministry for good 30 minutes.  When I talked to my friends, they also had similar experiences.  And a week later, I’ve had about 5 e-mails from people that had attended my workshops, and we have continued on the ministry conversation.

When I think back to the conferences I have attended, I realized that my true highlights are not attending workshops.  Rather, it’s connecting with people who I can share with and learn from.  How many times have I wanted to talk to continue the conversation with the speakers?  How many times have I wanted to ask them more in depth questions?

This is precisely why Group’s KidMin Conference is really appealing to me.  I believe that visions and practices are caught more than taught… and for me, it’s through the time I spend with people that I really get to know their heart and passion.  Yes, that can be communicated from the speaker at the front of the room, but it’s just not the same as when you get to interact with them in person… And for this reason alone, I think KidMin Conference stands out because that is one of the values at this conference… The speakers and workshops leaders are there to hang out with you, connect with you, talk with you, and pray with you!!!  How cool is that???

and check this video out!

KidMin Conference: why I’m excited for this one!

I have been to MANY children’s ministry conferences since I started in kidmin 16 years ago.   Most of them were good, and I have learned something from each one.  However, I have always felt couple frustrations from each one:

1.  I always came back overwhelmed because speakers would talk about things that were unreachable for me.  See, I grew up in a mega-church, and because I tend to react to the way I grew up, I have loved serving in a small church.  There are definitely things I miss about a large church–namely, the resources and facility.  But what I love about small church ministry is that I can actually get to know every single one of my volunteers and at least know every child’s name.  Often times, I would attend conferences with speakers that are well known from mega-churches.  They would talk about having a team to write and act out in a different skit every week, putting together professional looking media clips each week, etc.   It sounds like every ministry’s dream, and I get all pumped up.  But when I come back to my small church, I would feel deflated because I don’t have the paid staff to pull off the things they talked about.   When I saw that KidMin Conference was offering 4-hour track on Children’s Ministry in Small Churches, I was thrilled.  It’s not just a 1-hour workshop, but it’s a half-track, something you can dig deeper with others that are in the same boat!  Afterall, statistics tell us that 85% of all protestant churches in America has attendance of 200 or less.  That’s A LOT of small churches out there!  KidMin also has Small Church Connect Group!  This is too cool!

2.  I rarely have time to process everything, and before I know it, I’m back in my church running full-speed.  I’m a process person.  It’s very important for me to sit, think, and talk about what I have learned and have a strategy on implementation.  In my earlier years, I was most concerned with getting as much information as possible.  Now that I’ve been doing this for awhile, I’m more interested in getting information that’s relevant and useful to me, and to be able to implement in my ministry.  I’ve been known to “ditch” workshops because I go into information overload, and I just can’t handle it anymore.  I like that KidMin offers casual and open Connect Groups where we can network and just talk and process ministry together!  Not to mention, the speakers are available to connect with people in a casual, kick-back environment!   When I do workshops, I love connecting with people afterwards.  I make it a point to make myself accessible because that’s when I get most pumped up–when I connect with people!  I’ve been to conferences where the speakers were like rockstars–they do their thing, and they disappear.  How AWESOME that KidMin allows time for the speaker and attendees to connect, talk, process, and network!!!  and you can connect on comfy Sack Chair Pods, and even take naps when you’re tired!!!  gotta love that “Relate & Relax” is one of the values of this conference!!!

As KidMin unveils more info, I’m sure I’ll get even more excited… but for now, these two reasons alone have me jumping up and down!!!   (it’s just ironic that this conference is happening right after I stepped down from my church… but I’m 100% kidmin person, and who knows where God will have me serve next!)