Archive for June, 2008

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Kids First! Top 100 Kids Films

June 26, 2008

As I was reading my Kidscreen eNewsletter, they pointed to a list of Top 100 Kids’ Films compiled by Kids First! These are just feature films and were voted on by a group of jurors who have undergone training in the standards set forth by Kids First! It is a site put on by the Coalition for Quality Children’s Media whose mission is to is “to teach children critical viewing skills and to increase the visibility and availability of quality children’s media.”

Thought it might be helpful to see what’s on the list for those of us who work with kids.

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Top 15 Kids’ Picture Books this past week

June 26, 2008

Kidscreen posted the top 15 picture books this past week as compiled by Pulisher’s Weekly. I was pleased (yet not surprised because of all the graduations going on) that Dr. SuessOh, the Places You’ll Go! topped the list.

It was also fun to see a Fancy Nancy book on the list. My wife and I love Fancy Nancy… one lives at our house. We have, yet, to buy one of the books though. Also on the list was a book by Jon Scieszka. He is the author of some of my favourite picture books: The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid TalesMath Curse, and True Story Of The Three Little Pigs. Jon Scieszka also has a fun website dedicated to getting boys reading called Guys Read.

There are a lot of books on that list I haven’t heard of. Well, I guess it’s time for me to go visit the kids’ section at Chapters!

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Oh Please!! Dr. Dobson Reacts to a Speech by Barack Obama

June 25, 2008

I was just reading Scot McKnight’s blog and he had a post about a Focus on the Family episode where Dr. Dobson was commenting on a speech by Barack Obama where Dobson’s name was used.

Now, I don’t agree with everything that Obama supports, and I don’t even know how I am going to vote in the Presidential election (yes, I still get to vote even though I don’t live in the States… I’m still a US citizen). In listening to the Focus on the Family broadcast, though, I was taken aback at how Dobson and his co-host chose to interpret what Obama was saying. Their claims did not match up with what Obama was saying in the clips they played. Many times Dobson said that he wasn’t trying to be defensive, but that’s exactly what he was doing. I don’t even understand why Dobson was so offended by Obama’s mention of Dobson in a speech that happened two years ago! Obama was slamming him in any way or equating him in any way with anyone or anything as Dobson was claiming. Obama, in actuality, was giving tribute to the influence that Dobson has on a certain view of evangelical Christianity. Also, Dobson took other comments way out of context and seemed to be very paranoid in how they viewed what Obama was saying. What I gathered from the clips in the speech was that Obama was simply saying that Christians can’t just influence the political process by pointing to themselves and the Bible and saying they are right and everyone else is wrong. Even Evangelicals disagree on what is essential and what is non-essential. Plus, there are more than just Christians that live in the States and we have to meet those people on some common ground before imposing a set of values on them simply on the basis on having a sense of a greater revealed truth.

Dobson’s reaction to Obama’s speech, in my opinion, is doing a disservice to followers of Christ. He has done exactly what he accuses “the media” of doing to him: pulling sound bites out of context and misinterpreting them. We need to stop being a paranoid people. We need to stop being afraid of what is being said and the questions that are being asked. We need to engage the conversations around us intelligently and in a way that encourages dialogue. We need to stop insisting that we are right and admit that sometimes we are wrong and narrow minded. It’s not about being right. It’s about meeting people where they are and pointing them to a more full life following Christ. It’s hard to do that when we are whining about how right we are.

NOTE: I just finished reading Obama’s speech that is talked about in the broadcast. While I may not agree with all of what Obama was saying, I do think that Dobson misrepresents the spirit of the speech. I do think, though, that much of what Obama brought up about reconciling religion and politics is well worth thinking over and valid. If only more people would be so willing to put their views under scrutiny and be as authentic as he seems to be.

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Rethinking our assumptions

June 24, 2008

We were on our biannual staff retreat last week. One of the passages we looked at for our discussion times was Micah 3.

In essence, Micah is blasting the Israelite leaders for assuming that they are following God when they really weren’t. The passage uses some very strong language to suggest that they should’ve known better, but they really thought they were following God.

How many times do we assume that we are following God when we really aren’t? How do we know? I mean, Micah then goes on to say how he is following God. How does he really know? OK, he was a prophet, but still…

I think many times we go about our lives assuming that we are following God and doing what he wants. We assume this because things are going well: no major bumps at home, church programs are running well, house over our heads, etc. We, then, take less risks and seek out calmer waters rather than jumping into a potentially dangerous adventure.

I wonder if we’ve done the same thing with children’s ministry. What if we are simply assuming that the way we do children’s ministry is THE WAY it’s supposed to be done? What if we are so used to thinking that we are hearing from God that we are completely missing “it” when it comes to children’s ministry? Some of us will point to “family ministry” and say that is the answer… What if it isn’t? Is there something else that we are missing?

Just some random thoughts and questions I’ve been mulling over. What are you doing in children’s ministry? What are your ultimate goals? What are you doing to evaluate whether or not you are actually hearing from God about children’s ministry?

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Need Some Help With That?

June 12, 2008

(photo by sean dreilinger)

My answer to this, most of the time, is “No, I’m fine.”

Last week, my son broke his leg playing soccer, and ended up needing pins and a frame on his leg to straighten the bone. When we were headed out of the hospital on Tuesday, I was pushing him in his wheelchair and carrying two pillows, crutches and a heavy duffel bag. Along the way to the entrance to meet up with my wife, three people had offered to help me: his nurse, another random hospital employee, and someone from our church who saw me walking down the hallway. My answer to all three? “No, I’m fine.”

This morning as I looked at my daunting to-do list (June is CRAZY!), I was hit with what I did in the hospital… There were people all around me who were offering to help, and I declined because “I’m fine.” I realized that is my mantra: “I’m fine… I can do it… It’s OK… I don’t really need help…” Isn’t that the mantra of every leader, though? We wouldn’t have gotten to where we are without that self-sufficiency and work ethic.

What I think many of us get stuck on, though, is that as a leader it is our job to empower people around us. Yes, we all know this. I know this! But, still I say, “No, I’m fine.” I need to start forcing myself to say, “Yes, thank you for the help.” I need to make my knee-jerk reaction when asked if I need help to say, “Yes” rather than, “No” unless I have a really good reason to say, “No.”

Even if “I am fine” I still need to allow others to help and empower others to help.

This is going to be hard…

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Ministry Focus

June 5, 2008

(photo by Balakov)
I was in a conversation with a children’s pastor a while back who was looking for good web content to put into his website so kids would come visit. My question was, “Why?”

Why are you spending time, and lots of it because websites take TIME, putting a website together for kids to go to? That time and money can better be spent elsewhere… like equipping and empowering volunteers to reach children and families. His answer? “Yeah, I know… but I want a place for kids to be able to access Christian content. Aren’t we supposed to provide as many opportunities for kids to encounter Jesus?”

Why do we children’s ministers continue to fall for the myth that the more opportunities we have out there for kids to interact/hear the Gospel the better?

Oh, I know that we all know that we need to simplify and focus on only what we do best. But most of us never really do that. We claim that we need all our programs (and more) and that we do all of them well!

We need to start being more honest with ourselves and realize that we can’t do everything we do well. We can only do a few things well, and we need to focus on those.

Imagine what we could do if all of our resources (time, volunteers, money, creativity) were used on only one program or initiative… Imagine focusing on the one thing that you do better than anyone else…

Imagine what we could do if each of us took those flashlights called children’s ministry and focus those lights into laser beams… Talk about making a lasting impression.

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Great Place to Get T-shirt Screen Printing Done

June 4, 2008

If you are like me, then you like to get T-shirts done for various children’s ministry things like camp or volunteer drives and other things! I remember starting off in CM and not knowing where to go or what to do. A friend of mine, Brian Marshall, referred me to someone at his church at the time. The guy’s name is Terry Matthews.

Terry runs Terry’s Tees out of Owensboro, KY. He is a great guy, who has since become a friend of mine as well. He does quality T-shirt screen printing for a reasonable cost and even has someone on his staff who can help with graphics!

You might be wondering why I am promoting Terry. Well, Terry is one of those guys who still understands what customer service means and I’ve enjoyed working with him over the past 5 years. So, if you need someone to print T-shirts (or hats, or sweatshirts, or whatever) for you and you don’t already have someone you work with, give Terry’s Tees a call at 270-683-9369. Andrea, Terry’s wife, usually answers the phone and helps you with the initial order. Say hi to her and Terry for me if you do call.