The Blog

Have you ever played this game?

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I recently bought a GIANT version of pick up sticks (the sticks are two feet long!), and it is a blast. It brings back memories of playing the game with little plastic sticks when I was a kid.

I can remember opening the can and spilling all the sticks on the floor. A little bit of a mess. Starting the game was a little difficult, but after some time and practice (and a reminder that it is supposed to be fun), I actually began to have fun.

When we launched our new children’s ministry at our church, I knew it would be a little bit like pick up sticks. It was new, and sometimes that can be uncomfortable. But as we started “playing” we began get into a groove and had a lot of fun.

Not everything was perfect at first (especially day one), but it was important to embrace that. Making mistakes and not being perfect gave us direction on how to grow and get better.

Never stop improving.

I think about Lowes’ slogan all the time. Sure, never stop improving your home will keep you returning to their store. But if we never stop improving our lives, assessing where we are in our walk and how we can get better, then we start to live the life Paul writes about in Philippians 3:12-14. That type of life not only improves ourselves, but it improves our marriages and the lives of those who are closest to us.

Have you ever said something that you wish you wouldn’t have said? We all have. James warns us in chapter 3 verse 8 that no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

Much of our communication throughout the day happens on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, text messages, etc. Communication that does not require the use of our tongues. But:

For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man…” Matthew 15: 19-20

Sometimes we let our heart do the talking
without our brain being the filter.

 
Sometimes we share too much.

Our written words are more permanent than spoken words. Not only do they hurt once, they can hurt again and again. Even when we don’t intentionally try to hurt, we can still hurt others… or ourselves.

Scale back how much you post. Not everyone needs to hear unfiltered heart.

I love to pass social media through what I call the Philippians 4:8 filter:

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—POST, LIKE, SHARE, RETWEET on these things.

 

 

I recently saw a post from someone online about their obsession with Justin Bieber. The way that the comment was written, the underlining message was “everyone knows I am a huge Bieber fan, so you know this is a big deal to me.” This person was more than 100% happy with everyone knowing that they have more than average obsession with The Beebs.

I can somewhat relate because I am a big fan of the Denver Broncos. There are little things that I obsess about when it comes to the football team. I align myself with them.

I highly doubt that this one person that I am friends with on Facebook really would align their values with Justin Beiber’s. I wouldn’t align myself with the beliefs and the decisions of every person that represents the Denver Broncos organization.

My identity and who I am are going to
automatically align with my obsessions.

 
If you are obsessed with keeping your hands clean: Germaphobe. Obsessed with having everything in order and perfectly in line: OCD. Obsessed with saving money: Tightwad. Many of us pride ourselves with our obsessions. We like it to be our thing… to be our identity. We like the label.

Our desire to have identity… to be labeled… is how we are designed. It is how we are wired. But we have the wiring all mixed up. All these little things that we obsess over, and find identity in, are a result of our natural instinct to worship.

We were created for worship. We are wired for it. But for selfish reasons, we allow other things to come into our lives and worship shifts to obsession. Instead of identity in Christ, we have identity in musicians, sports, and other ticks that revolve around us.

Imagine what your relationship with Christ would be like if all your obsessions became worship.

 

 

I don’t pretend to have all the answers or do everything correctly (I don’t think anyone can do that). But we have had some success with a little focus.

“The shorter way to do many things is to do only one thing at a time.” – Mozart


It’s easy to try and do too much too soon. When I first started at my church, we had just a hand full of students. If we would have tried to do everything we do now back then, we would have failed.

That first year we focused on relationships. Relationships are always important. And that’s all we had at the start. The goal was: focus on the student and get to know them. Then encourage them to invite. We didn’t have much, including music, but we created an environment where it was obvious that our adults cared about our students. After year one, we outgrew our space and had the opportunity to move our service into the main auditorium. More people, more space, and more resources opened the door for music.

The second year we focused on music. Well my wife did. She’s the musician. But we really emphasized worship and the importance of it. It was our focus. We gained more momentum as a ministry.

The third year we focused on serving. Inside and outside the ministry. We trained students to run sound, run computers, created teams to set up and take down. We wanted to create ownership. We wanted to have a student run service. It was so successful that it spilled over onto Sunday mornings. Outside of the church, we became more involved with serving in our community. We stayed focus and made progress.

The fourth year we focused on small groups. We had dabbled in small groups before, but never made it a focus. In our fourth year, it was obvious that we needed to now break up our large group.

In this fifth year, we have focused on system. We have created a schedule that is allowing us to cater to middle school and high school separately while still having our worship time together and small groups.  This system has keep us on schedule and has more adults and students serving than before.

This focus has helped our progress. Nothing is perfect, but each year we have built on the momentum we have had from the year before. Don’t force it if it’s not going to be successful. Focus on one thing, get it right (or close), and move onto the next thing. It’s important to have the momentum before you create the moment.