All Healthy Things Reproduce

There is something that my pastor has said a lot over the years,

“All healthy things reproduce.”

If you look around you – in all of God’s creation, this statement is true. Every creature that God created will reproduce if it’s healthy. Every plant that God created will reproduce if it is healthy. Fruit trees not only make fruit, but they produce seeds so that other fruit trees can grow. If you look around the world is full of examples of this truth. This is true for far more than just plants and animals. A healthy business will reproduce itself in some form or another. Can you say franchise? A healthy marriage will produce children. The examples could go on and on.

So, what does all this have to do with Children’s Ministry? Well, actually quite a bit. If reproduction is a sign of something healthy, then it provides us with a measuring stick that we can use to measure the health of many different aspects of our ministry. Let’s look at some questions you should think about in assessing whether or not your ministry is reproducing:

1. Are you producing disciples?

Once we have made Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, we are all Disciples of Christ. Considering that all healthy things reproduce, we have to ask ourselves, are we producing other disciples? Not only were we commanded to do so by Jesus, but it is an outward sign of our own internal health as a disciple of Christ. As children’s pastors and volunteers, sometimes we tend only to look at the children in our ministries as those that we disciple. Certainly this is important and a key part of children’s ministry, but as Christians we have a responsibility to be producing disciples of all ages. Trust me, I understand how difficult this can be as a part time/volunteer children’s pastor/worker. Despite this, I would still say that this is still an important measure of our health as a disciple of Christ. If you think of your ministry as a chance to disciple both kids and adults, you will surely find people of all ages to disciple. I would go on to say that the people we should look to disciple can be the people serving in our ministry as well as other people around us.

2. Is your children’s ministry growing?

This is an easy measure to look at and I think it is one that many churches often focus on. I have heard it said that, “God doesn’t care about numbers”. Really!? To me numbers are a measure of the number of people that we are reaching. Certainly numbers are not the only thing that we should be concerned with, but they do matter. They matter because every child that you add to your numbers is one more child that is hearing, and hopefully by God’s grace, receiving the Gospel. It is one more child that is receiving direction. It is one more child that is learning biblical values. It is one more child is being loved. I know this may seem harsh, but if your children’s ministry is not growing, it may be an indication that it is not healthy.

3. Are the children in my ministry inviting friends?

Now, this one may seem to go with the previous question, and to some extent it does. After all, a healthy children’s ministry will produce children who will invite their friends. However, this one is still different. In the previous question we are looking at growth as a direct result of a healthy children’s ministry. This would be a result of the actions and activities of the ministry itself. That is not what I am talking about here. With this one I am talking specifically about kids inviting other kids. I am talking about kids that are growing spiritually to the point where they are inviting their friends. I’m talking about kids inviting friends not because of the fun they are having, but because they know that their friends need to hear the Gospel. These kids may use the fun that can be had as a tool to get their friends there, but ultimately, they want their friends to know Jesus.

Certainly there could be other ways that we could use this to measure the health of our ministry. I think that this gives you the general idea.. So take this, and examine yourself and your ministry. As you examine the health of yourself and your ministry keep in mind that All Healthy Things Reproduce.

If you can think of some other ways that this principle can be used to measure the health of your ministry, please leave a comment and let me know. I would love to hear it!

Matt Norman

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Year in Review

I know it’s hard to think about it, but 2012 is rapidly coming to an end. While there is still time I thought that I would try to start you thinking about taking a look back. I think it is important that we look back each year at what we have, or have not, done. Look back at how our ministry is growing. It is only by looking at what we have done that we can really move forward.

So, how has 2012 been?
What went really well this year? What things were a hit?
What things didn’t go so well?
Where you able to take the gospel to new people?
Did the people already in your ministry grow?
Did you grow, or are you the same person that you were this time last year?
Did your ministry experience growth?
I believe that we should always be moving forward. I think that there are times when we will make big steps forward, but mostly we should be looking to be a little better each time. This is true of the passing years. Each year we should be a little better than we were the previous year. Each year our ministry should be a little better than it was the year before.

There are things that we simply can not control, but for the things we can control we should seek to do a little better each time, each year.

Matt Norman

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Black (and Blue) Friday

Well, today is the big day. The day that retailers and shoppers alike look forward to all year long. Today is: BLACK FRIDAY!! Tonight as I dressed for work I was watching the news. Among the weather and other misc. stories was a report on the people lined up outside a local toy store in preparation for the big Black Friday deals. This part I can deal with. I do think it is a little crazy to sit outside a store for 12 hours or more just to buy something, but hey, to each his own. That’s not the part that bothers me about Black Friday.

What bothers me about Black Friday is the way we behave on that day. It has been a few years since I went out shopping on this day, but I can still remember what it was like. People pushing and shoving to get to that item that is going to bring them or their child eternal happiness. People sneaking around and taking items out of other people’s buggies when they aren’t looking. I’ve even seen people get into fist fights over a certain item. This is what I hate about Black Friday.

We have turned this day into a shameless display of our affection for STUFF. I have no problem with buying or giving gifts for Christmas, but the way people behave has turn this day into  day of worship to the god of Materialism. Few other things can insight such zeal in people. Imagine if people chose to focus this much energy into something positive. Imagine the good that could be done if millions of people all over the country chose to address homelessness, or hunger, or human trafficking with the passion that they put into Black Friday shopping, even if only once per year.

The way that people behave has totally taken away what I believe the holiday season is all about. Obviously as a Christian I believe that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks to God for the many ways that He provides for our needs. Also, as a Christian, I believe that Christmas is about remembering and celebrating the birth of the one that would save us, Jesus Christ. However, even if you are not a Christian, shouldn’t the holidays be about something more than the endless pursuit of STUFF? What about time spent with the people we love. What about, for a short time, caring more about other people than we do ourselves.

You see, getting that perfect gift for your child is not going to change their life. In fact the excitement they feel on that day will be fleeting at best. My son had a birthday party a couple of weeks ago.  He got a lot of really cool stuff. He was so excited he could hardly contain himself. Despite this he could hardly contain himself as he looked over the different Black Friday adds this week. This is not to say that he does not still enjoy the gifts he got. It is not to say that he does not still appreciate them. But, what it does tell us is that the happiness we receive from stuff is very fleeting.

So, by all means shop. Shop till you drop if you so desire. But, think of how you are behaving. Your life will go on if you don’t get the 150 inch HDTV for $50. Your child’s life will go on if that certain item is not under the tree come Christmas.  Remember that whether you are a Christian or not, the holidays are about more important things that what we buy, what we are given or the gifts we give.

Remember that the holidays are about people.

Matt Norman

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The Power of The Visit

I have been on staff at my church for aroud 4 years now. During that time my Pastor has repeatedly told me that I should be visiting the kids in our ministry. Over and over again he would reiterate the importance of this practice. Dispite this it was easy for me to find an excuse not to do it. I wasn’t really rebelling against what he was telling me, I just didn’t place a high priority on it.

This all changed a couple weeks ago. You see I decided that I was going to start placing a priority on visiting. I set out to get into the home of every child that was actively involved in our church. My wife even stepped up and volunteered to handle scheduling of these appointments. So, the phone calls started and the first couple appointments were set. I was not prepared for what was about to happen.

Anxiously I drove to the house. This was a family that I had known for a number of years. They had been a part of our church a few years ago, but had moved away and only recently returned to the area and to our church. The husband/father was someone I knew quite well having gone to college with him and worked together for some time. Still I was a little nervous.

What would I say?

What if they had questions I can’t answer?

Did these people even want me in their house?

Well, turns out the answer to this last question was a resounding YES. In fact the 8 year old girl that I was there to visit was so excited that Pastor Matt was coming over that she could hardly stand it. But she wasn’t the only one. As I sat with the family and talked, it became clear that my presence there meant just as much to the parents.

Who knew? You see I had been carrying around this belief that no one was really interested in a visit from me. Sure they would be willing to let me drop by, but the visit wouldn’t really carry much meaning for them. Certainly they wouldn’t be looking forward to it with anticipation.

Boy was I wrong!

This visit and the next one I did had a clear impact on the child and on the family. Recently we had a family leave our church that had been there for a number for years. They left under good terms. They had no complaints about the church or anything that we did or did not do. It was simply a matter of economics. They were driving over 30 minutes each way to get to church and with gas frequently hovering around $4 per gallon it was becoming increasingly difficult for them to be involved at the level they would like. In spite of all of this, I can’t help but believe that if our children’s ministry had offered enough value for their children then they would have stayed. If we were ministering to their children in the way that I believe we should then they would have been willing to make the sacrifices necessary to keep them in our church. I believe that visiting is part of the value that was missing for this family.

If you are not in the habit of visiting the children or youth in your ministry I highly recommend that you start. It may be ackward at first. Start with the easy ones. I know that there were children in your ministry whose parents you are friends with. Visit a couple of them first, then move on to the ones you don’t know as well. I believe that after you have done a couple visits then you will begin to look forward to them. That’s what has happened to me.

Matt Norman

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Stop Spoon Feeding

Here is another post that I originally wrote for I hope you enjoy it.

There is a lot of talk these days about how often children’s workers should attend the adult worship service. The idea is that children’s workers need to be fed too. In concept I agree with that, but I am not convinced that attended the adult worship service is required for children’s workers to be fed.

I am not down playing the value of attending a worship service. I simply believe that children’s workers should be able to feed themselves.

1 Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child,I talked like a child,I thought like a child,I reasoned like a child. When I became a man,I put the ways of childhood behind me.”

When I was a child people taught me about the Bible. That was great for where I was at that time in my life, however, as this verse points out, when we progress from childhood to adulthood, we are to put the ways of childhood behind us.

Hebrews 5:12-14 says, “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

This passage tells us that as teachers we should be on solid food, not milk. The implication of this verse is that milk is what infants eat. Infants can not feed themselves, but need to be fed. So, when we say that children’s workers need to be fed, then are we not comparing them to infants? This passage in Hebrews seems pretty clear that teachers should be self feeders.

Now, please understand that I am not dismissing the importance of attending worship. However, I think that the value in it has more to do with ATTENDING, and less to do with being fed. I think that it is so refueling because it gives us a chance to just attend and not have any responsibilities.

As for being fed, if we are to be teachers, then we need to be able to feed ourselves. Consider what would happen if we only fed our body once a week. It might be able to survive, but it would be weak and would have a serious lack of energy. We wouldn’t even consider this for our bodies, but this is what we suggest for our spirit. We need to get to a point where we are feeding our spirit daily, even multiple times in a day.

What are your daiy or weekly habits for feeding yourself?

Matt Norman

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