The Making of A Champion

I LOVE FOOTBALL. If I could I would watch it all day Saturday and all day Sunday. Oh, and of course Monday night. I like college football. I like NFL. I even like college football and little league football. Basically, I love football. These days the news is filled with stories of NFL players breaking the law. The stories of violence, drunk driving, drugs and other offenses can lead us to believe that every man in the NFL is in some sort of trouble. I realize that the reason we hear so much more about the bad stuff is because it just makes better TV. The media are seldom interested in reporting the good things that these men do, especially if this good is motivated by a relationship with Christ. Recently I saw a video that boldly went against this trend.

The Making of A Champion is a 15 minute video that was the brain child of Clint Gresham. Unless you are a hardcore Seattle Seahawks fan you probably will not have heard of Clint. He plays in a important, but not often talked about position of long snapper. But, the position he plays is not that important, the video he has made IS. This video features some of the players and coaches from the Seattle Seahawks as they talk about their lives, their love for football, and most importantly their relationship with Christ. In a high quality, professional video these men each talk about their life with football, their struggles in life and how they came to know Christ.

A repeating theme for each of these men is how they experience great success at different levels in football, yet still felt empty. They still felt that something was missing. Through this experience they realized that, while they continue to love football, their relationship with Christ is much greater.

The video ends with Clint Gresham sharing the gospel and inviting viewers to receive salvation through Jesus Christ.

If you are a youth pastor looking for a Super Bowl related lesson, this is it. If you are a pastor looking for a video to punctuate your Super Bowl or football themed sermon this Sunday, this is it. If you are a church hosting a Super Bowl party and looking for something to do during half time, this is it.

Check it out for yourself at www.makingofachampion.org


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Greatest Parenting Struggles: Single Parenting

This entire series is based on me asking my Facebook friends that are parents about what their greatest struggles were in parenting. Here is the one for today:

It is hard raising them by myself. I make the rules and boundaries alone. Hard with no help.”

Before I get to far into this let me say that my parents are still married as am I. I did not grow up in a single parent nor amI a single parent. So, I do not have personal experience from WITHIN single parent family. However, I have many friends that are single parents. I have worked with a number of single parents within my church as well as friends from outside my church. So, whatever I say from here out consider through the filter of this experience.

The quote above is something that just about every single parent has experienced as some point. I am married to a great woman who is a great mother and parenting is still hard. I can’t imagine how much more difficult parenting without such a great partner would be. With that thought in mind I think that this is the key to surviving as a single parent, PARTNERSHIP. In a home where both parents are around and involved a partnership already exists. However, when there is only one parent, there is no partnership. Here are some thoughts on what the single parent can do about that.

Parents, go to church. I know that this may seem simplistic and you may even be wondering what this has to do with parenting, but let me explain. I don’t mean simply to start ATTENDING church. Rather I mean that you should get plugged in. Get involved in what is going on. Get to know some people. Make some friends. You may be wondering how this can help you parent your children alone. Let me explain. As I said above, one of the keys here is partnership. For me that partnership is easy because my wife has my back. For the single parent this partnership is not so easy. This is where the church comes in. The point of getting involved, getting to know people, and making friends is that you then have a basis for your partnership.

Simply attending, even getting involved is not enough. You must invite people to be your partners. You must be open and honest about your struggles. You must be willing to let people help you. Many of the single parents I know have a rough exterior. They block people out. Let people become a part of your life that can help you.

Church, step it up. Single parents need our help. There are children and youth all around us whose mother or father is not around. That’s where we can help. These boys need men who will stand in where their own fathers will not. They need men who will show them what it means to be a man of God. Likewise there are girls who need women to step up and show them how to be a woman of God. These girls need men who would show them how a REAL MAN treats a woman. Chances are, if their father is not around, then they have never seen a good example of this. Boys need to see the same thing.

In conclusion: Parenting is meant to be a partnership. It is never INTENDED to be done solo. For some of us this happens easier than for others. I have been fortunate to be pared with a mate that was willing to fight through the tough times and trust me there have been some. I have been fortunate to be pared with a mate that shared my desire to grow together and become better parents and better spouses. For those of us that have been so fortunate then having a partner in parenting it easy. For the rest they need some help. I think the people of the church can stand in this gap and become this partner.


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Setting Standards in Leadership.

Leading people looks a little different depending on the environment in which you lead. As a charge nurse in a local emergency room I lead a team of people who were responsible for peoples lives. As a Children’s Pastor the team I lead has much different responsibilities. Despite the different environments that we lead in there are certain principles that apply to nearly all of them. One that I want to share here is the idea of setting standards.

Obviously setting high standards is very important in an emergency room. Without high standards bad things happen. I would argue that high standards are even more important in ministry. While people’s lives are at stake in the emergency room, peoples souls are what we risk in ministry. So, what is the principle?

I have found that regardless of where you set the standards the majority of people will strive to meet the standard. By my estimation somewhere around 80% of people will do all they can to live up to the standards you set. Of the remaining 20%, half will never live up to the standard no matter what you do and half will exceed it no matter where you set the standard.. I have found this to be true no matter where the standard is set. I suppose there is a point where the standard could be set too high and the number that reach it would be less. What does this mean for leaders?

Expect great things. Regardless of the environment in which you lead, expect greatness from the people you lead. Achieving greatness requires hard work. This can keep us from striving for greatness. If YOU don’t have high expectations for your ministry, don’t expect your team to.

Communicate well. As I said above most of the people on your team will live up to the expectations that you set. In fact most of the people on your team WANT to live up to your expectations. They can only do this if they KNOW what the expectations are. Communicate them clearly. Communicate them well. Communicate them often.

Evaluate often. No one likes a micromanager, but you have to know how well your team is doing. Make them a part of the evaluation process. Look at what you are doing. Remind yourself of why you do what you do and see if you are achieving that goal.

Do it with love. As we communicate, as we evaluate we must do all that we do with love. Our desire to achieve great things, to have great impact in the lives of kids can cause us to forget to love people. It can lead us to act harshly towards the people that we lead. Remember that the people you lead are on your team because they are passionate about the same things that you are passionate about.


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I Don’t Drink, But Boy Can I Eat!

Humans are very interesting creatures. We make choices and live our lives a certain way based on these choices. Sometimes we make good choices in one area of our lives only to ignore similar choices in other areas. We work hard at our job, while our homes fall apart due to neglect. We nurture relationships with friends while our marriages struggle. We help other families grow strong while our families grow weak. We do all of this with the best of intentions, but in our efforts to help some we may also be turning others away. In our efforts to help others we may be hurting ourselves and those closest to us.

By now you may be wondering where I am going with this line of thinking. Well, let me explain. Many years ago I decided not to drink. Not because I believed that the act of drinking was sin in and of itself. In fact I believe that drinking in moderations is not sin, while drinking in excess is. I made the choice not to drink because I never wanted some child or youth or even another adult to see me drinking a single beer with dinner and use that to justify their drunken bing. Paul put it like this, “Therefore, it what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.” (1 Corinthians 8:13)

I stand by this choice and will continue to live my life based on it. However, I have recently come to the realization that even while avoiding this potential influence I was displaying another influence that could have the same harmful effect. While sitting at that same dinner, intentionally avoiding alcohol I tend to over indulge in the food served me. My name is Matt and I’m a glutton. This is where you say, “HELLO MATT.” Even as the Bible tells us that drunkenness is a sin so does it tell us that gluttony is sin. Yet there I was stuffing my face with so much food that I could barely breath comfortably by time I was done. Never did it occur to me that I might be WAS doing the very thing that I was trying to avoid. I simply traded one sinful display for another. In fact I traded something that was NOT sin for something that WAS.

So what?

I am not going to commit to loosing a hundred pounds over the next six months, or even the next year. In fact I am not committing to losing any weight at all. What I am committing to is taking the same stance in the way I eat that I have with alcohol. Even as Paul said that his desire to even avoid eating habits that might lead “a brother or sister to fall into sin” that is the commitment I make today.  Understand that do plan to lose weight and I have set goals related to that, but that is not the main point of the post. My primary goal is to get YOU thinking. Is there some area of your life that needs to be evaluated. Is there some habit in your life that might be leading others around you to sin? Maybe, like me, you struggle with gluttony. Maybe it is something else. Whatever it is, you need to take the time to examine it and do what needs to be done to remove it from your life. I am currently working to discover exactly how it looks when God helps you deal with sinful habits. What I do know is that it involves submission, prayer and self-denial. Jesus told us this when he said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross DAILY and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) If we desire to follow Jesus, as we claim we do, then we must do as Jesus said. I am still working on how this looks in my own life, but I am convinced that this is the key to achieving this.

I’d love to hear what your struggles are and how God is working in your life to help you over come them. Leave a comment below.


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Kidzmatter Magazine. New Name! New Look! Same Great Content!

Last week I got my first issue of Kidzmatter Magazine. Many of you may be familiar with it under it’s old name, K! Magazine. The wonderful folks at Kidzmatter have recently worked very hard to provide a fresh, new look to this familiar magazine. They also gave it a new name, Kidzmatter Magazine. With this new look and new name come the unending dedication to quality content aimed at equipping children’s ministry leaders for a greater impact in the lives of kids. The fine folks at Kidzmatter are well known for the dedication to providing tools for children’s ministry leaders. This new look is no different.

What can you expect?

  • High quality content written by people in the trenches of ministry to children.
  • Practical tools aimed at helping you do an even better job of reaching children with the Gospel.
  • A great new look. High quality pictures and lots of great color along with a convenient lay-out make for a magazine that is easy to read and a useful tool.
  • Advertising that is helpful without being intrusive. I have read magazines that seemed more about the ads than the content. This is not one of those.

These are just a few of the things that you will love about Kidzmatter magazine. But, my favorite thing in the January/February issue is the VBS guide. I have personally spent many hours researching all the different VBS options available and trying to determine which would be the best fit for my church. Even with the research that I have done I was never able to come up with a compilation of all the available VBS resources that is as complete as this one. Not to mention how difficult it is to compare these many different VBS options side-by-side. Well, the Kidzmatter team has done the hard work for you. They have compiled a listing of what has to be just about every VBS option out there short of writing your own. They have evaluated each one and placed there findings side-by-side so that you can compare them directly. In addition to the side-by-side comparison in the magazine, this issue comes with a giant poster listing all of the options that they covered. I’m a very visual person. Having all of these in one place, in a format that I can hang on the wall and see all of them at once is perfect. Every children’s ministry leader in the country needs this resource.

For more information on the new magazine, to order yours and for daily updates from other children’s ministry bloggers like me, check out their website at www.kidzmatter.com


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