5 Things Children’s Ministers Wish Their Senior Pastor Knew

Recently I asked a group of children’s ministry leaders on Facebook what sorts of things they wish their Senior Pastor knew. I asked because I believe that God is moving me in that direction and I wanted to make sure never to forget the concerns of my fellow children’s ministers. Here are a few of the responses I received.

1.) Being there whenever the doors are open might not be healthy.

As children’s ministers we are at church a lot. I LOVE it and so do most of my children’s ministry friends. However, there are limits. Many senior pastors are workaholics. Not only is this not healthy for them, but they also tend to hold the people that serve with them to a similar expectation.

There are certainly times when we NEED to be at the church. However, senior pastor give your leaders the freedom to take some time off. If the youth or children’s department has an event on Friday or Saturday, consider allowing the leader to take extra time off that week. If you have midweek activities, be aware that your children’s and youth leaders will probably be at the church from the time they arrive until the end of the midweek programming. Consider allowing them to come in later on that day. Otherwise this turns into a 12 hour day.

2.) It’s difficult to make friends.

As a senior pastor you understand fully the difficultly that exists for ministers in making personal connections. This is just as true with children’s ministers. In fact there are added difficulties for us because we spend so much of our time with children and, therefore, much less with adults. Do what you can to be a friend to us. If nothing else, be someone we can go to with our struggles both from ministry and life.

I’m certain that most senior pastors would say that they maintain an open door policy. Most would say that their staff can come to them about anything. I am also sure that these things are actually true. However, what have you, as a senior pastor, done to foster that relationship? What have you done to create a connection with your staff that could lead to them feeling comfortable talking to you?

3.) My ministry matters too.

It can be the opinion of church members that children’s or youth ministry is little more than recreation or babysitting. Certainly there are things that children’s and youth ministry leaders can do to fight this believe. However, there is nothing more powerful than the support of the senior pastor to help church members see how important these ministries are. Talk positively about the children’s and youth ministries. Talk about it from the pulpit. Talk about it in other environments as well.

It can also be the opinion of other ministry leaders that their ministry is more important or of greater value than the children’s or youth ministries. The truth is that every ministry is important. Help the leaders of other ministries see that while their ministry is important so are these others.

4.) I wish you understood my struggles.

The pressures of the senior pastor position are great. In fact I don’t believe that anyone that has not sat in that chair can fully understand these pressures. I have not yet sat in that chair, so I include myself among those that don’t fully understand. That being said, the pressures of ministry at any level are great. Do you, as senior pastor, really understand the pressures that your children’s ministry leaders feel? Do you really know what they are going through? Honestly, in the same way they don’t understand your pressures, unless you are talking to them, you don’t fully understand their pressures either. Even if you think you have a good understanding, talk to them. They need to know you care and understand.

5.) Help me remember why we do this.

Certainly, every church leader should be able to, on some level, motivate themselves. Still, it can be difficult, at times, to get ourselves excited. We often do things and don’t see the results that we thought we would see. When this happens it can be easy for our motivation to slip. Help us to remember why we do what we do. In those times that the weight of ministry start to get us down, help us refocus on what matters.

Thank you Pastor.

We love our pastors. Without you, we cannot do what God has called us to do as children’s or youth ministers. Please don’t read these things as an attack on pastors. We are a team. These things are not said in anger. Chances are these things are not from the children’s ministry leaders at your church. Still, they are representative of how many that minister to children feel. I know you value these people and their ministry. Take some time to let them know.

Matt Norman

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4 Reasons Teaching Life Application Matters

There are many things in the Bible that are a mystery. Many things that seem to have no application to my life. Still the Bible calls itself a “lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” This says that it is the means by which we will see the direction we are to go. If this is so, then the things that we learn from it apply to our lives. If this is so, then we, as teachers of the Word, must ensure that we are helping those we teach to see how these things apply to their lives. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but here are four reasons why this  matters.

1.) They WILL need it.

“I will never use this in real life.”

Just about every kids has had this thought. I remember as a kid having this same thought… especially in relation to algebra. I hope you appreciate the irony, as I write this, but I also felt this way about many things that I learned in english class. Certainly there are some things that we learn in school that will not apply to our careers, depending on what field we choose. However, many of the things we learn WILL apply.

As a nurse I used algebra regularly to calculate medication dosages. As a pastor, teacher, and writer I use the things I learned in english class nearly every day. As I seek to get healthier and more fit I find that there are even lessons I learned from my PE teachers that are part of my life on a regular basis these days.

The point is the things I learned back then I DO use today. The same is true of the Biblical truths we teach kids, youth, even adults. The lessons learned from the Bible apply to every part of our lives. As such we need to help the people we teach to see how they apply.

2.) They can’t see it themselves.

If you teach children you know that, in general, they can’t see how the things we teach directly apply to their lives. They tend to think too concrete, too linear. So, if you teach a story about Noah they can’t, necessarily, see how this connects to their own acts of disobedience to God or to their parents. You need to help them make the connection between the Biblical truth you are teaching and their own lives.

The same is true for youth and many adults. While some will be able to make the connections for themselves, many will not. The truth is that it is only through the work of the Holy Spirit that a person can make this connection on their own. So, for those that may not be used to listening to the Holy Spirit, let’s help them hear Him speaking.

3.) He’s not talking to me.

I believe that all of us have a tendency to assume that when the preacher says something that might actually apply to us that he is really talking to everyone else. It’s just human nature. For instance, I could easily read the story of the woman caught in adultery that was brought to Jesus to be judged. I could look at the whole thing and say to myself, “Well, I’ve never committed adultery, so this message isn’t for me.” While I have never committed adultery, this story is about more than the woman and her actions. This story is about the men that brought the woman to Jesus. The story is about the man that she was committing adultery with. The story is about Jesus. The story is about the words that Jesus said to the Pharisees and to the woman. Somewhere in the there we can all find ourselves if we take time to look. As a preacher or teacher we need to help people find themselves in the lessons we teach.

4.) Jesus taught that way.

In Matthew 6:25-32 Jesus teaches about the way to avoid worry and anxiety. In verses 34-35 He gives us the things to do, the principles that we are to follow. He gives us the formula. However, in verses 25-32 He gives us the application. He shows us how the principles He is about to give us apply to our lives. If this is how Jesus taught, then It is something we should consider as well.

What about the Holy Spirit.

As I mentioned earlier it is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit to convict our listeners. However, it is our job to be as clear as possible when we teach. I think that part of this is including application in our teaching. We cannot include every possible scenario for every person in the room. But, we can include some current, real world, applications that are appropriate for some of the ages and life stages of the people in the room and I believe we should.

Matt Norman

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War Room App

So, a couple weeks ago I wrote a post about my “portable war room”. You can read that post HERE. Well, a coupe days ago I was thinking of how I could take that idea to the next level and have it with me all the time. Certainly I could just use the Notes app or other apps like Evernote. I tried to use the built-in Notes that comes with all iOS devices and it didn’t really work for me. I also tried using Evernote. I LOVE Evernote and use it for all kinds of other things, but it didn’t really work for me for my prayer list. So, I wanted something different. I like the idea of the post-it notes in the folder that I’ve been using. I still use it when I’m at home and can take the folder with me when I travel, but I wanted something that I could take EVERYWHERE. Like something that I could pull up on my lunch break or while sitting in my car before work. So I searched and found the perfect app: The Post-It Notes App.

Here is a picture of my portable War Room. You can read the full post on this using the link above.








This works great, but I wanted something electronic to augment it. That’s where the Post-It notes app comes in. This app allows me to actually take a picture of my portable War Room. It recognizes the Post-It notes, removes the background and creates a board with the post it notes on it.










From there you can click on a certain one and zoom in on it.











Then you can scroll left or right through all of the notes on that board.










You can also create multiple boards. This would allow you to create different grouping of prayer requests. For instance I have a friend that separates his prayer list into different categories. On certain days he prayers for people that he know who are in ministry. You could create a different board for each of your categories. Or you could create a different board for certain days, depending on how you managed your prayer list.











In addition to snapping pictures of paper post-it notes, the app allows you to create new notes right in the app. This would allow you to add notes on the go. In this pic I chose to type the note, but you can also write one. For $.99 you can buy the full editing suite, which would allow you to edit notes you create as well as pic different colors for your note “paper” and different color ink.










Another cool feature I almost forgot to mention is that you can add any, or all of the notes in the app to your “Today” screen. This is the screen that you get when you drag down from the top of your home screen. This allows even quicker access to your prayer requests. You can then go straight to the app from there. Another way to help cut down on possible distractions. If you’re like me, that’s important.










I know that there are many other ways to manage your prayer requests. Some I mentioned in the opening to this post. For me the other apps allow for to much chance for distraction. This one is simple. I can look at one prayer at a time. I can include as much information as I can get on a post it note. Or I can just put a name. Since I am only using it for prayers then the only thing that will come up when I open the app will be prayers. Also, since I can get to it from the Today screen, then I don’t even have to actually go into my phone to get to them. There are certainly other apps out there that can do this job, but I like how this one works.


Let me know what apps you are using for prayer lists, requests, etc.


Matt Norman

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It’s Time To Push Back

“…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail overcome it.” Matthew 16:18
Last week my brother invited me to a special prayer meeting at his church. While many in our country were getting ready for family cookouts, we were gathering to pray. You see there were people in my brother’s church that were going through spiritual warfare and he wanted to do something about it. As we gathered he spoke briefly in way of introduction. He told of the various spiritual attacks that were happening to the people of his church. Then he said that he felt it was time to “push back”. As he said this I was reminded of the verse that is quoted above.
Many people in the church read this verse and take great comfort in it. They are comforted by the fact that the hell can not win against Jesus’ church. However, I think that many miss the point with this verse. We use this verse to make ourselves feel comfortable within our walls. We use them to feel comfortable within lives lived separate from the world. That is not what Jesus is saying in this verse.
Gates are DEFENSIVE.
This passage is not talking about Jesus taking care of us as we huddle together in our safe little church buildings. When it talks about gates it is not talking about US being safe from THEIR attacks. Gates are defensive. They are designed to either keep something out, or to keep something in. In many cases it’s both. Think about a pen housing thoroughbred horses. The fence and the gate around that pen. It is certainly designed to keep the horses from wondering off. However, it is also designed to keep people that would seek to steal or harm the horses. THAT is what this verse is talking about. The GATES of hell will not prevail against the Church. This doesn’t mean that their attacks against the church will not be successful. Rather it means that Jesus is promising US an advantage.
Defending against what?
If a gate is a for defense, then it implies that there is a pending attack. At the very least it means that there is the possible of an attack. If hell has defensive gates, then what are they defending against? The words of Jesus tell us that the thing that hell is defending agains it US, the Church. When was the last time you knew of a church that posed a significant threat to the gates of hell. We claim to hold the words of the Bible as both sacred and true. We hold the words of Jesus to be even more so. Yet we act as if these gates are impenetrable.
It’s time to push back.
If we believe the words of Jesus to be true, then we, as the church, represent a power that the very gates of hell CANNOT prevail against. These are not my words. These are the words of Jesus. In preparation for this post I took some time to look up the original meanings of the words used intros verse. When I looked up when it says that the “gates of hell” it means… “the gates of hell.” When it says “will not prevail against it” it means “will not prevail against it.” Jesus is telling us that we have the power, through Him, to take on hell.
For far too long the church has been satisfied simply sitting in our comfortable, or even not so comfortable, seats in our comfortable buildings and refusing to take the battle to the enemy. We have been satisfied defending our home base. This is NOT what Jesus prescribed in this verse. What Jesus is telling us is that we should be attacking the gates of hell, not hiding from them. I’m not saying that the things we are doing at the church building are wrong. There may be some practices that need to change, but many of these things are good. However, we DO need to get out of the building and into the community. The enemy is attack people all around us and it is happening within the community.
So, what can you do as a Christian, as a church leader or even as a church member to attack the gates of hell? I once heard Perry Noble talk about when he was asked, “What would you do tomorrow if you knew you couldn’t fail?” His answer is that he would start a church. Jesus has promised us that when we attack the gates of hell, we can not fail. My question you is KNOWING that you can not fail, what will you do?
Matt Norman

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But, What Does The Bible Say?

As a church leader and Christian I read a lot of stuff. I actually enjoy reading stuff that comes from a different viewpoint than my own. I do this not because I like to argue. I’m not seeking out opportunities to prove them wrong or to “straighten them out”. Rather, I do it because I am constantly learning and I am open to changing my opinions on some things. While doing this I have noticed a very disturbing trend. I have read many things that were passionate, well written and strongly argued. However, many of these are missing one very important element. They often leave me asking, “But what does the Bible say?” 

When I read these things there are some fairly common arguments attached to them:

  • I outgrew that. Very often I see where the author talks about things that they were taught as a child or as a young Christian and how their views differ now. They talk about how and why they were able to move past it. Certainly we should grow as Christians, but this approach often works from the assumption that everything, or at least many things, that we are taught as children are invalid.
  • Everybody’s Doing it. Ok, I have not ever read something written by a Christian that actually used those words. But, I have read many things that pointed to societal norms as justification for the actions of a Christian. Have we forgotten that we live in a fallen world? Have we forgotten that society belongs to the enemy? Have we forgotten that we, as Christians, are called to be set apart, to be different? As a friend of mine often says, “Lost people do lost things.” This is very true. As such we should not look to the behavioral norms of society to determine how we should behave.
  • It’s my right. I have heard this one MANY times in a number of heated discussions. The truth is that there are many things that the law of our land says are ok, but that we should avoid. Did you know that in many states adultery was once illegal? However, today most states no longer have such a law or don’t enforce it. If there is no law against it does that make it ok for me to cheat on my wife? The obvious answer is NO! But, the argument that it’s ok to do something because the government says it’s ok would say that this is ok too.

I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers. But, here are some things I would present for your consideration:

  • The authority of Scripture. As Christians we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness.” This verse does not leave out certain verse. It does not say that some of it is only for THAT time in history. No, according to the verse, to accept some of it is to accept all of it.
  • The basis of our faith. As Christians everything that we claim to believe comes from this book. It is our source of truth. However, all to often we ignore it when we want to know how to feel, to think, or to act in regards to a certain topic or situation. Sometimes we will even willfully act in opposition to what it says.
  • My crisis of faith. When God called me to ministry I realized that everything I knew or believed, I believed because it was what I had be taught. I realized that I needed to take the time to read and study it for myself. This is not to say that I doubted anything that I was taught. I simply needed to have the confidence that only comes from actually reading it and studying it for myself and basing my beliefs on that.

Please hear me when I say that I am not discounting everything that people write that differs from my view. I also don’t seek to condemn anyone that writes something that might be reflected in my words above. I simply want to encourage people to take some time to consider what the Bible says about a given topic. If you are passionately arguing for a certain viewpoint, but cannot point to any Scripture that backs up your view, then there is something missing from your argument. This is not to say that every article that lacks Scripture is wrong. Nor am I saying that just because a person points to a verse or two means they are right. But, I would say that if you can find no scripture to back your viewpoint, then you might need to reconsider that view.

At the end of the day I love to talk about such things and I want to hear what you think. Don’t be surprised, however, if in the course of our conversation, I ask,

“But, what does the Bible say?”

Matt Norman

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