Is Your Environment Holding you Back? (by John C. Maxwell)

“When I was much younger, I found myself in a job situation where the environment wasn’t conducive to growth. This frustrated and discouraged me. I had always been focused on growth and improvement. From basketball as a kid to speaking professionally, I was always looking for ways to get better at what I was doing. I might not have always had an official plan for growth, but I was continually pursuing growth. Now I found myself in a place where growth was not just ignored; the environment discouraged it. Maybe you’ve found yourself in a similar situation. Back then, I could see clearly all around me what a growth environment didn’t look like. But one day, I realized that I had never really thought about what a growth environment did look like. What were the characteristics of that environment? I was eager to figure it out, so I could go in search of one. So I created a list of characteristics to look for in any environment, so that I could be sure it was a place where I could grow. This is what I wrote: In a growth environment,

1. Others are ahead of you. Is it possible to grow in isolation? Sure, but not as fast as you can grow with others. And growth happens even more when at least some of the people are ahead of you on the journey. In a growth environment, the accomplishments of those ahead of you encourage and challenge you to do more than you thought you could.

2. You are continually challenged. It’s one thing to be challenged by the growth of others. That will certainly help you grow. But it’s even better when the job or task itself is challenging. When’s the last time a boring job made you want to grow?

3. Your focus is forward. “Yesterday ended last night.” This is what leaders of growth environments believe. They’re more interested in conquering the next challenge than worrying about the past.

4. The atmosphere is affirming. My parents used to say, “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” In other words, in a growth environment, the leader understands that being positive yields better results than negativity. Being affirmed feels good, and it gives you the courage to stretch and grow more.

5. You are often out of your comfort zone. I’ve often said that you should stay in your strength zone, but get out of your comfort zone. The skills that you focus on growing should be areas where you have some natural ability, as opposed to trying to shore up weaknesses. But that doesn’t mean you should be comfortable. Getting out of your comfort zone happens when you’ve taken on a challenge that’s bigger than you. And that bigger challenge yields bigger rewards.

6. You wake up excited. No, not every day. Everyone has a bad day sometimes. But overall, in a growth environment, you feel so positively challenged and affirmed that you are eager to get up every day because you expect to keep growing and learning.

7. Failure is not your enemy. By focusing on solutions rather than blame, a growth environment gives you permission to make mistakes, admit them, and learn from them. Failure is such a big part of growth, that people don’t fear it.

8. Others are growing. In addition to those who are ahead of you, are the people around you growing? Moving together toward a common goal can be exhilarating, like being on a winning team. In a growth environment, people almost can’t help growing because it’s emphasized and affirmed.

9. People desire change. Growth equals change. If the people around you don’t desire it, or worse, if they resist it, then your environment is not one of growth. In a growth environment, change is encouraged and celebrated.

10. Growth is modeled and expected. In a growth environment, the willingness to grow is demonstrated at all levels. Leaders expect it of themselves as well as their people. They hold themselves and others accountable when it’s not occurring. And they celebrate growth when it happens. Writing my list had a great effect on me. It gave me clarity on my then-current situation, as I became more aware of how it was slowing down my personal growth. It also showed me what kind of situation I needed to look for in the future. Soon afterward, I made a difficult change, getting out of my comfort zone and stepping into a new environment where I could thrive and grow again.

What kind of environment are you in? Is it help you grow or holding you back? Are you a leader? If so, you can make your organization into a growth environment. Use this list to check your progress.

Are you a team member? If so, you may not have much input into your environment. Use this list to see what kind of environment you might want to be in. If you’re in a bad environment, it may be time to move. If you are not able to move as easily as I did, here’s some good news: you can grow in a non-growth environment. It’s just harder.

Are you a parent? It wasn’t until after I wrote my list that I realized that I had basically described my home environment growing up. My parents did a phenomenal job of nurturing and encouraging our personal growth and learning. Use this list to create a growth environment in your home. You’ll give your children a gift that they’ll use the rest of their lives, as I have.

Personal growth is challenging. It involves mistakes and failure. A good environment certainly makes it easier to grow. But whether you’re in a good environment or not, you can learn and improve where you are.”

–John C. Maxwell

 

I hope you enjoyed this blog and were challenged by it. These principles can apply to just about all aspects of our lives. Please, take the wisdom in this, and ask God to search your heart. I saw areas in my life where I’m keeping myself and others around me from growing. I hope you can take as much out of it as I did! –Mack, III

5 Common Misconceptions about Children’s Ministry

Here’s a re-blog for the day. There is some very good information and points in this blog. Enjoy!

 

doubt-2I have been on staff in the church world for quite some time now.  It always amazes me how many church leaders put a ton of energy into things that don’t really matter and they skip what does matter.  Children’s Ministry is one of the MOST integral parts of a church.  If you show me a healthy Children’s Ministry, I will show you a church that is functioning at their max potential…Show me an unhealthy Children’s Ministry and I will show you a church that is struggling.  Here is a list of the top 5 misconceptions church leaders have about Children’s Ministry:

1) Kids don’t give much money, so we shouldn’t give the program much money.  WRONG!  Kids might not give a lot of money but they have parents and grandparents who do.  Plus there are all those volunteers that love kids that give in your church.  Besides that, the kid that gives 25 cents in the offering probably gave way more than 10% of what they made…what’s that say about their faith and their heart (which is what Jesus says really matters when you give…not the amount)

2) Kids are smaller, so they don’t need as much space as adults.  WRONG!  Kids are moving and active.  When adults come to church they sit in one seat during the majority of the service.  Kids move around, they play games; they go to different stations and groups.  In my estimation, kids need double to even triple the amount of space as an adult needs.

3) Kids only represent 25% of our church or less.  WRONG AGAIN!  What you do for kids in your church has a much greater reach than only 25% (depending on your church).  figure a church of 400 that has 100 kids in it…studies show an average family of 4 or so right?  So 100 kids represents approximately 50 parents.  Now you are up to a reach of 150.  Add your volunteers into that mix (every other week serving is average in most churches)  at a 1:2 ratio you just added another 100 people…now you are up to 250.  That’s 50% of your attendance directly connected to kids.  Interesting huh?  Many churches this percentage is even higher depending on your culture and demographic.

4) Children’s Ministry is childcare.  If you believe this then you shouldn’t be in ministry… Children are the most mold-able, easy to develop and willing group in your church.  If you aren’t taking time to invest in them then you are missing one of the greatest opportunities God has given you.

5) Children are the church of tomorrow.  You may make a statement like this to encourage your church to invest in children but your statement is incorrect…Children are the church of TODAY.  Saying that they are the church of tomorrow insinuates that there are things we should be investing in before we take on the needs of our children.

There is no department in your church that will draw more people than your Children’s Ministry.  There is also no department in your church that will cause people to leave or sue than your children’s ministry.  If kids haven’t been a priority in your churches space, budget, and staffing then you need to seriously rethink your strategy because kids are one of the most important assets to society today.  If you don’t reach them, someone else will.

-Joe McAlpine

http://www.joemcalpine.com/

 

Practical Ways to Teach Children to Hear God’s Voice Part I

Practical Ways p1This time, I want to go into some very practical ways to teach children to hear God’s Voice (of course adults can do these things, too.) I am only going to write about one or two of my ideas at a time, so I will try to get these out pretty fast. Over the past few months, I wrote a few different blogs on hearing God’s voice through our prophetic/spiritual senses and even going pretty deep on some of the ways God speaks. You can check out the Does God Speak series Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3. Now, I want to give you some practical ways to carry out this information. Here’s my first activation:

Prophetic Groups

This is probably one of the most used ways to help children in the prophetic. You can do this idea two different ways. The first way, ask your class for someone who would like to get prayed over. After you have chosen a child, lead the rest of the class into some prayer, encourage them to close their eyes, and ask God to speak to them and show them something through one of their senses. (Having the children close their eyes helps them focus on what God may be saying to them.) After you are done with the opening prayer, just simply ask them what God told them. You’ll probably get responses like, “I saw the color blue,” or “I saw a rainbow” or “I saw a dog” etc. These are all good, so begin to write them down on a white board for everyone to see. Gradually over time as they continue to exercise their prophetic muscles, you will see deeper and deeper revelation that will just make your mouth drop! Stick to about 15-20 minutes per person this way. Remind them of 1 Corinthians 14:3 which tells us that we hear God to strengthen, encourage, and comfort other people. Ask good questions about what they are receiving. Like: “What did it look like,” ‘How did that make your spirit feel/ what emotion did you feel when you received that,” “What does that mean?” Asking them what it looks like can help tell what it means, and it also encourages them to focus on all that God is saying. Asking them how your spirit felt when you saw it can tell us whether this is a good thing or bad thing. It can sometimes tell us God’s emotions for this person, too. Asking them what it means takes it from being a distant revelation from God to something practical that can apply to another person’s life. Jesus spoke in parables and many times revelation from God can be like a parable or something symbolic and not literal.

The other variation of this, if you have enough leaders and/or adults who have a basis in the prophetic, is to break the kids up into small heavengender-based groups with one of your leaders to preside over. Take turns praying and prophesying for the kids in the group while the leader guides them, keeps them on track, asks the good questions, and writes it all down for that child. In this version, running about 10 minutes per child will be more than enough time! This allows just about every kid to get some prophetic words and share some prophetic words. One of the coolest things for me when I was experiencing these things when I was in children’s church was the leaders writing them down for me, and now I can look back at the notes years later, and it still encourages me.

This is a great way to help children hear God! I have also found this as a great way to help develop your leaders in hearing God. I have used this more times than I can count, and I have always walked away more blown away and encouraged than anyone actually receiving the words. I’ll share one of my favorites in my next blog entry.

If you have any questions, comments, praise reports, or prayer requests, please feel free to comment or send me a private message. To subscribe to this blog, click here.

Thank you & Be blessed!

Mack Fowler, III Children's Pastor Destiny in Christ Fellowship

Mack Fowler, III
Children’s Pastor
http://www.littlechildrenofhope.com

A Bad Experience at Chick-Fil-A

Here’s a Blog I found from Perry Noble, Senior Pastor of New Spring Church in S.C. It really challenged and encouraged me! It’s a good read!

 

I love Chick-Fil-A!  (AND love Tim Hawkins song about it…you should watch it here!)

We eat there at least two or three times a week (not kidding…we’ve actually pushed that number up to 6-7 a few times.)

The food is ALWAYS good, they get the order right nearly every time and their customer service is second to none.  It is always clean and no matter how long the line seems to be people are always served as quickly and efficiently as possible.

So, imagine my surprise when my wife came home the other day and, as we were catching each other up on the things that had taken place while we had been apart all morning and afternoon she told me about a bad experience she had at Chick-Fil-A.

I was immediately frustrated!  (Any husband would be!)  AND…before I knew it I had literally told myself in my mind, “Well, if that’s the way things are going to be then I guess we just won’t be going to Chick-Fil-A anymore, they’ve lost my business.”

TIME OUT!!!  How stupid was THAT thought?  Seriously, let’s review…

  • #1 – They ALWAYS deliver great food!
  • #2 – They ALWAYS have friendly people!
  • #3 – They ALWAYS have a clean environment!
  • #4 – What my wife had experienced was not in line with what normally happens.

(AND…I want to be completely fair to Lucretia, she was NOT saying she would not go back, nor was she angry…she was just telling me about her day and I am the one who became irrational!)  :-)

I lost my mind!  I was literally going to allow one bad experience with one employee ruin a reputation of excellence that had been consistent for years!  (AND…no one knows what was going on in that employees life…she could have had one of the worst days of her life and was trying her best to just hold it together until she could clock out!)

Before you agree with me too quickly…I think there are people who have done the same thing to the church!

It has become quite popular, even in some “Christian” circles, to bash the church for all of the dumb things that she has done.

I have met people since being in ministry for over 20 years that have the same attitude with the church that I almost had with Chick-Fil-A!  They will attend, serve, be devoted to a local church for months or even years…and then, all of a sudden…

  • Someone didn’t call them when they were out for two weeks.
  • Someone said something hurtful to or about them.
  • They didn’t like what the preacher said.
  • They didn’t like what the youth group was doing.

I could go on and on…but you get the point.  There are times when people will allow one thing in the church to trump the decades of ministry and impact that have taken place through that body of believers, and that’s a bit insane.

  • Yes, if you stay in a church long enough I promise you that you will see hypocrisy.
  • Someone will say something to you or about you that will hurt you.
  • Decisions will be made that you do not like.
  • There are going to be sermons that make you mad.

When that happens the enemy is going to try his best to convince you to just walk away…because he knows that the first step away from God is usually getting people to step away from the people of God.

Yes, the church, EVERY church, has made some unwise decisions and, in the process have hurt or disappointed people along the way…but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater…

  • She’s STILL being built by Jesus—that makes her important!
  • She’s STILL reaching out to the broken, the forgotten and the poor.
  • She’s STILL making a difference that’s going to be seen for eternity.
  • She’s STILL GOD’S PLAN for reaching the world.
  • She’s STILL necessary for believers!  (If church is not necessary then why did Jesus say He would build it, died for it, will one day redeem it and spends so much time in the NT talking to it and about it?”

No, the church is NOT perfect…but neither are you (or me!)  So, when we’re tempted to walk away because of the one thing that seems to hurt us or trip us up we should simply ask, “is this consistent with this churches character?”

Stay in a church long enough and you will have a bad experience…but let that push you closer to Jesus as you recognize that HE uses imperfect people in His plan, which means sometimes they get it wrong, and then beg the Lord to teach both them and yourself how to best deal with the situation…because, she’s STILL the church and STILL His bride.

Now…anyone want to go to Chick-Fil-A with me?  :-)

 

 

Perry Noble is the founding and senior pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina. The church averages 32,000 people during weekend services at multiple campuses throughout the state.

Perry is a gifted communicator and teacher, convicted about speaking the truth as plainly as possible. God has given him a vision and a passion for helping people meet Jesus, and each week he shares God’s word and its practical application in our daily lives.

Perry, his wife Lucretia and their daughter, Charisse, live in Anderson, South Carolina. You can read all of Perry’s unfiltered thoughts about life and leadership here on the site. Don’t worry, he holds nothing back.

http://perrynoble.com/blog/my-wife-had-a-bad-experience-at-chic-fil-a

Are you F.A.T. for Jesus?

F.A.T. for Jesus. This is an acronym I first heard this when I was in my 5th grade Sunday school class, and it has stuck with me since. It’s about being Faithful, Available and Teachable for Jesus. I want to share a little about this, and how it is crucial for every Christian and really anyone to learn.

FAITHFUL

It all starts with being faithful. God likes to use people who follow through and commit themselves to what He has called them to even when it gets hard. I’ve had times when I wanted to quit what was doing and move on. “It’s no longer worth it; the kids don’t like me anymore. They don’t respect me. None of my ideas are working. There’s so much pressure around me from other ministry leaders and parents. I can’t handle it anymore!” I’ve said all those things! But I chose to stick it out and be faithful with what God has placed me in. Not long after I’ve moved on from that place, God does something amazing and miraculous. Like some children in the class get saved, I have a breakthrough with the troublemaker in the class, or the Holy Spirit shows up in a powerful way! Don’t quit; be faithful with what He’s called you to.

AVAILABLE

The next part is to be available. We must make ourselves available to serve others. Realistically, we can’t always be serving others all the time. Most of us would agree that’s not practical. We have jobs, families, friends, and hobbies of our own, so that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is, it’s so easy to cop-out of helping others by making ourselves so busy we never have time for others. We have to find balance. It’s so easy to let life get so cluttered and in the way that we never have time to serve others. Now, I know there are things we have to do that take time like: going to work, spending time with our families, going to little Johnny’s baseball game, eating, sleeping, etc. these all take time. But I’m pretty sure we all have a couple of hours here and couple hours there every month that we can give to others. To be used by God, you have to be available. We can’t bring in the Harvest if none the workers are available. We live our lives to glorify God and although all those things are important we can’t allow them to get in the way of God. God deserves to be first! After all, He did create all of us and then die for all of us! So if you want to be used by God, start with being available.

TEACHABLE

This is probably the hardest of the three: being teachable. The reality is: I don’t know everything. As much as I want to think I do, I don’t. So being teachable is having an attitude that says I don’t know everything and I am willing to learn even from the most unlikely of sources. A lot of Christians will say, “Jesus is my teacher; I follow him.” Yeah that’s true, but God also uses our pastors, siblings, family, friends, mentors, bosses, and even our enemies to teach and speak to us. We have to be humble enough to learn and allow others to teach us. If we don’t master this, then how do we expect God to use us? Have you ever spoken to someone who can never be wrong and their response to everything is “I know” even if they really didn’t know? It’s hard to deal with isn’t it? You can’t speak to those people, and you can’t tell them anything. Being unteachable shows a real pride issue, and we know the Bible says, “God opposes the proud. (I Peter 5:5)” Thus, God will have a hard time using you if you are unteachable. We have to swallow our pride and accept that we don’t know everything and we must be willing to learn those things we don’t know. I know it’s hard. This is the one I struggle with the most, but it’s so worth being teachable in the end!

So if we are F.A.T. for Jesus, He will take us places in His Kingdom. He loves to use people who are faithful, available, and teachable!

Thank you & Be Blessed!

Mack Fowler, III Children's Pastor Destiny in Christ Fellowship

Mack Fowler, III
Children’s Pastor
http://www.littlechildrenofhope.com

If you have any questions or prayer requests, always feel free to contact me by commenting or sending a private message.

If you like this blog, click here to subscribe to this blog through email.

 

Revival Among Children

Revival_Children_fullsize_November

I came across this article from “The Worshiping Church,” and I couldn’t pass it up. It goes very well with some of the stuff I’ve posted in the past including “The Rise of the Samuel Generation.”  I hope you enjoy it!

I had a prophetic word years ago that included a revival among children. I truly believe that God is currently preparing a great army of children whose parents take time to pray, worship and read God’s word with them. The responsibility of Christian parents has never been greater than now as God raises up a generation of worshiping children who will surpass any other generation in accomplishing great exploits for God. The prophetic word said that we must never discourage their worship, don’t ever stop the flow, but encourage them as they stand before God and worship Him.

Jesus said some amazing things about the role of children in His kingdom.

Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” And He laid His hands on them and departed from there (Matthew 19:13-15).

He was referring to the condition of the heart, that we all should exhibit as kingdom citizens. However Jesus was also saying that He wanted the children to come to Him, and I believe He has a special purpose for them in His kingdom at this time. There is a revival spirit among children which God is releasing, and as pastors, leaders, children’s ministers and parents, we are required to develop a keen sensitivity to what God is requiring of us in order for Him to do this work among the children. Church leaders who fail to consider seriously the work of God among the children will encounter significant difficulties and will face the real prospect of fading to a place of insignificance in the kingdom. Efforts to bear fruit in other areas of ministry will be frustrated, irrespective of the time and energy invested in them, if children are neglected or treated as second class citizens. In contrast to this, leaders who know God’s hand upon the children will prioritize their ministry on equal footing with everything else in the life of the church. As they encourage the children to worship the Lord, they will start to experience the favor of God in every other area.

Jesus warned the disciples that they should not forbid the children to come to Him.

Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them”. (Mark 10:13-16)

We see from this scripture that Jesus showed open displeasure at the disciples’ actions in trying to stop parents bringing the children to Him. It was a rebuke to them and a warning to us. He loves little children and we must make room to bring them to Him. His message is two-fold: He is saying that we have to be childlike to receive the Kingdom but also that He will establish the Kingdom through them. Parents bring their children to church, but the church must ensure that the children are given every opportunity to receive the blessings Jesus has for them.

I envisage there will be times children will lead worship in the adult services and usher in the presence of God with accompanying preaching and powerful testimonies which will greatly touch congregations. The presence and flow of the Holy Spirit in these meetings will be so tangible and evident that there will be no doubt among those gathered that God has His hand on the children and has chosen to use them in a most profound way. All this will truly astound their teachers and parents as God revives His children.

 

Thank you and if you have any questions or prayer requests, always feel free to contact me by commenting or sending a private message.

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God Speaks in Three Parts

 

EagleI spent three blog posts on how God speaks and making it simple enough to teach it to children and adults as well (I like simple things, too.) We have talked about our prophetic/spiritual senses: impressions, God’s voice, visions, and dreams, and how God speaks to us through them. Now, we must understand the three components of the prophetic word and basic interpretation of prophetic words.

Every word from God contains three important parts:

1) Revelation (What did God say?):

Revelation is what we spent “Does God Speak? Teaching Children to Hear the Voice of God” Parts 1, 2, & 3 talking about. It’s what God initially told you. Simply put, “What did God say?” This is the information you received from God that you could not have known unless God gave it to you. Revelation can come as a vision, a dream, an impression, a knowing, or through our prophetic senses. Up to this point when we have talked about hearing from God, we were talking about receiving revelation from God. This is the part we receive. I love asking the kids in my class, “What did God say to you today?” Sometimes, they didn’t hear anything. But many times at least one child in the room had God speak to them. One time, I asked this same question to the kids in our class, and this is the response I got: “I saw some angels flying around the room waving different colored flags.” Wow, awesome, but what does that mean? That’s where we lead into the second part of how God speaks.

2) Interpretation (What does it mean?):Jeremaih 33.3

This is the part where we ask, “What does it mean?” “What is God saying?” This is the understanding of the revelation that God has given. God could have shown us something super amazing, but it’s useless if we do not know what it means. Sometimes, it’s obvious. God normally speaks in a way we can fairly easily understand. But there are times when it is not so obvious. What do we do then? Simply pray and ask him. He may tell you directly, use a leader in your life, or show you through the Word of God. Now, you don’t always get this part right away and sometimes someone else or the person the word is for gets the interpretation. When we receive a word from the Lord, always pray it back to Him for an interpretation. So when the child in my class told me about the angels and flags, I asked him, “So what is God saying?” Five minutes later, he came back to me and said, “They are here to pray and worship with us and God wants us to grab flags and worship with the angels.” So now, that awesome word went from something pretty cool to now something I understand and can apply to my life which is the third part of how God speaks.

3) Application (What do I do with it?):

Now, we have a revelation and we know what it means, but still if we leave it at that the prophetic word is still powerless. We have to take it to heart and applied it to our lives. This the third part of a prophetic word. This is taking what has been said and using it in our own lives. In other words, “What do we do with this?” Many times, God gives the application to those who the word is for. So now back to our angel word, we actually have to get up and worship with flags with the angels. If we did not do that, we would have just had a nice word, and that’s it. We have to take the word and the direction therein and apply it to our lives. If not, it’s pointless to receive these words. Some of the things God says are straightforward direction. One time when I asked my class, “What is God saying?” I received this response, “Jesus told me to be like him, so I can reach people around the world!” That’s pretty straightforward in what God said, what it meant, and what he needed to do with it.

So no matter how God speaks and what it means, God is there—ready and excited to speak to His children. And ultimately when He speaks to us, it should be a call to action on our part. WHENEVER you think God is trying to get your attention and speak to you, ASK HIM!!!

Thank you and Be blessed!

Mack Fowler, III Children's Pastor Destiny in Christ Fellowship

Mack Fowler, III
Children’s Pastor
http://www.littlechildrenofhope.com

If you like this blog, feel free to subscribe to this blog through email.