Friday, July 07, 2006

Introducing the Blogger's Acolyte

OK, Tony asked me to include a brief life story. In the interest of keeping things interesting (which, since I have no Regatta pictures, is a little tougher for me), I figured I’d post multiple life stories and let the readers try to guess.

A. A Bohemian gangsta rap artist who lives in Keokuk, Iowa. I relocated to the Hawkeye State after completing Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s extension in Monaco.

B. Recently relocated to the St. Louis area (where I grew up) after finishing my M.Div. at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in the Memphis, Tennessee area, and am volunteering in children’s ministry in the StL.

C. A native of St. Thomas, I was an MK in Antarctica for most of my youth. After finishing up at The REALLY Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I returned to the island last year following an unsuccessful run for public office on the Pole.

If you guessed “B,” good for you. That may seem a little boring compared to the other life stories, but it really hasn’t been.

Rather than bore you all with an exhaustive bio, I’ll stick to my experience in children’s ministry [CM]. I will say that I’ve been a Christian for much of my life, and been working with children in some capacity since I was a youth. When I began seminary, I had no thoughts of being involved in CM—I really wasn’t even thinking about its existence as a specific ministry area. However, in the fall of 2001 I began volunteering in the CM at a church in Olive Branch, Mississippi—a suburb of Memphis—first with preschoolers and then with elementary age children—the experience was incredible. I continued with that beyond my graduation in May 2004, and even as other circumstances changed my life, I came to see that CM would have a greater role in my life than how I served during seminary. In the spring of 2005, I began seeing myself more as a would-be children’s pastor rather than in education ministry (although I think there’s more of an overlap here than most people realize.)

My passion is to set Christ before our children so that they see Him not as a means to an end, but as their Satisfaction, their Treasure, and their Passion—and to show how the Bible applies to their everyday lives in the home, at school, on the soccer field, and in every relationship and involvement in their lives. More soon on my vision for CM and what I am praying for in a church. Soon on the resolutions, also, and more on Christian Hedonism in children's ministry.

(BTW, Tony…if you’re reading this Saturday morning, press through…you’ve completed the first 20 miles of the marathon…keep running…dig! Dig! Dig! If you’re reading this Saturday evening or sometime thereafter, congratulations. You’ve completed the course. Or, in the words of those great Irish poets, “It’s a beautiful day…”)

6 comments:

Tony K. said...

Mike,
Great post. I knew you had some blogging in you. It is Saturday night and the class is over. I have pages and pages of take away from the course. But I can't promise I will be posting that for a week or two. I still want to post some notes from my last two classes. Maybe a notebook computer would help.

I am trying to figure out how to finish my final exam and paper next week with the 15 other things I am doing. Not to mention a two day trip to holiday world and some camping! This is my first off time in a year. But I have some serious loose ends to tie up so I can enjoy it.

For Everyone else,
You can tell why I wanted Mike to help with the blog. His passion for God is brilliant. Guys like him remind me that children's Ministry is a great place to start a reformation.

Shawn L said...

Mike,

Nice to meet you. I'm excited to hear more.

Tony,

I agree, I couldn't help but think reformation for children's ministry must start with the bible.... Eh, most of all starting with training the parents to start with family worship and also having families trying to include other children in the neighborhood and community of faith. It seems the ordinary means of bring children to faith should be through the family, however that doesn't always happen.

Yes I know it's not a bubble the children are in, but God sure makes family training critical and central to how the bible puts an emphasis on children's ministry............It's not the only thing that is needing reforming, but to me it's the most critical for the church to view again. I think in many ways it's talked about more than when I was a teenager.

Well until my pastor gives me the digital version of his Faith Training editions for teaching parents how to begin faith training and family worship and how to help churches begin family worship continually, I'm waiting to get that online into a book format......Let me know if you would like this work when I get it available. He doesn't know what other churches would need it for when I asked him last time and then we talked about the lack of this being talked about in other churches sometimes so it's critical to equip the saints in this way.

Bhedr said...

Thanks for sharing this with us brother. May the Lord richly bless you as you teach little chilren and offer them the hope that sometimes only little ears seem to hear.

Keep delighting yourself in the Lord.

Mike N. said...

Shawn,

Good post. As a children's pastor (I consider that more an identity than a job, so I use that now with some reservation), I always feel like I'm on somewhat thin ice, that at the same time I'm working for parents and seeking not to undermine them.

What’s interesting is that the person who really articulated much of my foundation for children's ministry is Dr. Voddie Baucham, who was been perhaps the SBC's greatest advocate for family worship.

The truth is that the family bringing children to faith is not only biblical, but practical. (Pausing for the big “duh” here.) Seems God knew what He was talking about in Deuteronomy, 2 Timothy, et al. If we are going to get beyond the “pray the prayer” mentality (and unless we want to continue to have churches filled with unconverted members, we’d better), parents must be involved. But how? (See more in "How would you lead a child to Christ?")

The conventional wisdom is that parents are unwilling to be spiritual leaders. Bull. The bigger problem, I believe, is ministers who have professionalized the ministry. As Dr. Baucham has said, we have basically taken the attitude of, “People, we are trained professionals. Do not try this at home.”

In the 20-second sound bite 21st century, nothing is more conducive to reformation than a contagious joy that will grab people’s attention with its substance and be proven through trials. Only the God of the Bible, who is only known in the Bible, provides that passion. For me, the embers have been stoked and rekindled through children’s ministry. May God continue to light fires in His children as they meet Him and come to know Him through His Word, and enjoy Him further through serving Him. Keep it burning.

Tony K. said...

Shawn & Mike,
Thanks for the comments. I keep hearing about the need for parent’s to be responsible in training their kids in the faith. But the pressures in modern churches are pushing it more toward professional ministry. The conventional thinking among evangelicals would say you need an “excellent” children’s program to grow the church. In the field of CM “excellence” means highly entertaining, media-driven, efficient check-in systems, large open floor plans, and maybe even an indoor play area.

None of these are bad things in their own merit. But if our paradigm only sees the list above as “excellent” ministry to kids, then parents are off the hook because they cannot structure anything on that scale at home.

I think people who work in children’s ministry (myself included) are moved along by the expectations and do not spend enough time calling parents to their God given roles.

Shawn L said...

Mike and Tony,

Tough call, didn't mean to state this in the offensive. I guess I am mostly surprised by the little emphasis on family worship in most churches.

I'm in a smaller church (100) without a children's minister and the emphasis throughout the church is family worship and training through small groups for all ages and a huge emphasis on family worship. This is the only church I have heard even bring it up so that is why it is somewhat of a pressing thought for me.

However having said all this there is such a balance I'm trying to learn, etc, as our church is so opposed to some forms of children's ministry it's almost legalistic in the other pendulum.

The children are in church are sometimes left out, especially when some in the congregation don't do family ministry or goto small groups to worship with the body of Christ.

The same affect may be happening on the children in some ways our entertainment saturated children's church is.

Something to pray about.