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Christine has over 20 years of children's ministry experience. She's the author of 10 books and hundreds of articles related to children's ministry. It's no wonder she enjoys an almost-daily latte to keep her going! She is also the executive editor of Children's Ministry Magazine and serves as Group's children's ministry champion, responsible for research, development, and innovation in children's ministry resources. 

What It Takes to Win

I asked my daughter if I could blog about this, so since she said yes, here goes...

We just wrapped up Abby's first soccer tourney of the season.  And on the way to the first game, Abby said, "I don't care if we lose, but I just don't want to mess up." That was concerning.

Then in the game, to put it bluntly, she messed up. And they lost--6 to 0. (Abby's the goalkeeper and on her watch, she missed all 6 goals.) Now normally, I'm the comforter after the game. I tell her goalies don't win or lose the game on their own--it takes a team to win and lose.

But when she got in the car after this game, she wasn't upset (not that I wanted tears) but she even laughed off that she wasn't upset. That's when "soccer mom" must've kicked in. I told her that in all the years she's been competing, I've never cared more than her. And that concerned me. I reminded her that teams win or lose together, but that she needed to care about how she'd played. And that if anyone on a team that I worked with ever said "I don't care if we lose as long as I look good" that I'd be livid.

The talk worked; there weren't tears, but there was genuine concern before we hit the fast-food place for lunch. And I have to admit that she rocked as a goalie in the subsequent games. They won one, tied one, and lost two. She made some amazing saves, and I didn't have to have "the talk" with Abby again.

I read something recently that I think applies to this. It said something like "while there's no I in TEAM, there is an I in WIN." It does take a lot of people doing their very best and caring about every aspect of the game or ministry or cause to WIN. Teams win or lose together but without all those individuals playing their very best game, there's no way the team is going to win.

Posted at 19:42

What Matters Most...

This weekend while at Wal-Mart, I looked down the aisle and was stopped in my tracks by what I saw. A man with one leg, an artificial arm, and a surgical mask stood there on crutches. He had a shopping basket in one hand and searched the rows for something. What can I do? I wondered.

I'd just sent my son Reed, 13, to get some rolls and frozen corn. When he returned, I said, "Look down there." I could tell his heart was filled with compassion. "Do you want to help him?" I asked. No hesitation. "Yes," he said.

So we headed toward him. What am I going to say? I wondered. It's not like I had a lot of time to figure it out.

"Hey, it looks like you've got everything under control," I started when I reached him. He looked intently at me. "But if you'd like some help, I'll loan you my son for awhile."

He said he was fine and that was really nice, but no thanks. "Well, it looks like you've got it under control." Thanks, he said, and have a nice day.

I have to say that sometimes my adolescent son can try my patience but he has such a sensitive spirit to God and he's eager to help people. For that I'm grateful to God...and in the end it's what matters most--not the funny looks he can give me when I tell him to do something, not the way he argues with his sister, and not anything else that's normal about being a young teenage boy. I'm pretty proud of how gutsy he is to step out and help--often without even being asked.

To hear stories of other kids who are reaching out to help others, check this out: http://www.childrensministry.com/backissues/detail.asp?ID=6703

Posted at 19:42

Sticks and Stones

You know that little kiddy jingle: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"? That's not true! In fact, words--or the absence of words--can hurt more deeply than a whack with a stick. There's nothing more frustrating than communication breakdown; but there's also nothing more enjoyable than working with an exemplary team member.

In that vein, I want to share with you a communication tool my husband shared with me. Hopefully, it'll help you identify the styles of communication on your team--and better understand how to move people to the higher levels of communication. (If nothing else, use direct communication to let people know where you see them in these categories and how that impacts the team and your goals! Then work on a plan for improvement together.)

Derailer--doesn't keep others informed; doesn't take constructive criticism well; doesn't actively listen or work to understand others' points; avoids difficult conversations with others; gossips; doesn't respond to requests via email, voice mail, notes, etc; uses offensive language.

Basic--courteously and respectfully shares information; observes confidentiality and privacy; actively listens to people by using appropriate eye contact, body language, and seeks clarification; participates in difficult discussion.

Proficient--speaks respectfully and positively about or with others; takes responsibility for being informed; communicates constructively; is open to others' opinions; expresses own views and opinions.

Advanced--speaks and writes in a clear manner; proactively shares appropriate information with others; listens well by clarifying and paraphrasing points of view; discusses multiple ideas, points of views, and outcomes; advocates for solutions that meet multiple parties' goals; accepts constructive criticism.

Exemplary--promotes ideas or outcomes that support the organization's goals; seeks others' opinions; speaks or writes in a manner which inspires and motivates others; seeks and accepts constructive criticism and changes behavior.

So where do your team members fall in these categories?

Posted at 17:19

Are You Weary?

I just talked to a close friend who said she's just "tired." She's had a lot going on professionally and personally. I feel the same way... just tired! (Maybe part of that is I got home after 1 a.m. last night from our trip).

Anyway, I'm not one of these people who's real in touch with why I feel the way I do. So I start trying to find a reason for my malaise. Maybe I'm tired of my job. Maybe I need a change. Before long, I can think the reasons for my fatigue are something they're not.

By the grace of God, I stopped the weary excuse train last night and thought "what's really going on with me?" I'm sad, I thought. I'm leaving my son and his wife and going home. I'm just sad.

Once I could identify that, I quit looking for other reasons and just lived with the sadness of having kids grow up. (That kept me from thinking I need to quit my job!) And it allowed me to give myself a break.

Maybe you need to give yourself a break too. Summer's a crazy time where professionally and personally you're giving everything. And let's be honest, even trying to go on a "restful" vacation can be exhausting and sometimes disappointing. Don't attach too much meaning to your weariness...maybe all you need is a good nap.

Man, that sounds good right now! Wake me in a few...

Posted at 21:30

Cross-Cultural Shock

I'm at Comic Con in San Diego. And I keep thinking I could be anywhere that I'm not used to and have the same feelings. It could be a John Deere convention or a monster truck rally or a hip-hop concert. I don't fit in.

So why am I here? Good question. For one thing, there's a team of six of us from Group on a "snoop trip" to learn what we can. So it's required.

Other reasons? I walked around the exhibit hall today going "God, why am I here?" Here's why, I think...it's like an anthropological quest: What would cause 125,000 people to flock here? What can we in the church learn to draw people to the kingdom? What's it like to be an "outsider" in a foreign culture? How do we make visitors feel like outsiders in our church culture? How can we fix that? What's current in pop culture right now that can inform us about more effective ways to reach children, youth, and adults? Why would people stand in line for 90 minutes in the hot sun to get into something and not get in (yes, I did that!)? How can we deliver must-have, I-don't-care-what-I-have-to-do-to-get-it solutions to serve the church?

Am I getting answers to all these questions? I'll keep you posted. Can't wait to talk to the other five people at dinner regarding their discoveries today!

Posted at 22:40

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