This is the new puppet production that I made for Kathy Vincent, the Scripture Lady. Last week Marvelous Marvin become the newest puppet in her Pre-School Program.
Again, I asked another of my new Kidology Graduate Students to describe for me what metaphor he would use to describe his coaching experience. There was a long silence as my student gave some fresh thought to this idea. My suspense was rewarded with the reference to the “Wise and Foolish Builder.” However, I had no idea what this might be about, so I quarried. “Can you elaborate on that for me?”
“When I started out as a new missionary in Mexico, I just wanted to help others accomplish their work. I would just do whatever anyone needed. I really had no agenda, except that. Now that I have been in this coaching program I have a firm foundation to build upon. At first, this response did not help me, until I asked, “I am sorry, can you explain more about the wise and foolish builder idea?”
“When I helped others, I would do so as a one-time experience. I keep no records or files of the work I did. I would reinvent my work every time, like it was the first time for everything. Everything I did was gone, a waste. I was discarding it—nothing to show for the effort. I now think that was foolish.”
“Because of Coaching, I have been documenting my work. I have a vision and some goals. I have an actual plan for my ministry. I am recording in written form my contribution, so others can benefit from my ministry. I have become a Wise Builder.”
He was referencing his new passion for helping struggling churches in Mexico have outreach curriculum to reach their children for Christ. It involves writing a bilingual (Spanish/English) 52 Unit Curriculum, which provides all the church will need to conduct a club-like program for kids. It has 26 Old Testament stories and 26 New Testament stories. It has Bible lessons, drama, puppetry, silk-screened felt visuals, magic, object lessons, memory work, and take-home resources. The curriculum and all the necessary resources will be available in tubs and checked out to participating churches. Once used, the tubs will be returned and they will get another set of lessons.
Going forward, he will be known for this innovative curriculum. He is creating his legacy as a Missionary to Mexico. Coaching was a game-changer for this student. He needed some help and guidance to accomplish his vision to help churches to reach children in Mexico. He now has defined what he is doing and how he will get it done. He has become a wise-master builder for the kingdom. His name is Robert, but you might say, he has become Bob, the Builder!
Robert now is planning a one-year Writing Sabbatical to finish writing his Ninos Fantasico Curriculum by 2016.
Can you help me? I have this idea…
Kathy Vincent, aka the Scripture Lady, who is one of my Graduate Coaching students was working on a new Preschool Program asked me if I could help her make a Wearable Puppet Stage. She found this example on the Internet and wanted to add it her show. So I downloaded the idea and noticed that it illustrated making it from a cardboard box. http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/kidscraftsactivitiesblog/2012/07/how-to-make-a-wearable-puppet-stage
So I promptly said, “Yes, I can do that for you!”
So I began calculating what it would take and how the design could work for a quick construction project. However, we talked again, and she wondered if I could make it out of balsa wood, instead of a cardboard box? “Well, sure!” I said. That caused me to rethink the idea. I just had bought a 4’ x 8’ sheet of Luan Plywood (sometimes called door skin or utility board). Luan is a thin plywood (1/8 inch thick). It is strong and lightweight. Perfect, I thought.
However, my wood working tools were not quite fine enough to cut this wood, so I went to my woodworking neighbor. He was happy to help me with my project. He was able to cut and glue the thin plywood sides.
So a couple of afternoons, we worked together and cut, assembled and primed and painted a wearable puppet stage.
This Wearable Puppet Stage is supported by this white nylon rope, which is threaded through the box and tied around the puppeteer’s neck. Notice the rope is threaded through box and the background scenery board too.
Both hands are free to work through the holes in the top and underside of the box. The back of the box is open. We finished it in a couple of afternoons. When I delivered it to my student, the paint still curing. Then she and her husband went to work on the scenery and signage which was made out of banner material.
The Preschooler’s loved the debut of Marvelous Marvin, the Inch Worm Puppet, who was properly displayed in his new home!
We have used the word bridge in the church as a verb—“to bridge someone to Christ.” It has become our culturally polite way of describing how we help a person who is in the process to becoming a Christian, without offending them. It appears to give the option of delay—the urgency is postponed. This approach to winning converts is rather opposed to any hard-hitting, gospel preaching, or “respond now” approach.
Reaction to the Extremes
While we can turn well-intentioned seekers away with a confrontational, proclamation approach, it seems to me, there are some problems with both extremes. One can be too hard and other can be too soft. One aims for a quick decision with the first presentation and the other allows for many presentations—with potentially a very long process. One is more gospel content driven and the other is more of a relational process by design.
One might err on giving an invitation on every proclamation. The bridging approach, however, could possibly avoid giving an invitation for salvation, at all.
The Bridge That is Too Long
It appears this bridging approach is a reaction to evangelism stereotypes of the past by people (in my opinion) who are not gifted evangelists, but more gifted as teachers or educators. It is interesting to me that salvation in the Bible comes by exercise of our faith, not by some lengthy drawn out process of crossing some bridge to get to the other side. Using the Bridge metaphor, it is possible in my view, to stay too long on the bridge and never get to the other side. So we can have churches filled with people like in a nursery waiting to be formally given an opportunity to respond to the claims of the Gospel, but when?
The Timidity Theory
Bridging tends to foster timidity or a reticence in our presentation of the gospel. At the risk of offense, we can postpone a response indefinitely or delay a faith response so long that there is no necessity to respond. It is not what we learn and know about Christ, rather it is having a personal relationship with Jesus, the object of our faith. I read that the gospel, by nature, can be offensive to unbelievers, and rightly so. I think we can mitigate the severity of our presentation. However, we cannot hold back on the proclamation of the gospel looking for some mental assent or quiet (nodding of the head) agreement. We are looking for repentance, new birth, life commitment—crossing the bridge!
Crossing the Bridge is the Destination
The term Bridging implies that the object is crossing. Crossing for some is not getting to the other side, but just staying too long on the bridge. We can pull back any effort to present, confront and call persons to repentance. Bridging appears weak in defining sin and confronting sin. It tends to water down the power of the gospel to a small-unlit firecracker and not an explosive stick of dynamite. “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.”
The Middle Approach
I think our modern use of Bridging as a strategy is flawed by over reaction and under reaction. As a children’s evangelist, I find working in Bridging Churches problematic. The children are often taught the gospel, over time they might be responsive to the bridging process. Teaching the gospel is more like academic learning, more cognitive content and not personal application. So what I find is a fishing pool of responsive children who respond in repentance and faith with a clear presentation of the gospel when given an opportunity. Balancing our approach is to move towards the middle, not the extremes.
Crossing Over the Bridge
The deliveryman shows up and new birth happens! It is not about manipulation, it is about a welcome invitation to respond to the claims of Jesus. It is not trickery or coercion. It is a demonstration of God’s love at work in the lives of children. It is about the Spirit of God preparing the children to respond to the Good News. Hence, crossing the bridge!
What do you call an attempt at Bridging that stops part way with no crossing over to the other side? A Pier! It is a good effort, as far as it goes, but bridging crosses over some spatial divide. A pier might look like a bridge, but it is merely a journey to end (and back). Would this be like a bridge to nowhere?
Over thirty years ago I was visiting New York with my Mother-in-law and my daughter. We were on our way to Cooperstown and noticed a billboard for Doll Houses made in Schenevus, NY. So we stopped out of curiosity and bought three Doll Houses. We brought them home on the plane and put them away. They were in the attic for thirty years. I never made them for my two daughters. They were rediscovered this year and brought into the garage. Now I have three grand daughters. I decided that I did not want to miss another opportunity before they were too old.
What is the Doll House Effect? It is a Project Metaphor! Every good project has a design, some instructions to follow, a deliberate process or procedure, some creative variables and a useful end result or the finish! My Doll House project illustrates this idea. Maybe you will see applications.
1. The Design This involves simply the vision of the finished project—a picture of the project completed. The plan, what it is called, what it looks like, what it is for and what it will take to complete the project. The ultimate outcome is the design! Most projects do not project the time needed to complete project, however, those that do, provide a critical path for component parts to be sequenced into this finished design.
2. The Instructions
A good set of instructions breaks the project down into all the component parts that make assembly by another possible. Everything that is needed is included in the instructions—the procedure and additional resources needed. There is an order, first things first. Then the next part follows, sequentially, one step at a time. The designer created an order for assembly that would accomplish the project. A successful project is almost guaranteed, by following these instructions.
3. The Process
This involves your available time and what steps you are willing to take to make it happen. There are several ways to proceed with any project. One would be “all or nothing.” I could attempt to make the House from start to finish in one extended period of time, maybe days—of course that is all you do! Or I could work on it one day a week. Or I could work on it some, every day I am home, with short breaks—15-20 minutes at a time. I chose to do something every day—that was my process. I would either detach the pieces from the laser cut sheets, prepare by figuring out where they would go, paint them and/or glue them. My building process goal was attempt “something” every day no matter what. Admittedly, this was a slower process, but it was more thorough and fit in my busy life. It would take time for paint and glue to dry, so as long as I was preparing pieces with paint or assembling with glue that counted as doing something every day. Making a process plan and working that plan by steps works!
4. The Variables
Everyday, I had choices to make about how I wanted to project to look. I was free to apply my own creativity. I could choose the paint and color choices I wanted. I took photos of all the steps I followed to model my process for accountability. I could add something to make it better—like support braces for expected wear spots. Often, I would be stumped by the instructions, and spent time trying to understand them, which lead to a little trial and error. Ultimately, these creative variables would become my “signature” or my version of the project. How we handle the variables makes any project ours!
5. The Finish
Everyday, I could visually see how this project was progressing towards what I wanted the Doll House to look like. Often I would compare my project with the design photo, to visually my progress. I was choosing my paint and arranging the parts to accomplish the look I wanted the finished project to appear. I would constantly refer back to the original design, and altar it, only after fully understanding the original. Finishing the project like the design was the goal.
Challenge: Consider how you might apply observations from this metaphor “The Doll House Effect” to your children’s ministry projects or any project, for that matter.
When I asked one of my new graduate students to give me a metaphor that would describe her coaching experience from the beginning until now, she paused and thought. So I waited for any response, then it came. She said, “David and Goliath.” “Can you elaborate on that thought?” I inquired.
“Well, when I started out in children’s ministry, I was so ill prepared that I read all the resources I could. I found children’s leaders on the Internet, blogs and Facebook and Kidology. I was just overwhelmed with all the great things everyone else was doing. So I was attempting to be like them. I wanted to be ‘like the big boys—the Giants in children’s ministry.’ I really did not have the skills or the training to copy them, and much of what worked for them, was not working for me. I wanted to be a Giant, like them! It was just so intimidating. However, I continued to make attempts to impress others with my Giant efforts—wanting to be something I was not.”
She discovered in her searching for help, that Kidology was offering a Black Friday Special for their Kidology Coaching Program. She took advantage of the sale—not really knowing just what the program involved. She was assigned her personal-ministry coach and the mentoring/coaching process began.
It is normal for a coach to take a while to figure out just how to work with a new student. She was only responsible for one children’s church hour on Sunday. She was paid part-time to oversee about 30 kids, but she was making attempts to impress me with her efforts. It was not until I had a brief conversation with her Pastor on the phone one day, that I got the clue how I needed to work with her. She was such a willing worker, that she would volunteer to do whatever was needed to help the church, which was distracting to her concentration on children’s ministry.
That is when things changed for us. We decided to work on a job description, which she did not have. We eliminated everything that was extra curricular to accomplishing her ministry. Then she became accountable for how she was managing her tasks by recording her daily routines. She started planning more and pre-thinking her program. More children came. She responded to the need to provide activity for the children between services—it was called Connection Time. Then her Children’s Church was too big for the room. She recruited more leaders and divided the program. Now she was overseeing three ministries—we adjusted the job description. The rooms were quite dated and needed some renovation and upgrading, so we worked on a remodeling plan. I sent her $10 for an investment project and she raised over $2,000 that she applied to the room makeover plan. The Pastor began to take more notice in her Monday morning emails to him called “Sunday Wins.” So when some problems surfaced with the Nursery, he asked her to look in on it. She did and the problems were solved. Now she was overseeing four programs and we changed the job description again.
The couple that was teaching the children on Wednesday night had some personal problems and had to step down. The position opened up, so the Pastor asked her to fill in for a few weeks. So she tentatively filled in, thinking another would be assigned to take her place, but no one came forward. She continued serving Wednesday nights, more kids were coming and parents were responding to the enthusiasm of their children. He could not find a replacement. He never replaced her. Now she was overseeing five ministries with a job description.
She was a bothered when the Pastor picked another couple to run VBS and she was asked to assist them, she really wanted to lead it, but it was not her place, so she humbled herself and was compliant. We talked our way through that time. The next year the Pastor asked her to oversee and lead VBS. We worked on her plans to improve the former efforts, which she did. She set a goal of 120 kids and 148 showed up. It was a very successful effort.
The Kidology Coaching Program has helped my student to become a David, a humble disciplined servant that has learned to trust God to take down giants. God now is doing a mighty work in my student. We are seeing a change in her orientation—A David and not a Goliath perspective!
Her children’s ministry has grown to over 100 children during our Kidology Program. She will be joining the graduate program in February and aspires to be a full-time children’s pastor.
By Jessica Klinker
About 12 years ago, during my first year as a Children’s Director, we were celebrating our AWANA Pinewood Derby. I was still nervous speaking in front of adults (actually, I still am). I asked our AWANA missionary to give our devotion for this night. I waited and waited, the Derby had started and our missionary was still not there. I called and there was no answer. Finally, five minutes before the devotion, I get an answer. There too much rain. The missionary was not coming. Ugh!
You know, that moment when you are so stressed, you feel like your heart is going to explode? Or, that you might throw up? This was that moment.
I saw my friend our Youth Pastor and I frantically said, “Will you start praying?” I had no idea what I am going to say. We prayed and up to the stage I walked, feeling like I was going to disappoint everyone.
I started talking about the races and what a great job the kids had done designing their cars and then, suddenly, I was quoting Paul from 1 Corinthians.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly, I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I may not be disqualified for the prize.”—1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Now you need to realize that I have read this verse many times, but had never memorized it. Then, this peace came over me, as I let everyone know that each of us had a race to run in life. “Yours might be very different then mine. Your race may be about sharing Christ with others from school or work. Maybe, it could be loving your neighbors and leading them or your teammates to Christ.”
That night, God gave me the vision of what my race was all about. (I had known that I was made for children and that I wanted to lead children to Jesus.) But that night, standing there in front of those “runners,” I had a vision of me driving a bus to heaven filled with children!
I shared this with the audience and finished by praying with them that God would give them a vision for what their race would be about.
I left the stage in peace and shock. I had never felt the Holy Spirit, so strongly and literally working through me. This vision has stayed with me to this day. It remains true for God’s ministry in my life. Since that time, I have been aware that my ministry with children has been about filling that bus!
Whether you are a Kidology Coaching Graduate, current student, or looking to discover what Kidology Coaching is all about – this will be a weekend that can transform you and your ministry.
The Kidology Coaching Summit is an intimate Coaching Retreat limited to a very small group of children’s ministry professionals who will enjoy a unique weekend of professional enrichment with Karl Bastian and his team of trained coaches. Attendees will be able to address specific areas of need as well as be challenged in new areas. Both one on one and group sessions will address specific areas of need as well as general areas of leadership and administration.
It will be a weekend of Equipping and Encouraging like you’ve never experienced!
Students will go home with practical advice, a clear sense of purpose, and with the accountability and guidance needed to follow through on the decisions and lessons learned. This is a personalized training event for the professional leader.
• Meet the Kidology Coaches
• Enjoy Dinner at Karl Bastian’s Home
• Spend a Day in Breckenridge at the Grand Lodge on Peak 7
• Benefit from one on one and group coaching experiences
Register today for this unique experience!
Our vision is to resource remote Village Evangelists in India. Two years ago we established Seven Resource Centers that now serve 222 rural evangelists who have NO visual resources to reach unreached people. This trip to India we will establish Eight More Resource Centers. It works much like a lending library—check it out, return it, get something else. This is a partnership with Kidhelper Resources, Creative Children’s Ministries, Sathyam Ministries and Whittier Area Community Church. Michael LaFond and I will travel to train eight Managers, the day before Easter April, 2014
Can we learn about ministry from Noah? Yes! It is important to establish for yourself how you go about developing your ministry. There seems to be a process, a pattern that I can objectively talk about that I refer to as my ministry process. It is like getting your story together. Another analogy might be: This is how the ducks line up, you know, getting all ducks in a row. There seems to be a few consistent patterns.
With over fifty years of experience in watching how God has worked with me about Special Projects, I have had to trust Him. I am coming to some conclusions about how God leads me. While, I think it might be presumptuous to try to create a project formula for others based upon my own experience, I think there are some parameters that might apply to most of us.
This first step might start from an invitation, a phone call, a letter, some conversation, a need or a desire the Lord has placed in my heart while praying. However, the next step is always personal.
1. Start with Time with God
He puts a burden on your heart that He wants me to do something. It can come in lots of ways, but the clue is I find myself praying about something bigger than I can do and I recognize I need His help. I find I have questions in this phase, where I am asking God to show me his plan and how this fits. I need His help.
2. Write out Some Tentative Plans
Next, for me, I find myself thinking about this enough where the only relief is to just write it down. I tend to try to figure it out, that is, play out “what if” scenarios and pre-think on paper. This tends to lead towards some written formulation of an action plan, that I do nothing with, at first. I leave it and wait. This is held tentatively. I do nothing—but think, pray and wait
3. Waiting and Praying
The burden increases! I might be praying about making another trip to India, another vehicle or a new computer. But I have no money or resources to make that happen. This might be the birth and death of the vision. It becomes impossible. So I learn this is not about me, it is more about God doing what He wants with me. An effort is made to visualize the project, like get a drawing or picture to make a brochure.
4. Watching and Counsel
Now I am waiting to hear someone or something said about what I am considering. I might “test the waters” by sharing a little bit with others, a chance to get some counsel, seek some wisdom from the input of others. I might “knock on a few doors,” to see what’s there. It is not about being aggressive. It is still being tentative. I am still asking, seeking and knocking—building my story. Doing my homework, exploring the project.
5. Looking for a Token of Encouragement
This might be some verbal support, or some “seed” money—which deepens your conviction. It might be an invitation, a conversation, a phone call, or the influence of a conference. It might be a metaphor or an object lesson. I have actually had a child make my first contribution to start the ball rolling. There are those “launchers” that God uses to “open the gate” for a new direction. He uses the “sustainers” build momentum for a project. He uses “closers” to finish a project. They have faith in your story. At this stage, it is always about a faith response with the assurance that He is confirming His direction for me. So I speak with certainty about the plan now, which requires faith and conviction—maybe even your passion.
6. Wait for More Confirming Circumstances
At this point, the plan is more public. This where the work is involved to implement the plan. I am talking about my plans, gathering the pieces to make my story compelling. I make a brochure or a flyer for the project plans. I might contact known supporters for prayer and potential involvement. From a position of confirmation and “seed money” and let others know what my opportunity is about. This always involves moving out in faith by taking another step forward and watching God work things out for me. Sometimes the provision is slow and sometimes it is amazingly fast.
Challenge: So I am suggesting that you seriously consider these parameters and see how they apply to your experience. Finding your Ministry Process for new projects is what we have in mind here. Your ministry process applies to other areas of your ministry. So maybe we can learn from what Noah accomplished with his project?