Daddy Comes Home

Hopper-kids

I was honored to be a part of this incredible moment.  My friend, Rocky, had been deployed for over six months.  He has three beautiful young daughters who love their Daddy very much.  They THOUGHT Daddy wasn’t coming home for weeks.  We convinced them that we needed to shoot a video to send to him overseas.  I said, “Why not go to the airport where he’s eventually going to come home and we can show him what it is going to look like when he eventually comes home.”  The girls were all about it.

In the middle of their video shoot, Rocky, steps out of the crowd with open arms to greet them.  They were shocked!!  It was a touching moment, all caught on camera.  Enjoy this video of one of our honored military personnel coming home to his family.  As you watch it, say a prayer for all of those who are still deployed.  Pray that God will keep them safe so that they will be able to enjoy this kind of moment soon.

One Of The Most Selfless Acts Of Kindness I’ve Ever Witnessed

It was all I could do not to break into tears.  I had never seen such a beautiful display of God’s love and kindness – not in a long time.

Most likely, each of you reading this post have someone in your life who has suffered or is suffering from the horrible disease, Alzheimer’s.  It is a brutal disease that attacks the brain in such a way that it robs people of their ability to function on their own, remember important things, and perform the simplest of tasks.

In the video you are about to watch, a woman who has suffered from Alzheimer’s is LOVED BACK TO LIFE by a kind-hearted, compassionate friend.  Watch as this woman who has long been without the ability to speak verbally begins to sing in worship to our God!  POWERFUL VIDEO!

What if each of us took as much time to connect with every child (or adult) that God puts in our path as this woman took with Gladys Wilson?  How often do we “move on” because we aren’t getting the response that we want immediately?  What would a church be like if every person took the time to connect to the lost like this woman chose to do with Gladys?  POWERFUL THOUGHT!

Powerful Video – “This Time” (Based On A True Story)

Most of you who read my blog often will know I am a huge fan of the music of John Elefante (the former lead singer of the rock group, Kansas). Having followed his career since the mid-80s, it has been a pleasure as I have become friends with him the last few years. He is an incredible musician, singer, producer – but an amazing man of God as well.

I will never forget when he sent me the original demo to the song, “This Time.” I was blown away and moved to tears when I heard the song for the first time. It was a song he had just written that chronicled the TRUE STORY of his daughter, Sami, being saved from abortion. Her thirteen year old birth mother was moments away from aborting her when she knew that God was speaking to her to “get up” and get out of that abortion clinic. God had plans for the little girl she was carrying. Thankfully, Sami’s birth mom did not go through with the abortion – and John and his wife ended up being the adoptive parents.

John has just released the official music video for the song today. Please watch this video and pass it on to others. Who knows how many young women will be moved by the message behind this video/story. If only one child is saved from being aborted as a result of this video, it will be worth it. I believe you will be moved as you watch “This Time.”

Brian-and-John-Elefante
Brian with John Elefante at his house in Nashville

Becoming A “SLAM Grandparent”

Kennedy
Anthony Kennedy (far right), his three boys, and me

Yesterday was a very cool day for my wife, Cherith, and I. It was the day we discovered we are now “SLAM Grandparents” at First NLR. We became the Kids Pastors here in 1999 – nearly 14 years ago. “SLAM” is the name of the Elementary Kids Church service we began when we got here. Yesterday, it was an honor to welcome several children into “SLAM” who belong to Anthony Kennedy, one of the kids that were in that original group.

I am about to celebrate my 14th year as Kids Pastor at First NLR. I have been blessed to minister to thousands of kids during this time. It is such a privilege to watch them grow, both physically and spiritually, and ultimately pass on that spiritual heritage to their own children.

In the time I have been at First NLR, I have friends and acquaintances that have been in three and four churches. I am thankful for a church with strong pastoral leadership, a clear vision, and dynamic spiritual health. These are the things that allow me to stay here at First NLR and receive the benefits of longevity in ministry.

In the coming months, I will be performing the wedding for one of the girls who grew up in our kids’ ministry here at First NLR. What a blessing to be able to be a part of the different seasons of life for the same children and families. While we continue to grow as God allows us to reach more and more families, I pray that Cherith and I will see the day when we become “SLAM Great-Grandparents.” (somebody please pass me my walking cane and Depends)

Three “Creativity Killers”


Creativity is a MUST in Kids Ministry.  It takes creativity to capture attention and illuminate the gospel to a young mind that is bombarded with flashy, glitzy attention-grabbers all day from a world whose message is less than spiritually healthy.

We all want to be more creative, but we often fall prey to one or more of the three CREATIVITY KILLERS in ministry…

1)     PROCRASTINATION

There’s an epidemic of procrastination in Kids Ministry.  I can’t believe how many times I hear people saying that they don’t even begin to start their preparation for Sunday until Saturday Night.

Nothing will kill your ability to be creative like procrastination.

YOU CAN DO IT!  Work ahead!  Prepare.  Make time for creative thinking.  Get alone with God and pray.  Allow the Spirit to inspire you NOW for what He wants to do down the road!  It is THE most important part of the creative process.

2)  DUPLICATION

This phenomenon happens quite often in the church world.  We go to a conference, attend a seminar, watch a YouTube video, or read a blog as someone shares a great concept or strategy.  We think, “What an amazing idea!”  Then we run straight back to our church and try to duplicate it.

We hear reports of what God is doing in the church down the street or the “hot church” in our denomination, and we try to chase their ideas instead of asking God for His ideas.  We do this for a lot of reasons:

  • Duplication is easier

When we opt for duplication, we avoid the tough work of seeking God for a vision and strategy to grow our ministry.  It’s a lot easier to steal someone else’s “good idea” than invest time seeking a “God idea.”

  • Duplication is faster

It doesn’t take any time at all to get plenty of cool ideas from church leaders in every kind of ministry.  Type the words “Children’s Ministry growth ideas” on your browser, and you’ll get over 19 million hits.  There are books upon books and conferences upon conferences that provide a ton of great ideas.

Don’t get me wrong.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with books and conferences.  I’m a firm believer in attending conferences, networking with other ministries, and reading great books. However, books and conferences can easily become a substitute for seeking God and trusting Him for guidance and creativity.

You see, duplication may be easier and faster, but the problem is…

  • Duplication rarely produces eternal results

Jesus told His followers, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).  What do we “seek first”?   Is it conferences, books, message boards, and ministry networks, and then do we go to God only when all those things begin to lose their punch? Instead, we should begin on our knees, seeking for His idea that will change our lives and ministry.

3)  DISQUALIFICATION

Some immediately disqualify themselves and say, “I can’t do it!  I’m just not wired that way!”  They allow themselves to believe the six word lie that I despise.  Here are the six words – “I’m just not a creative person.” 

Many Kidmin Leaders sell themselves short when it comes to their ability to think creatively and innovate.  They have decided that God only gifted a few key leaders to be able to create and innovate.  We have turned the innovative process into some mysterious, spooky, hokus pokus type of activity.

Listen – YOU were BORN for creativity and innovation!  Somehow, we allowed society to suppress our creative juices and we began to be conformed to the mainstream.  We are afraid of getting outside the box.  We allow fear to dominate our minds and hearts and we never become the Kidminnovators God wants us to be!

We serve a Creative God with limitless creative ability!  Even the most naturally innovative and creative minds are finite.  The term finite means “having bounds or limits; not infinite; measurable.”  But God is infinite.  He is “far above all,” not limited by any boundaries at all.  When we draw only on our own creative resources, it’s like drinking from a thimble instead of the Great Lakes.

I believe the time is coming when every Kidmin Leader will believe in God (and themselves) enough to be able to tap into the creative innovator that lives in each of them.  When that happens, we will change the world!!

Helping Kids Cope With The Newtown Tragedy

Tragedy knows no boundaries.  It does not discriminate between people.  Tragedy can hit any community, any family, any individual, at any time.

Aside from mass shootings, terrorist attacks, Earthquakes, and other mass disasters, there are tragedies that eventually strike every family.  The death of a loved one.  An accident that permanently injures someone.  The sudden loss of income due to layoffs or being fired.  These are the every day tragedies and losses that parents struggle to explain and help their children through.

This is a REpost of one of mine from the Summer: “How To Talk To Your Kids About Death And Tragedy.”  I found it very appropriate to include again.  I have included the outline below.

You can hear the audio of the entire teaching here:

Feel free to use this to teach the parents in your own church.  I pray it is helpful.

“How To Talk To Your Kids About Death & Tragedy” 

  1. Be honest with them.
  2. Use appropriate language.     Hebrews 9:27
  3. Allow them to ask questions.
  4. Allow your child to be emotional.   Ecclesiastes 3:4
  5. Be aware of your own need to grieve.
  6. Grieve together.  Romans 12:15      Job 2:11-13
  7. Don’t force an emotional response.
  8. Expect regression.
  9. Pray together.    Hebrews 13:5
  10. Remember that grieving is a process, not an event.

Which Will You Choose – SLOW DOWN OR FALL DOWN?

It’s the holiday season.  Christmas parties, outreaches, end of year budgets, family commitments, dinner parties, shopping, shopping, shopping…the list never ends!

There’s a reason why people use the phrase “hustle and bustle” when speaking of the holiday season.  It’s the nature of the beast.  There’s not a lot you can do about the stress and speed that the holidays bring…or is there?

Something very important I have learned from my pastor (who learned it from Bill Hybels) is that there is a direct correlation between the SPEED of our lives and the DEPTH of our souls.

There are seasons in our lives when things are moving at a much more rapid pace than others.  The Holidays seem to be one of those times.  A smart leader is realistic about his/her own condition.  A wise leader adjusts his soul time to match his life speed.  Let me explain:

In times of speed and stress, the average Christian has a tendency to skimp out on the care of their soul (daily prayer, Bible study, worship).  After all, “I’m too busy.”  Bill Hybels talks extensively in his book, “Too Busy Not To Pray” that the opposite is really the case.  Significant growth and moments with God don’t happen at a speed of Mach 2.

“So, what am i supposed to do, Brian?  Cancel all of my holiday commitments?”  Not at all.  Instead, each of us must make a conscious choice and ask ourselves – will we maintain our sense of soul as speed increases?

As a leader, your spiritual growth matters even more!  Your time with God is even more important!  You can’t give what you don’t have.  As the speed of the holidays ramps up, CHOOSE to slow down and spend MORE time in God’s presence.

“But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

– Isaiah 40:31