Archives For HUGE

Give a Parent a Break

Jonathan Cliff  —  January 30, 2013 — 2 Comments

TakeItEasy

Many of us that work at churches are guilty of giving parents the hardest time of anyone. Don’t believe me? Well, have you ever had the following thoughts:

Why are they always so late?  

I hate it when they pick their kid up early, right before the good part.

If these parents only knew how messed up their teenager was they’d get them to church more often!

Can you imagine what would happen if all these parents decided to show up on the same Sunday?

If those were my kids I would (insert really smart parenting thing here.)

Why do I even try to send them emails? They never read them.

I’m guilty, you’re guilty, and we’re all guilty together. For just a second we should consider that maybe, just maybe…it’s a HUGE win that they attempted to come. Maybe we could give parents some credit for deciding to be there, even if they decide to leave early. Maybe we could give parents some credit for trying, even if the trying seems half-hearted. Could we please stop complaining when they don’t engage us at every…single…solitary…event?

I’m learning to have enough faith in my church, my God, and myself to know that if they just keep trying; they will find it. If they can find confidence in my smile, then good for them. If they could be inspired by what I don’t say, but they know I’m thinking…then even better.

Friday Giveaway

Jonathan Cliff  —  September 30, 2011 — 7 Comments

It’s a Friday Giveaway special, and this time I’ll be giving away a great package from Lifeway Kid’s newest Theo product.  Take some time to read and watch what Theo is all about (Theology…Theo…get it?), and then enter below for your chance to win.  There are up to 6 chances per person to enter the drawing!

Theo Church Edition  makes teaching theology easy and fun for school age children with Theo, the Animated Theologian, who offers a rare combination-packaging rich theological content with high entertainment value. Join Theo and his mischievous little friends as they explore theological lessons like faith, obeying God’s Word, forgiveness, the armor of God, sin and the plan of salvation. Make the biblical content come alive through fun, age-appropriate Bible curriculum that revolves around the Bible stories imbedded in each episode of Theo. Each entertaining, animated episode corresponds with a printable lesson plan that digs deep into God’s Word.   Perfect for small group times!

It’s a great opportunity that LifeWay Kids has allowed me to giveaway this HUGE gift package today!

  • Theo Church Edition: Foundations of Faith
  • Theo Church Edition: Foundations of Salvation
  • DVD with 1 episode of THEO
  • 2 Theo tea bags

Today’s guest post is by our Youth Pastor at Trinity Church.  Pastor Tim Livengood is responsible for a ton of kids between the 6th and 12th grades at Trinity…and it’s a HUGE undertaking!  I’ve watched Tim walk parents through some tough times, and I’ve watched him teach kids in a service setting; and he’s a great communicator in both places.  He just started a blog this week, so go say hello! I got his permission to steal an email he sent to his leaders a few weeks ago.  Enjoy.

After about 12 years in youth ministry I have come to realize a secret that is probably not much of a secret to most of you. I am not cool enough to be a youth pastor. I am short, not very athletic, can’t surf, don’t have cool hair, and I can’t grow a goatee to save my life. There are times I am guessing you feel the same way about your coolness factor. The feeling hits me the hardest before a youth service. Last week I was trying to have a conversation with a student who I couldn’t get to take their earbuds out of their ears. Deep down I am sure that if I was cooler I could get their attention!

God challenged me on that thinking. I want to be a rock star in a student’s eyes, but if there is one thing I know about rock stars it is that they are unapproachable. They have their sunglasses on as they rush into their limousines with security surrounding them. As cool as rock stars are from a distance, I can’t imagine talking about my loneliness with Bon Jovi. Bono doesn’t care if my brother is cutting himself. I wouldn’t even try to go to one of them with a problem. They are to be admired from a distance. If I need someone to talk to I call my dad.

Our students are the same way. They don’t need rock stars because the more like a rock star you become the more unapproachable you are. They don’t need leaders that are going to look cool, jump onto stage, wow them, then disappear into the back room under cover of security. They need leaders willing to live real lives in front of them and with them. The thing that they need the most is the real you.


I have long been a user of Google Reader to keep up with the dozens of blogs and websites I follow.  I’m a HUGE advocate of learning to use the Internet to connect you with mentors all around the world.  Google Reader will help you manage all this information in one place.  One of the most asked questions I get about all these Internet stuffs is, “How do you keep up with everything happening online?” I’m constantly amazed at how many people have yet to use the greatness of Google Reader.  This video will give you a great introduction to all that Google Reader can do for you.

I will say that I’m an non-traditional user of Google Reader and do not, except in rare occurences; actually read my feeds within Google Reader.  I love to view websites in their original environments.  Google Reader lets you do this with the “Next” button.

As  Google  explains in the original post announcing the feature, “The ‘Next’ bookmarklet allows you to use  Google  Reader  through just one link — clicking on it takes your browser to the  next  unread item in your reading list (marking it as read in the process). I like to use it to go through my photoblog folder. It’s also useful for subscriptions that only include snippets, or when I want to read an article in context.”  If you’d like to grab yours, just go to “settings” and then “goodies” inReader. It’s the best of both worlds: RSS in context!

And of course you should follow me in your own Google Reader account.  You can even receive updates from this blog in your email account if you don’t want to follow along in Google Reader.

It’s been well documented by myself (HERE and HERE) and others (HERE and HERE) that collaborating with others has forever altered the way I work as a Children’s Pastor.   These silly things we call emails, blogs, twitters, and even facebook to a degree (and it pains me to say that last one) has opened a world to me that I never knew existed.   To live life and to do ministry without the connections I’ve made with people from all different walks of life and areas of the world, would be a lonely existence.   That’s not to discount the greatness of those I live my life with on a daily basis here on the dusty South Plains of Lubbock, but the addition of these ‘online relationships’ if you will as made every relationship just a little bit healthier.

Because this has been well documented in my life over the past year I get asked often how it’s done.   I’m asked by those on staff at my church, by those DM’s on twitter(you know who you are), and even occasionally over lunch with a friendly neighborhood pastor.   What’s my answer for how to start those meaningful collaborative relationships?

First, let’s start with what Collaboration is and what it is NOT.   Collaboration by definition is “the action of working with someone to produce or create something.”   Collaboration is NOT getting together to compare and contrast differences between ministries, churches, and individuals.   Those things will all eventually become part of the discussion, but until they do it’s important that when “bouncing ideas off someone” or asking for “honest opinions” that we work to fulfill the definition of collaboration.

Are we working together to produce or create something?

When approaching someone to seek guidance on how they use the same curriculum you use, or how they manage check-in, or how they support their volunteers…it is important to NOT go right to the defensive questions.   What are the defensive questions?   So glad you asked…

Numbers: Here are some of my favorite number questions, “How big is your church?”   “So, how many kids are you running?”, or my favorite, “How many services to you guys do?” These are decent questions, but they don’t address the idea of working together.   They are asked simply to size up someone.   The beauty of collaboration, remember…working to produce or create something…isn’t based on how closely alike you are; but instead on what you could possibly create together.

Sympathy: It’s great to find a sympathetic ear to our troubles, but if we’re not careful we can begin to tread into dangerous areas. First, it’s a HUGE turnoff to try and meet up with someone and find out that their life basically sucks and their church leadership is unappreciative of their work.   Secondly, it’s simply not life-giving.   We’re called to serve God, but we are also called to serve God through our Senior Pastor’s vision.   To remember that can keep you out of a world of hurt.

Theology: The beauty of Children’s and Youth ministries is that Theology can sometimes take a back seat to the bigger issues of connecting families to the church (and back to each other.)   Let sleeping dogs lay, and leave the theology for further along in your relationship.   It’s valuable to eventually find those laying the same theological groundwork you wish to lay, but it’s not vital to producing and creating something.

It’s great to find someone working in the same demographic, or to find someone working with as many kids as you are; but nobody is going to be exactly like you so learn to find those who aren’t.   The real beauty of collaboration is that you are working with others.   Learn to be unselfish with your ideas, creativity, and vision.   Let others experience what God’s put inside you, and learn to listen to what he’s doing for others.

To see this TALK given in a much longer format, watch the video HERE!