Stroke of genius or finally focused?

This past Saturday, I spent two hours in the morning and then two hours in the afternoon cleaning and organizing my garage. It was a hot and sweaty endeavor. Morning session was primarily throwing things away. The afternoon session was one of those kind of things that I really enjoy, it was completing little projects that needed to be done. I’m a big checklist kind a guy, so when I can tick off a few things on the list it feels really good. In total, I completed a half a dozen projects that had been on the list of things to do for several months. None of them took terribly long, I had just finally taken the time to get them done.

I had a similar experience at church just before Easter. We have lighting issues in our balcony when we dim the lights in the house, people can’t see the steps. Over the last several years we’ve had many people either stumble/trip or just full-out fall down. We’ve been very fortunate in that there haven’t been any major injuries. The lighting issue in the balcony isn’t new. It’s actually existed since the building was built in 1988.
I decided that the problem had to be fixed before Easter of this year. So, the facilities director and I sat down to come up with several different ideas. After several ideas (some good some insane) I finally decided how we would fix the problem. It involved running LED strip lighting down the wall and letting it illuminate the floor. It turned out to be a wonderful addition. As I was showing my pastor our handiwork, he asked a question “This is great, why didn’t we think of this sooner?”

The answer I came up with kind of disappointed me in myself. I told them it hadn’t been fixed because I hadn’t made it a priority to think through how to solve this problem.
This past weekend in the garage reminded me of this lesson. What we got done at Easter and what I got done in the garage on Saturday can make it look like I was really productive. Or based upon some of the solutions that I came up with, it could make me look like I had a stroke of genius! And while the answers to some of the problems may have been clever and creative, they weren’t really genius. They were really the result of taking time to finally focus on a problem that I knew existed.

Sometimes, as leaders, we avoid problems that we might have answers to just because it’s going to take time, effort, and money to fix them. We need to spend time focusing on known issues and fixing those. Sometimes we look for the big, the exciting, the public problems to solve, but it’s the everyday problems that we can provide solutions to which will help the organization.

So ask yourself, what problems have you avoided or what problems do you know exist that you don’t need a stroke of genius for, you just need to spend a few minutes focusing on finding a solution?

#OneYearAgo today…The Five Year Miracle That Happened One Week.

There were a lot of things that happened one year ago today. Rather than try and do 4-5 posts on Facebook, I thought a blog post would be easier.

Bennett was originally due on July 10, 2013. It became apparent that he was going to come early. We didn’t want to wait in Virginia for a call and potentially miss his birth, that’s why we left after church on June 30, 2013.

We arrived in Hot Springs, AR on July 1 @ 2:55pm (yes, that’s how vivid the memory is for me.) After we got the rundown on the situation, we setup an appointment the next day with our attorney. We needed to discuss how to proceed since the biological father was planning on contesting the adoption.

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July 2, we met with our attorney. He advised us to proceed like everything is fine. The biological father wasn’t listed on the putative father registry in Arkansas and therefore didn’t have any legal standing. While we were meeting with Nick, we got a call…Bennett’s birth mom had gone into labor.

We went to the hospital and waited for the big moment. We didn’t have to wait too long! At 1:52 pm on July 2, 2013 Bennett Lee Click was born! Below are the first two pictures we took him.

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Yeah, it’s was on our phones, but it was all we had.

Heather’s family was very excited!

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About 30 minutes later, we were able to go up to the room to meet Bennett and his biological parents. Unfortunately, Bennett’s birth mom didn’t want a picture taken of her – but she could have been related to Heather. She was very nice and outgoing. His biological father was cordial.

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It was an amazing afternoon. We spent about 20 minutes in the room with everyone. Then we had to leave. Bennett’s birth mom had decided she wanted 24 hours with him before we took custody.

As we left, they took Bennett to the nursery to get him warmed up. We stood there forever just watching him. Our son had finally arrived.

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We had to wait another 24 hours. Birth mom could change her mind still. Biological dad was going to contest the adoption. But we were still rejoicing – our miracle was ready.

Prove You’re Smart – Quit Reinventing the Wheel! #kidmin

caveman-wheel     In my twenty-six years of Children’s Ministry, I have learned something very important – I don’t have to figure everything out. A lot of the problems and challenges I face within ministry have been experienced before, by someone else! Learning from experience is good, but learning from someone else’s experience is better! All too often though, we as “the leader/guru” of children’s ministry at my local church, feel the need to come up with a new and amazing solution for a common every day problem. It’s like I wrote about a whole ago – we can create a Rube Goldberg machine for ministry. Imagine if for every car made in America, we assigned a rookie technician the job of creating something that would allow the car to move. What would they eventually come up with? A WHEEL! But how long would it take them? Fortunately, we don’t do that. And guess what? You don’t have to do that at your church either.

ScratchCover     There’s a new resource coming out that you can help bring to the marketplace. “Your Children’s Ministry From Scratch” is a tool for churches so they can avoid recreating the wheel with each problem they face. Like many great ideas, this project needs your support. Trisha Peach, the author, is an experienced children’s pastor. I’ve known her for many years, we both graduated from North Central University…a little while ago.

In her new book, the tools and resources provided will help a new Children’s ministry or an experienced Children’s ministry! Can you help her by providing funding to bring her new book to the local church? There’s only 37 hours left in the kickstarter campaign – so if you like to wait until the last-minute, we’re getting close! You can help out by clicking here and selecting a level of support. Thanks for being a part of this effort to help equip small and large churches to reach more kids for the Kingdom!!

Guest Post: Leading #SpecialNeeds Ministry

Amy Fenton Lee was gracious enough to give me a copy of her book Leading A Special Needs MinistryJoel Dortch, an assistant Children’s Pastor at my church, has a real heart for special needs and does regular book reviews on his blog. I figured he would do a much better job reviewing this great book than I would…so here’s a guest post:

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Just tell me HOW to do it. Then get out of my way!

I am a practical guy. I don’t get bogged down by the ethereal or the why? I am just filtering through everything keeping my eye open for the bottom line. What matters? As I begin to go through the process I will start to construct for myself why?

In college, I never had any desire to go to my theology classes or other thought-provoking classes like ethics. They all seemed useless. They weren’t practical enough for my liking. I wanted to take classes that taught me how to do something. How to public speak, how to write a sermon, how to minister to kids. These might not have been the easiest classes for me, because they made me get out of my comfort zone, but they gave me tools and directions to make something happen.

The book, Leading a Special Needs Ministry, by Amy Fenton Lee, taught me just that. How to make something happen. How to make a Special Needs Ministry a success. It’s not a book that tries to convince you to have a special needs ministry nor does it talk about how it is Biblical. It will answer the question: how? You will have to read a different book to learn how special needs ministry and inclusion is Biblical or why you should have one at your church. Well enough with the introduction. Let’s get to what I like to call the quick hitters.

Quick Hitters

In this section of the book review, I will point out some sections of the book that I especially liked and that I will try to use in my own life, character, and/or ministry.

1. The biggest item that I took from this book is the need for a screening process. On a few occasions I have had to ask the parents for advise on how to serve their kid that has special needs. Unfortunately, I usually ask this question because something happened that I did not know how to handle. If a screening process is in place then, I believe, the majority of these questions would already have answers to them.

The great thing about this book, Leading a Special Needs Ministry, is that the questions you should ask during your screening process are provided. It does not get much easier than this. Everything is conveniently provided for you by Amy Fenton Lee. If you really want to start a Special Needs Ministry this book is priceless.

It might be uncomfortable to sit down with the parents, but the amount of information that is gained from having a screens process with the parents. Amy Fenton Lee says that the reason to have a meeting with the guardian(s) before letting their child be a part of your ministry is: to convey your intention to accept the child into your ministry, invite an open and candid relationship between the church and the family, and it might reveal other needs that the family might need. Have a screening and intake interview process.

2. Another amazing part about this book is the numerous appendices that have been included in the back of the book. While some may argue that these aren’t part of the book, I would argue against that view. The amount of hours it would take to make these forms on your own is manifold. Also, these forms ask the questions that are most common and most useful. Many of us have no idea what questions to ask parents of special needs kids. It is like you are getting the answers to a test before you take it. You almost feel guilty for having all these forms and words without having done any of the work. Amy has graciously done it all for us. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel. Some of the forms and resources that she has included in this section are inclusion tips, buddy training material, mission statement examples, handbook examples, and a parent questionnaire. Use the appendices in the back of the book.

3. The last quick hitter that I would like to mention about the book, Leading a Special Needs Ministry, is the importance of writing a handbook and/or any other guiding documents. These documents might seem pointless and a trivial, but they are super important. The book gives some reasons as to why it’s important. First, it tells everyone what the special needs ministry will provide and what they won’t provide. It’s important to make this known at the beginning, because if you don’t tell people what you will and won’t provide, they will. Also, having these guiding documents will answer a lot of the questions and concerns that interested families might have. It will make your job easier in the long run. Take time to write out your guiding documents.

 Those are my quick hitters that I learned from this book:

  • Have a screening and intake interview process.
  • Use the appendices in the back of the book.
  • Take time to write out your guiding documents.

This book gave me a lot to think about if I want to have a successful special needs ministry. It might be easy to check off the list that we have buddies available to walk around and support your child with special needs, but to have a ministry to kids with special needs where buddies are trained is something entirely different. This book will help take your existing special needs ministry to a completely different level or will help lay the foundation for a brand new special needs ministry that God has birthed in your church.

Read the rest of the book for yourself. There is much more to learn and only a limited amount of time.