All posts for the month February, 2010

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With the economy in the shape that it’s in, no doubt, many churches are feeling the squeeze. I am in no way in doubt of what God can and will do.  He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  Besides, His economy is different than ours.  In other words: God doesn’t really have an issue with money… but, He knew that WE WOULD.  That’s why the scripture talks so much about money and finances – the dangers, the benefits and our responsibility.

Let me state that I will continue to put my trust in Him that He will meet all of my needs – even my financial needs in ministry.  As a matter of fact: I believe that God is in the business of prospering His people with the very things they need.

However, this should not be license for me to throw money, with little, to no caution, at every problem that arises. Nor do I have the right to continue to make frivolous purchases without considering their impact on my budgets and ministries.  God still calls me to be a steward of what has been handed to me.

This really is the key to God supplying my every need and giving me an abundance of what I need: Stewardship.

Something significant that I am currently sharing with my staff is the real “defined” value of each purchase.  I talk about it in this way:

Let’s assume – for the time being – that we are serving in a church, where those who give, are giving a true tithe (don’t argue with me on the tithe – you don’t have a fighting chance!).  If this is the case and you are given a monthly budget of $1,000 for a particular ministry or program – that $1,000 really has a value of $10,000. Get the picture?  That $1,000 represents 1 third to 1 fifth of someone’s yearly income. OR… looking at it in a monthly perspective, 3-4 people had to work a full-time job all month just so we would have this money available to us.

What are the lessons here?  Not in any particular order:

First: Get the stuff you need – I mean, you have to operate somehow

We have to assume that church-goers understand that basic supplies are needed and simple bills must be paid in order to maintain a church.  If you need a supply and it maintains your ministry, there really should be no question about it.  Just find the best deal and roll like that.

Second: Plan ahead and look in every nook and cranny

Perhaps God has already met your needs in ministry and now it’s up to you to search for it.  Seek and you will find, means that you look until you get the answer. Don’t throw money at a problem where pre-planning, creativity, team brainstorming, empowering volunteers and looking at the resources you already have could help fix it.  Make a resource list of what is currently on hand and make it available so your ministry team knows what’s available. Be a good steward of what you have now and God can add to it.

Third: Do what you can until the finances come in… this is a form or stewardship!

God knows what He want’s to do in your ministry and He’s not bound by finances.  Dream big and let God show you how you’re gonna finance it.  Plan, calculate, talk it up and do what you can and He will meet you there.

Fourth: Spend it on paper first

This is the basic rule of thumb for any budget.  Dream, dream, dream and then write, write, write.  Show yourself, your spouse, your pastor, the board, and the Holy Spirit that you have a good plan for the finances that you will be entrusted with.

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My wife is pretty much a “rock-star kinda chick”!  She came through this surgery amazingly and endured 10 days in a hospital room beautifully. While she was trudging through the pain and the monotonous, drag-on days in the hospital – my Mother came out for a few days to help around the house and with the kids.  Thanks Mom!

Currently, with the help of Jennifer’s Parents and her Grandma, this first week out of the hospital has gone very well.  My wife is still in pain from the surgery and has to be on some pretty potent pain-meds.  Her parents and Grandma being here is a huge blessing as well – thanks Schumacher clan!

The good news is:

She’s at home.  Being home does wonders for a person’s soul. I sincerely believe you heal faster when you are where you belong and are surrounded by love.

Still no signs of the Crohn’s disease – God can and will still do the unexplained – ‘nuff said there

She can eat what she wants with no restrictions unless she feels like it’s affecting her.  So, no special diet or weird supplements.

We got to see a church full of love as they responded with love by: praying, watching our kids, preparing meals and visiting.  Thanks to the Radiant Church family.

We got to see a community of friends from all over the world respond with love – I love social networking!  Thanks everyone!

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WARNING – graphic content

I sit writing this blog post in in a unique predicament – and yet, it’s not so unique in the grand scheme in this world in which we live.  My wife has undergone some major surgery… I won’t go into all of the gory details (at lease not yet) but I will say that she’s gotta a huge scar that runs the length of her mid/lower abdomen, and part of her guts were removed – and the rest re-arranged with titanium staples and stitches – it’s like internal interior decorating in a human body: “We wanted to create a calm flowing feeling from the upper bowel to the lower bowel. So, we added a splash of color on this wall.  Perhaps a potted palm over there and a snappy drape on that end table…”

This post isn’t really to illustrate my unique view surgery, but the fact that God can do amazing things when we think, (you ready for this?) when we think He was kidding or forgot about us. God is faithful!  Let me expand this thought:

You must realize that Jennifer has dealt with Crohn’s disease since she was a teen and was actually diagnosed with it when we were first married.  She has been hospitalized 6 times in the last 14 years because of it.

Back at the end of November, Jennifer was told that no sign of Crohn’s disease was present – which we celebrated, along with many people God’s healing power.  Then, 2 days later a severe flare-up sent us into the ER at the end of church on a Wednesday night.  The Doctor’s diagnosis was that this was obviously related to Crohn’s disease.  They got the pain under control and used steroids to bring the stricture down.  After a few days in the hospital we went home discouraged because we were sure that God had done a miracle a week earlier.

Stuff was good since the beginning of December.  Jen never really had any severe pain. And we enjoyed our Christmas.  Then again, last week on a Wednesday night, we were on our way to the ER again – Jennifer having sever abdominal pain.  We waited out the night as the Doctor’s tried the same strategy as before… It didn’t work.  So a Surgeon met with us to tell us that according to the CT, and the current strategy – things aren’t getting any better.  She needed surgery.

So, they went in and did the surgery and removed over a foot of dilated intestine.  Then the surgeon took off on a flight and we didn’t see him again until this morning.  As I was dropping the kids off at the school, the surgeon, who was back in town, met with Jennifer to tell her some interesting news… news that we had no idea about.  As he performed the surgery, he decided to examine the entire digestive system.  Let me be more blunt:  He took as much of her digestive system as he could and pulled it out of her abdomen. He then laid it beside her on the table and began to examine it inch-by-inch – looking for any signs of Crohn’s disease.  Guess what?  He couldn’t find any!  Please understand that if a person has Crohn’s disease, a surgeon can find signs of it through-out the digestive system.  He proceeded to remove the section of intestine that was dilated but concluded that: the dilation was not due to Crohn’s disease and this surgery should be the finishing touch.

Pretty cool, huh?

Let me wrap this up.  We forget that God is faithful… But isn’t that the point?  God is faithful because He knew we would forget it.

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Performance Skills 102

Specific training to increase your on-stage professionalism

Catchy Title huh?

For some it could be intriguing and they are instantly hooked in, but for the most part I would predict that the title is confusing as the topic of on-stage professionalism is not usually talked about in the world of Children’s Ministry. In our preaching we focus a lot on content, our MC-ing being energetic and making our kids scream, and our performances either being funny or very heavy with the topic we want to teach on. It is not often you will get someone stand up and say “let’s get more professional”.

Now we are not talking about sub-contracting writers, hiring actors and a catering truck. Instead we are talking about working with what you have and taking what you do in your ministry, and sharpening your skills to make it more professional.

Today we are going to talk about something that affects the communicator – the preacher, the MC and the performer (especially on film). There is a phenomenon out there that can plague these people’s performances and most of the time they have no idea it is there. This is not something that makes the difference between a good or bad performance but it is the difference between a great and professional one. This phenomenon I have taken the liberty to call “The Glorified Um”.

When we were children and trying to communicate, a lot of the time we didn’t know what to say. So as we were talking there would be a lot of pauses and because we didn’t want to lose the attention of our audience we filled that pause with an “Um”.

“Mum… um…. can I ….. um…… can I….. um…… because i’m hungry…….. um…………… can I …… um…………have… um…a um…cookie……. um?”

As a child we believe that pauses are not good so we foolishly fill the spaces with that wonderful word “Um”. The word “Um” communicates that we are unsure of what to say next and/or we are not confident in what we just said. This habit is tolerated as a young child but as we grow it is often corrected by parents and teachers because they know that you will disadvantaged in areas of life, especially when it come to job interviews.

“Um…..I ….think… that …I….um….. I…..would ….um….be very good as um……….ummmmm…..a…um… salesman…um”.

Fast-forward to now and you are in Children’s Ministry and you are happy to report that your days of umming are now behind you. Or are they? Over my years of performing and being in ministry I have realised that the ‘um’ is not behind us but in fact it has evolved and it plagues our preaching, performing and MC-ing. The Glorified Um is in full force.

So what is the Glorified um?

The Glorified Um is a word or a phrase that you the presenter (the word presenter covers all aspects of preaching, performing and MC-ing) will use over and over again whilst presenting. This usually will not be in your script or notes but will come out when you are adlibbing or slightly deviating from what was rehearsed. This phrase or word will not just be in the presentation but stem out from the performers life and be heard in their everyday conversations. For example I once worked for a youth pastor who used to say at the end of many sentences “do you know what I mean?”

This is a classic example of The Glorified Um. Like an um it communicates that he does not know quite what to say next, he is not confident in what he just said and he is cheapening what he is saying by filling his presentation with a habitual saying. I can guarantee on his notes he did not write that phrase once, yet he said it over 10 times.

Now that must not be confused with The Confirming Phrase that is a specific phrase designed to give the audience a chance to confirm what they just heard. An extremely experienced preacher I know always says “Are you getting this?” The difference is that the second presenter deliberately chose to say this, whereas  with the first it just came out without thinking. You can also tell because the first also slightly slurred the phrase and didn’t deliberately pronounce each word.

The Glorified Um is not just phrases at the end, it can be words at the start. Phrases such as: ‘It’s like’ or the word “but” are common examples of this. This can also be found in duel presenters when they start their sentence by acknowledging the other person with the same “it’s true” or “that’s right”. Finally it can even make our way into our writing and you can have a whole play or video with the whole cast using the same Glorified Ums as you do and you won’t even notice.

So what do we do to fix it? The cure is very simple but involves a lot of work and some help.

1. Recognise that a Glorified Um is a problem that is not a part of a professional presentation. I said before you can still be a great presenter with one but you will not reach that level of professionalism with it.

2. Find out if you have a Glorified Um. Look out for it, listen and watch old presentations you have done and look at the people you are leading because if you have it most likely they will have the same one. The best way is to ask a close and truthful friend to find out.

3. Fix your general conversation. A glorified Um is your normal speech creeping into your presentation. Get those close friends to pull you up on it constantly until you realise how often you are using it. This is where it gets frustrating but the effort is worth it.

If you have a platform to present to children on behalf of God then you have a privileged opportunity and I believe you are expected to work on your talents to increase them. If you do the hard yards you will put yourself a cut above and I look forward to seeing where it takes you.

Have Fun


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