Nurturing Creative Genius: 5 More Steps

Nurturing Creative Genius: 5 More Steps

~Joel’s Blog

Creative Genius Revisited

In a blog I published two years ago this month, I wrote about the high calling we have as parents for nurturing our children’s creativity. As created beings, made in the likeness of the Creator, all of us feel an urge to create. How could we not?  Genesis 1:27 declares that we are made in God’s image. Ephesians 5:1 calls on us to be “imitators of God.”

So why don’t more of us engage in being creative? (more…)

Youth Ministry Committee – 3 Keys To A Strong Team

Youth Ministry Committee – 3 Keys To A Strong Team

Youth Ministry Committee

amanda tipton via Compfight

 Youth Ministry Committee –

3 Keys to a Strong Team

Youth Ministry Committee? What is that?  Recently, I’ve discovered that not every denomination  uses the word “committee” in their vocabulary.  In fact they don’t even use anything that resembles a committees period!

If you do not have a Youth Ministry Committee working by your side you need to form one – NOW! The Youth Ministry Committee is an important spoke in your wheel of Youth Ministry.  They are a group of adults who work as a team alongside the Youth Minister.  Together they plan and minister to kids through a variety of events and activities.  It is by working together they can combine their strengths and make the greatest impact in kids lives!  These adults need to be people who love God and love kids!!

The 3 Essential P’s needed for a strong Youth Ministry Committee:

The Youth Ministry Committee must do three things in order for everyone to thrive:  pray, plan, and play. As the leader of the team you need to help the group to understand that ultimately their goal is to minister to kids, their friends, and new visiting kids by building relationships with them.  With these three things in the forefront of their mind, the Youth Ministry Committee will maximize their influence in the kids lives.

  1. Prayer – Prayer needs to be number one focus for the Youth Ministry Committee!  Praying for the kids daily lives and spiritual growth, for opportunities for them to connect with individuals, patience when required, and for direction as we interact with the youth.
  2. Planning – Planning out events together gives the team a chance to take ownership. Having said that, it is important to remember that they are still looking to you to lead them. For example, a meeting is most efficient and effective if you have already done some preliminary brainstorming, investigating and laying out some rough drafts of plans to present to the committee.  Starting from scratch with the committee would overwhelm them and really bog down the process.  Present your ideas with an open mind set.  This allows room for input and different twists on the same event. Also, planning out a year in advance is important.  This allows you a chance to reserve camp sites, or fundraise for a big summer trip.  It also gives you and your team the time needed to be creative and add their own fun twists to an event. (Give brand new ideas extra time to catch fire and inspire your team. Allow the group time to mull on the new idea so they can wrap their heads around it.  Sometimes, you need to put it on a shelf and present it again later.  It’s possible it will be accepted in the future when they are more equipped for the experience.)
  3. Playing – Playing together helps the team get to know each other and bring joy to the play they will experience with kids.  Play is the key to getting inside the boundaries kids have built up around themselves to stay “safe”.  If they see you are willing to care about them, in spite of their walls, you may be able to play your way into their trust.  If so, then introducing them to personal relationship with Jesus becomes a real possibility!

What are some tips you might add to having a strong Youth Ministry committee (team)?

Please add to the conversation. We’ll be glad you did. Be kind and share this with someone who could use these tools.

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Nurturing Creative Genius: 5 Simple Steps

Nurturing Creative Genius: 5 Simple Steps

Nurturing Creative Genius

Genius Leads Success

For decades, the economy has been shifting away from manufacturing and industry. Now, knowledge drives economic growth. The most successful entrepreneurs in recent years are known for their creative genius. Consider Steve Jobs, of Apple. Bill Gates, of Microsoft. Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook. Warren Buffett, uber-investor of Berkshire-Hathaway. Elon Musk, of Space X and Tesla. Richard Branson, of Virgin. Even JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter “empire.” Many more names come to mind.

Schools have their hands full already. Bringing the kinds of learning necessary for students to thrive, creatively, in this knowledge-based economy? That’s a challenge in times of lean budgets. In fact, too often, “creative” programs are considered fluffy. When push comes to shove, funding is cut.

In stark contrast, many successful people became successful because of their creativity, not inspite of it. Their success came from…what they didn’t know. Their creative impulse drove them to try something. Something new. Something different. Something never done before.

Genius, Interviewed

Recently, my daughter and I were interviewed on our local NBC affiliate, on this subject. We had a delightful time. Over the past 3 years we observed something. Jessica grew more interested in writing fiction, as she has observed me writing fiction. Accidentally, we then tripped into the next 4 steps in nurturing her creative genius. Soon, she’ll have her inaugural fantasy novel published! This exciting event in her life prompted the interview. Feel free to watch, if you’d like. It’s just 3.5 minutes long. [Note: click on the little CC button in the lower right of the screen if you don’t need closed-captioning]

5 Steps to Nurture Creative Genius

As supportive adults in the lives of kids—youth ministers, volunteers, clergy, counselors, parents & grandparents—we can impact how deeply and how far kids engage their creativity. Big challenges face the world young people will inherit. Nurturing a habit of creativity will enhance not just the lives of those creatives but those they influence.

These steps might seem simple or obvious. But consider what impact greater intentionality would bring.

  1. Observe:

    Notice the things that interest the kids you influence. It could be reading, writing, drama, music, poetry, design, building things. Just make mental notes of what gets them excited and engaged. These interests might fall under the simpler heading, “Hobbies.” But not all hobbies have the element of creation around them.

  2. Search:

    Find avenues for them to pursue their interest. Is there an inexpensive way to try it out? A a club to join? Not all creative interests will stick, so you won’t want to go all-in right away supporting Junior’s creative jag. Remain observant, because the newer creative interest may build of the earlier one. That may indicate a creative trend.

  3. Encourage:

    Provide simple ways for your kids to try out new things. And more new things. The idea is to nurture a spirit of creative exploration.

  4. Nudge:

    Sometimes kids get distracted by the newest “shiny object” so a little guidance back to the core interest might help. In a world full of iThis and iThat and millions of apps to amuse and distract, your work is cut out for you. If all else fails, maybe their creative energy can be aimed at developing a new app!

  5. Celebrate!

    Always take time to celebrate and recognize kid’s achievements along the way. This should be a fun process, not an end goal. Have fun nurturing creative genius. And make sure the genius has fun, too!

What do you think? Is creativity essential? Or over-rated? Do you think the economy has really changed? Or not so much? Make your case.

Engage here. Lob your comments into the discussion panel below. Curious about the books Joel has written? Click here for the books in our store.

photo credit: Capture Queen ™ via photopin cc

Balaam’s Ass: Don’t Sign Me Up (Part 2)

Balaam’s Ass: Don’t Sign Me Up (Part 2)

Donkey 2“Dumb Ass. I’m Talking To You!”

Last time we looked at Balaam, a guy quite full of himself–confident, powerful, internationally famous, a big wheel [see Numbers 22].

In his sphere of influence, Balaam was “The Man.” People didn’t just come to see him from miles around, but from countries around. For his guidance and wisdom, he was a power broker in the realm of kings and rulers.

He was also arrogant, no doubt because he was so highly respected and sought after.

So when God wanted to convey His wish to Balaam, the man couldn’t get the message. Not until God empowered Balaam’s abused donkey to literally speak and confront his master.

There’s a lot we can learn from Balaam. In every sermon, speech or presentation that I’ve heard him invoked, the general gist is: Don’t be like Balaam! OK, fair enough.

Beware The Working End

But what about the ass, the real ass of the story, Balaam’s donkey? Him we don’t hear preached about, as if there are no lessons to be learned from him. Yet, how often do you, O, Youth Minister, feel as if you’re the donkey? Regrettably, I can count way more churches where the “senior” pastor(s) behaved more like Balaam than they’d ever admit. Leaving the more “junior” Youth Minister to fill in the role of Balaam’s ass.

There’s got to be a better way, but it takes humility and openness on the part of the usually older “senior” minister to hear God’s truth. Of course, if you–the junior member of the team–are called on by God to convey a critical (both in sense of timing and tone) message, then it takes courage and purposefulness. Perhaps even some well-placed umbrage, because you are certainly going to get whacked a few times in the process, just as Balaam’s ass was. Even then, there’s no guarantee that God’s message, whatever it be, will be received. But if you don’t blurt out what needs to be said, then you’ll just look for another church to move to. Or abandon ministry altogether. You must step up and into this.

Don’t sign up for it. But be prepared for it when it comes. It will come.

So, when it does…bray. Bray loud. Like an ass.

Engage here. Too strong? Offensive idea? Or something you can relate to? Is there someone in your life whose very faith was shattered by the need to play the donkey?


photo credit: maestropastelero via photopin cc

Balaam’s Ass: Don’t Sign Me Up (Part 1)

Balaam’s Ass: Don’t Sign Me Up (Part 1)

DonkeySmart Ass: Be Careful What You Wish For

It is not uncommon in the community of faith to find those who wish for “signs and wonders,”  by which they may more clearly know the will of God in their lives. Indeed, if you have been a Christian very long, it is very likely you’ve wished–even pleaded–for this. Consider:

  • What career should I pursue, Lord?
  • Are you calling me to ministry?
  • Is this the person you want me to marry?
  • Should we really move all the way across the country for that job?
  • Are we really going to lose the house?
  • Won’t you intervene, God, in this health crisis?
  • Will my child ever turn back to you?
  • Why is this happening to me?

People that are very dear to me strongly believe that God answers them, quite directly, when they inquire of Him in this way. Who am I to say that He does not?

Yet great theologians, like Jonathan Edwards, caution against such thinking:

“And yet some people actually imagine that the revelation in God’s Word is not enough to meet our needs. They think that God from time to time carries on an actual conversation with them, chatting with them, satisfying their doubts, testifying to His love for them, promising them support and blessings. As a result, their emotions soar; they are full of bubbling joy that is mixed with self-confidence and a high opinion of themselves. The foundation for these feelings, however, does not lie within the Bible itself, but instead rests on the sudden creations of their imaginations. These people are clearly deluded. God’s Word is for all of us and each of us; He does not need to give particular messages to particular people.” 
― Jonathan Edwards

Here’s the rub. Can God deliver a custom message to someone? Yep! But if we’re the someone, do we really want to receive it? Maybe not so much. Consider the moronic and very pagan prophet, Balaam, who in Numbers 22 is met 3 times by God trying to tell him something. Balaam can’t figure out it’s the Almighty communicating. We learn that Balaam’s ass is smarter that his owner. The donkey is finally empowered to yell at his abusive boss.

Good thing we’re never as headstrong as Balaam, isn’t it?

Or are we?

Edwards questions those “particular messages” from God that promise support and blessings. But what if the Divine Message is of a less-uplifting kind? What if God is speaking to us in the events of our lives, even the negative ones?

Are we listening?

Engage here. What do you think? Anyone in your life that needs to confront their Balaam?

photo credit: Mário Tomé via photopin cc

A Life of Deep Gladness: 7 Questions

A Life of Deep Gladness: 7 Questions


Frederick Beuchner, a brilliant author (and Presbyterian pastor) states:

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.


  1. How aligned are those two key elements in your ministry…in your life?
  2. If there is any uncertainty in their alignment, what is the source or cause of their linkage?
  3. How important is it to you to experience “deep gladness”?
  4. Are you motivated to meet “the world’s deep hunger” with your life’s calling?
  5. Assuming for a moment that your calling (work, ministry, job) isn’t pulsing with “deep gladness,” how impactfully can you meet the world’s “deep hunger?”
  6. Gently now…if you’re not now, this very day, vitally engaged in sharing that from which your “deep gladness” bubbles, for what do you delay changing your situation?
  7. What steps can you take, now, today, that will realign your deep gladness with what the world so desperately needs from you?

Engage here. What is your place of “deep gladness?” How does it meet “the world’s deep hunger?” Who do you know that needs to consider these questions right now?

Delighted photo credit goes to this wonderful artist: Monica Blatton via photopin cc

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