Keeping Yourself Spiritually Challenged

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You’re a spiritual oasis to thirsty children and famished
volunteers. They open up their canteens, and you pour from your
spiritual wealth. But what happens when your well runs dry?

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You have to keep yourself spiritually challenged in this
demanding field of children’s ministry or your oasis will become a
mere mirage. To give you ideas for filling up spiritually,
CHILDREN’S MINISTRY Magazine asked five children’s ministers, “What
keeps you spiritually challenged?” Here’s what they said:

Liz VonSeggen, director of children’s ministry at a Denver
church. “Journaling-as I’m doing my reading, I try to write down
scriptures that really stand out to me…I also actually write
prayers and praises. Not a daily journal, but every couple or three
days. Then sometimes when I’m feeling particularly needy, I go back
and reread some of those entries, and that is very good for me
because it makes me go back and see where my thought life was.”

Liz frequently speaks at conferences about her puppet ministry.
But she also attends challenging services or conferences just to
revitalize herself. She says, “I go with my Bible and pen in hand,
try to hear what God is saying to me, and I become a listener.”
Bart Campolo, executive director of Kingdomworks in Philadelphia.
Bart keeps spiritually challenged through a literary fellowship
group. “We have a class once a week that I sort of lead. It’s not a
Bible study per se but a class where we read great books, great
Christian books, secular books, and sort of discuss their spiritual
ramifications and try to figure out what they’re saying and what
they’re about. The idea of having that kind of fellowship but
having it circle around great Christian literature has been really
helpful because it provides a different prism to get at our
lives.

“The other thing is that, and this is my personal crusade in
life, is the opposite of that: What destroys my spiritual life,
more than anything, is television. And simply removing the TV set
from my living room and deciding never to watch it has opened up
all sorts of spiritual avenues…Most people I know, no matter what
they do to enliven their spiritual lives, to keep themselves
spiritually motivated, if they don’t stop watching television, it
all gets kind of drowned in that morass.”

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Pat Verbal, Christian education consultant and former children’s
pastor in California. “I stay in a really good, active prayer group
with other people in ministry, and that helps me a lot. Because if
I’m feeling low or weak, that prayer group really keeps me
going.

“The other thing is that when you’re in an administrative level
of ministry, when you’re in a large church, you can lose one-on-one
contact with kids-not your own kids, other kids. So I keep a
children’s worship team. They apply at the office, and I choose two
or three from each upper-age group, so I have a dozen kids every
quarter. And for that quarter, those 12 kids are my group. I take
them to dinner. We go get ice cream. They help me plan. They tell
me what kids like: “We liked children’s church last week” or “No,
we didn’t.” They keep me in touch with what’s up.”

Jim Wideman, Christian education director at a Tulsa church.
“One of the main things I do is go to church. I delegate
responsibilities and have enough workers available so I can attend
church services.”

Jim keeps a balance in his spiritual life by treating his
“spiritual life like a checkbook-I make deposits before I write a
check.”

How does Jim make those deposits?

“I just schedule in my daytimer times with the Lord, just like I
make appointments with other folks. If anybody tries to make an
appointment during that time (with the Lord), I just tell them I
have an appointment.”

Bill Wilson, pastor in Brooklyn and author of Whose Child Is
This?
(Creation House). “After 25 years of full-time ministry,
one thing that I have learned, whether it’s in my own personal life
or working with staff, is the busier you get and the more it seems
you are actually accomplishing for God, the easier it is to
forget…your own personal walk with the Lord.”

Bill lists a couple of key factors for him to stay spiritually
challenged. “I don’t necessarily think it’s the type of material or
amount of it, or even if it’s done at the same time each day, but I
have tried to stay very keenly aware that on a disciplined basis
there must be a time for honest evaluation and reflection. The key
word here is honest…One of my philosophies of life is, ‘To be is
more important than to do.’ If we are what we say we are, and what
we know we need to be, the doing of our ministry will become a very
visual byproduct of what God is actually doing within us.

     

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