How Jim Wideman Helped Me

My story, like so many others, is that I didn’t want to be a children’s pastor, I got drafted. I was young and dumb and the only problem was I didn’t know it. Like most young people, I believed I knew everything. Unlike most young people, it took me a while to grow out of it. I was stubborn and didn’t want to have to depend on anyone outside my small circle of influence.

I was a legend in my own mind, but my ministry was a giant mess. No one could tell me anything. My pastor tried to help me but I wouldn’t listen. My team stayed relatively small and I had to depend a lot on my wife and myself. I was stuck at a level and wasn’t even trying to do anything about it.

That all changed when Jim Wideman came into my life. I remember the first time I met Brother Jim. He was on a tour with his church doing regional training meetings. When they came to our area, I loaded up our team in the church van and drove the thirty minute trip. I met Brother Jim in the men’s bathroom right before a session he was teaching. I had heard him teach before and had some of his Puppet Trax so I knew who he was. I greeted him and wanted to shake his hand. He probably thought “Who is this weird guy trying to shake my hand in the bathroom?”

His session was great and it challenged me in many ways. It was towards the end of a year so I geared myself up for a new year with a renewed commitment to ministry growth. I even went on eBay and bought an used set of his Club lessons. I then bought everyone of his books and got a hold of any audio teaching I could. As I was reading the book Children’s Ministry Leadership: The You-Can-Do-It Guide, a quote jumped off the page:

There’s no success without a successor.

I had done nothing to ensure lasting success at my church. I didn’t get help for five reasons:

  1. I didn’t know how to ask for help.
  2. I thought I could do it better.
  3. I never thought I would leave that church.
  4. I didn’t trust other people do things.
  5. I wanted all the credit.

Since meeting Jim and joining his mentoring program, Infuse, I have changed those old bad habits. Everyone does better with a coach and I would encourage you to take a look at Jim’s program. Its well worth the investment and I say that as someone who paid the fees out of my own pocket for the first year. It was worth every hard earned penny! If you’re a kids pastor, youth pastor, family pastor or work in any of those areas, check it out today.

Book Review – #tweetableleadership @jimwideman

As usual this book by Jim Wideman is packed with wisdom. “Tweetable Leadership”  is a unique book filled with over 500 quotes from Brother Jim. Also included in the book are 7 chapters of wisdom. He tackles subjects from your family to your relationship with God. Each one is filled with the folksy common sense wisdom that Jim Wideman is famous for.

Other topics include time management, being an example, growing as a leader and growing as a ministry. I found myself circling quotes and examining my life for areas of improvement. I think just about anyone could pick up this book and learn something. You don’t even have to be in kidmin. In fact you can just flip it open and get a bit sized nugget of truth from the kidmin guru.

I made sure all my staff had a copy and we will be going through it together as a team.

Disclaimer: I received copies of this book in exchange for my truthful review.


Book Review – Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang

This book had me engaged and laughing the whole time. Jia shares his compelling stories of overcoming rejection in his life. Jia Jiang founded a blog to chronicle his rejection as well as a video series. He came to America with the hope of being the next Bill Gates. He found success in the corporate world but wanted something more from life.

He took as risk and quit his job to chase his dreams. That’s where he came face to face with rejection and where the story of the book really starts. He decide to start an experiment of 100 days of rejection and it is nothing short of genius.  He walks us through many of his days and the things he attempted. Many of them were designed to make him intentionally experience rejection.

A fun twist was that not everything wound up being rejected. His famous request was going into a donut shop and asking for a donut in the shape of the Olympic rings. Each chapter has a lesson that sums up the “moral of the story” so to say. Its obvious that the author did his homework and research. He talks about why we get rejected and how to take a “yes” and a “no”.

This is a great book chronicling Jia’s journey to becoming “rejection proof” but gives us a great example of how to live our own lives with boldness and overcoming fear. Pick up a copy and I’m sure you’ll be laughing and learning to live above rejection right away.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for my review.


Book Review – The Matheny Manifesto


I am a baseball fan. More so than just a baseball fan I am a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan. Some of my earliest memories are watching the Cardinals play. I remember watching them beat the Brewers in game seven to win the World Series. That being said, when Mike Matheny was named manager of the Cardinals after Tony La Russa retired, I scratched my head in confusion. I get it now.

Mike tells his story of taking over a little league team and the infamous letter he wrote and read to the parents of this team. It’s amazing to think that a man went from coaching little league-rs to coaching big league-rs in just a matter of years. Mike shares some of his personal story of succeeding in baseball as a tool to share wisdom about sports and life in general. His throwback and unconventional approach yielded the results he promised.

Mike shares some great advice for parents, coaches and kids developing in youth sports. He also gives 8 keys to success. Nothing in this book was new or mind-blowing to me. I did find the book to be down to earth and an easy read. Baseball fans should definitely enjoy the book. I found myself laughing at times and tearing up at others.

My personal favorite take away was Mike talking about how parents need to be silent and supportive in the stands while watching their children play sports.It made me think how we have it reversed in life. We are loud and vocal in the stand but silent at home when it comes to faith matters. The opposite should be true.

If you’re a parent, baseball fan, youth coach, or mentor I highly suggest this book.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for my review.

Candypalooza 2014 – the how and why


Last weekend we held a big weekend event at my church. I know around Halloween some churches debate having an alternative event. We decided to try fitting what we are doing into our weekend experience. It started with the premise of getting kids to invite their friends to church for a weekend service and then afterwards they would get what kids want this time of year, CANDY! The stated win of the event was to give kids an opportunity to invite their friends. The kids could also dress up as their favorite heroes to add a little fun.

We created invites for kids to personally invite their friends with. We designed our series (My Church is Sooooo Sweet) to look just like the event so that the series ended with a big bang event. We asked our church members for candy donations and they responded with abundance. We ordered some special prizes and bags for each kid. We setup manned candy stations in one of our hallways areas. After the kids attended service they got their bag as their parents checked them out. Then their parents took them to the stations to get their candy.

It was a very simple alternative event and a small majority couldn’t understand what we intended to do. I know in the past that some people object to just giving the kids candy because they feel like that is too much like Trick or Treating. For me that’s the point and to those people I say I’m a grace based candy giver not a law based one. This even was successful for us giving us about a 15% bump in kids attendance that weekend. We had so many visitors that our new check-in kiosk ran out of cards on the counter.

We did have a few minor challenges. Our kids area is already a major bottleneck so this created more crowds. Some people are turned off by that. Personally it excites me and we had smiling faces to diffuse any anxiety. Any big event is going to have crowds so that really isn’t something you can do away with. In between services also was a bit of a challenge. Our service ran a little over and people were coming and going at the same time. I just coached the teens manning the stations to give their ~5 pieces of candy quickly.

We also added in attendance number goals for each service and one of our three services hit their goal. Their reward was getting to see me slimed live on stage. The other two did get to see a pre-recorded sliming on video. This obviously was a huge hit with the kids.

So I know this isn’t original or very creative but it was a simple event that worked very well for us. Its really just a simplified version of Trunk or Treat with minimizing it down to what the kids want.. CANDY!

Any questions?
Ask in the comments and I’ll answer whilest I taketh my candy tax.

Book Review – Greater

“Greater” by Steven Furtick is a book about ultimately fulfilling God’s greater vision for your life. Pastor Steven parallels the life of Elisha throughout the book to compare how we in our life must push on for greater. Greater isn’t always what we think it is because we can’t see the whole picture the way God does.

I will say that if you need a “life pep talk” I think this is a great book for you. This is of course Steven Furtick’s style of preaching so it is to be expected. I love the transparency and vulnerability he shares throughout the book. His examples and stories are stellar. It makes me feel more confident in my struggles knowing that God uses us despite our shortcomings.

The book is based on the premise that we are all meant for more. Not more as in the if I do “x” God will pour our “X times 1000” on me way though. This encourages us to find the specific purpose and plan God has for each one of us. it isn’t about the things that we do but rather who God is and His plan for us. This may often fly in the face of conventional wisdom.

If you are going through a time where you aren’t sure what God’s vision for your life is or even struggling to accept His plan for you, this is a good read. If you fight with feeling insignificant or are confused by your God-given dream, be sure to check it out.

The book has discussion questions at the end that go with each chapter. It would make a very good book for small groups.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for my review.