Brian's Blog

December 26, 2017

"Kindergarten Welcome Wagon" - Great Way To Welcome Preschoolers Into Elementary Ministry

We do a “Kindergarten Welcome Wagon” event the Friday BEFORE promotion weekend.  We invite all incoming Kindergarteners (we do K5 - 5th Grade in our services) and their parents to a big Pizza Party with bounce houses and fellowship.  ALL of our Ministry Directors (Department Heads) in Kids Ministry and all of the Kindergarten teachers (weekend and mid-week) are required to attend.  Once we’ve had a time of hanging out, we make a big announcement that we are going to have all the parents become kids for the night.  We run through the whole Weekend Service experience for the kids […]
November 6, 2017

The Undeniable Benefits Of Longevity In Ministry

Just a few days ago, October 31, 2017 - I celebrated the fact that 18 years ago my wife, Cherith, and I came to Arkansas to be the Kids Pastors at First NLR.  What a ride it has been!  We have been blessed to serve under two incredible pastors, Dr. Alton Garrison (the first 18 months) and Rod Loy (the past 16.5 years).  To serve on such an incredible team (many of whom have been along for MOST of the ride as well) is more of a blessing than I could describe. There's something to be said about longevity in ministry […]
October 4, 2017

Communicating So Kids WANT To Listen (FREE VIDEO LESSON )

I am super pumped to share this FREE video lesson with you!  How would you like to learn some of the great principles and practices used by some of the most dynamic and effective communicators? Well, now you can!  In this video, I share some of the best tips and practices that I have learned in my 25 years of Kids Ministry!  It's a FREE video lesson from my Online Video Course called: "ACCELERATE: Boosting Your Ministry Effectiveness."   Here's the FREE VIDEO LESSON: [vimeo id="234919493"] Want MORE helpful videos like this?  You can find them in my  Online Video Course […]
October 4, 2017

This Is Why Real Success Often Feels Like Ultimate Failure

If you’ve ever failed, then be of good cheer...you are just like Elijah! Think with me for a second back to 1 Kings 18. Elijah and King Ahab are atop Mount Carmel. The prophets of Baal are facing off against Elijah to decide once and for all whose god has ultimate power. The prophets of Baal make utter fools of themselves, spending nearly the entire day doing everything they can think of to get Baal to act in their favor. Of course, Baal isn’t real, so nothing happens. Elijah then steps up to take his turn. He has a truckload […]
June 12, 2017

Book Review: "Emily Lost Someone She Loved"

The death of a loved one.  The death of a pet.  These are some of the most difficult tragedies and losses that parents struggle to explain and help their children through. The questions abound… How much do I tell my kids? Do I tell them everything is fine when it isn’t? Do I allow them to be a part of family discussions? Do I let them go to the funeral? Should I let them look at the body in the casket? How do I handle their questions about death? These are all legitimate questions.  They are all not so easy […]
May 8, 2017

"Talk Now And Later" Video Small Group (Special Opportunity)

I am SO THRILLED to be able to share this news with you! Many of you know that last year, I wrote a book called Talk Now And Later: How To Lead Kids Through Life's Tough Topics. The book ended up reaching #1 on Amazon in the Christian Families category of New Releases. I have heard countless stories of how the content of the book has helped parents begin and continue many important life-changing conversations about life's toughest topics such as: God, Sex, Death & Tragedy, Divorce, Friendships, and more! Well, ever since the release of the book I have […]
January 13, 2017

Justin Graves Band Provides Fun Music For The Whole Family

I am so excited to introduce you to some friends of mine!  I met Justin, Michelle, and Gabi at a Kidmin Conference in Tennessee several years ago.  I was instantly drawn in by their infectious personalities, melodies, and love for the Lord! Several months ago, Justin showed me some of the music they had been working on.  He also let me know that his family was expanding their ministry and had made a HUGE move recently.  As we talked, I felt strongly that I should share with my "blog family" all about Justin Graves Band and how YOU can be […]
March 13, 2016

"Miracles From Heaven" - Movie Review

I was honored to be sent a "screener" version of the upcoming film, "Miracles From Heaven."   I was unfamiliar with the true story it is based on, so I was watching from a completely ignorant perspective. This movie was produced by the same folks that brought us "Heaven Is For Real."  It has many of the same elements that I totally appreciated about that movie: Excellent Acting -  Jennifer Garner, Queen Latifah, and the rest of the cast (especially the young actress, Kylie Rogers, who plays Anna Beam) nail this film.  They brought me nearly to tears multiple times (and […]
February 29, 2016

"Fresh Prince Of Time Change" (parody of "Fresh Prince of Bel Air")

So many of you watched our other “Time Change Sunday” Parody Video (“Time Change Funk”) and asked, “Do you have more?” Well, yes we do!  Here is a great parody of the TV theme song, “Fresh Prince Of Time Change” by Will Smith.  This one stars one of my best friends, Shelby.  You're gonna love this hilarious video that reminds everyone to Spring Forward on Time Change Sunday! Enjoy! https://vimeo.com/157222597
February 22, 2016

"Time Change Funk" (Parody of "Uptown Funk")

Every year, our church does a great job at poking fun of Time Change Sunday (the day that clocks Spring an hour forward and for some reason people freak out because they are losing an hour of sleep).  To keep people from forgetting and ultimately being late for church that day, we create crazy videos to remind everyone. The last few years, we have done parody songs and videos of the hottest pop songs of the day.  Well, this year is no different.  For your entertainment, here is a parody of “Uptown Funk” (Grammy award winner for Song of the Year […]
January 4, 2016

Jumpstart Your Bible Reading In 2016 (FREE WEBINAR)

Happy New Year! Lots of people make New Year's Resolutions (or goals...or plan-of-attack...or fresh start). Whatever you call it, for Christians at least, Bible reading is typically somewhere on the list. Is time in God's Word on your list? Do you have a plan? (Hint: You need one.) I want you to start well...so you can sustain a vibrant time with God all year long (ahem...and longer). That's why I'm hosting a brand-new, FREE webinar This Friday at noon (CST).  I will be interviewing one of the foremost experts in this area, Keith Ferrin.  Keith is an author of several books […]
December 28, 2015

Most Popular Posts Of 2015

It's hard to believe, but 2015 is almost over.  What a year it has been.  I am so honored that you choose to share some of your precious time with me as we journey together.  Each person who reads this blog is committed to reaching the next generation with the message of Jesus in the most powerful and effective way we can. I took some time to check out which of my posts were the most popular in 2015.  It was a banner year for this blog as we added thousands of new followers (and closing in on 30,000 total […]
November 9, 2015

4 Dangerously Negative Effects Of Divorce On Children (And What You Can Do About It)

As I’ve worked with children for over twenty years, I’ve repeatedly seen how news of their parents’ divorce shatters their world.  I wasn’t ready to deal with it as an adult (my parents divorced when I was 25), and I’m sure it’s even more difficult for a child to process this world-changing information.  Everything they know, everything they depend on for emotional stability, is lost in an instant.  They may have detected major issues in the parents’ relationship for years, or perhaps one parent was suddenly shocked to discover a history of infidelity for the other.  Whether the decision to […]
November 2, 2015

An Illustrated Advent: Engaging Activities for the Season

[guestpost]Today's post is a guest post by my friend, Adam Walker Cleaveland.  Adam is a pastor, artist and blogger. He lives in Chicago with his wife (also a pastor) and their almost–4-year old son, Caleb. You can find Adam online at awcillustrations.com or adamwc.com.[/guestpost] After working with children and youth for over twelves years in four different churches, I was beginning to feel called out of parish ministry and into something new - something different. Around that same time, I began to rediscover my childhood love of art, drawing and watercolors. It had been probably twenty years since I’d sat […]
October 19, 2015

One Of The Best Stewardship Decisions A Church Can Make

God has entrusted to each of us a certain amount of time, money, and talent.  What we do with these resources is called stewardship, which is the “wise investment of resources in order to reach the maximum amount of return.”  George Barna, the nation’s leading church demographer, found an astonishing fact while doing research on evangelism.  He wrote: “We discovered that the probability of someone embracing Jesus as his or her Savior was 32 percent for those between the ages of 5 and 12; 4 percent for those in the 13- to 18-age range; and 6 percent for people 19 […]
September 24, 2015

Can You Really Fall In Love With Reading The Bible?

I didn’t always enjoy reading the Bible.  I know – it’s really BAD for a pastor to admit this.  Just to clarify, it’s not that I disliked the Bible.  It’s just that I saw it as more of something I NEEDED to do rather than something I WANTED to do. We’ve all been there.  Our Western mindset causes us to make reading the Bible something to be achieved and knocked off the list.  We make a grand goal of “reading the Bible through in a year,” but barely get through the book of Numbers before we abandon that and skip […]
September 21, 2015

A Church That's Not Afraid To Talk About Racism In America

This past weekend, my church (First Assembly of God in North Little Rock, Arkansas) hosted a panel discussion on one of the hot button issues of our day: RACISM. What followed was an hour filled with open conversation, shocking statements, raw feelings, surprising confessions - ALL done with the most incredible grace, mercy, and love that only followers of Christ can do. If you think anyone chose to shy from the difficult facts, you couldn't be more wrong.  Sit down, watch, and prepare to be challenged and encouraged.  God is at work in HIS Church! Watch the entire video here: […]
September 3, 2015

3 Practical Keys That Will Transform Your Kids Church Experience

As Kids Ministry leaders, it’s our passion to help children become life-long followers of Jesus.  It’s about getting kids excited about the Word of God.  After being in kids ministry for over 23 years, I’ve also developed a passion to equip other teachers to present God’s word with excellence so that it leaves a lasting imprint on the minds and spirits of the children we minister to.  In order to do so, we need to work with a curriculum that holds keys to unlock doors of opportunity to create a transformational kids church experience. The big question is: What makes kids […]
September 1, 2015

How To Talk To Kids About Life's Toughest Topics

Children today are being bombarded by messages that are contrary to what the Bible teaches.  As I talk to parents and grandparents, they feel completely overwhelmed as they try to navigate the difficult waters of conversation with their kids about very difficult topics like: God & Spirituality SEX Self-Image Bullying Divorce Death & Tragedy Money Making Wise Choices Friendships Forgiveness That's why I am so excited about my brand new book, “Talk Now And Later: How To Lead Kids Through Life’s Tough Topics.”  You don’t have to GUESS how to communicate with your kids about these subjects.  I have taken my […]
August 31, 2015

Incredible Innovation In Kids Ministry Staging And Sets

Sharing space with Youth Ministry or a School?  Tired of the grind of having to spend hours setting up and tearing down your Kidmin set pieces?  My great friend, Steve Hogue, has patented an UNBELIEVABLE and life-changing idea just for YOU! It's called the "Inflate-A-Set", and it is incredible!  The idea was born out of Steve's own plight of having to share space with other ministries within the church and taking too much time to set up and tear down.  He began with children's church in the school's gymnasium, which is also the chapel room, which is also where youth […]
August 26, 2015

Make Ministry Simple, Not Easy

Today’s post is written by Jeffrey Kranz and sponsored by Disciplr, a new interactive curriculum platform for KidMin leaders. Check out their free ebook for Sunday school teachers! It’s a blessing and a curse to be a leader in this day and age, isn’t it? It’s a blessing because it seems like almost every area of life is getting easier. It’s a curse because you’re expected to make things exponentially easier for your volunteers, too! That makes sense, though. Almost everything is getting easier. I can’t remember the last time I had to ask for directions. (Thanks, Google!) I can […]
August 24, 2015

4 Reasons The Kids In Your Ministry Are Misbehaving

We've all been there.  It's Sunday Morning, and you are ready for an awesome day of ministry to the kids in your church.  But, things just didn't go according to plan.  Johnny wouldn't stop throwing paper airplanes, Suzi wouldn't stop talking to her neighbor, and the Jones kid decided to bring a laser pointer and virtually blind you while you were teaching.  It seemed like the entire class had obviously eaten a dozen powdered donuts for breakfast and were on a major sugar high. Now, when this happens you have a choice to make.  You can get angry, threaten to […]
August 15, 2015

Last Chance To Get Autographed Copy of "Talk Now And Later"

I am so excited about the upcoming release of my brand new book, "Talk Now And Later:  How To Lead Kids Through Life's Tough Topics" on September 1, 2015.  It's a book I wrote to help parents, grandparents, and anyone who is a spiritual influence in the life of a child to help them navigate the tough conversations about today's "taboo" subjects such as sex, bullying, money, divorce, self-image, and more. I have talked to a lot of people who have read Talk Now and Later.  Many of them expressed feeling encouraged and equipped to guide their child through tough […]
August 9, 2015

The Two Most Important Words A Parent Can Say

Words have power!  They can either lift up or they can tear down!  They can either raise our child's self-esteem or they can destroy it. There are a LOT of words we use as a parent.  Five words I find myself uttering often are, "Go Clean Your Room, Now!"  Three words my kids need to hear every day are, "I Love You!" But, did you know that there are TWO WORDS that, when strung together in a sentence, can create a powerful bond between parent and child?  In fact, these two words are SO powerful that those who refuse to […]
August 2, 2015

Every Conversation Is A Spiritual Conversation

In my twenty-three years as a kids’ pastor, I can’t tell you how many times a parent has walked up to me after church and asked, “My son was asking me questions about baptism last night.  Would you meet with him to explain what water baptism is all about?”  I’ve received countless emails that say something like, “My daughter asked me what it means to be saved.  I don’t want to confuse her, so can I set her up an appointment with you this week?  I’m sure you can explain it better than I can.”  Parents have asked me to […]
July 31, 2015

Brain Science & The Bible: Are They Enemies?

I will never forget sitting in the company of a preacher while I was in Bible College.  This preacher railed against Science and technology.  He viewed them as vehement enemies of the Kingdom of God.  He firmly believed that any sort of connection between Science and The Bible was a lie. Growing up in a Spirit-led church community, I often heard arguments against "those churches who plan and prepare their services."  It was believed that those who use their human minds to plan Church services were "not allowing God's Spirit to lead them."  The assumption, of course, was that God […]
July 26, 2015

Don't Miss The Cues (VIDEO)

Our kids WANT to talk.  Sometimes, the reason they don’t is because REAL conversation with Mom or Dad isn’t something that they do often.  But, it’s not always THEIR choice.   Too many parents don’t recognize the cues that their children give that are a clear declaration of, “I really want to talk.” Many times our kids want to talk about things that haven’t crossed our minds. Instead of always being focused on the task in front of us or what’s on the radio while we’re driving, parents need to look for the open doors of conversation that their kids are […]
July 17, 2015

Are You A PROactive Or REactive Parent?

Sadly, parents often wait until a CRISIS hits before they have conversations about TOUGH topics like Sex, Bullying, Self-image, Divorce, etc.  By then, it is often too late.  By the time they end up having the conversation, their child has already been filled with all kinds of misinformation from school, friends, and The Media.  These REACTIVE parents end up having to try to UNDO what’s already been done by society and the other voices that are speaking into their child’s life. Instead of relegating conversations about these tough subjects to a one-time ordeal that is uncomfortable for you AND your […]
July 15, 2015

MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT About My New Book

I have been working the last two years on my new book, "Talk Now And Later: How To Lead Kids Through Life's Tough Topics."  I firmly believe this book is going to be a GAME CHANGER for all Christian Parents! Children today are being bombarded by messages that are contrary to what the Bible teaches. Parents (and grandparents who are now parenting their grandkids) feel completely overwhelmed as they try to navigate the difficult waters of conversation with their kids about very difficult topics.  That’s why I wrote this book!  To help parents and grandparents lead kids through topics like […]
July 6, 2015

My Blog Turns 4 Years Old TODAY!

Well, it was four years ago TODAY that I launched "Brian's Blog."  It has been a wild ride, and I have loved every minute of it.  This blog has grown from ZERO to over 25,000 monthly readers.  I could never have imagined that.  It's by GOD'S grace that any of this has happened.  I am so honored to be a part of the lives of so many Kids Ministry Leaders and Parents who read my articles. Would you help me celebrate my four year birthday?  In return, I will give YOU a birthday present!  Can't beat that! When I launched this […]
June 29, 2015

A Children's Pastor's Response To The Supreme Court Ruling On Same-Sex Marriage

On Friday, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States determined that marriage between homosexual couples would be legally recognized in all fifty states. No doubt, our kids are hearing all about this topic both on the TV and, many times, on the playground.  It’s hard for any parent to control the context in which their child may have conversations regarding this important topic. Many Christian parents have struggled with the question, “How do I talk to my kids about this?” Likewise, many Children’s Pastors have struggled with the question, “What is my responsibility in this? Should I […]
June 25, 2015

"Selfies" Are Sinful! Here's Why...

OK, perhaps I am overstating it JUST a bit!  :-)  But, the "selfie" culture on Social Media is very telling. Much of the time (not ALL, so no hate mail OK?), these selfies are simply a means of saying, "Look at me!  I want attention!"  Everywhere you look on Social Media people are taking pictures of themselves doing the most mundane things in the most elaborate poses – as if the rest of us really want to see this.  "Check out my new shoes!"  "My hair is ON POINT today!"  "Look at these abs, baby!"  It's all about me, me, […]
June 22, 2015

The Two Most Powerful Words A Parent Can Say

Parents mess up.  ALL parents mess up.  Even deeply committed Christian parents mess up.  But, not all parents are willing to admit it.  Two of the most wonderful words children of all ages can hear from parents are, “I'm sorry."  These are also two of the most difficult words for parents to say. Too often, we wrongly believe that in order to have the "upper hand" as a parent, we must be seen as infallible.  We must never admit our mistakes for fear it will show weakness to our children, and they will try to exploit it.  Parents who believe […]
June 16, 2015

How Do You Handle Father's Day For The Kid Without A Dad?

As the father of two amazing kids, I love Father's Day.  Being a father is one of the greatest and most rewarding things that I have ever experienced.  I love taking pictures with my kids, getting gifts and cards, and celebrating the father/child bond on that third Sunday in June.  It's a special day for me and for countless others. In recent years, however, I have become increasingly aware that a large number of children in my Kids Ministry do NOT look forward to Father's Day.  For some, it is because they have lost their father to death.  I have several […]
June 1, 2015

T.H.I.N.K. Before You Post/Tweet

Rarely does a day go by when I don't open Social Media and see tweets and posts from Christians that I read and wonder, "Did they even take a nanosecond to think what those who see or read this will think?"  Posts like: “I’ve never met such a hateful & cold-hearted person in my life.” “You know how to put me in the worst mood possible.” “I’ve put up with this [stuff] for too long. I’m tired of it.” “The more you talk, the more convinced I become that pushing you down a set of stairs would solve a lot […]
May 26, 2015

1 BIG Reason Why Your Kids Won't Listen

"I am so sick and tired of my child not listening to me!  I try my hardest to share my wisdom with them in order to help them avoid pain in life, and they completely tune me out!"  Ever said those words?  If so, you are like MOST parents.  So many parents feel like they have more success talking to a brick wall than to their child (especially their teenager).  Part of the reason for that is the tendency for parents to "talk down" to their kids. One of the most important principles about talking with kids is to avoid being […]
May 21, 2015

Book Review: "How To Enjoy Reading Your Bible"

I didn't always enjoy reading the Bible.  I know - it's really BAD for a pastor to admit this.  Just to clarify, it's not that I disliked the Bible.  It's just that I saw it as more of something I NEEDED to do rather than something I WANTED to do. We've all been there.  Our Western mindset causes us to make reading the Bible something to be achieved and knocked off the list.  We make a grand goal of "reading the Bible through in a year," but barely get through the book of Numbers before we abandon that and skip […]
May 20, 2015

A Great Way To Get Your Kids Leading Adults In Worship

This past Sunday we had our annual “Kids In Worship” experience.  I thought it would be good to share the concept behind this for all of you.  It is an amazing opportunity for the whole family. “Kids In Worship” is an evening of worship, led by our Preschool and Elementary Kids Departments.  The children are in charge of the entire adult service in the Sanctuary.  It is an evening of worship, led by the kids.  The entire family comes together for a night of singing and worship. We rehearse for months prior to this night.  Rehearsals are on Sunday afternoons […]
May 1, 2015

Are You Teaching Your Kids A False Gospel?

I am at Awana's "Vantage Conference" and had the privilege of listening to a legend of Children's Ministry, Phil Vischer (creator of Veggie Tales and What's In The Bible?).  Phil told a story that gripped my heart. Ted Turner (media mogul and founder of CNN & TBS) is an outspoken critic of Christianity.  Most people know this.  In 1990, speaking before the American Humanist Association, Turner proclaimed that "Christianity is for losers"...and this isn't nearly the most provocative thing he has said about Christians.  Many know this about Turner, but not many know the story behind his anti-religous sentiment. Ted Turner dreamed […]
April 27, 2015

Parents Allow Four Year Old Girl To Become A Boy

Meet "Jacob."  Born as a beautiful baby girl named Mia, "Jacob" began expressing the desire to be a boy.  Mia didn't like dressing like a girl or being called a girl.  So, after a period of painful, thoughtful deliberation, Mia's parents decided to help her transition to a boy.  My heart breaks for the family, as I am certain this decision was very difficult for them.  You can watch a video of their entire story HERE. Transgender children are becoming more and more common.  I don't pretend to be an expert on the subject, but I do want to ask a few […]