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Archive - November, 2009

Don’t Just Nod Your Head and Smile

(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by Eleaf)

A few months ago, Seth Godin had this post on his blog:

“If you’re in a meeting with smart people and they start discussing a term or concept you don’t understand, what do you do?

Do you know what recombinant DNA is? Analytics? Chapter 7? Fair use? RSS? The Long Tail?

If smart people in your industry are talking about an issue you don’t know cold, it’s very important that you don’t just sit there and nod your head sagely. I think there are two constructive paths. The first is to ask. “Wait, I was with you until a second ago. What does that mean?” You’ll be amazed at how smart and engaging this makes you seem if you say it at the right time.

The second approach is to write it down and not go to bed that night until you know the topic better than the person who brought it up. How else, precisely, are you going to become one of the smart people?”

The tendency for many of us when we hear a term or concept we don’t understand is to simply nod our heads as if we know what is being said, to not say anything at all, or to zone out. We don’t want to be perceived as stupid or we are frustrated that we don’t know what’s being talked about. If we follow through with advice like that of Seth Godin, though, we show that we want to learn, and learners aren’t stupid.

It’s not easy to ask questions when you don’t understand what’s being said. It’s scary at first. I quickly learned to do it, though, in university because I had one professor who would point-blank ask you if you understood what he was saying and have you tell him back in your own words what he was talking about if you never engaged and asked questions. Boy was it embarrassing to be caught nodding your head as if you understood what was being said and then put on the spot revealing you were clueless. If I stopped, though, and asked questions of this professor when I didn’t understand what he was saying, he was more than happy to explain.

Over the years, I’ve found this to be very helpful, and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve been able to learn from many different disciplines and learn many things I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

As leaders, we need to keep learning. We don’t have to know everything, and we shouldn’t pretend that we do.


Thinking About Black Friday

(video taken from Buckhead Church blog HT: CatalystLeader)

Living in Canada now, I miss out on all the Black Friday craziness that ensues the day after Thanksgiving (um, that’s American Thanksgiving and not Canadian Thanksgiving, which for some odd reason happens the first Monday in October… but, hey! I get two excuses a year to eat turkey and pumpkin pie!). I remember getting up really early on Black Friday morning and joining the throngs of people to grab the best deals on stuff. Actually, I really didn’t care too much about the deals–I had more fun watching all the crazy people buying tons of stuff that wasn’t even on sale and running through stores to beat people to the cashier lines. Over the past few years, though, there’s been a greater awareness at the silliness of it all–the mass buying of stuff that we don’t need just because it’s on sale.

This year, why not consider doing something different. Now, I’m not saying you can’t go out on Black Friday. What I am saying is not to get caught up in the buy, buy, buy, get, get, get, more, more, more mentality that possesses people on this crazy-weird day. A friend of mine, Charles Lee, offers some great advice when it comes to Black Friday. Hop on over to his blog and read his post. Here are some highlights from it:

  • Plan Ahead and Minimize Compulsive Shopping
  • Consider Who You Are Buying From
  • Consider Alternatives for Good

At my church, we are adapting curriculum from the Advent Conspiracy to help the children here put more thought into what they give for Christmas and why they give and what they are celebrating. We are encouraging families to spend less by making gifts or coming up with creative gifts that can be given. We are also giving families the chance to take the extra money they aren’t spending and peruse World Vision Gift Catalogue and purchase something that will go to help communities in underprivileged areas of the world.

There are lots of ways to make the upcoming Christmas season more meaningful. I encourage you to find those and follow through with them.

Are you doing something to help families and children make Christmas more meaningful this year? What is it? Share your ideas with the readers of Elemental Children’s Ministry!

Take a look at this video from Advent Conspiracy (BTW, Advent starts this weekend!):


Beware of Twitter Spam!

I received a direct message from a friend on Twitter with a link to the above page. All the message said was, “Hey, is this you?” When I clicked on the link, thinking my friend was asking a legitimate question or had a funny pic to show me, I was prompted to enter my Twitter login info on a site that looks a lot like the Twitter login site… that is except for the URL!

Recently, there have been a number of Twitter accounts that have been hacked and messages have been sent out via those accounts to people on their follow lists. There is a quick resolution to this: if you find that your account has been hacked, change your password. If you are worried about getting your account hacked, simply be aware of where you enter your login information. Be sure the source that is asking for your info is a trusted source, and be sure that if you do end up on a page that looks like the Twitter login page that the URL is http://twitter.com.

I thought I’d blog about it because of the number of DMs I’ve been getting from friends’ accounts that have been hacked.


Book Reviews: God is with Me through the Night and God Is with Me through the Day by Julie Cantrell

There are two new books put out by ZonderKidz by Julie Cantrell entitled “God is with Me through the Night” and “God is with Me through the Day.” I can’t tell you what a breath of fresh air it was to flip through the pages of these books and see that the pictures, style and text all fit well together. Each page has a large picture of a baby animal with a simple sentence. Each book highlights fears young children might have of the dark or during the day when separated from mom or dad because of school or day care. They then reassure children that God is always there and that mom and dad will always return.

These books would be perfect for very young children up through 5 or 6 years old. The pictures are cute and captivating, and the words are very simple. These books could very well be used to help early readers practice their reading skills, too. Kudos to Julie for sharing these books that were initially meant for her children. Kudos to ZonderKidz for recognizing great material for kids’ picture books. I highly recommend these books. You can order them through your local bookstore or online at retailers like Amazon.

Thanks to ZonderKidz, I have a set of these two books to give away to a lucky reader of Elemental Children’s Ministry. Leave a comment below about a fear you had as a child, and I will randomly choose one commenter to get the books. Comments will be open until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, November 23.

Also, be sure to check out Julie Cantrell’s blog at http://juliecantrell.wordpress.com for a variety of activities that you can do with the children in your family or classroom.


When It Comes to Church Online, What About the Kids?

Take a look at this video blog from Dana Byers over at LifeChurch.tv about how they include their children when it comes to attending church online.

What are your thoughts about church online and how to include kids?


You Are Not Alone

(image taken from Indexed)

I thought the above picture was interesting. In children’s ministry we can get lonely and isolated really fast. I’m sure that’s true with life in general. The thing is, though, that we forget there is a large crowd of people who do care that we don’t know and sometimes are unaware about.

That’s where social networks come in handy! Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. are great places to find new people who are in the same boat as you are and who care. If you are feeling lonely and isolated, I encourage you to check out some children’s ministry blogs. There are a few of them in my links section you can check out. I also encourage you to get a Twitter account and follow the #kidmin hashtag if you don’t already. (If what I just wrote sounds like jibberish, check out my quick post about Twitter here.)

There are some new social tools like Google Wave that are showing up where you can even collaborate with likeminded people and receive encouragement and not feel so lonely.

You are not alone! Sometimes it takes work, though, to discover that.


ScribbleLive Win

Yesterday, I wrote a blog post about some trouble I had with ScribbleLive. I soon received an @reply Tweet from Scribble Live saying the above. Now, there is a company that knows how to capitalize on social media! Kudos to ScribbleLive.

It’s experiences like this that remind me that all this technology needs to facilitate a personal experience. It’s so easy for technology to get in the way of that.


ScribbleLive Fail

If you subscribe to the RSS feed for Elemental Children’s Ministry, you recently received a lot of blog posts in your newsreader from Elemental. This was due to a glitch in ScribbleLive.com. I use it for liveblogging while I am at conferences. I’ve never really had a problem with it before, but for some reason today it decided to post multiple instances of an event. I apologize for the large number of empty or repetitive posts. Hopefully, in the future, this won’t happen again. If it does, I’m going to have to find a new service for liveblogging.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled Elemental Children’s Ministry posts.


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