Wednesday, May 12, 2010


With the television series 24 coming to an end, I started to have a little fun with some of the plot devices, themes, and "quirks" of the show. Although other authors, speakers, and bloggers have tackled spiritual principles from 24, I thought I would find some applications to the world of children's ministry.
And before you write me, yes, some of the points are a bit of a stretch. Okay, some of them are huge elastic tethers of credulity! But I figure if Jack Bauer isn't dead or in SuperMax prison by now, I can get a little leeway for my nuggets of wisdom.

1. Everyone has a role. Every technician and field agent at the Counter Terrorism Unit had a job, an assignment, and a function. It is very important to recognize that all members of our teams, whether paid staff or volunteers, has a vital role to play in our children’s ministry.

2. Delegation. Chloe often had a hard time handing off extra work or responsibility to someone else. We need to be able to divide tasks and bring others in as needed.

3. The clock keeps ticking. The often cited statistic from Barna--that most kids trust Christ before they are teenagers—should be an incentive in our ministry to kids.

4. Endurance. It is amazing how Jack Bauer can go through a 24 hour period (more, if you consider that he’s already been up before the season started), get blown up, shot at, tortured, stabbed, and beaten, yet still have energy to burn. Sometimes, we as children’s ministers are called upon to endure, to persevere, to press on in what seems like a marathon.

5. Rest. This is the corollary to the previous point. Jack doesn’t sleep, doesn’t regroup, doesn’t even take time out to use the restroom (not that we would want to see that). Yes, at times we need to push forward, but too many Jack Bauer days will destroy our effectiveness as children’s ministers. God gives us the grace of rest…take it.

6. Commitment to the mission. Jack and the agents of CTU bring their skills and resources to bear on the mission at hand. Does our church have a well defined mission and are we committed to fulfilling it?

7. Communication. Everyone at CTU either has an agency communication device or a personal cell phone through which a steady stream of information is being shared. Trouble usually comes when the communication breaks down. Our children’s team should be regularly communicating with one another about the progress, needs, requests, and praises of the ministry.

8. Use technology to update. CTU can triangulate positions, share maps and blueprints, and dispatch field agents with just a touch of a button. As we communicate, we can take advantage of some great tools like Twitter or Facebook to keep our team “in the loop.”

9. Screen workers. One of the frequently used plot devices in 24 is the “mole”…a trusted CTU worker who is secretly a bad guy. Basic protocol in kid’s work: screen and check your volunteers and staff!

10. Depend on one another. Whenever Jack is in a bind, he can call Chloe, who often has the solution or data he needs. Everyone in children’s ministry should either have or be the kind of friend who can provide the encouragement and support you need.

11. Everyone has a story. Every season of 24, we meet some new CTU personnel. At first, they are random faces, but as the story progresses, we learn more of their background and quirks. Each one of our volunteers and staff are unique, each one has a story. It is worth the time to learn those stories.

12. Respect for those in authority. Jack is very much a maverick, but he is very consistent in addressing those in authority (especially the President) with respect for the office.. Even if we disagree with their actions, the pastor and leadership of our church are deserving of our respect and support.

13. Respect for those who labor. Another character trait of Jack is his respect for the “common laborer.” He will efficiently dispatch bad guys left and right, but he gets very protective and concerned with an innocent bystander, a regular beat cop, or a store owner. No matter our rank or privilege in the field of children’s ministry, we should never forget that a whole team of folks labor in this field with us.

14. It’s not all about the leader. 24 begins with “previously on 24”—scenes from earlier episodes, punctuated with pictures of the different characters. If you watch carefully, you notice that Jack Bauer’s picture is not always the first one shown. The Children’s Pastor or director is not always the star of the team.

15. Creativity. Whether it’s disarming a bomb or finding his way out of a trap, Jack has to think on his feet and find innovative solutions. Whether it is staffing or crafts or games or curriculum, it is important to tap into our creative side when working with kids.

16. When something doesn’t work, try something else. Can’t disarm a bomb in time? Shove it in a blast proof chamber. Bad guys took a different route? Take another route to intercept them. If a game isn’t working in your children’s program, stop the game and try another one. If a craft fails, learn from the problem and try something else.

17. Network with those who have similar missions. They did not always do it well, but CTU made it a habit to share information with other agencies such as the FBI and CIA. One of the greatest sources of encouragement is to network with other children’s workers in a local association, or through conferences, or even online. You quickly learn that you’re not alone in your mission.

18. Smile. Jack Bauer doesn’t smile a lot. In fact, few people at CTU smile very much. This should not be true of those who work with children, so smile!

19. Plunge ahead with confidence. Why do most characters instinctively follow Jack Bauer’s lead? Because he carries himself with the confidence that the course he is taking is right. Although we should always get input and be open to correction, there comes a point in our children’s ministry when we have to proceed with the confidence that what we are doing is the correct course of action.

20. Don’t be afraid to look different. This last season of 24, everyone had a stylish Bluetooth headset secured snugly to their temples. Not Jack Bauer. He had something that dangled loosely from his ear and looked rather awkward.. Whether it’s the Looney Tunes tie, big red shoes, over-the-top impersonations, or wacky voices, don’t be afraid to look different in the course of children’s ministry.

21. You never truly retire. There have been seasons where Jack has left CTU, only to discover his experience and training is still needed. I’m grateful for the seasoned children’s ministry workers like Jim Wideman and Barney Kinard who are still allowing us to reap the benefits of their experience.

22. Time has a way of slipping by. In the early seasons of 24, Jack would say he’d be at CTU in 20 minutes and sure enough, 20 real time minutes later, he would arrive at CTU. But as the seasons went by, the “real time” scenario has not been as sharp as it was previously (e.g. car blows up before a commercial. Two minutes later, the fire department is mopping up the scene!). The lesson is this: if we fail to manage the use of our time effectively, we will soon discover that it’s probably later than we think

23. We’ve all had days. Jack has had several, usually bad. But we’ve had days of great victory, great spiritual breakthrough, wonderful days when we realize that yes, God reigns. Those are the days that don’t get made into tv series, but they are the ones that make memorial altars in our lives.

24. And did I mention, the clock keeps ticking.