Hi, how are you? I’m not much of a warm tea person, so why don’t we have a glass of iced tea (sweetened of course) and get started!
1. Good afternoon. Why don’t you start by sharing your name and where you live?
Wayne Stocks. Pataskala, Ohio.
2. Tell us a little bit about the church you attend.
I attend New Life Church in Gahanna, Ohio. It is a non-denominational church with a membership of around 1,000.
3. Tell us a little bit about your family.
I am married to wonderful woman I don’t deserve named Tricia. We have four great kids – Joshua (17), Jacob (9), Lyndsey (8), and Nathan (3). God has taught me more about Himself through my family than any other way. They are my primary mission and ministry, and I thank God every day for each one of them.
4. Tell us a little bit about your work in children’s ministry. How long have you served? What positions do you serve in?
I got started in children’s ministry shortly after God drew me into his kingdom. There was a need to fill a spot in the two-year-old room, and I had a nagging small group leader, so I volunteered. That year, I fell in love with working with God’s kids. The following year, the need was in the 2nd grade room, so I moved up and agreed to start doing some of the large group teaching. What started as a once-a-month commitment quickly became an almost every week schedule, and God showed me the joy of teaching His Kids about him.
After that, due to some other circumstances in my life, my family changed churches, and I was out of Children’s Ministry for about a year-and-a-half. It was during that time that I really felt God’s tug on my life and realized that working in children’s ministry was not just something that I was doing to fill a need but something that He had called me to do. I couldn’t be happier about that calling! Since that time, I have immersed myself in the world of children’s ministry.
5. Before we get more into your work in children’s ministry, let’s get some background information. Tell us a little bit about your childhood – where you grew up, how that has shaped you.
I was born in North Carolina but moved to Virginia when I was two. We moved again, to Texas this time, when I was in 6th grade, and finally to Ohio when I was a Senior in High School. I grew up with my Dad and three brothers (and later my step-mother). We were always outside doing something with the neighborhood kids. Growing up in a family of four boys it can be easy to get lost. I learned early on that my motivation needed to be internal, and that everything I did didn’t have to be affirmed by someone external. In other words, it taught me not to gauge my successes and failure solely on what other people thought.
6. Please give us your testimony. Short version if you would, we only have one pitcher of tea.
I did not grow up in church – far from it. When I was a child, we used to attend a Catholic Mass once a year at Christmastime, but that was about the extent of my exposure to God. After my daughter (my third child) was born some friends invited me to their church. They had actually invited me previously, but that was when I finally took them up on the offer. I felt like I owed it to my kids to check out this whole God thing. So, I accepted their invitation, and I started to read. I started to read the Bible and I started to read anything I could get my hands on about the Bible. Through that and the church I was attending at the time, God drew me into his kingdom when I was 30 years old.
7. What book(s) are you reading right now?
The Bible – as always. I am also reading The Power of Words and the Wonder of God which is a series of essays edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor. I’m also waiting on my advance copy of Ryan Frank’s new book 9 Things They Didn’t Teach Me In College About Children’s Ministry. I’m looking forward to reading that one.
8. What is the best book (other than the Bible) that you have ever read and why?
This is a tough one. I’ve read lots of really good books. I love the Jesus Storybook Bible for how it ties every story it tells from the Bible to Jesus. Donald Millers A Million Miles in a Thousand Years really caused me to reflect on my own life story. In terms of parenting and working with children, Come ‘Ye Children by Charles Spurgeon has probably impacted me more than any other. I guess I can’t pick just one.
9. What, if anything, do you watch on television?
This one ought to be fun. My wife and I discovered TiVo years ago which allows us to watch shows at our leisure. I find that T.V. can be a great way to unwind, but you have to be careful not to let it be too all consuming. I like shows like The Mentalist and Hawaii Five-0 when it comes to dramas. We do watch a little bit of “reality” television as well. I have to admit that we still watch American Idol. Comedy wise, I think Big Bang Theory, The Middle, and The Office are all very funny. We tend to watch a lot of cooking shows as well (especially those that involve some sort of competition). In fact, we watch so much of it, that my kids like to play a version of the show Chopped with their Mom when it comes to making dinner. If you’ve seen the show, you know what I mean. Mom does pretty well. She’s good at thinking on her feet and a wonderful cook. I also like Extreme Home Makeover and Undercover Boss. Of course, I think two of the best shows on T.V. today are Minute to Win It and Wipeout. Maybe I watch more T.V. than I thought!
10. What is your favorite story in the Bible? What is your favorite story to teach?
There are so many, it’s hard to choose. One of my personal favorites is the story of Elijah and the Prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. I don’t know if it’s the taunting or the utter and complete assurance that God would come through, but I’ve always liked that story.
In terms of teaching, I love anything out of the first three chapters of the Bible. The story of creation and the fall sets the foundation for the rest of the Bible, and I just really enjoy teaching it.
11. Let’s get into some more serious stuff. What do you believe is the most important issue facing the world today? Why do you think that?
Relativism. It seems like everything is relative these days, and the idea that anything is absolute is met with widespread scoffing and derision. Morals are relative. Actions are relative. Beliefs are relative. In the name of “tolerance,” people have started to deny absolute truth. When the widespread view is “I can’t say anything about his belief system because it works for him,” the cause of Christ (from a human perspective at least) is greatly hindered. There are still black and white issues in the world today. There are things that right and things that a wrong regardless of extenuating circumstance. And, there is still one absolute truth and that is that God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
12. Other than your salvation, marriage and the birth(s) of your children, what is the single event that has had the biggest impact in shaping who you are as a person today?
I’m glad for the disclaimers on this question because those would have been my top choices in that order. I suppose other than those, the single biggest event which shaped the rest of my life would have been the death of my mother shortly after my sixth birthday. I’ve no doubt that that day changed who I was as a person, and set me on the path to where I am now. I grew up with three brothers and Dad for most of my formative years (my dad did remarry but not until my teenage years). I have the utmost respect for my Dad for keeping us all together in an era when many widowers would not have done that and for tolerating four rambunctious (and at times obnoxious I am sure) boys under the roof of one small house. As a Dad myself now of four children, I appreciate his calm demeanor and all he must have gone through.
13. If you could change one thing about your life without impacting any other aspect of it, what would you change?
See #12 above.
14. God constantly works in our lives to teach us and transform us into His image. How is God working in your life today?
God is teaching me restraint, balance and reliance on Him. It is so easy to get your calendar out of whack when you are engaged in ministry. Recently, God convicted me of the time I have sacrificed over the course of the last couple of years that I should have been spending with my wife and family. He prompted me to “take a break” from most of my online activities to devote more time to spending with them. Had you asked me six months ago, I would have told you that I had everything in balance, but God showed me how skewed my life really was. He is still working in this area, and he is also working in my life to become more and more dependent on Him.
15. What is your favorite food?
Stuffed Cabbage. Yum!
16. What would you call your “life verse?”
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” – Romans 12:12
I am also very partial to Deuteronomy 29:29 – “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
So, thanks for joining us this afternoon. We hope you’ll come back next week when we are going to talk to Wayne more specifically about children’s ministry.