With this one sentence I knew that his book was for me. Even though I was only a few lines into the book, I already identified with Eric Newman. With that simple sentence I realized, I AM ERIC NEWMAN.
The Eric trap follows a week in the life of Eric Newman; a young, talented, but somewhat misguided children’s pastor. In fact we see Eric in what is probably the worst week of his life. The book is written from the perspective of children’s ministry, but the principles that are covered apply to any pastor or ministry leader.
The book goes through Eric’s week, one day at a time. Each day is followed by a chapter outlining the mistake displayed by Eric on that day and how we can avoid making the same mistake in our ministry.
- Chapter 1 – Delegation: “The Healthy church or ministry looks like a body with many different people bringing many different gifts and talents together under one head – the Lord.” In ministry I think that this is something that most of us struggle with. However, Eric shows us just how important delegation is. We cannot do what God has called us to do alone. We have to remember that our ministry and our church does have one head, but we are not it. We also must keep in mind that we are not the entire ministry. Jesus didn’t do it alone, neither should we.
- Chapter 2 – Leadership Under Authority: ”we must build our ministry to children in a way that aligns with and reflects the vision of the house.” It is true that no one else in the church cares as much about children’s ministry as the Children’s Pastor or the children’s ministry leader. In fact I think that is how it should be. As children’s ministry leaders we can allow this passion to cloud our judgment. We often think that our first duty in ministry is to the kids we serve. While we do have a duty to them, our first duty is to our pastor. We must always remember that God has called our pastor to lead the church we serve in. Because of this we must be sure to align ourselves with his vision. If we truly care about ministry to children then we need to know our pastors vision and consider how we, and the children’s ministry, can help move the church towards that vision.
- Chapter 3 – Activate Parental Leadership: “As a ministry leader, we need to understand our role in the spiritual development of kids. We provide and incredible secondary voice in the life of a child.” The bible is very clear that parents should be the primary spiritual leaders for their kids. In fact “partnering with parents” is one of the hottest topics in children’s ministry these days. However, it is still something that we struggle to do. This makes sense. After all we have a lot of control over what happens at the church; but in the homes of the children we serve we have very little control. We must always remember that we are to be the secondary voice. As such we should do what we can to help the parents do the best job they can as the primary voice.
- Chapter 4 – Measuring Success: “We need to need to measure our success in light of this goal. Every decision we make and every dream we pursue needs to be done with a clear purpose to serve Christ and see lives changed.” If asked, most people in ministry would say that their goal is to see lives changed. Despite this we rarely measure our success based on this. While some things are much easier to measure, none are more important. We must be very careful that we measure our success based on the right things.
- Chapter 5 – Order Your Priorities: “unless we say no to some things, cancel a few events, or delegate some responsibilities to others our passion is going to eat our lunch.” Yes we should be passionate about our ministry. However, there are other things in our lives that are even more important. Get these out of order and everything, including your ministry, will suffer. We must take time to write out our priorities and schedule our life so that these priorities are met. We must guard those things at the top of our list as they, often times, are the easiest to neglect.
The Eric Trap takes a somewhat unique approach to teaching leadership principles. The fictional sections outlining the life of Eric Newman make it much easier for the reader to really identify with the principles that are being taught. As I read through the book, I could easily identify with every mistake that Eric made. While I have not yet made all of the mistakes that are outlined in the book, I can see the potential for each of them in my ministry. If you care about ministry to children, then you need to read this book. Then come back here and let me know what you thought of the book.
I AM ERIC NEWMAN…ARE YOU?