Podcast Episode 022, 58 min
Helping Men Become More Intentional Dads, with Jeff Hamilton (Ep 022)
In this interview with Jeff Hamilton, of Dad Academy, we talk about helping men become the dad they want to be.

Jeff Hamilton: They made me go to school for 30 hours before I could press the automatic group button on the machine. And yet in 1996, they just handed me a baby.

Karl Vaters: Hi, I'm Karl Vaters and I'm a small church. And welcome to can this work in a small church? My podcast guest today is Jeff Hamilton and the subject is helping men become more intentional dads.

Jeff is a local small church pastor near me, and he's founded a ministry called dad academy that helps fathers become. Dad with a plan, which is a very powerful combination in this conversation. Jeff and I talk about several things, including why, what he calls daddying is so important and so challenging.

We talk about the importance of approaching fathering with an intentional plan. We talk about the impact of building a positive culture in your home by creating a more Christ-like value system and a whole bunch of. Don't forget to stick around when the interview is done, I'll come back with an overview of the content and an answer to the question.

Can this work in a small church?

Hey, Jeff. Welcome to the podcast, it’s good to have you here. My friend.

Jeff Hamilton: It's great to see you, even though we don't live, like, this is still pretty cool though, that we can do this and, and I can have my makeup artists, like come in and touch me up and stuff like that. So hopefully in post I'll even look better.

Karl Vaters: We heard that you're doing it for an audio podcast though. There were people dabbing his face, like crazy about five minutes ago. No, we're joking.

Jeff Hamilton: Obviously listen for radio that's for sure.


Karl Vaters: You and me both my friends. So yeah, we both do live in Orange County, California. We've known each other for, it's probably coming up about 10 years. I think it was just shortly after I wrote the grasshopper myth, which is right years ago that you somehow got ahold of it and got ahold of me. And we became friends and you pastor what's called south county. I'm in mid to north county and we got to know each other that way.

Jeff Hamilton: And in fact, the first time I ever did, I think it was my first ever small church conference we did at your, we did in your facility. Yeah. We had about a hundred leaders coming out and that was fun. That was a great event. Just like what you're doing right now and resourcing small churches, especially like mine.

Like I think sometimes we forget about the small church, really being a context for the kingdom. And so all churches are forced to kind of cooperate together if a healthy, small churches, if we cooperate and pool our resources together we get a chance to multiply fruitfulness sometimes when you're at large churches, I mean, you and I discussed this many times how that was kind of our context.

Going up and maybe the expectation we had of what God might do with our lives. Instead, we've been able to serve faithfully at these smaller contexts, both healthy churches. Right. But when we get to multiply, we don't have to worry about these big facility costs. We don't have to worry about some of the challenges of.

Keeping the machine moving that may be sometimes that happens in larger churches. You, you end up so focused on what you're doing, not because you think what you're doing is more important. It's just out of a necessity to stay internal. You don't need to kind of go outside and eventually. Your focus and your energy and your resources get directed towards your assignment.

But we forget how ministry really gets multiplied when we get a chance to partner together and small churches, give us a chance to do that. Huh?

Karl Vaters: That, I think, is one of the benefits of even doing the podcast. For years I didn't pull the trigger on the podcast because quite frankly, it's easier just to write.

Piece podcast, take reel, take way more work because of the editing and all the other stuff and the scheduling of the guests and all that. But what I have noticed is the connection of actually bringing other people into the conversation. So it's just not, my voice is really helpful. So what you're talking about, the idea of small churches, getting together, sharing resources, sharing ideas, building and developing relationships.

Is as much a value of podcasts like this as the content itself, there's value in both, but I'm beginning to discover that the conversational aspect of it, the relational aspect, that builds because of that is equally as important as the content and, and you're right in small churches, we tend to stay isolated more than we more than is healthy.

Jeff Hamilton: And when we do connect to other smaller congregations, It benefits the kingdom of God. It benefits the pastor. It benefits the churches involved it tears down, territorialism, all kinds of backed up from that. And there are voices. There are voices that get to be heard out of your context because of the plat.

That your book had given you? We tend not to experience that in the local, in the local church as much, but because of that network, that you've kind of been built. We start to see how many great little, you know, I grew up in the central coast. Right. And one of the largest of California, we're in California, central coast, near Santa Maria, California, and that whole central valley that's kind of on the south end of the central valley was a huge agricultural area.

In fact, it produces most of the produce, right? Western US. People don't realize how much agriculture happens in California. And why water is such a significant issue for us, but you know, one of the guys that I in my church I grew up with was one of the top largest farmers here on the west coast.

I mean, Multinational conglomerate of huge machines and stuff like this. And that's what I think of churches. You know, you and I are right around the corner from Saddleback church where we're not far from Mariners church, these amazing resource churches that, that resource, the body of Christ in significant ways.

And they're kind of, I tend to think of them like big farms that have a large production scale. But one of the fun things that we've started to develop, especially in the last couple of years is just the idea of locally grown, right? The mom and pop kind of organic farm. So it's not like I don't buy, still buy lettuce from Ralph's right.

That come from some big farming organization, man. But there's nothing like a homegrown. Or peaches that come from somebody's tree that are in season. And I think with the small church, just kind of like these boutique farms, you get always get something that's kind of fresh, something that's in season and the seasons change, right?

So we get to partake of that kind of a nuance to, and because of your connection and the platform that God has given you, you get to visit some of these family owned farms. Right. And take some of the best so that everybody can see. As well, so thanks for creating this opportunity.

Karl Vaters: You're welcome.

I really appreciate that. And there's so much we could get into on this, but I, I wanted to talk that you specifically today let's narrow our subject really down to something that is something you have started recently that I think a whole lot of the folks listening would be able to benefit by. You started something recently called Dad Academy tell me what it's about and why you started.

Jeff Hamilton: Yeah, man. You know, I'm, I, I'm a guy and you know, I just know that most of my life is built around a plan. Right. I want to save money or I'm doing something. I develop a plan or a budget for it. If I'm going to. Work out. I want to have a plan, an idea about what I'm doing, same with a diet, even as a small church, I get to consult businesses because of my educational background and entrepreneurial background.

And one of the things, first things that we go to is the business school. Right, right. Probably when when I planted a church in 2000, you know, it was kind of at the beginning trend where you started working at a coffee shop as a way to connect with people. So I opened a Starbucks as a, as a manager and they made me go to school for 30 hours.

So not just understand about coffee, it was about the culture and why we did things a certain way and why these, why these beans are chosen as opposed to these ones and how the different machines were. It made me go to school for 30 hours before I could press the automatic group button on the machine.

Right. And yet in 1996, they just handed me. Right. There's no instruction manual. This thing is crying, right? It's like your whole life is turned upside down. And what happens with dads is like, daddy is probably the only area in a man's life where we're programmed to be reactive. Right. We're not anticipating, we're not planning.

Right. Maybe if we're lucky, we're planning for their college education, saving some money, but when it comes to the development of, of our character, God's entrusted lives to us as dads. That if we've been made in the image of God, the Maggio day, right? As human beings, right? Moms and dads working together is a tool that God uses to shape our children into his image, to draw out of them who he's created them to be.

Now he had a plan, John three 16. Right. He had a plan for us, but his dad's, we don't have a plan. And so dad academy, I actually started. Back in 2015. So this thing's like six years old, then I would just gather guys together and, and I'd walk them through this. I found that I was doing this process with companies, having them clarify their mission, define their values and make sure that there's alignment between their mission and their values and that they have a culture that supports those things.

Right. Well, we're not doing that at home. Back some of the guys that are the most successful businessmen were probably the least intentional debts. All their energy is directed towards business. And so what I would do is I took this same idea that I would take in when I would consult with a business. I just put it into a, into a format that dads.

Develop their own plan for being the dad that God's designed them to be. And so they know what's expected of them. They know they have a plan and I think we can start to feel successful. And it's also a thing that kind of keeps us on track when we are feeling like, eh, maybe I'm not gaining ground. Well, you have a different measure.

As long as you have a plan and you know that you're keeping the work, that thing forward.

Karl Vaters: This is one of the reasons I wanted you on because there are a lot of parenting courses and classes out there. There's a lot of things for moms, moms, groups gets together and instructional books for moms, for moms or I to paraphrase your term dadding for momming.

But there's not an awful lot specifically about being a dad. So if you are a father, you can find parenting books. But specifically for being a father for being a dad, there's very little out there. So let's walk through this, some of the differences between generic parenting instruction and much more specific daddying instruction.

So the main thing you've talked about is, is the plan, because I think you're right, dad, guys in general tend to be more. If you can give me a written plan. I'm going to be, we are going to be really stereotypical in what we're going to be talking about today by doing that we'll hit like 90% of dads out there.

So if you're a dad who functions in a different wavelength than this, we're not insulting you. If you function on a different wavelength, we're just trying to hit the sweet spot for most dads when we're talking this way. So for most guys, The, the idea of just sitting around and talking about your feelings as a dad, isn't something that we're particularly interested in.

We could probably get value out of it. It will probably be good for us, but saying, Hey, we're going to sit and talk in a group of dads about our feelings as dads. You're not going to let it get a lot of guys in the room, but saying I've got a plan. That's one of the key differences for helping fathers be a dad rather than simply generic parenting.

Is that one of the keys to.

Jeff Hamilton: Yes, the imagery of male and female communication, especially in inter gender conversations, right. Women are needed in the eye to eye guys are shoulder to shoulder so we can get guys talking. I think guys, what we've discovered in dat academy is that guys want to talk. They just need the excuse to be able to get together, right?

Because if you and I, if we look at our calendar, do I have time for this? I don't have time for one more thing on my schedule for most pastors. The funny thing is if we really are honest about it, everything that we come up with at church, no matter what it is is just an excuse. To get people together when they normally wouldn't because we understand the value of community, right.

And the value of community of dads is really, really significant. There's a lot of great men's material out there that allows a man to take a look at who he is and what God wants to do. And his. There's a lot of marriage resources out there, right. That talk about the relationship between husband and wife.

Karl Vaters: There are some devotional and especially in the early years, there's some great things for mom to help them have a plan, right. Feeding schedules or, or just. Insight about those kinds of things. There's help for being a good husband. There's, there's hope for almost every aspect of our relational lives and maybe the most underserved and under-resourced aspect of a man's life is resources on how to be a father.

Jeff Hamilton: The reason why that is Karl, is because I think that it's directly connected to the fact that 40% of our population today has grown up in a home without. Like 40%, 44 out of 100. So how would you even know how to be a dad? If you didn't grow up with one. Right. So we have single moms that have carried the yeoman's work for so many families and I've done a phenomenal, phenomenal job.

Yeah. But you know, when God said, let us make man in our own image, male and female, he created them. If it took. The expression of maleness and femaleness to be the full expression of the image of God. Then I think that it also takes a dad and a mom to be used in partnership to form the life of a child.

You know, dads, we just like, if we just know what to do, I think we would get after it, you know, most dads, when you talk to them about what their goals are, you know, they, I just want to raise healthy, happy kids. Great. How are you going to do that? What, what, what does that mean? No idea. Well, I'm going to get them a car when they're 16.

Karl Vaters: Like you don't, you don't know. I, you know, I coached their soccer team without having, having a plan. Then we default to what we learned or in most places, what we didn't like.

Jeff Hamilton: Right. You have no model. So you have no method or you had a bad model and haven't seen any other model. So you repeat the mistakes that were handed down to you,

Dad Academy, it's not something that's going to make you a mistake-proof Dad. What it does, what it does do is it gives you a way to kind of. Recover, you know, I kind of think like dad is like being a baseball player. I think, you know, we've talked that since my kids have kind of grown, went to college and had been on their own for the last five, six years, I've been an athletics coach at a local high school, just as a, a way to kind of dad.

Some more, to be honest. It's not that I'm a great coach. I love, I just love kids and know that many of them don't have a. Positive influence that they can look to in their life and in my life, it was always coaches. But man, when I relate to being a dad, like you look at the sports that I coach Kobe. Never shot more than 50% in a game, right?

His, his lifetime shooting percentage is like 48, 3. Right? You can go to the hall of fame as a baseball player, only getting the hit three times out of 10 dads. There's lots of hope for us. You can be a hall of fame. Dad only being right. Three times out of 10, because guess what's going to happen. They're going to remember the three times you've got the hit under pressure.

And so if we can have that kind of perspective, if you'll put the work in, but I also know how many shots Kobe Bryant practiced. I know how intentional he was with his individual workout regimen. Right? As a baseball coach, I can't tell you how sore my arm gets from throwing batting practice to these high school kids that want to earn a college guy.

I mean it's thousands and thousands of reps. Well, I want dads to figure out how to get the best reps in life that are going to help them accomplish their goal, because the goal of a dad is that you pass on your values. And your skills to your children. We always tend to think of values as being so like aspirational.

Right? Right. We want to be a servant. We want to, but I'll tell you what most of us default to our values and we don't even realize it. Can I share a quick story from COVID last summer? My son is 25 years up in Santa Cruz. My daughter graduated from college in 2020. Great for her, right? Yeah. COVID graduate, no graduation, no cards, no announcements and starting a career.

So we're at home last summer, you know, just kicking around the house and you know, my, my wife was. Saying, you know, why are we going to make for dinner? And Jordan suggested something that included broccoli. My wife, Jamie was like, well, you know, you know, your dad doesn't like broccoli. Well, that's no secret.

Like I told you, I grew up in a big agricultural area when you're a PK, a pastor's kid, the farmers bring you what they harvest. Right. Right. One of our farmers have was the largest broccoli farmer in Callahan. So I have had broccoli steamed fried with Velveeta, with Cheerios. So when I became an adult, I was like, I'm never eating broccoli again.

So eating broccoli was not, was not the issue. I was like, of course, you know? Yeah. Don't make me broccoli tonight. Well, the next day Jamie was talking about something that we're trying to get some plans together as a family. And I heard my daughter say, well, you know, that's not, dad's kind of thing. He doesn't, he doesn't want it.

He's not going to want to do that. No big deal. It would probably wasn't something that I was going to want to do. But I just, I only heard that part of the conversation right there in the kitchen, I'm in the living room. Right. And the next day I hear them talking again, somewhere else in that, in the house, my daughter's starting to my wife and Jamie says, yeah, I don't think your dad's going to like that.

And just in that moment, I felt God, speak to. Dad wins. That's the value of the Hamilton home. Dad wins. Everybody knows what dad likes and what dad doesn't like and what he wants to do and what he won't do. And they build their lives around that value. Now we have lots of other positive values in our family.

Our family knows how to solve. Our family knows how to be faithful and loyal. Right. But we have intentionally developed those kinds of things. We have made that such a part of our lifestyle as a family. That, that wouldn't be anything that would be novel to us. Right. But there's also these other defaults, right?

Like one of our values is that you can leave your cups anywhere you want in the house. And mom will. So the values are not what you want to be. Values are what you are, values are what you do. We give dads in dat academy, a chance to break down their lives to really discover what your values are because you'll pass those things on to your kids.

How many, how many men do we know? And I'm sorry to use a stereo. But have a value in their lives that I can still never make dad happy. And no matter what I do and accomplish in my life, my dad will never be proud of me. Yeah. So you have to be intentional about what you're going to pass on and we don't often take time or have a context for how to do that kind of self evaluation.

We do it with businesses all the time. What's your mission? Right? Well, do your values align with your mission? You know, if your mission is raising healthy kids, That's not my mission. My mission is that I want kids who know and have a personal relationship with Jesus who can follow him facing. Yeah, right.

That's my goal. Yeah. So I, if there are values that I have in my life, I'm sorry to get on the soap box. I don't know what else you'd expect from a pastor, but I got more people that at the church of soccer on Sundays then in fellowship. Sure. What does that say to your children? About the importance of God in your life.

Karl Vaters: Yeah, exactly. A lot of what you're talking about is really about culture too. The culture is our values lived out, correct. What we truly value is not seen in our mission statement. What we truly, truly value is seen in our behavior and our behavior then creates a culture which then gets passed on to others.

So the culture is an expression of our values. And it's been said that culture eats strategy for breakfast. You can have a great plan, but if you're trying to do it in a culture that says only dad's opinion matters, that's what it's going to default to. But if you can change the culture to know, dad is an active and engaged and relational part of this family.

And we're going to choose our values based on God's word, rather than just simply on our default behaviors. Then when we are intentional with those values, we then change the culture and that culture, then it gets passed on and it becomes in some ways, automatic it's the financial advice where they say don't make a decision every day to save money, make one decision early in your life.

That that money is automatically going to be taken out of your paycheck. And that one decision will affect your retirement. So, if we can be intentional about our value system, it then changes the culture of the family towards a more Christ-like culture. And then that culture gets passed on after awhile in some fairly automatic ways.

Now, getting there is not automatic, getting there is really, really hard working requires what you're talking about, the plan, right.

Jeff Hamilton: But it's simple. Okay. It's like following Jesus, right? Following Jesus is simple, but it's not easy.

Karl Vaters: Golf is simple, but not easy. Right? Golf is ball in hole.

Jeff Hamilton: Right? Let's use that example as fathering. Golf, baseball, tennis, hockey, are all essentially the same sport hit the thing with a stick, but the way that you do that and the way that you've even come to which sport of those that you prefer has a lot to do with your history, with your context, if you grew up in Florida, you're probably more likely not so much anymore, but there was a time you grew up in Florida you're probably more likely to play tennis and golf than you are hockey. So our history does play into some of this, but when you start talking about. You said that, you know, culture trumps strategy all the time, unless your strategy is built on building your culture. And so your strategy one of the things that we talk about in creating your family culture has to do with the rituals and traditions of your family.

The rituals are kind of the everyday routines that are built into your. Built into your journey. So for instance, one of the rituals that we had, when our kids start going to school, we're going to pray with our kids every day. Like just that before they walk nothing deep, right? There's not the time to pray for, you know, the hidden church in China or, you know, all that kind of stuff.

About the third time we started praying this prayer came out your heavenly father, that everything we say and everything we do honor. In Jesus' name. Amen. Right. And that set a tone for what we talked about that every day. So it actually becomes a touchstone that daily ritual became a touchstone. Well, you prayed today.

Let everything I say, honor the Lord, what you just said right there, or how you said that that does not do that. So where where's the disconnect, what you just did in slapping your. You know what you just did and locking your sister in the closet. That's, that's something you did. And it definitely didn't honor the Lord.

Right? Right. So you start to build these, build these rituals, nighttime reading of the books, or when my kids were little, I was always in BA involved in the bathing process. Just because, you know, the more time that you spend with the kids, one of my rituals was that I never went anywhere without grabbing one of my kids and throwing them in the car.

Right. I didn't know what was going to come up, but I knew that if I didn't do that, that I was missing an opportunity that could potentially arise for me to cover up. Dad wins, right. For me to negate that impact. But there's also the traditions in our life. You know, the script. Tell us a story about a people whose worlds are built around traditions, traditions that remind them of what God's done and of who they are.

And I don't think in our families, we think enough about traditions like dad, man, we let mom plan every birthday. Well, what if you did something special at every birthday? One of the things I learned early on when I went to a parenting class, when I was younger before we had our first kid was the instructor said Hey dad, I want you to make this commitment.

I want you to sign the birthday cards. It's easy to let mom do that, but your kids need to know and actually have something in concrete that reminds them that. So I have always signed my kids birthday cards. Yep. Those little traditions that start to, to shape and to build your family. So the rituals and the traditions, the daily rituals and routines and the annual traditions are the things that affirm the culture.

You're trying to.

Karl Vaters: Yep. And I think you're right. I think the default in most families is that's mom's stuff. That's female stuff. Moms take care of that. And as long as I'm bringing the bacon home or whatever, I'm grateful that I think today's generations are getting away from some of that stereotypical nonsense, but without a guide as to what to replace it with, I think a lot of them may be replacing it with things that aren't much better, they're different, but they aren't much better.

So repeating the mistakes of the past. Trying to break the mistakes of the past without a plan for something better can be just as bad. So what we need is a plan, which is really what we're talking about. So I want to, there's so many places we could go.

Jeff Hamilton: We'll always fill a void. Wherever a dad vacates a mom will step in.

She may not do it the same as a dad. She might not even have the same skills as the dads, but wherever a dad abdicates his place and his privilege. Mom's steps right in the one thing that's not going to happen is for most moms, my kids are not going to do it outright. That's why the most powerful force in the US today is the single mom.

She may be totally broken on the inside, even if she's very, very successful, but I'll tell you what, when it comes to her kids, she's not going to let them go without, but we have plenty of dads as we see in our. Plenty of dads who have abdicated their place and their responsibility. And, and one of the things we talk about in Dad Academy is something that’s unique in our culture, which has to do with the blended family.

How do you become a healthy step Dad? When you're not the primary voice, right? How do you relate to your children's birth mom and maintain a healthy and respectable relationship? Because anytime we downplay and dismiss our kids, moms, we're telling them they are broken and invaluable. And so. Yeah. And so we have to, Dad Academy even helps us understand the roles between mom and dad, even if mom and dad are not husband and wife.


Karl Vaters: There's so much misinformation about there, about fathering, about dadding out there. And I think you've used a couple of terms that I think are really important. I think quite often as dads, we swing from abdication on the one side to domineering on the other side. And so we think I've been abdicating.

So now I'm going to step in and I'm just going to take over. And that's what being a dad means is I'm not going to be absent anymore. I'm going to run this thing, like a tight ship. I'm going to take over. I'm going to be the, you know, the authority in the room and we're not talking about stepping up and taking everything over.

We're talking about stepping up to a position of responsibility. And sharing the load as a cooperative parent in this process do not abdicating on the one side, not domineering on the other side, but bearing a proper responsibility as the scripture walks us through. Again, there's so much that.

Jeff Hamilton: Real quick on that real quick.

And I don't like to give away the juice of data, but one, one of the insights is that the roles in parents. Are very similar to the roles in conception, in the conceiving of a child. And the fact that mom is the, is the host and the nurturer. So if mom is the, is the life nurturer, dad is the life giver and what you see, what you give life to is what's going to be alive.

And it doesn't mean that one's more important than the other, right. But we need to understand that there are distinct roles and distinct. Opportunities and responsibilities that even at our best one can't do without the other. And so we just want to inform dads and help them discover the dad that God's made them to be.

Right. Ephesians 2:10. He's predestined us to good works that he's already prepared. The dad that he wants you to be, that God's designed you to be, is already in dad's. We're good at. We're not good at excavating. There's an old saying from the nineties in the men's movement was that men need to start being valued for their gold, what they bring and who they are.

And if you weren't necessary, God wouldn't have brought you. But if we're here, it's proof that we have something both have a responsibility and a privilege to partner with him in. And what we need to do is to start digging out all of our stuff so that we can get down to discover who he's made us to be, because he's specifically interested in his project.

To other human beings in his likeness that he's asked us to partner in, that they would learn to find him, to love him, to know him and to become like him. What a great privilege that is.

Karl Vaters: Yeah, absolutely. We're talking primarily now. In this podcast, a small church, pastors and leaders. So if the, if a small church, pastor or leader listening to this and going, wow, I'd love to Institute this in our church.

What would, what are some of the first steps that a small church, specifically small church pastor or leader needs to do to start? What does that academy look like? For instance, if a small church wants to end, just Institute it and let's give us a picture of what that might look like?

Jeff Hamilton: Super easy. Visit dad academy.com/info/Pastors.

Karl Vaters: And we'll put that in the show notes.

Jeff Hamilton: Thank you. There's a bunch of information on there. There's a little sign up form that will give you access to session. One of the of the work. It will give you access to session. One of the video. It will give you all of the small group leaders guide so that you can get an overview of all the seven sessions, and it will give you a copy of the dad plan.

And so dad academy is built in the seven video sessions. Each session is between 15 to 20 minutes long, and a typical data academy meeting is about 60 minutes. So you'll kind of have a introduction later on and in the workbook, you'll review some of the homework, like guys talk about it. You'll watch some of the video.

There's a stopping point, like most small groups, right? Where they'll have some interaction together and, and the blanks you fill in the blanks during the video, and some things like this and a place for you to write your own, your own notes. At the end of the video, that discussion really is as simple as Hey.

So what stuck out to you in this. And man then all of a sudden guys start rolling. Since I was speaking to small church, pastors, you know, a lot of guys will say, I don't have 90. I don't have 16 minutes, you know, for seven weeks to do this. But the one re feedback that I always get at the end of the seven seven.

Is that 60 minutes wasn't enough because once the guys start opening up their hearts, like we said, so dad academy gives men an opportunity to kind of go shoulder to shoulder with guys. Right? Remember we started out talking how girls communicate need in the eye to eye.

Karl Vaters: And we're talking physically, when you watch women to communicate, they are typically need in the eye-to-eye face-to-face and guys are at an angle to each other.

Jeff Hamilton: Yeah. That's why, that's why. Yeah, because any of us, like the frustration, we have four hours that we pay to actually talk to our friends. So they, they start developing this community because you know that there are families in your church who have no father. And if we can create a culture of dads who start looking out for the other young men and women in our congregation, then we can start to be a really healthy situation.

So the work. Gets a one way that this can work. If you want to do this if you go to dat academy.info and slash pastors, when you get the basic information, there's opportunity to schedule a video call with me to where we can just talk through some of the logistics, how we, how dat academy can best serve you.

We've done it all different kinds of ways. We facilitated data academy in a traditional small group settings. Somebody. You've played the video. We have the discussion right there. We've done it online to where the guys watch the video and do their homework on their own. And we get online via zoom for a discussion.

There's the opportunity to bring Dad Academy to a retreat weekend. If you're interested in doing Dad Academy live the only problem with the retreat idea. Is that guys don't have enough time to process. They're downloading so much information that they tend to never get around to doing the homework, because what we want is we want to set this up for men to have an easy way.

When you get to show your wife that you've signed your dad plan and that you've completed it, I don't know about you, but I need some easy wins with my wife and the fact that I've invested into trying to come up, not just how to be a better dad, but how to serve my family more effectively. She's going to be pleased.

But what starts happening is they start asking questions. I can't tell you. We've had dozens of now families go through dat academy now just 30 know, and I want this thing to get to as many churches and as dads as possible. Right. But living here in orange county, and I know the economics are different everywhere, but man, I know to put my kid into club soccer for two practices a week, it's going to cost me $200.

If I take a family of five to El Torrito Mexican food, that's another a hundred bucks right there. Right.

Karl Vaters: And don't even talk about a day at Disneyland.

Jeff Hamilton: for those of us. Yeah. That's a whole lot to do that because you know, when we were young pastors, that's all that we could afford back in the days when it passes were accessible.

So here's what we do. We sell Dad Academy on Amazon, the workbook for $99. You and I both know that people only will value what they've invested with. So we sell it on Amazon for $99 and then they go to the Dad Academy info website. They sign up by putting their order number in once that happens. They get access to all the videos.

They get access to them forever, because my goal would be that every two years. How many times do you mean back in the day? Do we meet with our staff to review our vision, to review our values, to plan our calendar at least annual. What if that became part of our devotional life every year that we're reviewing our dad plan every year.

Cause our kids, our kids change.

Karl Vaters: So the $99 for the book really signs you up for a lifetime membership with that academy.

Jeff Hamilton: And you can make the most of it, whatever you want to do. Now listen for small church pastors, I want to do two things. Number one, I want you to know the heart. If you think that that's out of the possible realm for the men in your church, you let me know how many guys can't afford.

And we'll do whatever you think they can make happen. Appreciate that. But secondly, you need to ask them what they're spending a hundred bucks on. If they just got new rims for their truck, they probably can afford a hundred bucks for their family. You can change your family's destiny for the price of dinner.

It's only in church that we think a hundred dollars is a lot of money. I don't care what it is. I only set a price that I felt was accessible. Is that people would feel vested enough in to where they would walk the whole process up one of my favorite churches. And this is actually what I do at my church.

I have the guys go ahead and pay none of my guys in my church, go through that academy for free. They pay $99, but I know if I can get them right. If I can get them healthy, we did the same thing with Dave Ramsey, financial peace university. We never paid for anybody to go through FPU, but if they completed FP.

And showed the church, their budget. We don't, we're not trying to approve it. We just want to see the work. We'd give them their money back because we know that they're healthy. I've had churches already do that. They've decided that academy is going to be part of what they do. So if a dad will make the initial investment, if they show them that their dad plan is complete, they give them their money back.

But listen, my heart is 40% of us never grew up with Dads. The crisis that we're facing in America, right. It's father related. And I go back, Karl, to the last words of the old Testament. When people ask me what revival looks like in America, you and I were old school Pentecostals. Hope that doesn't scare some of our listeners.

That's just the culture that we listened to. It was a, when was the last time you picked up a snake? Right. That's not what we're talking about. You know, so revival has all of these different ideas about what it's going to be like, but the prophet. And you had to read excuse me, Malakai. And you have to read Malakai in conjunction with Nehemiah, right?

Because they're happening at the same time. Right? And the, and the word, while these men are working and rebuilding their lives in Jerusalem, right? The prophet says, this is what it's going to be like before the Messiah comes. The last words of the old Testament are this. The hearts of the fathers will be turned to the children and the hearts of the children will be turned to the fall.

I never noticed that before, until the church starts taking that serious and not talking just about men's ministry. We're talking about creating a culture in our churches that create the opportunity for the most people. To be healthy. And so, however, I can get data academy to churches, to maybe your, maybe you're a church.

You have kids that go to a Christian school. One of the biggest dynamics that we have is I coach at a local Christian high school, but crazy thing is 80% of my players. Don't go to church anywhere. Their families don't go to church anywhere. They want the school to be the church for them. I get them in dat academy.

Guess what starts happening? You start going to church, maybe not. But somewhere, and they start making those kinds of adjustments because they see has that kind of impact. We've seen them happen with maybe you're the dad of a soccer club. This thing is not too churchy.

It's not too Bible. But we've seen guys who are unsaved get saved because they start to experience the privilege that God's invited them to. And they start to look at themselves differently and therefore start to look at God differently. And we started to see those kinds of things begin to shift to, again, this is the same tool that I use.

That I use to help turn businesses around. We've just put it in a format for dads so that they can grab it and run with it. And it really is for dads of all ages. If you look at my Instagram, you'll see a list of alumni who have been through it. My most recent online class had a dad who had two son-in-laws they're both going to have their first child.

So he bought it for his son-in-laws and himself. And his father. Oh. And we had three generations. So the guys who had the newborns were expecting, they now have an idea about what I'm, what I'm about to get into the dad was like, I want to be a good grandfather. I don't think that I was a great day. I see looking back that there was some holes that I missed and being a grandpa, this is a great way because now you get to be the investor.

You're not necessarily the protector or the provider, right. You still get to pass on your values and your skills to your grandchildren now. And I had three generations of men that did dad academy together. They said it revolutionized. Yeah,

Karl Vaters: I can imagine. That's great. Jeff I'm mean, I appreciate this so many places we can go.

I really encourage those who are listening to check this resource out. It's as we said earlier, I think one of the few really under-resourced aspects of our lives and there's so much scripture about it. There's so many local principles we can apply to the absolutely essential role of fathering. There is nothing, nothing like a dad with a plan.

So. I appreciate that. Hey, let's get to the lightning round questions before we before we say goodbye on this one. All right. First of all, what are the biggest changes you've seen in your field of ministry in the last few years? And how have you adapted.

Jeff Hamilton: Biggest change, again, you and I are pastor's kids.

So we've kind of been around the block a little bit with this. Had some opportunities to serve in denominational roles, and I'll tell you the biggest shift that I see is the continued growth of the mega church. And it is not to downplay the impact and influence that these kingdom minded centers have.

I'm grateful for. I mean, I I'm a church that does celebrate recovery, right. That started at Saddleback church. I benefit from a lot of those kinds of ministries, but what it does do is it continues to reinforce an idea that a Christian is something that you are, but it's not something that you do. We create a spectator culture.

You know, it's like going to a, again, since we're in Orange County, it's like going to an Angel game. It's just because you have the Angels jersey with a number on it and you have the hat. If you're in the stands, eating a hot dog, you are not a player. And they walk out of the stadium going, we won, but there was really not much contribution that you made to the process.

Karl Vaters: No. And following Jesus is.

Jeff Hamilton: Yeah. I, I say this all the time, because again, because of my involvement with coaching, we want to make players and it's not that big churches don't they work really, really hard. In fact, their job is almost harder than us and a smaller church. You know, you build that kind of community.

People have to buy. I mean, I know plenty of people who are content to go once a month to the large church in the area. Cause it makes them feel good, but there's been no significant life change. And I think the emergence of the large church reinforces this American ideal where I can feel better about myself without actually changing.

And the goal of following Christ is learning to die to your. That requires transformation and the spectator. I don't even like to say consumer culture, but which of us isn't it easier to watch?

Karl Vaters: Yeah, the spectator, whether the church is larger, small, the spectator syndrome is a problem. When I teach it, I say, I say it this way.

I don't think it's the fault necessarily of the megachurch, but if somebody is predisposed to want to be a spectator, that's easier to do in a big church than it is a small church. You'll feel you'll be a little more uncomfortable trying to just be a spectator in a small church. And it'll be much easier to disappear into the crowd in a large church, which is why, as we both know the large, really healthy.

Always working on helping people go into small groups where they break down that spectator mindset.

Jeff Hamilton: So that's, and I hope, I mean, you and I have this kind of basis, but I don't have the same kind of relationship with maybe some of our listeners. This is not about bashing the large church while the cow we need, just like we need every part of the body, every expression of.

Is significant in the kingdom. So I'm grateful for them, but as you and I live in this very unique, unique area, when you talk about three of the top 10 churches in the US size-wise are within bike riding distance of both of our homes, we see the ongoing impact of the way that people think that they should do church.

And I'm grateful that there are churches all the time that are willing to stand up of all sizes to invite people into a sacrificial journey of transformation and of service and of worship and descending.

Karl Vaters: All right. Question number two. What free resource like an app or a website, have you has helped you lately that you would recommend for small church ministry?

Jeff Hamilton: There's a couple, if anybody ever wanted to reach out, you can put my email in the notes, Jeff@dadacademy.info, just so you know, even filming that academy. I hope when you see the videos that you wouldn't know this, but like we just did it in house. I mean, literally it was me a 65 year old man and an 18 year old man, just go on some cameras and some lights up.

Figuring this kind of thing out. So, you know, we've had to make the best of kind of these resources and while they're not free, I have loved a video conference chat called isle whereby w H E R E B y.com. It is not quite as secure as zoom, but it has all the similar traits of zoom. But instead of having people have to log in and have a special meeting code, you can actually just go to a website.

And pop right on that has been so much easier than giving people a certain meeting ID for all the different things that we have going on. That's like nine bucks. And it has really been, it has really been worth it. And then we use for our streaming video, like I didn't have money to put into a whole bunch of cameras and all those kinds of stuff, but I found enough people who had old iPhones that they'd be willing to give to the church.

And as a result, we use a product called switcher studio. That is runs an internal iOS network between so like if all the iPhones and the iPad are on the same wifi network, they can connect to each other. And the cameras on the iPhone become a video camera that can be controlled by the switcher studio app on an iPad.

And you actually just touch. Like a director, this is the one that I want to go live.

Karl Vaters: So you don't have a static video for your Sunday live stream. You can switch between cameras, but you're just using existing iPhones.

Jeff Hamilton: Exactly. Right. And, and so actually you could even have somebody in the crowd. Gives control of the camera and they'll hold it and they can actually pan it doesn't even have to be on a stand.

So we ended up using three donated iPhones on a iPad, and the iPad does a little app. You can touch on different things. And the computer that we use for our screen projection at the church can also be one of the inputs. Yup. So that's a little bit more expensive. That's like $29 a month, but we don't have to do anything else.

I mean, it's super. Intuitive, super easy to use in and of itself. It will send one live feed so we can send it to YouTube. You can send it to Facebook or some of the native we additionally pay for a streaming app so that we could send them to. Right. I mean, I'm, I'm like you, man, I got to, I don't have a lot of time to train people to orient people.

I've been in the situation where I got somebody who recommended something that they were the expert in. Then they're no longer at church. And now I got no expert that knows how to do this thing. Right. And this was the simplest application for us.

Karl Vaters: Great. Awesome. Yeah. Switcher, Switcher studio. And we'll put that in the show notes.

What's the best piece of ministry advice you've ever received?

Jeff Hamilton: It took me a long time to actually believe it. But when Jesus said he'll build his church, he was serious because all the things that I've tried to do to build his church have not been successful. I think some of that has been the grace of.

In my life actually. Right. You and I have talked about this numerous times in the grasshopper myth, plenty of examples about how we followed the latest trend, or we did this and we saw seasons of bubbles of growth that were just unsustainable. You know, Jesus loves the church more than. So I better take care of my church, which is Jamie, Justin, and Jordan.

I don't mean to sound jaded. I'm not people come and go in church. The average person only stays at a local church for less than three years. And so I have to be used to that kind of transition and re remember that they don't belong to me and that he'll build, he'll build his church and I can take.

Then in other churches that are growing, even if mine is not because the church itself is

Karl Vaters: yep. What is Christ church and not ours. And we can, we can celebrate with others without gritting our teeth to do so. Finally, what's the funniest or weirdest thing you've ever seen in church.

Jeff Hamilton: You know, I've been thinking about this for months and so I wouldn't necessarily say this is.

But when I graduated from Bible college, I went and had a denominational role where I used to run summer camps. And we were in our, our camp at that time was in rural North Carolina, but it was not way out in the mountains. In fact, we had residents that lived, you know, as neighbors to the 12 acres that we owned as.

Which I thought was fine. You know, we just had to keep certain rules at a certain time of night. You had to keep it down. But like my first night of camp, you know, I'm excited. I'm 22 years old, we've got a couple hundred kids at camp they're having great. It's the last night of this particular week.

And we're wrapping up sharing testimonies and excited. And one of our neighbors decided to come see what was going on and to make sure that we were going to close that. At the appropriate time. Cause he had to get up early the next day and he brought his alarm with him to make sure. That that was going to happen.

And that happened to be a Remington 16 gauge. So definitely we definitely made sure to shut camp down on. During that during those days, that was probably the one that would, that I could tell the quickest without having to create a whole bunch of different contexts.

Karl Vaters: That's amazing. Hey, so how can people find you online if they want to get in touch with you?

Jeff Hamilton: Eh, best places. Dad academy.info, not dad academy.com. Data cat. You want info on dat academy, go to dad academy.info. And in fact for your listeners there's a free download there. That's called the three responsibilities of a father that kind of gives a little taste about some of the things that are in dad account.

Gives guys a little taste about some of the things that they'll learn and a way to think about being a dad. They can go to dad academy.info specifically, and that'd be a little pop-up that you can sign up to download that it's something that you can distribute to your church or to your group, just to get them engaged.

I also want to encourage you to give us a follow on our social media. We're most active on Instagram. There's a new content every day, six days out of the week. And that is dad.academy, dad.academy on Instagram dad academy on Facebook, just regular, straight out that academy on Facebook. And you can reach me at any of those places, including Jeff at dat academy.

All right.

Karl Vaters: Terrific. Hey, I appreciate your passion for this, that you've put together some very practical ways for men to become a better dads and more Christlike in their home. And that you've put it out in a way that we can, we can work on it together and and elevate the spiritual and emotional temperature of our families without overheating it, I guess.


Jeff Hamilton: I just want guys to be successful. So, if you want to be successful, you got to have a plan. You gotta make it happen.

Karl Vaters: Thank you. Appreciate it.

Why is it that we get so much help about almost every other aspect of our relationship lives, but so little about the specific role of. I am so grateful to Jeff for stepping into this underserved field. There's so much good stuff in this podcast, but three main things stood out for me first, the importance of having a plan so that we don't default back to bad habits or a non-existent father in the first place.

Secondly, how helpful. For every dad to set and keep their daddy goals. Men especially are driven by goals. And yet we don't put goals out in front of us for what may be the most important role we will ever play in our lives. And then thirdly, the importance of keeping a balance between abdicating our father and responsibility on the one side, which we have way too much of in our culture or swinging wildly over to the other side, by being domineering and taking over everything in the, in the family, instead of simply bearing our God-given response.

So can this work in a small church? Can we help the men in our congregations become better dads? And the answer to that of course is a big, yes. Yes. If we do a few things, first of all, if we become intentional about the importance of fathering as a distinct aspect of parenting. Secondly, if we set some time aside for dads to help each other, be there for each other and resource each other and.

If we help dads see the importance of creating and participating in healthy, intentional family rituals and traditions.

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