Ministry Leader vs. Manager

My son is in his senior year of college.  He has a Sports Psychology class this semester.  He came home sharing enthusiastically of how the Professor launched his overview of the class.  The Prof stood up and talked on the difference between leaders and managers.  He had a pretty simple definition of the two.  Managers manage.  Leaders lead.  The Professor said that leaders have the ability to inspire and impart great things that can be achieved.  Managers, well they manage.  My son was impressed with this concept.  But as he thought about it, he kept coming up with personal applications of past experiences that highlighted the difference between leaders and managers in his own life.  Even in his young adult life he could see the correlation.  The Professor had indeed said a mouthful!

Take a moment and try doing what my son did.  Recount the influencers in your life and think on if these people managed or lead you.  I think you’ll find that leadership is a key to achievement.  It brings emotion from personal encounters with it.  Leaders plant seeds of inspiration in creative ways…and they are all around us.  Sports world, Corporate world and Church world.  It is the art of leadership.

Now think about those around you who are in your sphere of ministry influence.  How’s your style in leading vs. managing?  Are you thinking futuristically in regards to your newer volunteers?  Do you plant seeds to give room to inspire?  I believe that leading people to find their strengths, then giving them all the tools they need is the beginning of leadership.  It’s as important as being their biggest cheerleader and advocate.  But you don’t leave them there.  You co-labor to produce the best in volunteers.  You lead so as to help others to shine.  Leaders lead.

A Stop Doing List

In Jim Collins book “Good to Great” he recommends developing a STOP DOING list for yourself.  As a ministry leader, periodically making a list like that can set one free.  Being an innovator means you look for improvements/changes and have creative expectations that are beyond the norm.  So under that heading of being an innovative leader- a stop doing list could come in handy.  It goes back to the old saying “if you keep doing what you’ve always done…”  I have stopped using a typewriter.  I have stopped using an adding machine.  Miss them?  Not a bit.  I have tools that are easier and more productive.  But I had to consider the new, then let the old go.

Innovative leaders are looking at the horizon.  Children’s Ministry needs new thinkers.
So, as a leader, what’s out there that needs to be woven into the process of the ministry?  What’s working for those ahead of you in other ministries?  Keeping an open mind will help you not only learn, but free you to STOP doing some things that just aren’t really important after all.  Like Jim Collin recommends, a stop doing list is a must.  Be brave.  Stick with it.  Watch the horizon.

Through a Different Lense

I am at the age where I now need reading glasses.  Same eyes, but they need a little help.  With new lenses in front of me I can actually read the pages of the phone book.  The small things have been magnified so I can see.  It’s not the type or font’s fault, but the lenses in my eyes that are… well, uh, well seasoned.

We who minister to kids may need an eye exam.  Recognizing the need for a new lense is imperative in viewing children’s ministry.  We know how valuable ministry to kids/volunteers is.  But like my new glasses, when viewed through a new lense it becomes SO clear. 

Parents NOT churches are the primary influence of kids.  A big group of us get failing marks in leveraging this.  We throw in a few family nights/activities and think we have morphed into culture.  Nope.  Just the same lense with a different activity.  What we do on the weekend, while important, is nothing like what parents can influence through the week.  Family nights are just not going to cut it.  No parent wants to fail.  Have we set them up for success?  Make an appointment as a leadership team for an eye exam on how you leverage your church’s influence.  Children’s Ministry is not a maintenance ministry.  Kids ARE the church today.  New lenses.  New day.  Check ups keep us seeing clear.

Have you yelled BUCKETS?

Guest Blog Posting by the husband! Enjoy!

When is it time to yell BUCKETS?

A little over a year ago, my wife and I added one of the best inventions known to man into our household…the DVR. It has freed-up tons of time and eliminated hours of mindless commercials and promos. You basically select the programs you’d like to view and at a time of your choice, you can watch them while fast forwarding through all the promos and commercials.

It was during this time that we realized that we’ve been so conditioned to sit through commercials that we noticed, (or my wife faithfully noticed), I wasn’t grabbing for the remote to forward past the borage of products. In case you don’t know, it’s one of those MAN things that you don’t like to be told how to “drive” your remote, so we decided to come up with a code word for “hey dummy your watching commercials unnecessarily” or “change the channel”. Trying to find something totally unrelated I chose “BUCKETS”.

Whenever we are watching TV and I hear the word “BUCKETS” I’m scrambling for the remote… time to change the channel or fast forward. Just today I became aware that God many times is yelling “BUCKETS” and we are so stuck in our routine that we ignore or are unaware of the need to change or fast forward. The world is spinning at break-neck speed and the church or even just Children’s Ministry is tootling along in its same routine. We become so focused on program, curriculum and process, and we lose awareness of on our intentions, relevancy and creativity.

We can only stay in God’s perfect plan is if we are willing to listen to the cry of “BUCKETS” and change channels or move the program forward. The bucket cry will happen, you just need to choose to react and engage.
Is the vision of your Children’s Ministry to be a “maintenance ministry- one in which you have a clipboard with a check-off list? Or are you ahead of your ministry focus by questioning the purpose and motives in each step ? “Buckets!” Now go.

The Thread of Serving…

Got to catch up with some friends I served with in Children’s Ministry.  We have gone on to other endeavors, but we just can’t get away from the thread that’s been woven through all of us.  We served together serving kids.  We did ministry life together.  We have laughed until it hurt, and we have cried together when one was hurting.  We have rejoiced over victories and personal trials with our own families.  There is a common thread there I am SO grateful for.  I never would have known them apart from serving together.  I call them friends.

Initially people sometimes simply come to meet a need by serving.  That’s great!  But many an impression is changed once new volunteers experience the power and cohesiveness of team.  When you team up to serve for the cause of Christ — things happen.  When you include and value new people into that circle of team… connection threads happen.  You gel.  You bond.  It weaves a team together.

In turn, as a leader, you get to both witness this team connection and be the recipient of it. When your team invests in prayer together over needs in kids ministry, it only strengthens the thread.  Being connected through threads of experience is a beautiful thing.  Do a check up on how your TEAM is.  Make sure that people have opportunity to connect and share in each others lives.  Weave new threads.  It can only strengthen the team.