Next week is a big week for churches from around the globe. Teams are converging in Atlanta for the Orange Conference to learn from so many great leaders on how to leverage ministry to all ages and connect families. I’ve been to many leaders conferences. I always come away amazed when I take in the view. I am not alone. I KNOW that God is always me… BUT, when I see the view of co-laborers together at a conference it amazes me. All of us sold out to see God show up and work in our hearts, it just knocks me back. We are different yet have the Cross and grace in common. We are not alone. United we are unstoppable when we are united to see the bright light of the church shine to a darkened world. Carrying out His mission effectively is imperative. Put away mediocre. Shine the light. Shine it better. Shine it effectively. Shine it creatively. Shine it BIG because God is BIG, and loves those in our communities so much. I go back home changed as I recall the view I had for a bit. I am refueled knowing that all around the globe people do what I do each week for the Kingdom. We are not alone! www.theorangeconference.com
I was thinking back to being a kid at Easter. Oh the anticipation! Oh the joy of what was in the basket. Oh the outfit! Yep, rain or shine you had those new patent shoes that came with a free blister, and short sleeved poofy dress to help you freeze all morning at church. And what ever got in to my family to give me a a baby chick to celebrate is mind boggling to me now that I have had kids. What were they thinking? We did not live on a farm!
I remember ENJOYING my self being a kid. And I know I heard the Message of Jesus on all of those Easter’s. The seeds were planted.
On this Easter may you remember Easter through the eyes of a child.
May your Messages be child targeted- remembering the WONDER in kids. At the right time Jesus died for us. He conquered death and is King. Tell it. Tell it real good like! (kid language)
PS Give peeps not chicks to a child. Trust me, I know.
It’s a busy week for Children’s leaders as the prep for Easter. High visitor ratio all across the country as the “Poinsettia and Lily” people (title given by Bill Hybels) show up. This past weekend our Pastor discussed how Jesus told his disciples it was time to get out of the holy huddle. He talked about how Paul was one of those who really listened and took it to heart. He traveled farther than ever before, gained many friends and enemies-but through it all shared the compelling Message of Jesus with power. The Holy Spirit used him to connect with people right where they are. In Athens he took advantage of an alter made to an unknown God (Greeks had that just in case they missed one or two…) He leveraged that influence and said, ” Let me tell you about this unknown God.” (Acts 17:22-28 some good reading) He boldly turned their unknown God into a great salvation opportunity. Love it. That’s leverage.
Seeing this through the eyes of a Children’s Ministry leader,I’ve got to ask, are we sold out to get out of the status quo- the holy huddle to reach seekers? If we think like Paul and LEVERAGE the influence we have around us, it could change our community. Those families are out there everywhere. People like Paul talked with that day on Mars Hill. Families who may be lost, yet sometimes think about some unknown God . Those families may be invited to your church. Will they find a holy huddle?
Design your ministry strategy to leverage influence. Churches who ask what influences this generation of kids we teach, then take it and leverage it will flourish. It will be fresh. Paul had the crowds attention because he made reference to what they were familiar with. He didn’t bash it- he USED it to steer conversation and further the Kingdom. In my neighborhood we call that clever! Ask the Holy Spirit to show you ideas and ways to leverage influence and get out of that holy huddle to reach kids and families. Think combining influences.
It’s so easy to send and receive mixed messages these days. I’m notorious for sending quick cryptic text messages that need translation from patient family members, (good news is they have a sense of humor). I know what message I meant to send, but it didn’t get received that way. With so many ways to communicate, now more than ever its important to be clear.
Kids are brilliant. They pick up on this mixed message game. That’s why as parents its important to be a united front. But how about the church? NOW more than ever the church needs to be clear in the messages we convey in ministry to kids and families. Multi- programming (my term for great endeavors like sports programs,bible memory teams, Sunday School, Children’s Church and on and on) could swallow up the goal in ministry, and dilute your leverage point of your minimum of 1 or 2 hour per week you have a child in your ministry. It takes lots of energy to keep the MAIN thing, the MAIN when we are pulled in so many directions! Its easy to have all the activities (though pure in motives) lead us, rather than us lead. And really, they dilute one another.
Dream with me for a moment: what if the church sent a simple Message ,or nugget of truth for kids and parents to work on for a month together? Hmmm. God’s Word transforms us… so, what if ONE truth of His word worked through us all week as a family. That’s a win! What if we communicated that one thing for a month – in very creative fun ways,as part of the process that teaches simple Bible truths with the end in mind? We could expect fruit in kids and families What if parents and the church were all given one game plan to work on together in kids lives along the support and all the tools…
There really is no time for the focused ministry leader to send mixed messages. Leverage influence between God’s Word, the church, kids and parents. As a ministry leader take some time and pray and evaluate if you may be sending mixed messages. This glorious Message is too important to dilute. Kids are far too precious !
If you are a leader of any ministry area, you know how vital it is to have all players in place before ministry begins. No matter what the responsibility, every program role you have set up needs a person to fill it.
Old school of ministry serve model was that if you agreed to serve, you could be in that spot until the good Lord returns. And it didn’t necessarily matter if you were finding some fulfillment in it or not, you were filling a spot. Obligation… man, that’s heart warming.
The other side of that would be the ones who won’t EVER try and volunteer because they will end up serving until the Lord’s return. They avoid eye contact with you.
A New Way That’s DOABLE…
If you begin to think STRATEGY rather than programming in how we minister to kids and families, you must also consider the volunteer. Volunteering must be a doable serve – so offer some options for those with time constraints, or those who may be a bit reluctant to jump in to volunteer.
I believe it was an Andy Stanley book where I read “Pitchers pitch.”
Each player on a baseball team is best in their gift. And they work on that particular gift for it to grow. Pitcher’s pitch. Catcher’s catch. As a ministry leader you need to find out what are the strength’s of your volunteers. Use those God given gifts in the right capacity. But… good luck if you have your short stop pitching. No pro coach would stand for that. Be a great leader a put people in their gift of serving area! Help them FIND their gift to serve. Let people try a role and see if they are fit for it. Train them. It will be life giving to them. Then they ask others to join in…
Think about respecting availability. I believe best case scenario is a small group leader to be there each week for the same kids. But there are creative ways to help take some steps toward that if you’re quite able to think like that yet. An example of making a doable serves: two leaders share responsibility who can trade off months (or as themes change), but they are both consistent in caring for the group. They both know the kids and share in investment.
If your lead teacher can’t be there each week, is one month on- one month off a possibility for consistency? It works best if you teach around key themes, (like a monthly virtue). Make it a doable serve. How about leaning in to the 9 month school year with only large group programming in the summer that requires less volunteers? Give your team a break. Be creative. You get the buy in to ask BIGGER asks when you make it doable!
Finally, make the serve rewarding by always looking for ways to invest in appreciating the fine team God brings together. Honor people’s gifts and time. Chances are they will have a different mindset of what serving is- and they will keep coming back for more!