Mar 5, 2015

9-Year-Old Makes $1 Million a Year on YouTube (Wake Up Church!)

For many churches, kids are just an afterthought.  They're just kids, right?

Evan, the 9-year-old behind EvanTube, makes over $1 million a year reviewing toys on his YouTube channel.

His channel has over 1 million subscribers and has amassed over 1 billion views.

He's just a kid, right?

It's time for the church to wake up and started equipping and empowering kids to lead.  They are the church of today and tomorrow.  There is no greater investment we can make!

A couple great resources I recommend for empowering kids to be leaders are LeadershipForKids and KidLead.  Check them out.

Last weekend, the kids in our church led worship in the adult service.  Why?  Because we gave them the opportunity.   There are Evans sitting in your church right now.  Equip them...empower them...give them opportunities...and you'll be amazed at how God will use them.

Here's more about Evan.

Mar 4, 2015

10 Reasons Why Your Lessons Are Boring Kids to Death

Ever heard a kid say your lesson was boring?  If so, it was probably due to one or more of these reasons.  

A lecture-based teaching style.  I remember sitting in a "Sunday School" class as a kid.  We had two teachers.  They took turns teaching the lesson.  When one was teaching, the other one would fall asleep.  As kids, we had too much energy to fall asleep.  Instead, we were forced to sit there for an hour and endure what seemed like an eternity of torture.  I'm not blaming the teachers.  I am thankful for their hearts to minister to us.  They simply didn't know that lecturing is not the best way to teach kids.  In this article, I share a more effective way to teach kids

Making them sit still.  When we tell kids to "sit still and be quiet" we are really saying "sit still and be bored to death."  Kids were made to move.  In fact, the more kids move...the more they learn.  If you want to engage kids with your lesson, use participatory, hands-on, active learning.  In this article, you can read more about how to get kids moving.

Not honoring their attention span.  Kids have an attention span of 1 minute for every year of their age - maxing out at 5 minutes.  When you violate this, they will get bored.  If you want to keep their attention, reset their internal clock every five minutes by switching to another activity, song, game, object lesson, etc. 

Not using visual communication.  This generation hears with their eyes.  Words will bore them.  Words accompanied by images will engage them. 

Only using one learning style.  When you limit your lesson to just one or two learning styles, the kids who learn differently will get bored.  Be intentional about using all the learning styles when you are teaching and you'll engage all the kids.

Not letting them talk.  "Sssssshhhhhh" kids and they will get bored.  And if all the talking is being done up front...you will lose them.  Give them opportunities to discuss deeper learning questions.  Read this article for the latest findings regarding this.

Putting them in space designed for adults.  Stick them in a room with beige walls and brown metal folding chairs and it will contribute to boredom.  Can you engage kids even if the room is not kid-friendly?  Yes, but you'll have to work harder to compensate for the dull environment.  Kids are drawn to bright, fun colors.  Kid-friendly environments do make a difference.  Ever seen a kid bored at Disney World?

Not knowing their culture.  Ever tried to talk with someone who doesn't speak your language?  Hard to connect, isn't it?  If you're talking cassettes to digital download kids, you'll lose them.  In a recent training, I shared about how to connect with today's kids.  You can read it here. 

Talking down to them.  Baby talk leads to boredom.  When you're in a room with kids of multiple ages, always talk to the oldest kid in the room.  Cool rolls down hill. 

Not telling stories.  A story is the greatest boredom buster of all times.  Want to see kids lock their attention on what your saying?  Tell a story.  Great story tellers are great teachers.  Jesus, the greatest teacher of all times, used stories as one of His primary means of capturing people's attention.

The floor is yours.  What are some other reasons kids get bored during a lesson?  What do you do to keep kids engaged when you're teaching?  Share with us in the comment section below. 

Mar 3, 2015

Why It's Important For Kids to Grow Up with Married Parents

One reality that today's kids face is not growing up with their married mom and dad.  Over half of kids ages 15 to 17 do not live in a home with their married mother or father.  Over 40% of kids are born out of wedlock.

This means over half of kids will enter adulthood without the benefits of intact family life. 

Does this make a difference?  Let's examine the facts.  Children's raised by their married parents have...
  • substantially better life outcomes compared to children raised in single-parent homes 
  • higher education attainment levels
  • better emotional health
  • greater self-esteem
  •  higher regard for marriage
  • better chance of avoiding the pitfalls of high-risk behaviors (boys who grow up without a father in the home are more likely to engage in delinquent behaviors & girls who grow up without a father in the home are seven to eight times more likely to experience teenage pregnancy)
  • better economic well-being (marriage decreases the chance of childhood poverty by 82%)
How are we going to change this? 

We must teach the next generation about the benefits and value of marriage.  We must hold up God's golden standard for the family which is one man and one woman married for life.

We must provide solid per-marital counseling for couples.

We must reach out to married couples who are struggling and help them journey back to a healthy marriage.

Marriage was designed by God and is the foundation on which a family is built.  

For more help on marriage and family ministry, I encourage you to check out the D6 conference that will be held this fall.  It is one of the leading conferences that equips churches to reach and disciple families.  You can get more information at this link.  

Mar 2, 2015

Winner of Go! Curriculum Announced

Congratulations to Connie Koehl.  She is the winner of the Go! Curriculum giveaway.  Connie is the Director of Epic Kids at The Oaks Fellowship Church

If you'd like more information about Go! Curriculum you can contact them at this link.

Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing.  Stay tuned for more giveaways coming soon.

Top 10 Fears of KidMin Leaders (and how to conquer them)

We all have fears as leaders.  Some we have conquered and others we still battle.  Some come from outside sources and others rise internally.  

As I interact with children's ministry leaders, here are the top 10 fears that I hear echoed.

These are not ranked by greatest to least.  The order varies from person to person.

Fear #1 - Lack of Volunteers
Ever found your heart beating fast on a Sunday morning because you've had 3 volunteers bail on you and you didn't know how you were going to pull off the ministry?  Ever had VBS staring you down and you were short 6 teachers?  Ever been told the church is adding another service or an additional campus and you felt a wave of anxiety because you're already stretched thin on volunteers?

Conquer this fear...
Be encouraged.  Everyone has or is struggling with this.  You'll always need more volunteers...especially if you are growing and reaching people.  There are strategies you can implement that will help you build a dynamic volunteer team.  In this post, I share 10 simple secrets to building a volunteer team. 

In Matthew 9:38, Jesus told us to pray for laborers for the harvest.  He would not have told us to pray for something He didn't want to give us.  When you feel this fear creeping up on you, pray this prayer against it. 

Fear #2 - A Child Being Abused or Abducted
No matter how many precautions and safety measures you have in place, it's in the back of your mind.  When you hear about it happening at another church, you shudder when you think that it could happen in your ministry as well.  What if a child was abused while here at church?  What if a predator who hasn't been caught up to this point, started serving in our ministry?  What if someone slipped by our check out point and abducted a child? 

Conquer this fear...
It's our job to do everything possible to prevent a child from being abused or abducted.  Having solid walls of protection such as background checks, a no one ever alone with a child policy, a check-in plan and other safety measures are all ways to lessen the chance of a child being abused.  Here are more ways to make your ministry a safe and secure place.

Fear #3 - Criticism
Ever opened an email and it ruined your day?  Ever got a voice mail from a parent and dreaded calling them back?  Ever been hesitant to ask for feedback because of what you know you'll hear?  Ever not made a change because you didn't want to go through the backlash you'd get?

Conquer this fear...
Shift your thinking.  When a parent or volunteer brings criticism or complaints, see it as a gift.  Listen to it and learn something from it.  Some of the best lessons you will learn are when you are thrown under the bus.  Here's some more tips on how to overcome this fear.

Fear #4 - Lack of Growth
Ever stared at your attendance sheet and realized the number of kids attending your ministry is either flat or going the wrong way?  Ever stared into a half-empty classroom and wondered if there is anything you can do to more effectively reach kids and families?

Conquer this fear...
Remember, this is something you can't control.  God simply expects us to do our part by removing any barriers that are hindering growth.  Here is a list of barriers.  When we remove these and other barriers, God does His part and grows His church.

Fear #5 - Not Being Liked
Are you a people pleaser?  Are you afraid someone won't like you?  Do you lose sleep when you know someone is upset with you?

Conquer this fear...
The need to be liked is normally rooted in a need for affirmation.  We want the approval of others.  To conquer this fear, we must tie our identity to what God thinks about us, instead of what man thinks about us.  If you struggle with this fear, here is some help.

Fear #6 - Conflict
Do you run from hard conversations?   Do you let stuff slide because you don't want to deal with it?  Do your palms get sweaty when a parent asks to meet with you over an issue?

Conquer this fear...
This is one of the bigger fears for leaders.  The good news...navigating conflict is a skill that can be learned.  Conflict is never easy, but if you enter it knowing what you are and are not going to say, it significantly lessons the fear.  Here's some help with navigating explosive conflict.

Fear #7 - Volunteers Leaving
If it wasn't stressful enough to enlist a volunteer team, you have to keep them as well.  You get wind that one of your key volunteers is talking about stepping down and it sends chills down your spine.

Conquer this fear...
Build relationships with your volunteers.  This is the glue that will keep them serving with you.  That being said,  realize that no matter what you do, you will have some volunteers bolt on you.  Don't sweat it, God will send someone to replace them. 

Fear #8 - Not Making an Impact
We all want to know that our lives have made an impact.  Deep down inside we sometimes wonder if we are laboring in vain.  Will we be able to look back in the end and see that we clearly made a difference?  And if we do, will the impact be miniscule compared to what we had hoped and prayed for?

Conquer this fear... 
Two simple verses will help you conquer this fear.  Memorize and quote them when this fear approaches you. 

"It is the same with my word.  I send it out, and it always produces fruit.  It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it."  Isaiah 55:11

"So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable.  Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless."  I Corinthians 15:58

Fear #9 - Lack of Funding
Have you ever been afraid to ask for something for the ministry because you're sure the answer will be "no?"  Ever catch wind that the church offerings are down and wondered what that meant for children's ministry funding?

Conquer this fear...
Remember you must be the children's ministry champion in your church.  You must evaluate, pray and determine what the needs are.  It's your job to make the ask.  After that, it's out of your hands.  Don't sweat it.  God will provide what you need.  And remember, our perception of what we "need" may not match up with what God knows we need at the time.

Fear #10 - Kids Not Really Understanding a Decision They've Made to Follow Christ
Ever walked away from a baptism struggling with whether or not the child was really ready to be baptized?  Ever felt the weight of the responsibility of sharing the Gospel clearly with children?

Conquer this fear...
It's our job to share the Gospel with clarity.  Involve parents in the process and offer them guidance as they journey though this decision with their child.  Have a class kids go through before they are baptized.

Do due diligence to ask kids questions about their decision.  If you feel they are not ready, then work through this with the child's parents.

Be reminded that we can't save anyone.  That job has already been taken.  We get the privilege to introduce kids to the One who does the saving.

The floor is yours.  What are some other fears you have faced?  How did you deal with them?  How have you dealt with some of the fears mentioned above?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Feb 27, 2015

An Inside Look at Our Latest Children's Ministry Staff Retreat

Twice a year, our children's ministry staff team goes on a retreat together.  We actually call them "advances" instead of "retreats."  Our goal is to move forward not backwards.

I believe it's important to get away as a team on a regular basis to pause, reflect, deepen your relationships, pray, plan and dream together.

One of our Advances takes place the first of the year.  This Advance focuses on team building, leadership development, spiritual growth, a review of the previous year and goal setting.  It's a great time to gear up for the new year.

The other Advance is held late summer and focuses on team building, leadership development, spiritual growth, campus reports, evaluating everything we do, brainstorming new ideas and planning out the next year's calendar.  It's a great time to gear up for the fall ministry season that's coming.

Here is the agenda for the one that we just went on to kick off 2015. 
  • Worship 
  • Devotions
  • Break
  • Ministry overview
  • Lunch
  • Review of last year
  • Goals for 2015
  • Leadership training - How to equip, encourage and empower your volunteer team
  • Games and team building
  • Prayer
We went to a camp our church owns for the retreat. 

We love to laugh and have fun.

We stopped by to pray over one of our new campuses on the way home.
I'm always looking for ideas.  Would love to hear about any retreats, planning sessions, team building games or other things you do to grow together as a team.  Share them with us in the comment section below.