Nov 27, 2015

10 Funny Photos That Show the Real Life of Parents

Parenting is great, but at times it's not glamorous to say the least.  Here's some funny photos that give a real look at that side.  Enjoy.

Nov 26, 2015

20 Reasons I'm Thankful for You...Children's Ministry Leader

There's much I'm thankful for today.  One of the big ones on my list is you...children's ministry leader.

In case you haven't heard it in awhile...thank you.

Thank you...for your heart for the next generation.

Thank you...for changing diapers so a mom can sit in a service and have her life changed.

Thank you...for serving even when you've had a rough week.

Thank you...for living for much more than just yourself.

Thank you...for speaking words of encouragement to the child who receives little anywhere else.

Thank you...for making church a place where kids want to be.

Thank you...for listening to prayer requests that include healing for goldfish, dogs and cats.

Thank you...for your patience when there's a full moon out and the kids are extra "excited."

Thank you...for doing the "worship motions" with the kids...even when you know you'll be sore the next day from it.

Thank you...helping kids see how much God loves them.

Thank you...for faithfully serving when others are sitting.

Thank you...for helping kids find a verse in the Bible.

Thank you...for being a living example of a Christ-follower for the kids.

Thank you...for seeing the gifts God has placed in kids and helping them discover that God can use them for His glory.

Thank you...for syncing your heartbeat with the heartbeat of Jesus.

Thank you...for staying in children's ministry when others have moved on to "bigger opportunities" (we know children's ministry is the greatest mission field and opportunity in the world).

Thank you...for being willing to laugh, be silly and act like a big kid.

Thank you...for staying committed to what really matters.

Thank you...for every goldfish cracker you've passed out in Jesus' name, every craft you've prepared, every juice spill you've wiped up and every take home paper you've handed to a parent.

Thank you...for helping kids and parents step across the line of faith and become lifelong followers of Jesus.

Have a great Thanksgiving and know that you are loved and appreciated.  You matter...what you does matters...a lot!

Nov 25, 2015

Millennials & the Demise of Bank Branches...What It Means for the Church

Millennials, who are the young adults and parents in your ministry, make up the largest share of both the U.S. population (34%) and employed population (26%).

They are increasingly turning to online banking and visiting bank branches less often.  Millennials are shaping the future of banking.

Bank branches have seen a 40% decline since 1991 and are projected to decline by another 25% by 2018. 

In response, banks are cutting back on their branches while spending more on mobile capabilities.  This is directly related to the continued shift to a mobile driven culture.  Mobile banking is growing at a rate of 20%.

These trends have significant implications for not only branch banking, but for brick and mortar businesses and institutions as well...including churches. 

Here are some things to consider...
  • The bank branch may very well come obsolete.  Like any major shift, it will take time, but eventually bank branches as we know them may be a thing of the past.  
  • ATM's may go the way of the phone booth.  As cash and check transactions decline,  ATM's will become nonessential and face the same fate as the physical branch.  
  • The smartphone may become the primary source of banking.  It goes everywhere the user goes, has the ability to collect data and is already being used to make purchases. 
  • More Millennials may shift from attending church at a physical building to attending online.  Church online is a great way to reach and disciple people, but we must keep in mind that it can pull Millennials from physically attending a church building.  
  • Convenience is appealing.  Why drive to a bank branch when you can do the same thing on your phone in 5 minutes or less?  I do not think online church will pull Millennials entirely from attending church physically, but it will affect situations where they are running late, have had a busy week, are tired or have a tight weekend schedule. 
  • Relationships, worship and fellowship happen best in person.  While you can get teaching online - relationships, worship and fellowship happens best gathered in a physical location together.  This is why I believe that while online church may affect physical gatherings to some degree, it will never completely make it obsolete.  People still long for face-to-face connections.  Local churches must be about personal relationships and community.  Churches who do this well will continue to thrive even in a culture that is becoming more and more online driven.
Your turn.  The floor is yours.  What implications do you think the decline of bank branches has for the church?  Share your thoughts and insights with us in the comment section below.

Nov 24, 2015

Simple Children's MInistry

Let's define simple children's ministry.

Simple children's ministry...
  • has a focused, clear strategy
  • thinks discipleship steps instead of programs and events
  • keeps ministry areas aligned with the strategy
  • does a few things with excellence
  • eliminates the unnecessary
The simple strategy works.  Look into the business world and you'll see that the top brands keep things simple.   They cut through the clutter and deliver what customers want, when they want it, without hassle.  They simplify the customer's experience in a complex world.  Here's some examples...
  • Google
  • Netflix
  • Publix
  • Amazon
  • Chipolte
  • Dunkin' Donuts
  • Burger King
  • KFC
  • Pizza Hut 
When children's ministries build a culture of simplicity, they can provide families with a great experience.  When families have a great experience, it leads to growth.

When growth begins, the tension of complexity will resurface and come back into play.  The natural bent is to move toward complexity.  It takes hard work to remain simple.  As you grow, you must remain very intentional about keeping processes and steps simple.  You must be committed to saying no to "good opportunities" that are complexity in disguise.

How do you create a simple children's ministry model?  Here's a blueprint.
1. Define who you are as a ministry.
2. Define what your discipleship goals are for kids and families.
3. Create simple steps they can take to get there.
4. Let the steps dictate your ministry calendar and programming.
5. Build your staff and volunteer team to support the steps.
6. Say no to anything that is not part of the steps or strategy.
7. Constantly evaluate the effectiveness of the steps you have in place.  Tweak and adjust as needed.

Look across the country and you'll see the most effective children's ministries follow this simple model.  If you feel like you're spinning your wheels, it could very well be due to the complexity of your ministry.  Remember...less truly is more.  Simplifying can be a catalyst for children's ministry success.

Nov 23, 2015

5 Ways to Show Volunteers Their Work Matters

Do your volunteers know and believe that what they do matters?  Don't assume they do.  Show them.  Here's 5 ways...

Show their work on social media.
Take pictures of your volunteers in action and then post it on social media.  Add comments that highlight their ministry.  Here's a few examples of pictures I've posted on our volunteer Facebook page.

Gardine Demesmin helping kids memorize God's Word at our Boynton Beach Campus.
Andrea Rosario, Maria Gutierrez, Yvette Avila and Tina Sands serve at our Royal Palm campus as part of the welcome/greeter team. They help new families feel loved and at home when they walk through the doors. They're a big reason families feel welcomed on their first visit.
Roxann Taylor and Carol Wegener loving on kids and families at our Stuart Campus yesterday. Thank you ladies for helping kids and families discover how much God loves them.
It's volunteers like Nick Rasek that make CF Kids such a special place for kids to learn about God.
Connect their work to the fruit.
Make sure they know when a family is dedicating their child, when a child steps across the line of faith, when a child follows Jesus in baptism, when a child lives out something they taught, when an entire family is reached and other examples of fruit that has come from their ministry.

Let your volunteers know that they each had a part in the lives that were changed.  Whether they greeted at the door or rocked a baby or taught a class or handed out a craft or led a song...God brought fruit from their ministry.

Here's another picture we posted a few months ago.  We were celebrating with our team.  132 kids had followed Jesus in baptism that past weekend.  I wanted to remind them they each had a part in what God did.

Have the kids and families tell them.
It means so much to your volunteers to hear from the kids and families they're impacting.  Have special appreciation days where you have the kids and families bring notes to your volunteers.  Pause during the children's service and have the kids thank the volunteers for serving and impacting their lives.

One of the most impactful moments I've seen is when kids gather around their volunteer leader and pray for him or her.  Try it.  It's priceless.

Personally tell them.
I personally remind our volunteers on a regular basis that they matter.  That what they do matters.  A lot.  Saying "thank you" helps volunteers feel appreciated.  But don't stop there.  Take it a step further.  Tell them that what they do matters.  This helps them feel valued.

Pass along the good words.
When you get a thank you note or email from a family that has been impacted...don't keep it to yourself.  Share it with your volunteers.

Your turn.  The floor is yours.  How do you show your volunteers that their work matters?  Share your ideas and insights with us the comment section below.