Aug 3, 2015

7 Bad Behaviors That Will Hurt You as a Children's Ministry Leader

Here's 7 behaviors that will hurt you as a children's ministry leader.

#1 - Unwillingness to change.  Just because it worked yesterday doesn't mean it will work tomorrow.

In my own personal life, I have found it's easy to change things that someone else started, but it's more difficult to change something I started or initiated.  Do you struggle with that as well?  If you are unwilling to change, it will hurt you.

#2 - Pride.  Pride says you've arrived.  Pride says you've learned it all.  Pride says you don't need help from others.  Pride makes you unteachable and that's a dangerous place to be as a leader.

#3 - Inflexibility.  "My way or the highway" is a road to dysfunction.  If you are unwilling to give and take with the people you serve with, you may think you are "winning" battles, but in reality you're losing.

#4 - Not taking the blame.  Great leaders always take responsibility for their actions instead of trying to place the blame on someone else.  They acknowledge what they did wrong and make it right.

#5 - Disorganization.  If you are disorganized, you can "wing it" for awhile, but it will catch up with you.  Volunteers will only tolerate disorganization for so long.  If you are not naturally an organized person, don't hide behind that excuse.  Organization and planning can be learned.

#6 - Not being self-aware.  If you don't know your strengths and weaknesses, you will tend to overlook important flaws in your life and not correct them.  Gather people around you that will speak into your life and help you identify and fix your blind spots.

#7 - Not learning from your mistakes.  Mistakes are part of learning.  If you can't identify your mistakes, you won't grow much beyond where you currently are as a leader.

The floor is yours.  What are some other mistakes that will hurt you as a children's ministry leader.  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Jul 30, 2015

7 Keys to Developing Volunteers into Leaders

Enlisting a volunteer to serve on your team is just the beginning.  From there we should go on a journey with them to help them grow in their faith, ministry skills and leadership.
Our calling is not to use volunteers to build the ministry.  Our calling is to use the ministry to build volunteers. [tweet this]
As you build volunteers into leaders, they will be empowered to lead other volunteers and expand the ministry.

Here are 7 keys to seeing this happen.

Key #1 - Help volunteers discover their gifts.  When you help volunteers operate in their areas of gifting, they will gain confidence and flourish.  In this post, I share the questions we ask our volunteers to help them find their sweet spot. (areas of gifting)

Key #2 - Give them clear goals.  If you want your volunteers to grow into leaders, give them clear goals that will take them there.  This includes knowing what the wins are for their current area of service and growth steps to more leadership responsibility.

Key #3 - Pour into them.  Be the person that places the tools in their hands that will help them become leaders.  This includes mentoring, providing feedback, leadership materials and other growth opportunities.

Key #4 - Inspire them.  Many people don't think they have the ability to lead.  Help them see what they don't see in themselves.

Key #5 - Call them up.  As you see potential and faithfulness in volunteers, talk with them individually about taking on more leadership.  

Key #6 - Provide a leadership pathway.  Think of it as creating volunteer career pathways.  Here's an example.  Someone starts out as a helper in a preschool room.  Their next step would be leading a preschool room.  The next step after that could be overseeing three preschool rooms.  Their next step could then be overseeing an entire area.  Make sure your volunteers know the pathways that are available for them.

Key #7 - Let them lead.  Micro-managers and control freaks don't produce leaders.  If you aren't willing to get out of the way and let volunteers lead, you will have volunteers, but not leaders, and the ministry will be capped.

You are a leader because someone saw potential in you, believed in you, poured into you and gave you the opportunity to lead.  Be that person for your volunteers.
Success in ministry is not what you do.  It's what you empower others to do. [tweet this]

Jul 29, 2015

An Easy Way to Add a "Wow" Factor to Your Children's Ministry

Looking for ways to not just meet, but exceed the expectations of the families who walk through the doors of your children's ministry?

Here's a simple way to add a "wow" factor that will have families singing your praises.

Occasionally surprise them by having treats for them as they are coming out of the worship service. 

It can be cookies, ice cream, hot chocolate, hot dogs, candy, lemonade, etc. 

Remember the feeling you get when you walk into a hotel or other place of business and you are pleasantly surprised by the freshly baked cookies they have waiting for you?  It sets them apart from other businesses and makes you want to return.  That's the same feeling families will get when you do this at church.

Disney is a great example of this.  They consistently find ways to "wow" their guests.  Recently, they celebrated the 60th anniversary of Disneyland.  They surprised all the guests in the park with cupcakes.

We surprised families this past weekend with ice cream coming out of our last service.  There were smiles everywhere.

"Wow" new families and they will be back.  The ability to provide "wow" factors is a key to seeing your ministry grow exponentially.

Jul 28, 2015

A Huge Weekend at Church and It Was Led By Kids! (Here's the Highlights)

We had a huge weekend at church.  The primary reason?  It was led by kids!

We are in a summer series called "At the Movies."  Each week, we show clips from a movie that ties into a Biblical truth.

We decided to gear one of the weekends towards kids and their families.  We chose the movie "Despicable Me" and invited kids to not only be part of the adult service, but to lead it as well.

The kids led all the worship, shared testimonies and prayed for the offering.  The Holy Spirit's presence filled the room and God used it to reach many people.  Here are a few highlights in pictures.



















Jul 27, 2015

How to Minister to Foster Kids in Your Church

You probably have some foster kids in your ministry.  Here's a look into their lives and how to better minister to them.

There are an estimated 400,000 kids in foster care right now.   Some are awaiting adoption, some will go back to their parents, and others will age out.

Foster kids can suffer from PTSD at almost two times the rate of returning vets.  Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, fight-or-flee responses, anger outbursts, and hyper-vigilance (being on "red alert" at all times).

The average age of a foster kid is nine-years-old. 

Almost half of foster kids are in non-relative homes.  8% are in institutions, 6% are in group homes, and only 4% are in pre-adoptive homes.

Some foster children experience multiple placements.  In some cases, eight or more.  This means they lose not just adults and other kids they are establishing a bond with, but friends, schoolmates and pets.

The average foster child remains in the system for almost 2 years before being reunited with their biological parents, adopted, aging out or other outcomes. 

8% of them remain in foster care for over five years.  Of the 238,000 foster kids who left the system in 2013, about half were reunited with parents or primary caregivers, 21% were adopted, 15% went to live with a relative or other guardian and 10% aged out.

In 2013, more than 23,000 kids aged out of foster care with no permanent family to end up with.  One-quarter of former foster kids experience homelessness within four years of exiting the system. 

Many foster children are likely to suffer serious mental health consequences.  They are four-five times more likely to be hospitalized for attempting suicide and five-eight times more likely to be hospitalized for serious psychiatric disorders in their teen years.

So how can you best minister to the foster kids in your church?  Here's some keys.

Show them you care.  You've heard the saying, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."  This is especially true with foster kids.  Show them by your actions that you really care about them.   They may act like they don't want you to care, but deep down they do.  They are just trying to protect themselves from being hurt again.

Give them unconditional love.  Often foster kids are coming from a place of pain and are hurting.  This means they may reach out with anger, hate, harsh words, manipulation and disobedience.  Respond with a love that reaches beyond this. 

Show interest.  One of the best ways to show interest is to listen.  Ask questions about what they like.  Video games?  Toys?  Sports?  Favorite subject at school?  When you ask about their interests, you are showing you want to connect with them.  FYI - do not ask personal questions about their family, background, etc.  Keep it to general topics.  

Don't single them out.  They often feel "different" because of the situation they find themselves in.  Don't add to this by treating them differently than the other kids or by calling attention to the fact that they are a foster child.

Partner with the foster parents.  Ask the foster parents how you can best minister to the kids and then keep an open line of communication.  The foster parents will know what they can and cannot share, so let them take the lead in the conversation.

Foster kids are a very important part of the local church where I serve.  We established a ministry for foster kids called Place of Hope.  It is a faith-based, state licensed child welfare organization that provides family-style foster care (emergency and long-term); family outreach and intervention; maternity care; safety for victims of domestic minor sex trafficking; transitional housing and support services; foster care recruitment and support; hope and healing opportunities for children and families who have been traumatized by abuse and neglect throughout our region.

We have the privilege of ministering to the kids who are part of Place of Hope each weekend in our children's ministry. 

The floor is yours.  What are some other tips for ministering to foster kids?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.