Mar 18, 2019

From the Small Details Emerges Excellence

I've been at Disney World for the last few days and as usual,  I was looking for ideas that can be transferred into children's ministry. 

One thing that stood out to me was the attention to detail.  Not just ordinary attention, but I saw excellence in how they approach details.  Here's an example.

We grabbed a burger for lunch.  When we got the burger, we immediately were reminded that it cost us as much as a car payment.  Just kidding, I exaggerated about the price, but it was rather expensive.

Speaking of the burger, in true Disney fashion, they added a small detail that set it apart from other burgers I've had in restaurants.  Look at this picture I took of the burger and you'll see why.  It's in the small details like this, that excellence emerges.  Disney has a culture that pays fantastic attention to details.  And out of that commitment has emerged a company that has a reputation for doing this with excellence.

Does this mean they are perfect?  No, of course not.  Excellence does not mean your business or ministry is perfect.  At Disney, I noticed some lights that had burned out and not been replaced.  I saw several places where the paint had flaked off and needed to be repainted.  But it does mean you are pursing excellence and doing your very best with what you've got.

Remember this from a parable Jesus told?  He said if you will be faithful with a little, He will entrust you with more.  All of those seemingly "little things" add up to represent the ministry with an image. It's an image of attention to details or not sweating the little details and hoping it turns out okay.

BTW, people are drawn to excellence.  It creates an atmosphere of excitement and great expectations.  Our goal should be to create such impactful ministries that people long to be a part of it.

So there you have it.  Attention to detail in even the smallest things.  Why?  Because from the small details emerges excellence. 

ps. If you haven't picked up a copy of our book "If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry," it's available at the link. 

Mar 15, 2019

Kid Influencers

In today's culture being an influencer doesn't necessarily mean you are a famous movie star, athlete, performer, politician or celebrity.

In our connected society, powerful influencers can also be found on YouTube, Instagram and other social media platforms.

Companies as large as Walmart, Staples and Mattel are signing toddlers and tweens, who have a large number of followers, to represent their company through ads.

And they are being paid well for being an influencer.  Kyler Fisher, the father of 2-year-old identical twins who have more than two million followers on Instagram, said a sponsored post on the girls’ account could bring between $10,000 and $20,000.00.

Here is a list of some of the top kid influencers.  Go check them out and see what they are doing to gather so many followers. You can look these up on YouTube.

Evan Tube - Evan is one of the top kid influencers in the world.  His YouTube channel has 5 million subscribers.  With all of his social media accounts he has over 10 million followers.  He has even written his own book.

Ryan Toys Review - Ryan is 8-years-old and is already one of the, if not the biggest kidinfluencers in the world. He has nearly 17 million subscribers to his YouTube channel. He does toy reviews. He’s also broken into the toy market by launching his own toys in conjunction with Walmart.
Jacob Sartorious - Jacob is 15 years old and is a huge influencer. He has over 9 million followers on Instagram. He dates Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown. He is song writer / singer as well and is gaining millions of followers on YouTube.
Twins Emma and Mila are Instagram stars. Their mother runs the site, but the twins are the main focus. They have gained Instagram fame with the pictures their mom shares. They have partnerships with Pampers and Amazon.
At just 4-years-old, Millie-Belle Diamond has gained a large following on Instagram. When you visit her site, you will see her modeling designer outfits for children. And now she has launched her own line of baby clothes.
Hawkeye Huey is an 8-year-old influencer who has gained a big following because of his photography. He has a clothing line called "Art Class" at Target.
Kittiesmama are siblings who have racked up over 2 million subscribers.

Gabe and Barrett are a brotherly duo. They produce engaging and entertaining videos for their YouTube channel, They have over 1.6 million subscribers.

These are just a few of the children who are already Kid Influencers.

I believe there is much we can learn from this for children's ministry.  Here are a few of my thoughts.
  • We must see the value that kids can add to the ministry.  Often, we hold them back from making a difference because we think they are "too young" or they are "just a kid."  Well, look around and you'll see that kids are making a big difference in the world of toys and entertainment.  Why not empower them and give them the opportunity to make a difference for the kingdom of God.
  • We should challenge kids to be difference makers.  Influencers who use their talents and giftedness to further God's kingdom.  
  • We must instill in them the eternal difference they can make when they serve in kid's ministry.  Given the opportunity they can influence your entire church and community.  
Several years ago, at one of the churches I was serving at, we were raising money to build a new children's building.  We decided to include the kids in the fundraising so they could not only obey God, but also gain a sense of ownership.

One of the kids decided he wanted to really make a difference by donating the money he was going to get for his birthday.  It was no small amount.  You see, his parents had promised to take him to Sea World in Orlando for his birthday.  The trip was worth $1,500.

The kid decided on his own to forgo the trip and instead give the money to help complete the new building.  His parents asked to make sure it was something he wanted to do.  And with no coercion or pressure, he gave his birthday trip money to help finish the new kids' building.

But his influence did not stop there.  We begin sharing the story of how the child had given his birthday trip money to help pay for the new building.  What he had done spread quickly and God used it to motivate the entire congregation to give sacrificially.  It happened and the building was completed.

You have children in your ministry that can be Kid Influencers.  They are simply waiting for you to ask them.  Lets raise up a generation of Kid Influencers that are committed to using their influence to reach people for Christ. 

Mar 14, 2019

20 Important Questions to Ask Your Volunteers

Children's ministry is not just about the kids.  It's also about the students and adults who minister to the kids.

One of your top priorities should be developing your volunteers and helping them grow in their faith and service for Jesus.

One of the best ways to help your volunteers grow is by asking them questions.  Open-ended questions that will give them the opportunity to share about what God is doing in their life and ministry as they serve.

Here are 20 important questions you can ask your volunteers.  Most of these are designed to be asked in a personal meeting.  You can use the questions when you meet with your team members individually...both new volunteers and veteran volunteers.  They are in no particular order.

1. Tell me about the last time you saw God at work in your life?

2. Are you serving in your sweet spot?  Is it the right fit for you?

3. What do you enjoy the most about serving?

4. When was the last time you were out of your comfort zone?

5. Can you tell me what you do to grow spiritually during the week?

6. What do you want your legacy to be?

7. Do you feel equipped for your current role?  If not, what is missing?

8. What are you seeing happen spiritually in the lives of the kids you serve?

9. How can I help you get to the next level in your role?

10. What's one thing we can do to make the ministry more effective?

11. What inspires you?

12. What's holding you back from loving Jesus more than you do now?

13. If you could go back in time and be at one of the big events in the Bible, which one would it be and why?

14. Do you feel you currently have opportunities to use your spiritual gifts?  Why or why not?

15. What is a new ministry skill you would like to learn?

16. How can I serve you better?

17. Are you establishing any relationships with the people you are serving with? Why or why not?

18. What do you want to see God do in the lives of the kids in your class/group?

19. What books have you read lately? (give them some suggestions or better yet, have a copy of the
book and give it to them)

20. How can I pray for you?

Your turn.  What are some other questions you ask volunteers?  Share with us in the comment section.

Mar 13, 2019

Gen Z...Connected But Lonely

Last year a survey was done about loneliness.  Over 20,000 people were asked how often they feel lonely or left out.  

Gen Z young adults and their Millennial parents rated themselves the highest on feeling lonely. 

How could this be true of Gen Z?  They are more "connected" than any previous generation.  

With technology, they are constantly making connections through text messages, Instagram posts, Facebook friends, Snapchat pictures, etc. 

While technology is amazing and brings great benefits with it, I believe this report solidifies the fact that nothing can take the place of in person, face-to-face relationships.  The truth is you can have thousands of "friends" online and still feel lonely.  

Why?  Because we are wired to have relationships.  Especially as believers.  We weren't meant to walk the Christian journey alone.  We need people around us that can hold us accountable, encourage us, pray with us, share our burdens and grow in faith together. 

I believe this is why every Gen Z child and student must establish personal relationships with those who are also on a faith journey.  

Small groups matter.  In fact, I would go as far as saying, you, I and Gen Z must be in community if we are going to have a strong faith.  

This why the Bible tells us in Hebrews not to "forsake the assembly of yourselves together."  Isolation leads to loneliness.  Isolation leads to discouragement.  Isolation leads to not having anyone to hold us accountable.  Isolation hinders our spiritual growth.  

One of the most important things we can do as leaders, is help the next generation get connected.  I believe more than ever that small groups are a must if we want to see Gen Z connected.  When they come to church, they should know that there is a small group of people that cares about them, knows them personally and helps them walk with Jesus.  

Of course, we know as believers we are never really alone.  Jesus said He will never leave us or forsake us.  And we can spend time with Him each day.  But I believe Jesus also works through other believers to help us on our spiritual journey. 

Every child or student who walks in the doors of your church should have someone speak their name, look them in the eyes and encourage them on their journey.  Every time they are at church they should have the opportunity to share prayer needs. And every time they are at church they should have someone who prays with them.  

I am thankful for online church services.  It is used by God each week to minister to countless of people who otherwise wouldn't be able to participate in a worship service.  That being said, I believe online church shouldn't become a substitute for being at church in person.  There's nothing like being in the house of God or at a Bible study that's in person.  

We live in a time of virtual relationships.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  Just this week through Facebook, I was able to connect with a friend whom I hadn't had contact with in 30 years.  The person was able to find me through Facebook and now we are catching up on old times through online messaging. 

But what is cooler than that is this weekend my wife and I are flying to Orlando to spend time with the family in person.  The connection we will re-establish through face-to-face interaction will be much more effective than chatting online. 

Each week Gen Z kids, students and young adults walk into the doors of our churches.  Some of them will slip into the worship service and as soon as it is over, bolt for the exit door.  Attending a worship service alone is okay, but attending and getting connected to a smaller group of people is how they will grow spiritually. 

I want to encourage you this weekend to be on the lookout for kids, students and young adults who appear to be lonely.  You know, the kid that sits in the back row by himself or herself.  The person who is playing with their cell phone because no one is connecting with him or her.  Be intentional about sitting down with that person.  Ask them about their life.  Find out what he or she likes to do for fun.  Invite them to be part of your small group or Bible study.  

Kids that grow up lonely in church are much more likely to drop out as soon as they can.  But kids who are personally connected with other kids and caring leaders, will grow in their faith and stick with it. 

Perhaps even as you are reading this, you feel lonely.  Isolated.  No one you can share your prayer requests with.  No one that is encouraging you.  No one who knows when you are absent and checks up on you. Take the initiative and find a small group of people you can get involved with.  Yes, Jesus is with you and a big way He is going to manifest that is through people He brings into your life. People you are connected with at a deeper level.  

And then there's the leader factor.  You've heard the saying "It's lonely at the top."  When you are leading a ministry, it can be more difficult to make connections.  But it is important to establish close friendships.  It may even be with someone in another city that you talk to on the phone each week.  Whoever and however, get connected and stay connected.  You need that as a leader.

You don't have to be lonely.  The kids you minister to don't have to be lonely.  The people you serve with don't have to be lonely.

Have you seen loneliness in any of the kids you minister to?  Or the leaders you serve with?  

What are some things you do to establish and maintain close relationships?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

p.s. I have a volunteer training called "Connections."  It gives leaders the tools they need to connect with kids and each other.  It's available at this link.