Apr 28, 2017

20 Things I Love About Children's Ministry

I believe children's ministry is the best ministry to serve in.  There's nothing like it!  People that aren't serving in children's ministry don't know what they are missing out on.  Here's 20 things I love about it.

Seeing babies dressed up in cute outfits for child dedication. 

Watching kids raise their hands in worship to God.

Knowing the investment I'm making will outlive me.

Hearing giggles and laughter in the hallways.

Writing God's truth in the wet cement of a child's heart.

Watching an entire family get baptized together and knowing it started with God working in the child's heart.

Seeing a new family walk through the doors and knowing you have the opportunity to see God change the trajectory of their lives.

Listening to a preschooler explain a Bible picture they drew.

Seeing a child come out of the waters of baptism and knowing they have their whole life to serve Jesus and impact the world.

Watching a volunteer grow in their gifts and talents.

Stepping back and watching empowered volunteers "run the show."

Sharing God's Word with kids and seeing them "get it."

Watching small group leaders pour into the lives of the kids in their group.

Listening to the faith-filled prayer of a child as they talk to God.

Talking with a new family as you walk them to their classroom.

Speaking words of encouragement to a child and seeing their face light up.

Watching volunteers pray with kids.

We get to use puppets.

Watching a family worship together during Christmas services.

Taking a picture for a family at Easter as they stand in front of an Easter backdrop.

Your turn.  What do you love about children's ministry?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Apr 27, 2017

How to Double Your Volunteer Team in One Year

How would you like to double your number of volunteers in one year?  It can happen, but you probably won't be able to do it by yourself.  No matter how good you are personally at enlisting new volunteers, you can only connect with so many people in one year.  Let's say you personally enlist one new volunteer a month.  After a year, you'll have 12 new volunteers.  That's good, but what if you enlisted some current volunteers to help you build the team?  It could look like this after a year.

3 people x 12 new volunteers each = 36 new volunteers in one year.
5 people x 12 new volunteers each = 60 new volunteers in one year.
10 people x 12 new volunteers each = 120 new volunteers in one year.

So how do you get your current volunteers to help you bring new volunteers on the team?
  • Talk about it - when you meet with your volunteers, talk with them about inviting other people to serve - what you emphasize to your volunteers is what becomes important to them
  • Promote it - have contests between different areas of your ministry and see who can enlist the most volunteers in one month / if you are multi-site, have a contest between campuses
  • Honor it - when a volunteer enlists a new volunteer for the team, honor him or her - what you celebrate also becomes important
The cool thing is many times volunteers are more effective at enlisting people to serve than staff are.  I remember a few years ago, we decided to have a push to enlist new volunteers.  We set up a table in one of the main hallways with the strategy of spending all weekend asking people if they would be interested in volunteering.  Instead of placing a staff member at the table, I decided to ask Lisa to be at the table.  Lisa was one of our key volunteers.  She loved serving and had a bubbly, contagious spirit.  She gladly agreed to be at the invite table all weekend.  My prayer was she would be able to enlist at least 5 or 6 new volunteers that weekend.  After the last service, I went to the table and asked Lisa if she had been able to enlist any new volunteers?  Her response blew me away!  She said, "Yes, I was able to sign up 85 new volunteers."  Yes, you read that correctly.  She signed up 85 new volunteers in one weekend.  

Think about it.  Who are the Lisa's in your ministry that you could ask to help enlist new volunteers?  What are some steps you can take to create a culture of volunteers inviting others to serve?  How can you honor volunteers who bring other people on the team?

You can get more great tips about building a volunteer team in my new book - "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teas."  You can get your copy today at this link.

Apr 26, 2017

7 Keys I Learned Last Week About Leading Change

Last week I was at a church that is preparing to enter a $10 million dollar building project.  I watched as the Pastor introduced this massive change to the congregation.  He did a masterful job.  From observing this, I learned 7 keys about leading change.

Key #1 - Honor the past.  He took the people back to the past and showed how God had blessed their church when they stepped out in faith to follow the vision God had for them.  He honored past pastors, past building projects, past growth and past steps of faith.  Before you introduce future change, honor people for being willing to change in the past.  This reminds people that change has always been a part of their journey and this new change is just part of what they have always been about. 

Key #2 - Ask the right questions and listen.   Great leaders initiate change by asking the right questions and then listening.  The Pastor had asked extensive questions to a wide array of church members.  Where do you think the church is right now?  What do you think it would take for us to reach more people?  How do you think we can be more effective?  What obstacles do you see hindering the church from moving forward?  An effective vision originates from asking great questions.

Key #3 - Put the vision in writing.  The vision was clearly stated and explained in a brochure.  Details, timelines and plans were shared.  Show people in writing where you are taking them.  Clear communication is an essential part of effective change.
Key #4 - Share why the change needs to happen.  The Pastor showed that the current services were 85% full.  In order to continue growing, they would have to expand the seating capacity.  He showed that the student ministry room was overflowing on Wed. night and needed more room.  They had even used a drone to film the parking lot and show guests pulling in and then leaving after not being able to find a parking space.  He reminded them that their mission was to reach people with the Gospel and this is why they must continue to grow.  The "why" of the vision must be the primary motivating force for the change.

Key #5 - Share the benefits that will come from the change.  He provided a list of positive benefits that would come from the change.  They would reach more people.  They would have sufficient room for Bible study.  It would be easier for guests to navigate the building.  They would have better parking.  People want to know how the change will benefit the ministry.  Show them.  When people see the benefits will be worth the sacrifice needed for the change to happen, they will get on board.
#6 - Get key leaders on board before taking it to the masses.  The Pastor was surrounded by key lay leaders in the church that he had already shared the vision with and got on board.  He had some of them get up and share why they were on board with the vision.  When people see that the key lay influencers of the ministry are on on-board with change, they are much more likely to get on-board as well.

#7 - Expect there to be some opposition.  I couldn't help but smile when the Pastor announced that it would cost $10 million dollars for the vision to happen.  An older lady sitting in front of me gasped, put her head in her hands and started shaking her head in disagreement.  It is natural to have some opposition when you introduce change.  Change moves people out of their comfort zones and into unfamiliar territory.  This is scary for some people and so they resist.  Don't take it personal.  They are simply struggling with being uncomfortable. 

How do you respond to opposition?  Stay humble and invite open dialogue.  The Pastor encouraged those who had questions or concerns to come and talk with he and the other leaders.  In fact, he announced a special time that would be set aside for this.  The people who oppose the change simply want to be heard and know you care about them and their concerns.  When you invite open dialogue, you help break down resistance to the change.  

That's what I learned watching this change start last week in real time.  What are some things you've learned about leading change effectively?  What are some do's?  What are some don'ts?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below. 

Apr 25, 2017

Gen Z's Distorted View of God

Gen Z.  They are today's children...the youngest of six generations that are currently alive.
  • GI Generation (born 1901-1926)
  • Silent Generation (born 1927-1945)
  • Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)
  • Generation X (born 1965-1980)
  • Millennial / Gen Y Generation (born 1981-2000)
  • Gen Z (born 2001+)
Each of these generations as a whole have been moving farther away from the truth.  You can see this in the following percentage of people in the generations who are not affiliated with any religion.
  • Silent Generation - 11% unaffiliated
  • Baby Boomers - 17% unaffiliated
  • Gen X - 23% unaffiliated
  • Older Millennials - 34% unaffiliated
  • Younger Millennials - 36% unaffiliated
We also know that even among those attending church, they are attending less frequently.  "Regular attenders" used to mean 3 to 4 times a month.  Now it means 1-2 times a month.  Gen Z kids are attending church less frequently than any previous generation because their parents are taking them much less frequently.

This slide has been fueled for the most part by Post-Modernism.  Over the generations, Post-Modernism has penetrated our society/culture and now owns it.  Post-Modernism says...
  • There are no moral absolutes.
  • There are many paths to God (pluralism).
  • Trust is relative.
  • Each person must decide for themselves what is right and wrong. 
Being born into a culture that is saturated by Post-Modernism is distorting Gen Z's view of God.  They aren't being taught Who God is and how we can have a relationship with Him.  A recent video that was very popular on YouTube shows an example of this.  I must warn you, there are parts of the video that I believe are highly inappropriate for a child to be discussing, but it again shows where our society is.  Watch the video and then I'll pick back up with our discussion.

You can see Post-Modernism oozing out of their statements about God...
  • I am an atheist.
  • God is a guy up in the clouds, like on the Simpsons.
  • God is a frog. 
  • Jesus is the mommy.  He is a Hexagon.
  • We're all part of the same family.
  • I imagined all different religions having their own god portrayed and I didn't want to just do one, so I did all of them.
It is easy to become disheartened when seeing this.  But don't.  The good news is we have an unprecedented opportunity to reach kids and families with the Gospel.  The Gospel is just as powerful as it ever was.  When we share the truth about God and His Son, Jesus, with kids and families, many of them will respond.  The church, like never before, must be about spreading the Gospel.

The church must also be intentional about teaching kids solid, Bible doctrine.  "What" we teach is more important than ever before.  I'm not saying we should make church a boring experience.  "How" we teach must be engaging, fun and learner-based.  But just teaching kids cute values and surface level lessons will not prepare them to spiritually survive the Post-Modern culture in which they are entrenched from birth.

Children's ministry leader, you are on the front lines in this.  You matter.  What you do matters.  Walk in God's power and let's reach Gen Z.