Oct 19, 2017

Disney KidMin Webinar Coming Nov. 2nd!

Do you need fresh, creative ideas for your children's ministry?  Get on the cutting-edge of effective ministry at the live webinar that will give you the skills and help you need to reach today's kids and families.

No other webinar will give you more focused expertise about maximizing your children's ministry.  Justyn, Bruce and Dale bring over 75 years of combined children's ministry experience to this webinar.

Session 1 - Capture Kids' Attention Like Disney
Dale will share amazing ideas from Disney that you can use to capture the attention of today's kids with your lessons and effectively communicate the truth of God's Word with them.  Dale has used these strategies to help build some of the largest and fastest growing ministries in the country.  These are strategies that you can immediately put into action and see results...and the good news...they have nothing to do with budget size!

Session 2 - Connect with Families Like Disney
Justyn will share how to connect with families.  Justyn leads a great ministry in Minneapolis where he has used these strategies to reach and disciple thousands of kids and families.  You'll gain practical tools you can use to impact and influence families.

Session 3 - Creativity Like Disney 
You'll have the opportunity to go into the studio of Bruce Barry.  Bruce is a creative genius who has helped hundreds of churches create dynamic ministry environments.  Bruce grew up immersed in Disney.  His father worked as an artist with Walt Disney, the man himself.  Bruce will share practical ways you can enhance your children's ministry environments with even the smallest budget.

There will also be plenty of time for live Q & A and interaction with other attendees.

As a bonus, you will receive a free ecopy of the best-selling book "If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry" when you register.  This book is being read and used by ministries around the world as well as being used as a seminary textbook.

Register now at this link.  Space is limited.  We can't wait to connect with you and together grow to the next level.

Oct 18, 2017

Treasured Guest

Did you know Disney park employees (cast members) have special code names they use over their radios when a situation arises?

Here are a few examples.

When someone tries to spread the ashes of their dead loved one on the Haunted Mansion Ride (yes, people actually try to do this), they use the words "White Powder."  The ride is immediately closed and guests are evacuated.  Then cast members in protective clothing vacuum up the departed’s ashes.

If you hear the words "Code V" come across the radio, it means a guest has vomited and it needs to be cleaned up.  It is also sometimes called a "Protein Spill."

"Code 101" means a ride or attraction has a mechanical failure and must be closed.  "Code 102" means the ride is ready to be reopened.

"Signal 70" means a child has been separated from his or her parent and is lost somewhere in the park.

"Signal 25" means there is a fire.

"The Kiss Goodnight" means a guest is lingering in the park after closing has been announced and needs to be escorted out.

"Code Winnie" means someone has peed in a pool area.

Emergency first responders are called "Alpha Unit."

There's one other secret code I want to tell you about.  It's the code "Treasured Guest."  This term is used to alert other employees about a guest who is exhibiting unruly or rude behavior.  

Disney employees are known for their excellence customer service training and skills.  I think this is reflected so well in these words they use to describe a troublesome customer.

In children's ministry, we often encounter "Treasured Guests" don't we?  A child who is refusing to participate and is sitting in the corner alone.  A parent who is ticked off because they forgot their security tag.  A child who continuously disrupts the class.  A baby who won't stop crying.  A toddler who bites another child.  An elementary child who hits another child.  A pre-teen who says unkind words to another pre-teen and hurts their feelings.  A grandparent who is upset that their grandchild didn't get picked to be the lead role in the church Christmas play.  The family who shows up after you've closed check-in and demands to be accommodated.  The child who has major behavioral issues. 

How do we see the kids and families who put us in these situations?  As a bother?  As a pain to deal with?  As a disruption?  As a bad person?  As a problem that has to be endured?  Let's be honest.  That's normally our first reaction, isn't it?

But what if we started seeing these kids, parents and families as treasured guests?   What if we saw them as Jesus sees them?  What if we treated them as treasured guests?

When everyone else saw Zaccheus as a selfish thief,  Jesus saw him as a treasured guest he wanted to dine with and transform into an honest man who loved God.

When everyone else saw Peter as a hot-headed trouble-maker who denied the Savior, Jesus saw him as a disciple with great potential.

When everyone else saw a Samaritan woman who had failed at multiple marriage relationships, Jesus saw a lady who longed for a true relationship with God.

When everyone else saw just a boy with a lunch, Jesus saw the potential for a miracle.

When everyone else saw a demon-possessed maniac living among the tombs, Jesus saw a man who could be forgiven and made whole.

When everyone else saw diseased-ridden lepers, Jesus saw people who could be healed and receive a fresh start.

When everyone else saw a dead man named Lazarus, Jesus saw resurrection and life.

When everyone else saw cruel, sadistic soldiers, Jesus saw people who did not understand what they were doing and needed God's forgiveness.

When everyone else saw a sheep that had wandered from the flock and gotten lost in the wilderness...a trouble-making kind of sheep...Jesus saw a lost sheep that needed seeking and saving.  A sheep that was worth the shepherd giving his life for.

May God give us eyes to see people as He sees them.  Treasured guests.  May He help us see beyond the behavior issues, the rudeness, the anger, the disruption...and see people for the treasure they are.  Kids and families that are diamonds in the rough.

When we begin to see people as treasured guests, no matter their issues, we will minister to them with love, respect and compassion.  We will be able to see below the surface issues and see who they can become through God's grace.

So...this week...when a parent causes a stink...whisper the words "Treasured Guest."

When a child disrupts the entire class...whisper the  words "Treasured Guest."

When a preschooler gets mad and tears up the craft you've placed in front of them...whisper the words "Treasured Guest."

When you're about to lose it because of the baby who is crying on and on in the nursery...whisper the words "Treasured Guest."

When a parent is 30 minutes late picking up their child and you find out they were talking with friends the entire time...whisper the words "Treasured Guest."

When a pre-teen says mean words...whisper the words "Treasured Guest."

There are times when all of us need grace.  There are times when we all need someone to look beyond our faults and shortcomings and still see us as a treasured guest.  Let's do the same for others. If we do, it will be life-changing for the kids and families in our ministries.

You can get more great ideas for your children's ministry in the best-selling book "If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry."  Order your copy now.

Oct 17, 2017

Robot Volunteers?

Have you heard about the new robot called "BlessU-2?"  It's a robot built onto an ATM like machine that gives blessings to those who engage with it.  When activated, the robot's plastic fingers open and it raises its palms to offering a blessing for the person standing in front of it.

The BlessU-2 robot speaks 7 different languages in either a male and female voice, depending on user preference.  It offers four different types of blessings: traditional, companionship, encouragement and renewal.  The blessings incorporate more than 40 Bible verses.  It was installed by the Protestant Church in Hessee and Nassau in Wittenberg, Germany.

While the robot is obviously on the cutting-edge of emerging technology, it is sparking conversation and debate.

Who or what can offer blessings?

Can God bless through a robot?

Can a robot effectively take the place of a human in offering blessings?

BlessU-2 is not the only "religious robot."  A robot called "Xian'er" has been developed for a temple in Beijing.  It looks like a cartoon monk and answers visitors' questions about Buddhism.  In Japan, a company has developed a robot called "Pepper" that can perform Buddist funeral rites.  And Anthony Levandowski, who is an engineer, has registered a religious organization named "Way of the Future" that seeks to develop and promote the realization of God based on artificial intelligence.

Could there be robot volunteers in children's ministry one day?  A hundred years from now, could preschool environments at churches be staffed by robot volunteers?  Small group leader robots that are programmed to lead discussions, answer Bible questions and offer up prayers for kids?  How about robot volunteers who teach parenting classes for young couples?  Maybe robot volunteers operating video and audio controls?  Or a robot volunteer teacher that is programmed to teach Bible stories with sound effects, video projection and object lessons?

You never know what could happen with technology.  100 years ago, people never dreamed you would instantly be able to talk with someone on the other side of the world through a smile device that fits in your pocket.  Or that you could store thousands of files on a device the size of a needle.

One thing I do know and believe is this.  Nothing can take the place of a real, live, breathing, human volunteer.  Without people volunteering, there is no children's ministry.

God uses people.  He always has...He always will.  He uses people who voluntarily yield themselves to God and ask Him to work through their lives to impact the next generation.

Discipleship happens when a volunteer looks into the eyes of a child and says, "You matter to me.  You matter to God.  I care about you and want to help you grow in your faith.  Let's go on a spiritual journey together."  God works through heart-to-heart connections to help kids grow spiritually.

Years ago, when Walt Disney was preparing to open Disneyland for the very first time,  he looked around at all the cutting-edge technology, rides, attractions and entertainment facilities he had placed in the park and he said this...
You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it takes people to make the dream a reality.
What was Walt saying?  Nothing can take the place of people.  No technology...no video...no cool music...no cutting-edge facility...no video game...no computer...no robot...can take the place of a volunteer. 

If you are a volunteer reading this, I want to remind you of how important you are.  You are the most valuable part of the ministry.  You matter.  What you do matters...so much.  Thank you for your heart for the next generation.  Thank you for investing in children.  Thank you for your faithfulness.  Thank you for the impact you are making.  You are the heart and soul of the ministry. 

If you lead volunteers, I want to encourage you to value the volunteers in your ministry.  Love them.  Care for them.  Say "thank you" every week.  Spoil them.  Encourage them.  Equip them.  Invest in them.  Empower them.  Value them.  Pour your time, resources and energy into them.  Make volunteers one of the top priorities in your ministry.

Robot volunteers?  I don't think so.  Robots won't change a kid's life.  An anointed, caring, faithful, human volunteer is how it happens now and is how it will happen in the future.

Want to build and strengthen your volunteer team?  Dale's book "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams" is just what you're looking for.  Order it now at this link.

Oct 13, 2017

The Movement That's Changing the Way We Teach Kids

Did you see the television special a few weeks ago about the movement that is changing the way kids are taught?  It was on all 3 major networks at prime time.  It's big, exciting news!  Let's take a closer look.

The movement is called XQ: The Super School Project.  The movement is working to overcome the complacency of high schools and other institutions of learning that are outmoded and ill-equipped to prepare kids to thrive in today's world.

The movement reveals that while the world has rapidly changed, our methods of learning have barely changed at all.  The United States, who was once first in the world in high school completion, now ranks 23rd.

It's time we make the changes needed to once again become a leader in education and provide state-of-the-art learning for every child.  And that's what the movement is about.  It's bringing together students, parents, educators, entrepreneurs and other leaders to re-imagine and re-think how we teach kids.  It's about creating the schools of the future.

The movement focuses on collaborating to help kids move beyond just memorization and abstract concepts to becoming self-directed learners who can apply what they've learned and use it to solve the problems they will face in a rapidly-changing world.

Here are some examples...

Old Paradigm                New Paradigm
-follows orders               -co-creates plans to achieve goals
-product driven               -customer driven
-climbs corp. ladder       -seeks leadership opportunities
-change takes time         -team responds quickly
-9 to 5                             -flexible
-lifelong job                    -change jobs often
-completes tasks            -pursues goals

How kids learn best:

1. Caring, trusting, supportive relationships with adults.

2. Kids respond best when high expectations are set.

3. Kids need opportunities to contribute.  Provide them with a choice and a voice.

4. Learning experiences that are engaging, related to their interests, offer opportunities to succeed and provide feedback.

Essentials for effective learning:

1. Students need opportunities to learn deeply, so they can gain knowledge and the ability to apply what they know, make inferences and solve problems.

2. Learning is most effective when students are able to relate what they've learned to their real lives.

3. Students need meaningful, student-centered, learning experiences, that enable them to build toward mastery.

4. Stop rote memorizing and start applying knowledge.

5. Depth of learning is achieved when teachers integrate new learning methods and tools into their curriculum thoughtfully and mindfully to meet students' needs and interests.

6. Students learn best when teaching is personalized and varied.

7. Inspiring teaching connects to the real world.

8. We have to make learning something kids want to do.

Here's what children's ministries have to understand.  These principles and philosophies of learning are the same when it comes to children learning God's Word.  It translates directly into how we teach and communicate God's Word to kids.

We also have to understand this.  Normally the church lags behind the education world when it comes to making changes in teaching methodology.  This means the necessary changes in the church will probably happen several years after schools make the shift.  That's scary, because the result could be another generation of kids who grow up in church without gaining the spiritual knowledge, instruction and passion they need to follow Jesus for a lifetime.

But it doesn't have to be that way.  The church can learn from this movement and make the necessary shifts needed to raise kids who follow Jesus in today's world.  It's time we stopped doing children's ministry like it's still 1950 or 1980 or even 2010.  It's time we make the changes needed so we can be effective.

In fact, rather than lagging behind, we should be leading the way in making the changes needed to effectively help today's kids learn and apply God's Word.

It's time we replace lecturing with learner-based activities.  

It's time we replaced rows of chairs with circles where kids learn from each other just as much as from a teacher up front. 

It's time we made church relevant to the lives of today's kids.  

It's time we teach application just as much as we teach information. 

It's time we teach kids to think critically and walk with them through the hard questions they will face about God and His Word. 

It's time we shift the focus from the teacher to the kids. 

It's time we stop having kids memorize scripture without helping them understand what it means. 

It's time we embrace the fact that kids are wired to move and learn best through interaction, activity and movement.

This is just a small overview of the many great insights you can gain from this movement.  I want to encourage you to check out their website and watch this video below for more information.

So much is at stake.  We must be willing to change if we are going to help kids gain a faith foundation that will stand the test of time and see them develop a Jesus-centered worldview.

Let the children's ministry movement begin!  Let's start teaching today's kids with relevant methods and effective philosophies.

Your turn.  The floor is yours. Share your thoughts and insight about this in the comment section below.