Feb 16, 2018

Is Your Children's Ministry Spread Too Thin to Be Effective?


When I lived in southern California and then in Las Vegas, one of my favorite places to eat was In-N-Out Burger.

Many times, when a person is going west on business or travel, you'll hear someone tell them, "You've got to try In-N-Out Burger!"  I know I make a point to stop by and eat there when I am in the area.

What makes their "fast food" so good?  The answer lies in the owner's commitment to focus on serving a few items with excellence.

They make hamburgers, fries and shakes.  That's it.  All the ingredients are fresh.  There are no microwaves or freezers.  Their shakes are made from real ice cream.  To maintain quality control and service excellence, they remain privately owned with no franchise stores.  Stores are only found in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Texas.

Their focus helps them create great food.

Let's think together for a few minutes.  Does this same strategy apply to children's ministry?  I believe so.

You can spread your resources, staff, volunteers, budget, time, energy and focus across a vast array of programs, events and other offerings...but you will find it all ends up being so thin, it's ineffective.

Simplicity and focus doesn't just happen.  What does just happen is complexity.  Our natural bent is to equate busyness and volume with success.  And so by default, we begin to fill up our ministry calendars with lots of events.  We begin to spread our resources across everything we're trying to do.  We weaken our volunteer team by trying to fill our many programs and events that all require many volunteers.  This results in us having a lot of mediocre programs and events.

Here are some questions to ask yourself and then talk through with your team...

Are all of our areas lacking volunteers because they are spread across too many options?

What is draining us that is not producing fruit?

What is working that we should shift more focus, resources and time to?

What are we saying "yes' to, just because it makes a few people happy?

If our ministry menu had to be like In-N-Out Burger, what three focused things would we offer?

What is a good thing we need to stop doing so something else can become great?

If we had to cross 5 things off our ministry calendar, what would they be?  What is stopping us from doing this?

Still not convinced?  Let's look at another example of how less is more.

Think about Google and Yahoo.

While Yahoo's site bombards you with hundreds of different choices,  Google only shows 2.  Search and I'm feeling lucky.

Which one has been much more successful?  Obviously Google.

When people look at your ministry, are there so many programs, events and offerings that it leaves them overwhelmed and not engaging fully with any of them?  

And so, I ask you the question from the title of this article.

Is your children's ministry spread too thin to be effective?

Maybe it's time to put some eraser marks on your ministry calendar.  Maybe it's time to decide what your niche' is and focus on doing it with excellence.  Maybe it's time you pour your volunteer force into serving in one or two programs and events.  Maybe it's time you spend your allocated budget on where it can have the most impact.  Maybe it's time to stop doing some things just because it's always been done that way.

Re-focusing a spread out, thinned out ministry and concentrating it on a few key elements can make it much more effective.

Just ask In-N-Out Burger and Google. 

Feb 15, 2018

Take This Step & You'll See Many Kids & Parents Come to Christ

Our number one goal as children's and family ministry leaders should be to see kids and parents come to Christ.

Jesus gave us this priority in His last command.
"Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you."  Matthew 28:20
The most recent reports show that 13% of Gen Z kids already say they are atheists.  This is twice as high as the % of adults who say they are atheists.

It's time we get serious about reaching the next generation.  We must go all out to share the Gospel with Gen Z and their parents.  We know that the vast majority of people come to Christ before the age of 18.  We must reach children while they are open to the call of Jesus.

Several years ago, I felt the burden to develop a strategy that would help us effectively share the Gospel with kids and their parents.

A strategy that would include...
  • A clear presentation of what it means to follow Jesus that kids could understand.
  • Involving parents and equipping them to share the Gospel with their children.
  • A personal conversation with kids and parents rather than a large group prayer. 
  • Key indicators that would help parents know if their child understood the Gospel and was ready to make a solid decision. 
  • A way to not only reach kids, but their parents as well. 
Out of that vision came Starting PointStarting Point is a curriculum that powerfully shares the Gospel with kids and parents.  Once I implemented this approach, I began seeing many, many kids and parents come to faith in Christ.

Notice I said...kids and parents.  One of the great things about Starting Point is that you will reach not only kids, but their parents as well.  I remember one weekend,  we baptized a son, his father and his grandfather who had been reached through Starting Point.  Three generations baptized at the same time.  What a day of celebration it was.

You see, if we are really going to see children's lives changed, then we have to reach their parents as well.

Using Starting Point in my local church,  in one year,  I was able to see 480 children and many of their parents come to faith in Christ and follow Him in baptism.  Every single one of the children who were baptized that year, first went through Starting Point with their parents.

And now it is happening in many other churches who are adopting this strategy as well.  Here is a recent testimony I received from a children's director who has just started using Starting Point.

"I work with children in a rural church.  I could not be more pleased with the session.  The books helped the children stay focused.  The variety of methods used kept them involved - they liked drawing and especially enjoyed going back to X out their sin!  

The video had a nice mix - just when the youngest might have started to squirm, we had a movie or a skit.  But, most importantly, the message came through loud and clear.  From the youngest to the oldest parent - the Gospel was declared in a way all could understand.  

I have struggled with how to present a time of decision since our children are in kids' services without their parents each week and I strongly believe parents should play the lead role in guiding their children to a decision for Christ.  Your curriculum provided the way to give children a chance to ask Jesus to be their forgiver, leader and friend - thank you!  One publicly followed Christ that night, two declared they had done this before, but had not made it public and were ready for baptism and seeds were planted in 7 other children as well as some parents.  We will be using Starting Point every 6 months from now on." 

It is critical that every church have an effective strategy to share the Gospel with kids and parents.  We must reach them while we can.

Do you have a strategy for this?  Are you seeing kids and families come to Christ?

I can promise you this.  The Gospel still works...if we will work the Gospel.

I don't know everything you are doing in your children's ministry.  But I do know this.  The most important thing you can do is reach kids and families with the Gospel.

I want to encourage you to take a step.  Renew your commitment to sharing the Gospel with kids and parents.  And then make sure you have an effective strategy in place to do so.

If you'd like to see how Starting Point can help you reach many kids and parents with the Gospel, you can get more information by clicking on the image below or at this link.  Let's go all out to share the Gospel with Gen Z and their parents!

Feb 14, 2018

Easter Lesson for Kids

Easter is just around the corner and it's a great time to reach kids and families with the Gospel.

It's also a great time to focus on sharing with kids why we know Jesus rose from the dead.

We've talked recently about how Gen Z wants proof before they will believe something.

That's why we created this lesson.  CSI (Christ Scene Investigation) gives kids the opportunity to examine the evidence for the resurrection.

Kids are invited to join the CSI team to investigate if Jesus rose from the dead.  They''ll examine three scenes to look for clues, collect evidence and talk with eyewitnesses.  The evidence will lead them to make a decision about whether Jesus' resurrection is true and if they want to enter a relationship with Him.

This lesson is also a great way to teach kids apologetics for the resurrection.  It takes kids on a deeper dive to help them know why we can know Jesus rose from the dead.

Delivered Electronically as Instant Download  
(you can get it at this link)

Includes...
  • investigative ID badge for each child (ready to print)
  • evidence recorder book for each child (ready to print)
  • graphics for posters, promoting, etc.
  • slide graphics for PowerPoint, Pro Presenter, Media Shout, Key Note, etc. 
  • interactive lesson videos
  • lesson plan that can be used in large group format, small group format, traditional classroom format and mid-week format
  • lesson connects with all learning styles
  • lesson incorporates hands on, experiential learning
  • games that bring fun and learning together
Click here to see lesson sample

Click to see sample of CSI student investigation booklet

Below are video samples from the lesson 
(click arrows to watch full screen) 

 
See more information and order at this link. 

Feb 13, 2018

Protecting Preschoolers From Abuse

Last Wednesday, Caleb Gaston was arrested on accusations that he sexually assaulted a 3-year-old girl at the YMCA where he worked.

Caleb has also been charged with raping a 4-year-old girl at the same YMCA in Wichita, Kansas.

Gaston was an employee at the Downtown and East YMCA's, where he worked in the Kid Zones - an area where parents can leave their children while they exercise or take classes.  The area is for children ages 6 weeks to 7-years-old.

Gaston also worked at the Plymouth Learning Center, which is a church preschool.  His employment there was “terminated on 10/9/17 due to a complaint of inappropriate touching,” according to a statement by Plymouth Congregational Church.

This heartbreaking news is a reminder of how critical it is to have safety and security measures in place to protect children from abuse.  The YMCA where this took place, says it has safety and security measures in place, but somewhere there was a breakdown in the system.

The fact that the defendant had a previously documented accusation of inappropriate touching, should have been a huge red flag.  A reference call to his previous place of employment should have caught this.  

You cannot be too safe when it comes to protecting the children in your care.  No one precaution by itself is enough.  It takes a plethora of steps to build a solid wall of protection.  The more steps you have in place, the safer children will be.  Here are the key steps you must have in place.
  • Background check
  • Orientation - go over safety and security measures and have each person sign a form that says they agree and will abide by these
  • Windows in all areas - you should be able to clearly see what is going on inside each area at all times
  • Rule of 2 - no one is ever alone with a child - never - no exceptions 
  • Cameras - have video cameras in every area and let everyone know everything they do is being taped
Please, please, please make sure kids are safe in your ministry.  We recently hosted a webinar that helps churches make their ministry a safe place for kids and families.  If you were unable to attend, it was recorded and is available on demand at this link. 
 
Let's diligently walk guard around the precious children God has placed in our care and say "Not on my watch!"