Dec 18, 2014

The Biggest Key to Making Guest Families Feel Welcome

There are lots of factors in making a guest family feel welcome.  Good parking helps.  Easy-to-read signage helps.  Welcome packets help.

But there is one key that I believe is the most important.  It's the people who volunteer on your guest services team.  This includes your greeters, check-in helpers and anyone else who has contact with new families in the first few minutes.

The "welcome center" is not signs or brochures or flat screen tv's with cool's people.

Pick the right people to welcome new families.  Who is the right person?  These two pictures say it in a nutshell.

If you have someone on your guest services team who acts like the person on the left...move them!  They will undo everything you're trying to do to make new families feel welcome.

Spend time training the right people.  Once you get the right people on your welcome team, pour into them.  Teach them what to say...what not to to make people feel comfortable...what to do in certain situations, etc.

Do you want your children's ministry to be known as a friendly, welcoming place?  It will happen when you have friendly people greeting families.

Dec 17, 2014

The Unchurched Family in Your Neighborhood...What It Will Take to Reach Them

A recent report from Barna research says there are over 156 million people in America who do not attend church including over 42 million children and teenagers.

In the last 10 years, the number of adults who do not attend church has increased by 30%.  This is an increase of 38 million people who are now unchurched.

Here are some characteristics of the unchurched...

They probably used to attend church.  Only about 24% have never attended church at any time in their life.  76% have firsthand experience with one or more churches and have decided they can better use their time in other ways.

There's a good chance they're cohabitating.  Unchurched adults are four times more likely to be cohabitating.

They are likely to be Gen X-ers (ages 34 to 49) or Boomers (ages 50 to 68).  Gen X-er's make up 33% of the unchurched and Boomers make up 35%.  This group is comprised of many families who have kids and grandkids.

They would probably consider themselves a "Christian."  Though they do not attend church, 62% consider themselves "Christians."  Many are still culturally tied to Christianity and are still interested in it.  34% would describe themselves as "deeply spiritual" and 41% say their faith is very important in their life.  33% say they have an active relationship with God that influences their life. 

As I read these stats, these thoughts are upon my heart...

Who wants to attend a dead church?   
76% have been to church and that's why they are not attending.  If a church is spiritually dead and not relevant to your life, why would you want to spend your Sundays there when you could be at the lake?

More than ever, our country needs churches that are thriving!  You see, where there is life, there is growth.  Where there is life, new families are being reached.  Where there is life, the baptism waters are being stirred.

Where does life come from?  The Spirit of God.  When the Holy Spirit is moving with power in a church, people will be drawn to it.

Churches must be a hospital instead of a museum. 
Our churches must be spiritual hospitals where people who are hurting and damaged by sin are welcomed with open arms and can find healing, forgiveness and love.

I wonder how many unchurched families have walked into a "museum" where they were snubbed by perfect Christians who were on display?

Could a family who is cohabitating walk into your church and feel accepted?  Before you get upset, notice I said accepted...not approved.   There is a difference between acceptance and approval.  No, we do not approve of the lifestyle, but yes, we can love them and accept them just as they are.  If we can allow them to belong before they believe, we can reach them.  Remember, Jesus cleans his fish after He catches them.

Churches must make children's ministry and reaching kids a top priority.  
The stats show that the biggest percentage of the unchurched are families with kids.  I believe the key to reaching the biggest majority of unchurched families is by reaching their kids.  I have personally seen it happen again and again.  God can use a child to bring their parents to Christ.

As you look across the country, you will find that churches that are growing and reaching people have dynamic children's ministries.

When you take a child by the take a parent by the heart. 

Churches must help people see it's about relationship instead of religion.
As you look at the stats, you can see that a big percentage of the unchurched are simply tired of "religion."  We must emphasize by word and deed that Jesus is the missing relationship that they are searching for. 

I sat yesterday with 4 of our new volunteers.  They all had some things in common.  Until recently, they were part of the unchurched percentage.  They had been raised in churches where it was all about tradition, rules, chanting meaningless prayers and kneeling at the appropriate time.  And as soon as the decision was theirs, they ran from it.

Over time, their journeys had led them to our church.  Some came by the invitation of a friend, some came when they were going through a hard time and realized they were missing something and some came because a co-worker invited them.

They had then discovered a true relationship with Jesus and their lives had been transformed.  They found a church family where they could grow, learn and serve.  They are now out of the "unchurched" category and part of our church...ready to serve and reach others with the love and message of Jesus Christ.

These are some of the things it will take to reach the unchurched family in your neighborhood.

The floor is yours.  What else will it take to reach the unchurched in our neighborhoods?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Dec 16, 2014

The #1 Reason Volunteers Stay Long-Term

Do you want your volunteers to stay with you long-term?  Here's the #1 reason volunteers go the distance on a team.


Your volunteers will stay because they have built meaningful relationships with the people they serve with.  Relationships is the glue that will keep them on your team. 

How does this happen?

Place them with people who have the same passion as they do.
People build relationships with other people who have the same interests and passions as they do.  Make sure you place volunteers in their sweet spot.   When volunteers are in their sweet spot together, they will naturally begin to bond.

Tech guys will bond around their love for computers.  People who love babies will bond around babies.  People who love to lead kids in worship will bond around that.  People who love to lead small groups of kids will enjoy serving with other people who love to do the same.  Here's some of our volunteers who love serving preschoolers together.

Pray together every week. 
Take time to get volunteers together for prayer every week before they serve together.  Let them share prayer requests and pray for each other.  When a group of people pray together, their relationship is strengthened not only with God, but with each other as well.  I took this picture before a service.  It's a group of our volunteers who serve in pre-teens praying together.

Party with them outside of serving. 
Last weekend we had a Friday night party with some of our volunteers.  No agenda but fun.  Volunteers spent several hours hanging out together.  It's these types of events that can foster relationships that will last long-term which translates into volunteers staying long term.

Purposely create a family atmosphere. 
Be very intentional about creating a "family" atmosphere.  When volunteers feel they are part of a family that knows them, loves them and cares for them, they will stay.

Serving is about more than just teaching a class or changing a diaper or greeting a family or preparing a craft.  It's about doing life together.  It's about going through the good times and the bad times together.  It's about supporting one another.  It's about helping each other grow closer to Jesus.

Show me a group of volunteers that have been serving together long-term and I will show you a group of volunteers that have built solid relationships.

Your turn.  What are some things you do to foster relationships between your volunteers?  Share with us in the comment section below.

Dec 15, 2014

Epic Children's Ministry Fails...You Gotta' See This

Have you ever had an epic children's ministry fail?  Check this guy out.  He is trying to do a trick on a live children's television show.  Watch what happens.

I've never caught myself on fire, but I have had my share of epic fails.  Here's a few things I've learned over the years from my fails.

Walk through new games before you use them in a service.  I learned this the hard way.  I would invent a cool new game that I thought the kids would love.  But I didn't try it out ahead of time to make sure it was doable.  And when it didn't work at all...I was left standing there embarrassed. 

Preview any pictures or video clips you are going to use.  Always preview your audio, pictures and video.  We once pulled a video clip from a movie to use in a lesson, but didn't take time to preview the entire clip.  Sure enough...right in the middle of the clip...profanity ushered across the sound-system on a Sunday morning.   Thankfully that one didn't cost me my job, but it could have.

Test any new object lessons before you use them in a service.  This is especially true with any object lessons that involve chemical reactions or experiments.  There have been several times where I didn't test the object lesson out ahead of time and was left standing on stage looking stupid.

Would love to hear about some of your epic children's ministry fails.  Share in the comment section below so I will know I'm not the only one out there who's had some.  

Dec 12, 2014

Athiests Encourage Families to Skip Church this Christmas

American Atheists have launched a campaign to persuade families to not attend church this Christmas season.

They have placed billboard ads across the 'Bible Belt" that show a little girl saying, "Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church!  I'm too old for fairy tales."

The spokesman for the group says, "Today's adults have no obligation to pretend to believe the lies their parents believed.  It's okay to admit that your parents were wrong about God, and it's definitely okay to tell your children the truth."

The Bible says in Psalm 53:1 that being an atheist is not a truth's a HEART problem.  The atheist doesn't want to surrender to the truth of God, but instead wants to find his or her "truth" somewhere else.

Stats show that the next generation is being influenced by this mindset.  22% of young adults who previously classified themselves as evangelical now say they have no "religion." 

The answer?  We must be intentional about connecting with and reaching the next generation.  As a children's ministry leader, you are on the front lines of helping people know the truth that is not based on man's ever-changing opinions, but on the eternal Word of God.

Let's shift up to the next gear.  So much is at stake.

Dec 11, 2014

7 Things Effective Children's Ministry Leaders Do Before Lunch

Routine is a children's ministry leader's best friend.  Effective leaders follow a schedule and are very intentional about how they spend their time.

Morning time sets the tone for the entire day.  How you spend your mornings will largely determine how productive your day is going to be.

Here's 7 things effective children's ministry leaders do every morning.

1. Get up early.  Effective children's ministry leaders get an early start.  You will rarely catch them hitting the snooze button.  

2. Spend time with God.  They start their day by connecting with God through prayer and Bible reading.  Their ministry is an overflow of their relationship with God.

3. Eat something healthy for breakfast.  They realize that the first meal is the most important meal of the day.  They fuel their body with healthy food choices.

4. Read to learn.  Whether it's a book, blog, news feed or website, they make time to grow as leaders.

5. Make a do list.  They make a list of tasks they want to accomplish that day.

6. Block time to check email.  They check their email and respond where needed.  Instead of being controlled by email throughout the day, they have set times to check it. 

7. Tackle the big tasks first.  They prioritize their tasks and work on the most important ones first instead of procrastinating.

Your turn, share with us in the comment section below.
What are some other parts of your morning routine as a leader?
What are some other morning practices you have observed in effective leaders?