Feb 21, 2019

Senior Adults...the Next Generation Needs You

When we think about senior adults who attend church, here a few things to remember.  These are general statements, but you will find it true in many churches and I'm sure you can resonate with it.

Senior adults who attend church are faithful.  You can count on them being consistent.

Senior adults normally love the music style they grew up with in church.

Senior adults are more conservative than younger generations.

Senior adults give consistently.  Their tithes are usually a big part of a church budget.

Senior adults know their Bible.  They have decades of reading and studying the Word of God.

Senior adults bring wisdom and discernment to the table.  This comes from simply doing life and learning along the way.

Senior adults are often the spiritual leader in their family.

Senor adults can bring so much to the table.  It's important to listen to them and love them.

A healthy family is comprised of all generations.  Babies.  Children.  Pre-teens. Middle-schoolers. High-schoolers.  Young adults.  Parents.  Grandparents.

And so a healthy children's ministry is made up of all these generations as well.

That being said, when you get family together, you will have different tastes of music, different ways of doing church, different ideas, philosophies and different values.

Senior adults have two choices.  They can try to preserve the way they have always done church and are comfortable with.  Or they can set aside their preferences so they can more effectively pass on the baton of faith to the generations coming behind them.

I have seen this lived out.  One of the churches I served at was growing and thriving.  I found out one of the big reasons why.  Several years ago, they had come to the point where they realized they needed to transition the church to a more modern, relevant format.  It was a critical time when the senior adults had to decide if they were going to preserve the past or move forward.  Were they going to set aside some of their preferences so the next generation would feel connected?

Soon after, the chairman of the church elder board was sitting on the front row in the worship service.  The music was loud and it wasn't his style of music.  As he was looking around, especially at his grandchildren, he whispered to the pastor,  "This is not my style of music and it is loud to me.  But I'm looking over at my kids and grandkids and they are engaged and are worshiping.  I'm going to lay aside my preferences so I can effectively pass the baton to them.

If you are reading this and you are a senior adult, turn and look behind you.  The next generation needs you to speak into their lives and invest in them spiritually.  They are counting on you to pass them the faith baton.

If you are a younger generation, honor the senior adults in your church.  Cherish their faithfulness and wisdom.  Learn from them.  And reach across the aisle and help them see why change is a key part of a successful faith baton hand-off.

If you are a senior adult, are you willing to set aside some of your preferences so your church can see the faith continue to thrive in the years to come?  Will you leave a legacy for the generations behind you? 

Feb 20, 2019

Build a Wall to Keep Predators Out of Your Ministry

There's a lot of talk about building a wall these days.  This post is not about a wall at our borders. 

The wall I'm talking about is a wall that every children's ministry needs to build to protect the children in their church.

One of the most important things parents look for in today's world is safety.  They want to know their children will be protected and safe while at church.  They are very aware of the shootings that have happened at churches.  And they know it can happen at any size church.  

You want your ministry to have a strong wall that keeps predators out.  Let's look some steps you can take to build a strong wall of protection around your ministry.  The more of these steps you have in place, the strong your "keep predators out" wall will be. 

Build a wall by having potential volunteers fill out an application.   You can get a free copy of the application I use at this link.

Build a wall with a personal interview.  Sit down with each potential volunteer and interview them.  Look them in the eye and ask them the hard questions.  You can get a free copy of the interview form I use at this link. 

Remember this:  It is no one's right to serve, it is a privilege. 

Build a wall by running a background check on everyone.  If you get a red flag on someone's application, work with a team of 2-3 people to help you make a wise decision.  Establish ahead of time what your guidelines will be for someone with a red flag on their report.  An example would be someone who is saved out of a lifestyle of using and selling illegal drugs.  How long will they need to wait to serve in children's ministry?  You have a policy in place that says the person must be clean for 3 years before they can serve in children's ministry.  Are there other places in your church where they could serve until the 3 years have passed?  Yes.  An example might be with the parking team.

One thing excludes someone from ever serving in children's ministry.  That's the person who has abused or molested a child.  They should never be allowed to serve in children's ministry.  In fact, if it was sexual abuse, they should not be allowed on your campus at all.  They will need to watch online.

Build a wall by doing reference calls.  Yes.  Actually pick up the phone and call them.  I was talking with someone recently who was dealing with a predator.  The person had come from another church in the area.  He had been convicted of child abuse and had been banned from the previous church.   He went over to another church in the area and tried to sign up to serve in children's ministry.  Because of reference calls they were able to stop him before he started serving. 

Build a wall by never having someone alone with a child.  There must be 2 people with a child at all times.  One of the two should be an adult.  The second person can be a student ministry volunteer.  Never...never...never allow someone to be alone with a child.  A married couple doesn't count as 2 people in the room. 

Build a wall by not allowing anyone in the children's area without a pick-up tag.  Stand at the door and enforce this. 

Build a wall by locking down the children's area once service starts.  You want as many barriers as possible in place if a shooter tried to enter.

Build a wall with a check-in and check-out security system.  Only parents with a matching tag are allowed to pick up the child.  I highly recommend KidCheck.   You can connect with them at www.kidcheck.com

Build a wall by having a police officer on-site during services and events.  In today's culture, parents are thankful when they see an officer there. 

The more of these steps you take, the stronger your wall will be.  How strong is your wall right now?  What can you do to make it even stronger? 

Build a wall of protection around your ministry.  Watch closely for predators and be ready to keep them out.  Say "no children will be abused on my watch."

Your turn.  What else do you do build a wall of protection for the kids in your ministry?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.  

Feb 19, 2019

New Video Helps Kids Understand the Gospel

Jesus told stories when He taught.  He knew the power of stories to help people connect to spiritual truth.

Fast forward to today.  Effective communicators use stories to help people grasp Biblical truth.

One of the most effective ways to use stories when you teach are videos. 

Kids love videos.  Push play and you've got their attention.

With this in mind, I and the team I served with made a video entitled "The Unclaimed Ticket."  It tells the story of a kid who had been given a ticket to a baseball game.  Free for him.  Already paid for.  All he had to do was show up and claim it.  I'll let you watch the video below to see what happens.

This video is a great addition to a teaching time, classroom discussion, outreach event and more.  It helps kids understand that the ticket to heaven has already been paid for and has their name on it.  But they have to accept it for it to be theirs.  Great way to start a conversation about salvation.

The video is available for you to use in your ministry.  You can get it at this link.  Enjoy! 

Feb 18, 2019

Notes from the Kidmin GIG (Children's & Family Ministry Round Table)

Four years ago, I founded a round table for the children's ministers of the 30 largest churches in the nation. These are churches that have over 10,000 people attend their weekend services.  These leaders impact thousands of kids and families each weekend.

Each year, we gather to learn from each other. Rather than being a lecture based conference, the round table is a conversation about how to be more effective in our churches.  Ideas are shared.  Mistakes are talked through and learned from.  Culture is examined.  Trends are discussed.  Challenges and opportunities are shared.

We meet in February each year at one of the churches that participates.  This year, we met at Elevation Church in the Charlotte area.  Under the leadership of the staff and volunteer teams, they have become one of the largest and fastest growing churches in the country. 

I take notes during the round table and then share them with other churches.  No matter your church size, there are lots of things you can learn and glean from the discussion notes.  And so I'm making them available to you.  You can go to the link below to download the discussion notes and other handouts that were shared.

My prayer is that these ideas and insight will encourage you and spark fresh ideas for you and your ministry.

The Gospel still works and is just as powerful as it has always been.  God is moving.  Jesus is changing lives.  Families are being reached.  Kids are discovering how to follow Jesus.

You can download the notes and documents for free at this link