Mar 31, 2020

Waiting in Line

Waiting in line.  People hate it.  Even when what they are waiting to get or experience is really, really amazing.

I was at Disney World last year and so we decided to check out the new Avatar experience.  The line to get on the ride was over 4 hours.  I kid you not.  Over 4 hours.  There was no way I was going to put myself through that matter how awesome the ride is.

How long do you make people wait in line?  To check drop off their pick up their sign-up for an get a resource you are giving away?

The best way to find out how long people are having to wait, is to jump in line yourself.  Literally get in line during your church's peak check-in and check-out times and see how long it takes to get from the back of the line to the front where you drop-off or pick-up.

Is it more than 2-3 minutes?  If it is, then think through and brainstorm some ways you can cut down on the wait time.

We live in an on demand culture.  People want what they want immediately.  And they take that expectation not only to the store or to television programming, but to their experience at church as well.

I remember one weekend, I decided to see how long families were having to wait to pick up their preschoolers.  I got in line and 6 minutes later I was finally at the pick-up door.  I knew that we had to shorten that wait time or we would lose some families.  The solution was to open up another new classroom so we had fewer kids in each room.  This enabled us to cut the wait time in half.

Here's what I would encourage you to do.  Intentionally track how long your drop-off and pick-up times are.  If the time is too long, then brainstorm how you can shorten the wait time.  It might be opening another classroom or passing out the take home papers a different way or start preparing for pick-up a little earlier.

Some reading this would love to have the "standing in line" problem.  You find yourself with a small, handful of kids and you wish and pray that you had the "standing in line" problem.  Be encouraged.  You are making a difference.  Here are some tips for growing the ministry so that you have a "standing in line" issue.

 How to Use Social Media to Grow Your Ministry

Grow Your Children's Ministry

Do This If You Want to See Families Come Back to Your Church

7 Things to Focus On with Guest Families

Children's Ministries That Grow Will Do These 10 Things

Keep the lines short.  Keep the smiles big.  Keep the service excellent.  Keep the level of care at a high level.  Keep growing and reaching more people as your top goal.

And then you can have the great problem of people having to wait in line.  And then you'll find yourself doing what we are sharing in this article.  Finding ways to shorten people's wait time. 

Mar 30, 2020

How the Coronavirus is Affecting Children

Can you imagine being a kid right now?  In the midst of a world-wide pandemic?   Wondering what is going to happen?  Adjusting to a new schedule and scenario where you don't go to the physical school building.  Afraid someone you love might be taken from you by death?  Having to maintain contact with your relatives via Skype instead of in person?  

It's a new, unfamiliar world out there for kids right now.   

And one question that needs to be asked is this.  

What effects will this have on kids long-term?  

As they grow up, having lived through this, how will it weigh in on the next generation's world-view of life, relationships, academics and the general sense of how we live our lives in today's postmodern world? 

As doctors work with kids who have the virus or kids whose family, friends or other acquaintances have the virus, it reveals first and foremost that kids need safe, stable and nurturing relationships.

Dr. Rahil Briggs, the national director of Healthy Steps, a nonprofit that supports the well being of babies and toddlers, says this...

'It is unlikely the vast majority of children who come from stable homes will be affected negatively by the pandemic in the long term."
Sherrie Westin, president of social impact for Sesame Street says, "The most important thing for children is to have caring adults that they are engaged with."

First and foremost, I believe these studies show that they every child needs a caring, loving adult who knows their name, prays for them and protects them.  

And who should that adult be?  The child's parents.  Like never before, children need their parents to be the biggest part of their life. 

Studies were done for kids who were were separated from their parents during the World War II bombings in London.  The children who were shipped away (to keep them safe from the bombings in London) were more insecure than those who stayed with their parents...even while being bombed. 

Another biggie is all the kids who are missing school.  Education leaders are working toward online learning.  This is good news for kids who come from more afluent households.  But for kids who already live in poverty, this can be a challenge.  In many instances, the children don't have access to the tools needed for online learning.

Dr. Richard Carranza, the school chancellor for New York City schoolers says an estimated 300,000 children in New York City alone do not have the tablets or computers it requires. 

And Betsy Zorio, VP of programs and advocacy for the Save the Children organization, says that poor children can be up to three years behind affuent kids because of summer learning loss.  Imagine adding to that the impact of school closures from the conronavirus.  It may cause the education gap to widen even more. 

These challenges are opportunities for the church to be the church.  Of course, no one or no organization can replace the nurturing and loving that a child receives from his or her parents.  

But we can step in with meals, shelter, clothing and other means of bringing some stability back to their lives.  And we encourage and equip parents on how to care for their children during these times of instability.  

For children who are blessed with living in a stable home, this period won't be easy for them and their parents either.  They may experience anxiety and find this experience very challenging. 

Here are some tips.  

Number one - stay on a routine.  Kids are more secure within the confines of their schedules and daily routines.  For those who are doing online or home schooling, stick with your normal learning schedule.     

Number two - show them affection.  Let them know that you love them.  Churches can also help with this by equipping their volunteers who work with kids on how to best minister to them.  Every child needs a spiritual guide who can look them in the eyes and say, "God is with you.  He loves you.  He will never leave you nor forsake you."

Stay updated on changing procedures and policies.  The pandemic can change by the hour. Check your state and local situations on a regular basis. 

Continue practicing social distancing during this time.  This means sticking close to home and avoiding large groups of people.  Play dates should not be scheduled during this time as well. 

Avoid public spaces like playgrounds.  The virus can live on metal, glass and plastic surfaces for up to nine days.  Instead, go to big, wide-open parks for solo outdoor play, like riding a bike.  

How long should they wash their hands?  Tell them to sing "Happy birthday to you" twice while washing their hands. 

Hand sanitizer - make sure it's at least 60% alcohol and let it fully dry before you touch anything. 

Know what to watch for.  Signs of the coronavirus include fever, dry cough, mild fever, runny nose and soar throat.  If these symptoms appear, call your pediatrician first before going anywhere.

Even in the hardest times, God is at work in our lives.  Our children are watching us to see how we will respond to this crisis.  Much of how it will affect them will be based on how we let it affect us.

We know this to be true...

"Kids don't always do what we ask them to do, but they never fail to imitate who we are." 

Now is the time to step up to the plate.  Now is the time to show kids how to trust in God.  Now is the time to ask God for wisdom.  Now is the time to lead by example.  

Mar 27, 2020

Why No One is Singing on Row 3

I was recently sitting in a church service.  In front of me in the other section of seats, I noticed the teenagers of the church were sitting together on about the 3rd row.

The fact that they were sitting up front together was a good thing.

But one thing that stood out to me was this.  Not one of them was singing.  Zero.  Nada.  They were simply not engaging with the service.

It caused me to ponder why they were not engaging with the worship time.  Why were they just standing there with no emotion? Lips closed or yawning.

Perhaps it's because the music style is much different than what they listen to during the week?  Most of the songs they are being asked to sing to were written decades and in some cases even hundreds of years ago.

I believe it is important to have songs that are current and relevant for today's young people.  Not songs that were written for a group of people that lived a long time ago.

Why is it we are asking kids to sing songs that were written for a previous generation?  I believe that God gives each new generation new songs that express worship in their time in history.  When this happens kids will connect and be able to say...

"He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD."  Psalm 40:3

Perhaps another reason why they are not singing is because they have not been asked to help lead worship?  Stats show that kids who get involved in serving will stick with their faith and not walk away.  Yes, the kids in our churches are the church of tomorrow.  But they are also the church of today.  They can help lead and make a big difference in the church today.

If you want row 3 to start worshiping, then give them the opportunity to help lead worship.

Perhaps another reason they are not singing is because they can't relate to the person leading the worship?  It's difficult to get teens excited about worshiping when the leaders are the age of their great grandparents.

Does this mean the entire worship team needs to be young?  Is that what I am saying?  Not all of the worship team has to be young, but if you want to engage today's students, then they should be able connect with and relate to the people who are leading them.  A good percentage of the worship team should be from a younger generation.

Those are the 3 big reasons why I believe row 3 is not singing.  What do you think?  Why do you think teenagers don't sing in church?  Love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

Or if you are part of a church where teenagers are singing, what are some of the keys to seeing teens worship in church?  How are you engaging them in worship?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.  

Mar 26, 2020

The Sandwich Generation

The Sandwich Generation.  Have you heard of them?  It's not people who love sandwiches at Subway.   

So who are the members of the "Sandwich Generation?"

They are people who are in the middle of caring for a younger generation (their kids) and an older generation (their parents) at the same time.  They are sandwiched in between these generations, hence they have been tagged as the "sandwich generation."

Usually it is those who have a living parent age 65 or older, while also raising a child under the age of 18 or helping support a grown child.  71% of this group are ages 40 to 59.  10% are younger than 40 and 10% are age 60 or older.

Married adults are more likely to be sandwiched between their parents and their children.  36% of those married fall into the sandwich generation.  Only 13% of adults who are not married are part of the sandwich group.  75% of adult children say they have a responsibility to provide assistance to an elderly parent in need.

This is the situation many Millennials find themselves in.  In fact, 18% of Millennials who were surveyed said they are delaying their plans to have children or have fewer children in anticipation of the care taking role of their aging family members.  An estimated 6.2 million millennials currently provide care for a parent, parent-in-law or grandparent, according to a 2018 AARP Public Policy Report.

But primarily, the sandwich generation is made up of Boomers and Gen Xers.  42% of Gen Xers have parents age 65 or older and a dependent child, compared with 33% of Boomers having older parents to care for.  The sandwich generation is primarily made up of middle-aged adults.

Interesting enough, a survey from Pew Research, reveals that the public places more value on supporting an aging parent than in helping support a grown child.  75% of adults say they have a responsibility to provide for an elderly parent who is in need.  50% says parents have a similar responsibility to support a grown child.

Being a multi-generational household can be stressful.  Most would say they are very busy and are often pressed for time.  They say they always feel rushed even to do the things they have to do.

It can also be a financial stress.  Among those who are financially helping both their children and their parents, here is their financial situation. 
  • 28% say they live comfortably.
  • 30% say they have enough to meet their basic expenses with a little left over for extras.
  •  30% say they are just able to meet their basic expenses.
  • 11% say they don't have enough to meet even basic expenses. 
  • 52% say parents have a responsibility to provide financial assistance to a grown child when needed.  In the past year, 30% of sandwich parents have given financial support to a grown child.
In addition to helping their parents financially, the sandwich generation also provides care and emotional support for their parents. 84% of those in the sandwich generation says their parents turn to them for emotional support some of the time.  

Another factor to consider is the toll this can have on marriages.  The stress of caring for children and parents can lead to relationship issues.  25% of the "sandwich generation" says they have made sacrifices in their romantic relationships.

On the flip side, one positive trend out of this is the relationship growth it can cause among family members  It provides adult children the opportunity to work through any differences they may have had over the years with their parents. 

For those who are involved in family ministry, it is important to keep these trends in mind.  The number of multi-generational families in this situation is going to increase in the next 20 years.

Move than ever, the church must be committed to multi-generational ministry and think of ways they can partner with families who are part of this growing trend.