Oct 20, 2014

Are You Letting Kids Lead in Your Church?

"The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, "Praise God for the Son of David."  But the leaders were indignant."   Matthew 21:15

Guess who led worship last weekend in our adult service?  Kids.

Guess who helps greet people as they walk in our church doors each weekend?  Kids

Guess who does outreach in our community?  Kids

Guess who helps feed families during our Thanksgiving meal distribution?  Kids

Guess who helps run sound and tech each weekend in our church?  Kids

Guess who raises thousands of dollars for mission projects each year in our church?  Kids

Guess who shares the Gospel with others?  Kids

Guess who invites people to our church?  Kids.  Last year a lady came to our church for the very first time.  When asked how she heard about the church, she told us she's a crossing guard at a local elementary school.  One of our kids invited her to come while waiting to cross the street.

Guess who serves alongside their parents in various ministries in our church?  Kids

Kids are eager and ready to serve.  Are you giving them the opportunity?  

Oct 17, 2014

Who Uses Tablets the Most? The Surprising Answer

Who uses tablets the most?  You may be surprised by the answer.

A recent report says the biggest users are not teens...but kids.

The reason?  Think about it.  Parents of young children are aware of the multitude e-books, games, and learning apps that are available for tablets.

Since kids age 2 to 5 spend more time at home with their parents, it makes sense that parents would be using tablets to entertain and teach their kids through this avenue.

And they are easy to use on the go as well.  Think about how many times you have seen younger children with tablets in the waiting room at a doctor's office or in the backseat of a car.

Elementary kids?  Studies show they are not only using tablets for entertainment, but for schoolwork as well.  56% of elementary kids who have tablets report using them for schoolwork.

These studies reveal an incredible opportunity for the church to reach and disciple kids for Christ through apps, games, and online discipleship tools designed for tablets. 

There are a few groups who are tapping into this, but we are just scratching the service.  My prayer is that God will raise up creative and innovative leaders in this area who can develop these tools.

Who do you know that is developing apps and tools for tablets with the goal of reaching and discipling kids?  

What apps and tools are out there already that we can help promote?

What are your ideas and thoughts in this area?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below so we can spread the word.

Oct 16, 2014

5 Things First-Time Guests Hate Doing at Church (Are You Asking Them to Do Any of These?)

There are things first-time guests hate to do at church.  If you are asking them to do any of these, you may be unknowingly pushing them away and causing them to not return. 

1. People hate waiting in line.  
Are you asking first-time guests to wait in line?  How long are they having to wait in line to register?  How long are they having to wait to drop off their kids at the classroom?  How long are they having to wait to pick-up their kids?

  • Have a separate check-in area for first-time guests.
  • Monitor your drop off and pick up lines.  If the line starts backing up, be prepared to open another line.
 2. People hate not knowing where to go.
You know what it's like.  You're in a big store...looking for an item...no help in site...without a clue about where to find it.  It's very frustrating.  Asking people to navigate your church without any signage or personal help has the same affect on people. 

  • Have clear signage.
  • Always walk people to their class, room, etc. instead of telling them where to go.
3. Being ignored. 
Ever been alone at a party or event and you didn't know anyone?  Everyone is engaged in conversation.  It becomes very awkward as you struggle to connect with someone.  People feel that same awkwardness when they walk into church and are not greeted or acknowledged.

  • Have greeters at ever door.  Pick the right people for this roles.  They should be friendly and have the ability to make people feel welcome and comfortable.
  • Don't just greet people at the door.  Have hosts that will engage guests in conversation beyond the door and get them connected to other people who will make them feel at home.
4. Being singled out as a guest.

People want to be welcomed, but not embarrassed.  I've seen churches have guests remain standing after a song is over or worse yet, have them stand up and introduce themselves.  Unless they are a politician running for office, they hate this.

  • Make guests feel welcome privately, but don't single them out or recognize them publicly. 
  • Be friendly, but don't be so friendly they feel like they are being asked to buy a car by a used car salesman.
5. Not being able to find a good parking spot or having to settle for a crummy parking spot. 
We all get frustrated driving around a parking lot trying to find a spot.  The opposite is true when we find a great parking spot.  We experience a rush of relief and happiness.  The same is true for people who pull into your church parking lot.

  • Ask staff and key volunteers to take the worst parking spots and save the best parking spots for first-time guests.
  • Have reserved parking for first-time guests. 
Your turn.  What are some other things people hate doing at church?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Oct 15, 2014

The #1 Way to Grow Your Children's Ministry

What's the best way to grow a children's ministry?

Direct mail with great print pieces?

Television ads?

Vacation Bible school?

Outreach events?

Fall Festivals?

Bringing in a big-name special guest?

These are all different ways you can see families brought into your children's ministry.  But...there's one thing that is not listed above.  And it's the #1 way to grow your children's ministry.

Wait for it...wait for it...

Here it is...word of mouth.

People talk about a children's ministry that has impacted their lives.  And those people talk to other people...and those people talk to other people...and...etc.

Before long, you've got guest families walking through the door every single week.  And the majority are coming because someone told them about the ministry or brought them.

When this happens, you will experience the "big mo."  Momentum.  And when momentum kicks in, you will experience exponential growth.

The big question...how do you get people talking?

Give them something that's worth talking about.  
Create environments for kids that will get them excited about coming to church.  When that happens, parents will take notice and begin to talk.

Encourage them to talk. 
Message how important it is to invest in relationships with people who don't attend church and invite them to come.

Give them tools they can use to talk.
Create invite cards that people can use to invite their friends and connections.  Doing a really cool series?  Make invite cards for the series.

This past Easter, we had a lady that came to our church for the very first time and accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior.  When asked how she heard about the church, she told this story.  She is a crossing guard at one of our local elementary schools.  One of our kids talked with her and invited her to come to church while he was waiting to cross for school.

When people start talking...great things happen.  

Oct 14, 2014

The Dawn of the Gigabit Age (And What it Means for Children's Ministry)

The age of gigabit data and connectivity is fast approaching.

A gigabit connection can deliver 1,000 megabits of information per second.  Wondering how fast that is?  Right now the average speed in the U.S. is 10.5 megabits per second.

Companies such as Google and AT&T are already in the process of building gigabit networks at various locations across the country.

So what does this mean for children's ministry?  Think about the possibilities...

Awesome apps.  The increased ability to send vast amounts of data with lightning fast speed will allow developers to take app development to a whole new level.

Children's ministry is just now scratching the surface with using apps to reach and disciple kids and families.

I believe technology leaders in children's ministry will seize the opportunity and develop new, creative apps that will help us reach kids and partner with parents.

Virtual reality.  Virtual reality environments will become even more immersive and realistic.  Think about creating virtual environments where kids can enter the great stories of the Bible like going on the ark with Noah, fighting Goliath with David, and crossing the Red Sea with Moses.

New advanced forms of social media.  Social media tools will expand and advance.  Children's ministry leaders will be able to connect with parents and volunteers in a variety of new ways.

Networking and collaborating.  The boundaries between distant locations will grow even smaller.  Online networking, collaborating, and conferences will become more popular.  Virtual meetings with people from around the world will be common place.  Skype will be ancient technology.

Holograms and virtual teachers / speakers.  Holograms are used occasionally now where advanced technology is available.  Remember this hologram of Michael Jackson performing?

The increase in data speed will bring this technology to the average person.

This will enable children's ministries to bring virtual speakers and teachers in hologram form to train volunteers or speak at conferences.  Virtual holograms of Bible characters will be available to act out or tell Bible stories to your class.  

Downloadable curriculum will continue to dig the grave of hard copy curriculum.  The ability to transfer and download curriculum that contains files, videos, music, etc. at such a fast speed will lead to the further demise of printed curriculum student and teacher books, etc.

Technology is a tool that we can use to reach and disciple kids and families for Christ.  I am praying for the people God is raising up now and will raise up to be leaders for children's ministry in this area.  I'm praying for the college student who is sitting in a dorm room right now pondering an idea he or she has for an app that will be a game-changer for children's ministry.  I'm asking God to give us creative ideas to advance the Gospel as we move into the gigabit age.

Who knows...maybe the person God will use is you.  Would love to hear your ideas, dreams, and thoughts on how we can use rapidly advancing technology to reach the next generation for Christ.  Share them with us in the comment section below so we can pray and dream with you.