Apr 23, 2019

Secrets to Seeing Kids Laugh in Church

In Psalm 122, David said, "I was GLAD when they said, let us go to the house of the Lord."

I believe church should be an exciting, fun, happy experience for kids.

One way you can know kids are enjoying something is laughter.  Kids love to laugh and I believe the hallways and rooms at our churches should resonate with giggles, laughs and snickers.

We must create environments where kids can laugh instead of being told to sit still and be quiet.  Kids are drawn toward people and places that can make them laugh. 

Let's look at some ways you can see kids laughing at your church.

Play games that evoke laughter.  An example is the freeze game.  Get the kids up and on their feet.  When the music begins, everyone starts dancing.  When the music stops, everyone has to freeze.  Use funny poses when the music stops.

Tell a funny story in your teaching time.  Use a story that ties into the lesson's main point.

Tell a joke.  Knock knock jokes work well. 

Use slapstick humor.  An example would be tripping as you go onto the stage. 

Use silly props.  An example would be trying to use a shoe as a phone.

Talk in a funny voice.  Mouse voice.  Duck voice.  High pitched voice.  Low, bass voice.

Make a funny face.

Smile and giggle with the babies in the nursery. 

Call something or someone by the wrong name.   Keep repeating the wrong name until the kids are laughing. 

Yes.  There should be some serious moments in the large group and small group times.  But the majority of the time should be filled with laughter, smiles and giggles.  

Your turn.  How do you incorporate laughter with the kids?  Share your ideas and thoughts in the comment section below.

Apr 22, 2019

Effective Easter Follow Up

You spent a lot of extra time and effort to make Easter a great experience for kids and their families. 

Things went very well and your attendance was above the norm.  Seems like on Easter, everyone who is connected to your church in some way shows up on the same day.  This includes your CEOs (Christmas and Easter only). 

And you had a good number of first-time guests.  Many of your guests were invited by a friend.  Others saw an ad on social media.  Some just saw your building and decided to give your church a try. 

Catch your breath for a few hours and then jump into following up with these families. Here are some ideas that I have found to be very effective.

Send a personal note.  Thank them for coming. 

One big thought - make the note handwritten.  In the day of everything digital, a hand-written note is gold.  In the note, mention something personal about their family so they know they are not just another "number."  An example would be a family that just moved to your area from Boston because of the husband's job.  In your note, mention this. 

Offer a gift on their next visit.  In the note you send, mention that you have a special gift for them on their next visit.  Some ideas for this are...
  • T-shirt with ministry name / logo on it
  • Bracelet 
  • Free drink from your coffee / coke bar
  • Bible
Call them.  Yes, you may get a voicemail, but you can still make an impact by leaving a short voicemail.  Don't make it a long call.  Just thank them for coming and ask if they have any questions about the ministry.  

With their permission, add them to your mailing list so you can inform them about upcoming teaching series, special events, etc.

Connect with those who made a decision to follow Jesus.  Invite them to a new believer's class.  You can get the resource "Starting Point" to use for this.  It is being used by churches across the country.  Starting Point is very, very effective at helping kids and parents understand what it means to become a follower of Jesus.  You can get Starting Point at this link.

Invite people who volunteered for the first time to join your team on a regular basis.  Connect with people who signed up to serve one time for Easter.  If you'll be intentional about this, you can see many of them join your team on a regular basis.  

Do your best to connect with guests within 48 hours.  Stats show if you follow up in this window of time, you will see a higher return level.

Emphasize any new teaching series that are starting up.  Plan out your teaching series so that you have a new, exciting, relevant teaching series starting the week after Easter. 

Praying for you as you contact your guests and strive to see them get plugged into your church.  

Apr 19, 2019

Parents...Walk with Your Kids to the Cross & Empty Tomb

This Easter, I am reminded that our greatest parenting goal should be to help our children know, understand and accept the Gospel.

I often use this example when parents ask me about leading their child to Jesus.

#1 - We should not push our child to accept Jesus as their Forgiver, Leader and Friend.

I have seen parents, who mean well, push their child to make a decision, even if the child is very young or doesn't clearly understand the decision they are about to make.

This is not what God has called us to do as parents.  Children have to make the decision to follow Jesus for themselves.  God has no grandchildren, only children.  

#2 - We should not hold our child back from making a decision for Christ. 

The flip side to #1 is parents who hold their child back from making a decision for Christ, even when the child clearly understands and wants to commit their life to Christ.  Is there a specific age when children are ready to follow Jesus?  No.  Each child is different.  But there are some clear signs that you can look for to see if the child is ready to accept Jesus into their life. 
  • The child understands what sin is and that they have personally sinned. 
  • The child understands there is a penalty for sin which is separation from Jesus one day.  
  • The child understands that Jesus came, lived a perfect life, was crucified, died on the cross, was buried and rose again on the 3rd day. 
  • The child understands that Jesus died to pay to the price for their sin. 
  • The child understands that you accept Jesus into your life by asking Him to be your Forgiver, Leader and Friend. 
  • The child keeps bringing it up to you.  This is a sign that God is working in their life. 
  • The child has a sense of urgency.  They see it as something they need to do versus something they want to do.  
3.  A parent's role is not to push or hold back, but rather to walk alongside their child.

What God wants parents to do is this.  Don't push your children into a decision.  Also don't hold your child back if God is at work in their life.  Instead, walk alongside them.  Share the Gospel with them.  Have faith conversations with them and explain what it means to follow Jesus. 

While you are doing this, rest assured the Holy Spirit is at work in your child's heart.  Drawing him or her to Himself. 

Jesus has promised that if we lift Him up, He will draw all men to Himself.  Share this promise with parents and remind them that it is the Holy Spirit who does the work.  Our role is to simply share the Gospel as we walk with our child toward faith in Jesus.

A great resource for leading children and their parents to Jesus, is a class called Starting Point.  Starting Point clearly explains the Gospel and helps kids follow Jesus for a lifetime.  You can order it at this link.  This class would be a great follow-up step for the kids and parents who accept Jesus this Easter season.  In one year, I saw over 460 kids go through this class and make a decision for Christ (as well many, many parents).

The Gospel still works.  It's as powerful as ever!  It is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes...
including children and their parents.

Praying for you and believing with you that many people will come to Christ this Easter in your ministry. 

Apr 18, 2019

Take One Step Today to Be a Better Leader Tomorrow

There are lots of steps you can take to be a better leader. 

So many, that sometimes we get overwhelmed by all the steps that are available.

Let's talk about several steps you can take today that will help you be a more effective leader tomorrow. 

But here is my challenge to you.  Take one step.  That's it.  Just one step.  You see, the best way to become a better leader is to focus on taking one step at a time.

Okay.  Let's talk about some steps you can take.  As you read through these, watch for one step that really grabs your attention.  That's the one step you can take today, so you can be a better leader tomorrow.

Step  - Emphasize the "why" of the ministry.  Don't let the "why" of the ministry get overlooked in the busyness of doing the "what" of the ministry.  Example.  A greeter can lose sight of why he/she is standing at a door and welcoming people.  The what is holding the door for people.  But go deeper and help them see that the "why" is creating an environment that makes people feel welcome, accepted and important. 

Become a better leader by reminding team members "why" they are serving in the role they are in.

Step - Cast fresh vision.  Vision leaks.  That means it has to be re-cast on a regular basis.  Invigorate your ministry by casting a fresh vision.  People want to be part of something bigger than they can accomplish alone.  Vision brings excitement.  Vision causes people to give their best effort.  Vision unites a team and causes the members of the team to reach for, to stretch for, something they want to accomplish together.    

Step - Be driven by what you value.  Are you doing what you are doing because you believe in it?  Do you highly value what you are putting your efforts into?  Do you wake up excited about what's on the agenda for the day?  If you want the team to be driven, then you must first be driven to see what you value become a reality. 

Step - Establish a few, clear goals.  Make them attainable.  Make them measurable.  Make them focused.  Make it clear what the goal is so the team understands expectations.

Here's an example.  Set a goal that every child will hear their name spoken while they are at church.  Give team members a plan for this, so they can ensure it happens.  

Step - Be a coach.  Offer feedback today to someone on the team.  Spend time coaching a team member today.  Take someone to lunch and offer them feedback that will help them improve.  Purchase a book that everyone reads together and discusses.  Help team members avoid some errors  you made in your early days of leading.  Encourage.  Push.  Align.  Recognize effort. 

Step - Deepen relationships.  Everything I've mentioned above must be grounded in relationship if it's going to succeed.  Do something today that will deepen your relationships with team members.  Perhaps it's taking someone to lunch.  Perhaps it's writing someone an encouraging note.  Perhaps it's praying with someone.  Perhaps it's asking how they are doing and listening...really listening, as they share.

Which of these steps...just one for today....do you need to take?  Invest today and reap the benefits tomorrow.

p.s. And of course, it's not one step and done.  It takes a step each day to continue moving forward as a leader.  The good news...there is a compound effect of taking a step every day.  Those steps add up and will keep you moving forward in your leadership.