Oct 14, 2019

The Pumpkin Patch

After a very hot summer, fall is finally here.  With the fall season comes opportunities to reach families through family events.

Many, if not most churches do a fall festival.  This is a great way to get unchurched families on your church property.

Other churches equip their families to be a light and witness in their neighborhood.

Both of these are great ways to connect with families.

This past week, I was in the Charlotte, North Carolina area and had another idea about connecting with families.  I took this picture of a pumpkin patch for families.  Notice they also had bounce houses as well to add more fun to the experience.

What if?  What if your church created a pumpkin patch for families?  A pumpkin patch where families could come and have the experience of picking out a pumpkin together.  Even better, what if you could offer this as a free event?  I believe you would have the potential to have hundreds of contacts with families who would stop by for a pumpkin.

The purpose of the bounce houses?  This would engage the children and give you time to talk with the parents as they waited.

How would you get the pumpkins?  It might be having a fundraiser?  Or budgeting for it in your operating or events budget?  Or taking the money you were going to spend on the fall festival and using it toward a pumpkin patch instead?

What if you had staff and volunteers at the pumpkin patch?  Ready to make connections and engage the families who stopped by.

What if you had the pumpkin patch on your church property?  Would it be a great way to make a first impression on families?  Could you invite the people who stop by to your church?

Today's families are looking for experiences to have together.  It would about more than just stopping by to grab a pumpkin.  It was be an interactive experience that they could use to make a memory together.

Your turn.  What do you think about having a pumpkin patch?  Has anyone tried this?  How did it go?  What are some other ideas to reach families this fall?  Share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below.

Oct 10, 2019

Ask Me

This past week, I was in Nashville at a conference. The conference was held in the Music City Center convention building.  It is a massive building and it would be difficult to find the room you are teaching in, where the restaurants are, where the bathrooms are, etc. without some help.

Yes, they had good signage, but even that can be difficult to navigate in such a large building.

But we were able to find the places we needed to go to because of what you see in this picture. Throughout the building, they had these stands that said "Ask Me?"   They were a great help for someone who had not been in the building before.  And the people staffing it were very knowledgeable about the building and where everything was located.

I was reminded of how it feels to walk into a building needing help finding where I need to go.  I was also reminded of how our guests feel when they walk into our church buildings for the first time.  Not sure where to go.  Wondering where the children's area is.  Anxiously looking around for help.  Where are the bathrooms?  Where is the auditorium?

Signage is important, but nothing can take the place of a person you can approach and get help from.  People are what make the difference.

Right before Walt Disney opened Disneyland he said this...

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”

Good signage can't take the place of a person.  Should you have good signage?  Absolutely, but it should be in addition to people who are there to help.  Signage can compliment the people you have in place, but it can never take the place of the people on your guest services and greeter team. 

Oct 9, 2019

Lead Well in Family Ministry (notes from Etch Conference)

Earlier this week, I spoke at the ETCH family ministry conference in Nashville.

The conference is sponsored by LifeWay Kids.

One of the sessions I taught was "Lead Well in Family Ministry."

You can get a copy of the notes for free at this link.

If you've never been to the ETCH conference, attend next year.  It's a great conference that will add value to your ministry.

Oct 8, 2019

10 Ways Parents Can Help Their Children Succeed Spiritually

Parents invest heavily in their children, hoping that they can help them succeed in life.

They want to see their children succeed academically.  Socially.  Financially.  Athletically.  These are all well and good, but the most important area a parent can help their child succeed in is spiritually.

Parents are the biggest influence in their child's spiritual life.

That being said, let's look at 10 ways parents can help their children succeed spiritually.

Parents can lead their children to Jesus.  This is where it all begins.  Helping children understand what it means to follow Jesus.  The most important thing a parent will ever do for their child is to share the Gospel with them.  When at all possible, I believe parents should the one to lead their child to Jesus.

The parent's role is not to push their child to a decision.  Nor is it to hold them back.  The parent's role is to walk alongside their child and have spiritual conversations about what it means to follow Jesus.  As they do this, the Spirit of God will draw the child to salvation at the right time.

If you are looking for a tool to help parents lead their children to Jesus, then check out Starting Point.  It has been used by hundreds of parents to lead their children to Jesus.  It includes a class that parents attend with their child to clearly share the Gospel with them.

Make church a priority.  We live in a day when being a part of a local body of believers is not a priority for many families.  They attend church when it is convenient, but it is not at the top of their priority list.

It is vital that parents bring their children to church faithfully.  And by faithfully, I don't mean once a month.  If parents really want to make a big impact spiritually,  then church must be a weekly priority. At the top of the list.  Above sports.  Above trips to the lake.  Above sleeping in.

Walk the talk.  Children know when parents are not living out what they heard on Sunday.  Kids can argue with what you tell them, but they can't argue with what you are living out.  Be the real deal.  Children don't always do what we tell them, but they never fail to imitate who we are.

This doesn't mean a parent has to be perfect.  None are.  But it does mean the parent is passionately following Jesus and when they make a mistake, they humbly ask for forgiveness. 

Read God's Word.  Have family devotions.  Parents should share with their children what God is teaching them through His Word.  This is so important.  A dusty Bible will not help children succeed spiritually.  The Word of God has the power to help children succeed spiritually.  But it must be released into their life.

Prayer.  Parents should pray for their children.  Parents should pray with their children.  Parents should teach their children how to pray.

Children must have prayer to succeed spiritually.  Prayer will deepen their relationship with God and help sustain their spiritual walk.

Get your child connected to a leader at church.  I have found that normally God, in addition to a child's parents, will bring a caring leader into a child's life.  I look back at my children's lives and in both of my sons' journeys, God brought a leader into their life that reinforced what we were trying to see accomplished in their spiritual journey.

It may be a small group leader or a young adult or a godly deacon or a youth pastor that God sends to help you see your child succeed spiritually.

Focus on relationship before rules.  You've heard this statement before.

"Kids don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

This is so true.  Rules are important.  But relationship must come first if you want kids to listen and obey what you are asking them to do.

When you focus on relationship, it opens the heart of a child to receive what you are trying to convey to them.

Take the long look.  Encourage parents to sit down and make a list of who they want their child to be when they graduate from college.  What kind of character do they want their child to have?  What do they want their child to believe?  What do they want their child's relationship with God to look like?  What do they want their child to know about God and the Bible?

Then parents can take the list they have made and focus on bringing those things into their child's life as they grow up.

Teach to establish their own walk with God.  As children grow, parents should begin to encourage their children to develop their own spiritual disciplines.  Can you imagine a 12-year-old still sitting in a high chair and eating baby food?  That wouldn't be healthy, right?  The goal of every parent should be to teach their child how to feed themselves spiritually. 

Spiritually it should be the same way.  Parents should help their children establish their own walk with God.  The older they get, the more they should walk with God themselves.  This doesn't mean that you stop praying for your child when they get older, it simply means that you teach them to become the primary source of their own spiritual growth.

Celebrate their spiritual milestones.  Milestones are markers on a child's spiritual journey.  These are celebration points in the decisions a child makes.  Some examples are...
  • Parent and Child Dedication
  • Bible presentation
  • Faith commitment
  • Baptism
  • Elementary graduation and transfer over to middle school ministry
When you celebrate these milestones, it makes a huge impact in the child's spiritual life. You could equate them to hitting a home run.  It can be a game changer for the child's spiritual journey.

Here are all of these milestones with the class included for each one that parents and their children experience together.

As a ministry leader, I know your heart beat is to see kids grow up to love Jesus and follow Him.  Implement these 10 steps and you can see it happen as you partner with parents.