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Having a team of people around you is great! I love the team members that I get to serve with at my church. They are all about ministry to kids and families… I am truly blessed.

But just having a team is not enough. You have to be willing to do some things, not just to keep your team… but to help them move to the next level.  I’ve assembled a list of some of the things you’d better be doing if you want your ministry to grow:

  • Pray for them.
  • Continually speak the vision of the house.
  • Continually interpret the vision of the house so KidMin Leaders can run with it.
  • Actually meet with them as a team on a regular basis.
  • Actually meet with them individually on a regular basis.
  • Find out that one key resource each of your team members needs, and get it for them.
  • Look for resources they’re not asking for, and surprise them with it.
  • Provide training and ministry enhancement opportunities.
  • Read through a book with them.
  • Set up regularly scheduled evaluation meetings for each member.
  • Promote them publicly (Brag them up around EVERYONE).
  • Remove team members who won’t propel forward.
  • Add to the team people who have proven themselves.
  • Show appreciation to each member.
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A very wise man in ministry recently told me this in regard to a conference we were both at.

How does this relate to what you do in KidMin:

  • Do you show up with half a lesson ready? Then, start prepping earlier in the week… or better yet – earlier in the month.
  • Do you show up with a “it’s just a few kids” attitude?  Then, see each child as an individual, spiritual being who has a destiny that you get to help shape.
  • Do you have old posters hanging in classrooms that have nothing to do with that unit of curriculum anymore? Then, throw them out and put the new ones up.
  • Do you have cluttered classrooms and environments? Then, have a clean-up day and get your teachers involved.
  • Do you have major repairs that are needed that would be obvious to a first-time visitor? If you don’t know, get a neighbor to walk thru your building and give you some feedback.
  • Do you have outdated curriculum rendering your storage/resource closets irrelevant because someone said, we should save this… just in case?  “Just in case” has come and gone my friend – buy a box of Hefty’s and get to work.
  • Do you use certain teaching methods that you like more then the kids actually like? Then stop and have some help evaluating how you teach kids – this is not about you.
  • Do you deliberately hold off on moving forward on the dream and vision God has given you for KidMin because of a lack of money? Then do the leg-work and communicate the vision so you give God and avenue to get you the resources to move forward.

Please do whatever you can to make these changes (and others)…
Because if KidMin is worth doing, it’s worth doing well if it’s worth doing at all.

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I cannot begin to describe to you the feeling I get when I can help influence someone else. And then I got to thinking that we all have the ability to influence others in our ministries. We can actually make an impact on someone else’s ministry to children! You may never know all of the amazing lives that have been changed because you, encouraged, invested or resourced another KidMin Leader.  Here are a few initiatives to consider:

  • Encourage someone to pursue their ideas – help them with ideas that will get them to at least start taking steps toward their dream.
  • Take someone out to lunch and get them talking – sometimes when people are able to externalize their internal ideas, it charges them up to actually go and do it!
  • Invest tangible resources. Learn to pick up on clues of what someone else really needs to start a project, a new program or ministry within the current structure. Do you have the resource(s) that would equip that ministry that you could part with?
  • Invest Finances – when it’s appropriate… In other words: when it’s a reputable ministry that has already done some respectable things and there is a way to give to that person, ministry or organization… invest.  I shouldn’t have to give you a reason.
  • Listen to that newbie in KidMin or the KidMin at the smaller church.  There may be a great idea they are already implementing at their own church that you could/should be using.  Ask their permission to use their ideas.  There’s no better feeling when the “perceived veteran” wants to use your ideas.
  • Give gifts. Remember, it’s not just the gift but how it’s presented. Some people will see those mementos and be reminded that someone out there is pulling for them.
  • Make a phone call just to check up on someone and find out what you can do to help them or at least pray with them.  I have had an unstructured, unadvertised mentoring/coaching program for years by just doing that.  Want me to coach mentor you? Then e-mail me so we can trade phone numbers or skype names.
  • Network others together for their sake as well as yours.  Some of the newbies may not be as connected as you in your community. Get a few of you together for coffee or lunch and watch the relational stuff happen.

By making these small deposits into someone else, you broaden your ability to make an impact on more people.  One day you will share in the reward of the people you’ve made an investment in.  Remember, the Word says that the share or reward of the man who stays with the supplies is to be the same as the man who leaves to go to battle.

Be Blessed!

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Last night we held our teacher training night (we do this once every 2 months) we come together and I endeavor to teach on 1-2 topics that could help a teacher be better equipped in his/her classroom or service. Last night, I focused on discipline in the classroom and some practical teaching tips. For my session on discipline, I decided to get another “specialist’s” thoughts and perspective. The one and only Joe McAlpine Skyped in and presented about a 20 minute talk on discipline in KidMin settings. Our team of 28 loved it! (We even got treated to an extra special guest, David, Joe’s 4 year old son made a sudden appearance – spider-man hat and all!) I appreciated Joe’s willingness to give up some time and give his thoughts and perspective.

Now less then a year ago, Joe (who teamed up with Terry Cuthbertson) hosted a conference in which they had me Skype in for a session (which I was honored to do)

Most of what Joe talked about were things that I could have said. But, there’s just something about bringing in a guest who is perceived as a “specialist” The percepting is funny: “This guy is from the other side of the country, he obviously knows what he’s talking about…”

I also think it’s just a good idea to bring in a new face and a different voice from time to time. So, here’s what I got to thinking: I’m willing to give up a few minutes once in a while to help a fellow KidMin pastor/leader with a training session via Skype. And I’m guessing some of you are too. I mean, it’s not difficult to set up and your team will feel like they are getting a “specialist’s” perspective. Start a pool of KidMin Leaders in your network of friends that are willing to give up a few minutes once in a while to Skype in (iChat/Tokbox/etc) to KidMin Training times.

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Perception is a powerful thing.  Everyone has a bunch of perceptions that order their world. And, everyone has a bunch about you and your ministry that may order your world.  So play to it.

In other words; the vast majority of people in your church have a perception about you and your ministry based on what they experience with you and your ministry… That means that they experience the weekend with you and your ministry.

What they see and experience on the weekend is typically their perception of what the rest of your world is like. That can be a good thing or a bad thing.

The good thing is that if you pull off a successful time of ministry their perception of you and your ministry is that you are successful for the most part and that you have stuff together and are moving forward.  Don’t let them make you a liar!  If you pull off a successful time of ministry and their perception of you and your ministry reflects the same, make sure the rest of your time, during the week, is as quality as it can be.

But this also means that there are less opportunities for what I like to call the “Compensation Factor”. This factor is when you have had a great week: You and your team have planned, strategized, worked hard and have had a successful week.  Now comes the weekend.  If one of your team members makes a mistake, shows up late or forgets something… you as a leader use the “Compensation Factor”. You say to yourself: “Sure they were late, but they worked hard this past week and they’re hardly ever late.  No harm done, let’s just keep going!” You compensate.

Unfortunately, the average church-goer-parent-type-person wasn’t there for the previous week.  They didn’t see the hard work this team member did or the extra effort made.  They only know what they see over the weekend. Therefore, they cannot compensate. Suddenly, there is a perception created that this is how it always is.

So, how do you play to other people’s perceptions? How do you build better perceptions in others? The answer: Just be perfect all of the time. Easy enough, right?

There is only one thing that creates a stronger “Compensations Factor” then seeing the hard work earlier in the week.  RELATIONSHIPS.

If you and your team are creating relationships with the parents in your church, there will be the perception that you and your team are personable, relational and pastoral. But don’t let it stop at a perception – Don’t let them make you a liar… make it who you really are!  Relationships are powerful. When someone has a relationship with you and they know that you care; if there is a mistake, an oversight or a transgression in your ministry, they can compensate with: “but, they care – and I know it”.

By no means does this give you license to let your ministry fall all over the place. Always do your best. Plan on having successful times of ministry.  Because those days will come when everything falls apart in a comedy of errors. It’s in those times that it’s nice to have relationships with the people around you to help you get back on track and pull it all back together.

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How’s that for a grabbing title?  If I’ve offended you… I don’t care (BTW, get the picture reference?)  But, here’s the real question: is it true?  Are you ugly?

OK, let me ask it the correct way: Are you U.G.L.Y.

It’s an acronym folks… meant to get you groaning and thinking at the same time.  Maybe this is the start of a movement of sorts.  Perhaps a conference could be birthed out of groaning and thinking at the same time.  I’ll either call it the “UGLY Gathering” or just “GROAN”. Either way – on with the explanation of the acronym.

  • U – United in Vision As a kidmin leader, you’ve got to be united in the vision of the house.  Read my earlier posts on vision problems.
  • G – Growing Leader When you stop learning, you stop growing.  When you’re not healthy, you stop growing.  When your focus is on someone else’s success, you’ll stop growing.
  • L – Life Giving Minister You have the greatest job of all time: to tell the greatest story of all time.  You need to be sharing that story with a passion that is contagious and will change the world of the people around you.
  • Y – Yielded to the Holy Spirit’s Leading You might be thinking that it’s my pentecostal roots coming through.  Nonsense!  It’s my initiative as a minister that’s coming through.  Apart from the leading and guiding voice of the Spirit, you’ll do yourself, your church and Jesus the greatest disservice: You will do a lot in you own strength poorly.

Now that I’ve inspired you today with my offensive acronym, get out there and UGLY-it-up!

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So, with the last post being said, let’s look at some ways to figure out what your Pastor’s vision for the church really is:

Ask Him
Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it, but in my last post, I suggested that you  set a meeting and allow your Pastor to just dream in front of you.  Bring a notepad and pen, or even a voice recorder.

Listen to the Podcasts
Get online and download the last few months of your Pastor’s sermons and listen to them.  You’re going to hear his heart and direction.  Even if you’re getting into a church service on a regular basis, this will help you to review and get some better insight.

Look at the Preaching Calendar
If you will look at the calendar for the upcoming sermon series, many times you can see a direction in the coming year of sermons

Get Others Involved
Ask some other staff members and board members.  In other words, sometimes the rest of the leadership might have a good read on the direction thing seem to be going.

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Something difficult I’ve realized in the journey of a KidMin pastor is that most Lead Pastors don’t have a specific vision for children’s ministry.  And guess what?  That’s OK!

Now, let me say off the bat, that I am blessed to currently serve a Pastor who has a specific vision for the church and has some incredible insight to what should happen within the Children’s Ministry. But, he also likes it when his staff takes the vision of the church and runs with it within their ministry departments.

I was told a long time ago, by a trusted mentor, that when interviewing for a Children’s Pastor position, to ask the Pastor all the right questions – one being “What’s your vision for the children’s ministry?”   Or, when you’re finally at a church to periodically go into the pastor’s office and get some vision updates by asking the same question so you know how to stay on track.  And if he cannot answer with a specific vision, it’s probably not the church where children are a priority.

The previous philosophy is skewed and faulty.  Now, I’m not saying that a Lead Pastor cannot have a vision for children’s ministry.  If your pastor can genuinely answer the question, there will be obvious benefits.  However, I am guessing, that if you were to ask the Lead or Senior Pastors of the world to give their vision for the Children’s Ministries at their churches… most would scratch their heads, some would make something up on the spot and a select few would give you a specific direction.

I said earlier that, that is OK.  As a matter of fact, that’s probably why you’re being considered for the job – or, are already there.  Your pastor is the general practitioner and he’s looking for a specialist, who can help spell out what is really needed to move forward.  That’s YOU.

Over the last few years, I’ve learned to go into my pastor’s office when I need direction and have my vision conversation with him like this:  “I am constantly looking for creative ways to effectively communicate and fulfill the vision of our church with the children and our leaders. I am also finding innovative ways to make the mission of the church happen with the children and leaders.  So, where do you see our church going this year?  What directives do you want to see happen within the body?  Are there any priorities or goals that you believe we need to meet to move to the next level?”

Then, I let my pastor dream in front of me.  He talks, I take notes.  Because, my job is to make the overall vision and mission of the church happen within my department.

Once my pastor has given an update to the vision of the church, I can now follow up with: “I’m ready to take this vision, implement it and see God do some incredible things in our children.  Do you see anything specifically with children’s ministry that you sense God is putting on your heart that I can take and run with?”

Then, I let my pastor dream and talk some more.  If he talks a lot, I know that he’s really been thinking about it and has some specific direction.  If he reiterates what he said earlier, or says little in regard to specifics, then I know that his objective is to see the vision happen church-wide.

Go have a vision meeting.

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Ok, this is totally hypothetical here – but, if you only had one minute left in your career as a KidMin; how would you spend it?  This extreme grabber is meant to get you thinking about making the most of every moment. Ephesians 5:16 is pretty straightforward about this point.

Would you call all your workers and thank them?  Send an inspiring e-mail/tweet/FB? Pray? Play with a puppet? What does the “MOST” of every moment look like in your mind’s eye?  Better yet, what does the “MOST of every moment look like in God’s Mind?

I’ll tell you what it looks like…

Read the Ephesians 5:8-17.  It mentions things like: Knowing what pleases the Lord, knowing His will and refraining from foolish deeds of evil.

Now, stop reading this blog and make the most of the minute that you have left.

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You’re Not Really HEARING me!

Everything a kid tells you is important. You may not think it’s important, but to that kid, at that moment, it’s the most important thing in their world.

We as adults have, over time, developed a filter called: “THE STUFF IMPORTANT TO ME” filter. And we react accordingly. If someone tells you something that is interesting to YOU – YOU naturally react with genuine interest. YOU react with attention. YOU react because you actually care.

But when someone tells you something that you have no interest in, you may try to react as though you care – because you don’t really want to offend the person trying to tell you something. But you’re not really listening, are you?

When that child walks up to you and shows you his loose tooth… this is a big deal – no wait! It’s a BIG DEAL! When she tells you that it was her birthday yesterday… it’s a BIG DEAL! When a kids tells you that his family is taking him on vacation to “Happy World”, it’s a BIG DEAL! When she explains that her dog is lost… it’s a BIG DEAL. When they point to their new shoes… it’s a BIG DEAL. Should I go on?

How many times have you had one of these experiences to only usher that child to his seat and tell him politely that he can tell you later? After all, it’s time to start class, right.

To a child, you may be the most important person in their life that needs to know this information. Your reaction will determine their significance at that very moment in THEIR WORLD.

Are you really listening?

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