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Yes… I’m trying to sound smart.

The word “philosophy” conjures up images of intelligent, well-educated people having deep discussions to better understand the meaning of life. Let me be clear: I want to make sure the people in my church better understand ministry to children. So, I developed this philosophy of ministry to articulate why we do what we do:

Welcome to, our Children’s Ministry Program for ages birth – 5th grade.  Around her, we take children and ministering to them very seriously.  We know that children are the church of tomorrow, but they are also the church of today.  That’s what our Children’s Ministry is all about – training kids now!

The Children’s Ministries is set-up as one department, allowing us to develop and maintain a consistent flow of ministry with our church from ages birth – 5th grade.  Each level builds and prepares young people for the next step.   We want to teach the Word of God to every age group at their own level, while preparing them for the next class and a lifetime of service for our Lord.

By presenting the Word of God to children in an exciting way that they can understand, and by leading them into a relationship with Jesus, there can be a generation that grows up loving God with all their heart.

But, the Children’s Ministry Staff can’t accomplish this alone!  We want to champion YOU: THE PARENT… Each week in our E-newsletter, we will have important information that they have learned at church. Take time during the week to instill these concepts in your child.  And then take time to show them how to apply these ideas to everyday life.  You will not only grow closer as a family, but you will see your child become spiritually stronger!

This information is included in our parents’ information brochure and will grace the WWW on our church’s website. It’s also something that our entire children’s ministry team understands… we constantly keep it in front of them. If this helps you, use some of the content to create your own.

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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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  • Continue to communicate vision to your team
  • Find new ways to connect with parents
  • Go be alone once in a while
  • Your enemy is not your pastor, the board, your volunteers or the parents
  • This whole #kidmin calling isn’t about you
  • Drink some coffee
  • Change your voicemail (don’t make it goofy)
  • Find a way to serve another #kidmin leader in your community
  • Find a way to network face to face with other #kidmin leaders
  • Clean up your office, desk or storage closet (it’ll make you feel good!)
  • Hug on your spouse and kids

… that is all for now – trust me, you’ll come up with more.

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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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So I was thinking back to a sermon that was once preached and then re-preached many times by other Pastors… the sermon title and concept was along the lines of “What if every Church-Goer was Like Me?”  And the sermon went on to  implore the congregation to ask them selves the following questions: What if everyone in this church gave like me? Served like me? Worshipped like me? Had the same attitude as me? (name your quality here) like me?  The point was then presented: Would this church have an abundance of resources or would this place be broke? Would this church have more than enough workers and volunteers or would we be closing the nursery and shutting down ministries? Would this church be full of incredible worship that usher’s in the presence of the Holy Spirit or would this place be dead? And so on…

So, my questions to the many #KidMin peeps that are out there that peruse this blog are these:

What if every #KidMin Leader was like me?  What would the entire world of Children’s Ministry look like?

What if every #KidMin Leader taught the Word like me?  Would kids all over the world be learning the Word and walk away from childhood knowing how to apply it?  Or, would they know a lot of games and understand the importance of candy incentives?

What if every #KidMin Leader taught on praise and worship like me?  Would the power of God overcome as kids entered into the very presence of an almighty God? Or, would they know a lot of actions and fun lyrics?

What if every #KidMin Leader Lead like me?  Would there be armies of volunteers that are equipped as leaders to take these kids to the next level? Or, would there be a world full of burned-out one-man shows?

What if every #KidMin Leader prayed like me?  Would kids and the many CM leaders in your ministry know that they are covered in prayer and follow your lead? Or, would you constantly feel defeated and your team sense that there is no hope?

What if every #KidMin Leader taught stewardship like me?  Would we have a generation of kids that understands the value of the tithe, faith-filled giving and generosity so we could advance the Kingdom? Or would you have a world of kids who expect to know what’s in it for them?

What if every #KidMin Leader taught on missions like me?  Would you have fervent prayers for missionaries and a lifelong, infused sense that those on the field need support in every way – would there be future missionaries? Or, would kids never know what it takes to reach others just like them in places where the gospel needs to be preached?

Please don’t think that I am above giving away prizes as incentives, or that I hate fun lyrics and engaging actions, because, I do that stuff!  Please don’t assume that I don’t like to have a good time with kids in my church – read the post on how kids interpret their world… I’m simply advocating that we go a step further – no, several steps further. Realize that ministry to kids happens now so we can secure the future of the church.  Go ahead and add to the list if you care… but continue to ask yourself: What if the #KidMin Leaders, all over the world were just like me?

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When you look at the vision that God gave you to reach boys and girls, you have to keep in mind… and in heart, that God didn’t give you someone else’s vision.

It sure is easy as a CM leader to look at Church A, B & C and desire what they have… or desire to do what they do – especially if that church is at the forefront of church ministry. I was recently at a friend’s church for a CM leader’s meeting and got a tour of the building. While touring this monster of a building, my friend showed me the CM resource room. I was envious… it was awesome! Huge; organized; with numerous matching shelves and cabinets; an insane amount of counter space for getting work done; every conceivable piece of office equipment – just of for the CM department… that CM leaders wish they had (color copier, giant laminator, large format printer, paper cutters and several work computers!) Get the idea here? Most public schools wouldn’t be able to touch this!
I went home and told my wife about it – and the pursuit of a bigger and better resource room began to formulate in my mind. But, I had to realize that I was not called to pursue that vision, but vision that God has put in front of me for this church. Sure I can use the experience of seeing that big resource room to inspire me to pursue excellence in what we do in this church. But I was not called to fulfill that other church’s vision.
Look at where you are now… what you have now… who you have now… and ask God where He wants you to go now… How He wants you to do what He’s called you to do… and – When His time frame allows for you to do all He’s asked you to do.
Besides, my friend said that I could use his resource room anytime! Hmm… what could I laminate?
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In a few earlier posts, I’ve written about restructure. We’ve explored some of the steps to take – let’s keep going:

  • Meet with the level of leadership closest to you:
Meet with your first level of leadership closest to you to help them understand their new role. I say new because, you’ve most likely make appropriate changes… right? Remember the job descriptions? Now is the time to help implement those job descriptions into action.
  • Provide Training and Empowerment to that level of leadership:
I really cannot take the time to meet with every leadership position that falls under that first layer of leadership. So I must give that layer the power to take the new structure to that next level of leadership. They will essentially do what I have just done with them. They will help implement the new job descriptions into action with that next layer.
  • Tweak as you go:
Yep… you’ve not now, nor will you ever arrive at a place when you’ve finished structuring your ministry. If you ever get to that point… quit. Seriously, complacency ministry is akin to death (perhaps someone somewhere will quote that one day). Our CM Leadership manuals are not bound in a book or even spiral bound – they are in three-ring binders because that manual will be progressive. It will change and be added to.
I’ll have more next time – keep looking up!
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You’ve begun the daunting task of restructuring a Children’s Ministry. Let me point out a few observations before we take any more steps in this process:

This is hard work:
There are a lot of little details that need to be done in order to do this right. I am so blessed to have my wife as my administrative assistant to help handle all of these details. Let’s remember an important principle: Anything that’s worth anything will take time and hard work.
This is a process:
You won’t get all of this done in a day – or even a week. If you do, please call me and I might hire you. This will take time… a lot of time… a lot of YOUR time. So, b impatient enough that you want to get it done – but have patients enough to know that you have to take each step separately and in some cases delicately.
This has to be deliberate:
Re-structuring won’t just happen (come to think of it, no ministry administration ever “just happens”). Be deliberate about having a plan to get the process started. Be deliberate in communicating to your people that you are doing this whole thing. Be deliberate in working your plan. Be deliberate about pushing the process and keeping it going. Can I be any more deliberate about being deliberate?
OK – back to work… you can do this!
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