A few months ago I made a list of people I wanted to make contact with in 2010. This week, I was able to sit down with Christine Yount-Jones, executive editor of Children’s Ministry Magazine and Champion for Children’s Ministry at Group Publishing.
To say that it was an amazing opportunity would be a gross understatement.
When I first wrote about CYJ, I wrote this little blurb about why she made my Top 5:
Christine is legit.
While some may consider becoming executive editor of one of the leading ministry magazines in the nation the pinnacle of their career, Christine shows no sign of slowing down or becoming “comfortable” with what she’s accomplished. She blogs and contributes to conversations on blogs regularly and keeps an active presence on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. She travels the nation, speaking to those currently serving in ministry in a way that encourages and equips them to reach toward excellence in everything they do. Yet, Christine isn’t just a talking head – she has real thoughts and opinions and seems genuinely more interested in what those of us in active ministry have to say than she cares about towing the company line.
Above all, Christine makes the list because, though we all think very highly of her, the word on the street is that she’s one of the most humble and approachable children’s ministry leaders around.
Now, having spent hours of unfiltered conversations with her, I feel like no write-up could ever do justice to the amazing Christ-follower and children’s ministry resource that she is.
As I meet with my Top 5 this year, I have a list of 3 must-cover topics to discuss. Here’s a quick recap of how my conversation with Christine went:
Secrets to Longivity
Though she’s still young and full of energy, CYJ has been a voice in Children’s Ministry for over 20 years! When I asked her how she did it, she was thrilled to share her insights. In fact, she was so thrilled, she wrote about the things she identified over at the Childrensministry.com blog. Go check it out!
Chris and I talked about tips she has picked up in the arena of leadership and management. Above all, she told me, we need to truly see and know those who we are called to lead. If we don’t first get to know those who serve alongside us, we won’t know how to tap into their strengths to accomplish realistic goals. She also talked about the importance of servant leadership and how that has been built into the culture at Group Publishing.
On the Horizon
I’m a guy who likes to plan and think ahead. And, seriously, who better to ask what trends are on the horizon for children’s ministry than one of the trendsetters herself… right? Group Publishing and Children’s Ministry Magazine have a strong history of pushing the envelope and setting a relevant target for those of us in ministry to aim for. So, what does Christine see on the horizon? What conversations are happening at a national level? What is the current buzz in Children’s Ministry? Our conversation hovered around three major topics.
Across the board, churches are wrestling with how we can minister effectively to families. We likened the current topic of family ministry to the age-old discussion of security in Children’s Ministry. The question with security has shifted from a question of should to how. Family ministry is no longer a question of should we… instead, you need to figure out how your church is going to minister to families. 5 years from now, relevant churches will not only have an answer to that question… those churches will have integrated that answer into their culture in such a way that the question will hardly be asked in Children’s Ministry circles.
A shift is coming in the way churches leverage their time and resources to minister to kids. As effective ministry becomes more fluid and relational, children’s pastors will continue dreaming outside of the box in such a way that publishers are going to have to rethink the way they equip the local church. Nobody knows what exactly this looks like yet… but it’s exciting to dream about.
Integration and Assimilation
I’ll be honest, I threw this into the conversation to see if I could get a head nod. I did. Churches are going to have to think about and invest in “next steps” to both large and small events. Discipleship strategies need to move past the HP model of discipleship (we do a lot of programming and then hope and pray that discipleship is happening). Churches are starting to wrestle with assimilation when it comes to Children and Family ministries. Could it be that students are walking away from the faith when they graduate high school because we failed to integrate their families into the life of the church when they were preschoolers and 3rd graders?
Overall, Christine set the bar pretty high for the rest of my list in 2010. She’s an amazing person and has an authenticity about her that gives her words more weight than she realizes. If you’ve never connected with her, find CYJ on Facebook or Twitter. She’s the real deal.