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Hiring: A Partner for our Family Ministry Team

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Hiring: A Partner for our Family Ministry Team

Job Description (and feel free to share this post!)

You may or may not have been reading this blog when I posted this:
http://westcoastcm.com/2010/05/17/top-10-reasons-i-want-you-on-staff/

Context: You see, a good friend of mine had left our family ministry team and I knew that only the right person could fill the gap left in our ministry team.  Our church was in the midst of restructuring in such a way that we could strategically partner with parents of kids, cradle to college, to pass the faith on to the next generation.

And, because Jesus knows what he’s up to, we hired the only person who could have filled the position we created.

Now, a few years later, we are looking to add another person to our team.

Earlier this year, our Middle School Director got married.  That life-transition led him to begin interviewing at churches so that he and his new wife could take on a bigger role at a place that was looking at doing some of the same creative things in ministry that we’ve been doing to reach families in our community.  Hard to blame him – 7 years ago, I did the same thing.  I’m stoked (and a little sad) to say that he found an amazing fit out in Colorado, where he’ll be able to help lead that church in a direction that’s a little more Orange than it’s been.

So… we’re hiring.

The job description is here:
http://www.glenkirkchurch.org/page3-52/ResourcesJobopportunities

We only hire people who are passionate about partnering with families, who are innovative in ministry and have a track record of building teams who pass the faith on well to the next generation.

If that’s you (or you know someone who fits that description), let me know.  You can send me a message on Facebook (HERE) or Twitter (HERE) or leave a comment below and I’ll put in a good word for you 🙂

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Posted by on January 8, 2013 in Orange

 

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Casting a Vision for Partnership

Casting a Vision for Partnership

Ideas about the why and the how-to of vision casting toward partnership

Most parents in your congregation have no idea why they bring their kids to your church.  That might seem like a ridiculous statement… but, I think it’s more true than not.

If you were to survey families in your church (assuming they’d actually do the extra work of filling out a survey and turning it back in) do you think that you’d get a consistant answer from various parents, grandparents and guardians about why their family attends church?  On their own, families will develop a variety of reasons for church attendance and it’s your responsibility, if you want to develop a partnership between your church and families in your community, to begin casting a unified vision for why a family brings their children to your church.

Here’s how:

Cast vision with what you say

Words have the power to help create and form reality.  Our children are born without names and yet, because we choose a name for them and speak it into existence, they come to know that you’re addressing them when their name is spoken.  In a similar way, you have the power to speak partnership into existence by using partnering terms with parents in your congregation.

Try building words & phrases like “partnering”, “partner”, “come-alongside”, “same team”, “in this together”, and “widen the circle” into the vocabulary you use during conversations, teaching moments and parenting gatherings.  Look for moments to say, in front of kids and students, that you’re on the same team as their parents.  You get bonus points if parents are actually around when you use this language.

Cast vision with what you print

This might sound redundant, but the words you type matter almost as much as the words you speak.  Are you the kind of person who posts angry things about parents on your Facebook page?  It seems to me that a good partner would encourage the person their working with – not talk smack about them in a public forum.  Consider what it might look like to be the biggest cheerleader the parents in your congregation could ask for.

The next time you send an email, think about using words of partnership in your writing.  Talk about initiatives that involve partnership.  Talk about what it looks like to partner with you in raising kids who love Jesus.  My emails all end with “partnering” language.  That’s not an accident.  If the language you use when you write simply talks about the programs you offer for kids, don’t be surprised when parents expect a new exciting program instead of a partnership from you.

Cast vision with what you show & celebrate

Have you ever noticed that most kids, when asked who their favorite superhero is, don’t think of mentioning the Invisible Man?  Invisibility might be a neat power to think about having, but kids aren’t heading to your local Target next Halloween to buy the latest “Invisible Man” costume.  Batman, Superman, Ironman and Disney Princesses will continue to dominate the costume aisle for any sort of foreseeable future.  The Invisible Man has always had a PR problem… because nobody can see the guy.

With that in mind, you need to know that the vision of partnership between parents and your church has to be something that families can see before they know what they’re aiming for.  It’s up to you, leader, to find ways to show your congregation what partnership looks like.  Recently, a family at our church shared with us that their daughter had decided to follow Jesus at their house – and you better believe we’re sharing that story like crazy. If, in our context, we’re trying to equip families to talk about their faith at home, I couldn’t paint a better picture than parents leading their daughter to Jesus and then circling back to the church to celebrate the new life in their family.  Don’t let your vision for partnership remain invisible – find ways to show it to your congregation and your community.

This is part of a series of posts on serving families in our communities.  To see the notes and slides that go with this series, visit: http://westcoastcm.com/2012/10/03/turning-parents-into-partners/

other posts you might enjoy…

Parents into Partners: Strategy #1
http://westcoastcm.com/2012/10/06/parents-into-partners-strategy-1/

Dreaming in Orange
http://westcoastcm.com/2011/09/22/dreaming-in-orange/

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2012 in Kidmin12, Orange, Thoughts

 

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Orange Tour: Los Angeles

Orange Tour: Los Angeles

Learn to Lead Change and to Lead Small

The Orange Tour is coming to Glenkirk Church in just over a month.  I’m incredibly excited.  Last year, hundreds of churches attended this gathering – looking forward to another great experience!

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2012 in Los Angeles, Orange

 

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The Hunger Games Discussion Guide

The Hunger Games

A Thoughtful Discussion Guide for Parents

Whether or not you want your high school students and preteen kids to be reading the books and watching the movie, chances are high that families in your church are coming into contact with the current excitement surrounding The Hunger Games.

Our student ministry team has developed a response that we’re distributing to parents of our kids to encourage them to dialogue with their children and talk through some of the serious content and questions that The Hunger Games is bringing into the lives of our youth.

Feel free to take this resource and run with it.  I think a part of our jobs, as those who are called to serve kids and families in our communities, is to resource them to have significant conversations around their dinner tables about stuff like this.  And, I think that part of my job is to share neat things like this that our student ministry team made for our families.

Sharing is a good thing, right?

Hunger Games Discussion Guide (PDF)

CLICK HERE

A special thanks to our Student Ministry intern, Kailyn King, for doing the footwork to make this resource a reality.  One day, you’ll be allowed to hire her at your church to run your student ministry.  But… not yet – we want to keep her for a while 🙂

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Orange, Resources

 

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CYMLC 2012

Children & Youth Ministry Leadership Conference 2012

I had the honor of taking my 2012 workshop presentations for a test drive today at the 16th annual gathering of children and youth ministry leaders at CYMLC in sunny Murrieta, CA.  As promised to those who attended my sessions, I’ve uploaded my notes here.  If you’d like the slides that go with them, comment below and I’ll pass them your way.

Tapping into Teen Helpers in Children’s Ministry

DOWNLOAD PDF HERE

This workshop examines best practices and next steps for getting teen helpers involved in children’s ministry at your church. From getting your youth pastor in your corner to a how-to guide for getting teens to serve in your ministry, learn how to take your children’s programs to the next level by effectively integrating teen leaders onto your team!

Turning Parents Into Partners: Family Ministry 101

DOWNLOAD PDF HERE

Family ministry is more than just large events and Sunday morning handouts that end up in the church parking lot. In this workshop, we discuss the best ways to create a church environment that encourages parents (and other adults who bring children to church) to partner with your children’s ministry team as you raise up children in the faith together. We also examine the common pit-falls that family ministry models fall into as well as simple ways you can make your ministry more family-friendly.

 I’ll be leading expanded versions of these workshops at Group’s Kidmin Conference this Fall.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Kidmin, Orange, Resources

 

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Reaching a New Generation of Families | redux

Last October, I had the privilege of leading a family ministry conversation at Group Publishing’s Kidmin Conference in Chicago. This next Fall, I’ll have the opportunity to lead a workshop where we will talk about the specifics of turning parents into partners in ministry.
I’m honored to be given the chance to speak on a topic that gets me as excited as this does.
 
 

Reaching a New Generation of Families

Practical Next Steps for Church Leaders

I walked away from some recent ministry conversations with the sense that a lot of people are talking about “Family Ministry” but are having a hard time navigating what their next steps should be.  Today, I thought I’d share three statements to keep in mind as your church moves toward a more effective family ministry model.

The Parent is the Expert

The reality: All too often, those who serve families in the church come across as thinking that they have all of the answers for the hard times of parenting.  However, most parents don’t see the need for your voice in the conversation – they’re the ones doing the parenting… so, obviously, they are the experts.  In a way, they’re right: they have logged more hours with their children than anyone else and they have the potential to be the greatest influencer of their child over the course of their lifetime.

Try this: Talk and act as though you are on the same team as parents. In front of children and their parents, support something that a mom or dad has said.  Follow up those moments by reminding those around you that you’re on the same team as the parents.  A healthy family ministry model is one that recognizes that you are not only serving children – you’re serving the entire family.  If parents see and hear that you believe yourself to be a member of their team, they’re more likely to treat you as a partner instead of just someone who spends time with their child while they go to church.

Families are Busy

The reality: Families are being pulled in more directions today than they were a few decades ago.  The childhood you remember doesn’t exist anymore. When you tell a family that bringing their child to church isn’t going to be enough – that there’s more to passing on the faith than simply showing up twice a month to Sunday School – you run a strong chance of overwhelming them.  Their calendars are already full.  They’ve double booked themselves at least twice in the coming week.  The don’t have time to do extra things and they’re more likely to give up on you than on Little League.

Try this: Cast a vision for younger families about what it will take to pass the faith on to their children. I’m fond of telling parents of toddlers and preschoolers to “Do what matters before it matters so that when it matters you’re already doing it.” In other words, the rhythms you create when your children are young matter – parents need to be intentional about how they’re spending their time.

Families of older children can be comforted to know that they are already doing many of the things that it takes to have spiritual conversation with their child.  Remind them about how they can leverage things they are already doing – sharing meals, bedtime routines, driving in the car & getting ready each morning for the day to come – in order to talk about the things that matter.  Don’t give parents an extra list of things to do – teach them how to add value to the time they are already spending with their children.

Not Everyone Cares

The reality: At best, 20% of the families at your church are fully committed to partnering with you in raising up the next generation (their children included) to love Jesus. 90% might check a box saying that it’s a good thing… but, at least 80% of the families in your church think that it’s the church’s job to teach people about Jesus – their own children included. And, to be honest, I’m probably being generous in saying that 20% of your families are bought in to partnering with you.  But, if I told you the real number, you might just get sad.

Try this: Don’t be upset when families don’t understand their need for partnering with you.  They’re at church – that’s a huge step in the right direction! Work on developing a tiered approach to partnership.  Think of commitment in terms of levels of engagement and work on moving families toward having a full commitment to spending time outside of Sunday teaching their children about Jesus.  If your church is doing its job, you’ll always have new families coming in and you’ll need an approach to getting them on board with partnering with you – start figuring out what those steps are with the parents you already know.  Want to find out what parents are committed to partnering with you? Try “forgetting” to hand out take-home pages this next Sunday and see which parents notice.  Warning: only do this if you’re ready for some hard conversations with parents at your church and with yourself.

Families are more diverse than they’ve ever been. For more reading on Reaching a New Generation of Families, check out this post: https://westcoastcm.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/reaching-a-new-generation-of-families/

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Kidmin, Orange, Thoughts

 

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Reaching a New Generation of Families

Reaching a New Generation of Families

Throw Away Your Cookie Cutter “Family Ministry” Strategy

This last week, I had the privilege of spending time with Amy Dolan, children’s ministry consultant and founder of Lemon-Lime kids.  Amy led a session at the conference I attended and facilitated a conversation about what family ministry will look like in 2011 and beyond.  I’ll lead with some new facts and ideas that Amy planted in my head and what I think we, as ministry practitioners, can do to revamp and re-imagine what family ministry looks like for a new generation of families.

What is a family?

In order to begin reaching families in your community with the Gospel, the first thing you need to throw out is your definition of family.  “Why?” you may ask… well, to begin with, the families you minister to are living in a world where the definition of family has changed.  Don’t believe me?  Let’s let Diane Sawyer and her team do the talking:

In my own home – we’re faced with redefining what a family is.  I have a sister who has been with the same boyfriend for over a decade.  We like him a lot.  At Christmastime, our family (my wife, 2 kids and I) buys them one Christmas gift in the same way that we send our sets of parents one gift each.  Our kids even call him Uncle Jordan.  He and my sister aren’t married, they don’t have kids, and yet – we, in all practical purposes, call them a family.

There almost seems to be a generational divide over who is and who isn’t comfortable with the loosening of the term “family” – especially in the world of Church.  Don’t believe me?  Ask an elder or board member at your church to write the definition of “family” and then ask a teacher or administrator in your local public school district to define what a family is – they’ll probably sound a little different.  And, as you reach out into your community, you need to know that the definition of family is changing – whether the church is ready for it or not.

Throw away your cookie cutters!

These are my words, not Amy’s.  However, I think she’d be in full support of them.  Over the last decade, as the church has re-struggled to engage families by tapping someone on staff to “Run” family ministries, the Church has gotten great at running “family” events.  Many churches, if you asked them what their family ministry strategy was, would point to a potluck they host or a movie night they invite families to.  Think about the way that we’ve often pitched these events…

To kids, we encourage them to bring their parents to events – but… what about kids who come to church with their grandparents?  Or what about the ones who have neighbors driving them to church?  And how about the kids in your church who are in foster care or have been removed from their parents’ home by local authorities?  Have you ever considered how those kids feel when you get a room full of their peers excited about inviting their parents to an event?

To grown ups, we announce that family events are upcoming and tell parents to bring their kids – but… do we consider the couples in the congregation who are struggling after a miscarriage and ache to be considered a “family” by those around them?  Have we thought about the message that we send to singles in our churches who already feel as though the church tells them that their life isn’t complete without a spouse… and now there’s another hurdle they’re going to have to jump over to be considered a “family” by their pastor?

I think we can do better and that we need to do better if the church is going to run effective family ministry in the changing world around us.

Practical next steps

I want to suggest a handful of next steps for those of us in the church who are looking to better serve families and the communities around us.  However, I want us to also sit and consider some of what we just read and heard.  If the definition of “family” is more fluid in the year 2011 than it’s been over the last few decades, then what does that mean for those of us who have been tasked by our churches to facilitate “family” ministries?  Where are some places in our churches that we can make room for singles and couples without children so that they know that they are a part of our church family and their voices are valuable in the conversation?

I’m going to hold off on practical application until my next post.  I feel like throwing out answers this quickly doesn’t allow the space we need to consider the changes on the horizon for Family Ministry in the Church.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2011 in Kidmin, Orange, Thoughts

 

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