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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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When You Least Expect It

When you least expect it

Open positions you can’t afford to overlook

Recently, I’d had the chance to connect with an amazing organization that is committed to connecting the best churches with the best children and family ministry staff in a hope of revolutionizing the way that the Church-at-large reaches the next generation.

Currently, there are two open positions that you’ve gotta check out – even if you’re happy where you’re at, God can call you out of your comfort zone when you least expect it.

Pastor of Family Ministry in Washington – Crossroads Community Church

Director of Children’s & Family Ministry in Naperville, IL – The Compass Church

Both of these churches are doing pretty creative things in the world of Kidmin.  Full details about the positions and church profiles can be found by visiting:

http://kidmin360.com/staffing/candidates/

If these positions aren’t quite the perfect fit for you, but you’d like information when other jobs come available, send me a DM on Twitter (@anthony_prince) or a private message on facebook (www.facebook.com/anthonyprince) – all inquires will be completely confidential.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2012 in Kidmin, Resources

 

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The Traditions of Christmas

The Traditions of Christmas

Our families share their Christmas Traditions

We have a parenting fellowship that meets on Sunday mornings at our church.  We discuss parenting, marriage and family life topics.  Homebuilders, for Glenkirk, is a community that’s smaller than a church service, but bigger than a small group – allowing parents a next-step into community with other believers (and some non-believers) who seek to raise up Christ-following kids.

This year, at our last gathering before Christmas break, some of the families in the group shared their family traditions around Christmastime and I thought I’d share them here.  These might give you some ideas for traditions your family can start, or just give you a picture of what some of the families in our communities do to celebrate Christmas.

Families were asked to submit their Christmas Traditions…
Here’s how they responded:

  • Eat Swedish meatballs on Christmas Eve.
  • Have Santa has come to our house every Christmas Eve, they love it and we go to church.
  • The best part is Christmas day when the entire clan gets together (26 and growing).
  • We got an “Elf on the Shelf” a few years ago, and it is one of our favorite traditions.
  • Glendora Christmas Stroll
  • Advent Cards
  • Visit Live Nativity Scenes
  • Neighborhood Cookie Exchange w/ Santa Claus and Snow
  • Give kids $ to buy Christmas presents for everyone at dollar store
  • Read the Christmas story
  • There’s the usual baking, decorating and getting dressed up for church.
  • Play “Christmas Guess Who” (this is for a large group).
  • We also play bingo after dinner!
  • Make Puppy Chow and deliver it to friends and neighbors.
  • Drive together in the Yukon and look at Christmas lights wearing Santa hats.
  • Advent calendars for the boys from Trader Joes.
  • Everyone knows that the one gift they will “surprisingly” open on Christmas Eve will be P.J.’s.
  • After presents Christmas morning, we have “eggie” casserole and bagels, lox and cream cheese.
  • Listening to Amy Grant’s Christmas album while decorating the tree
  • After putting the kids to bed on Christmas Eve, my husband & I enjoy Mimosas, wrapping & watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” on TV.
  • Do the “What God Wants For Christmas” story
  • Take turns opening presents one at a time and will even stop and play with a present if one of the kids wants to…
  • Have the kids also give each other and each of us presents
  • We also have Eggplant Parmesan for dinner and Thin-Hotcakes for breakfast
  • We always buy a tied up tree and open it up at home
  • Give the kids new Christmas PJs on Christmas Eve.
  • Read the Bible on Christmas morn before we open presents
  • Have Cinnamon Rolls and hot chocolate on Christmas morning
  • At our dinner parties or when we host Christmas eve, we section the Luke 2 chapter in as many pieces as we have guests (kids included) and we read our parts around the table as our prayer.
  • We make about 10-15 loaves of cinnamon bread starting at the crack of dawn Christmas morning to give to neighbors and friends.
  • On Christmas Eve all the kids perform the Christmas pageant and then we sing “That’s How Christmas Came to Be.”
  • We go to my in-laws and have a white elephant gift exchange after dinner.
  • We celebrate St. Nicholas day on Dec. 6. The night before the kids put their shoes out and they get little goodies (a small gift, Clementine, candy cane, and chocolate gold coins)
  • We read stories about the real St. Nicholas and it is helpful to tie our Christmas traditions to a real person and the kindness he showed for others
  • We buy our kids three gifts each: something they need, something they want, and something that’s a surprise
  • We have a traditional Norwegian meal on Christmas eve
  • Santa brings 3 gifts, just like Jesus received 3 gifts.
  • We choose one Christmas card each night from those we’ve received in the mail and pray for that family/individual before dinner.
  • We bake a birthday cake for Jesus.  Then we sing to him and blow out the candles after Christmas dinner.
  • We spend the night with my brother’s family Christmas Eve and wake up to cook bacon, eggs, and cinnamon rolls and open gifts.
  • We spend the whole day playing with new toys and playing over-the-line.
  • Strawberry Farms Christmas Tree
  • Christmas Music
  • Opening a present on Christmas Eve (always PJ’s)
  • Church on Christmas Eve,
  • Christmas Lights- drive around
  • Angel on top of tree
  • Cookies and milk for Santa
  • Mrs. Claus lingerie (after the kids go to bed, of course)
  • Our nativity scene
  • Calendar that counts down to Christmas
  • My favorite, second only to baking with the family, would be our family night where we let each person open two gifts:  pajamas and then an ornament
  • We read the Christmas story (from the Bible) and Santa Mouse.
  • Our family always gets our our Christmas tree the first weekend of December.
  • We pop popcorn, drink eggnog and hot chocolate while we decorate and after its all done, the kids “camp out” on the floor in front of the tree and watch a Christmas movie until they fall asleep.
  • On Christmas Eve, we order pizza, go to Christmas Eve Service and then open one present
  • Do Elf on the Shelf which is huge fun and helps with behavior!
  • Get hot chocolate and drive around looking at lights.
  • Sprinkle oats mixed with sparkles on the lawn Christmas Eve for Santa’s reindeer.
  • Always watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Christmas Vacation” on Christmas Eve.
  • My wife and I started a tradition because she came from a family that never put a topper on the tree, while mine always did. So here is our compromise — we put the toppers on my science fiction awards…!
  • A family tradition all year long… Our family does finger food Friday: appetizers for dinner and play games or watch movies
  • For years we went the Disneyland when kids were little…. We took a break…. We’re starting it back up this year!
  • The past few years we have had MOM and Son friends night at the Crooks with dinner and games or gift exchange….
  • We always watch Mary Poppins Christmas
  • We read the night before Christmas and still leave milk and cookies for Santa!
  • Make gingerbread houses together
  • Read Christmas books that were put away for the year
  • Watch the Polar Express Making hard cinnamon candy
  • Pull out the Little People nativity set
  • Christmas morning always includes homemade cinnamon rolls
  • We wake up Christmas morning, gather on mom & dad’s bed   for a Bible reading of the Christmas Story, then we pray and thank God for his many gifts to us, and we ask for grateful hearts for the many gifts that we are about to receive this day.
  • Lots of baking
  • The one item we make and keep for Christmas day is our Happy Birthday Jesus Cake!
  • We have an “adult tree” with our breakable ornaments and a “kid tree.”
  • One of our big family traditions: Progressive Dinner.
  • Christmas dishes and advent quilt come out December 1st.
  • Christmas boxers
  • Surprise Night
  • Reading Luke 2 and singing “Happy Birthday Jesus” in the hallway before presents.
  • Monkey Bread Christmas morning
  • The nativity manger is empty until Christmas morning

Do you have a tradition you’d like others to know about?  As always, feel free to add your thoughts in the comment section below.

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2011 in Kidmin, Resources

 

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Where we got the name “Christmas”

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibyur0xMeBA%5D

Where we got the name “Christmas”

WITB Tour: The Tricky Bits of Christmas

Have you ever wondered where the name Christmas comes from?  And… why don’t we just call it “Jesus’ birthday-day”?

Today, I get to talk a little about an amazing resource that’s coming out this holiday season.  Each year, I come across some tricky questions from the kids at my church, and even the kids who live at my house, as Christmas approaches.  Questions about Santa, the date of Christmas, some more questions about Santa, what the deal is with Christmas trees, and… yes… more questions about Santa.  I’d imagine that, if you’re a parent or work with children at your church, you face some of these same questions every year.

Well, I just happen to be friends with someone on a team who has developed a new tool for parents and church leaders to answer some of those hard questions surrounding Christmas.  The guys and gals who produce What’s In The Bible?  are launching a new resource this holiday season called Why Do We Call it Christmas (You can order the series at this link).  At the end of this post, I’ll tell you how you can win a FREE copy of this resource.

I’ve been asked to tackle some of the tricky bits that surround the lesson about where the name “Christmas” comes from.  It’s probably one of the lesser controversial lessons in the series (tackling the Santa thing sure sounds tricky, but the WITB team actually did it better than I’ve EVER seen), but it’s an important question that I want my own children, and the children in my church, to have the ability to answer.  Christmas is kind of a big deal, our kids should be able to talk about it from a place of understanding… and their answers should sound a bit different than the other answers on the playground at school.

When we work through this series at Glenkirk in the coming weeks (and at my house with my own kids), I’ll be giving my volunteers and church parents a head’s up about some of the trickier parts of this lesson.  The things I cover will probably look a little something like this:

For Volunteers and Parents

  1. In explaining the origin of the name “Christmas,” the video talks a bit about Communion.  Be ready to answer questions about what Communion is and why we take communion.  At our church, Communion is something that we celebrate once a month… but, be ready to explain to kids that some churches take communion more often and some take it less often.  At the time that Christmas originated (not when Jesus was born… but when we started celebrating Christmas on December 25), Communion was a part of each church service.  Having that information in your back pocket is going to be pretty helpful.
  2. The video talks about the fact that the holiday that started out on December 25th wasn’t Christmas.  You should be comfortable talking about this and shouldn’t shy away from the history of the date.  Try asking the kids in your group or in your family what day their birthday is on and if they’d change the day they celebrate it, if they could.  For example, my birthday is on December 27th and I’d change the day I celebrate it in a heartbeat.  I’ve lost count of how many “Christmabirthday” presents I’ve gotten over the years.  I think I’d want to celebrate my birthday in early May, if I had the choice.  Or maybe February.  How about you?
  3. When explaining the history of the holiday, it’s easy to talk less and less about the actual Christmas story.  Make sure that you point your discussion back to the birth of Jesus if it begins straying too far away.  If we spend a whole lesson talking about Christmas and forget to talk about God sending his Son to rescue us, we’re failing.  We should make sure that we make a big deal out of what we celebrate at Christmas.

Ok, here’s how to win your own copy ($79.00 value).  You can enter for the drawing by sharing this post on Facebook or Twitter and by sending me an email at aprince(at)glenkirkchurch.org.  Your email should include a quick story about how you handle (or how your parents handled) talking about Santa in your home.  This post isn’t about Santa… but I’m working on one and would love to use some of your stories (I’ll keep them anonymous, I promise).

Write to me, tell me about Santa, share this link and I’ll choose the winner next Tuesday, Nov.15, and post your name here on the blog.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2011 in Kidmin, Resources

 

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The Orange Tour: Los Angeles

The Orange Tour Comes to the Los Angeles Area

Get the Tools Needed for Effective Family Ministry

Hundreds of regional church leaders will gather in the Los Angeles area on Friday, September 23 for The Orange Tour, an exciting series of one-day events across the nation created to equip and inspire attendees. This fourth stop on the tour will be packed with practical ideas, move teams toward a unified strategy and provide easy-to-implement suggestions for partnering with parents. Speakers Reggie Joiner and Sue Miller will focus on the nine core insights to shaping the next generation’s worldview.

Designed to be an interactive gathering of church leaders from specific geographic regions, the Orange Tour’s relaxed environment provides each leader with the chance to network with other leaders in their area. The relationships formed here can become an invaluable tool to help build stronger ministries.

The Orange Tour is perfect for every member of a ministry team—preschool, children’s, student ministry and senior pastors. The speakers they’ll hear from, the training they’ll receive, and the community that develops provides an excellent environment for growth. This gathering is also a great opportunity to get ministry-specific questions answered from our Orange Leaders, Orange Coaches, and fellow ministry leaders who have the same or similar experiences.

Information shared through the tour stems from the Orange Strategy, a pioneering concept that believes parents, as partners with church leadership, create the most impacting center of influence for children and teenagers. “Thinking Orange” blends two vital, yet often unconnected worlds to reshape the current ministry model.

The Orange Tour Los Angeles stop will be held at Glenkirk Church in Glendora. Registration is $59, including lunch, if registered on or by September 9, after which the price increases to $69. The one-day training opportunity can either be considered a stand-alone event or as a precursor to The Orange Conference, the 4,000-plus national event, which will be held April 25-27, 2012, in Atlanta. For more information about The Orange Tour, please visit http://www.OrangeTour.org, email tour@rethinkgroup.org or call 678-845-7168.

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I can’t begin to express how thrilled I am that our team and our church is hosting the West Coast stop on the Orange Tour this Fall.  I’d love to connect with those of you out here in California and the surrounding states if you’re able to make it to this event – drop me a line via facebook, twitter or in the comments section and I’ll make it a point to create time for us to talk shop and hang out while you’re here.

I’ve even added a link at the right of my blog for you to register – it’s that simple.

Hope to see you there!

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Kidmin, Los Angeles, Orange, Resources

 

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Lockdowns, Medical Teams & The Mom Squad

I care about safety.

And… anyone who knows me knows that that’s an understatement.  I live a life that’s built on rules, strategies, formulas and procedures.  So, for better or for worse, I bring my crazy-love for safety to the kidmin world that I work and live in.

While visiting a nearby VBS recently, I was once again reminded that not everyone in kidmin shares my same passion for keeping kids safe (it’s not that they want kids to be “unsafe” – I’m just pretty sure that they are living in a world where nothing bad ever happens, so they don’t plan for worst-case scenarios).

I had tried to contact the church for weeks to set up a time to observe one of their programs, but never received a reply.  So, I decided I’d swing by and try to meet someone during the program who could walk me around and give me a behind the scenes look at things (annually, we offer campus tours during VBS for parents and church leaders who want to hear what goes into putting together our camp… I was hoping for something similar from them).

During my hour-long visit, without any identification or uniform, I was able to walk freely across a church campus while programs were running. I was next to children during their opening worship time, I spoke with children and gave high-fives, I walked to and through small group rooms where pictures and names of children in those rooms were plastered on the windows, I took pictures and even walked past check in teams that were supposed to stop random guys like me who are walking onto the church campus. I know, that’s a long sentence and I’m pretty sure the grammar is pretty weak – but, you get the point.  I did all of that – and I was never once stopped.  Nobody said a word to me.

Now, I don’t bring that up to say that our church and our programs are perfect.  I bring it up because many people in kidmin don’t think through safety procedures unless you make them… and, many don’t know where to start.  So, today, I want to share with you 3 things that you can do to begin taking safety seriously during large programs that you run.  You can plug these into your next camp, VBS, whatever – with little effort and HUGE reward (in my world, keeping kids safe is a big deal – in fact, I’d say it’s priceless).

The Lowdown on the Lockdown

During our large events, we have Lockdown procedures for a variety of incidents that might happen while kids are at church.  Because we go out of our way to train our team on the methods and reasons behind lockdowns, we’ve been able to successfully lock down our church campus on multiple occasions over the course of the last few years.

We teach our lockdown procedures through story and examples and spend about half an hour of our VBS training talking through our expectations of our leaders and staff during an emergency.  We cover examples of what to do in the event that a camper is separated from their group (Level 1), what to do if an unescorted adult comes on campus (level 2) or if wildlife or another dangerous threat is within the immediate surroundings (level 3).

You can download the PDF of our emergency procedures (Lockdowns are on page 2) by clicking HERE.

Putting a lockdown procedure into place isn’t something that takes a lot of effort or money, but it saves you time and energy when everyone is on the same page during an emergency.

We need a Medic!

One of the major upgrades we made to our VBS program last year was the addition of a volunteer medical team and a medic station.  I actually stole the idea from another church who had done something similar – and… now you can steal it from me!

As a church, we have a pretty good sense of who our medical, fire and law enforcement personnel are in our congregation.  We have an idea of where they sit in church and what service they attend.  We know which officers are required to carry firearms while off duty and which ones have kids in our program.  So, building a medical team to be present during our large programs became as easy as phone calls.  In fact, that’s all it took!  We had nurses, doctors and firemen spend their days off with us in the church office tending to injuries that a bandaid and a hug couldn’t quite fix.

Parents LOVED the fact that we had trained professionals looking after kids with bumps and bruises and I loved the fact that I didn’t have to be the only qualified first responder on campus.  A week before VBS, we asked for a shopping list from one of the nurses so that we could have any supplies our team would need during the week.  We made one more trip on Monday to get some last minute items – and, from there, the process worked without a lot of intervention from me.  Kids were safe and their parents knew it – there aren’t many bigger “wins” in my book.

The Mom Squad. It’s like an Easy Button.
But Better.

Do you have moms who just kind of “hang around” during an event?  Give them a role!  A few of my favorite moms have figured out that, by the time they drop off their kids and get settled in back at their house, they’ll need to start getting ready to come pick them up again.  So – they became our Mom Squad.

Our Mom Squad patrols our campus during an event and serves as extra hands, feet and voices for the staff running the event.  Random guy walking on campus?  The Mom Squad knows to intercept him and walk him to the front office to check in.  Child wandering away from his group?  The Mom Squad can call in a lockdown until we reunite him with his team.  Parents trying to force their way in to see our closing ceremonies?  The Mom Squad has that covered and might even recruit a couple volunteers in the process.

I joke around that having a Mom Squad is like having an Easy Button.  Our programs flow better when I don’t have to be everything and everywhere at once.  Having a group of moms who are patrolling our campus to watch for and care about the safety of our kids frees me up to give guided tours to other kidmin leaders in the area while we have 1400 minors on campus.  They require very little training, cost nothing and make our program 100 x’s better.

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Some might say that 1200 words about safety is a little much.  I could write a short novel – there’s so much more to say.  However, I’ll end with this – all 3 of these ideas were things I’ve picked up along the way because I visited other churches, met with other church leaders and constantly take the brilliant ideas of others and make the best ones fit our setting.  If you have questions or ideas you’d like to share, please use the comments section below.  Without your voice in the conversation, we are all at a disadvantage.

I think safety matters – what do you think?

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2011 in Kidmin, Resources, Thoughts

 

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End of the Year Celebrations: Parent Resources

As our mid-week programs are wrapping up at our church, I thought I’d share an idea that we put into practice last year and are still in the process of refining.

A few years ago, as we handed out awards and recognition for our students at the end of the school year, I began wrestling with how empty our awards ceremony felt.  There we were, with a ton of our committed parents in the room, handing out ribbons, certificates and trophies and then sending families on their merry way for the summer months.

So, last year, I decided to turn part of the night into a vision casting session for parents.  First, we show this video:

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/18984255]

this video is courtesy of Orange and 252 Basics which we use as our Sunday Morning Strategy at our church

Then, with moms in the room getting all teary-eyed because they think of their baby leaving the house in a few short years, we give them a vision for making the next years of parenting count.  We explain that our church desires to come alongside them and partner with them to raise their children to become fully devoted followers of Jesus.  With the term “partnership” in mind, we then offer them resources that we feel will help them a) catch the vision of partnership with the church and b) equip them to parent more confidently over the next year.

This year, we offered three resources for parents to choose from.
You can read about them here: http://www.glenkirkchurch.org/articles1-170/ParentingResourceList

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So… here’s my question, have you done something like this and, if so, what resources are you putting in the hands of the parents in your community?  If you haven’t… tell me why not.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2011 in Kidmin, Resources, Thoughts

 

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