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Partnering with Parents: Workshop Prezi

(pictured above, Westwood United Methodist Church)

Partnering with Parents

Workshop Prezi and LINKS

This weekend, I was asked to present a workshop on Partnering with Parents at a West Coast gathering for ministry leaders in the United Methodist Church.

Here’s the Prezi I used for the weekend’s presentation… which should look familiar because the content was very similar to what I presented in Chicago last Fall.

PREZI LINKOrange-ology: Turning Parents into Partners
(you’ll notice a shout-out to Orange in this workshop, because I wanted to pitch the Orange strategy to these leaders in a way that I felt would have been distracting at Kidmin)

Other posts related to this topic:

Reaching a New Generation of Families

http://westcoastcm.com/2011/10/13/reaching-a-new-generation-of-families/

Reaching a New Generation of Families: Redux

http://westcoastcm.com/2012/03/13/reaching-a-new-generation-of-families-redux/

Turning Parents into Partners: An Introduction

http://westcoastcm.com/2012/10/06/parents-into-partners-an-introduction/

Parents into Partners: Strategy #1

http://westcoastcm.com/2012/10/06/parents-into-partners-strategy-1/

Casting a Vision for Partnership

http://westcoastcm.com/2012/10/08/casting-a-vision-for-partnership/

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2013 in Kidmin, Resources

 

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Strategic Church Leadership: ECO Workshop

A Gathering of The Fellowship & ECO

Strategic Church Leadership Workshop

I recently had the privilege to teach alongside my senior pastor, Jim Miller, at The Gathering of the Fellowship and ECO: a denominational conference in Orlando, Florida.

Here’s the description of the workshop:

Strategic Church Planning
Tired of ministry ideas that never quite hatch into effective mission? Wondering why so much of what you try
doesn’t get off the ground? Maybe a strategic approach to preaching, family ministries, staffing, meetings,
and everything else would help you move God’s people from being an institution to being a movement of the
Kingdom. Study effective steps to building systems that produce the results you want.

(Click HERE to view the Prezi/slideshow for this workshop)

It was exciting to be at a national gathering of church leaders who made a public pledge to baptize more people than they bury over the next few years – something that few denominations can actually say in 2013.  As mainline denominations continue to die, it’s encouraging to see churches rally around the call to make disciples (who make disciples) and who are trying to do so through innovation and strategic planning.  It was a blessing to be a part of this gathering.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Resources

 

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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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Parents into Partners: Strategy #1

Parents into Partners: Strategy #1

Be Like-able

Partnering with parents in your church often begins with your heart; before any strategy is put in place, there has to be a relational bridge between you and parents in your community if you hope to partner with them in ministering to their children.  If the phrase “partnering with parents” makes you roll your eyes, you’re going to need to get your own heart into the right place before you try to launch a new partnering initiative.

People help who they like

In general, when they have a choice, people choose to spend time with people they like.  Consider what it might do to your attendance numbers, or at least the frequency of a family’s attendance, if the volunteers and staff in your children’s ministry made the top of a family’s “favorite people” list.

Think back to your years on the playground as a child.  If you had the choice to play a game with other kids, you probably would choose to be on a team with someone who was a good teammate, right?  The last person kids on the playground want on their team is the child who goes around tripping everyone or the one who decides that they can win on their own and ignores the rest of the team.  Friends, if you want to partner with parents, work hard to be someone who is fun to play alongside.

Think about the last time your family had a bad/unhappy/unfriendly waitress at a restaurant – most people, when given the chance, would try to get a different waitress the next time they went out.  And, seriously friends, we have something better to offer than any waitress at any restaurant in your town – don’t let your attitude or friendliness get in the way of a family choosing to come back next weekend.

Leverage social media: be a person

Because I go out of my way to leverage social media, I know that some parents from my church (my pastor’s wife included) read this blog.  With that said, I kind of feel like writing what I’m about to write is like walking out to take the garbage to the curb and realizing I forgot to change out of my pajamas.  Just because there are moments of my life when I wear Guitar Hero shorts, my neighbors don’t need to see what goes on behind the scenes.  However, because they are not my primary audience in this space, I’m going to share some thoughts on how I’ve helped them learn to like me over the last few years.

I work hard to be a face that families care about and one of the most effective ways I’ve found in helping families learn to like me is by leveraging The Facebook.  My wife and I stay in constant dialogue about what we reveal via social media and, typically, transparency wins out over privacy.  We often ask ourselves, “is this a part of the story of our family?” If it is, then we share it.  If it’s something divisive (political views, posts of judgement, complaints about people in leadership) then we back off from posting those thoughts.

This week, for example, a young teacher at my son’s school told me that she’s been praying for my son and was thrilled to see the picture of his cast getting removed that I posted to instagram.  This teacher went on to tell me, during a 50 second conversation, that this was the first thing she’d prayed for since someone she loved lost their battle with cancer three years ago.  Families in our community are watching our story as it unfolds and are finding moments along the way where they relate to us and engage our story.

This is more than just making a space online for parents to see your church events (people engage with and relate to faces more often than logos) – it’s a place for families to get to know your face and your story in such a way that they begin to like you.  It’s not being manipulative as long as you make sure that being authentic is a high value of yours.

Return phone calls and emails

This one is (mostly) for the youth pastors in the room.  But I’ll let the children’s ministry folks in the room listen in.  Parents will not partner with you if they cannot get a hold of you.  Partnership is a two way street – if you send out weekly or monthly emails to families in your church, you better read and respond to emails that families send to you.  If you want families to call you in times of need, you better return their phone calls when they call your office and leave a voicemail.  Boundaries are important, don’t get me wrong.  I often tell families that I don’t look at my phone between the hours of 6pm and 8pm every night because my family owns that time.  Just keep in mind that families who cannot get a hold of you will be less likely to partner with you.  It’s as simple as that.

Smile. Often.

If you hate The Facebook, or can’t stand listening to voicemail, there’s still an easy first step that you can take this weekend as you begin trying to partner with families.  Smile.  Often.  I have a friend who, when she relaxes her face, makes a frown.  It’s not because she’s upset – it’s just how her face works.  I’ve watched other parents avoid conversations with her when she’s letting her kids play on the playground because they don’t want to engage the angry person.  If you have a face that easily looks angry, stressed or sad, you may have to work harder at smiling when you see people on a Sunday morning (even though you’re tired, your rooms weren’t set up right, a child just threw up in the toddler room and the women’s toilet in the bathroom is clogged with purple playdough).

This doesn’t give you an excuse to be fake.  I’ve had a hard couple weeks as a person and I’m willing to share that with people who ask how I’m doing.  At the same time, I find joy in the ministry that I’m called to and I make it a point to share that joy with others.  If people like seeing you, they’re more likely to talk to you.  And, as I’ll write in a later post in this series, it’ll be hard to get parents to take the next step toward engaging in a partnership with you if they don’t talk to you.

So, smile this weekend.  And give a parent in your ministry a high five.

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/

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Kidmin12, Thoughts

 

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Parents into Partners: An introduction

Parents into Partners: An introduction

Serving a NEW GENERATION of Families

When talking about Family Ministry, we first have to admit that the modern family looks a whole lot different than our culture told us that it should look 50 years ago.

I’ve posted this video before, but it’s worth watching again, as we consider what it looks like for the church to serve and reach out to the modern family:

And, if that was how your neighbors thought of the definition of family in 2010, consider what this clip says about what they might now consider the “new normal”:

One of the tag-lines for this new show should cause you to stop and consider what it looks like to effectively minister to families in your community:

You don’t have to be related to be family – different is the new normal

So, let’s consider, as we begin to think about how to best partner with parents in passing the faith on to the next generation, that we’re not dealing with the Beavers anymore (that is, if we ever thought we were actually dealing with perfect families).  Instead, we are called to serve single parents, guardians, neighbors with an extra seat in the car, teens who bring their younger siblings to church, adoptive & foster parents, and couples in your congregation who are struggling with infertility.  Consider what it looks like to partner with the hardest family situations in your ministry.

It’s with that frame of mind that we move forward.

It’s for families who most need the grace of Jesus that we’re called to share the Gospel.

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/

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Kidmin12, Thoughts

 

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Post 200: Who saw THAT coming?!

Post 200 at West Coast CM

Revisiting the purpose and looking forward

A little over 3 years ago, as I began to really settle into my role at my current church, I started thinking concretely about collaboration.  I never intended on having a national voice in the area of children & family ministry and could have never dreamed that writing here would even give me traction in my local setting.

Yet, here we are, 200 posts in and coming off of a speaking gig at a national children’s ministry conference in Chicago.  Seriously, who saw THAT coming?!  I’m grateful for those of you who’ve been following along from the beginning.  And I’ll continue to welcome those who are checking things out for the first time today.

As I said when I launched this space (check out the original post HERE), I have a hope for churches on the West Coast to catch a vision of partnership and collaboration.  Through conversations initiated here, I’ve become collaborators with West Coast children’s ministers like Collie Coburn, Christiaan VandenHeuvel and Henry Zonio and have created friendships with over a dozen churches within 15 minutes of me (and, as much as I like saying that I know those first guys, the group who I connect with locally make my heart truly happy).

If you read this blog, and you’re in children’s ministry, I’d encourage you to start dialoging in the comments section, find me on twitter or connect with me on facebook.  If this space ever turns into an echo chamber, it’ll have lost its way.  Having your voice in the conversation will help this continue to be a space for collaboration and partnership moving forward.

Thanks.

Your partner in Christ,
Ap

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2012 in Thoughts

 

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