RSS

Tag Archives: Collaboration

Investing Beyond the Walls of Your Church

Investing in the Church Beyond Your Walls

For those of us called into local church ministry, whether it’s in a staff or in a volunteer leadership position, our job descriptions rarely ask us to look beyond the walls of our own church facility.  And, when we are asked to do so, it’s generally in order to bring families to our own church in order to sit in our seats and hear our weekend message.

Yet, if you do the math, the amount of unchurched people in your town could never fit inside the walls of your church – it just isn’t possible.  Which means, if we’re going to actually reach our neighborhoods with the Gospel, we’re going to have to learn to work together with the church down the street.  Today, I’d love for you to consider taking a step toward partnering with another church in your community – not because you need more friends, but because your neighbors need to know who Jesus is.

Building a Kingdom, not Castles

A few years ago, I was asked to contribute to a book which asked a handful of ministry leaders to choose one word that they felt represented the most important concept for people in Children’s Ministry as we looked toward the future of our field.  My word: Kingdom.  I went on to write, and still believe, that our churches would be more effective at ministry if we understood that each congregation in a community has a unique calling and purpose in their context and that, by working together to build the kingdom, we’d better be able to reach those who are lost and hurting in the world around us.

For those of us who find themselves at churches who have legacies of castle building, where the idea of working with other churches in the community might sound like heresy, let me assure you – I’m not asking you to stop inviting people to your church gathering.  In fact, I strongly believe that people will be more willing to worship in your faith community if you have a friendly relationship with other churches in town.  But, with simple math in mind, there simply aren’t enough seats in your church’s sanctuary or worship center for everyone in your neighborhood to sit in if they showed up on a Sunday.

The Three Mile Challenge

Being able to name what makes your church unique and what you bring to the table in a partnership first requires you to know what other voices are in the conversation.  But, in order to do that, you need to know what churches are in your neighborhood.  A quick Google search (if you just type “churches near” and then your church name, Google will give you a map of the churches in your area) will give you a great place to start.  From there, choose 5-10 churches within three miles of your church and check out their websites – what stands out to you? … what would they offer to a family looking to visit them on a weekend?  … who would you connect with on staff if you sent them an email?  … if you already know something about that church, what have you heard?  Your first steps into partnership should be with the churches on that short list who you already have some connection to.  Don’t make this harder than it has to be.

Next Steps into Partnership

Some of us might get intimidated by the idea of partnering with other churches because we think it means that we have to run joint events – massive VBS initiatives that will require us to rent out local stadiums and spend thousands of dollars.  However, that’s not what partnership has to look like.  Kingdom building begins with relationships long before it ever (IF it ever) leads to events.  So, beginning with that list of churches nearby, consider what it would look like to begin praying for three of those churches.

In my marriage, I can generally measure the health of our partnership by how well I know my wife’s prayer requests.  That is to say, if I know what’s on her heart and how to pray for the things that she cares most deeply about, then – chances are – we’re probably closer to being on the same page than when my prayers for her are more general.  In a similar way, the more details I know about how to pray for the churches in my area, the higher the chances are that I’m in relationship with those churches and that I actually care about the ministry taking place there.

In my community, I’m blessed to be surrounded by amazing friends at Grace Church of Glendora, Cornerstone Church, Grace Church of La Verne, Church of the Open Door and Foothill Church – and, because we pray for each other, I have a better sense for the hearts of the people at those churches and can tell local families what they might find in those congregations that my local church might not be able to offer.  Through partnering with those friends, the impact we can have on our community becomes multiplied and our seating capacity on a weekend increases exponentially.

If you want to try something new in caring for your community, try investing in kingdom building by getting to know another church in your area.  Though it might not be in your job description, you might get a new friend out of the effort – and, even if you don’t need another friend, your neighbors need a place to worship where they can hear about the Gospel of Jesus.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 27, 2015 in Thoughts

 

Tags: , , ,

Out of Left Field

Orange Week: Out of Left Field

The thing I learned at Orange that I never saw coming

When I attended my first Orange Conference a few years ago, I had a lot of expectations.

At Orange, I expected to hear amazing large group teaching from Reggie Joiner and Andy Stanley.  I knew that any breakouts led by Jim Wideman would leave me reading and re-reading my notes for days.  I expected to experience an amazing time of worship through music that resonated with me.
(one of my favorite things about being at a conference w/ youth pastors is that nobody on stage is going to ask you to do hand motions to the songs you’re singing… I can’t overstate how much I don’t like music aimed at 4 year olds at a conference for ministry leaders.  just sayin.)

However, I was given a gift at Orange that I never saw coming… and it’s changed the way I do ministry more than anything I’ve ever learned sitting in a chair – at Orange, I came for the strategy and I’ve stayed because of the friendships.

When I’m having a hard time in ministry, and don’t want to vent to someone in my local community, I know that I have a handful of people across the country that I can call, text or send a quick message to who will not only lift me up in prayer but will offer me advice as if what happens to me actually matters.  I’ve been to other conferences, but there’s something about Orange that actually lends itself to forming and encouraging lasting friendships.  When my wife had a miscarriage a little over a month ago, one of the first people that I sent a message out to was a friend I met at Orange 3 years ago.  Because I knew that part of my friend’s story is that he and his wife have miscarried in the past, and he’s also in church leadership, I knew that he would have a sense of how to pray for my family.

That first year that I went to Orange, I had to find the money to travel and attend out of my personal bank account – I didn’t have a church budget line that was going to help me get out to Atlanta.  I’m pretty sure that, if I would have told my wife that I wanted to spend our money to go make some friends who don’t live near us, she may have balked at the idea.  But even now, looking back on that trip and relationships that now exist because of Orange, I think we’d both agree that it was worth every penny we spent.  And, in all honesty, all the expectations I had about learning and growing in my faith and leadership skills were met – so, that’s always a bonus.

As I wrote in this post during the Orange Conference last year (Cheering for Each Other, Apr 28), I am struck at how having ministry friends outside of my own neighborhood greatly increases my sense of the Church-at-Large and the greater team that I’m a part of.  Because I’ve grown close to guys like Dan Scott (danscottblog.com, large group communicator extraordinaire), Matt McKee (mattmckee.me, my go to guy for all things tech and large-scale-printing related) and others at the conference, I’ve grown in my ministry skill set as well as in my own spiritual life.

Each year, before the Orange Conference, I make a point to write down on a post-it that I stick onto my wallet for the trip.  It says, “add 2 more.”  My hope and prayer, at every Orange Conference (or Orange Tour stop) that I attend, is that I make 2 more friends who will support me in ministry and life over the next year.  And, each year, God answers that prayer in greater ways than I could have ever imagined.

I never saw that coming.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 21, 2011 in Kidmin, Orange

 

Tags: , , , , ,

There is No “I” in Orange

Orange Week: There is No “I” in Orange

Why Orange shouldn’t be a solo experience

I sat down for coffee yesterday with a great local Family Pastor (and friend) in the area and spent nearly 3 hours talking shop and drinking coffee.  My friend has recently expanded his staff and has hired a part-time kids’ ministry director to help lead their church in a more “Orange” direction.  Whether he’s meaning to or not, my friend is doing something brilliant this week – he’s dragging his Senior Pastor to the Orange Tour we’re hosting at our church.  He understands an extremely simple concept – There is no I in Orange.

2 years ago, our church did something that was a game-changer for the way way we minister to families.  I was able to cash in all of my chips with our Senior Pastor and talked him into coming out to Atlanta with me to attend the Orange Conference.  In fact, we were able to send a team of 5 of us – Our Senior Pastor, our High School, Middle School, and Elementary directors, and I – across the country for some team bonding and strategy conversations.  Because Orange is more than simply a curriculum, we needed as many of the players as we could in on the conversation so that we could tackle the future of kids/student/family ministry at our church with a unified vision.

Now, to be incredibly honest, that trip was the beginning of a process for us – we’re still not as Orange as I’d love for us to be.  I’ll also add that it wasn’t even that hard to get my Senior Pastor to Orange – the speaker line up that they have (and reputation they’re building) pretty much sold the conference on its own.  With that said, sitting in a room with thousands of other children’s ministry leaders AND youth pastors AND senior pastors began to help us own the fact that a) we weren’t alone in trying to revamp the strategy we use to reach families with the gospel and b) there was a network of other leaders across the country that we could lean on during our transition.

I’ve met guys and gals at Orange who walk around by themselves with their eyes the size of tangerines as they try to take in all that the conference has to offer.  Over and over, I hear them asking about how they will EVER get their Senior Pastor to catch the vision for an Orange strategy.

Friends, this might be hard to swallow, but you can’t make your church Orange on your own.  Orange is a strategy that works best when there is alignment between departments – when churches stop operating in silos and begin working as a team that believes passionately about passing the faith on to the next generation.

Here’s where there’s a bit of hope – you don’t HAVE to fly multiple people to Atlanta to get the conversation started at your church!  I know that part of why this is “Orange Week” is because this is the first week that you can register for the 2012 Orange Conference… but, today’s post isn’t even going to have a link to the registration page.  Instead, let me offer a couple steps you can try before asking your church to invest in sending a team to Orange (because, seriously, if your church is going to help you attend Orange… you shouldn’t go alone.  It’ll probably just drive you crazy as you wish your team was there with you to process what you’re learning and experiencing).

Step One: Meet Orange thinking People:
Cost: Free
How: In the world we live in, you can connect with people online in ways I could have never dreamed of a decade ago when I started out in ministry. If you don’t know where to start or who to connect with, send me a message and I’ll point you in the direction of an awesome Orange-thinking person in your area.  It’s that easy.
(you can also check out some other Orange Week bloggers HERE)

Step Two: Read Think Orange
Cost: $15 (HERE on Amazon)
Why: This book will give you the framework that an Orange strategy is going to ask you to consider.  Taking steps past this point without having this resource under your belt is going to leave you scratching your head a bunch.  And, in all honesty, if you just make it through the first couple chapters before moving on, you’ll at least be starting on the right page.

Step Three: Bring your team to an Orange Tour stop
Cost: $59
Why: The step we took before our trip to Atlanta was getting our Senior Pastor to an Orange Tour stop.  After a few hours of hearing Reggie Joiner speak, I could see our team starting to get excited about where this new strategy might take us next.  Now… we’re half way through the Tour season, but there are still stops you can make it to!

** Seattle, WA | Tuesday, September 20, 2011 –  3-hour Gathering

Bethany Community Church
8023 Green Lake Drive
Seattle, WA 98103

Los Angeles, CA | Friday, September 23, 2011 –  Full Day Event

Glenkirk Church
1700 Palopinto Avenue
Glendora, CA 91741

** Morristown, NJ | Monday, October 10, 2011 –  3-hour Gathering

Liquid Church
Morristown Hyatt
3 Speedwell Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960

** New York City Area | Tuesday, October 11, 2011 –  3-hour Gathering

Christ Tabernacle
64-34 Myrtle Avenue
Glendale, NY 11385

Charlotte, NC | Thursday, October 20, 2011 –  Full Day Event

Bethlehem Church
3100 Bethlehem Church Street
Gastonia, NC 28056

Indianapolis, IN | Tuesday, October 25, 2011 –  Full Day Event

Connection Pointe Christian Church
1800 North Green Street
Brownsburg, IN 46112

Jacksonville, FL | Friday, November 4, 2011 –  Full Day Event

The Church at Argyle
6823 Argyle Forest Boulevard
Jacksonville, FL 32244

Houston, TX | Tuesday, January 17, 2012 –  Full Day Event

Woodsedge Community Church
25333 Gosling Road
The Woodlands, TX 77389

Dallas, TX | Friday, January 20, 2012 –  Full Day Event

TBD

** Note: This is a three-hour (10:30am – 1:30pm) event focused on the Orange Strategy through the lens of Wonder, Discovery and Passion with Reggie Joiner.  The cost is $15 and includes lunch.

Step 4: The Orange Conference
Cost: $239/person (if you register THIS Thursday)
Why: Ummm… did you read the post up to this point?  Getting everyone on the same page is a big deal.  If you’re ready to make this step, it’s worth the price of admission.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Kidmin, Orange

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Orange Week: What’s to Come

This week, registration begins for Orange 2012.

I can’t begin to tell you how incredibly excited I am.  In fact, I’m so excited that I’m joining in on a little blog tour leading up to the opening day of registration.  To find out more about that blog tour, you can check out this link:

http://www.whatisorange.org/orangeleaders/blog/?p=5986

Over the week, I’ll be posting a series of posts in a hope to convey how Orange, as a strategy and as a conference, has shaped and reshaped the way I serve and minister to families.  I’ll be walking through the following topics this week:

Tuesday: There is No “I” in Orange: Why Orange shouldn’t be a solo experience

Wednesday: Out of Left Field: The thing I learned at Orange that I never saw coming

Thursday: Dreaming in Orange: Simple ways that we’ve become a more Orange church (and you can too!)

Friday: Orange Tour LIVE: Glenkirk is hosting the Orange Tour THIS Friday!

I’m looking forward to the week… and also looking forward to meeting a TON of Orange Thinking friends for lunch this Thursday in the LA area (details here: http://www.whatisorange.org/orangeleaders/blog/?p=5999)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Kidmin, Los Angeles, Orange

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

—-

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?

 
8 Comments

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Calling All Youth Pastors

(Here’s a picture from our morning session on the first day of Middle School VBS Leader training)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, keeping the Kingdom in mind (and not just your own castle) is essential to lasting, effective and sustainable ministry.

As I wrote earlier this week, we spend a week each summer training hundreds of middle school and high school students in preparation for their work at our annual Vacation Bible School.  By opening the invitation to serve at VBS to all students in and around our community (we even have a couple that fly in from out of state to serve on our student leadership team), we find ourselves with an interesting mix of students.  The majority of students serving at VBS do not call our church their “home church”.  In fact, many have no church affiliation at all – they’re serving because they like kids and a friend invited them.  For many, it’s that simple.

During our training, we give our students a chance to commit or recommit their lives to following Jesus.  It’s been a conviction of mine that we give students a chance to own their faith in a new and fresh way before 1,000 little kids come onto our church campus to hear about God and the call that has been placed on their lives.

However, our staff has struggled with the follow up aspect of these decisions.  For years, we’ve followed up with parents and children’s pastors who have campers making decision to follow Jesus during VBS.  I spend the week after VBS calling local churches who were listed at the “home church” for campers who make commitments at our camp. Yet, we’ve never done that with our students – until this year.

For the last week, our Jr High guy, Scott Boss, has been contacting the nearly 40 churches who have students serving at our VBS this year.  He’s inviting the youth staff and ministry teams from those churches to come alongside us at our Saturday training event in order to connect with and pray for the students serving on our campus next week.

This is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while for a couple reasons.

Jesus is bigger than OUR building

By making these calls, and inviting other youth pastors onto our campus to help own what’s taking place here, we’re sending a message to our community – following Jesus and being a part of the Church has nothing to do with what building you meet in.  Jesus’ Church is bigger than any one building, denomination or church staff.  Our facilities might be hosting this event, but we don’t own it.  Jesus does.

Maybe other churches might try it

I know that kids from families who attend our church attend other church programs in town.  Odds are, some of the kids from our congregation have made important faith-commitments at the programs of other churches.  Yet, I’ve never received a call or email about it from another church in town.

I do know that “evangelism teams” from other churches have shown up at the houses of some of our kids and invited them to their church the following Sunday.  My guess is, if other churches are coordinating a follow-up process that includes door-to-door visitation, they could probably find the time to send me an email.

Because a lot of church’s senior pastors grade their kids and youth programs on attendance numbers, I can totally understand why return attendance would be something that children’s ministry teams would want to invest in.  However, I’m not convinced that partnering with other churches would hurt attendance – I’ve only experienced it fostering a community and posture that encourages the growth of a ministry.  With that said, maybe we’ll see other churches try it out.

We’ll let you know how our little experiment goes.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 8, 2011 in Kidmin, Orange, Thoughts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

—-

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!

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: