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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

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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Meeting Families Where They Are

 

Meeting Families Where They Are

Family Ministry Connect Group Reflections

I had the privilege this last weekend to have spent some time in Chicago at Group’s Kidmin Conference.  While there, I led something called a “Connect Group” – a multi-day conversation and gathering of ministry practitioners who spend time connecting over a common subject.  The group I facilitated was focusing on Family Ministry – specifically answering the question, how does the church best partner with parents and families in order to pass the faith on to the next generation in relevant and lasting ways?

While spending time together, I noticed a common theme.  Those of us around the table were talking about ministry ideas that we’ve tried in order to reach and equip families – both the ideas that have worked and the ones that have failed – and the ideas that worked almost sounded like a broken record… churches are succeeding when they meet families where they’re at, rather than telling them what would be best for them.

Making the things you’re already doing count

Most of us know the story and the power of the movement behind an organization called TOMS shoes.  Their founder, Blake Mycoskie, decided to leverage an action people were already doing – buying shoes – and use that buying power to help children in need obtain a higher standard of living.  It’s a great example of meeting people where they are and making it count.  I tell high schoolers and young adults all the time – if you want to do the MOST good, your $60 can help out an organization like Compassion tremendously.  However, if you’re already going to drop that kind of money (or more) on a pair of shoes, then why not buy a pair from an organization that will pass on a pair to a child who has never owned shoes?

I say that to say this – from the conversations around our circles, it sounds as though family ministry is most effective when churches find things that families are already celebrating or doing (Halloween Parties, Christmas activities, lunch after church, parenting conversations, celebrating milestones… among others) and lean into those times to equip and resource families and often give them a shared experience alongside other families who are committed to raising up their children well.

Family ministry, it seems, is more than just handing out take-home pages.
Who knew? 😉

I’m looking forward to continuing those conversations throughout this coming year… and we’d love to have your voice in the mix – what has your church done to meet families where they’re at?  Are you connecting with parents on Facebook, spending time at school events and soccer fields to meet families in your community, or something else creative?  Use the comments section to let us know!

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2011 in Kidmin, Thoughts

 

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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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Aligning #kidmin + #stumin | Jim Wideman

Jim Wideman brings it.

Brother can give a message.

Can I get an amen?!

Brother Jim led a great breakout at the Orange Conference called Aligning Children & Student Ministries. In the midst of giving us a vision for aligning out kids and student ministries, he gave us 5 things we should work on together to make it happen. The headings are his, the commentary is mine.

Start with the end in mind to build a plan

If there’s no unified vision, you’re toast.  Your teams need to sit down and define the goal they’re aiming for.  If you are flying blind, you’ll never be able to teach kids how to see Jesus.

Create in all groups a hunger for the word of God

At the core of what we do, we should be passing on a love for the Bible.  Jim’s a good ‘ol boy when it comes to Scripture, and I dig it.

Help all understand the importance of spiritual service

We need to come up with a unified passion for kids and students serving in the church.  If we want faith to stick, it needs to be something that kids are living out and practicing regularly.

Watch out for sibling rivalry

If we’re a family ministry team, we need to learn to share and to stay away from jealousy.  If one area is winning, we need to celebrate as a team.  Sharing needs to be a value on your team if you want to work together.  Ministries that can’t share (space, supplied, volunteers, etc.) will be ripped apart.

Work Together to Connect with Parents

We need to decide, early on, that we’re going to work together to equip parents.  Kids need models of what it means to follow Christ at home.  They need consistent and intentionality to leave a mark.  We need to teach parents to take back the time God said they have with their kids – Morning, Bedtime, travel, and when they sit at home.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2011 in Orange

 

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Drinking “Orange” from a Distance

It’s probably a little late in the game to say this, but you should be attending the Orange conference this year.

As a parent, I’ve learned a ton from attending Orange.

As someone who ministers to kids, students and their families, the way I view ministry has been shaped from the voices at Orange (speakers and attenders alike).

Yet, I know a TON of people who can’t make it to Orange in Atlanta, GA next week.  I totally get it.  It’s the week after Easter and it’s a stretch for me to even get out there!  However, in this flat world we live in, you can follow along at home – and many people are planning on it.

So, here’s my question to those of you who will be following the bloggers that Orange is bringing in… what are you interested in hearing from us?  What’s helpful and what kind of stuff will you just gloss over?  And, all of you guys and gals on twitter following the #Orange11or ##thinkorange hashtags, what do you want to hear?

Sarcastic commentary?  Amazing quotes?  Session recaps/notes?  Which sessions to download?  Links to free stuff?

Basically, I want to know what I can do to be most helpful to you.  There will be some giant orange spotlights aimed at Atlanta this next week… where are you hoping we shine the light?

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Sidenote: The Orange Conference is live webcasting their opening session… for free!
(details here:  http://bit.ly/hnCy6r)

If you can’t be there LIVE, check it out – it’s going to rock!

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2011 in Kidmin, Orange

 

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Conferences at Half the Cost

A few posts ago, I had mentioned that I’d share some of my favorite ways to save money while attending conferences and other leadership gatherings.  Today, I want to share ways that I’ve cut how much I spend on a typical conference in half.

When in Doubt: Stay Local

If your church leadership would balk at sending you across the country for a conference, start looking for smaller-scale gatherings in your area.  Plane tickets are a big chunk of a typical conference cost – if you can find a conference that’s within driving distance, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars.  Staying local also gives you a chance to network with other leaders who probably live near you and can relate to the issues you’re dealing with because you’re serving in similar areas.

Basements, Back Houses & The Buddy System

If you’ve been to a conference, you know that hotel costs can add up quickly. A few years ago, I decided that I was going to attend a conference without getting a hotel room. How did I do that? I hopped on Twitter and Facebook to start asking if local church leaders knew of anyone willing to let me stay in a spare bedroom while I was in town.  Within two days of asking, I had four different offers from churches in the area to stay in the homes and back houses of local kidmin leaders.

I once used this same idea to connect with a local church who let me borrow one of their church vehicles for the week instead of getting a rental car. Talk about savings!

If that idea freaks you out a little (which I totally understand), you could always find a few kidmin leaders you trust to meet up with you and split hotel costs.  And, the more people you share the room with, the less you’ll have to pay.

Investing in Connecting

Did you know that many conferences offer discounted and sometimes FREE tickets to people willing to volunteer during the conference?
It takes a little courage, but those willing to invest in connecting with the leadership team putting on the conference will find that some conferences can give massive discounts to church volunteers and staff who couldn’t otherwise attend the conference.

The year that I stayed in someone’s basement and borrowed a church vehicle was the same year a conference gave me a free ticket to attend – no strings attached.  I basically emailed them and said, “Hey, I would love to go to your conference, but my church can’t afford to send me.”  A few emails later, they gave me a promotional code to enter on their website and I was booking a flight across the country the next day.  After using my church’s frequent flier miles, I was able to attend that conference for under $100 (a guy has to eat, after all).

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I’ve heard people in ministry say that conferences frustrate them because of the costs associated with them.  While I agree that conferences CAN cost an arm and a leg, I hope you understand that they don’t always HAVE to.

Do you have other cost saving ideas or know of discounted conferences in your area? Share what you know in the comments area!

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2011 in Kidmin

 

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