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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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A Community Church

A Community Church

being the church when the pews are empty

Over the last few years, I’ve heard a comment/question that has resonated with my soul each time that it’s spoken.  Whether it’s been in the context of a conference, a book, a conversation or a sermon, these words have struck me significantly each time:

If your church closed its doors tomorrow, would your community notice?

Now, before I get angry comments below, I’ll quickly say that I don’t think that the church is a building… though, in this context, we’ll assume the church gathers in a building.  The heart of the question is this: is the local gathering of Christ-followers that you’re a part of play a significant role in the community around you?  When thinking through this question today, I wanted to share with you some creative ways some churches are making an impact in their community.

A Substitute Staff

I recently heard of a church where the staff was required to submit an application to become a substitute teacher in their local school district as a part of the hiring process.  You see, the local public school in the church’s community does not have enough substitute teachers… and so, because the church’s heart is for their community, the entire staff also serves as subs in the district.  That’s right: even the Senior Pastor (his favorite class to substitute for is band/music).

The church I’m speaking of is not a large church, but it’s making a large impact in its community.  Because of the staff leading the way, members of the congregation have started to volunteer at the local elementary school as yard duty teachers, crossing guards and maintenance/grounds workers.  This church is bringing Christ to their community by serving their local schools.  It’s kind of brilliant.

A Shelter from the Cold

In our area, there is a coalition of churches who partner together every winter in order to serve, feed and house homeless in our community during the coldest months of the year.  Because we are in a warm climate, the Los Angeles area has a significant homeless population.  During most of the year, many of those without a place to stay can sleep outdoors without significant risk to their health… however, during the winter, there are nights when the temperatures drop and those without a roof over their heads, especially young children, face significant consequences if they’re caught out in the cold overnight.

Churches who are a part of this coalition take turns opening up the doors of their buildings in order to offer shelter and meals during those coldest times of the year.  Local congregations who do not have facilities that could house hundreds of people partner with larger churches and provide volunteers – some of whom specialize in dentistry, medical care, hair styling or other skills that help the homeless population feel cared for and worthy of attention.  These churches care for those who could never repay them for the services they offer and, because of this, offer something significant for their community by offering the love of Christ to those on the margins of society.

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Being a church who cares for your community is BIGGER than being a church who runs events and welcomes your community to come to you.  Being a Community Church often means taking Christ to those who might not yet know Him and who probably have never seen a church who actually cared for those outside of itself.

This last week, I had the privilege of watching our church rally with our community to support a family when their son was dying from cancer.  Moms, students and our church’s staff cared deeply for those who were mourning in ways that I’ve never witnessed before.  Though the family does not attend our church, we found ourselves at the center of helping organize a candlelight vigil for those in the community who needed a place to ask where God was in the midst of tragedy  (Read more about that vigil HERE or HERE).

This week, as you reflect on the role you play in your community, consider what some next steps might be in your context.  What if your church decided to invest deeply in its local school district by providing coaches, PTA members or library volunteers?  Have you ever considered taking an afternoon as a family and baking cookies for your neighbors? (Halloween is coming – reverse trick-or-treating with homemade bread could be a fun idea, right?)

Have you wrestled through this recently or maybe have a brilliant idea to share with the community?
Post your thoughts below!

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Kidmin, Thoughts

 

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The Importance of Sharing

The Importance of Sharing

Believing in a God who rescues

A few weeks back, I was given the opportunity to preach at all four of our church’s weekend services.  We were between sermon series at the time, so I had the chance to choose what my message would focus on and what text our congregation would reflect on.  If you have 30 minutes, you might want to check out that sermon by downloading it here: In the Image of Dad.

When given the chance to share my heart, I felt the need to share my belief and hope that God rescues us when we cry out to Him and, that in the midst of our cries, He rescues those around us as well.

In Need of Rescue

I’ve tried to be transparent about the miscarriage that my wife and I experienced last year and have written about what it’s like to go through that loss as a parent, as a father and as someone in professional ministry (A collection of those posts can be found HERE).  I think my hope, in sharing that story in written form and through spoken word, was that God would redeem that story and bring hope where there was only pain.  Reflecting on things, I think I also shared that story with the assumption that it would be the last thing that God would have to rescue me from.

I write this post today with hands that are shaking.  Yesterday, I stepped out of a meeting to answer a phone call from my wife (we have a policy that, if she calls, I answer – no exceptions) and couldn’t get her to put three words together without bursting into tears.  I left the office and ran home to check on her and the kids – I’m not sure what I thought was wrong at home, but I was pretty sure I could fix it.

I’m good at fixing things.

The things you can’t fix

The longer I’m married, the more I realize that I can’t fix everything.  There are days when you wake up in need of rescue and find yourself in the same place when the sun sets that same day.  In life, there are days of “in between” when you feel helpless and vulnerable.  Sometimes you feel like you’re in the belly of a great fish, sometimes you feel like a giant stone has been rolled between you and your Creator, and sometimes you simply lay in bed at night unable to sleep because (as much as you know you’re not supposed to) you worry about something that you have no control over.

Yesterday, my wife and I were told that blood work that was done last week has come back with markers that show that our baby, now in the second trimester, might not be as healthy as we had hoped.  Because we believe in the power of prayer and in a deep call to living in community, we sent this message out last night to our closest circle of friends:

We just got a call that the second trimester genetic screening blood test indicated that we are considered high-risk and should be offered both genetic counseling and an appointment with a high-risk OB. The test is not diagnostic for any certain problem, but we have been offered further testing to determine if a genetic disorder or other problem exists. The baby can still be absolutely fine. We are choosing to discuss the results with a counselor and have a full ultrasound done this week, our appointments are on Wednesday afternoon.
We believe in doing life in community so we will be making this public knowledge and asking for prayer… Please [pray] for the health of Baby Nutmeg and that we won’t be overwhelmed with worry between now and Wednesday. Thanks so much!

The Importance of Sharing

Sharing has never been easy for me.  I was the kid who stole toys from kindergarten because I didn’t want other kids to play with them.  I’m the kid who went to a counselor in High School and spent an entire session refusing to speak.  I’m the one who sits with the TV remote next to me so that I can control the fast-forward button during commercial breaks.  Sharing means giving up control – and I like control.

Friends, though it’s not my knee jerk reaction to share, I believe with all of my heart that God’s people are called to share their story with others.  When we call out for help, I believe that God comes to our rescue and that, in the midst of rescuing us, that others come to know Him.

In this season of worry, pain, grief, anxiety, nervousness and heartache, my wife and I take comfort in knowing that God writes a better story than we could ever dream of.  Please, during the next few days/weeks/months join us in praying for the health of our baby (“Baby Nutmeg”).  And, while you’re at it, pray that God might use our story in a way that leads others to the Hope we have in a God who rescues.

Today is a hard day.

This is why we don’t do life alone.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Thoughts

 

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The Hardest Part of Kidmin

The Hardest Part of Kidmin

Thoughts on Ministry Burnout

I was recently reminded of the staggeringly high drop out rates of those in ministry… and my heart broke a little bit.  My heart didn’t break because I had never heard the figures before.  (Check out these statistics to see what I’m talking about)  I was deeply saddened because, often, I think that burning out in ministry can be avoided with a basic understanding of why ministry is hard.

If you’d add anything to my list (or suggest that I take something away), share your thoughts in the comments section.  This post is not meant to be THE answer… it’s meant to start a conversation.

Ministry Can Disconnect Us

The problem: The next time you have a chance to attend a conference, watch the people who work in children’s ministry.  They sing their hearts out.  And here’s why: I’d be willing to bet that only 20% of those of us who work in children’s ministry regularly attend worship services with our congregation.  When we don’t worship with our congregation, we become disconnected in a handful of ways (spiritually, relationally, emotionally and physically) – all of which begin to wear away at your soul.  It’s easy to lose your passion when you feel as though you’re on an island.  Ministry, at times, can be exhausting and you need to know that you’re a part of a larger body and that you’re surrounded by others who are living out the faith alongside you.  If you’re not in your church, it’s hard to feel like you’re a part of your church.

The fix: Serve at a church that you would choose to attend and then actually be a part of a full worship service a minimum of 3 out of every 5 Sundays.  I’ve seen people take positions at churches where they would not choose to attend.  If you do that, you’ll wear yourself out.  I’ve heard of children’s ministry workers who haven’t attended a worship service at their church in over a year.  If that’s you, your wearing yourself out.  Listening to the podcast is not the same as being a part of a worshipping community.  If you want to last in ministry – go to church!

Our Systems are Broken

The problem: Many who are in ministry are underprepared for the expectations of ministry and the work that it takes to care for a congregation.  Before seminaries existed, those who were called into ministry received Theological training and then spent years serving under someone as an apprentice before taking their own position in a church.

The pieces of paper that students are earning in ministry programs across the country are not preparing the next generation of church leaders for the struggles and hard work of ministry.  We’ve lost our apprenticeship model within the church and are sending too many young leaders to the front lines of ministry ill-prepared.  And they’re dying out there.

The fix: If you can do anything other than ministry, do anything other than ministry.  That is to say – you’re going to get burned out in ministry if you don’t feel a deep sense of call to the position that you’re in.  Don’t go into ministry because it’s always sounded fun (it isn’t always), or because you think Jesus will love you more (he won’t) – go into ministry because you can’t do anything else.  Then, once you go down the path of seeking out a career in ministry, start small and build from there.

Find a ministry you love and volunteer with intentions of interning under those in charge of that ministry.  From there, take a mid-level or assistant position in the field of ministry you want to be in and commit a few years to being in that role.  Churches who are looking to hire full-time staff usually look for someone who has served at the same church for multiple years.  They’re not just looking out for themselves, they want to know that you’ve put in the work that it takes to learn the balance of life and ministry.  Start out small and take on roles that you feel overqualified for – because you aren’t overqualified and you’ll learn a lot about yourself in the process.

Satan is Real

The problem: As church leaders, we don’t talk about sin enough.  I mean, we talk about the sin of others… but many of us don’t have a place to talk about our own sin.  And I have something to tell you about that: Satan is real and he is delighted when people burn out in ministry because of the weight of unconfessed sin.

We’ve lost the art of confession in the protestant church and have especially lost our way when it comes to allowing our ministers and church staff members to admit their shortcomings.  If this were a battle (and it is) and we were sending people to the front lines without an understanding of how the enemy operates (which is what we do), we’d be sacrificing our best and our brightest future leaders simple because we don’t want to talk about sin.

The fix: Church leaders need accountability.  I’m not calling us to sinless lives – that’s an impossible bar to get over.  I’m calling us to surround ourselves with people who we can be real around.  And, I want you to know, it’s good to know yourself.  I know that, as someone who loves to tell a good story, I face a constant temptation to tell a “better” story than what actually happened.  I deal with that sin by (1) being very open about it and letting others know that it’s a struggle of mine and (2) giving people in my life the ability to call me out when they see this sin surfacing.

Sin has more power over us when it’s unspoken.  Every week, church leaders leave their ministry because of some sort of moral failure.  It’s an ugly truth that exists because those leaders lacked accountability in their lives.  So – can you name 3 people in your life that you can be honest with?  I believe in a God who, through the power of Christ’s resurrection, has freed us from sin’s grasp.  Are you living a life where you can confess the sin that holds you down so that you can experience that freedom?  If you don’t, you’re going to burn out.  It’s just a matter of time.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Kidmin, Thoughts

 

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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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Reaching a New Generation of Families | redux

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

Reaching a New Generation of Families

Practical Next Steps for Church Leaders

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

The Parent is the Expert

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

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

Families are Busy

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

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

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

Not Everyone Cares

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

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

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

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

 

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The Son of a Small Town

The Son of a Small Town

Words of encouragement to those in small town ministry

The city limit sign that you see when entering Susanville, CA is misleading, to say the least.  Out of the 17,500 people that are considered residents of Susanville, over 11,000 are inmates at one of two correctional facilities just outside of town.

As the son of a prison guard, I grew up in this small town.

I was born at the tiny hospital on Hospital Ln.  On snow days in mid-January, I joined my parents in shoveling the snow off of the roof of our home and then invited my friends over to jump off into the piles of deep powder below.  I graduated from the local school district where I took classes from teachers who once taught my own parents when they were in school.  I went to the local junior college after graduation and worked as a delivery guy for the only furniture store in town to help cover the cost of books & tuition.  I grew up and married a girl from that same small town… our high school valedictorian and daughter of my family’s dentist.

I am the son of a small town.

I think back to my home church, pastored by two men who were also full-time teachers at our local high school, and I can’t help but wonder where I’d be without them.  I didn’t grow up in the Church and only attended a church after an 8th grade friend of mine bugged me enough to go to youth group with him.  At church, I found people who accepted me as a part of their family and men who took me under their wings and taught me much of what I know about leadership and integrity.

As a high school student, those men allowed me to be in inner-circle discussions about the future of our church – the facility we would rent, the ways we might reach out into our community, the direction of our youth group and even the content of our Sunday morning service. They gave me my first internship (for $50/month) and launched me into vocational ministry.  Every time that I speak at a conference, write an article for others to read, run a large event at church or lead a child to Christ, I think back to my own small town beginnings and wonder if other small town pastors know the impact that they’re making on the Kingdom.

So, today, I just want to take a moment to say thanks to the small town pastors out there.  My home church had 40 people on a busy Sunday and never had a full-time person on staff.  Yet, because they invested in a student that they saw potential in, the impact of their ministry has grown exponentially, children & families outside of their small town have come to know Jesus, and the Kingdom of Heaven has gotten a little bigger.

And, as a shout out to small town pastors who are investing in the Kingdom, I met a guy this last year who works his tail off to resource small town children’s ministry leaders.  His name is Jared Massey and he writes over at www.smalltownkidmin.com.  This shout out is completely unsolicited.  He’s just a great guy who you should check out.

Today, I’m thankful for Jon Westfall and Jon Archer – my pastors, teachers, mentors and friends.

If you’re reading this today, I’d encourage you to thank the people who have pastored you along your journey.  And, if you’re doing ministry in a small town, find a young person to invest in – I look forward to learning from them one day.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2011 in Kidmin, Thoughts

 

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