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Ideas: The One that Worked

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This is a series of posts exploring three major types of ideas that exist in a collaborative community… ideas that have to be shared in order for the community to actually be collaborative.  For the first post in this series check out: Ideas in a Collaborative Community.

I wanted to start this series with the easiest type of idea that needs to be shared to make a community begin to shift toward collaboration : The One that Worked.

I’ll start with an example from our ministry at Glenkirk Church, just outside of Los Angeles, CA.

The Idea

Years ago, we looked at our attendance records and noticed some patterns… in the fall, our Sunday morning numbers would begin to climb until leveling off a few weeks before Christmas.  After a few weeks of slight decline, Christmas visitors would come check us out and attendance would pick up again on a steady climb toward Easter.  After the Easter boost, our numbers would plateau until mid-May when they would begin their free-fall into the Summer months.  During the summer, numbers dropped to about half of what they are during the school-year, with a ridiculous jump in attendance during the two weekends following VBS.

As our team looked at this pattern, we began wondering what would happen if we created a large event in the fall, pre-Christmas, that could help build momentum and increase our peaks through the holiday season.  That, my friends, was how our Halloween Festival was born.

The idea was simple, we’d create an event in the Fall that would bring people onto campus with the goal of giving as many un-churched families a glimpse of our church as possible.  We labeled it a “Halloween Event” because Halloween is the 2nd most celebrated Holiday in the US (Christmas is a distant first –  It’s estimated that over $2.5 billion is spent on Halloween annually) and “Harvest Festivals” or “Fall Festivals” seem to only to bring in those who are looking for Halloween alternatives – typically Christ followers (not our target audience).  We hosted the event the Wednesday before Halloween so that we wouldn’t compete with the churches in the area already running successful/large events on October 31st (one nearby church runs an event on Halloween that pulls in over 10,000 people… why compete with another church if you don’t have to!).

Over the last two years, we’ve seen hundreds of families come onto our campus who have never been there before.  They trick-or-treat through our children’s ministry and youth ministry large group and small group rooms.  They meet families and friends of Glenkirk who host the carnival areas and food court.  They discover how to drive from their house to our church (something that we feel will come in handy when they plan on checking out a church in the near-future).  The come excited and leave happy.  We’ve seen this event act as a catalyst for multiple families who visited on Halloween and now call our church home.  The only thing we’ll continue to tweak is trying to create more places for families to slow down and meet each other.

We call this event a success.

How to Share Ideas that Worked

When an event is over and it meets your established criteria for success, you need to tell others about it.  It’s important to share tools that you find effective with others who are looking for new strategies to reach those outside of the Church.  However, there are a couple quick rules you’ll need to follow in order to share this idea effectively.

Share the process, not just the results.
You’re not helping the kingdom when you simply brag about the results of an idea.  Your idea didn’t cost the church money? Great! 13 kids made decisions to follow Jesus because of your idea? Fantastic! Your Senior Pastor didn’t hate the idea? Amazing!  But, for your idea to actually help the community, we need to know the thoughts and process that went into it.  How did you plan to measure success?  What went well?  What will you fix next time?  Why do you think your idea worked?  Would your idea work in another community or at another church?  These are the questions you’ll need to answer to help others who are considering using your idea.

Which leads to…

Be willing to be copied

The best and worst thing about sharing an idea that’s worked is that others will try to use it.  And you need to be okay with that.  If your idea lead to success, then you should be willing to have someone else see that same success elsewhere.  If you’re holding onto an idea too tightly to share it, then you’re more concerned with castle building than kingdom building.  At the end of the day, we need to be excited about seeing others in ministry success.  We need to learn to collaborate, rather than compete with each other.

Over this series of posts, we’ll continue to explore the other two major types of ideas that exist in a collaborative community… ideas that have to be shared in order for the community to actually be collaborative.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2010 in Kidmin, Los Angeles

 

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Ideas in a Collaborative Community

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Over the next series of posts, we’ll take a look at some of the best ways to share ideas within a collaborative community.

To start with a novel-esque concept, let’s imagine (if just for a moment) that there’s no such thing as a “bad” idea.  In fact, let’s pretend that there’s no such thing as a “good” idea… sorry, “Good Idea Fairy” I think that means you’re out of a job.

Ideas, within a collaborative community, are best communicated when we toss the concepts of “good ideas” and “bad ideas” out the window.  Given a clean slate, we’re more likely to share ideas than if we’re worried about the grade that idea will get from the group.  Fellow #kidmin guru, Kenny Conley, recently posted a dilemma he’s having with the branding of his children’s ministry check-in station.  For Kenny’s post to generate a collaborative conversation, readers have to be willing to put out ideas without fearing what grade (good, bad, lame, boring, old-fashioned, fail, etc) others in the community will give it.  Ultimately, it’s up to Kenny to decide, not which idea is good or bad, but rather, which idea best accomplishes his goals.  At that point, he can make a good or bad decision, but the ideas the community offers are just there to help him process that decision.

Over the next series of posts, we’ll explore three major types of ideas that exist in a collaborative community… ideas that have to be shared in order for the community to actually be collaborative.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Happy New Year!

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Better late than never, right?

You might be wondering why a month has gone by without a post… I have three reasons.

Reason #1: Baby Kate and Cartwheels

I’m still trying to figure out how to juggle full-time ministry, adding my voice to the #kidmin community, and spending time with our son and daughter.  Seriously, who would pick sitting in front of a computer screen over this adorable little girl?!

And, how could I NOT take this little guy to Disneyland… it’s half an hour away and we have annual passes!

Reason #2: Meeting 5 People

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In this series of posts, I went big and listed 5 people I wanted to share a meal or a cup of coffee with in 2010.  I’ve spent the last month praying about how to make those dreams a reality.  Now that the year has officially started, I’m going to begin my march toward collaboration.  The Napkin Conference (February 25-26) and The Orange Conference (April 28-30) should help check a few of those names off the list.  Jim Wideman and Sue Miller, I’m talking to you.

Reason #3: Christmabirthdays

Christmas is a crazy season for those of us in ministry.

Glenkirk Church hosts 4 Christmas eve services… two of which are geared specifically to young children and their families.  In fact, we’re shifting our strategies to reach families in some new and exciting ways this year.  Revving up for Christmas and then launching large ministry plans for 2010 takes concentration.  I also spent a night with some of our best friends rocking out to karaoke & celebrating my birthday.  Now that the holidays are over and things are under way, I’ll use this space to share some of the strategic ways our team plans to reach families with the Gospel of Jesus in this coming year.  For a glimpse, check out what we sent to the families who visited our church in 2009 by clicking HERE.

All that to say, it’s good to be back.

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2010 in Kidmin

 

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5 People to Meet in Twenty10: Jim Wideman

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Name: Jim Wideman

Location: Murfreesboro, TN

Website/Blog: www.jimwideman.com

Claim to fame: (from Jim’s website)

Jim Wideman is an internationally recognized voice in children’s and family ministry. He is a much
sought after speaker, teacher, author, personal leadership coach, and ministry consultant who has over 30 years experience in helping churches thrive.

Having served in 5 dynamic churches Jim understands what it takes to grow exciting, relevant ministries to people of all ages. For 17 years Jim led one of America’s largest local church children’s ministries in Tulsa, OK. Jim has also held various other positions in addition to children ministry throughout his career giving him a background in almost every area of the local church and Christian school. Jim currently serves as Associate Pastor at World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, TN where he oversees the next generation and family ministries.

In addition to working in a local church Jim has successfully trained hundreds of thousands of
Children’s ministry leaders from all denominations and sizes of congregations in conferences and seminars around the world. Jim is considered an innovator, pioneer and father in the modern children’s ministry movement. He also currently serves as president of “The American Children’s Ministry Association,” as well as president of Jim Wideman Ministries and is one of the executive editors of K! Magazine. The International Network of Children’s Pastors awarded Jim the “Excellence in Ministry Award” in 1989 for his outstanding work in Children’s Ministry, and Children’s Ministry Magazine in 2001 honored him as one of ten “Pioneers Of the Decade” in children’s ministry.

Why We Care:

Jim has been a voice in Children’s Ministry for more years than I’ve been alive.  Jim has seen multiple shifts in the way ministering to kids is done… I want to hear from a guy who has a 30,000 ft view and where he thinks the church and family ministry is heading over the next ten years.

—-

Would Jim be on your list?  Have you shared a cup of coffee w/ him?  Can you hook us up?
Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2009 in Kidmin, Resources

 

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The Right Questions

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As Children’s Ministry leaders, we have a strong heritage of Christ-followers who were not afraid to rock the boat.  We have a cloud of witnesses who came before us, calling the church to take ministering to children seriously.  The church has followed the call to minister to its next generation of leaders and innovators – we’ve created mission organizations that focus on children, we’ve developed strategies that equip parents to pass on of their faith, we’ve invented resources and magazines to empower and lead those called to children’s ministry and we’ve made strong progress in gathering together as a group of leaders focused on The Kingdom rather than our own castles of ministry.

Though innovation runs deep in our family history, it is easy for some of us to become stagnant. Many of us will be taking a look (if we haven’t already) at our strategic plans for 2010… and very few of us will be trying something totally new.  I’ll be honest, I’m speaking to the mirror on this one.

When was the last time your ministry team invented something?  When was the last time you sat down with a blank piece of paper and decided to dream big?

For some of us, myself included, we need a catalyst to initiate change.  We need others to rally alongside us to seek out innovation together.

This year, try something new.
Write your best idea on a napkin, and meet me in Las Vegas this February.

Hundreds of Children’s Ministry leaders from around the country will descend on Nevada to ask the right questions and listen to the new things God might be calling us to.

Justyn Smith, Children’s Pastor and one of the hosts for Napkin has this to say about the event…

“I’m extremely excited to announce the creation of a national children’s pastors and leaders conference called ‘Napkin Conference’. Everybody doodles and writes their ideas on napkins. Napkins are a dreamers best friend. What’s going to set this conference apart from every other conference you ask? Napkin Conference is not just a conference–it’s a giant brainstorming session with some of the world’s greatest children’s pastors and leaders. Not only is there going to be leadership principles, but there is going to be idea sessions with practical application from real children’s pastors in the trenches–just like you. Oh, since we’re in Las Vegas–the entertainment capital of the world–your registration gets you a free Las Vegas show on the famous Las Vegas Strip! Join incredible children’s leaders like Jim Wideman, Justyn Smith, Hillsong’s David Wakerley, Byron Ragains, Lifechurch.tv’s Allyson Evans and more! For more information visit www.napkinconference.com. Can’t wait to see you in Vegas!”

This is not a mega conference.  You will have time and opportunities to have real discussions with real leaders who’ve been in your shoes and who share your hopes and dreams.

If you haven’t signed up, do so today.  Watch this video.  See you in Vegas.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2009 in Kidmin, Resources

 

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Top 10 Children’s Ministry Resources: #1 The Collaborating Community

There is not a book on any of our shelves that can replace the resource that we are to each other.

We live in a time in history when ideas can be exchanged in real-time across hundreds, if not thousands, of miles via text, voice, picture, or video.

There is a movement in our field to embrace the idea of collaboration and, if you’re reading this right now, you’re a part of it.  30 years ago, when guys like Jim Wideman were still cutting their teeth in children’s ministry, they could have never imagined the resources we’d have at our fingertips today.  You are a part of a movement that has been called to mobilize the Church.  We are called to tell others to take ministering to kids seriously.  We are called to be innovative and to strive for excellence.

Your best resources are the other leaders reading this post right now.

Let me share 5 ground rules for what collaboration looks like… and what it doesn’t look like.
(thanks to Sam, Gina, Matt, Jonathan and Kenny for helping me understand and truly believe what I’m about to write…)

  1. We’re all experts. God has called you to serve where your serving.  That’s a pretty big deal.  You are the only one who has expertise in being you, in your ministry context, at your age and stage of life.  Your voice carries weight.  Feel free to speak like you have ideas the rest of us need to hear.
  2. We’re not experts. Writing, commenting on, or moderating a blog doesn’t make someone an expert.  And, remember the whole, “We’re all experts” thing I just mentioned?  We all also fail.  Often.  Don’t take yourself so seriously that you can never be wrong.  You can and will be wrong… and the world will keep turning.  And we’ll keep listening to your ideas.
  3. Size doesn’t matter. Small churches and large churches are all part of Jesus’ church… we all have things to learn from each other.  Numbers should never be the main topic of any discussion.  There are appropriate times and places for number discussions.  Don’t assume that you know when and where those are – those rules are often fluid.
  4. Share your ideas, not just your victories. It’s easy to talk about the Gospel presentation where 39 kids accepted Jesus into their lives.  It’s a little tougher to talk about the time when not one child made a profession of faith.  But, here’s the thing – what we sometimes consider failures, God wants to redeem as victories.  It’s always best, when collaborating, to share ideas before you actually try them.  Someone may have insight that makes your idea better.  Write your ideas on Napkins.  Don’t taken them too seriously.  Share them.  You may have been given an idea for someone else to use.
  5. Stop Lurking. There’s a rich man in your congregation who is taking $137 out of the offering plate every time it gets passed in your church.  He comes to every service and does the same thing.  Then, he goes down the street to the church that starts 15 minutes after yours and does the same thing.  He’s become so rich from this scheme that he makes more in interest in one day than you and I make in income in a year – combined.
    Now, obviously, that man doesn’t exist.  Except he does.  And it’s you.
    There’s a good chance that, if you’re reading this right now, you’ve been here before.  And you’ll come here again.  And you check out the other kidmin blogs in the area.  And you probably rarely (if ever!) share your ideas.  You need to give back to the offering plate.  You don’t have to start your own blog or own your own space to do it.  Simply find a community and start sharing ideas.  Start giving back.  Unless you want to be a lurking jerk.

The community of children’s ministry leaders that we have access to is our best resource.
We’re waiting for you to join in.

Want to get involved?

Get involved by commenting on this blog, one of the blogs listed to the right of this page, by creating a Twitter account, or by joining the CMConnect Community.

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2009 in Kidmin, Resources

 

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Napkin 2010

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My first job offer was written on a Burger King napkin over 12 years ago.

My 1st rough draft of “Things I might say when I propose” was written on a yellow napkin from Susanville’s Frosty Mill 8 years ago.

It was nearly 3 years ago when I wrote my 5-year ministry plan on a napkin I found in our kitchen after moving to Southern California.

In February 2010, I’ll be bringing a handful of napkins to Las Vegas.

Why?

Well, as my friend Gina McClain puts it, “The journey from napkin to reality can be challenging.”
At the Napkin Conference 2010, I plan to hear about that journey from guys like Sam Luce and  Jim Wideman.

I also look forward to meeting this guy:

If you’re on the West Coast, you need to get to this conference.
We’ll meet up and share ideas.
We’ll even share some napkins.

It’s not too early to plan.
Are you in?

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2009 in Kidmin, Los Angeles, Orange

 

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