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Tag Archives: Relationships

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.

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Posted by on April 27, 2015 in Thoughts

 

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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.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2011 in Kidmin, Orange

 

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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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Read Your Boss’ Blog

There’s not a ton more to say than what’s in the title.

But, because I have a hard time saying less when I can say more, I’ll fill that idea out a little bit.

You need to know what your boss cares about.  This applies to those who work in the church and those who work outside of the church.  At the end of the day, you need to be able to write down on a piece of paper at least one thing that your boss values and one thing that drives them crazy.

Social media and the rise of blogging and micro-blogging in the last decade have made this easier than ever before.  If your boss blogs, tweets, or simply updates their status on Facebook, you should be paying attention to what they’re saying and what they’re trying to communicate.

If your boss doesn’t have an online presence, look out for newsletters, office memos or emails and watch for developing themes.

Personally, I have email alerts set for status updates, blog posts and tweets that come from our Senior Pastor as well as our church’s Youth Pastor, Junior High director and Elementary director.  Knowing what’s going on in the hearts and lives of those I work with is simply a text alert away – if you care about the people you work alongside, you should listen to what they’re saying.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2011 in Thoughts

 

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How to Lose King of the Mountain

I find myself doing it all the time.

I would have caught that typo.  If I were in charge, the church service wouldn’t go long as often as it does.  I can’t believe they are singing that song… again.  My meetings aren’t nearly this painfully boring.  We’re spending how much on printing and copy chargebacks?!

There are days when I’m convinced that I could do everyone’s job better than they’re currently doing them… staff and/or volunteers.  I’m busy enough as it is and I know that I couldn’t actually do everyone’s jobs. However, if I’m not careful, I start playing that game in my head.  I doubt I’m the only one.

(or… maybe I AM the only one.  maybe…)

A few years back, I was having coffee with a respected friend of mine when he called me out on my King of the Mountain mindset.  He challenged me to consider trying to lose the battle I had been fighting in my head.  He told me that I might need to realign the way I think about church and staff structures and leadership roles.  There were two things he suggested that I put into practice that I want to share with you today:

Make A Thousand Thank You Cards

The first thing that I was challenged to do was to make 1000 thank you cards.  Literally.  Then, any time someone did something that I thought was sub-par or that frustrated me, I wrote them a card, thanking them for something they had done recently that I thought was awesome.

(right now, my friends are trying to think back to the last thank you card I wrote them…)

A couple things happened when I started doing this.  I had to start paying close attention to those people that bugged me the most, so that I’d have things to thank them for the next time they frustrated me.  Rather than watch for things they were doing wrong, I started focusing on all of the things they were great at.  Not only that, but I never actually made A Thousand cards… I think I made 60.  So, my supplies were limited and I had to wrestle through whether it was worth getting frustrated and getting rid of one of my few cards.  I often found that it wasn’t worth it and I started actually letting things go before I even let them begin to settle into my heart.

Get on Their Team

The only other suggestion was a neat one, but one that still takes some work and commitment.  My friend pushed me to consider looking at our church as a piece of a much larger mountain… instead of a church of many mountains (departments), with me as the king of my own.  To put my money where my mouth was, he told me that I needed to volunteer and be a part of the ministry areas that frustrated me the most.  It’s a lot easier to get frustrated with a situation that you’re simply observing – it’s much harder to throw rocks when it’s a glass house that you’re responsible for.

A couple things came from that – I started a habit of volunteering in ministry areas that weren’t “my own” so that I would have some ownership over the problems and complexities involved in those areas (I’ll be honest, I got involved in areas I was frustrated with and areas that I loved – I didn’t want to just get involved in areas I wanted to “fix” – I wanted to feel like I was a part of a bigger team).  I also noticed that, by volunteering in other ministry areas, I was able to learn tips and tricks about caring for volunteers.  At the time, it had been YEARS since I had been the volunteer hands-and-feet of a ministry… getting back to volunteering made me think through how I was caring for and preparing my volunteer teams to succeed.

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I was encouraged to write this post a few weeks ago by that same friend who, as he likes to do, was checking in on my “king of the mountain” mindset.  Practicing the couple suggestions he gave me continues to shape the way I think of our church and our ministry teams.  Deciding to put this into practice takes some commitment – you might feel like you don’t have time to volunteer in other areas or you might hate making thank you cards.  If you’re feeling that way – maybe this is exactly what you need.  Consider trying it for a week.  And, if you have thoughts or things to add, you can always post them in the comments section.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2011 in Kidmin

 

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New Website Launch: Kidmin Conference

Today is the official launch date of the new Kidmin Conference website.

And… it got me thinking.

I never did the “conference thing” at my previous churches.  I always felt like I was too busy or that our church wasn’t the conference’s target audience.  I would often find my self making excuses… “We’re too small”, “We’re bigger than who they’re thinking of”, “I can hardly afford Goldfish crackers, I can’t afford a conference”, “I can just read the books and blogs and listen to podcasts later”… and the list goes on.

If I could go back and talk to 20 year-old me, I’d drill home the importance of conferences… if they’re the right ones.

I love The Orange Conference because it’s a few thousand like-minded ministry professionals and volunteers with the same end in mind.  But, I’ll be honest, if your church isn’t moving in Orange directions… it might be tough to make this your ONE conference experience for the year.  20-year-old-me was an Elementary ministry assistant at a massive church – it would have been tough for me to begin implementing an Orange strategy from my shoes (not impossible… just tough).

Here’s the cool thing about Kidmin: I can promise you that “early-in-ministry-me” or “small-church-me” or “ministry-assistant-me” or “current-big-church-me” would have some massive take-aways and “ah-ha” moments.  Kidmin will be a choose-your-own-adventure of sorts – there are enough tracks and workshops to choose from that anyone who has a heart for serving kids and families in the Church will have options that apply to their world.

On top of that – Kidmin is built around relationships.  You should care about connecting with other people in ministry.  I’m not going to coach you toward owning that value – you just need to know that it’s something you should value.  With that in mind, Kidmin is doing this REALLY neat things called “Connect Groups” (you can read more about them here: http://www.childrensministry.com/kidmin-conference/relate-relax/connect-groups).

Here’s what the website says about Connect Groups (which, seriously, are one of my favorite things about Kidmin):

Connect Groups
KidMin Conference is a conversation where people from similar ministries can easily maximize ideas, find networking opportunities, and build relationships with others in a casual small group.

How are Connect Groups set up?
Connect Groups are optional small-group style conversations for people in similar ministry situations, led by seasoned ministry leaders who serve as mentors for each group. Connect Groups typically meet at the same location (usually a sack chair pod) at various times throughout the conference. Connect Group locations, meeting times, and discussion topics are clearly posted every day.

Do I have to go to a Connect Group?
Nope. It’s casual and open, just stop by and check out a Connect Group anytime-no one is taking attendance, and everyone is welcome!

All that to say – you need to check out the new Kidmin Conference website (kidmin.childrensministry.com) and consider registering.  If cost is something you worry about – I’ll be posting later this week about how you can get to Kidmin with little cost to you or your church.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2010 in Kidmin, Resources

 

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Mark Your Calendars: Kidmin Conference

Mark your calendars now because next October (2011), Group Publishing is hosting a special gathering of kids’ ministry leaders.

They’re even calling it the Kidmin Conference. How cool is that?

As someone who has gotten some behind the scenes looks at what this conference is going to be all about, I’ve got to say – I’m stoked about this gathering.  This conference is going to be more about conversations than lectures.  It’ll be more about relationships than product placements.  It’ll be about actual ministry – in your context.

So, seriously, mark your calendar for October 7-10, 2011.  I know that feels far away, but you should mark it down anyway.

Then, after marking it down, register online.   You can do it by following this link www.childrensministry.com/kidmin

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2010 in Kidmin, Resources

 

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