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Recharging the Family

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I had the joy of speaking at our church’s Homebuilders* group this weekend… and it got me thinking.  I shared a story of our adorable 3 year old son and how he loves going to church because he and his sister play in different rooms (baby Kate just turned 1 a few months ago… so she’s still down in our church’s nursery).  You see, Carter loves building towers with blocks and Kate LOVES knocking them down… but, at church, Carter can build towers and play with toys without “the Destroyer” coming by and wrecking his masterpiece.

After sharing that story, I wrestled with what we’ve done with church.  Church, in many ways, has become a place where a family goes to spend time away from each other.  Parents head off to classes or worship services, youth attend their own programming, while children spend time in a completely separate part of the church.  It comes to mind that a family who is struggling to find balance in their lives might decide to skip church altogether to spend family time at the beach or Disneyland (which, for us, is a 30 minute drive down the freeway) rather than “waste” a morning apart at church.

But, here’s where I think the church has an edge on those other family outings – a trip to Disneyland or the beach ends when everyone piles back into the car at the end of the day.  The time a family spends at church has the potential to change the way that family spends the next week together.

So the question to us and our ministry teams is this – is the time that a family spends with us on a Sunday (or a Wednesday night… or during large events that we run)  impacting the way they live out their lives together that week?  If we can point to tangible ways that the time they spend at church is shaping the way their family time looks in their living room that week, then we’re on the right track.  If we treat out ministries and programs as an end to themselves, then we have to compete with Disneyland – and we will always lose that battle.

*Homebuilders is a weekly gathering of parents at our church.  We discuss parenting, marriage and family life topics.  Homebuilders, for Glenkirk, is a community that’s smaller than a church service, but bigger than a small group – allowing parents a next-step into community with other believers who seek to raise up Christ-following kids.

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2010 in Orange

 

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Interviewing the Mirror: First and Last Impressions

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I want to you to consider all of the options a family has on a Sunday morning.

If, by the time a family in your community has weighed all of their weekend options, they arrive at your church to drop their kids off – you need to recognize that they’ve made a pretty big decision.  And, what happens in their first 5 minutes and last 5 minutes will shape their memory of your program.

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A few years ago, I was interviewing a handful of applicants for an internship position at our church.  A young man had submitted his resume and had reached the point in our application process where he came in for a face-to-face interview.  Let me share a couple memories from the first and last moments of this interview:

FIRST IMPRESSION

Me: “Welcome [applicant], make yourself comfortable.”

Applicant: *trips* *falls* *gets up and takes a seat*

Me: “Are you alright?”

Applicant: *sneezes* *wipes large amounts of snot onto his shorts* “… can I start over?”

FINAL IMPRESSION

Me: “Thanks, [applicant] for your time.  As we wrap things up, do you have any questions for us – or is there anything about you that you haven’t shared and you’d like us to know?”

Applicant: “Well… I failed a couple courses in college.  Do you need to know that?  It’s not because I didn’t do the projects – I just never finished them.  I have a hard time finishing things.  I get kind of bored easily.  That’s why I’m taking some time off of school.  I want to do something a little easier…”

*silence*

Applicant: “…can I start over?”

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I came across some paperwork from this interview a few days ago and, to be quite honest, I was surprised at all of the notes I had taken.  In my memory, this interview only lasted a few minutes… though, in reality, it was much longer.  This guy will always be the clumsy/lazy/sneezer in my mind because of the first and last impressions he gave our team.  The reality is, he never got to start over.  There was no RESET button on his interview.

This weekend, you have a chance to make first and last impressions on families in your community.  They will see, in their first 5 minutes, how much you care about cleanliness and hygiene.  Flu season is around the corner… do you have hand sanitizer readily available in your ministry environments?  Parents will know, at first glance, if you have a process in place to keep their children safe and secure in your ministry.  But, if you have a check-in system, you need to evaluate how quick it is.  If your check in process takes longer than 180 seconds, Gina McClain would says that you’re making one of the biggest mistakes possible in children’s ministry.
When parents return, are you being strategic about your last impressions?  Parents are going to ask kids two basic questions during pick-up: 1) Did you have fun? and 2) What did you learn?  If children in your program cannot answer those questions, that is the thing most parents will remember.  If you hope for a family to return, you need to make sure you’re being intentional about the last impressions they have as they leave campus.

At the end of the day, your ministry has one shot to make a first impression.  Many parents decide whether or not they will return to a church long before they make it to your worship center or sanctuary.  Help them make the decision to return by evaluating the first impressions they have on your church’s campus.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2009 in Kidmin

 

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To Drill or not to Drill

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Last year, our church participated in The Great Shakeout – a regional event in Southern California where local communities simulated what to do in the event of a massive earthquake.

After our regular worship services on a Sunday morning, we simulated an evacuation of our classrooms and what our pick up procedures would look like in the event of an emergency.  Parents and leaders were encouraged to know that we had a plan in place and our elementary-aged kids had a fun time running drills in their classrooms.

I began thinking of how great this event was a few weeks ago when our campus parking lot was used as a rally point during a local bank robbery.  Men held up a nearby bank at gunpoint and stashed a secondary getaway car on our campus.  Quickly arriving on the scene after the initial pursuit, local law enforcement agents spent just under an hour combing our campus with firearms drawn.

Now, luckily for our children and our programs, all of this took place on an evening when there were just a few people on campus… but, it made me wonder how often we should run emergency simulations with our leaders and what policies we should have on hand and which of these should be available for public knowledge.

Currently, we plan to run an evacuation drill annually with our kids on campus.
We walk our leaders through a handful of scenarios during orientation and we talk about the differences between evacuation and lock-down procedures.

So, my question to the community is this:

What drills are you running with your kids and leadership teams and how often do you simulate emergency events?

Share your thoughts in the comments section!

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2009 in Kidmin, Los Angeles

 

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Rainy Days and Sundays

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The best sound in the world to wake up to is the sound of a gentle rain on the windows and rooftop of our home.
I love overcast days and carrying an umbrella down misty sidewalks.

My favorite days to wake up to are Sundays.
My heart beats a little quicker as I sneak around the house before anyone else has gotten out of bed… mentally and prayerfully preparing for the day of ministry in front of me.

So, it’s funny to me to think about how much I’m disappointed when I wake up and find these things happening at the same time.
Rainy days and Sundays frustrate me to no end.

I’ve yet to put my finger on why, but rainy days seem to impact our children’s ministry program attendance more than holidays, summer breaks or sporting events.  Having an open courtyard where our welcome tables and classrooms are located probably doesn’t help the situation… but I’m left wondering, does this happen everywhere?  Or is this a California trend?

After sending out a tweet on a drizzly Sunday morning, I began to see that this could be an issue that impacts more churches than I first would have guessed.  Quick replies from @KellykelKool and @PudgeHuckaby (who, btw, has a GREAT blog over at www.pudgehuckaby.com) leave me wondering, what impact does rainy weather have on your church programs…?

So, seriously, no lurking on this one… we want to hear from you!
To the comments section!

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2009 in Kidmin, Los Angeles

 

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Thank You, Come Again!

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I spent a good part of yesterday putting together a list of those who’ve served in Children’s Ministry at our church in the last couple of years but aren’t currently on a ministry team.

My initial list is about 40 names long.

That tells me that there are 40 people out there who know our ministry’s policies and proceedures and, with a refresher training course, could jump right back into a lead role on one of our teams.

I’ve sent this list out to others on staff to begin finding out if the people on my list are now serving elsewhere in the church, or if they’re just waiting on the sidelines – ready to jump back in the game!

How often do you track down those who are no longer serving in your area of ministry?  Do you stay in regular contact with team members who “needed a break” and are now hanging out on the fringe?  Anyone want to take the over/under on us adding 8 of these leaders (20%) back onto a Children’s Ministry team?!

Add your thoughts to the comments section!

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2009 in Kidmin

 

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Batting Last

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Little League is a big deal in the community I live in.  More so than any other place I’ve lived in.

So, basically, baseball stories carry a lot of weight around here.
If you can relate a lesson or a teaching moment to the baseball diamond, you’ve got everyone’s attention.

I have a friend who’s son bats last on his little league team.  The coach doesn’t rotate the batting order and so, for his entire season, this 1st grader knows that each game he’ll only have 2 at bats.  In the coach’s mind, giving this kid two at bats each game minimizes the chances he has to fail.  Striking out 3 times, in this line of thought, is far worse than only striking out twice.

The 1st grader, on the other hand, feels that much more pressure at each at bat because he knows this chance won’t come again soon.

Many of us in Children’s Ministry share the same experience as that little boy.  If we’re lucky, we’ll have a few times during the year when we can sprint away from our kids’ program on a Sunday morning to catch a look at the Adult Worship Service.  Those of us with willing pastors may even have a chance now and then to speak in front of the crowd and cast vision for the work we’re a part of.
But, like my 1st grade friend, our at bats are limited.

This has driven many of us to search out creative ways to cast vision for the church we’re a part of.

Some of us show video testimonies and promotional clips in adult worship services, highlighting Children’s Ministry.
Others have learned to multiply the impact we have with our adult congregants getting involved in areas outside of Sunday morning.

I want to share with you some of the ways I’m ensuring I get more “at bats” with the adults in our congregation, but I’d love to hear from you first.

What are some ways you cast vision for your church?

Use the comments section below to share some creative ways you’re getting your message to the ears of your congregation!

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2009 in Kidmin, Los Angeles

 

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