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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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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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There is No “I” in Orange

Orange Week: There is No “I” in Orange

Why Orange shouldn’t be a solo experience

I sat down for coffee yesterday with a great local Family Pastor (and friend) in the area and spent nearly 3 hours talking shop and drinking coffee.  My friend has recently expanded his staff and has hired a part-time kids’ ministry director to help lead their church in a more “Orange” direction.  Whether he’s meaning to or not, my friend is doing something brilliant this week – he’s dragging his Senior Pastor to the Orange Tour we’re hosting at our church.  He understands an extremely simple concept – There is no I in Orange.

2 years ago, our church did something that was a game-changer for the way way we minister to families.  I was able to cash in all of my chips with our Senior Pastor and talked him into coming out to Atlanta with me to attend the Orange Conference.  In fact, we were able to send a team of 5 of us – Our Senior Pastor, our High School, Middle School, and Elementary directors, and I – across the country for some team bonding and strategy conversations.  Because Orange is more than simply a curriculum, we needed as many of the players as we could in on the conversation so that we could tackle the future of kids/student/family ministry at our church with a unified vision.

Now, to be incredibly honest, that trip was the beginning of a process for us – we’re still not as Orange as I’d love for us to be.  I’ll also add that it wasn’t even that hard to get my Senior Pastor to Orange – the speaker line up that they have (and reputation they’re building) pretty much sold the conference on its own.  With that said, sitting in a room with thousands of other children’s ministry leaders AND youth pastors AND senior pastors began to help us own the fact that a) we weren’t alone in trying to revamp the strategy we use to reach families with the gospel and b) there was a network of other leaders across the country that we could lean on during our transition.

I’ve met guys and gals at Orange who walk around by themselves with their eyes the size of tangerines as they try to take in all that the conference has to offer.  Over and over, I hear them asking about how they will EVER get their Senior Pastor to catch the vision for an Orange strategy.

Friends, this might be hard to swallow, but you can’t make your church Orange on your own.  Orange is a strategy that works best when there is alignment between departments – when churches stop operating in silos and begin working as a team that believes passionately about passing the faith on to the next generation.

Here’s where there’s a bit of hope – you don’t HAVE to fly multiple people to Atlanta to get the conversation started at your church!  I know that part of why this is “Orange Week” is because this is the first week that you can register for the 2012 Orange Conference… but, today’s post isn’t even going to have a link to the registration page.  Instead, let me offer a couple steps you can try before asking your church to invest in sending a team to Orange (because, seriously, if your church is going to help you attend Orange… you shouldn’t go alone.  It’ll probably just drive you crazy as you wish your team was there with you to process what you’re learning and experiencing).

Step One: Meet Orange thinking People:
Cost: Free
How: In the world we live in, you can connect with people online in ways I could have never dreamed of a decade ago when I started out in ministry. If you don’t know where to start or who to connect with, send me a message and I’ll point you in the direction of an awesome Orange-thinking person in your area.  It’s that easy.
(you can also check out some other Orange Week bloggers HERE)

Step Two: Read Think Orange
Cost: $15 (HERE on Amazon)
Why: This book will give you the framework that an Orange strategy is going to ask you to consider.  Taking steps past this point without having this resource under your belt is going to leave you scratching your head a bunch.  And, in all honesty, if you just make it through the first couple chapters before moving on, you’ll at least be starting on the right page.

Step Three: Bring your team to an Orange Tour stop
Cost: $59
Why: The step we took before our trip to Atlanta was getting our Senior Pastor to an Orange Tour stop.  After a few hours of hearing Reggie Joiner speak, I could see our team starting to get excited about where this new strategy might take us next.  Now… we’re half way through the Tour season, but there are still stops you can make it to!

** Seattle, WA | Tuesday, September 20, 2011 –  3-hour Gathering

Bethany Community Church
8023 Green Lake Drive
Seattle, WA 98103

Los Angeles, CA | Friday, September 23, 2011 –  Full Day Event

Glenkirk Church
1700 Palopinto Avenue
Glendora, CA 91741

** Morristown, NJ | Monday, October 10, 2011 –  3-hour Gathering

Liquid Church
Morristown Hyatt
3 Speedwell Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960

** New York City Area | Tuesday, October 11, 2011 –  3-hour Gathering

Christ Tabernacle
64-34 Myrtle Avenue
Glendale, NY 11385

Charlotte, NC | Thursday, October 20, 2011 –  Full Day Event

Bethlehem Church
3100 Bethlehem Church Street
Gastonia, NC 28056

Indianapolis, IN | Tuesday, October 25, 2011 –  Full Day Event

Connection Pointe Christian Church
1800 North Green Street
Brownsburg, IN 46112

Jacksonville, FL | Friday, November 4, 2011 –  Full Day Event

The Church at Argyle
6823 Argyle Forest Boulevard
Jacksonville, FL 32244

Houston, TX | Tuesday, January 17, 2012 –  Full Day Event

Woodsedge Community Church
25333 Gosling Road
The Woodlands, TX 77389

Dallas, TX | Friday, January 20, 2012 –  Full Day Event

TBD

** Note: This is a three-hour (10:30am – 1:30pm) event focused on the Orange Strategy through the lens of Wonder, Discovery and Passion with Reggie Joiner.  The cost is $15 and includes lunch.

Step 4: The Orange Conference
Cost: $239/person (if you register THIS Thursday)
Why: Ummm… did you read the post up to this point?  Getting everyone on the same page is a big deal.  If you’re ready to make this step, it’s worth the price of admission.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Kidmin, Orange

 

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Review: Spiritual Parenting DVD Curriculum

I recently had an opportunity to continue reviewing products from the Spiritual Parenting series produced by David C. Cook and written by Michelle Anthony. Michelle Anthony, by the way, has served as the Pastor of Family Ministries at ROCKHARBOR Church, the Family Ministries Architect for David C Cook and is the author of the book Spiritual Parenting (which I previously reviewed here: https://westcoastcm.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/kidmin-book-review-spiritual-parenting).

Here’s a quick video intro from Michelle, herself:

I want to keep this review concise, so let me jump straight to the Digs and Dribbles…

Things I Dig

I love, love, love the quality of these videos.  All too often, DVD curriculum is simply footage from a fixed camera that someone clearly pushed record on and walked away during a conference.  This is not the case with this curriculum.  This DVD set is creatively put together with multiple shots and great editing.  Seriously, my hat goes off to the guys and gals over at David C. Cook who put this package together – well done!

I’m also blown away with the depth of the content provided in this series.  Michelle and her team didn’t hold back when they put this series together.  There’s a ton of information to be gathered from this curriculum… I’m impressed with the effort that was put into this series.

Things that Dribbled

If you read my last review of Spiritual Parenting, you’ll know that I’m often asking what the parent who’s not already engaged in the church should do with this resource.  I’m still asking those questions with this curriculum.  As a church, we would offer a series like this on Sunday mornings at our parenting gathering/fellowship – which, believe it or not, is not a room full of Christian parents (some are… but not all).  With that said, this could be a great resource to pass on to families who are already committed believers – that’s just not our target audience.

I’d also have to agree with my friend, Gina McClain, when she noted that these sessions are LONG.  When you factor in discussion and activities, these sessions will clock in at nearly 90 minutes… an amount of time that I think is a stretch for our programming – on campus or in small group settings.  Again, it’s not a knock against the content – it would be 90 minutes of greatness.  We just don’t have that time in our context.

Wrapping Up

Overall, this is a resource that I’m going to pick up and give to a small group of parents in our church who are looking for a “next step” in nurturing their family’s faith journey.  I’ll probably even take the DVD’s for a test run with my wife as we wrestle through some of the great questions that Michelle brings up.

You can purchase the series here.

Follow Spiritual Parenting on Facebook here.

Follow Michelle on Twitter here.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Resources

 

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Cheering for Each Other (The Land Between)

How many churches do you cheer for?

As I sit at the Orange Conference, listening to Jeff Manion from Ada Bible Church (Grand Rapids, MI), I feel like I’m listening to an older brother sharing his wisdom with me.  The crazy thing – I’ve never met Jeff.  However, I cheer for his ministry and his church every chance I get.

A few years ago, I met a dear friend of mine, Dan Scott (www.danscottblog.com), at the Orange Conference.  As I spoke with Dan and shared hopes and dreams together, I began to understand that the Church is bigger than my church’s building.  I began regularly praying for and cheering for Ada Bible Church – though I’ve never been there and probably never will.

So, now, years later I find myself listening to Dan’s senior pastor and feeling like we’re family.  And, as Jeff speaks about The Land Between, I’m listening differently than when I hear other conference speakers.  It’s because I cheer for, and pray regularly for, his church and the lost people his ministry is reaching.

So, I’ll ask again – how many churches do you cheer for?

There’s someone out there in a Land Between – the land between where they’ve been and where God is calling them to move to.  What if God was calling you to reach out to and pray for someone who’s in that season?  Would your ministry look different if you began seeking out and cheering for others in ministry?  I’d like to think it would.

Praying for and connecting with other church leaders doesn’t require anything but a willing heart.  You could be a small town kidmin, you could be an amazing volunteer, a mom who doesn’t feel like she has it all figured out… God just wants you to be willing.

God is calling you to move.  It will change the way you do ministry.

Now, go – meet someone and start cheering them on.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2011 in Kidmin, Orange

 

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How to: Plan a Ministry Calendar (#orange11 precon)

Here’s the thing I love about the way Kenny Conley teaches – he remembers what it’s like to be in your chair. He balances tangible take-aways with big picture ideas.  He also writes about this stuff on his blog… so I know I can take a look at it later – which is awesome!

(in fact you can check stuff from today out over at www.childrensministryonline.com/calendar)

I’m not going to totally steal his whole talk and write it up here… instead, I’m going to write about the moments that stood out to me.  So, these are notes for me that I’ll be chewing on as I fly back to Los Angeles this weekend… feel free to listen in.

Before your first Date

Before you calendar, you need to name your vision, mission and values.

There are days when I’m afraid to ask my team what our vision, mission and values are… because I’m not sure they’re always aligned (though, right now, we’re moving in great directions).  And, when we can’t name that, there’s no way our calendar will allign.  Duh.

2 Brilliant Ideas

Aside from calendar “theory” – Kenny talked through a couple HUGE tips and tricks to calendar stuff that I’m using from here on out.  Have you ever thought about color coding your calendar?  Me too!  However, I never thought of using color coded post-it notes during our team’s rough draft phase of our calendar.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to cross out or erase things on a calendar as we draft our year… post-its will change my life once again!

One more brilliant idea Kenny shared struck me a little more personally.  When Kenny suggested that we let our spouses and family see our ministry calendar while it’s still in the draft phase… my heart broke a little bit.  I’m not sure why I’ve never thought of this… but, five years into being married in ministry, I’ve never shown my wife our ministry calendar until it’s set.  I’m a jerk.  And, if I’ve been one, I’m willing to bet someone else out there could have done the same thing.  So, let’s make a deal… let’s get our family in the loop when it comes to planning our ministry calendar, ok?  If you’re married, your spouse is a big deal – you should treat them like their year matters.

Thanks, Kenny.  This was an awesome breakout.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2011 in Kidmin, 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?

—-

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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