Tag Archives: vision

Casting a Vision for Partnership

Casting a Vision for Partnership

Ideas about the why and the how-to of vision casting toward partnership

Most parents in your congregation have no idea why they bring their kids to your church.  That might seem like a ridiculous statement… but, I think it’s more true than not.

If you were to survey families in your church (assuming they’d actually do the extra work of filling out a survey and turning it back in) do you think that you’d get a consistant answer from various parents, grandparents and guardians about why their family attends church?  On their own, families will develop a variety of reasons for church attendance and it’s your responsibility, if you want to develop a partnership between your church and families in your community, to begin casting a unified vision for why a family brings their children to your church.

Here’s how:

Cast vision with what you say

Words have the power to help create and form reality.  Our children are born without names and yet, because we choose a name for them and speak it into existence, they come to know that you’re addressing them when their name is spoken.  In a similar way, you have the power to speak partnership into existence by using partnering terms with parents in your congregation.

Try building words & phrases like “partnering”, “partner”, “come-alongside”, “same team”, “in this together”, and “widen the circle” into the vocabulary you use during conversations, teaching moments and parenting gatherings.  Look for moments to say, in front of kids and students, that you’re on the same team as their parents.  You get bonus points if parents are actually around when you use this language.

Cast vision with what you print

This might sound redundant, but the words you type matter almost as much as the words you speak.  Are you the kind of person who posts angry things about parents on your Facebook page?  It seems to me that a good partner would encourage the person their working with – not talk smack about them in a public forum.  Consider what it might look like to be the biggest cheerleader the parents in your congregation could ask for.

The next time you send an email, think about using words of partnership in your writing.  Talk about initiatives that involve partnership.  Talk about what it looks like to partner with you in raising kids who love Jesus.  My emails all end with “partnering” language.  That’s not an accident.  If the language you use when you write simply talks about the programs you offer for kids, don’t be surprised when parents expect a new exciting program instead of a partnership from you.

Cast vision with what you show & celebrate

Have you ever noticed that most kids, when asked who their favorite superhero is, don’t think of mentioning the Invisible Man?  Invisibility might be a neat power to think about having, but kids aren’t heading to your local Target next Halloween to buy the latest “Invisible Man” costume.  Batman, Superman, Ironman and Disney Princesses will continue to dominate the costume aisle for any sort of foreseeable future.  The Invisible Man has always had a PR problem… because nobody can see the guy.

With that in mind, you need to know that the vision of partnership between parents and your church has to be something that families can see before they know what they’re aiming for.  It’s up to you, leader, to find ways to show your congregation what partnership looks like.  Recently, a family at our church shared with us that their daughter had decided to follow Jesus at their house – and you better believe we’re sharing that story like crazy. If, in our context, we’re trying to equip families to talk about their faith at home, I couldn’t paint a better picture than parents leading their daughter to Jesus and then circling back to the church to celebrate the new life in their family.  Don’t let your vision for partnership remain invisible – find ways to show it to your congregation and your community.

This is part of a series of posts on serving families in our communities.  To see the notes and slides that go with this series, visit:

other posts you might enjoy…

Parents into Partners: Strategy #1

Dreaming in Orange


Posted by on October 8, 2012 in Kidmin12, Orange, Thoughts


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Budget or Die

Budget or Die

Seriously, learn to budget or your ministry is toast

It’s that time of the year when many of us in ministry take a break from the things we care about and turn our attention to submitting a budget for the upcoming year. My friend Collie recently published a post ( that got me thinking through how over-my-head I felt in my first few years of ministry as I tried to create a system and process for budgeting. Now, as my friends and staff are well aware, budgeting season is one of my favorite parts of the year.  Crazy, right?

(If you read that as though you only have to budget once and then you’re good-to-go… leave me a comment in the section below and we’ll have a conversation this week where I break the news to you that budgeting is a year-round and life-long process)

The game-changer for me was two-fold – First, I developed a way to project what a program or event was going to cost without feeling like I was simply guessing and, second, I learned to use the budgeting process as a chance to cast and realign vision for our ministry.

Developing Initial Projections

I’ve found it helpful, in developing ministry budgets, to figure out a formula for an initial cost projection for a program or event. Having a way to initially project what an event or program is going to cost helped me feel as though I wasn’t simply guessing at the cost of ministry.

As a starting point in my first 2 years of ministry, I used these two quick formulas for events for 3 yr olds thru 5th graders (nursery, parenting and middle school events need different numbers… but I’ll assume that the bulk of kids’ ministers out there budget primarily for the 3’s-5th grade demographic)…

In our context, ongoing events and regular programs cost about $1 per child per ministry hour.
Large events and events that only happen once or twice a year cost about $2 per child per ministry hour.

Starting there would give me a base for my budget… it’s then up to me to go through my list of needs and wants to see if I can actually pull it off.

I’ll quickly put those numbers to the test with 2 examples:

Let’s say you have 70 kids in an ongoing program like Sunday School. And, as it once was in my case, let’s now assume that kids in your program will be with you on a Sunday for an hour and a half. That’s $1 x 70 kids x 1.5 hours… or, $105 per Sunday, giving you an annual budget of $5460 for Sunday School.

A large event, like a Halloween Festival or a VBS, will use the other formula. For the sake of easy math, let’s say you run a VBS or Day Camp for 100 kids and that the program lasts from 9am-1pm (4 hours). That’s $2 x 100 x 4 for a total of $800 per day, giving you a budget of $4,000 for a 5 day program.

Having a formula you can work from, even if it’s different than mine, gives you a way to go back to your pastor or your board to explain why a one-time event like VBS will cost nearly as much as a year of Sunday School. And, as your numbers grow, you have something to point back to to make a case for the need for an increased budget line.

Budgeting as an outflow of Vision

When I came on staff at our church, children’s ministry was getting 0.8% of the church budget.  That’s to say, for every $1 that was donated to the church, less than a penny was going to the programs and ministries dedicated to children under the age of 12.  That was a staggering number.

Now, I’ll be honest, there was a tectonic shift that occurred at our church that began to address that figure – we hired a senior pastor who had an appreciation for where the church had been and a vision for where the church needed to go.  He allowed us to begin looking at our budget numbers as expressions of what we thought mattered most.  In the first few years, a large event that our church hosted every year was canceled and I took that money and invested it in books and resources that we could hand to parents – believing that a more lasting impact would happen in the life of a family if parents were equipped to have spiritual conversations with their kids… rather than a family simply attending one more large event our church was hosting.

A few weeks ago, The Orange Tour came to our church and Reggie Joiner sat down with our Senior Pastor to chat about life, ministry and the things that matter most.  It’s a 15 minute conversation, but has some stand out moments.

If you begin watching at about 8 minutes, you’ll hear a throw away line just before the 9 minute mark about the year that our children’s ministry budget doubled.  That was the year that our Senior Pastor told the church that children’s ministry mattered.  We used our budget as an expression of the vision of the church.  The numbers were more than numbers – they were a physical manifestation of what we knew to be true – ministry to kids matters and an excellent ministry is going to cost more money than what we had been spending.


You need to know how to budget.

Whether you’re in ministry or not, money doesn’t just happen – so you need to spend with an end in mind.  As you look over your budget, household or ministry, what does it say about the things you value?  Is there a way that you’re coming up with numbers, or are they simply hopeful shots in the dark?  Can your spouse or your senior pastor articulate why you spend what you spend on the things you spend it on?

Budgeting season doesn’t have to be stressful – but it does have to matter.


Posted by on October 17, 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:

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 ( 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.


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

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Posted by on November 23, 2010 in Kidmin, Resources


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Recharging the Family!&icon=

(This sign was created at

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.


Posted by on November 11, 2010 in Orange


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5 People to Meet in Twenty10: Meeting CYJ

Christine Yount Jones

A few months ago I made a list of people I wanted to make contact with in 2010.  This week, I was able to sit down with Christine Yount-Jones, executive editor of Children’s Ministry Magazine and Champion for Children’s Ministry at Group Publishing.

To say that it was an amazing opportunity would be a gross understatement.

When I first wrote about CYJ, I wrote this little blurb about why she made my Top 5:

Christine is legit.

While some may consider becoming executive editor of one of the leading ministry magazines in the nation the pinnacle of their career, Christine shows no sign of slowing down or becoming “comfortable” with what she’s accomplished.  She blogs and contributes to conversations on blogs regularly and keeps an active presence on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.  She travels the nation, speaking to those currently serving in ministry in a way that encourages and equips them to reach toward excellence in everything they do.  Yet, Christine isn’t just a talking head – she has real thoughts and opinions and seems genuinely more interested in what those of us in active ministry have to say than she cares about towing the company line.

Above all, Christine makes the list because, though we all think very highly of her, the word on the street is that she’s one of the most humble and approachable children’s ministry leaders around.

Now, having spent hours of unfiltered conversations with her, I feel like no write-up could ever do justice to the amazing Christ-follower and children’s ministry resource that she is.

As I meet with my Top 5 this year, I have a list of 3 must-cover topics to discuss.  Here’s a quick recap of how my conversation with Christine went:

Secrets to Longivity

Though she’s still young and full of energy, CYJ has been a voice in Children’s Ministry for over 20 years! When I asked her how she did it, she was thrilled to share her insights.  In fact, she was so thrilled, she wrote about the things she identified over at the blog.  Go check it out!

Leadership Insights

Chris and I talked about tips she has picked up in the arena of leadership and management.  Above all, she told me, we need to truly see and know those who we are called to lead.  If we don’t first get to know those who serve alongside us, we won’t know how to tap into their strengths to accomplish realistic goals.  She also talked about the importance of servant leadership and how that has been built into the culture at Group Publishing.

On the Horizon

I’m a guy who likes to plan and think ahead.  And, seriously, who better to ask what trends are on the horizon for children’s ministry than one of the trendsetters herself… right?  Group Publishing and Children’s Ministry Magazine have a strong history of pushing the envelope and setting a relevant target for those of us in ministry to aim for.  So, what does Christine see on the horizon?  What conversations are happening at a national level?  What is the current buzz in Children’s Ministry?  Our conversation hovered around three major topics.

Family Ministry

Across the board, churches are wrestling with how we can minister effectively to families.  We likened the current topic of family ministry to the age-old discussion of security in Children’s Ministry.  The question with security has shifted from a question of should to how.  Family ministry is no longer a question of should we… instead, you need to figure out how your church is going to minister to families.  5 years from now, relevant churches will not only have an answer to that question… those churches will have integrated that answer into their culture in such a way that the question will hardly be asked in Children’s Ministry circles.

Re-imagining Curriculum

A shift is coming in the way churches leverage their time and resources to minister to kids.  As effective ministry becomes more fluid and relational, children’s pastors will continue dreaming outside of the box in such a way that publishers are going to have to rethink the way they equip the local church.  Nobody knows what exactly this looks like yet… but it’s exciting to dream about.

Integration and Assimilation

I’ll be honest, I threw this into the conversation to see if I could get a head nod.  I did.  Churches are going to have to think about and invest in “next steps” to both large and small events.  Discipleship strategies need to move past the HP model of discipleship (we do a lot of programming and then hope and pray that discipleship is happening).  Churches are starting to wrestle with assimilation when it comes to Children and Family ministries.  Could it be that students are walking away from the faith when they graduate high school because we failed to integrate their families into the life of the church when they were preschoolers and 3rd graders?


Overall, Christine set the bar pretty high for the rest of my list in 2010.  She’s an amazing person and has an authenticity about her that gives her words more weight than she realizes.  If you’ve never connected with her, find CYJ on Facebook or Twitter.  She’s the real deal.


Posted by on April 2, 2010 in Kidmin


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Destination Regroup: Loveland, CO

Regroup 2010 begins next week!

In just a few days, I’ll step on a plane to head out to Loveland, CO – home of Children’s Ministry Magazine and Group Publishing.  I’ll be joining two dozen other thinkers and practitioners from the world of Children and Family Ministry to discuss trends and topics impacting the local church.

I love the fact that, because this event was invite-only, we’ll be in a smaller setting and that some leading names from the world of Kidmin will be there.

Specifically, I’m thrilled to spend a few days talking to experts and colleagues like “KidologistKarl Bastian (of, Jamie Doyle (Radiant Church), Patti Kirkland (Windsor Crossing) and the team of Doug Slayton and Dan Schmidt (Crossroads Covenant Church).

You may also remember a series of posts that laid out 5 people I wanted to meet and dialogue with in 2010.  On that list is the Executive Editor of Children’s Ministry Magazine, Christine Yount-Jones.  I’m going to get to spend a ton of time with her next week.  That’ll be 1 down… 4 more to go!

I’ll be tweeting thoughts and ideas that come out of this gathering and I’ll be using the hashtag #regroup10 for those of you who want to follow along.

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Posted by on March 26, 2010 in Kidmin


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Happy New Year!

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

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

During this next series of posts, I’ll share with you 5 people I will be trying to meet and collaborate with in the next calendar year.

Your plans for the next year should be bigger than just what programs you’ll be running and how much money you’ll be spending – you should be just as strategic in planning who you’ll be partnering with and why.  Over the next week or two, I’ll share with you who I think is at the leading edge of their field and how I plan on leveraging my time and schedule in order to get in their paths.

As we begin this discussion, I’ll start with 1 simple rule – nobody is off-limits on this list.  I’m not just going to write down 5 people I already have plans to see at Starbucks in January.  Rather, I’m going big on this one.  If I could strategically share a cup of coffee or a meal with any five people who I think could speak into and shape the way I do ministry… who would I list?

That’s my approach.

I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you.


Posted by on November 10, 2009 in Kidmin


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Top 10 Children’s Ministry Resources: #2 Think Orange

I came away from The Orange Conference this last year with all sorts of shifts buzzing through my mind.

You can find some of those thoughts here.

My biggest “wake-up” moment came for me weeks later as I finished my first pass through Reggie Joiner’s Think Orange.
I needed to reevaluate everything that I thought I knew about children’s ministry.

I could take up a lot of space laying out everything I LOVE about what is essentially my new Children’s Ministry manifesto… but, I think Jonathan Cliff does the concepts some justice in his series of Think Orange posts here.

The Church-at-large exists to equip families to reach the next generation with the Gospel of Jesus.  It’s taken me 8 years of Children’s Ministry to finally hear that message and respond – I’m excited to see where that philosophy of ministry takes our team.


Posted by on August 9, 2009 in Book Review, Kidmin, Orange, Resources


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