Tag Archives: Volunteer

Kids in Alabama Need Your Help

Speaking of talking with your kids about death, I was just informed of an amazing organization that is coming alongside families who are recovering from the devastating tornadoes that hit the South last week.

Mitzi Eaker has put together a really neat project that is a very practical way for your family to lend a hand in bringing hope and love to kids who need to know that God and the Church are still looking out for them.  Think “Operation Christmas Child” – but in May.  Here’s some quick info I was provided by some friends who are close to the project.

“We are asking that families and children’s ministries across the country get involved by creating “Boxes of Hope” for children which will be distributed in disaster relief centers, emergency shelters, and area hospitals to storm victims. These boxes will contain a personal note to the children with scripture for encouragement, fun activities such as a coloring book, small toys or games, and a few toiletry items. “Boxes of Hope” are aimed at providing a distraction and encouragement to children who have lost everything in this heartbreaking disaster. As parents, we know that seeing our children receive such a gift in this circumstance would help put our minds at ease as well.”

Read more,  including how your family can be involved by visiting

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Posted by on May 4, 2011 in Uncategorized


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Raising the Next Generation of Leaders

My first church leadership position was as a student crew leader at a VBS a small church in Northern California nearly 15 years ago.  You might not think of a student crew leader at a VBS as someone on your church leadership team, but that church did.  I still remember hearing the pastor tell us that we were on the church staff for the week of VBS and that we needed to live into that reality.

It was a HUGE responsibility… and, looking back, it was my first step toward a career in vocational ministry.

I think of that summer every time that I look at pictures like the ones above.  You see, each year I give that same talk to our group of student leaders at VBS.  And, each year, that group grows.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

This last July, I sat in a room with 300 student leaders, preparing them for their 2 week commitment to VBS at Glenkirk.  For many, it was their first time attending our week-long training session for Student VBS leaders.  Many had once been children jumping on the pews during opening VBS worship, some were simply youth in our community looking to make a difference in the world around them – all of them were joining the ranks of our church staff for the better part of a month.  They were given the chance to live up to great expectations and to share God’s love with the kids who would be entrusted to their care.

As I watch many of them taking on greater leadership roles in the church (we have students serving on worship teams, leading kids’ ministry, on our church’s finance committee, leading mission trips and serving in countless other areas), I can’t help but dream about the next generation of leaders that God is raising up in our midst.

This past weekend, students who were once just VBS counselors were leading our church’s largest kids’ ministry service while I spoke in a different location on campus.  Without a single paid staff person around, that service had one of its highest attended Sundays in its history… and it didn’t miss a beat.   When we look to duplicate ourselves in ministry, I think the wise investment is often found when we pour our lives and energy into equipping our youth with the tools and knowledge it takes to make ministry happen.

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Posted by on November 8, 2010 in Kidmin


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What to do with a Brett Favre

So, Brett Favre is on your children’s ministry team… what should you do?

First, and foremost, don’t panic!
Your Brett Favre wants to succeed… it’s now your goal to get this leader to a place where they are helping your team and not distracting it.

Now, you may not be able to get your Brett Favre to a place where he can ever beat the Dallas Cowboys (Jonathan Cliff… I’m not sure what the ministry parallel is to this. We await your wisdom in the comments section),  but you can get to a place where having Brett Favre on your team makes your ministry better and more effective.

Brett Can’t Be the Best Player on Your Team

As long as your Brett Favre feels as though they are carrying your team, they won’t be able to take direction from you and they’ll maintain a diva-esque personality.  If you are committed to keeping this leader on your team, you need to invest heavily into another team member and give them the keys to an area of your ministry.  In the same way that the Minnesota Vikings’ offense will continue to showcase Adrian Peterson… you need to be able to showcase someone on your team that you trust can carry the load.  This will help define your Brett’s role in your ministry area – it’s not about them… it’s about the team that they are a part of (and, ultimately, it’s about serving Christ).  Surround Brett Favre with talent, and he’ll be more likely to conform to the team.

Brett Favre Needs to Win

Brett Favre has always been the happiest and most effective when he’s on a winning team.  Your Brett Favre is no different.  If your Brett isn’t following your directions, try redefining what a “win” looks like for your ministry team.  When defining a “win” for your team, make sure that the results are things that your leaders can observe.  Maybe a “win” for your team is when a child can answer the two questions parents often ask when they pick children up: “Did you have fun?” and “What did you learn?”  Whatever your criteria becomes, make sure that you point out these victories to your team in large settings.  Brett Favre wants to be a winner.  He wants to be contributing to a winning team – you need to show him what a “win” looks like.

Brett Favre Needs Your Encouragement

At the end of the day, Brett Favre is just like any of us.  When Brett feels like he’s the only one playing the game the way it should be played, the world becomes a lonely place.  You need to find out if your Brett Favre is in a Small Group, a Bible Study, an Accountability Group… whatever it is that your church has to keep its members engaged in the church community – your Brett needs to know that he’s not alone.  By building strong friendships in the church, your Brett will be less likely to leave your ministry for the one down the road.  With a commitment to the church community, your Brett will be more willing to put his ego aside for the sake of the team.  However, if your Brett feels as though he is on an island, expect him to operate outside of your leadership.


Your ministry team is made up of an assortment of characters and you have been called to work alongside them.  At times, that means we need to invest more heavily into team members.  Other times, we need to set high expectations and hold our team accountable.  There are even times when we need to have a leader over for dinner to let them know that we care about them and that they are not serving in a bubble.  Whatever the next step is for you and your team, hopefully this series has helped you out.

What are your experiences with having a Brett Favre on your ministry team?  Are there other tips that you’d like to share with the community?

Post your thoughts and comments in the comments section!

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Posted by on August 21, 2009 in Kidmin


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How Did He Get Here?! (and who IS this person?)

Yesterday, in light of Brett Favre’s signing with the Minnesota Vikings, we took a quick look at our ministries to evaluate if we had anyone on our teams that look a bit like Brett Favre.

If you answered “yes” to any of yesterday’s questions, then you first need to know how in the world your “Brett Favre” got to be the person they are today.  Going forward, you’ll be better off if you know who you’re dealing with.

There are 3 major events that have helped define your Brett Favre.


Brett Favre Lives for his Passions

July 24, 1990

Brett Favre was a Senior at Southern Miss when he was involved in a near-fatal car accident. Near his parents’ home in Mississippi, Favre flipped his car three times and came to rest against a tree. During the ambulance ride to the hospital, Brett was able to talk to his mother.
“All I kept asking [her] was ‘Will I be able to play football again?'” Favre recalled later.

Your Brett Favre may not have been in a car accident like the real Brett Favre, but, at some point in their life, they’ve had a pivotal moment when they looked to their passions and gifts to help them overcome an obstacle.  For Brett, his passion for the game of football drove him to recover quickly from the surgery that removed 30 inches of his small intestine… later leading his team to a come-from-behind victory over Alabama merely 6 weeks after his accident.
For your team member, it may have been a rough spot in their marriage or job.  It may have been an unexpected diagnosis.  They may have felt as though they’d lost control over something in their lives.  Whatever that incident was, pouring themselves into ministry helped them find enough joy and encouragement to push through that hard time.  They feel as though their passion saved them.

What you need to know: If you take away what they’re passionate about, your Brett Favre might feel as though you’re stealing their life away.  Their passion has defined them.  For better or for worse.

Brett Favre Has Been Successful

Green Bay's QB Brett Favre rests the championship trophy

January 26, 1997

Brett Favre led the Packers to their best season in decades during the 1996 season, winning his second consecutive MVP award in the process.  The season culminated in a Super Bowl XXXI victory – a game in which Brett threw for 2 touchdowns, ran for 1 and completed a two-point conversion.  In 1991, the year before Brett would begin taking snaps for the Packers, the team posted a 4-12 record. In 5 short years, Brett Favre led one of the NFL’s storied franchises to their first league championship in 30 years.

Brett Favres come into the picture during a down season in a ministry area.  They usually begin as a back up or an assistant.  They experience hard times, but often work hard during those times and begin to find and define success in their ministry area.  Other leaders, inside and outside of their team, describe your Brett Favre as a “success story” and Bretts often become the face of the area they’re involved in.  Most of these accolades are deserved… though, at the time, those in leadership are not quite aware that they’re creating a problem for themselves down the road (though, to be honest, the leaders who help create Brett Favres are typically only around during their glory years. You usually come into the picture later on).

What you need to know: Because your Brett Favre has had success, they are more likely to stick with the methods that they were using during the time of that success. New leaders often look up to the Brett Favre in your ministry area.  Your Brett Favre is often known and looked up to by those on other teams.  This dynamic will almost always make it difficult to transition this leader out of their leadership role.

Brett Favre has been a Constant

Sept 27, 1992 – Present

Brett Favre became the Packers’ starting quarterback in the fourth game of the 1992 season. He has started every game of every NFL season since that day.  Brett has played through injury and tragedy.  Brett is dedicated to playing in every game that he can… sometimes, playing through severe pain in order to do so.

There are team members whose names are written on your schedule ever-so-lightly in pencil.  You hope they show up… but, you make back-up plans in case they fall through.  Your Brett Favre doesn’t need a schedule.  Easter Sunday?  They’re there.  VBS?  They’ll run the craft station… all by themselves.  You or your wife expecting a baby?  This leader can stand in the gap until you return.  The Brett Favre in your ministry area is often known for their constant presence.  This presence has secured their place in the hearts of those around them.  But… a funny thing happens when you ask your leaders to sign on for another term of commitment – this leader hesitates.  There are times when they look at you as though they’re offended you had to ask… there are other times when they’ve failed to sign a commitment card.  Yet, for all of the drama they create behind the scenes, their teammates see them as a rock of stability.  Calling them “flaky” won’t win you any fans.

What you need to know: Your Brett Favre only pretends to be flaky for two reasons.  1) They feel as though they have served long enough that they are above verbal or written commitments.  2) They need to hear how much you NEED them.
Your Brett Favre is not actually flaky.  They are a constant… especially when you wish they weren’t.


You need to know the history of your Brett Favre before you decide how to deal with them.

Remember those questions you thought about during yesterday’s post?
Now that you know a little bit about your Brett, during our next post we’ll talk about how to deal with them and turn them into a great team member.

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Posted by on August 19, 2009 in Kidmin


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Is Brett Favre on your team?

Favre1, August 3

Do you have Brett Favre on your ministry team?

Take this quick self-examination to find out:

  1. Do you have a team member who always leaves you uncertain of their commitment?
  2. Do you have a team member who, if asked to step down from their role, would move on to any church that would take them on their team?
  3. Do you have a team member who is still thinks that the methods they used in 1997 are still your best options?

Now, I’ll admit, I have a soft spot in my heart for Brett Favre. Watching him take the field and rock the defense of the Raiders after his dad’s passing in 2003 was one of the greatest sports moments I’ve seen in my lifetime. I don’t change the channel or fast forward the TiVo when commercials w/ Brett come on. Brett has overcome so many challenges in his life that he’s always the easy guy to root for.

But, the Brett Favres of the church world aren’t always the best teammates. Brett Favres are not always the guy/gal you should build a team around. As a coach, Brett Favres may be at a point in their career where they might not listen to your direction.

This week, WestCoastCM will take a look at what to do if you find out you have a Brett Favre on your team.

Tomorrow’s post: How did he get here?!


Posted by on August 18, 2009 in Kidmin


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Top 10 Children’s Ministry Resources: #4 Curious George (DVD)

There’s only one DVD in my top 10… and it’s not the new VeggieTales video that just was just released.

Sorry, Big Idea… but church people are going to own your product whether they should or not.  You’re a given in our culture.

Instead, I want to point you to a little gem that you may or may not have watched when it was released in 2006… Curious George.

Curious George is a familiar character to most all of us.  But, the colors and visually stunning artwork in this theatrical release will flow off the screen and into the heart and mind of any Children’s Ministry leader looking to redesign or re-imagine their ministry environment.  The night after I watched this movie for the first time, I dreamed in colors I had never seen before.

This DVD now sits on my shelf as a resource for any team members who want to take on a decorating or design project.  After seeing the scenes below play out with color spilling off the screen, I’m not sure how anyone could not be impacted by this cute movie about a Curious monkey.

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Posted by on August 7, 2009 in Kidmin, Resources


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Things I should hate more than I do: #12 Sporadic Attendance.

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There’s a funny thing about our church.

We have about twice as many kids who are active in our Sunday programs (attend at least twice a month) than are showing up on a typical Sunday.  In fact, only 5% of our kids attended weekend programs at least 40 times this last year.  To me, that’s a staggering number.

We’re in the process of creating an experience for families on Sunday mornings that they won’t want to miss.  It would be fantastic if, when a family feels like they need to spend more “family time” together, they came to church instead of taking a picnic lunch to the beach.  Going to church should never be a burden on families – we should be equipping them to “do family” better.

I’d like to say that, in a lot of ways, we’re getting there – but we’re not there yet, obviously.

Here’s the kicker: unfortunately, I don’t hate our sporadic attendance… though it’s hard for me to admit.

If, somehow, every actively attending family came on one Sunday, we wouldn’t have room for all of their children.  Putting that in writing makes my heart a little sad.
As a team, we’ll soon be discussing how to creatively shift how we’re using our space in order to have room for these families when they do begin to attend more regularly.  But, for now, we can only fit so many kids into the space we have for them on our campus.

I should hate our sporadic attendance.
Maybe, with a little bit of help, I’ll get there.

Would you like to help our team develop a strategic plan for how to use our space?
Send us a tweet @prince4jc or leave your contact info in the comments section.
We’ll give you some specific information about our current layout and let you think creatively about alternative solutions ot our space issues.
Comments and suggestions will compiled and published in an upcoming post!

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Posted by on July 22, 2009 in Kidmin, Los Angeles


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What it takes to be a Leader

Our youth leaders don’t have one look to them.  They might be jocks and cheerleaders from the local high school across the street. Some are youth group junkies from our church’s ministries or elsewhere in town. Others are lonely kids who need to be somewhere where people love them.

Our VBS is as much a ministry to the youth leaders who run the camp as it is to the campers.
We believe this with all of our hearts – which is why we have no faith restrictions when is comes to kids who want to serve on our leadership team for VBS.

You may think we’re crazy for doing this.  Let me walk you through our process… and let’s see if you call us “crazy” on the other side.


During the application process, students fill out what is essentially a full job application in order to be considered for a position on our VBS team.

On that form, applicants list, among other things, their home church (if applicable), whether or not they have a personal relationship with Jesus, they must then describe that relationship, and they list an adult as a reference.

From there, we sort our LEADERSHIP kids in the following way:

To be a Crew Leader (lead a group of 8-12 children and coach a crew of 1 Co-Leader and 4-6 Crew Assistants) – the student must list a home church that our children’s ministry director (currently myself) has a relationship/partnership with. The student must indicate that they have a personal relationship with Jesus.  The student must be able to articulate a statement of faith.

To be a Crew Co-Leader (help coach a crew of 4-6 Crew Assistants) – the student must list a home church that our children’s ministry director (currently myself) has a relationship/partnership with. The student must indicate that they have a personal relationship with Jesus.  The student’s reference must be able to easily confirm that the student has placed his/her faith in Jesus.

We try to make sure that every VBS team has at least 1 Crew Leader and 1 Crew Co-Leader.  These are the leaders that are appointed to answer questions children may have about Jesus during the week and they are the first responders during the time when children are given a chance to give their lives to Jesus on the 4th day of camp.

Here is how we sort our ASSISTANT kids:

To be a Crew Assistant (provide oversight for 2 children. makes sure child is engaged and having fun) – The student must indicate that they have a personal relationship with Jesus.

To be a Crew Buddy (travel with group during rotations. in charge of head counts. helps decorate classrooms and campus) – Turn in a completed application.  Shows interest in working with children. Has a friend in the crew who is an Assistant, Co-Lead, or Lead.

To be a Rotation Buddy (assist rotation leaders) – Turn in a completed application.  Does not work well unsupervised.  Great worker if given direction from an adult.

To be on the Facilities Crew (assists facilities team) – Turn in a completed application.  Does not fit any other position.


We spend 20+ hours training our youth leaders to ensure that every leader knows our policies and procedures as they relate to children on our campus.
To see what this training entails, read this post.

During training, our primary goals this year shifted from policy education and campus decoration to a focus on spiritual development of our leaders.  We wanted leaders who already had a relationship with Jesus to go into the next week EXCITED about their faith.  We wanted every leader who did not have a relationship with Jesus to go into next week WITH a relationship with Jesus.


All along the way, there is a person directly in charge of each youth leader.  We try to avoid putting our youth in situations where they can fail.  Ultimately, the success of each youth leader is something that my VBS coordinator and I are directly accountable for.  We believe that with proper training, lots of prayer, and a structure of accountability, that our camp can be successfully run by students who may or may not have a personal relationship with Jesus.
Our Basic Structure is: Children’s Ministry Director -> VBS Coordinator -> Adult Rotation Leaders -> Crew Leader -> Crew Co-Leader -> Crew Assistant -> 2 Assigned Campers.


I understand that not everyone will agree with the way we do things.
Every year, we have parents who initially push us on the fact that we have youth leaders at camp who may or may not have a relationship with Christ.
But, quite honestly, I think it’s one of the best things we do.

I think that the 29 counselors who accepted Jesus as their savior during training this year would agree.

Agree with what we do? Disagree?
Share your thoughts in the comments section!


Posted by on July 5, 2009 in Kidmin, Los Angeles, Orange


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The Calm before the Storm

Tomorrow we launch the largest Vacation Bible School in the history of our church.

We spent no money on advertising this year.

We didn’t put a banner out on the corner of our property with dates and times of our event.

We’re seeing a 20% increase in registration over last year… which was a 20% increase over the year before.

Our student leaders, youth in the 6th-12th grade, have doubled in size over the last two years. (you can follow their journey here)

This year, we’ve added an adult prayer team that has been praying for our event over the last month and will continue to do so as the week continues.

Our prayer team will be offering classes during camp to teach parents how to pray for their children.

Nearly 30% of the kids who’ve signed up to spend the week with us, leaders included, have no church affiliation.

During our 20+ hours of volunteer training leading up to the event, 29 student leaders accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Another 150 recommitted their lives to serving Him.

I’ll now spend the next 24 hours praying that I don’t get in God’s way this week.
It should be a blast.

We welcome your prayers as well.

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Posted by on July 5, 2009 in Kidmin, Los Angeles


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VBS Training Recap

We rely heavily on youth leaders (Jr. and Sr. high students) to run our church’s annual Vacation Bible School. As a team, this is our third attempt at putting together the best program possible… and we’ve made some pretty serious changes over these last years.
Here’s our basic training schedule for the week before our event:


Monday: Adult leader training.
2 hours of walking adults through their roles for the week. Mostly Preschool Leaders (our preschool VBS program has an adult lead for every group) attend this event.  We want the adults on our campus to have a consistant voice as they interact with student leaders, children, and parents during the week.  This training session helps us all get on the same page.

Tuesday: 2 training events.
We split up our Jr. High and Sr. High leaders for training on this day.
For three hours each, we go over procedures with our students and drill into their heads their responsibilities for the next week. Every leader should know what we’re doing in the event of an emergency.  Every leader should know the system we use to color code our campus during VBS.  Jr. Highers should know that they’re primary responsibility at VBS is making sure that the campers are engaged and enjoying themselves.  Sr. High leaders are primarily in charge of directing their group and coaching their Jr. High team.  Our Pastor of Family Life gives a talk at each of these events to encourage the students as they get ready for the week ahead.

Wednesday: Worship team training
We use live music to engage our elementary aged kids at the beginning and end of each VBS day.  The band that provides the music is made up of a handful of student leaders, some of whom are Jr. and Sr. High leaders, all of whom are actively involved in our church and our youth groups. They spend 4 hours tightening up the music they’ve been practicing during the weeks leading up to VBS.  Our church’s Worship Director leads this team and is in charge of this training event.

Thursday: Full team training
We kick into high gear from 9am-5pm on Thursday.  This is the day we assign groups, rotations, and space on campus for the following week.  Our teams begin to tackle decorating our sanctuary, our church’s lobby and their classrooms.  Teams develop a mission statement for the next week – something that they’ll be able to point to during VBS to evaluate if they’re doing what they want to be doing.  Students hear a message from our Director of Student Ministries on this day and a BBQ lunch is provided.  The Swamp Staff 09 Blog is also launched on this day to provide a community space where students can share their thoughts over the next week and a half.

Friday: Full team training
This year, Friday is the last day we have to makeover the church’s worship spaces before the weekend worship services.  Students arrive at 10am and leave at 4pm on this day.  We are clearly presenting the gospel message in order to provide student leaders a chance to make a recommitment of faith or decide to follow Jesus for the first time in thier lives.  Though we do ask if student leaders have a relationship with Christ on their applications, our leadership positions are open to any and all who want to serve.  This is one of our chances to intentionally minister to students who have yet to decide to follow Jesus.  Also on the agenda for Friday is a giant pizza party and some fun activities to faciliate team building.

Sunday: Full team training
After church services on Sunday, students spend the afternoon putting finishing touches on the campus.  We answer FAQ’s that have arrisen during the week and provide some encouraging words before the students leave for the night.  This is the calm before the storm.


And there it is!  One of the changes I’m most proud of this year, as I read back through our schedule, is the choice we made to intentionally have a the gospel clearly presented during Friday’s training.  In the past, we’ve had students make faith commitments during VBS, when the children are asked to do so… but, how much greater will this year be if those students know Jesus before the week gets under way?  I guess we’ll see.

Talking to leaders of other VBS programs around town, I’ve noticed that we’re one of the few programs that takes training our youth leaders this seriously.  After this week, our student leaders will have put in more than 20 hours of training time – and that’s before the 20+ hours they’ll be spending on campus next week during camp.
We’d love to hear what others around the country who run programs like this are doing to train their leaders.

Thoughts?  Suggestions?  Add yours to the comments section!


Posted by on July 3, 2009 in Kidmin, Los Angeles


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