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It’s Day 2 of the Preteen Leaders Conference, and I already have a bag full of ideas and notes from some great preteen leaders. Stay tuned to the blog next week, I will do a recap of the conference with detailed notes from the main sessions.

Today, I get to lead another breakout with preteen leaders on the topic of cultivating leaders. The main idea of the session will be the premise that

    The people in and around your ministry will define your ministry.

This fact may encourage some and scare the living daylight out of others! Parents, preteens, and other potential leaders will judge the ministry based upon those they see the most, which is likely the volunteer leadership you have placed in charged.

With this in mind, it is important that we create an environment that sets our leaders up to be successful in their service to God. Like a farmer provides the necessities to cultivate a good crop, we need to have a strategy for cultivating great leaders.

Here are the 8 Ways to Create a Culture that Cultivates Leaders that I will share in today’s breakout session:

    1) Set Standards and Expectations for Your Team
    2) Cast an Inspiring Vision for Your Team
    3) Build a Sense of “Family” Amongst Your Team
    4) Train Your Team Well and Often
    5) Celebrate “God-Stories” with Your Team
    6) Form a Friendship with Every Member of Your Team
    7) Provide Opportunities for Your Team to Give Input and Feedback
    7) Make Sure Every Team Member (Including Yourself) is Growing

If you would like more info on any of these, leave a comment and I’ll send you the notes from the breakout.

The Preteen Leaders Conference begins tomorrow, and I’m excited to get to lead two breakouts for some of the attendees. The first of the breakouts is titled, “Connecting with Parents of Preteens.” We will look at why it’s important to integrate the home into preteen ministry, and how we can call parents to engage in the strategy.

In preparing for the session, I dug out my notes from a study that was released a few years ago by Barna Research and The Rethink Group. Along with tons of other great findings, here is what the research found when it came to the strategy and/or expectations for parental involvement:

    • 46% of parents admittedly do not have a plan to accomplish the desired outcomes in their children.

    • 72% of parents said that the church could be a good help for the development of this plan

    • However, only half (45%) said the expectations (action plan) of the church were clear

If you don’t have a strategy to connect the home with your ministry, the question is, “Why not?”

It is clear that parents are looking at the church as a great source of training and equipping. They recognize their role in the transfer of faith to their children, and they see value in what the church can offer.

If you do have a strategy to connect the home with your ministry, the questions is, “How clearly have we communicated this strategy to parents?” and “How are we measuring the success or failure of our strategy?”

As much as parents look to the church for training, we are not doing well at meeting that demand. Stop blaming parents for not caring or not being active in their child’s spiritual development, and start communicating a strategy that they can understand and execute.

Music is something we often take for granted. Our society is so media saturated, especially with songs and jingles, that we don’t realize the impact that it is having on our brains.

The truth is that our memories and experiences are closely tied to music. You’ve probably been in a situation before when a familiar song comes on and brings back a flood of memories. It’s amazing to see how music can help us recall experiences, facts, and memories.

This video, from upcoming documentary Alive Inside, is a powerful example of music’s influence. Even in the midst of dementia, music can bring life and joy to the soul. As someone who has seen a family member suffer with Alzheimer’s, this video is such a great reminder that the joyful memories and experiences are never erased or truly forgotten.

For those that work in ministry:
How do you use music to add layers to your teaching experiences?
How can music help children/preteens/students/adults recall Biblical teaching at later dates?

Whether you’re in ministry 100 years or 1 year, it’s bound to happen. You get stopped in the hall, or you get a phone call to let you know that a volunteer is leaving your team. In that moment, your first thought is, “Who can I get to fill that spot and how quickly can I get them?” However, there are a couple other steps to consider before you plug a new person in.

1. Do an Exit Interview
It doesn’t matter why their leaving your team, those volunteers have valuable insight and a freedom to share it. As the volunteer is leaving the team, it is a great opportunity to ask them about their experiences—good and bad. They will most likely share honest impressions that can be greatly beneficial you as a leader. An exit interview also shows value to that volunteer by allowing them to give input and evaluation to the ministry team.

2. Evaluate the Rest of the Team
Is there someone already on the team that can do this job? If so, would it be a good move for the team? There have been several times that a small group leader has left the team and a replacement was right under my nose. There are substitutes and assistant leaders in your ministry that may be ready to take the plunge into a full time role. Before you put it in the bulletin or stand on stage to announce the opening, consider those that are already on your team.

3. Take the Opportunity to Fill In
If you are able to find a replacement for a departing volunteer before the following Sunday, let me know how you do it! Most times, the process takes a little while longer. In that waiting period, take the opportunity, if possible, to substitute for that position. I have found that putting myself “in the trenches” can really help me to better understand what my team members need.

4. Celebrate the Volunteer that is Leaving (and do it publicly)
I am guilty of not doing this one enough. When a volunteer leaves, we focus on replacement, not celebration. The few times that I have paused to celebrate the volunteer have been great experiences. Celebrating the volunteer shows them and the other volunteers that their service is invaluable. Praising and celebrating a volunteer in front of their peers, especially those that are leaving on a sour note, gives them a lasting memory that is positive and encouraging.

5. Prayerfully Seek the Person to Fill the Position
Ministry is a beast that must be fed. As you read this, you’re thinking, “This is all nice, but Sunday’s coming!” I know that feeling very well. You need someone to plug the hole, and you need them now. Let me encourage you to spend more time seeking God and who He has for the position than you do actually searching for that person. You can run out and find the first willing body that feels sorry for your predicament, but it’s much healthier for you and your team to find a replacement that has been called and ordained by God for that position.