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Yesterday, our church announced some exciting changes happening in our Family Ministry. Our lead student pastor has moved into the role of Family Pastor and our Jr. High Pastor has stepped up to lead the student ministry. These guys are gifted leaders. I’m excited to see how God uses them in their new roles.

I’m also excited that I will get to work with them as I transition to my new role as FellowshipKids (FSK) Pastor. I will continue to provide leadership for our preteen ministry, but I will also be overseeing staff and programming for all of children’s ministry (birth thru 6th grade). I love this church and I love our children’s ministry staff, so I feel incredibly blessed.

I know this change will stretch and challenge me. It already has! I am praying and seeking God for direction, and I’m trusting In His grace and power.

As for the blog, I’m hoping to get back to sharing ideas, questions, and experiences. When I started in preteen ministry, so many of you gave me encouragement and insight. I’m counting on you to keep it up!

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It’s 9:00 pm Saturday night and Bill is frantically searching his email for the lesson that was emailed to him earlier in the week. When he finally finds it and prints it off, it’s 10:00 pm. He glances at it (not really to read it but just to make sure it all printed), and then shoves it in his Bible so he’ll have it when he leads his small group on Sunday morning.

Is this how your volunteers prepare to lead a small group? In the busyness of your life and theirs, how can you help them prepare to lead their small group well?

To help our small group leaders, I included a page in our training manual called “How to Prepare for Sunday Morning in 15 Minutes or Less.” The idea was to give them a practical way to be well prepared for Sunday by spending a little bit of time with the lesson each day. Here is what we included:

I adapted this schedule from an example found in Wholly Kids from Lifeway:Kids. This is an amazing resource on how kids learn, how to design engaging environments, and how to lead volunteers.

 HOW TO PREPARE FOR SUNDAY MORNING (in 15 minutes or less!)

Monday

  • Read the Fifty6 Team Email and print a copy of this week’s lesson
  • Read the Scripture passage for this week’s lesson from your Bible

Time: 5 minutes

Tuesday

  • Read the Scripture passage for this week’s lesson from your Bible
  • Read the Large Group teaching time

Time: 10-15 minutes

Wednesday

  • Read the Scripture passage for this week’s lesson from your Bible
  • Read the Small Group portion of the lesson—Think, Discuss, & React

Time: 15 minutes

Thursday

  • Read the Scripture passage for this week’s lesson from your Bible
  • Write down your responses/answers to the Small Group discussion questions

Time: 15 minutes

Friday

  • Read the Scripture passage for this week’s lesson from your Bible
  • Pray for the students in your group by name

Time: 10 minutes

Saturday

  • Read the Scripture passage for this week’s lesson from your Bible
  • Write down some fun or engaging questions to use during Huddle Time
  • Review the lesson and rest!

Time: 10 minutes

Parent Meeting

No matter what age group you minister to—children, preteens, or students—parental involvement is essential. Parents need to know about your ministry so they feel confident that it is safe and secure. They also need to know how you will equip them and call them to disciple their sons and daughters.

One of the best ways to communicate vision and strategy with parents is to host a Parent Meeting. Bringing parents together in one room can be very beneficial, but it takes planning to be effective. Here is a basic outline for how to plan your next parent meeting.

Step 1—Invite Parents

Guess what? Parents won’t know about the meeting unless you invite them! Send out an invitation (via print or email) at least 1 month in advance. Give them plenty of notice so that they can make the meeting a priority in their schedule. Try attaching some meeting details to the invite. Let them know what the meeting is about and why it is so important for them to be present. Be careful not to give too much away! The best invite will communicate two things to parents: urgency and mystery.

Step 2—Create a “Wow” Environment

You may only have one chance to connect with a parent, so make it count. Use videos, bulletin boards, or testimonies to highlight what God is doing in your ministry. Make the room comfortable and provide refreshments. Who doesn’t love some warm cookies??

Step 3—Keep Content Limited and Focused

A parent meeting is not the time to try to cover everything you’ve ever wanted to tell parents. Try to focus on one topic that is relevant to your audience. For example, you might have a parent meeting that trains parents on how to have a family devotion or how to share the Gospel with specific ages. Other focused topics might be specific to your ministry vision or strategy. If you need to cover multiple topics with parents, it may be better to consider a parent retreat or a parent discipleship class that meets over several weeks.

Step 4—Leave Room for Discussion

Every group of parents I’ve ever met with has requested more opportunities to talk about issues with other parents. Talking with one another helps parents to get ideas and share their stories. It also helps them to see that they are not alone in their struggles and failures. Encourage parents to break into small groups and discuss the information covered in the meeting. Provide some discussion questions for the parents, and ask them to end by praying for one another in their groups.

Step 5—Provide Action Steps and Follow-Up

When the meeting is over, it will feel like a huge success—mainly because it’s over and one with! However, the true test is whether or not the meeting led parents to take action. Give some specific action steps and ideas for parents during the meeting, and follow-up with them 3-6 months later.

Here’s an example of action steps and follow-up. We hosted a parent meeting last spring on the topic of adolescent transition and sexual purity. At the end of the meeting, we gave parents a copy of Passport 2 Purity to use with their child. We asked parents to schedule a purity weekend with their preteen sometime this year, and then send us testimonies about their weekend once it was complete. It’s amazing to read the emails we’ve already received from families that have taken that step. At 6 months (mid-November), we will follow-up with all parents and remind them about the call to take that step with their preteen. Instead of a one-time meeting, we’ve managed to create a year-round conversation. It’s all about the follow-up!

If you haven’t hosted a parent meeting in your ministry, I strongly encourage you to do so. Parents need to have a major role in your ministry if you want to be effective. Parents have far greater influence and time than anyone in your ministry, so find a way to connect with them and leverage that influence for good!

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I’m playing in 2 Fantasy Football leagues this year. The first league is with a group of pastors at our church, and the second league is with my family.

I felt honored to be invited into the pastor’s league, so I took the draft really seriously. I read all the expert opinions on players, I printed off team depth charts, and I even paid $4.99 for an iPad app that’s only purpose was to help me pick the right players!

After the 3-hour draft, I felt really good about my team and our chances of winning. I felt like all my work had paid off.

The league with my family was much less intense. I joined the league, made up a team name, and then waited for the computer to “auto-pick” my players at 4:00 am. When I got up this morning, I had an email telling me which players I had “picked.”

The two teams were almost identical!

With the exception of 2 players—2 out of 15—the teams were the same. I spent hours trying to make sure that I picked the right players in the first draft, and the second draft auto-picked the same players while I was asleep!

I usually live by the motto, “If you want it done right, do it yourself!” I’m always afraid that someone will screw up if I let them take over, so I end up doing the job myself. I realize that I spend a lot of my time “spinning my wheels” in areas that I should equip others to lead. These draft results reminded me that delegation is important, especially in ministry.

Here are some questions that I’m asking myself to help me delegate more:

1. What am I currently doing that only I can/should be doing?
2. What am I doing that someone else could do?
3. Who are the people around me that have talents in the areas I need to delegate?
4. How can I equip those individuals to “own” that area?
4. How can I support and encourage those that are taking responsibility of these areas?