Communicating So Kids WANT To Listen (FREE VIDEO LESSON )

I am super pumped to share this FREE video lesson with you!  How would you like to learn some of the great principles and practices used by some of the most dynamic and effective communicators?

Well, now you can!  In this video, I share some of the best tips and practices that I have learned in my 25 years of Kids Ministry!  It’s a FREE video lesson from my Online Video Course called: “ACCELERATE: Boosting Your Ministry Effectiveness.”

 

Here’s the FREE VIDEO LESSON:

Want MORE helpful videos like this?  You can find them in my  Online Video Course I just created:

“ACCELERATE: Boosting Your Ministry Effectiveness.”

Every lesson comes with video teaching, slide decks, outline, worksheet, audio file, Keynote/PowerPoint so you can teach it to YOUR team!  Check it out HERE!  Available for a limited time!

Justin Graves Band Provides Fun Music For The Whole Family

JGB

I am so excited to introduce you to some friends of mine!  I met Justin, Michelle, and Gabi at a Kidmin Conference in Tennessee several years ago.  I was instantly drawn in by their infectious personalities, melodies, and love for the Lord!

Several months ago, Justin showed me some of the music they had been working on.  He also let me know that his family was expanding their ministry and had made a HUGE move recently.  As we talked, I felt strongly that I should share with my “blog family” all about Justin Graves Band and how YOU can be blessed by their ministry.

The Justin Graves band has a way of connecting with kids through fun, energetic music that teaches God’s Word.  When the JGB leads kids the first thing you MUST know about them is that is is NOT a performance.  They are interactive and intentional in the way they lead.  There is no show, nothing fancy…just true, honest praise and worship from the heart.  It is fun, real and filled with JOY!  Their hope is to encourage kids and families to be Strong and Courageous, always Trust in the Lord and tell them that they are a unique creation created by God for a purpose!

Check out this video below.  It will help you see the heart behind the ministry!  Then, head over to their website www.justingravesband.com and check out their music!  It’s perfect for church, home, or rides in the mini-van!  I hope you love JGB as much as I do.

3 Things I Tell EVERY Volunteer

3-things-post

Part of the process for joining our Kids Ministry team is a personal sit-down interview with me, the Kids Pastor.  I want to personally know every person who serves on our team – whether that is in an up-front or behind-the-scenes capacity.  During this interview, I always stress three important principles that I hope will guide their decisions while serving in ministry:

1)  Always Strive For Excellence

We try to live Colossians 3:23 on a daily basis:  “Whatever work you do, do it with all your heart. Do it for the Lord and not for men.”  In every part of Kids Ministry, our goal is EXCELLENCE.  That means we arrive early, we give 110% energy during service, and we go above and beyond what would be “expected of us.”  When you have a lesson to teach, skit to perform, or song to sing – you are expected to practice and be well-prepared.  No “winging it!”  God deserves our best, and so do the children.

2)  Never forget:  “The little eyes are always watching.”

We have over 800 kids that attend our church regularly.  It’s impossible to go ANYWHERE in our city without running into one of them.  Jesus said in Matthew 18:6: “But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.”  We have to be conscious of every word, action, reaction, and attitude we display whether we are at church, in the grocery story, or at the movies.  You never know when one of these kids’ eyes are on you.  You want to set the RIGHT example for them – whether intentionally or unintentionally.

This goes for Social Media posts as well.  I remind our leaders that the parents of the children in our church (and, sadly some of the kids themselves) are on Social Media.  I want my leaders to make sure that EVERY post reflects the character of Christ.  I ask them to refrain from “rants,” pictures, jokes, etc. that may seem to be the norm on Social Media.  As a leader of children, I want them to realize the impact that a seemingly “harmless” (yet inappropriate) post can cause.  I don’t want them to do anything that would damage their reputation, their leadership, or the Kingdom.

3)  Ministry Moments Can Happen At ANY Time

Don’t think that ministry can only happen in the Kids’ Ministry Service Time.  You never know when God will open a door for you to minister to a child.  You might see the child in the Party Zone sitting by themselves, and you can go over and talk to them and cheer them up.  You might see the child walking through the church halls and can tell they need encouragement.  You might even feel like God is leading you to send the child a card during the week to let them know you are praying for them.  There are MANY opportunities to make a difference in a child’s life.  Look for those ministry moments, both inside and outside the service.

I share these three things with EVERY person who serves in Kids Ministry.  How about you?  What are the principles that you hope will guide the decisions of your team as they minister to His children?  Please SHARE those in the comments section of this post!

Where In The World Is Brian Dollar?

2013 is going to be an exciting year.  I have been honored to be asked to speak at several incredible conferences and events.  I would love to get a chance to meet you and connect!

Just thought I would pass on some of the dates and locations I will be in 2013.  Hope to get a chance to meet many of you in person!

North Texas Kids Pastors Retreat; Jan. 4-5, 2013; Dallas, TX;  keynote speaker and multiple breakouts  more info

INCM’s Children’s Pastors Conference;  January 16-19, 2013;  Orlando, FL; multiple breakouts more info

Oklahoma Kids Pastors Retreat; Jan. 25-26, 2013; Keynote speaker and multiple breakouts  more info

Southwestern A/G University;  February 5-7, 2013; multiple main sessions on Children’s Ministry Leadership more info

INCM’s Children’s Pastors Conference;  February 18-21, 2013;  San Diego, CA; multiple breakouts more info

FOCUS Children’s Ministry Conference; February 28 – March 2, 2013;  Greenville, SC; Keynote speaker and multiple breakouts  more info

ARSOM Children’s Ministry InstituteMarch 8-9, 2013 ;  Hot Springs, AR; multiple sessions on Children’s Ministry Leadership;  more info

Iluminate Conference; April 6, 2013 ;  Memphis, TN; multiple breakouts more info

COGOP Children’s Ministry InstituteSeptember 12-14, 2013 ;  Ashville, SC; multiple sessions on Children’s Ministry Leadership more info

Six Questions To Ask Before Implementing A New Idea (pt. 2)

In my last post, I shared the first two of the Six Questions to ask yourself before implementing a new idea in your Kids Ministry:

1)  “Have I Prayed About It?”

2)  “What Does My Pastor Think About The Idea?”

Now, we continue with Questions 3 & 4:

QUESTION #3 – “Does the idea resonate with the hearts of my team?”

After your pastor gives you the go-ahead, consult with your ministry team.  These people have the same passion as yours to impact the lives of the children in your church and community.  Share the plan with them while your idea is still in its early stages.  Don’t wait until you have the entire strategy fleshed out before you bring it to the team for feedback. The longer you work on an idea before you present it, the less likely you’re going to be willing to change course.  If leaders develop a plan too far before they talk to their teams, they can become emotionally invested in an idea and refuse to listen to any suggestions. When they don’t listen to their team members, trust erodes.

I remember when I thought I had a great idea for a Halloween outreach.  I wanted to call it “The Candy Factory.”  It was going to provide a full array of experiences, entertainment, fun, and best of all . . . candy!  I worked on the idea for weeks and weeks before I brought it to the team.  When I finally presented it to them, they immediately had questions about it.  They questioned the plans, the schedule, the execution, and the very idea itself.  I became defensive.  I’d worked several weeks on it, and this was my baby!  How dare they question an idea in which I had invested so much time!

If the members of your team—the people whose hearts are aligned with yours and who care as much about kids as you do—believe the idea stinks, you better listen to them.

QUESTION #4 – “Do I have the support of the parents in my ministry?”

This question applies especially to those who are young in ministry and have no children of their own.  It is easy for young singles or couples without kids to miss red flags that are obvious to parents.  Checking with them before an event can save you lots of headaches in the long run.

Many of you have read about the infamous Easter Egg Hunt that ended up in disaster (for the full story, get my book “I Blew It!”).  I planned an egg hunt for pre-schoolers on a steep drainage ditch and gave them Atomic Fireballs in their eggs.  If I’d taken a few minutes to talk to parents before the Easter Egg Hunt, they would have told me that it’s inappropriate to have Atomic Fireballs and jawbreakers in plastic eggs on steep hillsides with big rocks for an event for preschoolers (or anyone else for that matter).  They would have spoken up.  They would have told me the hard, cold truth, and I would have seen that it was an idiotic idea to hold a preschool egg hunt on Drainage Ditch Hill.  Parents would have looked me in the eye and told me, “Pastor Brian, the children will choke on those Atomic Fireballs. Are you insane?”

But it didn’t cross my mind to ask any of the parents. Solomon advises us (me especially), “With many counselors, there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14 NLT).

(CLICK HERE FOR PART 3)

Six Questions To Ask Before Implementing A New Idea (pt. 1)

Sometimes, we overestimate our own creativity and cleverness.  We think we’re so smart that we know exactly what we need to do in a given situation without consulting God or others.  It’s a sad situation that I see repeated over and over in Kids Ministry.

This post will be the beginning of a series of posts dealing with SIX QUESTIONS we must ask ourselves before implementing a new idea.  Often, we can get in such a hurry to implement a “crazy clever” or “amazingly creative” idea that we have for Kids Ministry.  I have had many such ideas end up as disasters (as I am sure many of you have).

I wish I could give you a list of “Ten Ways to Discover God’s Idea for Your Life and Ministry,” but God speaks to different people in different ways.

*  God spoke to Moses through a burning bush.

*  God spoke to Samuel in an audible voice in the middle of the night.

*  God spoke to Joseph in a dream.

*  God spoke to David through the prophet, Nathan.

*  God spoke to Mary through the angel, Gabriel.

God speaks to people when and how He chooses, but I want to give you a series of six questions that can help clarify your thinking.  Ask these questions of yourself BEFORE implementing a new idea in your ministry:

QUESTION #1 –  “Have I prayed about it?”

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” – James 1:5

If the idea you’re chasing came from any source other than a time of prayer, hit your knees immediately and ask, “God, is this your idea for my life and ministry?”

God’s not trying to hide His will from you, and He’s not trying to make you figure it all out on your own.  He wants to give you wisdom and reveal His plan to you.  He wants to give you incredible, amazing, God-inspired ideas.  Pray about it.  Ask Him for wisdom and clarity.  He’ll answer and show you the way.

QUESTION #2 – “What does my pastor think about the idea?”

As early as possible, run your idea by your pastor or kids’ ministry leader to get feedback and input.  Take this step before you invest too much time and energy in your idea.  Your pastor may be aware of liability issues or other reasons why your plan just won’t work. Trust your pastor’s judgment—he’s been down this road before.

Take the initiative to make the appointment with your pastor or ministry leader.  Explain the idea, including the pros and cons. If he approves it, that’s wonderful.  If he finds problems with it, then the conversation will save you a great deal of wasted time and embarrassment.  (I can’t tell you how much my pastor has saved me from all kinds of heartaches.)  And talking with this person before you implement the plan builds trust for the future, too.

(CLICK HERE FOR PART 2)

How To Know When It Is Time To Leave

snoopy-goodbye

It’s one of the toughest decisions you will ever have to make:  Leaving a church you have been serving as a staff member.  It’s a decision that should NEVER be made cavalierly and never without much prayer and consideration.

I have seen many staff members leave too early and short circuit what God was wanting to do in them during a process of seasoning and learning.  But, I have also seen many staff members stay longer in a situation than they should have.  By doing so, they ended up hurting the church and their family in the process.

Certainly, you should leave if you have a DIRECT command from God that it is time for you to move on. Perhaps He has another place where He wants to use you.  Perhaps He has someone else who needs to fill your current position in order to fulfill His plan for that church.  If God says, “Leave,” then leave.  Outside of a direct command from God, here are a few ways you can know it might be time to resign the position you are serving in…

1)  When you no longer personally respect your pastor or team.

Whether it is your fault or theirs, if you have lost respect and cannot gain it back – you will do more harm than good by staying on the team.

2) When you can’t support and agree with them publicly

We will always have disagreements with our pastor or other staff.  It’s impossible to agree on everything.  But, we should always disagree in private!  When in a public setting, you MUST show agreement and solidarity.  If you are unable to do so despite your best prayer and effort, then you need to leave before you cause damage to the body of Christ.

3)  When you or your spouse become cynical or critical in your spirit

If you get to the point where you are cynical in your spirit and can’t seem to clear it out, then you should leave.  To continue to follow someone you don’t trust is damaging to them and to you.

4)  When you are no longer challenged to grow

When you get to the point where you have grown as far as you can at the current location, it might be time to consider moving on.

5)  When you don’t like being around your pastor or team

This doesn’t mean one person or another gets on your nerves one day.  However, if you find yourself consistently avoiding relational time with your staff or pastor, that is unhealthy.  If prayer and loving confrontation don’t solve it, then it is better to leave than poison the entire community.

6)  When you think you can do a better job than your pastor

Some staff pastors have the thought, “If I was in charge of this church, I would do a much better job than my pastor is doing.”  I have found that when a staff member has this feeling, MOST of the time it is the staff member’s fault – not the pastor’s.  However, if this feeling persists despite your best efforts to squelch it, then you can mark it down – you have lost all respect for your pastor.  No matter what the reason, you owe it to your pastor to resign and allow him to hire someone who respects him.

I am not one who advocates leaving on a whim.  I can’t stand the fact that the studies show the average length of stay for a church staff member is 18-24 months.  However, there are times that “sticking it out” can do more harm than good.  No matter what, never make the decision without bathing it in prayer and seeking wisdom from spiritual authority.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Share your thoughts in the comment section.

“The Eric Trap” Book Review

Eric Trap

I am very pleased to be able to talk about The Eric Trap, a new book written by Jim Wideman, Sam Luce, Kenny Conley, and several others.  I received a copy a week or so ago and immediately began diving into it.  I have to say, I was blown away by it.

Here are the things I LOVED about The Eric Trap:

1)  It is written as a leadership fable. If you are not familiar with this style of writing (a la Patrick Lencioni, Ken Blanchard, and others), it is told as a fictional story of Eric Newman.  Eric is a regular guy who finds himself reeling from the demands and expectations of Kids Ministry.  It’s easy to read.  You learn as Eric learns.

2)  The main character is easy to relate to.  Eric is you.  Eric is me.  Eric is the Kidmin Leader we all have been at some point in our journey.  I felt a connection to Eric within the first couple of paragraphs.  I found myself truly caring about Eric and the pain he was going through.  That is what good writing does.  This book is well-written and compelling.

3)  The lessons are impacting.  The book deals with “five things every leader has to get right.”  Each of these lessons are learned by Eric along the way.  From learning how to balance ministry and family to serving under a Lead Pastor and carrying his/her vision, these lessons ARE things that every Kidmin Leader must get right if they want to accomplish God’s best in their ministry.

The only thing I wish was different with the book is that it is not COMPLETELY a leadership fable.  Periodically, the story of Eric is broken up with select lessons from successful Kidmin Leaders.  Don’t get me wrong – these lessons are phenomenally written and are very helpful.  I just wish the content could have been worked more into the story rather than having to continually pop out of the story in order to do practical teaching.

Bottom line – The Eric Trap is a well-written book that will appeal to much more than just Kidmin Leaders.  It serves as a guidebook for every new staff pastor getting into ministry.  Male or female.  Long-term or short-term.  Kids Ministry or Student Ministry.  Everyone can learn from Eric Newman and help themselves NEVER to fall into the “Eric Traps.”

* The official release date of the book is APRIL 25th.  For more info check out the official website.

Computer Brains

I have to admit – as a Christian kid growing up in the 80s I was a big Petra fan.  The other day, the song “Computer Brains” from Petra’s “Beat The System” album came on my iPod.  I started thinking about the truth of that song.  It was powerful.

Here’s the truth:  our minds are like a computer.  Remember the old computer acronym, “GIGO” (Garbage In, Garbage Out)?  You have to be very careful when you program a computer.  Even the smallest error will produce flawed results.  In other words, the results produced by the computer will be no better than the quality of the programming.

People are the same way.  What goes in is what comes out.  Psychologists say that we tend to become what we think about most.  Proverbs 23:7 says it this way, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

My question for you is:  What kind of input are you receiving?  The quality of your input determines the quality of your output.

If you want a positive attitude to come out, put positive information in.  Hang around positive people, not complainers.  If you want thoughtful, courteous, helpful words to come out, you better make sure the input you are receiving matches that desired output.

What kind of books/blogs do you read?  What kind of music do you listen to?   What kind of people do you go to lunch with?  What kind of conversations do you have on break?  Do all of these INPUTS help you grow and become a better person/leader?  If not, it’s time for a change!

Remember, your brain is like a computer – only much more complex.  Control your input, and your output will take care of itself.

Winners of the “I Blew It!” giveaway!

Thanks to all of you who participated in our big giveaway that ended March 31st.  Many of you helped get the word out and many new subscribers were added to the BLOG.  Welcome to everyone!  Here are your winners:

Joe Hegedus of New Jersey

Nancy Freiling of Virginia

Pamela Bartley of Kentucky

Neil Hancock of Georgia

Lisa Grace

Each of them are receiving a FREE copy of my book, “I Blew It!”   If you would like more info about the book, click HERE!  Keep your eyes open for more winning opportunities.

In the meantime, help me spread the word about the BLOG.  We are still young – not even a year old.  We depend on you to help get the word out so we can connect and be a blessing to as many Kids Ministry leaders as possible.  Help us by posting something on Twitter or Facebook with a link to www.briandollar.com – share how the blog has been a blessing to you.  Thanks everyone!