Setting Ministry Goals

goals

We all want to grow.  We all want to get better at our job, our ministry, our calling.  Although the desire to grow is common, actual growth is not so common.  I think one of the main reasons we fail to move from intention to actual growth is because we don’t set clear, definable goals.

Vague intentions almost never take us to a desired destination.  It’s not enough to identify an area that needs attention.  We then need to ask God for a vision of what it will be like to achieve the desired growth in this area.  When you define the goal, write it down, describe the benefits, and trust God to take you there.

Many people struggle with the description of the goal because they’re afraid the price they’ll have to pay isn’t worth it.  It is worth it!  The best encouragement to move forward is a clear picture of the finish line.  Go into detail.  How will your ministry look? How will your family relationships benefit?  How will you experience financial peace and freedom?  How will you take advantage of new opportunities?

If you can define and describe your goal in writing, you’re well on your way to achieving it.  A good plan is essential.  Solomon wrote, “A wise man thinks ahead; a fool doesn’t, and even brags about it” (Proverbs 13:16 NLT).

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Once you set the goal and write it down.  Then, define manageable steps toward your goal.  Some of us quit because the task seems too big, too challenging, and too hard.  If we break it into reachable steps, we can make remarkable progress.  We can be naïve about what it takes to change.

Enthusiasm is a good beginning, but it won’t take us very far on its own.  I know.  I’ve tried.  If I had tried to get up early each morning, start a workout routine, read a hundred books a year, read the Bible through every month, and pray two hours a day, I’d have gotten pretty discouraged!   We need to have big goals but manageable steps toward those goals.

The Power Of Praise

As a Kids Ministry Leader, you are in the business of being a PEOPLE BUILDER.  Your goal is to help others reach their full potential of who God wants them to be.

Every person we meet, we either give life to or we take life from.  You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?  There are people who encourage you and when you are done being with them you feel built up.  Then, there are others who you feel torn down by.

Successful leaders are people who have mastered the art of building others up. There are few ways to build others up that are more effective than PRAISING THEM.

There is power in praising people!  Something begins to happen in them, in you, and in your relationship when you praise someone.

Praise Your Kids! – Make a point to speak life into the kids in your ministry.  Don’t allow yourself to speak negativity into their lives.  They hear that enough at school, on the playground, and sometimes even at home.

Even when you are correcting their behavior – avoid saying, “This behavior is ridiculous.  Can’t you just do the right thing?”  Instead, say things like, “You are such an amazing kid.  I see so much potential in you to do great things for God.  These choices you are making are not helping you become all that God has planned for you.  How can we change these choices so that they better reflect the amazing kid that you really are?”

Praise Your Volunteers! – Look for things your volunteers are doing well and speak up!  Tell them how much you appreciate their effort and sacrifice to help build the Kingdom of God.  Make a point to send a thank you note to at least five people every week (that’s ONE note per day in the office).  You can do it!  It will make such a difference.

Praise God! – In your daily prayer, praise God for what He is doing in your ministry.   Rather than just come to Him with a list of needs for your ministry, praise Him for what He has already done!

Praising others is important and comes with some amazing benefits – not only for them, but for you.  When you praise others…

1)  Your relationships grow –  Life is all about relationships.  When you praise others, it deepens their appreciation for you and serves to build your relationship with them.

2)  Your leadership and influence grow – Who has a greater leadership and influence capacity in your own life:  the one who tears you down or the one who builds you up?  It works the same for those you lead.  Build them up, and your influence with them will grow.

3)  Team loyalty grows –  When the volunteers on your team are appreciated and praised, they become fiercely loyal.  When people know that you care for them, love them, and appreciate them – they will go to great lengths for you!

So, take a moment today – praise someone!  Send a note, send a text, make a call.  Praise your team!  Praise your kids!  Praise God!  They all deserve it!!!

Don’t Just Feel It, Express It! (Gratitude)

Gratitude

Gratitude is an important component of any leader’s life.  Gratitude keeps you grounded, realizing that the world does not revolve around you.  Gratitude helps you avoid the dreaded “entitlement mentality” – the idea that you deserve all the good that comes your way simply because you are so cute and special.

Gratitude is important for relationships.  People WANT to be around others who are grateful.  Most people avoid those who are ungrateful or selfish.

Gratitude is important for your own mental and physical health.  Did you know:

“A large body of recent work has suggested that people who are more grateful have higher levels of well-being. Grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and social relationships Grateful people also have higher levels of control of their environments, personal growth, purpose in life, and self acceptance.” [The grateful disposition: A conceptual and empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 112-127.]

Some kids’ ministry leaders tell me they really enjoy working in their church with their pastor.  I ask, “When was the last time you told him?”  Sometimes, it’s very recent, but others admit it’s been a long time.

Don’t just feel thankful—express it in a way that communicates your heart.

For appreciation to be received, it must be sincere.  Don’t just go through the motions and hope it works out okay.  If you’re not feeling thankful, take time to pray.  Ask God for eyes to see what He sees so you can overlook some of the difficulties and really appreciate the phenomenal opportunity to reach kids for Christ in your church.

In the past few years, I’ve tried to make gratitude a normal part of my communication.  I send my pastor thank you notes for all kinds of things, and even more, for being a terrific leader and friend.  Sometimes, I give him small gifts to show my appreciation. I want him to know that I don’t take him for granted.  Notes, words, and gifts let him know I’m very thankful for him as my leader and the blessings that come from serving in this church.

How about you?  Do you have an entitlement mentality or an attitude of gratitude?  Do you merely FEEL gratitude or do you express it?  When was the last time you wrote a note, sent an email, or verbally thanked your pastor?  He gets enough negative letters and emails.  Take the time now to send something positive.  Express your gratitude.

What Are You Afraid Of?

Fear is a reality in all of our lives.  If you say you don’t have any fear at all, either you’re a liar or a psychopath—neither of these is a good option!  Some of us can’t admit our fears because they’re so terrifying we can’t face them.  Denial, though, never leads to growth, peace, joy, love, and strength.

Fear is a barrier between us and the things God is calling us to do.  It keeps us still when God wants us to move, keeps us quiet when God wants us to speak, and causes us to shrink back when God wants us to reach out.  Strong, creative spiritual leadership isn’t satisfied with the status quo.  Leaders don’t focus on excuses for inaction; they look at possibilities for God to do amazing things.  But leaders often have to overcome their fears.

Abraham left everything he had known to follow God into a distant land.  Moses had been tending sheep so long that he lost confidence in his leadership abilities, but God still had a mission for him.  After his initial hesitations, he marched boldly into Pharaoh’s presence and demanded, “Let my people go!” Joshua and Caleb believed God to lead the people into the Promised Land and conquer giants even when others cowered in terror.  David put down Saul’s armor and faced the colossal giant Goliath with a sling and five stones.

Courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the willingness to take action in the face of fear.  Every leader has to face very real fears.  The key is facing your fears with the RIGHT ammunition and in the right SPIRIT!  Never forget:

“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

What is Paul saying?  Crippling fear doesn’t come from God.  Instead, God pours out the solution to fear: power, love, and a sound mind.  So, face your fears in prayer – and let God give you the power, love, and sound mind that He has promised!

(for more on this subject, check out my book, “I Blew It!” chapter 10)

Offering Accountability

Accountability is something we often want from others, but we rarely want to give to others.

On a ministry team, accountability is crucial for things to run smoothly.

We understand this when it comes to those who are under us in the organization, but we don’t always treat it with the same respect when it comes to our OWN accountability.

I made a decision long ago to have a habit of offering accountability instead of forcing my pastor to require it. I don’t know of any senior pastor who enjoys tracking down any member of his staff to check on him or confront him when there’s a problem. In my relationship with my pastor, I am determined to offer accountability instead of forcing him to demand it from me.

When I came to my church, my pastor asked me to email him any time I had a problem of any kind that needed his attention.  In my pride and self-protection, I didn’t want to admit that I had any problems (at all), so I didn’t send him any emails about needs or difficulties. One day, he found out about an incident in the Kids Ministry.  He was perplexed to hear about it from someone besides me.  When he called me into his office, he had to be an investigator trying to find out what happened instead of a partner helping to resolve it.  My silence had forced him into this role.

Don’t make your pastor play NCIS.  Take the initiative to tell him anytime there’s a problem he needs to know about.  When you’re going to be late, call.  When something goes wrong, tell him.  When there’s a problem that’s going to affect other ministries, give him a heads up.

Drop The Excuses

We all have our favorite excuses why we haven’t done the things we know we should do.  Taking risks, expanding our horizons, making significant life and habit changes – all of these things are held back by our favorite excuses:

*  I’m comfortable with the way things are, so I don’t really need to change.

*  I’ll probably fail, so why even try?

*  It’ll take too long to change.

*  People will criticize me if I try this.

As I write in my book, I Blew It!, excuses are perpetual blinders.  With them, we can stay stuck for a lifetime.  When we find the courage to open our eyes to the truth, amazing things can happen.  To make real change a reality in our lives, we have to be willing to get rid of every excuse we’ve used in the past.

Excuses aren’t unique to people today.  When God called Moses, he had all kinds of reasons he couldn’t step up and be the leader of God’s people.  God told Moses he was the one who would lead the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt to the Promised Land.

It’s time to eliminate your excuses and your rationalizations.  Make a declaration: I’m not going to live by my excuses any longer!  After Moses had given God multiple reasons why he couldn’t lead Israel out of slavery, Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it” (Exodus 4:13).  As it turns out, all of his excuses were only smoke screens.  The real issue was that Moses flat out did not want to do what God had called him to do.

Is that you?  Have you been making excuses to cover up the fact that you’re unwilling to do what God has called you to do?  It’s time to be honest.  Be honest and trust God to change your life.

Book Review: “Jumping The Track” by Roger Fields

jumping the track

When I first began seeing Roger tweet about the book he was writing, he was billing it as “The Kidz Blitz Story.”  That is a major understatement!  While this book does chronicle the story of how the Kidmin phenomenon KIDZ BLITZ got started, it is so much more than that!

“Jumping The Track” is Roger’s story.  It’s the story of a man who refused to follow the mold set by others in ministry.  It’s the story of a man’s struggle with his own overwhelmingly shy personality to become a mesmerizing stage host and people-person.  It’s the story of a man who broke through tradition into a dynamic faith experience.  It’s all that and much more!

Roger is a gifted storyteller.  After reading the book, I feel like I was right there with him, Tammie, Terra, Shannon, Mica, and Morgan for the whole journey.  I literally laughed out loud as Roger shared some of his early ministry mistakes.  I was truly challenged as I read about his leaps of faith to start Kidz Blitz.

“Jumping The Track” refers to being willing to abruptly change directions in life at the Lord’s command.  Rather than follow a pre-set strategy and list of long-term goals, Roger suggests that each of us should “hold on loosely” to the trajectory of our lives and be open to the voice of God.  He may call each of us to “Jump The Track.”  If so, will we be so tightly clinging to our long-term goals and human vision that we miss out on His plan?

I encourage each of you to purchase this book.  It will challenge you to think differently about life, ministry, and faith – in a good way!

You Got Served!

I was privileged to spend some time at INCM’s Children’s Pastors Conference in Orlando last week.  It was an incredible conference!  If you have an opportunity to go in the future (there’s another one happening in San Diego in February) I encourage you to make it happen!

One thing that struck me the entire week was the level of service I received from the INCM staff as well as the Disney Resort staff where the conference was held.  While setting up our booth in the Exhibit Hall, we were approached multiple times by a member of the INCM staff asking, “How can I serve you?”  As I walked through the hallway of the Conference Center at Disney’s Coronado Springs I was stopped and asked “Is there any way I can serve you?”

Even after I returned home, I received emails and messages asking me “How can we serve you better next time?”  I was impressed at the level of concern that both INCM and Disney Resorts had for making sure my needs were met and that I was able to concentrate on having an incredible experience at the conference without having to worry about any details.

I began to think:  do I give this same attention to service and detail every week at my church?  Do I try to make sure every detail is handled and that there are no needs or distractions so that the kids and parents can relax and experience everything God has in store for them while they are there?  I have to admit, I was a little convicted.  Disney cared more about details and customer service than I did – and they represent a cartoon mouse.  I represent Jesus Christ.  It was humbling.

How about you?  How is your Kids Ministry doing on serving the parents and kids you are entrusted with?  Do you give enough attention to detail?  Do the parents have to beg you for information or do you freely offer it?  Do the kids feel like you are there to SERVE them or do they feel you are there only to TEACH them?

Jesus said it best, “But among you, those who are the greatest should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.” (Luke 22:26)  Let’s commit to serving our parents and kids.  It’s not just “good business”, it’s our assignment from Christ.

“I Blew It!” Officially Released!

I’m very excited to announce that my book, “I Blew It!”, officially released this week!  This has been a labor of love that was nearly a year in the making (well, 20 years if you want to be technical LOL).  It chronicles my twenty years in Kids Ministry and all the biggest mistakes I have made – plus offers insight and principles to help YOU avoid those mistakes.

I was honored to have one of my heroes, Jim Wideman, write the Foreword for the book.  Jim is a legend in Kids Ministry and has served at some of the largest churches in America.  I appreciate his friendship and willingness to contribute to this project.

This book is filled with hilarious stories of incredible blunders I have made.  You will laugh until it hurts at how stupid I was in my early years of ministry (and probably will identify with many of the mistakes as well).  My prayer is that you will also be challenged to look at failure in a whole new way.  “Failure is never final.”

I was blessed to have some of the top leaders in Kids Ministry read a pre-release copy of the book and write endorsements.  These leaders include Kenny Conley, Sam Luce, Gina McClain, Ryan Frank, Michael Chanley, Karl Bastian, and many more.  I am humbled that these men and women of God with a passion for kids would lend their names and credibility to this project!

Many have asked, “What are the topics you cover in I Blew It!?”  So, I thought I would share those with you – CLICK HERE!

Thanks, everyone, for celebrating this milestone with me!  I pray that this book will be a blessing to you and your ministry – helping you avoid some of the biggest pitfalls of Kids Ministry!

Making The Most Of Your Mistakes

WEEKLY KIDMIN QUESTION:

“How do you respond when you really blow it?”

I am excited to announce that my brand new book, “I Blew It!” will be released next week (you can pre-order it now by clicking here)!  In this book, I document the BIGGEST mistakes I have made in Kids Ministry and how YOU can avoid them.  Since I started talking about writing the book, many have asked me, “How did you keep from giving up when you made such huge mistakes?” or “How were you able to use your biggest mistakes to move forward instead of backward?”

It’s not an easy process, nor is it one that I learned very easily.  But, over the years I developed a series of questions that I ask anytime I really blow it big-time.  These are questions that might help you through the process of learning from your mistakes:

1)  Why did it happen?  Was it a lack of planning, unrealistic expectations, poor communication, wrong motives, unforeseen obstacles, or some other reason?

2)  Was it avoidable? Many of our goofs can be avoided with better planning, communication, and execution, but some can’t.

3)  If it could have been avoided, what specifically could I have done to prevent it?

4)  What do I need to know, be, or do to avoid repeating the mistake? 

Sometimes this is a process you can do all on your own.  Other times, you may need to bring a trusted outside voice into the situation to help you evaluate and answer these questions.  The number one rule in this process:  DON’T BE DEFENSIVE!  You can’t come to the table with a defensive posture.  If you spend your time defending your motives, your intentions, and your methods – then you defeat the purpose of evaluating.

Instead, be open.  Every mistake is an opportunity to grow.  Learn from them.  That way you don’t ever have to repeat them.  We are going to make mistakes.  Let’s just be determined to make NEW ones – not repeat the old ones.  Learn from your mistakes – and keep growing!!!

How about you?  What do you do in order to help you make sure to learn from your mistakes?  Comment and let us know!