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!

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!

Should Kids Ministry Leaders Drink Alcohol?

drinkingThe other day I answered a question that was posed in a Children’s Ministry forum that I belong to.  “How do you all handle seeing Facebook posts of your adult volunteers drinking or bar hopping?”  There was definitely a diversity of opinion among the members of the group.  So, I thought that this would make a good blog post and a healthy conversation.

Before I get into it, let me make something perfectly clear:  This is my opinion.  I am not declaring doctrine, nor am I telling you what your standards should be.  I am simply sharing my personal thoughts on the subject.

On my Kids Ministry Team, we have a policy for our Children’s Ministry volunteers that states, “I will strive to live a holy life and avoid habits that diminish my personal testimony or hinder my ability to lead.  I understand that my position on the leadership pyramid leaves me with less options than others.”  This includes drinking alcohol in public (bars, restaurants) or posting pictures of themselves partaking in alcohol.

My leaders also know that it is my desire and preference that they not drink alcohol AT ALL.  I understand that this may seem drastic to some of you.  Certainly, there is a point-of-view that says, “Drinking alcohol, as long as you don’t get drunk, is not a sin.”  This is a belief many people hold based on the fact that Jesus apparently drank wine at different times in the New Testament account.  Also, Ephesians 5:18 seems not to prohibit drinking alcohol, but does condemn becoming drunk:  “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit…”  I definitely won’t argue or discuss that viewpoint.  I am not addressing the subject of “Should CHRISTIANS drink alcohol?”  That is a broad subject for another blog, another time (most likely another author, because I don’t plan to address that issue).

There are many things that, while they are not necessarily sin or sinful – as a leader of other Christ followers – I do not do.  The reason is not simply because it is sin, but because there are many who would be confused or troubled by me doing it.

“It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble.  You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God.” – Romans 14:21-22  

Since my goal is not to “be free to do things,” but rather to lead others in their walk with Christ, there are things I have decided just are not worth it because of the difficulty they would cause others I am trying to lead.

Alcohol is a killer – in many ways.  Teen alcohol use, alcoholism, drunk-driving, etc.  I really just don’t want to be connected with something that has VERY few positives about it and PLENTY of negatives.

Being leaders and teachers of children – we have to have a MUCH higher standard for our habits and behavior.  Children are impressionable in ways that adults may not be.  Jesus cautioned us in Matthew 18:6“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”  This means that we must go above and beyond in not allowing anything in our lives to have the potential to cause children to choose a path that is destructive to them.

It is one thing to make a choice to privately drink wine/beer with dinner or in the privacy of your own home (Ephesians 5:18).  But, once you choose to be a LEADER – especially to children – the standard is much higher.  As Dr. John Maxwell so eloquently puts it:

“The heart of leadership is putting others ahead of yourself.  It’s doing what is best for the team.  For that reason, leaders have to give up their rights.  The higher you go in leadership, the more its going to cost you.  You will have to give up to go up.”

Being involved in a ministry team is purely voluntary.  I believe that anyone who is involved in ministry should be willing to represent the church they serve. Depending on your context and the standards in your community, you should be willing to come in line with the standards that are set forth in those ministries.  

I understand there are many who will say, “You’re just being legalistic!  You are making up do’s and don’ts that aren’t in the Bible!  If Jesus didn’t want us to drink he would not have started his ministry by turning water into wine.”  Again, those arguments would be valid if we were talking about “Christians in general.”  But, we are talking about those who CHOOSE to be a part of a ministry team that focuses on leading children in their spiritual journey to become more like Jesus.  

I want my leaders to live lives that are above reproach and would never cause a parent or child to question their heart, motives, or lifestyle. I have that rule to protect the kids, but also to protect the volunteers from unnecessary criticism.  One day I will stand before God and answer for the way I led my team.  I would much rather receive a rebuke from God for “having too high of a standard that you kept some people from choosing to serve” rather than “you caused many of my little ones to stumble.”

So, I know I have opened up a HUGE debate here.  I would love to have some of your thoughts on this.  I invite opposing points of view.  The goal is to learn from each other.  Please leave a comment in the Comments section on this post.

 

 

The Forgotten Value Of Asking Questions


I have observed over the years many Kidmin Leaders make the mistake of “arriving” in ministry.  They achieve a certain level of “success” and decide they know it all (or at least all they care to know).

When this happens, they move into protectionism.  They are constantly trying to protect their reputation as a “knowledgeable and capable leader.”  I have watched as these leaders begin to sink because they are not willing to do something that could help them keep rising in leadership – ASK QUESTIONS.

Admitting you don’t know it all and asking others for their input is difficult for insecure leaders.  Sadly, you miss out on incredible opportunities to continue growing when you fail to ask questions.  Here are some of the questions I ask and the people I ask them to:

My Pastor/Boss
*  Is there anything I am not doing in ministry that you would like to see me begin doing?
*  Is there anything I AM doing in ministry that you would like to see me STOP doing?
*  Is there any area of growth in my life that you see needs to be addressed?
*  What can I do to serve you better?
*  What can I do to serve my team better?
*  What is the biggest challenge you face in leading me?
*  How can I pray for you and your family?

My Team
*  What is the biggest challenge you find in having me as a leader?
*  What is the biggest thing you appreciate about my leadership?
*  What is one thing I can do NOW to help you grow personally?
*  How can I pray for you and your family?

The Parents In My Ministry
*  What are the ways we can serve you better as a parent?
*  What is the thing we do BEST as a ministry?
*  What is the area we most need to IMPROVE?
*  How can I pray for you and your family?

Take some time in the coming weeks and meet with your pastor, team members, and a group of parents in your ministry.  Ask some of these questions (and avoid the tendency to have a rebuttal to their answers – after all, the goal is to GAIN KNOWLEDGE, not prove them wrong).  They will be impressed with your desire to grow.  And, you just might gain some information you were not aware of that may take your ministry effectiveness to the next level.

What are some questions you ask yourself, your pastor, your team, and your parents?  Share them in the comments section!

How Do You Handle Leaders Who Lack Energy?

Everything can be improved with increased energy.  Nobody wants to hear a song, listen to a lesson, or participate in a class where the leader looks bored, irritated, or wishes they were somewhere else.

If you are a full-time Kidmin Pastor/Leader you know that you have NO EXCUSE not to have energy on Sundays (or whenever ministry takes place for you).  However, some of our Kidmin Volunteers struggle with this.  They work 5 days a week, run like crazy for their families on Saturday, and on Sunday it is tough to have the energy they need to make a great experience for the kids.

If you ever need to encourage your team and help them understand the importance of having energy during ministry time, consider teaching them the following principles:

How To Increase Energy

1.  Realize what’s at stake

SOULS!  We want these kids to see us excited about God’s word, worship, and serving others.  The level of passion we have will determine the level of passion THEY have.

2.  Take responsibility for your own energy

Too many people wait to be pumped up by situations or persons.  Take responsibility for your own energy.  Don’t wait for the right speech from your leader or for someone to “push the right button” for you to get pumped up.

Ben Franklin said, “The quality of your life is your gift to yourself.”

If you wait for someone else to strike up your energy before you do anything, then life will pass you by.

3.  Act your way into feeling

Stephen Covey said, “Right decisions will eventually bring about right emotions.”

Don’t wait until you feel right to do right.  Do right and you will feel right.  “Fake it ‘till you make it!”

Socrates said, “Assume a virtue if you have it not!”  Fake joy is better than genuine depression any day!  A passionate person with limited talent will outperform a passive person who possesses greater talent.

4.  GET ON YOUR KNEES.

The absolute best way to be infused with energy is to spend time on your knees in prayer.  Don’t rely on your own energy, ask God for HIS energy.

“To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” – Colossians 1:29

When you are accomplishing GOD’S PURPOSE with GOD’S POWER, then you possess true renewable energy.

Happy Birthday!

Today, BRIAN’S BLOG turns 1 year old!  It was on August 1, 2011 that I posted my first “real” post.  Since then, I have watched God do many great things through this.  I have heard from many of the readers of the blog how a post has inspired, challenged, or changed you in some way.  I am very grateful for this opportunity.

My goal has always been to encourage and equip other Kidmin Leaders to increase their capacity to lead their teams, parents, and kids.  I appreciate all of you who are a part of this journey!

Wanna help?  Here are a couple of things you can do to help get the word out…

1)  Leave Comments.  – It doesn’t take long, and they don’t have to be wordy.  When you leave a comment you encourage others, show that you are reading, and help me see which posts are most effective.

2)  Ask A Question.  – When I began this blog, it was my desire to address topics that YOU are interested in – not just share my own thoughts.  I depend on each of you to spark conversation by asking questions about leadership, organization, ministry philosophy, or opinions on hot topics.  You can ask your question by filling out the form on this page of the blog.  If your question is used, you are given a $25 coupon to High Voltage Kids Ministry Web Store.

3)  Share A Post. – When you read something that is helpful, share it.  Click on the Facebook or Twitter SHARE buttons at the bottom of the post and post it to your wall.  This allows us to reach a MUCH bigger audience.  You never know – your friends may subscribe.

4)  Talk about BRIAN’S BLOG (www.briandollar.com)  – On Social Media, in an email, at a networking lunch, or at a conference – talk about BRIAN’S BLOG (briandollar.com) and how it has helped you be a better Kidmin Leader.  Talk about what we’ve learned and discussed.  YOU are the best advertisement this blog could ever get!

To help give you an incentive, I am giving away a free copy of my book, “I Blew It!” to one lucky person who leaves a comment this week.  Winner will be chosen by random draw on August 5th.

Thanks, again, for a great year!  I am so glad that I started this process.  It has been so rewarding for me.  I hope it has and continues to be for you.  God bless!

Stop Being So Defensive!

Defensiveness is an issue that causes a lot of harm in mentoring relationships – or any relationship for that matter.  When we are challenged, confronted, or questioned as Kidmin leaders – sadly we often respond with a knee-jerk, reflex response that does more harm than good.

For years, my insecurity caused me to struggle with being defensive.  Under the hurt feelings and protests is a deep sense that I’m not adequate, personally or professionally—or both.  No one is above correction, and we can all learn to handle it with grace.  Sometimes, I do a pretty good job of controlling my outward appearance when someone criticizes me, but I’m dying inside.  When this happens with my pastor, his perception kicks in.  He tells me, “You’re doing a great job in controlling the tone of your voice and looking relaxed while you’re still being defensive.”

He nailed me.  When I bristle from correction, I need to look into my heart to see what I’m trusting in.  I can then choose to thank God for his love and grace, and I can accept the correction as a gift instead of a threat.

Here’s the principle: When your actions are corrected, it doesn’t mean your character is being questioned.  Chill out and learn from the challenge instead of defending yourself to the death!

“Kids In Worship” – Great Idea for Kidmin

This past Sunday we had our annual “Kids In Worship” experience.  I thought it would be good to share the concept behind this for all of you.  It is an amazing opportunity for the whole family.

“Kids In Worship” is an evening of worship, led by our Elementary Kids Department.  The children are in charge of the entire service in the Sanctuary.  It is an evening of worship, led by the kids.  The entire family comes together for a night of singing and worship.

We rehearse for months prior to this night.  Rehearsals are on Sunday afternoons from 4:30 – 5:30 prior to our Evening Worship Service.  The kids put together a set of familiar modern worship songs (to allow the adults to enter in) mixed with some new and original songs.  Several children memorize some of their favorite passages of scripture and share them with the congregation between songs.

There is always a time where a group of our oldest children step off the stage and allow the adults to come forward for prayer.  These kids pray earnestly for the needs of the adults.  We have had people healed and delivered on these nights.  It’s amazing!

It’s one of my pastor’s favorite services of the year.  There is something incredible about a group of kids who are passionate in worship of their God.  It is inspiring to all of us!  Why not try your own version of “Kids In Worship?”  If you have questions, ask them using the comment section.  I read each of them and will respond.

 

Six Questions To Ask Before Implementing A New Idea (pt 3)

And now, the exciting conclusion to the blog post series, “Six Questions To Ask Yourself Before Implementing A New Idea In Your Kids Ministry.”  Here’s what we covered in pt. 1 and pt. 2 of the series:

1)  “Have I Prayed About It?”

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

3)  “Does The Idea Resonate With The Hearts Of My Team?”

4)  “Do I Have The Support Of The Parents In My Ministry?”

QUESTION #5 – “Do I need God’s power to accomplish this idea?”

This is perhaps the most important question to ask yourself as you evaluate whether the idea is a “God idea” or just another good idea.  If you can accomplish the plan without God’s power and without God’s anointing, it’s probably not His idea.

God’s ideas always require God’s ability.  If you can do it on your own, go back to the Lord and ask Him for direction.  This doesn’t mean that every impossible, crazy idea is necessarily from God.  That’s the wrong conclusion!  We need to have a balance of wisdom and faith—it’s not one or the other; both are required for good leadership.

QUESTION #6 – “If this idea succeeds, who will get the glory?”

As I have planned many ideas in the past, I was thinking, Man, when this thing is a huge success, people are going to think I’m the smartest guy around. Other children’s pastors are going to ask me for my planning notebook so they can pull off their own event like this. This is going to rock!

My plan to take all the credit for success was a clear indication that it wasn’t a “God idea” at all.  When people have trusted God for an idea, a plan, and success, they realize God is the source of every good thing, and he deserves the credit.  Pursue God’s ideas, and be prepared to give Him the glory.  After all, He’s the originator, not you.  He’s the creator, not you.  He is the author and finisher, not you.  He deserves the glory, not you.

Share your thoughts in the comment section.  I will pick a winner from the comments at the end of the week – winner gets a $25 web coupon to High Voltage Kids Ministry Resources.

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)