Do You Suffer From #Kidmin Tunnel Vision?

tunnel vision

I will never forget the Staff Meeting where I confronted my Pastor about why I wasn’t made aware of the big Missions opportunity that the rest of the staff seemed to already know about.  I let him know how upset I was that “those of us who are in Children’s Ministry and aren’t able to be in the Sanctuary on Sundays shouldn’t be kept in the dark.

My pastor kindly asked me, “Brian, did you not read the bulletin the last few weeks?”  I had not.  “Did you read the letter I sent home to every household in our church?”  I did not.  “Have you paid attention in Staff Meeting the last few weeks as we have been talking about it?”  I had not.  I had made the mistake of deciding, “If it isn’t directly related to Kids Ministry, I don’t really need to pay attention to it.”

I made a classic blunder:  Having Tunnel Vision and Missing The BIG Picture.

Turns out it wasn’t my pastors fault I didn’t know about the opportunity.  It was my own.

Every children’s ministry pastor and volunteer has to overcome the obstacle of being isolated to some degree from the mainstream of church life.  We’re passionate about kids and excited about our roles, but it’s easy for us to develop a “silo mentality.”  A silo occurs when each part of an organization becomes self-contained, independent from the others, and fails to coordinate vision, philosophy, and practices.  It can happen in divisions of companies, and it can happen in churches—especially in kids’ ministries.

The leadership term “tunnel vision” is borrowed from the physical condition, which occurs when an individual loses peripheral vision (the ability to see objects on the top, bottom, and sides).  The result is a very constricted field of vision. In organizations, a manager with tunnel vision is zoned-in on his single priority, and he doesn’t see much else.  Being focused is good and helpful, but not in the extreme.

In kids’ ministries, we need to recognize the symptoms of tunnel vision.  If we don’t, we may suffer severe consequences.  Here are some dangers for kids’ pastors and other leaders:

Dangers Of  Tunnel Vision:

  1. We develop a territorial spirit.
  2. We develop a “poor me” mentality
  3. We infect the rest of our Kidmin team.
  4. We fail to support (and may even compete with) the pastor’s vision.
  5. We fail to communicate key information to parents and team members.

Tunnel vision isn’t just an inconvenience.  It’s an acid that eats away at everything good, right, noble, and pure in a leader’s heart, a team’s life, and a ministry’s impact.   Want to beat it?  Want to avoid Kidmin Tunnel Vision?  It’s not enough to sit back and expect your pastor or other staff members to make sure you’re vitally connected with the entire scope of the church’s life.  That’s your responsibility.

Here are some steps you can take to Avoid #Kidmin Tunnel Vision:

1)  Read every available piece of information. – Make it a weekly practice to read the bulletin, newsletters, articles on the website, and anything else that tells what the church is doing.

2)  Ask questions. – If you’re unsure about an upcoming event, a strategy, or any other plan, take the initiative to get an answer to your questions.

3)  Watch or listen to the Sunday morning service. – Most churches record the pastor’s sermon each week. If you can’t attend the service (and most of the time you can’t), make it a priority to listen to the message sometime during the week.  It will keep you connected to the pastor and to the heartbeat of the church.

4)  Pay attention in staff meetings. – Shut down Twitter, Facebook, and your web browser.  You are getting the info you need if you will just LISTEN and document it.

5)  Regularly pray for your pastor and other department leaders. – This choice has made a huge difference in my perspective, my attitude, and my relationships with each person on the team.  They’ve told me the greatest challenges they face in their ministries, and I found out their joys and struggles in their families.  My commitment to pray for them has kept me connected and prevented me from becoming focused only on Kids Ministry.

So, don’t hesitate.  Choose NOW to start these five habits.  They will keep you from falling into the trap of #Kidmin Tunnel Vision, and you will stay vitally connected to your pastor and entire team.

For more on this subject, read my book, “I Blew It!”

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.

 

 

Are You Stealing From Others For The Sake Of The Ministry?

A-bank-robber-in-traditio-004
It was a hot Summer afternoon in Dallas, Texas in 1993.  I had a flat tire – and no spare.  I locked my car, left it on the side of busy I-35E in the middle of rush hour traffic, and started running to the closest service station about 1 mile away.  I got there, bought a cheap spare tire, and rolled it back down the hill to my car.  I had only been gone approximately 20 minutes.

When I arrived, I found my back window broken with glass all in my back seat.  I looked inside to find that my brand new in-dash CD Player was GONE!  Twenty minutes – in broad daylight, on a busy highway, in plain sight – someone had stolen the most important thing in my car.  I was angry, to say the least.

Have you ever felt that way?  Ever had something stolen from you?  It hurts.  You feel violated.  You feel cheated.  It makes your heart sink.  You would never do anything like that to someone else…or would you?

Every week, almost daily, well-meaning Kidmin Leaders are stealing from others – all in the name of ministry.  They are stealing something that can not be replaced.  It’s not money.  It’s not possessions.  It IS opportunity.  The opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others and use their talents to build the Kingdom of God.

“Wait a second, Brian!  Those are harsh words!  How am I STEALING from others?”  Well, you steal from others when you insist on being “THE MAN” or “THE WOMAN” doing all the up-front ministry in Kids Ministry.  Too many Kidmin Leaders are on stage or up in front of the classroom nearly 100% of the service/class time while many capable volunteers are sitting in the room (sometimes in the back of the room) never being allowed to participate in leading.

Men and women who have been gifted and called by God to join us in working with kids are all around us. When we demand to do it all ourselves, we deprive them of the joy of fulfilling their God-given potential.

I understand – you love what you do!  You feel called to preach to kids, to enlighten them on the things of God.  You love teaching, speaking, singing, doing characters/puppets – so you do all of that…yourself.  There are a lot of reasons why you do this.  None of them are because you want to STEAL the opportunity from others.

  • You think you’re to busy to train others to do the work
  • You’re convinced nobody can do it as well as you can
  • You think, “It’s faster if I just do it myself.”

I believe there are people in every church who are waiting for us to ask them to join us.  If we wait until they beg us to allow them to be up front, we may be waiting a long time.  People want to be personally invited to invest their time and talents.  Don’t assume people are reluctant.  Most people are eager to help, but they want you to ask them.  They want to use their gifts and talents, and they want to feel needed.  They’re just waiting on you to ask them, so man up and ask them!  Get your ego out of the way and share the spotlight!

Let’s be painfully honest: One of the main reasons kids’ ministry leaders insist on doing it all themselves is that their egos won’t let them share the spotlight. They enjoy the thrill of being on stage. They get an adrenaline rush from being “the man” or “the woman” who’s indispensable.

This can’t be you, can it? Maybe not. I denied it, too, until about 9 years ago.  Before I made some drastic changes, it was absolutely true for me.

Take an honest inventory of your heart and motives. Ask hard questions, and let God’s Spirit reveal your hidden desires. Is your ego keeping you from building a team?  Whatever the reason – repent and change.  Stop stealing the opportunity to make a difference from those God has called to work alongside you.  You are called to LEAD!  Start leading your team into new heights!  Bow out of the spotlight and let others SHINE!

How about you?  Do you have a tendency to be up-front the entire time while others sit in the back…waiting?  Have you been “stealing” from others without realizing it?  What is ONE thing you can do THIS WEEK to begin to change?  Share your thoughts in the comments section of this post.  Let’s help each other take a step up in this area!  Let’s help each other STOP STEALING!

3 Keys To Adding MORE Volunteers To Your Ministry Team

Recruiting Volunteers

It’s a question I get on a regular basis:  “How do you get folks in the church to volunteer when they think it is the Children’s Pastor’s job to do the ministry?”

This is one of the most difficult tasks of a Kidmin Leader – Recruiting Volunteers.  I can tell you, there is no magic formula.  The only way to recruit successfully is by CONTINUOUS hard work and adherence to a few key principles.  However, there are three important keys that I live by.   Hopefully they will help you to build a strong team of leaders to serve the children of your church.

Keys To Adding MORE Volunteers To Your Ministry Team:

1)  Don’t recruit from a NEED, rather recruit from an OPPORTUNITY.

There is nothing worse than a Children’s Ministry Director standing up in front of the congregation and saying, “We are so overwhelmed.  We MUST have help!  PLEASE HELP US!“  That tells the person listening:  “There must be a reason no one is working with them.”

NEVER use the phrase, “No one wants to help! OR I can’t get anyone to help me!”  That’s like my son starting off a question, “I know you are going to say NO, but…”

Rather than moan about how much we need help, choose to celebrate the growth and excitement of your Kids Ministry.  Don’t talk about what you DON’T have, talk about what you DO have – opportunities for the member of your church to make an eternal impact on a soul for whom Christ died.

2)  Recruit from the VISION of your ministry.

Start by raising the value of children’s ministry inside your church.   Share stories in church services about life change in children or have volunteers share stories about how their lives have been changed.  Serving in children’s ministry is an opportunity to honor God—not a duty or a task (Col. 3:23).

You are recruiting by giving people an opportunity to be a part of what God is doing in the lives of the children of your church.  Explain to them, “God is going to accomplish His plan in the lives of  the children in our church.  The question is not ‘WILL God do it?’ The question is ‘WILL YOU be a part of it?’”

3)  Recruit One-On-One and Face-to-Face.

Rather than putting a blurb in the bulletin, a video announcement, or a pulpit spot from your Senior Pastor, recruit by approaching people one-on-one and having a meaningful conversation with them.

Pray ahead of time who God is preparing to serve (Luke 10:22).  Once He leads you to someone, approach them.  Don’t just walk up in the hallway at church – that doesn’t communicate value to someone.  Instead, invite them to lunch, call them on the phone, or go out to eat with them after church.

Explain to them that as a result of what God is doing in your Children’s Ministry, an opportunity has arisen.  You have been praying about who the person should be to serve in this area.  You felt led to talk to them because you feel that they have the right gift mix to be able to make a Kingdom difference in the lives of these kids.

I know that adding volunteers to your team is a lot of work!  But, I can honestly tell you that EVERY BIT of that work is WORTH IT!!  Get out there and build your team so you can win the lost!!!

What about you?  What are some of your biggest key principles that you follow when it comes to recruiting?  Share with us in the comments section!

What Do You Consider A “WIN” For Your Volunteers?

This past week, I was asked by a fellow Kids Pastor – “What do you consider a WIN for your volunteers?” I shared with him my thoughts and thought I would share them with you as well.

Kid-Connection – When a volunteer gets to the point where their main focus when they are in Kids Church (or other area of Kidmin) is to connect with the kids that are present, rather than the other adults that are present, then we have a WIN!  We push our team to engage every child they can, learn their name, and find out what their spiritual needs are.  When a volunteer does this on a regular basis, then I know we have moved them to the next level.

Faithfulness – When a volunteer exhibits consistent faithfulness in attendance, is on time (early), and gives their all to their ministry assignment, – that is a huge win!

Growing Skill Level – When a volunteer is consistent to our volunteer training events and is growing in their ministry skill – WIN!

Prayer Focus – When a volunteer prays regularly for the kids they influence and their fellow team members – BIG win!

Team-Builder – When a volunteer consistently tells others about what God is doing in Kidmin and is a monster-recruiter for the ministry, that is a HUGE win!

These are ALL areas we consistently work on and are seeking to move each volunteer forward in each area.

What about you?  What are some WINS that you are consistently shooting for with your volunteer team?  Leave a comment below…

Kids Ministry F.A.T. C.A.T.S.

 

The last few posts have been about the importance of building a team, but once you have made the choice to do ministry as a team, then you need to make sure you choose the right kind of people to be your Kidmin team members.  It’s not about just “getting a warm body to sit in this classroom with these kids.”  You want your team to be remarkable.  You want a bunch of F.A.T. C.A.T.S.!

F – Faithful

When you assemble your ministry team, look for those who are faithful.  Faithful people show up when they say they will, they serve with excellence, and they are reliable in every situation.  Remind your team that all of us want to one day enter heaven and hear these words: 

‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.’”  – Matthew 25:19

A – Available

As I mentioned, you don’t just want to find any warm body to serve in Children’s Ministry.  Being available is not about “not having anything else to do.”  “Available” is an attitude that says, “I am willing to serve in whatever capacity will advance the Kingdom of God.”  When assembling your team, recruit people who are available to serve wherever needed because they have a passion to reach kids, not people with the “I don’t do windows” mentality.

T – Teachable

I’ve been in Children’s Ministry for over twenty years, and I STILL have so much to learn.  A teachable spirit is something a person must possess if they are going to be effective in ministry.  The more you learn, the more you find out just how much there is you still don’t know.  A ministry team will only grow to the point that its leader is willing to grow.  No matter how much we may know, there is so much more to learn if we want our ministry to flourish.

C – Committed

In society today, commitment is a value that seems to be waning in importance.  Whether it is commitment to a career, a marriage, or church, finding an everyday American that is wholeheartedly committed to something is difficult.   Being committed means a person will “stick with it” no matter how difficult the conditions become.

A – Accountable

Accountability is something we often want from others, but rarely want to give to others.  In a ministry team, accountability is a key factor for things to run smoothly.  When you are building your ministry team, don’t look for those who refuse to submit themselves to authority.  Look for those who are willing to be accountable to you as their leader.

T – Transparent

Too often we try to hide our real self and put on a front for others.  We don’t want to admit our faults, our weaknesses, or our failures.  On a ministry team, this works against the goal of “working together.”  When you can’t share your feelings, fears, or failures with someone, there’s no real trust there.  Without trust, every team will falter.  Oftentimes, we project a false version of ourselves for others to see.  Rather than be genuine and authentic we are pretentious and fake.  Rather than be transparent, we find ourselves putting up walls between ourselves and our fellow team members.

Transparency is a quality that each member of your ministry team should possess.  Really, transparency is about integrity and is powerful in bonding relationships on a team.  It builds trust and breaks down walls.  Ephesians 4:15 says,  “Let our lives lovingly express the truth in all things–speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly.”   That’s being transparent.

S – Serving

Dwight L. Moody once said, “The measure of a man is not how many servants he has, but how many men he serves.”  One of the greatest traits of anyone in ministry is having a heart for serving others.  What is ministry all about?  It’s about serving others.  As we ministry to children, there are many times when we are going to be required to do things that are out of our comfort zone (crazy characters, pies-in-the-face, and lock-ins just to name a few).  We must seek to display a heart of service that says, “Whatever I have to do to reach these kids, I will do it!”

Jesus said, “Anyone who wants to be the first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else (Mark 9:35).”

There are so many children to reach and so little time to reach them.  We need to partner with those who are faithful, available, teachable, committed, accountable, transparent, and serving in order to accomplish this Great Commission.  It’s time to get some F.A.T. C.A.T.S. on your Kid’s Ministry team!

Five Reasons To Have A “TEAM” Approach To Ministry

changes in philosophy

I have made a decision that I never want to do ministry alone.  Whenever possible, I try to make sure that I have someone with me.  If make a home visit, I bring someone along.  When I am speaking at a conference, I bring someone with me.  When I am visiting a child in the hospital, I bring someone along.  Every chance I get I want to add to the ministry team God has called me to lead.

Reasons to have a team approach:

1)   Avoid Burnout

If you insist on being “the man” or “the woman” in your Kids Ministry, you will eventually come to the point where that is no longer effective.  You will wear out physically, mentally, or spiritually if you insist on being THE one doing the work of the ministry.

2)   Make Room For Growth

There is a limit to how many kids you alone can effectively reach.  If you don’t train and release others to do the work of the ministry, you have basically decided, “We are going to reach (insert number) of kids and that’s it!”  When you get to Heaven, you don’t want to have to say to God, “Well, I wanted to reach more kids, but I was a glory-hog who didn’t allow others to shine in their ministry gifts.  So, we had to settle for less.”

3)   Allow Others To Use Their God-Given Gifts And Talents To Build The Kingdom

When you insist on doing it yourself because “it will get done faster and will be done the way I want it to be done”, then you are depriving others from fulfilling their God-given potential.  Ephesians 4:11,12 teaches that God chose some to be pastors, teachers, apostles, evangelists, and prophets “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up”.  As a pastor/teacher, your job is to “prepare God’s people for works of service.”  Are you doing that?

4)   Prepare The Kids Ministry For The Future

As much as it may come as a shock to you, you most likely will not serve your current Kids Ministry and church forever.  God may call you elsewhere or circumstances may arise that cause you to have to leave.  It’s not something you can always plan for.  How sad would it be if you were to leave not having ever trained or prepared anyone to sustain the ministry in your absence.  What will your legacy be?

5)   To Follow Jesus’ Example

When Jesus began his earthly ministry, He didn’t venture out on his own.  He assembled a team of twelve men to be involved in ministry with Him.  When Jesus said, “Go into all the world…” during the great commission, He wasn’t just speaking to 500 random individuals.  He was speaking to a ministry team.  If Jesus needed a team, who are we to think we should do any different.

The opportunity to minister to children is one of the highest honors and pleasures one can experience.  It’s also one of the most challenging.  So, why would anyone want to take the “solo route” and try to be a Lone Ranger in Children’s Ministry?  It’s ludicrous.  Besides that – even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.  🙂

Lessons I Learned From My Marathon (pt. 1)

Marathon 2013

On November 2, 2013, I completed my first marathon – at the ripe old age of 40.  I definitely would not encourage anyone to wait until they are 40 to run their first, but I wouldn’t take anything away from my experience.  It was an experience that changed my life – both the race and the training I went through to get there.  I learned a lot of lessons through this marathon.

Over the next several blog posts, I would like to share with you some of those lessons.  I don’t expect most of you to ever actually run a marathon (although many of you probably have).  The lessons I learned are less about running – and more about life and leadership.  I hope to be able to share them with you in a way that helps you and inspires you.

LESSON #1 – Everything Is Better In Teams (never run alone)

When I decided that this marathon was something I really wanted to pursue, I was 39 years old.  I had always wanted to “run a marathon before I am 40.”  The problem was – I had never run more than a mile in my life.  In fact, I had never really exercised or worked out with any consistency in my entire life.  I was going to attempt something that was CRAZY!  To go from ZERO to 26.2 miles in less than 6 months.

I decided I wasn’t going to tell anyone that I was training.  I didn’t mention it to a soul (other than my wife).  There were several reasons why I made this decision, but the biggest reason was…

I have a few people in my life (I am sure you have them, too) who I knew would immediately begin to make fun and patronize me as soon as they found out.  They don’t mean to hurt, but they just have a natural tendency to pounce and say things like, “YOU?  A RUNNER? HA!”  They then proceed to remind you of all the things you have ever said or done that are the opposite of the big decision you have just made.  Not very motivating, is it?

I decided I didn’t want to give those folks any opportunity, so I kept my training to myself.  It was boring.  No one to celebrate with.  No one to collaborate with.  Boring and difficult.

After I ran my first 5K I decided I would “come out of the closet” as a “runner in training.”  Guess what?  The “naysayers” didn’t disappoint.  They had plenty to say, but I ignored them.  Instead, I connected with those who had climbed this mountain before.  I got in a group of guys who were excited about running and started training with them.  All the way through the difficult training process, we ran together, texted each other, encouraged each other, and several of us even ran in the same race together (see their pic below).

Marathon-Crew-small

I realize what a stupid mistake I made in the beginning.  I tried to handle this huge challenge on my own.  I didn’t want to hear from those who might make fun of my wanting to attempt something so huge, so I let that keep me from reaching out to those who WANTED to celebrate with me and help me.  There was nothing that could have compared to the feeling I had when I crossed the finish line with my family and friends cheering me on.

Often we make the same mistake in ministry.  We try to “go it alone.”  Sometimes it is to prove we can do it on our own.  Other times we try to do ministry alone because we don’t want to share the spotlight.  Whatever the reason we make the mistake – it is still a mistake.  God created us for relationship.  He created us to “run the race” together.  If you find yourself “running” in isolation, it’s time to tear down the pride, buck up, and connect with others.

There are many that God has called and equipped to be on your ministry team.  They are waiting for you to connect with them, invite them to come alongside you, and run the race with you.  So, what are you waiting for?  Don’t run alone.  Everything is better in teams!

Related posts:

Lessons From My Marathon Pt. 2

Lessons From My Marathon Pt. 3

Lessons From My Marathon Pt. 4

Lesson From My Marathon Pt. 5

MOMENTUM KILLERS

We all love those moments in ministry when everything seems to be clicking.  The team is rocking, the place is growing, the numbers are climbing, and the morale is as high as its every been.  It’s what many leaders call “The Big MO” – a.k.a. MOMENTUM!

Momentum in ministry should NEVER be taken for granted.  You never know how long it will last.  You want to make the most of it and capitalize on it.  If you aren’t careful, you might lose it.  Here’s a quick hit list of some of the biggest MOMENTUM KILLERS.

1)  PRIDE – There is nothing worse than you starting to believe that the reason for the momentum is YOU.  Although it’s true great momentum can happen when a team is being led by a strong leader, there is not a single leader alive who can bring about momentum for an organization ALONE!  Give God the praise!  Give your team the credit!

2)  CONFLICT AMONG TEAM MEMBERS – With momentum comes growth.  When an organization grows, it’s systems can become stressed and strained as they are pushed to new limits.  This tension can sometimes lead to conflict.  Remember to keep the finger on the pulse of your leaders.  When you sense tension or conflict, remember to resolve it biblically (Matthew 18:15-17).  Do not allow feelings to fester.

3)  LAZINESS – Things come easier when you have momentum.  It’s easy to lay back and let the momentum do the work.  We all have a tendency when things are going great to spend a little less time in planning, vision casting, and organization.  Don’t let it happen!  It will bust your momentum!

4)  SIN IN THE CAMP – Momentum brings growth.  Growth brings more work.  Things get busy and it is easy for our personal prayer and spiritual time to fall to the wayside.  When you allow that to happen, you open the door for temptation.  Nothing will kill momentum like sin in the lives of the leadership team.  Don’t wait until you notice the problem – prevent it.  Make prayer and The Word a #1 non-negotiable priority in your life.

Momentum is a wonderful thing.  It is a precious gift from God.  Don’t squander it.  Be aware of these momentum killers – and guard it safely!

What about you?  Are you aware of other MOMENTUM KILLERS that I didn’t list?  Please share those in the comments section so that the other readers can benefit!

Does a Kidmin Volunteer have to be a Christian?

KIDMIN QUESTION:

“In a small church, it can be difficult to get enough volunteers since you are just starting out.  What do you think about people who aren’t
Christians volunteering with kids?” –
submitted by Dan in Santa Monica, California

I understand that many of you will have differing opinions than I have on this subject.  I want you to know that it is OK – and I welcome the discussion.  Please leave comments below.  Let’s share our approach and reasons for it.

My personal opinion and conviction on this matter is that all volunteers in Kids Ministry should go through a screening process.  Part of that process should be affirming the fact that they are committed believers and daily followers of Christ.  I think it should definitely be a requirement.  Here are my reasons:

1)  Kids Ministry is not child-care – it is discipleship.

Kids Ministry is exactly that – Kids MINISTRY.  It is working hard to share the Gospel with the children through our actions, words, love, and concern.  We are to teach the children to be life-long followers of Christ.  It is very difficult to teach what you have not yet become – a follower of Jesus.  As John Maxwell always says, “We teach what we know, but we reproduce what we are.”

2)  We must protect the kids.

I think you have to have the HIGHEST level of safety and security.  By ensuring that every person that works in your Kids Ministry is saved, has been trained, and has gone through a background check process – then you can assure parents that you have done EVERYTHING you can to ensure their child’s safety.

3)  We must protect the volunteer.

Allowing someone who is not a Christian to become an influence in the lives of children is setting them up for failure.  Asking someone who is not a Christian to “act like a Christian” only when they are around the children is not only asking them to “be a hypocrite”, but it is setting them up for failure.  There are tremendous repercussions when that happens, not only for the child, but also for the volunteer.  Remember, Jesus said, “It would be better for someone to tie a mill stone around their neck and be thrown into the sea than for them to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”

4)  We must have a higher standard in Kidmin.

I personally think that Kids Ministry should have the HIGHEST standard of any ministry in the church, not the lowest.  I understand that in a small congregation it can be hard to get volunteers.  That means we have to work doubletime to communicate the vision and goals of the Kids Ministry.  INSPIRE others to be involved, don’t GUILT them into it.  I think the higher the bar is raised, the higher level of volunteer you will end up with.  If we won’t require someone to be a believer in order to work with our most prized possessions (our kids), then what WILL we require salvation in order to do?

5)  It’s not discrimination.  It’s wisdom.

Those who do not yet know Christ are one of THE REASONS we exist as a church.  We love them and are motivated to pray for them, love them, help them, and demonstrate Christ’s love to them.  However, we can not have those who do not yet agree wholeheartedly with what we are teaching be involved as a leader in the lives of the kids we are responsible for.  Too many opportunities for confusion to be sown in the minds of the children.

6)  It’s not about being “perfect.”

Many who have a differing opinion on this subject may say, “Well, no one is perfect.  Even the Christian volunteers you have are bound to eventually slip up and make a mistake, have a wrong attitude, say a cuss word, etc.”  This is true.  No one is perfect.  It’s not about whether or not they will make a mistake or not.  The bottom line is – we have to take every precaution we can to ensure that those we place in leadership over our children are going to represent Christ to the kids.  They are the “only Jesus” many of our kids will ever see.

7)  There are many other opportunities to serve.

I never turn someone away outright.  I explain to them the reasons behind my decision not to use them in Kids Ministry, then redirect them to an area in the church where they are not working with minors.  I might even put them on one of the Kidmin teams that does not interface directly with kids (setup, cleanup, etc.)  I do see the importantance for them to work alongside those are committed believers so as to be able to see the love and service of Christ weekly.

I also commit to pray for their salvation and step up my efforts to communicate Christ’s love to them through my life.

Again, I welcome your comments and other points of view?  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Let’s discuss…