3 Things I Tell EVERY Volunteer

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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!

The Most Rewarding Ministry Program I Have Ever Started

CIA 2001

I was looking through some old photos this weekend and came across the picture above.  It’s a shot from thirteen years ago that features our 2001 C.I.A. team.  C.I.A. stands for “Christians In Action.”  C.I.A. is our Summer Discipleship/Leadership Program for 4th & 5th graders.  As I looked at it, I realized that two of the eight members of that team are on our Pastoral Staff here at First NLR.

C.I.A. has been one of the most effective programs I have ever started in my 23 years of Kids Ministry!  We just celebrated our 15th graduating class.  The graduates of CIA go on to be some of the TOP leaders in the Youth Ministry. In fact, we have THREE pastors on our staff currently who are graduates of our CIA program.  We also just launched a full-time Missionary to East Africa who was a graduate of our very FIRST C.I.A. class at my current church.

“So, what does the C.I.A. program consist of?”  It’s a hand-chosen team of 4th & 5th graders who have shown an aptitude for leadership.  There is a stringent application process.  They meet every Thursday for 6 weeks during the Summer.   They commit to spending time with God in prayer and Bible study EVERY DAY for the six weeks.  They fast something each week (candy, desserts, cokes, video games, secular music, etc.)  On the Thursday meeting days, they pray for one hour, study/memorize God’s Word for one hour (tested on 2 memorized scriptures per week), learn a leadership lesson from one of our pastoral staff, and then spend the afternoon doing “ministry projects.”  These projects vary from working with the homeless, stuffing the church bulletins, cleaning the church vehicles, visiting and praying with shut-ins and Nursing Homes, etc.

It is a powerful ministry experience and leadership training! It has been THE most strategic and beneficial ministry I have ever started in Children’s Ministry.

What about you?  Do you have a Discipleship Ministry like C.I.A.?  Are you raising up the next generation of leaders?  Share some of your ideas in the comments section!

Do You Struggle Getting Volunteers For Your Ministry?

volunteer-breakthrough
Do you struggle getting volunteers for your ministry?  If you do, you are NOT alone!  Survey after survey tells us that recruiting and keeping volunteers is one of the biggest struggles for EVERY Kids Ministry Leader.  Well, I have an incredible opportunity for you that will help change that statistic.

My friend, Ryan Frank, was a Children’s Pastor for 15 years and is currently the CEO/Publisher at KidzMatter.  He has created a FREE 4-part video series on how to recruit and keep amazing volunteers.  The video series is called “Volunteer Breakthrough.”  In this video series, Ryan unpacks 10 Laws he has discovered that help create dynamic volunteer teams!  You’re going to love it.

You can get this video series for FREE just by clicking the image at the top of this post.  You don’t want to hesitate!  Why am I so passionate about this?  It’s because I have known Ryan for over ten years.  He and I have done trainings together, traveled together, ministered together, and he is one of my best friends in ministry.  I have seen the fruit of what God is doing through Ryan’s life – and it is changing the world!

You are VERY lucky to be able to get some of this RICH content for free.  I am thankful that Ryan has offered this to my blog readers.  Take advantage of it, because I don’t know how long it will last!

Ryan Frank, CEO/Publisher at Kidzmatter

 

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

3 Tips To Help You Be The WORST Leader You Can Be


There are so many posts and books about “How To Be A Better Leader.”  I’ve written a few and have read even more.  So, I thought I would take a different route and give you a couple of tips on how to be a bad leader – in fact, the WORST leader you can be!

1)  Be Unpredictable

If you want to be a bad leader, make it hard for your team to know what you want, what you think, or what mood you will be in.  Volunteers hate it when they have to guess what you feel is the right way to handle things.  Unpredictability is one of the worst characteristics of a bad leader.

2)  Give Most Of Your Attention To The “Squeaky Wheels”

Bad leaders fail to honor, praise, or sometimes even recognize those on their team who are faithful, hard-working team players.  Bad leaders tend to only respond to those who are whiny and critical.  So, if you want to be a bad leader, definitely make plans to ignore your “A-Team” and spend all your time trying to please the critics and whiners.

3)  Play It Safe – Always!

If you want to be the worst leader you can be, then you need to NEVER take risks.  Don’t place someone in an area of ministry until they have proved themselves to “be a star.”  Don’t give younger volunteers opportunities to step up the plate – because, what if they fail?  And, definitely DON’T raise the bar for those who are serving.  Make entry easy and serving even easier.  Asking too much of a volunteer might make them want to quit.  After all, “nobody wants to be challenged!”

So, there you have it: “Three Tips To Help you Be The WORST Leader You Can Be!”  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Helping Parents Talk To Their Kids About SEX

For too long, the church has been silent on the issue of SEX.  Children (and adults alike) hear little to nothing on the subject of healthy sexuality from the church.  Part of the reason it is not spoken about from the pulpit is that it makes us uncomfortable.  It makes us uncomfortable because it rarely brought up in the pulpit.  It’s a self-perpetuating cycle, so we consider it off limits.

Many parents are so paranoid about their kids becoming sexually active, they foolishly think that by not approaching the subject of sex for as long as possible, they will somehow keep them from learning about it and falling into sin.  Because it so off limits for their behavior, they’ve made it off limits for their conversation with their kids.

I started the series “How To Talk To Your Kids About ____________” several weeks ago.  I have been speaking to the parents of our church about how to have the tough, meaningful conversations with their kids.  I have included the outline for the talk, “How To Talk To Your Kids About SEX” below.

You can listen to the audio of the entire talk HERE:

“How To Talk To Your Kids About Sex”

1)      Sex was created by GodGenesis 8:17

2)      Few parents ever give their kids a healthy sex education.

When Talking To Your Kids About Sex:

1)      Begin early.

2)      Use proper terms, not nick names.

3)      Be measured in the amount of information you give.

4)      Talk about God as the Creator.   Psalm 139:13

5)      Schedule the talk.

6)      Create a comfortable and safe environment to talk.

7)      Relax.

8)      Keep God as the focus.  1 Corinthians 6:16

9)      Be open to using outside resources or illustrations.

10)   Clearly express that God has reserved sexual intercourse for marriage alone.  Hebrews 13:4

11)   Explain that sex is a component of a healthy marriage relationship, not a stand-alone event.

12)   Allow your child to ask questions.

13)   Encourage your child to keep sexual conversations between you and them.

14)   Invite your children into an ongoing conversation.

15)   Remember the goal:  a lifetime of sexual purity.

Related posts:

“How To Talk To Your Kids About GOD”   

“How To Talk To Your Kids About DEATH & TRAGEDY”