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Start to finish. Implementation ideas to unpack.

start to finish

Strong Start

The first step in having an effective start for any volunteer is making sure that the ministry they are starting to serve in has a clear and precise course of action to carry out the goals to achieve their wins. This includes orientations, learning the environment they’ll serve in, the role they’ll play, and being partnered with someone who can coach them early on.

Welcome “Bob”, our new background checked and approved volunteer. We get the go ahead from his criminal background check that nothing is in his closet to be concerned about (and if there is, we just set up another appointment to discuss that to see if we should go further or help them find another one of our great ministries offered within the church) so we set up our first meeting with him. During this meeting, the explanation of why God has our ministry right where He has us is unfolded. It explains clearly the reason someone would be led to come to our ministry and not maybe some of the other great ministries surrounding the area. It shows our uniqueness. Our specific DNA for accomplishing the Great Commission and Great Commandment.

Ministry descriptions and flow chart are shown. Tying in where they will be serving in the larger picture is extremely important. The understanding of what is expected from them and what they can expect from you or the ministry should be clear. Questions asked and answered are important in this first stage. People with limited time to offer for volunteering want to contribute to things larger than themselves. They want to make a difference. Show them how they are, then release them into the care of someone who will nurture that desire.

During this first step of unpacking a great ministry start for any volunteer, help them explore the environment they serve in. This “connection partner” will be extremely important in this phase. This is the foundation of your volunteer force. It is this foundation that others will be recruited, and trained from. Not to mention discipled in.

Now that will be a great stage one start. If you are not there yet then start with this end picture and work your way back. Ask yourself what steps are missing and what would it take to accomplish them. Then go nd do it! Have fun with step one. Watch for further steps to come in the days ahead.

The next post on this topic can be found here: Part 2.

New Family Ministry App A Must See.

take two app screen shot

This may be one of my shortest post only because I can let this great app do all the talking for itself.

It has arrived!!

Take TWO Family Ministry, a ministry that is part of First Church of the Open Bible here in Des Moines, Iowa has had our app go live as of 3/25/15. It has everything from videos, stories, jokes and riddles for kids. For the adults, it has devotions, parenting blogs and more.

A few items that bring me special joy to have as a part of the app is:
1. Invite a friend. If someone clicks on this it generates an email that has a great message and all you need to do is add the email of who you are sending it to and hit send.

2. It has a salvation tract that all anyone needs to do is read it as they show whoever they are witnessing to. Takes the fear out of sharing your faith for some.

3. Puts you contact with all of our social media areas.

So much more. make sure you go now and download it. you get all of this and the more for FREE!

3 Things having kids have taught me

child_learn

Having kids has truly been a joy and one of the best adventures I get to take part in. Saying all that I want to list 3 things that having kids has taught me.

Let’s begin:

1.Thinking time is the most precious resource

I have a new-found appreciation for the times when I have time and can collect my thoughts. I never knew how much I took this for granted until every minute of every waking hour (and a few half asleep ones too) was suddenly invaded. Now if all truth is told my wife is the one who may have suffered more with this because she is a stay at home mom, but boy she did great with it.

We simply cannot do good thinking when we’re being distracted all the time. Try writing a grocery list or type up a word document while a small child asks repeatedly “Can I get a drink yet?” and you might find yourself signing off “in that document with:
…”Until we meet again, Yes you can get a drink, I will get you some juice”

Equally, making space for thinking time in my work helps me to do my best work, handle curve balls and even have fun doing it.

Measure your work by impact, not hours

A parent I was counseling once in task management asked me, “how can I compete in business with other people who have more time?”

The answer is, in the same way that niche brands can take on the big boys. By being distinctive, selective and ruthless. Play on your strengths and leverage what you do well. Be incredibly focused on what has the most impact and creates the most value. Truly find what your Pareto principles lies. Don’t be all things to all people.

If I measure the work I do by the hours I put in, it may not look like much. But if I look at what I actually get done in that time, and crucially, the impact of my actions and not the amount of activity, I recognize my successes much more accurately.

My mind gets calibrated to what works well, and not what keeps me busy, and I measure my productivity by what creates value, and not what fills time.

2. Saying “No” gets easier with practice and a little creativity

Saying no is like exercising a muscle. The more you do it, the easier it gets. When you find yourself saying “no, you can’t have chocolate for breakfast” and “no it’s not time to open the Christmas gifts yet” all before 7am, you get a lot of regular practice at saying no.

You also find creative ways to say no.

If you tell a child not to run, the negative is harder to process, so “Don’t run!” becomes “Run!” Instead, when you say “Walk please!” their focus is pointed towards walking and not running.

Telling someone what they can do or have, can be much more compelling than telling them what they can’t.

In other words, say yes on your own terms:

“Yes, you can have chocolate after your dinner.”

“Yes, I’d love to help. I’ve got half an hour at 2pm. Shall we grab a coffee and talk then?”

“I can give you the quick and dirty version today or the polished product wrapped up by Friday next week. Which would you prefer?”

3. Margin is your best friend

Margin is the space between our load and our limits. It gives us flexibility to deal with work that overspills, technical glitches and emergency firefighting.

Margin is like air. You don’t miss it until it’s not there. When there’s less time available, it’s tempting to try to cram as much in as possible. But then it doesn’t take much — a phone call, a spilt drink on the floor or couch, a missing shoe right before you leave the house, — for everything to spiral out of control.

And it’s not just a survival tactic. It also gives us space to explore opportunities we could never have planned for, to be captivated by a perfect sunset or a child’s first step. Margin makes life richer.

There are the 3 lessons having kids have taught me. These 3 are great lessons to help in life as well. Have you had any specific lessons learned from any season of your life?

How to have a “Sent-sational” Kidmin Team

Scent-sational

Guest post by Dawn Farris who is the Director of Children’s Ministries at New Testament Christian Church, Keokuk, IA. You can find out more about her at her blog www.whosthefarris.com or follow her on twitter @whosthefarris

I put a new “Scentsy” wax cube in the warmer in my office today. I hadn’t used one for quite a while, but the cold weather and gray skies made me want to warm up my space and my attitude. A sweet mix of peppermint and a little left over something or other was noticed by everyone who came by.

“Hmmmm. Something smells nice.”

“Oh, wow! Your office smells great.”

“What smells so good?”

The aroma in my office was sending some good vibrations throughout the church for sure, for sure.

Then a little later in the day I was Skyping with my friends Todd and Andy. We were chatting about blogging and we got on the topic of the attitudes and how we need to always be careful that we are conveying an attitude encouragement, humility and equipping rather than complaining, criticism or negativity.

As I got ready to head home for the day, I went to turn my warmer off and realized that our attitudes, and the attitudes of our teams, need to be a bit like that Scentsy.

A great attitude is like a pleasant aroma. It can literally change the atmosphere in a room–or a ministry.
How does that happen? A “scent-sational” kidmin team comes from individual “scent-sational” attitudes and efforts–from each member choosing daily to have attitudes like. . .

joy
faithfulness
encouragement
initiative
servanthood
grace
kindness
forgiveness
laughter
fun
patience

. . . regardless of our circumstances.

When we live out these types of attitudes, individually and collectively, people will take notice, they will be drawn to us and we will be a “pleasing aroma” not only to others, but to the Lord. We will not only be a “scent-sational” team member, but a “scent-sational” team.

So let’s get praying, let’s get choosing and let’s get using God’s power to permeate the space around us with the attitudes of Jesus as we serve together to be not just “scent-sational,” but sensational kidmin teams as we share Jesus with the children around us.

Three ways going pro helps kids grow spiritually

Guest post: Dawn Farris is the Director of Children’s Ministries at New Testament Christian Church, Keokuk, IA. You can find out more about her at her blog www.whosthefarris.com or follow her on twitter @whosthefarris

helping kids go pro

To really grow, we have to let God work inside of us. I mean, we can try to do it on our own, and we can try with all our might, but in reality, it must be God who moves and works in us to bring about change.

To help kids to learn to rely on Jesus to help them grow spiritually rather than striving to “be good” on their own, teach them to go “pro” by using these three simple concepts based on the acronym PRO.

1) Pray—Begin by asking God to seek your heart and show you where He wants to work. As He reveals any areas that may need to change, confess them to Him and . . .

2) Repent—More than just changing our actions, repentance involves a change of mind trusting God’s way over ours. True repentance is the action that shows a change of our hearts and minds from our way to God’s way which means we will. . .

3) Obey—We want our kids to learn that to grow we have to obey God’s will and follow His Spirit and His ways. Spiritual growth will come when as our hearts learn that obedience is a gift of love and should be the first choice of those who belong to Jesus.

We all know that few of our students will go pro in their favorite sport, but by using a phrase they already relate to, we can help them learn through prayer, repentance and obedience how to go pro in their spiritual growth with the Lord.

Why you should answer the call to volunteer in children’s ministry

Volunteer Jump

Here is another guest post by a friend of mine who pastors here in Iowa, her name is Dawn Ferris. Enjoy the challenge by this post.

My heart is so burdened. I often write for those in children’s ministry—volunteers or other children’s pastors. But today, I’m writing to those who need to hear call of God to help out in their church’s children’s ministry programs.

There appears to be a serious shortage of people who are willing to make a commitment to helping children know Jesus. Across the country, in large and small churches, east coast, west coast and mid west, churches and children’s ministers are struggling to find people to serve in their ministries.

It’s a spiritual battle, and it is taking place within the walls of our churches and within the hearts of God’s people.

Children’s ministers are no longer called to minister to children, but to empower volunteers to serve. It has even been suggested that 85% of a children’s pastor’s time should be delegated to recruiting, equipping, encouraging and appreciating volunteers.

Yet churches and parents often still expect that same children’s pastor to invest another 85% of their time teaching, encouraging, planning events and equipping children.

Since 85% + 85% = 170% of their time, well, “Houston, we have a problem.”

Jesus knew it, and so He told us, “Ask the Lord of the Harvest to bring workers into the field. For the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few.”

Truer words have rarely been spoken. Children are so receptive to the love of God. Children are hungry for people to invest in them. Children want to be led. But the window of time is short, because children aren’t children forever.

And like the leaves change and fall with the seasons, a children’s open to the things of God has a very short window.

Don’t wait to be asked. Your children’s pastor or ministry leader may be swamped under the demands of a 170% work schedule. People often have a zillion reasons why they can’t serve in children’s ministry, but here are five I’ve come up with as to why you should consider answering the call of God and making the call to your children’s ministry leader.

5 Reasons to Answer the Call to Serve in Children’s Ministry

1—You have a chance to be a part of leading children to Jesus. Without Jesus, people are going to hell. With Jesus, people can be saved from hell. Care enough to help save a child.

2—You have a chance to be a part of leading children to Jesus. Repeatedly in God’s Word people found their way to Him because someone else led them there, and sometimes they did it when they were tired, beaten, shipwrecked or endangered. In the U.S., out of all those, we can probably only claim tired. Come and lead a child to Jesus.

3—You have a chance to be a part of leading children to Jesus. God promises us that He will equip us and strengthen us for His mission. Trust God to empower you to help lead a child to Jesus. He’s very reliable, and trusting Him can change your perspective and your life.

4—You have a chance to be a part of leading children to Jesus. To paraphrase Mordecai when he talked to Esther, if you don’t do it, someone else will, but you may be in your church to help for such a time as this. Children’s Ministry may be a little dangerous sometimes, but so is the alternative.

5—You have a chance to be a part of leading children to Jesus. We are in danger of raising another generation of children who don’t know Jesus. If you are reading this today, God is calling you to do something about it. Think about it. If you knew God was calling, wouldn’t you want to answer the phone?

Ok so those five reasons were really just one reason. But, what more reason do we need to serve than the privilege to partner with God to lead a child to Jesus and to see them saved from hell?

Answer the call. Make the call. See what God will do. Then write and let me know!! There’s nothing I love better than a great story of God at work in people’s lives.

Coming soon: What you can do to help when you are just not a “kid person”—not everyone is.

Funny words and why we should use them

3 kids laughing 09-08-14

This is a guest post by Andy Partington who is the Minister to Preschoolers and Children at First Baptist Minden, Louisiana. You can find out more about him at www.andypartingtonblog.com

I have this tendency to think faster than I talk. I don’t stutter, but what usually ends up happening is my words tend to come out funny. The first letter of the second word likes to swap places with the first letter of the first and I end up creating an entirely new vocabulary.

As a child, this occurrence bothered me.
Kids laughed.
As an adult and performer I tend to use it to my advantage.
After all, kids laugh.

Saying it Silly
Now in the grand scheme of things there is a hierarchy of words in the dictionary based on silliness. It may not always be easily seen to the beginner, but years and years of copying Merriam Webster’s big book through disciplinary action has taught me that this is so. Over the years playwrights, clowns, and vaudevillians have always held to the rule that the hard “k” sound is particularly funny. I haven’t the slightest reason to give, but through practice I’ve always tried to include it in my routines. For instance, if I’m picking a random city or locale, I’ll go with “Kalamazoo” or “Kisatchie” as opposed to “Baltimore” or “Springfield.”

Children also respond to their own unique fun words that seem to be universal. “Spaghetti” is a word that usually draws laughs. It’s also one of the favorite foods that kids yell out most often when asked. Perhaps there is humor in familiarity paired with the natural mouth feel and silliness of the word. This is great fun to explore and play around with. During your next message or performance, take a little time to throw in a few new words or try out some of the examples above. Then see if you can find a reason for all the chuckles. If you can’t find the cause, who cares?
Kids are laughing.

Funny Names
Another way to make kids laugh is to use funny names. Go for something meaningless and stupid. It’s always best to stay away from hurtful or descriptive names, because we’re in the business of making laughs, not psychological scars.

At a recent church, I was blessed with two girls named Joyce. I could have easily gone with “Joyce 1” and “Joyce 2”, and that would have resulted in a few smiles. But inspiration hit and I realized that I had one Joyce and a copy… another Joyce…a resulting Joyce…a re-Joyce…Rejoice!

Also, you might have noticed that parents have become increasingly clone worthy in their naming and that you might have a room full of Austin’s, or Hunter’s, or Reginald’s. The common classroom quick fix is to add the last initial to the name..Ex. Austin A and Austin F.
But we want kids to laugh.

How about something completely different?
How about some nonsense?
Austin A and Austin “Potato Salad”.
Okay, first off…it’s dumb, but kids laugh.
The second thing is that I didn’t point out which one was given the silly name. So, it works out that neither of them has to wear a label that they didn’t necessarily want and they both get to claim it if that’s the attention that they want. (9 out of 10 times they both want to be “potato salad.”)

Mostly Magic Words
I have a lot of props in my act and tend to name them completely off the wall names that, through repetition, help the youngsters to easily identify what I’m doing based on what prop I’m holding and referring to.
A few examples are: My screen remote is called a “flurb.” My puppet trunk is called the “box-o-stuff,” and I often refer to any kind of magic wand or pointer as a “spatula.”

All of which garner laughs with very little mention. Returning kids will even mention these items when I fail to on a regular basis.

This helps us in two ways.

One, they laugh.

And two, they repeat.

Parents are constantly stopping me and asking if I’m the guy who taught their kid this. When parents notice, word of mouth grows.

But most importantly, kids laugh.

Something’s Fishy – Focused Prayer for Kids and Leaders

disciples praying

Guest Post by Dawn Farris who is the Director of Children’s Ministries at New Testament Christian Church, Keokuk, IA. You can find out more about her at her blog www.whosthefarris.com or follow her on twitter @whosthefarris

“And pray for my cat and my dog and my goldfish and bless all the world. . . Amen”

While children’s prayers can be heartfelt and sincere, part of our call in their discipleship process is to help children grow deeper in the discipline of prayer.

Because prayer is more than just talking to God, it is both an offensive and defensive weapon in the spiritual battles we face every day, this week in our children’s ministry, we used what we called “fish prayers” to help HiSKidZ grow in their prayer and spiritual lives and walks with God.

Our younger children made fish refrigerator magnets and our olders made bookmarks to help remind them to pray the fish way. (Yes, along the way we practiced our fish faces, fish sounds and fish tales!)

Here is what we shared this week with our kids; and our leaders and parents loved it, too, since this isn’t just a great way for kids to pray, it’s a great way to pray for kids.

F=Faith
Pray for faith. The disciples prayed for Jesus to increase their faith and we can learn from their example. We talked with HiSKidZ about how the world can chisel away at their faith, so we need to pray that God increases our faith and the faith of our friends.

I=Integrity
First we had to explain integrity. Our simple definition “doing the right things for the right reasons” helped kids to understand that they could pray to be honest, sincere, helpful, kind, forgiving, generous and more. Since we have used virtue based curriculum in the past they understood praying that the words adhered to our walls would be adhered to our hearts.

S=Salvation
As we talked we found that most of our kids were not praying for people to get saved. It didn’t take long to realize that prayers for people to “be saved” were most definitely in God’s will and we became excited to see what God will be doing as we begin to pray for our family, friends and classmates to know Jesus as their Savior.

H=Holiness
HiSKidZ define holiness as “being set apart for God.” Again when asked, most realized they had never considered praying for their life to be set apart for God. Our older kids even concluded that one of the reasons many kids grow up and don’t follow God could be that there weren’t enough prayers being prayed for them to be set apart for their whole life.

Just as a fish can swim deep down into the water, HiSKidZ and their leaders went home this week with a new tool and plan to help them go deeper in their relationship with their Savior and Friend, Jesus.

Jump start your children’s ministry with job descriptions

charging cables

Andy Partington is one of my Grad students of Kidology Coaching and the Minister to Preschoolers and Children at First Baptist Minden, Louisiana. You can find out more about him at www.andypartingtonblog.com

All good things begin with a plan. Filling a spot in children’s ministry is no exception. Here are some tips to help you create a super job description for your ministry that will help you define, explain, and ultimately sell this job to the right person.

Here’s the Hook

Every story I’ve ever loved hooked me from the beginning line. In your job description start out with a brief introduction that really speaks to what the job is about. The truly passionate volunteer will read this brief, paragraph long opening and want to read more.

Let’s say you need a Game leader for Kid’s Church. Your introductory paragraph should definitely mention phrases like “opportunities to play with kids”, “stir excitement and light-hearted competition”, or “helping kinetic learners to grasp the lesson with both hands.” (It’s an active job. Use lots of action words!)

A good hook will help you to reel them in with the rest of the facts. The introduction is also the place to lay out the ground work for all the detail stuff to follow.

Benefits

“You mean, I get something for volunteering?”

Before you tell them all the stuff that they have to do, let them know what they get from serving. If they’re going to be privy to firsthand knowledge, if they’re going to be part of a dynamic team, if they’re going to get to lead the parade of ministry success, these things need to be listed here in order for them to see that being a part of this ministry means something, and has some pretty neat perks too.

Responsibilities

Alright, you just laid out all the great swag that they’ll get from serving. Now, it’s time to tell them what they’ll actually be doing. A well-defined list of responsibilities not only keeps a volunteer on task, it lets them know right up front what’s expected of them. Also, laying out these responsibilities from the top will keep you from having to redefine and re-present them again and again.

Time Commitment

People are busy. Giving your volunteers a heads up on how much time they’ll be spending in a given field will help prevent burn out and let those special Children’s ministry champions plan ahead on giving the right amount of time to be successful.

Length of Commitment

Sometimes volunteers need a season of down time. It helps to give a set time that they’ll be serving. This can vary by position. A Sunday School teacher could work anywhere from a quarter to a full year. A nursery volunteer could roll off each month. Don’t hesitate to put this in writing. If the volunteer is passionate about the ministry, they can always sign-up for a longer commitment.

Training and Equipping

It’s very important to let your volunteers know that they’ll get the training and resources that they need to do the job well. This part of the job description is the perfect place to let them know how you’ll have their back. It also gives them an idea of how much time they’ll be spending in meetings, conferences, and training seminars.

Qualifications

What are some of the commitments that you’re asking your volunteers to present?
In your job description, let your volunteers know what skills they need to have to successfully complete the task.

Special Qualifications

This is a great place to list those special passions that you’re looking for in your next children’s ministry teammate. This is that final spot to really lay out the type of person that will be used in your particular ministry or program.

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