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Kidology Coaching

Your children’s ministry can benefit from your use of Evernote

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Anyone who knows me in even the littlest ways knows that I love my Evernote. Evernote has truly become my brain in many ways.

My heart for equipping and inspiring world changers on their leadership journey, combined with my children’s ministry vision of Preparing parents and volunteers to influence first our community then surrounding communities and finally the world through Leading, Coaching, and Equipping kids to be World Changers creates in me a desire to convert everything I do and use into a tool to get these larger than life goals accomplished.

One tool that constantly fits this bill for me is Evernote. Here is one of the several ways to use Evernote to help build your leaders, your parents, and keep a constant supply of teaching material.

In Evernote, as you web clip articles, scan articles from magazines, send pictures and more to your Evernote account, I enjoy sending them into a few notebooks. Example would be: Classroom discipline. In this notebook I would have all the material from a variety of resources that cover discipline in a classroom. I could easily share this 1 notebook with my leaders so they could benefit from all of the resources I have on this one topic. As items would be added to this notebook, they would continue to see the most updated material on that topic. It would be like a constant stream of info on a very specific topic.

You increase the know how of your leaders, you will raise the bar of the childrens ministry you provide for your community.

How to choose what to delegate in your children’s ministry

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The critical issue of what to delegate is often times one of the hardest starting points for many children’s pastors that I get the opportunity to coach, mentor and just network with.

I will start with a thought that many do not take into consideration and then I will do my best to explain why when it comes to delegation it’s wise to start with this thought.

You should only delegate projects that have a benefit for both you and the person being delegated to. People resent dumping of low-level tasks that offer no learning opportunity. When volunteers feel this is happening they will begin to discharge themselves from your ministry. Do remember though, what may be a low-level task to one may not be that same thing to another. This is why its important to know your team.

How do you know what to delegate and to who?

List your projects or tasks. Never delegate part of a project or piece of work. This avoids the accusation of dumping the dull parts of a project while keeping the best bits for yourself.

Estimate time required. Calculate the number of hours you would expect each project or task to take. 

Estimate the cost. Work out the hourly cost of yourself and your team members. This cost is not always financial. Cost comes in many forms. Sometimes it can be the cost of what is it keeping the person from doing if they are working on a certain project. Is it within a certain skill set of the person being delegated to or is there going to be a learning curve and skill set curve.

Map into a table. It should now be possible to work out the cost of each project or task depending on who is delivering it. This should show you clearly the difference in cost if you complete a project or if a member of your team does. Three groups should emerge: high, medium and low cost. 

Estimate Return On Investment (ROI). Once you understand the cost groups, then you need to know the value of that project to your organization. For each project and task set a high, medium and low ROI. 

Select projects for delegation. You can now put together your cost group with your ROI group. Low cost and low ROI go together, medium cost and medium ROI go together and so on. 

This technique allows you to delegate the right projects to the right team member based on simple cost and ROI analysis. This is not a magical formula and should only serve as a broad process but at least in this way there is some logic to what you choose to delegate. Remember delegation is also about developing the team member so giving them a project which is in the group above (for example a high ROI project to a medium cost member of staff) is good practice.

With a good process in place it is easier to show your confidence in the great team that God is working with you in getting established. Now go and make your map, challenge your team, empower them to be all they can be, all the while your ministry is accomplishing what God wants it to accomplish.

Loose Lips Sinks Ships in the church as well

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Loose lips sink ships is an American English idiom meaning “beware of unguarded talk”.

According to Wikipedia The gist of this particular slogan was that one should avoid speaking of ship movements, as this talk (if directed at or overheard by covert enemy agents) might allow the enemy to intercept and destroy the ships.

Some examples of usage of the phrase outside the World War II propaganda context are:

– “Loose Lips Sink Ships” is the title an episode of the American television program Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, and a variation
– “Loose Lips Sink Relationships”, is the title of an episode of the American television program Will & Grace.
– “Loose Lips” is the title of a song written by Kimya Dawson heard in the soundtrack of the feature film, Juno.
– “Loose lips sink ships” is the lyric at the beginning of the song Let’s Get It Up by AC/DC.
– “Loose Tweets Sink Fleets” is a contemporary phrase that reflects current methods of communication and inadvertent information dissemination over social media.

Over the years of ministry I too have learned how important it is that our talk is guarded. I have seen and experienced too often when people start talking, and at times can seem very irrelevant or harmless (not always the intention of those who are talking though) the damage it can cause. It can create a perception to some of a reality that is wrong. It is this reason that years ago I adopted these 10 rule of communication from a wise pastor friend of mine.

10 Rules of Communication
1. If you have a problem with staff, leadership, or me please see those involved privately.
2. If I have a problem with you, I will come to you privately.
3. If someone has a problem with me and comes to you, send
them to me. I will do the same for you.
4. If someone will consistently not come to me, say, “Let’s go to
pastor Todd together. I am sure he will see us about this.”
5. If you say to the staff, the leadership, or me,
“People are talking,” we will ask who. I ask you to do the
same.
6. If it is confidential don’t tell others. our leadership will
not tell other people unless:
1. The person will harm themselves or others
2. A child has been physically or sexually abused
7. I will not read or be swayed to read any unsigned letters or notes. If you send a signed note or letter don’t be surprised if I ask you to come and talk about it.
8. I will not manipulate people. I do not want to be manipulated by others.
9. Always feel free to ask any question you may have.
10. Be careful of misinterpretations. They often cause unnecessary
divisions. If you or I sense this is happening I will call for a meeting with all concerned people.

What ideas do you use to try to combat those loose lips in your ministry?

Here are just a few places in the Bible that also try to warn of the damage that is ever-present with loose lips.

Psalm 41:6
Some people come to see me, but they lie. They just come to get bad news. Then they go and gossip.

Proverbs 11:13
Gossips can’t keep secrets, but a trustworthy person can.

Proverbs 16:28
A useless person causes trouble, and a gossip ruins friendships.

Proverbs 18:8
The words of a gossip are like tasty bits of food. People like to gobble them up.

Proverbs 20:19
Gossips can’t keep secrets, so avoid people who talk too much.

Proverbs 26:20
Without wood, a fire will go out, and without gossip, quarreling will stop.

Proverbs 26:22
The words of a gossip are like tasty bits of food; people like to gobble them up.

Better Children’s Ministries go beyond capture to execution

Yesterday I spent talking about how important it is to have a method of capturing everything from ideas, resources, talks, pictures and more. Today I want to continue this direction in once everything is captured how do you use it? To just have these resources will not benefit you unless you have a practical way of moving them into execution.

There are 2 tools that I use to help move things from the capture to execution. The first one I want to talk about briefly here is Trello. Trello for me is used with people, my team, volunteers, and leaders. I spend a little time every Monday going through Evernote and moving some items from there to Trello. These items are the agenda that I want to carry out with teams of people to an personal secretary, bottom line, want to carry out with others. This tool for me use to Omnifocus. The disadvantage of Omnifocus is it cost and for teams to work together everyone has to pay. Trello on the other hand is free. this is what has brought me back to Trello.

Trello allows me to take my behind the curtain catch-all (Evernote) and bring some of it public. Invite as many people as you want to a board. Board members can all add cards, make changes, upload attachments, and more. Changes made by others seem instantaneously on your screen. You never have to wait for a page to reload to see the latest. Email notifications and an activity log keep you informed of the latest changes. You can also subscribe to specific cards to get timely information on what you care about the most. Trello keeps a record of everything that’s happened on the card: comments, changes, additions. You’ll never wonder “How did that happen?” again.

Lastly about Trello, there is an app for your phone and for your computer. This way no matter if you are sitting at your laptop or even more mobile by your phone, Trello is ready to keep you productive.

Next we will spend some time discussing my last tool, Workflowy.

What methods do you have established to bring your great ideas and resources to execution?

Top 20 Improvements I’ve Made Due to Kidology Coaching

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Every weekend our churches are filled with those who have the responsibility of ministering to our children, connecting with and resourcing the parents, equipping those who are also responsible to help reach children and the list of responsibilities just goes on and on.

You may call these wonderful gifts to your churches: Children’s pastors, Children’s directors, Kidmin ministers etc.. With the responsibility that these people carry out many churches have figured out that it is wisdom to make sure they are equipped, developed, trained and ready, to carry out all that they are expected to do with excellence. These expectations and responsibilities have evolved beyond what our colleges are preparing leaders for.

It is this group of children’s pastors that I have had the privilege of being part of for 22+ years. For the last 3-4 years I have also had the privilege of formally coaching those in this group.

Here is a top 20 list that Andy Partington, one of these great children’s pastors have put together as he reflected over his last year of coaching with me before he went into our graduate coaching program.

1) I am seen as a pastor and parental help to the families in my
congregation more and a facilitator of children’s programming less.
2) I have put in place a volunteer training schedule that doesn’t burn
out volunteers while still maintaining growth.
3) I use my time intentionally.
4) I integrate Gospel presentations into each ministry setting.
5) My goals are clearly defined and communicated.
6) I know how to appreciate and affirm my team: My team clearly
knows that they are a special part of our ministry.
7) My meetings are awesome: Each meeting has a purpose and flow.
If it didn’t we wouldn’t have it.
8) I know what the acronym S.M.A.R.T stands for and I now live by it.
9) I know that I can manage tasks instead of time.
10) I know how to present good news and bad news to my fellow
staff members.
11) I now have a ministry team instead of a committee.
12) I now work with leaders instead of workers.
13) I know how to have fun with my staff and with the kids that I
minister too.
14) My “bag of tricks” is open to other people in ministry. What I’ve
learned just could help someone else and I’m glad to share.
15) I delegate. I wasn’t designed to do 100% of tasks. There is 20%
out there with my name on it.
16) My ministry is geared to do that one thing that we were meant to do.
17) I know how to help people find their “one thing”.
18) Multiplication isn’t just for grade school math classes. It’s a regular
process in my ministry.
19) I listen to parents.
20) I know how to learn from anyone I come into contact with.

If you would like to enjoy more growth personally and with your ministry I want to invite you to join coaching or a new avenue that many will find useful as well online training for your team. It’s not just your future that depends on it.

Stages to take your children’s ministry to failure

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The Economist recently summarized management guru Jim Collins’ new book, How the Mighty Fail. In his new book Mr Collins examines 11 of the 60 “great companies” studied in his two earlier books that have since deteriorated to “mediocrity or worse”. Mr Collins says that when he charted the factors that led these firms to greatness, he had never claimed that they were certain to stay great. By comparing each one, where possible, with similar firms that had fared better, Mr Collins identifies five stages in the process of decline.

Stage 1: Hubris born of success. Firms take on a sense of superiority and fail to question their relevance when conditions change.

Stage 2: Undisciplined pursuit of more. Firms overreach – they venture into areas where their original qualities of success do not apply.

Stage 3: Denial of risk and peril. Though signs of failure appear, previous success is enough to carry the firm. Leaders convince themselves that all is well. Problems are blamed on external factors.

Stage 4: Grasping for salvation. Problems can no longer be ignored. Instead of returning to the principles that got them to previous success, leaders take extreme risks and drastically change strategy. Mr Collins points out that many still-great firms have bounced back even after getting to stage four, including IBM, Nucor and Nordstrom.

Stage 5: Capitulation to irrelevance or death. The firm dies or is forgotten.

I believe that children’s leaders and pastors can glean some truth from these stages.

In children’s ministry how many times have we seen:

Stage 1 children’s ministries show up with the refusal to look at new approaches to delivering the gospel? I can’t tell you how many cp.’s move to a new church without ever looking at the culture of the new ministry. They show up with a prepackaged method/approach that they carry out right away due to the success they had with it at their current ministry.

Stage 2 children’s ministries that have a niche of discipleship and because bus ministry becomes popular they move a lot of focus and resources to trying to develop a bus ministry. All the while those resources and people who use to carry out the discipleship are now being moved into an area that they do not see the same return from for their ministry.

Stage 3 ministries begin to see cracks and hear some rumors of things not going as well as they use to. It is still easy to show successes and ignore the signs of trouble. Everyone wants to believe they are ok.

Stage 4 children’s ministries can no longer deny there are problems in the camp. They are ready to switch curriculum, children’s pastors, redesign the volunteer team, put a new facade on the ministry, copy other children’s ministries etc. All of this in hopes of getting back to the original success of ministry for them. Also this (and stage 3) is when Coaches like myself seem to be called in to fix things. If we would only be brought in at stage one.

Stage 5 death and the closing of the doors.

What stage are you at in your children’s ministry?

Have you ever thought of bringing in a coach like me or doing some online training with your teams like I offer, while your ministry is experiencing stage 1 results?

Wimps no need in applying for Children’s Ministry

Feeble and wimpy guy

I just finished our week of camp with our SFLCKids and while there I enjoyed a great conversation on how many people are no longer in children’s ministry positions. Everyone was talking about who graduated with them and headed into the children’s ministry field to only leave for one reason or another. Some of the reasons were very heart breaking due to they seemed to allow the children’s ministry to break them.

Why is it that children’s pastoring seems to have such a high rate of carnage? Here are just a few reasons, I am sure there are a ton more. Besides the senior pastor position, I believe leading in children’s ministry is the most difficult pastoral position to serve in. The list below is not true of every church (so please keep your hate mail), but more often than not, most of it is true in most churches.

Children’s ministry…

– Is perhaps the least understood or appreciated pastoral level position in the church, as reflected in the fact that it is typically the lowest paid “leadership” position on the staff.

– Can be staffed (because of the lack of understanding, appreciation, and compensation) often by under-trained leaders, resulting in high turnover, not to mention discouragement and frustration.

– Is probably one of the most expensive groups to run effectively (due to society has made things for kids more expensive all around) but usually operates on the least amount of money.

– Usually is the largest single group in the church being served with the greatest physical, social, emotional, and mental developmental span of any in the church (babies through preteen)

– Has the largest group of volunteers to lead and manage.

– Needs to be a master communicator with the kids, volunteer, parents and the grandparents. To keep kids engaged in your message while they live in a world that they have so much at their fingertips readily available to captivate their attentions. Communicate with volunteers who all give different amounts of time and make sure no one gets left out. With Parents and Grandparents who always want and need information well in advance and receive their information in several different ways.

– Needs the largest and most diverse teaching team – multiple teachers with multiple skills are necessary for various classes vs. the ability to get by with just one. Kids move from nursery to concrete thinkers than abstract through non reading and reading up through pre-teen ages. None of these are alike or can be treated as such.

– Requires the most specific and varied volunteer training (because of the developmental range and varied ministry requirements within that range). You must be a master in all or a great recruiter to see that all areas can be trained on.

– Security needs to be thought through at a whole new level

– The most spiritually impressionable group in the church, by far, with the opportunity to make the greatest overall impact in spiritual formation, but within the group that is least able to manage themselves.

The above is in no specific order. What would you add or disagree with?

If you want your team to fail, then practice these ideas.

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There is a ton written on leadership and what to do if you want to succeed. I thought seeing that there is so much coming from that end with nothing resulting from it, I would try the reverse psychology idea and write from the other direction in hopes of some better results.

If you want to see your team fail then keep setting those impossible goals.
“Big Hairy Audacious Goals” are amazing in terms of getting people to really go beyond where they thought they could, but set too aggressive a goal and a leader can make it impossible for the team to succeed.

Leaders have to show credibility by creating goals that are compelling but not impossible. A good metric is that everyone should feel the goal to be about 10 percent out of their reach. Much more, and the team shuts down at the beginning because the members think success can’t possibly happen. You as the leader may know better but if the team feels it isn’t possible you have now gotten to far ahead of them and the results are never good when this happens.

I have always heard it said that if you let your team know you are a few steps ahead, you are the leader. You let known that you become too many steps ahead you will become the martyr.

If you want your team to fail then keep measuring the wrong things.
Measurement ties back directly to the goals, as well. There’s a lot of human behavior that goes to work every week in ministries, but it goes to work attempting to do something. Make sure that they’re clear on what they’re supposed to do. You can’t blame the construction crew for building to the blueprints and not liking the house. Proper measurement helps decide whether the efforts or the underlying goals are off.

A related problem is the manager who embraces optimism and hates hearing bad news. Employees will tailor their reports to better fit the expectations and prejudices of the leader. That may be comforting in ways, but the practice will undermine all goals and performance.

There’s 2 things that I think you should keep doing if you want your teams to fail.

What would you add?

There is a balance in Leadership

gardening

Ever since I have moved to our new house in Kansas City, MO, I have truly been into my yard and gardening. While involved in these two relaxing activities for myself it has given me a lot of time to think and a ton of leadership comparisons to roll around in my brain. Here’s one.

Producing a healthy garden it takes the right amount of water, sunlight, fertilizer, and care. Too much water or too little of any one ingredient could result in damaging your gardening. Just like the best gardeners learn through experience and reflection what their gardens need to grow and develop, seasoned leaders learn what it takes to help people and organizations achieve their potential. I think they learn how much each of the items listed below need to be done.

— Plan and Execute.

Planning is important, but so is execution. Some leaders over plan and under execute. Of course some leaders do just the opposite. They’re busy having meetings, doing key-note presentations but making no improvements in the operation.

— Task and People

Some leaders are too task-focused. It feels everything is all business. People are used for getting a task done. On the other hand some leaders are too focused on pleasing people at the cost of solving problems and getting the work done.

— Results and Process

Some leaders only focus on results. “What’s the bottom line?” Results are important but so is process—how things are done. The how can often times decide how much results you can get at different sizes of growth. The seasoned leader focuses on both what is being accomplished and how it’s being accomplished.

— Coaching and Letting Go

An important part of a leader’s job is to coach people on how to be more effective and efficient. However, there is an important difference between too little and too much coaching. Too much can frustrate initiative. Seasoned leaders know the difference between providing too much (micro-managing) and too little (not developing your team) coaching.

— Work Life and Family Life

Some leaders get totally consumed by their job and neglect their family. To many jobs have been turned into mistresses.

Summary
Seasoned leaders know finding the right balance doesn’t mean moderation in all things. It means using the right mix of various ingredients to help people grow. Great leaders have the wisdom to know what actions are needed to meet success.

What would you add to this list?

You get from volunteers according to what you give them. How’s your getting?

Hands holding a gift box isolated on black background

In our pursuit of recruiting volunteers for our children’s ministries many explain that they are not getting the volunteers. I think we need to look inward before we begin to talk about how people just don’t volunteer in our ministries.

First I start with the view that volunteers want to be successful. They want to make a difference. They want to be part of a team because that is just how God made us all. I do think there are some steps we can take to help potential volunteers to be successful, able to make a difference as they serve on our teams.

What volunteers are able to give depends on what we give to them first.

Let’s start with those you already have as volunteer leaders. Have you established an environment that allows those currently volunteering in your ministry to be good walking billboards for you?

* Can they say you take care of them by having proper child to leader ratios?
* Would they say you give them the proper tools to get not just what you have asked them to get done but what about to get done what God has put on their hearts to do with the families?
* They feel immersed and knowledgable about the mission and vision because it is in writing, its taught to everyone and lived out for all levels of volunteer commitment within your children’s ministries?
* They have been mentored by a more experienced and seasoned volunteer. This helps with that all too often feel that some go through as they are thrown into a ministry and left alone.

Lastly but by no means finished, let’s look at a few things we should be giving to our new volunteers. Lets start after they sign up and have background checks done because at this time we all now we have to at least do this step.

* Do we have a process of getting to know them personally?
* Take them through some gift test to place them in the right spot?
* Can we hand them our ministry manual? This will help with a lot of uncertainty about how they order supplies, chain of command, discipline policy, and more.

I believe that if our giving is great then our getting will be good. How is your getting?

What else would you add for those already in the ministry?
What else would you add for those looking to come into the ministry?

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