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communication

60 seconds does not equal 6 months

young man to hold up clock with hand

This will be a short post but one that I am learning the value of more and more each time.

Time for a confession. Often times I will have thoughts, ideas and plans percolating for months and become so excited to share these new directions or developments with my teams. Then I arrange the meeting and bring out the news! I watch the faces of those I have sprung this great stuff onto, wait for it…wait for it….Nothing?

What is going on? Maybe I need to rephrase it, so reforming the delivery of the news and still nothing. I can feel myself getting a little upset. Why are they not as excited as myself? Do these people understand how great this is? How many problems we have just solved? Why the lack of excitement?

Here is the lesson I am being reminded of…60 seconds does not equal 6 months. I have had 6 months to chew on and think through, and develop this great plan, my team has had 60 seconds.

Take your team with you. If you end up with the 6 months then when you deliver the great news, allow their seconds to grow and don’t expect more than a 60 second response.

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.

The Three Rule Template

Three Rules Ruler Clip Art

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 andypartingtonblog.com

Rules are good. God gave them to us. Not to punish us but to give us a great life to be lived for Him.
So why do we have such a problem presenting them to our children?
Have you ever presented your rules only to find little Mitchell with his hand raised poised to ask “why”?
Did you have trouble answering him?

Here are three easy guide steps to give you a surefire one, two, three, punch rule system that is sure to catch on with your kids, be loved by your workers, and take away stress from your behavior management system.
Let’s take a look.

1. Honor God: This rule is all about our relationship with God. It gets us thinking about why God put us together in the first place and what behaviors would He like best in this situation. The ways we can honor God might be, not to talk unless spoken to, not to leave your seat, or just to simply listen.
2. Honor your neighbor: This rule focuses on how we relate to the people around us. I love rule number 2, and here’s why. Every group has a “bell cow”, the one that makes the most noise and leads the others to wherever the bell cow leads. Once the bell cow gets rule two, he can be a driving force for good.
3. Have an attitude of gratitude: The last rule checks our motivation and attitudes. Whatever may happen, kids need to know that we can have fun during almost anything. If they’ve heard the story before, if they don’t get picked for the game, etc.

These rules can have your personality. There can even be more than three. But these three templates can serve as a general guide for setting up your own kids ministry rules. Do you have any to add or ways to creatively embellish the three rule template?

Loose Lips Sinks Ships in the church as well

loose-lips-sink-ships

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.

A conference call in real life – Funny

Spend a lot of time in meetings will drive anyone a little stir crazy over time. Taking part in on-line conference calls is something that is becoming more popular with a lot of people, myself included.

Conference calls if done properly can be extremely beneficial. To name a few reasons they eliminate the travel, a lot of the trouble trying to match calendars with those who need to be part of the meeting (A growing number of those who can attend due to their expertise are coming from a wider geographic area because of the technology of conference calls), hotel cost, and simply the convenience of conference calling.

Conference calls also have their challenges due to the people using conference calls, the lack of familiarity and comfort of using technology, plus the limitations that come from the different quality of internet speeds that people subscribe to.

Here is a funny video show casing the challenges. Hope you enjoy as much as I did.

I still prefer to use conference calls and live online collaboration.

What do you think about this form of meeting?

Do you use it? If so what do you use and how helpful is it?

One method to create children’s ministry object lessons

playdough

I have recently had a lot of my volunteers coming to me asking how do I create object lessons for everything we talk about in our children’s ministry? So I thought if they have this question then many others may have it as well.

Here is one simple way I create object lessons.

Pray. Enough said on this point.

After Prayer I will start with the main point of the scripture. This may be one of those ways that my method is different from some that I talk with. Starting points with object lessons differ.

Example, some start with this order:
Idea: God is creative
Scripture: Genesis 1:1
Object Lesson: Use a tub of play-dough and mold it into something live on stage

Some may come up with the object that they feel is really cool then the idea and then scripture to support it.

Example:
Cool object: Glow in the dark tub of play-dough
Idea: God is creative
Scripture: Genesis 1:1

Whereas I come up with the scripture that I want to illustrate then go create the illustration.

Scripture: Genesis 1:1
Idea: God is creative
Object: Glow in the Dark Play-dough.

This difference in all 3 may sound small but to me it is all about what is trying to be shared? The scripture, Idea, or Object? For me it helps to keep my focus and priorities knowing it is the scripture I am trying to share but I am using an object to aid in it. I am not sharing an object and pulling some scripture together to help share the object.

Now about the object itself, if you use one that is familiar with your audience I find the less you need to spend time explaining what it does or what it is. But with every object, familiar or not to the kids, it is a good investment of time to explain the object and make reference to it. Your goal is to get the children thinking about the value and purpose of the object (play-dough is used to create what I want, if it is soft it is useable to me, it will become whatever I want it to become, it will only look as good as the skill of the one molding it, I can mold 100 things with it and each will look different) which will help them relate to the value and purpose of the concept you are going to link to the object.

This was not meant to be a complete list or way of how to create and use object lessons, I only wanted to get you started. I hope I was able to share why I start with the scripture and make any object I may use connect to that and not some scripture connect to an object. This is only one simple way of I am sure many ways.

Top 2012 Posts

Top4

I will jump in with everyone and do my end of the year most viewed post for 2012.

1. The need for communication in children’s ministry and part 2 Needed communication in children’s ministry .

Summary: With these 2 post I basically explain why, how and what I use to communicate with the different audiences that all of us children’s pastors must be ready to communicate with. Often times it is a lack of proper communication that causes a many derailment to children’s ministries.

2. A difference between the front and the back of the house

Summary: Due to my past training in management through the restaurant field, I have established for myself a clear direction in what I refer to as front of the house (example: check in counters, greeters) and back of the house (snack runners, sound etc.). In each area you there is a different feel and different public responsibilities.

3. Value or non-value added ministry efforts

Summary: This was a very painful 6 month self discovery where God challenged me to think through what things I do everyday, every week, and every month that are truly adding value to the ministry He has called me to here at my church.

4. Effective meetings can happen and Effective meetings can happen part 2

Summary: The title really covers it. I give tips to turn your meetings into EFFECTIVE meetings so that everyone will feel that their time, thoughts and contributions are appreciated. EFFECTIVE meetings should energize, give direction and inspire confidence about what your team can achieve.

I am going to stop with my top 4. Why 4? Because everyone else is doing top 5, top 10, top 12 because of 2012, top 13 because of 2013, top 20 etc. I will have mine to be just a top 4.

Hope you enjoy.

Delegation needs Communication

Communication-in-Leadership

I Have posted before on how Delegation is a must in children’s ministry.
Today I want to follow that up with the importance of communication before, during and after delegation.

Suggestion 1: Clarify your expectations. Write out what you want to do to see if it sounds logical and comprehensive. Be specific about the timeline and results needed (this should be part of the S.M.A.R.T. process I have mentioned many times).

2. Ensure you’re on the same page. Talk things over to be sure there’s a mutual understanding of important points. Rephrase what you understand to be what has been said and any assignments given out.

3. Share your knowledge. Help those you are working with succeed by being generous with any information or tips you can give them based on your experience. When they win the team wins. Long gone are the days of keeping information.

4. Remain available for questions that may develop. Many questions can arise once a person actually starts working on a delegated assignment. Check in often to offer feedback and advice, especially in the early stages. Anything short of this kind of continual check-in is not “delegation” but “dumping”.

5. Encourage accountability. Assign whole projects and related decision-making authority as much as possible. It helps to speed things up and people often feel more motivated when they have a sense of ownership.

How would following these suggestions help your children’s ministry out if followed?

The need for communication in children’s ministry

All of those who are in charge of running a children’s ministry for your church know how important it is to communicate with the various groups that you influence to run a successful children’s ministry. I want to briefly hit on some of these groups and let you know how I am currently communicating with them here at my church, Sheffield Family Life Center.

I will start today with:

Group 1: Parents

Parents are one of the primary groups with whom we need to communicate. If the parents don’t know what is going on then it is hard to have follow up, or have attendance at events, or create long term influence into the lives of the kids. Here are a few ways I communicate with the parents in my children’s ministry:

Bulletin. I had to address the use of the bulletin with my team as soon as I arrived at my church in 2011. I use the bulletin very lightly. Anytime we think of using the bulletin I want us to think, ‘is this something the whole church needs to know about or be informed of?’ If so we will put it in the bulletin, if not there are better ways to get information out. Some general info that I will use the bulletin to help me advertise about would be: fund raising, camp announcements (not only does this inform the future campers and their families, but this will sometimes bring in donations that will help kids go to camp), special events needing volunteers that happen outside of regular ministry time, and recognition of volunteers for the great job they are doing. I NEVER recruit in the bulletin. I think recruiting needs to be done after we pray and ask God who we should approach, then we approach those people individually.

Video announcements. This helps people to see me personally and to hear my heart clearly. Use this very sporadically as well. I will add these into the service announcement times and/or make them on one of my Mac’s and send them to parents individually. This is sometimes added to YouTube and I send the link out to parents so only they can see the video.

Newsletters. I use these as monthly updates covering kids church themes, upcoming events, and to provide resources to help parents out. Don’t try to fill it up with pages of content, as this is what leads people to newsletter burnout, for those reading them and those creating them. Instead I would focus more on your consistency. Once you have a good flow for when you send them out, you should never have to load them up with a ton of stuff. Instead they can be filled with little bits to help make them more enjoyable. Two resources I will mention, even though there are a ton out there, would be Parent Link and Mail Chimp

Flyers. I have never been a huge fan of fliers, even though they may be handy for community communication. But they should not be used for your in house communication to parents. I think when you use them with your church families they are a really great way to help line peoples bird cages or puppy potty training areas. Flyers just say, “I forgot to plan appropriately and so now I have to give you this”.

** Sidenote, for events instead of using a flyer, I will make tickets (even if the event is free) to give out to create excitement and advertise the event. It is also fun for the kids to grab some extra tickets to give out to their friends, and they can carry them better than a flyer.**

Facebook. Facebook. is a way that is becoming more popular all the time. Create a group or page depending on how you want to use it for your ministry.

Twitter. Twitter is a way that, if you have the parents that are on twitter, you can create an account for your children’s ministry and send out tweets for updates, shout outs, and (when you travel to events) you can keep families informed about how it is going. You can tweet photos and even points from your message that you want parents to know or talk about with their kids.

In closing, there are many different ways to successfully communicate with parents. I recommend choosing 2 or 3 ways at the most that will be used more naturally with your group of parents and just stick with those. That is unless you can build a team of people who will oversee all the different ways of communicating. Otherwise you can easily become overwhelmed just trying to keep parents updated and informed.

Common Mistakes When Communicating Expectations

There are several ways to share with your teams the expectations of “Why” something needs to be done, “What” it is exactly that needs to be done, and lastly “When” it needs to be done. Today I will cover common mistakes when communicating the Why, What, and When.

1. Failing to form an expectation clearly yourself before communicating it to others.

2. Barking out “marching orders” without making your directions clear enough that people fully understand and accept them.

3. Assuming people only need one explanation in order to understand what you expect them to deliver.

4. Excluding any explanation about why you want something done within a specific time frame.

5. Asking people to do something, but not clearly explaining when you need it done.

6. Failing to describe the resources available to do what you have asked them to do.

7. Issuing such specific instructions about what to do and how to do it, that people hesitate to “own it” themselves and think outside of the box to ensure the result.

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