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Kidolgy Coaching

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.

The only 4 puppets you will ever need in ministry

Puppet Kids

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

Puppets are expensive and can put a heavy burden on your already labored ministry budget. But fear not, there is a way to continue to build your puppet ministry with very limited funds. You only have to think in ensemble format.

The ensemble is one of the most effective tools used in modern narrative today. Watch any sitcom and you’ll see ensemble put to use. They even have their own category on all the major entertainment awards.
How does this impact you and the dusty half used puppets in your resource closet?

In the ensemble format you’ll notice some recurring characters. There are four types that have existed from the first dramatic writings all the way to today. Dramatic theorists call them the four humours: Phlegmatic, Melancholic, Choleric, and Sanguine. Using these four types and your best puppeteers, you can put on almost any presentation needed in your ministry.

Here’s a breakdown of the four humours:

Phlegmatic: The everyman. This character can often be used for narration. He’s the well-balanced guy in the bunch that either tells the story or helps find a solution to the conflict presented by the other three characters. Kermit the Frog has a great phlegmatic personality and is usually seen as the leader of the muppets. Bob the Tomato can also be seen as a phlegmatic personality, balancing the sanguine of Larry the Cucumber. Which leads us to…

Sanguine: The dreamer. The comic relief. The foil to the straight man. Kids love the Sanguine. In early dramatic theory , the sanguine has an overabundance of passion and that causes him to bubble over with personality. Every situation needs a clown and the audience needs someone to lighten the moral. For this, your sanguine is your go to guy.

Melancholic: The victim. The worrier. This is the character that usually makes their entrance after someone utters a line like, “Hey, did you hear about…?” or, “I can’t believe what happened to…?” There’s going to be a conflict and someone has to bear the brunt of it. That’s going to be your melancholic.

Choleric: The hot head. The villain. In most tales there has to be someone who is a cautionary tale or an example of how not to do things. That’s the Choleric. He can easily be interchanged with the Sanguine. The difference is in intentions. The Sanguine means well and is usually just trying to have fun. The choleric either doesn’t know any better or just plain doesn’t care.

These personality types can take either gender. They can also be anthropomorphized animals or objects. The sky is truly the limit. But keeping your puppet ensemble true to these character types will help you do more with less. Kids will also start to look for certain puppet characters that they relate to and will totally believe them in multiple roles as long as you stay within the character confines of the four types.

My challenge to you is to look around you and notice the four types. Can you find them in your favorite shows, movies? Maybe even in your friends? Once you begin to identify these characters see how they fit into your puppet presentations and start writing for your ensemble.

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?

Social Media Change of Mindset

socialmedia-mindset

I had blogged recently about Why are those who minister to kids so uninvolved and it has created some great discussion on cmconnect.

I thought I would post another thought and see what people think about this one.

What if the saying of “The medium is the message” is true? Social media, as a medium, is a place to hang out with friends, tell a story, and gather an audience. What if it wasn’t a place where people went to learn something new; that’s done through books, courses, conferences like INCM, or coaching.
Shift your mindset and focus on using social media not as an educational tool, but as a tool to find people with relevant interests and create your messages to articulate their thoughts on ministry and the likes. What if we wrote about important aspects of ministry and discuss issues that exist that are shared by followers, but do so succinctly and in an engaging fashion.

What are your thoughts?

Productive day starts the night before

How do you start your day? Do you get up and fumble for the coffee? Walk around wondering what all you have to do for the day? Read a little here and a little there? Play on your phone but call it work?

I get several emails and children’s pastors asking me all the time, “How do you get so much done?” Today I will put into writing what I have shared with so many of you and my Kidology Coaching students. Maybe others will find it helpful for themselves as well.

I find for myself that the way I start my day determines the level of productivity I will experience for that day. This learned fact for myself is the drive behind my “night before prep”. At the close of each day right before I go to bed I spend time mind dumping (I write down every thought that comes to mind and sort through it all later. Sorting it later helps me to not have to slow down and stop the flow of thoughts that fill the pages of my moleskine).

Once this mind dumping is done I will then look over the calendar for the next day to see what is on my agenda. I will begin to set up a few items if needed, like, if I have some phone calls to make I will gather their numbers and little memos for myself on what I want to accomplish during the calls. If I have meetings to attend I will zip quick little emails out reminding those who are scheduled to be in attendance any agenda items they need to be ready to go over during our time together. After this prep time, I will then go through one more mind dumping time to catch all lingering thoughts that may have crept in. There is a scheduled day that I have each week to go through all of these mind dumping thoughts and do something with them. They will either go under a tab titled “silly”, “potential”, or they convert into S.M.A.R.T.E.R actionable items.

Strong finishes at the close of your day will facilitate a confident, clear mindset for a successful next day. Check back to see how I start my days for a successful productive day after this night before prep.

Letting go of unproductive habits part 4

Starting a task but not finishing
Too many people start tasks and never finish them. Sometimes the started task may get postponed because of reasons that are out of your control. But a majority of the time, this is not the case and it is your responsibility to finish the task. All of these unfinished tasks may appear that they out of sight out of mind.  But in reality they are still around, clouding up your image of yourself and even others. These are damaging mental images because they will erode away any and all self worth if left unchecked. This erosion will effect your productivity in the present and the future.

Gather up any unfinished task and make a plan on how to tackle these task: Break it into smaller pieces and execute your plan on a daily basis. Eventually you realize that the task is done and you feel very good about yourself!

Before you just go and add everything onto a To-Do list for yourself, I would recommend going over to To-Do List Not To-Do’s and give that post a quick read so you don’t venture down another unproductive path that many follow.

Prepare your children’s ministry for the future

Over these last couple of days we have been running family services every night for a week total when all is done. During these times I have been amazed, stood in wonder, and a flood of other feelings. My thoughts continue to run to is the children’s ministry that I am responsible for positioned for success regardless if I am in the picture or not? Is this generation prepared to continue to usher in the church to change the world we live in?

I am pleasantly able to report that I do believe we are on a great start here at my church and that it is only getting stronger all the time. Here are some things I have implemented all to different degrees of success at this time, but will continue to strengthen each of these over the years.

1. In our children’s ministry we have put some of our sharp young leaders at the decision making table.
Some ways we do this is by giving young leaders (They are called M&M’s at our church – Miniature Missionaries) the opportunity to expand their leadership competency by letting them lead key projects/assignments.

2. Provide young leaders greater visibility in front of our church.
Give young leaders some credibility by publicly pointing our their potential and value they bring to the ministry/church/world. I highlight them in the bulletin, make video praise reports, mention from the pulpit and many other ways.

3. Give young leaders opportunities to watch you make difficult decisions.
Discuss the why’s and how’s of those decisions with them. Work life out along side of them. It is no longer good to act like you have everything together, let them see you struggle with some decisions and work it out loud so they can learn to do the same.

4. Make sure older and more experienced leaders are investing in your younger leaders. Make it an expectation in your culture.

5. Put your budgets toward the development of the young leaders and into their parents and adult leaders who impact them.
Your ministry should be exposing them to some of the best training and best experiences. I enjoy bringing people in who have the skills needed to pour into my kids in the ministry. Even with my most recent Week Long Super Hero Family Week I have brought in other children’s pastors who have certain specialties to help us minister to all the people that have been coming in. It is no longer my church, your church and we just build our own kingdom. Instead, the kids today want to just impact the world and are so use to a very small flat world and networking and closing all the gaps of distance to get the job done.

6. Challenge young leaders to start reproducing themselves.
They need to develop this discipline early. The sharing of info, space, responsibilities etc that kids are use to is helping this to be done much earlier now. it is sometime the adult leaders who need to be reminded of this.

7. Create an atmosphere where young leaders are allowed to fail.
Sometimes we don’t see their potential because they’re afraid to take risks. It’s up to us to create a culture where young and old leaders aren’t afraid of failure. How do you cultivate this?

There they are some quick points, suggestions, ideas and all things that I am continuing to pursue in providing in greater ways every day here in children’s ministry. I would enjoy hearing what you do or ideas that you do with any of these things that I am doing that would help me to become better in what I do.
Establish a culture of leadership development

I Just Got Coached

I am a huge proponent of coaching, especially since I lead as a coach. I think everyone should have a coach, even coaches need coaches. And that is what happened to me today.

My wife and I have felt that we needed to tighten the belt and become better stewards than we already were with our finances. Part of that tightening we knew for us would come through our cell phone expenses. For about 3-4 months now, I have known that I should call AT&T, our cell phone provider, to see how they can advise us to cut our bill down. I also knew, since the cell phone industry is what they do and they were aware of what plans they had currently and which ones are on the horizon etc., that they were the ones to be able to give us some advice. Today was the day I finally did this. I called.

In just a matter of a few minutes, the support person I was talking with was able to recommend a change that actually resulted in my wife and I saving about 1/2 of our current bill. Not only that, it didn’t even require half of the drastic ideas my wife and I were dreading because we just did not have the same access to information or knowledge as the sales person.

So, I got coached today. I was helped from the sales person who had the experience, know how, willingness, and desire to see the result I was wanting to have as they walked me through this change. He asked a few questions, got our feedback, proposed suggestions, challenged us to think about things differently or see items in a different light, but all the while had our goals in mind not his own. This is s huge part of what coaching is. In just those few minutes he has now saved us a ton. My thanks to AT&T for the coaching you gave us today.

I hear from people many times that they may not have the money or the time for coaching. This was kind of like my thoughts with first contacting AT&T. How much more can they really save me that I can’t figure out on my own? Or that they will only try and line their pockets with my money and not have my interest in mind. I was wrong about them and often times people are wrong about coaching. It pays to have a coach. Who is yours?

Extracting Leadership Gold

Developing your top 10% of your team (you know the ones I am talking about already that always seem to be the armor bearers for you, the ones getting the results and helping the rest of team members in making forward progress, encouraging everyone and finding 3 solutions to every potential obstacle). Developing this team is not always done the same way as developing other parts of your team. I don’t want to spend a ton of time in this post focusing on all the reasons and factors that make the 10% your top results people. Instead I am just recognizing that we may have this kind of group and suggesting how to help bring the best out from them.

1. Start first with give them trust: Give them a lot of trust, let them see that you believe in them, don’t micromanage any project for them. Let them help you develop the large picture and claim some part of it and l then let them know that you are there and just periodically check in to show you are there, otherwise stay out of the way and see what they can produce.

2. Delegate to them: Once you’ve identified that they are committed as you think they are, delegate some task that has more importance than just everyday type task. Let them run with a task that may take a couple weeks or a month or so but remember that you still maintain responsibility for it, but you are giving them the reins to let them run with it. Giving them empowerment. Make sure you are delegating and not dumping on them. Delegating is giving out some responsibilities but still staying plugged in and following up etc. where as dumping is giving those same responsibilities out and cutting the strings.

3. Continually raise your bar of expectations and responsibilities. As their successful, keep adding slowly, this is key or you could push them right out of their success area. I have seen numerous times when people get promoted because the do great and then in the next spot they fail because their skill set is not what the new area needs. Keep them in their success areas. Keep them hungry and reward their efforts whenever possible. Challenging them will get them to push harder and extract their leadership gold by proper pressure. In the process it will open doors for a great mentoring relationship to be built.

4. Point them out: Let everyone else see and know that what they stand for is what you are looking for. Let them be a role model and/or mentor of other team members. They are not your favorites; but acknowledge their abilities to step-up and go above their ministry description.

This is not an exhaustive list, I know there are those of you who have things to add to this list. So, please do.

Not enough time in the day. Really?

During my past long blogging sabbatical I had a great time of focusing again. One more area that God was dealing with me in was my feelings of sometimes getting over whelmed or the feeling of confusion as to what I should be doing, and I am not talking about long range, but daily, what should I be doing.  I needed to put together a strategic/tactical plan to success for myself. It was looking at these two words that helped me to get back to proper focus again.

The word “strategic” deals with “why” issues, whereas the word “tactical” deals with “how.” So when you’re strategic “why” become muddled, your tactical “how” solutions diminish. When you’re strategic “why” issues are settled, the tactical “how” solutions become obvious. So here is my personal conclusion that I had to come to, the degree of clarity you have about your strategic beliefs enables you to focus and execute.

Achieving clarity about what you really want is the solution because knowing what you want will help settle and establish the strategic issues you face. If you are not clear about what you really want, however, your belief in your effort will not be powerful or compelling enough to sustain your efforts. Clarity about what you want is actually what empowers your ability to believe in what you are doing, because your belief in what you are doing is the engine of the actions you take.

Something that has  begun to be noticeable to me and has been for a while is simply that the speed of light creates a mixed bag of beliefs that combine to produce a list of specific felt needs. Felt needs are the emotions we feel as a result of unresolved questions and challenges. I’m sure that there are several different felt needs but there is one for sure I want to talk briefly about here. This one can be traced back to a lack of clarity and is by far the one I hear the most by my fellow friends who have maybe over time lost the clarity they may have heled at one time.

Ready for it? Here it is, ask yourself if you have ever said this one…

There doesn’t seem to be enough time to do all that I have to do. Anything worth doing should be done–period!

I have seen time and time again, and have coached several people in time management,  some with calendars so packed it would make anybody’s head spin but yet for them they get it all done and within a reasonable and pre-determined time. Then in another season of life I have seen those same people take on the same load but a very different result as they have truly created a legitimate feeling of not having enough time, even though the real  problem was not a time problem, it is often a clarity issue.

When you lack clarity about what you really want, or the results that should really be accomplished, or whatever you lack clarity about, you will find yourself being pushed toward living in problems. When you have clarity about things, you will be pulled toward living in solutions. And living in solutions you become more effective in all you do.

So have you felt there is not enough time in a day? Take a big step back and ask yourself, Do you have clarity in all that you are doing? Sometimes you will be able to discover where you may have lost some clarity along the way and moved toward problems instead of solutions.

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