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Men will rock your children’s ministry

man with child

Walk the halls and peek in on your children’s ministry rooms and see how many boys are engaged. It will be easy to see lots of them in the younger grades, but look between your 3-5th grade and that involvement begins to drop.

Unless, you have 1 thing!

Men in leadership roles.

In a book titled Creating the Ever Cool by author Del Vecchio (which I would recommend to anyone who works with kids) Del Vecchio says, “Brands that target both sexes during these ages are often more effective when they use boys in the spots and not girls. Boys are often turned off by the presence of girls, but girls are not turned off by the presence of boys.”

Having men in your leadership roles will help keep the attention and involvement of the boys who attend your ministry and will not hurt your female attendance. See how having the involvement of both boys and girls will create more momentum in your ministries.

Here is John Maxwell speaking on what he calls the Law of the Big MO!

That being said, here is what I have always tried to get accomplished in the years that I have been a children’s pastor. I try to get as many men as possible to be part of my ministries. To do that I must think through the color schemes that I use in my rooms, and in my advertising and such. I am in no way saying that women aren’t effective leaders. I know personally many women that are anointed and lead kids. But…it doesn’t change the fact that it will be harder to keep the boys engaged the same way, and the Law of the Big MO is more difficult to build. Why?…because I believe the majority of boys are wired like Del Veccio says above. During their pre-teen years, boys shy away from things that seem “girlish.”

Even though men are supposed to be grown up boys, it still doesn’t change how we men will still shy away from your children’s ministry if we feel it is not for us. Test this last statement a little by visiting Wal-Mart sometime and go into the underwear section. First watch in the girls section, you will mainly see moms and their daughters. Go into the boys section and you will see the family.

What would you need to do to attract more men into your children’s ministries?

How does your current ministry attract men?

All systems are a go. Time to get out of your comfort zone.

Goals in Kidmin

It is the new year and change is in the air. Everyone is talking new goals, habits, routines and more.

Today many walk around with grandiose ideas of the results they will be experiencing in no time. The truth that many do not want to really face is that the learning and growth you will experience is directly proportional to the size of the change you make or the discomfort you seek to experience.

All systems are a go, time to get out of your comfort zone!

Here are some ways to start:

1. Start Small. Change is scary for everyone. If you’ve never done anything REALLY scary in your life, start with a small change. Make a goal like, “Make an appointment with 2 school principles to begin an in road into the public schools for the purpose of starting an after school ministry.” Anything that makes you feel a bit unnerved when you think about it is a great place to start.

2. Measure your commitment. Decide that you are going to do “one thing that takes you out of your comfort zone” per day; or maybe it’s ‘per week’. You want to face one fear or one situation that you normally would have brushed off. Write it down at night before bed, check it off during the next day as you complete it.

3. Write it down. Each time you do something you wouldn’t normally do, write what you learned from it. When you’re fearful of taking on something different the next time, go back and read what you learned and how you grew from something.

4. Know yourself. know when you’re ready for a big change. Make the change. Don’t think about it emotionally. As Nike says, “Just do it”.

5. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and make many of them. Any person who is accomplishing things will tell you they learned more from the failures than their successes.

There are 5 ways to begin getting out of your comfort zone. You know what you need to do. You know where you want to end up in a year, two, 5 years and beyond. You know what your dream ministry looks like. All systems really are a go. Time to get out of your comfort zone.

If learning and growth you will experience is directly proportional to the size of the change you make or the discomfort you seek to experience, are you on course to experience what you want to experience?

Stages to take your children’s ministry to failure

man jumping cliff

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?

Having a Successful Children’s Ministry, is it really as hard as we make it?


I have enjoyed all the years (20+ full-time years) that God has allowed me to be a children’s pastor. In that time I have read numerous books, seeing that I read an average of 2-3 books a week, attended many conferences, attended more seminars than I could recount and the list goes on of ways I have taken in information of how to have a successful ministry.

I wonder sometimes if we make having a successful ministry more difficult and illusive than it really is. While nothing worth doing well is ever easy, certain commonalities seem to exist that successful ministries share with one another.

So, without having to pay the price of travel, hotel, conference fee, restaurant prices and all, allow me to offer up some of the common thread observations that what many call “successful ministries” tend to do.

* Have a clear vision. Vision is defined in many ways but in this case I am referring to the ideal end picture

* Set clear goals. This is the yearly, monthly, weekly, daily steps that need to be S.M.A.R.T.’ed out (Specific/ Measurable/ Attainable/ Realistic/ Time Bound) to keep momentum moving forward to carry out the vision.

* Get the right people on the bus and in the right seats, as Good to Great Jim Collins explains.

* Communicate clearly what people are responsible for and hold people accountable.

* Stay disciplined in working the plan.

* Enjoy and stay grateful on the journey. Never lose your joy and gratefulness toward God, so stay plugged in through prayer, and reading His word. Show your gratefulness to those who go on the journey with you.

I do understand it’s much more complicated than this in practice, but these are the things I see in common with the most successful ministries. Focus on these, and you’ll be doing as well as the best of the best!

Which of these disciplines does your children’s ministry most need to improve?

What other disciplines would you consider necessary for success?

Work Your P.L.A.N. for Ministry Success

Planning concept. 3d rendered image

I know there always feels like in ministry that there is so much to do and to get done. How do you tackle the things you need to do? Get rid of the things you should not be doing? Keep your teams focused and going all in the same direction?

There is a way to use the word PLAN which could be used as a tool to help keep you moving along with your mission. One place that has recorded using this PLAN is over on: Fuller Youth Institute.

Originally published as “Evaluation Part 2: Planning the Work and Working the P.L.A.N.” by Mark Maines for FYI in April 2006.

Lasting Results
Action Strategies
Next Steps

By tackling these questions in succession, many have found that their ministries can stay more focused on the mission, more informed about what to do next, and more accountable to see those plans through. Here’s basically what it looks like:


What we want to carry out.
What are the most important things we need to do in our key ministry areas to move our mission forward?
What are the things we need to do and complete in the coming year? Coming months? Coming weeks? Coming days?
Lasting Results: Setting the targets for performance

Lasting Results:

What will be the results that will help us know we have accomplished our priorities?
How will we set these targets so that they become an exercise in faith as well as effective leadership?
Action strategies: Setting the stage for execution

Action Strategies:

How will we go about accomplishing what we want to see happen?
What are the right strategies, or best practices, that we might use?

Next Steps:

Making our “to do” lists
Who will do the work?
When will it be accomplished?

Have you made your P.L.A.N. for ministry success?
What tools do you use to keep you moving forward with your mission?

Do more than belong – participate.


I have always enjoyed reading motivational tidbits over a variety of topics in life. I think for me it gives me that little extra boost as I prepare to craft my Sunday children’s message, travel and speak somewhere, or really the more I think about it, just about anything I do it helps motivate me.

Here are some that I read this morning, hope they assist you as well.

These come from William Arthur Ward, one of America’s most quoted writers of inspirational maxims:

* Do more than belong: participate.
* Do more than care: help.
* Do more than believe: practice.
* Do more than be fair: be kind.
* Do more than forgive: forget.
* Do more than dream: work.

Create Momentum in Children’s Ministry

Progress with a snail

I have seen when a company, a sports team, even a children’s ministry puts into effect some common elements that there is some natural momentum that is created which enables uncommon things to be accomplished.

Here are some of those elements that I have observed that help create this momentum.

1. Prayer and fasting. I know, duh. This remains in my observation the biggest, single most missed out ingredient. If this was to be implemented and nothing else that follows, incredible things would still take place and again without this single step, no incredible thing will last.

2. Visionary leadership. To many children’s pastors lead from someone else’s vision. They attend a conference and hear a vision or two and come back and try to live that vision out for their ministry. I again think this is the result of not doing the previous element of Prayer and Fasting.

3. Connection to the larger picture. It is great when that moment happens and you have done all the leg work and knee work (prayer), where you know where you are to this ministry you are in-trusted with. You begin to share that (visionary leadership) and people get excited and jump on board. Over time, their excitement dwindles. It dwindles partly because you are not doing a good job of connecting them to the big picture. Always find ways to share what they are doing is BIG and helps because….connection to the big picture. Share victories with your team as well.

4. Right timing. This is one I probably struggle with the most. Sometimes I will introduce an item and it falls flat so I throw it away instead of file it for later. Sometimes the ideas are just a little ahead of their time.

5. The Leader has…
* Humility. No lone rangers! If something fails the leader takes the blame. If something succeed the leader gives the team the credit.
* A holy unrest about the current atmosphere. Changes never happen until the discomfort of the current causes a desire and awareness to change.
* Confession of sin. The heart must be right.
* A calling. In the hard times the only thing that allows the leader to keep on going is an assurance of their calling.

These were only 5 elements that in my opinion will be in place for true momentum to take place.

How are you doing with these five?

Which one or ones do you struggle with the most and why?

What other elements would you add that contribute to momentum being built?

4 steps to Develop your top 10% of children’s ministry leaders


The way we can develop and empower the top 10% of our teams is not necessary the same as you do for the rest of your children’s ministry team. Let me explain, these people are cut from a different cloth than the rest of your people. I’m not going into all the factors that make them top performers (that can be another post for another day). I just want to focus on how we can tap into all of their potential.

Here are some of the ways I use to develop my top 10% of cm leaders:

1. Delegate to them: Once you’ve identified that they are a rising above the status quo, delegate some task that have more weight/importance than the everyday task. Keep in mind that you still maintain responsibility for it, but you are giving them the reins to let them run with it. Giving them empowerment.

2. Give them trust: Give them a lot of trust, let them see that you believe in them, don’t micromanage the project for them or continually look over their shoulder. Let them know that you are there if they need you, otherwise stay out of the way and see what they can produce.

3. Point them out: Let everyone else see and know that their drive and attitude is what you are looking for. Let them be a role model and/or mentor some of the other team members. I’m not saying play favorites with them; I’m saying acknowledge their abilities to step-up and go above their ministry description.

4. Raise the bar: Overachievers are competitive by nature, so give them a higher goal to shoot for. Challenging them will get them to push harder and in the process it will let them and you see where their weaknesses are, so you can mentor to them.

Productivity tools, systems and processes


“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”-–Paul J. Meyer.

I heard this statement that comes from the Economic Policy Institute.

Since the early 1970s, productivity (the amount of output per hour worked) has risen in America. Between 1973 and 2011, productivity of the American worker has grown 80 percent. Why? My opinion, because we’re finding new tools and techniques to increase our focus and efficiency.

Below are some ideas and tools I have discovered over time that people I would say are productive have repeatedly talked about using. I believe I can learn a lot form people and their habits, tools they choose to use, their processes and the reason why they do and use what they do. So in the following I have come to use many of the same and investigating using some others. Some I have substitutions for like the running to clear my mind such as, I mow the yard.

Police Your Own Internet Habits.
Theres a tool called StayFocusd to keep track of how much time you spend on various sites. I have a tendency to begin researching something online for a sermon I am preparing with the very best of intentions and then get lost viewing irrelevant content and wasting way too much time. To limit this, I turn on the browser extension to Chrome of StayFocusd where I keep up a list of sites I can get lost on for hours–YouTube, Ted Talks and Facebook are mine. StayFocusd alerts me after a pre-determined time that I have set up has passed and then blocks the offending sites to help me resist temptation and stay focused on the task at hand. Another tool I will mention before leaving this part is RescueTime which I have a posted previously about. This is a tool worth checking out as well.

Clear Your Mind, Define Your Focus
Wendy Lea, CEO of Get Satisfaction and principal at The Chatham Group, shared two tips that keep her focused, energized, effective and productive both personally and professionally. “There are two things I do to get the energy, capacity and focus I need to not only be efficient, but effective. Personally, I take 15 minutes every morning for contemplation and to empty my mind. I take a bag full of thoughts I need cleared and each morning I pick one out, read it, and send it down the river near my house. Watching the thought float away really helps clear my mind, reorient things and increase my focus for the rest of the day,” said Lea, who successfully juggles several roles across various companies including CEO, investor, advisor, mentor and principal.

“Professionally,” Lea added, “I send an email to my team each Monday morning with the top five things I will be focused on for the week. This really keeps me on track and gives me the focus I need. These two things set the pace for me every day, both in my personal and professional life.”

Cut Back On Meetings
Randy Komisar, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (KPCB), said he keeps productive by being diligent about meetings–sticking to the allotted time and only scheduling in-person meetings when it’s absolutely necessary. “I leave meetings at their allotted end time regardless of whether they are finished,” said Komisar, who authored the book, Getting to Plan B: Breaking Through to a Better Business Model. “I do not reschedule an appointment for a more important one unless it is an emergency. If an email will do, I don’t make a call; if a call will do, I don’t have a meeting; if a 30-minute meeting is enough, I don’t schedule an hour.”

All About Evernote
Dylan Tweney, the executive editor at VentureBeat, said Evernote, the popular note-taking and archiving service, is his go-to productivity tool. “I use Evernote to collect everything I might need to save for later, with the exception of emails–Gmail is fine for that. I store all of my important documents–from notes to interviews–in Evernote. I also use Evernote tags as a kind of to-do list: I have a set of tags that I can use to rank things that need to happen immediately or that I’m waiting for someone else to finish: (“1-next,” “2-soon,” “3-later,” “4-someday,” and “5-waiting”). When I get an email that I need to act on but can’t respond to immediately, I send it to my private Evernote address and then rank it,” said Tweney. “Finally, I use Instapaper liberally to save articles that I run across during the day, but don’t have time to read during the busy hours. It sends stories to my Kindle automatically, so I always have something interesting to read on the train ride home or in the evening. That helps keep me focused on work, even when people are sharing fascinating things on Twitter and Facebook all day.”

Get Tunnel Vision
Kevin O’Connor, the serial entrepreneur who founded both DoubleClick and more recently FindTheBest, a data-driven comparison engine, said he makes an effort to focus on only the top few things that really are going to move the needle. “Most people tend to focus on the 100 things they should do, which can be overwhelming and result in the failure to actually accomplishing anything of importance. I try to focus on the three to five things I absolutely have to do. I don’t get distracted by those ninety-seven other unimportant things that don’t ultimately give to my success or the success of my company.”

Get Physical
Patrick Dolan, the EVP and COO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), said what keeps him productive, focused and energized is going for runs in the morning. “I love to run in the morning before I get into work. Running clears my mind, gets the blood flowing and ultimately makes me much more focused and productive. During my morning runs, I try to come up with solutions to any unresolved problems at work, brainstorm new ideas, and really prioritize my work in terms of the top things I want to carry out that day. By the time I get into work, I already have a set of focused priorities, and I also have the energy to make them happen.”

Put Email In Its Place
Anne-Marie Slaugher, a professor of politics and international relations at Princeton University and author of the popular article published last year in The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” said basing your work day around the never-ending flow of incoming emails is a huge productivity drain. “My principal productivity tip is that if you are caught up on your email, your priorities are in the wrong place. An extra of hour of email will do very little in the long run, but that hour could be spent reading to your kids before bed, cooking a meal, or taking a walk and clearing your head–all far better choices,” said Slaughter, who previously served as Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department. “More generally, email puts you in response mode, where you are doing what other people want you to do, and not send mode, where you are deciding what you want to do and taking action.”

Leadership Priorities for Success

Stack of sticky notes with a meeting reminder.

True confession…Leadership is hard work.

In my networking with leaders from the business world and the non-profit world the fact of how hard leading can be on someone is one common story we all agree on. There are decisions we each need to make that vary from important matters to urgent matters. The varying noise that can come from each of these can make it hard at times to decide which decisions need action now or later. With each of our decisions we can often times drift from being and doing what we should be and what we should be doing into a mess of other things.

Here are some actions that I use to stay in tune with my leadership priorities.

#1: Pareto Principle. Those closest to me know and have heard me talk about the Pareto principle. This was a principle that once it was taught to me years ago it made a huge impact into my life. Basically this principle says that 80% of the value I give lies within 20% of what I do and my true values. For example, if you have a To Do List with 10 items ranked in order of importance with 1 being the most important and 10 being the least important, items 1 and 2 would contain 80% of the value of the priorities you plan to do. Know your 20%!

#2 Execution clarity. When I find my top 20%, I’m relentless in my pursuit of them, these are the truly important issues for me. Of course, the urgent will continue to emerge. When the urgent comes, I will quickly deal with these matters by asking: “Does this situation fall in my 20%? If not, do I have someone who is better suited for this (whenever my answer to this is “no” I make note of this as an area that I need to train people)? Or am I the best or only one who can deal with it? Once I answer this and execute then I return to the relentless pursuit of my top 20%.

#3 Task Management. I can’t manage time but I can manage my task that happen within the time I have. How often have you said something like this, “I just can’t seem to make time to do this” or “I’ll have to make time to do this?” No one can make time. Time is a gift from God and the management of our task within that time is our gift back to God.

#4 Reflective clarity. I have decided what my priorities are, I am clear on my execution for my 20%, and I realize that Time is a gift from God and that the task I carry out and manage within that time is my gift back. Now the last action in this process for me is to always ask myself “what have I learned in the process?” I set up a time and place to always ask myself, “What happened as I created clarity in my life?” “Why did it happen?” “What does this mean for using my next gift of 24 hours?”

Repeat all the above to keep up your leadership focus.

What are some steps you take to keep from drifting and stay focused in your leadership journey? Please share I would enjoy hearing them.

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