Changes for KidMin360

Hello friends!

Many of you know that I (Greg Baird) recently took a position with David C Cook. My new role – Senior Director of Programs/Leadership Development – is basically my dream job! I have the privilege of developing & implementing ministry training for churches & ministries around the world. Since starting the job in January, I’ve already had opportunity to offer training in India/Nepal, South Africa & Peru/Bolivia. And the main area of focus is toward those who serve vulnerable & at-risk children (which is most of the children around the world).

KM360-CMLBecause of this new role, I have closed down the business side of KidMin360. I loved serving local churches through training, consulting & job searches, but there’s only so many hours in the day! After much thought & consideration, I’ve also decided to rebrand the KidMin360 blog. KidMin360 will become ChildrensMinistryLeader.com.

Why the name change? Simple… the term “children’s ministry” is more widely understood than the term “kidmin”, both here in the US and certainly around the world.

For the next month or two I will gradually move some of the more popular of the 600+ posts from here at KidMin360 over to ChildrensMinistryLeader.com. Once that is completed I will resume doing something I love to do but haven’t done much of this year – write about effectively leading in Children’s & Family Ministry.

As a side note, I’ve also changed our Twitter name from @KidMin360 to @ChildMinLeader. If you’ve been following @KidMin360, you don’t need to do anything. We also have a new Facebook page – Facebook.com/ChildrensMinistryLeader. We’ve requested that the KidMin360 page be merged with this new one, but we are still waiting on Facebook’s response.

Finally, if you’ve subscribed to the KidMin360 blog via RSS or email, please take a moment to subscribe to ChildrensMinistryLeader.com instead. You can get the articles via RSS or via email.

Thank you for all the support you’ve offered for the ministry of KidMin360. I have truly enjoyed the past 5 years and have been so blessed to meet some of you incredible leaders! Hopefully, that won’t change! But seasons come and go and the season of KidMin360 is over. I appreciate your prayers in the new role God has for me, and I look forward to continuing to offer what I can via the new blog at ChildrensMinistryLeader.com.

God bless!

Greg Baird

P.S. We are still representing a wonderful Children’s Pastor opportunity for the right leader. See details and apply by clicking here if you are searching!

A Great KidMin Leader Is . . .

great leaderA great KidMin leader is . . .

1. Someone worth following.

Leadership of others starts with leadership of self. When we lead ourselves well, we become leaders worth following. So great KidMin leaders are those who lead themselves well by:

  • committing to personal growth
  • protecting their character
  • maintaining priorities
  • building quality relationships
  • leading by example
  • continually improve their communication abilities
  • ______________( fill in the blank for what’s relevant to you ) ________________

2. Someone who leads with vision. 

This means that, first, the leader must Continue reading A Great KidMin Leader Is . . .

Rules For KidMin

Many of you know that I (Greg Baird) partner with Kidz Blitz to present Kidz Blitz LIVE and FX LIVE in the Western United States. One of the benefits of this partnership is being able to work with people like Roger Fields, founder of Kidz Blitz. Here’s a recent post from Roger which I thought was too good not to share!

Rules for KidMin

These are the 10 undeniable rules for leading a children’s ministry, and as such, they are beyond dispute. They are set in granite. Or at least that’s my opinion.

  1. laughingDon’t emphasize what kids should do for God. Emphasize what God has done for them through Jesus.

  2. Be a people person. Love people. Talk to people. Embrace people. Get to know your kids, workers and parents.

  3. Recruit directly. Don’t beg for workers. Approach gifted people and recruit them individually. Be bold.

  4. Have fun. Have a lot of fun. Have more fun. Don’t make children’s ministry seem like school.

  5. Be bold to ask for what you need from the church. Ask for money. Ask for space. Ask for whatever you need. Don’t pout if you don’t get it but don’t be too timid to ask.

  6. Walk by faith. Kids learn more than they let on. Know that God is doing a work in them through what you are doing.

  7. Teach kids what Jesus is like. They can only develop a relationship with Jesus when they know what He is like.

  8. Make sure kids understand that God loves and accepts them. Never convey a performance-based understanding of God.

  9. Look for ways to get kids involved. Let kids learn by doing. Turn spectators into participants.

  10. Never mimic another church. Just because something works somewhere else does not mean God wants you to copy it. Hear what God’s Spirit is saying to you. Be a good listener.

Roger Fields
President of Kidz Blitz Ministries

________________________________________

Interested in bringing Kidz Blitz to your church? If so, contact Ken Dovey at 877-467-1711. Here’s a taste of what these wonderfully fun, crazy, FX LIVE events are like:

FX Live at Christ Fellowship from Kidz Blitz Ministries on Vimeo.

Investing Your Time Wisely

timeTime. One of the most important resource you possess.  How you invest it is critical, because unlike most other resources, you cannot recoup it once it’s gone. And yes, I said “invest” instead of “spend”, because every second is an investment.

Is time investment a challenge to you sometimes?  For most, it is.  For leaders, it is something that we must try to master.  I’m not sure I’m there yet all the time, but here’s what I’ve learned. . .

1. You have to understand what is stealing your time investment from you. In most cases, poor time investment is the result of mismanagement or poor choices.  Understanding these is the first part of investing well. To identify these time-stealers, ask yourself: Continue reading Investing Your Time Wisely

I Quit!

i_quitMary walked up to me and said the most terrifying words a Children’s Pastor can hear:

I quit!”

Being in my first ministry position, I had no idea what to say or do.  I’m pretty sure I mumbled something like…

OK…well good luck in the future.”

What?  Really, Greg?  That’s the best response I could come up with?

I cringe as I think about that first experience!  But we’ve all had it happen. Volunteers quit all the time.

Why is that?  There’s lot’s of reasons, and I’ve found they generally fall in to 3 categories: Legitimate, Lame & Leadership.

Legitimate reasons - these are life-circumstances that just happen, such as:

  • moving out of the area
  • illness (either there’s or someone close)
  • feeling called to serve in another area of the church

There are many very legitimate reasons for ending a volunteer commitment.  I debrief as much as possible to be certain of why they are moving on, but if their reason is legitimate I don’t try and talk them out of quitting.  I trust them to know what’s best for themselves, their family and their faith.

Lame reasonsdon’t even get me started… Continue reading I Quit!

The Secret To KidMin Leadership Success

macarthur

So it is in Children’s Ministry (or any other ministry or organization, for that matter).

Stated another way, you and your children’s ministry will only rise
to the level that you and your team can take it. 

Seems obvious, doesn’t it?

So why do we spend our time on less important tasks instead of developing our team?

Why do we “fill holes” instead of equip leaders?

Why do we sit in our office instead of stroll through the crowd?

What’s the secret to KidMin success?

Aside from pursuing God, have a big vision and
spend your time developing leaders – yourself and your team.

Then, whatever platform your ministry pursues,
you & your team will be successful.

Not complicated enough? Try if for a year and see how your ministry changes!

What I Learned About Vision Alignment From The Playground

When my boys were little one of the favorite events for all of us were “playground dates”.  If you’re a parent, you know exactly what these are.  For the kids, a great time of fun.  For parents, a few moments of sanity!

playgroundAs a Dad, my “vision” for this time was to get a Happy Meal, make our way to the playground and read the paper while the boys played, occasionally chasing them to the door of the play structure or pretending to be Godzilla trying to get in.  At first it wasn’t this way – the boys wanted (and expected) me to climb into the structure and play with them the entire time (I quickly discovered it was very easy to get uncomfortably stuck in the tube slide!).  After a few visits I learned to prepare them with my “vision” while we drove there.  My “vision casting” went something like this:

Me: Who wants to go to McDonalds? (in a very excited voice)

Boys: We do! (in even more excited voices)

Me: Who wants a Happy Meal with a toy?

Boys: We do!!

Me: Who wants to play on the playground?

Boys: We do!!!

Me: Who’s gonna let Daddy read the paper while they play?

Boys: We will!!!!

They loved this time and so did I.  Part of its success was everyone simply knowing why we were there and fulfilling their role.  Our “vision” was aligned.

In this post we talked about 7 growth strategies for Children’s Ministry, and aligning vision was #1.  It is absolutely critical that we, as Children’s Ministry leaders, and the ministry we oversee, be aligned with the vision of the Senior leadership & church as a whole.  You will not have a successful ministry if your vision is not aligned.

So how do we do that?  Here’s three thoughts from my playground experiences:

1. Seek alignment before you start. That should come from Senior leadership (like me “vision casting” with my boys on the way to McDonalds), but that doesn’t always happen.  Regardless, it’s your responsibility to be aligned, so you may need to seek clarification and understanding of what that vision is.

2. Accept that the context of the vision is different than the content. My boys and I had the same vision content for our time at McDonalds (a fun time for everyone!), but the context was different for me than it was for the boys (I sat quietly to read the paper while they went wild in the play structure).  Don’t expect senior leadership to be dressing up like Balaam’s donkey in Kids’ Church!  There might be (and should be) occasional involvement, but they are not called to Kid’s Ministry…and that’s ok!

3. Ultimately, Senior leadership sets the agenda for the vision. When I said it was time to go my boys always begged for more time.  Sometimes I allowed it and sometimes I didn’t (because I knew the bigger picture, which they didn’t), but it was always my decision.  You may not like decisions made by senior leadership – or even agree with them – but it is your responsibility as the leader of KidMin to honor their God-given authority for setting the agenda. Ask for changes, communicate the impact of their decisions, seek change – but in the end, they are the leader and we are the follower. I have discovered that most of the time that I was not allowed to go the direction I wanted to go was because it conflicted with the “bigger picture”, of which I did not fully understand.

My boys are teenagers now and we still do lots of things together, but I miss those days on the playground.  We had a lot of fun, spent some great time together and, I gotta say, had way too many Happy Meals (yes, I would get one, too!). I also learned something about aligning my vision with my leaders.

How about you…what have you learned about aligning vision in ministry?

14 Great Leadership Books – Something For Everyone!

leadership2There are literally thousands of books on leadership available. Where do you start? I thought I’d share a list of some of the favorite books I’ve read for leading effectively. None of these are “Children’s Ministry” books, but all of them have incredible applications to Children’s Ministry:

•   Developing the Leader Within You & Developing the Leaders Around You by John Maxwell. Yes, I know these are two books but, in my opinion, are inseparable and the first books any young leader should read. Anything else by John should be read next. Continue reading 14 Great Leadership Books – Something For Everyone!

A Kidmin Leader Is: A Problem-Solver

We’ve seen the Kidmin leader must be a Christ-follower, a Vision-caster, and a Relationship-builder. A Kidmin leader is also:

solutionsA Problem-solver.

Solving problems is one of the quickest ways to gain influence.  When you solve problems for people, you gain trust, confidence and loyalty.  You become a “go-to” person.

In Children’s Ministry, there are many problems (or challenges, or opportunities…depending on what you want to call them):

  • The check-in computer isn’t working.
  • A parent of a 3 year old is confident that their child is mature enough to be in the 4 year old class.
  • There’s a trail of ants marching through the Nursery.
  • There’s an unknown person in Kids Church and some of your volunteers are concerned.
  • Your Pastor forgot to tell you that you were making announcements today in “big church”.
  • It’s Easter Sunday and the outdoor egg hunt with twice as many kids as normal was such a great idea…but it’s raining.

Big. Small. Problems happen. They always have and they always will.  It’s part of leading, especially when you are dealing with such a wide variety of people (kids, parents, volunteers, staff…)

As the leader, problems naturally come to us – usually at the worst time.  It’s our responsibility to provide a solution.  Why?  Not only because they need to be solved – they’re real problems – but also in order to lead.  A problem solved now will give me greater influence later.

So how do you solve problems?

  1. Provide the answer right now.  If it’s an easy fix, do it.  You know where the crayons are, or the bug spray, or how to jiggle the key so the door unlocks.  Give the answer.
  2. Refer the problem (delegate) to another leader immediately.
  3. Communicate that the issue is not as urgent as it seems and handle it later – but make sure you return to it as soon as possible.

Seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it?  Yes, but unfortunately some leaders prefer to ignore problems.  I’ve seen leaders even be evasive or rude when it comes to dealing with people with problems.  As a leader, I can’t afford to be that way…not because the problem will get worse, but because my influence will become less.

Commit to being a problem-solver, and when they arise, walk yourself through a process to deal with it.

First, take enough time to understand the issue.  Without understanding, you are shooting in the dark when you provide a solution.

Second, respond with the attitude of a leader.  A leader does not panic, is not rude, and does not belittle – no matter how trivial or irritating the problem might be (yes, this response even applies to that person in your Kidmin who always has a problem! :) )

Third, decide what the options are for solving the problem (see above).

Fourth, apply the option.  In this step, I would also recommend using the opportunity to equip and empower other leaders, so they become problem solvers also.

  • You might want to ask the leader who is tech-minded if they would be available to trouble-shoot the check-in system should it go down again.  Ask if the check-in team can have their cell number to call them should that happen.
  • Use the opportunity to remind your volunteers of the “stranger” policy found in your Children’s Ministry handbook.
  • Ask your Pastor if you can work with his secretary to create an “announcement” calendar that can be posted in the office.

Solving problems is an essential part of Kidmin leadership.  How we solve them will provide as much benefit as the actual solutions we offer.

A Kidmin Leader Is: A Relationship Builder

So far we’ve seen that a Kidmin Leader is a Christ-follower and a Vision-caster. A Kidmin leader is also:

relationshipA Relationship-builder.

Have you ever thought about the ministry of Jesus?  He was not involved in any programs.  He used no curriculum.  I don’t even think he had a huge master-calendar on the wall to coordinate events! :)

What was His ministry all about?  Relationships.

Ministry always happens best in the context of relationships.

And guess what – so does leadership.

Are programs, curriculum and calendars important?  Absolutely!  But you can Continue reading A Kidmin Leader Is: A Relationship Builder

A Kidmin Leader Is: A Vision Caster

Yesterday we said a Kidmin leader is a Christ-follower. A Kidmin leader is also:

FutureA Vision-Caster.

The Message says it well:

If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed. Proverbs 29:18

God has a plan for your ministry.  He reveals that plan primarily through the leaders He sets in place.  We often refer to it as “the vision for the ministry”.  In other words, where is it going?  What is the plan?  What is it that is supposed to be accomplished.

As the leader, it’s my job to understand what that is and make sure others see what that vision is.  This is far more important than any “task” of ministry – teaching a class, getting a craft ready or organizing an event.

So how, as leaders, do we Continue reading A Kidmin Leader Is: A Vision Caster

A Kidmin Leader Is: A Christ-Follower

Over the next few posts we’re going to take a look at what a real KidMin leader is all about. First and foremost, a KidMin leader is:

Christ followerA Christ-follower.

I would expect your first reaction to be: “DUH!!”

It should be!  But in my years of working with churches, too often I have come across Kidmin “leaders” that show no outward evidence of following Christ.

  • They never attend the Worship Service.
  • They exhibit no real reliance on prayer.
  • They rarely crack open the Bible for answers to ministry questions.
  • Their is no evidence of the “fruit of the Spirit” in their attitude.
  • Work habits are worldly, not Christ-like.
  • Relationships (parents, volunteers, other staff, etc.) are built around the ability to benefit Kidmin, not reflective of a real care for the person they are relating to.

In short, their actions, words and behaviors are not very different than the manager of the store down the street.

When I see this it saddens me because I don’t believe for a second that they don’t love Jesus!  No, more than likely they are overwhelmed in their role.  Perhaps they’ve been “dumped on” in Children’s Ministry.  Perhaps they’ve been hurt by leadership or volunteers.  Perhaps they are tired. Or perhaps they simply don’t know what they are doing.  All of these things can lead to a reliance on ourselves, draining us from the vibrant, vital relationship with Christ that we must have in order to lead effectively.

So, first and foremost, a Kidmin leader must make following Christ a priority.  Above all else, the things we do on a daily basis to cultivate that relationship must be done.  It is my belief that:

True ministry effectiveness flows from my growing relationship with Christ, not the other way around.
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If this is true, then tending my relationship with Him is my number one priority as a Kidmin leader.

FREE Child Safety & Security Guide For KidMin

imgresA Guest Post From Our Friends At KidCheck

KidCheck has developed the below child safety video and guide for organizations caring for children.  These tools are designed to provide actionable, specific best practices and suggestions that can easily be put into practice to improve child safety and minimize any possible safety and security issues.
The video “Improving Child Safety in Your Organization” and companion “Child Safety and Security” guide discuss the leading concerns around child safety to help organizations create a safe environment for the children in their care.

Don’t Do It!

dont do itHave you ever looked back and wished you had done some things differently? In ministry we all go through a learning curve. We learn what we need to DO, and we learn what we need to NOT DO.

Unfortunately, sometimes the NOT DO is harder than the DO part of the learning curve.

Here are a few things I’ve learned that I better NOT DO if I want to be successful in pursuing my God-given mission: Continue reading Don’t Do It!

Seeing, Showing and Celebrating Wins

Positive results matter to motivation. Find ways to
see, show & celebrate “wins” for yourself and your team.

balloonsNot seeing progress that is being made can be discouraging, but sometimes it’s just plain hard to see:

  • When you’re establishing support for a new initiative (casting vision)
  • Just getting started with a new project
  • Meeting unexpected obstacles once a program is established during just about any phase of ministry discouragement can easily set in.

It’s easier for people to become DIScouraged than it is to stay ENcouraged.

But staying ENcouraged is vital.  It’s key to staying motivated, which is essential to continuing to move forward.

So…finding ways to see, show and celebrate “wins” becomes a vital part of leading in Children’s Ministry.

Here’s some examples:

  • I see wins by constantly and intentionally looking for small bits of progress in a leaders ministry area, or in the ministry as a whole, and sharing it either individually or corporately.
  • I show wins by continually painting the big-picture vision and telling how we are making progress toward that vision.
  • I celebrate wins on a small scale by tangibly validating the work of smaller teams, or tangibly rewarding the larger team as a whole.  I might even reward myself with a personal “treat” (I’m pretty simple…a Starbucks mocha goes a long way!) when the team follows the vision and accomplished something significant!

So what do you do…

How do you see, show and/or celebrate wins to help keep yourself
and your team motivated in ministry?

FREE Curriculum To “HELP!” Your Ministry

Update: Our winner is David Alexieff. 

My friend, Brian Dollar, is founder of High Voltage KidsThey’ve got some incredible resources, including Brian’s book, I Blew It & curriculum used in over 5000 churches! But I’m really excited about a brand new curriculum called “‘HELP!’ Calling On God In Times Of Trouble” As we remember the events of September 11, what an appropriate topic to be teaching our kids! 

First, here’s a little about “HELP!” (but read to the bottom because we’ve got some FREE stuff for you!): 

HELP“HELP!” teaches children to call on God in times of trouble.  Explores the topics of  healing, depression, stress, wisdom, and loneliness through the Bible Stories of King David, Jairus’ daughter, Apostle Paul, Mary and Martha, and Solomon

The curriculum pack includes:

  • Six lessons of Large Group curriculum
  • Six lessons of Small Group Curriculum
  • Three high impact Video Segments per lesson
  • Bible Story with comic-book style illustrated graphics
  • Action Games
  • Character Skits
  • Object lessons
  • Family Devotions to send home with parents
  • All Quicktime and Mpeg Video files
  • Totally redeveloped Curriculum style (High quality graphics and video)
  • Only $99 (still one of the lowest prices in the Kidmin Universe)
  • Also available as a download for only $79

Sound good? Sounds GREAT!! And here’s the good news – if you order your “HELP!” curriculum by 9/30/13 you can get $20 off just by using the coupon code “HELP” when you order! Click this link to order now.

But wait, there’s more:

Our contest has concluded. Thanks to all who commented, tweeted & posted! 

5 Imperatives For Every Children’s Ministry Program

A couple of years into my ministry career I was asked What are the things that you are intentional about incorporating into every program you lead? I didn’t really have an answer but I thought it was a good question. So I sat down soon after that I wrote out these 5 imperatives for every program we offered (everything…Sunday, midweek, special events… everything – because I don’t want any time with kids wasted & turned into babysitting). I’ve been using them as a measuring tool ever since:

1. Child-centered. This means it needs to be safe, attractive & age-appropriate in every aspect and area of the program.

2. Application-Oriented. We must teach something that the kids can take home and apply to their lives in a practical way. I like to use what I call the “This Week” Principle, meaning I want some application taught that is relevant, practical and usable “this week” for each child.

3. Relational. Everything we do needs to be built on the foundation of strong, positive adult/child relationships. After all, as you’ve read on this blog many times: ministry happens best through relationships. 

fun4. Creative. Our program must be dynamic & intriguing to children, incorporating many different avenues of communication. Since I’m not the most creative person in the world (ok, I’m probably a 3 on a scale of 1-10!) I lean heavily on others to help with this.

5. Fun. Our program needs to be a place a child wants to come to. The real test of this is if our program is a place the child would be excited to bring their friends. If kids aren’t having fun, I can pretty much guarantee they’re not getting whatever it is you’re trying to communicate.

These are a few things I’ve measured every program against – what would you add? 

What Does This Crazy Little Thing Called Love Have To Do With Leading Your Ministry

love1Does love matter as you lead your ministry?

That might seem like a stupid question – of course it does! – but it’s one worth asking. In fact, it’s one every leader should consistently ask themselves.

How is love fitting into my leadership framework? 

What does Jesus give us as a framework for life? In Matthew 22:37-40 He says: 

‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

These verses sum up our responsibilities not only as believers, but also as Continue reading What Does This Crazy Little Thing Called Love Have To Do With Leading Your Ministry

Solving Your Ministry Problems

prayer-handsWhen the Israelites were in peril, what were they told to do?

In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. Jeremiah 29:12-13

When we have worries (yes, even about those vacant volunteer positions we haven’t been able to fill) what does God tell us to do? 

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Philippians 4:6

If you are walking with God, what does He say about your pleas with Him? 

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power
and produces wonderful results. James 5:16b

I think this quote by Oswald Chambers (author of the magnificent devotional, My Utmost For His Highest) perhaps sums it up:

Prayer does not EQUIP us for greater works –
prayer IS the greater work.

Our ministry work ought to flow from our relationship with God…not the other way around. A great place to start dealing with all of your ministry challenges is at His feet.

It’s A Privilege

privilegeAbout a month ago I was in Phoenix speaking at a church for 3 days. Each day, as I awaited backstage to be introduced, I would see this sign in the hallway leading to the platform.

What a great reminder!

Of course, this was designed to be a reminder to those who were about to speak on that stage. But the broad reminder to anyone who serves in ministry also applies. It’s a privilege to serve God!

And, for most of us, it’s a great reminder that:

  • It’s a privilege to share Jesus with children.
  • It’s a privilege to equip volunteers. 
  • It’s a privilege to help parents invest spiritually in the lives of their children. 
  • It’s a privilege to do all the unseen work getting ready for a big event. 
  • It’s a privilege to visit a sick child in the hospital. 
  • It’s a privilege to develop leaders. 
  • It’s a privilege invite potential leaders to be part of a great vision. 
  • It’s a privilege clean up after everyone leaves on Sunday. 
  • It’s a privilege run around with kids at camp until you’re exhausted, just so that later that relationship might lead to a conversation about God.
  • It’s a privilege to walk the journey with a family who’s lost a child.
  • It’s a privilege to teach any child anything from God’s Word.
  • It’s a privilege to deal with an upset parent and help them have a better experience at church.
  • It’s a privilege to work hard at maintaining safety in your church.
  • It’s a privilege … to do all the things we do.

In short, it’s a privilege to lead in Children’s & Family Ministry.