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7 things to stop doing now

7 things to stop doing now in your ministry

Some of these things you might be doing because that’s the way it’s always been done at your Church, or you never stepped back and asked “why do we do this?” Blind spots are very real and this list might open your eyes to a few of them or you may disagree completely and continue doing them with renewed vigour and that’s great because at least you will be doing them purposefully.

7. Stop guessing.
Whatever gets measured gets done. If you want an area to grow or develop you have to quantify it.
Years ago we did some digging into our attendance at Church and discovered a few vital statistics.
– 75% of our families come during a three week period.
This caused us to reimagine just what our curriculum looks like. In short we now cover a topic for three weeks at a time which give maximum exposure to as many kids as possible. You can see me talk about this in this video Season 2 Curriculum Promo
So stop guessing and measure it and if it’s something tricky to quantify like discipleship for example, talk with your senior leadership and get wisdom into just how they would measure it.

6. Stop being jealous.
No matter what size or style Church you are everyone gets envious. As a user of multi-purpose rooms I get incredibly jealous of friends in ministry with their own full-time, only kids can use them, just plain showing off, Disney-style, quite frankly unnecessary, I mean who needs a screen that big, now you’re being ostentatious, purpose built, testament to mans arrogance in the face of an all powerful God, but yet still beautiful facilities!
So yeah… Run your own race or whatever.

5. Stop doing it all yourself.
I spoke to a new ministry leader once who had come from a teaching background. We were chatting and she was asking for advice about what to focus on. She mentioned that she was writing the curriculum each week for the Sunday service. I told her that was a terrible idea. If she continues doing that then at the end of a year she will have 52 lessons and no team. But if she realised that if her 52 weeks were filled with team building and volunteer training, then after a year she will have an group of people who can then take on the awesome task of writing their own curriculum.

4. Stop putting your trust in curriculum.
Now don’t get me wrong, you should all be using Hillsong Kids BiG curriculum available at hillsongstore.com, but it’s a tool in your hand not the whole toolbox. Your toolbox is Christ and it’s full of the fruit of the spirit and spiritual gifts of not only you but the team around you. Seriously, curriculum never saved anyone, but it certainly can be used by God to steer someone in the right direction.
Just like graduating university doesn’t guarantee anyone a career, a child completing your take home sheet every week does not a follower of Jesus make.

3. Stop being so serious.
It’s said a lot around our parts… Church is meant to be enjoyed not endured. It’s a paradox but the more intense, stressed and tense you are the worse you communicate. And your job as a kids pastor is basically communication. You’re joining with what God is doing in the lives of kids and families and reinforcing and encouraging them in their relationship with Him.
If kids are having fun they learn better, they relate better, they live better.

2. Stop sending home bits of paper.
Now I will admit that we still do this most weekends. But it’s a lot less than we have in the past and it’s always a supplement, not the main form of communication. You have social media now, you have the amazing tool of group texting for very low cost, you have YouTube and you have volunteers to get the word out. Stop it.

1. Stop taking a break over summer.
What? Your kids ministry stops over the summer and then launches again when school begins? You are not an educational institution. It may be part of what you do, but you are the Church! A family of people doing life together. If you behave like an institution then don’t be surprised when your families treat you like one. This may be normal and accepted in your denomination or network of churches but it shouldn’t be. Take a long look at why you do this and stop being a school and start being the church.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, it means a lot. Would love to hear from you, disagree, tell me I’m awesome, or what ever in the comments below!
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Four kidmin leadership panels you should watch today

Andy Kirk is a champion.

Full stop.

I don’t know how he does it… family, ministry, entrepreneur…

But he does it and he does it well.

He oversees Kids R Us in Australia here and I think you should get to know him, connect with him, and at some point meet him and ask him questions! A good place to do that is at the annual Kidshaper conference.

He got together myself, Nathan Mclean and a few legends from Australia to talk about #kidmin and leadership etc. for a panel discussion. I love this style of learning and leadership and I think you should watch them! I just rewatched them and it reminded me of so much and kept me thinking about the things that are important!

You can find them in the resources tab at the KidsRUs website. Or head over to their Vimeo Account for more!

Kids R Us – Leadership Panel – Session 1 from Kids R Us on Vimeo.
 

 

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Conversations in Kids Ministry

At this years Kidshaper conference myself and my partner in crime Funny Man Dan created a special moment to parody the conversations that might happen in the life of ministers to children.

It was a blast creating this moment with Dan and took a little time to rehearse, but it was totally worth it to bring something special to every single person serving the kids of their Church!

Thanks to Andy Kirk at Kids R Us who put this up on their YouTube account you can enjoy the fruits of our labour! I hope it blesses you, I think you will be surprised at the end 🙂

CONVERSATIONS IN KIDS MINISTRY

 

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CPC Breakout Notes

While at CPC in San Diego recently I presented a breakout session. Here’s part of what I talked about:

LEADERSHIP IS IMPROVISATION

In Exodus 18 Moses’ father in law Jethro seemingly organized the whole Israelite nation in a single meeting. Telling Moses to find leaders over 10?s, 100?s and 1000?s and therefore save his sanity.

So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself. Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.” Exodus 8:17-23

Tick the efficiency box and move on to the next task? Well Moses just found himself a new job, overseeing a bunch of leaders.

What the bible doesn’t go into just how Moses kept the system going over the following years. How did he grow the structure over the coming years? Did he fire any of his new leaders? Who got promotions?

However it worked, it was probably a little messy. I’ll bet his father in law had more to say to him and I’m sure he was figuring it out as he went along. He was improvising.

WHAT IS IMPROVISATION?

I don’t know what your concept of improvisation is, but the common misconception is that its all just ‘making it up’, inventing from out of thin air, starting with a completely blank slate as it were. Is it really making it up? Do artists and musicians simply create out of thin air as a kind of melting pot of inspiration.

Starting young
Photo Credit: Alex Ristea via Compfight

Not really — You see, what improvisation is is built upon pretty much everything in improviser has had ever heard. As improvisers, we constantly reshape that which is at hand rather than create. In Jazz we are in the process of spontaneously creating fresh melodies over the chord changes of a tune, spontaneously creating a very intricate form of theme and variation. The structure is flexible so that the soloist may venture in various directions depending on the inspiration of the moment.

In a sense, all Jazz musicians are also composers — they just do it live. It took me three years of study already founded in 10 years of learning music to be able to make things up. It has been said that the best improvised music sounds composed, and that the best composed music sounds improvised.

The 700 word magazine articles you read about teams and leadership can make teams and leadership seem a clean and tidy affair. But the day to day reality is messy. There are decisions to be made and the greatest structural leadership flow chart, venn diagram, PowerPoint presentation is an ideal not a constant reality.

Improvisation is taking something you have learnt, borrowed, developed, and giving it fresh expression.

The whole idea behind improvisation is motion, it’s just the courage to keep going. – Bobby Mcferrin

Have an ideal, but roll with the unexpected!

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Waltzing Matilda

I have met over the last few years a large number of incredibly faithful kids pastors and leaders. A large percentage of the people who lead children’s ministries in Australia are volunteers and give a large chunk of their time to their local Church to see the ministry to children move forward.

I think these leaders have a HUGE amount to say to everyone involved in ministering to children. I am fascinated with the different forms that our little world of ministry takes on. Just last year a network that had seemingly languished here in NSW was resurrected and is finding it’s feet again. I have been able to be a part of a few of the gatherings and it has been such a blessing just to connect with leaders from other denominations across the spectrum of ministry in Australia. The Salvation Army people, Anglicans, Baptists and representatives from World Vision.

Now I don’t travel around very much except perhaps to the Kidshaper conference each year. But mainly I get to invite hundreds of pastors to the kids stream at our annual Hillsong Conference. So for me the net is a vital connection to leaders around this sunburnt land.

Maybe it’s the Tall Poppy thing in our culture – but my experience is that very few leaders in Australia a good at telling their own story.

There is so much God stuff going on with our kids in Australia I want to read some more about this, I want to hear more about this.

The most significant thing we have done in the last few years is start a preteen ministry. I wrote about it here: Re: Ideas for Children’s Ministry and have spoken about it everywhere I get the chance. What a WASTE if I had never shared the experience of starting this program and the blessing that it has been (I think I should talk more about it actually), and simply kept it to ourselves.

Right now someone is sitting on a story that will inspire me (or anyone) to greater effectiveness and new vision but they choose the path of least resistance and keep it to themselves. That’s not humble, that’s irresponsible.

<And Breathe…>

Here are some people telling the story of what God is doing in Aus:

Rob Bradbury is the Godfather Children’s ministry in Australia of has a new blog.

Children’s Ministry 1234 – The Planetshakers kids team

Brendon and Cathie Clancy – Kids worship leaders and pastors

Chris Neal – Keep writing Chris 🙂

Nathan Mclean – On Hillsong Kids staff at our Hills Campus!

Andrew Shepherd – 25 years in ministry and passionate as the day is long!

Funny Man Dan – My very own muffin of mirth keeping you smiling since 1984

Kathryn Macdowall – Hillsong Kids staff and the worlds greatest curriculum writer

Uniting Church – News from the Uniting Church in Australia

This was a pretty quick list and far too small. I am sure it needs to grow. If you know of others please leave a comment below and I will edit this post!

P.S. This is kinda like a part two of my last post Blogging Matters.

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Org Chart

I feel bad.

Someone asked one of our awesome team (Kathryn Macdowall) to  send them an organisation chart for Hillsong Kids, and she had to write one down from memory because we don’t really have a up to date one.

It’s like one of the first rules of ministry.

Especially if doing multi campus Church!

It’s so important, you have to submit it before entering kidmin heaven along with your child safety policy.

But I didn’t have one.

You need clarity in your communication, which is usually found in the writing of something, but so many job descriptions and charts lie around gathering dust. Having something in the hearts and minds of your team is so much more important than having it just on paper.

What’s the most important document you have that no one has read?

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Q is for Question

I have given myself a challenge for the next 26 days – post the complete A-Z of Ministry to Children.

Q… quit, queen, Qantas, quacksalver…

Q is for Question – Your kids have questions. Lots of them probably. They will ask the most random question at the most random times. I know that when I am with one of our KDG’s (Kids Discipleship Groups – small groups), and talking I can see certain kids brains veering wildly out of control on a tangent which inevitably leads to a question like “If God is my Father, then is Jesus my brother?”.

I talked in E is for Encouragement about this topic a little. Whatever happens, you do want to encourage questions because they show thought and intiative both things that kids have control over.

So I want to talk about the questions you ask as a leader and follower.

Asking questions shows:

  1. That you are eager to learn
  2. You care about other peoples worlds
  3. You want to improve
  4. You are aware of what is going on around you
  5. That you are interested
  6. You don’t think you have all the answers
  7. You want to involve others in the answers

As a leader you need to ask the most questions in the room. There is so much that goes unsaid in a team, assumptions, traditions, the way that we do things that are never articulated. Even if you feel like everyone in the room has heard it all before, say it!

Beginner stand-up comedians will work on new jokes until they have a solid ‘five minutes‘ of material they know is funny. They may keep using those jokes for years and years as they develop. Jerry Seinfeld in the movie/documentary comedian restarts his stand-up career after TV by writing all new material, and it is painful to watch at times as he goes through the growing pains.

Say what you have to say as a leader and then say it again. It will make your whole team laser focussed and avoid all the questions you don’t want to hear.

The questions you hear reveal your weaknesses, and the questions you ask reveal your heart.

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P is for Paradigm

I have given myself a challenge for the next 26 days – post the complete A-Z of Ministry to Children.

P… Passion, people, pimples, palladiumizing…

P is for Paradigm – Here’s what you need, a shift in your paradigms. I hear you protest – “But I just had my paradigms rotated last month”, “these paradigms were meant to be good for at least 3,000 miles”.

I love the old school. But only when it is truly recognised as old school.

In fact if you are still rockin’ old school like it’s new school then you are not old school at all you are instead a roadblock to the purpose of God.

A little strong Dave?

– Tell that to Peter and his paradigm shifting food experience which paved the way for the salvation of Gentiles (Acts 10:9-23)

– Tell that to the children of Israel who walked the desert for a few years longer than they had to because they couldn’t quite get their heads around this God who provided for them everything they needed.

– Tell that to your senior Pastor when you suddenly become a pain in the butt, dragging your inability to change around like a wet blanket when a change in direction calls for all leaders to stand up and say, “Ah, we’re going this way… let’s go!”

Some of the questions, some of the methods, some of the answers that were relevant in your old paradigm are completely irrelevant now.

Deal with it, or get out of the way for someone who can.

P.S. Working with children and young people takes the MOST flexible leadership in the Church. Hope it’s you 🙂

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D is for Delegate

I have given myself a challenge for the next 26 days – post the complete A-Z of Ministry to Children.

D… Doctrine, dynamic, Donald Duck, delusion, darts…

D is for Delegate – I have seen it over and over in our team and in myself. You find yourself with a new volunteer who has a lot of potential to carry great responsibility. But after a few weeks they have faded into the background and either settled or possibly disappeared. Not every leader is going to hop on your ‘bus’, but I find to often brilliant leaders are sitting in the back row when they could be helping you navigate!

The missing ingredient is often authority. You have been great in delegating responsibility, but like a lot of leaders cling onto the authority either because you like to ‘be the boss’ or you don’t trust anyone to ‘do it’ as good as you!

Hey – it used to be that you weren’t as good as you are now and the only reason you are where you are today is because someone took a chance on you.

Heres a simple little procedure to help someone reach their maximum potential:

  1. Give them a simple task (very time specific) and follow up on it extremely diligently knowing that in the future you won’t have to be so thorough
  2. Thank the person in a big way and ask if there is any way they think we (the team) could do it better.
  3. Repeat a few times adding in the important ingredient – authority.
  4. If they rise to the challenge they become a leader – simple as that.

(There is a lot more to it than this but you get the idea… simple right?)

Final thoughts from Jim Wideman and his blog series Delegate or die:

Delegation is not an option for those who want to succeed in ministry. But to succeed you must take inventory of where you are. Start small and go from there. I try to recruit my team one worker at a time. Ask yourself and your volunteers, “What do I need to do differently?” What volunteers do you see potential in? Commit to coach volunteers and let them learn by doing. What are you waiting on? Delegate or Die!

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Your underwear

Control makes change exciting. Uncontrolled change is unpredictable.

Here’s the thing: We only like change when WE are the one making the change. When we are in control.

I even hate it when I read about a fellow blogger who I may know only from reading their work or sharing discount celexa online comments is changing roles or perhaps Churches. What is that all about?

It’s because I have zero control over the situation.

As a leader you are setting the direction and keeping the team going forward — so when you change something, it’s exciting. In those times (Andy Stanley talks about that moment you realise you the most powerful person in the room), that it is wise to think about the last time your leader changed something and how you felt — maybe out of the loop, or disorientated or even a little worried about the future.

Communicating change means:

  1. Communicating the WHY behind the WHAT
  2. Taking time to answer the little questions
  3. Reinforce the vision
  4. Empathise with your team, don’t dismiss it as an easy decision (even if it was for you… remember: you’re in control)
  5. Talk about what a blessing the ‘old way’ was to bring them this far
  6. Choose your battles — attitude and heart need to fought for, not the colour of the carpet (that will be a much easier change 6 months later)

Wondering about the post title? Just an example of something that should change often 🙂