A year ago I was really challenged by something I heard and read. The concept comes from Seven Practices of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner and Lane Jones. The idea is to think in terms of steps as opposed to programs. This comes from one of Reggie’s chapters and he was talking to me about this last year and it really challenged me in the way we do summer camp for kids and students.
Here’s the concept. Every ministry has to decide on what is most important. Well, they don’t have to, but if they hope to be effective, they will. If everything is important, than nothing is. Everything will compete for money, resources, volunteers and families and everything will be okay and nothing will be superb. I’ve found this to be amazingly true. At Gateway, we’ve decided that relationships are the most important thing and we’ll do everything we can to value the relationship a small group leader has with a student/child. Everything!
Well, this caused us to evaluate camp. Good old summer camp.
Okay, maybe that title is a little sexist. Who is your t-shirt person.
In 15+ years of ministry, I’ve found that great t-shirt vendors (along with designers and whatnot) come and go. Some change their services, others change their pricing and some become less reliable. I’ve found that it’s always good to have a handful of options, having some vendors your rely on for some things and other vendors you rely on for other things. The worst place to be is staring down a deadline without any options.
Recently I’ve found myself looking to expand my options for t-shirt vendors. I thought I’d throw out a question to the community. Who have you found to be remarkable to work with when it comes to t-shirts or other printed apparel?… Read the rest
So there is a lot of debate about consumerism gone wild this time of year. I saw a lot of negative social media activity about Black Friday starting so much earlier this year, creeping into Thanksgiving afternoon. Sorry, I don’t really have anything to add to that debate. I’ve never participated in Black Friday – not because I’m against it, I just don’t like crowds at places where I shop. I like crowds… just not when shopping. However, I’m a big fan of a good deal. My favorite kind of shopping is the kind of shopping I can do from my computer which is why I love Cyber Monday. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, Cyber Monday is the online marketplace’s response to Black Friday. It’s where retailers post crazy great deals only available online. I thought I’d share a handful of incredible Cyber Monday deals that you need to know about, several that I’m taking advantage of myself.
That title might have been offensive to some… terribly sorry. Oh well, it’s true though, isn’t it? Advent has totally become the “think” in our Kidmin communities in recent years, right? It’s not like advent is new or anything. I remember the creative calendar boxes from when I was a kid, but now it seems to be everywhere, and that’s a great thing. (Confession: I’ve never actually done advent, in a serious and disciplined way – meaning to do it every day for 25 days. Don’t judge, I think we’re going to give it a shot this year.)
So, I thought I’d share some of the advent ideas out there as there seems to be quite a few. Maybe you’re looking for some inspiration to create your own for families in your church or you simply want to point families to an advent resource they can do on their own. Well, here are some of the ideas I know about.
Yesterday I was lucky enough to get my hands on the brand new Bible App for Kids from the makers of YouVersion, the Bible App just about everyone has on their phone. What a treat! The App is released into the wild on Thursday, but I thought I’d give everyone a sneak peak into this new app aimed for our kids.
I’ll start with this. I didn’t have any expectations going into this. I learned that this app was coming out a few weeks ago, but let me tell you, I’ve been pretty busy. I’ve not done any research or looked into what this app would be like. So, as I downloaded a copy of the app, I did so with no specific hopes or expectations for what this app would or would not be like. Honestly, I opened this app pretty much like most parents probably will.
Upon opening the app, I was impressed. My initial response was, “there’s no way a church designed this app.”
At Gateway, we’re very excited about Christmas. Our arts staff are neck deep in finalizing an amazing show for the Austin Community: Let it Be. The show is the greatest story ever told set to the music that defined a generation. Essentially, it’s the story of Christmas told through the music of the Beatles. Pretty cool, huh? World Vision has partnered with our church to see 1000 kids sponsored through the thousands who will attend Let it Be Christmas. So, if you’re in the Austin area (or close enough), be sure to come down for a show, it’s going to be amazing!
Orange’s 252 Basics curriculum is featuring wisdom during the month of November and to tell the story, they’re using the activity of geocaching as a fun way to set up the ideas.
I must admit that I was a little excited about this theming option. Here’s my confession, I’ve been an avid geocacher for almost 9 years. Yes, before they had a cool app for your smart phone, I had a handheld GPS, pages printed from geocaching.com, a pen and a bag of geocaching swag. Although I don’t cache very much anymore (one or two times every month or so), I have caches in 20 states, 6 countries, I’ve logged over 700 caches and have hidden nearly 40. Yes, I’ve even attended a couple of geocaching events.
Those of you who truly know me, this probably comes as no surprise. Ha!
All this to say, I think geocaching goes hand in hand with Children’s Ministry.
For those of you new to children’s ministry, there’s something very important that you need to understand. Actually, there are many who have been in ministry for a long time who haven’t caught onto this idea. I like to call it the “Great Bait and Switch” of ministry. It’s counter intuitive from what feels natural, but if you get this and run with it, you’ll expand the scope of your influence like crazy.
Most likely, the reason you’re in ministry is because you’re good with kids. You’re probably really good with kids. You’re like the kid whisperer. You speak and they listen. They’re like play dough in your hands. There’s honest to goodness giftedness there and it’s obvious why you responded to the call of Children’s Ministry. However, what brought you into children’s ministry isn’t going to be what helps you build a large ministry that impacts kids beyond your personal influence. I’m not discounting your gift, but operating completely out of your giftedness with kids will limit your ability to reach more than than a hundred or so kids if even that. If you’re content to reach and ministry to just a hundred or so kids, then that’s perfectly fine, but if you want to see impact beyond that, you have to rely on something entirely different.
So, I’ve been a little quiet about the Illuminate Conference this fall. Normally I’m promoting it pretty heavily already. In case you’re a new reader, Illuminate is a conference that I launched a few years ago at my church. Illuminate’s goal was to equip, empower and encourage those who serve kids in the local church. It was a conference that was both local and affordable, designed specifically for the volunteer in mind. No other conference put together such a high quality lineup of communicators for such an affordable event for volunteers. Oh, and Illuminate has been so successful. The first year saw nearly 1000 attendees in three cities and the second year saw nearly 2000 participants in five cities. What a fun ride.
So, what’s new this year? Well, my vision for Illuminate became bigger than my capacity to run it on my own (remember, I’ve got a full time gig too). So, I asked Orange to come in and help me take Illuminate to the next level and I’m so excited to see what Illuminate is becoming. Sue Miller and Amy Fenton have taken the reigns and are putting together an amazing team of communicators and assembling top notch content and are packaging it in a format that is new, but even more strategic than I’ve done in the past.
I’m talking about the movie in case you haven’t heard. See the trailer below:
I love a good movie and the trailer indicates that this one could be pretty amazing. They seemed to spare no expense when it comes to the talent. Oh, and the visual effect loop pretty amazing too.
Here’s the problem, there’s going to be lots of talk about this movie as it comes out. There will be a big debate as to why every Christian should go out and see this movie and take a non-believing friend. Churches will likely book showings. Then there will be others who will demand that Christians not go to the film, how the inaccuracies dilute the truth and will confuse people. The Gospel Coalition blog wrote a great article about this situation.
Honestly, I don’t care about either position.