Over the years, I’ve written a lot about child dedication. Click here to see pages and pages of Child Dedication thoughts and ideas. However, I thought I’d say something about the process and event since it’s been a few years since I’ve written about the event. We’ve only made some minor changes in the last few years, but I’m feeling the itch to re-invent and refresh a little. Hopefully I’ll process much of this here so the greater kidmin community can both help me and benefit from my process at the same time.
We held a child dedication just a week ago. This one was a fairly small event, but probably one of the more successful ones I’ve been a part of. I had the opportunity to lead the prayer time for three separate families and there were lots of tears at two of the three prayer gatherings. After the fact, I was joking with my student pastor about how you gauge success at a child dedication. We decided that if there are sniffles during the prayer, that’s 7 out of 10 starts. If there’s obvious crying around the circle, well – that’s 8 or 9 stars out of 10. All out wailing – you, my friend just hit 10 out of 10.
The sniffling and tears (and possible wailing) are not the result of spiritual or emotional manipulation or a well crafted prayer time that elicited an emotional response. No, tears at a child dedication are usually the result of connecting all the dots. It’s the result of doing what I believe is the most important thing you can do at a child dedication, which is to make it personal.… Read the rest
That’s not meant to be a threat or insult. Maybe if your manager called you into his office and said “you can be replaced,” it would feel a little uncomfortable. But its true. I wrote a very applicable post about this in August called “Imagine you are gone.” It speaks specifically to this idea that one day you will be gone and even though it doesn’t seem even remotely possible – the ministry you tirelessly lead will go on without you. We end up frustrating ourselves (and burning ourselves out) because we put ourselves in a place where our ministries will fail without our presence. We feel trapped and often we feel like we’re drowning. However, the moment you step out, its only a matter of time when someone steps in or steps up to do what you were doing. Wouldn’t it be better to find that person before you’re burnt to a crisp so that you can lead for the long haul? They’re there – because they’re going to step up or step in when you’re gone. See if you can’t find them now.
Here’s why this is so important. Yesterday I wrote a post called “Five Reasons Why You Need to Go to Church.” I got a handful of messages about that post and I’m pretty sure there are many people who thought some things but didn’t say anything. Here’s what what communicated and not communicated to me.
- I can’t go to the main service because if I did, no one could teach ____________.
- I can’t go to the main service because there wouldn’t be anyone to ____________.
- I can’t go t the main service because we only have one service.
These seem like reasonable excuses, but they’re not good ones. Hold on before you get frustrated.… Read the rest
Some of the most unchurched people I know are children’s pastors.
I know, that’s a ridiculous statement, but there’s a truth to it. Kidmin staff are often so busy leading, putting out fires and sometimes single-handedly making ministry happen that even the thought of attending the adult service is a luxury. I know many who attend once a year or less – and I’m not talking about those who lead at churches where they only have once service. Yes, there are countless reasons why ministry staff don’t make it to the main service and there will always be more reasons than it’s worth writing down. However, if we’re honest – we know that this habit of not attending church services for ourselves is an unhealthy practice. It’s unhealthy for you and it’s unhealthy for your church.… Read the rest
Last month Orange asked me to write an e-single (something between an article and e-book) on reprioritizing for groups at your church. I was excited for the opportunity because reprioritizing for groups has been my story for the past 5-6 years. It’s not been an easy transition, but we’re really seeing the payoff for hundreds of kids every year as we’ve put caring adults in the lives of every kid who comes to church. Here, you can watch the short video about the e-single here:
Trust me, I understand the hesitation. … Read the rest
I’d like to wrap up this conversation of rethinking family ministry with what I believe is a church’s best opportunity to impact families.
It’s not a curriculum or a program.
It’s not an event or a seminar.
It’s actually not something your staff or key leadership will do at all.
The secret weapon isn’t what most people expect, including the people who have potential to make the biggest impact. If you buy into this idea, you’ll find that building a healthy family ministry might be less work than you anticipated because it doesn’t involve starting something new because you’ll just be doing something a little more.
So what is this family ministry secret weapon?… Read the rest
We’re almost done with this week of rethinking family ministry. Already we’ve talked about really understanding who our family audience is and this controversial idea of lowering the bar for parents. Today’s idea is connected to the other two… especially the idea of lowering the bar.
Launching a Family Ministry resource that didn’t cost me any time or money
We started using 252 Basics and My First Look at Gateway almost seven years ago. It was an excellent move for us as it helped us bolster a change to small groups. However, about two years in we moved away from 252 Basics due to some complications we were having making the resources work in our given situation. For about two years, we bounced around to some other resources trying to find what we were looking for until we eventually moved back to 252 Basics and we’ve been completely happy since. It works perfectly for our situation now, but that wasn’t the reason we moved back. It had to do with our families. Several people on staff and on the church leadership team began asking questions about what Gateway does for families. I started feeling some pressure, like there would soon be some expectations to offer extra things that we weren’t currently doing. If you’ve read my last post, you’ll understand that I’m not convinced that a bunch of extra offerings helps as much as we hope they will.
So I pitched an idea.… Read the rest
So we’re talking about rethinking family ministry. Perhaps family ministry isn’t what we thought it is or maybe we’re not seeing families for who they really are. Family Ministry is new on the block and there are some great new resources and ideas that seem like the answer… but what if they aren’t – or at least not completely.
Here’s the deal. For decades (or longer), the answer for children’s evangelism/discipleship was to let the church handle it. There are aspects of the family ministry model that has swung the pendulum all the way back the other way. This view is that parents are the best suited for the spiritual development of their kids, so we need to equip parents to do the best job possible. It makes perfect sense.
So we offer classes.
We give out books.
We provide training.
We cast vision.
Then we get frustrated because our parents haven’t stepped up to the bar. We become resentful.… Read the rest
Yesterday I launched this idea of rethinking family ministry because I think that what first comes to mind when we ministry leaders think families for family ministry might not be completely accurate, strategic or as impactful.
I’m biased and I didn’t even know it
I remember a conversation I was having in a leadership staff meeting over ten years ago. We were talking about the large numbers of families in our church that were blended. I remember going on and on for a few minutes about how it’s hard for me to get my head around what that kind of family might be like. Then a few minutes passed and I started laughing. I had to admit to everyone the silliness of my words because I came from a blended family. Although my mom and dad have been married only to each other my whole life, my dad had been married before my mom and had two kids from the previous marriage. I grew up with two half-brothers my whole life, it just didn’t “feel” blended to me because that’s all I ever knew. It was my normal.
The numbers speak for themselves
Over the last several years, I’ve heard a stat stating that less than 25% of minors live with both of their biological parents.… Read the rest
Isn’t everyone doing family ministry now? It’s such a popular thing to talk about among ministry circles. The family ministry breakouts at conferences are packed and ministry people want to know what others are doing to better serve families. Honestly, I can’t imagine a better place for the church to be – engaging families with renewed energy. However, I think it might serve many of us to rethink family ministry.
Here’s what I mean by that. I think that when when the phrase “family ministry” comes up, certain things come to mind.
- Mom, dad, and 2.5 kids
- Parenting classes
- Take home papers, weekly emails and maybe a podcast if you’re savvy
- Events, programs and a life-long list of milestones
These things are all great, but it’s possible that family ministry is bigger than this.… Read the rest
I love my job.
I spent about 11 years as a Children’s Pastor and nearly seven as a NextGen Pastor. I feel like I’m pretty good at what I do. I was made for this. I’ve turned around ministries and built people and programs that have reached thousands. My passion to do what I do so well leads me to work hard. If I can be honest, I constantly struggle with working harder than I should. Sometimes I work on the weekend. Frequently I work in the evenings after everyone has gone to bed. It doesn’t feel like work. It’s fun. It’s a part of who I am.
But there’s a flaw.… Read the rest