Archive for October, 2008

What do you think? Will it sell?

Posted on 31. Oct, 2008 by .

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Today is my day off and I’m trying to complete my list of things to do today. One of them is to list a bunch of stuff on Craigs List and Ebay. Here is one of my items.

Taking bets now. Do you think it will sell? What are my odds?… Read the rest

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Halloween outreach: A new idea

Posted on 31. Oct, 2008 by .

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I’ve done my share of Halloween outreach/alternatives. I’ve done ‘em big too, and they can be a lot of fun. But they can also be a lot of work. I haven’t done one in four years and I haven’t really been looking to do another one anytime soon either. However, I had an idea while sitting in a staff meeting this week and I’m totally interested in fleshing this idea out.

When i was in college, we did an outreach event every year on Halloween. About 2,000 students participated. All the students came together to the chapel for some worship and then instructions. Students were organized by the floor they lived on. We would then be given a map of 5-7 streets to go visit. Just like the trick or treaters, we’d knock on doors and collect canned food for a local food bank. We’d collect food for about two hours and then come back to the school and celebrated. We’d raise TONS of food. This worked out well since it we were college students and didn’t do the trick or treating thing anymore.

So, my idea was inspired by this. In the past I’ve done Halloween alternatives to get families to come to a great event instead of trick or treating. The outreach was focused on getting people to come to our church, who might come again on a Sunday. In actuality, we would have a lot of people come to our church as a result and many came to faith. But in my idea, it’s not about that kind of outreach.

We would challenge our families to take their kids trick or treating on Halloween, but not for candy. They’d trick or treat for canned food for families in need (especially with thanksgiving right around the corner). They’d have cards to pass out explaining what it was for and stuff.… Read the rest

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Vision: The cure to anxiety?

Posted on 30. Oct, 2008 by .

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Okay, this is a little raw and honest. Since I got back from vacation, I’ve been struggling with anxiety.

It’s been strange. Since I’ve been doing Children’s Ministry full time I’d usually have one of “those days” every year or two. It was when t felt like the sky was falling and I couldn’t breath. My solution was to usually close my office door, turn out the lights and cry for a few minutes. Then I’d get a Lemon Berry Slush and things would be better. This was a pattern, it would happen every year or two and when it would happen, I knew what to do.

Until this year.

On my way home from Canada, I started to get those feelings of anxiety. My first day back was pretty bad. I just felt like I was walking through mud. The next day didn’t get any better. All kinds of thoughts would jump into my head. Thoughts of self-doubt and worry. The next day was a staff meeting day and I shared what I was going through with several staff members and that helped a lot. I think that some of the anxiety is related to my not practicing the discipline of solitude. It’s something that Gateway really values and encourages every staff member to take a solitude day every month (which I haven’t yet). So, I felt much better.

But then for the next two weeks, I’ve still didn’t feel like the anxiety was gone. It was like it was in the room with me, I wasn’t overwhelmed or depressed, just a little anxious. If you know me, this is totally not like me at all. Even on Monday I had a long talk with my wife about how I had been feeling. I think she really needed some encouragement from me, but ended up being a source of encouragement for me.… Read the rest

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I read just read The Shack

Posted on 30. Oct, 2008 by .

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My mom brought me her copy of The Shack. I hadn’t heard of it until about two months ago. Apparently I’ve been living in a hole. The only thing I’d really heard about it was that it was stirring up quite a bit of controversy, but the masses were loving it.

I read it in about a week. It was the first book I’ve ever read that caused me to cry. Okay, maybe that is a little bit of a stretch. My eyes misted over and I got the little lump in my throat. That’s what happened. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a hard-hearted dude. Every time I watch Homeward Bound or even the Fox and the Hound, I cry like a baby. But a book? I’ve never read a book that induced that kind of emotion… but maybe it’s my choice of book, huh?

So, I totally had no idea of what to expect. I was a little shocked when I met Papa. I didn’t expect that at all. However, I can’t say I didn’t fall in love with the three main characters (outside the main person). I must say that there were many parts where I totally connected with the characters and I thought, “Wow, God really does want to connect to me just like that.” I think that God is too far removed from our experience, and The Shack as a good reminder of how near God is and how he wants to relate to us.

The negatives? There were a few parts where the dialogue got a little long. I felt like I was in a systematic theology class where the professor was trying to explain something really complicated in a way I could understand, but the explanation went way longer they time allowed. I know that there were some theological leaps taken in this story.… Read the rest

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Volunteers: When you don’t have enough (Part 2)

Posted on 29. Oct, 2008 by .

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I was hoping to get a little more feedback from my previous post about how you fill the gaps. If you didn’t read it or didn’t have a chance to post, I’d still like to hear some more ideas. You can post your comments with this post or the original one.

So, if you’re recruiting or you need to recruit to fill some holes, what do you do in the mean time?

Last year at the Orange Conference I heard Craig Jutila talk about this. He said, whatever you do, don’t fill the spot yourself. You’ll get stuck and if you’re the leader, how can you lead when you’re stuck in a spot that should be filled by someone you’re leading. It’s a very good point and I do the very best I can to plan for that. I’ve found that in the few times that’ I’ve gotten sucked into a spot, it was because of a no show or unexpected emergency. Otherwise, I try to follow this advise fully.

I combine if necessary. I launched small groups on Sunday mornings in elementary in September. I started with a few open spots that need to be filled. I have two groups that I had to combine. 4th and 5th grade girls during one service and 4th and 5th grade boys at the other.  They were combined for about 7 weeks. Another group I utilized one volunteer who could only serve every other week. He’s leading on his schedule and I have another leader who is pulling a double shift and serving on the weeks the other leader can’t be there. Not ideal, but it’s holding those spots until I find the right person.

Utilizing subs. If found that subs are better than once a month workers. Once a month workers seem to never remember when they are supposed to work.… Read the rest

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Blogging dead? Say it aint so.

Posted on 28. Oct, 2008 by .

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This has been bugging me for a many days now. The fact that I haven’t just let it go or forgotten about it is the part of what bugs me. Steven Dilla, the Preschool Pastor at Fellowship Church, Grapvine (and an incredibly great guy, he gave me a fantastic tour a few months ago… thanks Matt for introducing me to Steven) deleted his blog. He read this article and then deleted it.

Now I’m a big fan of Wired magazine and really appreciate the insight on technology and culture. After reading the article myself I would have to say that I agree. Blogging is so 2004.

However, the true question is, “am I ready for change?”

I don’t know that I am… yet. I think Steven is absolutely right. The Christian bubble is always 10 steps behind what is happening in the rest of the world. Since I entered the blogosphere about 18 months ago, I’ve been incredibly blessed. What an amazing community, and it is growing (but it doesn’t seem to be growing as fast as I would have expected it to).

Other than a select few, I don’t read magazines anymore. They’re almost dead to me. I get my information mostly from blogs. Rather than read an article from certain church leaders whenever a magazine has them write, I can hear their thoughts without the buffer of a publisher.

I’m just not convinced we’ve totally seen what’s next… but maybe I need it a little more spelled out. I twitter and find it to be an amazing tool for connection. But it’s not exactly replacing blogging. Neither is Facebook. So, I’m still looking. I think I’m willing to make a change, but maybe not until the next platform is a little more established… or visible. But that’s just me.… Read the rest

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Volunteers: When you don’t have enough

Posted on 28. Oct, 2008 by .

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I’m really curious about something.

One of the most popular subject to discuss in children’s ministry is the recruiting, retention and leading of volunteers. Why? Because we all need ‘em. I’ve never met anyone who had all the volunteers they’ve needed. When I was just starting out in ministry and feeling the responsibilities of recruiting, I felt comfort in the fact that a really big church down the road that I respected for their excellence and quality in ministry was also in the midst of trying to recruit several hundred new volunteers. Even when in Malaysia several years ago when doing some CM training, several local CP’s would come up and say, “but you don’t understand. It’s different here. We never have enough volunteers!” It’s a global challenge.

This post is not about volunteer recruiting though. It’s about what you are doing in the mean time. No one ever really talks about this part. I know for a lot of us, it means staff and already over-committed volunteers getting sucked into last minute spots (yeah, we all know it happens… we just don’t want to admit it). For some it is utilizing subs to fill empty spots rather than just subbing for workers who are out. I know others have even recruited temporary volunteers (just give us until the end of the year and we can fill this spot).

I’m not sure if anyone else has ever wondered about this. What are you doing and how do you cope with the open spots while recruiting? Tell your story.… Read the rest

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Should I play spin the bottle?

Posted on 27. Oct, 2008 by .

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We’re in the middle of our Soul Revolution push as a church and so I’m creating a Soul Revolution activity for each Sunday during the 9 weeks. Normally the kids would do 3 separate activities in small groups that go along with the 252 Basics curriculum. However, right now I am writing one of those to be a Soul Revolution activity.

I’ve got one activity that is tripping me up. I want the kids to randomly select another kid in their group to encourage. Then the next kid will randomly select another kid to encourage. I really don’t want to spin a bottle, but what better “random selecting tool” is there. Simple. Cheap. But unfortunately loaded with connotations.

So, the big questions? Would you play spin the bottle? Can this activity redeem the other version or would you not touch this with a ten foot pole? Last of all, what else is a fun, easy and effortless way to randomly select kids to be encouraged?… Read the rest

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Budgets: Are you feeling a crunch this year?

Posted on 27. Oct, 2008 by .

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I’m just curious and throwing this question out there. With the economy in the condition it is in at this time, is your church really feeling it? How has that affected your budget or your budget planning for next year?

I’m working on the 2009 budget this week and I think we’re anticipating things to get a little tight, but nothing to serious.

Anyone have to make budget cuts? What areas are seeing the cuts? What ways are you having to be creative to deal with shortfalls?… Read the rest

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Valuable lesson: I’m no good at managing multiple blogs

Posted on 27. Oct, 2008 by .

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I’m just not very good at it. I have three blogs right now. This blog, a personal family blog and a church blog that we use to communicate to parents. Probably in the next few weeks, I’ll be launching another blog for volunteers. It’s less about regular updates and more about a place where they can get lesson plans, documents and view training resources. Man do we need that soon.

But, I’ve found that I’m just no good at doing all of these… at the same time. I’ve not written a word in two weeks on this blog, but in the mean time I’ve been making many updates to my other blogs. Sorry to neglect, I’ve got some things to discuss this week, so I should be regular week again.… Read the rest

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