Archive for November, 2010

I’m so lame

Posted on 30. Nov, 2010 by .


I haven’t blogged in close to 10 days. Things have actually been slowing down a little, but I have all these little pet projects that are all coming due this week. Oh, and I’ve been doing a little extra chilling out and reading books and stuff like that. I’m heading up to Fort Worth for a few days so I’ll probably be quite here until Monday.… Read the rest

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-11-22

Posted on 22. Nov, 2010 by .


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Child Dedication nuts and bolts (File management)

Posted on 18. Nov, 2010 by .


This week I’ve been writing out every detail of our Child Dedication process. This post is my last entry in this series, and probably one that’s just a little shorter. :)

With the system and process that we have in place, it’s very important that we keep all the files nice and tidy so that when a class or dedication comes up, everything is easily accessible. I thought I’d give you a sneak peak into how we store all the files pertinent to our process. For the past two years, I’ve kept these files neat and orderly, but not in a convenient place for anyone but me. Yeah, they’ve been sitting on my desktop. If I’m being totally honest, the fact that these are sitting on my desktop is what inspired this entire series. On Saturday after finishing our most recent Child Dedication, I finally decided that it was time to move the files off my computer and onto the church’s server. However, I figured that I’d write this series before placing all the files on the server for safe keeping. I know, it doesn’t totally make sense, but that’s the way my mind works.

So, in my Child Dedication folder, I have four sub-folders.

Child Dedication Service, Media, Prep for Child Dedication Class and Service Files. I just hit one at a time for you.

Child Dedication Service Folder

This one is pretty simple. It has three documents in it. The first document is the Service Outline. These are my notes for my short talk. The second document is a service schedule. I make modification to it for every dedication and pass it out the the musicians, staff, and volunteers. It has timelines and cues for the service. The third document is an outline for dedications that I might do in someone’s home.… Read the rest

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How do your families serve together?

Posted on 17. Nov, 2010 by .


Right now my church is developing new strategies to mobilize serving throughout the city. We want every attendee to serve the needs of their neighbors. I’ve never been a part of a church that was so outward focused. It’s still a little disorganized, but I’m really excited about where things are headed.

I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about how I can serve my neighbors. Too often it’s really easy to hide behind our staff roles and serve our community through our jobs. My personal conviction is that it isn’t enough. I get paid to do that, so is it really serving? My wife and I have talked and we really want to find opportunities to serve as a family, specifically opportunities that would be appropriate even for Titus (our three year old). It’s really important to us that he grows up truly understanding what it means to have a lifestyle of service.

Yesterday I came across this great video. I love the idea of families coming together and taking on a serving project like this!

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Child Dedication nuts and bolts (Information management)

Posted on 17. Nov, 2010 by .


This week I’ve been writing a series of nuts and bolts posts about how we do Child Dedications here at Gateway. I love establishing processes for things that are done over and over so that excellence happens ever time and so that things get easier every time they are done. Yesterday I wrote about the registration process and today I want to explain how we manage the data so that multiple people can know exactly what is going on and who is involved.

As I described in my blog post yesterday, we have a two part registration. One is for the Prep for Child Dedication Class and the other is for the actual dedication. The first registration is a Google form focused on getting information about the parents, family and situation where the second is a Fellowship One registration focused on getting information about the children being dedicated.

The first form is feeds to a google spreadsheet that is always live. After classes have passed, we just edit the “class selections” to new dates or put “Classes are TBD, but we’ll contact you as soon as they’ve been scheduled.” This way we always have a place for parents to sign up. Nothing bothers me more than a note saying, “registration is not yet open, come back later.” With this alway live form, parents can sign up and know that they’ll be taken care of once we get our dates set. This google spreadsheet is shared with my staff, so they can always see how many have signed up for a class.

Once all the classes happen, I will literally cut and paste all the data from those who attended one of the classes to a new google spreadsheet exactly how it appears on the original spreadsheet. Those who didn’t show up to a class will remain on the original spreadsheet so that they will be contacted the next time a class happens.… Read the rest

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Do you have a whiteboard in your kitchen?

Posted on 16. Nov, 2010 by .


I mentioned earlier today that I just finished Patrick Lencioni’s book “The 3 Big Questions for the Frantic Family.” I’m also nearing the end of a small group built around “Revolutionary Parenting” by George Barna. Both book, written by two different authors from two different perspectives and two different end goals seem to have one major thing in common.

Success isn’t going to happen without intentionality and planning.

I got the very strong feeling that families who are intentional and plan around the development of their family and kids are peculiar (not that this is a bad thing at all). I remember several years ago (before Titus), Sara and I went off for an overnight trip in Dallas to develop a mission, vision and core values for our family and people thought this was kind of weird.

The conclusion I’m coming to is that families that proactively go after the spiritual development of their kids are the types of families that have whiteboards in their kitchens. Maybe it’s not that extreme, but maybe they have sticky notes all over their bathroom mirrors (not reminders of when to pick up the kids from school) or giant sheets of paper taped to the wall in their home office outlining their goals, plans or improvement plan.

So, are you a whiteboard family? If you’re one of these types of families, how do you chart, write or display your family strategy?… Read the rest

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Book Review: The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family

Posted on 16. Nov, 2010 by .


Lately I’ve been reading a lot of books about family ministry. Almost a year ago, I purchased 5-7 books on the topic of parenting or family ministry and lately I’ve been burning through that stack.

Last Friday I finished Patrick Lencioni’s book, “The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family.” I can’t even begin to tell you how great this book was. If you’ve read any books by Patrick, you know his style and technique and I’ve never found anyone who didn’t like his approach. Although he normally writes books for CEO’s and businesses, this one is aimed at the family. Why?

Patrick explains that when he talks to CEO’s and executives in companies, they often talk about their families and how their families are even more important to them than their companies and careers, but most feel like their families are frantic and disorganized. Lencioni recognized this in his own family as well and began to recognize the problem. Most parents don’t see their families as organizations, yet it is probably the most important organization they’ll ever be a part of. When parents stop reacting and begin to take action using some of the same principles used by successful companies, they might be surprised by the results.

When I closed this book, I was ready to get started. Sara and I are currently in a small group working through the book and study guide of Revolutionary Parenting and it’s amazing how much the two books worked hand in hand. We had some brief discussions and I’m excited to put some of the concepts from “3 Big Questions” into practice. Surprisingly, Sara and I have already written vision and mission statements for our family along with a list of core values. However, in about five minutes of casual talking, we identified 3-4 core values that are probably more true to who we are than the ones we wrote out a few years ago after much debate and planning.… Read the rest

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Child Dedication nuts and bolts (Registration process)

Posted on 16. Nov, 2010 by .


As much as possible, I try to automate as much of our processes as possible. I’ve gone back and forth on several methods but have finally arrived on what I feel is a pretty effective model for Child Dedication that is simple and efficient.

We used to be overwhelmed by questions about child dedication or child baptism which prompted me to put every bit of information a parent might need to know about what we believe and do on our website. Click here to visit our dedication page. Currently it isn’t very pretty, but it’s functional. I’ve trained our receptionists, admins or anyone else who might get emails and phone calls about dedication to direct people to the dedication page on our website. From here, families can lean what we do, why we do it and register for the next available class.

Registration for Child Dedication is a two step process for most families. Let me explain what I mean. Attending a Prep for Child Dedication Class is required to participate in Child Dedication. So, on the website they are directed to register for a class (I usually offer 3 classes for convenience). However, I usually have one or two families who have already attended the class, but want to dedicate new children. I usually don’t require them to attend the class again, but send them a link to the registration for the actual dedication (I’ll get into the diference later).

I’ve found that it is easiest to create a google form for people to register for a dedication class. I’ve used both google forms as well as Fellowship One registrations and have found the google form to be most efficient. Essentially, I can always have one form active. Once a class is over, I can remove it from the choices of classes to attend.… Read the rest

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I am already thinking about promotion Sunday

Posted on 15. Nov, 2010 by .


A few days I got an email from a friend in TN asking me some questions about how and when we promote. I’m really glad he asked because it reminded me of some questions I wanted to revisit and some frustrations I’ve run into for the past two years. He wanted to know what other churches do, so I figured I’d ask all of you. First, let me explain what we do here at Gateway, why we do it this way and what I’ve been frustrated about.

For the past two summers, we promoted in August, the week kids start their new classes in school. Actually, I’ve promoted the week school started every year I’ve been in ministry except for one I think. I’ve always preferred promoting at the end of the summer for several reasons:

  • It gives those Kindergarteners promoting into 1st grade an extra 2-3 months to mature and get ready for the older environment.
  • It allows our 5th graders one more summer to participate in Kids Camp as Middle School Camp might be too much for them and if they haven’t promoted yet, there won’t be any confusion on what camp to attend (If I’m being perfectly honest, it’s probably my desire to hang on to the 5th graders just a little bit longer).
  • Promotion Sunday is always a highly attended Sunday as families are all back in town, so it’s easy to communicate their promotion since most everyone is there. At the end of the school year, attendance is down and it’s harder to create the same buzz.

Those are my reason for doing it when I do. However I have one reason against and it really frustrates me like crazy!

When a kid finishes the 4th grade, the last day of school in his eyes, he considers himself a 5th grader.… Read the rest

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Parents in Transition

Posted on 15. Nov, 2010 by .


Time flies fast from elementary to college age, so get ready to change your parenting habits. Every child seems to move in warp speed toward the teenage years.

I was caught by surprise when a new declaration of personal independence was automatically assumed the day my son got his driver’s license. It was as though I represented an oppressive and extremely unfair regime whenever I tried to enforce any rule. (Whenever I said no to one of my teenage daughters, she would go to her bedroom, close the door and play Britney Spears’ “Overprotected” over and over again for over an hour, loud enough for me and the whole house to hear.) I have to admit, it was difficult for me to transition from parenting children to parenting teenagers. I had worked with teenagers all of my life, but I had never actually had any living in my home. I am still a recovering parent of teens, but here are a few things I have recognized about this chapter of parenting:

It’s a complicated time.
While your children are transitioning from being dependent to independent, you are transitioning as a parent from having authority to leveraging your influence. You can’t parent them the same way you did when they were in elementary school.

It’s an urgent time.
Face it. You know a window is closing fast. Ready or not, in a few short years your children will be leaving home. You are running out of time, and it is easy to feel a little panicked. Everything seems to matter more (grades, decisions, relationships.) And to make matters worse, everything costs more too. Have I mentioned the price of college these days? Feeling better?

Keep fighting for your teenager’s emotional health by investing in relational time with them. Especially during this uncertain season, they need a positive relationship with you more than you or they may realize.… Read the rest

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