Month: November 2012

A great Advent resource for families

Advent calendars aren’t really anything new. I remember them from when I was growing up. However, with the trend of ministries looking for better ways to help parents lead kids in shared spiritual experiences, the advent calendar is the perfect tool.

There are some great advent resources around these days, but one I want to highlight is an online Advent calendar that a friend of mine, Jenny Funderburke, put together last year. You can find it at It’s meant to be a parent guided experience for families that can be done every day between now and Christmas. The calendar begins tomorrow, Saturday, December 1st. Be sure to pass this information along to families in your church.

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Investing in staff, leaders and volunteers

Last week I wrote about policies your church might have about taking staff, leaders and volunteers to lunch. I received some great feedback, so thanks to those of you who responded.

I wrote these posts because my church is trying to develop some guidelines around how we spend our money when it comes to coffees, lunches and other meals. An initial response might be to think, “ugh, we’re getting to corporate” or “why the need for red tape?” But it’s not about that at all. It’s about both stewardship and understanding how to scale across ministries. Some departments have set aside funds to invest in their leaders and volunteers where others have not. Having some guidelines in place may help every department have what they need to be successful in this area. Also, when guidelines are in place, appropriate funds can be allocated for a ministry when new staff are hired or the number of volunteers grow. This is a good thing.

Ultimately, I think that spending money on staff, volunteers and leaders is a good thing. I’ve had opportunities to bless a volunteer who was having a bad week and it turned them around. I’ve had opportunities to discuss life and ministry with a leader over coffee that helped grow our relationship exponentially. Having some resources for these activities is a blessing. However, I think there are several things we should remember.

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Thankful for my southern princess peach

A couple of years ago, we started the tradition of watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on Thanksgiving morning (I’ll not comment on my increasing disappointment with the parade). No matter how busy the day is with food prep, Sara does her best to sit down and enjoy the parade. Why is the parade so special?

If you watch the Macy’s Parade, you’ve probably seen the Azalea Trail Maids. They make an appearance every other year in the iconic New York Parade. More than a decade ago, my wife was one of those Trail Maids. Living in Alabama, Sara was selected to be an Azalea Trail Maid during her senior year of High School. She’s the peach one in the middle.

I’m glad to have simple traditions with my family and so glad I got to marry a peach princess!

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Budgeting for meals with volunteers

If that’s not a sexy blog title, I don’t know what is.

Yesterday I wrote asking what your church policy is concerning meals with volunteers and leaders. For a holiday week and for inadvertently having comments turned off on my blog, it seemed like a question others were curious about. I’ll probably sum up this conversation next week, but I thought I’d give you an update on some of the information I’ve gathered so far. I have a “go-to” team of people who I often send emails to when I have questions like this. Depending on the questions, I mix up who I ask.

So here is some of the feedback I got:

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Lunch with a leader?

Okay, I’ve got a quick question for you. Being that we’re two days away from Thanksgiving, it fits well with a food theme.

One of the best ways to connect with a leader, a new volunteer or a parent is over a coffee, breakfast or lunch. At least that’s what I found. I and my staff frequently meet together over a meal or coffee and we do the same with others. This seems normal, right?

Well, a few months ago we began looking at our budget from a church leadership team perspective to see what policies we have around meals. What is appropriate? What is expected? What guidelines need to be in place to make sure that we’re wise with funds. I knew that over the past few years, we’ve worked with a set number that we’ve just increased year to year… but we never looked at the lump sum specifically and defined exactly how we’re spending it.

So, I sat with my staff and started asking the questions.

How many lunches do you need to have with your staff a month? Coffees?
How many lunches does your staff need to have with leaders/volunteers a month? Coffees?
How many other lunches & coffees do you and your team need to have with others?
I complied the numbers and our Children’s Ministry number alone ballooned to $25,000. Granted, we’re leading a volunteer force of 300 people with 5-6 staff… but that seemed a little excessive.

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Give thanks in all circumstances

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 has been my life verse for nearly 20 years. I learned through a difficult season in high school that joy and thankfulness is always a choice. Obviously, the challenges I faced in high school pale compared to the difficulties I would come to face later in life. This week, I have so much to be thankful for, even though there are reminders of pain and loss side by side great celebrations of joy. This week marks the due date of two children we never got to meet. This week marks the date my grandmother passed away...

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Kidmin Networking in Alabama

Did you know that Southwest Airlines offers $5 all day wifi? Love it!

Okay, so now you know where I am. This morning I’ll be touching down in the fabulous city of Birmingham, AL for two days of networking and connecting with as many people as possible. As of right now, I’ve got almost 50 people on my roster to see and connect with. I love networking and sharing stories with people who serve kids in their churches, so these next two days are going to be a blast.

So, if you live in Northern Alabama and you want to connect, I’ll let you know where I’m going to be:

November 7th (Today) 12:00 Noon

First Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, AL

(It’s a brown bag lunch)

November 7th, 4-6 PM

I’ll be in Birmingham and as of right now, I don’t have firm plans. If you’re available and you want to connect, let’s grab coffee or dinner

November 8th, 8:00 AM

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Decatur, AL

St. Paul’s is providing breakfast, but you have to RSVP (that can be arranged)

November 8th, 12:00 Noon

Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL

Dawson is providing lunch, but you must RSVP (that also can be arranged)

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My son is in this phase where he really wants to be in the lead. When we’re walking to any destination, he is determined to be in the front. Even if I’m just walking from the living room to the kitchen. He wants to be the first in the car, the first in the house and the first to his bedroom at bedtime. He’s usually good about not always being first, but there are times where he throws a fit. He’s only five.

Where this can get irritating is when he gets in front of me and slows down. He won’t let me around him because he’s just got to be in the front. Sometimes he doesn’t even know where he’s going and I have to ask him to walk with me because he doesn’t know where to go yet. When I ask him to fall back or if I happen to get somewhere before he does, sometimes he screams, “But Dad, I WANT TO LEAD!!!”

Funny, because I don’t think it s a lot different from what I see in ministry and the world around me. I see a lot of people who greatly desire a position of leadership. I see people who really want influence. I see people who want to get their name out there. For those people, I’d give them the same advice I give my son.

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The secret to success in ministry

My good friend Sam Luce wrote a great post last week about adult ministry. He’s been a campus pastor now for more than a year and he’s discovered something interesting. When it comes to leading kids or leading adults, the thing that’s going to make you successful in either one has less to do with unique factors to the particular age groups and more to do with your ability to exhibit leadership. Read his “Why leading adults is the same as leading kids” here.

I want to piggy back off what he wrote here, because I believe he is 100% on to something. Last year I was fully immersed in leading the student ministry at Gateway Church. Within a few weeks, I learned a similar truth. 80% of student ministry is no different from leading children’s ministry. Leading and caring for your volunteers and leaders is the most important thing and the better you do that, the more successful you’ll be. I will never claim to be anywhere near an expert on student ministry, and I’ll not admit that I did a bang up job leading our student ministry last year, but I did recognize some of these truths. In hiring staff for any position, I’d look for their ability to lead far above their expertise to be the big personality on stage. Sure, that may be important, but leadership is key.

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