Illuminate: Review

As I said the other day, Illuminate was a total success. Since Saturday, I’ve been in pure recovery mode. I’m just now getting back to somewhat of a normal schedule, but I hope to be back to full steam next week. However, I did want to reflect on what went well and what didn’t. First of all, let me tell you what we did. We had about 215 people attend Illuminate. About 65 of them were my volunteers and 150 of them from other churches. Craig Jutila delivered two keynote talks and Michael Chanley, Sam Luce and Jonathan Cliff each led two breakouts. I charged other churches $25 per person to attend. Each conference participant got a conference notebook (padfolio) which included conference cards (information about the conference, Gateway Church, the speakers as well as promotional items from our sponsors) and a shiny new illuminateconference.tv pen. Woo hoo! Lunch was provided by Chipotle. We started at 9:00 AM and finished just a little after 3:15 PM. All Gateway volunteers came for fee and if they needed it, we provided childcare  for their kids. The idea behind all of this was to provide a phenomenal conference experience for our volunteers at little to no cost by allowing other churches to participate in this very affordable event. The cons: The food was a little messy and confusing – We didn’t think through this fully. We’ll...

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Digital, Physical or both?

So I have a question for you that I really need an answer to. Really, I need best practices. When it comes to your volunteer applications, how do you store them? Digitally, physically or both? We use Fellowhship One and so we scan applications and attach them to a volunteers profile via requirements. Since we also run our background checks through F1, that report shows up in F1 as well. It’s nice an convenient to have it all right there in F1. However, we’re still keeping a physical copy of the actual application. My question is this: do I still need a physical copy anymore? I mean, I’m already relying of F1 to store the only copy of my background check and I know that my data is backed up, so if F1 crashed, my data is still going to be there. I probably have a better chance of losing my original files by fire than I do losing them to complete and total data failure. So, what do you think? What do you...

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Scheduling software

I have a question to ask of the community here. I’m looking for a good ministry scheduling program. Something that allows you to set up recurring serving schedules for volunteers, that allows you to mark people as “going to be out” and allow other volunteers or subs to sub in without it affecting normally scheduled schedule. Anyone know of anything? Two suggestions I’m not looking for is Planning Center or IDMe. Planning Center is awesome, but it’s more geared around one service and is ideal for worship services where they same group of musicians or such are there for all the services. I need something that can possibly schedule around the same service, but different volunteers at each service. IDMe actually is the best I’ve seen for ministry scheduling, but the only problem with it is that it isn’t web-based (at least it wasn’t a few years ago). It would be ideal to access it from anywhere as well as send out communication right from it. Do you know of something else out there? Are you using either of the two I mentioned in a creative way that works? Let me know and share the...

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Volunteer Recruiting Efforts

Yesterday I posted my big vision for Kidmin volunteers at Gateway. I think the vision for this came when I realized that we’ve been hovering at the same number of volunteers for the past six months. I wouldn’t say I was shocked, surprised or any other specific emotion. I just didn’t know. It seems that we do a great job of maintaining. We have approximately the same number of people volunteer as volunteers step out for whatever reason. This simply means we need to be more intentional over the next 12 months in order to see significant growth. I figured that we’ll do two things. I’d like to have two big volunteer expos or volunteer drives where we make a big deal out of it and can recruit in big church, capturing a lot of those who don’t have kids or those who haven’t connected anywhere yet. I’d like to have some internal campaigns/competitions where we engage our volunteer base to recruit for us, getting them to think about replacing themselves. This weekend we just finished a volunteer expo. It was a huge success. However, I’d love to do another one in the late spring, even one that was specifically for the Next Gen. These big pushes for volunteers will help us to get 70-80% toward our goal. Check in tomorrow and I’ll tell you what we did for this expo,...

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My big vision for volunteers

Let me tell you about the vision I’ve had. I actually just started communicating it about 5-6 weeks ago. In recognizing where we need to go as a ministry, I knew that we need significantly more help. As far as room coverage and functionality is concerned, we’re pretty good. However, to have a truly small span of care, we’ve got many positions to fill. When I’m with or talking to Jim Wideman, I’m always challenged. He talks about develop his first, second and third string of volunteers and backups for his backups. Jim Wideman is an incredible leader and gifted in this area, but there’s no reason why we can’t have a similar experience in our ministry. So, about a month ago I began telling my staff that my goal was to double our volunteer base in the next 12 months. I’ve done this before when in a rapidly growing church or coming into a run down ministry that I was going to turn around, but that’s not the case here. Things are fairly healthy and we’re currently running more volunteers than we’ve ever had before. In addition, our church is growing, just not at any kind of “rapid” pace. So, doubling our base would be a purely intentional thing that will take a lot of effort as well as God’s help. So, we’re currently at 300 volunteers at our largest...

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BRB. I promise.

You may have noticed a major lack of content here on the blog. Well, I took a week of vacation which was sandwiched by an out of town conference/retreat and a full-on volunteer expo. So, the dust is beginning to settle and I’ll be getting back into a regular blogging routine this week. You missed me, right? 🙂 So, what is it that’s had me so busy? Leadership Networks Innovation Lab My NextGen team and I were invited to spend a day in Dallas with Leadership Network to begin a year long Innovation Lab with five other great churches pushing the limits of what Family Ministry looks like today. It was probably one of the most powerful retreat/conference/breakout experiences I have ever had. I’ll tell you more about it later, but this gathering was absolutely transformational for our team. Vacation While I was in Dallas, my wife and Titus went on to Atlanta to visit with family (where Titus had his first visit to the urgent care… I’d already taken him to the Dr. the Monday before). I arrive to Atlanta on Friday and had a nice long lunch with my friend Matt McKee. We spent the next 5 days in my hometown of Valdosta, GA with my parents. It was very restful, except that Titus still was not feeling well at all and had another visit to the...

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#Orange10 Day 1: Building an apprentice mindset

My first breakout, hosted by Brian Vander Ark & Tim Vandlen was about some of the most important and strategic work we’ll do as a leader – duplicating ourselves into others. The fact of the matter is that one day, we will be replaced. One day it’s going to be over for us. It’s like death and taxes. However, there’s two approaches in dealing with this idea of being replaced. We can passively let it happen We can intentionally prepare Most Children’s and Student workers are focused on what they do. Programs. Worship. Events. Emails. Recruiting. The problem is that most churches are distracted by the urgent and they neglect the important. If we set our sights on the future, what our future needs will be above our current needs, we’ll treat our volunteers differently. Rather than use people, we’ll develop people. Here are a few ways a church can implement this strategic work of developing people who replace themsleves: Create the expectation in your volunteer and staff environments. Do this by putting it in everyone’s job descriptions. Do this by modeling it yourself. In addition, create multiple entry points into the ministry. Mobilize your volunteers to replace themselves. You can only really know 30 people, so it’s essential that you leverage your volunteer’s and their circle of influence. Teach your teams to recruit out of vision, not need....

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Volunteer Appreciation Event

A little over a month ago, we held our annual volunteer appreciation event. Last year it was a Christmas party, which I’m not entirely a huge fan of. It just seemed as if there’s already too much happening at Christmas time. So, we picked the end of February since there’s literally nothing exciting happening at the end of February. This year’s event was so much fun. Over and over again the volunteers have told us how much they enjoyed this event. What did we do? A city-wide scavenger hunt. My elementary director did this at her previous church with much success, so we decided to give it a try this year. Essentially, we assigned volunteers into groups of 4-7 based on the region they lived, not by which ministry area they served. We hoped it would mix things up a little and give some of our people an opportunity to get t know others. After they were grouped together and everyone had arrived, all the groups took off for a two hour scavenger hunt across the city. Every group had at least one person with an iPhone or equivalent and so while the teams were out, we received a steady stream of pictures from everyone. Once everyone came back, we had a catered dinner from Carrabba’s that was absolutely delicious and surprisingly financially reasonable. I shared a little about...

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Googe Docs tips and tricks: Embedded docs

Yesterday I featured Google Docs as my app of the week. Let me show you another reason why, a prime example of why you might want to start using Google Docs in your ministry today. Do you ever have to manage any kind of volunteer schedule? In the past I remember having created the schedule and then sending it out to all my volunteers. Now that we live in the digital age, one mass email and I’m done. Not too shabby. However, how long until that schedule is obsolete? Hours? Minutes? Volunteers call and email with their changes making the schedule you just emailed to everyone outdated. It would be pointless to email everyone with a new schedule every time it changed. Luckily several options exist. Create the schedule in a Google Doc and simply share the document. I’ve done this before. It’s really not a bad idea. You can manage everyone’s rights and it allows everyone to see what the most current schedule looks like. There are some downsides though. Not everyone has used Google Docs. Some will be confused. Some will never look at it. In addition, you have to paste in everyone’s email to share the document with them which can be time consuming. In addition, you have to keep track of who you’ve shared the document with. If they’re no longer a volunteer, you may...

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Teenagers in your children’s ministry

As children’s pastors, we all want ’em. We’ve all got ’em. We’ve all been frustrated with ’em. Often times, we really don’t now what to do with them. Here are the various types of teens I’ve had help in my children’s ministries. Perhaps you can identify. The All-Star: This teenager is a rock star. They’re super involved. They’re committed as much if not more than your very best adult volunteer. They’re awesome at what they do and the kids LOVE them. When you look at them, you see “future children’s pastor written all over them.” You wish you had 20 more of them. The Fixture: This is the teenager who’s excited about serving, even if they don’t show it. However, they’re often not a lot of help. This is the teenager that misses your presentation slides because he’s busy checking his facebook in the tech booth or the teen who’s texting in the toddler room while little Jonny’s got Lucy in a piranha bite to the arm. We like them because they’re better than nothing, but sometimes we wonder if they’re more work than they’re worth. The MIA: This is the teenager who volunteers to serve in your ministry but never shows up when you need him or her. This teenager may quit without any reason and good luck ever getting a hold of him or her. This teens...

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