Ministry Bait and Switch

For those of you new to children’s ministry, there’s something very important that you need to understand. Actually, there are many who have been in ministry for a long time who haven’t caught onto this idea. I like to call it the “Great Bait and Switch” of ministry. It’s counter intuitive from what feels natural, but if you get this and run with it, you’ll expand the scope of your influence like crazy.

Most likely, the reason you’re in ministry is because you’re good with kids. You’re probably really good with kids. You’re like the kid whisperer. You speak and they listen. They’re like play dough in your hands. There’s honest to goodness giftedness there and it’s obvious why you responded to the call of Children’s Ministry. However, what brought you into children’s ministry isn’t going to be what helps you build a large ministry that impacts kids beyond your personal influence. I’m not discounting your gift, but operating completely out of your giftedness with kids will limit your ability to reach more than than a hundred or so kids if even that. If you’re content to reach and ministry to just a hundred or so kids, then that’s perfectly fine, but if you want to see impact beyond that, you have to rely on something entirely different.

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Big Day for Illuminate

I know, you may be thinking.. when is he going to stop writing about Illuminate? I’m sorry, but tomorrow is event number 4 in only 5 weeks. I’ve got Illuminate on the brain. However, I just have to brag a little. The Fort Lauderdale event was added to the roster as this year’s 4th event. Because Birmingham, Austin and Nashville were earlier in the season, they initially got more attention. The holidays came and went and a few weeks later I found myself in a challenging place. Fort Lauderdale was less that six weeks away and there were 15...

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Nashville Illuminate – It’s going to be Epic

Illuminate comes to Nashville tomorrow. We have two incredible conferences under our belt so far and we’re so excited about Nashville, the biggest event yet. Today I was surprised by Robyn Collins from Long Hollow Baptist who has been preparing for the Illuminate team to arrive. I’ve never been more proud to be on a team than I have now – especially with Sam Luce. He looks really serious. If you live near Nashville, you can still come! Register at the door on Saturday morning! Check out our theme song below!...

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Illuminate: Freakishly awesome content

Can I share with you one of my best kept conference attending secrets. I learned this one from some good friends of mine. When deciding on which breakout to attend, always pick the speaker over the breakout title. Well, unless what the speaker is talking about has no interest to you. It’s true though, sometimes a really great breakout crashed and burns because the speaker didn’t communicate it well enough. Stick with a strong ministry leader/communicator and you usually won’t be disappointed with the experience.

I’ve taken this little rule to hear when it comes to planning Illuminate Conference breakouts. If I pick the best speakers I can get my hands on, then it doesn’t matter what they talk about, it’s going to be great, right? Pretty much.

No, I’ve gone through the painstaking process of picking an incredible team of communicators and lining them up with the things they are most knowledgable and passionate about. You can know that when you bring your team to Illuminate, your volunteers are going to walk away with pages of notes because they’ve learned from some of the best.

Check out some of the breakouts we’re hosting in different cities this year:

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Illuminate: The regional conference unlike any regional conference

For the past 5-6 years, I’ve placed a very high value on networking both locally and nationally. I finally figured out that there are other people who do ministry way better than I do. I figured that I could either read their book (if they have one, I’ve read it) or actually I could reach out and try to get to know them. This strategy has played out very well for me as I’ve had the opportunity to meet and learn from many of the most influential voices in ministry today. The relationships I’ve gained through networking has given the Illuminate...

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Did someone say Illuminate?

Well, this week I’m getting the word out. I’ve been really quite for the last several months about Illuminate. Why? Because there have been way too many moving parts and I’ve been working like crazy to get it to all come together. We had some events move around and although registration opened months ago and already, hundreds of people are registered for 2013 events, today is the day that I’m publicly launching Illuminate on the interwebs. Yes, it’s time! If you haven’t been there in a while, roll on over to

So, what can you expect this year? Last year was pretty awesome. We had just over 1000 people participate in three different cities. This year, we’re turning the “awesome” dial up and I’m pretty sure we’re going to do some pretty incredible stuff. Let me list off the reasons for why Illuminate is going to rock:

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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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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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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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