Attention Birmingham Kidmin Friends

Do I have any Birmingham, AL Kidmin friends?  If I do, then please go and register RIGHT NOW to take you and all of your volunteers to the most unique, creative, dynamic, and fun place to be this coming weekend!  It’s Illuminate Birmingham!

I’ll be there along with Sam Luce, Kenny Conley, Jenny Funderburke, Amy Fenton-Lee, Jim Wideman, and many, many other Birmingham Kidmin leaders.  Illuminate Birmingham is a premier Children s Ministry event. Illuminate is the only volunteer-focused conference where you ll hear from internationally known and seasoned kidmin leaders who will inspire, equip and encourage your ministry teams. This is the only kidmin conference where bringing your entire volunteer team is not only encouraged, but actually is possible.

This holds within it the potential to dramatically change your Kidmin team for the better!  Don’t delay and Register TODAY!

Kidmin Conference Reminder

My friends that are busy working on the most unique Kidmin Conference ever, have wanted me to pass along this important piece of information:

Did you know that our second “early” registration for the conference is less than 9 days away?  9 Days is not that long.  If you were a cat and died each day for the next 9 days then you’d be dead for good.  If you ate a Big Mac for lunch every day for 9 days then you’d get fat quicker than if you didn’t.  If you fasted for the next 9 days from all forms of food, then think how hungry you’d be on the 9th day!  If you decided that…

You know what?  This isn’t really going anywhere, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go somewhere.  This October 7th through 10th in Chicago I’m going to be spending some quality time with a collection of the best Kidmin leaders around the planet.

I’ll be leading a breakout (That I believe could be the best 2 hours you spend at the conference.**) titled: “Under New Management: Gaining Influence in a New Place”  I’m going to be leading a group of leaders that may be undergoing transitions into new environments, or maybe just wanting to start over where they’ve been in a fresh way!

I hope that you will take the time to see why you don’t want to miss this special Early Registration Discount that expires in the next 9 days!

Can I count on seeing you at the Kidmin Conference in Chicago?  Well, can I?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Separation Fixing

Separation is defined as an intervening space.  It’s the space between two objects.  It’s also the space between different ministries in our churches.

After serving in a church for some time now, I see another separation that happens and I’d love your help to solve it.  Maybe my words won’t express it correctly, but there seems to be a separation between what Senior Leadership at our churches see and what those working with families, students, and children see.  This isn’t an attack on either side, but here’s what I see:

Senior Leadership sees:

  • Events, events, events
  • Cost-Cutting budgets
  • Necessary Childcare

Family Ministry Leadership sees:

  • Weekend Experiences
  • Children being discipled
  • Volunteers serving
So who’s wrong?  Nobody is wrong.  I’m old enough now to know that different positions within the church bring different perspectives.  It’s important that as a Children’s Minister, that I also understand the idea that the senior leadership has an entire church to fund ministry for.  It’s important that as a senior leader, that I understand the heart of ministry that lives within those ministering to children.
So I’ve spoken towards the divide that exists, and now I have a question for you.  Don’t leave this blog without offering some answers for all of us.
How do we bridge the gap between these two very important positions in the church?
Have at it in the comments will you!

The Legacy Path

I’m a big fan of Brian Haynes and loved his book from a few years ago,  Shift: What it Takes to Reach Families Today.   Brian Haynes is a leading voice when it comes demonstrating to churches, families, student ministries, and children’s ministries that they can work together to make the greatest impact on those growing up both physically and spiritually all around us.

In the promotion of Brian’s newest book, The Legacy Path: Discover Intentional Spiritual Parenting  I’ve been able to submit a few questions that he has graciously offered to answer for us.

Your first book, Shift, was helpful in  getting children s ministers and student ministers to reconsider how they  should spend their energy in their ministries. How is The Legacy Path different than Shift?

As you know, Shift is written to help ministry leaders understand the role the church can play in equipping parents to lead their children spiritually. Shift addresses the issue from the church side of the coin. The Legacy Path is written to the parent. I wrote it with the parents of my church in mind and from a parent s perspective. I needed a tool to help my parents quickly understand their role in the faith training of the next generation. I think church leaders who have read and implemented Shift principles or the milestones strategy will find this to be an excellent tool to help families take steps toward intentional spiritual training at home.

I love what you’ve written about talking to your kids about spiritual things. Could you describe further how you define   Faith Talks in your book?

Sure. Faith Talks are an important part of training our children spiritually. I think there are two kinds of Faith Talks. There is the informal Faith Talk that could take place any time, any place, anywhere. This is natural conversation that explores life from a biblical perspective. We should go a step farther though. There is also a more formal Faith Talk. This kind of Faith Talk is planned, scheduled, and intentional. It is a time set aside for a family to gather around the worship of God and to learn from the words of the Bible. There is something forming about this kind of Faith Talk. In The Legacy Path parenting strategy, it is important to use these Faith Talks to help our children progress in their Christian development. The milestones path is just a map that teaches us what issues we need to focus on to help our children grow in their faith. My experience both at home and at church proves that leading intentional Faith Talks is the most difficult aspect of the strategy for parents to consistently practice. It is also crucial to our efforts as the primary faith trainers of our children.

What  would you say to a parent who is uncomfortable talking about spiritual things with their children? How can they start?

Most parents I know are initially uncomfortable talking with their children about spiritual things. The question is Why? I think this has a lot to do with our feelings of inadequacy around the contents of the Bible. Often we are afraid kids will ask questions we cannot answer or that we will say something that is wrong. If we are just starting this with our teenagers we feel like they will think we are corny or stupid or something. These are obstacles that have to be overcome. I encourage parents to begin consistent personal and group Bible study so that they are growing in their personal understanding of the Scripture. Then I encourage them to use tools that their churches are already providing to lead age appropriate Faith Talks. Many Kids Ministries and Student Ministries are offering take home tools for parents to help them lead Faith Talks. Also, many pastors are now writing Faith Talks based on the Sunday morning sermon. These tools are helpful in getting started because they give you a simple plan for your conversation.

This next question is a big one for parents at all of our churches who are heartbroken about the decisions their sons and daughters are making. What  happens if the child doesn t choose to walk the path their parents are leading  them on?

There will be times for all us when our children choose not to follow well. Some will experience this to a relative small degree and others will experience full-blown prodigals. I wrote a chapter in The Legacy Path called What if It Doesn t Work? I wrote that chapter because I have ministered to many families in pain because their child is growing up and choosing to walk off the path. When you have tried to do everything right and they choose wrong it rips your heart out. I encourage parents to continually pursue their child in love, pray like crazy, and depending on the situation build healthy boundaries to protect your heart, your family, and to allow the prodigal to experience the consequences of sin. Remember God, the Father, loves that prodigal and He will discipline them to bring them to repentance. It s more complicated than this short answer but the wisdom of Proverbs 22:7 gives us hope. Early in their lives, invest the truth in them intentionally and authentically. Pray that if they ever walk away that these truths you planted in their heart will lead them back.

Starting to lead your children for the first time late in their teenagers years is certainly a challenge. This is cliché but, Better late than never. You have to just jump in where your kids are on the legacy path. This might need to begin with an honest conversation. Something like this. I just realized a large part of my responsibility in being your parent is to lead you spiritually. I really am just only beginning to understand what that means and I want to become intentional about it. I crave time with you and I want to teach you some things about God, the Bible, and life before you grow up and leave home. So, we are going to start doing some things like having a Faith Talks.

What if your kids are teenagers, and you want to start leading on this path so late in the game?

A big part of this is heart connection. If the heart connection is weak then the parent has to work to mend that connection in order to be heard and followed. I discuss this aspect thoroughly in The Legacy Path.

What  is the church s responsibility in all of this? Are parents supposed to do it  alone?

I would point back to my book Shift as an important answer to this question. I think the church has a massive responsibility to connect the discipleship strategy of the church with the strategy at home. So, churches need to consider their holistic discipleship strategy. What is the plan or the path for growth? We use milestones. How do you progress from one to another? How does children, student, and adult ministry align along the path? The church has to equip mom and dad for the task. The church also has to partner with parents in the faith development of children and students. I just spent a week at youth camp. I often thought how grateful I am for the investment our student ministry staff and volunteer leaders are making in our children. Our ministry at church can lock arms with the family so that parents are never alone in the process. Also, the church needs to make adult disciples. How can parents disciple their kids if they are not disciples themselves? Finally, the church becomes the primary faith influence for kids whose parents are spiritually AWOL. Discipleship is a two-sided coin: Church and home.

What is one thing that the Children’s Ministers who are reading this could be doing to take some next steps towards helping parents lead in this Legacy Path?

I think a simple step for Children s Ministers to take is to actually lead some small groups of parents through this book. That s what we are going to do at my church. As you might know, I see a Children s minister as a minister to kids and their families. So I think kids pastors should be spending time with adults. I wrote The Legacy Path thinking that parents could gather in small groups, read a chapter a week, and use the discussion question at the end of each chapter as a catalyst for discussion in small groups. This is a great next step because it allows you to explain the principles in the context of your church s unique version of the strategy.

 

Brian considers his most important ministry as loving and serving his wife Angela and together parenting their children, Hailey, Madelyn, and Eden. He is the creator of the Legacy milestones strategy designed to help the church and family work together to equip the next generation. Brian is the author of the book SHIFT: What It Takes to Finally Reach Families Today as well as a contributor to several other books and resources. Brian served for 15 years in three churches as a student pastor and associate pastor including Kingsland Baptist Church in Katy, Texas. He now serves as Lead Pastor at Bay Area First Baptist Church in League City, Texas. Brian holds an undergraduate degree from Baylor University, a master s degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary for his work in family ministry and discipleship.

My Summer Camp Secrets

I’ve spoken about our experiences at Dry Gulch USA earlier this week, and I hope you’ll take the time to visit that post and see my thoughts on what is really a stellar Summer Camp.  In this post I would like to share many of my Summer Camp secrets from many  years of leading kids and volunteers to Summer Camp.

  • Google Voice -> This is a great tool for Summer Camp.  You can setup one local number that will ring through to as many numbers as you want.  It’s a cool way to avoid giving out 10 emergency numbers, and at the same time have 10 different people on your emergency contact list.
  • Directions -> I always give parents the physical location of where we will be.  Even though I know that parents will most likely not be making the 9 hour drive to our Summer Camp destination, it comforts them when I show them on a map where we will be with their children all week.
  • Online Updates -> I’m not sure how I ever avoided doing this in the past, but for the past few years I’ve posted nightly updates of our days activities and photos.  I avoid video’s because they take too long, and when I talk to parents they dont’ want the videos; they want to see their kids!  So I update about 100-150 pictures each night, with minimal editing, and then throw them into a Picasa slideshow that I embed on our Parents Blog.
  • Facebook -> I also make all our camp adult sponsors administrators on our Facebook Page, and ask that they periodically update the page with pictures and updates.
  • Make it Personal -> I send occasional individual image text of kids to their parents, thanking them for allowing us to spend a week with their kids.  This year, I posted a ton of individual images on parents Facebook pages thanking them for sending their kids, and bragging on what great kids they have.
  • Parents Blog -> I put all these updates on our normal church Parent’s Blog, so that after camp I still have 50+ families familiar with the online presence.  I encourage email subscriptions to the blog, and this helps us add to our list for the rest of the  year.
  • Do What I Say I’ll Do -> The policies on our camp packet are things we actually enforce.  If you register for camp with us, you will have paid 100% of your money and turned in 100% of your paperwork weeks prior to us leaving.  If I have a parent that will not return phone calls, won’t pay in full, or refuses to take ownership of meeting our deadlines; then I drop that kid from our camp roster.
  • Leave When I Say I’ll Leave -> If the bus pulls out at 8:00am, and I’ve told parents for weeks that it leaves at 8:00am…then we leave at 8:00am.  This year we actually left two kids that didn’t wake up in time.  Their mother drove them the 9 hours and met us within an hour of arriving at camp.  Amazingly, the mother wasn’t upset me.  She knew I’d keep my word, and I did.
  • Much, Much, Much More -> I have many more little things I do each year, but for the sake of time and words…I’ll end here!  For more then take me to lunch sometime, and buy me a hamburger and I’ll share more!
Calling all Summer Camp Professionals…what are your secrets?  Any travel tips for making it in a bus with 100 kids to Summer Camp?  Let’s here it in the comment section!