Lead Small for Men

Lead Small Guys

Do you know the hardest volunteer to find? It’s a man willing to work with boys in a small group. It’s the boys groups that are the loudest, craziest, and sometimes, just sometimes, the most destructive. I’m a parent of 4th and 6th grade sons, and I know as well as anyone how difficult it can be to get them to have sincere conversation around spiritual things. And yet, this is the very challenge our men small group leaders are faced with every week.

It’s always my goal to challenge us all to continue to fight the fight for relationship with our kids. Here are a few things I believe could help our men in their attempt to wrangle their small group:
  • Make Introductions. Boys respond well to strong introductions, and being by the door to greet parents and share a fist bump with their son is monumental. It shows parents they can trust you, as well as makes a strong statement of who is in charge of your room. This may mean that you and your co-leader take turns at the door, to make this first impression.

Read the rest of my contribution at the Lead Small blog at: http://leadsmall.org/elementary/guys-that-lead-small/

OC 2014: It’s not always about you

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I’ve been attending the Orange Conference since 2008, in roles varying from from breakout speaker to nerdy blogger to an attender. I’ve attended by myself and slept on the hotel couches of my friends. I’ve attended with my entire staff team, and I even made a trip with my boss the year before that. The best of all was probably last year, when I got to hang out with my wife for the first time at the Orange Conference. If you search through this website, you’ll see a plethora of posts about my experiences.

Honestly, I’ve been so much that I’ve transitioned from attempting to drink from the fire hose of information thrown at me, to being more selective with where I get new insight. I’ve been to lunches with new friends, and drank coffee with old friends. I’ve listened to people lament their terrible situations and been encouraged by the amazing stories of others. I’ve heard messages that still echo in my head, and other messages that don’t so much. It has been 7 years of Orange Conference for this Family Ministry Director.

I’ve been there, done that.

This is where many people get stuck. What’s in it for me? Why come to a conference you’ve been to before? Is there something new this year? Are they finally going to have insert favorite communicator name speak this year? Do you want to know what the Orange Conference is for me? It’s a place.

It’s a place filled to the brim with people at all stages of my past experiences, and all stages of what I hope will be my future experiences (both to avoid and gain.)

It’s a place where people ask me questions. Not questions about my day-to-day job, but questions about their own day-to-day experiences.

It’s a place where I can be helpful to a few, and inspired by many more.

It’s a place where I go to center where I am. Connecting with old friends, meeting new friends, and listening to everyone in between.

It’s a place where I go. Would you like to go with me? I’ve got one free conference registration to giveaway. You’ve got to get to Atlanta, and you’ve got to find a place to sleep (not my house), but I can connect one person with a $400+ conference admission.

It’s your opportunity to create a place. A place for you that is unique. A place for you that is safe. A place for you where memories can be made and experiences can begin.

 

I’ve got one free conference registration to giveaway. You’ve got to get to Atlanta, and you’ve got to find a place to sleep (not my house), but I can connect one person with a $400+ conference admission.

Hard Conversations & the Small Group Leader // Starr Cliff

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For an hour every Sunday, I hang out with 3rd graders and their AWESOME small group leaders. I bounce around between five small groups totaling about 50 kids. I’m there to help the groups in any way I can: getting them supplies, filling out rosters, helping with unruly kids, etc.

Myself and the leaders…we don’t exactly run a “tight ship.” In fact we run a rather….err…crazy ship. We don’t expect kids to sit in perfect circles for an hour. There is a lot of sprawling on the ground, getting up and down a million times (especially the boys), running, wiggling, heck sometimes there’s breakdancing.

We understand that anytime you have that many 3rd graders together, the goal is controlled chaos with small moments (like, counted in seconds and minutes) of calm and discussion.

But occasionally a kiddo’s behavior will move beyond “normal third grade activity and commotion” into true disruption. If a kid is picking on someone relentlessly, or the only one refusing to let the group have a moment of discussion, or is just being over the top with inappropriate behaviors, then I have to talk about those behaviors with their parent.

Listen, it’s never easy to talk to a parent about what their kid does wrong. I only do it in extreme cases, and I’m always quick to also share that we LOVE their child, we’re THRILLED they are at church, and we want them to come back. But the fact remains…I’m still telling a parent about their child’s misbehavior, which can be an awkward and hard conversation.

Know what makes that conversation even harder? If it’s the very first one I’ve had with that parent.

It’s difficult, and maybe even wrong, for the first time you engage with a parent to be when you are unhappy with their kid. You’ve got to do some work ahead of time, so that when and if those conversations need to happen, that parent will already be assured that you are invested in their child.

How do you make those conversations happen? Here are some ideas:

Be sure you are at the door smiling at parents at arrival time. Say hello to kids, and call them by name.

When you see a kid in the church lobby with a parent, approach them and engage in conversation.

Send postcards and birthday cards to kids in your group.

Share the smallest of wins with parents:

“He was so engaged today!”

“He gave a great example in discussion time.”

“He rocked at our game today!”

“He is always so respectful.”

“I love how he’s a great friend!”

“He prayed for our group today during prayer time!”

Work hard to find ways to talk to parents about the GREAT things that you love about their kid. Even the toughest and rowdiest of kids have value and worth, and those are often the parents who need to hear it the most.

And when you do have to say “He had a bit of trouble in small group today. We talked a lot about being respectful and not disrupting prayer time”, it won’t be the first thing that parent has heard from you. They’ll know that you don’t just think of their kid as “disrespectful and disruptive”, because you’ll have already told them otherwise!

Our Angry Friends

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Answer: Angry people are so much fun. Angry people are exactly the sort of people I love to spend time around. Angry people are great to share a cup of coffee with. Angry people make everything that much brighter. Angry people set a great standard for how I want to live.

Question: What are things nobody ever says?

Unfortunately, while we never aspire to surround ourselves with angry people, we are ensured of being confronted with them from time to time. Whether it’s an overzealous driver, an easily offended mother in your neighborhood, or a frustrated coworker. I’ve worked in churches for years and I’ve talked to my share of angry people. Not because churches are full of angry people, but because churches are full of normal people. Here are some things I’ve learned to help me in my interactions with the angry friends in my life:

I’m very rarely the reason they are angry…even if they tell me I am. There is always another thing behind the thing. Want to test my theory? When was the last time you talked with an angry person that sincerely was angry about a righteous problem? Our angry counterparts are usually frustrated with something meaningless to most people. It doesn’t mean they aren’t sincerely angry, it just means there are always underlying issues.

Everyone seems angrier from a distance. The foolproof method to put out the fire inside an angry email, is to pick up the phone and call them. Take it one step further and go for face-to-face interaction. That simmers down the fire even more. When angry people get your full undivided attention, they usually are willing to listen and calm themselves down quickly.

Angry people want you to respond with anger. This is their way of justifying their own actions. What’s the learning here? Don’t let them win by returning angry words with angry words. Which leads us to the next point.

Angry people need love. Let me be clear, do not attempt to hug an angry person. What I’m advocating here is the love that speaks through your patient words and following up with acts of kindness. They need healing, and being on the receiving end of their anger, makes you the prime candidate to respond in the way most people won’t.

 

Somewhere to Belong

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My children have grown up in two different college towns, and it has never taken long for them to figure out which football team everyone is rooting for. My kids have experienced Saturday game days with tailgaters everywhere, flags flying on every corner, the sounds of the marching band in the distance, and the chants of so many different organizations all rooting on the same team. They ve learned which side we are on, by which jersey we wear to the games and which logos are on the hats. In the two college towns we ve lived in, it takes all of five minutes for my kids to join the tribe of whatever team calls our city home.

The excitement of college football breeds it s own lifelong tribe, but there are other tribes they quickly wanted to be a part of as well: the kids they eat lunch with, the girls who pass secret notes during school and the kids who round up a kickball game in the neighborhood each weekend. They want so much to be known and to belong to the tribes they see around them…

Read the rest of my contribution at the Lead Small blog at:  http://leadsmall.org/elementary/somewhere-to-belong/