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Category Archives: Philosophy

Two All Important Steps to Success

This has been rolling around in my head all week.

In order for any ministry (or organization, or business, or church) to be successful, there are two steps that must take place:

1. Get Started
2. Keep Going

They are the two steps every successful organization must have taken, right?

Yet, as obvious as it sounds, it is so easy to overlook the importance of getting started and not stopping. For one thing, they are probably the hardest steps to take.


Get Started

I have been in many situations where an awesome idea has run out of steam because I was paralyzed by the administrative details. I never felt ready enough to take the plunge and start. While preparation is necessary and beneficial, there comes a point in which you just need to start (with the realization that you can always improve along the way). It turns out that actually starting is hard and scary no matter how much preparation you do.

Let me clarify, however, that I am not saying that preparation and planning are not important. It is! (Besides it’s the funnest part, in my opinion). But as you prepare – set a start date, and stick to it.

Keep Going

As for the second part,that it is even harder…for 3 reasons.

1. Poor turn out – it feels like the effort isn’t worth the benefit, and you wonder if there is any hope for improvement. It just seems easier to quit or take breaks. The turn out will never get better unless you prove that you’re consistent. Your audience has to trust you that you’re always going to be there before they will commit.

2. You’re bored – you want to experience the fun planning stage again. This is often manifested in unnecessary name and logo changes (I am guilty of that one). But keep in mind that when you start over, you start everything over. You lose all the value of your previous work.

3. You’re overthinking – the ministry isn’t turning out how you expected, and you feel like the marketing you started with doesn’t fit. You want to change the name or logo because (to you) they aren’t congruent with the actual ministry. Remember that names, logos, and marketing are, in reality, the least important aspect to your target audience once they’ve committed to attending.

Important changes are often necessary as a ministry matures and grows, but let me encourage you that the more you can keep consistent, the stronger your “brand image” will be. Stick to your guns.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2009 in Philosophy

 

Lesson #8: Foster Momentum

Once you have a ministry on its way, the worst thing you can do is keep the excitement to yourself. Try to report on what’s going on in Children’s Ministry as much as possible. Show pictures, interview workers, make videos. Inform everyone of the “behind the scenes” work that doesn’t usually get the spotlight. Don’t just act like you’re excited – be excited. This is amazing stuff to be a part of! It deserves to be celebrated.

 

Lesson #7: Keep Going

When we first started our Wednesday night program, we committed to 8 week sessions with month long breaks between. This was fine, we were getting started (see above), but the program didn’t really take off until we committed to providing the program every single Wednesday night, year round. Consistency is key in Children’s Ministry. Kids who come to church without their parents need to know that it’s always going to be at the same place and same time with the same people.

Absolute consistency will be impossible. But if you provide it, they will come (eventually), and if you aren’t consistent, they will never come.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2008 in Philosophy

 

Lesson #6: Get Started

This can be the hardest part sometimes. There have been many times when we have been frozen in the planning phase, afraid to actually start our ministries. Do not be afraid to start with everything less than 100% planned. Just get started. Most of your original plans will be altered through trial and error anyway, so don’t let the fear of the unknown keep you from taking advantage of opportunities.

 

Lesson #5: Empower Leadership (for real)

In order to foster true creativity, it is crucial that the leadership learn to humbly empower leadership. This may be the single most important lesson I’ve learned in the last four years. When starting a Children’s Ministry you cannot and should not do everything yourself. Even if you’re the best teacher/craft leader/counselor/foos ball player/theologian in your ministry, you must allow others to serve and lead.

It should be your goal that your ministry would grow to the point that you can no longer do everything. In order to foster that growth, train your leaders now by allowing them to own their ministry—sink or swim.

This is scary for leadership, because you have to let your leaders fail and come up short sometimes. But if you are constantly coming to the rescue, micro-managing, and doing things you told other people to do, you are communicating that you don’t really trust them, and they aren’t really in charge of their ministry.

Demonstrate empowering leadership by being quick to give up authority. If you’ve started a project, and another person expresses interest in being involved, consider the possibility of letting the project be their baby. Then, recognize and thank the efforts of your volunteers often and publicly.

Truly empowered leadership will manifest itself in creative, well organized ministries that create excitement throughout the church and community.

 

Lesson #4: Creativity, not Convenience

It is important, especially at first, to give your team numerous opportunities to be creative. For our church, this meant creating our own Vacation Bible School materials rather than relying on a ready made boxed kit. Encouraging the use of creativity had several benefits.

First, our volunteers invested more in the program because they were passionate about the results. Second, our volunteers were better informed about the program because they were responsible for creating part of it. The entire VBS from start to finish benefited from this increased involvement on behalf of the volunteers. Several parents commented how impressed they were with the extra effort and creativity put forth for their children, and the children themselves felt valued.

 

Lesson #3: Incorporate the Church’s Legacy

Whenever possible, include the church’s past traditions in your children’s ministry. Showing that you value the church’s legacy builds trust with church leadership and fellow church members. This trust is essential, because the involvement of church leadership and fellow church members is essential to a successful ministry.

Do you use every old tradition? No. There has to be a balance. Some things of the past really are irrelevant to the world today. But keep an open mind. At one point in our church’s history, they had a children’s bell choir. I reluctantly agreed to give it a shot with our kids. I was having a hard time envisioning my 4th grade boys putting down their Game Boys, let alone picking up a bell. But the concept was so foreign to them, that it intrigued rather than bored. They loved it!