My hubby and his business partner Stephen have created an amazing new church managment software called Ministry Platform. I’m incredibly proud of him (and Stephen) and the result of their five years of labor on this project. Ministry Platform is at use in two very large churches already and Oasis, our home church, is now in the process of changing systems to use Ministry Platform for all of our events, communications, data, and Children’s Check in. Heck, it probably does more, but I’m still learning how to use these parts.
I’m the Children’s Director at our Church. Almost three years ago we went through a month’s worth of stressful weekends to get the Shelby check in system up and running and error free. It has served us well since that time and it’s been a major plus to check in kids at unattended kiosk stations. It was amazing though to see how easily our congregation switched over to checking in on Ministry Platform’s system this weekend. We had no major issues. In fact, at least half of the families checking in did it intuitively and with no assistance from us. We didn’t even have a pre-training session for our Welcome Center attendants and we made it through. Simply teaching them how to enter new guest’s info when they showed up at their regular time to serve.
I’m very pleased with our switch over. I especially like how great our kiosks look now with the customizable interface we have now. Our church’s graphic artist, Natalie, has us looking good. Thanks Kev and Natalie!!!!
I really enjoyed the Purpose Driven Children’s Ministry Conference (PDCM) at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. The conference spanned two and a half days with an optional pre-conference day. The format of this year’s PDCM Conference consisted of ten general sessions with your choice of lunch breakouts with Saddleback Staff members. The general session topics included: Examine, Execute, Educate & Evaluate, Equip, Enlist, Engage, Empower, Evolve, and Encourage. Steve Adams, Saddlebacks Children’s Pastor of the past 1 1/2 years, spoke at most of the sessions, though they also included key members of the Saddleback Children’s Ministry Team, Saddleback Youth Pastors, and local CM Pastors. It was so impressive to hear about how they make children’s ministry happen for 3,000 kids attending each week, but it was even more impressive to just interact with their very capable, yet humble staff. In fact, two of the most impacting experiences I had at this conference didn’t happen during a session. They were actually watching their youth perform on stage, and a staff member sharing her heart.
Various youth worship teams from Saddleback, led us in song prior to most of the sessions. It was amazing to watch these small groups of teenagers sing and dance with all their hearts. It was inspiring. Even more so to know that most of the kids singing on stage had grown up at Saddleback, had served at Saddleback, and had taken God’s message to others on global mission trips. It’s hard to put into words what it felt like to experience their contagious enthusiasm for Jesus. It was truly a picture of what Children’s Ministry should be – raising up fully devoted disciples of Christ!
The other positive experience happened when I was walking and talking with a Saddleback staffer named Becky. I had just eaten lunch with Becky and other leaders and discussed regional ministry or multi site ministry. We all had opportunity to share our successes and horror stories. After the lunch was over, I commented to Becky how blown away I was by the humble and gracious attitude that is common among the Saddleback staff. She simply said, “We make God a big deal, and try not to take ourselves too seriously”. What awesome advice! That one simple phrase was worth going to California for, because watching them live it out has cemented it in my mind as a personal aspiration. Thank you God for putting up with us when we get to thinking we’re a big deal!! It’s you who deserves all the glory.
PS – I should also note that my team and I got a ton of great ideas and resources from the conference. We’re going to avoid the temptation to immediately implement a million new things, but we definitely saw ways that we can be more effective for the kingdom. Totally worth the trip!
Even after five years of organizing baby dedications, I’m still tweaking the process. You see baby dedication isn’t that simple at our church, and the changes over time come from my desire to see the parents fully aware of what they’re participating in and fully informed of what steps to take after the dedication is over. This is complex at our church because we have not always required church membership, we have 13 services per week on three campuses, and we have people from 83 different countries with various cultural and religious backgrounds. To top it all off, we are Baptist, though many of the folks who attend our church know nothing of Baptist doctrine, traditions, etc. Did I say complicated???
Five plus years ago, before I organized the dedications, we had only four services, 3 Sunday Morning, 1 Saturday night, and there was the typical cattle call. “Please come forward if you’d like to dedicate your baby”. There was the announcing of the parents and baby and the typical prayer to thank God for the baby and to ask God to give the parents wisdom in raising the child in a Godly fashion.
This always bothered me for two reasons: 1- I am an organized person and it was totally chaotic looking and unorganized; so, that got under my skin. 2- Who are these people? Are they even Christians? Do they regularly attend our church, or did they just show up today? How can we get to know them and support them on this journey?
So, I began to think, plan and re-organize baby dedication. The first step was to have a registration process. This at least enabled us to know which parents were walking up on stage, and it helped us to greet them properly and to give them a bit of information regarding baby dedication before hand. The second step was a hugely unpopular move, but necessary – We made the stage time about Mom, Dad and Baby. No gradparents, no godparents. Even though unpopular, you actually noticed the dedicating parents during the dedication instead of trying to pick them out of the herd. Both changes were necessary and prove to be lasting ones. The only problems we encountered at that point were really late arrivals (right before presentation time) and the addition of seven more weekly services for our church. I’ll stop here for Part 1. In Part 2 I’ll explain how we do dedication with so many services to choose from.
Yesterday I took my 2nd tennis lesson. I grew up in a small, rural town that didn’t have any tennis courts. Nobody played tennis. Tennis was a country club thing and there was no country club either. Needless to say, I don’t have a lot of experience with tennis and I stink! Even though my playing is subpar, I’ve met three other awesome women, and I’m having a blast. Sometimes you don’t even realise you need an outlet from home and work. That was definitely my case. Working at a church has so many rewards. However, your world can become really small, even if you’re at a large church with hundreds of people your connecting with. This tennis class excites me because it’s totally out of my normal routine and regular circle of friends. Two sessions under my belt and I already think I’m developing tennis elbow. Thank goodness for myoflex cream!
This one’s for my KidsWorld Volunteers. Click below to view and print a list of our event for this new Ministry Year!
KidsWorld Calendar of Events 2009-2010
KidsWorld, at Oasis Church, provides children’s classes during 13 church services per week. We have three campuses, one of which holds nightly services. One of the ways we keep our many volunteers united and pursuing a common goal is to have Multi-Campus Quarterly Team Meetings. At our last team meeting, we talked about at curriculum change and our events for the year, but the bulk of our time was spent on Classroom and Behavior Managment.
Having taught in a public school classroom for six years, and in a preschool setting for two years, I know how challenging classroom mangement can be. Decreasing interruptions and re-occuring behavioral incidents, can really increase a teacher’s satisfaction with teaching. After all, it allows the teacher to do more of what he/she loves – which is teaching!! Below is a link to the outline I constructed for our seminar. I allowed two hours for food, fellowship and training. I should have allowed at least three hours! In fact, this would have been best taught in two sessions: whole Group, then age specific breakouts, with breaks before and after each. That was our orignal plan; which, got derailed when our time ran out. Our training went well; however, our infant through preschool group would have really benefitted from a small group time to express issues specific to their group and to develop common strategies. Below, is the link to the training document I used.
I recently read an excellent article entitled, The ABC’s of Spritual Growth. It was written in 2006 by Rick Chromey for Group Publishing. I don’t know Rick yet; but, I do highly respect and trust Group Publishing for the great resources they provide for Children’s Ministry. This particular article appealed to me because of it’s comprehensive look at how children develop physically, emotionally, and spiritually from birth into their pre-teen years – which happens to be the ages groups our KidsWorld Ministry teaches.
I especially like this analogy he uses, “Ultimately, faith is rooted in attitudes and feelings that mature into special relationships where commitments are created and decisions are later made. The process is similar to fitting shoes. Different ages have different sizes and shapes.” Rick then goes on to define how different age groups develop and how we can reach them for Jesus Christ. The link to the article is below: