4 Tips For Helping Kids Serve in Kid’s Church… Adults too.

Last week I shared 5 Ways That Kids Can Serve in Kid’s Church. Having kids serve can be GREAT. However, we need to make sure that they are prepared, or it can be a source of great frustration for us and the child. So, here are 4 tips for helping kids serve in kid’s church, or church in general.

1.) Train them

Keep in mind that for most of your kids this will be their first time serving in church. You wouldn’t put any other person in any other environment to work doing something they had never done without proper training. Nor should we ask anyone to serve in church without training them first. Seek to answer these questions as you train them:

  • Who: Who will they be serving? Who will they be serving with? Who are they accountable to?
  • What: What are they supposed to be doing? What tools are available to them? What are your expectations of them?
  • When: When should they arrive? When are they to do whatever it is they are to do within the service? When are some other times that you would like them there for practices, etc?
  • Where:Where should they be before the service? Where should they be during the service? Where should they go went it’s time to do their thing? Where should they go when they are done doing their thing?
  • How: How do they do the thing you are asking them to do? How do they advance the slides in the presentation? How do they turn up the volume on that one mic? How should they greet new kids?
  • Why: This may be the most important question you seek to help these kids answer. They may have a wide variety of reasons that they want to serve. Help them to see that while many of their reasons for serving are ok, their real reason for serving is for the benefit of others. We serve because Jesus served. We serve because Jesus died for us. We serve because we want to love our neighbors.

2.) Watch them 

This one may go without saying. As children’s ministry leaders we are constantly watching the kids in our care. However, this goes beyond this. When a child is serving you need to watch so that you can see how well they are doing. Celebrate them publicly when they do a good job. Offer gentle correction and instruction when needed. Remember the point is not simply to make a show of cute little children serving. Rather it is to actually help these kids grow through the experience. Some of my greatest times of growth have come through serving.

3.) Be patient

Remember that these are children. Certainly we want them to do a great job, but we must remember that they are children. Being children comes with a certain amount of silliness and a certain lack of focus at times. Keep in mind that for many kids this will be the first time that they have ever served in church. Most people wouldn’t be willing to give them the chance. Trust me, most of those kids want to do a good job, if for no other reason that to please you. So, be patient with them.

4.) Let them be bad at it

I remember early in my ministry there were certain things that I had a hard time letting other people do. Teaching was one of those things. You see, I had a certain way that I thought it should be done and I just knew that others would be able to do it my way. Well, the truth is that my way was just my way, not THE way. So, I started letting others teach. Were they as good as me their first time out? No, they were not. But, they learned and grew… just like I had. Let these kids be bad at the jobs you are giving them. Then, guide them and teach them till they are better at it. You may find that some of these kids are actually better at some of these things that some of the adults you might have serving with you.

Bottom line

At some point someone took a chance with you. They gave you the chance to do something you had never done before… and to be bad at it. Maybe they trained you, maybe they didn’t. Maybe they watched you and offered correction and instruction as needed. Maybe they were patient with you as you learned. If they didn’t do these things, then I bet you wish they had. Kid’s can be the church of today, if we let them… and help them.

These tips can also apply to the adults serving in your ministry. If you take these steps with the adults serving in your ministry you may find that they stay longer and that you others are more likely to come onboard.

Matt Norman

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Leadership Requires Growth

For many people, leadership is about a position. They think that leading is about having the right title or position. They don’t think they can lead people until they have reached such a position. Sadly, once they’ve reached such a position, they often think that their quest for leadership ends. They see attaining the “right position” as evidence of their leadership and they see no need to grow. They don’t understand that leadership requires growth.

Leadership can happen from any position. As a staff level employee you have the potential to lead those at your level. For many, even at a staff level, there are people that work under you. Obviously you can lead them. You can even lead those who are above you in the organization. Regardless of your position, or who you are leading, the one thing that is true of every leader is that you must continue to grow in order to lead.

As a leader in the church there are many opportunities for such growth. A quick search on Amazon for “church leadership” brings up over 16,000 hits. Mentorship, education, online communities, and conferences are a few other such opportunities. Conferences vary widely in focus. There are more church leadership conferences than any one person could ever keep up with or hope to attend.

With so many conferences you might wonder if another conference was really needed. Despite that, last year a new conference was introduced. I’ve been to a bunch of conferences. Some for church and some for a position I once held in a local hospital. This  new conference is different from any other church leadership conference I have attended. This is the ReThink Leadership Conference.

So, how is the ReThink Leadership Conference different?

Well, for one, this conference is aimed specifically at senior leaders. It’s intended for and limited to senior pastors and campus pastors. This is not to say that other’s in the church have less need for growth. Rather it is an acknowledgement of the unique challenges faced by the top leaders in a given church. This conference is focused specifically on those challenges.

How is it different from others?

Better connection: There are certainly other conferences aimed at senior leaders. What makes this one different? The ReThink Leadership conference is limited in total number. Instead of hundreds and hundreds, or maybe even thousands of leaders sitting in row after row of chairs, those in attendance are seated around tables. This allows you to connect with a few other people in a real way. At last years conference they actually assigned seats so that each leader would find themselves sitting with a group of people they probably didn’t know. This was a great opportunity to connect with other leaders.

More intimate feel: By limiting total registration to just a few hundred, then they were able to guarantee that breakouts had a more intimate feel. I’ve been to conferences where hundreds of people were in a given breakout. In that case the chance of getting my specific question answered is greatly decreased. By intentionally keeping Rethink Leadership Conference smaller, they allow for much smaller numbers in each breakout, thus allowing much greater connection with each speaker.

Top line speakers: This is certainly not the only conference to offer top line, Christians speakers, but the list is worth noting. Names like: Jon Acuff, Bob Goff, Carey Nieuwhof, Jud Wilhite, and more. Having attended last year’s ReThink Leadership Conference I can honestly say that the speakers make it at least worth checking out.

A conference for your whole team: Wait, I thought you said that this conference was only for senior leaders. It is. But, ReThink happens at the same time, and in conjunction with the Orange Conference. Orange is a conference for all people that minister to families within your church.  With a variety of tracks there is something there for pretty much every leader in your church. It also happens just a short distance from the venue that is housing the ReThink Leadership Conference. So, it’s a great opportunity for your whole team to grow as leaders and to grow closer together.

Bottom line: I’m a bottom line kinda guy. So, here’s the bottom line. If you are a leader, or aspire to be one, then you must continue to seek personal growth as a person and as a leader. If you are a senior pastor or campus pastor the ReThink Leadership Conference is a great opportunity for such growth.

Registration is open now and for a few more days you can save a few bucks with the early bird special. I’ve already got my ticket and I hope to see you there. Check out rethinkleadership.com for a full list of speakers, for hotel information, for information about the venue, for full pricing information and much more.

Again, I hope to see you there.

Matt Norman

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Rethink Leadership Conference Day 1 Wrap Up

As many of you know, I am working to plant a church. For this reason, I have struggled with whether I should be at this conference or at the Exponential Conference in Orlando. I mean Exponential is a CHURCH PLANTING CONFERENCE. Plus, it’s in my back yard. I could attend that one and sleep in my own bed with my wife each night. But, I had made a decision and a commitment to come to Atlanta. So, here I am. Before lunch time yesterday it was clear that I was exactly where God wanted me.
That was the topic go discussion for the first part of the Rethink Leadership Conference. You see many pastors and leaders have a vision. However, as they pointed out yesterday, many lack a solid strategy for how to accomplish the vision. Here are a few soundbites from these first sessions.
Reggie Joiner
  • It’s not your vision that determines your success. It’s your strategy.
  • It’s alignment the will make a different in achieving our goals or not.
  • You can’t get everyone on the same page if you can’t get them in the same room.
Carey Nieuwhof
  • Not having a strategy is like driving a 12 year old Ford Focus on the German Autobahn.
  • Mission and vision determine intention, but strategy determines direction.
  • The reason you can sleep at night is not because of clear vision, but because of a clear strategy.
Leone Crump
  • Strategy is good. It needs to happen. But, sometimes you get to a point where strategy meets reality and some things have to change.
  • What is our unique contribution during this era of God’s work and will?
  • The church is a centrifugal institution. If you poor into those at the core it will spin out to those on the outside.
  • It’s your job, not to keep every person, but to consistently communicate that your vision has not changed as you change the strategy that is moving you towards your greater goal.
  • Culture is an environment you build around people, not information you give to people.
  • Balance is a myth. Rather it is a matter of understanding the different seasons in your life and ministry. When are your seasons of rest and when are you sprinting?
  • Ignore the wrong people in your life and invite the right ones.
Jon Acuff
  • The hardest part of strategy is that it forces you to admit your limits.
  • If you don’t have strategy the things that re most important get the rest of your time, not the best of your time.
THIS was all just during the first main session of the Rethink Leadership Conference. At this point I was already blown away. But, there was more. Here are a few thoughts from the first “Affinity Conversation”. This is what most conferences would call a breakout session. However, these really were designed to be more of a conversation. The room I was in had about 30 people or so in it. The speaker spoke for about 15 minutes, then the remainder of the hour was open to Q&A. Different from any other conference I’ve been too and it worked great. Here are some of the highlights from this session with Leonce Crump:
  • What is our unique contribution in this era of God’s work and will? (Ok, I know I repeated this one from earlier, but it’s so good I had to. Plus, there was more to it this time.)
    • Demographics don’t come into play until you first answer this question.
  • Are all churches to engage culture? Yes, on some level or another. But, what does that look like for your church in your context?
  • I want to you be you, how you be you, while we do this to the glory of God.
  • If you can’t be committed to this local church, let me help you find a local church you can be committed to.
As you can see the content was rich in all of these sessions and this doesn’t even cover the entire day. I look forward to the content from day 2. Not sure I have capacity for any more, but I’ll take great notes and share with you all.
Matt Norman

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What is the Rethink Leadership Conference?

I was just about to post a recap of the first day of the Rethink Leadership Conference when I realized that some people may not know what this conference is. So, I thought I would give you a quick description of what it is.
I’ve been to a bunch of conferences. Most of them end up looking and feeling very similar. Large numbers of people gather in a big room for the main sessions. Speakers come out and speak at you for hours, while you frantically try to absorb as much as you can. Rethink is different. Let’s look at how.
Senior leaders only. This isn’t about age. They are not offering a discount for AARP members. While there was a lot of grey hair in attendance, it is not a requirement.The Rethink Leadership Conference is a conference for senior leaders. It’s aimed at lead pastors, campus pastors and executive pastors. As a long term children’s pastor this would be the first such event I have attended. However, as I move from children’s pastor to starting a church this seemed like an appropriate step for me to take.
TED style talks. If you have never heard of TED talks do yourself a favor and Google it. TED talks tend to run from around 10 to 20 minutes. Sometimes a little longer, but usually 20 minutes or less. This conference was set up that way. Each speak was given around 15 minutes. If you don’t think that loads of powerful content can be delivered in such a short time I would again recommend you check out some of the TED talks that are available. I can certainly say from this experience that these short bursts of content were extremely effective.
Discussions encouraged. The brief talks were, occasionally, broken up with times set aside for Table discussion. The tables on the first day were assigned. This was designed to ensure that you ended up at a table with people that you didn’t know. The Rethink team provided discussion questions and table guides to help encourage discussion during these times. However, after the first session or too the conversation flowed pretty naturally. As I said earlier I have been to a bunch of conferences. None ever were this intentional about connecting people with one another and including time for discussion into the schedule of the conference.
Affinity Conversations, not Breakouts. Ok, this may seem like to just a clever, hip naming scheme. However, it really is more than that. The entire attendance of the conference was limited to around 700 hundred. I think only around 500 were actually in attendance. That meant that in these sessions there were only 30-50 people in each room. This was at least true for the ones I one into. The speaker was given 15 minutes to speak, then the remaining 45 minutes were open for Q&A. Generally it is the other way around the speaker speaks for 45 minutes to an hour and 10 or 15 minutes are given to Q&A. That’s assuming, of course, that the speaker doesn’t go over. So, conference attendees are stuck sitting there listening and hoping that the specific question they came to the conference or to the breakout with gets answered.
Final impressions. As i write this there are still a couple more hours of conference left. However, I can confidently say that I love this conference. The content has been perfect for my position as a senior pastor. The format has been great. I have always been one to seek out connections while at conferences. However, the people at Rethink made it so much easier to do. If you are a senior leader, I would highly recommend that you consider coming to the Rethink Leadership Conference next year.
Matt Norman

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ReThink Leadership Conference Day -1 Recap

Well, I arrived in ATL for the ReThink Leadership Conference today. It actually doesn’t start till tomorrow, but they had a VIP reception for those of us that got in early. It was good. I actually got to chat with Carey Nieuhoff. He’s actually a really nice guy. I mean I know he sounds that way when you hear him on his podcast or preaching or something, but he is actually really cool in person.

I also got to reconnect with an old blogging friend, Ryan Reed, and found out he now lives not far from me.

Anyways, stay tuned for tomorrow as I share some real info from the ReThink Leadership Conference.

Matt Norman

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