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Christine has over 20 years of children's ministry experience. She's the author of 10 books and hundreds of articles related to children's ministry. It's no wonder she enjoys an almost-daily latte to keep her going! She is also the executive editor of Children's Ministry Magazine and serves as Group's children's ministry champion, responsible for research, development, and innovation in children's ministry resources. 

Just Like Family

Every month, our leadership team meets at Thom and Joani's house for breakfast--and Thom makes us amazing meals! Then we take turns leading one another in a devotion.

So, this week Joel (our VP of marketing) led us in a devotion about families. Our families. And then our leadership family. We were asked to consider what we could do to strengthen our bond with our leadership family. Here are three things I came away with:

1. Work on relationships with one another--not just being task-oriented. Take time for coffee and to get to know one another's stories.

2. Don't say anything behind someone's back that I wouldn't say in front of the person--not even if it's true but it has a certain tone or sarcasm.

3. Be FOR one another. Competition and comparison lead to icky stuff in families; and they do in companies too. So pray for one another and never secretly hope that an area will do less than the best--just so my area can look better.

I love my Group family! I hope some of these insights help with your church leadership family too!

Posted at 17:31

Brian Haynes--the Real Deal

We spent yesterday in the studio with Dr. Brian Haynes (author of Shift: What it takes to finally reach families today). Brian is also our family ministry columnist for Children's Ministry Magazine.

And...he's the real deal! Brian is the expert voice for the parent-training sessions on our six new Family Faith Celebrations (from Baby Blessing through High School Graduation). We didn't script him. We simply gave him topics to talk about...and then we sat back and marveled.

It was an affirmation that Shift and Family Faith Celebrations flow from Brian's life and heart..and they've been tested in the real-world of his church. As he shared the philosophy and practical encouragement to parents, I was inspired and felt hopeful that it really isn't overly complicated to impact my children's faith. I think all parents will feel the same way as they listen to this authentic Christian man share from his life and ministry.

Learn more about this great resource (coming soon): http://familyfaithcelebrations.group.com/

Posted at 17:01

New KidMin Conference

Ta-da!

That’s my way of telling you that we’ve been working on something so stupendous…so fantabulous…so just-what-you’ve been-hoping-for…and we’re finally ready to unveil it! Are you ready? (I’ve been sitting on my hands to keep from tweeting about this until now!)

It’s the Group KidMin Conference—coming to Chicago from October 7-10, 2011. And you and your team have got to join us!

Yes, it’s a year away, but we want you to prepare now to join us for an amazing time of deeper learning that leads to transformation, authentic conversations that become supportive relationships, and a renewed passion for the God you serve.

Here’s what’s true about our conference.

Jesus is the real “celebrity.” We’re inviting amazing people to speak and lead, but they’re not the “stars.” They’re here to challenge us to grow in our relationship with Jesus as we grow more effective in our ministry to children and families. Jesus is our biggest headliner at the KidMin Conference.

Relationships trump the show. The KidMin Conference facilitates connection more than a staged show. Sure, you’ll get great speakers and musicians, but what happens off-stage is way more important than that. Simply put, we’re all more attracted to, and feel more comfortable in, authentic environments rather than performance-oriented, showy settings. Ministry is about relationships, and this is a ministry conference.

You matter to us. Our KidMin conference is a conference by children’s ministers, for children’s ministers. This is for leaders and volunteers—everyone who ministers to children. When you come to our conference, it’ll be like a giant reunion—with people who love you, support you, and believe in you! We want you to feel known, seen, celebrated, and challenged. And we’ve planned everything with you in mind—we want your team to come away refreshed and renewed.

Learning isn’t about lecture. REAL learning (Relational, Experiential, Applicable, and Learner-Based) is threaded through every facet of our conference. You’ll learn through interactions and experiences—more than you ever would from a long lecture. You’ll find tables in meeting rooms that are more conducive to conversation. We’ve also created places for informal conversations and we’ll formally connect you with a networking group that’s facing the same issues you are. You won’t feel alone at this conference!

Going deeper instead of wider. We’ve formed this ministry experience around 8-hour tracks that dig deeper into a subject so you have the space to really learn. And we’re giving you tons of other workshops to meet more of your specific needs. You won’t worry about how one workshop fits with another because we’ll help you connect the dots. At the end of our conference, we’ll help you put all the pieces together to create a workable plan to use back at home.

So…excited yet? I hope so because we’re really excited to be with you at our first-ever Group KidMin Conference. Don’t wait to sign up because space truly is limited. And we don’t want you to miss out. Go to childrensministry.com/conference to learn more and sign up for updates! See you there!

Posted at 15:18

The Fine Art of Delegation

I messed up last week! It was a classic case of poor delegation!

Here's what happened. I told Reed, 14, that I'd pay him to prune the bushes in our yard. Since he was eager to get started the next day and it was late, I cut a few fronds off the top to show him how much to take off. Then I waved my hand around the bush and told him the rule of thumb is to never cut away more than one-third of the bush.

Next day...I'm on the way home and call him to check in. "Is it OK if the bushes are knee-high?" That was the first sign of trouble. Between my appointment and having to grab Abby to register her for soccer, I got a firsthand look at the much-changed bushes. It made my stomach hurt...and the only word I could think of was "demolished." (It was good I was getting out of there lest I say what was on my mind.) Once I was home again, I vacillated between "it's not your fault" and "oh my gosh!" Poor Reed!

The next day...I owned that I didn't delegate well. And that he's 14 and had never done this before. If I'd had it to do over, I would've modeled for him by completely pruning one of the bushes. Then I would've helped him prune another bush. Once I was confident that he understood, I would've released him. But I didn't do this and this was a classic example of poor delegation.

So has this ever happened to you? Maybe with VBS decor or a big outreach event? You delegate quickly, walk away, and then you finally see what your volunteers are working on...and you're shocked and appalled. Before you say the things that jump to your mind, step away and figure out if you truly provided the best delegation possible. Own your part too! And, like a friend said, know that nothing's fatal...bushes do grow back...and usually things in ministry do too!

(Reed gave me permission to blog about this.) And if you'd like more on how to delegate better than me, check out this article by Jim Wideman at childrensministry.com: "Delegate or Die" http://childrensministry.com/article.asp?ID=899

Posted at 16:23

A Servant's Heart

One of our featured articles on the childrensministry.com homepage this week is "Leading Up." In it, David Staal interviews his former pastor Bill Hybels about how children's ministers can best work with their senior pastors. Let's dig into it some more.

Hybels said: "I've never seen a day where it's harder to be a senior pastor than this day, and I've never seen senior pastors under higher levels of stress. And that's for good reason. The world is changing, ministry is harder, preaching is harder, team-building is harder, and fund raising is harder. Capturing the attention of lost people is more difficult, and people are more broken. So there's a lot going on in a senior pastor's mind."

What can we do to support our leaders? The first thing is to have a servant's heart.  I can share with you a few ideas.

* Ask "How can I serve you?" Sure, our plates are full (whose isn't?). But when our leaders need something done, is our first response to tell them how busy we are and how long it'll be before we can get to that item? Or do we communicate to them that their agenda is our agenda--and we're here to serve? When a leader works with a staff person whose heart is to serve, it truly is like taking 20 pounds of stress off that leader's shoulders.

* Align with your leader. Is your children's ministry's mission statement in perfect sync with the church's mission statement? Or are you building your own kingdom? If you can't align, perhaps you need to find a new leader to follow. Your heart needs to be 100 percent sold out to contributing to your leader's success in achieving what God has called him or her to do.

* Stay in the game. Some people think alignment with leadership means we need to be "yes people," saying "Just tell me what to do and I'll do it." Not at all. When I was in college, our ministry was led by a director and an associate director. The associate director once told me that if she disagreed with the leader, she would passionately communicate her views behind closed doors. But if the leader didn't agree, once she walked out that door, no one would ever know she disagreed. Truthfully, you're no good to your leader if you stop thinking, dreaming, working as hard as you can. Stay in the game--fully engaged!

What have you done to support your leaders?

Posted at 15:53

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