Let me be frank. Multi-site is not easy and is not for everyone. I have hated it at times and am thankful at other times. One of the things I love about multi-site is it forces you to grow, invest in and pray for more leaders. Sometimes people will call asking about Multi-site kids ministry I always tell them we have far from figured it out. Here are the other six things I tell them.
1. Two sites will stretch your parents more than you. Three sites plus will stretch you and your staff more than your parents.
2. There is no perfect model. Everyone has a different take. What you need is not a model to follow but clarity from your pastor on his desire and what that looks like in the context of your church.
3. Multi-site is hardest on the kids ministry because of the massive amounts of leaders and infrastructure need to pull off a Sunday. Once your pastor does one location start planning for five.
4. You have to be more sure of your values they need to be more clear and more simple than ever before.
5. You need a point person staff or volunteer who you trust and who understands the churches DNA and understands you and how you work.
6. You need to trust God more than ever because it really is bigger than you. One site you can manage but get to three or four and your God dependence gets greater. A greater dependence on the work of the Holy spirit and our trust in a God who works all things according to the counsel of His will in our kids ministry has been by far the best thing to come out of our multi-site experience.
12 years in and as we start our 5th campus I still have much to learn.
I have been reading a book by Os Guinness entitled “Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Lost Art of Christian Persuasion.” In his book Dr. Guinness talks about how we have to move from convincing people to become Christian to persuading them to search for Christ. Towards the end of the book he talks about the dangers of revisionism. Revisionism advocates for change in longstanding doctrines that the church has believed to be true over the course of thousands of years. Guinness speaks to the dangers that revisionism has on the Church and Christian Orthodoxy. Revisionism is not just a liberal concept it can be found in both the liberal and conservative wings of Christianity. What Guinness has to say is both telling and challenging. It is telling because it is becoming more widespread it is challenging because it calls us to action. It requires us to do more than sit back and wait for the dust to settle. What we believe to be true must be founded in love but we must be faithful to what is true.
How does this play into kids and youth ministry? We can no longer teach our kids to be good citizens we must prepare them to be Christian advocates. We must teach them what is true so they do not make decisions based on what they experience, that feels true. Our job as pastors of the young in our flock is not just to create spaces that are creative and fun but we must teach them what is true.
Relevance is not giving people what they want, it’s giving them what they need. Sometimes they don’t even know they need it. What kids need from us is a is not just facts about life and ways to do life better they need a new framework to see the world. Without a framework their facts about life will wither under the relentlessness of the experience that our generation uses to trump truth. We can not run away or put our head in the sand we must meet the challenge of our day full force with the timeless truth that has been handed to us. Here is what Os Guinness says in his book “Fools Talk” about liberal Christian revisionists.
Christian advocates, then, must be ready to focus their attention on those inside the church as well as those outside— resisting modern revisionism just as St. Paul resisted ancient Gnosticism and St. Athanasius stood fast against Arianism and the world of his day. Are today’s evangelists and apologists prepared to count the cost and pick up their crosses again and truly be contra mundum— even to the point of scorn, shame, and perhaps imprisonment and death? Let there be no misunderstanding: the greatest crisis now facing the church in the West today is the crisis of authority caused by the church’s capitulation to the pressures of the sexual revolution, and in particular to the bullying agenda of the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer coalition. It will not do for evangelists and apologists to keep silent for fear of losing opportunities to present the gospel. As Luther made plain in his day, to fight the battle at any point other than where the battle is being fought in one’s day is to lose the battle.
Pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous regret in failing to stand against National Socialism in his time carries an equivalent warning for evangelists and apologists today. They raised the question of authority, but I was an evangelist and an apologist and not a theologian, so I didn’t stand up . . .
One of the things I am learning nearly 20 years into family ministry is that we often give parents good information at the wrong time. We have more tools at our disposal and bigger budgets than ever before, but we seem to be missing it. We have better looking take home papers than we did 20 years ago and amazing apps to help parents but most things I’ve tried haven’t really hit home. Our problem is that we give them amazing resources but at the wrong time.
If we really want to partner with families and most people I have talked to do want to partner with families, we have to think not in terms of what do I have to offer but more in terms of what questions do the families in my church need answers or resources to. Partnering with parents primarily requires a church that sees the value of families and provides resources and programming that make that value an experienced reality.
Before I start this blog post let me be clear about a couple of things.
1. I am insanely jealous of Bible Belt weather this time of year.
2. I am not a big fan of children killing each other in the craziness we call egg hunts.
Why am I jealous of the Bible Belt this time of the year? Well, most often when it’s time to do an Easter egg hunt this is what it looks like outside our church. (No exaggeration as this photo was taken Easter 3 years ago)
We were looking for a way to do an Easter egg alternative and one of the women on our team Lori Buck came up with a brilliant idea. Do an Easter egg hunt indoors. I have to admit my chaos meter was going crazy. She began to explain her idea and it was brilliant.
Here is what it looks like.
1. Buy foam eggs online or at Hobby Lobby
2. Use “Blue Painters Tape” to tape said eggs to the wall.
3. Hide them in a specific room or all over your kids environment.
(Here is what it looked like taped to the wall)
4. Create a starting point and supply maps of the locations you want the kids to search for the eggs.
5. Provide the maps and pens
6. Do not allow kids to do this on their own – by forcing parents to help you create a shared experience with parent and child.
7. Have the parents and kids search for the eggs stuck to the walls once the egg is located circle the part on the map where the egg is located.
8. Once finished return the map for a prize. (We did a 3 tiered prize system based on how many eggs the kids found.) All the kids walked away with candy.
Here is what I loved about it.
1. It was FAR CALMER than any egg hunt I have ever been to.
2. Parents and kids did it together. Families were working together to find these eggs hidden all over the walls. Kids loved it and parents loved as much or more than their kids.
3. It was different, fun, orderly and just enough crazy to be fun.
4. Because we leveraged the parents we needed only a couple of volunteers.
We have done this event for 4 years now. Here are some of my thoughts. I love how it gives the parents the keys to the event. It’s not something the bring their kids to. It’s an event they all participate in. We do it on Palm Sunday to maximize attendance for two weeks, not just one. We invite everyone back for Easter services the following week. If the weather was better we may do the helicopter drop, but our poor weather forced us to create an event that pushes the family to do something fun together. This might be late for this year but try it out next year you might like it.
Given the current political season I thought I would share this prayer by our 16th president. A few years ago at a prayer breakfast one the persons at the prayer breakfast I attended read a proclamation by President Lincoln from 1863. It was such a moving declaration of our nations condition at that time and I believe of our present condition. It is a well-timed fresh reminder that our peace and security is not our doing by comes from God’s divine hand of providential grace. Lincoln says this line that is so profound and so powerful “in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”