Why a Successful VBS Has to be a Church Wide Event

In an earlier blog post, one of a the points that I got the most questions about was why a VBS has to be a church-wide event. My reasoning behind this statement was because I have done VBS as a departmental event and a church-wide event. VBS is such a large event that it either adds to the life of the church or it drains life from the children’s ministry department within the church. Here are a few of the differences I have found between a departmental VBS and a church-wide VBS.

A department VBS is lost in the sea of summer promotions. A church-wide VBS every department feels the pressure so they each push its importance. We canceled our worship team practice because we needed the space but it said to worship team that we are in this together. It served as a reminder that they should register their kids and invite others to come. We canceled our regular programming for youth ministry the week of VBS because of space and because so many of our youth are involved in making VBS a reality.

The 6 Truths About Multi-site Every Kid’s Pastor Need to Know

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.

Branding your ministry 101.

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We rebranded thankfully in 2008 my primary concern was the elimination of all a.c.r.o.n.y.m.s. I hope you are not offended by this but I hate all things acronym. I know that that is risky to put on a blog since the NSA will read this and they themselves are an acronym. It seems that the debate of rebranding is centered around functional vs. fun. We tried to accomplish both.

Here was my thought process in our rebranding.

1. What is the direction of our church – Our church was about to rebrand and so we couldn’t name our kids church after our big church. Plus some churches should name their kids after their big church because well their big church name is a bit much (greater highway deliverance ministry kids?) I digress. What reflects the vision and values of the church.

2. Does it help parents? – When I took over our preschool we have classes like Navigators, Explorers and Discoverers I for the life of me could not keep them straight and sent lots of kids to the wrong rooms. To fix this when we rebranded and picked a theme for our kids church I chose names that could have numbers. 2nd Ave. – 2 year olds – 3rd Street – 3 year olds – Rte. 5 – 5 year olds. our 5, 6, 7th grade Junction 567 – It makes sense to new people because they know how old their kids are. I haven’t misdirected a kid yet.

3. Is it fun? – Parents remember utilitarian names kids embrace fun ones. So to have a combination of both we did the practical names like 4th ave. But I didn’t want kids to invite other kids to their class. I wanted them to invite them to a broad-based experience so we named the whole thing Uptown. Uptown covers everything from birth to 6th grade. It’s fun and it’s all kids have to remember it also will be all they will ever have to remember.

4. Know your area – For us not being in the bible belt but in crucifix alley being a protestant non-denominational church having a different name than the name of our church is a plus in that we reach kids without preconceived ideas from parents.

It is our desire to preach Jesus to kids and parents alike. So rather than be cute our goal is how can we be effective and glorify God in all we do. Far to many churches try and be cute because they believe that cuteness draws people while this may be true cuteness doesn’t transform lives and change hearts that is a work that only Christ can do.

So name things and name them well.

CMLeaders Conference

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The past two days have been incredible. It has been a steady flow of amazing content. I have been challenged in so many ways.

Here are a few of the things I love about CMLeaders so far.

1. Love that the whole thing is streaming.
2. Love the relaxed feel
3. Love the all general session format
4. I really like the fact the size of the conference is smaller.
5. Really liked the diversity of the speakers.

Here is what I think CMLeaders can do for next year.

1. Shorten the talks with a sharper focus and greater big idea feel
2. Create idea pods based on the big idea – where people can unpack the big ideas
3. Use video to stimulate conversation around the big ideas that are conveyed.

Overall love the feel and flow of the conference. Love Michael‘s heart and vision for a conference that addresses the issues of leaders in kidmin who lead other leaders. If you are looking for a conference to grow, challenge your leadership paradigms consider coming to CMLeaders next year.

6 questions every leader needs to ask after a big event.

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We just got back from camp it was another amazing year and God did some amazing things in the hearts of the kids that attended. Our kids pastor and his team did a great job. Now that I am back I do what I do every year question everything.

Planning the event is huge, but the thing that we often neglect is the pulling the event apart. It matters little at this phase whether the event was a success or failure because this is actually the first step in planning the next event or planning to cancel the next event. I know that I have avoided this part because of insecurity, but more often because I am done with it and on to the next thing. I have to recognize that my confidence doesn’t come from how well the event went or my ability to keep going. My confidence as a leader comes from putting my hopes and dreams in Christ. When you understand that your worth and your confidence comes from him it gives you the strength to kill a program that you have done for years or the wisdom to make that same program better than it’s ever been.

Here are 6 questions I ask myself after each event we do.

1. Am I doing this program or event because “it’s always been done” Is this event in line with the values and the vision of the church currently?
2. Did we accomplish what we wanted to accomplish with this event?
3. Were we good stewards of the money this event cost the church to pull off?
4. If this is something we are going to do next year how can we involve families in the process?
5. Did I have the right leaders there? How can I leverage the planning, running and reflection of this event to grow the leaders under me?
6. When all is said and done was Jesus magnified more than we were?