Our vision is to resource remote Village Evangelists in India. Two years ago we established Seven Resource Centers that now serve 222 rural evangelists who have NO visual resources to reach unreached people. This trip to India we will establish Eight More Resource Centers. It works much like a lending library—check it out, return it, get something else. This is a partnership with Kidhelper Resources, Creative Children’s Ministries, Sathyam Ministries and Whittier Area Community Church. Michael LaFond and I will travel to train eight Managers, the day before Easter April, 2014
Can we learn about ministry from Noah? Yes! It is important to establish for yourself how you go about developing your ministry. There seems to be a process, a pattern that I can objectively talk about that I refer to as my ministry process. It is like getting your story together. Another analogy might be: This is how the ducks line up, you know, getting all ducks in a row. There seems to be a few consistent patterns.
With over fifty years of experience in watching how God has worked with me about Special Projects, I have had to trust Him. I am coming to some conclusions about how God leads me. While, I think it might be presumptuous to try to create a project formula for others based upon my own experience, I think there are some parameters that might apply to most of us.
This first step might start from an invitation, a phone call, a letter, some conversation, a need or a desire the Lord has placed in my heart while praying. However, the next step is always personal.
1. Start with Time with God
He puts a burden on your heart that He wants me to do something. It can come in lots of ways, but the clue is I find myself praying about something bigger than I can do and I recognize I need His help. I find I have questions in this phase, where I am asking God to show me his plan and how this fits. I need His help.
2. Write out Some Tentative Plans
Next, for me, I find myself thinking about this enough where the only relief is to just write it down. I tend to try to figure it out, that is, play out “what if” scenarios and pre-think on paper. This tends to lead towards some written formulation of an action plan, that I do nothing with, at first. I leave it and wait. This is held tentatively. I do nothing—but think, pray and wait
3. Waiting and Praying
The burden increases! I might be praying about making another trip to India, another vehicle or a new computer. But I have no money or resources to make that happen. This might be the birth and death of the vision. It becomes impossible. So I learn this is not about me, it is more about God doing what He wants with me. An effort is made to visualize the project, like get a drawing or picture to make a brochure.
4. Watching and Counsel
Now I am waiting to hear someone or something said about what I am considering. I might “test the waters” by sharing a little bit with others, a chance to get some counsel, seek some wisdom from the input of others. I might “knock on a few doors,” to see what’s there. It is not about being aggressive. It is still being tentative. I am still asking, seeking and knocking—building my story. Doing my homework, exploring the project.
5. Looking for a Token of Encouragement
This might be some verbal support, or some “seed” money—which deepens your conviction. It might be an invitation, a conversation, a phone call, or the influence of a conference. It might be a metaphor or an object lesson. I have actually had a child make my first contribution to start the ball rolling. There are those “launchers” that God uses to “open the gate” for a new direction. He uses the “sustainers” build momentum for a project. He uses “closers” to finish a project. They have faith in your story. At this stage, it is always about a faith response with the assurance that He is confirming His direction for me. So I speak with certainty about the plan now, which requires faith and conviction—maybe even your passion.
6. Wait for More Confirming Circumstances
At this point, the plan is more public. This where the work is involved to implement the plan. I am talking about my plans, gathering the pieces to make my story compelling. I make a brochure or a flyer for the project plans. I might contact known supporters for prayer and potential involvement. From a position of confirmation and “seed money” and let others know what my opportunity is about. This always involves moving out in faith by taking another step forward and watching God work things out for me. Sometimes the provision is slow and sometimes it is amazingly fast.
Challenge: So I am suggesting that you seriously consider these parameters and see how they apply to your experience. Finding your Ministry Process for new projects is what we have in mind here. Your ministry process applies to other areas of your ministry. So maybe we can learn from what Noah accomplished with his project?
Hitting your finger, instead of the nail, is a painful way to learn How Things Work. Hitting the nail on the head takes some practice and a steady stroke.
A Systems Approach
The systems approach to How Things Work is helpful to understand here. If you take a rubber band around all your fingers and move one finger, the pressure is felt on the others. So what happens to one, somehow impacts the others in a system. When one member is sick in a family, it impacts them all. In a Staff, when one is not pulling their weight, that one might have an impact on the total ministry. In an Elder run church, decisions made at that level trickle down into the staff and congregation, whether it is a decisive or indecisive decision. Every church has a culture—“the way we do things here!” When you understood How Things Work, you have more permission to “work the system.”
Every church culture requires a leader who can understand How Things Work. Failure to do so could hurt a whole lot more than hammering your fingers. Learning to assess policies, procedures and protocols can help you get things done. Challenging the system on every hand can be laying the groundwork for your departure. Unfortunately, I have seen it happen.
Here are few things to watch for that might assess How Things Work in your Church.
1. Watch and Listen! You can learn a lot by observing and the keeping your ear to the ground. Do not interfere, if you perceive it to be privileged information. Don’t share it!
2. Ask Questions and Keep Confidential No one will trust you, if they feel you cannot keep information confidential. There is a time to gather information. You will learn more by being quiet about what you know. Teachable moments will come later.
3. Notice how decisions are made. Is there a pattern in the way decisions are made? Can anyone else make a decision, except the Pastor? “It’s your program, you decide, but check back with me first?” Do staff members have both trust and authority?
4. Observe how problems are solved. Are problems really solved or just handled temporarily? Are people processed well with the resolutions or details associated with outcomes?
5. Has there ever been any Church Discipline? How was that handled? Was there any opportunity for restoration or restitution? Were there any winners and losers? What was the role of forgiveness and grace?
6. How would you describe the Church’s state of health? Financial condition? Saying one thing—doing another? Are they involved in the community? Surviving? Flourishing? Any People Blindness here?
7. Is there a Program Priority? Some Programs are always funded first with no discussion? This program can dominate agendas and gets on the calendar first—it just goes without saying. Is it assumed?
8. Describe What Works in Writing. Writing down what works helps you to understand the pattern used for getting things done. Have you noticed any leveraging to get things done? Are there some “land mines” to avoid? Are there any “sacred” cows?
9. Observe how a New Idea Gains Momentum for Change in the System. Pastor goes to a conference and comes home with new program idea. Can you observe the implementation process with the staff and power structure? Where is the push back?
10. Good Ideas Are My Ideas! Bad Ideas Are Your Ideas! Is there consideration and respect for alternative thinking associated with problem solving? Can authority be challenged? Can anybody else be right? Does someone need the credit?
This is another reason why the Kidmin should not introduce too much change in the first year. Understanding How Things Work is vital to being able to affect the system in some permanent ways. Change should be deliberate, thoughtful and in small increments with plenty of time for “processing the troops.” Understanding How Things Work can help you make change work better and longer.
Usually, the term Legacy refers to an amount of money or property left to someone in a will upon death of another. However, it can be an inheritance, a gift, a body of work, where the benefactors are friends or members of your family. Anything that you are “known for” accomplishing in your lifetime (even intellectual property) is possible to be bequeathed. These are legacy materials that could be passed on to others.
1. Living a Legacy: Create Your Own Legacy!
A Full life lived with abundant effort of skills, talents and a body of work takes a lifetime to accumulate. For some, determining what the focus of the Legacy will be is not rocket science. It might have to do with 10,000 hours of effort (see Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers). So the Legacy is usually about how one’s life has been lived. What’s dominant? I think you can choose what you want your legacy to be. In general, I have lived my life about reaching and teaching children. However, in particular, I have been about evangelism of children throughout all of my adult life—over 50 years now. Whatever your life has been about qualifies as your legacy of choice. This choice can help create your own legacy!
2. Lead a Legacy: Champion Your Own Legacy!
With all the years of experience, I began to see that I could leverage my years of experience into becoming a leader in my own field of legacy endeavor. Earning the right to lead based upon the accumulative years of experience qualifies one to take on some leadership. However, reading, writing and speaking about evangelism of children is what this movement of children’s evangelism is about.
So deciding to take leadership and establishing my own legacy could really be an option. I now see myself as a leader of my own legacy. This legacy of children’s evangelism is the bequest I will leave to those that follow me. It has been my writing that has helped me to understand that I am leveraging my life’s work for those that follow me. However, it has been my coaching experience that has added influence to establishing this legacy. I will probably be more known for my writing and coaching leaders than all my years of speaking to children. However, it was my experience that has qualified me to write and coach. Talking about it! Writing about it! Encouraging others who also share our Legacy. All this combines to focus leadership on our legacy. We should not be timid about becoming a Champion for our Own Legacy. It seems me that my legacy is encompassed in my life’s vision: Creatively evangelizing children and helping others to do the same.
3. Leaving a Legacy: Celebrate Your Legacy!
Obviously, if you are living your legacy and leading your own legacy, then leaving your legacy, involves the distribution of your accumulated treasure. This is the result of living your planned life. You cannot take very much with you, but you can leave something behind for your family, friends and protégé’s. I am giving thought to this idea since I have turned seventy. I am contemplating how I will distribute my accumulated experience, my worldly goods, and my collected ideas. It is now my ambition to “Put a Bow” on this Legacy Donation I wish to leave. If I do not, then others will have to decide for me in my absence. Why not participate in the process and celebrate the legacy?
I am Living My Dream!
You might think that you are too young to be thinking about choosing your legacy. But the truth is you have already begun, and you may not even know it yet. I was not aware of what my life was really going to be about for many years. However, as the years went by and my experience has grown, so has my awareness of what my legacy has become. Legacy is about your choices, your efforts, your being intentional.
So here is the Challenge—Identify the legacy early, so you can live it, lead it and leave it for others to enjoy. Leave something significant behind!
What is your life about? What do you want to be known for? Can you begin to enjoy your legacy now?
What can you do to take leadership of your legacy?
What form will you leave your legacy? Can you see yourself celebrating your kidmin legacy?
It may be helpful to explain two very divergent approaches for Creatives. The first is the deductive approach called Reductionism—“How does this work?” The emphasis is upon taking something apart to determine how it works. The second is the additive approach called Emergence—“What is this?” This is based on the formula: A + B = C. When one thing is added to something else, it becomes yet another entity.
We are impressed with Kidmin who are creative. We enjoy the fruit of their creativity. However, our Creative God made us like Him, creative! So we have the ability to create. Creativity is not a gift or a talent. It is, however, a way of operating. So, if we practice some creative habits, we too, could experience creativity in our ministry. Creativity is an act of the will. By deliberately adding your skills and talents to the practice of creative habits, creativity will emerge!
Here are Six Creative Habits that Creatives Use.
1. Work at Mastering your Talent and Skills Creatives make the time to master their talents/skills. According to Malcolm Gladwell’s research in his book Outliers, he projects that it takes about 10,000 hours to master a talent or skill, whether it is a sport, writing, art, singing, storytelling or magic. This means that the accumulation of experience matters for Creatives. They do not quit—they keep trying. By adding mastery to your talents and skills, something emerges!
2. Discover How New Ideas Happen for YOU Creatives understand how new and fresh ideas come to them. They are very aware how the mind and body work to produce solutions to problems. Rising early seems to be common to most Creatives. They have found when these idea-friendly times occur. Creatives master these idea-producing techniques. They keep repeating them, and when they do, something always emerges!
3. Capture Ways to Record Your Ideas Creatives have deliberate ways to collect their new ideas. They even know when the creative ideas come in their day: driving, sleeping, walking, etc. They might use 3 x 5 cards, a note pad, a white board, a journal, a recording device, a smart phone or other such capturing techniques. They are always prepared for an idea and have a quick way to capture it. I have made notebooks, even written journals. For several months I purposed to invent a new magic trick every week. When you add retrieval systems (or Evernote) to your talents and skills, something emerges.
4. Designate A Creative Space—the Work Place! The work place is where creative work happens! It can be the office, a workshop, a special chair or even a serene quiet research-type environment. Some Creatives require a clean spacious work place, while others work best in clutter with resources all around them. But what is common to all Creatives? They know the environment where they are most productive. Add the right work place to your talents and skills, and something will emerge!
5. Find a Network of Like-Minded Creatives It helps to be in relationship with other Creatives, like our selves. It stimulates creative ideas. The cross-pollinating of ideas is a fertile garden for harvesting creative projects. Sharing your process helps to get feedback. Engaging in a creative network with your talents and skills, something emerges!
6. Prune Your Efforts: Eliminate and Concentrate We all have the same amount of time in a day. Creatives tend to eliminate time wasters and have the ability to concentrate their efforts on the creative process to produce results. Anything that is a distraction or a time robber is somehow eliminated. They tend to remove themselves to work in isolation. Being able to eliminate distraction and concentrate on your talents and skills, something emerges!
Challenge: By adding these habits to your process you can increase your creative ability and something will emerge. Are you aware of the time you are putting into mastering your skills and talents? Experiment with how new ideas come you. Have you noticed any patterns? Do you have a way to capture ideas? Are you sharing your ideas with others who are likeminded? Are you able to remove yourself from distraction and those who can rob your best efforts? Work your ideas!
B. Kinard ©2013, Rights reserved, www.Kidhelper.com
Did you know there are 7,000 varieties of apples in the world? But they are all apples! Did you know there are over 1,000 varieties of bananas? But they are all bananas! Every fruit is a unique kind, but each kind has multiple varieties. When I have traveled overseas, I have encountered varieties of fruit common to here, but very different in size, color and shape.
Like these kinds of fruits, there are different varieties of ministries. This summer I attended a Luis Palau Conference with 150 evangelists. I noticed that all these evangelists had difference expressions of evangelism. Even though there were different manifestations of their giftedness—they were all very gifted evangelists! This diversity creates their unique identity—how they become known.
This is also true among children’s ministers. Not all children’s ministers are the same. There are varieties in children’s ministry, but by the same Spirit who manifests diversity among us. Much of children’s ministry is very much alike from church to church. However, the longer we serve the more our uniqueness shows up.
What is your unique identity or your signature contribution to children’s ministry? For some this identity comes quickly, for others it is a process that takes time. Usually, we have some help with this. Others speak up about who we are and what we do. However, once we find it, this identity becomes the content of your “Marketing Brand.”
So here some things to consider that might help you identify your unique brand of ministry to children.
1. Find a Creative Name This name becomes the “essence” of you—what you do in the world of kids. It needs to be unique. It needs to identify you and the “niche” that you can fill in the Kidmin world—not a copy of someone else’s brand. This can take some time in ministry to discover, but a great find! (Kidhelper, Kidologist, Storylady, Kidartologist, Kidmagnet)
2. Visually Represent Your Name Identity Find a photo, a graphic, or a logo. This avatar will be your quick reference brand that is always about you. You want it to stand out and not be confused with others.
3. Discover a Tagline, Slogan or a Subtitle. This by-line kind of tag that modifies or explains your brand name—what you are really about. Go to your own personal vision for this—hopefully, it is related. Example: Encourage and Equip children’s ministry leaders!
4. Develop Meaningful Graphics These words could be symbolized in a graphic or avatar. Then it can be used in brochures and publications describing your identity graphically. This features the memorable aspects of your brand, so that it stands out. This is like a “visual stamp” that identifies you and your brand.
5. Find Repetitive References The challenge is to make use of your logo, tagline, graphic in all your printed material. (i.e., stationery, business card, letterhead, brochures, flyers, and social media, email, Internet, etc.)
6. Describe your Services Honestly Find a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). This is what you advertise and market. Be sure followers feel you lived up to your brand promises. If you’re a one-person business, your brand personality might resonate with your personality.
7. Stand for Professionalism Set a high standard when using your branding. Live up to your slogans and promises. It is better to under promise, and over deliver. Avoid promoting what you do not have in place. There is a big difference between what you want to do and what you have a track record of actually doing.
Challenge: Pray for your brand, and develop this identity! Once you find it, embrace it. It will grow with you.
B. Kinard ©2013, Rights reserved, www.Kidhelper.com
In Torrance, CA there is this Tackle Shop that has this advertising slogan on their Signage: “We Make Fishing More Catching.” I have thought about this as a slogan for children’s evangelists. It has been my purpose to make fishing more catching. It is not my personal resolve to just “feed the fish.” After all Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you, fishers of men.” For me, making you is equal to making fishing more about “catching.”
Therefore, any serious student of fishing soon becomes aware that certain methods seem to make fishing more about catching. Having a tackle box full of your best “top-notch,” “sure-fire” equipment, does not guarantee the well-intentioned fisherman will catch fish. Obviously, some technique and skill are required! However, having plenty of good tackle options, surely, could help. Having the right lure, for the right time, for the right fish is good fishing savvy.
We can take some lessons from fishing in Children’s Ministry. Our lures are the visuals aids that both teach and reach kids for Christ. Having a toolbox filled and ready for any time use is the issue of being prepared.
When I attend conferences and workshops on children’s ministry I usually make it my goal to learn about one new “lure” that I can take home to use in my ministry. You could acquire many more than one, for sure, but to master just one—the best one—is more challenging. (Rather than buying a lot and not using them.)
So let’s just check out some of our time-tested fishing lures. Adding these items to your Tackle Box is readiness for Fishing—Making Fishing More Catching!
1. Begin collecting a few really good object lessons you can use anytime, anywhere.
2. Put into your repertoire twelve awesome gospel magic tricks.
3. Learn and be prepared to sing six children’s choruses anytime.
4. Rehearse and be ready to tell six illustrated Bible Stories for children.
5. Have a least six good, clean jokes for children ready to share—whenever.
6. Learn a couple of routines that you can use by twisting balloons.
7. Build a collection of six “Droodles” that you can draw to engage the curiosity of kids.
8. Learn a couple of number puzzles that you can use with paper and pencil.
9. Collect a couple of pocket games that you can use anytime with kids.
10. Find and be ready to perform six pocket gospel magic tricks.
11. Learn one routine to use for a Peeper Finger Puppet.
12. Learn and master one coin trick that you can use anytime. (Scotch and Soda, French Drop)
13. Work on one-rope magic trick you can use anytime, anywhere.
14. Master the use of the Wordless Book and get a Flipper Flapper.
15. Get an EvangeCube in your repertoire.
Here is an issue! The diversity of “whiz-bang” lures in your Tackle box will not catch kids! You have to do that! Not every lure is good for every kid. You have to experiment with what works—when and were. Some lures are not Gospel lures—they are just effective attention getting lures that might always work for attracting kids. Some kids you attract will not be caught—someone else may get those. You have to ask God to lead you to the kids that He has prepared for you and then you get to select just the right lure to catch them for Jesus. Pray that you will catch these little wigglers!
Challenge: Here are some ways to acquire more expertise in your fishing by adding some lures to your tackle box. Add these and add some effective gospel lures (see Pocket Tools).
Let’s Make Fishing More Catching!
B. Kinard ©2013, Rights reserved, www.Kidhelper.com
Catching Little Wigglers
While in elementary school, I lived in Encinitas, CA. I have memories of my Father taking my two younger brothers and I on a fishing trip to the Colorado River. My father used his deep sea fishing gear and us boys only had lightweight tackle. Dad used big hooks and big pieces of bait. He was attempting to catch a large river catfish (channel cat). He cast his line way out in the middle of the river. His heavy sinkers took his tempting bait to the bottom. Then he waited hopefully.
Meanwhile, us boys could only fish the edge of the river with small hooks and tiny mill worms. As the day progressed us boys continued to catch bluegill and crappie—nothing over 6-7 inches long. At days end, we had a stringer full of little wigglers—my Dad caught nothing. That night around the campfire we ate our little fish, which was plenty. We began teasing my Dad about his lack of fish—comparing our haul to his. What a day! This was my first experience catching “little wigglers.” I had no idea how symbolic that experience would be for the rest of my life.
When Jesus called the disciples to follow Him, He said, “Follow me and I will make you a fisher of men.” What Jesus said to me, “Follow me and I will make you a fisherman of little wigglers.” So I began to prepare myself for the high calling of evangelistic ministry of catching children. Now after more than fifty years of fishing experience with kids, I have the following observations about children’s evangelism.
1. The Need for Children’s Evangelists is Great! The need for evangelists to concentrate on children is greater than I ever imagined. There are few full-time children’s Evangelists. There is a great need for men to reach kids. Who will respond to this high calling?
2. We Cannot Catch Fish in the Bathtub. We have to go where they are. The need is not only in the United States, but children all over the world need the Savior. There are great schools of children in far away places that take special expeditions to reach. Some are in the shallows—tucked away. Look for them.
3. We Need to Catch the Fish, Not Feed the Fish It is not good enough to be content to teach the children the gospel. We must also secure a personal faith response to claims of the gospel for them to be evangelized. It’s not what they know; it’s who they know. The difference between “teaching” and “reaching” children is not semantics. It’s life or death.
4. Vision for Catching Many Includes One Fish Those who are passionate about fishing are all about catching the next fish—whether there are more or not. I have gone to a lot of work for just one. Sure, there are times to reach hundreds, but the test of passion for catching little wigglers is measured in reaching one.
5. We Need to Choose Appropriate Lures By concentrating on good gospel methods that work with children, we can better reach them. There are more super-duper, sure-fire gospel methods available today than any other time in history. We need to reallocate our arsenal of gospel lures where needed most—where there are none. Resource centers are needed in strategic places to help the kid-fishermen.
6. We Need to Adapt our Fishing Methodology Reaching different kinds of children from different religious backgrounds requires different kinds of methodology, i.e., camp work, city-wide events, performing arts, or personal work. We need to choose the most effective method to reach these kinds of kids.
7. We Need to Catch and Clean the Fish This “cleaning” is really about discipleship and follow-up of those we catch. We do not want to neglect newborns. We need to evangelize where the greatest potential for nurture and training can occur. Working with existing ministries matters for Kingdom extension.
8. We Need a Revival of Child Evangelism We need a strong sustained revival emphasis on reaching children of the world. To reach these kids we need another generation of fishermen who are passionate about catching little wigglers.
Challenge: Cast out your nets! Let’s go fishing for Little Wigglers! Catching a child means they have their whole life to live for God. Reaching children is a long-term investment. To influence a nation for Jesus, we must reach the next generation of children now.
B. Kinard ©2013, Rights reserved
Tony Kummer at Ministry-to-Children.com has compiled a list of top 100 children’s ministry blogs! Again this year Kidhelper.com has made the list of the top 100 kidmin blogs. I have been doing some serious revision of our Kidology Coaching Handbook, so my posting has dropped some. However, my writing project is almost complete. I will soon return to more active blogging. I am grateful to be included again. There are so many really good blog sites now. It is nice to see such quality written materials available for those in Children’s Ministry.
Take some time to check into some of these great children’s ministry sites. The Top 100 Kidmin Blogs
Leaders: Art of Restart
Because we work with people who sin, we understand something of the role of confession and forgiveness…this is a restart. For a person to put their life back together and move forward in right living, we extend some room to learn and some trial and error time.
In our leadership roles we should extend our selves this same wiggle room. When we stop doing what works, we go adrift, get stuck or stall out in our effectiveness.
It might just take time to relearn or recalibrate the way it went down. In short, it might take a restart—a second chance, if you will. Take a little time the let the error of your ways sink in, and then take steps to make it right. Most people respect someone who does, says or acts wrong, if they show they are learning, admitting error, asking for forgiveness, even repenting, taking some responsibility, attempting to change and/or make it right. Give your self this same courtesy, and try again.
There are some other words for restart, reset, reboot and a do over. They all involve doing it over from the beginning. For computers it is a reboot, for racing a restart, and for electricity turning it off and on again, is a reset. In cosmetology, they call it a do over. Much like our leadership Restarting is a function of getting a second chance, a makeover, right?
Here, I would like to remind you of at least Ten Areas in your leadership that might need a restart. Check it out…