From my vantage point, in getting to know many children’s ministry leaders, I concluded that there seem to be five typical ways or scenarios that persons use to come into the profession of Children’s Ministry. We like to call them KIdmin!
1. The Lay Volunteer (LV). This person begins volunteering in the children’s ministry, while their own children are young. With years of experience with children, the program and the church, this “insider” gets paid for part-time, then eventually become full-time as the program grows. They tend to reinforce the practical aspects of ministry and become a trusted insider with no formal academic work in children. They feel inadequate around trained clergy types. They seem to just slip into the “back door” of this profession, without even an application or resume. They need training, coaching and ministry leadership experience, but are responsive to any kind of help they can arrange, while their family is young.
2. The Credentialed Teacher (CT). This person is a trained public-school teacher who exchanges their experience in the classroom for a position as a church staff leader in children’s ministry. They tend to bring an educational model to children’s program, but seem to struggle with tension between the gift of teaching and the gift of evangelism. Can be perceived as a trusted outsider with some formal training. Many aspects of ministry leadership are quite new to them. Usually they are responsive to outside help and become open to learning from ministry specialists, who they perceive as “educationally sound.” This is their “litmus test” for good children’s ministry.
3. The person trained in Christian Education (CE). They are generalists who now specialize in children’s ministry. They tend to have a broader scope of curriculum, teaching methods, programming and teamwork. While their training is significant, they still need more concentration on formal training in children’s ministry, as the profession has broadened quite beyond the scope of CE programs from the fifties-seventies. They are eager for networking and specialized training opportunities that come to town. Long distance-learning models are appealing or learning by extension is appealing because “residency” programs are difficult with a family. They are open to coaching, if they perceive competency and expertise.
4. The Empty Nester (EN). Usually this is a woman who might have been either a working person or a full-time mother, whose children are now grown and out of the house. Her husband has a good full-time job, and she is a trusted “insider” who is now available. They can be a low-cost hire for some churches coming in under 30 hours, without benefits. They might have been involved with the ministry, but have no formal training in children’s ministry. Children’s Ministry is presented to them as a career-change opportunity. They tend to be an older insider, more available and do not demand a professional salary with benefits. They are responsive to networking, specialized training opportunities and mentoring (there are some exceptions).
5. The Vocationally Called (VC). This person begins with a calling upon their life early on. To establish a career path in children’s ministry they pursue as much experience, education and coaching as possible to build their resume or portfolio in children’s ministry for their life’s work. Children’s ministry is what their life is about, no matter what life experiences befall them. They are passionate about children’s ministry, and pursue life-long learning to become the best they can be. They might have undergraduate work in a related field, but these become the recent graduates of Master’s in Children’s Ministries, a new program since late eighties. They are most responsive to mentoring, especially during the first ten years.
Barney Kinard ©2010, All rights reserved. Do not reprint or publish without attribution.
Helping Kids…To Honor Their Dads
It’s sometimes awkward to help your own children to honor you, as the Dad. It is my opinion, that “Honoring Dad” lessons are best taught by their Mother and grandparents. However, if we are so committed to partnering with parents, as we allege to be, then we must step up and enter into this intergenerational dialogue.
So as Children’s Ministers we must help kids to honor their fathers (and mothers, a subject for another time). So below are some elements that we might selectively address, perhaps not all at once, but over the extended time of your influence. Showing Honor to whom Honor is due or Over Due?” I don’t think you can ever over do honoring Dads, so put some more gravy on the potato!
So here are My Ten Things that need to be done to help kids to honor their Dads…
With years of leadership experience and multiple jobs and ministry positions, it was revealing, but not surprising to me, that one protégé offered this metaphor to explain her coaching experience.
“Coaching for me became a Leadership Makeover! After three years of working with my Coach Barney Kinard, I am now qualified to move up into a mid-range children’s ministry position. Coaching has been an important investment in myself and my leadership style.”
In reflecting on our coaching experience, it became clear that my protégé needed some help in understanding her leadership style. Further, she needed to understand how to reinterpret what she took away from her former ministry positions.
The process was not easy. It was slow going at first, but the teachable moments continued over a long period of time. Unlearning or relearning anything is an arduous process. Old habits do not really die fast. To explain how this happened, it would have to be said she took on a part-time position with no future that became the “lab” for working with resistant leaders, set in their ways and adverse to any change. When faced with leadership issues of this sort, it began to reveal the flaws in her previous leadership that would not work there.
Meanwhile, during our three-year experience, we worked on a new resume and a created a qualification brief. She was making lots of progress and was making weekly changes. She was becoming more qualified and continued to improve in the application process. With numerous résumé’s rendered, she was not getting that career position she wanted—so close, but not chosen. Instead of loosing heart and resolve, these set backs created the need to go deeper in learning and forward in action.
We introduced a battery of testing devices and began to help with the interpretation and application. Then we focused on how her leadership style works with other leadership styles. She began to understand the impact of her own style and what she could do to adjust her leadership according to the needs of those leaders she was serving.
The protégé became more receptive and more teachable. The lessons became clearer and the growth was more apparent to us. However, her current situation was almost impossible to change and influence. The setting was ingrown and cut off from the community, especially, to the real needs of parents with children. She could attract them, but there was so little available for the parents that the church could not keep them. As a part-timer she had so little influence to change an older congregation.
Meanwhile, the protégé was gathering momentum in her leadership, not by big numbers, but by internal reformation. She understood the issues. She was more aware. She was backing up from her former driving style to allow more participation for ownership. The church became the “lab” to understand how to introduce change with resistant leaders. Working with healthy, growing leaders is easy, but if she could lead resistant leaders, she would have the skills to work with anyone.
Our process led us to find a career position, in a healthy mid-range church (with lots of children) that was ready for an overhauled leader. We were searching for just such a church.
Shortly, after graduating from the Kidology Coaching Program, she found just such a position. The interviews went well. The chemistry was just right. It was a healthy growing church that was just waiting for what we were working on for almost three years. After a couple of trips to check things out, they made her a really good offer, with the best benefit package I had ever seen.
She accepted the offer and she starts her new position by the end of April 2013. Jeanette is continuing in the Kidology Graduate Program. We will continue to follow up on the investment we have made together. It was a Leadership Makeover and Coaching Works!
Because people live in constant motion, it’s easy to forget that we have a choice in everything we do. Balance coaching is about guiding students to make powerful life choices and to select the experiences they want most, rather than dashing about either at the mercy of circumstances or trying to have it all.
This might sound strange, but the way to get more done is to get out of balance! When there is too much to do, and things are out of balance, I used to just compensate—to work harder to get more done. However, the opposite is better, eliminate something and concentrate on what is strategic. Let me try to illustrate this by looking at a playground teeter-totter.
Balance for the teeter-totter is a function of similarly weighted ends counterbalanced from the fulcrum in the center. If you allow too much weight on one end, more effort is required to bring to ends to balance—something has to change.
However, let’s look closer at how things work. What would happen if you could move the fulcrum off center with the same load? “Out of balance,” right? But now you can increase the load on the short end and get back in balance with the same effort with the leverage. Lesson: if you are out of balance, move the fulcrum. You can do more with the same amount of effort!
So here is the test of leadership: how do you make choices to move the fulcrum to get more leverage with less effort? This simple technique is the secret of staying in balance.
This same balancing act occurs in leadership all the time. We just have to recognize it and make some strategic decisions. Here are few examples of how decisions can leverage balance.
1. Study How Things Work. Pray for wisdom to understand what is happening. What is the underlying principle here? Try not to respond too quickly, take a little time for consideration. Can I delegate a portion of this work? What are my options for getting this done? Do I need a policy or a procedure for handling this? How can I handle this differently?
2. Let Go of Something—Anything that can Wait or Be Delegated. All of a sudden what I thought was important, is not really important to handle now. Limited time might dictate your ability to do alternative thinking—to recalibrate what can really get done in the time available.
3. Avoid the All-or-Nothing Syndrome! Choose to break things down into smaller units of work—working on smaller pieces every day over a longer period of time. This helps to avoid too much to do at one time, even at the last minute. Take a more studied approach!
4. Write Out Your Goals with Steps with Due Dates. Learning to pre-think and plan your goals and program ahead of time. Make choices about what actually will be required for excellent work to be done. Remember you are trying improve!
5. Be Proactive, not Reactive! Choose to take more time for planning, which is proactive, and less time for being reactive. Having a plan can solve lots of problems in leadership. It helps your focus and resolve.
6. Divide and Conquer! When you have competing events that require your involvement. Discuss options (negotiate) with your leadership or mate. Then choose who should represent the family or staff. Now think about how to compensate for the sacrifice. For some holidays our family chooses to celebrate on other days for the benefit of the family and the ministry.
So keeping in balance when you have a heavy load is not about working harder, it is about choosing to move the fulcrum to counterbalance the load. Tenured leadership must be able to make this adjustment to maximize your time and commitment. This is one significant way you can get more done with less effort!
B.Kinard ©2012, All rights reserved, Permission granted for use in local church ministry only. Do not reprint or publish without prior written permission
Book Review: I Recommend Shrewd
With the flu and my recovery from falling off a ladder, my reading this book has gone way too slowly, but finally, I finished it. Shrewd, by Rick Lawrence is a “One of a Kind” book. It is based upon Matt.10:16, where Jesus said, “Behold, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.”
Unfortunately, I never heard a sermon on this idea of “shrewdness” in leadership. Being “shrewd” was always a negative subject for me, nothing to emulate. Thanks to Lawrence, I now see “shrewd” as a positive leadership trait. It’s based upon how things work and using your leadership insights to leverage things to get them done. To be shrewd is to apply the right force at the right place to achieve the right result. Hence Jesus’ commendation of the dishonest manager, and His statement that “the children of darkness are more shrewd in their generation than the children of light” (Luke 16:8).
Now, I am recognizing “shrewdness” in leadership culture all around me. I have observed it on the mission field, big time. I recommend Shrewd. It could impact your leadership too. It has changed mine. My wife and I have both read this and it has stimulated some interesting conversation about our influence and how things work. Order this book!
Keeping Up with the Big Boys
My son Ken and his wife Jennifer have four children, ages 8, 6, 4 and 2. The youngest is the girl Geneva. Recently, when I was visiting them in Baltimore, we visited a playground in a park in Annapolis. MD. When it was time to leave we walked quite a way back to the car that was parked more than a 100 yards away. As we walked back I noticed that the closer we got to the car, the more spread out the boys were. Actually, they were walking in order from oldest to the youngest. And there was Geneva. She was trying her best, with those short chubby legs to keep up, she was still trailing dead last. Of course, I was there too, “bringing up the rear.” It was then, that I noticed just how hard she was working to keep up with her brothers. She was really…“trying to keep with the big boys,” I thought.
I began remembering just how small beginnings work again. When I started out in children’s ministry, I did not have much experience to bring to the table, just a lot of heart and desire to make a difference. I am sure that I was putting more effort than my progress required. I was working really hard, like a rocking chair, a lot of motion and activity, but dubious forward progress. As time went on, I found others who were trying to do what I was doing. Those with more experience and years of service “under their belt” became my models. I began to emulate what they were doing. These guys became the “Big Boys.” I was keeping up with the Big Boys.
Even now the Big Boys are still with us, you know, those national leaders who portend to be the spokesmen and women for our profession. They speak at the national conferences, write blogs and author books. They set the bar higher than our little legs can reach, but they are in front and we still try to catch up.
I have learned from their models, paradigms, and visions, but it is not about working harder, it is working smarter. I have stood on their shoulders. I have built successful programs. I have caught up to them over time. Now, I am not so small anymore. But, I am acutely aware, that for years, I was keeping up with the big boys, now I am one those Big Boys. Some are following me. It feels good.
Here are few of my observations about keeping up with the Big Boys:
Resolved: No Resolutions!
It seems our society places some emphasis on New Year’s resolutions! However, in my experience, most these idle plans are not well thought through and do not really last, but for a few week into the New Year. I think of resolutions as temporary, not fixed, so we tend to loose them, when we get busy. Often our resolutions just lead to frustration, guilt and depression. We might be resolving the same thing for several years running with no real progress forward.
Six Reasons for NO Resolutions
- Resolutions tend to be a To Do List for the first week of January.
- Resolutions are not effective for the Procrastinator
- Resolution Lists tend to get lost.
- Resolutions are too easily renegotiated with new information as the time passes.
- Resolutions can break down because of low self-esteem loss of resolve.
- Resolutions give you more to track, when broken you can have more free time.
My Resolution Challenge:
I would challenge you to Focus on making your resolution that this year you will not make any resolutions. It would be better to focus on smaller attainable Goals, not resolutions. So try working on some new goals, ones that have the potential to move your ministry forward and up to another level. Therefore, consider formulating some really well conceived goals, ones that are thought through and written out, as you have been learning. It is better to have a few well-conceived goals than to have many illegitimate-shallow wishes—ones that are too soon abandoned.
I tend to plan annual goals and break them into monthly goals during this time of the year. I usually use the holiday, between Christmas and New Year’s, to reflect on how my previous year’s goals have gone and what I would really like to accomplish for the New Year. I find myself asking God for a new vision for the year. Then I break it down into monthly goals and write those down in a monitoring form, for quick reference, for a glance to measure how I am doing. Inviting someone to keep you accountable also helps you stay the course.
For example: Read 12 books this year, averaging one a month. Write 12 object lesson routines this year, averaging one a month. Write 12 one page articles about some aspect of children’s ministry for my teachers this year. See what you can come up with this year that takes many smaller deliberate attainable goals that you repeat and be successful. This will help you move forward and step up in some new and fresh ways.
Traveling with a Yokefellow?
One of my Coaching Students was trying to use a metaphor to explain my relationship with her. “The image of an oxen yoke comes to mind, which to me explains how you have yoked yourself into a relationship with me and my children’s ministry. It is like you came along side to help me.”
I began thinking about this Oxen Yoke metaphor and how it relates to our coaching experience. It seems to me that she was describing how two people can be joined together for some common cause, one might be setting the pace for the other, but working together to arrive at a predetermined destination.
Kidology Coaching is just that, a partnership, with one more experienced leader coming along side another less experienced leader. Together they can create an active and collaborative relationship working together to accomplish the client’s aspirations. Coaching is a powerful relationship for people wanting to make changes in their life and work.
This relationship requires two things: a commitment to help and a commitment to learn. The commitment to help comes from the coach’s expertise of having been in the trenches and his need to give back and make a difference. The commitment to learn comes from a protégé’s dissatisfaction with how things have worked alone. Add some humility to reveal those needs, coupled with a willingness to try to move forward and step up, with help, makes things happen.
Many leaders are not confident or have enough expertise to accomplish the ministry alone. Children’s Ministry done right, is complicated and complex. It’s more than a job. It’s more than being a program coordinator. It’s a full-blown ministry. Protégé’s who recognize their deficiency and are willing to attach themselves to a veteran, who will provide a helping companionship stand a better chance of accomplishing their goals.
There is something almost magical about having a more studied approach to ministry.
Here are a few observations that allow this partnership to work.
- A willingness to discuss one’s process—the good and the not so good thinking and planning.
- A willingness to show your work. I get to review all her written materials, which allows me to make comment and suggest improvements.
- Willingness to try what the Coach suggests, even though there is some uncertainty in trying something new.
- Staying in the process, working the relationship via long distances.
- It takes longer, than doing your process by yourself. But if you work farther ahead, you end up with a better effort—that works.
- The yoke can hurt, but the process would hurt more without the help on the other side to assist.
- Two are better than one, for they have a good reward for their labor.
Barrowing courage and strength from the other side of the yoke—Coaching just Works! Just imagine how a coaching partnership could work for you!
The Life Saver
It’s really scary to be, in over your head, in rough and deep uncharted waters. The frantic efforts to preserve life when taking in water, thrashing about, scared and panicked about what’s next.
Managing to gasp for breath, while trying to stay afloat, is overwhelming. Going down for the third time, imagining the end is near! In situations like this, one feels really alone and helpless.
That was the situation with one of my students, who admitted, “You saved my life. I was drowning and I was getting pretty scared. You threw me a life ring of safety. You are like a lifesaver to me.” A life preserver was thrown her way and she desperately grabbed it and held on tight. It worked! Things are different now since we pulled her out of the tumultuous deep. She was floundering, but no more! She was rescued and pulled safely ashore. We spent some quality time debriefing—understanding her plight! She was not alone anymore.
We began restructuring her ministry process. Now she is more organized. She is more excited about ministry. She even goes back into deep water, to test the waters. She is more prepared now. She is swimming again and is not afraid of the water. She is using the “buddy system” with her coach, checking in.
Now there is more clarity to her vision. She made some critical adjustments navigating some rocky hazards. With some new insights and skills, she resolved to chart a new course. She was ready to embark on a whole new adventure. This time, when she ventures into deep waters, she has a plan and she is not alone.
What made the difference in her journey? It was the Life Guard, who was the lifesaver here. This too, is the role of a Kidology Coach—a wise vigilant, experienced leader who rescues those who want the help. Another potential ministry casualty was rescued!
Coaching Works! “Imagine how a how a life-saving intervention could change your direction.” Another Kidmin saved from drowning!
Rescued By A Tow Truck
“Looking back, how would you describe your experience getting into Coaching?” I queried my graduating student. “Well, I clearly felt like I was stuck, just spinning my wheels. I could not make any forward progress. I was feeling trapped and digging in deeper with everything I was trying!”It was clear that what got this student this far, was not going to help her to move on to a new place. She was just stuck! She needed the rescue from a Tow Truck!
I have been reflecting upon this metaphor trying to understand how this happens. My student started out her position just running programs, it was more like a job. However, over time, it became more than a job, it became ministry, which she was prepared for, but with much less experience. The things that worked, she continued doing over and over again. Finally, her familiar ways no longer worked. Instead of recalibrating, she poured more effort into doing the same things, even harder. She was totally unaware that small forward motion was actually making her sinking deeper. Now she was stuck. It was time for some intervention—A tow truck was needed.
The problem with repetitive effort is that you think you can, by trying harder, just extricate yourself and move on. However, doing the same thing harder does not always produce different results. She needed a complete paradigm shift—some way to get some traction and some proactive forward motion.
We call this moving forward and stepping up. It is not enough to keep moving forward, when what is needed is effort to take another step up. It is a call to discipline that provides us with the platform to make the adjustments needed to improve and change. The more aware we are of the road conditions the more we can avoid these unproductive ruts for spinning our wheels.
Having a studied approach to ministry is not just having your leadership wheels on the ground moving forward. It is possible to stay in the rut and keep moving forward slowly. A studied approach to ministry also means your leadership rises to higher ground. That is why “stepping up” matters. Spinning one’s leadership wheels may not get you where you want to go. This expends too much effort and becomes frustrating when you bog down.
Coaching Works! Imagine how an intervention from a tow truck can not only move you forward, but provide you with solid ground for ministry traction again. There is hope for those stuck in ministry, but it might take some outside help. This is the story of another sidelined Kidmin rescued and put back on the road again. What an adventure she is having now with this new grip on the road and a map in her hand.
“What got you here, will not get you there!” Marshall Goldsmith