Don’t Forget About the Kids! (Guest Post from Tiffany Mills)

Tiffany Mills, Kid City Director
Tiffany Mills, Kid City Director New City Church

Tiffany Mills is Kid City Director at New City Church in Shawnee, Kansas. She has a passion for families and mission. I asked her to GUEST POST on Mission Glue because of her unique perspective. She is a strong advocate for church planting and equally committed to helping us disciple our kids. 

One of my favorite quotes is from Craig Groeschel is:

“We often overestimate what we can do in the short-term, but grossly underestimate what God can do with a lifetime of devoted service to Him.”

Planting a church that has a strategy for reaching un-churched families and teaching the adults AND children to trust in and live like Jesus is our best opportunity to create lifelong followers of Jesus.

When we launched 18 months ago I had no idea how to create an effective kids ministry.  We had a lot of support from other churches and I had a lot of past church experience to draw on, but in hindsight, I recognize some things that we did  that really helped our church launch with a heart for kids.

Here are 5 things about kids I’d recommend planters keep in mind:

Launch with a plan for Kids. From your first pre-launch gathering, plan to make it easy for people to participate by providing a safe environment for their kids. For us that meant paying for childcare workers and providing a space where the kids could play and hang while the meeting was going. (Fruit snacks and juice boxes are essential) Also, cast vision for your launch team that reaching and training kids is going to be an essential part of your church plant.  Ask your best leaders to consider using their gifts in your kids ministry.  If the top leadership views kids as a priority, everyone will.

Plan for Diversity. Many of the families at New City are single parent households which means we must provide childcare for almost every event we want people to participate in.  This can often add $100-200 from the budget but it is worth it to allow people the opportunity to go on mission with us.

Research and Identify Curriculum to Meet Your needs. I’ve heard of many church plants that plan to write their own children’s curriculum or don’t plan for curriculum at all.  I think this is a bad idea. There are so many quality curriculums available that it is easy to find one that will meet your needs.  I truly believe that any time I spend creating curriculum or programming takes away from the time I have for the true ministry of building relationships and investing in families. Also look for a curriculum that can grow with you.  We went from 20-100 kids in 6 months and our curriculum was easily scalable so we could multiply our programming with minimal effort. (we have found www.whatisorange.org to be great)

Provide Ongoing Discipleship and Training for Leaders. I think kid’s ministry is the BEST place to grow a Jesus follower and leader. Children’s classrooms are an awesome place for new followers to learn the basics of the faith.  I have had leaders decide to fully commit to following Jesus for the first time through their service in Kid City. I have also had many leaders go on to lead in bigger roles in the church, at their workplace, and in the kingdom using the leadership principles that they learned in Kid City.

Make it Fun. My favorite thing to hear from a parent is “my kid begs me to come to church every week” Your program doesn’t have to be perfect, but if you create an environment where kids know that they have been planned for and they know people care about them, they will want to come.  I get so excited thinking about a whole generation of Jesus followers being launched from our church plants, and I know that a lifetime disciple will have a HUGE impact for the kingdom.

Tiffany blogs at Crisis of Mission.

You can read my interview with the lead planter of New City, Matt Miller, HERE.

If you are a children’s leader in a church plant and have something unique to share with us, please contact me. I’d love to talk to you.

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Exponential 13 “Round-Up” Week: Self-Leadership

I am hanging out at the Exponential Conference this week with about 6,000 other church planters. The conference is once again sold out. So if you want to go in 2014 you’d better register early. exponential

I’ll be taking good notes at Exponential and I will undoubtedly return with a ton of material to write about.

So I thought it would be a good week to “Round-Up” some of my favorite and/or most popular posts.

Today, I’ve linked to some of my popular posts about SELF-LEADERSHIP.

Want help in learning to REST better? Read this.

Want help in identifying your WHO? Read this.

Want help STAYING INSPIRED? Read this.

See you when I get back from Exponential!

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How to Create a Reproducing Culture — Part 3: Be Intentional

Why is it that reproducing artists, leaders and churches is so dang hard?  I think it’s because many of us make two key mistakes:

  1. We believe reproducing is easier than it really is.
  2. We don’t build a culture of reproducing.

A friend and fellow church planter challenged me to think through this.

So just start by admitting reproducing is hard. But it’s essential if we want to see a movement to accomplish the Jesus mission.

I am convinced reproducing can be reduced to three components:

  1. Vision
  2. Intentionality
  3. Accountability. Reproducing-mandelbrot1_original

So I am writing a series of posts “How to Create a Culture of Reproducing” (I know it’s clever) to help planters think this through.

This is the THIRD POST in the series.

Read PART ONE HERE.

Read PART TWO HERE.

Today we’re talking about the need to be intentional about reproducing.

You and your team must be intentional about reproducing. It’s got to be deliberate and done on purpose. Remember, you don’t just happen to reproduce. To build a reproducing culture and to persevere in the face of opposition, you’ve got to remain intentional. You’ve got to do the work.

Here several things you can do to be intentional about reproducing…

Create a Structure of Apprenticeship. This structure ought to include a pathway for leadership development. Ex. Staff members invest in coaches who invest in leaders who invest in apprentices. (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Create a Leadership Gathering. Your leaders need a time and place to gather. Host a monthly gathering of leaders (or quarterly at minimum). In this gathering you must: celebrate reproduction, teach reproducing skills, cast vision to your leaders about reproducing. The goal of this meeting is to equip and encourage leaders, not for you to talk. It’s Ok to take time to cast vision but keep it short and focused.

Recruit and Reproduce a Leadership Resident. The planter ought to have identified a leadership resident or church planter to equip, train and send within the first 9 to 12 months of launch. Let the resident reproduce and recruit and then send them out.

Go to Conferences or Outside Training. What you invest in is what you believe in. Check out training from New Thing. I would recommend you attend Exponential. Talk to your network about any resources.

Resource your Team with Tools. These can include books, manuals, guidebooks, online training platforms, seminars and conference. The truth is that there are lots of resources available on reproducing. You need to remain intentional about using them.

OK, now your turn. What is the hardest part of being intentional? How have you remained intentional about reproducing with your team? What have I missed? I would love to hear from you.

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How to Have a Great Huddle

When I was a kid we played lots of neighborhood football. Now while I loved playing football, I was also one the smallest kids. So I learned fast that I needed to use my head and not just my hands if I was going to avoid being the last kid picked to play. And the way I did that was to pay attention in Jimmy’s huddles. Huddle

Jimmy was my friend and the best athlete in our neighborhood. No question. He was fast and focused and strong. (He was also a little crazy which made playing football with him both hilarious and terrifying at the same time.)

And Jimmy would pick me for his team every time because I paid attention in his huddles.

See, while Jimmy was the best athlete in the neighborhood, he insisted on having the worst players on his team–like me. Now even though we were the Bad News Bears of our neighborhood, we won most games because Jimmy made us huddle when other teams didn’t.

Jimmy’s secret weapon was the huddle.

While other teams relied on their speed and power, Jimmy would tell us you won or lost the game in the huddle. So for every play–I mean EVERY SINGLE PLAY–He would huddle us together and trace out the routes and blocks he wanted us to run.

Even if we didn’t win the game, they were at least close. Those huddles were key to our success. (And besides, Jimmy could throw and catch his own pass–I am not kidding–so we always had that.)

As a church planter I am reminded that there is great power in the huddle. If you think about it, the huddle is an opportunity to…

  • Strategize. Jimmy always had a strategy. We always returned to the huddle and Jimmy would call the play based on how he was reading the defense or how we were playing.
  • Recalibrate. Jimmy used the huddle to help us understand where we were being outplayed and where he saw opportunities for us. He’d move us into new positions and spread the ball around.
  • Celebrate. And when we inevitably scored (and we always did) Jimmy would celebrate during the next huddle. “Good run…or Great catch or…I told you that you could beat that kid.”

It’s too easy to let the task of your team become the priority. It’s not. People need to be reminded of WHY they are serving on a particular team as much as they want to understand HOW they are going to do it.huddle2

So how do you do this?

I’d recommend you have an AGENDA for your huddles. The agenda ensures you know what you’re trying to accomplish and why.

For example, after our Restore Roadies are done setting up our gear Sunday mornings we huddle. We provide the donuts and coffee for this moment and then our Service Coach for the day takes us through an agenda like this…

Strategize

  • REMIND contributors WHY we serve on this team. We always take this time to remind them why we are doing what we do.
  • EXPLAIN the HOW. We talk at length about the details that are going to help us execute at a high level.

Recalibrate

  • REVIEW the team goal and what steps we are going to take to achieve that goal. We talk about the challenges our team is facing and how we are going to overcome them.
  • Scripture MEDITATION: We always ask our leaders to personalize a meditation or insight from scripture or the message series that is making an impact on them that would also be relevant to the team.

Celebrate

  • THANK OUR CONTRIBUTORS for serving. No doubt about it, they could be doing other things. So be sure to thank them for volunteering.
  • INTRODUCE NEW CONTRIBUTORS to the TEAM. If people have said yes to volunteering then be sure to introduce them to the rest of the team.
  • TELL A STORY or ANECDOTE about how the team is having an impact.
  • We end our huddle with PRAYER. Always.

While the flow of the huddle changes, we cover the elements of this agenda every time.

Huddles are essential for your team to understand the HOW and the WHY. Use them generously.

What about you? Do you huddle with your team? What does your huddle agenda look like?

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12 Ways to Create a Relational Gooey Mess in Your Lobby

I am assuming you want guests at your Sunday gatherings? You want people bringing their friends and family members. And I am assuming you want these visitors to come back. (If you don’t maybe you’re not planting a church.) Totally cool–but I am. I want to connect with visitors because I want them to stay.gooeymess

Connected people are more likely to stay and get on mission with us.

And one of the ways to connect people to your church plant is to create a gooey mess in your lobby. That’s right–a gooey mess.

When I say “connection” I mean offering people the opportunity to build new relationships with each other. This should be a priority in any church plant.

One way to connect people is to create a relational goo in your Sunday morning gathering space. Make it impossible for people to NOT connect with others. You want to create a positively charged environment that inspires and encourages people to connect with each other.

Relationship building is always going to be imperfect and messy. So resolve yourself to the mess but be intentional.

Here are some ways to kick-start connections in the lobby…

  1. Be INTENTIONAL…about connecting your visitors. This takes leadership and planning. Ensure you have a leadership team in place charged with connecting people. It must be a primary goal.
  2. Have enough VOLUNTEERS to help connect visitors. Ensure volunteers are easily identifiable. For instance they ought to wear name-tags that help newcomers know who is available to help.
  3. Have clear and compelling SIGNAGE that direct your visitors. Visitors might not want to talk to your volunteers. That’s OK. Ensure they have enough information to navigate the lobby via signs.
  4. Offer FOOD. Offer coffee and desserts to everyone. There is no question about it, food is a social catalyst. Food helps people feel comfortable which in turn helps them connect.
  5. PLAY MUSIC. Music helps people feel good. Get a vibe going in the lobby with music. Be intentional with song selection. Don’t just offer the latest from Third Day or Mercy Me. Work at creating a play list that sets a great vibe in the lobby.
  6. CLEAN UP. I mean come on–keep the lobby clean and uncluttered.
  7. Greet EVERYONE. Ensure you have greeters at every transition point to say hello to guests…doors, hallways etc.
  8. EXIT GREET. This is often overlooked but essential. If people have a positive experience in your service then chances are they are more apt to connect AFTER the service. Be sure to have greeters in place after your gatherings.
  9. ASK EVERYONE to help. You can’t create a gooey mess with a few greeters. All the people who call the church home need to have some skin in the game. We always ask our volunteers to introduce themselves to someone new even if they’re not serving.
  10. Keep it SIMPLE. Don’t make it complicated for people to get connected. Have one place where they can go to get more information. Make it clear how they can get connected.
  11. Have FUN. Ensure you are dialing up the fun factor for your guests and volunteers. That means never taking things too seriously and help everyone have a positive attitude about everything.
  12. Clear NEXT STEPS. Be sure to offer your guests clear next steps. That means having them complete a card with their information and following up with them.

Relationship building is a critical component of planting a healthy church. Creating a gooey relational mess in the lobby at your Sunday gatherings is the first step.

  • I’ve written about expecting your visitors here.
  • Here is a post about connecting with new people.

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