Monday, January 4, 2016

Chasing Christmas - Responding to the Christmas Visitors

I recently ran across a web page I love,! Great name, right? I was actually looking for some statistics for a writing piece, and instead found a new reading spot.

As we wrap up the holiday season, like most leaders, I am debriefing what we did to engage families we see twice a year on a different level. The seeds have been planted, but as we enter the new year how do we get them to take root? How do we let these families know that there is a place for them all year long? In an effort to support my thoughts that we do indeed see an influx of families that are unchurched, not just visiting out of state away from their church home - I found this! Below is a clip from the site mentioned above:

More Stats: More Jesus

  • 79% of Americans think Christmas should be more about Jesus.
  • 63% think Christmas should include a visit to church. (Wishful thinking, since only 47% get there?)
  • “Younger Americans are least interested in church at Christmas time.” 38% of 18- to 24-year-olds say church is an essential part of Christmas, compared to 55% of 25- to 34-year-olds. Across the board, younger people are less enthralled with Christmas than older people. Of course by “younger people” we’re not talking about little kids enjoying the many bribes of Christmas.
  • While people do want religious Christmas songs in schools (86% agree), fewer buy the “War on Christmas”: Only 29% agree that saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” is offensive. 
  • Best way to get those 47% to church on Christmas? Personally invite your family (67%) or a friend or neighbor (63%).

As I sat and read over this material, I realize that we are (as a nation) still marketing and advertising like we are talking to the baby boomer generation. Boomers wanted to invest in something - however generation X and Y are longing to belong to something. Very different engagement points indeed! When you consider that gen X and Y are now showing up with their kids to church, maybe even once or twice a year, we need to be ready with an answer of how they fit in and be able to show them where they belong.  I always find this interesting with this generation, and can only assume that the desire for the church to be prepared for their arrival stems from the "instant information" culture they have always known. These are generations that have any and all information needed at their fingertips in an instant thanks to technology. 

A few ways we as the church can engage these guests came to mind as I continued to study family ministry trends, hopefully you find them useful as you look at all the visitor tags and connections that were made this Christmas season

1. Trend vs Tradition - there are few things that allow tradition to trump trend these days. I believe Christmas is one of them. There needs to be a sign that Christmas is still made of what you knew as a child, even if your church brings in a high demand talent, streamlines decor, and puts on the "wow" factor - make sure it's still about the birth of Jesus. Oddly enough, it is non-Christians who usually notice that the "baby Jesus" they came to see isn't present. The simple Christmas story is a familiar part of Christianity that they connect with.  And after the fact, a simple "thank you for joining us" in the form of a traditional postcard is usually welcome. It reminds them of what they came to and provides a personal touch, it also opens the door when you chase it with an email of what you have for them in the new year.

2. For the younger crowd, finding a way to let them know they can be part of something is key. I once  had a lady tell me that she doesn't attend church because "they don't need her". She stayed at home and watched it on TV. She eventually visited a church that had a clear message in their mission statement that they were all a family on mission together - to change the heart of their city for future generations. This was something she could get behind, and she has now been there 2 years. While Christmas is now over, hopefully you communicated that you do indeed need people and can follow up with them. 

3. As a leader, the first week into the new year is a crucial time. Families who showed up still have a fresh feeling of what they experienced at Christmas in their mind and this is the week to let them know that some of those elements stay all year. This should be a week of reminding people that the community they found during the holidays can be an all time part of their life, surprisingly some don't know that. 

This past Sunday I ran into a young couple that visited during Christmas. They have an 11 month old baby and a 2 year old. During our Christmas services they came and learned that the service was going to be a bit much for their littles and opted to take turns sitting in the lobby. Having sat with them for a few minutes, I offered to stay in the lobby with the kids while our feature talent was performing so they could both see it. Surprisingly they agreed and went inside! (I am the children's pastor, so it wasn't a super creepy move ha!) They came out and were like static electricity with their excitement and the fact that they got to share it with one another. By now I was in the floor with legos and crayons and the kids were great, I told them to go hear the message if they liked and I would text if needed. After the service, the kids were great and so were they. So why am I telling you this?

I knew they needed to belong, they felt at home there and just needed someone to guide them a little. Over the weekend after Christmas I let them know I would be in the building for weekend services and we would love to have the kids - Sunday morning at 9:45 they came walking down the hall with no kids! I excitedly shouted "You did it! You checked them in!....AND LEFT" (anyone in kids ministry understands the value of the "you left" part). Smiling from ear to ear they headed to church, and upon return said they met some friends in the sanctuary they knew. Had they not dropped the kids off, they would have never run into each other. 

I know the seeds are planted, and I know the Holy Spirit will work, but I am so excited that they took the steps to experience the community they were longing for. 

Its a great reminder that we have to be ready in so many ways to respond to the different generations and cultures that will be entering our doors as they seek a crumb of what they found to be nourishing at Christmas.  I pray we find ways to let them know that it's nourishing all year. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Quick Notes for Tim Elmore at D62015

8 Fundamentals we must teach so our kids will be valuable in our world

1. Relationship with Jesus

2. Problem solving skills
- leaders solve problems and serve people

3. Critical thinking / Worldview
- social media has damaged this

4. Emotional Intelligence (self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management)
- now a greater measure of success than IQ

5. Values and Ethics
- pragmatism has trumped principle in the current generational studies

6. Resourcefulness and Resilience
- they need to know how to bounce back

7. Leadership Perspective

This is an EPIC generation

Experiential - everything offers an experience
Participatory - they have been participating in the outcomes of everything around them
 -students support, but they help create
Image Rich - pictures are the language of the 21st century not words.
Connected - socially and technologically

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Train up a Parent? (from the archives)

Family Ministry

According to Nielsen Media Research's latest report, the average American household watches 8 hours and 15 minutes of television in a 24-hour period. The average amount of time per individual (over the age of 2) is about 4 and a half hours. Something tells me this isn't the bonding type of T.V., if there is a bonding type. As a mom of two, ages 10 and 16 I fully understand that our children are having life piped into them by various objects. Even as I sit here, I am on my laptop, husband next to me is on his phone, 16 year old on his phone and the Olympic games are on T.V.. Our youngest however is outside playing with friends, kudos Jonah! The three of us are in the same space, but there is no togetherness happening. While this is not always the norm for our house, it is for many. 

Let's face it, we live in a world of constant interaction via technology. For companies needing to market a product, this is a beautiful thing, for parents wanting to mold their children into pillars of faith, not so much. I can actually get a faster response for dinner requests via text than asking around! And with an iPhone I can do it in one message, and yes I have! While being a tech savvy family is ok, it must require balance. Even in church we are broken up, kids are dropped off and parents worship elsewhere. I agree that age appropriate worship is essential, but we have got to teach our families to do it together as well. 

So why did I just take you on that side road? Well, families! This year we added Family Ministry to our church. After our senior pastor approved this addition to my current position, I sat down last November and made a list of things I desire and then asked God to fix my list as He always does. My vision or list was as follows:

1. Cost effective activities for families of all ages 
2.Training for parents - parenting classes
3. One getaway for families - a weekend of family tech free interaction 
4. To see parents and kids praying together and for one another
5. Hands on local mission projects for families to do together
6. Tools for families via our website

I kept this list on the corner of my desk for a while and prayed about it, and am happy to say there wasn't much change. Once we had the first gathering, it was like wildfire! Families are craving something different, and many have no idea where to begin. I started by putting dinner time devotions on our website that were a simple three to five minutes over the dinner table. Which of course causes them to eat together! Pray together! And interact! Score! 

I have come to the conclusion that family ministry is a must, not a program, not a curriculum, and not a token annual date. The current generation of up and coming parents have one of the largest percentages to have never been to church. They need answers, tools, direction, and the Biblical principals to do this. More importantly they are seeking all these things, and are willing to listen. 

So as you plan, plan for families. If you're having a church picnic, find an activity for parents to do with their children. Find ways to have parents and kids serve in ministry together, in the end you will really have trained up two generations at once. 


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Balancing Act

I recently read a devotional that had a great viewpoint on work life balance. Loving it, I promptly copied it down...
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 
Remember the parable about the bad servant who spent too many hours at the office and the good servant who had a flexible work-from-home telecommuting arrangement so he could spend more time with his kids? No? Jesus didn't tell any parables like that. You would think the Bible has a lot to say about work-life balance. But it's hard to find passages that speak directly to the issue. In fact, the Bible doesn't make a dichotomy between work and life because in the ancient world, work, life and family life were often integrated.
The problem with the work-life "balance" concept is the image of two competing forces: one always prevails over the other, except for those rare moments when "life" and "work" are in perfect tension. However, in Jesus’ own life, and throughout scripture, we don’t see “balance.” What we do see is rhythms of work, rest and celebration, all centered on loving God and others.
Today, many of us seek “work-life balance” because we yearn to find not just balance in our lives, but also health, wholeness and joy. Millions of us are working so much that our lives feel off kilter, our bodies tired, our spirits depleted, our souls drained, our relationships strained. Our challenge is not how to balance “work” and “life” so much as how to live a balanced, fruitful life that comprises healthy, blessed rhythms of work, rest and play.
(published by: The High Calling) 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Let's do lunch

I read a quote today, on Pinterest of course. That Pinterest, it's a wealth of deep thought, baking addictions, decor, and ministry ideas! ((end Pinterest rant))

As I sit here on my day off I read this quote, which isn't gospel or even fully true, yet got me thinking. 

"Jesus didn't run projects, create ministries, or put on events. He ate meals."

My initial reaction was a smile, an ode to our over complicated life and over programmed churches. I promptly tweeted it, like I do with quippy quotes I love. (yes, I know that's not really a word) But then I got to thinking.

Ministry was the life of Jesus and his followers. They sold all their possessions to follow Him, they were about sharing the gospel in every motion they made. I am sure there was never a harvest carnival, or a family Olympics, but does that mean they aren't necessary? 

While every family ministry person gasps at that last line, I assure you that wasn't what I got from this quote. However it got me thinking, have we programmed our families and churches to the point that we are effectively killing a community that an onlooking seeker would want to be part of? 

Yesterday was Sunday, and I saw several people headed to actively worship and serve in various corners of our church. I will often ask people how they are and today's common response, "busy". This experience followed by a week of work and school paired with sports and maybe a midweek Bible study or a small group. 

I just wonder what a person who is seeking, trying to find God, who is watching the motion of today's church sees. Is the question, "Is there room for me at that table?" or is it "Is there a table?" 

This week I will be more intentional about finding ways for those involved in our children's ministry to experience community. I love that Jesus took something we all have to do (eat) and used it to build into something we all desire to do (fellowship). 

May we Take His lead as we continue in life and ministry. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Want to go to CM Connect?

If you're looking for two free passes to the CM Connect conference, look no further! 

First, let me say that I am bummed that I can't go! As a Kidmin leader I have been privileged to work with Michael Chanley in the Kidmin arena, and this will be an amazing time of leadership development!

Michael has a heart for those who minister to kids, and the experience to back it. In the discussions leading up to this event he has shared some of the cool things that will be happening. If you are looking for a place to fill your leadership tank, make some amazing ministry friends and take that big exhale as you have a little fun, I would love to give you these two passes.

Check it out! Enter your name below and tell me about your best day in ministry!

I will select a winner tonight at 9pm PST

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Connecting Church and Home - notes for #cpc15

Here are the basic bullet points for today's session!
and our session selfie too!

Family ministry is not events
  • Families dont need another night to be out
  • A family service does not replace how we equip parents

Four key components of a family ministry
  1. Get Everyone on the same team (ministries and families)
  2. Remove the fear 
  3. Instill the Value
  4. Empower Parents & Leaders   
Teach them WHY

  • Parents need to understand why church and home need to be on the same team
  • Parents need to understand the “why” of what you as a ministry are teaching the kids
  • Parents need to know why it is important to be an active part of their child’s faith journey
    Teach them WHAT

  •    How to pray
  •    How to study the Word
  •    How to serve
  •    How to own their faith in Jesus
   Teach them WHEN

  •    Deuteronomy 6:6-9
  •    Equip them for life’s teachable moments
  •    Teach them how to identify life’s teachable moments
  •    Create checkpoints for children that parents can use as a guide or path
   Teach them HOW

  •    Create a realistic faith path
  •    Provide tools for your families (online or print)
  •    Provide classes for parents
  •    Consider a parent & child class
  •    Don’t leave out the basics
  •    Get families together! Community!!
  •    Offer a get-away to use their skills, let them practice.