Key Quotes and Action Steps from the 2016 Orange Tour

Orange Tour 2016

Last week, our family ministry staff, along with about 10 volunteers, attended the Orange Tour stop in Lancaster, PA. We attend the Tour every year and it was a great experience as always. Unlike past years, we went north to Lancaster instead of south to D.C. and the traffic was way better.

Here are some key quotes, along with actions steps I would suggest, coming out of the 2016 Orange Tour.

“This week matters: if it’s repeated.” – Reggie Joiner

Action Step: If you currently don’t have weekly volunteers in your ministry, create a plan to get there. It’s hard to repeat what matters if you have different people with kids/students each week. Don’t expect to do it in one day, but draw up a plan to transition from monthly or bi-weekly to weekly.

“Kids matter: more than adults.” – Reggie Joiner

Action Step: Analyze your budget towards kids and students. I’m completely biased, obviously, but if you divided up your church staff’s hours into 3-5 core segments, with children’s and student ministry being a segment, it should get the most hours. More than worship. More than groups. More than operations. More. It should get more budget as well (okay, minus facilities).

“Prioritize young people everywhere.” – Mike Park (Kara Powell at some stops)

Action Step: By the new book Growing Young from Fuller. Take the assessment and apply the learnings to your church. Fuller offers some additional resources along with the book and the assessment that are also helpful.

“Church should never be boring” – Reggie Joiner

Action Step: Evaluate your environments weekly and ask the question, was it fun? Yes, our ultimate goal is to make disciples. However, there won’t be many kids and students to make disciples of if their experience is boring, dull and irrelevant.

“Every parent will do something more.” – Reggie Joiner

Action Step: Think of something this week you can challenge parents to do that is something more. Not 10 things more. Not a 6-month project. One thing. What is it? How will you communicate it to them? How will you help them?

“The shortest distance between your church and the parent is a small group leader” – Reggie Joiner

Action Step: Equip small group leaders with the contact information for the parents of their few and encourage them to reach out. If it’s the first contact, I think the best option is to write a sample email for the leader, have the leader personalize it and send it to every parent. Every partnership begins with someone reaching out to open a dialogue.

Mastermind Groups for Children’s Ministry, Youth Ministry and NextGen/Family Ministry

Mastermind Groups for Church Ministry

One of the most impactful things that helped me grow as a leader has been coaching networks. I’ve been involved in a couple of them, specifically for pastors, and they have been great. I think every ministry leader should have the opportunity to be in a group like that. However, there are a few problems.

However, there are a few problems.

Coaching Network Challenges

There are challenges when it comes to coaching networks for ministry leaders. Here are a few:

  • There aren’t many. These are very common the business world, but not so much in ministry world. Of the coaching networks that do exist, most are targeted to Lead and Executive Pastors. Both coaching networks I participated in were that way and I was the only family ministry staff person.
  • They’re expensive. The last network I was in was $2000 for 9 months. That’s expensive. Cost is a barrier to most ministry leaders.
  • They’re instructional more than collaborative. I don’t think instructional is wrong. The first network I was in had that format and it was great. However, the last network I was in had a collaborative format used in Mastermind Groups. That was a much better experience, especially for people who have been leading for more than a few years.

MegamindMastermind Groups?

If you’ve heard of them, then it probably doesn’t sound weird.

Otherwise, the name might be misleading. I don’t know about you, but when I first heard of Mastermind groups I couldn’t help but picture this guy.

A Mastermind Group is a collection of people who gather together regularly to learn from each other, encourage each other, and help each other improve. The Mastermind format centers around using 3 key questions that everyone gets to answer:

  • What is going well in your ministry?
  • What challenge are you facing that you would like input from the group on?
  • What resource can you share that would be helpful to the group?

Most groups gather once/month on site or via video call and talk through those questions. In addition to the questions, there is a specific discussion around a book, article, or something the group is learning from together.

Interested in Some Pilot Mastermind Groups?

I’m hoping to pilot some Mastermind groups for family ministry leaders. Picture a group for children’s pastors, a group for youth pastors, and a group for family pastors. If you’re interested, click the link below to sign up for more information.

Click here to sign up for more information on Mastermind Groups for Ministry

Mastermind Group Registration has closed for 2016. If you’re interested in hearing about potential groups in 2017, please fill out the form below.

 

 

Win a Lifetime Membership to Parent Ministry

Ministry to Parents

In the NextGen/Family Ministry survey I did earlier this year, Partnering with Parents was the #1 topic leaders were interested in hearing about. I can’t say I was too surprised because it’s absolutely critical to a strong family ministry and it’s a topic I’m very interested in as well.

Podcast Interview

I’m excited to share the podcast interview I had with Jeremy of Parent Ministry. You can find it here. We talked all about ways in which we can do a better job partnering with parents. Jeremy knocks it out of the park as he shares the importance of ministering to parents and practical ways we can do it in our churches.

If you’re not familiar with Parent Ministry, they create content, resources, event kits, and everything you need to launch and organize your ministry to parents. After our interview, I thought it would be fun to see if they would be up for giving something away along with the podcast hitting this week.

They came up big. 

They’re giving away a lifetime membership to Parent Ministry (kids+youth bundle) to one lucky person. I’m not sure how to quantify a lifetime, but we’re talking about well over $10K in value.

Enter to win a lifetime membership to Parent Ministry

To enter to win, fill out the form below. Once you confirm your email address, you’ll receive an email with the one additional step you can take to enter to win. Not to mention, the step itself will give you some great free content, including:

  • 5 Strategies to take your parent ministry to the next level
  • 52 Family Dinner Discussions
  • Lunch Box Notes for parents to write to their kids
  • 80 Scriptures for encouraging parents

Be sure to listen to the podcast episode and share your thoughts in the comments below or in a rating on iTunes.

Winner = Kristin Shughart of Northridge Church

Kristin Shughart of Northridge Church won the lifetime membership to Parent Ministry. Congrats Kristin!

How to Be One Family Ministry Team Without a Team Leader

football team

Think back to when you were in middle school. If you’re like me, that’s longer ago than you’d like to admit. What was it like when you had a surprise day where the teacher wasn’t in and there was a substitute?

Free day! Party time! No homework!

In my experience, it really depended on the substitute, but often times we immediately thought we had a free period to do whatever. While that wasn’t always the case, there were times when it turned out to be true.

When the Cat’s Away

Last year our pastor took a 3-month sabbatical. No, we didn’t view it as a few months where we could do whatever. Fortunately, we’re more mature than we were in middle school (just a bit more). But, we did have to figure out how to continue to operate as one team without our leader present. Three of us on staff make up the leadership team he leads. We had to work together to stay unified as a team.

How to have one team without a point leader

In the family ministry world, many of us believe in the idea of having one, unified family ministry team. However, many of us do not have that structure within our staff. That may be because our church isn’t large enough to warrant having a separate family pastor role or it might just because the decision is not ours to make. Either way, we’re faced with the challenge of being one team without a point leader in place.

About six years ago our team was in that position. We learned what was helpful and what we should have done differently in hindsight. Here are four things I hope will help anyone looking to have a unified family ministry without having a point leader in place.

Establish a regular meeting

This is critical even when a leader is in place, but it’s even more important without one. Figure out a rhythm for meeting together as an entire family ministry team. It might be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, but set it and commit to attending it each time. Share stories to celebrate wins together. Touch base about anything you need from one another. Read a chapter of a book together each time and discuss.

At the end of the day, you’re building relationships and trust. That takes time, time together. You also need a place where conversations can happen that impact the entire family ministry.

Set agreed upon expectations

When a point leader is present, they establish clear expectations for everyone. Again, we’re trying to build trust. Trust is built by the keeping of agreements. Without agreeing to specific things, we all set our own expectations of ourselves and each other. If we’re honest, the expectations we set for others are higher than the ones we set for ourselves. Without a point leader, it’s important to be clear about what we expect from each other. When are we in the office? When will we meet? When are we not available? How will we communicate? How will we make decisions that affect us all?

Team up on projects

During your regular meeting, you can identify some projects you can work on together. Few things unify a team like being in the trenches together. There are countless opportunities where children and student ministry teams could collaborate. Volunteer recruitment, training, appreciation, communication, partnering with parents, etc. Identify one or two projects and build teams for those projects that require staff from both ministries to participate. Meet regularly to track progress and leave every meeting knowing who is doing what, and when it’s due.

Work on the transitions

A specific area your team can work on together is the transitions between age groups and ministries. This is critical for a family ministry regardless, but it is a great opportunity for a team without a point leader to become more unified. Working on transitions forces staff from different areas to work together. The real benefit is when one team member learns to see from the perspective of the other ministry.

What is your situation?

Is your team in this situation? If so, comment and share some specifics. If your children and student staff do serve on one team with a point leader, share what you have learned.

A Brand New Podcast for Family Ministry Leaders

Nick Blevins Family Ministry Podcast

I’m excited to announce a new podcast for leaders in Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry, NextGen and Family Ministry! I know one of the best ways I have learned and grown as a leader over the years has been by learning from other leaders. That’s what this new podcast is all about.

What You Can Expect

Here’s what you can expect from me regarding the podcast.

Weekly Interviews With Leaders

Each week I interview a top leader and ask them about the principles and practices they use to lead in their context. We talk about everything from recruiting volunteers, to small groups, to partnering with parents, and much more. To make sure you get the most out of the podcast and never miss an episode, be sure to subscribe (scroll down for how).

New podcasts will hit every Tuesday morning. So, listen to Carey Nieuwhof’s first and then check out the new episode here.

Improvement

In recording these first episodes one thing is painfully clear, and it’s that I have a long way to go toward becoming a good host. But, I’m reminded of this quote by Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn:

“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”
– Reid Hoffman

Actually, both things he said are true here. I did launch too late, as this is something I’ve wanted to do for a couple years. But, I am embarrassed by my first version, yet didn’t wait until my hosting and interviewing ability was where it should be to launch. That’s okay, though, because the guests more than make up for it.

Applicable and Practical

I’ll work hard to make sure the content you’re hearing is applicable to your context and contains practical steps you can take after hearing an episode.

How You Can Help

Now that you know what to expect from me, here are some things I’d love your help with.

Subscribe and Listen Weekly

Subscribe in your favorite podcast player:  iTunes | StitcherTune In

Click here to get the RSS feed to use in any other podcast player

Leave a Rating

I would love for you to listen and leave a rating and review in iTunes and/or Stitcher. It will help other leaders learn about it and I truly value your feedback (no pretense needed). My goal is to consistently make it better. If you have some suggestions or questions you want to send directly, feel free to contact me.

Send Questions and Ideas for Guests and Topics

The best way to make sure we talk about something helpful to you is to suggest some guests, specific topics, and submit questions you have and would like input on. You can do that by replying to me on Twitter, posting on the Facebook Page, or by emailing me.

Share the Podcast

If listening to the podcast is helpful for you, please share it with your friends via email, social media, carrier pigeon, or whatever works for you.

Episode 001 – Elle Campbell on Small Groups and Partnering With Parents

Elle CampbellOur very first guest is Elle Campbell. Elle and I talk about the two most requested topics according to the NextGen / Family Ministry Survey I did earlier this yearSmall Groups and Partnering with Parents. Elle shares some great insights as she talks about transferring to a small group model in the middle school ministry she and her husband led in Buffalo, NY. She also talked about how they partnered with parents and we link to all the great resources mentioned in the interview.

Click here to see the Show Notes and listen to the podcast right here on the site.

New Episode Tomorrow!

There are 2 episodes for you right out of the gate, with the second one hitting tomorrow. I interview Frank Bealer, Family Pastor at Elevation Church, about how to help volunteers lead like staff. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it!

Special Thanks

A bunch of people helped me get this podcast going and I want to thank them here.

  • My wife Jennifer, for doing the intro and outro bumper for the podcast in addition to all her support.
  • Carey Nieuwhof, for helping me learn some of the behind the scenes stuff and how he makes his podcast so amazing.
  • Frank Bealer, for letting me use the Your Love Is song for the bumper, off the eKidz Worship Album Undefeated.
  • Kenny and Elle, for helping me learn how they launched their podcast YMAnswers and with all the technical stuff.
  • Rachel Walker, for helping me with the podcast production.
  • All the guests who agreed to do interviews before this thing was even launched… but I’m not telling you who yet!
  • Last, but not least…

You!

Thanks to all of you in advance for your help. Thanks for listening, sharing, commenting, rating, and sending in ideas and questions. It’s going to be a fun ride and I really believe it will help all of us maximize our church’s potential. The work you do is critical and I hope this is an encouragement and a resource for you along the way.