Camp KidJam: A Valuable Gift for Your Church

 

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Does your summer camp contribute the strategy of your church? Are you looking for a camp solution that your students will love, and your small group leaders will love even more? Last year, I explored Camp KidJam and found it to be the complete package I was looking for in a summer camp experience.

Camp KidJam Is Built on a Strategy
Camp KidJam is part of the strategy developed by Orange and designed around the principles of 252 Kids. Students will grow in wisdom, faith, and friendship and the lessons learned will flow seamlessly into your weekend environment. Camp KidJam is built around the small group model so after every Jam Session, you will have the opportunity to make the lessons personal through a designated small group time.

Camp KidJam Develops Leaders
Both students and small group leaders experience leadership training. While students are participating in challenges and tracts, SGL’s get a chance to recharge and discuss tough ministry questions. Students sign up for tracks matching their interests and are challenged to grow musically, athletically, or creatively. These intentional leadership opportunities are a unique element of camp that both SGL’s and students love.

Camp KidJam Delivers A Quality Program
If you asked your students today to name their favorite experience from camp last summer, could they remember something? Camp KidJam creates unique memories that will bring a smile to your student’s faces. From the Awesome Sauce Leader to the full worship experience, your preteens will create memories that will last a lifetime. The skits and teaching time will leave students at the edge of their seat wanting more.

Camp KidJam delivers a top-notch program that is a proven gift for your church. The students will grow closer to one another as they grow in a personal authentic faith and the small group leaders will thank you for being a part of the week. To learn more about Camp KidJam check out http://campkidjam.com and also watch this highlight video from our experience last year.

Why Your Team Needs to Break Away From the Daily Grind

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With so many pressures all weighing in on you at the same time, how could it be even possible to break away? It might seem like taking a few days away from the office would cause everything to crash down, but maybe this time is exactly what you need for your team to reach the next level. When you understand the benefits of time away with your team, it will be easy to see why you need to make this a priority.

When you get away, you connect with each other.

Deeper relationships are formed through extended connections and shared experiences. The moment you and your team break away from the office you begin a shared experience. The travel along the destination can lead you to new discoveries about your team. You will see how your team reacts during detours or when you are deciding what to eat for dinner. Something as simple as seeing who drives the van and how that decision is made can provide insight into your team. As you sit around the dinner table, your conversations can move past the superficial to gain a better understanding of what motivates each member of your team. These connections will transition into the office, break down silos, and propel your team forward.

When you get away, you connect ideas. 

In the office, most members of the team are doing their own work. Breaking away brings people together who each have different points of view and life experiences. As you work through topics or as you sit through a teaching session, each member of your team will hear things from their own unique perspective. When you begin to brainstorm or talk through takeaways, your team can connect ideas in a way that works best for your organization. As you dream through possible futures your unique backgrounds can connect ideas that would have otherwise never fallen in line. Time away can really put legs on a dream and take your team to the next level.

When you get away, you connect with God.

Maybe you’re like me, and for some reason, you see God in a new perspective when you are in a new environment. Maybe your team gets away to the mountains and you gain a deeper appreciation for the magnitude and majesty of our Creator. Maybe your team gets away to the lake and you see how God is peaceful and His burden is light. Or maybe your team gets away to the city and you see how God is at work in so many different lives and that He has a big plan. You might also be like me and enjoy the change of pace where time away seems to bring about a revival in your soul. Simply being in a new environment with your team may allow you to hear from God in a new way. Maybe a speaker at a conference says something that captures your heart, or maybe just sitting on the porch swing with your team helps you see that the pace of your life needs to change. Time away might just be what your team needs to get away from the busy and hear from God.

Without intentionality, breaking away with your team will never just happen. Look at your calendar, sit down with a budget, and begin to make a plan. Maybe your team will attend a conference like the D6 Conference for family ministry, or maybe your team will just drive down the road to a coffee shop. Either way, begin making a plan today so that you can connect with each other, connect ideas, and connect with your Lord.

(Originally shared to the D6 Family Blog at https://d6family.com/team-needs-break-away-daily-grind/

How to Recruit Lifetime Small Group Leaders

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Volunteer recruitment is most likely one of the hardest and most time-consuming aspects of your job. You never have enough helpers to get it all done, and when you are finally getting to that place of calm, someone asks if you have time to talk. What if you could walk over to the wide open back door and leave it only partially cracked? Imagine what it would be like to have a team of committed small group leaders instead of a mismatched group of babysitters. Sounds great, doesn’t it? What if most of your small group leaders actually served for years and years? What if they even considered themselves as lifetime volunteers? Let’s talk about how to recruit those kinds of volunteers. Here are a few basic principles to follow:

ENLIST TO A CALLING

Your job description can be found in Ephesians 4:12, “Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” Your goal is to prepare your small group leaders to minister to the kids and their parents so the church will grow in wisdom and holiness. As you are building your teams, your goal is to intentionally join them together, so that they resemble the body of Christ, not Mr. Potato Head. When someone is willing to serve wherever needed and they are a gifted teacher, avoid the temptation of filling your worship leader vacant spot, and actually place them in a teaching role. Find their best fit. Get to know your team through a strong on-boarding process and solicit feedback during placement to verify they can see themselves serving in this capacity long term.

EXPLAIN WHY THEIR ROLE MATTERS

When you pressure small group leaders to serve out of guilt, your temporary motivation will only take them so far. Show them how the role of a small group leader is carrying out the great commission found in Mathew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Point to specific examples and show small group leaders how they are building the church and expanding the kingdom each and every week. Most people serving in the church can point back to a leader who showed up and influenced their spiritual journey. You have a group of influencers who are making a difference in the next generation, so take the time to remind them of this impact.

FOSTER A FAMILY CULTURE

Sundays can be challenging. It comes with the territory. After a long and difficult morning at church, it might be tempting for a volunteer to quit (who hasn’t been tempted to quit?). It’s easy to quit a position but it’s hard to leave a family. When you work to connect your team, the members of the team begin to work together and belong to one another. Romans 12:4-5 explains it like this, “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Placing the right people in the right positions in an organization built around groups can help nourish this family culture.

MAKE FREQUENT AND INTENTIONAL INVESTMENTS

The secret recipe for keeping your long time volunteers around is to continue to show love to them by making deposits into their lives. Hebrews 10:25 challenges us saying, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Investment is not about giving your small group leader a five dollar coffee gift card, but sitting down with them around the coffee table. No longer is it about the small group leader simply showing up and doing okay but it’s increasing their abilities and equipping them to become engaging disciple makers. When you see small group leaders have a gifting beyond their current position, show them future next steps. And whenever you see a small group leader who needs a break, give them time off with an intentional plan to bring them back on the team.

In the last paragraph, of the last page of Jim Wideman’s book, Tweetable Leadership, he says, “Be a lover of God’s people. The ministry is all about relationships. People matter! I believe the time we spend empowering and encouraging people is never wasted.” For you to recruit lifetime small group leaders, you must enlist them to a calling that fits their gifting, connect them with one another, and continue to love them through intentional deposits in their lives.

(Originally posted to Children’s Ministry Online at http://childrensministryonline.com/how-to-recruit-lifetime-small-group-leaders/)

Escape From The Mundane Team Building Activity

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Sometimes team building can seem like a daunting task. The truth is building a strong team takes work. But what if you could get together with your team to accomplish a task which could act as a catalyst and propel you forward? What if there was an activity that your team looked forward to? Something you could use to teach leadership lessons and apply to your ministry?

Well, there is. It’s called “Escape Games.”

Escape Games, or “Escape Rooms”, as they’re sometimes called, are designed as a giant sequence of interactive puzzles housed in an enclosed space where those inside must solve the clues in order to get out. Typically the participants have sixty minutes to work together and solve the puzzles to complete the mission. Escape Games are usually themed and incorporate those themes within the clues. For participants, the thrill begins upon being locked in the room. That’s when everyone must either do their part to get out—or fail in their escape.

Taking your team through an Escape Game will be an adrenaline-filled hour that can change their and your leadership forever. To date, I have participated in 3 Escape Games and continue to apply what I learned. Here’s what to expect when taking your team through this activity, as well as some practical ways to apply these principles to ministry.

…3-2-1…Go! (You have 1 hour to escape) 

As your team arrives on site, they will be greeted and given the paperwork to get started. The host will explain the basics of an escape game, lay down a few ground rules, and give important information related to your specific mission.  There will be some people in your crew who need fewer instructions and are eager to start. Others will be wishing the host would explain far more details concerning what is expected and about to take place.

You will need to be conscientious of the important information and rules you are sharing, especially the way “unspoken” details increase as you are adding new people to your ministry team. Some new teammates will have no idea what to expect and might feel uncomfortable or anxious. Some new teammates will have no idea what to expect and might feel uncomfortable or anxious. This may contrast with other, who are more familiar with the church or ministry or who have a “Let’s do this!” attitude. They might feel excited and eager to start. Pairing a rookie kidmin worker with a veteran who can come alongside them to help them get started helps acclimate them to the team.

When the game begins and the clock starts ticking, it quickly becomes clear that while your team is working on different tasks, everyone understands the ultimate goal and together everyone is working towards the goal. The goal is Systematic, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable, and Timely (SMART), and you have 60 minutes to escape.

This phase of the teamwork has a practical application to your team’s approach to the Sunday responsibilities. Do they understand how their individual tasks on Sunday morning work toward accomplishing the ultimate goal? It also calls Proverbs 29:18 into play: “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained.” When it comes to your ministry, do the leaders on your team know when they are winning?

As your group solves their first clue there will be an eruption of celebration. These celebrations will build momentum and excitement for the task at hand. Celebrating wins is equally important in building momentum in your kid’s ministry. How do you celebrate when a first-time guest returns the following week with a friend? When a child is lead to Christ, how does your team celebrate this victory?

Communicate! (Your escape depends on it) 

While the pressure builds, it is vital to keep the communication flowing steadily. Too little communication means others might not see the clues that you are seeing. You may hold the missing piece to the puzzle they are trying to solve. On the other hand, too much communication means your team may get locked up in information overload and become frustrated. You might find you have too many moving pieces and need to designate a mediator to keep all of the individual puzzles moving in the right direction.

Communication can make or break your escape. Therefore, your plan needs to include how and what you are communicating to your ministry team. To handle growth and the added complexity it adds, you will need to create a system that includes middle managers who can communicate and care for those on their team.

While trying to escape, your team may simply get stuck. That happens in the heat of the game, and your group might need to step back or re-evaluate or change the task to gain a fresh perspective. You might need to ask the host for a clue.

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If your team gets stuck, you’ll need a leader who is willing to take charge and make something happen. You’ll need to identify someone who’s willing to take a risk not knowing the outcome. For you, as the team leader, this could be one of the best learning experiences you receive from the game. It will show you how your teammates react under pressure, who rises to the occasion, how they lead disciple the difficult situation, how they lead despite the difficult situation, how the leader communicates, and if the leader gets the group’s buy-in before making a move. Then, hopefully with a new perspective or the needed clue, your team will continue working towards the goal.

Sometimes in an Escape Game, just when you think you are finally getting somewhere you discover instead that you’re only getting started. You may solve all the clues in the room only to discover there is a second room! The same happens in ministry.  Your team will discover that definitions change. Words like “big” and “busy” have shifting definitions that you will need to clearly articulate.

The Heat is On! (will you escape…?)

As the clock winds down, your team will face the reality that they either are going to escape to victory or face defeat. Both winning and losing should be met with evaluation and reflection. When your team gives their full effort towards accomplishing the mission, winning or losing become an emotionally charged, shared experience. As your team members begin to calm down, you can start to digest the past hour and reflecting on things you could have done differently.

Similarly, evaluation and reflection can propel your ministry team to their next level. When you share with them the things they did great as well as the things they can improve, you’re helping them sharpen their skills for future ministry.

When you escape from the mundane team-building activity you will find both immediate and long-term benefits. People appreciate being a part of the great adventure, and a shared experience like this builds relationships. They experience both quality time and quantity time as they solve the clues to escape. Long-term, you will learn about your team members’ personalities and gifts, and the relationships that were built will bond your team together.

Want to do this with your own team? Simply search “Escape Room” online and find a game in your area!

(Originally posted in the Kidzmatter Magazine July/Aug/Sept 2017 edition)

9 Delightful Ways to Wrap up Your Summer

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You’re busy. You don’t want another to do list item to add to your ever growing checklist. But at the same time, I imagine you don’t want to miss out on low hanging fruit to propel the ministry forward. As the summer is winding down there are a few things that you can do to simply end on a good note. Here are nine delightful ways to wrap up your summer but feel free to write one or two of them down that will give you the most bang for your buck.

RELATIONALLY

Take a minute and pull out your phone to make a personalized video message to some of your student leaders. Don’t worry about it being perfect, just hit record, greet them by name, share a fun memory from the summer, and thank them for being a part of the church. Tap send and know that this might just make their day.

SPIRITUALLY

Set aside an hour on your calendar and find a quiet place to hang your Eno. Spend the hour talking with God about your summer. This quiet time can be full of appreciation for the past and seek wisdom for what lies ahead. Maybe even block off a little time for rest or just be still and know that He is God.

PHYSICALLY

Walk with a purpose. Connect with someone who you have not been able to see in a while and walk around the park. Or maybe go scout out a new retreat center or event location and walk around picturing what could be. Or maybe just walk boxes of accumulated junk out of your office and into the trash.

DIGITALLY

Take a few minutes and look through the photos on your phone. Post some of the summer memories to social media and remind your students and leaders of what you learned while you were away at camp or on that missions trip. Follow up with students who you recognize from the pictures but haven’t seen in a while and let them know you hope to see them at your kickoff event or in the lunchroom at their school.

MENTALLY

Take some time to simply think. Ask yourself these questions and take a few minutes to brainstorm the answers. Who are the future leaders for the ministry? What do you need to do to better equip your student leaders? Are you keeping your priorities in check? Why did God place you in this ministry and for what purpose? How will you continue moving forward to the goal God has set before you?

SOCIALLY

Connect with your loved ones, socialize with friends and maybe even consider leaving your phone in the car when you go to your next social gathering. Giving the gift of presence is good both for you and those you are spending time with.

ENVIRONMENTALLY

How is your workspace? Take some time to clean up your work environments. Clean off your desk and move all paperwork to either a file, the trash or delegate it to someone else to work on. If you have a youth space, walk through that environment and try to see the room with fresh eyes. Do the table tennis paddles need to be replaced? Are old signs still on the walls? Clean up that space so that you are ready to welcome new visitors to a clean room.

INTELLECTUALLY

Finish that book. You know, the one you started a while ago but set down and forgot all about. Pick it up again, scan through your underlines as a refresher, and continue working through the pages. You never know, finishing that book might be all the motivation you need to start another.

FINANCIALLY

Sorry to use “The B Word” here but how is your budget? This post is about fun, so let me ask, do you have leftover money in budget categories that you can use to set up next summer well? For example, if you have leftover camp budget money, could you use that leftover to send thank you’s to your workers or could you get something to remind the students of their experience or commitment?

Don’t let the next minute go by without making a plan. Instead of adding one of these to your to do list, why not simply make one happen? The summer will be gone before you know it so let’s wrap up on a good note.

(Originally posted the Youth Specialties blog at: https://youthspecialties.com/blog/9-delightful-ways-wrap-summer/)

 

How to On-board New Volunteers

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The D6 Podcast helps you build an excellent family ministry in your church. On episode 63, we sat down and walked through all of the steps to process onboard new volunteers.

Recruiting volunteers is hard but you can make this process easier by breaking it down into manageable steps. Listen to this podcast for a tutorial step by step guide and check out the attachments for additional resources.

How to On-board New Volunteers with Corey Jones – https://itun.es/i6dj5Jk

Corey Jones provides us with a step by step tutorial on how to on-board a new volunteer. He begins with recruiting. Corey believes he needs to always be in a state of recruiting volunteers, so he must free himself to have the time on Sunday mornings to interact with people and recognize their gifts. Corey talks in great detail about his application process and even gives key components to his application. He shares how to handle that awkward conversation when someone fails a background check and how to recapture an applicant that may have gotten lost in the process. Corey discusses how to identify volunteers that may be ready for more responsibility, and he talks about how his own senior pastor has encouraged volunteering in their church.

There is valuable, practical, and ready-to-use information in this episode. Make sure to tune in!

Here are links to additional resources:

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3 Free Ways To Better Screen Your Volunteers

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There’s no question that we need to screen our volunteers, especially those who work with kids. But how do you properly screen workers on a limited budget with limited time? How can you ensure the safety of those who have been placed in your care when you are also trying to prepare for next Sunday? Here are 3 free ways to better screen your volunteers.

1. Know Your Process.

Can you list every step a volunteer must take in order to go from a pew sitter to a member of your team? Write down your full process and ask a lawyer, officer, and/or school counselor for feedback. Read over your application to make sure you are collecting the proper information and compare your application to that of other churches. Know your background check process and know exactly what the background check is screening. Know what questions you will ask a reference and what you will do when a red flag is raised. Know what standard questions you are going to ask in the interview and know how to ask these questions to get accurate information.

2. Follow Your Process.

While knowing your process is important, if you don’t follow it you will find yourself in trouble. Don’t cut corners or make exceptions, even if you know the person or they’ve been serving in another ministry. If your policy says that a person must be a member in order to serve then hit pause and wait for that step to be complete. Even if you desperately need someone to fill the position, or if your gut is telling you to let them through, still follow your process. When you always follow your process you can confidently tell parents that every member of your team has been properly screened.

3. Document Your Process.

Along the way, write down dates and keep a written record so that you know each step has been completed. Document the date your background check was sent out and write down when you have received a clear report. If any red flags are raised in the reference check or interview, write down both what was said and how you resolved the situation. If there is anything questionable or out of the ordinary also consider running the information by your supervisor and have them sign off on the document as well.

When you know, follow, and document your screening process for new volunteers you are on your way to building a healthy team. The time you invest in these three steps will help you protect the kids and can save your ministry from a sticky situation. What is one step that you need to take today to better screen your volunteers?