A Bible for kids with Autism

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When I was at CPC2014 in Orlando I had the opportunity to meet Sergio Cariello.  He is the guy who illustrated The Action Bible.

What I love about this Bible, is that it is a Graphic Novel.  It is also full color & the pages are glossy paper.  My son who has autism has some sensory challenges and he doesn’t like to touch most paper.  However, because The Action Bible is made with glossy paper, the texture does not bother him.

The Action Bible makes a great option for kids who have  challenges reading.   It’s graphic novel style helps tell the stories of the Bible in a way that speaks to their learning style.  It’s also a great option for children who have sensory issues because of the glossy pages.

What resources do you use in your children’s ministry to help kids with special needs?

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How do millionaires become billionaires?

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Someone once told me that if a millionaire wants to become a billionaire, then they need to spend time hanging out with billionaires.

In order for a millionaire to become a billionaire, they must first learn everything they can from people who are already at the next level.  They learn what their goals and priorities are, they learn what their focus is, and how they make decisions.  They spend time with them, watching them, observing them, & seeing them in action.

If you want to become a better Kids Ministry Leader, then you need to spend time with people who are doing kids ministry at a higher level than you are.  What makes them a next level leader?
Here’s what to look for:

– they have a similar ministry to you, but have more responsibility

– they are from a church that is larger than yours (and their kids ministry is larger)

– they have more experience than you do

Once you find a next level leader, you need to connect with them, and spend time with them and learn from them.
Here are some suggestions:

– Go for coffee with a next level kids leader who is in your area.  Have a list of questions prepared that you can ask them about how they lead.

– Go visit a church on a Sunday morning to see their kids ministry in action.  Walk around with them & observe them as they connect with their volunteers.  Visit their office.  What do you notice?

– Take a team of volunteers with you to go visit a church that does a great job doing kids ministry

– If you don’t have a church in your area, is there one within a day’s drive that you can go visit?  (I have driven 8-10 hours just to go visit churches)

– Find a next level leader online & connect with them.  CMconnect.org is a great place to start.

Are you striving to improve how you lead?  If you are, then you should be hanging out with next level leaders, and in time, you will become like them.

EPIC Volunteers

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EPIC takes place every summer at our church.  It’s the week where Kids Ministry takes over every square inch of the church, and helps kids learn about Jesus and have FUN!

It takes an incredible team of volunteers to make this happen.  All of them volunteer their time to make the week amazing for the kids.  Here is a list of our Leadership Team & what they do:

EPIC Director – oversees EPIC.  Communicates with the leadership team & helps them make their area of ministry happen.
Decor Leader – plans & designs the decor for EPIC.  Works with a team of volunteers to collect supplies & create ‘stuff’ to make the theme come alive.  I should mention that most of their decorations are made from cardboard that they paint & cut out.  Super LOW budget! 🙂
Admin Leader – works with the director to track registrations & admin stuff like name tags & lists of names.
Preschool Director – works with a team of adults to plan & lead the program for preschoolers.  We provide a program for children age 0-4 for the children of our volunteers.
Snack Leader – works with a team of volunteers to plan, & prepare snack for the kids every day.  They work hard to choose healthy snacks & food that goes with the theme each year.
Games Leader – plans & prepares the games for the kids.
Science Station Leader – each year we have chosen to include some kind of science creation every day instead of a craft.
Bible Station Leader – plans & prepares the Bible Lesson for the devotional station.
Stage Leader – works with the band,tech & stage team to make the open & closing sessions happen every day.

Other Important Volunteer Roles:

Crew Leaders – hang out with a group of 5 children every day & help them get to each station.
Registration Team – help kids check in & out every day.
Nurse – keeps us well supplied with band-aids.
Greeters – welcome people when they arrive & help direct them so that registration goes smoothly and quickly.
Preschool Team – run an entire program for the little kids so volunteers can leave their younger children in a high quality program while they serve.
Nursery Team – help with caring for babies of volunteers.
Photographers/Videographers – capture the events of the week on film so we can use footage for promo & appreciation events.
Volunteer Snacks – everyday we start the morning off with coffee & food for the volunteers before the kids arrive.  We have volunteers make snacks just for the volunteer team.
Family Event Carnival Team – organize carnival games, pony rides, bouncy castle etc. for the Family Event (Thursday evening).
Family Event Food Team – do everything needed to feed supper to all the kids and their families for Thursday Evening.
Parking Team – helps everyone find a place to park on the night of the Family Event
Shoppers – these people are given a list of supplies & they purchase what is needed for various stations
Missions Fund Raising Team – This year a team of people made jars of jam to sell at the Family Event to raise money for our missions projects.
Builders – sometimes we needed things built for our stations that required power tools or handy work.

Starbucks Runner – Ok, so maybe not a requirement, but it sure was nice to have someone go pick up an extra special treat for some hard working volunteers.

My role (Kids Pastor) is to make sure that everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing.  I work closely with the EPIC director and she works closely with the leadership team.  I pray for & encourage people as they serve.  I also make sure that hand written thank you cards get to each volunteer.  I don’t teach anything or lead any activities so that I am available to meet kids & parents & spend time with volunteers.

 

 

EPIC Science

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Every summer we run an EPIC week for kids at our church.  It’s basically kids ministry on steroids.  The energy is high, the kids and volunteers are excited to be there and God does amazing things during the week.  Months of organization & preparation come to a conclusion at the end of this week, and each year we do it, it gets better and better.  We focus on helping kids grow closer to Jesus.  Some kids have never experienced church before, and others are used to coming regularly.  We post stories of what God is doing throughout the week on our “God Sightings” wall & it’s quite an experience at the end of the week to read story after story of lives that were impacted during the week.

This year we have 330 kids and a little over 150 volunteers.  It takes an incredible team to make everything happen with excellence.  Tomorrow’s post will be all about the team.  I will list the volunteer roles that are needed to make our EPIC week happen.

 

Leading a Team – Disney Style

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This is one of my favourite books.  Creating Magic.  It’s a book about leadership.  It’s all about people.  Here’s a quote from the inside cover,

“It’s not the magic that makes it work, it’s the way we work that makes the magic.”

Lee Cockerell is the former Executive Vice President at Walt Disney World.  He has many years of leadership experience and working with people.  In one of his chapters, he outlines some strategies that will help employees (in our case, volunteers) feel engaged, motivated and fully committed to the goals of the organization.  Here are 13 things he talks about:

1.  Make sure everyone matters, and that everyone knows it – If any job was unimportant why would you get them to do it?  Make sure every person on the team knows that they are equally important.

2. Know your team – Each person has different motivations, priorities and preferences.  Get to know your team and what motivates them and what they are passionate about.

3. Let your team get to know you – The more authentic you are, the more your team will respect you and trust your judgement.

4. Greet people sincerely – Don’t walk past people and ignore them.  Take time to say hello.

5. Reach out to everyone on your team – Make it clear that you want to hear from everyone.  Ask for people’s opinions and ideas even if they don’t volunteer them.

6. Make yourself available – Do everything in your power to be there for people when they need you.

7.  Listen to understand – Give people your full attention and genuinely listen to what they have to say.

8. Communicate clearly, directly, and honestly – Good communication is clear communication.  Use ordinary language and say what you mean.

9. Stand up for the excluded – Be on the lookout for anyone who feels left out.

10. Forget about the chain of command – Good leaders are willing to listen to anyone in their organization.

11. Don’t micromanage – If you want to be a great leader, put great people on your team, be perfectly clear about their responsibility, authority and accountability and let them do their thing.  Don’t look over their shoulder all the time & don’t make decisions for them.

12. Design your culture – Successful cultures are established by design, not by chance, and they’re clear, well defined and purposeful.

13. Treat your people as you would want your customers to be treated – Disney’s list of how they treat their employees is the same as the list for their guests.

What can you learn from these principles?  Can they help you as you lead your team of Kids Ministry Volunteers?

One thing I wasn’t expecting at Disney World

DisneyGoodByeEvery time I go to Walt Disney World I notice how welcome they make you feel.  Everything from greeting you when you arrive at Magical Express at the airport, to the coach bus, to arriving at the resort, to arriving at the parks.  They do a great job of making you feel welcome.  But one thing I didn’t expect was for them to be just as intentional to say Thank you when we left.

I first noticed it when we were leaving the Magic Kingdom.  Not only did they have cast members everywhere waving goodbye with their Mickey Gloves, they held up signs just to make sure we got the message.

I also noticed that they thanked us for coming & wished us safe travels as we left the hotel, & got off the coach bus back at the airport.  It might just have been coincidence, but perhaps they are very intentional to train their cast members to say thank you & be present when it’s time to say goodbye.

What about your kids ministry?  Are you available to welcome families as they arrive?  What about dismissal time?  When families are on their way out the door after the service, are you standing there to say goodbye to everyone?  A simple thing to do and it could make a huge difference.