Where In The World Is Brian Dollar?

2013 is going to be an exciting year.  I have been honored to be asked to speak at several incredible conferences and events.  I would love to get a chance to meet you and connect!

Just thought I would pass on some of the dates and locations I will be in 2013.  Hope to get a chance to meet many of you in person!

North Texas Kids Pastors Retreat; Jan. 4-5, 2013; Dallas, TX;  keynote speaker and multiple breakouts  more info

INCM’s Children’s Pastors Conference;  January 16-19, 2013;  Orlando, FL; multiple breakouts more info

Oklahoma Kids Pastors Retreat; Jan. 25-26, 2013; Keynote speaker and multiple breakouts  more info

Southwestern A/G University;  February 5-7, 2013; multiple main sessions on Children’s Ministry Leadership more info

INCM’s Children’s Pastors Conference;  February 18-21, 2013;  San Diego, CA; multiple breakouts more info

FOCUS Children’s Ministry Conference; February 28 – March 2, 2013;  Greenville, SC; Keynote speaker and multiple breakouts  more info

ARSOM Children’s Ministry InstituteMarch 8-9, 2013 ;  Hot Springs, AR; multiple sessions on Children’s Ministry Leadership;  more info

Iluminate Conference; April 6, 2013 ;  Memphis, TN; multiple breakouts more info

COGOP Children’s Ministry InstituteSeptember 12-14, 2013 ;  Ashville, SC; multiple sessions on Children’s Ministry Leadership more info

Are You An Insecure Leader?

Security is the main ingredient of healthy relationships.  You need healthy relationships with others in order to fulfill the call God has placed on your life.  As a Kids Ministry Leader, your goal is to raise up others to join you in the vision of raising the next generation of life-long followers of Christ.  If you are not secure in who you are and who God has created you to be, you will (consciously or not) poison your relationships with the people God puts around you. 

My pastor, Rod Loy, challenged us last week in our staff meeting to evaluate whether or not we are Secure or Insecure Leaders.  Here is part of a grid he provided for us:

Insecure Leader – when someone else succeeds, they divert credit to themselves

Secure Leader – gives credit away to others.

Insecure Leader – surrounds themselves with weaker people because they have an inner need to be adored

Secure Leader – is comfortable with the strengths of others and surround themselves with strong leaders

Insecure Leader – when evaluating themselves, they only see weaknesses

Secure Leader – they know their weaknesses exist, but they are not crippled by them

Insecure Leader – evaluate by “how do I compare to others?”

Secure Leader – evaluate themselves by “how am I doing right now?”

Insecure Leader – can’t laugh at themselves

Secure Leader – laugh at their mistakes, seeing them as another opportunity to learn

Insecure Leader – resists evaluation (they have inextricably connected their performance with their self-worth)

Secure Leader – embraces evaluation as an opportunity to grow

Insecure Leader – they are very hard on others who make mistakes

Secure Leader – more patient with other people and with their growth process

Insecure Leader – may enjoy success for a season

Secure Leader – will enjoy success for a lifetime

Insecure Leader – says “Blessings are to be enjoyed by me!”

Secure Leader – asks “How many blessings can I share?”

Insecure Leader – produces insecure followers

Secure Leader – produces other secure leaders

So, are you a Secure Leader or an Insecure Leader?  It’s not too late to change course:

1)  Learn to see yourself the way God sees you.

2)  Hang around secure leaders and friends.

3)  Recognize when reactions are based on insecurity.  Retrain yourself away from those reactions.

4)  Ask God to help you become more secure in Him so that you can build a team of Secure Leaders to help you reach this generation and advance the cause of Christ!

The more secure you are, the better leader you will be.

Six Questions To Ask Before Implementing A New Idea (pt. 2)

In my last post, I shared the first two of the Six Questions to ask yourself before implementing a new idea in your Kids Ministry:

1)  “Have I Prayed About It?”

2)  “What Does My Pastor Think About The Idea?”

Now, we continue with Questions 3 & 4:

QUESTION #3 – “Does the idea resonate with the hearts of my team?”

After your pastor gives you the go-ahead, consult with your ministry team.  These people have the same passion as yours to impact the lives of the children in your church and community.  Share the plan with them while your idea is still in its early stages.  Don’t wait until you have the entire strategy fleshed out before you bring it to the team for feedback. The longer you work on an idea before you present it, the less likely you’re going to be willing to change course.  If leaders develop a plan too far before they talk to their teams, they can become emotionally invested in an idea and refuse to listen to any suggestions. When they don’t listen to their team members, trust erodes.

I remember when I thought I had a great idea for a Halloween outreach.  I wanted to call it “The Candy Factory.”  It was going to provide a full array of experiences, entertainment, fun, and best of all . . . candy!  I worked on the idea for weeks and weeks before I brought it to the team.  When I finally presented it to them, they immediately had questions about it.  They questioned the plans, the schedule, the execution, and the very idea itself.  I became defensive.  I’d worked several weeks on it, and this was my baby!  How dare they question an idea in which I had invested so much time!

If the members of your team—the people whose hearts are aligned with yours and who care as much about kids as you do—believe the idea stinks, you better listen to them.

QUESTION #4 – “Do I have the support of the parents in my ministry?”

This question applies especially to those who are young in ministry and have no children of their own.  It is easy for young singles or couples without kids to miss red flags that are obvious to parents.  Checking with them before an event can save you lots of headaches in the long run.

Many of you have read about the infamous Easter Egg Hunt that ended up in disaster (for the full story, get my book “I Blew It!”).  I planned an egg hunt for pre-schoolers on a steep drainage ditch and gave them Atomic Fireballs in their eggs.  If I’d taken a few minutes to talk to parents before the Easter Egg Hunt, they would have told me that it’s inappropriate to have Atomic Fireballs and jawbreakers in plastic eggs on steep hillsides with big rocks for an event for preschoolers (or anyone else for that matter).  They would have spoken up.  They would have told me the hard, cold truth, and I would have seen that it was an idiotic idea to hold a preschool egg hunt on Drainage Ditch Hill.  Parents would have looked me in the eye and told me, “Pastor Brian, the children will choke on those Atomic Fireballs. Are you insane?”

But it didn’t cross my mind to ask any of the parents. Solomon advises us (me especially), “With many counselors, there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14 NLT).

(CLICK HERE FOR PART 3)

Six Questions To Ask Before Implementing A New Idea (pt. 1)

Sometimes, we overestimate our own creativity and cleverness.  We think we’re so smart that we know exactly what we need to do in a given situation without consulting God or others.  It’s a sad situation that I see repeated over and over in Kids Ministry.

This post will be the beginning of a series of posts dealing with SIX QUESTIONS we must ask ourselves before implementing a new idea.  Often, we can get in such a hurry to implement a “crazy clever” or “amazingly creative” idea that we have for Kids Ministry.  I have had many such ideas end up as disasters (as I am sure many of you have).

I wish I could give you a list of “Ten Ways to Discover God’s Idea for Your Life and Ministry,” but God speaks to different people in different ways.

*  God spoke to Moses through a burning bush.

*  God spoke to Samuel in an audible voice in the middle of the night.

*  God spoke to Joseph in a dream.

*  God spoke to David through the prophet, Nathan.

*  God spoke to Mary through the angel, Gabriel.

God speaks to people when and how He chooses, but I want to give you a series of six questions that can help clarify your thinking.  Ask these questions of yourself BEFORE implementing a new idea in your ministry:

QUESTION #1 –  “Have I prayed about it?”

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” – James 1:5

If the idea you’re chasing came from any source other than a time of prayer, hit your knees immediately and ask, “God, is this your idea for my life and ministry?”

God’s not trying to hide His will from you, and He’s not trying to make you figure it all out on your own.  He wants to give you wisdom and reveal His plan to you.  He wants to give you incredible, amazing, God-inspired ideas.  Pray about it.  Ask Him for wisdom and clarity.  He’ll answer and show you the way.

QUESTION #2 – “What does my pastor think about the idea?”

As early as possible, run your idea by your pastor or kids’ ministry leader to get feedback and input.  Take this step before you invest too much time and energy in your idea.  Your pastor may be aware of liability issues or other reasons why your plan just won’t work. Trust your pastor’s judgment—he’s been down this road before.

Take the initiative to make the appointment with your pastor or ministry leader.  Explain the idea, including the pros and cons. If he approves it, that’s wonderful.  If he finds problems with it, then the conversation will save you a great deal of wasted time and embarrassment.  (I can’t tell you how much my pastor has saved me from all kinds of heartaches.)  And talking with this person before you implement the plan builds trust for the future, too.

(CLICK HERE FOR PART 2)

How To Know When It Is Time To Leave

It’s one of the toughest decisions you will ever have to make:  Leaving a church you have been serving as a staff member.  It’s a decision that should NEVER be made cavalierly and never without much prayer and consideration.

I have seen many staff members leave too early and short circuit what God was wanting to do in them during a process of seasoning and learning.  But, I have also seen many staff members stay longer in a situation than they should have.  By doing so, they ended up hurting the church and their family in the process.

Here are a few ways you can know it might be time to resign the position you are serving in…

1)  When you no longer personally respect your pastor or team.

Whether it is your fault or theirs, if you have lost respect and cannot gain it back – you will do more harm than good by staying on the team.

2) When you can’t support and agree with them publicly

We will always have disagreements with our pastor or other staff.  It’s impossible to agree on everything.  But, we should always disagree in private!  When in a public setting, you MUST show agreement and solidarity.  If you are unable to do so despite your best prayer and effort, then you need to leave before you cause damage to the body of Christ.

3)  When you or your spouse become cynical or critical in your spirit

If you get to the point where you are cynical in your spirit and can’t seem to clear it out, then you should leave.  To continue to follow someone you don’t trust is damaging to them and to you.

4)  When you are no longer challenged to grow

When you get to the point where you have grown as far as you can at the current location, it might be time to consider moving on.

5)  When you don’t like being around your pastor or team

This doesn’t mean one person or another gets on your nerves one day.  However, if you find yourself consistently avoiding relational time with your staff or pastor, that is unhealthy.  If prayer and loving confrontation don’t solve it, then it is better to leave than poison the entire community.

6)  When you think you can do a better job than pastor

I have found that when a staff member has this feeling, MOST of the time it is the staff member’s fault – not the pastor’s.  However, if this feeling persists despite your best efforts to squelch it, then you can mark it down – you have lost all respect for your pastor.  No matter what the reason, you owe it to your pastor to resign and allow him to hire someone who respects him.

I am not one who advocates leaving on a whim.  I can’t stand the fact that the studies show the average length of stay for a church staff member is 18-24 months.  However, there are times that “sticking it out” can do more harm than good.  No matter what, never make the decision without bathing it in prayer and seeking wisdom from spiritual authority.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Ten Common Mistakes Church Staff Members Make

If you work (or have worked) on a multiple member staff at a local church, you know that it is very difficult to maintain unity and cohesion among the team.  Much of the reason for that are some of these common mistakes made by church staff members.  Browse the list and give yourself a check-up…

1)  Competing with other staff members.

In staff meeting, they look for opportunities to shoot each other down.  They make the mistake of thinking that to make yourself look good, you have to make them look bad.  That’s not a team.

2)  Using “cut-down” humor – in a public setting

Even when it’s truly a joke between staff members, cut-down humor has no place in a public setting.  Those you lead are watching you.  If you don’t honor each other, they won’t honor you either.  Model the behavior you want them to follow.

3)  Using E-mail for conflict resolution

Bad idea.  E-mail doesn’t communicate emotion well (that’s why they invented those stupid emoticons).  When you may have been trying to say something one way, it can come across totally differently.  The best way to apologize or confront an issue is “Face to Face”; then, you can clear up a misunderstanding quickly without losing friendship

4)  Assuming motives of others

Staff members should always give each other the benefit of the doubt.  When someone wrongs you, assume it was an accident unless proven otherwise.  If you are going to assume a motive, assume the BEST motive.  When the youth pastor takes the van when you had it reserved for your event, don’t immediately assume he “didn’t care about my event or think it was important.”  Assume he just forgot to check the calendar.

5)  Being Defensive

Often we are not very receptive to correction or input from other staff members.

6)  Seeing a weakness and not telling them

If done in the spirit of love and teamwork, it’s not “mean” to help other team members succeed by helping them see their weaknesses.  It is actually CRUEL to allow them to continue to sink in leadership because of a glaring weakness you see but refuse to point out.

7)  Not using the strengths of other staff members

When you are weak in an area, ask for help from a fellow staff member who is strong in that area.  The worst thing you could do is try to fix it yourself simply because you are too proud to admit you need help.

8)  Taking another staff member’s side against the senior pastor or other staff members

9)  Over-promising and under-delivering instead of under-promising and over-delivering

It’s great to be willing to help your fellow team members, but promising to do something and not coming through is worse than not being available in the first place

10)  Not taking the cues that it’s the right time to leave

It’s a tough truth, but chances are you won’t serve the church you are currently serving for the rest of your ministry life.  Often one of the biggest mistakes staff members make is staying beyond the time that they should.  How do you know when it is time?  That’s another post altogether (find it right here).

How’d you do?  Have you made some of these mistakes lately?  It’s time to fix it.  Are there other common mistakes that I missed?  Share your thoughts in the comment section.

“The Eric Trap” Book Review

I am very pleased to be able to talk about The Eric Trap, a new book written by Jim Wideman, Sam Luce, Kenny Conley, and several others.  I received a copy a week or so ago and immediately began diving into it.  I have to say, I was blown away by it.

Here are the things I LOVED about The Eric Trap:

1)  It is written as a leadership fable. If you are not familiar with this style of writing (a la Patrick Lencioni, Ken Blanchard, and others), it is told as a fictional story of Eric Newman.  Eric is a regular guy who finds himself reeling from the demands and expectations of Kids Ministry.  It’s easy to read.  You learn as Eric learns.

2)  The main character is easy to relate to.  Eric is you.  Eric is me.  Eric is the Kidmin Leader we all have been at some point in our journey.  I felt a connection to Eric within the first couple of paragraphs.  I found myself truly caring about Eric and the pain he was going through.  That is what good writing does.  This book is well-written and compelling.

3)  The lessons are impacting.  The book deals with “five things every leader has to get right.”  Each of these lessons are learned by Eric along the way.  From learning how to balance ministry and family to serving under a Lead Pastor and carrying his/her vision, these lessons ARE things that every Kidmin Leader must get right if they want to accomplish God’s best in their ministry.

The only thing I wish was different with the book is that it is not COMPLETELY a leadership fable.  Periodically, the story of Eric is broken up with select lessons from successful Kidmin Leaders.  Don’t get me wrong – these lessons are phenomenally written and are very helpful.  I just wish the content could have been worked more into the story rather than having to continually pop out of the story in order to do practical teaching.

Bottom line – The Eric Trap is a well-written book that will appeal to much more than just Kidmin Leaders.  It serves as a guidebook for every new staff pastor getting into ministry.  Male or female.  Long-term or short-term.  Kids Ministry or Student Ministry.  Everyone can learn from Eric Newman and help themselves NEVER to fall into the “Eric Traps.”

* The official release date of the book is APRIL 25th.  For more info check out the official website.