Raising The Bar: Expecting MORE From Your Team

“I can’t get my team to come to meetings, so I just don’t schedule them.”   ”I wish my team were more committed.”  ”I want to raise the level of my team, but I am afraid of losing good people.”

I hear statements like these from Kidmin Leaders all the time.  They want to take their team to the next level of commitment so they can accomplish more for the Kingdom, but they are afraid that if they expect more, they will lose people off of their team.  And, they are probably right.

Anytime we raise the standard and expect more of those serving in ministry, there are those who decide they just can’t make the commitment.  They may quit.  Although that is hard to deal with and NEVER something you want to see, I have always observed that it ends up being a healthy thing for the rest of team.

Keep in mind that your team wants to succeed as individuals as well as collectively.  A weak link will demoralize the collective culture and allow for rapid deterioration within the spirit of the team.  That is not good for the team or the ministry.

People want to be a part of something BIG, something exciting, something that is making a difference.  Challenge your team to be committed to growth and excellence.  Some will self-eject, but those who stay and answer the call will be more committed, more empowered, and more effective.

Still skeptical?  Jesus was the Master at raising the bar.  He was constantly calling His followers to a higher level of commitment.  He went from “Follow me” to “You have heard it said…well I say…” all the way to “Deny yourself and take up your cross…”  He NEVER let His followers off easy.  Not because he wanted to make it difficult for them, but because He knew what was at stake – souls in Eternity.  He knew that half-hearted commitments would never get the job done.

“The Status Quo never inspired ANYONE!”

The Status Quo never inspired anyone!  Resist the desire to “make it easy” on your team.  Expect the best from them, and then watch them deliver!  You’ll be glad you did!

Do People Trust You?

Trust is critical and is the foundation of any relationship.  Whether that be in your family, ministry, church, or work – trust is what makes every relationship work.  Often, we assume that others should just NATURALLY trust us, but it rarely works that way.  You have to do your part to build trust.

If you want to build a strong level of trust with your team and others, here are several practices you should put in place:

*  Keep your promises – do what you say you will do.

*  Tell the truth – the whole truth, all the time, even when it is painful.

*  Admit your mistakes – when you blow it, admit it.

*  Give away credit – don’t sing your own praises, sing the praises of others.

*  Willingly offer help – when you see a need, offer your assistance.

*  Listen – as James 1:19 puts it, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak…”  People trust those who have their best interest at heart.  Nothing demonstrates that better than sincerely listening to others.

*  Value others – demonstrate that value by showing appreciation to them both publicly and privately

*  Tell the WHY as well as the WHAT – when people understand WHY you are taking a certain action, they begin to see your heart and values.  This helps them to trust who you are.

Trust is so important.  Many take it for granted and assume it will just happen.  Every action, every word, every reaction is either building or eroding trust.  Let’s work hard to exhibit these traits this week.

What have I missed?  Do you have other practices that build trust?  Leave a comment and share it with our community!

Ten Effective Ways To Show Appreciation To Your Volunteers


Leading a volunteer ministry can be difficult.  Volunteers sacrifice their time away from their families, their jobs, and their other responsibilities and interests.  They are not required to stick with you or your kids ministry, so you want to make sure that you are proactive in showing them your appreciation.

Here are ten effective ways you can show appreciation to your volunteers:

1.  Say it publicly
Every opportunity you have: in a meeting, in front of the kids, in front of the church, in whatever public setting you are in – brag on your team.  Thank them for their tireless efforts in reaching kids for the Kingdom.

2.  Say it privately
Take your volunteers to lunch periodically (keep a list and work down the list in a strategic way).  Tell them honestly and clearly what they mean to you and the kids ministry.  Be specific.

3.  Say it creatively
Leave them a short note on the counter in their classroom or area of ministry with a creative twist.  Example:  a $5 Starbucks gift card with a note that says “Thanks A Latte!”  (For lots of creative ideas like this, check out this post)

4.  Say it sincerely
Sit down and write them a card that details the reasons why they, individually, are invaluable to the team.  Cite a specific instance you have witnessed recently of how they have made an impact in the life of a kid.

5.  Say it digitally
Send them an unexpected text, email, or Facebook message that says, “Just wanted you to know I am thankful to have you on our Kids Ministry team!”

6.  Celebrate their birthday
Send them a card, show up at their door with a “Happy Birthday” singing flash mob, whatever!  People love to be honored on their special day!

7.  Equip them
Buy them a book or resource that you know will make them better at their ministry position.  Write a note in the front cover to let them know you appreciate their commitment to growth.

8.  Feed them
Invite the team over to your house for a BBQ.  Make it a fun game night.  Don’t have a “meeting” or have an “agenda.”  Make your agenda celebrating the team and showing your love and appreciation.

9.  Photograph them
Take a picture of them serving in their area of ministry.  Print it and write a note on the back.  You could even have some of the kids in their class/ministry sign the back.

10.  Pray for them
Spend time praying for them.  Find out their spiritual needs and bring those before the Father.  Then, send a quick text or a note that says, “Just wanted you to know that I prayed for you today.  Thanking our Heavenly Father for sending you to our Kids Ministry Team.”

What about you?  What are some effective ways you have used to show appreciation for your volunteers?  Share some of your ideas in the comments section.  You will help a lot of folks in the Kidmin Community.

Reach Out And Touch Someone

There is power in TOUCH.  We are born with the need to be touched.  Studies show that if we are not cuddled as babies or children, we do not develop as well.

One author says, “Touch is a sense with unique functions and qualities … Touch affects the whole organism.”  She says, “Touch is ten times stronger than verbal or emotional contact, and it affects nearly everything we do.  No other sense can affect you like touch.”

I’ve seen bumper stickers that ask, “Did you hug your tree today?”  I’d like to see a bumper sticker which reminds us to hug kids more than we would a tree.  Trees don’t respond the way people do.

Our sense of self is related to our sense of touch; with how we feel.  We stroke our forearms; we run our fingers through our hair to relieve stress.  And kids need more assurance that they are loved.

Now, obviously we must be wise in the way we go about this.  APPROPRIATE TOUCHING consists of:

  • touch on the shoulder when you talk to them
  • pat on the head
  • high fives
  • side hugs
  • fist bump

I challenge you to try to physically touch every child in your class or Children’s Ministry this coming week.  You will be surprised how well they respond.

Stop Being So Defensive!

Defensiveness is an issue that causes a lot of harm in mentoring relationships – or any relationship for that matter.  When we are challenged, confronted, or questioned as Kidmin leaders – sadly we often respond with a knee-jerk, reflex response that does more harm than good.

For years, my insecurity caused me to struggle with being defensive.  Under the hurt feelings and protests is a deep sense that I’m not adequate, personally or professionally—or both.  No one is above correction, and we can all learn to handle it with grace.  Sometimes, I do a pretty good job of controlling my outward appearance when someone criticizes me, but I’m dying inside.  When this happens with my pastor, his perception kicks in.  He tells me, “You’re doing a great job in controlling the tone of your voice and looking relaxed while you’re still being defensive.”

He nailed me.  When I bristle from correction, I need to look into my heart to see what I’m trusting in.  I can then choose to thank God for his love and grace, and I can accept the correction as a gift instead of a threat.

Here’s the principle: When your actions are corrected, it doesn’t mean your character is being questioned.  Chill out and learn from the challenge instead of defending yourself to the death!

MOMENTUM KILLERS

We all love those moments in ministry when everything seems to be clicking.  The team is rocking, the place is growing, the numbers are climbing, and the morale is as high as its every been.  It’s what many leaders call “The Big MO” – a.k.a. MOMENTUM!

Momentum in ministry should NEVER be taken for granted.  You never know how long it will last.  You want to make the most of it and capitalize on it.  If you aren’t careful, you might lose it.  Here’s a quick hit list of some of the biggest MOMENTUM KILLERS.

PRIDE – There is nothing worse than you starting to believe that the reason for the momentum is YOU.  Although it’s true great momentum can happen when a team is being led by a strong leader, there is not a single leader alive who can bring about momentum for an organization ALONE!  Give God the praise!  Give your team the credit!

CONFLICT AMONG TEAM MEMBERS – With momentum comes growth.  When an organization grows, it’s systems can become stressed and strained as they are pushed to new limits.  This tension can sometimes lead to conflict.  Remember to keep the finger on the pulse of your leaders.  When you sense tension or conflict, remember to resolve it biblically (Matthew 18:15-17).  Do not allow feelings to fester.

LAZINESS – Things come easier when you have momentum.  It’s easy to lay back and let the momentum do the work.  We all have a tendency when things are going great to spend a little less time in planning, vision casting, and organization.  Don’t let it happen!  It will bust your momentum!

SIN IN THE CAMP – Momentum brings growth.  Growth brings more work.  Things get busy and it is easy for our personal prayer and spiritual time to fall to the wayside.  When you allow that to happen, you open the door for temptation.  Nothing will kill momentum like sin in the lives of the leadership team.  Don’t wait until you notice the problem – prevent it.  Make prayer and The Word a #1 non-negotiable priority in your life.

Momentum is a wonderful thing.  It is a precious gift from God.  Don’t squander it.  Be aware of these momentum busters – and guard it safely!

What about you?  Are you aware of other MOMENTUM KILLERS that I didn’t list?  Please share those in the comments section so that the other readers can benefit!

The Power Of Praise

As a Kids Ministry Leader, you are in the business of being a PEOPLE BUILDER.  Your goal is to help others reach their full potential of who God wants them to be.

Every person we meet, we either give life to or we take life from.  You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?  There are people who encourage you and when you are done being with them you feel built up.  Then, there are others who you feel torn down by.

Successful leaders are people who have mastered the art of building others up. There are few ways to build others up that are more effective than PRAISING THEM.

There is power in praising people!  Something begins to happen in them, in you, and in your relationship when you praise someone.

Praise Your Kids! – Make a point to speak life into the kids in your ministry.  Don’t allow yourself to speak negativity into their lives.  They hear that enough at school, on the playground, and sometimes even at home.

Even when you are correcting their behavior – avoid saying, “This behavior is ridiculous.  Can’t you just do the right thing?”  Instead, say things like, “You are such an amazing kid.  I see so much potential in you to do great things for God.  These choices you are making are not helping you become all that God has planned for you.  How can we change these choices so that they better reflect the amazing kid that you really are?”

Praise Your Volunteers! – Look for things your volunteers are doing well and speak up!  Tell them how much you appreciate their effort and sacrifice to help build the Kingdom of God.  Make a point to send a thank you note to at least five people every week (that’s ONE note per day in the office).  You can do it!  It will make such a difference.

Praise God! – In your daily prayer, praise God for what He is doing in your ministry.   Rather than just come to Him with a list of needs for your ministry, praise Him for what He has already done!

Praising others is important and comes with some amazing benefits – not only for them, but for you.  When you praise others…

1)  Your relationships grow –  Life is all about relationships.  When you praise others, it deepens their appreciation for you and serves to build your relationship with them.

2)  Your leadership and influence grow – Who has a greater leadership and influence capacity in your own life:  the one who tears you down or the one who builds you up?  It works the same for those you lead.  Build them up, and your influence with them will grow.

3)  Team loyalty grows –  When the volunteers on your team are appreciated and praised, they become fiercely loyal.  When people know that you care for them, love them, and appreciate them – they will go to great lengths for you!

So, take a moment today – praise someone!  Send a note, send a text, make a call.  Praise your team!  Praise your kids!  Praise God!  They all deserve it!!!