CommanderBill.net News…

Over the weekend, I will be moving the blog to a new location. The new address will by blogcommanderbill.net. This move will allow me more flexibility with the blog.

If all goes well, then it will be seamless to you. But as we all know, nothing is guaranteed.

Thank you for your patience during this time.

The Halloween Debate

In several children’s ministry blogs and sites, the discussion about Halloween is in the forefront. There are a couple of reasons for that, one is because it helps drive traffic to the site and isn’t that what we all want, more traffic to our sites?

I don’t want to initiate a debate, and please do not comment on how you handle the Halloween debate. Yes, I have my view and I’ll be glad to share if asked but I want to just give you one thing to think about this weekend as we approach October 31st…

No matter what our view of the day and activities may be, the way we interact with people about Halloween will either draw them to Jesus, or drive them away. Which will you be doing?

Think to Yourself – It’s All About ME!

I know what you’re thinking…what do you mean it’s all about me? Isn’t it all about Jesus? NO!

Before you send me that nasty e-mail, let me explain. How you enter your Awana club (or ministry) to minister to children has a BIG impact on whether or not the children see Jesus.

Are you stressed from your day? Are you overly focused on logistics for the night? Do you have that passion to reach the children for Jesus?

If you are not in the right frame of mind, or if you have not prepared properly, it will impact the children and others around you, and maybe not in a positive way, for Jesus.

When we are in the right frame of mind, and right with God, then the children will see Jesus in us. Isn’t that the goal, to show them Jesus?

So when you are preparing to minister to the children, take a moment to spend time with God and ask Him to prepare your heart, to get you in a position for the children to see Him as you minister to them.

So it is all about YOU! Make sure people see Jesus in YOU!

What if David & Goliath worked together?

We all probably know the story how a small, young David killed the large, powerful Goliath. We look at this from the competitive aspect of the story. The good guys vs the bad guys, which is how it was then, but let me throw a spin on this familiar story.

Let’s look at David as the “small/medium” church/club and Goliath as the “large/mega” church/club. Frequently they “battle” each other looking to increase their numbers and grow their ministries. Seldom may they work together. Though they have a common goal, they treat each other as competitors. The “Goliath” may look down upon “David” and wonder what is wrong with them, why aren’t they growing? Likewise, “David” may look up at “Goliath” enviously and wonder why they aren’t being blessed in the same way.

So what would happen if David and Goliath worked together? One reason that I like Awana so much is because it breaks down denominational, and other, barriers among believers/churches. I am in a “David” (small) church and I strongly believe in partnering with other churches in ministry to more effectively reach children for Christ. While you may think that requires us to partner with larger churches, that is not always the case. For a summer camp, we currently partner with three other larger churches in the area. We are the “small” church, yet equal, and working together to run a quality camp for kids. I am commited to the camp, no matter how many children our church may have attending. Over the last few years, this has proven to be a valuable partnership. There we joined with Goliath Churches, following their lead.

Other partnerships are with another smaller church for VBS and then this year, we partnered with a larger church and brought Awana to them. “David” is running the club for this “Goliath” (not mega, but larger than us) church!! Not that we’ve slayed them, but partnered with them to reach children and it has been a blessing to both churches.

Now, here is an irony that I love to share. I was a member of a large church (600 – 800 people). One year, the Worship pastor and a few others went to visit a mega church in the area to see how they ran a contemporary service, trying to prepare for the next level for the church. About the same time, I also went to this same church, not to learn, but to assist them in running their first Awana Grand Prix – which they still run today. Now, I really don’t know if the worship team talked to anyone there, or just went and experienced the service, but the point of this is that whether another church is bigger or smaller, we can (and should) work together for the Kingdom and learn from each other. We should not be in competition with each other – except Bible Quizzing and AwanaGames – but rather, working together as able. As we work together, I truly believe that God will do great things through those partnerships. I experience it frequently.

So what do you think? Have you worked with other churches to reach the community? If not, why not, and if you do, how have you done it and how has it worked?

Tuesday Tip: Training – It’s Importance and Mistakes I’ve Made

Serving on the ministry team of Awana Missionaries and running CommanderBill.net, I am involved in several trainings, from Regional Basic Trainings, to individual church trainings, to conferences, to being a consultant to churches and individuals. So you would think that I’ve got it down and run the perfect club, right? Well, I wish that was the case, but it isn’t and that allows me to help illlustrate why training is so important.

As I’ve noted, our club has had quick growth which required us to gather additional volunteers to serve. I held training for the original base group, but as we’ve added a few others, it was “on the job” training and because I was focused on logistics and getting things moving, I did not have the proper time to train them well, and I do not have anyone in place to train them properly. One of the logistical things I need to work out.

So why is it so important to train people properly? In this case, it is recordkeeping and here are a couple of reasons why:

1) The child’s name. Sounds simple enough, but leaders are used to just putting the clubber’s first name on the forms we use. Well, as we exploded with clubbers, we now have two or more children with the same first name and so to just put the child’s first name makes keeping proper records difficult. I am currently training someone to handle the admin stuff and enter the data into the recordkeeping software we use and except for knowing where they are in their handbooks, there would otherwise be no way of knowing which clubber completed what for the night (except checking their handbooks which adds time to inputting data).

2) Recording acheivement. One of the new volunteers was briefly trained on what is required for a child to complete a section, but not how to record it so we would know what was completed. As we enetered records this past week, we noticed that some clubbers had apparantly skipped some sections only to find out (upon checking their handbooks) that the “new” leader had signed the books but had not recorded them on the forms we use for recordkeeping.

These are small training issues and I will be able to correct them quickly and easily, but left unchecked, can cause long term problems and confusion/frustration within the club causing it to be less effective for the Kingdom.

So provide proper training which will allow the club to run smoother and help retain volunteers.

Rock Solid Volunteers

Purchase Rock Solid Volunteers Today Rock-Solid Volunteers: Keep Your Ministry Team Engaged

Larry Fowler, author of Rock-Solid KIDS, has written a companion book on volunteers and how to keep your ministry team engaged. Over the summer, Larry solicited answers to questions from FaceBook users to compliment his research. Based upon Nehemiah, I am sure you will find this book a great resource to help you with your volunteer ministry team.

From Amazon:

Larry Fowler, Director of Program and Training for Awana Clubs International, believes that there are seven biblical principles, drawn from the book of Nehemiah, that will help pastors and leaders more effectively motivate and manage volunteers. Rock-Solid Volunteers looks at the obstacles Nehemiah and his volunteer workers faced – fatigue, weakness, loss of vision, peer pressure and opposition, just for starters!—and examines the seven steps Nehemiah took to lead his volunteers to success. Pastors and ministry leaders will be equipped to attract, inspire and keep talented, committed volunteers, no matter the challenge!

Available form Awana soon!

I was completely clueless :-O

Several years ago I began doing something to try to reach some boys in our Awana club, reaching out to let them know that someone cared. I do not know if it impacted those boys, but the subsequent result still amazes me today. I was completely clueless as to the impact it was having on children and their families.

We frequently hear that ministry is about building relationships, but not many will take that outside the walls of the church. We had a couple boys in the church who had a rough home situation and were seen as “bad kids”. In an attempt to reach out to them, I attended a couple of their baseball games. No agenda, just there to watch and show that their lives outside of the church were important as well.

I began to attend sporting events, martial arts belt tests, school plays, graduations of all kinds, recitals, band performances and whatever else the children were doing. I honestly didn’t think anything about it, I was just there showing the kids I cared. Little did I know the great impact of my simple gesture.

I began to hear of children looking forward to “Commander Bill” being at their game, performance, or whatever. I even surprised some parents and kids by going to watch their play, or band performance (I forget which), on a club night! I could tell you countless stories of how children responded to my being at their event and the relationships that it fostered.

I realize that families are busy with children’s activites so visitation can be difficult. By attending their activities, I am meeting them on their schedule. As the child is involved in the activity, it allows me time to be near the parents, where sometimes there is great interaction and othertimes, not as much. Again, because there is no agenda, just being their for the child to support them, extensive verbal interaction is not always necessary.

Honestly, I am still amazed at the impact this small gesture has on families. The hardest part of all of this is getting a schedule for the child’s activity so I can plan to attend. I try to attend at least one activity for each child/youth under my ministry care and I never promise that I will be there. I generally tell the parent that I am planning on being there so if something changes, the activity is cancelled or they will not be there, they can let me know. I don’t want to promise to be there and then something comes up that causes me not to attend. That could be seen as another male adult breaking a promise. I don’t want to “hurt” a child in that way if I can avoid it.

What are you doing to reach the children/youth in your club (ministry) outside the walls of the church, beyond Sunday morning and club night? Are you doing anything? If no, why not? You will be amazed at the impact it will have and you can be completely clueless, just like me 🙂

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