Tuesday, December 31, 2013

For you who wait to the last minute...

For most of my adult life I have been a attending children’s ministry conferences. Some have accused me of being a conference junkie. That’s okay with me, I’m sure there are worst things that I have also been called. The thing about conferences that I love is that it’s one of the best places on earth for folks to ask questions and receive answers. If you know me at all you know I love questions! At 99.9% of the conferences I’ve attended somewhere during the event there are 3 questions I’m always asked. Number one is how do you recruit volunteers, the other is how do you know when it’s time to leave? The other is “ We are a church of this size, we have this many kids, what should our budget be?” Sound familiar? Maybe you have asked me one of these. I will let my book VOLUNTEERS THAT STICK answer the first one, my resource STAY OR GO can answer the second and the third question I’ll try to answer In this article.

The simple answer is that there is no secret formula. You see budgets mean different things to different folks. Let’s get on the same page and turn to the word, Luke 14:28 tells us this “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? You see planing must always go before action. A budget without a plan is just a pile of money. The truth is budgets should not be based on church size alone. Budgets are not law just because something made the budget doesn’t mean you can spend it. Budgets are more of a spending guide if the money is there. But not just a random guide or guess but an estimate of the costs of the plan of action based on what you want to see God do in your ministry this coming year.

This is a process that I start in July of each year. I begin to ask the Lord what He wants for the children and families of the church I serve. I start with prayer and as key leaders in my ministry to do the same then it’s time to dream in God. I also brain storm with my team what they sense God wants to do next year. Brain storming is a wonderful tool but at the end of the day you have to hear from God for where He wants your ministry. As the leader of our Next Generation Ministries I write out what I believe we should be aiming for as a team. I share this with my team and give them the areas I feel are “thus seethe the Lord” (these are not up for negotiation) the rest of my ideals I ask them to come up with a plan to pull this off. Then I ask them to come up with a plan to pull this off. Here is the formula I teach them to use for this.

It all begins with the end result. At the end of next year what do we believe Jesus wants to do in the hearts and lives of the children and families next year. To effectively do this we have to start with the end in mind and look at trends and percentages presently as well as historically that are a realistic goal for growth. Numerically what are you planning for? Spiritually what are you believing for? How will you achieve these? This is your plan it has to go before anything else. Another important question is how will you evaluate and examine where you are throughout the year?

What will a win look like? If you don’t know this how will you recognize it? Something I learned years ago that changed my life is that If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do what you have never done before. Same action brings same results. In other words if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time.

I divide my plan of action into four areas of focus. Everything I plan has to come under one of these four. First is Spiritual Development and Program. Second is Student Care and Follow Up. (Why should Jesus give you more kids if you can’t take care of the ones you already have?) Third is Student Leadership Development. The best way I know how to disciple is train children and students to be leaders and last but not least is Adult Leadership Development. Every thing I do or plan has to fit here. How much we do in each area has to do with where we are as a ministry. You have to identify what the needs of your ministry are in each of these areas. At different times you’ll be at different places in each of these areas. To get the process started I go by my churches annual cycle. If your church doesn’t have an annual cycle this is something you should sit down and develop as a team here’s how our cycle runs. We start with New Years series at the first of the year and plan to get our community talking about what’s happening at our church. Next is Super Bowl. It’s become a national holiday so we use it to rally leverage.

The next event on the calendar is Valentines and we talk about Love. After that comes Spring Break I use this time for outreach and build community and do service. A biggie with us is Easter. We do a community service at a local college and relocate our church. I use several special guest in almost every age group. Next is Graduation/year end stuff. Then comes Worker Recruitment and Worker Appreciation now comes Summer. We use the summer to prepare for the fall administratively we also do a VBS alternative plus Camps special Activities and Service projects. Our next big season is the fall with our Promotion Weekend and the Beginning of school. Football is huge here in the south. Then comes Halloween and Christmas. At Christmas we do a big Children’s Choir program plus some special guest events. We also do a big Gift Wrap Outreach to our city. After we come up with our plans around these events using the four areas of focus I sit down with my key leaders and deconflict the plan with other departments within our Next Generation Ministries. What are you looking for?
I watch for too many activities that hit families out of the same pay periods. I also
watch for too many people raising funds at the same time. It’s the same pond and you can’t drain it dry. I also look for ways to piggy-back on what others are doing to maximize the emphasis within the community and the congregation. I think it’s also important to look at you plans in the light of your family. It’s amazing to me when a family church allows for family time I wish more did! I use the early fall to price my plan.
What activities are funded? What activities and programs will the church be reimbursed? What’s raised? What will be given away? Remember our scripture above count the cost. This is where you submit your plan and the price of your plan to the budget folks to get it approved. What if we can’t afford this plan? This is why I do this in early fall so I have time to go back to the drawing board and make the necessary cuts for the big picture. I start by adjusting my goals or what I want to achieve that year. Once the goals are adjusted so is the plan. This action is what adjusts the costs of the plan.

Now I have goals. I have a plan to meet the goals and I’ve been assigned the necessary budget to make that plan reality all before Christmas. Now it’s time to enjoy the holidays and finishing the old plan and budget strong. How you end one thing sets the stage for how you’ll start the next one.

Once the new year begins work your plan and add feet to it. Just because you have your plan and your budget doesn’t mean you are on easy street. It is your job to 
use your faith and trust God for his blessings and provision for your plan. As you go through your church cycle and walk out your plan make sure you evaluate and make adjustments as you walk it out! Cll a time out to make adjustments have a halftime. If your plan is not working or if the funds are not there due to circumstances beyond your control make the necessary adjustment and be the leader God has called you to be. Don’t develop a us verse them attitude. Realize God is in control what’s best for the entire organization is also what’s best for your department as well as for you individual. Before you know it it will be time to repeat the process!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Take some time to evaluate...

Every minister wants their ministry to grow. I believe God wants your ministry to grow as well. In order for our ministries to grow we must be willing to grow in our own leadership abilities. Individual growth always comes before corporate growth. The number one key to growth as a leader is evaluation. Change will never take place without constant evaluation. If you don’t identify ways that you can grow as a leader you’ll never reach your next level. Let’s look at some areas we should evaluate on a regular basis but especially before we enter the New Year. 
Area number one: How’s your attitude? Here are some questions I ask myself on a regular basis. Do I have the heart of a servant? How have I made my Pastor look good this year? Have I made my Pastor’s life easier this year? Am I an asset or a liability to my Pastor? Am I a team player? What is my attitude about others around me? Am I grumbling and complaining? Am I enjoying the trip? Do I have a heart after God? Am I thinking about me and my wants too much? 

The second area to evaluate is your priorities. Could you make a list of the top ten priorities for your life and ministry right this moment? If you don’t have priorities you can’t keep them. Proverbs 28:2 says “When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a man of understanding and knowledge maintains order.” It’s one thing to know your priorities, it’s another thing all together to live according to those priorities. Looking back at 2013 how have you done about keeping your priorities in order? Would your spouse's answer be the same as yours?

The third area to evaluate is time management. In other words ask yourself; how am I spending my time? Am I spending time daily with the Lord? Is my family suffering while my ministry is flourishing? Am I making time for my personal growth and development? Are you identifying the time robbers in your life? Once you identify the areas that need improvement, you must come up with a plan to implement the needed changes. It’s your time, act like it! Looking back at 2013 were you a time saver or a time waster? What steps will you take to make 2014 better?

The fourth area I evaluate on a regular basis is my performance. Am I being a team builder or a one-person show? What am I doing that someone else can do? Have I communicated clearly to all my workers what they are to do? Speaking of communication: am I a clear and skillful communicator? Am I skilled at solving problems? Can I be relied on to complete assignments and keep commitments? If you had to rate your level of leadership on a scale of 1 to 10 what would it be? Are you meeting the needs of the children and families of your church? It’s up to you to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses on a regular basis. Before you make new goals for 2014 examine how you did in 2013  If you’ll make personal evaluation a habit in your life in 2014 you’ll grow as a leader besides that you'll have the best year of your life as a leader.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Technology has come a long way!

When I first started in ministry my church didn't own a copier (they hadn't been invented yet), instead we had a mimeograph machine and an offset press. I didn't have a P.A. system in children's church, I just used a record player with a mic jack that had an extension speaker in the lid. I had to use individual press on letters, a light table, clipart with rubber cement and an exact knife to make a poster. All my fliers looked like ransom letters. We got a photo copier, a P.A. a cassette player, an overhead projector and I thought "Man I am set for life." A few years latter I got my first computer a commador 64 and I thought these is all the computer I'll ever need. By the time I replaced my filmstrip projector with a video projector I really thought it can't get any better than this even though I had to darken all the windows with trash bags and turn out every single light just so kids could see the faint image I was showing. In the almost 4 decades I've been ministering to kids I've seen a lot of technology come and go. It hard to imagine that I carry around a phone in my pocket that takes pictures better than any camera I've ever owned, it get's instant messages, emails, and is connected to the world wide web. I didn't see this coming and also how much I would rely on it to do the work of the ministry. Technology has come a long way.

Currently I use a laptop, an iPad Air and an iPad Mini, an iPhone, the cloud, a boom headset and I carry around a hot spot just so I can keep it all connected. To say all this technology has changed my life would be an understatement. Because of technology I live in Tennessee and serve as the Executive Pastor at a church in Oklahoma. I am presently coaching 45 Children's and Family Pastors from 26 different states through my infuse coaching and mentoring program. In January I will minister in 5 different states live and in person. I didn't see this coming back in the day when it was me, 7 kids and that P.A -record player. A couple of weeks ago because of this amazing technology I got to do something I could have only dreamed of before now, I had the privilege of ministering to 8 Missionary couples who work with kids from all over Europe. We were all in different places (Spain, Romania, Ireland, Holland, just to name a few) and because of web conferencing I got to view each one all at the same time. It was morning for some and bedtime for others but to me It was a miracle, a dream come true all because of the miracle of technology and wonderful day Jesus has allowed me to live in. After that experience it got me thinking about the possibilities around me. I am so excited about the days ahead and how I can use this amazing technology God has given us to be difference makers at home, across this country and around the world. It's crazy to me that I can minister to others around the world and not even have to board a plane.

If I can help you in 2014, please let me know. Because of technology Jim Wideman Ministries can now help you with resources, theClub, infuse coaching and mentoring, consulting and by phone and web conferencing. Check it all out here at www.jimwideman.com. And while you're looking at all the ways I can help your ministry through technology feel free to download my smartphone and iPad app as well. It just gets me thinking, what in the world is next?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Christmas

What a year 2013 has been.  Catch up with me and my family at www.WidemanNews.com

Checkout the all new jimwideman.com plus take part in our big day after Christmas Sale. All day on December 26 get 50% off any of my books, CD's and even my conference and coaching calls.
When you use the code FIFTY. Happy Christmas from my family to yours!

Friday, December 20, 2013

We said no to Ho Ho Ho!

Back in November of 1978, Julie and I began our lives together. It was a wonderful day, all the the kids in our children’s church were so excited about attending our wedding. I’ll never forget one little fellow name Zack asked us if he could go on our “Moon ride” with us. I told him he couldn’t and one day he would have his own “Moon ride.” (He thought when his parents said we were going on a honeymoon they said we were going on a moon ride) I had no idea all of the work involved in the two becoming one. You see although Julie and I both loved Jesus, our families, rock and roll and each other we soon found out we has come from two completely different parenting styles. As we began to talk about all of our differences the big desire of our hearts was to train our children based on God’s Word more than our own family and cultural traditions.
A couple of years ago I wrote an article here on my blog and in K! on “Developing A Biblical Word View in your Family” In that article I wrote:

“Just like the church needs a Biblical vision for reaching children so does the family. Have you ever asked God for what He wants for your family? I realized that God designed the family to put His word into future generations. If you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time. So if God gives us the desires of your hear what is your desire and goals for your children? For me I wanted our family to be close. I wanted them to love the Lord with all their heart and love the word. In fact I wanted them to love the Bible so much that it was what they based every choice in their life on. “

Julie and I believed the Bible was and still is the benchmark of how we should view the world and how we live. The Bible tells us we are in the world but we are not of the world. The Bible also tells us to come out of the world and be separate yet we are told to be salt and light to the world. Over the years I have studied families and the different way they parent. I’ve also studied churches and the different way they do church. To me the families and churches who have the greatest success are the ones who have teamed together to join their forces to develop in individuals a biblical view of how to live 24/7.  I have had the wonderful honor of raising two wonderful daughters. They are both successful not only in business but also in their spiritual walk.  My girls are as different as night and day, if I had not been in the delivery room with both of them I would not believe they were kin. I have had to discipline them differently, I have to communicate and instruct them differently. But when it comes down to making choices and how to live it was the same for them as it was for their mother and I and that was what does the Bible say?

There are lots of voices that speak into our lives that challenge a biblical world view. As a parent and as a pastor I cannot block out every voice that speaks to my family and to my congregation nor should I but I have spent my life pointing out that God’s word contains truth and the truth of the Word is what will set us free. God’s word is the filter we should view the world through! Years ago I learned that all a stronghold is believing wrong information. When we take captive every thought and make it obedient to the word of God it produces right thinking that creates right actions. Our actions come from our thinking that’s why we have to be intentional about the voices we listen to and the actions we do, regardless of our age. When my children were small we limited the voices and the “traditions we planted in our children.” Just because a movie or TV show was animated or geared for children didn’t mean we allowed our children to feed on it.”

This led us to the big question what were we going to do about mythical traditions?
Julie and I both grew up in Christian households. Both of our families attended church on a regular basis. Our parents also told us both about the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. We also both grew up watching all the disney “fairytale movies and reading traditional children’s books. When Julie and I found out that our parents were really “Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the tooth fairy it affected us differently. Julie just kind of went along as long as her parents wanted to play the game. I felt betrayed. It also made me question was Jesus real too or did they make Him up too?
One thing Julie and I knew was we wanted to do whatever we could to help our kids know the difference between fiction and truth.

We decided to do something that might not have been popular but we felt it was what was right for us as a family. We chose to not tell them there was a tooth fairy, Daddy bought their teeth. Oh we still to this day give our kids Easter Baskets but they don’t come from Peter cottontail hopping down the bunny trail they come from Mom and Dad.
But the most controversial decision we ever made was to say say no to Ho Ho Ho!
We never told our girls their Christmas presents came from the north pole or that they where made by elves. We told them the stories as stories not as truth. The truth was their presents came from Mom and Dad with love bought with money Father God provided to us because He loves His kids and wants us to love ours. We told our children that Father God started the whole gift giving tradition by giving the first Christmas present His one and only son. I don’t think our girls could have been more excited about Christmas than they were growing up. They went to bed wondering what Mom and Dad were going to give them in the same way other kids were excited about presents from Santa. The funny thing that would happen was when adults would ask Yancy what Santa was going to bring her she would answer nothing. Those adults would look at use like we were the worst parents in the world. I’ll be honest with you at first I was guilty of being somewhat of a Santa basher. Some of you might have heard a song I wrote for an early Puppet Trax tape that said “Santa Claus never died for anybody’s sin and the Easter Bunny never rose again.” I remember walking through the mall around Christmas time and saw a mall Santa. I remember saying something about there he is the God of this world and I remember Yancy as a very little girl saying Dad it’s just a man in a suit like your gorilla suits. After that I just took a chill pill I had done what we wanted to do we had taught our girls the difference between truth and fantasy.

My kids loved Disney. They were big Snow White fans, Big Little Mermaid fans. They loved puppets all my full bodied costumes and clowns. They even have had their picture made with Santa. But more than anything my girls love Jesus. They love their parents and are very close to us. Although we are not perfect parents we have never told them a half truth, a white lie or fantasy story as a true story.

Because of this my children believed me about Jesus   When I told them about the hurt and pain from living contrary to God’s word they believed me, didn’t need to experience the pain themselves they learned from my mistakes and believed me, because I’ve always told them the truth. I learned when I first started working with kids  in church to always keep your promises to them. I never made a promise in children’s church that I couldn’t keep, if I did that at church I needed to do that at home. 

I have no regrets for telling my kids the truth. They still look forward to Christmas and seeing what they are going to get from Mom and Dad but greater than that they know the reason for the season that God’s son became a man and dwelt among us!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Still not convinced? Here's more about infuse

Infuse has propelled me to be a better follower of Christ, strengthened my relationship with my wife, molded me into being a better father and leader for the next generation.

Kendall H.
Tulsa, OK

Infuse is a unique and life-changing experience for anyone in Kids, Student, or Family Ministry. Being a part of Infuse gave me confidence to lead the way that God has called me to. I gained practical knowledge that has helped me manage my time effectively, lead my staff and volunteers with love and care, and create goals and follow through on them with an achievable plan. I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking to develop their skills and grow their ministry. 

Sara Richards
Minneapolis, MN

Infuse is one of the best things I’ve done in kidmin.  Nowhere else can you get individualized attention from a master of the trade as well as networking with others who are just like you.  As a  children’s pastor who’s felt completely isolated before this is the best way not to feel alone and bring your ministry to the next level.
David R
Montgomery, AL

for more information and to download an application for the March 2014 or September 2014 session click here.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Is Infuse worth it? You bet cha!

Infuse is a great mentoring experience for anyone who is just beginning in ministry or has been in ministry ten years plus.  Jim takes the time to individually work with you and to grow you as a leader. He is a man who loves the Lord with all is heart.  You will know it the moment you first encounter him.  He is authentic and practical in helping you recognize where you are as a leader.  By putting in the work, you will grow in time management, in your relationships with others, in evaluations, in accountability, and much, much, more.  He has helped guide me through a difficult situation in ministry by giving me advice and encouragement along the way. 

God has gifted him in helping to lead me to a higher level of leadership.  I'm so thankful that God has placed Jim in my life as a mentor and a coach.  The time you spend is invaluable.  You will have friendships and connections with others that will last a lifetime.  Infuse is the single best thing I have invested in to grow as a leader.

Jason Underhill
Nashville, TN

I entered Infuse in my 3rd year of being a kids’ pastor and I was clueless. Bro Jim took my cluelessness and added his wisdom and his vision from his lifetime of experience. Infuse is the quickest and most efficient way to gain leadership skills and grow your ministry. Bro Jim will inspire you, challenge you, pray for you and empower you to be the leader God made you to be. Join Infuse and watch how God uses Bro Jim to change your life. 

Jeremy M.
Winchester, VA

Being coached in Infuse helped me in every facet of life. Not only am I better children's pastor, but a better dad, husband and Christ follower. Infuse was also a catalyst for me to improve my physical health. 

The principles I learned and implemented from Brother Jim helped me to go from being on staff at a church of less than 200 to being on staff at a church of over 5000. I couldn't have made that transition without the things I learned in Infuse.

Everyone needs a coach. I strongly suggest you consider Brother Jim and the Infuse program to help you go to the next level. 

Jason Martin
Applevalley, MN

for more information and to download an application for the March 2014 or September 2014 session click here.