Is Your Children’s Ministry Working?

October 31, 2008

Assess ministry effectiveness using a structured approach

We recently had a conversation with a church (that I won’t name) from a state (that I won’t name), but maybe others can benefit from their story. For at least the last six months, this church has been wrestling with ministry for their young people. There was talk about stopping LOGOS because it just didn’t seem to be working. LOGOS had been around a long time in their church, but now a new pastor and some church volunteers were talking about changing the way Wednesday night “looked” and “getting rid of” LOGOS altogether. There were struggles getting volunteers, so this seemed to be the solution to the problem.

A lay leader in the church contacted us for help and we suggested that they go through the Children’s Ministry Effectiveness Model and see what resulted. The beauty of this evaluation tool is that it looks at the whole picture, not just LOGOS. The model addresses effective children’s ministry in comprehensive terms. So, by using this model it’s quite possible their Wednesday night could “look” very different than what they’ve been used to experiencing as a LOGOS church, but the foundations of effective ministry would still be in place. There would be lots of opportunities to build relationships between the children/youth and mature Christian adults, the use of the call process to engage the adults in the ministry, and a structure that offers a balanced approach in order to nurture the body, mind, and spirit offering practice as well as learning of the faith. And they’d still be “doing LOGOS”, in the sense that they have all of the key effectiveness components listed.

So they went through the process, but their pastor didn’t participate. Their conclusion? Wednesday night was going fine…was effective…but other areas needing “shoring up.”  However, they are still struggling and having trouble and their situation points to three areas that we could all learn from:

The clergy’s support is vital for sustainability. This doesn’t mean that the pastor has to teach all of the Bible study classes. It means that the pastor is verbally (sermons and everyday conversations) and physically (present in some way) supportive of the children’s ministry in the church.

Ongoing training for church staff and particularly for lay volunteers is also vital for sustainability. There needs to be a depth of understanding and support for the “big picture” of the ministry and what is necessary for making an impact on lives (especially young lives). If we’re not doing what it takes to be impactful, we’re just offering an activity that might be wholesome, but is not nurturing a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. There’s a difference!

Calling the right people to the right position according to the God given gifts is essential.  This is what builds up the body of Christ and allows healthy Christian relationships to flourish.  This is a very specific process that takes a great deal of intentionality.

And it’s not just LOGOS that thinks this….you do too! The Barna Research Group did a study by surveying you! Churches that sustain the ministry over the long term have clergy that support LOGOS and send people to our training events.

The only way to know if your children’s ministry is working is to take the time to do regular in-depth evaluations around key factors such as its purposefulness, practicality and impact.  So what are you doing to make sure your Children’s Ministry is working?

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Building Young Disciples Starts at Home

October 20, 2008

Disciple-making doesn’t just happen at church…it starts at home with parents

This week, our second edition of the family newsletter Heartfelt was posted to our website.  This newsletter has a wealth of information for parents and families. However, I want to point you to one of those key elements and why it can be right for you.  Each month there is a section entitled, “Family ‘round the Table“, that gives a family all they need for a great family night from dinner to devotions. We developed this resource because we believe that one of the most important things we can do as a family is to be present with one another, focusing on each other and enjoying one another without distractions.

So, as if it is not enough that we believe in families so strongly here at LOGOS, while surfing the internet recently, I came across this testimony for family night from a person in Indiana on her blog, http://tinyurl.com/4x3q3y.  In summary, here is what Kem Meyer of Granger Community Church says about family night:

“We started family night in August. It was one of the steps I took to be intentional in this. It started as an act of discipline…you know the drill…put first things first because it’s the right thing to do. I didn’t anticipate how much fun it would be and how much it would bond our family together.

The benefits of our family night:

– building a family identity
– navigating change together

– fostering relationships
– teaching values & practical skills
– solving problems
– modeling interpersonal communication
– making memories

We’re just getting started, but I can tell you this is a Meyer family tradition that’s going to stick around for a long, long time.”

Our desire is that you will make family night a lasting tradition in your home too. As we partner together to build young disciples, we can see that families both at home and at church – working together – can be a powerful force on behalf of children. For those of you who would like information on how to create your own weekly family night, we have created LOGOS@Home, a resource for families that provides 52 unique family sessions with all the trimmings.

Give it a try and see what happens in your family.


Children’s Sabbath: Another Voice for Our Children

October 16, 2008

In the midst of so many life challenges, we must sustain a commitment to children

We are living in an ever-increasingly complex society—one that makes growing up, no matter where you live in this world, quite tough. Families are struggling to make ends meet, worried about the earth’s environment as well as the pollution of the airwaves and thus what children hear and see and come to value. They are worried about having decent, affordable medical care for their children, and about their general safety as well. Parents are troubled about our education system and about whether schools are truly preparing children for the future. Churches are frustrated that while the majority of Americans report a faith in God, there is a disturbing lack of families committed to worship and religious education.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.” Do we really value the children in our midst? Do we really believe that a relationship with God through Jesus Christ is the most important thing in life—and do we value this belief for our children?

Are you worrying about the moral and spiritual growth of our children? What will you do about it?

This weekend [October 17-19, 2008] has been set aside to celebrate Children’s Sabbath. Here is a great opportunity to raise awareness for all of the concerns we have for our children, including nurturing their faith. The Children’s Defense Fund describes this event:

“The Children’s Sabbath is an opportunity to affirm what we already do and at the same time deepen our understanding both of God’s call and the current crises facing children so that we may more fully, persistently, effectively, and faithfully live out that calling not only on the Children’s Sabbath weekend but throughout the year. There is an extraordinary power in participating in the Children’s Sabbath, knowing that all across the country, in congregations of many different faiths; we are united in our concern for children and in our commitment to respond.”

Let’s encourage one another to find a Children’s Sabbath celebration this weekend and support it with our attendance. Let’s invite our friends and neighbors to join us—along with their children—in worship as we pray for our children, their future, and their faith.


Has the Slow Fade of Your Ministry Caused an Emergency?

October 9, 2008

We must not let our churches and ministries just fade away…

Two things occurred over the weekend that spoke to me about the great importance of our ministry with children. First, I went to see the movie Fireproof with my wife and daughter.  A song that is used in the movie is “Slow Fade” by Casting Crowns.  Some of the lyrics to this song are:

People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

How true this is!  It is through a slow process that things fall apart. I would add to these lyrics that,  “Churches never crumble in a day” either.  We go about our daily ministry week by week doing the same thing over and over and building up our ministry routine. People drift away slowly one by one, especially young people, until one day we realize there are no new people in our midst and there are no young people. It wasn’t intentional, like the marriage in the movie, it just happened over time because of a lack of attentiveness. The church circle gets smaller and smaller and closes in around those who are already there.

That leads me to the second thing that occurred. I went with my family to a Leeland concert at a nearby church. Leeland also has a song that points to the problem of the slow fade we seem to be experiencing. It is entitled, “Tears of the Saints”. The lyrics in this song point to the absolute need for us to do something about the slow fade. Leeland sings:

There are schools full of hatred
Even churches have forsaken
Love and mercy
May we see this generation
In its state of desperation
For Your glory
This is an emergency.

It is an emergency indeed. Everywhere we look, the slow fade has caused marriages, families and churches to be in a state of desperation. However, we can be the rescue squad in this emergency by offering Christ-centered, holistic relationships in a balanced ministry. If we are willing to be the church family, the way God designed it to be, each of us welcoming and sharing gifts in ministry to and with one another so that we grow up together in the faith. Are we willing to reach out our hands to all ages and welcome them with the Good News that Christ has for them?

We don’t have to be experiencing the slow fade of desperation…we can be living the fast growth that comes from purpose and inspiration. The choice is ours.


Barna Study Provides Insight into LOGOS

October 1, 2008

LOGOS finds out how the ministry is viewed in the marketplace

Barna Reasearch Group logo

Earlier this year, The LOGOS Ministry Board of Directors engaged the Barna Research Group to conduct an independent market research study of churches regarding their perceptions and understanding of LOGOS and the issues surrounding ministry to children and youth. In the last week, the Board and staff have begun to review the findings and conclusions resulting from the study. As you might imagine, the report is filled with information and statistics about what we do well, where we could improve, the perceptions others have about us, and potential directions for our future.

In the coming months, we will be taking an intense look at how the findings from this study will impact our ministry in the future. However, there were two statistics that came out that I would like to share with you now to encourage you in your ministry to young people.

  1. Young people’s attendance at their local LOGOS ministry averages about 13% higher than participation in other midweek ministry programs. In addition, 91% of the enrolled young people attend their midweek LOGOS ministry weekly.
  2. Congregational adult participation is 4 times higher in the LOGOS ministry than in other midweek offerings. This means that young people have four times as many adult points of connection for building intergenerational relationships within a LOGOS church.

There is a wealth of information in the report and, from time to time, I am sure we will be sharing the ways in which The LOGOS Ministry is working to improve based on this information. I just wanted to share these two items now to demonstrate some of the positive outcomes that result from a LOGOS ministry in the local church today.