I apologize for the length of this blog post in advance…

Every summer I end up with about a little over 4 weeks to prepare for the fall.  The vast majority of my summer is spent planning and executing our preschool camp (Hot U Jr) and elementary camp (Hot U).  This year we had over 1000 total kids attend the four weeks of Hot U!

As I prepare for the fall, I’m reviewing a document that I go back to often titled “Busting Barriers and Mindset Changes.”  I’ll share some of that document with you because that’s what I am, a sharing kind of guy.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Does a ministry with 60 kids need a different mindset than a ministry with 120 kids?  (If you’re Craig Groeschel, the answer to this is yes.  The basis for these notes was developed by a talk I heard Craig give several months ago.)

As leaders, part of our job is to think differently about our church culture and ministry context. What about your context needs to change? Try this fill-in-the-blank exercise:

Our people will not (fill in the blank).

•    Come early to drop off their kids

•    Show up on time to serve

•    Serve

•    Get into worship

•    Go on a missions trip

•    Respond to email

Now think of the fill-in-the-blank statements you wrote or chose and change them to: We have not led our people to (fill in the blank).  So often in leadership there is much blame given to the people when the problem is not a people problem, it is a leadership problem.  Every time you encounter a perceived cultural issue in your ministry context, translate that cultural issue to a leadership issue.  Leaders lead.  And the kids, parents, and families in your ministry context will probably reflect who you are. Ultimately you cannot export what you do not have to give.

As leaders part of our job is to think differently about programming.  For me the temptation is ALWAYS to do more to reach more.  But so often we have a lot of church activities without spiritual results.  We can reach more by doing less.  For children’s ministry, this is key because it allows the margin for families to have more time together and for leaders to do the things we are uniquely called and gifted to do well.  In my ministry context, this narrowing of the focus is tremendously difficult.  Even after cutting back programs and honing the calendaring process, it is still near-impossible to find a date to train an entire team of children’s ministry leaders because it overlaps with some other untouchable event.

As leaders, part of our job is to think differently about limitations.  Dean Butterfield, our guest blogger, wrote about this idea.  You might want to click over to his post on “Is Bigger Really Better” before you come back to this.  All churches have limited resources – it does not matter if you are a small church or a large church.  I served in a small church in downtown Rockford, IL as a volunteer pastor because the church could not afford to pay me anything.  There was no budget for children’s ministry programming so our VBS supplies had to be donated.  When I went to a larger church in Madison, WI I still had to solicit donations for programming.  It does not matter where you are in ministry, there will be resource limits and that requires leadership and creativity to manage.  Often times, God guides by what he does NOT provide.  Think of Peter, he did not have what the beggar asked for (“silver and gold have I none”) and because of that he was able to give the man what he really needed.  Great leaders see opportunities where others see limitations.

So what are you supposed to do now?

1)    Find someone one or two steps ahead of you and learn how they think. Most people want to learn what they do – not how they think.

2)    Identify one wrong mindset and ask God to renew your mind with truth.  Do it before you to bed tonight