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GUEST POST: Tailgate Parties October 22, 2012

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What a great idea…

GUEST POST: Tailgate Parties

Last Friday, our ministry tailgated two of the biggest games of the season. I got to admit, we were a little nervous about how well this was going to go over. We tried to do tailgates about 5 years ago but they just weren’t working so we cut them. But, with our huge focus on campus outreach this year, we thought it was worth another try.

We decided to learn from our past and completely reinvent how we did tailgate parties. The first big difference was our location. This year, we held our parties at parks that were near the schools. We did this for a few reasons… well one reason, the schools said no. It was a frustrating thing to hear because there are so many people that tailgate on campus anyway, but we would rather call and get a “no,” than to go and hurt the reputation of our ministry. Because of that, we ended up doing out parties at the parks, and we loved it! Having it at a park let us do more activities (ultimate Frisbee, Football, Spikeball, etc.) that kept students at the event, giving us more relational opportunity. While having the tailgate in the campus parking lot would have given us a more convenient location, I feel like students would have grabbed food and left, giving us little face time with students.

As far as the event itself, we kept it simple and fun. The games that we tailgated for were the big rival games so we made sure to capitalize on their school spirit. We decorated everything in school colors! We had the balloons, tablecloths, streamers… the whole bit. We even set up a “War Paint” booth, where students could get their face painted for the game that night! Once students started coming over, we handed out some Frisbees, footballs, volleyballs, set up a game of Spikeball, and threw a dance party in the parking lot. We fueled them up for the big night by giving them pizza, cupcakes, cookies, chips, soda, and anything else that we found cheap. The event as a whole was super fun and super easy.

I am so happy with how it all turned out. We got to meet so many new students and got to make some awesome memories with our regulars! Tailgates can be a great outreach opportunity and can work for a ton of ministries out there because there are so many different ways to do them. I’m already thinking of ways to take ours to the next level!

Has your ministry tailgated a game before? How did you do it?

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Director at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.


United set a fire May 10, 2012

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United night of worship May 10, 2012

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Worship at United May 10, 2012

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5 Keys to Building Healthy Volunteer Teams April 30, 2012

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Some great ideas to use in ministry!  

5 Keys to Building Healthy Volunteer Teams

Orange workshop

Are you committed to building healthy volunteer teams? (Image: KROMKRATHOG / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Last week I had the opportunity to teach a workshop at the Orange Conference for the very first time. Loved it! I am definitely not called to kid’s or student ministry, but I love hanging out with family ministry leaders.

In my session last week, we talked about building healthy volunteer teams. You’d think in volunteer intensive ministries like we engage in churches, that there would be more written and talked about on this topic. Yet, Simply Strategic Volunteers is still one of the few books I’m aware of that’s focused on engaging volunteers in the Church. (What other good resources do you know of on this specific topic?)

These are the five keys to building healthy volunteer teams that I offered to the Orange leaders last week:

  1. Think volunteers before staff. It’s our responsibility to “equip God’s people to do his work.” When we’re overwhelmed, our first question should be “How can we equip more volunteers?” As I’ve shared before, the church I’ve worked with that had the fewest staff members per attendees also had the highest percentage of people volunteering. They are thinking volunteers before staff, and it’s working.
  2. Teach shoulder-tapping. My friend Tim taught me this one. In the church, we tend to rely on promotions to recruit volunteers. We use platform announcements and bulletin ads and pleas for help. Volunteer recruitment is relational. It’s one friend inviting another friend to join them in serving. Four out of five people show up to church for the first time through an invitation from a friend. That same principle works for every next step people take at your church.
  3. Stay focused. This is a simple math problem. The more ministry programs and events your church offers, the more volunteers you’ll need. Focused ministry means less competition for people’s time and attention. People are busy. Their church shouldn’t be compounding the problem. We should be helping people prioritize their time rather than making their lives more complicated.
  4. Identify leaders, not doers. The church needs doers, or servants, too. But, as Jethro pointed out to Moses, we also need capable leaders. We need leaders of tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands. (See the 4 Stages of Leadership.) And, this may surprise you, but you don’t have to be on paid staff to be a leader in the church. Volunteers have leadership gifts too. If you feel stuck, you probably don’t need another person to get tasks done. Instead, you need another person to lead.
  5. Empower people to use their gifts. We need to remember it’s about the body of Christ using their gifts to fulfill God’s mission. It’s more about helping people be who God created them to be than it is about us finding people to get tasks done. I love this line from Tony Dungy, “I wasn’t there to be their boss. I was there to help the players get better.” That same philosophy of helping people pursue God’s potential applies in ministry as well.

Share what you’re learning about building healthy volunteer teams. What’s working? What’s not? Join the conversation by sharing your comment.

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Lots of people asked me if my 40th was significant to me in any specific ways.  Oddly enough, I had my midlife crisis at 38 I think.  So my 40th was not that mind warping.  However, I did make a list of several things I want to do in my 40th year- a bucket list of sorts I suppose.  While making that list I realized that in the next decade of my life, all my kids will become legal adults.

If I live to 50:  TJ will be 24, Tyler will be 22, Jake will be 19, and Becky and Billy will be 30 days from turning 18 when I turn 50.

So, with this realization, I have officially declared this my DECADE OF PARENTING INTO ADULTHOOD.  

I have no greater responsibility in the next 10 years and to that end, here’s my game plan:

MEET ONE-ON-ONE WITH MY KIDS.  As long as my sons and daughter live under my roof or within driving distance, I’ll keep making it a priority to meet weekly with them one-on-one.  Hands down it’s been the best parenting move I’ve made to date.

PRAY RIDICULOUSLY HARD.  I’m more committed than ever to praying for and with my kids.  I know raising my teens into functioning adults is no walk in the park.  I’m giving up before I get started and gonna cry out for Divine help and guidance constantly.

LEAVE NO VACATION DAYS FOR TOMORROW.  I’m going to get away with my wife and kids every chance I get.  I want to camp. Ride bikes. Enjoy the snow and the beach and the mountains and the rivers.  Play pretty much anywhere I can afford to go.  This season will be gone before I know it.  I decided that I want zero vacation days on the books when I hit 50.  I’m gonna exhaust all of them.

PASS THE BATON OF FAITH AND GET OUT OF THE WAY.  My goal is to stop running my kid’s lives in the next decade.  I could write for days in this concept, but bottom line is that I’m going to consciously continue to give them the chance to process through the “why” questions of life.  I want to do less for them and equip them to do more.  My greatest goal is for them to mature into thinking, passionate, and intentional followers of Jesus who have an adult faith and life.  Getting there is a maze I might not be able to navigate, but I’m firmly setting my sights there regardless.  

LISTEN AND LEARN.  I’m getting all the mentors around me I can find who have been there and done that.  I have no misconception that somehow you can create a family by formula, but I’m going to do everything I can to learn from the victories and even the warnings and regrets of every parent I respect who is further down this road than I am.

So… to those who have been there and done that or are in the thick of this with me… anything you’d add to my list?

10 Statements that Shape My Personal Mission April 23, 2012

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What shapes your mission in lift.. Here are some thoughts

10 Statements that Shape My Personal Mission

In working on another project, I just compiled the ten key statements that have shaped my ministry to leaders and churches. It’s possible that everything I write and teach boils down to these key thoughts:

  1. “It’s possible to do the ministry of God but not the ministry God called you to do.”
  2. “Great leaders will leave your ministry if you focus on the execution instead of the outcomes.”
  3. “God’s people don’t do the leader’s work — we equip people to do God’s work.”
  4. “Mind the gap between your vision and your execution.”
  5. “Stop promoting programs and events and start developing relationships and environments that lead to life transformation.” (The Giant Inflatable Blue Monkey)
  6. “Think people before tasks. Think strategy before structure.”
  7. “Churches continue to use their same systems, but they hope and pray for different results.” (The Leisure Suit Trap)
  8. “Systems without purpose will keep people busy. Purpose without systems will keep people guessing.”
  9. “Your message has the potential to shift thinking. Your systems have the potential to shift behaviors.”
  10. “Leadership isn’t leadership if it isn’t released to others.”

You’ll probably hear and see me repeat these statements over and over again. (And then, just to make sure you heard me, I’ll probably share them again.)

Have you ever tried to capture your personal mission in phrases like this? If so, what would be on your list?

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Walking Worthy April 22, 2012

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Some great ideas for pastors and youth pastors

Walking Worthy

Several months ago I was reading Ephesians four and the first verse literally JUMPED off the page at me. The verse tells us to “live a life worthy of the calling I have received.”

As a pastor, there are many things that living a life worthy of the calling that I received could include. Things that immediately come to mind are seeking God daily, loving my wife, loving my kids, staying pure, leading, and loving people. Those are sort of obvious things that come with my calling.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of the less obvious things that the calling to pastor brings. Something HUGE that God has taught me since starting Revolution Church is that everything the pastor does matters. And I mean everything.

Here are a few things that I am giving extra energy and attention to in order to live a life worthy of the calling God has given me:

Health: I don’t ever want to become the pastor that is 80 pounds overweight and preaches on everything BUT gluttony. I think health matters and when pastors ignore their health, they lose credibility in many ways. I am not perfect, but I do my best to run and hit the gym at least 4 days a week. Plus, when I stay healthy, I feel better and have more energy to share the Gospel. I’m in this for the long haul, so health is paramount.

Thanksgiving: As our church grows, I find myself becoming more thankful. I stop and say thanks more, I hand write a ton of thank you cards and I but a LOT of thank you coffee and ice cream. That sounds bad at first glance, but think about it. With so many people its difficult to have a personal relationship with many (I don’t believe that is my job anyway, but that is another post for another time.)

These days, I am trying to make it a point to never walk past a volunteer or a staff member without saying thanks and honoring them. It only takes seconds out of my day and literally makes their day.

I think we would all do better in our calling(s) if we would realize how big of a difference a simple, real, honest, heartfelt thank you can mean.

Style: I think pastors should get with the times and get some swag. I’m not talking about buying a thousand dollar suit and wearing a rolex. I’m talking about being relevant to the people you are trying to reach. Here are some tips: you can use an IRON. Shave. Get a haircut regularly. We have a mirror at the stage entrance, not because I like seeing myself (that’s the band!) but because I think my appearance is important. After all, people have to look at me for 30-40 minutes every week as I preach. Every week, pastors bring the most meaningful message ever! Maybe we should look like empowered messengers!

Space: I’m talking about my car, my office and my home. It needs to be kept clean and orderly. I think its kind of hard to set a good example in life with a car full of starbucks cups and an office that smells like fast food.

Money: I’m talking personal finances and church finances.

Personal finances: If I am going to teach Biblical principles like tithing, investing, saving, spending, bringing an offering and more, I need to be doing those things well! My family got all of this in order through Financial Peace University many years ago. We are debt free and therefore free to give. We have a goal to increase our percentage giving by one percent every year. Right now, we are working hard on making our money work hard for us by investing in new ways.

Church finances: I refuse to waste a single dollar or a minute of time on a program, piece of equipment or ministry position that isn’t the best option to reach the most people. We do more with less at Revolution Church and I have to champion that. I think this is a huge and vital part of walking in my calling.

Speaking: Over the last year, I’ve been very convicted that I need to improve on my speaking. I think sometimes, pastors get into a rut and just do their thing week to week when truthfully, there is a ton of room for improvement. That’s why I was so pumped when some of my friends launched Preaching Rocket. Great, powerful preaching is more than words. You have to learn how to move on stage, how to use volume, tone and inflection and more to really present well. Comedic timing, when to pause, where to look…preaching is so much more than just talking. I want to be one of the best communicators on the planet, every single week.

What less obvious things do you need to work on when it comes to walking worthy of your calling?

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Youth ministry toolbox April 17, 2012

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Youth Ministry Resources – fundraising in student ministry April 11, 2012

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