Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Children's Ministry Conference Draws Over 3,000 for Time to "Conspire"

Children’s ministry leaders representing 1,000 churches of varying styles, sizes, and locations are gathering this week with one common goal – to see every child that God sends their way launched into a lifetime devotion to Jesus Christ.

Starting Wednesday, more than 3,000 children’s ministry workers will be participating in the “Conspire” conference, hosted by the Willow Creek Association.

Amid the Mar. 18-20 event will be five main sessions led by speakers – including Veggie Tales creator Phil Vischer – on topics ranging from how culture influences children to how to bring out the strengths of children. Also included are 60 breakout sessions on a variety of practical topics such as event planning, effective budgeting, and rewiring ministry for digital learners.

“Those of us on the Conspire team believe very strongly in the power of community and relating with those who serve in ministry,” the conference organizers say. “Ministry is just too hard to do alone – without encouragement and empowerment none of us would survive.”

This year’s conference comes just a week after a study released by The Barna Group revealed that less than one percent of the youngest adult generation in America, those between ages 18 and 23, has a biblical worldview.

Furthermore, a study last month by LifeWay Research found that the majority of parents (60 percent) heavily rely on their own experiences growing up for parenting guidance but only one-fifth say they receive a lot of guidance from sacred text such as the Bible or Koran.

“We believe that when the church and home are working together in partnership, a child will be spiritually formed for a lifetime,” organizers of “Conspire” say.

For this year’s conference, organizers are trying to get people who are not able to attend to get connected to the conversations through social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, CM Connect, and You Tube.

There is also a blog for the conference on the event’s website,, which will update parents and children’s ministry workers wanting to join.

The conference’s name, “Conspire,” is the combination of the words “connect” and “inspire.”
“Through our resources, events and communities we are encouraging connections between ministry leaders, churches and families, and children to the love of Christ,” conference organizers explain. “We are inspiring new ideas and many models with one vision–seeing children choose Christ for a lifetime.”

Since 2003, the Willow Creek Association has been hosting its annual children’s ministry conference in South Barrington, Ill. The association was founded in 1992 by megachurch pastor Bill Hybels, who currently serves as chairman of the board and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church.

[from The Christian Post by Eric Young]

Church Planting Quiz

God Grown has come up with a quiz to help one determine whether or not your heart is in the right place for going out and starting a new church.

Click here to take the QUIZ.

Church Planting Thoughts

Launching large is a key … there is a corrolation between launching large and reaching as many people as possible … for God’s dream for your church is bigger than your dream.

Launching quickly is a key, too. Start quickly, in 2-4 months beginning monthly services, then a few more months going to weekly services. Lost people are the same everywhere; they’re not going to come to your church until you start services.

A third key is launching from the outside in. Opposite from the Purpose-Driven concentric circles, you have no core when you start a new church. In fact, new churches shouldn’t have a core for about a year. Focus only on the community and the crowd … try to get people to come to your church/service. If you build a core, they become resistant to reaching more lost people and will become inwardly focused. You and your worship leader with everybody else lost is lots better than a bunch of disgruntled Christians from the church down the street.

There are a number of significant ideas to understand and implement, including the following:
- Your calling is the most important factor to your plant’s success.
- Resist the temptation to do everything first … do the weekend service/childcare and evangelism, no more.

Calling. There are no higher highs and no lower lows than in church planting. Most churches fail because they’re led by a non-called leader. In fact, the calling of God is the only thing that will keep you there at times. God ALWAYS calls both you and your spouse to church planting … but not necessarily at the same time. And you will most likely be called to reach people like yourself … 93% of planters do, since only 7% have a cross-cultural gift.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing as one of the 5 most important books church planters should read. This book, by Al Reiss and Jack Trout, will help you live out your calling and reach all ages. Music is the number one key. “The call” is a call to prepare to lead, to teach, to depend on God!

Focus on the “nuts and bolts” side of church planting. One of the focus elements needed is raising funds for church planting. The only people who don’t like you talking about money are people that come to you from other churches. God’s work done God’s way will never lack God’s provision. God wants you to succeed!

Funding. Start by knowing how much you’ll need to start your work. Plan on salaries that are comparable to the people you’re trying to reach. Get the only kind of equipment you need … not top of the line stuff … this is, in fact, one of the biggest mistakes planters make today. No monies are left to do evangelism or add staff! Lease equipment if you can, instead of buying it. Don’t just assume you know what’s happening in the city; find out by talking to business people in the community where you’ll serve. Plan for being self-sufficient as a new church in 2-4 years and be able to show potential donors how you’re going to do that.

The largest base of donors come from local churches across the country. A very few come from personal relationships. Most give $2,000-$3,000 a month for one to three years. Most came after you launch because churches like to fund success. And know that fund raising must continue through the years. Finally, don’t ever forget, you (planter) are the chief fundraiser for the new church; no one else can replace you with donors. So, over four years, you will need up to half a million dollars for your church plant. These skills used in raising this money will be used over and over again in the growth and development of your church.

Why do some churches succeed and others don’t? Leadership, planning and the spiritual blessing of God. There are probably lots of others. IN FACT, the most important factor is A HEALTHY LAUNCH … 80% of the time this is the key to success, just as a healthy birth is key to a child’s growth and development.

Planning Your First Service. Picking the right date for launch is the most important decision you’ll make after you nail down your call from God. Easter … when school starts back … these are good times, but not the best. The best time is February. This gives you a chance for a second launch at Easter, before the drop off in summer. Then you have a major push in the fall and you’re off to a great start. And don’t launch at any other time of the week than Sunday morning. Then back up 3-6 months to start your monthly services that will lead up to your launch. And by the way, your launch team commits to help you launch the church weekly, but it goes away after you’ve started weekly services.

Meeting Location. The location where you meet should match the people you’re trying to reach. Ideally, it will be a place like a hotel ballroom where you can move from one place to another. Movie theaters are also good, as are comedy clubs. Public school auditoriums are another option or community theaters, but they are pricey. But regardless, don’t sign a long-term lease.

Launch Day. Start a teaching series this day based on a felt-need important to your target group. Have your launch team inviting their friends to join you for this first weekly service. And don’t ever use a guest musician or band on this day! People need to see what’s going to be a part of the regular church life from this time forward. Finally, be sure to collect information from everyone who attends and followup on them right away.

Three Great Temptations You Must Overcome. First, you will be tempted to change the launch date. NEVER change it … NEVER. Second, don’t delegate too much control and authority to the launch team. You must lead, so take responsibility and make it happen. Third, you may be tempted to merge with another (dying) congregation that offers you resources but brings with it lots and lots of baggage. DON’T DO IT!

Staffing. The most important staff hire you’ll ever make is your worship leader … if done right, this hire will create incredible synergy. Hire from within when possible but make sure they’re called. Also, hire parttime before fulltime. And if you hire your wife as a staffer with you, find a counselor RIGHT NOW. Don’t wait till it damages your marriage to deal with it.

[from Church Multiplication]