New Site

I’ve moved my site to finally have my own domain. It’s a really exciting move for me, and I’m excited to keep blogging about kidmin things. You can find me at http://www.andyhayes.me

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Leader=Coach

I was never really on any sports teams growing up (once I hit my t-ball coach in the shins with my bat, I knew that my baseball career was near an end, and once my sister could throw a better spiral than I could, there was no use even trying football), but I was friends with a lot of people who played a bunch of different sports, from baseball to football, from soccer to lacrosse, or from swimming to track. But even though I wasn’t on a team, I watched and I learned that great coaching produces great results. One school that I went to had this football coach that would yell and scream, and make these guys do push ups, and make them run, and make them practice plays until the sun set, but let me tell you that was the team that went to win state.

One of our top priorities in leading, whether it be in kid’s church, youth church, or our adult service, is to coach our leaders. You don’t have to get red in the face and make them do push-ups (in fact, if you do, they probably won’t volunteer for too long), but what you do have to do is always be watching for things to improve on. For instance, I told the Bible Story this week, and I felt like it was a little weak, it wasn’t my worst, but it wasn’t my best, so my goal is to see how I can make that better, what props can I use, what other resources can I incorporate to make a better weekend experience. If you have a good thing going, make small tweaks by coaching people and encouraging them and helping them to improve, and it will make what you do great. To coach people is to lead them, but you can’t lead them if you don’t know where you want them or your organization to go, so have a goal, have direction, and coach!

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Leading

Before I was a Children’s Pastor I always thought that kids were the only people I lead, but now that I am a Children’s Pastor at our Albany Campus, I have come to understand that this is not so. My main priority is helping kids understand the realization of Jesus Christ in their lives, and to help them learn solid Biblical truths. I may be the guy that presents the Bible story three times a month, but the real leading in Children’s Ministry, I believe, is happening in the small group, coming from the small group leaders. My job is to lead teenagers and adults (our small group leaders) in leading kids. Here are some thoughts:

Don’t be a stubborn leader. I am naturally strong willed, but over the last couple of years that I have volunteered and worked in kids church, I have learned that my ideas are not the always the best ideas. So it is safe to say that we are not always right, so put creative people, that have bought into you’re churches vision for children’s ministry, around you ( I think having creative parents are the best!) and figure out what is best for your situation.

Be a servant leader. There should be nothing in your kids ministry that you are not willing to do. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a gifted worship leader, but I had a volunteer that couldn’t make it one Sunday, and I had to. There may be some things that you don’t like to do, but be an example to your volunteers, and be willing to serve wherever you can, and wherever it is needed.

Be a loving leader. I am not a good at leading others by teaching, it is a challenge for me. I am a “show you how to do it” kind of guy. So sometimes I might not be patient, and I may be a little sarcastic, it will show in my lack of effectiveness. I am constantly reminding myself that Jesus was a great leader because he led others with the perfect amount of truth and grace. So I need to love more, and lead like that, and my effectiveness will increase.

Paul tells Timothy in 1st Timothy 4:12b Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith and your purity. So let’s strive for greatness together, and be great leaders!

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4 Things

I wanted to do a fun blog, so I’ve decided to quickly go over four of the many things that I have learned in the four months that I have been a children’s pastor.

1.It’s not about me. This one is funny to me, You and I, as the children’s pastors at our churches, or our campuses (campi as Sam Luce would say http://samluce.com/), are hopefully the most passionate about out church’s kids ministry. You put the most time, the most effort, the most prayer into your experience each weekend. You are the one shaping small group leaders, you are the one building teams, but it’s not about you, and it’s not about me. We are here to serve, we are serving kids, we are serving volunteers, we are serving parents, but most of all we are serving God.

2.This is not a one man show. Oh, how I love our volunteers! I love that each one brings something different to the table, and they all have a different point of view that I can’t often see, and with a team like that, we are going to go places! Our weekend experience would be nothing without them, so here is a word of wisdom: Honor your volunteers, let them know that they are appreciated, you can’t do what you do without them!

3.I need kidmin friends. Let me tell you what, I have slowly fallen in love with Twitter. Twitter is a great place to connect with other Children’s Pastors that are really passionate about kids ministry. If you are looking for a good blog, the #kidmin Twitter feed is the place to look.

4.Don’t forget the basics. I assumed that since I would be working in a church, reading my Bible and praying on a regular basis would be so much easier. Let me tell you friends, that is a lie. I love to read my Bible, I love speaking and listening to God, but I have to make time to do it. Budget your time in a way that your honor God, and His Word. That’s where you will build strength to run the good race and fight the good fight!.

I’m so glad that God has put me where I am. My life is exciting and fun and stressful and exhausting, but looking at the growth that our team and our kids ministry has had over the last four months, I can see the faithfulness of God . I encourage you to evaluate yourself, and your ministry, to see how good God has been to you!

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Inexperience

I’m a new children’s pastor, and sometimes I just get overwhelmed by the lack of experience that I have. But  I was praying the other day, and I realized how exciting this can be. I’m a planner, I like to know what’s going to happen next week, or tomorrow, or this afternoon, and if I have a plan, and it changes last second, I tend to get a little stressed out. I think that God put me in the place as a practical joke, He said ” ok mr. planner man, this is what’s going down” (yes God does talk to me like that) ” you are going to have to trust me.” Ok I don’t know about you, but I like to be in control of situations, as stated before, I like to plan, so if Jesus is indeed taking the wheel, it’s probably going to challenge me a tad. So here’s the exciting part: people expect me to make mistakes, they know i’m 20 and probably not going to be great, so when our kids church is phenomenal on a Sunday morning, I can blame…I  mean thank God.

My inexperience  gives me a need for God, and He has proven faithful over and over, so I know that I can trust Him. So not having experience is way more exciting than I thought it would be… I’m not saying that you should not plan, or that you should not study, or you should not go to conferences, NO!  By all means equip yourself to serve God the best that you can, if that means reading books, than read read read, if that means reading blogs, than… you guessed, read read read. But in reading and preparing, never neglect the One that you are doing all of this for, stay in your Word, make time to pray.. it is ever so essential!!

If you don’t have experience, that’s ok, you will over time, but this is a good time in your life to lean on God. Proverbs 3:5-6 says it best: Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.

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Passion

Have you ever looked at the things that you do, and wonder why you do them, or how you got started doing them? For instance, I like to run, I like that feeling you get after a good run, where your heart is pounding, and your legs feel like rubber, but I didn’t start running because I felt like it one day. Mark Schilling, the youth pastor at our Utica campus loves to run, he is crazy about running, he’ll run anything from 5k race to a super marathon, he is passionate about running. I spent two years as an intern under him, I never once went running with him, but his passion about running leaked out and made me want what he wanted.

Sam Luce is the childrens pastor at our Utica Campus, and he is passionate about kids. When I was an intern, I had a chance to work with him a lot, and it was awesome! But to be honest, kids weren’t my thing, I’d get annoyed by them, and get really frustrated sometimes, but the passion that Sam had about kids and about kids ministry leaked and I began to have a passion for the same.

I say all this to say: Are you passionate about anything? What is your passion? What in your life is so consuming that it leaks out on the people around you? I want to be that person!

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Salvation is Here

I have been working in children’s ministry for a few years now, and I love it. We get to sing, dance and spin during worship without inhibition,( I often look like a fool and sound like a dying parrot, but the kids love it) we get to play games that teach kids life lessons, and we get to teach them to truths of God’s living word. I’m fortunate enough to be able to do this every week. I get up at seven o’clock every Sunday morning, and get over to the church early to make sure everything is set and ready to go, and I while I do this I pray. There is power in prayer! This past Sunday I knew that we were going to talk about salvation, and I even joked around with our Bible story teller that she better not screw this one up ( I was just kidding, she is great at what she does), so all morning I had been talking to God asking Him to lead us and give us direction. Once we got into worship, we did a few songs that were fast and jumped up and down, then we got into our last song, and I’m not kidding, these kids had their hands in the air (most of them didn’t really know why) and they were singing their hearts out to Jesus. Like I said, I have been doing kid’s church for a few years, and I had never seen these kids worship like they did that morning. After worship we had the opportunity to talk to them about salvation, and I led the 1st and 2nd graders through a Salvation prayer. I have done crazy things in my life that were a lot of fun, but I think that moment was one of the most incredible moments in my life. There is nothing like seeing child-like faith in action, accepting Christ into their lives to be Savior. God moved this weekend, We were short staffed, and we needed God to move and he did.. He is our strength in our weakness!

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