I am blessed to have relationships with some very cool people in children’s ministry. I have asked some of my children’s ministry friends the same five questions. Here are is what Allyson said:
1. In a short paragraph, tell us about you.
I am the mother of 2 amazing daughters, 15 and 17 and an incredibly talented step son, 21, and the wife of a great husband. I have been working at LifeChurch.tv based in Edmond OK for the last ten years in various capacities in kids and student ministry. My role as of the last 3 years is the NextGen Team Leader and Pastor for our organization.
2. What have you done that has attracted the most kids/families?
Hands down, the most effective bring-in activity that we do as a church annually is the At The Movies series. This isn’t a kids specific event. Our lead Pastor, Craig Groeschel, does a 4 week message series based on popular movies. He pulls spiritual truths from those as his teaching basis. We do the same thing in LifeKIDS. What makes it such a great tool to bring folks in is every campus (we currently have 15) builds out amazing, over the top, movie themes in their lobby spaces and kids spaces. So each campus has a theme-like Transformers or Jurassic Park or Pirates of the Carribbean. Just picture full pirate ships, huge fully-robotic Transformers, the Bat Cave or a full-out jungle in the lobby of the church! During those series, thousands of new families will attend our campuses. Our kids average weekly attendance increased by 29%, June to July.
3. What have you done that has had the biggest spiritual impact for kids/families?
We did a month long series based on Craig’s book, Weird. The teaching series in student ministry and the adult weekend experiences were also called Weird. The premise of the teaching is that we don’t want to be “normal” because normal isn’t working. We want to be Weird in a God way. Because the whole church was aligned in regards to our teaching, families were able to engage with the teaching at a higher level every week. I know a lot of churches line up their teaching across the board that way. That is not something that we do often but we certainly saw the impact as God mobilized families to be Weird in a God way.
4. What would you never do again? Why?
I don’t like to say “never”! There have been several times when I said I would never do something again, but the idea later reemerged with a new shine on it-and the new version works. So for now, I’ll say that we probably won’t ever do VBS again. I believe that Vacation Bible School is a wonderful program and many children have begun a relationship with Jesus in those programs. In the context of LifeChurch.tv, we made the decision to not host VBS again about 7 years ago. We realized that for us, a huge percentage of the kids who attended our VBS were kids who were involved at other churches in the area. So although we hoped that VBS was an outreach event, it turned out it wasn’t. We decided to turn our normal weekend worship experiences into the same kind of awesome experience a child gets at a super cool VBS. But they just don’t have to wait for summer-they get it every single week!
5. What are you working on in 2012?
I’m so excited about 2012! The NextGen team and the LifeGroups/Missions team (adult ministries) are working more closely together than ever before. In NextGen ministry, we talk a lot about “partnering with parents”. It is important to equip parents to lead their families spiritually. We realize that although we are good at RESOURCING parents with great tools to use, we aren’t so great at EQUIPPING parents who don’t know how to lead spiritually. However, our adult ministries team is! We have been swimming upstream for years but now a real collaborative partnership between the adult team and the nextgen team has emerged. The LifeChurch.tv Content Development team has been working on some amazing small group curriculum to equip parents to lead their families. We are also working with a ministry based in Oklahoma called Family I.D., to create an awesome 2 hour workshop for parents that will teach them how to develop a vision for the generations for their family. NextGen has tried to shoulder that responsibility but now the development of parents will happen through a collaborative work among several teams. That’s a huge win. I can’t wait to see what God does.
We are also working on a “What’s First?” class for kids and parents. So often, we talk about “what’s next” in the spiritual growth of a child. The truth is, we need to nail down “what’s first” and that is a child understanding their need for a Savior and accepting a relationship with Jesus on their own. Using various video elements, personal storytelling and personal documentation, families will engage in a one and a half hour workshop where kids and parents learn together at a very elementary level, who God is and who we are because of what Jesus did on the cross. They will also create their own “journal” that will be the basis for the first steps in their child’s spiritual development. We launched a beta of this class at the end of 2011. The outcome was that 37 of the 40 kids who were in the class were baptized that very weekend.