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Posts Tagged "blog"

The Sabbath Skipper

Posted by on Dec 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

Kenny Conley is the Next Generation Pastor of Gateway Community Church in Austin, Tx.  True to Texas, Kenny thinks BIG.  I’ve yet to hear anything out of Kenny’s mouth that isn’t bigger than all of us put together.  He’s joining Jabberfrog today to share glimpse of what God has done inside of him lately.  Enjoy, comment, then skip over to his blog, Children’s Ministry Online, for more.

Hello. My name is Kenny and I’m a Sabbath Skipper.

I’ve known better for years, but I habitually work on the Sabbath. It wasn’t until just a few weeks ago that I realized how out of control I was and began to put guidelines back into my life concerning the Sabbath. Actually I jumped into a small group of other men on staff and we’re on a Bible reading plan. While we were in the books of the Law, the thing that convicted us the most was the importance of the Sabbath and how pitiful we all were at celebrating it. Being in ministry, we’re all busy with really good things. Unfortunately our family was taking a back seat to unrealistic and out of control schedules.

For us, we first had to recognize what our Sabbath was. Sunday is a workday, so it wouldn’t be fair to our families if that was our Sabbath. We chose to go OT style and do the sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. It was a schedule that allowed us to have a full 24 hours with our families without school or work getting in the way. It also gave us flexibility to start ramping up for work again on Saturday night. We then surrounded each other with accountability, making sure we’re all celebrating the Sabbath.

I’m five weeks into my new practice and I’ve only blown it one weekend. Here is what I’ve learned:

  • I’m just as productive as I was before. I’ve got the same about of work, but I seem to be getting it done in one less day of work. Who knew. I think it’s like the tithe. For many people it is a step of faith to first begin giving that 10% and they have to trust God with the tithe. When choosing to celebrate the sabbath, you have to trust that God will multiply your ability to get everything done with one less day to work.
  • Celebrating the Sabbath changes the way I work during the week. Every day I’m thinking about that Sabbath and and prioritizing my week so that when Thursday comes, I’m able to wrap up what needs to be done for that week. I’ve found that it has helped me become more efficient.
  • I’m happier. Seriously, I’m less stressed, I feel more confident about the direction we’re going and I’m having such a blast with my family on my days off. My relationship with my wife is better and I’m making great memories with my family.

It’s funny how as pastors, we’re sure to tithe and stress how important it is for others to follow this suggestion, yet so many of us totally neglect taking a Sabbath rest. The irony of it all is that taking the Sabbath rest is one of the ten commandments, which is pretty important.

So, schedule your next Sabbath rest day. Enjoy it and be sure to honor God this way!

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girls have lots of words

Posted by on Oct 25, 2013 in My Life, Parenting


There are proven statistics, apparently.  I’m sure someone reading this blog will know their source.

When my 14 year old was younger, there were days I would completely forget to drop my son off at school.  I’d be within a mile of my office and glance in the rear view mirror only to see my son sitting in the backseat… lost in thought.

He was so quiet, I forgot he was there.

Lost in my own thoughts, I would drive right past his school.

Not much has changed today. He’s a man of few words. I have to ask very targeted questions in hopes of gaining insight into what’s going on inside his teenage head.

Not so with my daughter. She has lots of words. And they must be released in a steady stream of dialogue throughout her day.

A few days ago I picked her up from swim practice. As we walked into a nearby McDonald’s to buy ice cream, I said,

“Tell me everything that happened today.”

It was like releasing the green flag in a NASCAR race. The words burst forth.

As we drove to pick up her little brother from Boy Scouts, the torrent of topics abated she grew quieter and started thinking internally. She sighed with a sense of satisfaction.

It’s such an odd dynamic between my son and daughter.

My son needs time to internally process before he can externally communicate.

My daughter needs time to externally communicate before she can internally process.

And giving her a defined time and opportunity to externally communicate to me shows her how much I value her. It’s a great reminder for me that she needs my time. Not just quality… but quantity. Where the only equation his mom’s attention and daughter’s words.

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The Homeless Blogger: Kidmin Discipleship

Posted by on Oct 18, 2011 in Leadership, Ministry

Hello friends. My name is Kenny Conley and I’m the homeless blogger. What does that mean? Well, I have a blog over at childrensministryonline.com (BUT DON’T GO THERE). My blog is very sick with a nasty virus. Since she’s sick and slowly getting better, I don’t have a place to post new articles. I’m at the Kidmin Conference in Chicago and like always, I’ve got something to say… I just don’t have anyplace to say it. So, thanks to some good friends, they’re giving this homeless blogger a couch to sleep on and letting me finish off the carton of ice cream in the freezer.

The Homeless Blogger: Kidmin Discipleship

For the past five months, I’ve been heavily involved in the student ministry at Gateway Church. It’s been a huge learning curve as I’ve cut my teeth on Kidmin over the last 15 years. I’ve been providing a lot of hands on leadership in Middle School and I’ve been leading through others in high school. I love what I’ve been learning, but I’m really excited to hire a student pastor who really knows what he/she is doing. Ha!

So, one thing that I’ve been giving a lot of though to recently is the idea of discipleship. Discipleship… that’s a loaded word, isn’t it? I just want to express some of the things I’ve been thinking about this word and how it relates to kidmin.

First of all, I think that the definition of this word is different for every person that you might ask. I think that’s kind of sad. In my process of interviewing student pastors I’ll often ask them to describe discipleship and it saddens me to hear what some think is discipleship. This is just my opinion, but if I turn to the Gospels, I think we see a pretty clear picture of discipleship. Jesus hung out with 12 guys for three years… and the amount of time he spent with these guys was pretty significant.

So when I hear someone say something like “Our large group teaching style is discipleship in nature,” I want to question them. Even when someone says that they are discipling a student by meeting with him or her once a week for coffee, I question the label.

Again, let’s look at the scriptures for just a second. What if Jesus spent one hour a week with his disciples? Would they have been ready to change the world like they did? Would they have been prepared to die for their faith? Okay, what if he led their small group at church every Sunday and met with them all individually once a week at Starbucks? No, I’m not sure that would have been discipleship.

I have a few leaders in my student ministry who have students or small groups of students at their houses or they meet together for meals 4-5 times a week… sometimes more. Yeah, that’s kind of unrealistic… but I think that’s the clearest picture of discipleship I’ve seen in student ministry. I think a leader could with confidence say, “I’m discipling these young men.”

So, what does this look like in kidmin? My opinion? Let’s call it what it is and not call it what it isn’t. We can have a leader in the life of a child every week, but is it really discipleship? Don’t get me wrong, I want a leader in the life every child at least once a week… and that’s certainly better than the alternative. Most ministries struggle to even get that kind of commitment. We encourage our leaders to call, send postcards, connect with parents and even go to soccer games and other events. Why, because quantity time equals opportunities to make investments for life-change. I don’t know if there’s an amount of time that would “quantify” discipleship, but I think our kids just need more.

Lastly, I think this is all the more reason why we must equip moms and dads to be the primary influence… the opportunity is there for them every day and every week.

Thanks Gina for hosting my post. I accidentally slept on your TV remote. Seems like the volume is permanently stuck on high. Sorry about that. Look for my next post by following my tweets at twitter.com/kennyconley

See past homeless blogger posts at the following sites:
Small Town Kidmin
Jenny Funderburke
Sam Luce
Dustin Nickerson
Brian Dollar

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Orange Day 1: Thoughts of Randomness

Posted by on Apr 27, 2011 in Leadership, Ministry, Orange

When attending a ministry conference like Orange 2011, there is always a huge anticipation leading up to.  And it always pays off.  Orange simply has a buzz about it that you can sense as you pull into the parking lot.  Day One is under my belt and here are a few random thoughts so far…

  • I love the side-bar conversations you have at a conference.  Obviously the teaching in the breakout sessions is highly valuable.  Yet, to me, the random conversations in the Orange Leaders Lounge is equally as valuable.  These add richness to the overall experience.
  • I should pack water with me.  Or $5 bills.  Water from a vending machine is ‘spensive.  (and ironic when sitting 10’ from ministry booths promoting clean water for orphaned kids.)
  • There are a ton of products that you want to know more about.  Visiting the vendor booths, asking questions and generally giving them an opportunity to talk about their product is worth the time.  I found some interesting things I’ll blog about soon.
  • I’m a hotel snob.  I just am.  I can go low-budget but let’s be real.  I’ve got some Kate Gosselin tendencies.  Not proud of it.
  • Amy Fenton Lee & Joy Bowen are now two women on my “want to hang out with” list.
  • I want to meet more people passionate about Preschool Ministry.  Who’s going to read this blog post then come find me in the Orange Leader Lounge Thursday?
  • Opening Night was awesome.  Worship was rich.  And I could fully engage b/c I was not responsible for anything.  🙂

More to come…

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Multi-Site Kidmin Systems

Posted by on Feb 2, 2011 in Leadership, Ministry, Multi-Site

It doesn’t seem to matter how long you do kids ministry at a single location.  When you shift to multi-site there are a myriad of things to address.  Questions like:

How do we define “one church, multiple locations”?”
How consistent will each campus be from looks to branding to teaching?
How will each location obtain supplies?  Will they receive them from a ‘central’ distribution location like most chain companies?  Or will each location be responsible for purchasing their own supplies from toilet paper to Bibles?
Will we create an entity/team that is not assigned to any one location but functions in a global capacity making decisions for all campuses & disseminating those decisions to the campuses?  Or will we give each location complete autonomy to make decisions on their own?  Or will we land somewhere in between?

The questions are endless when you shift to a single location to multi-site.  Although multi-site systems is an all-church conversation, I want to share some of the things we are putting in place that are specific to kidmin.

As it relates to kids ministry, we have some non-negotiable’s in place to help support the concept “one church, multiple locations”.  One of those non-negotiable’s is that all kidmin teaching will be consistent from one campus to the next.  This means that what is taught in elementary on the Pellissippi Campus is also taught in elementary on the Blount Campus that same weekend.  To make this happen, I have two people on my team that shape the elementary & preschool experiences for all of our campuses  (Programming Coordinators).  They work through volunteers and the kidmin staff team to create an engaging environment for kids.  These environments are duplicated at both campuses.

Though these two roles have global impact (i.e. their decisions impact all campuses) they also have direct leadership over their respective areas at a single campus.  So they ‘feel’ the direct impact of the decisions they make… the songs they implement… the activities they choose… the stories they shape.  The challenge lies in the uniqueness of every campus.  Though each campus is only 30 minutes away, the communities each campus serves can be dramatically different.  This means these Programming Coordinators need exposure to all the campuses in some respect.  We opt to accomplish this in two ways:

  1. Volunteer Creative Teams
  2. Campus Visits

Each Programming Coordinator is developing a Creative Team consisting of volunteers from all campuses.  This team will have opportunity to have a voice in how the experience is shaped.  Ultimately the decisions fall on the shoulders of the Programming Coordinators, they will have input from a variety of people representing different communities.  Here are the potential pitfalls:

  • Strict production time lines, distance and varying schedules can make it challenging to pull a group of people together to work on a project.
  • Too many “cooks in the kitchen” can have the opposite effect and do more to muddy the waters than to improve the quality.

Our solutions to these pitfalls:

  • The Programming Coordinator has the decision making power.  It is imperative that they have a clear vision of what should be communicated to the kids and that they keep that in the forefront.  By remaining tightly focused on the main points, the Programming Coordinator will have the freedom to utilize the input/ideas that effectively communicate while discarding those that don’t.
  • The Programming Coordinator will work in “pockets”.  Everyone on that creative team will not contribute to every single lesson.  Rather the Programming Coordinator will work with small groups of people within that team on different projects.  One group might be shaping February curriculum while the next shapes March.

Each Programming Coordinator is also required to have a presence at each campus.  This means they will travel to the different campuses on different weekends to see their work in action.  Context is everything.  It’s important to see the curriculum executed within the varying contexts of each campus.  Potential pitfalls, again:

  • Presence at other campuses can negatively impact the area these roles directly lead.  If the direct leader is consistently absent, volunteer teams will suffer.
  • Presence at other campuses can ‘feel’ like that campus is being ‘graded’ or ‘assessed’.  Will the Programming Coordinator have a true picture of what is happening at that campus if the volunteer team feels they have to put their best foot forward?

Our solutions:

  • Relationships, relationships, relationships.  It all boils down to relationships.  The Programming Coordinators need to have a presence with the teams they directly lead at least 75% of the time.  Developing those relationships is critical to the success of the ministry at their respective campuses.
  • The Programming Coordinators (as well as myself) must have a great relationship with the kidmin leaders at each campus.  The Campus Children’s Ministry Director always sets the tone for how their volunteer team will respond to any visitors at their campus.  It is critical that these two roles have a strong trust relationship as a foundation.  Why?  Because if the Programming Coordinator sees something they believe is not executed to the appropriate standard their relationship has to be strong enough to weather that conversation successfully.  (There is so much more to expound upon here… maybe another blog post…)

More posts to come… Programming Timelines; Resource Structure & Reporting Structure

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