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My Idea Camp Workshop – Creating Culture: What About the Kids?

Toy sampling megaphone, originally uploaded by altemark.

I had planned on recording my workshop, but forgot so I’m going to blog what I remember from the conversation.

Before all that, though, I have to fess up something to all of you who are reading this… I was 15 minutes late to my own workshop! It was right after lunch, and I was with some new friends having some great conversations about faith and kids and technology and stuff. We all thought the next session started at 2:00 p.m. We were wrong! It started at 1:45! Anyway, at least there were some ppl waiting for me… very graciously waiting… So, if you were one of those ppl – thank you!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program…

I wasn’t exactly sure of the direction the conversation would go because it was a conversation. I had my ideas of where to steer the conversation (I mean facilitate! not steer… steering bad… facilitate good…) but that isn’t where it ended up. Initially I was hoping to get into a conversation of what people thought it meant for kids to be a part of creating culture and what they might be doing, but we didn’t get there…

I started by asking the question, “What comes to mind when you hear the term ‘create culture?’” Since no one was quick to jump in, I split ppl into groups and had them write down words or short phrases on Post-It notes. I then had them group the notes into similar areas. Then had them come up with the three or four ideas of what creating culture is based on those groupings. What we came up with was that creating culture is a broad term but that it is somethig we do all the time whether intentionally or not. So, if we want to affect culture then we need to be intentional about it… and it’s most effective when we do that intentional culture creating with the child in mind.

From there we shared the challenges we had in communicating with those in leadership above us as well as the challenges we face with those in leadership trying to communicate with us. They ranged from things like trying to explain why painting flames on the platform will engage kids to not being consulted before executive decisions are made about cm to trying to communicate to parents the importance of them being more involved in the spiritual training of their children.

As we were discussing these communication challenges, I realized that most of those in the session were stuck on their communication challenges. I could’ve gone on, and we could’ve discussed and shared some concrete ideas of what it might look like to intentionally create culture with children in mind, but I don’t believe that we can do that kind of culture creation unless everyone on a church staff is on the same page and working together to do that. So, I felt a nudge that we needed to address the communication struggles.

To make a long story not so long as it already is, what was discussed was that we need to stop complaining about not being able to communicate with leaders or visa versa, suck it up, and begin to bridge the gap ourselves. We do that by empathizing with those we are having difficulty communicating with, finding common points, finding ways to affirm and encourage those people we are trying to communicate with and building trusting relationships with those people.

The point being… we need everyone to be on the same page and on-board in order to even think about having conversations at our churches about what it means to make children a priority when creating and shaping culture.

I then had everyone write down a communication challenge they are having and a way they can work to overcome that challenge through empathy, relationship and encouragement.

That is the gist of it… Wow, reading through that doesn’t sound very revolutionary… that’s because it isn’t. It is necessary. If communication within a community isn’t working, then it’s useless to even try talking about ways to shape community. I only wish we had more time to move on from the importance of establishing communication to some ideas of what it might look like to make children a part of the process of creating culture. That’ll just have to be another blog post for another time.

What do you think about my assumption that relationship and communication must be in place before tackling creating culture? How about my statement that those in children’s ministry have to suck it up when it comes to bridging the communication gap to those in leadership?

2 Responses to “My Idea Camp Workshop – Creating Culture: What About the Kids?”

  1. ShahZam March 4, 2009 at 7:58 pm #

    I just left you with a long comment. I don't know where it went. So, here you go again at my 2nd attempt.

    Q. What do you think about my assumption that relationship and communication must be in place before tackling creating culture?

    I believe in any successful endeavor in life there has to be certain amount of relation that comes through a solid relationship and creating culture is not exception. The best culture creating idea can fall flat on itself if the person suggesting it can't communicate it effectively with those around him/her. However, I've noticed that it is always much easier to communicate an idea where there is a built in transparent relationship already in existence.

    Q. How about my statement that those in children’s ministry have to suck it up when it comes to bridging the communication gap to those in leadership?

    A. This definitely is a trust issue. I lost my job because I got tired of sucking it up for a group of leaders I had lost my trust in. BTW, how long are you supposed to suck it up before you run out of air?

    PS. Sorry for being among the group that got you to your workshop late and then had to leave early.

  2. henryjz March 4, 2009 at 10:54 pm #

    Thanks for the comments Shah. I appreciate your thoughts on this. On
    your second point, I agree that at some point, if you continue to hit
    a communication wall after trying to bridge the gap yourself, then you
    do need to walk away. There is only so much we can do as humans trying
    to relate with other humans.

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