Interview with Jeffrey Reed {Lifeway Christian Resources}

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As part of the KidMin Mentoring Course, I am excited to bring you an interview with Jeffrey Reed a LifeWay Kids Ministry Partner from Lifeway Christian Resources. I pray that you will be encouraged by his words and pick up practical ideas that you can use in your Children’s Ministry.

Jeffrey Reed Lifeway Interview

FFS: Hey Jeffrey! So let’s start easy. Tell us about yourself.

Jeffrey: I live in Spring Hill, TN with my wife and 4 kids. I’ve been a pastor for over 30 years and in KidMin half of that. (the BEST half) I’m a church partner in Kids Ministry for churches across the country. (work for LifeWay) I’ve served with the Kids team since moving to Nashville in ’13. LifeWay kids serves about 30,000 churches. We {Jeffrey and family} helped launch a church in January.

I contribute to our blog site with about 7-8 others from the kids team.

FFS: Church Partner? What does that mean?

Jeffrey: It’s an extension of LifeWay’s mission to serve churches. I’m the one that represents LifeWay Kids ministry to churches and events across the country. So I spend most of my time on the road meeting with pastors, directors and leaders of KidMin.

FFS: Awesome! So you really get to meet many of those who use your resources and see the challenges they are facing.

Jeffrey: I get to speak a lot, but the best part is taking a leader to coffee and letting him/her unload and be encouraged.

FFS: How did you move from being a pastor to being in KidMin full time?

Jeffrey: I was always helping out with the creative stuff in my church (home church). I was worship pastor. Then the same at my second church. Then I had two kids of my own. Then I realized God was calling me to go all in with kids. I was at a growing, vibrant church in North Atlanta and He called me into KidMin. I had always done camps for both students and kids…so kids worship was big with me.

FFS: How do you involve parents in your ministry?

Jeffrey: My wife is Kids Director and I lead the elementary ministry. When I was on staff in Amarillo, we’d have 1,000 kids on a weekend. Now, we have 15 on a good Sunday!!! With this size, the dynamics are quite different. I know every parent by name and we have started leaning in a little more from the ground up. Hopefully, as we grow, we won’t change these things.

1) We’ve honed in on pick-up time as our prime time to lead parents.
2) We make sure every parent hears us say, “Please pray with your kids every day.
3) We make sure every parent hears us say, “Please read the Bible with your kids.

Then we give them the tools to do that. We point them to our apps, show them the verses on the family handouts, and tell them how they can pray. This podcast summarizes this approach. When I do this conference breakout, it gets good response from attendees.

FFS: How would you describe the families you serve?

Jeffrey: I’m the old guy now!!! Most of our families, including the senior pastor, are in their 30s with young kids. We have a 40% kids to adults ratio, which is nuts. Most churches have about 15-20% of their attendees being birth-5th grade. Since we launched, we average about 100 people in attendance, with 20-25 in nursery and preschool and my 15 in elementary. Half of these families are unchurched.

FFS: How do you recruit volunteers and keep volunteers?

Jeffrey: We’re not sure if we’ve “kept” them yet, because we’ve only been at it for 5 months, but historically, in past churches, we “recruit small, miss small.” In other words, the mass, from the platform announcements seem to be the least effective method of recruitment. We would always get volunteers, but they would soon bow out.

Our best way is to “work the line.” Because we are intentionally talking to them every week when they pick their kids up, it’s also a place to see which ones would be a good fit.

The mom or dad that shows up late and leaves early, will probably be a volunteer that does that.

The parent or guardian who asks questions and leans in when you are giving them direction on how to lead their kids will usually be a good volunteer. My wife is good at it…I need to get better…OVER encouraging is critical.

I try to make it fun for the leaders as well. Like Pixar…[they make] great kids’ movies…but [they are] always captivating for adults as well. We hope our leaders are learning as they teach. Good curriculum will also lead leaders well.

FFS: What would you say to a KidMin Director or volunteer who is just beginning his/her ministry?

Jeffrey: Don’t force results. It’s natural to desire a Disney experience…That’s MY bent. They won’t always go “wow!” Every kid won’t come to Jesus in year one…year two…or maybe even before they leave your ministry.

Present the gospel as much as possible and consider the long-term effects of investing in the families in your ministry. We like to see results…like in school…kids get grades every 6 weeks, 9 weeks, and then the year-end. We don’t give or get grades, we just keep teaching.

FFS: What trends are you seeing with KidMin curriculum?

Jeffrey: Two trends…one good – one not so. Most curriculum are really good. There is no perfect curriculum. Every church and culture is different. One trend, that is sort of dying down with the seeker movement was to teach kids primarily through virtues or to begin with the life application of a Bible Story instead of ending with it. So…be courageous, because David was courageous…or be brave, because Mary was brave. While those are true, that makes the Bible about those characters or even…what the trend has been for a while, make it about the kid.

Ultimately, we’ll have churches full of adults that think it’s all about them…instead of about God. We have that now in many churches.

So I’m seeing the very positive trend that KidMin leaders are wanting their kids to be doctrinally grounded…having an understanding of sin, redemption, and mission.

FFS: I know in the lessons that I write, I have a specific objective, but I focus on the scripture first, then the application and always bring it to Jesus.

Jeffrey: Yes…it’s not wrong to teach the virtues of scripture, it just shouldn’t be our scope and sequence to the kids or parents. If we introduce the idea of modeling our life around Jesus’, but haven’t been transformed by him through salvation, we’ll just grow up a generation of pretenders. The moral stories of scripture are subplots to the greater narrative and KidMin leaders make the mistake of not getting to the plot soon enough. That’s probably why The Gospel Project has exploded. KidMin leaders are getting that now.

FFS: If you were to sit down over coffee, what encouraging message would you like to give to those who teach Bible every week to children?

Jeffrey: I listen to Matt Chandler (used to attend The Village Church in Dallas) and he says often, “I preach the same message every week…just using a different text.”

It’s the same in KidMin. The gospel is a foundational message that lies beneath every story…Adam, Abraham, Moses, David…etc..obviously the New Testament. It means that a kid who is there for the first time (or last) will still hear the BIG story, while those coming [each] week see it connected.

FFS: What project are you working on right now, either at Lifeway or your church?

Jeffrey: I’m doing an event in Southern California next month. It’s a test. It’s a free KidMin 1/2 day conference. The leaders do live polls to determine their own topics of discussion! Then, we’ll having leading experts in each particular area give a 6-7 minute “Ted-talk” that leads to table discussions.

FFS: If anyone wanted you to come to a church to speak, how would one go about that?

Jeffrey: They can contact me via FB or twitter. I limit weekend speaking to 4 a year but can do events and conferences during the week. I spend most of my time in the Northeast, as many churches up there have never even heard of LifeWay. It’s good to get outside of the Bible belt!

FFS: Thanks so much for your time!!! This has been great. I really appreciate it!

Jeffrey: Thanks for your passion in leading KidMin leaders…but more importantly families. We need leaders who will disciple families.






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