Leadership Lessons I Learned from the Summer

Over my first summer as Camp Director, I traveled over 6000 miles, met hundreds of new friends, ate fast food way too many times, and learned several key leadership lessons along the way. One of the best things about working CentriKid is getting to work with about 20 fellow staffers. The Christian fellowship we enjoy is uncomparable, and I have incredibly fond memories of times spent with these friends over my 4 years of working camp. This summer, beyond the incredible time spent with my teammates, I learned the value of two leadership tools: investment and preparation.

Now, I’m not talking stocks and mutual funds here… I mean investing in those who you are leading. Investment goes a long way. It shows you care and allows you to build a better relationship with your team, which improves how you get tasks done together. This action can be a game changer in your ministry. Individuals love to feel valued and poured into especially from those who are leading them.
Investment begins with knowing those you are leading. Knowing about their day-to-day lives (where they went to school and where they work), what hobbies and interests they have, and about their family is vital. Once you begin knowing them, you may start to dig deeper to a more personal investment through providing helpful tips and guidance. Beyond this, spiritual investment may begin as well. Encourage them to spend time in God’s Word and in their walk with the Lord, in general.

Preparation is a key leadership tool in all things. Time spent in preparation is always worth it. Taking the time to prepare allows you a few benefits:

  • You have much less to worry about when the event you have prepared for is happening.
  • You are able to identify potential snags and problems that might occur and either divert your plan to solve the problems prior to occurrence or have a plan in action to take care of the problems should they arise. This will help ensure that whatever you are doing runs smoothly.
  • The better the preparation, the higher quality the results will be.

Take the time to prepare for events, conversations, etc. that you have planned or foresee occurring in your ministry. Mentally walk through everything that will be taking place and however works best for you, prepare for it. For me, that involves typing up plans and a breakdown of the order and flow of things. For you, that might just be providing yourself with outlines or simply thinking about what needs to be done. Different events and people will lend themselves to different preparation, but whatever it looks like for you, it is important to prepare ahead of time. These skills I learned are incredibly important in leadership, and it is always good to raise our skills in these areas as we go and grow as leaders.


About the Blogger:

unnamedVincent Thomas is the newest member of the CentriKid office team! Originally from Georgia, Vincent has served as a team leader, recreation leader, and most recently, Camp Director of CK8 this past summer! In the office, Vincent oversees all things recreation and tracks times. We love having Vincent as part of the office team, and are excited about God is going to use him to make CentriKid even better!



The Role of Kids Ministers in Spiritual Formation

There are so many roles parents pay “specialists” to fill outside the home. Things like music lessons, sports training, and after-school tutoring – but there is also a tendency for this mindset to apply to spiritual growth and discipleship too. Many kids ministry leaders that I’ve spoken to this past summer have expressed how they feel the expectation to handle the spiritual formation of kids while they are at church.

The role of kids ministers in spiritual formation at the church is important, but discipleship happens best when parents lead spiritually.

Parents need to hear this … yes. But kids ministry leaders cannot just sit back, fold their arms, and bemoan the fact that parents aren’t getting the memo. Church leaders have to understand and identify their function in spiritual formation of kids under their care.

3 Roles of Kids Ministers in Spiritual Formation

  1. stand-in — You must sometimes stand in the gap to fill that role for kids with no home support. In every community there are broken families and unreached families. The way to reach these families may be through your role of spiritual investment in the kids, who will go home and talk with mom & dad about what they are learning.
  2. cheerleader — There are families who may be under your care who excel at discipling their kids. Find every opportunity to encourage them for choosing to talk about the things of God with their children, and you may even see ways to partner them with other young parents who are hungry to grow in spiritual leadership with their kids. These families deserve your encouragement and affirmation, but you can still be available to them as a resource for conversations they are having with their children.
  3. catalyst — Most often, I believe you’ll encounter families with a general idea that they should be doing something at home, but lack the vision, drive, or discipline to do it. These families are in danger, and they need your influence to help spur them towards spiritual growth. They are at risk of raising “cultural christians” instead of disciples. Don’t get discouraged – they won’t always “get it.” But seek out new ways to encourage and challenge them to lead their kids with an investment of their hearts, their words, and their time at home.

The role of kids ministers in spiritual formation cannot be overstated … you have been called by the Lord to shepherd families in your community. Know that shepherding different ones will look differently -but all of these families can benefit from your time and investment.

Jeremy Echols

JE leads the camp team, finds new camp locations, plans training, and lots of other projects. He met his wife Emily working camp, and their daughter #BabyMadison was born in 2011.

CentriKid 2016: Unseen!

We are extremely excited about what God is going to do through camp this upcoming summer in 2016.  When coming up with a CentriKid theme, we always start with the spiritual direction and then come up with a theme motif to support it. Check out this blog post to see how we decide on the CentriKid theme!

Over the past few years, we’ve taken you to outer space with “Out of This World: Where God is with Us,” to inside a video game with “RESET: God Redeems,” to giving you tools to grow your faith at Club Fit with “FIT: Faith in Training.” Book your flight and pack your bags because CentriKid 2016 is about to take off!

Our theme for summer 2016 is “Unseen.”  We will study the passage of Ephesians 6:10-20 and learn how the armor of God is powerful and real, although it is unseen. Each day focuses on an aspect of the armor of God. The beginning of the week is designed to help campers discover and understand elements of our faith that are unseen. Mid-week we’ll make a shift to discussing how to make our faith visible with boldness as the things of God are not meant to remain unseen. Our theme motif this year is an airline and airplane theme, so WHEELS UP!
Check out what your kids will be learning about each day below:
Day 1: Unseen Strength
Day 2: Unseen Truth
Day 3: Unseen Peace
Day 4: VISIBLE Faith
Day 5: VISIBLE Boldness

Our key verse this summer will be Ephesians 6:19!

“Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.”

We hope you are excited as well! Hurry and “book your flight” by registering for CentriKid 2016 soon. Check out our camp dates and locations here!

Micheal Walley

Micheal started working CentriKid in 2011 and has served as a staffer, Camp Pastor, and Camp Director. He graduated from Mississippi College with a degree in communications and public relations. He joined in the office team in 2014. Micheal loves talking about kids ministry, leadership, coffee, and his wife, Anne Marie.

Kids Ministry Essentials

At the heart of every great kids ministry is a solid and effective philosophy. Here at CentriKid we have a mission to serve churches and in order to do that we abide by these three kids ministry essentials: Heart Transforming, Kingdom Expanding, and Culture Shaping. This philosophy guides everything that we do at camp to present the gospel to kids.

kingdomHeart Transforming

We believe everything we do should not simply teach kids good behavior or morals, but it should cause them to encounter Christ so that He can transform them. Behavior modification can be a burden, and kids have a hard time understanding what freedom in Christ can look when we focus on forming behavior instead of transforming the heart. It is only through the cross, through Christ redeeming us that our hearts can be changed. We must focus on heart transformation through Christ and not simply moral behavior modification.

kingdom2Kingdom Expanding

We want to point every kid we encounter at camp to Christ. It is vital to be focused on the Kingdom more than focusing on simply growing your ministry. When you place attention on the people in your ministry rather than the programs you can begin to make disciples instead of just having names on a roster. It is great to have new and exciting aspects of kids ministry, but without Jesus at the center and pointing kids to His Kingdom, it will be pointless.

cultureCulture Shaping

Many times it would be so much easier in life if we could just fit in. Yet, when we chose to follow Christ we were called to stand out and not be of the world. We want to encourage kids to stand up for their faith even when it is the unpopular stance. We want them to seek God, grow in their faith, and gain a solid foundation. With Christ as their foundation kids will be able to be bold in their faith and world changers instead of world imitators. When kids are in a ministry where they understand the love of Christ and have experienced heart transformation and have been discipled by Kingdom focused leaders they will be able to begin to shape culture.

These principles drive everything we create at CentriKid and LifeWay Kids. We want to come alongside you and equip you, in your ministry. You have many needs in ministry, so we encourage you to check out the many solutions we provide at LifeWay Kids and to learn how we can serve you more deeply. Check out lifeway.com/kids.

Also check out this great video about these essentials.

Tiffany Francis

Tiffany graduated from Georgetown College with a degree in communication and media studies, and received her Master's Degree from Murray State. She has been with Lifeway Kids since 2010 and joined the camp team in 2014 where she works on Bible Study, the camp store, and many other elements.





The Need for Rest

We all share a need for rest. Rest is important to physical health and wellbeing, but it is also quite essential to spiritual health. In fact, the theme of rest is prevalent throughout Scripture.

Even from the beginning pages of God’s word, the importance and need for rest is clear. The very structure of the creation narrative helps highlight this significance. On days 1–3, God creates a different realm or domain of creation, and on days 4–6, He creates the solar objects and living beings to fill and live in those realms, respectively.

Day 1: Day and night ————- Day 4: Sun, moon, and stars
Day 2: Water and sky ———— Day 5: Fish, sea creatures, and birds
Day 3: Land and vegetation —– Day 6: Land animals, creatures, and humans

Structurally, all these days pair together, leaving day 7—the day when God rested—as the emphasis of the text. In this special moment at the beginning of time, all of God’s good creation lay before His presence in a state of rest.

Sadly, because of sin, the perfect rest Adam and Eve enjoyed with God in the garden was destroyed. The good new, though, is that Jesus offers the opportunity to enjoy that rest once again.

Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Matthew 11:28–30

As you continue on your spiritual journey, be sure to take time to rest physically, but also find opportunities to enjoy spiritual rest. Sit in His good, sweet presence, and praise Him for the opportunity to be known as a son or daughter of God.

Looking for an opportunity to retreat? We design KMC to be transformational experience with great worship, inspirational messages, practical workshops, lots of laughter, and a ton of fun! You are sure to leave refreshed and refueled. Join us at Music City Center in Nashville, TN, October 19–21.

Henry Dutton

Henry received a MA in Christian Studies and a BA in English, both from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. He began working for CentriKid in 2008 and joined the office team in 2012.





Creating Great Kids Worship Slides

At camp, one of my absolute favorite parts of the day is evening worship. Hearing the kids sing and praise the Lord is a beautiful thing! There are many elements that go into a worship time, even for kids! One that often goes overlooked is having words available for the kids as they sing. It is difficult for kids to engage in worship when they do not know the words but you also do not want the slides to be a distraction. Here are a few tips we use to create great kids worship slides!

1. Simple Background
When creating slides, the first place to start is the background. Take some time and find five to seven slide backgrounds that are similar to avoid looking for new designs every week. This will also enhance the look of the slides if they all have a similar theme or feel. Keep the backgrounds simple! Simple colors or backgrounds with some texture can be very effective to creating a worship experience.

2. Clean Large Font
Working with kids, we face a challenge that most worship leaders do not face– some of your kids are still learning to read. Because of this, it is important for all of your slides to be clear and easy to read. Start by choosing a font that is simple. ‘Lucida Grande’ is a great font that is available on most computers. Keep the font size large and consistent throughout the entire worship time and keep your stanzas short. I am not allowed to write an entire blog on this, but DO NOT use ‘Comic Sans’ or ‘Marker Felt’ font. Yes mom, I am looking at you.

3. Have fun!
Kid’s worship is a lot of fun so it is important for all aspects of the atmosphere to reflect this. No words on the screen can substitute for the energy that you or your worship leader brings to this time. Slides are a subtle aspect of this worship time but it can add a lot to the entire worship experience. Check out some of these example slides I put together and let us know how you help the kids engage even more during worship by commenting below or on our Facebook page!

Slide1  Kid's Worship2  Kid's Worship3

Isaac Kierstead

Isaac graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Studio Art and Editing and Writing. He started working camp in 2013 and joined the office team in 2014. Isaac designs a lot of the items you’ll see at camp this summer, helps with track development, puts together group leader information and staff manuals. His favorite part of camp is I Can’t Wait and track times.

Talking to kids about Patriot Day

Today, we remember one of the most impactful days in modern history: Patriot Day ( or September 11). I 9-11instagramremember exactly where I was when I heard the news of the attacks of 9/11: I was sitting in the front row of my fourth grade class when our assistant principal came in the room to tell my teacher. I don’t remember anything about my fourth grade year as clearly as that day. I’m sure that most of you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing 14 years ago today.

“Time is passing, yet for the United States of America there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer that died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and the ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.”-  President George W. Bush

The kids in your ministry do not have the same experience (they weren’t even born then!), but as leaders and mentors, it is still vital that we share with them the importance of remembering today, and know how to talk to kids when other tragedy strikes.

We’ve blogged about this topic quite a bit, so check out a few blogs and links below about how to talk to kids about Patriot Day and tragedy.

How to Talk with Kids about September 11- Bill Emeott, LifeWay Kids Ministry Specialist

6 Ways to Talk to Kids about Crisis and Grief- Bill Emeott, LifeWay Kids Ministry Specialist

Remembering 9/11- Jeff Land, Bible Studies for Life Team Leader

Talking to Children about 9/11- National September 11 Memorial Website

Now, head over to our Facebook page and share memories of where you were on 9/11 and how you talk to kids about September 11.

Micheal Walley

Micheal started working CentriKid in 2011 and has served as a staffer, Camp Pastor, and Camp Director. He graduated from Mississippi College with a degree in communications and public relations. He joined in the office team in 2014. Micheal loves talking about kids ministry, leadership, coffee, and his wife, Anne Marie.





Happy Labor Day! Thanks CK Staff!


We hope you are enjoying your day off from school or work.You might be taking a road trip, having a IMG_0620barbecue, or watching a football game on TV. We all love this time of year because it means that summer is over and cooler weather is on the way. Labor Day was originally created to celebrate the hard work of American people, and we wanted to take today to celebrate an incredible group of people: OUR CENTRIKID STAFF!

We believe that we have the best young leaders in the world staffing our camps. They are some of the hardest working college students and young adults in the world. They use their time, passion, and energy from the time they wake up early to set up the rec field to the time they go to bed after a late-night staff meeting.

We believe that life-change happens best in the context of relationships, and our staff make sure that they build life-changing relationships with all the kids at camp. They take meal times as an opportunity to have intentional conversations with kids, they work hard to know each kid’s name, and they always hang out with them during hang time. Every staffer makes it his or her goal to make sure that no one leaves camp without a life changing encounter with Christ, and we are so blessed by each one of them!

Evernote Camera Roll 20150731 054433.3Our office team works all year to create quality camp programming that best shares the message of Christ with kids. But at the end of the day, camp could not happen without our staffers serving selflessly, and God working through them to impact the lives of kids across the country at CentriKid.

If you have ever been a CentriKid staffer over the years, we want you to know that we appreciate you. Your service to God is a bit deal! Because of your hard work and willingness to serve the Lord, thousands of kids have a relationship with Jesus Christ, and thousands have grown deeper in their relationship with God! You have made a difference.

Thank you CentriKid Staff!

If you know of an awesome college student or young adult who would make a great CentriKid staffer, email us their information to centrikid@lifeway.com or point them to our Become a Staffer page!

If you are a CentriKid staff alum, be sure to check out our Alumni page on CentriKid.com!



Micheal Walley

Micheal started working CentriKid in 2011 and has served as a staffer, Camp Pastor, and Camp Director. He graduated from Mississippi College with a degree in communications and public relations. He joined in the office team in 2014. Micheal loves talking about kids ministry, leadership, coffee, and his wife, Anne Marie.

TBT: Ultimate CentriKid Mascot

This past summer at camp, kids and adults both loved our Ultimate CentriKid Mascot Challenge videos that would play during the parties. Each day, mascots from CentriKid present and past faced off in challenges to determine who the Ultimate CentriKid Mascot would be!

For the first time online, you can check out the Ultimate CentriKid Mascot videos below!

At the end of the final video, be sure to select the mascot you think should win!

We hope you enjoyed these videos! We loved hearing kids cheer for their favorite mascot. Throughout our 68 cycles of camp, Pace won once, Fizzy won once, and Peach won every single other time!

Micheal Walley

Micheal started working CentriKid in 2011 and has served as a staffer, Camp Pastor, and Camp Director. He graduated from Mississippi College with a degree in communications and public relations. He joined in the office team in 2014. Micheal loves talking about kids ministry, leadership, coffee, and his wife, Anne Marie.

New Ministry Grid Tools

Ephesians 4 tells us that the calling of church leaders is to train the saints in the work of the ministry, and that is why Ministry Grid exists. Ministry Grid is an online platform that utilizes videos and a suite of tools to provide training for every area of ministry in the church. With over 4,000 video sessions, Ministry Grid has developed Training Pathways to provide foundational, advanced, and expert-level content in specific ministry areas to assist and empower church leaders in their calling and to build up churches in the ministry of the gospel. The presenters in each video are church practitioners and ministry leaders who understand the challenges and speak to them well.

What should you do if you are not in charge of training your whole church, though? What if you oversee a single area of ministry and want to provide training just for your volunteers and it isn’t feasible or doesn’t make sense to sign up your whole church? Ministry Grid has two solutions for you!

Ministry Area Pricing allows you to subscribe just your particular ministry area so you can train the volunteers you oversee at the affordable rate of $399 per year. As part of this subscription, you have full access to all the training tools Ministry Grid provides. All you have to do is set up an account then purchase.

Ministry Training Essentials are video training courses set up as a digital pass that grants a single user access to train as an individual or to watch and discuss in a group setting. Covering 5 different ministry areas, each area has two or more video courses comprised of several short videos interspersed with printable resources and discussion guides. Each course addresses one specific aspect of that ministry area so you can train your leaders with depth and clarity. See the options, here.

So whether you are looking to train your entire church, train your ministry area, or learn as an individual, Ministry Grid and Ministry Training Essentials offer what you need to equip volunteers and leaders in your church in the work of ministry. Take less than 15 minutes to watch a demo and get a free 30-day trial of Ministry Grid for your whole church or purchase Ministry Training Essentials here.

Andy Dukes

Andy serves as Event Coordinator for LifeWay Kids. He graduated from Murray State University in Kentucky. He served on summer staff (Crosspoint & CentriKid) for 7 summers and moved full-time at LifeWay in 2008. Andy's wife, Meghan, is a 2nd grade teacher and they attend Redeemer Church in Hendersonville, TN where he serves both on the worship team and also as a community group leader.