Graffiti 2 Missions Update

For ten years I have been serving as a missionary to the South Bronx. In this place, God has worked more than I could dare ask, hope, or imagine. Honestly, He has done just as much in my life as He has done through my life. All that I have learned can be summed up with one word, faithunnamed-3

Faith is trusting that something will happen because of what has already happened. Faith reaches with two hands, one to the past and the other to the future, and informs us what to do now.

I write to you today in faith.

Looking back, Graffiti 2 can testify to the great things accomplished by God. Countless testimonies abound from ten years of ministry. This vibrant ministry has birthed a church that God is growing as we continue to plant seeds of the gospel while we meet the needs in the Mott Haven community. Check out some videos of this work by visiting our Vimeo channel (

In the past, God has abundantly provided through the family of God. Centri-Kid was a big part of that in 2013 as you faithfully shared your mission’s offering with Graffiti 2

Looking ahead, I believe in total confidence that God has given us a clear vision moving forward. This vision involves

  • Continuing to strengthen our existing programs to children, teens, and families in the Mott Haven community.
  • Coaching adults to become the best they are capable of becoming through our workforce development program.
  • Growing the kingdom of God by meeting needs, sharing the Gospel, and discipling believers through Graffiti 2 Baptist Church.
  • Beginning other new works in other communities of need across New York City.
  • Providing training in upside Down Kingdom Planting to individuals and churches so they can impact communities of need across the country.

Standing in the middle of the past and the future, faithfully I am stepping and asking you to step with me in the present. In the coming six months Graffiti 2 is endeavoring to find God’s earthly resources for moving forward with this vision. To many individuals, it may seem impossible. We are endeavoring to raise more money in six months than we have in ten years. In my kingdom, this is impossible. However, in God’s kingdom, all things are possible.

To accomplish our goal we will be hosting Catch the Vision events across the country. We also will be coordinating a Week of Giving, May 3-9, 2015. More information can be found about these efforts by visiting our website.

We need your help in accomplishing our goal. Will you

  • Pray for Graffiti 2’s Vision?
  • Give to support Graffiti 2’s Vision?
  • Host a Catch the Vision Event?
  • Rally others by hosting a fundraiser or challenging others to give during our Week of Giving?

We know in the end, it is all up to God, but He has worked through you, the family of God, in powerful ways to bless the ministry of Graffiti 2.

About the Guest Blogger:  

Andrew-Graffiti-e1416774760892-300x265Andrew Mann is the Pastor and Executive Director of Graffiti 2. In February of 2005, Andrew joined the staff of East 7th Baptist Church/Graffiti Community ministries to assist with youth programs and begin preparing for the new ministry plant of Graffiti 2 Community Ministries. In August of 2005, Andrew moved to Mott Haven and currently oversees the mission, vision, strategy and implementation of Graffiti 2 Community Ministries.  CentriKid is proud to partner with Graffti 2 to help kids and communities have a life-changing encounter with Christ.




Micheal Walley

Micheal started working CentriKid in 2011 and has served as a Camp Director the past two summers. He graduated from Mississippi College with a degree in communications and public relations. He joined in the office team in 2014. Micheal loves talking kids ministry, leadership, and coffee.

3 Tips to Be More Productive

We all have those moments when you realize there are more things to get done than there are hours in the day — feeling one of those right now? If you get that feeling occasionally, its healthy but if you are perpetually feeling overwhelmed or just always running behind, you should consider these tips to be more productive.

1 – Write things down, get them out of your head, and know that you’ll look again at the place where you wrote them down. This tip is credited to a great book about productivity called “Getting Things Done.” Don’t keep everything in your head – you need your head to be free to focus on the task at hand.

2 – Be honest about your calendar. I’ve been guilty of under-estimating the time required for my responsibilities. Don’t let your calendar become a decoration for your office that contains your best intentions. Get real about your pace of completion and the time you are able to spend on projects in a given day or week.

3 – Say “no” to what you need to. To be productive, be sure to only do what ONLY YOU need to do. There may be things you should delegate and there may be things you just need to decline. Don’t pressure yourself to do every single thing that comes across your desk.

Sharpen your skills with these tips to be more productive, and you will feel better about the things you are doing and the things you are choosing not to do as well.

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.

What We Are Reading

We love to read in the CentriKid Office. We believe that reading is super important for leadership and personal growth. In fact, we are going through a book together to develop our leadership skills. In addition to that book, we each have our own books that we are reading, talking about with each other, and sharing with our friends.

Check out the books we are  reading to maybe find the next book you want to pick up!

jpegI’m currently reading Creativity Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull, the President of Pixar and Disney Animation.  I originally bought this book for one of my friends a few months ago, and eventually bought myself a copy.  Catmull-who leads one of the most successful and creative businesses of today- explains how he leads his company by inspiring creativity.  I love creativity, and I love how Catmull has challenged his team to take risks, think outside of the box, and be the best that they can be.


JE is currently reading Paperless by David Sparks.  It’s an e-book that takes advantage of the iBooks author tools with great page layouts, interactive screenshots, embedded screencasts, and videos.  It is something that is an interest to him both personally and professionally– how to reduce the amount of paper filled away in his work and home life.



jpegCollin is currently reading Game Storming, and here’s what he has to say about it: “Game Storming was lent to me by JE back in September (I think he forgot I still have it, sorry JE). The premise of the book is to learn the philosophy behind effective brainstorming and creating games, and how to translate basic principles into your context. It gives a lot of tools to inspire creativity and navigate processes with a team. This can be particularly fun if you love games, as I do. The last 3 quarters of the book give over 50 different games to use during your creative process. It can stand alone as a good reference tool. This book can challenge leaders in how they lead meetings and organizational development. Check it out! Also, I am almost done with it JE!
jpeg-1Henry is reading  Bonhoeffer a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. “I am reading this book because I am interested to learn more about one of the great men of the Christian faith, and I am also hoping to learn more about the history of Germany. Several friends recommended the book to me, and they mentioned that in addition to the events of Bonhoeffer’s life, the book also provides very rich detail about German history. In addition to this book, I would recommend The Cost of Discipleship, a book written by Bonhoeffer himself. This book is a Christian classic on following Christ.”


jpeg-2Isaac is reading Aha! by Kyle Idleman. “This book talks about the moments that transform your life and bring you closer to God. I have just begun reading it but the idea that our life needs these moments where we refocus and really see God in a deeper way has been great to study. I am only in the first part of this book that deals with the Awakening that we need in our life but I have enjoyed beginning to understand what I need to look at in my life to grow closer to Christ.”  Isaac does not want to admit it on the blog, but he is also deep into reading Star Wars novels and listening to those audiobooks currently.  Don’t tell him I told you that.



So what are you reading?  Check out JE’s Leadership Reading Plan, and the Essential Camp Leadership Reading List to get some other ideas of great books and what you should look for when picking out your next book.

Micheal Walley

Micheal started working CentriKid in 2011 and has served as a Camp Director the past two summers. He graduated from Mississippi College with a degree in communications and public relations. He joined in the office team in 2014. Micheal loves talking kids ministry, leadership, and coffee.





CentriKid Book Club

As an office team we have been reading through John Maxwell’s “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.” It has created some interesting conversations and allowed us to evaluate where we are as leaders, and develop our leadership abilities further. From topics of influence, respect, intuition, and connection, here are some of the topics that really resonated with me as we have read through this book.

The way that you know that you are a leader is if people listen to you. Influence is so important in leadership. Maxwell mentions a leadership proverb that says “he who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk.” You have to invest and believe in your followers. They have to buy into your vision and want to help you make that vision a reality.

Leadership is about the people that you lead. Making people feel valued will always be priority for me as a leader. If your followers do not trust you as a leader or they do not believe that you value them, pretty soon you will just be taking a walk. I really resonated with this line from Maxwell, “I believe the bottom line in leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves but but how far we advance others.” It is vital to take time to get to know the people that you lead and make sure that you are helping them to reach their potential. Maxwell notes, “Mature leaders listen, learn, and then lead.”.

It is a joy to work with some of the best leaders that I know on the CentriKid team. And we are continually looking for ways to lead better. It is vital to any type of leader to keep growing, “leadership is developed daily, not in a day.” There is always more to learn about leadership and more to learn about the people that you lead.


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.





Guest Blog: Investing in Those You Lead

One thing I’ve learned in my years working camp is that my job as a leader is to help those I lead reach their full potential in ministry. Investing in people is kind of like putting money into a bank account. You have to make a deposit before you can make a withdrawal. I found that I got the best results when I focused my efforts on developing and challenging my rec team to reach their full potential as ministers of the Gospel.

Here’s just a few ways that I’ve learned to invest in my team through CentriKid:

Connect: Get to know your team! Leadership is influence, and people are influenced by those who are involved in their lives. At CentriKid, we fully believe that ministry happens best in the context of relationships and leading your team is no different.

Collaborate: As leaders, we make the plans but it’s often our teams who execute those plans. Believe them when they say something doesn’t work. At CentriKid, we evaluate everything. Value your team members’ opinions and make changes as they suggest. Work together as a team to solve problems that come up in your ministry and show them that their expertise is essential to what you do. After all, we’re all in this together.

Serve: For me as a Rec Leader, this meant getting my rec staffers Gatorade during the second rec rotation when they were running low on energy. Sometimes it meant letting them take a deep breath while I explained a game or gave a debrief. Other times it meant getting them ice cream after recreation just because I wanted them to know they were important to me. Ask your team what you can do to help make their jobs run smoother. Listen to your team and find ways to give them that extra push they need on the hardest days.

Highlight Excellence: Carry around a notebook with you and write down specific things your staff does excellently as your day goes along. At your next meeting, brag on your team or pull individuals aside as you see greatness. You’ll be amazed how people will feed off this encouragement and strive to push themselves even further.
Replace Yourself: Collin recently wrote an excellent blog post about this CentriKid culture, but the concept is simple. You won’t always be around. When you leave your position, who will know how to do what you do? Don’t let the knowledge you’ve gained through ministry die with your exit. If you see potential in someone, cultivate it. Give them opportunities to lead. For me, this meant turning over the reigns and letting someone else be in charge of Rec set-up. There are of course some things that only you can do, but even so “take them with you” is a good motto that we use in the CentriKid World.’

About the Guest Blogger:

i-jwGqjKk-LRachel Gillespie has been a CentriKid staffer since 2011!  For the past 3 summers, Rachel has served as a recreation leader and has led her recreation staffers with excellence. Rachel is a graduate of Carson-Newman University and is in her first year studying for a Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work at Truett Seminary at Baylor University.


Micheal Walley

Micheal started working CentriKid in 2011 and has served as a Camp Director the past two summers. He graduated from Mississippi College with a degree in communications and public relations. He joined in the office team in 2014. Micheal loves talking kids ministry, leadership, and coffee.

Appreciating Volunteers

Discussing appreciating volunteers is like discussing spiritual growth. Yes, I can say I am growing spiritually, but of course there is room for improvement. To be effective in your appreciate of others you need to be a lifetime learner of people and processes. Lance Howerton is one leader I try to follow in his ability to show appreciation to others. One of the first lessons Lance taught me was a quote from Howard Schwartz, owner of Starbucks, “catch someone doing something right.” This resonated with me and has sent me on a journey to learn more about appreciating others. Below are some of the thoughts I have considered.

Here are some thoughts from How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie.

  • “The expression one wears on one’s face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back.” Simply said, just smile. Often times we get involved in elaborate schemes to demonstrate our appreciate of folks, which is perfectly fine. However we should never compromise a friendly demeanor.
  • “Firestone said, ‘I have never found that pay and pay alone would either bring together or hold good people. I think it was the game itself.” Here Carnegie is speaking of giving your volunteers a challenge. You show you value them by raising your expectations and demonstrating your trust in them.
  • “Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise” Going overboard with your appreciation does not fit in a box. It doesn’t require gifts or long letters, but it is important to communicate your appreciation with no corners cut.

Lance pointed me to Lee Cockerell’s book, Creating Magic. What amazing about Cockerell’s his book is strategic to grow Disney was to show appreciation to his partners, or in Disney’s language his cast members. Chapter 5 of Creating Magic is about making people your brand. I encourage you to read this book for a fresh and inspiring philosophy on adding value to others.

If you are looking to have specific action steps and need some help with thoughts on how to implement a plan. Check out this blog post on 10 ways to appreciate your volunteers and 3 ways to make your volunteers feel like a million bucks. When reflecting on my leadership journey I always want to evaluate how I show my appreciate to others. I hope you take a moment this day or week to see where you can grow in this area of your leadership.

Collin Spindle

Collin graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Science with an emphasis in Youth Development. He began working for CentriKid in 2010 and joined the office team in 2013.

Helping Preteens Grow Spiritually

We think there are very few things as important as spending time in God’s word. This is important for adults, and it is equally important for kids. In fact, we will be talking about these spiritual practices this year during FIT: Faith in Training. Every day at CentriKid, we provide campers with a “Time Alone with God” devotion. This a time for kids to break away from others and spend time alone praying and reading scripture. We also send each camper home with a CentriKid devotional which includes 4 weeks of devotions after camp to follow up what God has taught them at CentriKid.

Kids should not just have devotions while at camp or during the weeks following camp. Kids should make quiet time a focus all year long. We are blessed to be able to be apart of LifeWay Kids, who provides really great devotionals for preteens ages 10 and up to use every day of the year: Bible Express! Here’s what you can expect:

What To Expect With Bible Express

  • Designed for preteens (5th & 6th graders).
  • Builds discipline of a daily time with God.
  • Helps develop Christian values

What Preteens Will Like About Bible Express

  • Separate devotions for boys and girls
  • Interactive activities
  • Cool articles and fun facts

In fact, our CentriKid Office Team members Collin, Isaac, and myself are writers for Bible Express! I remember using Bible Express devotions when I was kid, and I am now excited to be writing devotions for other kids and helping preteens grow spiritually.

Check out Bible Express and how you can get a free sample by following this link!

Also, check out my older post about Explaining Quiet Time to Kids!

Micheal Walley

Micheal started working CentriKid in 2011 and has served as a Camp Director the past two summers. He graduated from Mississippi College with a degree in communications and public relations. He joined in the office team in 2014. Micheal loves talking kids ministry, leadership, and coffee.





KidMin New Years Resolutions

3-2-1 HAPPY NEW YEAR! That time is here and you have made your New Years resolutions, but what are your plans to grow your ministry in the next year? When I create my New Years list it always includes trying to save money, going to the gym more, or the hardest: drinking less sweet tea! What milestones can we set for a new year of children’s ministry?

How can you better enable your volunteers? 
Volunteers are the muscle behind any kid’s ministry and it is important to have a plan to take care of your volunteers and be sure that they are given the proper tools to succeed in ministry. Send out an end-of-year survey and ask your volunteers for ways that you can better serve them or how they feel the ministry can grow. Then do it! Make your volunteers feel heard by getting them those extra crayons and markers or by looking at class sizes to be sure that the teachers are being utilized to the best of their abilities. Simply making a plan to give all of your volunteers a thank you note by June can really make a difference. These volunteers pour into the kids every week and having a plan to invest in them is important.

Examine the content
Take some time to examine the curriculum that you are using at your church. Different programs fit different churches, and it is our goal at LifeWay Kids to create a curriculum that will fit your church. We offer 3 different starting points for you to base your ministry on, whether it is Bible Studies for Life, The Gospel Project, or Explore the Bible, LifeWay Kids wants you to find the best fit for your ministry.

Summer activities
Do you know what else January 1st means? It also means that Group Leader information is now available! It is never too early to start planning for camp. You can start scheduling your parent meetings, plan some fundraisers or events that will promote camp, and get your kids ready for a fantastic summer. VBS is also just around the corner! Come check out VBS Preview events and take your VBS to the next level.

How are you growing?
We are so thankful for all the work that you put in as a children’s minister. We understand the long hours that you spend loving kids and their families and the dedication that you have to make God’s name known to these kids. As you make this list of all of the ways that your ministry can grow this year, take some time to make a plan of how you can grow in your walk with God. Schedule extra time to help you in your personal walk with God and everything else will begin to fall into place as you seek His guidance in this ministry.

We hope that 2015 is an amazing year for you and your ministry! Keep us updated, we love to hear what God is doing in the lives of your kids all year long.

Isaac Kierstead

Isaac graduated from Florida State University in 2014 with a degree in studio art and editing and writing. He started working camp in 2013 and has served as a rec team member, stage host, and camp pastor. Isaac joined the office team in 2014.





When it Rains, do you have Plan B?

When it rains at camp, some places shut down and put in a movie, but we always have a back-up plan and do everything to make sure kids get a great experience despite the weather. Track times or recreation games may have to be adapted, but we still have fun. No matter what adjustments we have to make, we continue to share spiritual applications and make the gospel clear for kids.

At camp in the summer, our camp directors are always watching the local weather, but also watching the weather that is developing and heading their way.  A couple of summers ago, one of our camp directors told me,”It’s raining in Jackson .” She then asked me what I thought about the afternoon. I didn’t have any idea what she was talking about — but we were in North Carolina and she saw that it was raining in Jackson, TN and headed our direction later. We still use that phrase, “its raining in Jackson” to reference planning ahead.

We try to anticipate as many things as we can and prepare for them. In your church’s ministry, you can also prepare for a “rainy day” so you don’t have to shut down your kids program just because of something unexpected coming up. Give kids the best experience possible – and above all, make sure you communicate the message of Christ.

  1. when planning outdoor events, know what your options are for heading indoors.
  2. keep band-aids and headache medicine in your bag at all times. These may prove helpful for kids or volunteers.
  3. have a bag of tricks for when “big-church” goes longer than planned and you have to keep the kids for parents to pick them up.
  4. make sure your contacts/calendar/notes/plans are backed up somewhere other than just your phone. If your phone takes a plunge, then you need to be able to function!
  5. schedule your most important tasks early if you can. As the day goes on, there’s more opportunity for the unexpected to happen.
  6. keep a gospel tract in your Bible so its handy whenever the opportunity arises to share the message of Christ with a child or parent.
  7. on a longer timeline, develop young leaders because you never know when a key volunteer will take a new job, get pregnant, or be called to serve in another area.

It pays to think things through before a crisis hits. You never know what’s around the corner, but don’t let that make you paranoid, just train yourself to anticipate possible challenges,  be prepared, and have a plan b!

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 Culture: Replace Yourself

If you have been following our culture posts you have read about Striving for Excellence, Making It Fun and Building Life-Changing Relationships. Catch up if you have missed one or two. We find these culture statements important with our camp, because they guide our actions regularly.

Today’s topic is replace yourself. When talking with staff, we choose to say “replace yourself.” As we discussed the “Replace Yourself” statement when we toyed with different phraseology, which can totally change the dynamic. We wanted to convey the importance of raising up the next generation to pass the baton of our mission to them. We considered “replicate yourself”, but it strikes the wrong chord. Replication means you are making a carbon copy of yourself. From experience I know I cannot be a great someone else, or even a good someone else. However, I can be the best Collin maximizing my strengths and working on my weaknesses.

Replace yourself means you will work to invest in others, because you have the realization you cannot do everything by yourself and you are not always going to be where you are currently. Here a few techniques we use to make sure we are replacing ourselves at camp.

  1. Walk and Talk – When you are headed somewhere with one or two people look to invest in them. Take advantage of your uninterrupted time and make everything a teachable moment.
  2. Pursue your People – A huge mistake a leader can make is inaccessibility. Maybe you have told your team “my door is always open.” Truthfully, that is not enough. You need to go to your people or you need to invite them into your environment. To create opportunities to replace yourself in others you need to pursue your people.
  3. Delegate – First decide what only you can do. There are things you should not delegate. However, often times you can empower others by delegating tasks to them and supporting them through it.

Ultimately, replacing yourself is a spiritual mandate we should all follow based on the Great Commission. If you are not first replacing your faith in others, you are missing the mission in our walk as believers. Today consider in whom you should be replacing yourself and how you can accomplish it.

Collin Spindle

Collin graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Science with an emphasis in Youth Development. He began working for CentriKid in 2010 and joined the office team in 2013.