Archive for January, 2015

Group Leader Info is Now Available

The new year is here and it is time to start preparing for all of the exciting things you will be doing with your children’s ministry! We here at CentriKid know that there is a lot of planning that goes into everything that you do with your children and we want to help. The 2015 Group Leader Guide is available on the website and it has everything that you need to prepare for camp. You can find the guide online by going to the location that you will be attending and clicking on “Group Leader Guide.”

Check out this link to access the 2015 Group Leader Information by going to your location specific homepage. 

In this year’s Group Leader Information, you will find information that is specific to your camp location, a to do list to help you prepare for camp, information about the Team Assistant program, the daily schedule, Parent Packet, release form, and new this year is an order summary form. We hope that each aspect of this document will enable you to have a smooth camp experience from your first parent meeting until your bus arrives back at the church. We have included an order summary form on page 16 of the guide that will enable you to consolidate all of the picture, dvd, and camper care package orders for your group onto one form. This will make check-in much smoother and will keep each groups orders together. As the group leader you will also be able to keep all of the individual orders be ensure that your kids get exactly what they ordered.

We can not wait to see you at CentriKid and we hope that this guide will be a great asset as you get your kids to camp! Let us know what you are getting your kids and parents excited about as you schedule these parent meetings and get your kids ready for the summer.

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.





Stimulating Creativity

How much creativity are you required to bring to your job everyday? Whatever your job is I would encourage everyone to think outside the box and bring creativity to your life. However, when you decide you need creativity you automatically put yourself in a box. Stimulating creativity is tough. I have felt the tension and I am sure you have as well. Here are some techniques to change your normal workflow. In several of my techniques I use an example of a church evaluating their kids ministry.

1. Gather the right people
Being creative on your own has its place, but often times it is beneficial and simply more fun to collaborate with others. Notice I said the right people. Bring together the right team to help you push through a project or problem. I am thankful to work with super skilled folks at LifeWay Kids, who serve as excellent co-collaborators. Find those people in your life especially at your work and ask them to help you tackle something.

IMG_48492. Generate Ideas
My favorite technique for generating ideas, especially with a group of people is the Post-It method. However you can have people just call out their ideas and you write them down for everyone to see. The whole purpose of this activity is to gather all the ideas. At this point no idea is too crazy and everything can be considered. In my example of the evaluation of the kids ministry area I used green Post Its to write things that were Good to Go and pink Post Its to write things for imProving.

3. Create Borders
Here you are defining both sides of the equation. For example some people create borders by creating pro and con lists. Or maybe you are talking about the culture of your kids ministry and you talk about what is in and what is outside the context of your culture. Borders can assist you in generating ideas and honing in on selecting ideas.

4. Sketching and Model MakingIMG_4850
I love using my white board for work. It helps me think while I draw out relationships. Here are two hypothetical sketches above. Remember sketch means loosely drawn, so it does not take an artist to sketch or make a model, clearly. First I made an improvement timeline. I took the pink stickies and placed them on a loose timeline from January to December. This way I can show when I want to work on these projects in relation to big moments in kids ministry like VBS and camp in the summer. The other one is really a sketch. It can be used in a meeting to discuss what the arrows have to be for us to get our goal of more volunteers. The arrows are the action steps.

IMG_48475. Metaphoric Structure
This is one of my favorites to do with almost anything. Metaphoric structure is where you take something and liken it to something entirely different. Take your kids ministry for example, what if it were a restaurant. Who would be the chef, who are your guests, what is on your menu, and what kind of restaurant do you own? Similarly intriguing what if your kids ministry was an airplane, what about a toy trunk, or a profession. These metaphoric structures help you revisit what is familiar to you in a completely different way. It creates a narrative, which helps you tell the story of your kids ministry as though you don’t know what is about to happen.

Here you find 5 tools for your toolbox. At the end of the day, just get creative. Solving problems is fun. Have fun with your work and play a little. It could be the catalyst your ministry needs.

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 is a CentriKid Camp Specialist and a volunteer in his church's kidmin each week. He has been serving with CentriKid since 2011 and on the office team since 2014. Micheal loves talking about kids ministry, leadership, coffee, and his wife, Anne Marie.

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 loves spending family time with his wife Emily and their daughter Madison.

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 is a CentriKid Camp Specialist and a volunteer in his church's kidmin each week. He has been serving with CentriKid since 2011 and on the office team since 2014. Micheal loves talking about kids ministry, leadership, coffee, and his wife, Anne Marie.





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 is a CentriKid Camp Specialist and a volunteer in his church's kidmin each week. He has been serving with CentriKid since 2011 and on the office team since 2014. Micheal loves talking about kids ministry, leadership, coffee, and his wife, Anne Marie.

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.

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 is a CentriKid Camp Specialist and a volunteer in his church's kidmin each week. He has been serving with CentriKid since 2011 and on the office team since 2014. Micheal loves talking about kids ministry, leadership, coffee, and his wife, Anne Marie.