I hope you all enjoyed the tips from part 1 last week, on how to make sure more parents attend your parent meetings and more volunteers attend your trainings. It is so important to increase attendance at these meetings! Here are a few more strategies to try:

  1. Honor their time by keeping to the point and being brief. Stick to your notes. Better to end early than irritate people with a never-ending meeting. Yes, you probably have a lot of things on your heart to go over, that need changing in the kids’ area, but this is not the time for that. Stick to the reason you have them there. If you don’t, they won’t come to the next one.
  2. Do not give out information early. This is an important lesson I learned as a children’s pastor. When I went on staff at a certain church, I was told that “no one shows up for parent or volunteer meetings.” I wondered why. Then I called a meeting about an important security change. Right away the phone calls started coming in. “Um, I can’t make the meeting. What’s the announcement?” “We are out of town. Just give me the details.” Right away I realized why no one came to the meetings. There was no reason to. They got a few abbreviated details over the phone, passed them on to each other, and skipped the meetings. The meetings were no longer of any importance. People were shocked as I told them one by one, “I’m sorry to hear that. This will be a very important change happening. I want it to first be presented to the people present. Wouldn’t want it to get out over the grapevine. I highly suggest you get with one of those who were there after you return and get their notes. That’s a bummer, because I really would have liked your input. But maybe after you get back you can make an appointment with me and I can try to catch you up.” This had a dramatic effect. First they pushed for more info. I held to my guns very politely and wished them a great trip. Word got out that something “big” was going on. Nine times out of ten “their schedule just cleared up.” And I spoke to a packed house. Give them a reason to show up and be really present. Ask yourself these questions: Is this change something you want discussed in the court of public opinion before you even present it? Do you want to give ammo to those who resist change? Do you want parents and volunteers serving with only partial or possibly incorrect information? Do not call a parent or volunteer meeting for any petty reason. But when you determine that the change affects everyone and they need to be there, do not give out an abbreviated version before the event.
  3. Give people a chance to provide input, feedback, and ask questions. Be prepared to give well-researched answers to their questions. If you do not know the answer, take down the questioner’s name and respond, “I’m not sure, but I will find out.” You will gain parent support and more volunteers if you allow honest feedback and questions. I usually take notes during that time. People will show up if they have buy-in.
  4. Do not let anyone monopolize the discussion. Especially if you are a young or new children’s leader, stay in charge of that meeting and keep it on the task at hand. Do not allow the topic to get derailed to something else. Do not let it be a forum for debate. Your response when challenged sets the tone for your ministry. Also, don’t be defensive or argumentative. You’re not trying to lead the meeting, you are leading it. It is not the place to aim anything at anyone or have a great big public argument. There are people in this world who jump at the chance for public drama. That is the biggest drawback to having a parent or volunteer meeting. Don’t give anyone a pulpit for a public drama. Shut down anything nasty as soon as it starts.  Many parents and volunteers do not want to attend group meetings or trainings because they know someone always monopolizes the meetings and/or they become negative bashing sessions. You can change this perception. If someone starts something say something like this:

“That is a whole different discussion, for another time. Make an appointment to see me about that” (they usually won’t because they want an audience).

“Okay, let’s hear what some other parents think about this topic.”

“Interesting, but for the sake of time, let’s stay on topic.”

“I know you probably have more you would like to share on this topic. Good thing I am putting my email up on the screen! I am also handing out these feedback forms. Please put your name on it if you wish to be contacted. Everyone please fill out a feedback form and leave it on your chair.” (Instead of public meetings, some churches now use only email and forms for feedback. I understand why.)

Remember that the purpose of the meeting is to communicate vision, convey information, and occasionally to garner feedback. It is not a debate. Do not imply that the church’s decisions are being debated or being voted on. You are letting them know that a decision has been made or that a change is coming. Never use one of these meetings to attack someone or any area of the church. Do not retaliate in any way if someone makes a snide comment. You set the tone. Make sure the parent or volunteer meeting is a positive, uplifting, and beneficial experience for everyone involved. Make all of your parents and volunteers eager to be at any meeting you call.

Can you think of any more tips on getting people to your meetings? Please share in the comments below so we can all have better, more effective, better attended trainings and meetings. Love and blessings! TrishaIMG_20160503_082534

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Some information—the very important turns and changes in the ministry, whether they be leadership changes, curriculum or scheduling changes—must be clearly communicated to the parents and leaders. But how do you go about relaying it to parents and volunteers? You are going to have to be strategic, persistent, and consistent to get information across. So I encourage you to use some or all of these methods to convey information:

  1. Use live meetings with a big group sparingly. Mass meetings are not a method to use weekly. They should be only by used to convey something of great importance (examples: major curriculum change, service times change, key leader stepping down, brand new security procedures that affect everyone). That way, when you call a meeting, they will know it’s important.
  2. Advertise it at least one month in advance, and advertise it in many ways.
  3. Be specific. Who is supposed to be present? When you say “parent meeting,” is that all parents? Parents of kids up to twelve years old? Parents are understandably irritated if they clear their schedule (especially if they paid a sitter) to go to your important meeting, only to find out you didn’t mean them. Which volunteers did you need at this training and why? Be specific about the location. Can anyone find that room if they are new? What time is it? Is there child care provided? How long will the meeting be? Indicate why the meeting is important, like a leadership or curriculum change, but don’t go into too much detail. One church I visited handed out a leaflet during the service that said, “Parent meeting right after service in the choir room.” Parents were in a mass of confusion. I heard them saying, “Meeting right after which service?” “Why do we have to go? Is the pastor leaving?” “I’m a parent of two junior-highers. Do I have to go?” “I’m new. Where on earth is the choir room?” That parent meeting was a total disaster. I heard that the youth pastor who called the meeting never made that mistake again. But sadly the congregation didn’t forget it soon either.
  4. Be respectful of people’s time. I didn’t fully understand this when I was a new children’s pastor, but now that I have kids of my own, it makes more sense. For example, do everything in your power not to take another night of the week. Parents and volunteers are already, on average, gone at least five nights a week with church, sports, recitals, plays, and so on. If you pick a night during the week, unless it is an emergency meeting, many will not be there. And the ones who show up want a sense that this was important to take some of the only family time they might have that whole week. Try to have the meeting when they are at church already—first service, if you have two (this takes care of someone to watch their kids too); directly after a service (some will complain about lunch); before or after midweek service (some will complain if it gets late for their kids to be out on a school night). No matter when you pick, someone will complain, so you cannot please everyone, but try to be considerate. They will already be resentful of you if they feel you do not care about their family time, and you need them on your team!
  5. I do not recommend sending out a survey asking what time to have the meeting. You will get thirty-seven different answers; one person will get their way (and probably not show up) and the rest will think, “no one cares that I filled out the survey” and not show up. I personally ask one or two people I trust and then make a decision and stick with it.
  6. This is going to sound awful, like bribery, because it is bribery, but we always have more people show up when we offer food. So we offer refreshments if we really need people to hear what we have to say. Advertise that you will have refreshments!

Please stay tuned for next week’s part 2! What are your best tips for getting your team to trainings and your parents to parent meetings? Love and blessings- Trisha

 

Everyone knows that a change in pastoral leadership, for any reason, can be a tough situation for your church, staff, volunteers and families. But did you know that what you DO during this crucial time of transition will GREATLY impact your church’s ministries either for growth and healthy change or for hurt and damage for a long time to come? But do not panic! Let’s take a look at some very common mistakes that leaders make during transitions in church leadership and some tips on how to make a transition more positive for everyone.

Mistake #1 Announcing that nothing is going to change with this transition in leadership. Everything will stay the same.

Tip: Be HONEST with the leaders, the church, the volunteers and with yourself. There WILL be change. Change occurs all the time, with any growth, leadership transitions, and time. During a transition in any part of the church leadership team there WILL be changes. I actually sat in a church service and heard a pastor promise the congregation that “absolutely nothing would change” when his successor came in the next week. In fact he said, “they wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference, or even that he had left.” Internally I groaned. He had just promised the church something that could NEVER be delivered. And within a VERY few short weeks, people were angry and complaining that “things felt different” and “the new guy wants to do something new”. I don’t believe in making promises to your leaders, parents and kids that you can’t keep. And it also isn’t fair to whoever is coming in! That person WILL have their own style, giftings and ministry. And it is wrong to expect them to be someone else, or to keep someone else’s ministry on life support indefinitely. God will be using that NEW leader and THEIR giftings in wonderful new ways. During a time of transition, it is so important for everyone to stay flexible, and to hold their expectations loosely. Don’t promise that nothing will change. Promise that you are all doing your best to make this a smooth transition, promise to care about your leaders, your parents and your kids. Promise that what matters to them, matters to you. Promise to find (or be) the very best leader you can possibly be and to listen and obey God the best you can, each and every week. And make sure to keep those promises.

Myth #2 Jumping in to change things- IMMEDIATELY, as much as possible, without listening to those in the trenches and those who were there before.

Tip: Smart leaders WAIT, WATCH and LISTEN a LOT at first. Listen to parents, volunteers, staff and perhaps even your predecessor. I thought I would jump out of my skin waiting to make changes at my last children’s pastorate, but we kicked off programs with quality and impact instead of throwing them together. And I was SO glad we waited and prepared. One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is going in like a wrecking ball and bowling over people in your wake. Those people are not “in the way of your ministry”- they ARE your ministry. Most lead pastors have recurrent nightmares about getting a new children’s leader who barges in, offends people, causes solid long term leaders to quit and parents to complain. Yes, you WILL need to make changes, and some people are not going to like them. But take the time up front to build RELATIONSHIPS and vision cast. That way, when it is time to take that ministry further, God-willing, much of your team will be on board with you for the long haul.

Myth #3 I can gain more credibility by discrediting my predecessor.

Tip: Never ever ever ever X4 tear down the one before you. Here’s why: a. there will always be some people- parents, volunteers and staff, who DID like and connect with your predecessor- no matter how things were when they left. It is not worth it to alienate those people. They highly supported the last pastor, and may just support you too. b. You set the tone of your ministry there. If you set a note of tearing people down, they’ll tear you down too eventually. Set a tone of love, and encouragement from the start. c. You do NOT have all the sides of the story. You may find after a year or two, you agree with the last guy now, and you’ll have to eat those words. d. If there had been a scandal, or the former pastor left on a bad note, don’t keep associating yourself and your ministry with that scandal by constantly bringing it up (tearing them down). Make a BREAK with it. e. Your biggest job right now will be to gain the trust of other staff/parents you may cross paths with. No one is going to trust someone that is putting others down. f. Putting down the former pastor doesn’t make you look better, it makes you look more insecure. You do not need to “break” anyone’s loyalty to a former pastor. Be glad they appreciate and miss the one that left. Then give them a ministry they can appreciate and be excited about right now.

Transitions are tough, but they are the only way to the great things God has in store! How exciting! love Trisha

What tips do you have for surviving and thriving in a time of transition?

So after a week learning the basics from part one, here’s what you’ve REALLY been waiting for…

Lip Control-

  1. There are some sounds that cannot be made without moving your lips. These will give you the most trouble. Vowels are all fine. You’ll have to work a lot on B, F, M, P, Q, V, W, Y.
  2. A background in music, acting and/or illusions is not necessary but it really helps! So much of ventriloquism is acting- bringing an awesome character to life! And singing in your new puppet voice is a lot easier that speaking at first. Singing relies a lot on vowels- which you can do without moving your lips. Most of my puppet voices I worked out by singing them first.
  3. For better lip control, you are going to have to have replacement sounds for the difficult letter above- sounds that are CLOSE enough to the original to fool your listeners ears. It is an illusion. If the sound is close enough, the brain will fill in the missing pieces and the person will believe they heard that whole word. For example- the word “firefighter” cannot be said exactly without moving your lips. So ventriloquists actually say, “thirethighter.” A “th” sound instead of an “f” sound. Now you will know if you listen for it lol. An M is an N performed with your tongue further back on the roof of your mouth. P was the hardest word for me to learn! It is a “TC” sound with the tip of your tongue on the back of your top teeth. B is actually a modified “d”. “V” I simulate by vibrating my tongue along my upper teeth. W and q and y I fabricate by pulling my tongue back, pulling air INTO my mouth instead of out.

If this sounds hard that’s because it is!!! This is why it takes a lot of work, a lot of practice to get it right. But it is so worth it! And remember, characterization-having an awesome puppet character and puppet movement and voice-is so much more important than perfect lip control. I believe in you! What other questions can i answer about ventriloquism for you? Anything I can make clearer? Love and blessings on your ministry! Trisha

My puppet Patti and I have traveled doing ministry now for 25 + years. Wow it flew by fast! I started learning ventriloquism when I was 14 years old, from an established, gifted children’s pastor- Chuck Pruett. Unlike him, I struggled to master ventriloquism at first. He seemed to just have natural talent for everything ministry related. However, although it was a lot of work, I am so grateful that I kept working, and kept trying, because in all sincerity- ventriloquism is one of the most effective tools I have in my “ministry arsenal”, so to speak.

Why Ventriloquism?

  1. You’ve got the attention of everyone in the room- immediately. Regardless of age, culture or background. Patti has been a hit in Swaziland, Africa, just as much as Bismark, North Dakota or Los Angeles, California. The older folks in our church now ask to have Patti make appearances in the main service from time to time (which we do using family services).
  2. You don’t need a stage or any special equipment. This has been a major advantage for me. I hiked to a few remote villages in Africa and did ministry there- no stage needed, no electricity needed etc. When I fly, it is such a pain to try to bring a puppet stage! And it’s expensive! When I do school assemblies, all I really need is Patti (and maybe an object lesson or two).
  3. You can do skits written for two! One of the least effective means teaching is the “talking head.” This happens when it is just you up front talking for a long period of time. Children in this modern age have the shortest attention span ever recorded. So what if I am speaking at a Bible Camp all by myself? Well, ventriloquism can help me avoid the “talking head” syndrome by creating the illusion that I am not on stage alone. I can do skit and dramas written for two. And of course, skits and drama are a FANTASTIC way of teaching groups of ALL ages.

Tips and Tricks-

  1. Practice regularly- every day if possible. I have had hundreds of children’s ministry students over the year. But only 2 have made significant progress in learning ventriloquism. I think this is because mastering ventriloquism takes patience and a lot of work. This probably is not something you will learn in a day or even a week. I worked hard for a year before performing and I still was awful for a bit lol!
  2. Character over lip control- I cannot stress this one enough. Think of the old ventriloquism shows that used to be on TV (Howdy Doody for example). Many of those television ventriloquists had TERRIBLE lip control. AND NO ONE CARED. Why? Because the puppeteer had created a fun, compelling character that caught everyone’s attention. No one was watching the puppeteer’s lips anymore. Work to create a character that your audience can relate to. What will capture their attention? I set the new puppet in front of me and think, “What would this puppet sound like, act like? Are they young, active, squirmy with a higher, childlike voice? Are they slower, sleepier with a lower voice?” Character development is so much more important than lip control.
  3. Record yourself and watch. Over and over again. I actually started out tape recording myself with an old black cassette player…it was 1991 ok!!? Sometimes you think you’re doing awesome, but the recording let’s you “hear” what your audience is hearing. Video record yourself and see the areas you need to work on.
  4. Perform before you’re perfect. If you wait until you think you’re ready, you will never perform. Schedule some smaller events to do ventriloquism- school gathering, bible study, pre-k class event etc. Having that deadline, that goal, will give you incentive to keep practicing! And I improved every time I got up there and tried.

So what do you think? Are you ready to give it a try? Please check out next week’s part two, “All About Lip Control”! Check out the video training for ventriloquism on my channel, “the Peach Buzz” on YouTube! I’d also appreciate prayer for the next three weeks as I’m traveling a lot…central Wisconsin, Colorado Springs then Orlando, Florida. God bless you and all the ministry you do for Jesus and His kids!! Love Trisha

When I was little, I was terrified of that story of the talents- the one where God gets mad at the guy for hiding his gift in the sand and not using it.??? I felt constant guilt, that I could really soar if I just tried hard enough. I was so SCARED of God giving up on me and putting me on the shelf- I told Him I would do ANYTHING- janitorial, etc. I just wanted Him to use me, and not be disappointed in me. I remember looking at the tool box there at our little church, wishing and praying that I could be a “hammer” for Jesus- something powerful and useful and needed. Or a power drill- they are awesome and expensive and wanted. I determined to try my hardest to be that hammer for God- the BEST, the toughest. Desperate not to be put on the shelf as a disappointment. Then one day, just a couple of years ago, this all came back to me, when my grampa Barker died. I was remembering how he always had this rusty old pocket knife on him everywhere he went in his breastpocket. It was from his navy days in world war 2. He used it everyday for EVERYTHING- paint scraping, tooth picking, apple cutting, undoing screws, cutting the dogs nails etc. It was close to his heart so much, that even after he was gone, it still smelled like him. And in that moment, God said to me, (okay now I am crying), Trish, kid, you’re my pocket knife. Not a hammer, or a big power drill that comes out one in awhile for a big project and then goes back. You are my pocket knife. When I need someone for a job, I call you and you are there. Big jobs, little jobs, icky and glamourous. I know you will say yes, and you don’t fail me. I use you all the time, and best of all, after each job you go right back close to my heart, so that every time I pull you out front you bring the “smell” of me, and the heat of my Presence to those around- you remind them of Me. You don’t have to fight anymore to be a hammer. I didn’t want another hammer. I’m pretty happy with my pocket knife.” I lay there in the dark and sobbed. I guess I am okay with not being a “hammer for God” anymore. I know I am not a disappointment to Him. And being a pocket knife feels pretty darn good. You will fly higher than even I can imagine (and that is pretty far). And you are never a disappointment to Him. He made you perfectly for what you do. And no one else can do that. There are a lot of hammer and powerdrills in this world. But not many beloved pocket knives. I believe in you, and God does too. Be who He created YOU to be. Love Trisha

Fall Kidmin kickoffs are almost here, ready or not, and soon another season of weekends, midweek, outreaches and recruitment will be here and gone. So this may seem like an odd time to be talking about planning your volunteers trainings? It’s not. This is the perfect time to be planning your volunteer trainings. And here’s why-

A. You already know how important ongoing training is for keeping your kid’s ministry team sharp, up to date and current. Volunteer trainings should never be a “one and done” deal. We should all be growing and learning together always! If you want to make sure your trainings are the best they can be, if you want your trainings to meet the needs of your leaders then you will need to plan ahead, starting NOW to make sure they are done with EXCELLENCE.

B. We KNOW how difficult it can be to get our volunteers to our trainings! Statistics tell us that they need to hear about it 8 separate times in order for your information about that training to break through all the other “white noise of information” we are bombarded with daily. Do NOT plan your trainings last minute. Do not try to advertise your trainings in less than 5 weeks time. I highly suggest you plan out all of your trainings for next year NOW. We do 5-6 volunteer training every school year and put them on a calendar that EVERY volunteer receives at the start of each season. Then they get reminders as we go along.

C. The number 1 complaint of brand new volunteer leaders is usually, “I was not given enough training for the position before I was left by myself.” You will need to plan ahead to have enough variety. You will need to include classes for brand new volunteers to prepare them for the positions they will be serving in. And you need to plan for this NOW if you want to have enough time to advertise and work to get your new recruits THERE.

D. We have never had a lot of luck with doing summer volunteer trainings. For us, it is just the nature of the beast living in the north. As soon as the summer hits, people are gone, gone, gone. So summer is the perfect time to PLAN for the most amazing volunteer trainings for the school year- right now, you have 3 months to make sure that your 5-6 volunteer trainings during the school year are the best, most fruitful and highest attended they have ever been!

E. If you are bringing in outside speakers for your training, that should NOT be done last minute. If you decide that you would like to do a training on special needs kid’s ministry, and you would like to bring in an expert to give tips to your leaders, this summer would be the time to start contacting people and asking about their availability. Get the best talent locked in NOW to come speak for your leaders; don’t make your quality speakers an afterthought (they will be busy!).

F. Topics for trainings should not be picked flippantly. Nor should you just do the ones you always have. The needs of your leaders will change just as the needs of your children and families will change. Take the time right now to pray, talk with your lead pastor and other children’s pastors- what are the key issues your volunteers need training and equipping in RIGHT NOW? Special needs kids ministry? Death and Divorce Care? Equipping Families? Recruitment? Self-devotions? Early Childhood? Dynamic Kid’s Worship? Creative Large Group? Positive Classroom Discipline? Choose carefully and prayerfully!

G. Church calendars fill up FAST. Get your plans on that calendar NOW. You may even have other departments of the church who may wish to attend some of those trainings with you!

You can probably tell that I am passionate about training our kids and family ministry leaders! Are you interested in having me do a training for your leaders at YOUR church this next school year? The perfect time to message me is ….you guessed it, this summer- pastortrisha@gmail.com or trisha@peach.im. I’d love to do a training at your church for your leaders on the topics that you are interested in the MOST. Let’s chat.

Have fun planning those trainings and happy summer everyone! Pastor Trisha

Every ministry leader needs to be effective at managing change or they won’t last long in todays culture. This book provides practical concepts for innovating change in children’s ministry. Trisha has consulted our children’s ministry department with her concepts and helped us successfully navigate several areas of ministry change. We are grateful for the insights she shares in this book!”
Bob Griffith
Executive Pastor of Family Ministries
Journey Church, Kenosha WI
www.ourjourneychurch.com

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The student ministries pastor has “scaled back” midweek services for the summer. The lead pastor is off with his family on vacation to somewhere amazing- judging by his facebook photos! The associate pastor is so chill right now (he’s growing a full on beard!) because he has “limited” small group sessions planned this summer. He’s using summer to work on fall. So why oh why are you, dear kid’s ministry leader, frying like an egg out on that hot hot hot sidewalk? Summer is not a break for children’s ministry leaders. It is typically VERY busy. Here are just a few reasons that summer can be tough for kid’s ministry leaders:

  1. Most of you have a summer outreach-or two. VBS, Summer Camps, Drama Camp, Sports Camp, Sidewalk Sunday School etc. This is one of your craziest, most impactful seasons of the whole year! And all of these outreaches are usually in ADDITION to your regular ministry times on Sundays and midweek. Which can make it more frustrating that…
  2. Your volunteers are AWAL. Those summer outreaches usually need a LOT of man and woman power. But your volunteers will be taking their vacations and will be off of their usual schedule. I live in the great state of WI. After so many months of bitter cold and snow, many of our leaders literally head out to go camping- ALL SUMMER. The ones who stay on in the summer, still have their vacations to go on.
  3. Parents are EXTREMELY distracted. The parents of the kids in your ministry are carrying out vacations, summer sports, family trips, family reunions, prepping for fall school etc. If your parents and volunteers need to be told something 8 times during the school year before it “sticks”, I think they need to hear information 17 times during the busyness of summer (also during the Holidays).  I do not give out a lot of very important information during the summer. Make SURE you make parents and leaders aware of all important summer dates BEFORE school lets out. We have our parent and volunteer meetings right after school starts.
  4. Your attendance drops. Most churches report that their Sunday and midweek attendance dips in the summer (including the kid’s ministry programs). In the past, when we tried to have a volunteer training or parent meeting in the summer, almost no one showed up.  Do not let this discourage you. It happens to us all. I do not showcase my amazing new curriculum in the summer. I usually pull out a smaller curriculum, tried and true, and then take new risks with it- like REALLY messy games, water play, or a guest speaker who enters on stilts! Summer is a great time to try some newer things with perhaps “older” lessons. Our focus changes in the summer to making VBS and Camp AMAZING and also preparing for the fall kickoffs.

A Few Summer Survival Tips for Those of Us in Children’s Ministry:

  1. Do communicate frequently with your lead pastor and other staff. Many times they have NO idea how difficult summer is for you. They are throttling down while you are ramping up. Let the staff know how crazy this season can get for you.
  2. Try recruiting a whole separate set of volunteer leaders for your regular services in the summer. I started recruiting a small group of summer leaders that would commit for those 12 weeks. Then I gave all of my leaders the option to take summer off. Some stayed all summer and loved it. Others came back to the ministry in the fall. Our retention level is very high. Many said they respected that we value them as people, and we want to see them building their own families too.
  3. Plan Plan Plan. The earlier in the year you start planning for your summer outreaches, the better they will go. Plan downtimes for yourself as well after EVERY event. Try as hard as you can not to plan your outreaches back to back or right off of an all church event. AS tough as it is, try to take your day/days off.
  4. Give yourself a “light at the end of the tunnel.” Most people can push through a tough time if they know there is great reward on the other side, and that the tough time is only temporary. We know the reward for our summer outreaches is beyond measure- children and families coming to know Christ, our church and the kingdom expanding, our community a better place etc. But too often we feel like that insane pace of ministry should be happening at all times, year round. Ministry has SEASONS. For me, fall is my “breather.” After we get all of our fall programs kicked off and running smoothly, I have a couple of weeks that are a bit “saner.” But I have to work hard and plan before that to make sure I do not burn out. I can push through a tough patch of summer, when I focus on the amazing impact of these outreaches and the smoother season to come.
  5. You need to delegate and build teams. And this takes time and patience. Sometimes you have to have a few “wins” under your belt before your dream team will jump on board. But I highly suggest teams to help with each outreach, and above all a prayer team that you meet with regularly. You need others encouraging you and cheering you on as you run that “ball” through to the end zone.

How about you? How are summers different fromIMG_0017 the rest of the year in your ministry? What have you found that helps you the most in your summer ministry?

Love and encouragement always,

Trisha

 

So, you decided to do a “family service,” which is a church service that includes all generations. Instead of splitting up the family into age segregated classes, the family sits together and worships together. The benefits to a service like this are many- parents showing spiritual leadership in their family, children are a part of the church as a whole, and all of the family can talk about the same things on the ride home from church and for the rest of the week! And by the way, FAMILY events are big right now, even in the secular world and in our culture. Want proof? What were the highest attended and highest grossing films of the last few years? Shrek, Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Frozen etc….These are all movies that the entire family can watch together. The kids love it, but there are funny “gems” in the storyline and dialogue for the adults too. Family restaurants are making more money than ever. Family night at your child’s school will probably be totally packed out. Family services and events are well attended and going strong- everywhere but the church at times.

So why do churches not try to do family services more often? And when they do, why do family services sometimes fall flat? With so much potential benefit, what could possibly go wrong? Well, here are a few real life responses I’ve heard to the idea of having a family service:

“Nobody told me there wouldn’t be childcare. If I had known I would have stayed home.”

“Our pastor doesn’t want to try a family service, because he is afraid parents will just go down the street to a church that has children’s programs.”

“I’m with my kids all week. I absolutely must have a break.”

“I cannot worship with the distraction of my children.”

“Our pastor cannot preach with infants or children making noise. Our ushers are trained to immediately remove any child making noise. It’s even in our bulletin.”

“I do not believe it could work to have  my special needs child in the main service. She would be too disruptive.”

Have you heard any of those responses? When you are trying to change a paradigm and a culture, the above responses can be frustrating and discouraging. And I do understand that we must change the mentality of parents from “I drop my kid off at childcare. You lead them to Jesus and disciple them. I’ll be back in a hour” to “I am the spiritual leader of my child.” Remember, it took time to train parents to become that way and it will take time to change things now. We cannot give up. But what I want to propose here is this: Before we go blaming the parents for not wanting to sit with their children, have we done all we can do to truly create a “family service”? Well, what is a family service?

Most of our problems with having a family service would be resolved if we understood what a family service is NOT. A family service is NOT:

  1. A service just like all the others, with no difference in the lineup, themes or preparation. It is really geared for adults, decorated for adults, with songs, sermons and illustrations for adults only.
  2. A service that “allows” children to be in the sanctuary, as long as they do not interfere with the “adult” service. Children are not engaged. In fact, they are told to sit silently, color on the back of the bulletin. No one is really concerned whether the children take anything away from the service. The only goal is for the adults to like the songs and the sermon. So the goal for the children by default is silence, and not to distract adults.                                                                                                                                   A service that ALLOWS children is miles away from a service that WELCOMES children and families.
  3. A service as “punishment.” I’ve actually heard of churches having a family service because “no one is volunteering to work in children’s ministry.” The thinking goes like this: “If the parents have to suffer through having their children in the service with them long enough, eventually they will give in and volunteer.” AHHHHHH! Family ministry services should never be used as punishment. In fact, I cringe when I hear kid’s ministry leaders threaten a child with “If you don’t stop acting up, you’re going to Big Church. I mean it! You’ll sit with your parents! God have mercy on your soul….” We are making a family worship service, (sitting in the main sanctuary with their parents) the worst of all punishments, reserved only for very bad behavior. This has got to stop!

So, how can we completely revision our idea of a “Family Service”? What should it look like? What COULD it look like? How do we intentionally craft a dynamic worship experience that will minister across the generations and not just one age group?

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week “Family Services: the ReBoot, Strategies for Crafting a Better Intergenerational Church Service.”

How about you? How have your experiences been with having family services at your church? How would you like to see the family services at your church improve?

love Trishakids2

 

depositphotos_126258766-stock-illustration-many-receipts-and-hand-holdingWhy should I have to turn in my receipts!? But Trish, you just don’t understand. The people in our finance office are always after me to turn in my receipts for kid’s church expenses, and to fill out paperwork for reimbursement! Then they want to know specifics about what exactly the money was used for and why. It’s like they don’t believe me.  And that hurts! I mean, I’m a LEADER in the kid’s ministry! I’m sacrificing here to make this happen. Sometimes I get so irritated by all of their questions that I just pay for it myself rather than deal with the paperwork. I shouldn’t have to explain why I need this or what I’m going to do with it. I signed up to work with kids; I don’t want to explain all this to adults. And I’m a kid’s leader- not a finance person. So what if I can’t find some of the receipts, or a paper or two? They are nitpicking, which means they don’t care about the kids. Why can’t the finance people be supportive of the kid’s ministry? It’s like they keep us from getting ministry done. I am a minister, and I’ve been at this church for _____ years.They should just trust me! Why can’t they just trust me?”

I have heard this argument so many times over the years from frustrated children’s ministry leaders. It is almost a cliche, and a joke at kid’s pastor meetings, that creative, absent minded children’s leaders are going to butt heads repeatedly with the logical, calculating finance people. And I do want to say, that I do understand that their needs to be balance. The children’s leader needs to feel appreciated, respected and valued; AND they need to have a voice at the table that makes those financial decisions. Children should make up at least 25 percent of your church body, which impacts all those parents and all those volunteers etc. Anyone with that much influence should have a VERY large portion of the church’s overall budget, AND a strong voice when it comes to making financial decisions that impact the church and/or the kid’s ministry.

Having said that, however, I want to pause for a moment here and say emphatically: Dear children’s leader, NO they should NOT just trust you. And you need to see those finance people at your church as allies and safeguards for you, and work VERY hard not to be a source of frustration for them. And here are a few reasons why:

  1. There are relatively few failures in ministry that have the potential to destroy you, your family and your entire ministry, now and possibly for life. The first of course is a sexual fall. But secondly, right behind that, is a conviction for mishandling, misappropriating MONEY. What has taken down so many pastors, ministers, televangelists and missions organizations in the past decade? Mishandling money- embezzlement, putting funds to an area illegally, not paying appropriate fees, etc. etc. etc. Yes, it is that serious. It is no longer optional for churches to have safeguards in place. These kinds of scandals destroy lives, churches, ministries- and worse, they drag the name of Jesus and Christianity right through the mud on every news channel. And these scandals LINGER in people’s minds for years to come. Many charities reported a net loss of income last year and attributed it to “lack of trust” from the public to religious organizations, after so many money scandals have hit the news. Churches MUST be more responsible now than ever before.
  2. Those finance people are also there to protect YOU and that ministry. We already said that one scandal can forever marr your ministry. But sometimes all it takes is someone irritated with you making accusations that cast doubt in people’s minds. During those times, and if you are ever formally accused of mishandling money, those finance people are your saving grace and your very best friend. And you will thank God on your knees for every receipt you turned in to prove exactly where that money went.  When I worked as a security trainer, we had a rule, “If it isn’t in writing, it didn’t happen.” What that means is, it is too late after the fact, when you are already in hot water to try to figure out which money went where. One of the KEY functions of your church’s finance officer/office is to keep great WRITTEN records- every form, every receipt, every budget request. Please understand this: “ONLY WHAT IS IN WRITING IS GOING TO COUNT.” If anything ever did go to court, no is just going to “trust you.” And your word on it is going to mean less than nothing. Those receipts, and those records will either be your saving grace or your downfall. DON’T fight your finance office on keeping careful records.
  3. Everyone needs accountability. EVERYONE. Even a pastor. And whenever someone continually resists being accountable, it begins to look suspicious. Too many awful moral failures have happened because leaders refused to be accountable to anyone. That is not Biblical. And they shouldn’t have to chase you down and force you to be accountable. You should be willingly open to Biblical accountability- and MONEY is a huge part of that. Be accountable. Some pastors I know made it a policy that it takes two signers on any church check, or that whenever the church credit card is used the finance director gets a report. This is an example of willing accountability. Nothing done with the church money should ever be done with only one person’s knowledge. Nothing should be done without a paper trail. No one should have to sneak around to act with church money. If these things are going on, something is very wrong, and it will come back around to bite you.
  4. This is people’s tithe money. This is even more important that someone’s 401K, to God. This is people’s hard earned, faith given, oft times SACRIFICIAL giving. And no one in church leadership should ever take that huge responsibility lightly. Every single cent needs to be well accounted for, and used with wisdom for God’s kingdom. God’s holds His ministers to a higher standard. So we should be extremely careful to be good stewards of God’s money- people’s TITHE money.
  5. You are responsible to explain what you need for ministry to the leadership of the church. Even if you say, “but I just wanted to be with the kids.” Part of your job as a children’s leader is to accurately and effectively communicate to the church’s leadership, what your ministry needs to be successful. And that will entail giving some rationale. That means you will have to explain some things like, “This is what JumpStart3 is. This is why I feel we should get it. This is what it costs. Here is why I chose it over ______________.” Your board is probably not in kid’s church every week. They may have no IDEA what the difference is between a PVC puppet stage and an aluminum travel stage. And you will need to do your homework, legwork and research. Make a good case for what you need. And if they say no, take it graciously and don’t burn bridges. Don’t gossip and don’t pout. Wait, pray, and keep track of your numbers- build a better case and try again. If you are asked to explain WHY you need such a costly curriculum, be grateful! Grateful that you have the change to talk about the kid’s ministry and vision cast to a part of the church who may not know what God has been doing in there- it’s a chance to speak up and connect!

So I cannot say it is easy to feel like you are always defending and that you not being trusted. But please know, those financial safeguards are there for a reason. Maybe this week would be a good week to bring your financial officer an extra large apple cider- and turn in your receipts. All my best and God bless. Trisha