Catch this awesome podcast from this week with Pastor Tom Bump and Trisha Peach, all about the real reasons leaders quit. Catch it here:

http://kidministrycollective.podbean.com/mobile/#.WcLfM9LSDzB.gmail

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Great leaders need to consistently lead THEMSELVES well. When you wake up in the morning, you have the privilege of piloting an amazing body and soul crafted by God Himself. He loves you and gifted you uniquely to serve. Too often leaders think they have to neglect their own growth in order to truly put others first. Here are a few statistics from 2016, churchleadership.com, that should make us all stop and think!

  • 79% of Evangelical and Reformed pastors are happier personally
  • 88% of churches are treating their pastors better, too
  • 88% have a high view of Christ
  • 75% are better at their spiritual formation
  • 57% are more satisfied in their calling
  • However, 54% of pastors still work over 55 hours a week
  • 57% can’t pay their bills
  • 54% are overworked and 43% are overstressed
  • 53% feel seminary had not properly prepared them for the task.
  • 35% battle depression
  • 26% are overly fatigued
  • 28% are spiritually undernourished and 9% are burnt-out
  • 23% are still distant to their families
  • 18% work more than 70 hours a week and face unreasonable challenges
  • 12% are belittled.
  • 3% have had an affair
  • Yet, 90% feel honored to be a pastor!  Read more here:  http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?blogid=4545&view=post&articleid=Statistics-on-Pastors-2016-Update&link=1&fldKeywords=&fldAuthor=&fldTopic=0

But, to truly give of yourself to others, and to do quality ministry to more people over time, we must learn to invest in ourselves. In other words, you need to “fill up” if you are going to continually give out. It is such a misnomer, the old idea that you “finish school” and then minister until retirement. Really, we should never stop learning and growing. The people, the generations, that we are called to reach are rapidly changing. We must continually be growing or we will rapidly become burned out and ineffective. The following are 10 steps YOU can take right now to grow as a person and as a leader. #1 is by FAR the most important.

10. Never stop learning. Always include ongoing training in your plans- no matter how long you have been in ministry. You can go back for a degree (I’m currently in a Master’s Program online through Bethel Seminary in Children’s and Family Ministries). You can even audit a class or two. Some denominations (including mine) offer district training events. There are also online training “academies” on a variety of subjects. Just be aware that some are accredited and some are not. You may even want to go forward pursuing your ministerial credentials with your church, if you haven’t already. A friend of mine got a certificate in counseling; another friend got a tragedy response certificate.

9. Make your day off HAPPEN. Most ministry leaders are BUSY. So many tell me, “Trish you just don’t GET IT. I CAN’T take even one day off. It’s impossible.” And I always tell them, “I’ve been on staff at a very large church. Yes, I totally get it. But your church was trained to act a certain way; and they can be trained to act a different way.” Remember, you are daily teaching others how to treat you. Put a higher price tag on your health! Put the same amount of planning into having a day off as you put into Sundays or outreaches. I plan ahead. I have an auto responder for my email. I have a voicemail that lets people know I am NOT available and who to call in my absence. Only my admin has my personal phone number and she knows to NEVER give it out. She only notifies me if it is a REAL emergency. You need a sharp person who understands a real emergency.

8. Take care of your health- For my senior project in my undergrad, I studied, “The occupational hazards of ministry”. I was horrified to discover that pastors have a MUCH higher rate than the general population of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and depression. I believe that stress, long work hours and the fallout of poorly handled church conflict takes a catastrophic toll on your body. We may just be figuring, “Well, I’m doing God’s work, so God will just have to fix me.” Jesus also taught us not to jump off buildings and expect angels to catch us before we hit the ground. You will not be as effective as a pastor if you health- mental or physical- is a wreck. We pastors do not like going to get help for ourselves. We do not always have health insurance. But it is imperative that we keep taking good care of the body God has entrusted us with. This means taking the time to eat nutritious food (Gluttony is the only sin we openly promote and laugh about in our churches). Exercise should become your lifeline. Exercise helps with preventing and treating diabetes, heart disease, stress AND depression. Going to the doctor for regular check ups helps us face the reality of where we are at physically as well as mentally. We as leaders need to stop having a “martyr” mentality about our health. Instead of “sacrificing” our health for our “flock”, we can serve others so much better, for many more years, if we are physically and mentally well.

7. Take care of  your family life- This may sound harsh, but chances are you will not be in your current position of leadership for life. In fact, the statistics tell us that most leaders only last between 18 months and 3.5 years in a position. That is so sad. But no matter what the reasons, church positions may come and go, but your MARRIAGE is supposed to last forever. Your family is supposed to remain standing when the smoke clears. That is why your family needs to come before work at the church. No outreach or event is worth damaging your marriage or the self worth of your child. If your life is out of balance to the point that you are missing date nights and all of your child’s “big” events (not just one or two), then you need to do an overhaul on your schedule. If your family is your priority, then your weekly schedule needs to reflect that. When is your regular date night? When is your family night? You should be taking every one of your paid days off as well. Again, the “martyr” complex of not taking your days off because “the church needs you” is a mistake. Your family needs you. And they need you at your best.

6. Become a ninja at time management- Most of us have a lot more control over our schedules then we realize. We not to stop the false mentality that we are helpless victims of our chaotic circumstances. The old adage applies, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” It does not help to HOPE that someday your senior leader notices how stressed out you are and makes sure you get a quiet day off. That is probably will not happen. YOU have to work at laying out that schedule. It is WORTH it to spend an hour or two on a Thursday planning out your whole next week, hour by hour. Group your phone calls together. Group all emails together. Things are aren’t planned for just don’t seem to get done. It IS a lot of work to get your schedule under control. But how much do you really want balance in your life, home and ministry? Pray hard and tackle that schedule. YOU CAN get the life you are hoping for- you are just going to have to work at it.

Please stay tuned for Part 2 next week, where I’ll be writing you from Henryetta Oklahoma! I am flying down to help out my sister in law who is battling an aggressive cancer. Your prayers are greatly appreciated! God bless! love Trisha

 

A_self care

Need some extra time in your day? (Who doesn’t). Then, read on.

(And p.s.-I can’t wait to see some of you in central Wisconsin this next Sat 9/16/17 for Adams Assembly of God’s kid’s ministry training event. Call them today for more info on bringing yourself and your team 608-339-3878.)

I was nine months pregnant with my first child when I took on a full time children’s pastorate at a church of 400.  But by the time my second baby turned 2, the church had grown to 1000, and the kid’s church had gone from 100 to 275 kids.  Fast forward another few years, and I had a marriage of 10 years, a 6 year old with some medical issues, a 4 year old, a fast growing ministry at a church of 3000, 600 kids, 276 volunteers, 5 weekly services, and five staff to manage. On top of that, I decided to finish classes for my ordination, write curriculum, take a missions trip to Africa and then write a book. Crazy? Probably.  But it has been a fantastic ride so far, and I wouldn’t change all of those things for all the world.

And believe it or not, my own mom had doubts I would even graduate college- not due to academic struggles, but purely due to my lack of organization!  She would always say, “You would lose your own head if it weren’t attached!!” My mother is an extremely neat and organized person, an amazing planner and skilled coordinator. My poor mom had ME for a child, whose room was ALWAYS a disaster, papers everywhere, face stuffed in a book, losing my things by the hour. So it is a miracle of God I am able to survive day by day (I love you mom!). For me ADHD is a ministry gift. But besides acts of God, there are a few tips I have learned along the way (many times the hard way) that have helped me with organization and time management.  If you are a naturally organized person who instinctively has it all together, than you already know these things, and God bless.  But for those of us who are “detail impaired” here are just a couple of survival skills I’ve learned:

1. Identify Priorities- It is very easy for creative people to get distracted.  We see an immediate problem and jump in to fix it. We want to please others and get sidetracked helping with THEIR priorities.   But can you answer this? Where does GOD want you and your family and your ministry to be in a year? In five years? You may not be able to answer that completely yet, but here are some things you DO know: You and your family and your ministry should be HEALTHY.  You should be winning lost people to Jesus. You should be reaching and stretching further than you are now.  You should be using your gifting in a bigger way and having greater influence in the future than you are right now.  And it won’t just HAPPEN.  Anything and everything in this world has a tendency to DEGRADE- to stagnate and sink downward without constant conscious work- your body, your marriage, your relationship with your kids, your ministry, your education etc.  Nothing worth anything just HAPPENS. “Just ignore it and it will go away” is very true when it comes to the good things in your life.  What do you want to do- identify those big priorities and put them down in writing.  I write them ON my dayplanner- because my marriage, kids and relationship with Jesus are much more important than whatever else I have to do today.

2. Use a planning system- Now a lot of creative people balk at the thought of PLANNING anything to far out. They may use the excuse “well I’m just not that organized.” That is a terrible excuse and reminds me of saying “Well I’m just not very athletic so I’ll never exercise.” We may have to work HARDER than detail people at being organized and planning way ahead- but it’s not optional.  If you want to SURVIVE in ministry and still have your family (and perhaps your sanity) intact you MUST become amazing at time management.  Excuses don’t get it done. You will feel better and your life will be so much less stressful when you tackle your schedule.  It is NOT insurmountable.  Procrastination will only make your stress worse. Pick a system and get started.  Some people love outlook, or a planner on their IPAD.  I like google calendar, but…..I still also have an old fashioned dayplanner that goes with me everywhere.  And yes I get razzed about it a lot. But I LIVE by that little booklet.  I cannot rely on my faulty overloaded memory to keep the onslaught of information together. I carry it with me during our church services, because parents or volunteers will catch me in the hallway and say, “Oh by the way, don’t forget to…..”  and by the time I turn the corner I’m already forgetting and another person is approaching.  I write EVERYTHING down right away.  Some of my friends take notes and then copy it later into their IPAD, google calendar etc.  I have a virtual notepad on my phone, and even a voice recorder to leave myself audio “notes”.  So which method is “right”? Depends on what words for YOU.  Some people are more visual (me), and others more audio driven. Find what works for you and then LIVE by it.

3. Learn to live backwards. This is a big one in family and ministry. Too many leaders I know start by working FORWARD, doing ministry week by week just hoping that someday “it” will happen, but they never did identify what “it” even was. What really works for me is deciding 9 months to a year ahead what I want to do, and then working BACKWARDS from that date, I set up timeline “road markers” all the way back to the present day.  For example, if you are wanting to do a great Harvest Fest, you should already be working on it NOW (November). And then working backwards, you first set the date for your event, then what you will need to get done that October, that September, that August and so forth, until you are up to today. That is a guarantee to pace yourself, and to get where you want to go, with a lot of excellence.  This also helps give you a “margin” of time to correct the mistakes and problems that WILL arise along the way.

The detail impaired CAN arise to the challenge and live a FULL and rich life. It just takes a lot of work.  But it’s worth it. So comment below and tell us you’re favorite time savers!

Stay tuned for even more in part two.

Time Saving Illustration

So the schools are back in full swing- and you are probably in “back to school” kickoff mode at your church. Schools are always reexaming their curricula and makes changes to better educate students in different cultures and decades. What about the curriculum we use for our kid’s ministry at our church? Curriculums come and go, Scripture does not. So, don’t die on the altar to any curriculum. Hopefully, the curriculum you pick serves your church well for a long time. When it has run its course -just the curriculum, not your vision or mission or Scripture- have the courage to let it go and begin the process of selecting a new curriculum.

How do you know if a curriculum has truly run its course and needs to be replaced? Curriculums are long-term commitments. Hopefully you don’t need to change them all that often. But wait too long and it can do a lot of damage. Here are some signs that your current curriculum may be getting outdated or be in need of a change:

  1. It is a remnant of a vision or mission for the church that no longer exists. It served someone else’s vision long ago, and the vision it supported is no longer the vision of your church. For example, years ago your church was doing “the purpose driven church,” and the kids’ church changed curriculum to “the purpose driven kids’ church.” Now your church has changed its mission to “reaching our world, one relationship at a time.” But the kids’ church is still using the same purpose driven curriculum. The rest of the church is going a new way; the kids’ ministry was left dangling. Time for a change.
  2. The kids are no longer getting the jokes or references. Everything is so outdated that the kids cannot relate or connect with what is being taught.
  3. The teachers do not want to teach it. They are not excited about it. They make excuses not to show up. You know for a fact that several of them are just teaching their own thing because they despise the curriculum that much. Time to amputate (the lessons, not the leaders).
  4. The kids don’t want to hear it. They are bored, acting out, disengaged. They are not excited to be there. They are making excuses to not show up. They are not inviting their friends.
  5. The parents don’t want to hear about it. They aren’t showing up for parent meetings, and they don’t want to sign up to help. They are bored and checked out and making excuses not to show up. Stop blaming parents and kids for checking out. Blame won’t get it done. Time to give them something they can’t wait to show up for.
  6. It no longer fits your format. For example, if you were once all small groups (Sunday School) and are now switching to a large group (children’s church) format, this will necessitate a curriculum change. New vision, new direction, new format is a great time for a new curriculum.

Keep praying throughout this whole process, and you will see: a curriculum change for the right reasons, implemented the right way, with the right planning can ignite your kids’ ministry service to a whole new level. Use with caution; this kids’ service is now power packed and extremely contagious!

(excerpt from “Your Children’s Ministry From Scratch” now for sale on Amazon)change-shift

 

A lot of ministers forget a few crucial parts of their budget each year. Is your budget due in Sept or January or June? Some of us have to have ours turned in by September for the upcoming year (2018).  How many of the following items did YOU remember? What things are not on this list that SHOULD have been added?

  1. Ongoing training- What will your church/ministry be offering for your volunteers/leaders for ongoing training? Will you bring in a speaker(s)? Will you all read a book series together? How about conferences? Are you all going to CPC or CMConnect or a different conference? Ongoing training for your leaders is crucial. If you do not plan for it, it will not happen.
  2. Special speakers- If you are planning on bringing in special speakers for that camp, VBS, Harvest Fest, Family Night, Couples/Marriage Night, you need to plan for that now. Many speakers book out a year in advance so do not wait until the last minute!
  3. GROWTH- Are you planning to survive or are you planning to GROW? If you are planning to grow numerically in your ministry next year then your budget numbers should reflect that faith in action. Even if you do not meet your projected numbers, it is better to aim for growth. Those who aim to maintain last year’s numbers only end up barely surviving or in decline.
  4. Facility Improvements- Now in some situations, rooms, paint etc. will fall under a separate budget, such as the facilities budget or the maintenance budget. However, if room improvements do fall under your kid’s/youth/family ministry budget, then you have to remember to include these in your dream budget. I believe that ministries-including ministry environments- should always be improving. Again you have to plan, and budget ahead of time, to see your facility dreams become a reality. Include the costs of paint, carpet, rugs, flooring, child sized chairs, one way windows, murals, new lighting, themed environments etc.
  5. Snacks- This would include snacks for nursery, pre-k and elementary if you provide those (we only provide snacks through pre-K). Keep in mind that you may need to special order snacks that are gluten free, dye free, peanut free etc. We only offer raisins or peanut/dye/gluten free crackers or pretzels.
  6. Curriculum- Are you changing curriculum this next year? Do you need to order more? Are you planning enough for growth? Do you need a separate VBS curriculum?
  7. Outreaches- The churches I have seen that are growing are actively engaged in outreach. What will you need for that VBS, Family Night, Community Serve Day, Talent Night etc. etc.? This goes right along with planning to GROW!
  8. Childcare- This is a big one. Children’s ministry is not childcare. Is your church planning to have childcare for each and every event next year? I would highly suggest planning to hire babysitting for those services if you have to. You and your team should not be finding volunteers for weekend/midweek services AND babysitting for every church event (see my blog on the dangers of too much church sponsored childcare). Plan right there in your budget to hire the help you need for childcare, so your volunteers can do the ministry THEY are called to do.
  9. Props, costumes, crafts and miscellaneous items- What exactly are you going to need for those weekly services, those outreaches and for your trainings? Do you need prizes for a Bible Bucks incentive program? What about T Shirts for your team? The more specific you are, the higher your chance of getting your budget approved.
  10. Fundraising- You may have to spend money to make money. What are you going to need to buy in order to reach your fundraising goals for camp, missions or community outreach? Will you need to purchase 50 little banks for the kids to take home? If you do an incentive, such as a “human burrito day” what will the costs of that be?
  11. Teacher/leader/volunteer appreciation- What are you going to do this coming year to show you appreciation for your leaders? Will you do a special dinner? Will you do thank you gifts? How will you make your team feel your love and appreciate this year?

What did I miss? What things are so important for you to include in your budget for the next year? For more information on writing budgets, check out my first book, Your Children’s Ministry From Scratch available on Amazon.

God bless you in all your planning for an amazing new year of ministry!!

Love Trisha

1.19.SexySideMoney_621076907

I had a good discussion this week with a young lady children’s pastor who I was hired on to coach this semester. We talked about any differences we had observed between children’s ministry in large churches versus smaller churches. She started off as a volunteer in a very large church, and is now full time as a children’s pastor in her own right full time at a smaller church. I started out at a very small home missions church and through the years I have served at churches of all sizes- ending up in a growing “mega church” with several sites. I now travel all over the country speaking and doing trainings at churches of all sizes/denominations. Here are a few observations I had as to what is the same and what is different in small and large church kid’s ministry:

Having seen so many kid’s ministries both large and small, I can say that I have seen a few things that I have found to be similar in both large and small church kid’s ministries:
1. Kids are kids all over the country- and the world. They need love, limits, the truth, the gospel….they need to move, need to laugh etc.
2. I have found that certain ministry elements work well in kid’s ministry regardless of the size of the church: music, drama, dance, VIDEO etc. Kids are visual AND participatory learners!
3. Everywhere I have gone, there have been common elements that have contributed to the growth of kid’s churches regardless of church size: A. Outreach B. targeted recruitment and training of quality leaders C. Using students IN ministry D. Having clear cut vision E. Having a “participatory” ministry ie having children DOING ministry, not just sitting and listening out of a book.
4. I have found that budget dollars and number of people do NOT equal quality of ministry. I’ve seen very small churches with amazing, quality, growing kid’s ministy and very large mega churches with poor, stagnated ministries. The key to quality and growth regardless of church size seems to be passion, vision and creativity- also ability to recruit and lead teams and ELBOW GREASE (as in a whole lot of hard work by you and your volunteers). I’d take creativity and teamwork over a large budget any day. Just throwing money at something won’t make it GREAT.
5. I’ve also seen that both large and small children’s church ministries suffer when there is lack of vision, and especially if there is disunity and infighting. Both die rather quickly if you add in a “survival” “let’s just by” mentality.
6. All sizes of churches MUST recruit and delegate. I was teaching a workshop at a conference recently when a children’s pastor of a smaller church said aloud to the children’s pastor of a larger church, “Well, you would understand what it is to hurt for volunteers. Your church is so big you wouldn’t even have to recruit” I started laughing. We have had Sundays that 11 leaders all call in sick and must be replaced. When you have 270+ volunteers, you will always need replacement leaders for those who are sick, who have moved, or who have switched ministries etc. There are many more open positions to fill at any given time in a larger church- but there is also a bigger pool to pick from. But no matter what the size, the statistics still tell us in ANY church, 14 percent of the people do 88 percent of all the work that is done in a church. We all need leaders!
What about differences?
1. Smaller churches have a tendency to get a bit more stuck in the church politics or in the whims of one or two individuals who are prominent in the church.
2. Larger churches may lean more towards a business model in practical operations (this can be good and bad- that is a lot of money and leaders to manage well but the focus still needs to be on the fact that you are a CHURCH.) This means a lot more forms, paper trails, systems of operation etc.
3. Larger churches MAY have a longer and more involved budget process. Again, there are so many departments that all need funding in a ‘mega” church, and to be efficient and effective with people’s tithe money takes time and a lot of planning.
4. Small churches tend to START with human creativity and innovation (elbow grease) because they know (or assume) that the sets, props etc could not be paid for any other way. This leads, in my opinion, to some amazing innovation, creativity and problem solving coming out of smaller churches and missions works because they CAN’T just throw money at a problem. Necessity really is the mother of invention.
5. Larger churches do tend to be faster paced. There are so many people, so many projects in the works that excuses just do not go far. You learn to keep up, delegate more than you ever thought possible and you grow as a leader- or you do not make it long at a very large church.
6. Larger churches DO have to deal with much larger expectations. When someone visits, they see the massive building and unconsciously they expect something on a higher level. You cannot get by with what is in the curriculum alone. “Good” ministry will NOT cut it. You really have to keep pushing your level of excellence and challenge yourself to exceed where you have been.
7. Smaller churches MAY offer the children’s pastor opportunities for a broader, more varied ministry. In a smaller church, I was able to help lead worship, lead an adult Bible study etc. In a very large church, the kid’s department all by itself was more than enough to push me WAY beyond full time. Smaller churches can offer a broader, more well rounded church ministry experience. Larger churches offer a more indepth and targeted ministry experience.
OK so I know that I am missing some things! What is the same and what is different between large and small church kid’s ministry? What do you think or what have you experienced?
Love Always, Trishasmall-vs-large-628x250

This past week, I heard several people on social media broach the subject of Christians and child adoption. One young lady said, “Christians are only pro-life until the embryo is born, then they couldn’t care less about the child or the mom.” Another responded with, “You can’t be pro-life when so many kids are stuck in the foster system with no family.” And yet another, “I cannot understand why so called Christians refuse to adopt any of these kids they claim to care about.”

I am interested in this topic because I am a Christian, a children’s pastor, a parent AND my sister and brother in law are adopting this beautiful angel- Eva Marie Hope. I also

baby1

have several good Christian friends who have adopted children. I very much would like some of them to weigh in on this, as well as adults who grew up in foster care, to hear from those who have first hand experience.

I am 100 percent FOR adoption. Each of us is adopted by God after all. I am thrilled to see a rising interest in adoption by Christians and churches alike (our church celebrates an “adoption day”.

My experience tells me that more Christians have not adopted children for many different reasons. The assumption that Christians do not WANT to adopt or are not interested in the lives of at risk children just does not seem to be accurate to me. Here are a few reasons that Christians may not adopt, that have nothing to do with apathy.

  1. MONEY- If you did not know, adoption is INCREDIBLY expensive. Yes, the costs vary from state to state, and from agency to agency. But overall, these costs can be prohibitive for the average person. My sister was literally told by one agency “It would not be worth it to apply until you can show at least 20,000 in your bank account.” YIKES! This was impossible for them. Overseas adoption was creeping up on 50,000 from certain countries. A friend of mine had a private open adoption, and the costs still went over 10000. Parents determined to adopt may be forced to go instead to foster care and HOPE they can someday adopt. My sister went this route twice before this. She ended up adopting privately through a girl she met at church- a private adoption, but it still cost 18,000+. Anyone else feel like we are SELLING CHILDREN HERE? Why are these costs so high? I am honestly asking. It seems we are limiting adoption to the rich, as if rich people are somehow better parents.
  2. RACISM and DISCRIMINATION- This may be a very controversial section of this           blog. And I’m certainly open to other perspectives on this one. But it is a fact that certain children, in certain states cost MORE than other children, based entirely on the color of their skin or the state of a disability or their gender or age. For example, white female babies in some areas are considered “very desirable” and therefore cost more. My sister was told that Americans want to adopt girls because we think they will be “easier” to raise. They told her that if she would consider a child of color, or a bi-racial child or a child with disabilities the costs would be MUCH cheaper. Someone please explain this to me! This ANGERS me. Isn’t this institutional racism? Isn’t this SELLING CHILDREN? This is appalling!
  3. Unreasonable Requirements- Did you know that most states, adoption agencies have a long list of requirements that you and your spouse must meet in order to adopt. These requirements MAY include, but are not limited to A. Age- you may have to be under the age of 37-40 B. Medical History- Any medical problems on your or your spouse’s record may disqualify you to be an adoptive parent. C. Finances- If you do not have the required money on hand, or your finances are not what the agency considers good, you may be disqualified. D. Size of family- Some agencies will disqualify you if you have ANY children of your own (infertile couples only). Others, such as the one my sister was first using, will not allow you to adopt a BABY if you already have children. E. Single people often have a harder time adopting children F. Sometimes you will be required to be the same race as the child you are adopting. What wild requirements have YOU heard about/encountered? It is my opinion that these requirements disqualify too many people who would be GREAT parents and provide wonderful homes. And children wait in foster care for a person who matches these expectations.
  4. Heartbreak- Due to the high costs of adoption, my sister started with foster care, in hopes of adopting. Both long term placements went almost all the way up to adoption. In both cases, at the very last second, the child went to be with a family member. Even though my sister knew if could happen, and she knew not to get attached, it was still heartbreaking. We have all heard horror stories of adoptive parents thinking everything is fine, only to have the child taken away later. Many brave Christian parents step up every year and take that risk, trying to adopt. But I bet others simply do not want to put their hearts on the line like that with no guarantees. I have never heard my sister sob like that, like when she lost the second child. She described the loss as, “I feel as if I lost a child, but I’m not allowed to mourn publicly. I have no monument to mourn at. No one will be sending us cards or meals. But the pain is still here.”
  5. A Broken Foster System- A lot of attention has been given lately to the problems in our American foster system. It seems that the well being of the children isn’t always top priority to put it lightly. Too often the children suffer due to over regulation, outdated rules, politics, corruption and red tape. I highly suggest reading these articles: http://michellecaldier.houserepublicans.wa.gov/2017/04/18/op-ed-time-reform-broken-foster-care-system/    and ABC’s “Foster Care- Stretched Too Far,” http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=130266.  The state in which I live, proudly asserts, “The best place for a child is with the birth parent.” I have to disagree. The best place for a child is where they are safe, loved and cared for. What about adoptive parent’s rights? As a children’s pastor, I have personally witnessed children returned to abusive homes FAR too soon, only to be abused all over again. Where is the protection for these vulnerable children???
  6. Our culture of Materialism- Sometimes we think we cannot provide all the “stuff” that kids “need.” People matter so much more than stuff. And children can be happy, safe and healthy in a loving home, without all the “stuff.”

How about you? Do you have experience in the foster system? As a foster parent? An adoptive parent? Why do YOU think that more Christians do not adopt? How do you feel about proposed foster/adoption system reforms?

Love and Blessings- Trisha

And if you’d like to hear more about my sister’s journey to adopt Eva, you can read about it HERE: https://www.youcaring.com/erikagoffin-894207

I absolutely LOVE my baby niece!! Love you Peanut!

Taken From my book,”Your Children’s Ministry beyond basics”.

THE WINNING CHECKLIST TO MAKE ANY CHILDREN’S/FAMILY OUTREACH WORK FOR YOUR CHURCH

  1. Start EARLY –The earlier the better.  Most great outreaches start planning/working/meeting a year in advance. The very best time to start your planning and meetings with your teams is immediately after the last one ends- while it’s still fresh in everyone’s minds. Take a lot of notes. You’d be surprised what may slip your mind as soon as the event is over.
  2. Rehearse and prepare or don’t do it. Set the highest standards right from the outset. Destroy the outdated stereotypes by making your event stand out.
  3. Showcase a LOT of kids, not just the chosen few. The more children you can include in SOME way the better. Even if it’s not on the stage. Sign them up for offering, choir, handing out bulletins, reciting verses and more.
  4. ABOVE all- use these outreaches as a teaching opportunity to instill a love of SERVING God and others in that group of kids. I tell our young teams every week at rehearsal, “This is not about making us look good; this is about making Jesus look good. We do our best so that people will be drawn to Jesus. Your attitude trumps and your attitude is so much more important than your talent! I would rather have 5 of you up there, so in love with Jesus and people, even if you cannot sing or act or dance at all, than to have 200 of the best actors, dancers, and singers in the world, who get up there to share with a nasty selfish attitude.” They can almost recite this speech back to me now. But watching them minister, I know they get it. Teach serving- not a concert of popularity and showing off.
  1. Do your best to work cross teams- Kids and family outreaches can NEVER be fully carried out without help from other teams in your church. You are going to need help with sound/tech, perhaps your music pastor or your worship pastor or your drama director etc. Nothing we do is done in a bubble; and it is easy to get “laser focused” on what our own ministry is doing and forget that there are so many other very important ministries going on in our church at the very same time. And we assume each other area knows all about our event and cares about it as passionately as we do. And when another area drops the ball, or WE are not communicating as we should, it can be too easy to get a martyr complex and start feeling, and expressing to others, “I’m the ONLY one in this church who cares about the kids!” I would plead with you and your teams that as much as it depends on you, that you would strive to work as a team and be at peace with the other departments of the church. This will mean a lot of over communicating on your part, long before the event, thoroughly following up with heads of departments, a lot of patience, and at times communicating in various ways- email, letters, in person, voicemail and even in a meeting with your lead pastor. You will have to learn the delicate balance between kindness and persistence, forgiveness and confrontation, their needs and your area’s needs. You really can be loving and patient, and still be passionate and persistant about that ministry. Do your best not to burn any bridges while trying to launch your event.  An event is over in days, but the fallout of staff conflict can go on for years. If you know things are going sour, do NOT ignore the tension. Sit down and attempt to talk it out.  If that fails, go in with your leader and that staff person. And above all, keep praying, praying praying. This could be a great opportunity to forge a dynamic working relationship across teams that will last long after this outreach is gone.  God may be using this, these connections to take your every week ministry to another level! And if that other staff person is still not thrilled about a “kid’s event”? Love them anyway, pray that God will change their heart and but you keep your eyes on the goal.
  2. Be prepared to pay the toll- Jesus said “count the cost”. It is best to go into an outreach knowing that this is going to be a HUGE job. It will not be easy. There will be several times you will not feel you have enough help. You will feel that it will flop (especially the week before). Nothing great in life comes for free. An effective kid’s and family outreach will come at a heavy cost- to your energy, your time in general, your talents, time with your family, your emotions and more. Know, going into your outreach, that this is going to be tough, but worth it, and with God’s help, you will reach your goals!
  3. Have your plan in place for follow up and stick to it. Will you have everyone register at the door? Electronically or on paper? Who exactly will be going through the names and listing each and every visitor with emails and phone numbers? Which exact days and times will you- and your TEAM- be doing follow up? Will you use email, letters, phone calls or a combination? Will you split the follow up equally between the people on the team? Make sure you check back with your leaders and make sure they connected with everyone you assigned. I suggest having your follow up letter from you ready to go even before the event. The success of your outreach- by definition- rises and falls on your retention of new people.
  4. Put it in the evenings. More and more parents both have to work. Anything in the evening automatically is viewed as having more importance.

9.  Work hard to get the whole family there. Make it an event that the whole family will enjoy and you are much more                  likely to see that family come back and visit your church again!

10.Adapt the curriculum (without braking copyright!) for your church and your families/culture. How can you best get THIS         group’s attention?

11.Connect your VBS to what your church is doing as a whole. This is so important! As much as possible, tie your event in         to your current kid’s/family programs; this increases your retention by leaps and bounds. Do the kids adore a certain             puppet or costume character at your event? Bring that character back on a regular basis for kid’s church. Was the               icecream social after your VBS a hit with families? Then do it again for back to school. Stand alone events do not have         the impact of an event that ties in or even launches something ongoing at your church.

12.Step up the quality of your weekly kid’s ministry now. Just as important as the outreach itself are the four weeks of               “regular” church immediately after the outreach.  You may be tired, but this is PART of the outreach- not additional.             When those families DO come back to check out your church after an event, they usually give you ONE chance.                   __________________ So make it count; if you really want to grow, you will have to raise the bar- be ready.

13. Schedule new leader trainings and welcome meetings for new families for the weeks immediately following your              event. Be strategic about plugging these new families in!

Of course, when your outreach is all said and done, praise God you survived.  Every time you complete an outreach or major project in ministry, you learn, grow, and get better.  No outreach is perfect. Overcome and face your fear. And God’s grace shines brighter in our weakness. He can take what little we give and do the impossible. I like this quote: “Better to reach for the stars and come soooo close than to aim for the dirt and hit head on.” Jesus taught us to be “Fisher’s of men”. And we are never more like Jesus than when we welcome His kids and even lay down our lives (and schedules and comfort) to bring them home. I wish you happy and effective fishing. Love Trisha

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Just sharing what my family is going through right now. Could you share this for us? They did not get good news today. Already lots of shares, prayers, positive encouragement left here. And I am so grateful to you all…

Siemona Stevens, a compassionate R.N. herself, is fighting for life! She’s the 32 year old vivacious mother of 4, step mother of 3= 7 children in all! my sister in law (my worship leader etc. brother Shawn’s lovely wife) was just diagnosed with a rare, very aggressive uterine cancer. It has already spread, so she is soon to start incredibly high doses of chemo and radiation 5 days a week for the next 12 weeks. Over half of the family’s income came from her nursing career, but she will be unable to work in the next 12 weeks at least. My brother hopes to hang on to his jobs, while driving her back and forth to treatments daily and caring for the kids. The children range in age from 14 all the way down to 19 months old (baby Noah). I’m working to raise money to cover their household bills for a month or two while she focuses on fighting! If you can donate- please give to encourage this couple to keep fighting. If you cannot give monetarily, will you please take a moment and leave a word of encouragement, a Scripture, a prayer or a suggestion for Siemona? Especially if you or someone you know is a cancer survivor, your words of encouragement are what she needs right now! Please share this with prayer groups, church and cancer groups as you see best. Updates to come! I plan to go down there myself and will post. God Bless- Trisha Stevens Peach

https://www.youcaring.com/siemonaandshawnstevensfamily-885730

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https://www.youcaring.com/siemonaandshawnstevensfamily-885730

Now IS a great time to write that book you have been dreaming of. You aren’t magically going to have time to write- you are going to have to make time! booking2

Welcome to Part 2- Here’s what I learned from bringing my books “Your Children’s Ministry From Scratch” and “Your Children’s Ministry Beyond Basics” from the concept stages all the way to being sold successfully on Amazon and elsewhere.

The final steps to getting your book fully written of course is….

6. You have to FINISH. I don’t know how many people I’ve talked to, who start a book, get a couple of chapters in and then put it in their underwear drawer where their book stays for all time. Starting is difficult, staying disciplined enough to keep writing regularly is tough, but in my opinion, finishing your book WELL is often the toughest challenge of all. Think about it this way. What is the hardest part of your workout? Yes, starting is difficult, and going the distance takes discipline, but many times, those last few minutes are the toughest, when you honestly feel you cannot go on.  Many things in life are this way- having a baby, climbing a mountain, completing your finals in college….you are at the end, totally exhausted and drained, and that is when you have to dig deep and PUSH.  This is when those wonderful relationships and all that accountability you have set up are really going to pay off. You need that support team to make sure you don’t drop out. This is NOT the time to stop talking with them regularly.  They will work to keep you motivated and inspired.  Take a moment to look back at your initial notes and outlines to remember your original dream- remember why you are doing this!

7. You are going to have to communicate, communicate and communicate.  It is a mistake to assume that everyone around you can just read your mind and know how important this is to you.  Most people will not understand how difficult it is to write a book, how time consuming. As you enter into the last stages of writing your book, you are GOING to need some help, watching your kids, possibly with housework, getting groceries and more.  If you work full time (or are a full time pastor!) this is the time for strategic planning- do not put your toughest projects on the weeks you are finishing up your book. This is the time to delegate, and to entrust many of your day to day operations to your capable leaders.

8. Do not give yourself an “out”. As the saying goes, “If you give yourself an escape bridge, you WILL use it.”  Do not start planning, “Well if this gets too tough, I can take a break for a few weeks/months.”  “Oh, I can always work on this next year” “If work gets really busy (when is it NOT busy at a church?), I can back off for awhile”…..if you have a backup plan to take an extended break, that is exactly what will happen.  Life will get busy, problems will happen, and you WILL have delays. But do not plan to take extended breaks.  Plan to FINISH, and finish well.

9. Begin to work on your social media platform NOW, before the book is completed. Do not make the mistake of waiting too long to begin talking publicly about your book. These days you NEED to build your book’s platform BEFORE it actually comes out.  I met with 2 marketing experts about my book, and both of them told me that I needed to do a lot more work on my social media presence. To be honest, I didn’t see the pressing need….I was on Facebook for awhile, but hadn’t done much at all with Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. I had always been so busy with our growing ministry, that I hadn’t put in enough time building on social media. I was definitely skeptical. But I decided to listen to these 2 men who did this for a living.  And they couldn’t have been more right.  I am convinced now more than ever, of the power of social media.  In fact, they told me, that you cannot expect much success or much of any kind of audience for your book without that platform. Instead of making excuses like “I cannot understand it at all” “It’s too much work” “It’s not really that important” “I just don’t DO that stuff” etc, make it your JOB to learn the in’s and out’s and continually update your social media profiles. I spent several days devoted solely to building that platform for my book online. Get help from a friend if you have to.  This step could make or break the launch of your book.

10. You’ve finished the book- now what? So after you’ve been faithful and finished the book that you set out to do, congratulate yourself- go out to dinner and celebrate!!! That’s a HUGE achievement! So you’re done now right? WRONG. Now you have the big step of getting your book published. Who are you going to have publish it? Are you going traditional or self publishing? Actual print books, online books or both? What will you charge? What avenues will you use for distribution. You are done with one major milestone, now on to the next big challenge!

So what great book ideas are YOU kicking around right now? You can do it! Step out there in faith!

Love and prayers, Trisha