16 “I have told you all of this so that you will not go down the wrong path. 2 You will be thrown out of the synagogue (church). In fact, a time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing God a favor. 3 They will do things like that because they do not know the Father or me.4 “Why have I told you this? So that when the time comes, you will remember that I warned you.”

Dear Friend,

I know it’s been awhile. Quite awhile. But I thought of you today. I try not to think of you, so that I can go on with life, but memories of you slipped in. I wonder if you ever think of me. Would it surprise you if I said, that I really wish we could sit down over coffee and talk? I couldn’t have said that until lately- I’m human, and I needed time. Somehow I do not think we will get that chance in this life to have closure, to talk frankly. My attempts at the time were not received. But if we had the chance to talk, there are a few things I would want you to know.

A. I really cared about you. I think that is what made everything so difficult. If I hadn’t cared so much, and respected you so much, I could have gone along my merry way without a thought. But one of my personal flaws is that I am a bit naive, and loyal to a fault. I thought the world of you and never imagined you felt any different. When I found out the things you had done, it wrecked me- each lie, gossip or manipulation felt like a separate knife wound. And I felt REALLY behind, like the only one who didn’t know. I was doing well and determined for the long haul, until I found out that YOU were the one trying to hurt me. Then all the wind went out of me, and a part of me just gave up. I didn’t want to keep fighting, I didn’t want to WIN anymore, because there wasn’t anything left to win. As Jesus and David put it in Psalm 55,

12 If an enemy were insulting me,
I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me,
I could hide.
13 But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,
14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
at the house of God,
as we walked about
among the worshipers.”

B. I was laying in bed one night, agonizing to God about you doing what you did and then going away….and I realized…we are never more like Jesus than when we are betrayed, or mistreated and love anyway. And He DID warn us, many many times in Scripture that these things WOULD happen to us. “A servant is not above his master….” And the enemy loves to cause division and heartache like this in order to damage ministers and damage churches and destroy good people. And most of the time the enemy is efficient and successful at what he does. We are never more like the devil than when we lie, tear others apart, scheme, push for power and try to divide. I don’t want to become more like the enemy. I want to continue this journey about being more and more like Jesus. Ministers don’t quit ministry because they get sick of preaching. They quit because of junk like this- because their heart broke one too many times.

C. Forgiving you does not mean agreeing that anything you did was in any way right or ok. You will never know the hurt or loss you caused. I do not think you will understand the tears, the nightmares, the sleepless nights….the difficult time trusting new friends. Forgiveness does not mean declaring that everyone someone did is ok. Forgiveness is saying “I’m leaving this with God, and you don’t owe me anything anymore.” I think of totally forgiving someone as finally being able to sit and have coffee with them (without throwing the coffee) lol.

D. I do choose to forgive you. Completely. I’m not perfect either. And without the grace and never ending love of God, I’d have no hope. I know that if I won’t forgive you, He cannot forgive me, and I am DAILY in need of His grace. And probably sometime soon, I’ll need someone to forgive me too.

E. I have not let this end God’s work in my life. When God called me into ministry at the age of 8, He did not turn around and ask your permission. And His gifts and calling are irrevocable. He who has begun a good work in me -and you- will be faithful to complete it. As Joseph said,

20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people[a] should be kept alive, as they are today. Gen 50:20

God is the One in charge of my life (and yours). I believe now more than ever, that he doesn’t allow what He cannot redeem. God has used every chapter of my life, the good and the bad, to further His story. These past several years have been amazing- a new book out that is doing well, ministry growth, and a lot of travel. On my kid’s missions trip to Africa, I had climbed a mountain with our translator on our way to home visits. I was so overwhelmed by the beauty all around me, and the realization of all God was doing there on a daily basis. And then….I realized that if it hadn’t been for you, none of this would be happening. I would have stayed right where I was, on a different path, “safe”. God had used the hurt, the loss to fuel a much more important cause- HIS. And I laughed. Then I shouted your name from the top of that mountain “Thank you!!” I think the translator thought I lost my mind. 🙂 God used you in a big way, and for that, I am grateful.

I am so happy to hear that God is using you in ministry- and I pray that God continues to use you for His purposes and His glory. Because it’s about Him and His work here on earth. And we cannot let personal “junk” get in the way of that. I pray you go and do great things for God.

And finally- Although I never wanted you to miss out on heaven, I definitely wanted you to have your own “solitary confinement” section of heaven so I never had to look at you again. I am sorry that I felt that way at one point. But now I know we’ll be sitting together at His table someday very soon, both saved by grace. And I will love you then too.

And I’ll even pass you the salt. love always, Trisha

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“You are going to meet with me tonight! I don’t care how late it is. Meet me at Joe’s Coffee shop in 20 minutes. We have to talk this out now.” I groaned when these texts started coming through. Because I knew this mom. We had been through all of this before. Part of me had been holding my breath, expecting this. Her daughter didn’t get a solo in the Christmas play, and I knew she wouldn’t handle that well.

I’ll never forget that night. Our quarterly vision casting meeting at the church had gone late. After finishing up some paperwork in my office, at 10:15 pm, I began finally walking towards my car. Then my phone buzzed. And buzzed again. And again and again.  I needed to be up early the next day to get my kids to school. But I felt obligated to “make this right” and meet with her. My boss, who was also leaving late after the meetings, saw me in the parking lot wearily trudging to my car to go meet her. I explained the situation to him briefly, expecting him to tell me to “make things right with her.” Instead he adamantly told me, “This late at night? NO. No Way. You are letting yourself be too controlled by others. Go home to your family. You are jumping every time this woman says “jump.” You can lovingly tell her no. Offer to meet with her during office hours. This has to stop.”

“But..but..” I stuttered, “She’s angry and says we have to meet right now!”

“And?” my boss answered. “You really have to stop making HER emergency YOUR emergency. She is the only one who can control her feelings. Go home to your family.”

I went home. She was angry, but by the next day she had cooled off quite a bit. When we met later that week, she apologized and offered to help with the play. This was a huge learning moment for me, and I want to share it with you. It can change the way you do life and ministry. We need to ask ourselves:

Is this really an emergency?”  This is a question to ask yourself when someone approaches you for help in a crisis. Is someone in danger of physical harm? Is someone in the hospital or dying or being abused or in an accident? Being offended by which Bible translation you used last Sunday during the offering is NOT an emergency- no matter how mad someone is. As pastors and leaders we have to TRAIN others how to deal with their emotions appropriately. When we jump and run every single time someone is offended we are FEEDING that culture of offense- and FEEDING someone’s need to CONTROL others, both of which run directly contrary to what Scripture teaches. There are people in our churches who are addicted to drama; these people need love, hope and healing. They do NOT need you to enable their addiction. People demanded that Jesus do signs to prove His ministry, or give them more bread from heaven, or defend His ministry or stay in one place forever. He told these people no, because He had a mission from the Father that He needed to carry out. If other people’s agendas control us, it will hamper our ability to carry out the Father’s agenda for us. As Nehemiah said when certain factions demanded meetings with him because they were offended with him, “(They)said, ‘Come and let us meet together…” But they intended to do me harm. So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it to come down to you?” They sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner.” Nehemiah 3:2-4 

Stay tuned for more in this series of my favorite phrases/questions to improve your life, ministry and family life! God loves YOU, not just for what you DO for Him, but just because you are His child. He cares about your health and the health of your family!

What about YOU? What is YOUR favorite piece of ministry advice??

Love Trisha

Emergency

I had the privilege of being at CPC (Children’s Pastor’s Conference) last week in Orlando, FL. Long story short, it was an absolutely fantastic week. I tried very hard to narrow it down; so here are few of my favorite things from CPC 2018:

The Location: Florida!


For some of us (I think especially those of us in the frozen North and Midwest), having the CPC conference in Florida in January is a real treat! I so enjoy the sunshine break! What a great location to renew and revive! And the close proximity to Walt Disney World? To me, being close to Disney reinforces CPC’s commitment to loving on children’s pastors AND their families. What better way to revive your kidmin creativity than a jaunt over to Disney? They even had an imagineer leading a breakout! The setting adds so much to the overall conference. P.S. They had a lot more food trucks this year- the food was amazing. I had the best lobster bisque of my life- no joke.

The Timing: For me, January is a great month to have a conference. Most of us have just come off of a tough holiday season. We may have had a Christmas musical, difficult holiday services to staff, a whirlwind schedule of holiday craziness at church AND at home. January, the start of a NEW season of kidmin/fammin is the perfect time to go on break and re-up, connecting anew to God and our fellow kid’s pastors.

The People: Someone said this year, “CPC is really a family reunion!” I couldn’t agree more. My number one reason for going every year is networking with people I have become so close to. I believe that our “success” in ministry rises and falls with relationships- with God first, then our family and of course, with other kid’s ministry leaders. We learn from each other, we pray for each other, we encourage each other.

The Worship Experience: How many of us say, “I almost never get to a church service.” The truth is that whenever there is an adult service, there is usually a kid’s service. How often do we attend a service just to be filled? Without wearing a radio/cell? This is a beautiful time to be fed, to soak up the Spirit of God in worship, to be ministered to by leaders who truly understand what we are going through, to take communion alongside our brothers and sisters. To be reminded, we are not alone. And we were made for this.
My favorite service moment this past year? That would have to be when children’s ministry pioneer Karl Bastian (the Kidologist who founded kidology.org -check it out) was honored on stage for his 50 consecutive visits to CPC!!!! WOW!! He shared some amazing kid’s ministry insights and encouraged us all.

The Classes: It is difficult to find another kid’s ministry conference anywhere that has the amazing variety of breakouts, with such passionate, experienced speakers. There were literally hundreds of breakouts on so many relevant topics. I loved the new feature of pre selecting your breakouts, and choosing a specific track if you like.

The Theme: “Made for This” was a perfect theme. Too many children’s pastors NEED to be reminded (perhaps all of us from time to time), that we were specifically made by God and called by God to do the greatest job on earth- reach children for Christ! And the God Who called us will equip us! We need to know its about HIS strength, not our weaknesses. He loves us just the way we are!

The Speakers: So grateful for all the speakers this year. I especially appreciated the raw honesty of Christine Yount Jones of Children’s Ministry Magazine, when she talked about anxiety and even depression in ministry and how God will use you in ministry despite the “storm”. WOW.

I left inspired, refreshed and excited for CPC 2019. Will I see YOU there?
Did you attend this past year’s CPC? Leave a comment and let us know what YOUR favorite part of CPC 18 was! Thank you Micayla and your amazing team!

Love and best wishes for your ministry this year!
Trisha

 

So, my body, it dawned on me today that you and I have been together now for 40 years….more if you count growing time in the womb. Yes, we sure have seen a lot, been so many places and we’ve done quite a few amazing things. And you’ve been there, for each and every moment- the high and lofty pinnacles but also the dark ugly trenches of our life. They say when you are young, you think you are invincible, and you do things to your body that you will feel (and regret) in your later years. And I have been sitting here today, just thinking, that there were definitely times, I did not treat you very well. And there were times I took you for granted. Seems to me I have much to be sorry about (including all those years in the ring in karate, although that WAS fun, and I gave as good as I got!).

So dear body, here are just a few things I would like to apologize for, over these last 40 years….

1. Those 70+ hour work weeks. I drove you hard, and pushed you beyond what you were designed to do. You were screaming for mercy, and I gave you none. I put everyone’s needs ahead of yours. When I counseled others at work, I told them to take better care of themselves, and told them not to be so hard on themselves. But I did not extend that mercy to you. I did not want to let anyone down so I “did it all”- all the events at the kids’ school, sports, 70+ hours of work, date nights with the husband and much more. But when I thought I “got away with it”, I was really writing checks that my body couldn’t cash. And I thought you would just “take it”. Perhaps I thought that could just go on and on.

2. Ignoring your cries for help. frequent colds, flus, infections, ulcers, fatigue, migraines etc etc etc. You did everything you could to get my attention, to warn me, to get me to listen, to get me to change. And I would only lash you harder. And that reminds me of…..

When I was seventeen years old, driving to work one day, my trusty old Pontiac Grand Am began to act VERY strangely. Although I kept pressing the gas pedal further and further down, the car was slowing down. Finally I had the pedal all the way to the floor, but the car slowly ground to a halt. I was aggravated that my car would let me down like that. I was so sure it was the transmission that I told the mechanic not to bother doing too much to fix it. He graciously told me that he would look at it for me for free, just to confirm that the car was really toast before I sent it off for scrap. A few moments later, the mechanic came back out to the lobby and grabbed a quart of oil, then went back to my car. A minute later he came back and got ANOTHER quart of oil. This he repeated 2 more times. The last time he came back to the lobby, he glared at me. “Young lady, that will be 17.45 for the oil. I have never in my life ever seen a car that bone dry. It is literally a miracle that you didn’t destroy this car. Wasn’t the oil light on for awhile now? The engine heat signal? Didn’t you smell smoke?” Still in shock I stammered, “Well, yeah, but I thought it was like the check engine light that comes on and just stays on. And Dad said he checked the oil last year.” The man was horrified and disgusted (and rightly so) “Last year??? Honey, this car was screaming at you for help for some time and you ignored all the signals. Cars MUST have regular maintenance, including oil changes. Start listening to the signals, or you’ll do permanent damage to your car- or lose the car.” I realized in that moment, the car hadn’t let me down; I let the car down- I didn’t respond to the signals.

Body, many times when I got so mad at you for getting sick at the worst times, or being exhausted on a big work week- it really wasn’t that you let me down. I had let you down. I didn’t respond to the signals. You did not have what you needed to keep operating. Sometimes you were “bone dry” and I still slammed the pedal to the floor and yelled at you in exasperation while you finally ground to a halt. Years later I got a new car (and was VERY careful to get those oil changes and maintenance)- but I CANNOT go buy another you….you are the only body I have-the only one.

3. Underestimating your worth- oh the amazing things you do! No technology on earth can compare to this remarkable creation, the human body. Only days old in the womb, my heart started beating, and it has never stopped since. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week without ever getting a break or a day off. So many automatic processes that I do not consciously control- hair and nails grow, food is digested, images I see are interpreted, I taste wonderful things. I have lost count of the germs and illnesses you have fought off; I am filled with wonder at how you build up so many immunities! And on top of that, wonder of wonders, you, my body, teamed up with God and made two brand new human beings- two beautiful babies that grew inside me, and delivered with shockingly little input from me. The autopilot there was amazing. It felt like having a car for 25 years and suddenly finding out it had a hidden hovercraft feature! And then after my children were born- NOTHING was in the right place! I would have SWORN my body was ruined forever. And I was so wrong- you pulled yourself back together and strong again in such relatively short time….no machine on earth could ever do that!

So dear body….what I wanted to say, is that I am sorry that I drove you so hard all these years, and thank you for continuing to serve me well. And I want to do and see so many more great things together for many years to come. So in this new year, I want to do a better job at treating you right. Giving you the rest, nutrition, exercise and laughter you need. Being a little more forgiving of those stretch marks and tired days. Most people’s new year’s resolution is to drive their body harder- but I like how much healthier I have been lately. I would rather give you what you NEED and trust your design. This is the start of a GREAT year to come….. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Ps 139:14, “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” Song of Songs 4:7

I was fifteen years old, watching in horror, as a children’s pastor I had just met began making fun of his lead pastor, his church’s board and the other staff. He laughed as he told me stories of threatening to quit if he didn’t get his way. He reenacted a tantrum he threw publicly at a recent church business meeting. I couldn’t even speak because I was floored by such arrogance and disrespect. At that moment, my mentor-another childen’s pastor- asked me to step out the room. I’ll never forget how he looked me straight in the eyes and whispered, “You promise me Trisha-promise me-you will never be like that guy.” I nodded my head. Many times in my own ministry, whenever I had thought about how to make a presentation or how to tackle a tough problem with my lead pastor, I have thought of that moment. I had learned a valuable lesson- from a not so great example.

Have you ever wondered why God allows certain nasty people in your life? I have. And I’m not just talking about non-Christians either. I’m talking about “Christian” church people, family members, fellow church staff members and parents of kids in your ministry. I’m referring to people you encounter within the walls of the church who are bullies, who are deliberately hurtful, selfish, arrogant, deceitful, gossiping, backstabbing, lying, passive aggressive, and more. Too many Christians believe church will be a “safe place” and then get a nasty surprise. As my dad often said, “All people are sinful and carnal. Only some of them are going to heaven because they know Jesus.” So why does God allow mean people to interact with us on a daily basis without immediately stopping it? I don’t have all the answers, but I do have a few ideas.

Perhaps God allows us to go through painful experiences with mean people to A. teach us to love like He does and to forgive- though truly never as much as we have already BEEN forgiven B. to make us stronger in our faith and dependence on Him C. to sharpen our skills dealing with difficult people ….and also possibly- D. to teach us some important life lessons, kinda like a living object lesson. Didn’t Jesus teach many life object lessons? In fact, most of those Old Testament stories I love, may be included in the Bible just to teach us a lesson about what NOT to do! Joshua not asking for God’s counsel with terrible consequences, (Josh 4), Achan’s greed, Nebuchadnezzar’s pride,  Ahab’s fall etc. etc. etc.

What could we possibly learn about ourselves and about life from nasty, hateful people? Well, here are a few lessons I learned over the years from awful people:

  1. Don’t treat people like a commodity or a disposable product. People have feelings and should be treated with respect.
  2. Hurtful people have usually been hurt. Just as bullied children may in turn bully others. I have to watch myself when I’m hurting, not to take it out on others or to copy those bad behaviors.
  3. You tend to become like the person or persons you focus on every day. One of my least liked bosses gave us, the staff, a lot of research on how it’s a proven fact you will start to become like the person you work for or focus on. I took that research to heart and changed bosses/jobs. We need to be very careful about who we choose as a leader, a mentor, or a hero- you WILL subconsciously begin to pick up that person’s traits- good and bad.
  4. Don’t gossip or talk badly about others. You may be completely convinced and yet be completely wrong about them.
  5. Words hurt much more and do more lasting damage than any physical punch or fight ever could. I have to be very careful not to let my words destroy a brother or sister for whom Jesus died.
  6. Just because someone is hateful, doesn’t mean they are not RIGHT about certain things. It can be too easy to dismiss what someone says because we do not like the person saying it. Sometimes what they said was RIGHT, and we need to find that grain of truth because the hurtful, hateful way they said it. Two of my best ever curriculum/program suggestions came from the meanest, most critical people in my life. Both programs have been successful, and God has used them to touch many lives. It’s hard to accept sometimes that God may speak to you with great wisdom, through the worst, most hurtful person in your life! Can we allow God to speak to us through ANY circumstance?
  7. Don’t let your heart grow cold, or your love or passion for Jesus and His kid’s/families die. Some of the meanest people I have ever met are also the most angry, bitter and unforgiving. I do not want to become them! I want to let my heart stay warm, broken, if need be- I want to keep my passion for ministry and for people. Or I will become just like the meanest of people I have met.

How about you? Have you learned any great lessons from horrible people?

lots of love, Trisha

IMG_20170419_145004In our age of technology linking us all across the globe, information and training has never been more accessible or more affordable! Google puts answers at our fingertips, almost instantly. More and more churches are doing their training seminars for staff and volunteers though “webinars”- training done entirely online from the comfort of home or the church building. Webinars have many benefits including low cost, no travel expenses, no time away from home, and flexibility with your own schedule. I love webinars; they are absolutely valuable in reaching and training today’s leaders. I even speak for several webinars. Does that mean that I no longer believe in sending teams away for “off site conferences”? Absolutely not. Traditional conferences still have enormous value, offering what webinars cannot. With a lot of churches in a budget crunch, and so many under resourced children’s ministries leaders, we have to ask, “Are off site conferences worth the expense?” I answer, with a resounding “Yes.” Here’s Why:

 

10. Laser Focus-There are a lot of conferences/trainings out there on every imaginable ministry topic- leadership, outreach, worship, discipleship etc. etc. etc. But if your passion and heartbeat is children’s/family ministry- if the faces of those kids and parents keep you up at night- then nothing beats a children’s/family ministry conference for putting all the best of everything right towards your calling.  Instead of finding one or two things that will benefit your ministry at a website, you will find that most, if not all, of the large group services, worship services, resources and breakouts will directly speak to, equip and impact YOUR ministry right now. There is a lot to be said about the effectiveness of that kind of focus- everything, absolutely everything, applies to your kid’s and family ministry.

9. Resources Galore- Every year, I see several children’s leaders arrive with cash in hand to buy their curriculum, training materials, books, worship DVDs, and supplies for the whole year. These events offer the chance to go through MANY vender booths, talk directly to the creators of many of the products, handle and examine the resources (as opposed to buying online)- all under one roof! And every single thing is for kid’s and family ministries! It’s like Christmas for kid’s ministry leaders.  I even saw a few teams that brought their senior leader WITH them (great idea!) to help them purchase most of what they would need for the next year all at once. Great idea, very efficient.  It also gets your senior leader in the loop, excited about the possibilities and increased vision for the family ministries area! Some booths also offer conference discounts that you can only get at the conference.

8. The Speakers- Quality, dynamic speakers present each year the main sessions at conferences, and live always trumps recorded. There is power in “being there.” Want to hear from the most successful and in-demand children’s/family ministry leaders? You’ll probably find all of them in one place. And every single year, I and my team have been inspired, challenged and encouraged to let God use us in bigger ways! I took so many notes last year at one conference, that I ran out of paper, and had to write on random scraps of paper in my purse.  I still reread those notes several times during the year (some are tear stained).  The impact of those large group services goes on well after the conference is over.

7. The networking- The very best part of off site conferences is NOT the amazing services or breakouts- sorry.  The BEST part of the conference is the networking that happens organically among children’s leaders.  Everywhere I see children’s leaders connecting, exchanging ideas, praying together, commiserating….they’re exchanging emails and Facebook info in the hallways, classrooms, after services, late night activities.  They are bonding over lunch! We are always better when we are working TOGETHER. I have met some of the most amazing friends and ministry collegues at these conferences!

6. College credit- Did you know, that several conferences now offer classes that count for college credit? Awesome right? I highly advise you to check this out on the conference website, especially if you are going or thinking about going after a ministry degree. All of us should we working to do better, to BE better at what we do. Because we have the greatest job on earth!

5. The workshops- Every year, I find so many workshops that I cannot WAIT to attend. In fact, usually there are usually two or three I want to visit every time block, SO my teams split up and each attend a different workshop. Then at lunch or dinner we compare notes and share what we learned.  Coming by yourself? You may find yourself wanting to order copies of certain classes so you don’t have to miss a thing! And some conferences let you pick a “track” of classes to attend: for example, “recruitment” “family ministry” and several more. And if you choose a track, remember you are not locked into that track.  If you see a workshop you really can’t wait to be a part of- go ahead and go! The track gives you great ideas of workshops to benefit your biggest needs.  I think it’s a great new idea that will work well.

4. The activities! – It’s not all “heavy” learning.  There is a lot of fun! Games, demonstrations, giveaways- late night stuff! It is part of the whole experience- touring the area around the convention halls, local attractions (if you like), great food, swimming and more. There is always a lot of laughing and fun to be had even when the classes are NOT in session. This is bonding for your team that is priceless. This bonding flourishes when you get away together.

3. Those amazing God moments in the hallway….  I cannot say enough about this one. I go to a lot of conferences all over the country (USA), and I love seeing children’s leaders praying together in the hallways, workshop leaders praying over people in classrooms after sessions and people having such deep God-conversations over lunches.  One such “God moment” happened to me 3 years ago. Two women I had never known, along with a workshop leader, prayed with me in the hallway. I was so inspired that I went home and finished writing my first book “Your Children’s Ministry From Scratch”- an all inclusive guide, to help children’s leaders launch or rebuild a dynamic kid’s ministry from the ground up.  I referred back to my notes from that conference many times during the long editing and publishing process, and it gave me the courage to keep going.  Since going live on Amazon, the 1st book has already sold over 2000 copies in 11 countries in 4 languages, and has become a mandatory textbook at several universities.  What ministry could God be growing within you right now? Go with an open mind and a ready heart.  And look for God to speak to YOU, in AND out of the services.

2. One on one coaching- CPC (Children’s Pastor’s Conference) offers sign ups for a one on one session with the children’s ministry expert of your choice (from the conference)- the cost of which is FREE with paid registration to the conference. The point is to “Go Home with a Plan!” that you can immediately implement- practical tools and strategies just for you and your situation. Other conferences offer these encounters in a less formal way; CMCONNECT conference gives you the chance to talk with “experts”, rubbing shoulders with them in every hallway. The intimate feel puts everyone on the same level, giving you the chance to really open up to those who have been in your shoes.

1. Team bonding- Effective growing ministries do not grow and thrive from one man (or one woman) shows. The future of your children’s ministry depends on the strength of your TEAM. Want to bond and inspire your team for years to come? A get away is the place to do that. It is so difficult to come home from a conference and try to relay the information to people who weren’t there. There is power in experiencing those moments, the laughs, prayers and tears TOGETHER.  “You had to have been there”.  Your team may just come home solidified as one team, with a strong vision for ministry- and totally stoked to take things to the next level!

Convinced yet? If I see you at one of the upcoming conferences, please come up and say HI! Do you still love going to offsite conferences? Which is YOUR favorite?

Love Trisha

How do I know if it’s MY time to make a transition (leave my current position)? Much has been written on this topic; and I have LOVED some blogs I have read on the subject. Of course, the chief concern here is the terrible lack of longevity we see in our churches today-  some churches seem to go through staff like water, and many staff are far too quick to leave.  We should never leave a ministry God has called us to on a whim. Ministry is HARD- no doubt about it.  And if you leave every time ministry breaks your heart or gets difficult, you won’t stay anywhere long. I have heard it said that you cannot effect any REAL change in a ministry until you have been there at least 3 years.

But if you have honestly tried EVERYTHING you can think of to improve things at your current ministry, and you have tried to stick things out for this long haul, is it ever right to leave a ministry position? Actually, yes, sometimes God is telling you to move on.  And if you overstay in the wrong position, you can do damage to the ministry you are supposed to be serving. AND there can be frustration and harm for you, your health and your family.  So how can you know? How can you know if it may be time to find a new ministry position? Well, I talked with a few of my friends in ministry, and here are some of the TOP ways I and others have known it was possibly time to move on:

  1. You just don’t care anymore. You cannot shake apathy. Something doesn’t go well, or you exceed goals- and it doesn’t faze you either way. Something inside you has died for this ministry. I encourage you to talk about those feelings with your senior leader and other ministry leaders you trust outside your ministry.  It could be you just need a break, or a refreshing etc. But you cannot ignore that apathy for long- it is SAYING something.
  2. You are almost ALWAYS frustrated, irritated and resentful.  It’s perfectly normal to be frustrated at times (especially Mondays!). But if these feelings or anger and hurt and resentment have gone on and on and nothing you are doing is helping; it may be time for you to leave before that attitude gets worse and/or poisons those around you.
  3. Vision is gone. You are no longer hoping or planning for great things a long way off for the ministry there. You can barely focus on planning for this coming Sunday. Planning for a year from now is nearly impossible. Because you can no longer see the future for this ministry. Writing messages further out is becoming more difficult. Many ministers have told me that when it was time to leave, they “felt it lift”- their vision and desire for that place was gone….so much so that the building itself began to look different to them; nothing seemed the same.
  4. You find yourself often day dreaming about a different ministry/church. A lot of leaders have that awesome daydream of filling in for Francis Chan for a Sunday and 2000 people get saved… But if ALL you do is hope and dream about another ministry, then your heart may have died for this one.  And that’s not fair for the people at your current church. You should still be able to dream for the church you are at.
  5. You are now there for the wrong reasons- ie. money, habit, fear. You do not want to be there at all, but you just don’t know how to do anything else. Or you are afraid or going somewhere new. Which leads to a great question:            Why are you staying?
  6. Your ministry there does not “fit” with the church’s new vision/direction. Your giftings and talents are not being used; you’re just not challenged anymore. It could be that God has grown you so much in that ministry, that He now has plans for you elsewhere. And it could just be that – and please please hear my heart when I say this- you may not be what that church is looking for in a new season.  Everything changes, always. And your giftings and leadership could just be an answer to prayer and a perfect fit somewhere new. I remember, many years back, sitting around the table at our weekly staff meeting at my church.  I had been on staff there for several years, with a lot of growth and success.  But increasingly, I was finding myself frustrated at these meetings. With the new leadership, new vision and direction, I had been so excited, but week by week I felt like a fifth wheel.  I prayed about it, sought wise counsel, talked to the new lead pastor, and worked harder to make it work. But one morning, sitting in that meeting, reigning in a volcano of frustration, I took a good look around and realized….I was what didn’t fit in this picture. It wasn’t the 6 other staff who needed a change- I wasn’t right for this newly redefined position.  And I knew it wasn’t going back to what it was. In that moment the whole picture changed. I felt a relief wash over me, as well as sadness, grief….but when we got up to leave the room and go into the hallways, nothing was the same. I knew it was over. I did keep praying, thinking, grieving, but God confirmed through several other people that it was time to go.  I listened and moved on to an amazing new staff position that has been one of the greatest experiences-and most challenging!-of my life. And I got to see the next kid’s ministry grow exponentially, and I grew in team building by matching myself and others in their skill sets. I know that if I had been stubborn and stayed without God’s blessing, my ministry there would NOT have kept growing, and I would have continued feeling stymied and frustrated. And furthermore, things like my Africa trip, traveling/speaking, and my book may never have happened.

Ministry takes a lot of wisdom and prayer.  And remember that God is still guiding, still writing your story and the stories of the ministries where you work. “He Who has begun a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it.” Believe that in time, He will make His will clear to you.  Just be willing to jump in and follow it.  And be patient, prayerful and act with integrity in that “waiting time”. God bless your ministry now and in the new year! Trisha


When I was asked to write a review of the brand new book, “Breaking the Hex” by brothers Roger and Jeff Fields, I was honored. Roger Fields is the founder of Kidz Blitz Ministries, which does children’s ministry in over 50 countries all over the nation. If you haven’t booked them yet at your church- you should! They do an amazing job for the whole family. But, on to the book!

Breaking the Hex is all about living under grace, in a growing relationship with a loving, living God, instead of following a rote set of dead rules. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It is easy to read and hard to put down. Due to the short chapters, this would make a great devotional to do yourself or with your team in the new year. It is not specific to children’s/family ministries only- so really anyone will enjoy it. The book is positive, encouraging and FUNNY, focusing on defeating guilt and shame in lives. I particularly enjoyed the pictures, the imaginative layout and the vivid storytelling.  It was as if you could see how God used storytelling and object lessons to reach us with His good news.  The joy of being completely loved and thoroughly saved by grace is on every page. Because of the fun look and feel, I am hoping my two teenage kids will read it as well.

Want to check it out for yourself? I thought you would never ask. The book is available on Amazon. The brother also are available to get the book for you in bulk at a lower cost- just email them here: fieldsbrothers@breakingthehex.com

Thank you all- and Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!!

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Here is a fun activity I have done with my leaders or even a small group of kids to teach the importance of each of us bringing our unique gifts to use for God! Feel free to share and try it out with your group!

Ask each member of the team/group to bring one specific item to your meeting. One person will be asked to bring eggs, one person to bring sugar, one baking soda, one vanilla etc. With everyone gathered, each will measure out what they brought into a large bowl. Take turns mixing it all together and put them in the oven to bake chocolate chip cookies (or whichever kind of cookies you like best!). The message is that we all “bring something to the table” as members of this team/group. If one ingredient is missing, the “cookies” just won’t turn out “right.” God has gifted each one of us individually to minister to kids, parents and to each other. Let’s all speak up today and bring ourselves to the mix! We will share what we believe are our unique contributions. How has God gifted YOU? What do you feel you bring? Then, going around the “circle”, each member will share what they see in each other- ie, “Here is what I see Danielle bringing to this team and to the kid’s ministry…” In this way, we will affirm each other and encourage each other. (In the past, this has led to a lot of tears and hugs and people saying things like, “I never knew I made that kind of a difference!)

God bless- I hope your Christmas season is going well. Blessings on all of your Christmas programs and preparations!

Love Trisha

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Greate Do we expect great things from God in our ministries this next year? Do we look forward to great things from God in our personal lives this next year?

Too many sad or blah faces at church last week?

This is the time of year that we are more likely to go see one of the MANY renditions of Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol.” But today, I was thinking more about another of Charles Dicken’s literary works, “Great Expectations.” Why oh why would I be thinking about that sad, long story right around Christmas time? If you remember the book, it includes the tale of Miss Haversham, who, after being stood up on her wedding day, sits for many decades in the dust covered wedding reception room, in her mouldering old wedding dress, frozen in time in her despair and anger.  Why did I think of that story today? Well, I was rereading the Christmas story and I came across one of my favorite verses, in Luke 2, “an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord. You will find the babe lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes.”  Can you imagine? After seeing and hearing and experiencing what they did? These shepherds had GREAT expectations! and why? The angel said the news was GREAT. It was a message of GREAT JOY- not ok news, everyday news, a possibility of hope, a reprieve of suffering, or a lament of sadness- it was a message straight from the Creator of the Universe, and He lit up the entire sky with this news of great joy. So these men set off to Bethlehem in search of….a metaphor? a possibility of hope? a balm to get by? No, they went in search of a Savior, of a LORD. And this news of great joy was to be for ALL people. And 2000 years later, we who are called Christians- followers of Jesus- believe in this message of GREAT joy, believe we have found the Savior, Christ the Lord. We of all people should have GREAT expectations! So….if we Christians should be the most joyful, hopeful people on earth, why are we so often sad, down and seemingly without hope? Who will want to listen to our Christian witness with our faces dragging the floor? What happened to our great expectations? Sometimes I think, life wears us down and we lose focus. We begin to get bogged down again with the problems of our “sheep”. Maybe we who have been Christians a really long time now ALSO need to hear the angel’s message again and all anew…. “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior.”It’s still a message of GREAT joy and hope. There is still a Savior Who loves us and has promised good things that are coming in our future. No matter how difficult this past year has been, God has promised us many good things to come: that He will be with us no matter what we face in the future, that He is preparing a place for us to be with Him forever, that He will wipe every tear from our eyes, that He is going to end all war, suffering, and death, that we will see those we have lost again someday…No matter where we are at in this moment, God is sending us good tidings of GREAT joy and we can take steps forward with GREAT expectations.

God bless and Merry Christmas, love Trisha