6. You’ll have to navigate “Separate Orbit Syndrome.” This happens when you start to feel disconnected from the adult church service or from the church in general. This happens because children’s ministry is sometimes the ONLY ministry that takes place DURING the adult main service. Other ministries break out during the week or serve IN the main service. Children’s ministry can start to have its own orbit. You have to fight the children’s ministry becoming its own “silo.” It is a lot of work to keep it connected to what is going on in the church at large. I realized one day in our staff meeting that in a room packed out with staff, I was the ONLY one who had not been in the main service, and I was also the only one who knew what had happened that week in the kid’s services. The kid’s leader has to be very vocal about what is happening in the kid’s areas. The rest of the church may not know, because they weren’t there. Your hardships, your huge wins- you have to get very good at making sure these are heard. Kind of like a moon, orbiting the earth….”Houston, we have a problem….”

7. And you’ll run a higher risk of burnout. Children’s ministry tends to run non-stop. School year, summer, holidays, weekend, midweek. And too many children’s leaders report NEVER being in an adult service. They do not ever sit with their families in a worship service. They do not get to attend a Bible study. And this can be extremely wearing on even the strongest Christian. We’ve always had 3-5 services to plan every single week for kid’s ministry as opposed to student ministries’ 1 (they are adding another one). You will have to work harder perhaps, than other staff members to make sure you make it to a church service. I know how difficult that can be. I make it to one at least once a month (wearing my pager!), and I attend a morning Bible study during the week. You MUST invest in yourself and your relationship with God or you will soon have nothing left to give!

8. Underappreciated, underrated ministry- Even though you have one of, if not THE TOUGHEST jobs in the church, you may feel invisible. You may feel that no one understands or appreciates what you do. Many times Children’s Ministry is still viewed as babysitting or women’s work or a stepping stone. I remember hearing in bible college, “Someday God may move you up”. I always felt this was top of the ladder for me! 

I hope you read part 1…what did I miss? Why is your job so tough sometimes?? Let me just say that I love you guys and you are not alone. There are many of us! Jesus sees all you do for him and His kids. Please keep on fighting today and always! Love Trisha

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No it’s not all in your head. Your job as a children’s ministries staff person/volunteer is one of, if not THE toughest job in your church. Why? Here are a few of the key reasons that you have such a difficult (yet rewarding) ministry:

1.No area of the church is as prone to explosive conflict as the children’s area. Very nice people can become UNNICE rather quickly when their children are involved. Any program that works with people’s kids will encounter intense conflicts from time to time. On top of that several articles have been written recently about the problem of parent bullying of teachers. Unfortunately, that bullying can extend itself into your ministry- parents/guardians bullying you and your leaders in order to get their way (a part in a play for their child, special rules just for their child, a certain prize for their child, an ending of consequences etc. etc.) These conflicts tend to involve a lot of emotions and may become quite personal. The sheer number of these conflicts can be wearing on a kid’s ministry leader.

2. The legalities involved are mind-boggling. In the past decade, liability insurance for churches has skyrocketed. This massive insurance premium increase has resulted in changes in the way that some churches do ministry- some have stopped doing camp outs, some have stopped offsite activities, others have discontinued their 15 passenger van services (because their insurance will no longer cover them). Every single thing that we do in children’s ministry must be scrutinized for its possible liability issues. The public schools deal with this as well. If a child falls on church property, or is injured by faulty equipment, the chances are MUCH higher of their being a lawsuit against the church than if the injury happened to an adult. And let’s just face it- kids get hurt. Toddlers fall down. Kids get hurt playing games, running and horseplaying. We cannot prevent all injuries, but we can do due diligence to minimize injuries on our property. If something goes to court, the question will be asked, “Did you and your staff do everything REASONABLE to prevent this from happening?” Bottom line: the vast majority of your church’s liablity and potential lawsuits come from your children’s ministry department.

3. Medical issues in children’s ministry have changed. This goes hand in hand with #2. We do not have room here to debate why the cases of food allergies (including peanuts) and cases of autism and childhood depression, among other disorders, have increased exponentially in the past several years.  Most of these medical issues will affect the children’s department the most. At our church, 8 out of every 10 medical issues happen in the kid’s ministry area (a fall, a bite in the nursery, an allergy reaction, an emotional meltdown). One Sunday morning, I got a call that a 7 year old child was down, struggling to breathe, because another child came into class that had just eaten a peanut butter sandwhich at home. She had a severe peanut allergy reaction just from the boy’s breath. Thankfully her mother taught for us and was nearby with an epipen. These are issues we face much more often in kid’s ministry than in the adult service.

4. Recruiting is so MUCH MORE difficult for the kid’s ministry leader than for ANY OTHER area in your church. Why? A. Due to the above issues, you MUST maintain proper ratios. Depending on your state recommended guidelines and/or your church’s guidelines, you may need to have 1 leader per 2-3 kids in the infant room, 1 per 4-5 in toddlers, 1 per 6-8 in pre-K, 1 per 8-12 in elementary. Adults do not have to worry about these ratios. Student ministries do not need quite as high ratios. B. You CANNOT put just anyone serving in kid’s ministry. Many people in your church will not qualify. You cannot use anyone with a history of child abuse, or anyone with a bad temper etc. Not everyone has a temperament that will work well in kid’s ministry. C. Your onboarding requirements will be MUCH tougher for a new volunteer. They must be fingerprinted, background checked, trained and more. Your kid’s ministry SHOULD have the toughest guidelines to serve in the church. Not everyone will qualify, or even stick around for the longer onboarding process. *SEE HOLIDAY SCHEDULING

5. You will have a lot of administrative duties. Many new children’s leaders are not prepared for the level of administrative work they will need to do. You have to organize the recruiting, training and onboarding of new leaders continually. You need to create the schedules for each class, make sure each class has teachers each week. This means filling holes in the schedule week to week and on a Sunday morning too when the need arises! You are keeping track of who is serving when and with whom and who traded days with who etc. ****HOLIDAY SCHEDULING- This scheduling can be so frustrating and overwhelming around holidays- Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Summer….And in most cases, when there is an adult service, there will be children’s ministry. The other pastors may get a “break” to sit with their family at the Christmas Eve service. You may not. Your budget will have to be more detailed because it covers several ages groups and activities (Our is 14 pages as compared to student ministries 2). You will have a LOT more equipment to keep track of- diapers, wipes, AWANA game equipment, curriculum, teaching supplies etc etc. You have the planning of VBS, Camps, Weekends, Midweek, Christmas play, Harvest Fest etc. etc. Many of these have to be planned  up to a year in advance.

 

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Do you think what you do is harder than most people think it is? Stay tuned for part 2 next week of Why Your Job Really is Harder. Please be encouraged and have an amazing week. You are loved, and Jesus sees all you do for Him and His kids. Love Trisha

interviewing-hoops

I really hope you enjoyed the first part of this blog! It certainly hit home with some of you. And yes you can feel free to share as you like. Why is it so hard for those of us who lead others to take care of ourselves? It is not selfish to lead ourselves; it is essential if we want to be effective over the long haul. So here are five MORE ways to practice self care/self leadership!

5. Go to a conference- I always learn and grow so much by getting away from my usual setting and interacting with other leaders. Iron definitely sharpens iron. Many of my fellow pastoral leaders say that the best part of conferences is the interaction and networking with other leaders. I grow from the breakouts, from the main sessions and especially from the hallway conversations! At conferences you can find a whole new perspective, find new skills and have the freedom to discuss hardships that you perhaps cannot discuss at home. A conference is worth the investment in your future ministry. None of us should EVER stop growing or learning.

4. Perhaps take a break- Here is a controversial point for sure. Americans are some of the worst on the planet for NOT taking their vacation days (instead taking the money). Too many pastors report not taking a regular day off. In our culture, being a workaholic is seen as a badge of honor and a sign of dedication. But Jesus got away from the crowds regularly to be alone with God. I remember being told that you should never take a break from ministry or “that gap would look terrible on your resume.” Jumping from one bad ministry situation to another without taking adequate time to heal and recover, sets you up for more damage to yourself and your new ministry. It is not weakness to take time away and pray for God’s leading. Otherwise you may risk going from the fire pan into the fryer. Some churches are catching on to this healthy idea and offering pastors sabbaticals (usually after being there 7 years etc.)

3. Get someone on the outside to talk to- Due to the confidential nature of many of our dealings, we pastors can start to feel isolated. Everyone talks to us, but we have few to be real and honest with. And if you are like me, one who processes tough situations by talking through them, then you need a safe person to bounce ideas off of. This is absolutely necessary for pastors to have someone safe to talk to. I highly suggest you find someone outside of your church setting, who you know will keep things confidential. It may be helpful for you to find a professional counselor. Again, going in for counseling is NOT weakness. Having someone to listen and pour into YOU can make all the difference in the world.

2. Get a mentor- As the saying goes, every minister should have a hand up (someone who is mentoring them) and a hand down (someone they are mentoring). If you do not currently have a mentor, someone who is further along in the direction you are trying to go, then begin actively praying and seeking for that person. We must all keep learning always. And none of us have “arrived.” I have had to swallow fear before and just ask, “Would you meet with me every other week for 6 months? I just want to learn from you.” I have been so surprised how many “giants” of ministry were willing to say yes. I think it is because they too see the importance of mentorship. Not sure where to start? I would suggest a paid coaching for 6 months with someone you respect. Many ministry leaders- Jim Wideman, Karl Bastian, myself etc. etc.- offer this service. Sometimes a mentor, a coach who believes in you can make all the difference in your life and ministry.

1. Relationship with God MUST continue to be, or must become first priority. Let me just say this: Time spent working FOR God is NOT the same as time spent WITH God. We ministers spend a whole lot of time working FOR God- but most of us do not get enough time just spent WITH God in His Presence. This time getting away with God is not selfish- it is essential. Sounds terrible, but anything that isn’t carefully planned for, just does not seem to happen. You should plan your time with God right on your calendar and protect it. Yes I know life happens and you can have emergencies come up. But developing those habits of prayer and Bible study and journaling are the MOST important parts of your day- and the most important part of your personal and ministerial health as well. Make those appointments with God happen!

What about YOU? What do you do to lead yourself well? What leadership hacks could you share to help other leaders with self care? See you next week, love Trisha

ps- If you are interested in the personal coaching program, email trisha@peach.im for more information.

heart-stones

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

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

 

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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

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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

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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!