Archives for the month of: July, 2017

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

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

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 Destroy the outdated stereotypes by making your event stand out.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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love and prayers, Trisha

Got a book inside you screaming to come out and greet the world?

While at a conference a little over a year ago, I got to sit in on a well known author’s meet and greet with a small group of would be authors. One young woman kept dominating the entire conversation, probably trying to impress this author. She talked on and on about her book, while all of the others in the room squirmed impatiently for their turn to ask questions. Finally, the young woman leaned across the table and asked, “_________, I need to know, what is the most important thing I need to do to get my book published?”  Everyone in the room hushed to hear the answer.

The author, without missing a beat, stated “The most important step in getting your book published is to write the book.”

It is true; having your book finally published is seeing a lifelong dream fulfilled.  It’s even better getting to hold that dream in your hands and then share that dream across cultures and across miles. Both of my books -Your Children’s Ministry From Scratch and Your Children’s Ministry Beyond Basics (Amazon)- are products of years of planning, writing, rewriting, researching and garnering feedback. Those who know me, know that I talked about the books for years, but the actual pace of our growing ministries had me writing in spurts over the course of 5 years.  It is very difficult to be a full time staff pastor AND an author (and more importantly a wife, mom, family member and friend).   As the saying goes, “I didn’t know, what I didn’t know.”

Many many people wish to write a book, and some even talk about the book they want to write. A few even start to write one. And a VERY VERY few actually finish writing their book. And then comes getting your book published……  This amazing new adventure is still fresh in my mind; so if I can encourage you to step out and try your own book adventure- GREAT!

Here are the things I learned on my journey from a book idea to a book on my nightstand:

1. “The hardest part is getting started.” This is so true. You can talk about this forever, but your book will never happen if you don’t START. If you are a perfectionist like me, you may have a lot of fears (excuses) that are holding you back, such as “I’m waiting for a better time” (like WHEN? be honest), “I’m too busy” (and when will you NOT be busy?), and “what if it’s not perfect?” (it won’t be, really).  Your journey begins with the single step of “START.” It may help you to put your big beginning on your calendar and clear the time to get started. Don’t wait for a “perfect” day or time or when you think it will be “perfect”. You have time for rewrites later. Take a breath, clear an hour or two, and start writing.

2. It won’t just happen. Nothing great in this life just magically appears. The best things in life aren’t really free- they cost us the most in time, tears, heartache. For example, a great marriage, parenting your children, a growing ministry, physical fitness= none of these things just “appear”, they take a LOT of hard work and sacrifice. All things on this earth, when left to themselves DECLINE; improvement always takes work.  Your book is going to take time, and hard work. The best way to make sure this happens is to actually schedule your writing times and stick to them.  There will be interruptions, and life happens, but keep at it and don’t give up.

3. Set smaller goals- Looking at the giant mountain you are about to climb may be completely overwhelming, and may actually stall your progress. It helped me immensely to break the writing of the book down into smaller more bite sized pieces. For example, I would aim to do “one half chapter a week” and so on. It helped my confidence and encouraged me to keep going as each smaller goal was met.

4. Lay the majority of the groundwork BEFORE starting your project. Having a crystal clear plan helps a lot, and keeps you on track.  I did an overall book outline, then outlined each chapter in depth, then kept doing my research, keeping records and giving out surveys. After that, I could stay following the plan all the way to the finish.  This will also keep you from “rambling” or going off on an unrelated tangent.

5. Find a way to be ACCOUNTABLE.  Just like your fitness program, you will be MUCH more successful if you include others in your project.  It’s easy to get started, and life gets in the way and your book begins to fall by the wayside. You NEED one or more people you can trust that will continually, repeatedly ask you, “How is the book going?” With everything else going on in my life, I had to CREATE deadlines to keep myself on schedule. I am eternally indebted to my family, my husband and my close team of friends who met with me, helped me through the tough spots and wouldn’t let me quit. Make sure you have a SMALL team- 1-3 people, who will pray with you, brainstorm with you, and hold you accountable to fulfill your dream.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Part Two……

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In 16 years as a full time children’s pastor, I have done some interviewing in my time, and I have also interviewed many potential staff members.  Along the way, I have compiled a list of some of the most important questions- essential questions- to ask very early on in the interview process. Admittedly, these questions are most relevant to family/children’s ministry candidates, but I truly hope that anyone interviewing can find some of these topics helpful.

Here are a few questions you NEED to ask and have carefully answered BEFORE you accept a ministry position:

  1. Is this church looking for a Children’s Pastor or children’s leader/administrator? Before accepting the position you should know if the job description is for a pastor, an administrator or a bit of both. Make sure to ask for a copy of the job description! When I look through children’s pastor/director job descriptions I see many terms (buzz words) like “cutting edge” “relational” “team player” “family minister” “creative” “leader of leaders” “self starter who can hit the ground running” “not a one man (or woman) show”. More and more churches, especially larger churches, are looking for more of an administrator to head up their programs for children’s ministry instead of a pastor. The sheer volume of details involved with coordinating that many children need a “Joseph” (or several of them) with a lot of wisdom and great organization.  What is the difference really? Which one does your church really need or want to hire? Which one are YOU? Here’s how to tell:

Children’s Pastor: Provides leadership, vision, strategy, recruitment, coordinates teams of volunteers and parents.  Has a background/training in pastoral work/studies.  The position or role is a pastoral role.  As a pastor, this person baptizes, visits homes and hospitals etc- has a pastoral ministry calling.

Children’s Director: This person is more on the administrative side of things.  Usually a previous children’s pastor or the current lead pastor or pastoral leadership team have already provided the vision and direction for the children’s department, and the children’s director is the “person in the trenches” carrying out that plan.  The Children’s Director typically does NOT have a background in pastoral ministry, but may be very gifted in organization, networking and communication.

Many positions are a mix of both of the above. It is absolutely CRUCIAL that your understanding of your role is CRYSTAL clear BEFORE you sign on the dotted line and step into that ministry.  Expectations MATTER. If your church is expecting a children’s “pastor” but you do not ever want to do baby dedications, baptisms, kid’s worship etc- you may have an awkward clash of expectations.  Or if, your church THOUGHT they wanted a visionary, strong leader and communicator/children’s pastor, but what they REALLY wanted was a very organized administrator to carry on all of the programs that the former children’s pastor had instituted, this is going to lead to problems.

2. Are you looking for someone to provide vision or to carry out a preexisting vision? If this position is a “director” position, managing a preexisting vision, who came up with the vision, and who is setting that vision now? (former children’s pastor, senior leader, Family Life Director, a curriculum?).

3.Who chooses the curriculum we use? Am I locked into the current one? If so, for how long? Who would have to approve a curriculum change?

4. What is your church’s policy on providing childcare for events? Would I be responsible for recruiting/providing childcare for church events? How many events are there per month?

5. Does the church do evangelism/outreach? (not all do!!)  What and how many outreaches and serving opportunities does the church do and how would I be involved?

6. What expectations would the church have for my spouse/children?

7. What is the typical work schedule/hours for staff members?

8. What is the senior leader’s vision for the children’s department? (this is crucial, because his/her vision for that area is automatically YOUR vision, which you must uphold and defend.  If you accept that position, the senior leader’s vision is what you will be working to bring to life! You have to be 100 percent on board with that vision.

9. What is the church’s official position on women in ministry? This is good to know whether you are a male or female applicant.  A male worship pastor friend of mine was shocked when the church did not support his wife going for credentials.

10. How many staff members have they had (total in all areas) come in and go out over the past 3 years? If there was a huge turnover at one point, what was the reason?

11. What were the circumstances of the last children’s leader’s departure? May I speak with the former leader (I highly recommend it).

12. Who would I be directly reporting to? (Ie. If I have a problem, or a question, will I go to the senior leader or a family life director or elder??). What you are really asking is, who is your boss on a day to day basis? You may adore the lead pastor, but really have a rough experience reporting to and working with his wife/sister/uncle/etc.

Our God is good at handling big transitions. Scripture is full of big changes.  Let’s trust the Lord of these ministry changes, while attempting to handle them with wisdom and sensitivity. Then we can truly get excited about what God wants to do in that new ministry position! What questions do you wish YOU had asked when interviewing for a new position? What issues should we be talking through during the interview process? love Trisha