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About 12 years ago, I vividly remember sitting in an auditorium in a packed out children’s pastor’s conference and hearing the speaker emphatically announce: “puppets are dead”. His point was that puppetry is a thing of the past, and if you try to use puppets in ministry, you will only get you and your team laughed at. I remember shaking my head thinking, “This just doesn’t sound right to me.” Now fast forward several years. By now you have probably noticed that a “puppet guy” won America’s Got Talent, Sesame Street is still a top rated show and the “Muppet Movie” was the Number One movie in America several weeks running. It made a ridiculous amount of money. I think it is safe to say that the speaker at that conference spoke a little too soon. Having said this, I do want to give you a few tips should you choose to try puppetry in your ministry (puppetry is one of my personal fav’s, as a ventriliquist myself).


A. Aim HIGH. Please do not fall into the trap of “well, it’s just for the kids, and they’ll never notice anyway, so let’s just throw whatever up there.” no no no no no X10!! Children DO notice a lack of quality, and it makes them feel less valued. This is going to mean REHEARSING with your team before attempting a “puppet song” or puppet character routine. And that love of quality leads us to-

B. Get some training. There are some GREAT books out there on puppetry, and workshops at certain kid’s ministry conferences. You and your team can and should learn the do’s and don’ts of puppetry and get great new ideas of things YOU can try!

C. Start SMALL. Your first week is probably not the time to debut a black light roller blading puppet “rap off” (I did that once. It was awesome. And a bit scary.) What about having a puppet help with your rules, memory verse or fast worship songs? (NOTE: Because a puppet WILL take full attention in any room, do not use a puppet during slower worship songs, the message or altar/prayer times. Focus should not be on a puppet during those times!) A reoccuring puppet character gets instant attention and excitement from your group. This will also greatly increase their retention of what you are saying. I’ve used an elephant puppet who can’t remember anything, a really air-headed owl, and a mouse who sings opera for example. AND- after seeing you using a puppet, several more kids will want to join your puppet team rehearsals! That first time using a puppet/puppets in your service may be scary, but it’s worth it! Remember, it’s not about perfection- it’s about doing our BEST for Him!

A Note on Ventriliquism- I personally LOVE ventriliquism for several reasons. I’ve been a ventriloquist now for 25 years! I have the benefits of a puppet- full attention, better retention, WITHOUT the equipment needs ie (stage, curtains etc.) This has been so handy on missions trips, in schools, last minute ministry opportunities- I just grab a puppet and go! I have several Bible stories memorized to fit with several themes. The main drawback of ventriliquism is how long it takes to learn. It has less to do with “throwing your voice”, and more to do with creating a believable character, with a believable voice- THAT is even more important that “lip control”. If you notice, all the greatest ventriliquists from years ago had TERRIBLE lip control…..and no one cared. Because they created characters that people LOVED- and still love to this day. After a second or two, no one is WATCHING your lips. They are lost for a moment in the story and forget that this is a puppet character. So work on your character and character voice FIRST. Then work on lip control, especially on the problem letters and letter sounds- b,f,m, p, v, w. It really helped me to record myself and watch it over and over again. It’s not easy, but for me it has been so very worth it.

Need a puppet (puppets)? Surprisingly, the best place I have found is ebay for affordable puppets.

Black Light- Too many people are nervous and intimidated when I mention using black light in their kid’s services. But actually, black light can be a very affordable way to get your point across …..with a punch! Black lights can be purchased at your local Wal-Mart for very little money. Set them up on music stands or chairs in the front. Be careful with the cords!! You need to tape them down to avoid tripping! Then pull out a black light puppet and prepare to make a memory these kids will talk about all week. I highly advise that your team rehearse and sharpen their basic skills first, but after you feel more confident with puppetry, dance, drama etc- try them black light. I saw a leader paint a picture on a paper tablet in florescent paint that lit up in the black light. It made a huge impression on us all. Our black light dance team, black light puppet team always draw a lot of visitors to our services. One fast worship song we did included black light bubbles and black light fog (and yes those things DO exist, and they are amazing On one occasion I used a black light Cross in a darkened room to illustrate that we are the light of the world and we have to let our lights shine. Some of these kids recall that message 10 years later (wow that makes me feel old!). Again, our kids are more visual now than ever before. And for very little money, you can make you point in a way they will NEVER forget.

Again, our kids are more visual now than ever before. And for very little money, you can make you point in a way they will NEVER forget. I still believe in the ministry value of great puppetry. But I’m curious to hear your view as well. Leave your comments below and have a great week!

Want to have pastor Trisha and her puppets come to YOUR church and/or train your team? Drop her a line at

Want more info on using the illustrative methods for dynamic services? Check out her book “Your Children’s Ministry from Scratch” available on Amazon today.


This is one of the most difficult parts of my job.  This is one of the things they didn’t train me for in Bible College. A church member, who is also a dear friend, had lost their young child.  And I am standing in the doorway of their hospital room. Surrounding the child’s bed are the grief stricken parents, looking lost and blank, as well as several friends and family members. I’m twisting my hands behind my back, desperately praying in my head for wisdom. Just then, the husband’s well meaning aunt calmly states, “Don’t worry, you’ll have another child, and then you’ll hardly even remember this moment.”  Anger and astonishment boil up from my heart into my neck and turn my face bright red. I clench my teeth shut so I don’t erupt. This is not the time, nor the place- and confrontation is not what I am here for. I am here for these parents.

Most pastors have had people say insensitive, albeit well meaning, things at funerals. Here are a few of the more common things I really wish people would not say at a death or a funeral:

“Heaven needed another angel.” – Despite the obvious theological problems with this statement- humans and angels are NOT the same creations/species and humans do not turn into angels after death, the statement is very trite, and claims that God took the child because of heaven’s need. This adds to the feeling they may already be struggling with, “God TOOK someone I loved away from me.”

“too bad they didn’t make heaven”- Whether or not you believe that the deceased person made it to heaven or not, a death or a funeral is NOT the place to have that discussion. Your focus now has to be on the family of the deceased. And you may not have all the facts, some things we will not know for sure until we get to heaven ourselves.  And all the speculation is pointless, and may just hurt rather than help, at the funeral.

“When you have another baby, you won’t think about this one” (see story at the beginning)- No person can ever take the place of another person. Each child, each human is unique, and there will never be another them. Let that person recognize and grieve that loss- an individual who is no longer there. Having more babies, or having more children will not take away the loss or the grief.

“God doesn’t give us more than we can handle”- This is a twisting of a Scripture in James that tell us that God will not give us more temptation than we can handle.  Many times, it seems to me, God allows situations in our lives, for reasons we do not understand- and these situations are far more than we can handle.  And it is in these situations that God has to carry us, because we simply cannot handle them in our own strength.

“We are here for you” and then disappear right after the funeral.- Do not say things that you do not mean. It has been well said before that people will not remember much of what you say after a tragedy or at the funeral.  But they will remember that you were there. Being there is so important. And not just right after the loss has occurred. When the funeral is over, and the cards have stopped coming, and the relatives have all gone home. and everyone else has moved on….that may be when that person/family needs you the most. Grief has no set timeline. Children especially will have a delayed response. They may suddenly need your love and support 6 months, a year or more after the traumatic event.

“Well, God took them because……” This one probably bothers me the most. As Christians, we are unnerved if we sense someone may be getting upset with God when they are grieving. Listen, we do not need to defend God. We humans always try to find the why in every situation. But sometimes we never know the WHY this side of heaven.  But we are called to trust His love anyway. God is big enough to handle the anger that comes right along with the grief. We shouldn’t try to make up desperate explanations to defend God when we do not really understand the situation ourselves.

“At least they were so old. It won’t be as hard.” It doesn’t matter how elderly the person was when they passed away; the family will still grieve. You are never ready to lose your father or mother etc. Their age made them no less precious. And you are never really “ready” to lose a loved one.

“They were sick so long, at least you were ready for it.” Like we said above, you are never truly “ready” to lose a loved one.  No matter how long they have been ill.  You will still grieve.

“At least they weren’t born yet so you didn’t get attached.”  AHHHHHH! Any mother who has lost an unborn child will tell you that the attachment begins right away- when you feel them move, see them growing, and watch those ultrasounds.  The attachment is a LOVE so strong- complete with hopes, joy and dreams that die along with that beautiful child. And I have seen fathers grieving right along with their wives after a miscarriage.

“just think of Job. Your loss isn’t that bad then.” Misery does not always love company. Pointing out someone else’s tragedy probably will not make a family feel better about their loss. And it almost comes off as “guilting” like “well, your loss isn’t nearly as bad as theirs……”. You cannot compare losses, tragedies or heartbreaks.  Scripture tells us, “Each heart knows its own bitterness” Prov 14:10 We all grieve differently. Comparisons don’t really help.

“The only grief counseling you need is a Bible and a prayer closet.” -Scripture and prayer are fantastic, especially during times of grief.  But I always point people to grief counseling as well. Most pastors are NOT trained in grief counseling or trauma intervention. There are specialists who ARE trained in these situations and are ready to help. It is wonderful to use Scripture and prayer; AND counseling- People going through a loss are going to need all the support and all the tools we can give them.

“Time heals all wounds”- That is not an actual Scripture verse. Although Revelation tells us that God will “wipe every tear from our eyes” (in heaven). Time does not take away the loss; we just learn to live with it and survive around it.  God gives us the strength we just don’t have, to find the beauty and smiles in life again.  But you will always miss that person, until you see them again.

What should we say to a grieving person/family? Not a whole lot. Be there for them- at the time of the tragedy, and in the many months to follow. Listen. Give hugs. Do send Scriptures and cards. Let them know you are praying for them (and mean it). Let them cry, let them be angry, relive memories of the lost person with them. Point them to Jesus- Who alone can get them through the unbearable. Be there for them.  Because eventually, inevitably, you’ll need them to be there for you too. “Your love for one another will prove you are My disciples”- Jesus  Matt 13:35


Feeling Blue - One Depressed Person



The audience seemed to hold its collective breath. The lady next to me put her pencil down on her planner. Many heads came up to see if they were hearing her right. To be sure, Christine Yount Jones had everyone’s full attention. You see, Christine, a respected kid’s ministry voice for most of her life, was a key note speaker at this past January’s CPC (Children’s Pastor’s Conference). And Christine had just broached the subject of anxiety, depression and the ministry leader. With thoughtfulness, humor and raw honesty, she validated a lot of people there that day; talking about the different ways that God “calms the storm” in our lives.

After I got home, I noticed a conversation on a popular kid’s ministry forum, possibly sparked by this session. A children’s pastor shared that she battled with depression, but that God was giving her the energy and strength every week to minister effectively to families. Her comment seemed to break an unseen barrier as more and more leaders began sharing their stories as well. One leader, an older man, shared that he had felt like a failure after going in for counseling after a particularly rough church transition. But he discovered that this counseling was the best decision EVER for him, and for his family and his ministry. Yet another pastor said how tough it can be to fight through your own battles to minister to others who are in need. How many of us HIDE it from others-especially at our church-when we are anxious, depressed or hurting? Do we feel like “lesser” ministers when we are depressed? Can God use us through our own pain, to help others?

I highly recommend reading this article from It includes among other facts:

The likelihood is that one out of every four pastors is depressed,” said Matthew Stanford, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. But anxiety and depression in the pulpit are “markedly higher” in the last five years, said Smoot. 

Nearly two out of three depressed people don’t seek treatment, according to studies by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Counselors say even fewer depressed ministers get treated because of career fears, social stigma and spiritual taboo. “Clergy do not talk about it because it violates their understanding of their faith,” said Scoggin. “They believe they are not supposed to have those kinds of thoughts.” Stanford, who studies how the Christian community deals with mental illness, said depression in Christian culture carries “a double stigmatization.” Society still places a stigma on mental illness, but Christians make it worse, he said, by “over-spiritualizing” depression and other disorders—dismissing them as a lack of faith or a sign of weakness.”

I hesitated writing this message this week. But after a lot of prayer, I felt that some of my fellow ministry leaders and fellow believers may need this word. Here are some things I really really want you to know:

  1. Anxiety and Depression are mood disorders- they do NOT disqualify you in ministry, any more than having diabetes or a thyroid disorder would. Some of the most talented, creative pastors I know battle bipolar disorder or anxiety.
  2. So many suffer, in the shadows. Sometimes you may think you are the only one- and you are not. People are not always as sunny and perfect as their Facebook may lead you to believe! We really do not know someone else’s struggles from day to day
  3. God understands- He really does, and He cares. God wants to ease our anxiety and our depression. Did you know that there are over 500 Scriptures in the Bible about dealing with fear (anxiety)?? We wouldn’t need all of those promises from God if Christians got a free pass for no anxiety or sadness. We are never promised a life free of pain this side of heaven. See below for some of my favorite verses for anxiety, sadness or confusion. We need to remember that Jesus understands. He was fully human as well as fully God. He even said, speaking of His soon approaching death, “I have a baptism to be baptized with (the Crucifixion), and how ANXIOUS I am until it is accomplished!” (Luke 12:50, emphasis mine). In the Garden of Gethsemane He said, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow even unto death!” Mark 14:34. He understands! And He hears and He acts to help.
  4. Counseling/A doctor IS a great idea. Who would ever shame a diabetic for taking their insulin!? But for the ministry leader who is focused on helping everyone else- getting help can be the hardest part. But you cannot go trusting everyone around you with every one of your private battles. You need someone safe that YOU can talk to openly. I went in for professional counseling several years ago, as I struggled to get over a devastating loss. As tough as that was, it was such a great decision. I needed to heal in order to keep giving out in ministry to others.
  5. Ministry can make us prone to depression. I know what we deal with on a weekly basis. People are hurting and broken. We ministers love others through the fallout of deaths, sexual assaults, broken marriages, abused children, suicides, car accidents and so much more. Ministry is not a 9-5 job; it is your whole life a lot of times! It consumes your whole heart and soul! That is why we have to be on our guard to minister to our OWN soul. Pastors are terrible about not taking their days off, or their vacation days. We work WAY too many hours. How’s your heart? How is our relationship with Jesus? Yes, self-care matters.
  6. God created you, He loves you and His plan for your life is not over because of what you are going through. As Paul said, “His strength is made perfect in our weakness.” Yes, God can and will use you, in your brokeness. But He also cares about YOUR health and joy.

A few weeks ago, a well known pastor of a very large church in my area took his own life. The whole city, as well as his family and his congregation, are reeling from the loss. He helped so many people, including some who were depressed themselves.

Can I just say, if you are feeling down or overwhelmed, please do not harm yourself. Do not be embarrassed to go in for help. Many people love you and would be so lost without you. If you were asking God to speak, maybe this is Him speaking into your life saying, “I love you. It IS going to be OK. I do have an amazing plan for your life. You are not a failure, you’re My special creation. Hang on, this WILL get better.

I truly did not mean to write so much on this topic, but please feel the love and encouragement behind it. All my love- Trisha

National Suicide Prevention Hotline (24 hours)

Call 1-800-273-8255

A few of Trisha’s favorite verses to read in time of anxiety and/or sadness:

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. Psalm 43:5

 But when I am afraid, I will put my confidence in you. Yes, I will trust the promises of God. And since I am trusting him, what can mere man do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13

Please share YOUR favorite verse that has helped YOU in a difficult time!

Yes it’s time to talk about your ministry’s well child policy. As you know, this year’s flu season has been particularly tragic. Men and women of all ages have been impacted. But 97 children have died this season-and it’s not over yet.

Common sense tells us that when your child is vomiting, has a fever, or is blowing lots of thick green guk out his nose, you stay home with him until he is well. Your work would not be happy with you if you brought that child with you into the office and held him on your lap hacking stuff up during a meeting. And the schools all have “well-child” policies that would keep you from leaving your child in class that day puking in a bucket under his desk or passing out during gym. Doctor’s offices would make your child with a heavy cough wear a mask while there.

So why do we treat church so differently?

I overheard a staff member whispering to another staff member once, “I would never ever leave my child in the nursery here. That place is a Petri dish of every bacteria known to man. No one leaves there healthy!” Several parents responded to our survey saying they wouldn’t use the nursery for fear of their child catching an illness. It was time to act. We researched well-child policies from surrounding schools and churches and came up with our own that matches our needs.

Some things we included in ours went something like this:

If your child is displaying any of the above symptoms either now or in the past 24 hours, please keep your child with you, and have them sit out of children’s ministries until they are well.

fever over 99.6

vomiting or diarrhea

runny nose especially with any color of discharge

heavy wet coughs.

unexplained rashes.

skin infections, impetigo, boils, ringworm

eye infections.

childhood diseases such chickenpox, mumps, measles, rubella, pertussis, scarlet fever etc.

If a child develops any of the above symptoms while in our care, we will contact the child’s parents as soon as possible so that they might tend to the child’s illness.

Our Children’s Ministry staff will not administer any type of medication to the children placed in our care.

At first we caught a lot of backlash. I had the volunteers call me over to speak with parents who were not being able to leave a sick child. I got a lot of excuses like “Well, the school won’t take him either and I really need a break. Here you take him!” And “Oh yeah, that rash has been spreading all over his legs since this morning. He caught it at daycare, but it’s not contagious.” and “This is a church. You have to take anyone!” No wonder people didn’t want to use the nursery. Again, I didn’t understand this until I had kids of my own and found out that one nasty virus could waylay our whole family for a week. The bottom line is that you need to do your research, come up with a solid well-child policy, and have your pastor approve it. Then you need to post it somewhere visible so you can make it apparent you are not targeting any particular child; this is the policy across the board.


It is extremely important to make sure no parent feels singled out or embarrassed in front of others. Yes you do have to turn some children away if they are too ill, for the safety of all the other children and your workers, but remember to be kind and caring. That poor parent may have had a very rough week and thought “maybe we are well enough now to finally get out” when they just weren’t quite ready. Always use grace and kindness. But keep that kids’ area a “well-child area” as much as you possibly can.

Church shouldn’t be the one place that this flu spreads unchecked! We have to at least make a reasonable attempt to protect our kids! What is your church’s well child policy? How has it been working? Can we share a few to help those who are developing or revamping theirs?

Love always, Trisha

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

“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


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 -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!


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