NO way around it, if you are in ministry you WILL be criticized. Someone will not like you, your ministry, your approach, your messages etc. How you HANDLE that negative feedback will either make or break your future in ministry.

First off, let me be clear on this: not all criticism or advice is sound or from God. As you mature in life, you must turn up the voices of those who are for you and believe in what God is doing through you. Your close friends will tell you the truth, but in love. Then you must carefully but firmly begin to turn down and even mute, remove the voices in your life that are destructive, not uplifting, not for you, distressing and distracting. As you move up in responsibility, your time becomes more limited, and who you choose to listen to will make ALL the difference. You do NOT have to give equal or any time to all the people who want to speak into (or dump into) your life.

I have heard it said that, “All criticism has a grain of truth in it.” However, many criticisms that were leveled at Jesus were not true: that He was a drunkard, that He was inciting a revolt, that He had a demon,  that He was trying to destroy the temple etc. Paul the Apostle had people in churches HE launched saying things like “Paul is weak” “Paul is unable to handle discipline” etc. So not all accusations have a basis in truth. Paul and Jesus both KEPT MINISTERING, They did not let their critics halt or even slow down their impact. They had a mission that God put them on, and they weren’t going to let an aggravated human derail it.

A better way to handle someone’s criticism is to ask yourself, “Is there ANY grain of truth I can gather from situation? What can I learn from it?” There were several times in my life that I finally had to admit, my critic had a good point- they were right, and I needed to work on that area of my approach etc. A big part of maturity in Christ is being able to take a good hard look at yourself, be willing to humble yourself and make changes. But there is a definite line between uplifting criticisms offered only to help you succeed and damaging verbal attacks used to hurt you, gain power or make you feel discouraged. Have you noticed that people’s negative words often ring in our ears long after those people are gone? Too often we give those dark words our attention, even over God’s Word. The enemy would like to see criticism, both legit and unfounded, totally destroy your ministry and your image as a child of God.

Is that you or someone you know right now who is the subject of some criticism? Perhaps it is mean spirited, jealous accusations? Is it unfair and unfounded? Please remember that it is God Who called you, and a human being (including yourself) cannot UN call you! God will perfect what He has started in you. You are in a great company of Biblical champions who survived criticism- Moses, Noah, David, Daniel etc etc. Even God takes His share of criticism. He understands. So don’t quit. Hang on to the One Who called you and Who will carry you through. And remember today to turn UP the positive voices in your life (including God’s) and turn DOWN or OFF the people who are just blaring noise. God Bless and much love, Trisha

Has criticism ever tempted YOU to quit? What would you say to someone who is considering quitting ministry or are very discouraged over criticisms?

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I am blessed with a vivacious mother who passionately loves Jesus and her family. I wanted to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day this year, and show my gratitude for having a happy, God-focused childhood, by relaying a few of my favorite memories I have with my mom…so far!

  1. My Wedding Day- On the day I was married, 19 years ago, my father AND my mother walked me down the aisle. It was a very special day.
  2. The Night I Almost Died- When my ulcer burst, and I began to bleed out, I called to my husband as the paramedics closed the doors of the ambulance “Call my Mom!” Scott couldn’t go with me because he was finding someone to watch the kids. God had already awakened my mom to pray for me, though she did not know why. When Scott called, she went into intercession immediately- at 2 in the morning. The surgeon told me later on that there was no possible explanation for why I survived. I know God used my mom’s prayers, and spared my life for a reason.
  3. Mornings When I was a Child- EVERY morning, my mother would open the door of our room (my sister and I shared a room) way TOO early in the morning, flip on the light and cheerfully exclaim, “Time to get up. What will we accomplish today? It’s a beautiful day to praise the Lord!” I would groan and roll over. Mom is a morning person. I am not. If we did not hurry up and get up, Mom would begin to loudly sing songs- hymns or choruses. Every. Single.Morning.
  4. Travel- Anyone who know me, knows that I love to travel. And I probably get this from my mom. We were monetarily-challenged, as a ministry family, but my money savy mom always saved up and found a way for us to take trips- Texas, Michigan, Johnny’s Fish and Game, Superior’s beaches, mansions and ships, the Badlands of South Dakota, the Crazy Horse Monument, Mount Rushmore, St. Louis Arch, Carlsbad Caverns, Disney and Epcot, Oklahoma- and more.
  5. Unwavering Support- When the time came for me to try to publish my first book, my mom encouraged me to do it, and was one of my first contributors to my kickstarter. I’ve been traveling a lot lately to speak and do ministry- so she bought me a suitcase set and a book cart! When I walk the line, graduating with my Master’s here in a couple of weeks, my mom will be there. My sister, brother and I know that no matter what, if we are right or if we are wrong, mom will have our back- and she’s a fighter.
  6. Faith and Family- Mom unwaveringly teaches us that God is first and family a close second. Nothing matters more to her than her relationship with Christ and her family. NOTHING.
  7. Persistance- As I said, my mom is a fighter. She had fought through so many physical issues after her car accident- many surgeries etc. If she decides that she is going to do something, than she is going to do it- whether it be landscaping, redoing a room of the house, planning a trip, saving a certain amount of money etc. etc. Mom forced me to apply for SO MANY college scholarships. She absolutely would not give up on trying to find a way for me to go to college. And that is why I graduated my undergrad debt free. Mom always believes there is a way. I think/hope I picked that up from her. She taught us to work hard and never ever ever give up.

These are just a few of my favorite memories so far. If you know my mom, what are YOUR favorite memories of her? Love you Mom and Happy Mother’s Day! Your Sunshine (who is still a night owl.)

 

 

I just got back from Brighton, MI and this year’s CMConnect Conference at 2/42 Community Church (which happens to be one of the fastest growing churches in North America). I thoroughly enjoyed the week over all, but here are a few highlights- my favorite takeaways 🙂

#10. The kind and hospital people that worked the front desk of our hotel, and at the restaurants. I’ve heard of Minnesota nice, but this was definitely Michigan nice!

#9. We had gorgeous, unseasonably warm weather for most of the conference.

#8. There were over 200 topics to pick from in the breakouts, on a variety of relevant topics.

#7. The real life testimonies were a new addition this year. They were powerful, intimate, devastating and unforgettable. I did not sense any judgement in that room, and I think we all felt then like family. We understood that none of us are alone in the battles we face.

#6. The talent was great- a junior high dance team doing routines, a professional drama team that did yoyo dances, etc. etc.

#5. The large group speakers talked about some VERY hot button issues, such as divorce care for kids, ministry to special needs kids, ministry to single parents, the problem of bullying/child suicide and more. This needed to be brought up; and there was no tiptoeing around the issues!

#4 The building was perfect for the event- and helped inspire our creativity. 2/42 Community Church features an INDOOR soccer field, a gym area, a themed kid’s ministry wing, a cafe and so much more. I loved the design and the “feel” of the location. (Watch me tour the building on an upcoming episode of The Peach Buzz, my all new YouTube Channel. It’s all about what’s Now and what’s NEXT in kid’s and family ministry. Check it out- Share, Like, Subscribe Today!) https://youtu.be/Q6EkTCgCpE4

#3 This is the most organic, “unplugged” of the conferences I attend. You can sit next to a “big name” at dinner. You may recognize the person sitting next to you in a breakout, as the person who TAUGHT the last breakout! We all support each other and collaborate.

#2 There are many opportunities to get your questions answered in conversations “in the hallways.” We have so many heart to hearts and amazing conversations in the halls in between classes.

#1 I loved the band, the worship songs and of course, Brad the emcee. We children’s leaders relish every chance to get to sit in a service and be ministered to!

If you attended the conference, please comment below and tell us what YOUR favorite part was!

Want more information about next year’s event? Get the details (when they are available) here- http://www.cmconnect.org.

Lots of love- God bless! I’m off to catch a plane to do ministry in North Carolina!

Love Trisha

“Thank you for taking a moment to talk with me” the mom said over the phone. On a busy Monday, packed with meetings, I was lucky to sandwhich in a few minutes for phone calls before the day ended. But something in this mom’s voice caught my attention. I grabbed my pen and paper in case she was about to bring up a problem, need or complaint. To my surprise, she said, “I just wanted to thank your team for the service for my kids this past Sunday.” “Um, you bet, you’re welcome!” I managed. “We are always striving to make our services connect with kids and have an impact.” After a moment of silence, the mother continued, “Well, you see, Pastor Trisha, my husband Neil is the worship pastor at _____________ church downtown. Actually, I am a licensed worship pastor myself. My husband and I used to lead worship together there. And I miss it so much.”

I waited with baited breath for her to tell me she quit ministry due to conflict issues or leadership struggles. But instead she said this:

“We couldn’t wait to start a family. But our boys, who were born a year apart, are both autistic- and pretty severe on the spectrum. We soon began to feel unwelcome at church. I could no longer serve because I had to take care of the boys. And then came the day that the children’s ministry could not accept them, and they made noises in service. I loved our church, and had spent all my time there.  I lived for those services. But now, I have not been in a church service for over 3 years, because I have to stay home with the boys. We are pariahs. Cast out of God’s house and it has been so hard (she started crying here). But last Sunday, I decided to try out one of your site churches that meets in a school.  I thought that might be smaller/easier to quickly leave if things got bad. I called ahead, and explained the whole situation to one of your staff, and she told me to come on ahead. (Inside I was doing a dance because I knew that staff member has a huge heart for kid’s with special needs). I was terrified that this would be a disaster, so I sat just outside the door for the entire service. But your team never called me once! They didn’t make a big deal when the boys made noises and even tried to include them in what was going on! I just sat in my car after the service, put my head on the steering wheel and wept. Even though I didn’t get to be in worship or hear the sermon, it felt SO GOOD just to be in church on a Sunday. And to not be treated like a burden or a freak or a failure. (I had tears running down my own face at this point).  I just wanted to say thank you.  And I want to give it another go this Sunday.  And whether or not it works out or not, I am grateful that at least your team is trying.” You know how your perspective can change in just 5 minutes? That team deserved a lot of credit that week for ministering like Jesus and showing grace……

But I realize that this is a hot button topic right now. Autism is on the rise like never before. It used to be a rare thing for a church to have a special needs child in their services. Part of this was partially due to the shame, stigma and “hiding” that has traditionally come with special needs- either physical or mental. And unfortunately, these terrible views of disability have taken hold, have dug a root into our churches. These days there are so many children in our ministries with special needs- down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, deafness, autism (all across the spectrum), ADHD, children from abuse and neglect situations (they have special needs too!!) and many many more. What’s worse, there is so much fear associated with disabilities. All this guilt, as if someone must have done something wrong, or not had enough faith, or as if certain challenges were “contagious” from close contact. I think that one of the deepest fears is of making a mistake, doing something wrong, or of inadvertedly “not ministering correctly” to a child with special needs. The needs can seem overwhelming. But gone are the days that we can ignore special needs family ministries- you already have several in your ministry, and in your church RIGHT NOW. And perhaps even more importantly, how many families of children with special needs are NOT in your ministry, because they do not feel welcome at a church? That question tears me up inside.

So what do you do if you and your church are considering ways to better include kids and families with special needs into your ministry? Need some ideas on how to better address the issues you are already having with integrating kids with special needs into your existing ministries? You already have conquered the first and most important step: you are open to, and are trying to INCLUDE these families, and you CARE about them- you want them to be ministered to effectively.

As a parent of a child with Asperger’s, and 16 year staff children’s pastor (600 kids), here are a few tips I have learned over the years to help you get started ministering to children and families with special needs:

1. Start small, but do START. If you stay afraid you will never step out. Make up your mind to take steps, even small ones, to reach out to families of children with special needs.

2. Set REALISTIC expectations. If you build it they will come. The need is so great, and so many families of special needs kids are looking for a place to go to church. I would highly suggest you let word of mouth do all your advertising at first. Be careful to manage those expectations and do not promise what you cannot deliver.  A good idea would be to say, “we are just starting to reach out to families of special needs kids. We are in the process of expanding what we can offer. We are looking for people with experience in working with special needs teaching/ministry to work with us.” Remember, “Promise low, Deliver high”.  It is always better to exceed expectations.

3. Sensory Room- We created a “sensory room” for kids with severe needs (autism etc.) who need a “break”. The schools gave us the sensory room items we needed. We know that all kids have good days and bad days. So we have the sensory room option open for tough days. Some kids who are sensitive to flashing lights or lots of worship noise may need some quieter time, and for us the sensory room has been helpful.

4. Special needs ministry non-integrated. We have been sooooo blessed with two older ladies, both of whom have raised autistic sons- they do our class for children with severe special needs, children who the parents do not want integrated. We work closely with parents to decide what works. Most kids with special need are integrated. But this is about what works best for the individual child and their family. And some kids do better in a designated class. But this has to be taught by loving people who have EXPERIENCE working with special needs kids.  You may not have this right away, but it may be something you want to work toward.

5. I still say, do not give out any medications or provide any medical treatments. This is a liability issue and still must be the sole responsibility of the parent. I do not make exceptions to this one. You MUST have a way to contact that parent at all times, even if you try not to use it unless you really need to.  But for safety reasons, do not accept any child in your ministry if you cannot quickly contact the parent (paging, cell, screen etc.), especially a child with special needs. It is true that a church is not equipped to do what a school can do. That doesn’t mean that we do not try to reach out and minister to these families. What is reasonable, AND full of grace in your ministry situation?

6. Case by case- no two children are alike, and no two children have exactly the same severity of special needs. Two children with autism can be so far apart on the autism spectrum that their plans may look nothing alike. Your first step is always to talk with the parents and try to understand the full situation and try to help them understand your set up. Don’t promise what you cannot deliver. Listen a LOT. I suggest writing down a plan for each child that you agree on with the parent. Evaluate it later to see how the ministry is going. Think of ideas for inclusion.

Coming up in part 2- How to effectively partner with parents of special needs kids and make them a part of the ministry, great leader training that works, ideas for inclusive special needs kid’s ministry and more.

What great tips do YOU have for reaching out to families with special needs? love and God bless- Trisha

Integrated special needs ministry

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Whether or not to celebrate Mother’s Day, and if so to what extent, has been the subject of more than one “intense” discussion for our staff in the past. People can have VERY strong feelings on the subject. Here was my standpoint in those staff meetings:

Yes. I still believe the church should acknowledge Mother’s Day. Yes. From the pulpit.

Now before anyone starts sending hate mail, just hear me out. My husband and I DID struggle with infertility. As a children’s pastor, it was MISERY to be in church every single year on Mother’s Day, handing out flowers to Mothers, when I so desperately just wanted to BE a Mother. Oh, and let’s not forget all the baby dedications, and nursery renovations, and children’s productions when the desire for a child of my own was so overwhelming I thought it was going to crush me/kill me. I am ashamed to say that when one family announced that “oh oops, I guess we are expecting number 8!” I went home and bawled my eyes out. More than once at Walmart, I would pass a 14 year old pregnant girl headed outside to smoke and want to claw her eyes out and rip out all her hair. Not my finest hour. But even during those difficult times I knew that being a Mom was a special full time job, a calling that I wanted in on.

Skip ahead several years, and our church had grown. a lot. And in a very large church, you have to take a lot of things into consideration when planning your services ahead. For awhile we decided to cut our tradition of the kids singing on Mother’s Day in our Sunday morning service, because non-Mother’s might be hurt by it. And we debated mentioning Mother’s day AT ALL because non-Mother’s might not come to church. This line of thinking spread into cutting most of our Father’s Day activities because a lot of children do not have fathers. And then our Veterans Day cards giveaway was on the chopping block because some of our soldiers did not come home (they were killed in the line of duty). Next came came cutting our children singing/performing near Christmas time, because some families do not have children and may feel left out, or they come from divorced homes and cannot participate. During all of this debate and planning on our staff, I was asked whether or not we should have special services at all or if we should mention things like Mother’s Day. After some prayer and thought this is what I said:

Yes. We need to mention the importance of mothers and fathers and family because God does and Scripture does. Not just on one or two days but throughout the year. Furthermore, our American culture does not highly value the role of “mother”. In fact, in an era when young women are encouraged almost EVERYWHERE they turn to be thin, beautiful, sensual, sexually appealing, young, immature and irresponsible- raising a child does not fit into that mind set at ALL. Young women are taught from the get go to be selfish, to focus on what THEY want, when THEY want it. Choosing to raise a child and put the child’s needs ahead of your own is considered old fashioned and ignorant and even a waste of your life. The “secular” world does not usually see a “stay at home mom” as a full time job, though it most certainly is!

I do not believe that our young ladies (or young men) are getting the tools they need to be parents, because the role of a parent is not valued in our society.

So if the role of a parent is not valued or encouraged in our self focused, self driven life style- then where can a parent be valued, encouraged and equipped? That should be, and is supposed to be in the church. God created the family and places a very high value on parents- including Mothers. Mothers are important to God. What they do is valued and blessed by Him. It is a good thing for the church to go counter culture on Mother’s Day and affirm and thank moms for following a calling laid out in Scripture.

Then, what should our approach be as a church, as a congregation- when some of your congregation are parents and some are not? When some are mothers and some are desperately trying and some are mothers who are grieving? And what about divorced families and families with only one parent and foster families and blended families?

One of our major problems as a body of Christ is our tendency to swing to extremes. We tend to swing violently to one end of the pendulum or the other. Either we have every Mom stand up in the church service with their flower bouquet while the band and the children sing, and every other woman gets nothing OR we skip the whole day for fear of offending anyone. Part of our Christian walk is learning to live together in love and balance. We can learn to lovingly thank and affirm our mothers without singling people out. We can remember that people in our congregations are suffering, waiting for a child or grieving the loss of one and be sensitive to that. At the same time, we can make a stand as to the value of God’s design for the family- and weave that into our programming and the way we “do church” year round. Can we do special day well, with balance, effectiveness and grace? Oh definitely. I don’t want to cut so much that we are not offending anyone, because we are saying nothing at all.

Should we acknowledge Mother’s Day from the pulpit? Yes. We should affirm God’s design and approval for motherhood, but with grace, compassion and balance. So go love that crazy messed up outta wack beautiful thing we call the church this Sunday (the Body of Christ) and Happy Mother’s Day. Love Trisha

Ephesians 4:13-15American Standard Version (ASV)

13 till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error;
15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ;

Here is a pic of me, my mother Bonnie Stevens and my daughter. I love you Mom! Thank you for always pointing us to Jesus. Your prayers have carried us countless times. Love you!!

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In my experience, there is no one more at risk for a serious addiction that someone who sincerely believes, “It can never happen to me.” It is true that science has discovered a genetic link- a hereditary predisposition-to being an addict. However, in the right circumstances, or should I say the wrong circumstances?, anyone can become dependent on a substance or a behavior in their day to day life. What exactly is an “addiction”? Well, it is not just a “bad or annoying habit.”  The dictionary defines an addiction as:

The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.”

In other words, an addiction is a habit or practice that you because so completely dependent on, that it begins to interfere with your everyday life, and you have a decreased ability to function without it. What comes to mind when we think of the stereotypical “addict” is an alcoholic, or someone who is dependent on an illegal drug such as cocaine, heroin etc. But it is possible to become addicted to many things: legal/prescription medications, pornography, sex, television, food, gambling, shopping and more. The word “addiction” actually comes from the Latin, meaning “to give over to” “to surrender to.” Addiction can start as something necessary for a time (prescription pain medications), but after too much time goes by, the brain and body literally change their chemistry, needing the drug just to “function.” Sometimes an addiction starts as a recreational or social pass time- television, smoking, shopping. In many cases, the individual is using the substance or the behavior as a “coping mechanism” in order to deal with emotional or physical pain, stress, loss or illness. The coping mechanism releases feel good endorphins and stress releasing dopamine to counteract pain, stress etc. This is what the body and brain are supposed to do to get us through a SHORT time of “fight or flight.” However, over time, the body releases less of these pleasant hormones or simply builds up a tolerance to them. Then the individual must drink more, smoke more, shop more etc. in order to get the same relief as they did before.  Addiction is a major problem in the United States today. According the the United States Attorney General, 1 in 7 Americans will become addicted to a substance some time in their lives.

As ministers, we deal with the terrible consequences of addiction all the time in our congregations- broken marriages, lost jobs, neglected children, destroyed lives…So how then could a pastor or strong Christian lay leader become addicted to something themselves?

I believe that pastors are at high risk for becoming addicts. They need to recognize that risk and guard against it. Pastors live in a relative state of high stress. We are at the side of those who are dying. We counsel families who are living through loss. We minister through tragedies. Our work weeks are never 9-5, and they certainly do not stop when we get home. We are the sounding board for those who are hurting and suffering. We are counselors at times (which can be dangerous). We see and hear people at their worst. Ministry is at times a “sedentary profession,” meaning that too many pastors do not get a lot of exercise. We do not often feel that we can be open with those around us about our stresses and fears, because we are “serving others.” Most pastors do NOT have many friends they can talk to outside of their congregation.  Too many leaders feel that they have failed it they go in to see a counselor. All of this together can be a recipe for disaster.

How many pastors pride themselves on never smoking or drinking, but they go for the “OK” addiction and binge eat-sometimes late at night or in secret? This often leads to diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease etc. etc.

How many leaders secretly spend too much money, running up way too much credit card debt in an attempt to ease stress? When they have a major financial crash, it can impact their credibility in handling the church’s finances.

The news has been full lately of pastors who have lost their ministries because of an affair, sex addiction or pornography addiction. This probably started as a coping mechanism to deal with stress and emotional pain.

A saw a pastor on the news just a few weeks ago, that was having to step down from a very large church/ministry that he had built due to an alcohol addiction that he can no longer hide. My heart breaks for him and for his congregation. He is a caring, effective pastor, but he admitted that his secret coping method for all the enormous stress had gotten out of control. Another pastor I know, almost lost their ministry due to a secret addiction to prescription pain medications after a terrible car accident.  And I suspect the problem is much deeper than we know, because pastors are reluctant to reach out for help until the landmine explodes publicly (which it eventually does). The devastated congregation is usually grieving and bewildered, thinking, “How could our pastor have secretly been so horrible?” But we need to remember that our pastors are human beings too who face incredible pain and stress.

Not all coping mechanisms are inherently “wrong.” The Apostle Paul said it best when he said, “I will not be brought under the power of anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12.Below is a list possible ways to cope with the high stress of ministry, though this list is certainly NOT exhaustive.

Unacceptable Coping Methods- illegal drug use, pornography, adultery/fornication, violence, destroying things, threats, self harm, stealing, legal drug abuse, excessive spending etc.

Acceptable Coping Methods- (when not taken to extremes) exercise, talking to a friend, taking your days off weekly, taking your vacation days, having a weekly date night with your spouse, reading a great book, having a healthy hobby, listening to music, praying, going to a counselor (yes I mean it), going to a church service to be ministered to, gardening, journaling, eating WELL, sitting in the sun etc. etc.

If you feel that you are using ANY coping method to excess, or that you have lost or are at risk of losing control of your life to any substance or behavior, please please get yourself to a professional counselor NOW. Learn how to deal with your stress and pain now. Do not let this landmine explode, perhaps destroying you, your marriage, your family, and/or your ministry. Realize that any of us are at risk and learn to manage the stress of ministry in a HEALTHY way. It is not too late. God is a God of restoration, healing and hope- not just for everyone else, but for us too. For more information on addiction, seeking help and finding acceptable coping strategies, check out:

https://addictionresource.com/

https://www.asam.org/resources/public-resources/resource-links

https://www.addictionguide.com/resources/

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Can I let you all in on a little secret? I’ve been working on the launch of an all new project- a short, weekly  Youtube show all about ministry- kid’s ministry, youth ministry, family ministry etc. I am so excited at how it is developing! We’ll be talking about what’s working well NOW in kid’s ministry, what’s brand new, what’s on the horizon!

I’ll also be talking live with some amazing pastors, some who are “legends” in ministry and want to share their years of experience. We’ll also feature some newer leaders who are innovating in bold new ways.

I’ll be occasionally broadcasting live when I’m traveling across this nation, so you can see a variety of church facilities and get ideas from several areas of the country and styles of ministry.

Look for fun, impactful, encouraging, inspiring moments together every week. We’ll be covering crucial topics such as volunteer recruitment that works, safety and security, ministry and depression, amazing facilities on a budget and more. Better yet, you’ll have a chance to suggest topics, places and people that YOU WANT US TO talk to/about!!

But first, I need YOUR help. I am searching for the name of our new show! Here are some of our suggestions from leaders all over the nation. Which one is your favorite? Wanna write one in? Whoever’s suggestion wins will be receiving a free copy of my second book! So please take a sec and vote! We’ll make sure to announce and countdown when the show gets close to going live. I cannot wait for us to connect and create together soon! Thanks so much! Trisha

 

Possible Titles for my Kidmin/Fammin You Tube Channel? Which is Your Pick?
  1. Just Peachy
  2. The Peach Buzz
  3. Going Bananas with Peach
  4. The Peach Adventure
  5. Peachy Keen TV
  6. A Peach of my Mind
  7. Other-comment below!!

 

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HAPPY RESURRECTION DAY!!!

(Max Lucado)

“Yet when God entered time and became a man, he who was boundless became bound. Imprisoned in flesh. Restricted by weary-prone muscles and eyelids. For more than three decades, his once limitless reach would be limited to the stretch of an arm, his speed checked to the pace of human feet.
I wonder, was he ever tempted to regain his boundlessness? In the middle of a long trip, did he ever consider transporting himself to the next city? When the rain chilled his bones, was he tempted to change the weather? When the heat parched his lips, did he give thought to popping over to the Caribbean for some refreshment?
If he ever entertained such thoughts, he never gave into them. Not once. Stop and think about this. Not once did Christ use his supernatural powers for personal comfort.
With one word, he could’ve transformed the hard earth into a soft bed, but he didn’t. With a wave of his hands, he could’ve boomeranged the spit of his accusers back into their faces, but he didn’t. With an arch of his brow, he could’ve paralyzed the hand of the soldier as he braided the crown of thorns. But he didn’t.”
Max Lucado, He Chose the Nails
“Want to know the coolest thing about the coming? Not that the One who played marbles with the stars gave it up to play marbles with marbles. Or that the One who hung the galaxies gave it up to hang doorjambs to the displeasure of a cranky client who wanted everything yesterday but couldn’t pay until tomorrow.
Not that he, in an instant, went from needing nothing to needing air, food, a tub of hot water and salts for his tired feet, and, more than anything, needing somebody – anybody – who was more concerned about where he would spend eternity rather than where he would spend Friday’s paycheck.
Or that he resisted the urge to fry the two=bit, self-appointed hall monitors of holiness who dared suggest that he was doing the work of the devil.
Not that he kept his cool while the dozen best friends he ever had felt the heat and got out of the kitchen. Or that he gave no command to the angels who begged, “Just give us the nod, Lord. One word and these demons will be deviled eggs.”
Not that he refused to defend himself when blamed for every sin of every slut and sailor since Adam. Or that he stood silent as a million guilty verdicts echoed in the tribunal of heaven and the giver of light was left in the chill of a sinner’s night.
Not even that after three days in a dark hole he stepped into the Easter sunrise with a smile and a swagger and a question for lowly Lucifer – “Is that your best punch?”
That was cool, incredibly cool.
But want to know the coolest thing about the One who gave up the crown of heaven for a crown of thorns?
He did it for you. Just for you.” – Max Lucado
Max Lucado, He Chose the Nails
resurrection

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).

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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 www.froggies.com). 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 Trisha@peach.im

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

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