Archives for posts with tag: children’s ministry

The student ministries pastor has “scaled back” midweek services for the summer. The lead pastor is off with his family on vacation to somewhere amazing- judging by his facebook photos! The associate pastor is so chill right now (he’s growing a full on beard!) because he has “limited” small group sessions planned this summer. He’s using summer to work on fall. So why oh why are you, dear kid’s ministry leader, frying like an egg out on that hot hot hot sidewalk? Summer is not a break for children’s ministry leaders. It is typically VERY busy. Here are just a few reasons that summer can be tough for kid’s ministry leaders:

  1. Most of you have a summer outreach-or two. VBS, Summer Camps, Drama Camp, Sports Camp, Sidewalk Sunday School etc. This is one of your craziest, most impactful seasons of the whole year! And all of these outreaches are usually in ADDITION to your regular ministry times on Sundays and midweek. Which can make it more frustrating that…
  2. Your volunteers are AWAL. Those summer outreaches usually need a LOT of man and woman power. But your volunteers will be taking their vacations and will be off of their usual schedule. I live in the great state of WI. After so many months of bitter cold and snow, many of our leaders literally head out to go camping- ALL SUMMER. The ones who stay on in the summer, still have their vacations to go on.
  3. Parents are EXTREMELY distracted. The parents of the kids in your ministry are carrying out vacations, summer sports, family trips, family reunions, prepping for fall school etc. If your parents and volunteers need to be told something 8 times during the school year before it “sticks”, I think they need to hear information 17 times during the busyness of summer (also during the Holidays).  I do not give out a lot of very important information during the summer. Make SURE you make parents and leaders aware of all important summer dates BEFORE school lets out. We have our parent and volunteer meetings right after school starts.
  4. Your attendance drops. Most churches report that their Sunday and midweek attendance dips in the summer (including the kid’s ministry programs). In the past, when we tried to have a volunteer training or parent meeting in the summer, almost no one showed up.  Do not let this discourage you. It happens to us all. I do not showcase my amazing new curriculum in the summer. I usually pull out a smaller curriculum, tried and true, and then take new risks with it- like REALLY messy games, water play, or a guest speaker who enters on stilts! Summer is a great time to try some newer things with perhaps “older” lessons. Our focus changes in the summer to making VBS and Camp AMAZING and also preparing for the fall kickoffs.

A Few Summer Survival Tips for Those of Us in Children’s Ministry:

  1. Do communicate frequently with your lead pastor and other staff. Many times they have NO idea how difficult summer is for you. They are throttling down while you are ramping up. Let the staff know how crazy this season can get for you.
  2. Try recruiting a whole separate set of volunteer leaders for your regular services in the summer. I started recruiting a small group of summer leaders that would commit for those 12 weeks. Then I gave all of my leaders the option to take summer off. Some stayed all summer and loved it. Others came back to the ministry in the fall. Our retention level is very high. Many said they respected that we value them as people, and we want to see them building their own families too.
  3. Plan Plan Plan. The earlier in the year you start planning for your summer outreaches, the better they will go. Plan downtimes for yourself as well after EVERY event. Try as hard as you can not to plan your outreaches back to back or right off of an all church event. AS tough as it is, try to take your day/days off.
  4. Give yourself a “light at the end of the tunnel.” Most people can push through a tough time if they know there is great reward on the other side, and that the tough time is only temporary. We know the reward for our summer outreaches is beyond measure- children and families coming to know Christ, our church and the kingdom expanding, our community a better place etc. But too often we feel like that insane pace of ministry should be happening at all times, year round. Ministry has SEASONS. For me, fall is my “breather.” After we get all of our fall programs kicked off and running smoothly, I have a couple of weeks that are a bit “saner.” But I have to work hard and plan before that to make sure I do not burn out. I can push through a tough patch of summer, when I focus on the amazing impact of these outreaches and the smoother season to come.
  5. You need to delegate and build teams. And this takes time and patience. Sometimes you have to have a few “wins” under your belt before your dream team will jump on board. But I highly suggest teams to help with each outreach, and above all a prayer team that you meet with regularly. You need others encouraging you and cheering you on as you run that “ball” through to the end zone.

How about you? How are summers different fromIMG_0017 the rest of the year in your ministry? What have you found that helps you the most in your summer ministry?

Love and encouragement always,

Trisha

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On the long drive back from my grandmother’s recent funeral in Michigan, I turned her ring over and over in my hands. Suddenly, I realized that there was an inscription inside the tiny wedding band. I finally was able to make out, “Jack to Shirley, 1949.” This was from my grandfather to my grandmother. They would have been married 70 years this year. WOW.

This makes my husband and I look like beginners with our mere 20 years of marriage in comparison. Though, our 20 years is like 3,427 years in Hollywood years. What have been our biggest secrets to staying happily married for 20 years? What secrets did I learn from our parents and grandparents and other Christian leaders who have stayed married for the long haul? Well, after careful reflection and conversation, here goes:

Top Ten Tips for Staying Married:

  1. Keep Jesus First- Your faith is the foundation of any marriage. Every single couple I have ever known that has made it in a long term marriage credited their faith in Jesus for helping them make it through. Promises get made and broken every day. A covenant is supposed to be forever. God’s intention for marriage was a beautiful picture of everlasting faithfulness and love between Christ and His Church. Yes, we humans are flawed and marred and divorce is a tragic reality in our world. I know many fantastic Christians who were blind sided with a divorce they did not want, or a divorce after infidelity, addiction or abuse. For these Christians, their faith in a faithful God, even when others are unfaithful to us, can be a lifeline. Because we humans are so messed up, I truly do not know how any marriage can make it without Jesus. The best “weapons” for fighting for your marriage are prayer, shared faith, Godly counsel, Scripture, participating in a church body. A lasting marriage needs Jesus!
  2. Keep dating- My sister and I used to wonder about the girls in Bible College getting the “hag look” as soon as they got married. These girls would be the most gorgeous, fashionable and sought after girls on campus. But as soon as they “got” their man, they immediately wore only sweats, no makeup, hair unkept, stopped showering… etc. Perhaps they thought, “Well I got him now. I don’t have to be attractive anymore.” Marriage is a relationship that is supposed to go on for life; not a “bait and switch” where your spouse only sees you put in any effort before you say I do. This is a common mistake that I try to confront when doing marriage counseling. Too many couples spend tens of thousands of dollars on their wedding day, but they do not put the same time and effort into their marriage and life together.  It’s about the marriage, not the wedding day. Dating your spouse needs to continue for life. This means that common interests, keeping a date night, getting away together regularly and working toward common goals is a MUST. Marriage is not a “One and done” one day event.
  3. Do NOT give yourself an “out”. As my husband would say, “Do not give yourself any kind of plan B, in case this marriage thing does not work out”.  None of us should fantasize about what we would do to leave our marriage, to be with someone else. If you give yourself an escape route “if this marriage thing gets too tough”, well, guess what, it will get that tough and you will use that escape route. Don’t build escape routes or dwell on contingency plans.
  4. Be careful during the high risk times- death of a loved one, job change, move, birth of a child etc. These are the highest risk times for a marriage.  Every single engaged couple always says the same thing, “Oh not us. We never fight. He/She is awesome. So perfect. We know how to talk through things. God just make us for each other.” They stare at each other all gooey eyed. And every person in the room who has been married for awhile looks at each other and nods. It is pointless to try to reason with a new couple in love. They already know everything.  But marriage is not just the sunny times of planning a wedding. Marriage is also 4 a.m. when you are up AGAIN for the 4th time that night to feed the baby, even though it was HIS TURN and you feel a cold coming on. Marriage is working a 13 hour day and coming home exhausted and frustrated to a wife who is cranky and serving PB and J again for dinner. The strength of a marriage is not seen during the honeymoon. The strength of a marriage is shown- and further forged- during the death of loved ones, parents etc. There will be fantastic vacations, birthdays- also lost jobs, financial woes and illnesses. Psychologists say that the highest risk times for a marriage are during the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or a job change, a move or the birth of a child.  If you are in ministry, chances are that you and your spouse have faced times when you were neck deep in all of the above…Trust me, I’ve been there. My husband and I fought all of 5 times in our first five years of marriage. Then came year 6 when our first baby was born, we moved, we changed jobs, faced illness and for awhile stopped sleeping. Yeah- marriage took on a different tone then. But in the end, it made our marriage so much stronger. God got us through. It is important to recognize when you marriage is going to be under intense strain. This is when your faith and your support system will be crucial. And remember, it is a season. And seasons don’t come to stay, they come to pass.
  5. 80/20 principle- I learned this principle from a professor marriage counselor who was on staff at our church. He taught that every single married person believe that they are doing 80 percent of the work in a marriage. Their own spouse will then swear that no, they are doing 80 percent of the work for the marriage. He concluded that in most marriages, each partner will feel that they are doing 80 percent of everything. He urged each spouse to embrace that feeling, to serve each other. He said that marriage “didn’t add up like ordinary math.” A great marriage consists of 2 people each giving more than 80 percent to make it work.

Now, please stay tuned for next week, when I go over the other 5 best tips I have ever gotten on staying married for the long haul. And YES…one of them is all about SEX. More on that next week. Love you all- Happy Marriage! Love Trisha and Scott

 

A few great quotes on marriage-

“Try to remember how you felt at your wedding, especially when you are disagreeing with your spouse. This is so hard to do. The focus needs to be on resolution, not “winning”.- Scott, my husband of 20 years 🙂

“Medical staff continually asked how long we had been married, and then wanted to know what the secret was to 43 years—”humbly serving one another the way God intended, and the way we vowed.” I’m thankful they could see that being lived out, even in the most difficult of situations.-Tina Houser

“We just grew up in a time when something broke, you fixed it- you didn’t just throw it away.” (couple married 65 years, when asked how they stayed together so long).

“We do not do kid’s ministry worship at our church,” the speaker at the conference said. “Kid’s can’t understand what they are doing at that age, so it’s all just emotional manipulation at that point. We wait until upper high school to introduce worship services, because then they are old enough to understand.”

Anyone who knows me knows that I was boiling inside at this point. I know that kid’s can worship- and mean it from their hearts. I also know that worship is KEY for every person in their faith- including kids! I even made an appointment later on to talk to the speaker and explain why I do believe in kid’s ministry worship. I thought I made a decent argument, but he remained unconvinced. “Not at my church, until high school” he concluded. What a tragedy.

As churches, we often focus on getting “head knowledge” into our kids from a young age. And this is well and good. Our children NEED to know what we believe and why. They NEED to know Scripture. According to Barna, most children will completely solidify their world view, right versus wrong, by the age of 12-14. That is scary to me! And that decision will NOT be made in a void. Many worldviews are competing for our kid’s hearts and minds. Their viewpoints on the world should NOT be forged without any imput from the church!! Waiting until upper high school is often far far too late. That is even more silly and dangerous than saying, “Do not teach children to read until upper high school when they can decide for themselves if they want to read or not.” We have a window of opportunity when kids are young, a small window in which God can make a huge impact.

Isn’t our faith supposed to be more than head knowledge anyway? Isn’t the most important commandment “Love the Lord Your God with all your HEART, with all your SOUL, with all your MIND and with all your STRENGTH?” Faith is not supposed to without emotion. Experience is not a bad thing. And kids are hungry to experience something- Someone- real. Why do you think that the occult is targeting- and successfully- recruiting so many kids? They are hard wired to believe, to connect with God. As Jon Tasch says, “We teach children to make their beds and eat their vegetables. Why aren’t we teaching our kids to connect with God?”

So how can we make sure that we set up a great “playdate” with God- an impactful kid’s worship experience?? I’m so glad you asked. Here are the best tips I have found for setting up that kid’s ministry worship service:

  1. Live beats canned-Any chance you get, try to incorporate live elements into your kid’s worship. When you first start out, sure you may need to play a video clip and sing along. I have some video worship that is great. But work toward at least having a person up front leading and doing the motions. If it is not your gift, seek out someone with a heart for leading kid’s ministry worship. The more live elements the better.
  2. Go for excellence- No you can’t just throw anything up on stage “because it’s just kids.” Children can TELL when a leader is not prepared. To me, kid’s ministry is the greatest opportunity we can ever ever have! We are setting up playdates between kids and God! We don’t throw our leftovers on the altar. We should always be trying to do a bit better. Yes, this is going to mean rehearsing. And learning the motions to the songs.
  3. Participation is KEY- As much as possible, we have to move away from the “I sing on stage and all you listen” model of kid’s worship. It needs to be instead, “Let’s all worship together” while you and other leaders model what loving Jesus through song looks like. The more kids you can involve in this the better! Have kids prepared to do all the motions on stage, have kids singing along with mics, have kids helping to pray with other kids. VERY important here is to get your student ministries involved. Kids will naturally follow the lead of the teenagers on your team. Give them role models you WANT them to follow. This also gives your older students experience in ministry!
  4. Balance of fast worship and slower worship songs- Do not just do motion songs- kids CAN learn to enter into the deeper worship songs too. They do need the fast motion songs to get all that energy out. I prefer to do 2-3 action songs right near the beginning. I usually do 1-2 slower altar songs toward the end, after the message. Do not group all of your music together, or all of your talking together. I like to balance out our services between music, drama, teaching, prayer etc.
  5. Let parents see their kids worshipping- It is very important to understand what your parents SEE and HEAR when they drop off and pick up their children. I have heard parents complain, “When I drop off and pick up my kids, all I see is them running around and playing games. Is that all they ever do in there?” At our church, we decided to have fast worship going on when kids drop off and worship and prayer when parents pick up. Some parents are so shocked seeing their child worshipping and praying. Many times it inspired the parent to seek God more themselves.
  6. Try a family worship experience- It is wonderful to get together as “the church”, not separated by age, and have times of intergenerational worship. The other congregants can be inspired to see the devotion of the younger kids, and the kids have more models of how the CHURCH worships. Also the kids can begin to realize that they are a vital part of the church right now, not just in the future. Please remember that a truly family service is NOT a typical service with all grown up songs and the kids color on the back of the hymnal. A truly family service will balance with kid’s ministry songs that ENGAGE the kids- even having some of them on the stage helping to worship. Some churches do this once a quarter or one evening a month.

If you are looking for some help with your kid’s ministry worship, for resources or for some amazing worship at your next family service, may I highly recommend….

Jumpstart3 uses actual  verses in their songs, so your kids will be worshipping AND learning Scripture at the same time! You can get a free song just for subscribing here: https://jumpstart3.com/

Yancy Not Nancy- who is amazing at leading family worship events that everyone will love, from your elderly saints to your youngest preschoolers. http://yancyministries.com/

How about YOU? What are the greatest resources, tips or speakers you have encountered for kid’s ministry worship??

See you next week and much love- Trisha

 

download_20190318_232648137394752823096361.jpgAnd yet it is the most important thing I will ever say or write. I’ve asked my own kids to read this as well. You may or may not believe what I have to say but my sincere hope is that you will hear me out, perhaps even with an open mind. So here goes.

By the age of 13, I hated myself. A lot. And no I am not exaggerating. It was hatred. I was (and am) your typical driven type A personality, starting concert piano competitions from the age of 6. I know that some people have issues because of their parents’ unreasonable expectations, but that was not the case with me. My parents were completely baffled, not understanding my drive, always saying things like, “As long as you tried your best, we are proud of you!” “You do not need to prove anything to us. We love you just the way you are!” But their words did not “land” or take root in my soul. Jesus parable of the talents terrified me. I just knew that I would be that one on judgment day that Jesus would say, “Trish you were given a lot of gifts, but you blew it. So many people did not make heaven because you just couldn’t put in more effort. You never used your gifts to the fullest; what were you doing??” I pushed myself more and more to achieve. The guilt and shame were unbearable. I hated my giant thick bi-focal glasses and crooked teeth. I hated the fact that I did not and could not look like the women on all the magazines (early 90’s models were “heroin sheek” or rail thin). I hated myself for not doing “big things” for God, like others were. I worried myself to a frazzle over whether I might have somehow committed the unpardonable sin?? Worthlessness is a horrible feeling; it is tough to drag yourself from one day to the next.

But camp was on the horizon! I lived for summer camp. I literally counted the days from when I left until I came back. Summer camp meant a lot of freedom, natural beauty and some of my best friends in the world.

One of the last nights of camp, the speaker began talking about the holiness of God and how we would “fall on our faces” someday when we saw God face to face. My 13 year old mind was full of worry; the fear I felt was overwhelming. At the end of his talk, he invited anyone who wanted to, to come forward for prayer. Although I probably could have used prayer, I could not move. Everyone around me was going forward for prayer, but I could not get my legs to cooperate. I suddenly realized that I was crying and my tears were all over the floor by my sneakers. My shoulders were shaking. I don’t think anyone noticed me, which was fine, because I do not like crying in front of people.

And then it happened.

I suddenly felt arms around my small frame. No really, I literally felt arms around me. All of the fear and horror and hatred washed out of me completely in less than a second. I had encountered something-or rather Someone- so totally foreign, so alien, so completely OTHER- from myself that I have trouble finding the words to describe this power. It was a warm feeling of raw power, much greater than my own. I have never felt so thoroughly known and yet completely loved. In that instant I KNEW that I was forgiven and deeply loved by God. I could FEEL Him all around me and through me. The power I was connected to was overwhelming and beyond my understanding.

All of my life I had known the Scriptures, telling me that God loved me. I knew that Jesus had died on the Cross to pay the penalty for my sin. I knew that God had forgiven me because the Bible told me so- I could have quoted you the verses on cue! But in that moment, everything suddenly became very real.  I KNEW down to my toes that I was completely loved and completely forgiven because I encountered HIM. I think it is the difference between reading about something in a book and experiencing it for yourself. Before I had children, I thought I knew a lot about child birth and parenting. I had read a lot of books on the subject. But when I went through labor and delivery for myself, I KNEW through first hand knowledge what can never be discovered in a book/classroom. The reality that Jesus died FOR ME, was suddenly more real than I could handle. This Jesus Who was tortured to death so I could be forgiven, wanted a personal relationship with me. I was beginning to “hear” God’s voice inside of me clearer and clearer. All I had to do was to believe on Jesus and I would be saved- not by doing any thing on my own. I was speechless at the love Jesus, His sacrifice for Me, and the overwhelming love I was feeling right then.

When I could finally WALK later that evening after the chapel service, I left a completely different person than when I went into that chapel. I now knew I had a purpose in life. No one would ever be able to convince me that there is no God because I had just encountered Him and experienced His love and power.

Experiences get a bad rap. I am all for good Biblical doctrine. Head knowledge is so necessary. But nothing beats straight up experience. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” We are supposed to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind- so that includes experiences! Time prohibits me from going through all the answers to prayer that I have received over the years- 1. That time when my family was so poor that we did not have enough to eat. I prayed and asked God, that if He were real, to fill our deep freezer with food. That VERY SAME NIGHT someone from church dropped by the parsonage and filled our deep freezer with food. 2. That time when I needed 720 dollars in order to stay in college and I did not have it. So I prayed and asked God to provide it. A check came in that day from a club that my great-grandfather had been in. I had not applied for the scholarship. It was 760 dollars! 3. That time that I prayed for my best friend to be healed of gastric ulcers, and she was! permanently!

Over the years there have been many instances when I prayed and God said “NO.” I do not understand why sometimes God does not heal someone. But I have seen FAR too many miracles at this point to ever again doubt that there is a God, that He loves me personally and that He still does the impossible. He is still a God of power, Who heals, does miracles and breathes life into those who are dead (or feel that they are dead inside). He is never far away from any of us. He is only a prayer, a cry, a heartbeat away. There is no one so “bad” that He does not love. His forgiveness is amazing, I know first hand!

Several times since that night I have needed God to remind me and show me again His love for me. But when I encounter Him again and again the self pummeling immediately fades away.

Almost daily I meet people who just seem to hate themselves- especially young people, members of generation Z. Suicide has been on the rise across the United States for awhile now. These young people do not see a positive future ahead- they feel worthless. They are crushed under a weight of guilt and expectations. Some of these people have decided that God is not real because they cannot measure God, or “prove” God’s existence in a lab. It has been argued that we cannot prove or disprove the existence of God scientifically. But the whole debate has no bearing on my life, because I know what happened to me, and what continues to happen when I pray. I cannot prove my experience to you. But many people who doubt God’s existence have never given God that moment to show Himself.  If you believe in God, you start seeing Him everywhere. If you choose not to believe in God, you see His absence everywhere.

So I have an important challenge for you. And I suppose, it is a challenge to God as well. I dare you to take this next week, and read one chapter of the Bible every day, and sit alone listening for God for 20 minutes a day. And this means getting quiet and listening for God to speak to you and your distinct situation through the Bible and through listening. Ask God to give you a sign that He is real and is working in your life. The implications here are huge. If God is real and He loves you, then He has an amazing plan for your life. You are not worthless or too far gone. You are priceless to Him. I dare you to give God a week, without writing Him off, and see what happens.

Once you connect to a living and powerful God, the depression and worthlessness lose their hold. And you begin a journey to find out all that He has planned for you to do. God wants to connect with you; He wants you to feel loved and free. Don’t know where to start? Here are some verses to get you going: John 3:16,17, Jeremiah 29:11, John 14, Psalm 139, Romans 5:8. Please do not give up. Jesus loves you and so do I. Ask God to show Himself real to you, right now wherever you are.

Whether you believe what happened to me or not, I love you anyway. My life has peace, joy and purpose only because of my daily relationship with Jesus Christ. If you ever want to talk, email me at trisha@peach.im. Open yourself up for an encounter with God this week. You will not regret it. I promise.

Love always, Trisha 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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And by “our” I mean, our modern, American culture has a very messed up, incorrect definition of love. And tragically, sometimes this warped view of love seeps into the culture, thinking and message of the church. Our definition of love is CRUCIAL- especially as followers of Christ. Scripture tells us “God is love” . As Christians we are literally commanded to love God, our fellow Christians, our neighbors and even our enemies! “Love” is mentioned in Scripture a whopping 3orld, are 1. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength”. 2. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 10 times. Jesus tell us that the most important commandments of ALL, in the whole w12:30 So wouldn’t it be IMPERATIVE for Christians to have a crystal clear understand of what love is?

Most people THINK they understand love. But how much of our definition of love is based on Scripture and how much is based on Twitter, romantic comedies and sentiment? One major part of the problem is that we only have ONE word for love in English. Greek has 3 different words for love- friendship, romantic love, unconditional love. Some languages have as many as 14 different words for love. But in English the meaning of “love” is diluted when we use it for everything….I love you, I love ice cream, I love my baby, I love….lamps. etc.

Here would be a few modern definitions of love that are really screwed up:

  1. Love is a gushy feeling. Truth: Love is much more of a verb than a noun. Feelings can come and go with time, circumstances or last night’s bad Taco Bell. Love is a choice- a commitment to care about someone and to want a relationship with them even when you do not “feel” like it.
  2. Love is always “nice.” Truth: Sometimes love is fierce. Having grown up in a “Minnesota nice” culture, I do understand the thinking that if you love someone you will never correct them, never offend them, never tell someone a painful truth. All we need to do is read the major and minor prophets in the Old Testament to see a whole different side of “love.” God pours out His raw hurt at being betrayed, His anger and yet His neverending passion and commitment to fight for His people. God does NOT hold back. He is brutally honest. I have not yet learned the balance of “speaking the truth in love.” But I really want to get better at it! The total lack of discipleship or accountability that results from always being “nice” stunts the growth of Christians and churches. What could really happen if we started speaking the truth in love?
  3. Love means you agree with anything and everyone anyone says or does. Love means never ever saying no. Truth: If you really love someone, you are going to have to say no sometimes. My 3 year old son really really wanted to run down the middle of the street. But I had to say no because I did not want him to be squished. And I’m sure at the time he thought I hated him and wanted to ruin all his fun. But I had to say no and ask him to trust me. There are things in the Bible that God explicitly says NO to. And if God says NO then there must be a good reason even if we do not always understand it. And if God has clearly said NO, it is not love at all to try to overrule God and say, “Oh sure do whatever you want. I support you!” If I were hurting myself with bad decisions, I really hope someone would love me enough to try to help me make better ones- not support me as crash and burn. God is literally love and in Scripture and He sets limits, boundaries and holds people accountable BECAUSE He loves us.
  4. Love means never saying no to abuse. Truth: Letting someone endlessly abuse you is not love either. The church has been criticized in the past for perhaps not helping victims of domestic violence. I have actually talked to wives who were told by their pastors to stay with their violent abusive husbands because it was the loving thing to do. They were also told that since Jesus suffered for us, we should be abused too to be real Christians. AND if you are being abused than that must be God’s will and you have to to take it and like it without complaining. This fallacy burns me up. Yes, Christ suffered vicariously for us (Once for all) and sometimes God will call us to suffer for our Christian testimony. But it seems that we are to use our legal and other defenses as well. When Paul was going to be beaten by the Romans, he invoked his rights as a Roman citizen. When the Jewish leaders wanted to hide how they treated Paul, he again invoked his rights and made them “own up” to what they had done. How can we say we love someone if we continually let them sin against us without trying to confront them and call them to grow? Love means setting boundaries, accountability and occasionally saying NO. God desperately wants relationship with us, but to be close to Him He has very definite boundaries.
  5. If someone loves me they will give me what I want, when I want. Truth: Manipulation is not love. God does not always give us everything we want when we want it. But as a Good Father, He gives us what we need in His time. Meeting everyone’s hectic demands in our lives is not love. Trying to keep everyone happy is exhausting. Love tries to help others to have what they NEED. Or better yet, love frees others to work for what they need. If I let my teenage son have what he wanted whenever he wanted, he would eat nothing but fiery cheetos, fries, donuts and pizza rolls. He would be in a scooter with type 2 diabetes before the age of 18. So we make sure he has what he NEEDS when he needs it- and occasionally some fiery cheetos. God’s love for us is not selfish- He chooses to love us sacrificially.

So what about you? What falsehoods have you heard about love? How would you define love?

Here is how Scripture defines love- beautiful and inspiring! God bless and Happy Valentine’s Day!

We love because He first loved us.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.

However, as it is written: What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him.

If you were blessed to be at Children’s Pastor’s Conference this week, then you already know it was packed out. I heard a couple thousand people were there! Which makes sense since I saw volunteers having to set up more and more and more chairs. So here are just a few of my favorite memories from Children’s Pastors Retreat 2019.

  1. Location- I certainly enjoyed the weather (67 and sunny in Orlando versus 23 and snowing in WI). Children’s pastors retreat is something I look forward to every year-a refreshing winter retreat to be with Jesus and others passionate about kids ministry. The stunning Caribe resort seemed well able to accommodate all of us, and their staff were very helpful. This year there were a lot more food trucks, making things a bit easier to get lunch onsite. (I particularly liked the salted caramel gelato! Yes, that WAS my lunch lol.) Also, the close proximity to Disney meant that many children’s leaders were able to go over to one of the parks or Disney Springs for a bit. Several kid’s pastors brought their families to stay an extra day or two after the conference. This makes CPC a place for growth and learning for kid’s pastors, as well as a place for CP families to refresh and make memories. Nice plus!
  2. The Powerful Main Sessions- The worship was powerful, expressive and engaging. Now worship style can be a controversial thing. But I felt that just about anyone could feel at home in these worship services. Many people seemed to enjoy the prayer stations set up around the room as well. People lined up for different prayer stations to make a lasting moment there with God. The speakers were amazing as usual, however I was especially touched by the ministry of Beth Guckenberger (again) talking about the sweetness of God and inspiring us to a new level of intimacy with God. And Robert Madu- oh my goodness!!! I was blown away. I will never forget all he had to say about “staying in your own lane” and the “but me!” glasses. I laughed so hard but left deeply impacted. I hope he comes back!!!
  3. The Large Variety of Relevant Breakouts- There were a wide variety of breakouts that I felt were hot button issues for most of us who attended. I still like the fact that you can choose a “track” that you are interested in, and find classes on that theme (Or not). For example, you can pick, “Special needs ministry” and find the 4-5 breakouts that will specifically deal with that issue. I know many of the breakout leaders, and they are extremely qualified, experienced people who absolutely love to serve others.
  4. Coaching- CPC Conference is a bit unique in that personal one on one coaching is INCLUDED in the price of the conference. This coaching allows the attendee to get a 30 minute session with a kid’s ministry professional. You bring one issue and together you work out a “plan.” The idea is to “Go home with a plan.” I saw God at work in these sessions. I saw kid’s pastors leaving their coaching sessions with hope and a new excitement for their ministries. Coaching is one of my favorite ministries offered by CPC. (I was blessed to be a coach, and to teach a breakout).
  5. The Networking- Most children’s pastors will tell you that the best part of a kidmin conference is the networking that happens between children’s pastors in classes, at meals and in the hallways. Children’s leaders are born networkers. I heard a first time attendee remark, “Wow, I am impressed. I haven’t met a single snob here yet!” The organizers of CPC get this and intentionally build in networking time. But they also allow this to happen organically as well.
  6. The Schedule- I felt that the schedule was well planned out- not too busy and not too lax. Plenty of time for coaching, worship, networking, resource center and even relaxing. I actually did not go home from this conference completely spent.
  7. The staff and volunteers- They were so helpful and friendly. They all seemed thrilled to be there and to be serving!
  8. The resource center- I always have a lot of fun there. There were so many booths and so many fun things to do. I THINK that we got more time allotted there this year and perhaps a few more booths. It was a blast.

If you were there last week, please tell us what YOUR favorite part of the conference was? Do you agree with my favorites list? What did I miss? Lots of love and blessings- Thank you for all your work for Jesus and His kids! Love Trisha

fundraisersFundraising can be such a pain! And even if you have a children’s ministries budget at your church, chances are that you will be called upon to raise money for some project- camp scholarships, a new set of puppets, missions etc. Teaching our children to give is an important part of their faith. I do not believe that faith is genuine if it never touches our wallet! And children need to be taught from an early age to tithe and to give of their time, talent and money.  This needs to be a “habit” that extends into adulthood. Also, if your church as a whole is working to raise funds for something, then your kid’s church should be a part of that (they are part of the church right now!) Although children may not have access to the the same flow of cash as an adult, I am continually surprised at the amazing things kids can do when someone challenges and inspires them. Over the years our team has done MANY fundraisers and missions pushes. And I wanted to share with you the ones that worked the best for us. I know that what works at one place will not necessarily work in another; nevertheless, I hope this gives you some great ideas.

  1. Fill the crate- The premise of this fundraiser was unusual but simple. We were sending missionaries to an African village and they were asking for children’s clothing to pass out to orphans in need. We got a large crate, advertised the challenge, showed pictures of some of the children in need and heard from the missionaries. We gave the children 30 days to fill the crate with kid’s clothing items, used or new, of all sizes.  To my surprise and delight, our kids filled the entire crate in only 8 days. EIGHT DAYS!!! The clothes were all in good condition, although one or two dresses were far to fancy to be usable in that climate. It was too late at this point to advertise that we had filled the crate early, so we filled a second one for an orphanage in Kenya. I think this one was so successful because it was visible and tangible. Kids could see the bin filling up! We followed up by having the missionaries take a lot of pictures of the kids at the orphanages wearing the clothes from our kids. We showed these photos so the kids would see the results of their giving.
  2. Fourth and Fifth Grade Clean Your Church Day- I’ll be honest, I was did not know if this one would fly. My elementary director really wanted to do this. She suggested having all fourth and fifth graders come in on a Saturday and give their free time to THEIR church by spring cleaning- doing the windows, cleaning out flower beds, carpet cleaning etc. etc. She hoped to teach kids to treat God’s house with respect, to make a habit of volunteering at church, and to realize this was THEIR church. I will admit I was skeptical on this one. But I was wrong. These kids came out in record numbers, thoroughly cleaned our massive building, had a blast doing it- and couldn’t wait to do it again. We showed pictures from this event to inspire our adults to higher levels of serving.
  3. Papa Murphy’s pizza deal. Not sure if this one is still available- but it was amazing. We bought Papa Murphy’s pizza discount cards for 1 dollar each and then sold them for 10 dollars each. If a child wanted help with money for camp or an event, then they had to participate. Children who did NOT need a scholarship were allowed to raise money for their friends. I had kids who sold 400 cards all by themselves in a week just to send 4 friends to winter camp. It became a way to fund our events, allow less fortunate families to send their children, and to teach giving to others of our time and money. This also really got the attention of our community because our kids were hitting up EVERYONE. We ended up bringing 50-60 people to winter camp each year because we raised so much money.
  4. An Incentive- I know this is controversial, because we do not want to teach children to expect a reward for giving and serving Jesus. However, I have found that an incentive can make that event stand out in a family’s mind in a sea of information overload. I also believe in celebrating together and commemorating successes as a team in ministry. We teach kids not to expect rewards for giving, but to celebrate when we “win” as a team. Our 19 year old sound guy had extremely long hair. He offered to have his hair shaved to the scalp live on stage if we met our missions giving goal. The kids were so excited that we not only met our goal, we exceeded it. The day of the “shearing” the kids all brought their friends and we gained a lot of new kids to our kid’s church as a bonus.
  5. A Competition- Again, this one is controversial, as some churches discourage competitions in a church. It seems to me however, that kids are hardwired to love playing games and to compete. We do need to teach our kids that loving others is more important than “winning.” One competition we had that went very well was our kid’s church versus youth group challenge. We raised money for missions over the course of 6 weeks. At the end we had a pizza party that both groups attended. Since youth group raised less (slightly), they had to serve the pizza to the kid’s church kids. This worked so well because the youth pastor and I switched places a lot to promote it. It showed our groups working together. The kid’s church kids got to meet the youth pastor and interact with him. The youth group kids actually seemed to be having fun serving the kid’s church kids. It was an example of the church working together toward a common goal. The “competition” just made it really fun and no one felt like a “loser.” The main winner was our local women’s shelter who received the money, and our young people who all had a great time.
  6. Walmart matching- Now I have seen this one work differently in different cities/states. Where we live, Walmart will match what a non-profit makes selling food in their parking lot. There is an application process and some work involved in setting this up. “Brat fry’s” are big in Wisconsin, and whatever profit we make is matched by Walmart. This has paid for several of our kids to go to Bible Camp. If they wish to use a church scholarship for camp, they MUST help out at the brat fry. We want kids to think about putting some of their own sweat, funds and time into obtaining the things they want.

I am very curious to know what fundraisers YOU have used. What worked? What did not work at all?

I truly hope to see many of you next week at CPC in Orlando Fl! God bless ALL of your fundraisers. God bless the work you do for Jesus and His kids. Love Trisha

PS- I’ll be coming to you live next week from Orlando so stay tuned!

 

burnoutA Recent Research Paper of Mine for my Doctorate

(Please comment with your thoughts on this important subject! Bibliography at the end lists many more resources on leaders and burnout).

The Problem

Burnout has been defined as “emotional collapse or breakdown that sometimes comes as a result of stress.[1]” Unfortunately, stress can profoundly affect even those who serve the church. Ministers actually rank fairly high on the Maslach Burnout Scale[2] and the Francis Burnout Inventory[3]. In fact, clergy members rank on the same stress level as other occupations that serve the community, such as social workers, counselors and nurses[4]. Certain occupations, including pastoral ministry, have been found to be more inherently stressful than others[5]. The fallout of this stress manifests in the life of pastors in various ways.

Several modern studies have proven a direct correlation between stress[6] and increased physical health problems[7]. Ninety percent of pastors in a recent study reported chronic fatigue[8]. Fifty percent were overweight, twenty-three percent reported being obese. Most said that they had no time to eat well, exercise, or sleep adequately.

Younger pastors are more prone to burnout, and to leaving the ministry[9]. One study found that seminarians in their senior year, when given a stress test, scored an average of 348. This is alarming since the average population generally scores between 75-150 and a score of 300 is considered dangerously high[10]. These stressed out seminarians are often sent from school straight into a “high demand” church, without having learned any coping methods for dealing with stress. Older pastors who have managed to stay in the ministry for the long-term, were only able to do so because they developed effective coping methods for managing stress.

Female clergy do not have an advantage over their male counterparts when it comes to stress and burnout[11]. Several studies found that women and men are suffering from burnout equally[12]. Other studies argue that women’s stress is actually higher. Women do report a higher level of conflict and bullying in ministry. Some women report feeling added stress brought on by trying to be seen as “legitimate” in their role.

Studies did not find a significant difference in stress and burnout rates across ethnic lines[13]. However, it can be argued that much more research could be done on this subject. One study did find that African American pastors had higher emotional stability, and better coping mechanisms than Caucasian pastors. However, African American pastors scored lower for overall physical health[14].

One of the worst casualties of clergy burnout is the pastor’s family. Pastors rank third for divorces among professionals. When asked why they are leaving the ministry, 1/3 of ministers cited “family reasons”. This family stress is cyclical, in that ministerial stress exacerbates family stress, which in turn contributes to worsening loneliness and burnout.

The minister’s stress and burnout affects everyone around him or her, including his or her fellow staff members and the church body as a whole. Rather than being a local church problem, ministerial burnout is a universal church issue. The leader’s ministry will not be as effective because there is not enough mental, emotional or physical resources left to give to anyone else.

Once the pastor begins to “go numb” from burnout, then “depersonalization” often sets in[15]. This means that the pastor stops being able to truly care for their congregation or themselves properly. This is a negative coping method characterized by withdrawing from conflict and difficult situations rather than facing them. Whether a service or a program went well or was a disaster, he or she no longer cares.

One study found 75 percent of pastors report high stress and depression[16]. One-third report daily frustration and fatigue at even the thought of going into the church office. Two-fifths report being totally drained by their duties[17].

Studies varied greatly as to how many pastors are really contemplating leaving the ministry. One study found that 30 percent were thinking of leaving[18]. Another study said that 90 percent of pastors are thinking about quitting. Half of that second study group said they would definitely switch careers if they could[19]. The number one method listed by pastors for dealing with extreme stress and burnout is “getting out[20].” Given that many communities are already dealing with a shortage of pastors, with some pastors having to cover more than one parish, pastors leaving ministry due to burnout is a tragedy indeed.

Between 17 percent and 30 percent of pastors admit to engaging in dangerous coping methods such as alcohol or other “substances” to manage ministry stress[21].

 

The Causes of Ministerial Burnout

 

Too many leaders leave seminary and enter the ministry with clearly unrealistic expectations. This “role dysphoria”, which happens when talents and role expectations do not line up with the actual duties of the position, can quickly lead to frustration and burnout. Often the pastoral role is ill defined and varies by church, denomination and geographical area.

Several studies named “loneliness” as a key factor in clergy burnout[22]. Pastors reported not having friends or support systems or anyone outside the church to talk to. Spouses reported higher loneliness, but that could be because clergy are trying to appear “more spiritual.” Loneliness could be due to high expectations of the congregation[23], or inability to be completely transparent with people in the church. Rural pastors have a unique problem with loneliness due to depopulation of rural areas, and subsequent shrinking of their church membership as jobs move overseas[24].

Pastors consistently rated “church conflict” and “high demand” churches as major stressors. This conflict tends to become personal and persistent in nature, affecting the pastor’s home and personal life[25].

Modernization has also had several noticeable effects on the way we carry out ministry[26]. First, church attendance continues to be in decline in many countries around the globe[27]. Secondly, our contemporary parishioners may be more inclined to recognize secular authority over ecclesiastical authority. Thirdly, the church has adopted more secular (democratic) methods of governing that decrease the authority of the pastor[28]. Lastly, consumerism has also made its way into the walls of the church. Congregants may believe that they are “paying a pastor for goods and services” which they arbitrarily define[29].

One of the toughest times in a pastor’s life and ministry is when he or she is called upon to minister through a time of tragedy that affects their congregants and affects them personally[30]. This can happen when a hurricane, earthquake or other natural disaster strikes, causing loss of life and property. This can happen when a community has suffered a devastating act of violence, such as a mass shooting. The pastor may have lost their home or a friend or family member. Yet, the minister will still be expected to counsel their parishioners, to help congregants and community members find resources such as housing and food. The minister may feel obligated to ignore their own needs, to focus on the needs of others or of his or her own family. Pastors are visible public figures who are expected to outwardly present a message of hope no matter what they are personally going through. This is a particularly dangerous time for clergy marriages[31], which can fall apart due to neglect[32].

Pastors tend to be massive workaholics spending an average of 55 hours a week at the church office, but only 27 waking hours per week with their families[33]. This imbalance leads to increased family dysfunction, family breakdown and inability to cope. Many pastors report not having enough time to do all that they are expected to do. They definitely lack the time for reflection or self-care.

Burnout has been defined as “the result of mental fatigue.” Serving a congregation can be extremely emotionally draining[34]. This exhaustion is called “Compassion Fatigue”[35] and “Secondary Traumatic Stress” which describes the emotional drain that happens just by hearing and walking through the horror stories and the trauma of the people we counsel. Compassion fatigue has been found to come on suddenly as opposed to burnout which seems to build up over time.

Clergy members are “wearing too many hats.[36]” Possibly due to the breakdown of civil services, pastors are picking up a lot of counseling and social services. Even when other options are available, pastors feel obligated to self sacrifice. Since the church is one of the only multi-dimensional resource centers, parishioners are often going to their pastor before any other professionals. Pastors find themselves doing marriage, addiction and mental health counseling[37]. Pastors are helping people find resources such as housing, clothing and food. Pastor’s wives report working to keep the house, raise children and complete various “expectations” of the pastor’s wife[38].

Without clear boundaries, a pastor and their family suffers “boundary ambiguity” and becomes completely enmeshed in their parishioner’s lives and problems[39]. There is no life “outside of church.”  This can cause pastors to feel that they cannot leave town for vacations or family get togethers because their parishioners need them too much. On the other hand, pastors tend to uproot and move every few years, possibly due to burnout[40]. Each time the minister moves, they suffer the loss of their entire “world” (enmeshed environment within the church) and must start all over.

Pastors report having too few resources including finances. Pastors and their spouses tend to be well educated. However, the average salary for a minister in the United States has not changed in over 20 years[41]. Some cannot afford to seek professional help for themselves or their marriage. They cannot afford ongoing training or vacations.

 

Proposed Methods to Prevent or Treat Ministerial Burnout

 

Over and over again, studies have proven that spiritual resources were the most important factor is surviving ministry over the long haul[42]. Pastors who maintained the regular religious disciplines of attending worship services, prayer, and Bible study reported much lower levels of depression and burnout than pastors who did not regularly engage in spiritual practices[43]. This was the same for clergy spouses, however, pastor’s spouses reported feeling like they had fewer spiritual resources that the clergy person had[44].

Ministers need a strong commitment to physical and mental health, exercise, healthy eating, seeing the doctor regularly, sleeping, and taking vacations. Self-care needs to become a habit. Pastors who have survived burnout and have bounced back highly recommend taking sabbaticals and other times away to reflect and recover[45].

Finding a way to limit the enmeshment and put strong boundaries in place between church and home is crucial. This is part and parcel of reassessing priorities and committing to better time management. A pastor’s marriage and family have to have quality and quantity of time.

Strong support structures outside of the church can help a pastor adapt and flex to withstand adversity. This support structure should include ministry peers, the minister’s family, and perhaps a professional therapist. A minister needs to have a person they can speak honestly with and just be heard[46]. However, this should not spiral into a “venting” coping mechanism that becomes merely a focus on the negative. Also, this support structure should include the “secular” social services resources that exist in the community. The pastor must stop trying to “do it all.”[47]

Denominations and congregations need to implement more holistic training[48] at the seminary level. Young students need experienced mentors[49] who can guide them on how to cope with stress and how to develop reasonable boundaries[50]. Interventions can also be done when a pastor is in the middle of a ministry crisis[51]. In patient short term therapy has proven effective as well as sabbaticals[52]. Pastors also need ongoing training and support long after seminary. The key is to intervene with a variety of methods, not an either/or.

Job satisfaction, a feeling of being successful, of having control and having choices is so important to avoiding burnout[53]. Burnout can come with a feeling of powerlessness and failure. Ministers who had a strong internal sense of their own goals, their own calling and their own “merits” did much better in fighting off depression and burnout[54]. Those who adhered to external criteria for success, such as congregants’ expectations, tended to become frustrated and hopeless over time[55].

Pastors who scored higher in hope and resiliency had drastically lower levels of stress and burnout[56]. The innate challenges of ministry did not go away. Instead, the minister learned how to reframe difficult circumstances as a positive[57]. He or she could still envision a future where their internal goals could be met. Hope does not seem to be an inborn trait, but rather a fluctuating coping ability that gets stronger with conscious use. Hope and resiliency can come from learning how to recognize Christ in every situation.

 

In conclusion

 

Researchers agree that there has not been nearly enough study done in the area of ministerial burnout[58]. Since pastors are key figures in our churches, in our family lives and in our communities, it benefits us all when we learn how to better serve those who serve the church.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Abernethy, Alexis D., Gillian D. Grannum, Carolyn L. Gordon, Rick Williamson, and Joseph M. Currier. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” Spirituality in Clinical Practice3, no. 3 (2016): 175-86. doi:10.1037/scp0000109.

Adams, Christopher J., Holly Hough, Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, Jia Yao, and Melanie Kolkin. “Clergy Burnout: A Comparison Study with Other Helping Professions.” Pastoral Psychology66, no. 2 (2016): 147-75. doi:10.1007/s11089-016-072

Bevere, John. The Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense. Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2014.

Blanton, Priscilla W., and M. Lane Morris. “Work-Related Predictors of Physical Symptomatology and Emotional Well-Being among Clergy and Spouses.” Review of Religious Research40, no. 4 (1999): 331. doi:10.2307/3512120.

Chandler, Diane J. “Pastoral Burnout and the Impact of Personal Spiritual Renewal, Rest-taking, and Support System Practices.” Pastoral Psychology58, no. 3 (2008): 273-87. doi:10.1007/s11089-008-0184-4.

Darling, Carol Anderson, E. Wayne Hill, and Lenore M. Mcwey. “Understanding Stress and Quality of Life for Clergy and Clergy Spouses.” Stress and Health20, no. 5 (2004): 261-77. doi:10.1002/smi.1031.

Doolittle, Benjamin R. “The Impact of Behaviors upon Burnout Among Parish-Based Clergy.” Journal of Religion and Health49, no. 1 (2008): 88-95. doi:10.1007/s10943-008-9217-7.

Edwards, GeneA Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness. Augusta, ME, United States: Christian Books, 1980.

Fallon, Barry, Simon Rice, and Joan Wright Howie. “Factors That Precipitate and Mitigate Crises in Ministry.” Pastoral Psychology62, no. 1 (2012): 27-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0486-4.

Feuerherd, Peter. “Groups Aim to Help Pastors and Strengthen Parishes.” National Catholic Reporter, July 15, 2016.

Harbaugh, Gary L., and Evan Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout: A View from the Seminary.” Journal of Pastoral Care38, no. 2 (1984): 99-106. doi:10.1177/002234098403800204.

Lee, Cameron. “Dispositional Resiliency and Adjustment in Protestant Pastors: A Pilot Study.” Pastoral Psychology59, no. 5 (2010): 631-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-010-0283-x.

Maslach, C. (2003). Job burnout: New directions in research and intervention. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12(5), 189–192. Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W. B., & Leiter, M. P. (2001). Job burnout. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 397–422.

Miner, Maureen H. “Changes in Burnout over the First 12 Months in Ministry: Links with Stress and Orientation to Ministry.” Mental Health, Religion & Culture10, no. 1 (2007): 9-16. doi:10.1080/13674670600841819.

Miner, M. H., Dowson, M. and Sterland, S. (2010), “Ministry orientation and ministry outcomes: Evaluation of a new multidimensional model of clergy burnout and job satisfaction.” Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 83: 167-188. doi:10.1348/096317909X414214

Muse, Stephen, Milton Love, and Kyle Christensen. “Intensive OutPatient Therapy for Clergy Burnout: How Much Difference Can a Week Make?” Journal of Religion and Health55, no. 1 (2015): 147-58. doi:10.1007/s10943-015-0013-x.

Ochberg, Frank. When Helping Hurts: Preventing and Treating Compassion Fatigue. Gift from Within, 2006.

Palmer. Let Your Life Speak. Listening for the Voice of Vocation. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2009.

Randall, Kelvin J. “Clergy Burnout: Two Different Measures.” Pastoral Psychology62, no. 3 (2013): 333-41. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0506-4. 01/03/2013

Roll, Steve. Holy Burnout: Turning Brokenness into Blessing, through the Power of Gods Restoring Love. Tulsa, OK: Virgil W. Hensley, 1996.

Scott, Greg, and Rachel Lovell. “The Rural Pastors Initiative: Addressing Isolation and Burnout in Rural Ministry.” Pastoral Psychology64, no. 1 (2014): 71-97. doi:10.1007/s11089-013-0591-z.

Shelley, Marshall. Well-intentioned Dragons: Ministering to Problem People in the Church. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1994.

Sullivan, James E. The Good Listener. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2000.

Visker, Joseph D., Taylor Rider, and Anastasia Humphers-Ginther. “Ministry-Related Burnout and Stress Coping Mechanisms Among Assemblies of God-Ordained Clergy in Minnesota.” Journal of Religion and Health56, no. 3 (2016): 951-61. doi:10.1007/s10943-016-0295-7.

Warner, Janelle, and John D. Carter. “Loneliness, Marital Adjustment and Burnout in Pastoral and Lay Persons.” Journal of Psychology and Theology12, no. 2 (1984): 125-31. doi:10.1177/009164718401200206.

Wells, Carl R. “The Effects of Work-Related and Boundary-Related Stress on the Emotional and Physical Health Status of Ordained Clergy.” Pastoral Psychology62, no. 1 (2012): 101-14. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0455-y.

[1] Abernethy, Alexis D., Gillian D. Grannum, Carolyn L. Gordon, Rick Williamson, and Joseph M. Currier. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” Spirituality in Clinical Practice3, no. 3 (2016): 175-86. doi:10.1037/scp0000109.

 

[2] Maslach, C. (2003). Job burnout: New directions in research and intervention. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12(5), 189–192. Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W. B., & Leiter, M. P. (2001). Job burnout. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 397–422.

 

[3] Randall, Kelvin J. “Clergy Burnout: Two Different Measures.” Pastoral Psychology62, no. 3 (2013): 333-41. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0506-4. 01/03/2013

 

[4] Warner, Janelle, and John D. Carter. “Loneliness, Marital Adjustment and Burnout in Pastoral and Lay Persons.” Journal of Psychology and Theology12, no. 2 (1984): 125-31. doi:10.1177/009164718401200206.

 

[5] Adams, Christopher J., Holly Hough, Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, Jia Yao, and Melanie Kolkin. “Clergy Burnout: A Comparison Study with Other Helping Professions.” Pastoral Psychology66, no. 2 (2016): 147-75. doi:10.1007/s11089-016-072

 

[6] Blanton, Priscilla W., and M. Lane Morris. “Work-Related Predictors of Physical Symptomatology and Emotional Well-Being among Clergy and Spouses.” Review of Religious Research40, no. 4 (1999): 331. doi:10.2307/3512120.

 

[7] Randall, “Clergy Burnout”, 334

 

[8] Lee, Cameron. “Dispositional Resiliency and Adjustment in Protestant Pastors: A Pilot Study.” Pastoral Psychology59, no. 5 (2010): 631-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-010-0283-x.

 

[9][9][9] Miner, Maureen H. “Changes in Burnout over the First 12 Months in Ministry: Links with Stress and Orientation to Ministry.” Mental Health, Religion & Culture10, no. 1 (2007): 9-16. doi:10.1080/13674670600841819.[10]

Harbaugh and Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout” 101

 

[11] Randall, “Clergy Burnout”, 337

[12] Lee, Cameron. “Dispositional Resiliency and Adjustment in Protestant Pastors: A Pilot Study.” Pastoral Psychology59, no. 5 (2010): 631-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-010-0283-x.

 

[13] Lee, Dispositional Resiliency” 341

 

[14] Lee, “Dispositional Resiliency.” 339

[16] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 182

 

[17] Lee, Cameron. “Dispositional Resiliency and Adjustment in Protestant Pastors: A Pilot Study.” Pastoral Psychology59, no. 5 (2010): 631-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-010-0283-x.

 

[18] Lee, “Dispositional Resiliency” 334

 

[19] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 185

 

[20] Randall, “Clergy Burnout”, 340

 

[21] Harbaugh and Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout” 101

 

[22] Harbaugh, Gary L., and Evan Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout: A View from the Seminary.” Journal of Pastoral Care38, no. 2 (1984): 99-106. doi:10.1177/002234098403800204.

 

[23] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 183

 

[24] Scott, Greg, and Rachel Lovell. “The Rural Pastors Initiative: Addressing Isolation and Burnout in Rural Ministry.” Pastoral Psychology64, no. 1 (2014): 71-97. doi:10.1007/s11089-013-0591-z.

 

[25] Bevere, John. The Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense. Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2014.

 

[26] Lee, Cameron. “Dispositional Resiliency and Adjustment in Protestant Pastors: A Pilot Study.” Pastoral Psychology59, no. 5 (2010): 631-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-010-0283-x.

 

[27] Harbaugh and Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout” 105

 

[28] Visker, Joseph D., Taylor Rider, and Anastasia Humphers-Ginther. “Ministry-Related Burnout and Stress Coping Mechanisms Among Assemblies of God-Ordained Clergy in Minnesota.” Journal of Religion and Health56, no. 3 (2016): 951-61. doi:10.1007/s10943-016-0295-7.

 

[29] Shelley, Marshall. Well-intentioned Dragons: Ministering to Problem People in the Church. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1994.

 

[30] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 180

 

[31] Warner and Carter,  “Loneliness, Marital Adjustment,” 130

 

[32] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 180

 

[33] Darling, Carol Anderson, E. Wayne Hill, and Lenore M. Mcwey. “Understanding Stress and Quality of Life for Clergy and Clergy Spouses.” Stress and Health20, no. 5 (2004): 261-77. doi:10.1002/smi.1031.

 

[34] Blanton and Morris, “Work-Related Predictors,” 331

 

[35] Ochberg, Frank. When Helping Hurts: Preventing and Treating Compassion Fatigue. Gift from Within, 2006.

 

[36] [36] Scott and Lovell. “The Rural Pastors Initiative,” 78

 

[37] Fallon, et al. “Factors That Precipitate and Mitigate.” 38

 

[38] Warner and Carter,  “Loneliness, Marital Adjustment,” 130

 

[39]  Scott and Lovell. “The Rural Pastors Initiative,” 93

38Fallon, Barry, Simon Rice, and Joan Wright Howie. “Factors That Precipitate and Mitigate Crises in Ministry.” Pastoral Psychology62, no. 1 (2012): 27-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0486-4.

 

[40] Fallon, et al. “Factors That Precipitate and Mitigate,” 36

[42]  Scott and Lovell. “The Rural Pastors Initiative,” 95-96

 

[43] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 180

 

[44] Warner and Carter,  “Loneliness, Marital Adjustment,” 135

 

[45] Fallon, Barry, Simon Rice, and Joan Wright Howie. “Factors That Precipitate and Mitigate Crises in Ministry.” Pastoral Psychology62, no. 1 (2012): 27-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0486-4.

 

[46] Sullivan, James E. The Good Listener. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2000.

 

[47] Doolittle, Benjamin R. “The Impact of Behaviors upon Burnout Among Parish-Based Clergy.” Journal of Religion and Health49, no. 1 (2008): 88-95. doi:10.1007/s10943-008-9217-7.

 

[48] Harbaugh and Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout” 101

 

[49] Miner, “Changes in Burnout.” 10

 

[50] Randall, “Clergy Burnout”, 337

 

[51] Feuerherd, Peter. “Groups Aim to Help Pastors and Strengthen Parishes.” National Catholic Reporter, July 15, 2016.

 

[52] Muse, Stephen, Milton Love, and Kyle Christensen. “Intensive OutPatient Therapy for Clergy Burnout: How Much Difference Can a Week Make?” Journal of Religion and Health55, no. 1 (2015): 147-58. doi:10.1007/s10943-015-0013-x.

 

[53] Harbaugh and Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout” 101

 

[54] Palmer. Let Your Life Speak. Listening for the Voice of Vocation. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2009.

 

[55] Doolittle, Benjamin R. “The Impact of Behaviors upon Burnout Among Parish-Based Clergy.” Journal of Religion and Health49, no. 1 (2008): 88-95. doi:10.1007/s10943-008-9217-7.

 

[56] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 180

 

[57] Edwards, GeneA Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness. Augusta, ME, United States: Christian Books, 1980.

 

[58] Warner and Carter,  “Loneliness, Marital Adjustment,” 130

 

cover

Some information—the very important turns and changes in the ministry, whether they be leadership changes, curriculum or scheduling changes—must be clearly communicated to the parents and leaders. But how do you go about relaying it to parents and volunteers? You are going to have to be strategic, persistent, and consistent to get information across. So I encourage you to use some or all of these methods to convey information:

  1. Use live meetings with a big group sparingly. Mass meetings are not a method to use weekly. They should be only by used to convey something of great importance (examples: major curriculum change, service times change, key leader stepping down, brand new security procedures that affect everyone). That way, when you call a meeting, they will know it’s important.
  2. Advertise it at least one month in advance, and advertise it in many ways.
  3. Be specific. Who is supposed to be present? When you say “parent meeting,” is that all parents? Parents of kids up to twelve years old? Parents are understandably irritated if they clear their schedule (especially if they paid a sitter) to go to your important meeting, only to find out you didn’t mean them. Which volunteers did you need at this training and why? Be specific about the location. Can anyone find that room if they are new? What time is it? Is there child care provided? How long will the meeting be? Indicate why the meeting is important, like a leadership or curriculum change, but don’t go into too much detail. One church I visited handed out a leaflet during the service that said, “Parent meeting right after service in the choir room.” Parents were in a mass of confusion. I heard them saying, “Meeting right after which service?” “Why do we have to go? Is the pastor leaving?” “I’m a parent of two junior-highers. Do I have to go?” “I’m new. Where on earth is the choir room?” That parent meeting was a total disaster. I heard that the youth pastor who called the meeting never made that mistake again. But sadly the congregation didn’t forget it soon either.
  4. Be respectful of people’s time. I didn’t fully understand this when I was a new children’s pastor, but now that I have kids of my own, it makes more sense. For example, do everything in your power not to take another night of the week. Parents and volunteers are already, on average, gone at least five nights a week with church, sports, recitals, plays, and so on. If you pick a night during the week, unless it is an emergency meeting, many will not be there. And the ones who show up want a sense that this was important to take some of the only family time they might have that whole week. Try to have the meeting when they are at church already—first service, if you have two (this takes care of someone to watch their kids too); directly after a service (some will complain about lunch); before or after midweek service (some will complain if it gets late for their kids to be out on a school night). No matter when you pick, someone will complain, so you cannot please everyone, but try to be considerate. They will already be resentful of you if they feel you do not care about their family time, and you need them on your team!
  5. I do not recommend sending out a survey asking what time to have the meeting. You will get thirty-seven different answers; one person will get their way (and probably not show up) and the rest will think, “no one cares that I filled out the survey” and not show up. I personally ask one or two people I trust and then make a decision and stick with it.
  6. This is going to sound awful, like bribery, because it is bribery, but we always have more people show up when we offer food. So we offer refreshments if we really need people to hear what we have to say. Advertise that you will have refreshments!

Please stay tuned for next week’s part 2! What are your best tips for getting your team to trainings and your parents to parent meetings? Love and blessings- Trisha