Archives for posts with tag: family

“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

 

Are you ready for Christmas yet?  YIKES! How did it sneak up on us so quickly?? I hope during this season we thank God for all of the blessings in our lives……

Are you perhaps, one of the many this year having a bit of trouble trying to describe last year??  For MANY people I have been talking to, this was a tough year financially, tough on the job, tough on family relationships.  Holidays and heartache are a rough combination. Let me just bring up for a moment, a famous Christmas character’s name- the name “Ebenezer”.  Did you know that it is a Bible name?

Most people associate the name Ebenezer with Scrooge and Christmas.  But the name originates in the Old Testament- when someone followed God’s leading, through tough times and good times, on to what God had for them- they would set up a large stone to help them remember.  The stone was called, “Ebenezer” or “thus far the Lord has helped me.”  Meaning, every time you looked at that rock, you would remember just how far God has brought you. They would go out year and after year and show their kids the Ebenezer rock and say, “See kids- this is how far God brought us.”  God brought his people through darkness, war, plague, deserts- and He was with them every moment every step.  And when they finally took that promised ground, through a lot of tears and pain, they would set up that big rock to help them remember always, “This is how far our God brought us.”

For too many of my friends, this was a year of severe high and lows.  And there were battles, victories, wounds etc.  I have lived some very tough years in the past as well. It amazed me how God walked with us through every battle, and provided even miraculously for us. He didn’t spare us the deserts, but He went alongside us and lit up the nights.  I can honestly say, when I look back over my life, “Ebenezer- look how far God has brought us.”

Maybe you can’t look back at 2018 and say, “What a prosperous year” or “What a fun year”  or “best year of my life”  but many of us can say- just look how far God has brought me now!  And what better time than Christmas to share a story or two with your kids about your own family’s Ebenezer- tell them how far God has brought your family and what He has brought you THROUGH.

The best part of all this is hope- the spirit of Christmas indeed.  The hope –the CERTAINTY that the same God Who has brought us through will bring us on to even greater things; and He’ll be with us all the way.  What has God brought you through this year?  When you set up your tree this year, (along with a leaner Christmas perhaps), don’t forget to set up your family Ebenezer- and rejoice.  Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare  and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

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Ask ministry leaders about their main frustrations and most will answer through clenched teeth “Fundraising!” Next to recruiting, fundraising is arguably going to take up quite a bit of your time in your ministry. Ministries are often required to raise some of their own support every year. Unfortunately, parents, kids and ministry leaders all seem to report “fundraising overload/burnout”, due to so MANY asks for money, from every imaginable side. For example, my kid’s school has them selling candles for the book club. The Lion’s Club is selling tootsie rolls on the roadside by the school. The VFW is selling Memorial flowers outside of Walmart. The girl scouts are selling cookies (so awesome) door to door. My husband’s work is selling candy bars for Muscular Dystrophy. A relative of mine is raising money for her missions trip to Honduras. And my Facebook feed is literally CLOGGED with fundraising for orphanages, schools, wells, cancer research, etc etc etc. And it is in the middle of this information/money asking OVERLOAD that you are having to fundraise for YOUR ministry/event. I understand. I have been there. And in an effort to help, I have collected just a few of the best ideas that we have used at our church, or that I have personally seen work at my colleague’s churches. Some are pretty WILD!!!! I will include the links to these programs for more information if possible. Please comment below with the best fundraising ideas that have worked for YOU and your  ministry. And God bless your work for Jesus and His kids!! OK- here goes.

My Current Top Ten List of PROVEN Ministry Fundraisers-

10. Pizza Ranch serving- If you have a Pizza Ranch near you (Christian-owned Pizza Buffet chain), they offer a special fundraiser, that you and your team can serve food and bus tables for one evening. Then you and your ministry receive a certain percentage of the profits from that night. I have heard of ministries making a great deal of money- some even meeting their event budget- in one evening. And who doesn’t love Pizza Ranch? If you do not have a Pizza Ranch near you, go talk to some of the local restaurants in your town and just ASK them if they would do the same. You are driving people to their business that night- and both of you will benefit!  https://pizzaranch.com/community/fundraising

Krispy Kreme- Our church purchased a bulk load of Krispy Kreme donuts through their fundraising program and then sold them on a Sunday morning at our church. Yes, they sold extremely well. 🙂 We made enough money to send most of our kids to summer camp in that one day. https://krispykreme.com/fundraising/home

Papa Murphy’s Pizza- Yes, I’m seeing how many of these have to do with food! We purchased 240 coupon books through Papa Murphy’s fundraising program and sold them for 11 dollars each, clearning 2,400 dollars for our winter kid’s ministry outreach. And we finished selling them in about 10 days. We ended up doing this 3 years in a row because it worked so well. https://www.groupraise.com/papamurphys

Walmart Matching- Walmart has a program where they will “match” a certain amount of money you raise selling things (approved first) on their property. Now some churches have told me that their Walmart did not help churches, only other non-profits. But our Walmart does and I know of another few that will. The way it works is, you apply for a time slot and get approved first. Then you sell your product on that day, and Walmart matches a certain amount of the money raised. We sold brats (WISCONSIN!!) and made a good amount of money which Walmart matched 50% of. We used this to raise money for a missions trip.  http://giving.walmart.com/apply-for-grants/

“Crowdfunding”- There are a lot of success stories out there-and also a lot of misconceptions- about internet crowdfunding. There are now so many online charities competing for funds. And you CANNOT just put up a page and forget about it, assuming your funds will just roll in. If you go through kickstarter, gofundme, or a similar crowdfunding site, you will need to put time and effort into writing a compelling appeal. You will also need to offer SOMETHING at the $10, $25, $100 donation level etc. You will need to stay on top of sharing that page EVERYWHERE. You will need to keep posting continual updates, and constant sharing in every place on the internet that you possibly can. Also, you will need to write thank-yous to those who donate. I was able to raise 3000 in 16 days for my first book project. It was amazing, but it was a lot more work than I thought. http://www.kickstarter.com

Family Movie Night Concessions- A surprisingly successful outreach for our church has been the family movie night. We got our hands on a brand new movie (or through the company, one that is ABOUT to be released on DVD), and then we show it on our big screen at the church. We offer it free to families. And we usually PACK OUT. Families have said that they do not have enough family friendly activities that they can do together, and/or that they can afford. We then sell concessions for the movie, which usually brings in a decent amount of money for kid’s ministry missions.

Jewelry Sale- “Destiny Point” is a home for hurting women who need rehabilitation, safety and hope. They hand make jewelry pieces for mere pennies and then they sell this jewelry at a great profit. They sell the jewelry at various women’s events throughout my state. I have heard that they raise a lot of money this way every year to support the ministry. https://destinypoint.net/

Flower Sale- A student ministries pastor I know does this unique money-maker every year. First she collects and “pots” as many flowers as she can. She has people from the church who will let her come over and take a few flowers from their gardens/yards. Then they have a community flower sale every spring. They typically clear 1400-1700 on that one day which funds her ministry most of the year! If you are good with gardening, this may be the one for you?

“The Talents” Investing- OK. This has got to be one of the wildest ones I have ever heard. A pastor just 11 miles from where I live, decided to do something radical. He literally gave every person in the church $100. He then preached on the parable of the talents. He asked every person to go turn that 100 into more money and then bring that money back. Full disclosure- I thought this was completely nuts. I was wrong. His parisioners used the money to do bake sales, brat frys, etc. etc. When all the money was returned with extra, the church was able to pay off their entire new sanctuary- DEBT FREE. I am not recommending your DO this, but WOW. It paid off for them.

Family Circus- My friend, children’s pastor Ben Christiansen, just did a “family circus” and CLEARED 15000 in ONE EVENING for kid’s ministry missions. He’s willing to go to other churches to raise missions money for YOU too. Interested? Check out all the details on my show “The Peach Buzz”, this week’s episode “How He Cleared 15000 in One Day for Missions.” Like, Share and Subscribe! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRpHPfboBJc

Well, what do you think? Please comment below with YOUR favorite fundraiser! Let us know if you have tried, are going to try any of these and how they go! God bless you and all you do for Jesus and His kids-

Love Trisha

 

 

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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Great leaders need to consistently lead THEMSELVES well. When you wake up in the morning, you have the privilege of piloting an amazing body and soul crafted by God Himself. He loves you and gifted you uniquely to serve. Too often leaders think they have to neglect their own growth in order to truly put others first. Here are a few statistics from 2016, churchleadership.com, that should make us all stop and think!

  • 79% of Evangelical and Reformed pastors are happier personally
  • 88% of churches are treating their pastors better, too
  • 88% have a high view of Christ
  • 75% are better at their spiritual formation
  • 57% are more satisfied in their calling
  • However, 54% of pastors still work over 55 hours a week
  • 57% can’t pay their bills
  • 54% are overworked and 43% are overstressed
  • 53% feel seminary had not properly prepared them for the task.
  • 35% battle depression
  • 26% are overly fatigued
  • 28% are spiritually undernourished and 9% are burnt-out
  • 23% are still distant to their families
  • 18% work more than 70 hours a week and face unreasonable challenges
  • 12% are belittled.
  • 3% have had an affair
  • Yet, 90% feel honored to be a pastor!  Read more here:  http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?blogid=4545&view=post&articleid=Statistics-on-Pastors-2016-Update&link=1&fldKeywords=&fldAuthor=&fldTopic=0

But, to truly give of yourself to others, and to do quality ministry to more people over time, we must learn to invest in ourselves. In other words, you need to “fill up” if you are going to continually give out. It is such a misnomer, the old idea that you “finish school” and then minister until retirement. Really, we should never stop learning and growing. The people, the generations, that we are called to reach are rapidly changing. We must continually be growing or we will rapidly become burned out and ineffective. The following are 10 steps YOU can take right now to grow as a person and as a leader. #1 is by FAR the most important.

10. Never stop learning. Always include ongoing training in your plans- no matter how long you have been in ministry. You can go back for a degree (I’m currently in a Master’s Program online through Bethel Seminary in Children’s and Family Ministries). You can even audit a class or two. Some denominations (including mine) offer district training events. There are also online training “academies” on a variety of subjects. Just be aware that some are accredited and some are not. You may even want to go forward pursuing your ministerial credentials with your church, if you haven’t already. A friend of mine got a certificate in counseling; another friend got a tragedy response certificate.

9. Make your day off HAPPEN. Most ministry leaders are BUSY. So many tell me, “Trish you just don’t GET IT. I CAN’T take even one day off. It’s impossible.” And I always tell them, “I’ve been on staff at a very large church. Yes, I totally get it. But your church was trained to act a certain way; and they can be trained to act a different way.” Remember, you are daily teaching others how to treat you. Put a higher price tag on your health! Put the same amount of planning into having a day off as you put into Sundays or outreaches. I plan ahead. I have an auto responder for my email. I have a voicemail that lets people know I am NOT available and who to call in my absence. Only my admin has my personal phone number and she knows to NEVER give it out. She only notifies me if it is a REAL emergency. You need a sharp person who understands a real emergency.

8. Take care of your health- For my senior project in my undergrad, I studied, “The occupational hazards of ministry”. I was horrified to discover that pastors have a MUCH higher rate than the general population of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and depression. I believe that stress, long work hours and the fallout of poorly handled church conflict takes a catastrophic toll on your body. We may just be figuring, “Well, I’m doing God’s work, so God will just have to fix me.” Jesus also taught us not to jump off buildings and expect angels to catch us before we hit the ground. You will not be as effective as a pastor if you health- mental or physical- is a wreck. We pastors do not like going to get help for ourselves. We do not always have health insurance. But it is imperative that we keep taking good care of the body God has entrusted us with. This means taking the time to eat nutritious food (Gluttony is the only sin we openly promote and laugh about in our churches). Exercise should become your lifeline. Exercise helps with preventing and treating diabetes, heart disease, stress AND depression. Going to the doctor for regular check ups helps us face the reality of where we are at physically as well as mentally. We as leaders need to stop having a “martyr” mentality about our health. Instead of “sacrificing” our health for our “flock”, we can serve others so much better, for many more years, if we are physically and mentally well.

7. Take care of  your family life- This may sound harsh, but chances are you will not be in your current position of leadership for life. In fact, the statistics tell us that most leaders only last between 18 months and 3.5 years in a position. That is so sad. But no matter what the reasons, church positions may come and go, but your MARRIAGE is supposed to last forever. Your family is supposed to remain standing when the smoke clears. That is why your family needs to come before work at the church. No outreach or event is worth damaging your marriage or the self worth of your child. If your life is out of balance to the point that you are missing date nights and all of your child’s “big” events (not just one or two), then you need to do an overhaul on your schedule. If your family is your priority, then your weekly schedule needs to reflect that. When is your regular date night? When is your family night? You should be taking every one of your paid days off as well. Again, the “martyr” complex of not taking your days off because “the church needs you” is a mistake. Your family needs you. And they need you at your best.

6. Become a ninja at time management- Most of us have a lot more control over our schedules then we realize. We not to stop the false mentality that we are helpless victims of our chaotic circumstances. The old adage applies, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” It does not help to HOPE that someday your senior leader notices how stressed out you are and makes sure you get a quiet day off. That is probably will not happen. YOU have to work at laying out that schedule. It is WORTH it to spend an hour or two on a Thursday planning out your whole next week, hour by hour. Group your phone calls together. Group all emails together. Things are aren’t planned for just don’t seem to get done. It IS a lot of work to get your schedule under control. But how much do you really want balance in your life, home and ministry? Pray hard and tackle that schedule. YOU CAN get the life you are hoping for- you are just going to have to work at it.

Please stay tuned for Part 2 next week, where I’ll be writing you from Henryetta Oklahoma! I am flying down to help out my sister in law who is battling an aggressive cancer. Your prayers are greatly appreciated! God bless! love Trisha

 

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This past week, I heard several people on social media broach the subject of Christians and child adoption. One young lady said, “Christians are only pro-life until the embryo is born, then they couldn’t care less about the child or the mom.” Another responded with, “You can’t be pro-life when so many kids are stuck in the foster system with no family.” And yet another, “I cannot understand why so called Christians refuse to adopt any of these kids they claim to care about.”

I am interested in this topic because I am a Christian, a children’s pastor, a parent AND my sister and brother in law are adopting this beautiful angel- Eva Marie Hope. I also

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have several good Christian friends who have adopted children. I very much would like some of them to weigh in on this, as well as adults who grew up in foster care, to hear from those who have first hand experience.

I am 100 percent FOR adoption. Each of us is adopted by God after all. I am thrilled to see a rising interest in adoption by Christians and churches alike (our church celebrates an “adoption day”.

My experience tells me that more Christians have not adopted children for many different reasons. The assumption that Christians do not WANT to adopt or are not interested in the lives of at risk children just does not seem to be accurate to me. Here are a few reasons that Christians may not adopt, that have nothing to do with apathy.

  1. MONEY- If you did not know, adoption is INCREDIBLY expensive. Yes, the costs vary from state to state, and from agency to agency. But overall, these costs can be prohibitive for the average person. My sister was literally told by one agency “It would not be worth it to apply until you can show at least 20,000 in your bank account.” YIKES! This was impossible for them. Overseas adoption was creeping up on 50,000 from certain countries. A friend of mine had a private open adoption, and the costs still went over 10000. Parents determined to adopt may be forced to go instead to foster care and HOPE they can someday adopt. My sister went this route twice before this. She ended up adopting privately through a girl she met at church- a private adoption, but it still cost 18,000+. Anyone else feel like we are SELLING CHILDREN HERE? Why are these costs so high? I am honestly asking. It seems we are limiting adoption to the rich, as if rich people are somehow better parents.
  2. RACISM and DISCRIMINATION- This may be a very controversial section of this           blog. And I’m certainly open to other perspectives on this one. But it is a fact that certain children, in certain states cost MORE than other children, based entirely on the color of their skin or the state of a disability or their gender or age. For example, white female babies in some areas are considered “very desirable” and therefore cost more. My sister was told that Americans want to adopt girls because we think they will be “easier” to raise. They told her that if she would consider a child of color, or a bi-racial child or a child with disabilities the costs would be MUCH cheaper. Someone please explain this to me! This ANGERS me. Isn’t this institutional racism? Isn’t this SELLING CHILDREN? This is appalling!
  3. Unreasonable Requirements- Did you know that most states, adoption agencies have a long list of requirements that you and your spouse must meet in order to adopt. These requirements MAY include, but are not limited to A. Age- you may have to be under the age of 37-40 B. Medical History- Any medical problems on your or your spouse’s record may disqualify you to be an adoptive parent. C. Finances- If you do not have the required money on hand, or your finances are not what the agency considers good, you may be disqualified. D. Size of family- Some agencies will disqualify you if you have ANY children of your own (infertile couples only). Others, such as the one my sister was first using, will not allow you to adopt a BABY if you already have children. E. Single people often have a harder time adopting children F. Sometimes you will be required to be the same race as the child you are adopting. What wild requirements have YOU heard about/encountered? It is my opinion that these requirements disqualify too many people who would be GREAT parents and provide wonderful homes. And children wait in foster care for a person who matches these expectations.
  4. Heartbreak- Due to the high costs of adoption, my sister started with foster care, in hopes of adopting. Both long term placements went almost all the way up to adoption. In both cases, at the very last second, the child went to be with a family member. Even though my sister knew if could happen, and she knew not to get attached, it was still heartbreaking. We have all heard horror stories of adoptive parents thinking everything is fine, only to have the child taken away later. Many brave Christian parents step up every year and take that risk, trying to adopt. But I bet others simply do not want to put their hearts on the line like that with no guarantees. I have never heard my sister sob like that, like when she lost the second child. She described the loss as, “I feel as if I lost a child, but I’m not allowed to mourn publicly. I have no monument to mourn at. No one will be sending us cards or meals. But the pain is still here.”
  5. A Broken Foster System- A lot of attention has been given lately to the problems in our American foster system. It seems that the well being of the children isn’t always top priority to put it lightly. Too often the children suffer due to over regulation, outdated rules, politics, corruption and red tape. I highly suggest reading these articles: http://michellecaldier.houserepublicans.wa.gov/2017/04/18/op-ed-time-reform-broken-foster-care-system/    and ABC’s “Foster Care- Stretched Too Far,” http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=130266.  The state in which I live, proudly asserts, “The best place for a child is with the birth parent.” I have to disagree. The best place for a child is where they are safe, loved and cared for. What about adoptive parent’s rights? As a children’s pastor, I have personally witnessed children returned to abusive homes FAR too soon, only to be abused all over again. Where is the protection for these vulnerable children???
  6. Our culture of Materialism- Sometimes we think we cannot provide all the “stuff” that kids “need.” People matter so much more than stuff. And children can be happy, safe and healthy in a loving home, without all the “stuff.”

How about you? Do you have experience in the foster system? As a foster parent? An adoptive parent? Why do YOU think that more Christians do not adopt? How do you feel about proposed foster/adoption system reforms?

Love and Blessings- Trisha

And if you’d like to hear more about my sister’s journey to adopt Eva, you can read about it HERE: https://www.youcaring.com/erikagoffin-894207

I absolutely LOVE my baby niece!! Love you Peanut!

We all have those special moments in life that stand out in our memory. This week I was delighted and honored to present 4 breakout at CMCONNECT Conference, a conference for children’s and family ministers and volunteers. I had a wonderful time connecting with dear friends in kid’s ministry as well as getting acquainted with new leaders as well. Here are a few of my favorite moments (things said by different leaders) at this year’s CMConnect Conference:

KidMin Charlie: “Everything I have was given to me by my Father. When I am done with my bus or a puppet, I give it away. My Father provided it, why should I charge for it? How many times does My Father need to pay for that puppet? My Father provided that resource and I will pass it along.”

Lori Bertram:

“Faithfully serve an audience of One. You are uniquely situated by God Himself to impact your corner of the globe. Lead from a genuine place.”

“I learned from David to have a heart similar to God, and to trust God’s timing. God gave David promises that were a long time coming. God has perfect timing and HE elevates us, not our own actions. Even during the times it doesn’t make sense, a leader like David waits on God. David went through 8 years of exile. God SCULPTS us in exile. David teaches us to honor people, honor friendships. He teaches us to have a repentant heart. We should repent of sin quickly and worship with abandon.”

“Moses taught me the importance of obedience. To lead, you must completely obey. God sculpted Moses in exile. You cannot lead in human strength; there must be humility. The more God elevates you and your ministry, the lonelier leadership gets. You do not get as many kudos and pats on the back as your leadership grows. Moses had a very tough last year of his life, last year of his ministry. During that year his sister died, there was no water for the people again, Moses lost his temper and angered God when Moses hit the rock and took credit, and then his brother Aaron died too. Obedience is really honoring God. Moses did not obey, he did not honor God in that instance. Did Moses desire human affirmation and feel the people deserved more of a reprimand? We need to know God’s voice. Sacrifice anything else in your life, but never sacrifice your devotional life. There is a specific mantle for YOUR life only. Your receive that mantle in prayer. Be patient with people. Moses teaches us to use a teach approach- EX 34:9-10. God wants to covenant with us, because He loves us so much.”

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Well-child policy.

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

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

Some things we included in ours went something like this:

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

Keep your child home if they have:

Fever over 99, vomiting or diarrhea,runny nose especially with any color of discharge, heavy wet coughs, unexplained rashes, skin infections, impetigo, boils, ringworm, eye infections, childhood diseases such chickenpox, mumps, measles, rubella, pertussis, scarlet fever etc.

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

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

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

NOTE: web20It is extremely important to make sure no parent feels singled out or embarrassed in front of others. Yes you do have to turn some children away if they are too ill, for the safety of all the other children and your workers, but remember to be kind and caring. That poor parent may have had a very rough week and thought “maybe we are well enough now to finally get out” when they just weren’t quite ready. Always use grace and kindness. But keep that kids’ area a “well-child area” as much as you possibly can.

From “Your Children’s Ministry From Scratch” available on Amazon

In our age of technology linking us all across the globe, information and training has never been more accessible or more affordable! Google puts answers at our fingertips, almost instantly. More and more churches are doing their training seminars for staff and volunteers though “webinars”- training done entirely online from the comfort of home or the church building. Webinars have many benefits including low cost, no travel expenses, no time away from home, and flexibility with your own schedule. I love webinars; they are absolutely valuable in reaching and training today’s leaders. I even speak for several webinars. Does that mean that I no longer believe in sending teams away for “off site conferences”? Absolutely not. Traditional conferences still have enormous value, offering what webinars cannot. With a lot of churches in a budget crunch, and so many under resourced children’s ministries leaders, we have to ask, “Are off site conferences worth the expense?” I answer, with a resounding “Yes.” Here’s Why:

 

10. Laser Focus-There are a lot of conferences/trainings out there on every imaginable ministry topic- leadership, outreach, worship, discipleship etc. etc. etc. But if your passion and heartbeat is children’s/family ministry- if the faces of those kids and parents keep you up at night- then nothing beats a children’s/family ministry conference for putting all the best of everything right towards your calling.  Instead of finding one or two things that will benefit your ministry at a website, you will find that most, if not all, of the large group services, worship services, resources and breakouts will directly speak to, equip and impact YOUR ministry right now. There is a lot to be said about the effectiveness of that kind of focus- everything, absolutely everything, applies to your kid’s and family ministry.

9. Resources Galore- Every year, I see several children’s leaders arrive with cash in hand to buy their curriculum, training materials, books, worship DVDs, and supplies for the whole year. These events offer the chance to go through MANY vender booths, talk directly to the creators of many of the products, handle and examine the resources (as opposed to buying online)- all under one roof! And every single thing is for kid’s and family ministries! It’s like Christmas for kid’s ministry leaders.  I even saw a few teams that brought their senior leader WITH them (great idea!) to help them purchase most of what they would need for the next year all at once. Great idea, very efficient.  It also gets your senior leader in the loop, excited about the possibilities and increased vision for the family ministries area! Some booths also offer conference discounts that you can only get at the conference.

8. The Speakers- Quality, dynamic speakers present each year the main sessions at conferences, and live always trumps recorded. There is power in “being there.” Want to hear from the most successful and in-demand children’s/family ministry leaders? You’ll probably find all of them in one place. And every single year, I and my team have been inspired, challenged and encouraged to let God use us in bigger ways! I took so many notes last year at one conference, that I ran out of paper, and had to write on random scraps of paper in my purse.  I still reread those notes several times during the year (some are tear stained).  The impact of those large group services goes on well after the conference is over.

7. The networking- The very best part of off site conferences is NOT the amazing services or breakouts- sorry.  The BEST part of the conference is the networking that happens organically among children’s leaders.  Everywhere I see children’s leaders connecting, exchanging ideas, praying together, commiserating….they’re exchanging emails and Facebook info in the hallways, classrooms, after services, late night activities.  They are bonding over lunch! We are always better when we are working TOGETHER. I have met some of the most amazing friends and ministry collegues at these conferences!

6. College credit- Did you know, that several conferences now offer classes that count for college credit? Awesome right? I highly advise you to check this out on the conference website, especially if you are going or thinking about going after a ministry degree. All of us should we working to do better, to BE better at what we do. Because we have the greatest job on earth!

5. The workshops- Every year, I find so many workshops that I cannot WAIT to attend. In fact, usually there are usually two or three I want to visit every time block, SO my teams split up and each attend a different workshop. Then at lunch or dinner we compare notes and share what we learned.  Coming by yourself? You may find yourself wanting to order copies of certain classes so you don’t have to miss a thing! And some conferences let you pick a “track” of classes to attend: for example, “recruitment” “family ministry” and several more. And if you choose a track, remember you are not locked into that track.  If you see a workshop you really can’t wait to be a part of- go ahead and go! The track gives you great ideas of workshops to benefit your biggest needs.  I think it’s a great new idea that will work well.

4. The activities! – It’s not all “heavy” learning.  There is a lot of fun! Games, demonstrations, giveaways- late night stuff! It is part of the whole experience- touring the area around the convention halls, local attractions (if you like), great food, swimming and more. There is always a lot of laughing and fun to be had even when the classes are NOT in session. This is bonding for your team that is priceless. This bonding flourishes when you get away together.

3. Those amazing God moments in the hallway….  I cannot say enough about this one. I go to a lot of conferences all over the country (USA), and I love seeing children’s leaders praying together in the hallways, workshop leaders praying over people in classrooms after sessions and people having such deep God-conversations over lunches.  One such “God moment” happened to me 3 years ago. Two women I had never known, along with a workshop leader, prayed with me in the hallway. I was so inspired that I went home and finished writing my first book “Your Children’s Ministry From Scratch”- an all inclusive guide, to help children’s leaders launch or rebuild a dynamic kid’s ministry from the ground up.  I referred back to my notes from that conference many times during the long editing and publishing process, and it gave me the courage to keep going.  Since going live on Amazon, the 1st book has already sold over 2000 copies in 11 countries in 4 languages, and has become a mandatory textbook at several universities.  What ministry could God be growing within you right now? Go with an open mind and a ready heart.  And look for God to speak to YOU, in AND out of the services.

2. One on one coaching- CPC (Children’s Pastor’s Conference) offers sign ups for a one on one session with the children’s ministry expert of your choice (from the conference)- the cost of which is FREE with paid registration to the conference. The point is to “Go Home with a Plan!” that you can immediately implement- practical tools and strategies just for you and your situation. Other conferences offer these encounters in a less formal way; CMCONNECT conference gives you the chance to talk with “experts”, rubbing shoulders with them in every hallway. The intimate feel puts everyone on the same level, giving you the chance to really open up to those who have been in your shoes.

1. Team bonding- Effective growing ministries do not grow and thrive from one man (or one woman) shows. The future of your children’s ministry depends on the strength of your TEAM. Want to bond and inspire your team for years to come? A get away is the place to do that. It is so difficult to come home from a conference and try to relay the information to people who weren’t there. There is power in experiencing those moments, the laughs, prayers and tears TOGETHER.  “You had to have been there”.  Your team may just come home solidified as one team, with a strong vision for ministry- and totally stoked to take things to the next level!

Convinced yet? Need more info? Check out these upcoming conferences. I am so excited to be speaking at each of these this spring. If you will be there, please come up and say HI! Do you still love going to offsite conferences? Which is YOUR favorite?

Love Trisha

Children’s Pastor’s Conference- Orlando, FL, Caribe Resort and Conference Center, Jan 24-26, http://www.incm.org/events/

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CMCONNECT Conference- Louisville, KY, Graceland Baptist Church in New Albany, Indiana, February 20-23, https://cmconnect.org/cmconnect-announces-2017-site/

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AGKidMIN Conference-Fort Wayne, IN April 19-21, First Assembly of God (sponsored by the National Assemblies of God), http://kidmin.ag.org/conference/

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“Don’t call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.  Look, I will do something new, now it will spring forth, will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert….” Isaiah 43:18-19

“Don’t park at the point of your pain.” -Joyce Meyer

We used this as our children’s church theme verse for quite a while- we look at it a lot and remind eachother that God is trying to do something new!!  As with anything in life, when things have gone extremely well, it is so easy to rest on our laurels and glory in past victories…. But God always seems to be pressing us on, on on…. Ever wonder why?  A very long time ago, God took his chosen people out of slavery and bondage, out of a barren desert, to a brand new land.  They saw His amazing miracles on almost a daily basis!  On the edge of this beautiful new home, God admonished them over and over (about 15 times)- DO NOT leave any of this land unsettled, or the few inhabitants left will forever be thorns in your side and smoke in your eyes!!  I am giving you ALL of this land, make sure you claim it ALL and don’t stop until it is all settled.  And when it is all yours and you are happy and content, don’t forget Me.  You may know how the story went- the chosen people went in, took a fraction of the land and said, “God has given us this and done so many miracles, we have come so far.  Let’s just rest now and enjoy this piece we have.”  The story is a tragedy because they never did receive all of what God planned for them- what He was HANDING to them- because they didn’t want to try anymore, didn’t want to live by FAITH, didn’t want to march or fight anymore.  They settled for a fraction of what they could have had.  And worse, all that God had warned them about happened- the inhabitants of that land that they never finished settling made their lives SO miserable- and the war between Israel and those Canaanite descendants (Palestine) continues to this day!!!

So I am asking, “Has God done wonderful things for you, for your family, for our church??” You bet. Now ask yourself, “Has God done everything He wants to for you, your family and our church?” My answer is “no way.” I believe we are merely at the edge of the promisedland of blessings that God has for us.  And when God makes promises He always keeps them.  It is always His will to save people, heal people, restore people, etc.  When God looks at Sheboygan today He is not thinking, “Job done!” We are just getting rolling here.  Our challenge now is not to get tired and quit when things are going well.  God says, “Take all the good things I have for you, and when you are happier and content, don’t forget about me!”  So this week, let’s thank God for how far He has brought us, and then let’s look to what He has for us next! Who will we reach for Jesus now? Rest of the Promisedland, here we come.

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” The Apostle Paul, Gal. 6:9

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