Archives for posts with tag: pastoral

Yes I’m a woman in ministry, ordained in 2006. And I’ve done weddings, funerals, baptisms, visitation….you name it. I am totally ok with working on a large staff of mostly males. But I have noticed a few challenges that I think female leaders in a church, may face more often than their male counterparts. What do you think? Am I right? Here’s my top ten things only female ministers will understand:

1. Oh no. I wore a dress today. Wearing that lapel Mic is going to be rough.

2. I am going to have to take these gorgeous shoes off if this prayer line gets any longer…and not because of a burning Bush.

3. Too many crying infants in this sanctuary. I’m going to have to go feed my own infant during worship and before my message, just to be safe.

4. After being up most of the night with a sick toddler, teething infant, I’m here on time for work, prayer service (a miracle) and no, I’m not feeling overly sympathetic that you, dear young intern, are too tired for these early mornings.

5. If it says, “all staff should attend”/be copied,  YES that should include me too.

6. After a church tragedy/death, yes I will need extra time to meet with my all female staff, because one will start crying and then they all will. Then they will need to start verbally processing their thoughts, emotions, and talking it out, encouraging each other-hugging. But together we will pull through and get it all done.

7. Another envelope came in the mail for “Reverend Scott and spouse”. He’s an I.T. Guy. But he thinks it’s really funny.

8. In college, people actually told me, “Oh honey, you’re a Children’s Pastoral major? Don’t be upset. You’ll meet someone.” When I first started dating Scott, a psych major, I heard, “I thought you said you felt called into ministry? Why would you throw that all away?” Lol

9. I am stressing so bad about the upcoming pastoral staff retreat. I have to coordinate the kid’s schedules, write out instructions for the sitter , make sure all the kid’s laundry is done, Scott’s lunches packed, dinner meals frozen, schools notified, dog meds laid out etc etc etc

10. Why oh why didn’t I remember to wear waterproof!!!! I always cry when I’m baptizing. And I’m in the tank today! Oh Lord, please help me wrestle that really big dude back up out of the water…..

How about you? Are you a woman in ministry? What are your pet peeves, funny or tender stories? God bless, and thank you all, men and women, for the ministry you do!

Love Trisha

 

Maybe you saw it coming, or maybe it hit you out of nowhere like a Mack truck into a brick wall at 90 miles an hour…The ministry you were living and breathing, has come to an end. It may have been abrupt- a new senior leader came in and several (or all) of the staff leaders are gone. Or the congregation voted, and out of nowhere, you are now just OUT.

The change could also have been a long time in coming; a ministry on life support, just waiting for that new ministry position, feeling and sensing things coming to an end- and then at last- the finality of announcing that you are moving on.

Bottom line: This is a time of transition. And there is a ministry loss involved (the loss of one before a new one comes).

Whether or not you knew this was coming, we are rarely “prepared” for a ministry loss. We all hope to be at our church “forever”, and yes, we’ve all heard the stories of “He was at that church for 47 years and died in the pulpit” but the reality is this: MINISTRY POSITIONS END. And most of them will NOT last; only a very small percentage of ministers get to stay in one place more than 5 years. There is a lot of debate as to why that sad fact exists, but my purpose here today is not to tell you how to AVOID transitions in ministry. Almost all of us will have to deal with one or two along the way. I want to encourage you and give you any small insight I can to go THROUGH a transition WELL.Transitions are tricky- and involve some level of pain. As a staff pastor at a very large church, I saw countless staff come on board, leave for new ministries, or be let go, or have their positions eliminated. Some knew what was coming and others did not. I have also left positions and taken new ones a couple of times in my own ministry career- and I know first hand how difficult that can be!

So here are a few things I have learned (sometimes the hard way) during my own ministry changes and losses and from other pastors who have survived more than I ever will. Directly following a ministry loss/transition:

  1. DO- give yourself some time to process the enormity of the loss. You have to allow yourself time to grieve. Many pastors have likened their exit from a church to a death- the death of something they loved very very much. Ministry is like NO other job on earth. You cannot understand if you haven’t lived it. It’s not just a JOB, it’s your whole life. And the people of that church become your FAMILY, your support system, your counselors, your prayer partners. So when a minister leaves a church for whatever reason, they not only lose their source of income, their security- they also lose their place to attend church, their close friends, their support system, etc. They lose their entire way of life. And if you have a spouse and/or children, this adds another loss- watching them grieve as they say goodbye as well. It’s also the loss of your hopes and dreams that you had for that ministry and that church- you are grieving the loss of the good that was, and the loss of a future that now will not be. Your whole heart and soul was tied up in those dreams. In a “normal” career, if you leave your job, your family will likely stay in the area, in your own home, with their current friends, in their usual school, with the support of their church family and friends. A pastor may lose it all when their church position is gone. Many times the church will bar pastors and staff from attending the church after they resign or are let go, to “assure loyalty to the new staff.” The loss for the minister and their family can be all encompassing, involving a move to a new city, new church, new schools, new friends… Many pastors say they have had to go through all five stages of grief- shock, anger, sadness, bargaining and finally acceptance.
  2. DON’T- rush yourself into a new ministry position too soon. Many pastors do this because they need the source of income. But you have to let yourself grieve. And don’t stuff your feelings down; you’re going to have to acknowledge them sooner or later. And it’s not fair to carry that on to the next place of ministry and carry out your grief (or anger or mistrust) on that poor group of unsuspecting people. If you can remember back to when you were dating, you may remember cautioning someone, “Don’t take the first person you see right after a breakup. Avoid the rebound person!” That advice holds true after a ministry “breakup” too. Your judgement may be clouded while you are grieving. You may not be hearing God clearly right now, and may inadvertently jump right from the frying pan into the fire. Which leads us to –
  3. DO wait on God for clear direction as to your next steps. He hasn’t forgotten you. He will tell you what to do. God called you so one person or one church cannot UNCALL you. When he called you into ministry, He didn’t turn to ask anyone’s permission, and He doesn’t need their permission to use you now. His gifts and calling are irrevocable. He still has a ministry for you- a future and a hope. Don’t settle.
  4. Don’t believe the myth, “If I don’t jump into a new ministry seamlessly, I’ll never work in ministry again.” That is simply not true. Remember that God opens the doors you are supposed to be in. Wait for His right door.
  5. DO find a great support system. You may have lost some of your best friends and supporters. You need safe people to talk to. You need to be able to rely on your extended family, friends and ministerial colleagues at this point. The key here is to find SAFE people to talk to who will give you wise, loving counsel and let you talk/grieve. Your network of minister friends and colleagues will be invaluable to you when you are ready to take a ministry position again.
  6. DO go for counseling if you can. There should never be any stigma on getting wise confidential help from a professional counselor.
  7. DO take a vacation. Take care of YOU. Get healthy. Work to improve yourself. DON’T just sit there. Go to a conference. Finish that book you’ve been planning to write. Go finish that degree. You cannot improve what happened; but you can improve YOU.
  8. DON’T just talk to anyone who wants to talk to you about it. It’s not okay to try to destroy the church, ministers and ministry at the church you are leaving- regardless of how it went down. And some people are NOT safe to talk to. They just want juicy gossip, and perhaps drama. They aren’t going to help you heal, in the end- they’ll just pour salt on the wounds. These are the kind of people who want to come tell you everything that is happening at the church you just left- who said what about you, what your replacement is doing wrong and how they took down your beloved jungle set in kid’s church. You do not need those conversations when you are trying to grieve. I heard one pastor’s wife tell her best friend, “I love you Amy. But if we are going to stay best friends, we cannot talk about everything going on at First Church right now. I need some time to heal. Our friendship has to be more than my former church.”
  9. DO forgive those who may have hurt you. The Bible says that we must forgive others as Christ forgave us. Not because they deserve it – because they probably don’t. But for Jesus’ sake. And for our own sake! We may not FEEL those feelings right away; but we make the DECISION to obey and forgive and the feelings follow later. Don’t let a ministry loss come between you and your Savior. Know that Scripture tells us that God DOES vindicate in His time, not ours. Forgive and leave them to Him. You still have work to do.

How about you? Have you been through a ministry loss/transition? What helped you get through it? What tips can you give others for surviving and then shining in a tough time between ministries?

Love from the bottom of my heart- Trishablog

Has your life/ministry jumped the track? Gone off the rails? Have you ever agonized over the  questions, “God how did we get here? How did things go so very wrong?? This isn’t what I thought or imagined? What about Your promises? Can anything good ever come of this?”

Major life detours can take many forms- a death, a loss of a job/ministry, breakup of a relationship, marital issues, career shift/change, health set back etc. Most of the time these life detours are so traumatic because our journey is not what we expected. Somehow we got American culture mixed up with Scripture, erroneously thinking that a Christian’s life is supposed to be a smooth direct line,  continually getting better and better at lightening speed. When life does not meet up to these expectations (which it won’t) we left asking questions like, “God, did I really hear You? God did you really speak to Me? Did I do something wrong to get here? Did I blow it somewhere so badly that I have ruined God’s overall plan for my life? How could God let this happen? Can He be trusted?”

If you have ever had a major detour in life, and if you have ever asked any or all of these questions, know that you are not alone. In fact, you are in great company with some of the greatest heroes of the Bible.

Paul the Apostle- Jesus promised Paul at Paul’s conversion that God would use Paul powerfully, to minister widely and preach for Him. But right away, Paul was rejected in church after church (they were afraid of him due to his past). Instead of walking into leadership at a growing mega church, God’s Spirit took Paul in the WILDERNESS for 3 years. God was training and shaping Paul in that wilderness. But even after Paul launched into itinerant ministry he was rejected, thrown out of churches, stoned, beaten, arrested, shipwrecked etc. I know it must have been very difficult for Paul to sit in a Roman prison for years. Wouldn’t he have wondered what God was up to? How do you minister in a prison? But Paul (through the Spirit) wrote 2/3 of our New Testament in that prison cell. And through his trials, Paul was able to share the gospel with some of the most influential leaders in Rome!

Moses- Moses had been a prince with incredible potential. Then he was forced to flee into a WILDERNESS. And God kept Moses there, tending sheep until Moses was 80 YEARS old! Then when Moses started his ministry, Pharoah refused to listen or cooperate, the people were not too willing or grateful, and the obstacles were numerous. And then God brought Moses and the people into the WILDERNESS. They did not get to go straight into the Promised Land. God decided to develop them in the wilderness for 40 YEARS. Moses dealt with constant complaining, rebellion and infighting.

Joseph- He was famously given wonderful promises by God. But before Joseph saw God’s word come true, Joseph was sold into slavery, falsely accused, arrested, betrayed numerous times and imprisoned for many years. I would have been tempted to think that I hadn’t really heard God, or that God had forgotten about me. But Joseph could not have handled the position God had for him, without the developing he received in those unfair, unjust situations. He had learned that God could speak through dreams, he had learned how to organize and administrate, he had learned to systematically plan ahead. And God used Joseph to save an entire region from certain starvation.

Elijah- Before and after this champion of God faced off against 400 prophets of Baal, he spent a LOT of time alone with God in a WILDERNESS.

Jesus- Immediately after being baptized, Jesus launched His new ministry, not with a dazzling budget, but with 40 days of grueling temptation in a WILDERNESS.

What about YOU? Has God given you a promise? God gives us promises because we are really going to need them. We will have a dark time, when you will be tempted to forget in the dark what you heard in the light- and that promise could be the lifeline that you cling to in your own WILDERNESS. Faith, remember, is the evidence of things NOT seen. If you already have all you wanted, you don’t need a promise or faith. We fast paced Americans sometimes only care about the DESTINATION and getting somewhere GREAT fast. But God cares more about what we will BECOME in the waiting. Here are 3 things to remember if your life has taken a detour:

  1. Don’t look back. We get tempted to wish for things to go back to how they were when “they were good.” We may long for, attempt to go back to, a time or a ministry that is gone. Our mind glosses over all the things that were really wrong during that time. We start to act like the Israelites begging to go back to Egypt. God is NOT a fan of His children always trying to go back (Lot’s wife). We can appreciate the good about what was. We can cherish those memories. But God has much more in store. You did not ruin God’s plan for your life. Your are not that powerful or awesome. God may have planned this “detour” all along. It’s time to leave Egypt behind and press on into the Promise.
  2. Develop as much as you can in the desert. God develops His champions in the WILDERNESS (David, John the Baptist, John the Revelator etc.). If you find yourself in a scary unexpected desert, it’s time to listen for that still small voice, notice that burning bush and even entertain an angel or three. God often gets our undivided attention by removing the distractions. Yield to the moving of the Holy Spirit; wait on Him as long as it takes. He will move that glory cloud on when it is time. While you are in that desert, seek God, learn a skill (Joseph), be faithful and work hard.
  3. Determine to wait on God. Delay is NOT denial (Abraham and Sarah- Isaac). A detour is not defeat. Again, it may only be a detour from a human perspective. Determine to let go of control of your life. God really does order our steps. And as long as we hold on to Him, He really does “work all things together for good for those who love God.” God doesn’t use anyone powerfully until He has thoroughly developed and tested them first. He is teaching us to trust Him fully, and to give up OUR plans and OUR timeline. He is the pilot and we do not get to back seat drive.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Have you been in a wilderness of unexpected twists and turns lately? What is God developing in you during this time? What skills are you pursuing? What has God been speaking to your heart? What promises of God do you need to dust off and hang onto tighter? From one “desert wanderer” to another, God bless your ministry and all you are becoming. This detour will not define you, but it will refine you and refuel you to what He has been planning all along. God bless- Trisha

 

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WOW- So a newspaper reporter contacted me this week and asked to interview me about my first and second books! The article went live just now. What do you think? And yes, they keep referring to me as a “youth pastor” when I was kids and family, but that’s ok, lol. Isn’t this COOL!!!????

http://thesouthern.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/religion/minister-passionate-about-resurrecting-youth-ministries/article_787e92fe-9f58-5890-82e6-21ba9396acad.htmlbook 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I am sharing with all of you, a journal I read for one of my Master’s Degree classes this past week. It is written by an African America woman preacher in 1849- BEFORE the Civil War. She talks a bit about the struggles she goes through to follow the call of God on her life, due to poverty, racism, sexism and more. Her story is so amazing, and inspiring. Her courage and obedience to God is convicting, and it challenges us to do all God has asked of us to do, no matter what the obstacles. I hope you are as inspired as I was. Here, in her own words, Jarena Lee:

http://www.umilta.net/jarena.html

Jarena_Lee

Jarena Lee Journal

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“So I was so excited, to see these middle schoolers walk right up to our youth center at our church  on a Tuesday. For months I had been trying several outreach approaches, friend nights and more and praying that God would bring new kids in. Growth was definitely a major goal for us. It was clear that these kids wanted to ask me something. And I was certainly flattered that they had their phones out to take a picture of me and our youth facilities. And it wasn’t even a Sunday or Wednesday night! Then to my shock, one of them said, ‘You have a Jigglypuff on your head,” and then ‘This is where Trey got his Venonat. Oh hey I see it!’ And then the boys ran around to the church’s back parking lot. Talk about an ego killer.” –B.T. Youth Pastor

Have you been noticing a few more kids, youth and grown adults roaming around your church parking lot lately with their phones out? Well they are PROBABLY not trying to plan a robbery or their next visit to your church. Chances are high that these people are playing the hottest new game right now- Pokemon Go. And chances are also high that there are Pokemon that they want to catch AT YOUR CHURCH. “Wait a minute!” you may be saying. “Our church did not authorize that. We never signed up for that.” Well, you do not get a say in whether or not your church is a part of the game. And the fact is:

CHURCHES ARE A MAJOR PLACE TO FIND POKEMON IN THE GAME. churches are also what is known as “Pokemon gyms.” Once you reach level 5 in the game, you then pick a “team”- red (valor), blue (mystic), yellow (instinct) and more. If you see a gym (often a church) “owned” by another team, you can battle it for YOUR team. Do you even know which Pokemon team has claimed your church yet? You are already in the game like it or not! What is this game anyway? Well Wikipedia defines Pokemon Go as:

“Pokémon Go is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic and published by The Pokémon Company as part of the Pokémon franchise. It was released worldwide in July 2016 for iOS and Android devices.” This means that kids will be actually WALKING OUTSIDE with their phones to play the game. It looks like a GPS with google maps to actual locations to find “Pokemon.”

The benefits of the game include: 1. For the first time in too long, children are going OUTSIDE and WALKING. They are still looking at a screen. But they are walking outside. This is a big deal for some families. I did hear of a few kids immediately uninstalling the game when they found out they would have to walk outside lol. 2. Many families are choosing to play the game together. This is a family friendly game that gets people doing something in community. Full disclosure, my husband and son have been going out every evening having a blast  playing this. 3. Many kids would never otherwise go these locations- museums, post offices, churches, fire stations. They are exploring the world around them, where they actually live.

The drawbacks to the game include: 1. There have been reports already of pedophiles using the game to lure children to a desolate area ie, “Come to this abandoned building. You will find a very rare ___________ there.” 2. Like any other game, Pokemon Go can become addictive and very time consuming. Kids can spend hours and hours and days and days in this immersive virtual reality. 3. I have already seen more than one near car accident caused by individuals playing Pokemon GO while driving! It seems many adults who do not want to walk around, are collecting their Pokemon while driving. YIKES!

I would like to caution churches and pastors- if we are truly saying “God, please send us kids and families!” and God send them on the “wrong” day (Thursday afternoon etc.) we shouldn’t be responding with, “get off my lawn you kids!” either with our words or actions. You will have families coming to your church now at all weird hours. I remember Jesus going where He knew the people would be. And Jesus spoke in a lot of “stories”, parables, in which He used the common pictures of the day to reach people with eternal truths- sheep, coins, farmers, soldiers etc. What if Pokemon Go is the common story of our culture at this moment. How can we use a popular game to speak eternal truth? Regardless of the reasons or your feelings about the game, what you are going to do with this opportunity just handed into your lap??

Here are a few ideas that I have seen recently, that churches are doing to reach the kids and families who are coming in for Pokemon Go:

  1. One church had coolers outside with a sign saying, “Welcome Pokemon Go players! Take a free water and a map (map has service times and upcoming events on it).
  2. Another church had a very large sign saying, “Come on in Pokemon Go players! Cool off inside and get water and snacks!” The people that came inside were greeted warmly with smiles, snacks and an invite to some back for services.
  3. A youth pastor organized a very successful youth rally, a YOUTH GO night. The whole student ministries team went out together through the city playing the game and connecting with people. Then they had a big rally at the end at the church.

What about YOU? I want to hear what your church is doing or is planning to do in response to the popularity of the game. What benefits, drawbacks do you see? What ideas do you have for reaching children and families through the Pokemon Go phenomena?

Love Trisha

Next week I am speaking for a kid’s camp, and this is part of a challenge booklet I am passing out. I just thought I would share it with ya, because I know there are a lot of children’s pastors and parents and teachers on here. I will be challenging these kids to revolutionize their spiritual lives in 21 days by doing 7 important things-

1. Cleaning out the sin

2. Reading the Bible for themselves daily

3. Journaling about what they find in Scripture

4. Praying daily

5. Listening to God in prayer

6. Serving in the church, home and community

7. Finding a Christian mentor/accountability partner and a Christian friend to take the journey with them

I am excited to see what God will do in these kids lives in just 21 days of focusing on Him! What do you think? Have you done something like this? I do not want what happens at camp to stay at camp. I want them to come home from camp and GROW. Feel free to use this and alter it as you like. It has fill in the blanks to do with the kids, but I added the answers I am using in parenthesis for you. God bless! Pastor Trisha

Getting “Fit” in Christ 21 Day Challenge

My ACTION Plan

NAME:                                   AGE:                                       DATE:

Did you know? That just like we have to train hard to get fit physically and mentally, we have to train hard to get fit spiritually? Take the 21 day challenge to know God better, and take your spiritual life to whole new levels! Here are the action steps; let’s get started…

1.The Bible tells us to “Throw aside every weight, and every ______(sin) that slows us down.” Hebrews 12:1 We throw aside these weights so we can pursue Jesus with our whole heart, soul, mind and _______ (Spirit). With God’s help, in the next 3 weeks, I am going to pray about getting rid of these things that may be slowing me down in my walk with Jesus: ________________________________________________________________

  1. I am learning this weekend that to really grow closer to God, I must read my Bible every day. “Your Word is a _____ to my feet and a _____ to my path.” Psalm 119:105. Have you ever tried to find the bathroom at night at the camp without a flashlight? We need God’s directions to grow! With God’s help I am going to read God’s Word every day for 3 weeks. I will check off the chart below:

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21

  1. It is important to _______(listen) to what God is trying to say to me through His Word. His Word is _______(living) and active right now in my life and can speak to my situation right now! These are some of the things that I believe God is _________(speaking) to me through my Bible reading.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  1. A huge part of growing in Christ in not just listening but also _________(talking) to Jesus. I will try to pray every single day. Prayer is talking to God. He ____(hears) us when we pray and He answers us. He will say _____(yes) , ______(no) or ________(wait). Here are my top three things I will be praying about in the next 3 three weeks _______________, ____________, _______________. I will pray every day for the next 21 days.

1  2  3  4  5   6   7   8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21

  1. Here is what I believe God has been speaking to my heart during my prayer times during my 3 week time of growth ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  1. A huge part of growing spiritually is finding my place to _______(serve). I should not wait until I am older; I should find my place to serve in my church, my family and my __________ (community). Here are some ways that I am going to try to serve Jesus and others these next 21 days (VBS helper, cleaning at the church, camp helper, cleaning the house, visiting the sick or shut ins, using my gifts of singing, or playing an instrument, baking for someone or more!) __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

7.We all need a person to hold us _____ (accountable). A parent, a pastor, a Christian friend or teacher are good choices. You need to find a great ________ (adult) to help you grow and to keep you on _______( track). You should also have a friend your own age to do the challenge with. During my 21 day challenge, I found _________________ to be my accountability grownup and ________________ to be my challenge buddy!

 

                  DO YOUR BEST! GROW CLOSER TO JESUS! YOU CAN DO IT!bike

EXCERPT from the newly released book “Your Children’s Ministry Beyond Basics” (Amazon)

How do we know that we have fully equipped a child spiritually to go into youth group? What is the goal? What does the fully discipled child look like? What does that child sound like? The answer to these questions should guide us in EVERY decision we make in children’s ministry from curriculum, to service structure, to what we choose to emphasize week to week.

Now I realize that this list will not be comprehensive. But when I visualize a child, age 11-12, graduating out of children’s ministries into student ministries, this is what I and my teams are looking for, fighting for and planning for every week, Sunday after Sunday. Here are our goals in no particular order.

By the Grace of GOD: A CHILD GRADUATING OUT OF OUR KIDS MINISTRY:

  1. Will know what they believe and why. They will be able to accurately and positively defend their faith (apologetics) – A child in grade school, is the best they will ever be in their entire lives at committing things to memory. We should not waste a moment of this key time for helping children learn and memorize what matters most. In fact, a lot of people will tell you that they memorized most of the Scripture they know now, BEFORE the age of 12. One of the most important things we can do for our kids is to teach them what we believe, why we believe it, and how to effectively articulate, defend and share those beliefs. So when they leave our program, we want every child to be able to explain what we believe, and why, and defend it using Scriptures.

I had a talk with a Mom recently, who informed me that she would not be bringing her young son to church. She said that she felt a child was too young to learn things about God and the Bible, and that when he turned 18, she would let him choose for himself if he wanted to start going to church. I looked at her and asked, “So are you keeping him out of school as well? Perhaps when he is 18 you should let him decide if he should start school or not. He is far too young to understand everything they teach in school too. And definitely do not take him to the pediatrician. Just wait until he is 18 and let him decide if he wants to visit the doctor and start his vaccinations.” She instantly snapped, “Well 18 is far too late to start school and WAY too late to start his vaccinations! He has to start now or he’ll be way behind! He may not like school but that’s too bad. He has a lot to learn.” I responded, “Exactly, Mae. Your child’s spiritual health, spiritual journey is the MOST important part of your child’s life.”  To my delight, she really thought about what I said, and so far has routinely been bringing her son to church.

  1. Will be as prepared as possible for a positive transition to student ministries. BOTTOM LINE: it is mission critical that we work together to do our graduation handoffs WELL. Do celebrate and make a big deal of when a child graduates up to student ministries. Let them know you are proud of them, that this is part of growing up, and a whole new exciting chapter in their lives. Do not make it a funeral, or a sad thing. Do NOT make it sound like the end of FUN. Talk up all the great things they will now be able to be a part of!
  2. Will KNOW their major Bible stories and have a working knowledge of God’s Word. They will be able to search Scripture for themselves to find the answers they need. This is important. We want the children to go from being “fed” beliefs and Scriptures, to digging in and finding these treasures for themselves. We want to instill a lifelong love of God’s Word, and a daily habit of reading and studying it.
  3. Can spot cults and false doctrine and know why they are false. This goes right along with knowing what we believe and why. More and more cults are targeting children. It is more important now than ever that our kids can search the Bible for themselves, and know a false doctrine when they come across it.
  4. Has solid Christian friendships that hopefully will go with him into student ministries. One common denominator that has kept kids in church longer is having a network of kids their age that they identify with and surround themselves with. We want each child to make solid Christian friends, and to learn to be a positive Christian friend to others. Because living in a community of believers, growing together in Jesus is what CHURCH is all about! We intentionally work to foster these friendships, to provide positive peer pressure, accountability and a “net” to keep kids from slipping through the cracks and out of our doors. We want “normal life” for every child as they grow up to include worshipping together with their friends.
  5. Is actively serving in the church. We want our kids to love their church, and feel very much a part of it- right now. We will help each child to know what their giftings are and how to use them in ministry! We should always be looking for new ways to use our talents for God and others, at church, at home, and in our community. Over and over again, I have found this to be true: The children you INVOLVE will be the children you KEEP. You cannot expect them to sit around until they are 25 staring at the wall, and then suddenly join the deacon board. If you wait too long, they are already gone. Children that are involved in serving are much more likely to stay in church, and stay committed even through rocky church times and transitions. Involve them right now! Create opportunities for the kids and their families in your ministry to reach out using their giftings. A life of serving should be the routine for every Christian- it should be NORMAL for these kids to join student ministries and immediately look for their place to help out. The child who is graduating up, should be a child excited to minister!
  6. Has surrendered their life to Jesus. This includes a dynamic commitment to live life God’s way. This child will have Biblical view of the world, of right and wrong and of the family. In everything, this child will be thinking, “What does God want?” When they consider their future, they are thinking, “What does God have for me to do?” God takes center stage over all else. This also translates into the child’s attitude and actions reflecting the fruit of the Spirit. This is a child working to be more and more like Jesus.
  7. Has had SEVERAL EXPERIENCES of God’s Presence. God is a very real Person in their life, on a daily basis. Not an impersonal, historical or mythical figure. This is a vibrant relationship with a living God. This is just as crucial, if not more so than making sure each child has the “head knowledge” of God. Heart knowledge needs to be happening week to week as well. The child who is graduating up knows how to pray for themselves and others. They will have had prayers answered. They cannot be convinced that God does not exist, because they have SEEN God in action in their lives and on their behalf. The desire will be there for more of God’s Presence in their lives through worship, water and Spirit baptism, Scripture, serving and more. When crisis hits, they will turn to God for help. This child believes and has an active vital relationship with a BIG God, Who listens, cares and ACTS on their behalf.
  8. Is missions minded-A Giver. We want our kids to leave our programs with a giving nature that runs directly counter-culture to our mainly selfish, materialistic human nature. Each child will learn to tithe and to give. They will make it a habit to give to and serve the poor, the hurting, the hungry, soldiers, the imprisoned, Christians suffering around the world for their faith, those in the hospital and more. When there is a natural disaster or community crisis, these kids will be thinking, “How can I show the love of Christ? How can I help?” These are kids who will give sacrificially of time, money, things and service. Instead of hoarding “stuff” for themselves, they will think of their possessions as gifts God has entrusted to them to use for good.

When we sit down to plan our year of ministry, we have all of the above in our minds when we pick out curriculum, plan events and evaluate our progress. You cannot ever get “there” if you do not know where you are going.

What about the children graduating up from YOUR kid’s ministry into student ministries? What is the most important to you and the culture of your church? What are your non-negotiables? How will you know that you “got all the bases covered”? Hoping for some good imput/discussion here! Trisha Peach

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So, how is your ministry to families going?

This week in my seminary class, we started discussing family ministry. It got me really thinking about whats going on right now in our ministries. Here are some of the things I love about family ministry and a few of the things….well, that I don’t:

I LOVE:

  1. That we get to be a part of what God is doing.  There are very few institutions that God Himself instituted in Scripture.  The two most important are family and the Church. To me, family ministry is a PARTNERSHIP of the two- truly the ORANGE that we think of.
  2. In a culture that undermines families, we get to be a support and encouragement for families!
  3. When we see families “get it”. I love it when families are discipled to the point that they are winning other families to Jesus and serving together. How that makes me celebrate!
  4. When parents truly get involved with ministering to and discipling their child. You see that parent grow spiritually by leaps and bounds!

 

What I don’t love so much:

  1. When churches lose their “balance”. Humans in general are not good at BALANCE. We tend to swing along like a pendulum. In the 80s and 90’s we allowed parents to dump kids off for us to fix and train like a Christian fast food McDonald’s. Now, at times, the church is dumping the kids back on parents who are not yet discipled and ready to train their kids. Family ministry means a partnership of the church and home. This may mean offering activities for the family as a whole, as well as age appropriate experiences. This is a both/and situation.
  2. When churches use “family ministry” as an excuse for something else. In my city, 2 years back, three of the largest churches fired their children’s directors saying that having a children’s pastor was not necessary or Biblical when you have family ministry. These churches saw family ministry as an answer to their prayers- it “helped” the church budget by not paying those salaries anymore, and they said that they wouldn’t have to recruit much anymore because “the children’s pastors are the parents in their own home.” Family ministry is not an excuse to withhold resources, time and effort. In fact, ministering to the family will most likely mean MORE work, more money, time and effort- and volunteers- but it is worth it! Do family ministry because you believe in it. Not to save money, or because you are tired of recruiting.
  3. When I ask churches the all important question:” How are you discipling families? How are you training parents?” They almost always say something like, “Well, we preach on it twice a year and send home take home sheets.” Really? That just doesn’t cut it. Our family ministry strategies are going to need a LOT more time and thought than a handout. How do we really disciple families? How do we get parents to come to trainings? I’m asking this honestly, because we need to work for answers.
  4. When our narrow view of family ministry does not reach the majority of those in our pews/city. What I mean by this is, how does our family ministry impact children in single parent homes, children of divorce, blended families, families with parents cohabitating, children with a parent in prison, children whose parents are not Christians, foster children? Neither the church nor the parents are “off the hook”. We are called to minister to the least of these. And in a broken world, families are also often broken. We are called to minister to them in love.

How about YOU? What strategies have you found to minister to and support families in your own ministry? What is the biggest problem you are facing in family ministry right now?

 

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