Archives for posts with tag: #strategic planning

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

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

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

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

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

Love and encouragement always,

Trisha

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“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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I was delighted to meet Becky Fischer last year at CPC (Children’s Pastor’s Conference) in front of her booth in the resource hall.  She was literally surrounded by dozens and dozens of curriculums and other literary works she has written. This woman has been BUSY. Here are some of the things she has been up to according to her ministry website http://kidsinministry.org/about/becky-fischer/  :

“Ms. Fischer spent twenty-three years in business before answering the call to full-time ministry, serving first as a children’s pastor for ten years. She later joined Tasch Ministries International, which had taken over 700 boys and girls on mission trips. She was later employed as the children’s pastor and as a graphic artist by MorningStar Publications and Ministries, Inc. in Wilkesboro, NC. Becky Fischer founded of Kids in Ministry International (KIMI) in 2001. KIMI is a multifaceted ministry that trains children and adults to walk in the supernatural power of God.

Becky Fischer has trained thousands of children, teens, parents, and children’s workers. This was done through conferences, Bible schools, mission trips, churches and resource materials. She is the author of the book Redefining Children’s Ministry in the 21st Century, Jesus Camp My Story, and three children’s books. She has also authored/co-authored eight unique and dynamic children’s church curriculums.”

Her latest Kid’s in Ministry International (KIMI) curriculum-Kingdom of Light- is coming soon, and I’m honored that I was able to get an opportunity to preview it and review it.What is “Kingdom of Light” all about? Well here’s what it says on her site:

“Kids in Ministry International curriculums, designed for children’s church

encompassing kids from ages 6 to 12, are very unique in content. Not only do

they cover the foundational truths and doctrines of the Bible not readily available

in other curriculums, but even familiar topics are taught in very distinctive ways.

Our materials are written specifically for Spirit empowered churches who believe

in the baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, hearing God’s voice,

healing, that the gifts of the Spirit are for today, and who believe in walking in

the supernatural lifestyle of God found in Scripture.”

After checking out this upcoming curriculum, I have a few thoughts on it. Here are a few of bright points, the “Shining Stars” of Kingdom of Light, if you will:

  1. Great Potential for Truly Engaging Your Current and Even New Children-The bright colors are great. I am a visual person, and the first thing that grabs me about KOL are the vivid colors. It looks modern and FUN.The themes of light and royalty are usually big hits with kids. I think the fun activities would also generate a lot of excitement, willingness to bring friends and an anticipation of what’s to come next!
  2. Diversity- If churches are not careful, they can make the mistake of featuring curriculum with all white kids, a white Jesus, white disciples and so forth. I believe it is important to VISUALLY let all kids know, “We want you in church here this morning. Jesus wants you here. You belong here.” KOL is packed with pictures of children from all over the globe. The settings are very diverse. This is probably because Ms. Fischer travels extensively all over the world, and has always had such a passion for reaching children of every language, economic and racial background.
  3. Holy Spirit Emphasis- This curriculum is ideal for Pentecostal and Charismatic churches. I know from experience (I’m ordained through the Assemblies of God) that it can be tough to find quality curriculum that speaks to our Pentecostal distinctives and heritage. In the past, my teams have just found the best curriculum we could and then added our own Holy Spirit emphasis on- or written our own. This curriculum is unabashedly Spirit-filled from the get go.
  4.  Great Tie-Ins- The theme of “LIGHT” lends itself easily to some great events. I would do a black light night to kick it off or as an end point rally. I also think that with Halloween coming up, many churches try to do a Halloween alternative. I think a night with an emphasis on breaking free from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light would work well in a lot of our settings. This curriculum would be an effective tool in talking about tough topics this fall season.
  5. Built-in Teacher Training Tools- I like the fact that Ms. Fischer puts great emphasis on giving your leaders the training they need. In fact, from the beginning of the series, she starts with training. Volunteers often complain, “I didn’t get the training I thought I would/should.” This curriculum seems to come with the training ideas built right in. Correct and thorough training for volunteer leaders can make all the difference!
  6. Parent-Home Ministry Component- Not all curriculums include any connection between the church and the home. But wise churches know the powerful impact that parents have on their child’s spiritual journey; and SOMETIMES those children will minister powerfully to their parents! So Ms. Fischer has included a section on each lesson that goes home for family ministry. I get excited at the thought of the light shining out from our homes all week long!
  7. Kinesthetic Learning- This is not a “I speak and you sit and listen” kind of curriculum. These are “Kid’s Church Services” and they are EXPERIENCE as well as knowledge based. They do not just learn ABOUT prayer, they then participate in prayer. They talk about the power of God, and then begin to engage with a living God. There are costume characters, object lessons, movement…This curriculum would appeal to many different learning styles.

Potential Drawbacks of Using “Kingdom of Light” Curriculum:

  1. KOL would not be a good fit for churches opposed to prayer for the sick, praying for miracles or church who do not believe in the supernatural.
  2. You and your team would need to be prepared to answer a lot of questions and do ministry to non-Christian parents of children who attend your services. Yes, you probably will atract some new kids who are not from Christian families (which is so great that they are coming!) No kidding, we have had several occasions of parents wanting to meet with us, asking, “Why is my child wanting to pray every night?” “You aren’t actually telling my child that Jesus ACTUALLY rose from the dead??” The best thing to do is to expect and be ready for those interactions. They are actually potential God moments- ministry openings! So do not be defensive. For us, many many of these curious parents ended up joining our church and becoming just as committed as their kids! This is extra work, but it’s so worth it. It’s why we are here!

If you are interested in seeing more on Becky Fischer’s work and ministry, check out her website mentioned earlier in this post.

To see titles and sample lessons visit

http://kidsinministry.org/childrens-ministry-curriculum

After you check out samples for yourself, please let us know what YOU thought in the comments below.

Love Trisha Peach

Author of Your Children’s Ministry From Scratch and Your Children’s Ministry Beyond Basics, now available on Amazon.com

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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

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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Ever wish one of your friends could preview a book for you and tell you whether or not it’s any good? That would save you a lot of time, money and energy wouldn’t it? Well, your wish comes true today, pastors and family ministry leaders. Some of the most respected and qualified kid’s pastors and authors- including Brian Dollar, Bob Griffith, Ed Miller, Dale Norman and more- have had the chance to preview this newly released ministry book:

“Your Children’s Ministry Beyond Basics” (Amazon) is the anticipated sequel to 2014’s “Your Children’s Ministry From Scratch” . The sequel goes farther than book 1, into the tougher territory of ministry to children and families- special needs kid’s ministry, ministry after tragedy, creating that “wow” worship space on a budget, the church’s response to bullying/abuse and much more. 

Wondering what they thought of it? I was too. Here’s what they had to say:

“I have lost track of how many churches and leaders I have recommended Trish’s first book to.  Now, she has taken everything to the next level!  This book is jam packed with solid content, brilliant ideas, and proven methods.  Picking right where “Your Children’s Ministry From Scratch” left off, Trish packs every chapter with exactly the right information that you need to build upon a firm foundation of Children’s Ministry. 

This book is never leaving my bookshelf!”

Brian Dollar, Kids Pastor, Author of “I Blew It!” and “Talk Now And Later”, Blogs at briandollar.com

 

“Reaching the next generation with the gospel is a critical responsibility of the church.  Pastor Trisha Peach is passionate about this ministry and she shares very practice ideas and tools that any Children’s Pastor will find helpful.  In this second book Pastor Trisha touches on such important issues as handling conflict and planning for family outreach.”

Ed Miller, Director of Development, Center for Biblical Parenting

 

“Every ministry leader needs to be effective at managing change or they won’t last long in today’s culture.  This book provides practical concepts for innovating change in children’s ministry. Trisha has consulted our children’s ministry department with her concepts and helped us successfully navigate several areas of ministry change. We are grateful for the insights she shares in this book! ”

Bob Griffith, Executive Pastor of Family Ministries, Journey Church, Kenosha WI

http://www.ourjourneychurch.com

 

“Trisha has a passion for equipping ministry leaders. This book is packed full of practical and insightful advice for anyone who wants to lead well in children’s ministry.”

-Steven Knight, Founder ofKidminTools.com

 

“Your Children’s Ministry from Scratch” laid out a great foundation that any children’s ministry can build upon.  Ready to keep building?  Then “Children’s Ministry, Beyond Basics” is for you!  This book will help you discover the keys to building a ministry that will bear fruit for a lifetime.
Dale Hudson
Director of Children’s Ministry, goChristFellowship.com
How about you? Convinced? Intrigued a little? Check out the book, comment, get your own copy and recommend it to a friend- you can find it all here: http://www.amazon.com/Your-Childrens-Ministry-Beyond-Basics/dp/1522905944/ref=cm_sw_em_r_rdpod_1PtKwb0W0A1WH_tt
I truly hope that this book is a tool that you find helpful in your ministry to children and families for years to come. God bless your ministry! TrishaPrint front.jpg

 

“But Trish, you just don’t understand. The people in our finance office are always after me to turn in my receipts for kid’s church expenses, and to fill out paperwork for reimbursement! Then they want to know specifics about what exactly the money was used for and why. It’s like they don’t believe me.  And that hurts! I mean, I’m a LEADER in the kid’s ministry! I’m sacrificing here to make this happen. Sometimes I get so irritated by all of their questions that I just pay for it myself rather than deal with the paperwork. I shouldn’t have to explain why I need this or what I’m going to do with it. I signed up to work with kids; I don’t want to explain all this to adults. And I’m a kid’s leader- not a finance person. So what if I can’t find some of the receipts, or a paper or two? They are nitpicking, which means they don’t care about the kids. Why can’t the finance people be supportive of the kid’s ministry? It’s like they keep us from getting ministry done. I am a minister, and I’ve been at this church for _____ years.They should just trust me! Why can’t they just trust me?”

I have heard this argument so many times over the years from frustrated children’s ministry leaders. It is almost a cliche, and a joke at kid’s pastor meetings, that creative, absent minded children’s leaders are going to butt heads repeatedly with the logical, calculating finance people. And I do want to say, that I do understand that their needs to be balance. The children’s leader needs to feel appreciated, respected and valued; AND they need to have a voice at the table that makes those financial decisions. Children should make up at least 25 percent of your church body, which impacts all those parents and all those volunteers etc. Anyone with that much influence should have a VERY large portion of the church’s overall budget, AND a strong voice when it comes to making financial decisions that impact the church and/or the kid’s ministry.

Having said that, however, I want to pause for a moment here and say emphatically: Dear children’s leader, NO they should NOT just trust you. And you need to see those finance people at your church as allies and safeguards for you, and work VERY hard not to be a source of frustration for them. And here are a few reasons why:

  1. There are relatively few failures in ministry that have the potential to destroy you, your family and your entire ministry, now and possibly for life. The first of course is a sexual fall. But secondly, right behind that, is a conviction for mishandling, misappropriating MONEY. What has taken down so many pastors, ministers, televangelists and missions organizations in the past decade? Mishandling money- embezzlement, putting funds to an area illegally, not paying appropriate fees, etc. etc. etc. Yes, it is that serious. It is no longer optional for churches to have safeguards in place. These kinds of scandals destroy lives, churches, ministries- and worse, they drag the name of Jesus and Christianity right through the mud on every news channel. And these scandals LINGER in people’s minds for years to come. Many charities reported a net loss of income last year and attributed it to “lack of trust” from the public to religious organizations, after so many money scandals have hit the news. Churches MUST be more responsible now than ever before.
  2. Those finance people are also there to protect YOU and that ministry. We already said that one scandal can forever marr your ministry. But sometimes all it takes is someone irritated with you making accusations that cast doubt in people’s minds. During those times, and if you are ever formally accused of mishandling money, those finance people are your saving grace and your very best friend. And you will thank God on your knees for every receipt you turned in to prove exactly where that money went.  When I worked as a security trainer, we had a rule, “If it isn’t in writing, it didn’t happen.” What that means is, it is too late after the fact, when you are already in hot water to try to figure out which money went where. One of the KEY functions of your church’s finance officer/office is to keep great WRITTEN records- every form, every receipt, every budget request. Please understand this: “ONLY WHAT IS IN WRITING IS GOING TO COUNT.” If anything ever did go to court, no is just going to “trust you.” And your word on it is going to mean less than nothing. Those receipts, and those records will either be your saving grace or your downfall. DON’T fight your finance office on keeping careful records.
  3. Everyone needs accountability. EVERYONE. Even a pastor. And whenever someone continually resists being accountable, it begins to look suspicious. Too many awful moral failures have happened because leaders refused to be accountable to anyone. That is not Biblical. And they shouldn’t have to chase you down and force you to be accountable. You should be willingly open to Biblical accountability- and MONEY is a huge part of that. Be accountable. Some pastors I know made it a policy that it takes two signers on any church check, or that whenever the church credit card is used the finance director gets a report. This is an example of willing accountability. Nothing done with the church money should ever be done with only one person’s knowledge. Nothing should be done without a paper trail. No one should have to sneak around to act with church money. If these things are going on, something is very wrong, and it will come back around to bite you.
  4. This is people’s tithe money. This is even more important that someone’s 401K, to God. This is people’s hard earned, faith given, oft times SACRIFICIAL giving. And no one in church leadership should ever take that huge responsibility lightly. Every single cent needs to be well accounted for, and used with wisdom for God’s kingdom. God’s holds His ministers to a higher standard. So we should be extremely careful to be good stewards of God’s money- people’s TITHE money.
  5. You are responsible to explain what you need for ministry to the leadership of the church. Even if you say, “but I just wanted to be with the kids.” Part of your job as a children’s leader is to accurately and effectively communicate to the church’s leadership, what your ministry needs to be successful. And that will entail giving some rationale. That means you will have to explain some things like, “This is what JumpStart3 is. This is why I feel we should get it. This is what it costs. Here is why I chose it over ______________.” Your board is probably not in kid’s church every week. They may have no IDEA what the difference is between a PVC puppet stage and an aluminum travel stage. And you will need to do your homework, legwork and research. Make a good case for what you need. And if they say no, take it graciously and don’t burn bridges. Don’t gossip and don’t pout. Wait, pray, and keep track of your numbers- build a better case and try again. If you are asked to explain WHY you need such a costly curriculum, be grateful! Grateful that you have the change to talk about the kid’s ministry and vision cast to a part of the church who may not know what God has been doing in there- it’s a chance to speak up and connect!

So I cannot say it is easy to feel like you are always defending and that you not being trusted. But please know, those financial safeguards are there for a reason. Maybe this week would be a good week to bring your financial officer an extra large apple cider- and turn in your receipts. All my best and God bless. Trisha

  1. money-cash

blog2

“Well, Ms. Churches, I have your test results here, and the good news is we do know the reason why you have such a terrible earache,” said the doctor, shutting the door behind him. He pushed his glasses up with his forefinger and shifted his stare from his clipboard to the middle of her face.

“Oh, that’s a relief!” she breathed impatiently. “Can you write me a prescription for that so I can get going? I’m in the middle of some very important work! So if you could just….”

“Ms. Churches, I need your full attention here for a minute. The bad news I have for you is that the earache is not the real problem here. The tests results confirmed what I suspected the moment you walked in here. Your earache is, of course, related to that enormous tumor- right there in the middle of your face. I have to ask, are you currently in treatment for that?”

“Oh THIS? I’m sure this really isn’t THAT serious. And I do not consider myself a negative person. I do not allow negativity in my life. And I do not appreciate your complaining and negativity either.”

“Ms. Churches, I am not being negative. Negative comments about the tumor would be- ‘That’s ugly, It’s horrible, Who’s fault is the tumor? Who can we blame? I hate the person who has the tumor! It’s hopeless! Let’s give up! etc’ Ms. Churches, I am not saying any of those things. But you DO have a very large facial tumor. And it IS serious. What I AM saying is, ‘Let’s realize how serious this is and come up with a plan to get rid of this tumor before it hurts you any more.'”

“Doctor, I just don’t have time for this right now. I am helping a lot of people with my work! Haven’t you seen the signs all over town? ‘Churches helping more then ever’? What would happen if people found out I had a face tumor? It might detract from all the good I’m trying to do. And I’m planning a wedding! I can’t have a facial surgery right now- I’d have scars. You just haven’t seen me with all my makeup on. I’m really good at hiding all this with my makeup.”

“Don’t you understand that you cannot go on hiding something rotten and cancerous forever? The One you Love will want you to be healthy, scars and all. That thing is killing you, and parts of you are getting hurt that shouldn’t have to get hurt. Every day you let this go, your body is not operating like it should. Eventually the tumor will spread everywhere and take over and all the good you are trying to do for everyone will come to an end. If you do not address and kill the cancer, it will kill you and everyone will find out about it anyway. Better to go through the pain and recovery now- FACE THIS.”

“You doctors just don’t understand at all. It’s not my place to go meddling with nature like that. If God wants to step in and fix it eventually He will. I’ll just wait on Him-”

“I’m just gonna cut you off right there. God gave us brains for a reason. He entrusted us with these bodies, and we are the ones who are supposed to work to keep them healthy for Him. When something isn’t healthy, we must work to make it right again. Be a better steward of what He gave you Ms. Churches.”

“I’m just afraid. I’m afraid of what will happen when we see how bad the damage is. How deep it goes. And how much is going to have to be cut away to get back on the road to healthy again…Afraid of admitting all this and doing the hard work..”

“So many many die every year because they were too afraid to face reality, and fight the cancer when it was still small enough to throw out. The real fear should be waiting too long, the fear of good healthy things being destroyed. I know you are afraid. But will you take my hand and talk with me about options to destroy this tumor for good? No more denying it, hiding it, talking nice about it, excusing it or covering it up? You can still get healthy before your wedding. Are you willing to fight for that?”

A few final thoughts:

  1. If lead pastors, staff, or key leaders have been leaving a church in large numbers in a short amount of time it is red flag (high turnover). The leadership of the church needs to get to the bottom of why it is happening and work a positive plan to get the church on a track toward health.
  2. Long term members of the church, staff, volunteers, staff, pastors being deeply wounded in church conflict is never just “ok” and “business as usual”.  God is never ok with people being broken and spit out. Growing, healthy churches learn to address conflict and even learn to handle disagreements Biblically. No church is perfect, but the fastest growing churches have this in common: they are always trying to improve- and they do not use people as “disposable commodities”.
  3. Growing healthy churches do not gossip and complain about their leaders. But they do address problems and consistently address and problem solve in an ever-changing environment. Don’t ever get in a situation where you are covering up flaws, refusing to discuss the issues, sweeping the injured people under the rug- that WILL come back to bite you. The church does have to use some business practices to manage money well etc- but it is still a church. God commissioned us to minister to people not money or buildings. People over programs every time. Integrity first!
  4. Many pastors have said that looking back, they have wished that they had asked someone to leave the church. By that, I mean, someone who, after many many attempts at discipline, correction, is still unwilling to listen or change. This person is actually your “tumor”. They are hurting people- hurting your whole church. Perhaps you may need to speak the truth in love, address this painful issue before it hurts anything else and ask this person to go.

So, I know this has been a HEAVY article for me, but it has been WEIGHING on me for a couple weeks now. What do you think? Does this parable apply to the church today? What would you add to it? 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!

EXCERPT from the soon to be released book “Your Children’s Ministry Year 2 and Beyond” (Fall 2015)

But that brings us back to our original question. 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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