Archives for posts with tag: time management

I really hope you enjoyed the first part of this blog! It certainly hit home with some of you. And yes you can feel free to share as you like. Why is it so hard for those of us who lead others to take care of ourselves? It is not selfish to lead ourselves; it is essential if we want to be effective over the long haul. So here are five MORE ways to practice self care/self leadership!

5. Go to a conference- I always learn and grow so much by getting away from my usual setting and interacting with other leaders. Iron definitely sharpens iron. Many of my fellow pastoral leaders say that the best part of conferences is the interaction and networking with other leaders. I grow from the breakouts, from the main sessions and especially from the hallway conversations! At conferences you can find a whole new perspective, find new skills and have the freedom to discuss hardships that you perhaps cannot discuss at home. A conference is worth the investment in your future ministry. None of us should EVER stop growing or learning.

4. Perhaps take a break- Here is a controversial point for sure. Americans are some of the worst on the planet for NOT taking their vacation days (instead taking the money). Too many pastors report not taking a regular day off. In our culture, being a workaholic is seen as a badge of honor and a sign of dedication. But Jesus got away from the crowds regularly to be alone with God. I remember being told that you should never take a break from ministry or “that gap would look terrible on your resume.” Jumping from one bad ministry situation to another without taking adequate time to heal and recover, sets you up for more damage to yourself and your new ministry. It is not weakness to take time away and pray for God’s leading. Otherwise you may risk going from the fire pan into the fryer. Some churches are catching on to this healthy idea and offering pastors sabbaticals (usually after being there 7 years etc.)

3. Get someone on the outside to talk to- Due to the confidential nature of many of our dealings, we pastors can start to feel isolated. Everyone talks to us, but we have few to be real and honest with. And if you are like me, one who processes tough situations by talking through them, then you need a safe person to bounce ideas off of. This is absolutely necessary for pastors to have someone safe to talk to. I highly suggest you find someone outside of your church setting, who you know will keep things confidential. It may be helpful for you to find a professional counselor. Again, going in for counseling is NOT weakness. Having someone to listen and pour into YOU can make all the difference in the world.

2. Get a mentor- As the saying goes, every minister should have a hand up (someone who is mentoring them) and a hand down (someone they are mentoring). If you do not currently have a mentor, someone who is further along in the direction you are trying to go, then begin actively praying and seeking for that person. We must all keep learning always. And none of us have “arrived.” I have had to swallow fear before and just ask, “Would you meet with me every other week for 6 months? I just want to learn from you.” I have been so surprised how many “giants” of ministry were willing to say yes. I think it is because they too see the importance of mentorship. Not sure where to start? I would suggest a paid coaching for 6 months with someone you respect. Many ministry leaders- Jim Wideman, Karl Bastian, myself etc. etc.- offer this service. Sometimes a mentor, a coach who believes in you can make all the difference in your life and ministry.

1. Relationship with God MUST continue to be, or must become first priority. Let me just say this: Time spent working FOR God is NOT the same as time spent WITH God. We ministers spend a whole lot of time working FOR God- but most of us do not get enough time just spent WITH God in His Presence. This time getting away with God is not selfish- it is essential. Sounds terrible, but anything that isn’t carefully planned for, just does not seem to happen. You should plan your time with God right on your calendar and protect it. Yes I know life happens and you can have emergencies come up. But developing those habits of prayer and Bible study and journaling are the MOST important parts of your day- and the most important part of your personal and ministerial health as well. Make those appointments with God happen!

What about YOU? What do you do to lead yourself well? What leadership hacks could you share to help other leaders with self care? See you next week, love Trisha

ps- If you are interested in the personal coaching program, email trisha@peach.im for more information.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Trisha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Should I take Monday? Should I take Friday? Will I EVER get a day off? Does any of this sound familiar? If you are in leadership, a pastor or a parent of young children then there is no such thing as a “weekend” or a regular “day off”. And if you are like me, with a combination of travel, leadership and parenting it may feel IMPOSSIBLE to take a day off. But I want to tell you right now, it is imperative that you DO take a day off each week and that you make that day off as effective as possible, and here’s how:

1. First of all, you have to believe that it IS possible to take a day off. Too many ministers and leaders and parents have given into the lie of our America culture that it is not possible, or wise to take a day off. The lie says, “You MUST be a GOOD worker, and a GOOD parent, and to be a GOOD worker and a GOOD parent you must ….(work 80 hours, take the kids to soccer, hockey, ballet, karate, speech meets, playdates, etc etc etc etc ). What we really need to do is separate our America culture from what scripture actually says. We really do not need to work that many hours. We do not need to please that many people. We do not need to have our children in that many activities. It’s time to kill the martyr complex. If you absolutely cannot find one day to take off for yourself, than some activities will have to be cut. If some people are disappointed, than that is ok. You are not on earth to please everyone. You are on earth to glorify God and to please Him. God tells us to take one day in seven to rest; therefore it IS possible to do it. If we feel we cannot take one day in seven to rest, we are doing too much to please other humans instead of God. If pastors of massive churches have found ways to be faithful in resting before God, you can to. With a husband, five services a week, two small children, traveling, five employees, an intern, a more than full time schedule and a partridge in a pear tree I have made a way to have a day off almost every week (emergencies do happen), but it was WORK to make that happen. But first, I had to believe it was was the right thing to do, and that it was possible to have a day off every week. For parents, I used to think I couldn’t ever have a day or even an evening to myself. I told a friend, “I cannot afford a sitter right now.” She said, “Will someone watch your children for free so you can have a day off?” I said, “No one would ever do that.” She said simply, “Have you ever asked?” I was stunned to silence. I did start asking and very soon a kind lady from our church said yes. And I finally had “time off” each week.

2. You are going to have to plan and work toward having your day off with the same creativity as any other event on your calendar. Did you just yell unfair? That may well be unfair. But if you do not work to plan and protect your day off, other things will creep in and steal it away. What do I mean by plan and protect your day off? I do not schedule anything on my day off. Not dentist visits or doctors check ups. Not teacher meetings.  If people from church ask to meet that day, I respond, “I cannot, because I have something scheduled that day. How about the day after.” I do not say, “That’s my day off,” because people are shockingly flippant about days off, saying “oh, then I’ll just come by your house and we can meet there!”.  I will deliberately plan to be out of town in a state park on my day off where there is no cell signal. You are NOT powerless as far as your schedule goes; you have more control than you think. When someone says, “we are doing _________ on (your day off)”, many times you CAN say, “No, I can’t that day, I have a commitment, how about __________?” It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. And what if it is your senior leader or someone on your staff who regularly disrespects your day off? You may have trained this person that your day off didn’t matter. And you can retrain them that now your day off DOES matter. It takes time and patience and good communication. “I would rather not do our outreach debrief on our day off if at all possible. I had planned to take my family to the zoo that day. We could all use a day of break after that big weekend. Could we all meet ____________?” Be respectful, but start making a case your time OFF to be time OFF. If your senior leader does not honor their own time off, they probably will not honor yours either. But YOU need to keep working toward a day of rest for the sake of your relationship with God, your spouse and your family anyway. Put your days off on the calendar at home and at church and protect them at all costs. Put your out of office reply on and let your voicemail pick up. That’s what it is for.

3. Remember your reasons for taking a day of rest. God told us to do so all throughout the Bible. He set the example for us in Scripture. The burnout rates of ministers are high because ministers tend to be the LEAST obedient to God about taking a day off! You are not doing ANYBODY any good if you burn out and leave ministry. Your family needs you. And you get only one chance to make memories with the family God gave you. You will be a better minister if you take a day off once a week. Your relationship with God will be better and closer if you are obedient to Him to rest once a week. “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” We really like to be in charge. But our ministry can dramatically change for the better when we decide to be obedient and rest in Him. Your health depends on learning to rest. You’ll do ministry for the Lord longer on this earth if you learn to take days off! So stop flinging yourself off cliffs and demanding that angels catch you as you crash and fry yourself!

4. Plan activities for your day off that will refill and renew YOU. Do not just hope that your day off will “happen”. You may just end up folding clothes and raking and then wonder why you’re still tired at work the next day. What energizes you? What makes you feel new again? It is not the same for all of us. For introverts, it is usually time alone, away from it all. If that’s you, maybe you should schedule some hiking time for yourself, or time on a secluded beach, a nap with all phones and lights off etc. Extroverts, like myself, get energy from being around people! I refill from going to a movie (phone off) or the mall with friends or the zoo with my family. I do not like staying around my house because 9 times out of 10 I end of doing housework or someone from church finds me with a minor crisis. No matter what it is, find out what refuels you, and then schedule THAT on your day off- NOT things for work, or house work, or school work- nothing that DRAINS you. I know this is difficult. It is a discipline but it is worth it.

I know how difficult it is to get a day off, and sometimes life happens, so it just does work out. But that should be the exception, not the rule. I just wanna encourage you today and give you hope that you and your family are WORTH having that day off every week. It’s Biblical and it’s what’s best for you, your family, your staff, and your church and ministry! Taking a break is a lot of work, so let’s get to it!

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For many years now, CPC Conferences (through INCM) have been the gold standard for international children’s ministries conferences.  It is always so amazing to see thousands of children’s pastors converge in one location for a few days of life-altering ministry!  But in this day and age of so many different conferences, in so many locations, on every ministry topic why does CPC stand out? What do CPC conferences offer that you simply cannot find anywhere else? AND with a lot of churches in a budget crunch, and so many underresourced children’s ministries leaders, we have to ask “Is CPC conference worth the expense? ”

These are great questions, and are worth a discussion. I’ve been to a LOT of conferences in my time, all over the country, and I’ve sent my teams to countless conferences. I’ve done local trainings, webinars, DVD teachings, and out of state “big events”.  So after experiencing so many different conferences, here is why I believe CPC is still your best choice  for trainings, networking and team building in 2015- in no particular order:

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

9. Resources Galore- Last year, I saw several children’s leaders arrive with cash in hand to buy their curriculum, training materials, books, worship DVDs, and supplies for the whole year.  I do not know many events that offer the chance to go through THAT MANY vender booths, talk directly to the creators of many of the products, handle and examine the resources (as opposed to buying online)- all under one roof! And every single thing is for kid’s and family ministries! It’s like Christmas in January and February for kid’s ministry leaders.  I even saw a few teams that brought their senior leader WITH them (great idea!) to help them purchase most of what they would need for the next year all at once. Great idea, very efficient.  It also gets your senior leader in the loop, excited about the possibilities and increased vision for the family ministries area! Some booths also offer conference discounts that you can only get AT CPC.

8. The Speakers- I am personally so grateful, that the leadership behind CPC has made it such a priority to bring in quality, dynamic speakers each year for the main sessions.  Want to hear from the most successful and in-demand children’s/family ministry leaders? You’ll probably find all of them at CPC this year.  All in one place. And every single year, I and my team have been inspired, challenged and encouraged to let God use us in bigger ways! I took so many notes last year, that I ran out of paper, and had to write on random scraps of paper in my purse.  I still reread those notes several times during the year (some are tear stained).  The impact of those large group services goes on well after the conference is over.

7. The networking- The very best part of CPC conference is NOT the amazing services or breakouts- sorry.  The BEST part of the conference is the networking that happens organically among children’s leaders.  Everywhere I see children’s leaders connecting, exchanging ideas, praying together, commiserating….they’re exchanging emails and facebook info in the hallways, classrooms, after services, late night activies.  They are bonding over lunch! We are always better when we are working TOGETHER.  And one of the greatest things about CPC is that the conference organizers acknowledge that by encouraging and creating time for ministry connections. I have met some of the most amazing friends and ministry collegues at CPC!

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

My next 5 reasons to come later this week- Merry Christmas to you all and a wonderful New Year.  I really hope to see all of you at CPC West and East! Register today!

Love Trisha

I was nine months pregnant with my first child when I took on a full time children’s pastorate at a church of 400.  But by the time my second baby turned 2, the church had grown to 1000, and the kid’s church had gone from 100 to 275 kids.  Fast forward another few years, and I had a marriage of 10 years, a 6 year old with some medical issues, a 4 year old, a fast growing ministry at a church of 3000, 600 kids, 276 volunteers, 5 weekly services, and five staff to manage. On top of that, I decided to finish classes for my ordination, write curriculum, take a missions trip to Africa and then write a book. Crazy? Probably.  But it has been a fantastic ride so far, and I wouldn’t change all of those things for all the world.

And believe it or not, my own mom had doubts I would even graduate college- not due to academic struggles, but purely due to my lack of organization!  She would always say, “You would lose your own head if it weren’t attached!!” My mother is an extremely neat and organized person, an amazing planner and skilled coordinator. My poor mom had ME for a child, whose room was ALWAYS a disaster, papers everywhere, face stuffed in a book, losing my things by the hour. So it is a miracle of God I am able to survive day by day (I love you mom!). For me ADHD is a ministry gift. But besides acts of God, there are a few tips I have learned along the way (many times the hard way) that have helped me with organization and time management.  If you are a naturally organized person who instinctively has it all together, than you already know these things, and God bless.  But for those of us who are “detail impaired” here are just a couple of survival skills I’ve learned:

1. Identify Priorities- It is very easy for creative people to get distracted.  We see an immediate problem and jump in to fix it. We want to please others and get sidetracked helping with THEIR priorities.   But can you answer this? Where does GOD want you and your family and your ministry to be in a year? In five years? You may not be able to answer that completely yet, but here are some things you DO know: You and your family and your ministry should be HEALTHY.  You should be winning lost people to Jesus. You should be reaching and stretching further than you are now.  You should be using your gifting in a bigger way and having greater influence in the future than you are right now.  And it won’t just HAPPEN.  Anything and everything in this world has a tendency to DEGRADE- to stagnate and sink downward without constant conscious work- your body, your marriage, your relationship with your kids, your ministry, your education etc.  Nothing worth anything just HAPPENS. “Just ignore it and it will go away” is very true when it comes to the good things in your life.  What do you want to do- identify those big priorities and put them down in writing.  I write them ON my dayplanner- because my marriage, kids and relationship with Jesus are much more important than whatever else I have to do today.

2. Use a planning system- Now a lot of creative people balk at the thought of PLANNING anything to far out. They may use the excuse “well I’m just not that organized.” That is a terrible excuse and reminds me of saying “Well I’m just not very athletic so I’ll never exercise.” We may have to work HARDER than detail people at being organized and planning way ahead- but it’s not optional.  If you want to SURVIVE in ministry and still have your family (and perhaps your sanity) intact you MUST become amazing at time management.  Excuses don’t get it done. You will feel better and your life will be so much less stressful when you tackle your schedule.  It is NOT insurmountable.  Procrastination will only make your stress worse. Pick a system and get started.  Some people love outlook, or a planner on their IPAD.  I like google calendar, but…..I still also have an old fashioned dayplanner that goes with me everywhere.  And yes I get razzed about it a lot. But I LIVE by that little booklet.  I cannot rely on my faulty overloaded memory to keep the onslaught of information together. I carry it with me during our church services, because parents or volunteers will catch me in the hallway and say, “Oh by the way, don’t forget to…..”  and by the time I turn the corner I’m already forgetting and another person is approaching.  I write EVERYTHING down right away.  Some of my friends take notes and then copy it later into their IPAD, google calendar etc.  I have a virtual notepad on my phone, and even a voice recorder to leave myself audio “notes”.  So which method is “right”? Depends on what words for YOU.  Some people are more visual (me), and others more audio driven. Find what works for you and then LIVE by it.

3. Learn to live backwards. This is a big one in family and ministry. Too many leaders I know start by working FORWARD, doing ministry week by week just hoping that someday “it” will happen, but they never did identify what “it” even was. What really works for me is deciding 9 months to a year ahead what I want to do, and then working BACKWARDS from that date, I set up timeline “road markers” all the way back to the present day.  For example, if you are wanting to do a great Harvest Fest, you should already be working on it NOW (November). And then working backwards, you first set the date for your event, then what you will need to get done that October, that September, that August and so forth, until you are up to today. That is a guarantee to pace yourself, and to get where you want to go, with a lot of excellence.  This also helps give you a “margin” of time to correct the mistakes and problems that WILL arise along the way.

The detail impaired CAN arise to the challenge and live a FULL and rich life. It just takes a lot of work.  But it’s worth it.

Stay tuned for even more in part two.