Improving Your Serve

The great Chicago preacher, Dwight L. Moody, once said, “The measure of a man is not how many servants he has, but how many men he serves.” One of the most important traits of anyone in ministry is having a heart for serving others.

Ministry is all about serving others.  It’s never been about getting the glory, the kudos, or the spotlight.  Jesus himself was the ultimate servant.  He said, “The Son of Man did not come to the Earth to be served, but to serve.”

As we minister to children, we’ll be required to do things that are out of our comfort zone (getting on the floor and playing with blocks, acting like crazy characters, getting hit in the face with pies, and going to lock-ins, just to name a few).  We need a heart that says, “Whatever I have to do to reach these kids, I’ll do it!”

One of the guys who has served on my Kids Ministry team for the last 7 years is Victor Rodriguez.  He’s a third-degree black belt who works for the Police Department.  If there’s anyone who could easily impose himself on others, it’s Victor.  But he displays a tender, serving heart to the children in our church.  It’s not uncommon to walk into the room to find Victor sitting on the floor talking to a child or running around the room with two or three boys hanging on his back.  He loves to serve kids.

Victor also serves his leaders.  I’ve received many phone calls and emails from him, asking what he can do to serve me.  He wants to do what he can to make my job easier.  Jesus said, “Anyone who wants to be the first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else” (Mark 9:35).  Victor lives this commitment every day.

Serving comes down to this, “Others first, me last.”  Try focusing less on teaching the lesson you have prepared, and be aware enough to notice when your kids are going through a rough time.  Look for opportunities to serve your kids.  Look for opportunities to serve your leaders.

How To Know When It Is Time To Leave

snoopy-goodbye

It’s one of the toughest decisions you will ever have to make:  Leaving a church you have been serving as a staff member.  It’s a decision that should NEVER be made cavalierly and never without much prayer and consideration.

I have seen many staff members leave too early and short circuit what God was wanting to do in them during a process of seasoning and learning.  But, I have also seen many staff members stay longer in a situation than they should have.  By doing so, they ended up hurting the church and their family in the process.

Certainly, you should leave if you have a DIRECT command from God that it is time for you to move on. Perhaps He has another place where He wants to use you.  Perhaps He has someone else who needs to fill your current position in order to fulfill His plan for that church.  If God says, “Leave,” then leave.  Outside of a direct command from God, here are a few ways you can know it might be time to resign the position you are serving in…

1)  When you no longer personally respect your pastor or team.

Whether it is your fault or theirs, if you have lost respect and cannot gain it back – you will do more harm than good by staying on the team.

2) When you can’t support and agree with them publicly

We will always have disagreements with our pastor or other staff.  It’s impossible to agree on everything.  But, we should always disagree in private!  When in a public setting, you MUST show agreement and solidarity.  If you are unable to do so despite your best prayer and effort, then you need to leave before you cause damage to the body of Christ.

3)  When you or your spouse become cynical or critical in your spirit

If you get to the point where you are cynical in your spirit and can’t seem to clear it out, then you should leave.  To continue to follow someone you don’t trust is damaging to them and to you.

4)  When you are no longer challenged to grow

When you get to the point where you have grown as far as you can at the current location, it might be time to consider moving on.

5)  When you don’t like being around your pastor or team

This doesn’t mean one person or another gets on your nerves one day.  However, if you find yourself consistently avoiding relational time with your staff or pastor, that is unhealthy.  If prayer and loving confrontation don’t solve it, then it is better to leave than poison the entire community.

6)  When you think you can do a better job than your pastor

Some staff pastors have the thought, “If I was in charge of this church, I would do a much better job than my pastor is doing.”  I have found that when a staff member has this feeling, MOST of the time it is the staff member’s fault – not the pastor’s.  However, if this feeling persists despite your best efforts to squelch it, then you can mark it down – you have lost all respect for your pastor.  No matter what the reason, you owe it to your pastor to resign and allow him to hire someone who respects him.

I am not one who advocates leaving on a whim.  I can’t stand the fact that the studies show the average length of stay for a church staff member is 18-24 months.  However, there are times that “sticking it out” can do more harm than good.  No matter what, never make the decision without bathing it in prayer and seeking wisdom from spiritual authority.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Share your thoughts in the comment section.

You Got Served!

I was privileged to spend some time at INCM’s Children’s Pastors Conference in Orlando last week.  It was an incredible conference!  If you have an opportunity to go in the future (there’s another one happening in San Diego in February) I encourage you to make it happen!

One thing that struck me the entire week was the level of service I received from the INCM staff as well as the Disney Resort staff where the conference was held.  While setting up our booth in the Exhibit Hall, we were approached multiple times by a member of the INCM staff asking, “How can I serve you?”  As I walked through the hallway of the Conference Center at Disney’s Coronado Springs I was stopped and asked “Is there any way I can serve you?”

Even after I returned home, I received emails and messages asking me “How can we serve you better next time?”  I was impressed at the level of concern that both INCM and Disney Resorts had for making sure my needs were met and that I was able to concentrate on having an incredible experience at the conference without having to worry about any details.

I began to think:  do I give this same attention to service and detail every week at my church?  Do I try to make sure every detail is handled and that there are no needs or distractions so that the kids and parents can relax and experience everything God has in store for them while they are there?  I have to admit, I was a little convicted.  Disney cared more about details and customer service than I did – and they represent a cartoon mouse.  I represent Jesus Christ.  It was humbling.

How about you?  How is your Kids Ministry doing on serving the parents and kids you are entrusted with?  Do you give enough attention to detail?  Do the parents have to beg you for information or do you freely offer it?  Do the kids feel like you are there to SERVE them or do they feel you are there only to TEACH them?

Jesus said it best, “But among you, those who are the greatest should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.” (Luke 22:26)  Let’s commit to serving our parents and kids.  It’s not just “good business”, it’s our assignment from Christ.

Have You Prayed For Your Pastor Today?

pastor-stress

Last week I had the privilege of traveling with my Senior Pastor, Rod Loy, for a very important trip.  We were meeting with some of the leadership of our denomination to discuss the possibility of a VERY cool project that could make a major impact on Kids Ministry.  It was exciting!

During that quick, 24 hour trip, I was able to be a “fly on the wall” of sorts and get a glimpse into the kind of pressure my pastor faces on a daily basis.  While I drove, his phone rang almost nonstop.  In that short amount of time he had to handle phone calls and emails dealing with several people’s health crises, someone’s job loss, talked another pastor who he is coaching through a crisis in their church, and dealt with several emails from people who were personally attacking and criticizing him.

All the while, he never complained or showed any signs of frustration.  He graciously prayed with, counseled, and shared with each person – giving them individual attention and care.  It was amazing to see.  I wasn’t sure I could have handled it as well as he did.

I began to think, “If I hadn’t been right beside him, I wouldn’t have known this day was as tough as it was.  He never would have told me about it.  He never would have come crying or complaining to the staff about how tough things are.”  That convicted me.

Too often I am guilty of assuming that just because I don’t hear about the stresses and pressures my pastor is dealing with, then they must not be happening.  I assume things are fine and dandy, all the while he is battling tremendously in the spirit realm with all sorts of crises.  He needs a solid prayer covering DAILY!

I committed that day to step up my game and pray even more earnestly for my Pastor, my leader, my mentor.  He and his family are under constant attack of the enemy, and they need prayer to withstand these attacks.   I repented for not praying enough for him and committed to change that.

What about you?  Are you praying daily for your Senior Pastor and his family?  Are you praying earnestly for them, doing battle in the spirit realm?  God has placed you under his leadership.  It is your responsibility to cover your pastor and his family in prayer.  Let’s commit as Kids Ministry Leaders to pray DAILY for our pastors.  You’ll be glad you did!

Recruiting Volunteers Pt. 2

KIDMIN QUESTION:

“When recruiting, how do you help potential volunteers respond out of the right motivation (God honoring, using their gifts, etc) instead of guilt?” – submitted by Donna Leupp in Peshtigo, WI

Picking up where Pt. 1 left off – here are more principles to follow when recruiting volunteers for your Kidmin Team…

4)  Develop a ministry application for volunteers to complete.

Sit down and put together an application that not only gathers pertinent contact information, but also asks probing questions that give you insight into the person you are considering.  What are their likes/dislikes?  What experience do they have working with kids?  What are their gifts and talents?  What do they consider “success” in ministry?

This should ALWAYS include a criminal background check and personal references.  We all know too well of incidences where children are harmed by adults within an organization/charitable group.  Churches are no exception, and it is our responsibility to make sure that the kids who come to learn about God at church are well protected.  There are many places online for you to get background checks on a limited budget.

Having an application also elevates the importance of the ministry in the applicant’s eyes AND in the eyes of your parents.  It speaks volumes as to how serious you are about running a safe and secure environment.

5)  Recruit volunteers based on their GIFTS.

Never recruit a volunteer simply to complete a task.  In other words don’t say, “I need someone to take care of my 5th grade boys class.”  Rather, offer people opportunities to make an eternal difference by using their spiritual gifts.  Study the application and see what the volunteer’s spiritual gifts are.

This will help you ensure that you don’t put someone who is gifted in teaching in charge of taking attendance and doing administration.  It will make sure you don’t put someone with the gift of hospitality in charge of organization the supply closet.  This way, every spiritual gift is honored and used for the sake of the kids.

It requires trust.  Trust in God to bring the right people to your team – and trust in your ability to place people where their gifts will shine!  Pray!  Believe!  God will lead you in the process!

6)  Ask the advice and consent of other Staff Pastors and your Lead Pastor BEFORE placing someone in their area of ministry.

This may be hard for you to believe, but you don’t know EVERYTHING.  🙂  Your pastor or other staff may be aware of situations in the recruited volunteer’s life that precludes them from being involved in ministry at the present time.  This may involve spiritual issues, emotional issues, or family issues.

Also, the volunteer may be involved in many other areas of ministry that you are not aware of and may be stretched too thin.  The last thing you would want to do is place someone in ministry with the kids, have them make a strong bond with the kids, and then have them “burn out” because they are stretched too thin.

Quite honestly, it would be wise to get input from your Pastor even BEFORE you approach the volunteer.  It will help you immensely and save you a world of hurt!

MORE TO COME in Recruiting Volunteers Pt. 3…

Recruiting Volunteers Pt. 1

Recruiting Volunteers

KIDMIN QUESTION:

“How do you get folks in the church to volunteer when they think it is the Children’s Pastor’s job to do the ministry?” – submitted by Mike Benintende, N. Versailles, PA

This is one of the most difficult tasks of a Kidmin Leader – Recruiting Volunteers.  I can tell you, there is no magic formula.  The only way to recruit successfully is by CONTINUOUS hard work and adherence to a few key principles.  In the next few posts, I will share some of those keys that I have learned.  Hopefully they will help you to build a strong team of leaders to serve the children of your church.

Keys To Recruiting A Volunteer Team:

1)  Don’t recruit from a NEED, rather recruit from an OPPORTUNITY.

There is nothing worse than a Children’s Ministry Director standing up in front of the congregation and saying, “We are so overwhelmed.  We HAVE to have help!  PLEASE HELP US!“  That tells the person listening:  “There must be a reason no one is working with them.”

NEVER use the phrase, “No one wants to help! OR I can’t get anyone to help me!”  That’s like my son starting off a question, “I know you are going to say NO, but…”

Rather than moan about how much we need help, choose to celebrate the growth and excitement of your Kids Ministry.  Don’t talk about what you DON’T have, talk about what you DO have – opportunities for the member of your church to make an eternal impact on a soul for whom Christ died.

2)  Recruit from the VISION of your ministry.

Start by raising the value of children’s ministry inside your church.   Share stories in church services about life change in children or have volunteers share stories about how their lives have been changed.  Serving in children’s ministry is an opportunity to honor God—not a duty or a task (Col. 3:23).

You are recruiting by giving people an opportunity to be a part of what God is doing in the lives of the children of your church.  Explain to them, “God is going to accomplish His plan in the lives of  the children in our church.  The question is not ‘WILL God do it?’ The question is ‘WILL YOU be a part of it?’”

3)  Recruit One-On-One and Face-to-Face.

Rather than putting a blurb in the bulletin, a video announcement, or a pulpit spot from your Senior Pastor, recruit by approaching people one-on-one and having a meaningful conversation with them.

Pray ahead of time who God is preparing to serve (Luke 10:22).  Once He leads you to someone, approach them.  Don’t just walk up in the hallway at church – that doesn’t communicate value to someone.  Instead, invite them to lunch, call them on the phone, or go out to eat with them after church.

Explain to them that as a result of what God is doing in your Children’s Ministry, an opportunity has arisen.  You have been praying about who the person should be to serve in this area.  You felt led to talk to them because you feel that they have the right gift mix to be able to make a Kingdom difference in the lives of these kids.

MORE TO COME in “Recruiting Volunteers Pt. 2″…