Seeking Wisdom

31 Jan

I think one of the greatest leadership lessons in the Bible comes from Solomon. He has the option to ask God for anything in the planet and he asks for wisdom to lead.  And God was obviously very pleased with that.  Several years ago I memorized most of Proverbs 3.  I don’t really even remember why, but ever since then God has really hit me over and over again with the idea of seeking wisdom.  And though I can no longer quote the passage word for word, I refer back to it often.  Especially on days like today.  Today was a day where leading was not easy and I needed God to pour out His wisdom.

So, how do I not lose my mind on days when significant issues arise?  Here are some lessons I try to remember from Proverbs 3.

1.  Let love and faithfulness never leave you. (Proverbs 3:1) My actions and words must be in love and must reflect faithfulness to God’s Word and to the leaders above me and to the people who I serve.

2.  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (3:5) We teach this verse in kidmin all the time.  But when crisis moments hit, I tend to default to what I know and what I can do – and then I panic.  God is not surprised by anything that comes our way.  He is in control.  He is bigger.  Panicking helps no one.  Trusting in God’s sovereignty helps put the situation, no matter how big, into perspective.

3.  Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the LORD and shun evil. (3:7) I can’t think for a minute that I’ve got it figured out or even worse. be too prideful to admit that I need help.  I need wise counsel from people I trust.  Don’t make any big calls on your own.

4.  My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke (3:11) If God shows you something that you have handled incorrectly or something that you are ABOUT to handle incorrectly, don’t ignore it.  Acknowledge it and make it right.  Again, don’t pretend you have it all together. None of us do and we make decisions on the fly.  Sometimes we have to correct our own decisions as well.

5.  Her (wisdom) ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. (3:17) One of the greatest tidbits that I have learned from Jim Wideman is to always follow peace.  God is the God of peace (Romans 16:20).  When making difficult decisions, I have to follow peace.  That is different from doing what is easy.  When evaluating options, the Holy Spirit may give peace about what is the right thing to do. It might not be the most popular or the most comfortable or have immediate happy results, but it is the wise option that will bring peace.

6.  When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet (3:24) I like to sleep.  There’s nothing worse than being tormented by decisions or situations.  What a kind God to care about our sleep.  When I trust in His wisdom I can rest in knowing that He’s got it.  When I trust in my wisdom, I lay awake wondering about “what ifs”.

I wish I got it right all of the time. I certainly don’t.  But I thank God that He doesn’t leave us to solve problems on our own.  Not only does He offer wisdom, He delights in us asking for it.  What a good God!

Two Adults in a Room Cannot Be Optional

28 Jan

This week I had the opportunity to chat with a friend who has recently planted a church in our area.  As we discussed his challenges of building a church and children’s ministry from scratch, he asked me to tell him again why I was so adamant that there always be two adults in the room.  There were only 3-5 children after all.

This is one of my non-negotiables in kidmin, particularly in preschool ministry.  Safety and accountability is huge on my list in preschool.  I am a little bit of a freak about it.  Here’s what I communicate when I share why I’m passionate about this issue:

–  Basically I don’t really trust anyone.  I’m sure on some level I need counseling, but let me tell you the story that ruined me.  When I was in middle/high school, I had a student pastor who I adored.  He was very foundational in my growth as a new believer.  He moved on before I graduated, but I kept in touch occasionally with him and his wife.  He ended up pastoring a church within a few hours of where we live now.  Imagine my shock when my best friend from home called and asked if I had watched the news.  This pastor (who I would have written you a glowing reference for, by the way) had been arrested for molesting friends of his daughter when they spent the night.  Wow. I remember asking my husband, “If you can’t trust sending your child to your pastor’s house, who do you trust.”  I’ll never forget his response: “No one.”  Again, our response is probably extreme, but that story rocked us.

–  1 Peter 5:8 says that Satan is a roaring lion, seeking who he may devour.  When it comes to our kids, we can not be too careful because all it takes is one moment of stupid and even a great person can be devoured by temptation that devastates lives.

–  It is our responsibility to protect our kiddos, no matter what.  Two adults in the room provides accountability and protection for the kids.

–  This policy also protects the volunteers.  Kids can make up some crazy stuff or  parents can jump to wrong conclusions. If a volunteer is falsely accused, who will help them if there is not another adult in the room.

–  Volunteers will often wave away extra help, insisting that they can handle the class themselves.  I’m sure they can, but we just can’t let them.

–  One of the adults needs to be a lady.  We have been blessed with incredible men volunteers who I love dearly.  And I’m sure it is extremely sexist, but I don’t want a man having to change my little girl’s diaper or help her go to the restroom.

–  Husbands and wives in the same room really need a third person.  A spouse is going to side with a spouse in any situation.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:  If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

What I’m Learning (again!) About Leading Change

26 Jan

I’ve led a lot of change in my ministry at Westwood.  We’ve changed our elementary ministry numerous times, with the most signifcant change being a campus relocation in 2006.  We’ve added children’s worship, changed formats for Sunday school, and changed our entire Sunday morning programming.  We’ve killed events and added new ones.

So, why do I always forget that leading change is a process?

I am a fixer.  I thrive on solving problems.  So, here is what I’m learning (again) as I am beginning to lead a new group of people in our church through some change:

–  Above all, exist to serve and love the people.  Period.

–   Not everything has to be fixed today.  There are some things that can wait til next month or even next church year.  In fact, waiting is often better.  Even if it is making me cringe on the inside, it probably isn’t making everyone else cringe.

–  Everyone has a different speed of change.  Even different ministries, or groups, within the same church have a different speed of change.  Some groups can handle even big changes with a lot of flexibility. Some groups become stressed by even the most minor of changes.

–  First priorities of change need to be safety issues (whether everyone likes it or not) and anything simple that will make everyone happy (like everyone gets a cupcake when they serve… ok, not really, but wish I could!)

–  You have to earn trust before you can make changes.

Have you had any great and or frustrating experiences with leading change? I’d love to hear your story!

Why I’m Passionate About Having Weekly Volunteers

25 Jan

As we’ve evaluated points of stress in our preschool ministry I have become more convinced than ever about the importance of staffing our ministry with volunteers who commit to be there every single week.

Currently the structure of our preschool ministry has one permanent (weekly) volunteer in each room and 1-2 rotating volunteers.  Most of these rotating volunteers serve once a month, while some serve twice a month.  We have great people filling these positions.  However, I think our dependence on these rotating volunteers has created some of the stress that is causing us to struggle to keep and fill volunteer spots.

Here are some of the frustrations I see:

–  Once a month people are not as invested.  They really love the church and may even love the kids, but just the nature of people is that if you only do something once a month then it is not going to hold highest priority to you.

–  Once a month people are more likely to forget that it is their week to serve or forget to get a replacement for themselves.  This leaves the permanent person in a bind and causes our directors to run around trying to fill the spot.

–  Once a month people are more likely to be late.  I would guess that they probably assume (maybe subconsciously) that their job isn’t a huge deal, because after all they only work once a month.   Meanwhile we are depending so much on them!  As you know, late volunteers = frustrated parents and frustrated other volunteers.  Especially those volunteers who are waiting to be relieved so that they can go to church!

–  Kids need consistent faces.  We have some fabulous once a month people who do a great job remembering the kids and loving on them.  But it is such a better connection when our little ones can know their names too!

So, we’re planning on a massive recruiting/vision casting emphasis over the next several months.  In the fall our goal is to have 2-3 permanent people in each room and use monthly volunteers as substitutes. More on that as we get rolling…

Do you have more weekly volunteers or rotating?  What does your volunteer structure look like?

 

Identifying Points of Stress for Preschool Volunteers

24 Jan

In my last post I mentioned that we were beginning to work on our preschool world.  In the fall we ran a few surveys for our parents and for our volunteers trying to identify what stressors or perceptions might exist that might deter people from wanting to serve in preschool.  You can read about those surveys here.   We got some great feedback. In addition we spent a considerable amount of time watching, observing, and talking to current and former volunteers.

Here are some stress points that we identified that needed to be addressed:

–  Not getting relieved by the volunteers for the next service, therefore often missing or being late to worship.

–  Not enough volunteers in the rooms/other volunteers not showing up

– Missing some supplies, or confused about what to use.

–  Lack of training for curriculum

Identifying these issues helped us begin a plan of attack for addressing them.  Our number one goal is to create an environment where people want to serve.

What have you identified as major points of stress for volunteers in your ministry?

Beginning to Work on Preschool Ministry World

17 Jan

One of my main focuses in 2011 is preschool ministry.  After 8+ years of focusing on elementary ministry, my job has shifted to include overseeing our ministry to nursery and preschool.  I think God has been preparing me some through alot of the reading, researching and in-house experience I’ve had since my girls were born.  I definitely gained an appreciation over the past few years of the ministry and an understanding for how much potential lies in the hearts and minds of these little ones.

One of the biggest struggles that we face, and which seems to be pretty universal in preschool ministry, is finding and keeping consistent volunteers.  I know preschool ministry is harder – let’s face it: there’s a lot of crying, a lot of loud, and some poop.  Those aren’t great selling points.  But I’m not willing to say that it will always be such a burden to find volunteers.  God has given us lots of little ones to love and He’s put lots of people in our church who are gifted to love them.  Somehow we have to get the two together and we have to make sure our environment is as volunteer-friendly as it can be.

I hope to share this adventure with you via this blog as we go.  Here are our first steps.

1.  Evaluate parents’ and volunteers’ perceptions of the ministry.

2.  Identify what’s causing volunteers not to return and not want to serve.

3.  Brainstorm how to re-brand or re-market the culture of the preschool ministry.

That’s where we’re starting…

 

 

 

To Make Christ Known

10 Jan

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.”  Colossians 1:27-28

Last week I had a great opportunity to hang out with Jim Wideman’s infuse 2.2 group.  I’ve kind of lost count of how many of these trips I’ve been on, but God has taught me something new every single time.  This time Jim issued a challenge that has really stuck with me.

What is our motivation?  In whatever we do, whatever we plan, whatever we blog, whatever we do in ministry… our motivation should be to make Christ known.

So this year…

– As I lead my team, my motivation is that our impact will be multiplied in making Christ known.

–  As I prepare curriculum, I must make sure that its purpose is to make Christ known.

–  As I love on kids and families, it is not so that they will like me or even our church, it is to make Christ known to them.

–  As I get to connect with other kidmin leaders, I must remember that the reason to broaden circles is to help all of us do what we do better to make Christ known to more kids.

–  As I love my children, my primary job is to make Christ known to them.

“He must become greater, I must become less.”  John 3:30