DON’T QUIT Interview

Kids Ministry Collective Podcast

Just a few weeks ago, Don’t Quit, the book I coauthored with Gina McClain, released on Amazon. The response we’ve received has been overwhelming. When we started the process, we wanted to write something that would not only inspire ministry leaders to stick with it for the long run, but also give them practical tips to make the journey easier.

Last week in an interview on The Kids Ministry Collective Podcast, Gina and I discussed many of the topics we wrote about in the book. I hope you’ll take just a few moments to check it out.

Click here to listen now.

Click here to purchase Don’t Quit!

Jessica Bealer

How To Unite A Divided Team

If you’ve ever found yourself a member of a united, successful team, you know it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that clicks. It just feels right. On the other hand, have you ever been on a team that just couldn’t collaborate? For whatever reason the scoreboard was never in your favor, the project never found completion, or a consensus of strategy was never established. In these instances, it’s much easier to identify foundational cracks: lack of communication, no discipline, no accountability, no vision.

The product of time and consistency is unity. The best teams in the world didn’t start out being the best. It took time to develop trust, to recognize and appreciate team dynamics, and to gain confidence as a group. However, as a leader there are a few steps you can take to hasten unity and accelerate trust.

  1. Communication limits mistakes. When training leaders I often say, “You will never regret increased clarity. Over communicate if necessary, but never assume your teammates understand.” I’m not suggesting a weekly two page informative email is the catch all to your problems, but the more clarity you gain as a team, the more success you will find.
  2. Loyalty must be shown mutually. Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m with you all the way!” Only to have them depart your team two weeks later. It’s incredibly frustrating. In the past I blamed the fickleness of people in general. However, over time I’ve realized most people who walk away do so because they didn’t feel their loyalty was reciprocated. Your team has to believe you will crawl through the trenches and leap over the hurdles alongside them.
  3. Put your team before yourself. When you’re the leader it’s easy to use your position to campaign your ideas, convince others of their validity, and influence strategy. Before you buck around in the china shop, stop, listen, and consider others’ thoughts and ideas. Your personal agenda has to be set aside for the benefit of the team.
  4. Team discipline unifies your effort towards your goal. Set standards, deadlines, and targets. Then hold each other accountable. Without control and restraint, chaos reigns. Disorder breeds confusion and confusion is the beginning of the end. Your team should set clear expectations of one another and be willing to speak up when those expectations are not being met. A disciplined team is a confident team.
  5. Success must be attained and celebrated together. No one is successful independently. There is a reason why award speeches are long. Your team must learn to rely on and rejoice together as victories are attained. Celebrating success creates a winning attitude.
  6. Keep the vision out front. God has placed everyone on your team for a reason. Calling trumps ability every day of the week. The Bible tells us in Romans 8:37,“…in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Your greatest tool, your secret weapon, the thing that sets your team apart is a heavenly father who created you and believes in you. Never discount calling when calculating success. Keep the vision God gave you out front at all times.

You may not be familiar with the name Pat Head Summitt, but if you’re from any state within the SEC Conference, you know who she is. Pat Head Summitt holds the record for the most wins of any coach in NCAA basketball history of either men’s or women’s teams in any division. She coached the Tennessee Lady Vols for 38 seasons, won 1,098 games, and never had a losing season. She’s also ranked number 11 on the 50 Greatest Coaches of All Time, the only female on the list. In short…she’s the best. When asked about teamwork she said, “With a combination of practice and belief, the most ordinary team is capable of extraordinary things.”

Your team doesn’t have to consist of all-stars. Hard work, passion, and discipline are enough to achieve most goals. Strategies change, vision does not. Motivate your team with positivity. Speak to their passions. Hold them accountable. Most importantly, keep the vision at the forefront. When your team is confident in it’s calling, they will pursue excellence until it produces the desired results.

For additional leadership articles such as this, click here.

Jessica Bealer

Empowering Your Volunteer Team

Featured on Orange Leaders

Ants. Everywhere. I looked around the classroom and could feel the sting of tears forming. It was going to be a hectic morning.

I had known for weeks today would be challenging and had done everything in my power to set up my teams for success. It was a long holiday weekend, which meant many volunteers were at the beach or in the mountains with their families. (But we were covered; I had called in reinforcements in the form of staff spouses.) Our church building, which was often rented out by other well-meaning organizations, had been filled with tiny ballerinas and tappers less than 24 hours prior, and they had definitely left their mark. Glitter was everywhere. (But again, no big deal. I had hired a cleaning service and brought my own vacuum from home for a final touch-up.)

However, when I unlocked that room (the one room that hadn’t been touched by sparkles and tutus) and saw the trails of hardworking fire ants streaming across every flat surface, my heart sank. “Oh no!” I whispered. The volunteer standing at my back gasped and mumbled quietly, “I noticed them last week just outside the door. I mentioned it to another staff member. I guess they forgot.”

The Problem You Don’t See Coming

Have you ever been so flustered, so angry that you could feel your face heating? That’s exactly what I experienced in the moment. We could have remedied the problem anytime in the last seven days. There was nontoxic ant spray beneath the sink in that very room. How did we find ourselves in this situation? The volunteer’s next words effectively deflated my frustration. “I’m sorry. You’re just so particular and I was afraid I’d step on someone’s toes if I took matters into my own hands. Would you have wanted me to spray or tell you so you could spray?”

Immediately, I realized my failure. We would fall short of the expectations of the families we served because I had neglected to empower team members to identify viable solutions and make critical decisions. I had micromanaged my ministry to the point of malfunction. I had built a shifting foundation. My need for control had robbed my team members of their confidence and limited their capacity. The irony in the situation was how much I trusted my team. I had recruited incredible people with a varied set of skills and aptitude. They were fully capable of executing with excellence, but my fear of making mistakes and being labeled inadequate was stifling our success. Click here to read more.

Refuse to Quit

by Jessica Bealer | Orange Leaders

I started playing basketball in fourth grade. I had hit a growth spurt and everyone kept suggesting I try it out. My dad took me to the community center and signed me up. I didn’t know how to dribble or shoot and the rules were as familiar to me as calculus theorems. I was lost, to put it mildly. In my first game I rebounded 20 balls, which may sound impressive, except that I also walked twice, missed every shot I attempted, and fouled out in the third quarter.

It was around this same time that my teammates and I became infatuated with the Chicago Bulls’ extended stay at the top of the NBA food chain. Led by the dynamic duo of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, the basketball-watching world stood stunned as team and individual records were shattered. Jordan was my hero. If I could shave my head and grow another foot, I knew I could be just like him.

It took me nearly two years before I developed into a contributing player.

I never became the Michael Jordan of women’s basketball, but I experienced two state championships as well as a starting position on my high school team. I was never the best on the court, but I worked hard and found my way. To this day, Michael Jordan is still my hero. In an interview a few years back he said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”1

To read more, click here.

5 Ways To Make It EASY To Attend Your Church

A Part of Multisite Monday

“We’re already running late, by the time we park at the back of the lot and get the kids checked in, we’ll miss most of worship.”

“I forgot to pack the baby bag last night. Even if I start now, we’ll never make it in time.”

“It’s raining and I can never keep the kids dry and get them in the building.”

“By the time we arrive, the kids will miss half the lesson.”

“I’m a single parent, and I’m embarrassed when I struggle to get my kids in by myself. I feel like everyone is looking at me.”

“I accidentally slept late and there is no way I can get my little ones changed and out the door in time to make it.”

“We don’t have time to eat breakfast and make it to church.”

“The good seats are always taken by the time I check my kids in and make it to the auditorium.”

and last but not least…

“We accidentally slept in, so we’re running late. My kids aren’t dressed. It’s raining and I can’t find the umbrella. I forgot to pack the baby bag last night, and now the dog is loose!”

I’m not sure how we can help with the family pet, but WE CAN AND SHOULD REMOVE all other obstacles.

Unchurched families (specifically parents) are unfamiliar with a Sunday routine that prioritizes your ministry. To be clear…they don’t know HOW to do church. Inconsequential delays often feel like insurmountable obstacles. Romans 10:14 says, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” In order for the Word of God to make an impact, one must first encounter it. Two thousand years ago, the problem facing the early church was a limited number of evangelists. In today’s society, there are a million things vying for the time and attention of every family that walks through your doors each weekend. In other words, your ministry has major competition.

If you want to connect with and make an impact on the families of today, you must intentionally remove as many hurdles as you can. Make it EASY for families to come to church. Here are 5 areas in which you can remove barriers and more adequately meet the needs of those coming through your doors.

1 – Family Parking / Assistance

Getting kids out of the car and into the church building can feel like a battle. There are a hundred things that need to be carried inside: bags, coats, car seats, strollers, toys, snacks, bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers, even favorite stuffed animals. Their kids are cranky or may be struggling with separation anxiety. Moving vehicles and tiny, unpredictable feet in close proximity to each other create another level of stress. In addition, families tend to run late, and this equates to a backlot parking space as far from the church doors as possible. But what if you could simplify the parking problem?

Solution: Designate a Family Parking area close to the church building and give families door hangers marked as such. Instruct them to place the hanger on the rearview mirror of their car. As they pull into the lot, have parking volunteers show them where to park and assist them as they unpack their car, wrangle their children and make their way into the building.

2 – Reserved Seating

One of the biggest deterrents for parents is not knowing whether they will get a decent seat or any seat at all during optimal worship times.

Solution: Since we know it takes moms and dads longer to find their seat (because of child check-in and drop-off), designate a “good” seating section just for them. As parents are checking their children in, have a kids’ volunteer hand them a special pog, marker or ticket that lets them know you’ve saved them a seat. This will take the stress out of the drop-off process. They won’t feel rushed or frustrated when they end up sitting at the back of the room or in your overflow area.

3 – Umbrella Brigade

If you’re anything like me, you cringe when the forecast predicts rain or snow on Saturday night or Sunday morning. You know your numbers are going to be lower than usual. But what if you could ensure a dry, safe way for families to get from the parking lot to the door?

Solution: Send an email to all families two days prior. Reassure them you are prepared for inclement weather, and you’re ready to serve their family. Assign additional volunteers to your parking team. Shovel sidewalks and sprinkle salt for snow. Arm your team with ministry branded umbrellas and ponchos. Have umbrella bags and hand warmers readily available. The next time the weather forecast looks dreary, consider it an opportunity to shine. Unexpected excellence is impressive and impactful.

4 – Start Times

If parents believe they are running too late…they won’t come. Church may already feel like a hassle, but if it feels pointless as well, you’ve lost the battle completely.

Solution: Don’t open doors too early, no more than 20 minutes before a worship service is scheduled to begin. If parents think they or their child is at a disadvantage, they won’t make the effort. Offer ice-breaker activities to early arrivers, but don’t start teaching until late comers have a chance to get checked-in. Hold the main auditorium doors until five minutes after kids classrooms have opened. This allows parents to check-in their children and still obtain optimal seating.

5 – Stocked Supplies

Parents forget…everything. We’ve all done it. At some point you’ve walked out of the house without something of significance. If a parent feels the need to turn around and go back home, it’s likely they’ll not turn back and try again. However, if you’re prepared for any and all needs that may arise, the trek back home may be avoided.

Solution: Stock everything from bibs, pacifiers, bottles, sippy cups and diapers, to extra clothes and underwear for every stage of development. Keep Lunchables, fresh fruit, and cheese sticks in a mini fridge, along with extra snacks in the cabinets that take into account allergies and dietary restrictions. Consider stocking odd things like sunscreen, screwdrivers, extra batteries or wrapped presents. You never know when a carseat might need a screw tightened, or a child’s favorite toy just ran out of juice. Give often and freely. Never ask or expect parents to return anything. Instead, consider it a good investment into fertile soil. When you say, “We can help with that! No worries.” or “No breakfast this morning? We’ve got you covered.” you convey preparedness and excellence.

In a multisite model, this can only happen if you’ve set clear expectations and created volunteer coaching strategies to support your teams. A recommended supply list should be offered to kids directors. Parking hangers, umbrellas, and reserved seating tickets should be designed and distributed centrally. Vision must be cast before changes are made, and the “win” must be clearly defined.

When everything else has gone wrong, church should be a safe place for kids and parents. Moms and dads should feel as if they can come as they are: messed up, scattered, stressed out, frustrated, on edge, tired, beaten down and forgetful. When you intentionally plan for any and all circumstances, you give parents the freedom to relax, set aside distractions, to-do lists and responsibilities and simply respond to the message of Jesus Christ. “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Romans 10:14

If you want your ministry to grow, make church easy. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Remove all obstacles and offer parents a safety net. Your goal is to help them forgo the daily grind and simply receive God’s Word.

For additional multisite articles, click here.

Jessica Bealer

DON’T QUIT Book Available Now!

My new book, co-authored with Gina McClain, is now available for purchase on Amazon or at Don’tQuitBook.com.

For years I wanted to quit every Monday morning. I referred to my downtrodden demeanor as the Monday morning ministry blues. Gina and I wrote this book to help others facing the same frustrations. Your ministry can be the journey of a lifetime. It takes perspective and a plan.
Order now from DontQuitBook.com and receive my new eSingle, How to Establish an Effective First-Time Guest Strategy, as well as free editable leader resources.

Reviews are welcome! We want to know what you think and how the book is helping you and your ministry.

Jessica Bealer