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

7 Keys To Impactful Connections

Part of Multisite Monday

Over the years, I’ve taken more than my fair share of budgetary questions, “How should we allocate our funds? Who oversees the budget? How strict should we be about overages?” The question I receive most? “I have a little money left over for the year, what should I do with it?”

My answer is always the same, “SPEND IT ON SMALL GROUPS!”

My mom and dad taught that where you spend your time and money is reflective of your priorities. If small groups are important, then we must devote time, money, and energy to see them succeed.

Parents bring their kids and students to church for different reasons: discipleship, babysitting, guilt, supplemental parenting, boredom, or even curiosity. Kids and students come to church for two reasons, to have fun and hang out with friends. Once we understand the needs and expectations of those we serve, we can begin to strategize. The role of a small group leader is complex. Simplifying the goals allows for clarity. Here are the three objectives of a small group leader:

  1. To CONNECT with mom or dad through meaningful conversations
  2. To ENGAGE with a kid or student in a fun and exciting way
  3. To FACILIATE relationships both as a mentor and with kids’ or students’ peers

Overtime in a multisite model, the quality of small group execution can start to vary from location to location. It’s easy to get frustrated and lay the responsibility square on the shoulders of the campus director. However, excellence starts with a healthy centralized strategy. There are certain elements that must be present or communicated to ensure small group leaders are set up for success. Let’s examine those essentials and consider how to create centralized strategies to ensure their implementation in a multisite model.

 

Coaching

Coaching is not training. Training happens once a quarter in a multi-purpose room with rows of chairs and snacks. Only about 40% of your volunteer-base show up, and most of the time, it’s the 40% that don’t need training. I’m not a huge advocate of training, because it’s rarely as effective as I hope it will be. Coaching, on the other hand, has proven to be a valuable tool. Coaching is hands-on, in the moment guidance. Pair your more experienced team members with those that need assistance and watch magic happen. Put a rotation schedule in place so every small group leader feels supported and encouraged by the coach.

Tip for Multisite Implementation: Coaching starts with a centralized strategy, but often begins with a single location test run. I would advise you to implement this idea at one of your healthiest locations. Select small group leaders who lead the way and communicate well with their teammates. Set clear expectations and transition them to a coaching role. Coaches should split their time between on-boarding new volunteers and evaluating and supporting current small group leaders.

 

Options

If you’ve ever led a small group for kids or students you know things rarely go as planned. Activities don’t always connect. A question that seems benign on the surface may bring unexpected tears. The new kid says something highly inappropriate and a gigglefest ensues. These unexpected twists and turns will lead to honest and impactful conversations. God rarely does what we expect. He works in mysterious ways. We can acknowledge that by offering options to group leaders. For example: “If this doesn’t work, go back to the game.” or “If a conversation is going well, don’t feel rushed to get on with the lesson plan.” Giving small group leaders margin with curriculum transitions allows the group to grow organically.

Tip for Multisite Implementation: Once you’ve established a coaching model this technique can be demonstrated through hands-on training. In the meantime, clarify your expectations through central curriculum emails.

 

Notes and Nuggets

Have you ever read a lesson plan and imagined its execution in your mind. You probably began to think about what you would do and not do, how you would divide kids or students into teams or how you would celebrate a correct answer. Experience leads to expertise. You know how to make it happen, but don’t assume every small group leader operates as you do. It’s important, as you put your lesson plan together, to provide helpful execution tips along the way. These little nuggets of informational gold set your leaders up for success and teach them how to begin to think as you do. I would also encourage you to leave space on your lesson plan, whether below each activity or in the margin, for notes. The goal is for small group leaders to fully engage with the kids and students he or she is leading. Giving leaders space to work out details encourages them to take ownership and spend additional time in preparation. It won’t be long before they too are executing run-throughs in their mind.

Tip for Multisite Implementation: At the beginning of every activity provide helpful advice for execution. Tips like, “This activity works well when kids or students are sitting on their knees” or “Have your group stand in a circle before placing the blindfold on” can help with flow, limit distraction, and save time. This will promote excellence and consistency across all locations.

 

Nourishment

Great small group leaders create a welcoming and exciting atmosphere for the kids or students in their groups. They facilitate friendship and fun. They can discipline with a smile, and make everyone feel as if they belong. If you read that statement and thought, “I just want mine to show up and know the lesson plan,” maybe the issue isn’t commitment, but rather health. Healthy small groups are lead by healthy small group leaders. When was the last time you checked on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health of your team? The roll of the small group leader is the most important, and you must treat it as such. Handle those volunteers with great care. Meet with them regularly to assess their well-being. Provide leadership development books, devotionals, and prayer journals, and make sure those individuals are sitting under the preached word every week. A spiritually starved leader feels inadequate and unable to do that which has been asked of them. Inadequacy leads to departure. Not only will those individuals produce less than stellar environments, but it’s likely they won’t be around for very much longer. No one enjoys feeling like a failure. You can avoid that by prioritizing the health of your small group leaders and providing a steady stream of nourishment to your teams.

Tip for Multisite Implementation: Make room in your central curriculum budget to purchase a leadership book or prayer journal for every small group leader 2-4 times a year.

 

Examples

Whatever curriculum you choose to use, it’s important to make it easy to read and understand. If instructions aren’t clear, execution will be less than mediocre. Consider providing step-by-step instructions for each activity or conversation, as well as diagrams or pictures of the resources he or she will use. You can even provide example statements for them to say at the beginning of each activity. When you take the guesswork out of lesson prep, you ensure consistency and build unity among your teams.

Tip for Multisite Implementation: When preparing small group supplies centrally or on the campus level, offer clear visuals to group leaders by including a completed sample of each craft or activity.

 

Conversation Starters

Kids and students don’t walk in the doors of your church ready to learn about Jesus. Wouldn’t that be amazing? They come hoping to have fun and see friends. If they walk straight into a Bible study upon arrival, you’ve already failed to meet their expectations. Whatever your curriculum selection, it’s important to provide small group leaders with conversation starters. The foundation of a healthy small group is trust. Trust takes time, but starts with authentic conversation. Set your small group leaders up for success by offering a “Would you rather…” or “The grossest thing I’ve ever seen is…” fill in the blank.

Tip for Multisite Implementation: If conversation starters are not included in the curriculum you select, make sure to provide 3-5 questions or discussion topics in your central curriculum email to help break the ice.

 

Timeliness

It takes time to prepare a lesson that will both engage and connect. Honor a small group leader’s commitment by providing the lesson plan to him or her in a timely manner. Passion is smothered by lack of preparation. If you don’t “get around” to emailing out the lesson plan until later in the week, you shouldn’t be surprised when leaders shows up and read from the script. You haven’t made it a priority, so why should they. A 5-7 day preparation window allows leaders to read over it, consider what they will say, memorize key parts, and apply Biblical truths in their own lives. A healthy small group environment starts with excellent preparation, and that starts days in advance.

Tip for Multisite Implementation: Have the team or individual that oversees curriculum centrally write the lesson plan email each week. This email should be sent to campus directors no later than Tuesday. Leave a few fill-in-the-blank options for campus directors to personalize. This will ensure curriculum emails are clear, consistent, and sent in a timely.

Coaching

Options

Notes and Nuggets

Nourishment

Examples

Conversation Starters

Timeliness

The point of a small group is to connect with kids, students, and parents and make an impact. Without a connection, influence is lost. Without influence, it’s only a matter of time before your ministry loses priority and is superseded by a million other alternatives.

In a multisite model, it may seem impossible to centralize personal connection. However, strong systems and clear expectations allow for success at the campus level. Ask yourself the following questions as you begin to evaluate your strategy.

How are we growing our kid and student small group leaders as a church? What’s our strategy?

Have we communicated that a connection is more important than a schedule? 

Do we provide margin for group leaders to personalize their lesson?

Are lesson plan instructions clear and easy to understand?

Do we offer execution tips for those harder-to-understand activities?

Are we setting small group leaders up for success with conversation starters and icebreakers?

Is the lesson plan provided to the small group leader with ample preparation time?

To check out additional Multisite Monday articles, click HERE.

Jessica Bealer

EVALUATION…the Secret Sauce of Multisite Ministry

Part of Multisite Monday

In recent years, EVALUATION has become a buzzword in ministry. Growing up a preacher’s kid, I distinctly remember phrases like, “We’re not growing in number, but we’re growing in depth,” or “It doesn’t matter how many people show up if one person gives his or her life to Jesus, it’s worth it.” I also remember my dad shaking his head and saying, “No. If we can’t measure success, it’s time and money wasted.” I’m not speaking in absolutes. I’m sure there are actions you could take or ministries you could launch to further God’s kingdom that would be difficult to measure. However, I also know that defining victory increases your odds of success.

Family Ministry is one big puzzle made up of a thousand different pieces. It would be simple if we could look at our teams and say, “I trust you. Now go do a good job!” The problem is that success, if not defined, is subjective. Everyone will have a different take and those varying perspectives may not align with the purpose or vision of your ministry.

Policies, procedures, standards, and systems don’t handcuff your teams, they free them. They grant the authority necessary to meet expectations. They empower volunteers to identify solutions within the parameters you’ve set, and they clearly define boundaries. I call this the infrastructure of EVALUATION…the secret sauce, if you will. In a multisite model, a strong foundation is essential if you want excellence to translate from one location to another, but that requires a clear set of blueprints. Below you will find a list to help get you started.

Atmosphere

Room Ratios / Small Group Ratios

Toy Replacement / Standards

Signage Requirements / Standards

Large Group Quality Control (Run-through / Actors)

Minimum Standards (By Area)

 

Policy and Procedures

First Time Guest Welcome Procedure

First Time Guest Follow-Up Plan

Special Needs Family Procedures

Child Bathroom Policy

Diaper Changing Policy

Infant Feeding Procedures

Snack Restrictions / Policy

Check-In / Check-Out Procedures

Room Opening / Closing Procedures

Tear-down / Set-up Procedures

Incident Reporting System

Safety / Security Standards

Evacuation Plan

Active Shooter Policy

Curriculum Distribution Procedures

Transition(s) Plan (Small Group / Large Group)

Parent Paging System (During the Service)

 

Volunteers

Volunteer Communication / Feedback Plan

New Volunteer On-boarding Procedures

Volunteer Training / Coaching Plan

Volunteer Appreciation Plan

Volunteers’ Children Care Plan

Volunteer Dress Code

Supply Needs / Communication Procedures

Setting clear expectations for your teams allows for advancement and accountability. This list isn’t a catchall. As your ministry changes and expands, additional policies and procedures may be necessary. Your current systems and standards will most likely be null and void a year from now if you’re experiencing growth. If there’s a secret sauce to multisite ministry, it’s EVALUATION. Building the infrastructure in advance will ensure you’re ready for all God has planned for your ministry.

For additional articles on multisite strategy, click HERE.

Jess Bealer

What Is Your “Why”?

Orange Leaders Audioblog

At one point or another you’ve probably said, “I have the best job in the world!”—and in the moment you whole-heartedly meant it. You love what you do, or at least you’re in love with the idea of what you do. Investing in the next generation ensures the continuation of the gospel. That should be motivation enough, right? Unfortunately, it’s not. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have an emotional connection to your ministry. I am saying your calling is more than a vague and overarching purpose statement. Your “why” has to be specific to you. What keeps you up at night? What gets your heart racing? What singular topic occupies your thoughts and the majority of your conversations?

For me, it’s this…to continue reading click here.

TO LISTEN TO THIS VIA AUDIOBLOG, CLICK HERE.

Thanks for visiting FamilyMinistry.Church. I hope you find the content here helpful and inspiring. If you’d like to reach out to me for any reason, you can contact me through the site. Enter your information in the sidebar at the top of this page.

Jessica Bealer

15 FRESH Volunteer Appreciation Ideas

Part of Multisite Monday

My new book, Don’t Quit, releases on September 8th. Coauthored with Gina McClain, it is written in such a way to offer insight on a variety of ministry topics, as well as inspire leaders to never raise the white flag of surrender. In our original pitch to the publisher, we shared our passion and commitment to see ministry leaders equipped, empowered, and strengthened to run the marathon race that is ministry. In several chapters we directly address volunteer systems and strategies. Volunteers are the lifeblood of ministry. The stronger your teams, the greater the impact.

If you plan to be in ministry for any length of time, you need support. While healthy familial relationships are important, that’s not what I’m referring to. You need passionate, dedicated individuals who are committed to seeing God move in and through your ministry.  In one of the chapters I share a formula to help volunteers last longer:

Clarity + Empowerment + Appreciation = Longevity.

Today I want to focus on the appreciation variable of that equation. Effective appreciation is shown on an individual basis. It celebrates, encourages, and publicly acknowledges excellence. Below you will find 15 volunteer appreciation ideas to help you care for the teams of volunteers and leaders who’ve been placed in your charge.

PRACTICALLY FREE

  • Use Siri to make the most of your drive time. Record voice messages and send to unsuspecting volunteers. Don’t ask anything of them. Check in, say a quick prayer and thank them for what they do. Be as specific as possible with your gratitude.
  • Mark off thirty minutes in your calendar each week to write cards, send emails and make calls. Don’t allow this small amount of time to be eaten up with administrative meetings or unscheduled standing conversations.
  • During your volunteer meeting or rally choose one person to honor each week. Tell his or her story, how he or she connected with the church and how he or she is making a difference in the lives of kids and families. Remember to choose only deserving volunteers to honor. Never point to someone who is lacking drive or commitment and say, “Be like them.”
  • Every other Saturday evening plan to bake a batch of cookies, brownies or muffins. Wrap them up, attach a note and bring to one or two volunteers for no other reason than you were thinking of them.
  • In your weekly curriculum email or volunteer newsletter, choose one volunteer to highlight each week. Tell about his or her family, hobbies, career, and passions. Provide a picture or two so volunteers from other teams can identify him or her and say hello.

ON THE CHEAP

  • Want to draw attention to a select few volunteers. Rent or purchase a small helium tank. Write notes of thanks and place them inside balloons. Use helium to inflate the balloons and tie them onto cars in the parking lot. Not only will it draw the intrigue and attention of attenders, but your volunteers’ last interaction with your ministry for the day will be one of gratitude and appreciation.
  • Create a ‘favorites form’ in which volunteers can share their preferred candy, restaurant, coffee order, color, hobby, etc. Keep these forms on file to use as needed. Not only will you be ready to show appreciation when the time is right, but you’ll also know exactly what to purchase to make a lasting impression. Appreciating your volunteers begins with knowing your volunteers. This is a great step in the right direction.
  • Set up a card-making center where volunteers can write thank-you notes to one another when they want to express gratitude. Provide $5 gift cards, candy, glitter pens and stickers. Ask area leaders to write two cards and team managers to write one card every week. Have these leaders write the first and last name of the person they are appreciating on the front. You can add the mailing address on Monday or Tuesday and drop them off at the post office. The number of appreciation cards you send each week will quadruple with very little added work for you. In addition, your volunteers will treasure the opportunity to highlight the efforts of their peers.
  • Have a variety of gifts purchased, wrapped and waiting to be given out at just the right moment. The best time to show appreciation is as soon as possible. When you notice a volunteer patiently comforting a crying child or scrubbing down a bathroom sink, grab a previously wrapped gift and attach a note. Don’t wait to say, “Thank you!” (Examples include a nice lotion set, a book on leadership, a pair of earrings, a car wash gift certificate, a travel coffee mug, a journal, or a gift card to a local eatery.)
  • Honor your team members by gifting them a special t-shirt on their one or two year volunteer anniversary. Consistency and commitment should be celebrated and publicly recognized.

FEELING GENEROUS

  • Have a particular team that consistently hits a home run? Schedule for their cars to be washed and detailed while they serve. Have them lined up, sparkling and ready to go when they head home.
  • Want to splurge on volunteers who have selflessly signed up to serve during Easter or Christmas experiences? Create a mobile coffee or hot chocolate cart and hire a barista to serve custom made hot drinks between experiences.
  • Have college students serving for the summer and want to thank them for stepping up when rosters are thin and regularly scheduled volunteers are traveling? Order travel mugs from the schools or colleges they will be returning to in the fall and fill them with their favorite candy or snack food. This will show your gratitude and reinforce the behavior for summers to come.
  • Want to welcome new sign-ups and help build community among teams? Book an ice-cream truck for the day and encourage leaders to bring their teams to share an icee and get to know their new teammates.
  • Want to show gratitude and increase relational equity with those special few leaders who go above and beyond to help your ministry make a greater impact? Schedule a cooking class and enjoy a hands on approach to dinner. Have fun, enjoy the process but don’t talk about ministry issues. Relational equity is rooted in friendship.

In a multisite model, volunteer appreciation must be systemized. Let me be clear…it has to be BUDGETED! A multisite model is complex and multilayered. If your church doesn’t set aside money to honor, encourage, and show gratitude for those who invest time and energy into your ministry, those individuals will be neglected. Neglect leads to dissatisfaction, which leads to disengagement and resignation. If you want to keep your ministry healthy, adjust your schedule and budget to accommodate for the care and encouragement of those who help you succeed each and every week.

(Tip: When deciding how much money to set aside in your budget for volunteer appreciation, first decide on the initiatives you want to pursue. Estimate the total cost of those initiatives and then divide that amount on a per capita basis in accordance with the number of volunteers you have at each campus. This will give you a per volunteer amount and allow you to estimate how much a single campus or location will need to adequately care for its volunteer base.)

I hope you find these ideas helpful and I hope you’ll consider purchasing Don’t Quit on September 8th.

For additional multisite articles, click HERE.

Jess Bealer

Help! I Need Somebody!

A Part of Multisite Monday

Have you ever looked at your ministry and been completely stumped? Have you ever had an insane urgency to sing an ode to the Beatles and break out with, “Help! I Need Somebody!” You’re not alone. We’ve all found ourselves at that crucial crossroads.

For the past 17 years, I’ve had the privilege to minister to children and families. At the age of 19, I took my first children’s director position. I was wide-eyed and passionate with big dreams. I can honestly say God has guided my path and allowed me to pursue greater opportunities than I could have possibly imagined. The past six years saw me leading the children’s ministry of one of the largest and fastest growing churches in America. It was an incredible journey.

About six months ago, my husband and I made a major transition in our life. We went on staff with Orange and began helping churches all over the globe better minister to kids, students and families. I also began consulting and coaching with leaders and ministries from around the country.

Whether you need a one time comprehensive evaluation or are interested in establishing on ongoing coaching relationship, I believe I can HELP.

My areas of expertise extend to children’s ministry multisite and launching, volunteer recruitment, coaching and appreciation, preschool and elementary age programming, systems, standards, atmosphere, staff culture, and time management and personal health.

Despite the demand of writing, speaking and managing the craziness of a six-person household, I have elected to open three additional consulting slots as we head into fall.

As summer quickly comes to a close and your church begins preparing for a SGS (strategic growth season), it’s always nice to have a new set of eyes and fresh ideas. I would love to partner with you and your team as we set the stage for God to move in miraculous ways!

If you’re interested in learning more, leave a comment below. 

Jessica Bealer

For additional Multisite Monday articles, click here.