Care For YOUR FAMILY And Advance YOUR MINISTRY This Christmas

I’m called to be a leading woman in ministry. I’m called to minister to families. I’m called to teach kids about Jesus. I’m also called to be a loving mother, an understanding wife, an honoring daughter, a supportive granddaughter, and an encouraging friend.

When I think about managing the many facets of my ministry and my family life, it can be overwhelming…especially at Christmas.

There are presents to be wrapped, volunteers to be appreciated, cards to be sent, Christmas parties to be planned, family functions to attend, and ministries to run. I tend to manage the pressure well. In that aspect Christmastime, is no different. I determine to do well and come to terms with the notion that I will sleep less, work harder, and make sacrifices. Herein lies the problem. Most of the time, I can cover my late nights and occasional missed school functions with special outings and attentive quality time when slower seasons arise. This doesn’t work at Christmas. The season is only a few weeks long. Functions can’t be rescheduled. Traditions can’t be postponed. If I’m not present, the celebration continues and my family feels neglected. For those of us in ministry, Christmas brings a new set of challenges.

I once heard my pastor say, “Jesus shouldn’t be first in your life. He should be at the center of it.” Putting Jesus first means that I put my husband and children second, when in all actuality, God wants to love and minister to my family through me. When I shift my mindset, everything changes. My ministry and my family life are no longer at odds. Instead, they work in harmony to accomplish the multiple callings God has placed on my life.

This Christmas, I want you to say “no more.” No more competing agendas. No more feeling guilty for missing a school choral concert or arriving late to a ministry prayer initiative. No more self doubt. No more double booked calendars. No more inner turmoil, wishing you could always be at the “other thing.” I’m challenging you to say “no more.”

It’s easier read then said, and easier said than done. When I prioritize, I put one calling in front of another. In reality, with Jesus at the center, they should work together in harmony.

The shift from prioritizing to centralizing can be difficult. For as long as I can remember, I was taught my relationship with Jesus comes before all others. While that is true in one sense, Jesus doesn’t want me to ignore my children for extra prayer time or neglect my husband for the sake of a daily devotional. He also never intended for me to sacrifice the family he blessed me with on the altar of the ministry he called me to. 2000 years ago Jesus came to give life. God loved us so much that he sent His son so that we might know love and discover freedom. It all started in a manger. A nativity scene that we remember and rejoice in.

In a busy season, it is my relationship with Jesus that energizes me. It’s what inspires me, encourages me and guides me. It is BECAUSE of my faith that I am better able to manage my family and minister to others.

When I say “no more,” I commit every aspect of my life to Jesus, not just my ministry. I am able to confidently say no more guilt, no more self-doubt, and no more inner turmoil. This IS possible when I devote myself to efficient management of my daily routine. I want to be clear, I don’t always get it right. I still have moments when I’m torn and frustrated, but I have established a few guidelines to help when I resort to prioritizing.

  1. I use a calendar application. I know what my days look like and I can prepare my heart and set healthy expectations for my family.
  2. I’m flexible. I ask, “What can can be moved or postponed and what can not?” That extra volunteer meeting can be rescheduled. My child’s Christmas play can not.
  3. I integrate when possible. Can I achieve two things simultaneously? Can my volunteer Christmas party be a gingerbread making party in which I bring my kids.?
  4. I set realistic expectations. I expect delays and calculate drive time.
  5. I choose to be okay when expectations are not met.
  6. When scheduling conflicts arise, I ask myself, “When I lay down in bed tonight, which appointment will I regret missing? On December 26th, what will I wish I would have accomplished? ”

Jesus wants to bless us with the best life. He wants us to be great men and women that achieve success in His name. He desires for us to have healthy families that serve Him together. It is possible, but it may require us to operate at a higher level of efficiency, especially during the holiday season. He truly wants us to experience joy and peace this Christmas.

Thank you for joining me throughout the month of December. I hope you’ve found fresh ideas and insight to help you manage the holiday season this year.

For more ministry ideas and strategies, check out my new book, Don’t Quit, available now at Amazon or at DontQuitBook.com.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Jess Bealer

You’re INVITED to SPOIL Staff and Volunteers’ Kids this CHRISTMAS!

Part of Multisite Monday

WHO: Staff and volunteers’ kids who will be at multiple worship experiences on Christmas weekend

WHAT: An area with special programming designed to keep kids engaged and happy during a long ministry weekend. You might call it CHRISTMAS CLUBHOUSE!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • North Pole Workshop (A fun hour of Christmas crafts)
  • Santa’s Secret Shop (Kids can shop and wrap small presents for family members)
  • Polar Express Hour (Watch the movie, Polar Express, serve hot chocolate, and paint wooden trains purchased from your local craft store)
  • Visit From Santa (Have Santa visit your Christmas Clubhouse and hand out small presents to every child in attendance)
  • Winter Wonderland (Make snowflakes out of copy paper and use a blender to serve snow cream or ice cream)
  • Reindeer Games (A full hour of Christmas themed games and team building activities)
  • Christmas Bakery (Let kids decorate and package cookies to give as gifts to their parents and loved ones)
  • Holly Jolly Buffet (A colorful buffet consisting of red and green food and drink)

WHEN: If you have three or less Christmas experience times, you may want to schedule a single Christmas Clubhouse experience. If you have more than three worship experiences, it’s important to consider how many times you are asking volunteers to serve over the course of the weekend. If you have six services, and you’re asking volunteers to serve three of the six, you’ll want to offer additional Christmas Clubhouse experiences. I would suggest two Christmas Clubhouse experiences for every three services scheduled. Make a schedule of events and email to staff and volunteers letting them know ahead of time what activities are planned for each service.

WHERE: Set aside a room or area within your ministry space for your Christmas Clubhouse experiences. If you can’t find space in your current area, connect with other staff members and see what space, outside of the children’s area, may be available. Make sure to station a safety or security volunteer just outside the door, but don’t be afraid to mix it up this Christmas and step outside the norm. The room should be decorated and prepped before kids arrive. You want them to step foot into a magical Christmas land in which they never want to leave. Think you don’t have enough space? Remember you’re going to be removing a good percentage of children from your normal kids programming. This should free up space and volunteers to help.

WHY: It’s going to be an exciting Christmas weekend. Attendance will be up. People far from God will experience the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Families will be reunited and choirs of angels will rejoice as the people of God celebrate His Son’s birth. I know your personal capacity is stretched. I know you’re dreaming about room ratios and spending every extra minute in the craft aisle at Target. You’re busy to the extreme. However, if you want to truly minister and care for those in your ministry, you won’t neglect the families that ensure successful execution week after week. Make the effort. Find the funds. Kids will love you. Parents will thank you. Instead of navigating a Christmas Eve with grumpy, exhausted, bored kids, moms and dads will appreciate the excited stories of their children’s Christmas Clubhouse experiences.

In a Multisite Model, it’s important for each campus kids director to look at the space he or she has to work with and make plans accordingly. Your Christmas Clubhouse experiences may vary from location to location. Find a few volunteers at each campus who love kids and have an abundance of Christmas spirit. Make a plan, give them a budget and hand over the reigns. You’ll be surprised the lengths a volunteer team will go to ensure a Holly Jolly holiday season for the families they serve most often.

I’d love to hear from you. What other fun things are you doing to engage staff and volunteers’ kids this Christmas?

I hope you’ll come back every Monday throughout the month of December as we discuss and unpack ministry systems and strategy this holiday season.

Click here to check out additional Multisite Monday articles.

For more ministry ideas and strategies, check out my new book, Don’t Quit, available now at Amazon or at DontQuitBook.com.

Jess Bealer

9 Ways to Honor and Appreciate Volunteers this CHRISTMAS Season

Part of Multisite Monday

Your programming is nearly complete. The cue sheets are printed. Your rooms are decorated. The holiday playlist is set and your snack bowls are filled with red and green Goldfish. Christmas is coming and you are primed and prepared. It’s easy to get caught up in the details of holiday planning and lose sight of your greatest resource, your volunteers. Here are 9 ways to honor and appreciate those that will serve alongside you this Christmas.

1. Answer questions before they’re asked.

The worship service times are varied. The lesson plan looks different. The number of children in attendance will be nearly double. Christmas is an exciting time of the year for those of us in ministry, but for our teams, it’s also a time of uncertainty. One of the best ways to reassure your volunteers is to answer their questions before doubt begins to creep in. Share your plans and offer encouragement. Provide insight and bring unity before your teams show up to serve.

2. Provide fuel.

Feed them. Your volunteer teams will put in many hours serving and ministering this holiday season. A hungry belly is a distraction easily prevented. Whether you provide snacks, heavy hors d’oeuvres, pizza or a catered meal, keeping your teams well fed is key to a successful serving experience.

3. Give the gift of a memory.

Volunteering during the Christmas season can be a fulfilling experience. Connections are made. Lives are changed and we stand witness. Offer an ornament or framed team picture as a way to look back and remember the impact that was made.

4. Offer strategic break times.

Small groups will be larger than usual, classrooms stretched beyond capacity. Volunteers may be asked to serve longer hours or additional service times. When stress and strain are high, it’s important to offer additional break times to grab a snack or go to the restroom. Schedule an extra volunteer to rotate from classroom to classroom providing well-deserved relief.

5. Connect through prayer and vision.

Everyone on your team has hopes, dreams and desires this holiday season. They may wish for a friend or coworker to attend church for the first time. They may have plans to reunite with family that have grown distant. Some of them are hurting and looking for a reason to smile and celebrate. One of the best ways you can bring unity and show you care is to set expectations, define what a win looks like and connect through prayer for one another.

6. Provide sweet treats and smiles.

A fun and festive atmosphere can make the volunteer experience feel more like an opportunity than a burden. Keep a smile on your volunteers’ faces with a hot chocolate bar or candy buffet offered exclusively to those that serve.

7. Create unforgettable experiences for their children.

It can be difficult to focus when you’re worried about your kids. Consider offering an alternative experience for volunteers’ kids who will be in attendance for multiple experiences. From a Polar Express themed movie hour to a secret Santa shop, the possibilities are endless. We’ll discuss this in further detail on the blog next week.

8. Gift unique and personal presents to leaders.

You may need more volunteers to meet ratios this Christmas season, but you need experienced leaders just to be able to open the doors.  A well positioned leader is priceless. With that in mind…it’s time to spend a few dollars. Make sure those that prove the most committed are gifted with something that says, “I thank you. I value you. I know you.”

9. Celebrate success and recognize excellence.

God is going to use your ministry to move in a mighty way this Christmas. If you believe it, you should anticipate celebration. Schedule a time to reflect, share and party! Draw attention to the seasonal victories your ministry has experienced. Offer praise to those God used to make an impact. Whether it’s a dance party or a dinner, take the time to celebrate success and recognize excellence.

In a multisite model, collaboration is key when it comes to efficient care and effective appreciation of volunteers. Buying in bulk saves money. Sharing ideas produces creativity. At the end of the day, your volunteer appreciation budget and care plan may vary from location to location. However, it’s important to understand the strategy is always is the same. If you want to encourage consistency and longevity among your teams, you must clarify the vision, grant the authority to make key decisions at critical moments, and show honor and gratitude for a one’s contribution. Written as a formula it looks like this:

Clarity + Empowerment + Appreciation = Longevity

It’s a busy season, made easier by those that serve alongside you. Your ministry plan for Christmas should begin and end with showing honor and appreciation to volunteers.

I’d love to hear from you. How are you honoring volunteers this holiday season?

I hope you’ll come back every Monday throughout the month of December as we discuss and unpack ministry systems and strategy this holiday season.

Click here to check out additional Multisite Monday articles.

For more ideas and strategies about appreciating volunteers, check out my new book, Don’t Quit, available now at Amazon or at DontQuitBook.com.

Jessica

5 Ideas To Help You Connect With Families This CHRISTMAS Season

A Part of Multisite Monday

 

  

(Christmas 2017 – Browns Bridge Church, a part of North Point Ministries)

We are a mere four weeks from the big day. Christmas is coming! It’s easy for those of us in ministry to get caught up in the details of programming and the management of the masses. We focus on stocking needed supplies and meeting volunteer ratios. While those are necessary measures, it’s imperative we not lose sight of the importance of guest experience. Here are 5 ideas to help you connect and make a greater impact this holiday season.

  1. Decorate. Decorate. Decorate.

Your environment should reflect the festive nature of the season. Families want to reminisce, anticipate, and celebrate. Create an atmosphere where those things are possible.

  1. Create a festive family photo spot.

While we design programming and lesson plans that tell kids about the real reason for the season, the birth of Jesus, it’s good to remember that moms and dads are in the business of making memories. Find ways to connect your ministry with those special moments.

  1. Consider giving kids an ornament or symbolic gift.

Every year in eKidz at Elevation, kids receive an ornament to add to their tree. The ornament is dated and themed with the current series. Over the years, families display their collection and recall their experiences with your ministry.

  1. Cookies and milk for everyone!

Excellence is in the details. If you want to make a lasting impression on the families you serve, you’ll need to exceed expectations in order to capture their attention. Consider offering hot chocolate or cookies and milk in the foyer. Are long lines stretching outside? Rent patio heaters and distribute hand warmers to those standing in the cold. Walk through every aspect of your guest experience and find ways to leave your visitors astounded.

  1. Offer opportunities for generosity.

Service and generosity are as fulfilling for the giver as the receiver. If you want families to form a lasting connection with your ministry offer them a way to make an impact. Allow those you serve to experience the satisfaction that comes when they act as the hands and feet of Jesus.

In a multisite model, each campus should reflect the culture and customs of its community. Are you located in rural USA? If so, maybe a rustic theme is your best option. Are you positioned in a downtown metropolis? Then a polished sparkly celebration is the way to go. With most systems, I am all for uniformity. In this instance, unity of strategy far outweighs the need for convention. Hearts soften during the holidays. During the Christmas season, people far from God often find themselves in a place of consideration and reflection. When we understand this, we can take steps to help us better connect with those we’re ministering to.

For additional MULTISITE MONDAY articles, click here.

I hope you’ll come back every Monday throughout the month of December as we discuss and unpack ministry systems and strategy this holiday season.

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.

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