Calling All Ministry Groupies

Growing up I was a straight A student. To hear him tell it, my husband was typically a B honor roll kind of kid. You may assume I was the smarter one. Your assumption would be wrong. My husband is a genius, the smartest man I’ve ever known. I had to work hard to maintain my grades. He never studied. Don’t you just hate those kind of people. Well…I love him too, but you understand what I’m saying. It was easier for him than it was for me. We were dating in college and his study habits drove me crazy. It seemed I always had my nose in a book and he was always playing ultimate frisbee. Despite our priority differences, when test day rolled around our grades were always comparable. My husband eventually outgrew his apathetic phase. He began to apply his intellect and became a fierce leader, an attentive husband and a thriving father. It’s incredible to see the man he has become because he decided he wanted to be someone other than who he was. A motivational mentor and a commitment to better his work ethic changed Frank’s trajectory.

Do you know a few ministry groupies? Those volunteers who drop everything and help you achieve your mission. They’re the people at your house at midnight helping stuff treat bags or working on cut-outs. They’re the ones who show up early for set-up and stay until tear-down is complete. They even take the trash to the dumpster so you can get home to your kids.

What about the ones you dream of? The volunteers who come fully trained to take your tech ministry to the next level. Those who can redesign your ministry space or write beautiful scripts that engage children of all ages. Where are those volunteers?

Wouldn’t it be great if every volunteer came with a unique skill set designed to advance your ministry? Wait… don’t they? When did sheer effort and hard work become a second rate facility?

Skill can be taught. Talent developed. Commitment, responsibility and perseverance cannot. Find a volunteer with good soil and sew into it. Effort always trumps ability in my book. I want the volunteer who will endure the strain of ministry alongside me for years to come. Talent comes and goes. The volunteer who smiles while cleaning bathrooms, whistles while sweeping up glitter and laughs when the cookies they made end up on the floor receives top marks in my grade book.

What volunteer should you reevaluate? How can you intentionally invest in him or her to develop a skill or talent? Effort may outrank ability, but effort plus ability equals excellence.

For additional leadership content, click here.

Jess

Control Creates Crisis Transcript

A Women's Leadership Workshop Podcast

The goal of the Women’s Leadership Workshop Podcast is to bring practical insight and relevant leadership lessons to women. We want to help ladies everywhere learn to lead better. You can listen to all the latest podcasts now by clicking HERE. If a blog format is more your style, we’ve got you covered. Below you will find the transcript to Episode 7. You can read now!

Control Creates Crisis

“You know what…We’re done. We’re just…done. I don’t know you. I’ve never seen you before in my life. But you just walk right in here and tell me how to do my job, AND you insult my daughter. If you think you can do it better, then have at it. I’m leaving. Hope you enjoy the chaos.”

My first year of ministry at Elevation Church was spent as the Rock Hill eKidz Director. I had the opportunity to launch the campus, recruit volunteers and develop teams and systems to help us minister to families in my community. It was an exciting time. I loved my position and the teams I led. However, most of our campuses were experiencing significant overflow and it seemed the best solution was to expand. So with two new locations on the launch schedule, I was asked to move into the role of Children’s Director. I would oversee systems, standards, staffing, atmosphere and volunteer training. I had only been in the position of Children’s Director for a few weeks when I decided to take a trip to a new location that had only been launched for a couple months.

My goal for the visit was to encourage the volunteers, evaluate the systems and atmosphere and help the campus kids director find ways to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting many issues. The kids director was phenomenal. She was a visionary with a sweet spirit and a penchant for organization.

I remember thinking on the car ride there how easy this first campus evaluation would be. Looking back, it was probably that overconfidence that set me up for such an epic fail.

When I arrived, I was met with a warm welcome. The check-in team was all smiles. The volunteers obviously loved what they did. The preschool environments were beautiful and the elementary age small groups had employed several creative ideas to make small groups more engaging. I was impressed, to say the least.

My last stop was Clubhouse. Clubhouse is the environment reserved for volunteer and staff kids. We were committed to families; especially those that helped us execute our ministry week after week. Clubhouse was an area in which staff and volunteers’ kids could go if they would be onsite for more than one service. It was a relaxed environment with movies, videogames, toys, crafts, boardgames and of course…snacks.

Because the campus was non-permanent, this particular Clubhouse ran out of a large school gymnasium. As soon as I walked in, my ears fell under assault. Kids were definitely having fun. In fact, they seemed to be having a blast, at least that’s what the shrieks of excitement told me. There was a somewhat confusing mesh of kickball slash dodgeball being played out at the center of the room. Toys were strewn across the gymnasium floor, adding a new layer of peril to the unusual sport. A movie was playing on a big screen that up until this point had somehow survived the onslaught of playground balls. To make matters worse, there were crumbs and snack time remnants everywhere. It was a debacle. I began to look around frantically for the adult in charge. The only person I saw of age to assist was a teenage girl sitting on the bleachers staring at her smart phone.

Looking back…I could have handled the situation a hundred different ways…and all of them would have been better than what I did in that moment. I turned on my “mom voice,” shut down the strange kickball/dodgeball game, and began to pick up the toys. I instructed the teenage girl to kindly get off her phone and help me reign in the crazy and then I put every kid in time out…indefinitely.

When the gym door swung open and the volunteer who was clearly supposed to be in charge walked in with a line of kids behind her I let out a frustrated huff and began to instruct her on an appropriate and safe Clubhouse environment. I only got about ten seconds into my lecture before I was cut off.

“You know what…We’re done. We’re just…done. I don’t know you. You’re not my boss. I’ve never seen you before in my life. But you just walk right in here and tell me how to do my job, AND you insult my daughter. If you think you can do it better, then have at it. I’m leaving. Hope you enjoy the chaos.”

Technically…I wasn’t her boss. I was her boss’s boss, but the fact remains that I was a stranger to her. She had never seen me before. She didn’t understand my passion for excellence or the fact that one of my highest priorities was the care and development of staff and volunteer kids. She didn’t know my heart…and I didn’t know hers.

What made matters worse was that in my attempt to “clean things up.” I had undermined the authority of the campus kids director. Not only was she down two volunteers, which was the immediate problem, but I had unintentionally shamed her efforts.

I remember hanging my head on my way to the car. How had I screwed it up so badly? My intentions were pure. I just wanted to help, but my need for control had reared it’s ugly head and I had jumped straight into “fix it” mode. And if I’m being honest…that’s just a nice way to say I turned into a control freak and I made a mess of the situation

Ever been there?

Let it be a comfort to you, Christians have been trying to wield control since Biblical times. Not much has changed.

Simon Peter was one of the first followers of Jesus Christ. He was the outspoken disciple, one of Jesus’ closest friends, an apostle and “pillar” of the early church.

Peter was also enthusiastic, strong-willed, impulsive, and at times, brash. And for all his strengths, Peter made many mistakes. One of those mistakes came during the final days before Jesus’ crucifixion.

In Luke’s account of the Last Supper in Chapter 22, we see Peter react and try to take control of a situation in which God was already at work. Jesus was about to be betrayed by Judas and seemingly without thought, Peter reacts. We’re going to start in verse 47.

47 While he (Jesus) was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him,48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them (Peter) struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

In Matthew’s account of the incident in Chapter 26, scripture reads…

52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

God had a plan. From the opening manger scene in Bethlehem, to a hill called Golgotha just outside the walls of Jerusalem, our Heavenly Father was absolutely aware of each miracle and every teaching that Jesus would share in his 33 years on Earth. And he knew that Judas’ betrayal would set the stage for the greatest sacrifice the human race had ever seen. Jesus’ destiny was thought of and designed before Abraham, before Noah, before Adam and Eve. This was always God’s intention.

And Peter…almost screwed it up. Okay, not really, I mean I refuse to believe that a fisherman with a sword could have thwarted the gift of salvation for generations to come, but you understand my point. This was the master plan from the creator of heaven and earth and Peter’s aggression was reckless and without forethought.

This type of behavior was typical for Peter. Still, the Lord who chose him continued to mold him into exactly who He intended Peter to be. Jesus himself reaffirmed Peter, calling him “this rock on which I will build my church” and promising him the “keys of the kingdom of heaven.”

It’s reassuring really. Peter was loved by Jesus and used to accomplish great things in His name, but he was also human and struggled with many of the same issues we face daily. If the Savior not only offered Peter redemption, but also commissioned him to establish the early church, then surely he can use you and I.

So here’s today’s challenge: Stop cutting off ears. We all have a metaphorical sword. It’s called our tongue. When things feel as if they’re spinning out of control, when everything within you is screaming to step in and step up to the challenge, breathe. Before you react, prior to lashing out, preceding your missteps. Just breath, and look to Jesus.

Do you think Peter would have cut off the servant’s ear if he had taken a breath and put his eyes on the Son of God? I don’t. I think the passionate man that Jesus called to His ministry would have read the situation for what it was, a bittersweet necessity.

As a leader, you’ve been gifted with many valuable skills. Maybe you’re an incredible visionary that can motivate people to move. Maybe you’re a strategic thinker who creates systems that streamline processes and increase efficiency. Or maybe you’re relational with the gift to connect with people on a deeper level and call out hidden potential. All of these things qualify you to “take control.” And your natural inclination may lead you to wield the power you have force change. But control often creates crisis. Just because you can insert yourself into a situation, doesn’t mean you should. Discernment is a skill developed over time by navigating difficult seasons and experiences. It is rarely granted spontaneously. Many times, the answer to the problem you face is a good night’s rest followed by a collaborative brainstorming session.

When I think back to that first campus visit, I often wonder what would have happened if I had just stopped talking. What could I have accomplished if I would have taken a deep breath, said a quick prayer and saw the situation through the eyes of God. Would I have offered assistance? Showed appreciation? Maybe I could have connected with the volunteer and her daughter and offered encouragement. I am certain with just a few more moments of consideration, the outcome would have been drastically different.

The best leaders bring their team alongside them every step of the way. They teach them how to think and they lead them through change without creating crisis.

Growing up in church, I learned the answer to most questions asked during Sunday School was, “pray and read the Bible.”

As an adult I realize it’s not a coincidence that the answers I seek are most often revealed when I spend time in the presence of God.

The next time you’re faced with a frustrating situation and you switch into “fix it” mode. I want to encourage you to stop, breath and fix your eyes on Jesus.

Control Creates Crisis

A Women's Leadership Workshop Podcast

Just because we have the ability to solve a problem or fix a situation doesn’t necessarily mean we should. In this episode I share how my need for control resulted in an impulsive decision that created chaos and set my ministry back.

Listen now.

If you enjoy today’s Podcast, I would encourage you to subscribe and share so that you and your friends can experience a challenging and inspiring word every Wednesday morning.

To listen to other Women’s Leadership Workshop Podcasts, click HERE.

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

An Interview With Gina And Jessica

Nick Blevins Family Ministry Podcast

For those of you in ministry, it may often feel as if your job is to manage the chaos. In our new book, Don’t Quit, Gina and I give you practical solutions to combat the crazy and endure the marathon race that is ministry.

Recently, Gina and I spoke with Nick Blevins about the whys and hows of sticking it out in ministry.

To listen now, click here.

To purchase Don’t Quit, click here.

Jessica Bealer