Improving Your Serve

The great Chicago preacher, Dwight L. Moody, once said, “The measure of a man is not how many servants he has, but how many men he serves.” One of the most important traits of anyone in ministry is having a heart for serving others.

Ministry is all about serving others.  It’s never been about getting the glory, the kudos, or the spotlight.  Jesus himself was the ultimate servant.  He said, “The Son of Man did not come to the Earth to be served, but to serve.”

As we minister to children, we’ll be required to do things that are out of our comfort zone (getting on the floor and playing with blocks, acting like crazy characters, getting hit in the face with pies, and going to lock-ins, just to name a few).  We need a heart that says, “Whatever I have to do to reach these kids, I’ll do it!”

One of the guys who has served on my Kids Ministry team for the last 7 years is Victor Rodriguez.  He’s a third-degree black belt who works for the Police Department.  If there’s anyone who could easily impose himself on others, it’s Victor.  But he displays a tender, serving heart to the children in our church.  It’s not uncommon to walk into the room to find Victor sitting on the floor talking to a child or running around the room with two or three boys hanging on his back.  He loves to serve kids.

Victor also serves his leaders.  I’ve received many phone calls and emails from him, asking what he can do to serve me.  He wants to do what he can to make my job easier.  Jesus said, “Anyone who wants to be the first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else” (Mark 9:35).  Victor lives this commitment every day.

Serving comes down to this, “Others first, me last.”  Try focusing less on teaching the lesson you have prepared, and be aware enough to notice when your kids are going through a rough time.  Look for opportunities to serve your kids.  Look for opportunities to serve your leaders.

Should I Tell My Lead Pastor About This?

“Should I tell my Lead Pastor About This NOW or LATER?”

It’s a question that most staff members struggle with.  “When is the right time to share information with my Lead Pastor?”  Naturally, you don’t want to be a pest and “bother” him.  At the same time, you don’t want to hold onto information that may be vital to the church for a long time and deprive him of the opportunity to respond in an appropriate way in the appropriate time.

Here is a good list to follow when deciding “Should I tell my Lead Pastor About This NOW or LATER?” that my pastor shared with us.

Report to Lead Pastor NOW (phone call or face to face) if…

1)    Someone in the church is angry or upset (he doesn’t want to be blindsided and not be prepared for it)

2)    If you made a critical mistake (leadership, judgement error, etc.)

3)    If someone is facing a crisis or emergency

4)    If it affects the Sunday Morning (main) service (whether today is Monday or Saturday, doesn’t matter)

5)    If it is a sin issue in the leadership team

6)    If it is a “significant” financial issue (the term “significant” varies with each Lead Pastor)

7)    If a crucial judgement call is required (don’t just guess on what your Lead Pastor would do, ask him)

8)  Hospital/Death/Birth (these are significant life moments your pastor wants to be part of)

9)  If an important event has a major change

10) If YOU have a significant family crisis

11) If he receives a phone call or visit from someone of importance

12) If it’s a liability issue that could negatively affect the church

Save it for later (e-mail, staff meeting, or in-person) if…

1)    No action can be taken right now

2)    He won’t end up hearing it from anyone else

3)    It doesn’t affect the upcoming service or event

4)    You have dealt with it completely with no chance of negative consequences

5)    It is “regular” business (approving someone for ministry, calendar decisions, general updates)

6)    If the information can be shared in a meeting setting (with others present)

7)    If you are merely reporting facts (FYI)

8)    If the decision falls within your discretionary authority

9) When the lack of information won’t hurt them

10) If it’s a personal issue, but non-emergency

11) If you disagree with a leadership decision they have made

What do you think?  Would you add or take away any from these lists?  Share your comments in the comments section.

How To Know When It Is Time To Leave

It’s one of the toughest decisions you will ever have to make:  Leaving a church you have been serving as a staff member.  It’s a decision that should NEVER be made cavalierly and never without much prayer and consideration.

I have seen many staff members leave too early and short circuit what God was wanting to do in them during a process of seasoning and learning.  But, I have also seen many staff members stay longer in a situation than they should have.  By doing so, they ended up hurting the church and their family in the process.

Here are a few ways you can know it might be time to resign the position you are serving in…

1)  When you no longer personally respect your pastor or team.

Whether it is your fault or theirs, if you have lost respect and cannot gain it back – you will do more harm than good by staying on the team.

2) When you can’t support and agree with them publicly

We will always have disagreements with our pastor or other staff.  It’s impossible to agree on everything.  But, we should always disagree in private!  When in a public setting, you MUST show agreement and solidarity.  If you are unable to do so despite your best prayer and effort, then you need to leave before you cause damage to the body of Christ.

3)  When you or your spouse become cynical or critical in your spirit

If you get to the point where you are cynical in your spirit and can’t seem to clear it out, then you should leave.  To continue to follow someone you don’t trust is damaging to them and to you.

4)  When you are no longer challenged to grow

When you get to the point where you have grown as far as you can at the current location, it might be time to consider moving on.

5)  When you don’t like being around your pastor or team

This doesn’t mean one person or another gets on your nerves one day.  However, if you find yourself consistently avoiding relational time with your staff or pastor, that is unhealthy.  If prayer and loving confrontation don’t solve it, then it is better to leave than poison the entire community.

6)  When you think you can do a better job than pastor

I have found that when a staff member has this feeling, MOST of the time it is the staff member’s fault – not the pastor’s.  However, if this feeling persists despite your best efforts to squelch it, then you can mark it down – you have lost all respect for your pastor.  No matter what the reason, you owe it to your pastor to resign and allow him to hire someone who respects him.

I am not one who advocates leaving on a whim.  I can’t stand the fact that the studies show the average length of stay for a church staff member is 18-24 months.  However, there are times that “sticking it out” can do more harm than good.  No matter what, never make the decision without bathing it in prayer and seeking wisdom from spiritual authority.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Share your thoughts in the comment section.

You Got Served!

I was privileged to spend some time at INCM’s Children’s Pastors Conference in Orlando last week.  It was an incredible conference!  If you have an opportunity to go in the future (there’s another one happening in San Diego in February) I encourage you to make it happen!

One thing that struck me the entire week was the level of service I received from the INCM staff as well as the Disney Resort staff where the conference was held.  While setting up our booth in the Exhibit Hall, we were approached multiple times by a member of the INCM staff asking, “How can I serve you?”  As I walked through the hallway of the Conference Center at Disney’s Coronado Springs I was stopped and asked “Is there any way I can serve you?”

Even after I returned home, I received emails and messages asking me “How can we serve you better next time?”  I was impressed at the level of concern that both INCM and Disney Resorts had for making sure my needs were met and that I was able to concentrate on having an incredible experience at the conference without having to worry about any details.

I began to think:  do I give this same attention to service and detail every week at my church?  Do I try to make sure every detail is handled and that there are no needs or distractions so that the kids and parents can relax and experience everything God has in store for them while they are there?  I have to admit, I was a little convicted.  Disney cared more about details and customer service than I did – and they represent a cartoon mouse.  I represent Jesus Christ.  It was humbling.

How about you?  How is your Kids Ministry doing on serving the parents and kids you are entrusted with?  Do you give enough attention to detail?  Do the parents have to beg you for information or do you freely offer it?  Do the kids feel like you are there to SERVE them or do they feel you are there only to TEACH them?

Jesus said it best, “But among you, those who are the greatest should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.” (Luke 22:26)  Let’s commit to serving our parents and kids.  It’s not just “good business”, it’s our assignment from Christ.

Have you prayed for your Senior Pastor today?

WEEKLY KIDMIN QUESTION:

“Have you prayed for your Senior Pastor today?” – submitted by ME

Last week I had the privilege of traveling with my Senior Pastor, Rod Loy, for a very important trip.  We were meeting with some of the leadership of our denomination to discuss the possibility of a VERY cool project that could make a major impact on Kids Ministry.  It was exciting!

During that quick, 24 hour trip, I was able to be a “fly on the wall” of sorts and get a glimpse into the kind of pressure my pastor faces on a daily basis.  While I drove, his phone rang almost nonstop.  In that short amount of time he had to handle phone calls and emails dealing with several people’s health crises, someone’s job loss, talked another pastor who he is coaching through a crisis in their church, and dealt with several emails from people who were personally attacking and criticizing him.

All the while, he never complained or showed any signs of frustration.  He graciously prayed with, counseled, and shared with each person – giving them individual attention and care.  It was amazing to see.  I wasn’t sure I could have handled it as well as he did.

I began to think, “If I hadn’t been right beside him, I wouldn’t have known this day was as tough as it was.  He never would have told me about it.  He never would have come crying or complaining to the staff about how tough things are.”  That convicted me.

Too often I am guilty of assuming that just because I don’t hear about the stresses and pressures my pastor is dealing with, then they must not be happening.  I assume things are fine and dandy, all the while he is battling tremendously in the spirit realm with all sorts of crises.  He needs a solid prayer covering DAILY!

I committed that day to step up my game and pray even more earnestly for my Pastor, my leader, my mentor.  He and his family are under constant attack of the enemy, and they need prayer to withstand these attacks.   I repented for not praying enough for him and committed to change that.

What about you?  Are you praying daily for your Senior Pastor and his family?  Are you praying earnestly for them, doing battle in the spirit realm?  God has placed you under his leadership.  It is your responsibility to cover your pastor and his family in prayer.  Let’s commit as Kids Ministry Leaders to pray DAILY for our pastors.  You’ll be glad you did!

“Calling All F.A.T. C.A.T.S.”

KIDMIN QUESTION:

“I understand I need to build a team, but what kind of people should I recruit for my team?” – submitted by Rusty in Texarkana, TX

The last few posts have been about the importance of building a team, but once you have made the choice to do ministry as a team, then you need to make sure you choose the right kind of people to be your Kidmin team members.  It’s not about just “getting a warm body to sit in this classroom with these kids.”  You want your team to be remarkable.  You want a bunch of F.A.T. C.A.T.S.!

F – Faithful

When you assemble your ministry team, look for those who are faithful.  Faithful people show up when they say they will, they serve with excellence, and they are reliable in every situation.  Remind your team that all of us want to one day enter heaven and hear these words: 

‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.’”  – Matthew 25:19

A – Available

As I mentioned, you don’t just want to find any warm body to serve in Children’s Ministry.  Being available is not about “not having anything else to do.”  “Available” is an attitude that says, “I am willing to serve in whatever capacity will advance the Kingdom of God.”  When assembling your team, recruit people who are available to serve wherever needed because they have a passion to reach kids, not people with the “I don’t do windows” mentality.

T – Teachable

I’ve been in Children’s Ministry for nearly twenty years, and I STILL have so much to learn.  A teachable spirit is something a person must possess if they are going to be effective in ministry.  The more you learn, the more you find out just how much there is you still don’t know.  A ministry team will only grow to the point that its leader is willing to grow.  No matter how much we may know, there is so much more to learn if we want our ministry to flourish.

C – Committed

In society today, commitment is a value that seems to be waning in importance.  Whether it is commitment to a career, a marriage, or church, finding an everyday American that is wholeheartedly committed to something is difficult.   Being committed means a person will “stick with it” no matter how difficult the conditions become.

A – Accountable

Accountability is something we often want from others, but rarely want to give to others.  In a ministry team, accountability is a key factor for things to run smoothly.  When you are building your ministry team, don’t look for those who refuse to submit themselves to authority.  Look for those who are willing to be accountable to you as their leader.

T – Transparent

Too often we try to hide our real self and put on a front for others.  We don’t want to admit our faults, our weaknesses, or our failures.  On a ministry team, this works against the goal of “working together.”  When you can’t share your feelings, fears, or failures with someone, there’s no real trust there.  Without trust, every team will falter.  Oftentimes, we project a false version of ourselves for others to see.  Rather than be genuine and authentic we are pretentious and fake.  Rather than be transparent, we find ourselves putting up walls between ourselves and our fellow team members.

Transparency is a quality that each member of your ministry team should possess.  Really, transparency is about integrity and is powerful in bonding relationships on a team.  It builds trust and breaks down walls.  Ephesians 4:15 says,  “Let our lives lovingly express the truth in all things–speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly.”   That’s being transparent.

S – Serving

Dwight L. Moody once said, “The measure of a man is not how many servants he has, but how many men he serves.”  One of the greatest traits of anyone in ministry is having a heart for serving others.  What is ministry all about?  It’s about serving others.  As we ministry to children, there are many times when we are going to be required to do things that are out of our comfort zone (crazy characters, pies-in-the-face, and lock-ins just to name a few).  We must seek to display a heart of service that says, “Whatever I have to do to reach these kids, I will do it!”

Jesus said, “Anyone who wants to be the first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else (Mark 9:35).”

There are so many children to reach and so little time to reach them.  We need to partner with those who are faithful, available, teachable, committed, accountable, transparent, and serving in order to accomplish this Great Commission.  It’s time to get some F.A.T. C.A.T.S. on your Kid’s Ministry team!

Recruiting Volunteers Pt. 2

KIDMIN QUESTION:

“When recruiting, how do you help potential volunteers respond out of the right motivation (God honoring, using their gifts, etc) instead of guilt?” – submitted by Donna Leupp in Peshtigo, WI

Picking up where Pt. 1 left off – here are more principles to follow when recruiting volunteers for your Kidmin Team…

4)  Develop a ministry application for volunteers to complete.

Sit down and put together an application that not only gathers pertinent contact information, but also asks probing questions that give you insight into the person you are considering.  What are their likes/dislikes?  What experience do they have working with kids?  What are their gifts and talents?  What do they consider “success” in ministry?

This should ALWAYS include a criminal background check and personal references.  We all know too well of incidences where children are harmed by adults within an organization/charitable group.  Churches are no exception, and it is our responsibility to make sure that the kids who come to learn about God at church are well protected.  There are many places online for you to get background checks on a limited budget.

Having an application also elevates the importance of the ministry in the applicant’s eyes AND in the eyes of your parents.  It speaks volumes as to how serious you are about running a safe and secure environment.

5)  Recruit volunteers based on their GIFTS.

Never recruit a volunteer simply to complete a task.  In other words don’t say, “I need someone to take care of my 5th grade boys class.”  Rather, offer people opportunities to make an eternal difference by using their spiritual gifts.  Study the application and see what the volunteer’s spiritual gifts are.

This will help you ensure that you don’t put someone who is gifted in teaching in charge of taking attendance and doing administration.  It will make sure you don’t put someone with the gift of hospitality in charge of organization the supply closet.  This way, every spiritual gift is honored and used for the sake of the kids.

It requires trust.  Trust in God to bring the right people to your team – and trust in your ability to place people where their gifts will shine!  Pray!  Believe!  God will lead you in the process!

6)  Ask the advice and consent of other Staff Pastors and your Lead Pastor BEFORE placing someone in their area of ministry.

This may be hard for you to believe, but you don’t know EVERYTHING.  🙂  Your pastor or other staff may be aware of situations in the recruited volunteer’s life that precludes them from being involved in ministry at the present time.  This may involve spiritual issues, emotional issues, or family issues.

Also, the volunteer may be involved in many other areas of ministry that you are not aware of and may be stretched too thin.  The last thing you would want to do is place someone in ministry with the kids, have them make a strong bond with the kids, and then have them “burn out” because they are stretched too thin.

Quite honestly, it would be wise to get input from your Pastor even BEFORE you approach the volunteer.  It will help you immensely and save you a world of hurt!

MORE TO COME in Recruiting Volunteers Pt. 3…