Need Church Volunteers?

July 2, 2011

Having trouble getting people to “step up to the plate” to serve in the church? Let’s get something really clear….they rarely do! So we need to find another way to engage people in ministry. God didn’t wait for people to come (or even make general pulpit announcements)…God called people to come. By name. Moses, Mary, Gideon, Samuel, Noah, Jonah, Isaiah, Esther, Paul, the disciples. For each one God said, “Come…follow me.” Burning bushes, Jesus Christ, still small voices in the night, angels, and through other people. Other people? Yes! We can play that role today in the church for all those folks just waiting to hear “Come…follow me” (whether they realize it or not) to help those in need or greet newcomers to the faith or visit the shut-ins or teach the fourth graders.

It helps to have an intentional way or process of inviting people to serve. At The LOGOS Ministry, we’ve developed one that we teach church leaders to use. And it works. Here are the basics:

  • Help people recognize that God calls people to very broad roles (to be a “covenant people” and to be faithful followers of Christ) as well as a call to use specific gifts in a specific way.
  • Find ways for those in your church to discover and understand their specific gifts.
  • Establish a team that will go through intentional steps to implement this process of call (Call Team).
  • Call Team spends time in prayer and study of scripture to invite God into the process.
  • Call Team creates a description for each position that needs to be filled (tasks and expectations, term of service, spiritual gifts needed, personality fit, support and resources provided) and then prays over it.
  • Call Team spends time on their own considering names for specific position descriptions and continues praying (but not asking yet!).
  • Call Team meets again to consider names for each position (how well each person matches the gifts and talents needed, how will the church benefit and be blessed by each individual serving in this role, how will each person benefit and be blessed by serving in this role) and through prayer and discernment seeks one name.
  • Someone on the Call Team extends the invitation…face to face…not through an email or passing in the hallway at church on a busy Sunday morning…and gives the person time to talk to and listen to God (and other people) about the call.
  • Someone on the Call Team follows up 3-5 days later to hear the answer and accepts and celebrates a “no” as readily as a “yes” assuming time has been spent in discernment.

That’s a brief summary of the call process and must always be followed by a commitment to equip our volunteers once they have answered the call to serve. LOGOS offers an entire workshop on the process of call for those interested in learning more. Please contact Liz Perraud at lizperraud@thelogosministry.org

Is there a difference between inviting individual people to serve God in ministry and recruiting anyone to fill a slot? What has been your experience in the church?


Review of “Read and Share Bible”

March 21, 2011

Gwen Ellis has created a retelling of “more than 200 best-loved Bible stories” called the “Read and Share Bible.” Thomas Nelson Publishers sent me a copy to review and they describe the book this way:

The Read and Share Bible is perfect for sharing the amazing joy and wonder of God’s Word with little ones in a whole new way. Some of the Bible features include:

  • More than 200 beloved Bible stories in short-form, which is ideal for the attention span of younger children
  • Bold, bright illustrations
  • Discussion starter with each story
  • Stories adapted from the International Children’s Bible
  • Ideal for guided learning

I decided that the best way to review a children’s book was through the eyes of a child and so I took the “Read and Share Bible” with me when recently staying with a LOGOS colleague’s family which included their six-year old daughter. She almost didn’t let me leave their house with the Bible in my suitcase!

I asked her what she thought of the pictures first—could she figure out what might be going on in the story from what she saw in the illustrations? Not only did she say she could, but she also described perceptions of “surprise,” “happy,” “anger,” “scared.” And she was right. This is critical for connecting the stories with an early or non reader. The people in Steve Smallman’s illustrations have interesting noses—almost puppet-like but their expressions are spot on.

The stories seemed a little short for a six year old but they certainly kept her attention and she insisted on “one more” again and again. I suppose there could be some things worse than a child asking for more of the Bible! I was particularly interested to see how she answered the “discussion starters” at the end of each story. A few questions test knowledge (“God wants us to believe His Word. Of the 12 men who explored the new land, who were the two that trusted God?” Numbers 13:1-14:35). But they are more often “wondering” questions (“Do you think the man noticed how kind the woman was?” Genesis 24:15-20) or “tell what you think happened next” questions (“Elisha was not doing these miracles in his own power. God was helping him. What miracles do you think happened next?” 2 Kings 4:42-22) or even life application questions (“We should always remember to say thank you for what God has done for us. What has God done for you?” Luke 17:11-19).

The discussion starters are not only questions. Sometimes they are statements (“God always has a plan. He has a plan for you too.” Genesis 44:3-45:28) or lessons (“The father in this story is like God. God sees us make bad choices, and He is sad. But He is always waiting for us to come back to Him.” Luke 15:20-32). She was fully engaged and willing to discuss with me before going on to the next one.

The “Read and Share Bible” seemed a bit Old Testament heavy (a quick count was 144 Old Testament stories to 65 from the New Testament) and I wondered if that ratio was typical of Bible story books. So I pulled out my own childhood “Bedtime Bible Stories” (yellowed pages and a copyright in Roman numerals!) and counted 13 Old Testament stories and 24 from the New Testament. My now grown son’s “Precious Moments Stories from the Bible” (1991 was the most recent printing) was more difficult to count because these stories were arranged by category (“Acts of Hate,” “Deeds of Love,” “Acts of Unbelief,” “Deeds of Faith” for instance) and not in order from the Bible.

I liked the “Read and Share Bible” and would recommend it for either very young children or as an introduction to stories of the faith for older children (still needing a deeper exploration by the teacher or parent). And I think I’ll mail my review copy to my little helper!


Acceleration: Parenting in a Fast-moving World

February 3, 2010

I don’t own a Toyota car. Never have—no special reason, just never have. These days, however, I am glad that I am not dealing with a car that can accelerate out of control.

Imagine starting off on a routine drive, only to find yourself careening down the highway with your children in the back seat, unable to stop your car. Unthinkable. Horrifying.

Sometimes being a parent can feel like you are in an out-of-control car. Each stage of growth and development brings its own set of issues and challenges. How do parents find their way through these issues and challenges while needing to…continuing to…steer the family?

God provides all that we need to be the person God means us to be. God also surrounds us with all the resources we need to be effective parents. We are to live boldly, and openly seek out those resources that can support us as God’s children, and as parents of our own children.

Are you living up to God’s loving expectation for you?
What kind of example do you set for your children?
Does your life as a parent feel out of control?
Who inspires you to be a better parent?

Toyota advises drivers to shift into neutral when they find the accelerator stuck. Good general advice for life! This week, when family issues threaten to send you careening, shift into neutral: find a quiet time and space and spend some time with God. Give thanks for your life and ask God to reveal to you the people and resources you need to be fully the person God intends, and the loving parent your children deserve.

Amen.

Two resources that can help support the spiritual growth of your family are available from The LOGOS Ministry: LOGOS @Home [$9.95 for 52 sessions for family nights; go to http://www.thelogosstore.org] and the FREE heartfelt online newsletter [monthly; sign up at http://www.thelogosministry.org/heartfelt.html].


45 Seconds: A Personal Reflection

January 13, 2010

This morning’s news is filled with reports and images of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. How life in Port-au-Prince changed in 45 seconds!

My first prayers have been filled with intercessions to God for the people of Haiti and for those who will rush to help them.

My second prayers, however, have been completely self-centered and filled with gratefulness that my own personal world is safe.

Is this the same for you? Dear God, how terrible, and phew! So glad this didn’t happen to me?

45 seconds.

Real earthquakes [and other disasters] may give those of us on “safe ground” a chance to have a “soulquake”. Crisis often triggers transcendent experiences in people, but what if we didn’t need a crisis to get our lives right? What if we took 45 seconds every day to ask ourselves:

Am I living in God’s will?
Are my relationships right?
Is my life filled with God’s purpose?

45 seconds…can change your life.


Back to Basics

January 9, 2009

blocksI attend a lunch time Bible study that meets in our church library. We’ve been studying Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and we were reading Chapter 7 and Paul’s response to their questions about marriage. Our leader shared something she had read on the chapter and I found it particularly insightful to children’s ministry. This writer had found it striking that Paul takes up the Corinthians’ specific concerns only after writing the lengthy discussion of Chapters 1-6 in which he carefully rebuilds the foundations upon which he believes answers must be based.

Paul’s example shows us, this writer observes, that the answers to the people’s questions will be most fruitful if the groundwork of the gospel has first been laid out clearly. And so, I write to you at the beginning of the new year with an urging for you to lay the “groundwork of the gospel” down for your children’s ministry volunteers. You’re probably dealing with discipline issues, volunteer distractions, and lack of new ideas about now. Before you address these concerns, go back to the basics.

At LOGOS we have a webinar called, “Living by God’s Design” that is based on foundational ways we are taught to live as disciples of Christ. The webinar teaches and helps process our theograms…drawings that LOGOS has created to represent the “groundwork of the gospel.” Gather your ministry leaders together to renew and refresh and lay that firm foundation—over lunch after Sunday worship or with breakfast some Saturday. Then you can more effectively tackle the questions and concerns that are raised in the midst of ministry. However you decide to go about it, now is the time rebuild the firm foundation for the coming year.

Liz Perraud

(The webinar is available by pay per view here.)


Is Your Children’s Ministry Working?

October 31, 2008

Assess ministry effectiveness using a structured approach

We recently had a conversation with a church (that I won’t name) from a state (that I won’t name), but maybe others can benefit from their story. For at least the last six months, this church has been wrestling with ministry for their young people. There was talk about stopping LOGOS because it just didn’t seem to be working. LOGOS had been around a long time in their church, but now a new pastor and some church volunteers were talking about changing the way Wednesday night “looked” and “getting rid of” LOGOS altogether. There were struggles getting volunteers, so this seemed to be the solution to the problem.

A lay leader in the church contacted us for help and we suggested that they go through the Children’s Ministry Effectiveness Model and see what resulted. The beauty of this evaluation tool is that it looks at the whole picture, not just LOGOS. The model addresses effective children’s ministry in comprehensive terms. So, by using this model it’s quite possible their Wednesday night could “look” very different than what they’ve been used to experiencing as a LOGOS church, but the foundations of effective ministry would still be in place. There would be lots of opportunities to build relationships between the children/youth and mature Christian adults, the use of the call process to engage the adults in the ministry, and a structure that offers a balanced approach in order to nurture the body, mind, and spirit offering practice as well as learning of the faith. And they’d still be “doing LOGOS”, in the sense that they have all of the key effectiveness components listed.

So they went through the process, but their pastor didn’t participate. Their conclusion? Wednesday night was going fine…was effective…but other areas needing “shoring up.”  However, they are still struggling and having trouble and their situation points to three areas that we could all learn from:

The clergy’s support is vital for sustainability. This doesn’t mean that the pastor has to teach all of the Bible study classes. It means that the pastor is verbally (sermons and everyday conversations) and physically (present in some way) supportive of the children’s ministry in the church.

Ongoing training for church staff and particularly for lay volunteers is also vital for sustainability. There needs to be a depth of understanding and support for the “big picture” of the ministry and what is necessary for making an impact on lives (especially young lives). If we’re not doing what it takes to be impactful, we’re just offering an activity that might be wholesome, but is not nurturing a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. There’s a difference!

Calling the right people to the right position according to the God given gifts is essential.  This is what builds up the body of Christ and allows healthy Christian relationships to flourish.  This is a very specific process that takes a great deal of intentionality.

And it’s not just LOGOS that thinks this….you do too! The Barna Research Group did a study by surveying you! Churches that sustain the ministry over the long term have clergy that support LOGOS and send people to our training events.

The only way to know if your children’s ministry is working is to take the time to do regular in-depth evaluations around key factors such as its purposefulness, practicality and impact.  So what are you doing to make sure your Children’s Ministry is working?


Building Young Disciples Starts at Home

October 20, 2008

Disciple-making doesn’t just happen at church…it starts at home with parents

This week, our second edition of the family newsletter Heartfelt was posted to our website.  This newsletter has a wealth of information for parents and families. However, I want to point you to one of those key elements and why it can be right for you.  Each month there is a section entitled, “Family ‘round the Table“, that gives a family all they need for a great family night from dinner to devotions. We developed this resource because we believe that one of the most important things we can do as a family is to be present with one another, focusing on each other and enjoying one another without distractions.

So, as if it is not enough that we believe in families so strongly here at LOGOS, while surfing the internet recently, I came across this testimony for family night from a person in Indiana on her blog, http://tinyurl.com/4x3q3y.  In summary, here is what Kem Meyer of Granger Community Church says about family night:

“We started family night in August. It was one of the steps I took to be intentional in this. It started as an act of discipline…you know the drill…put first things first because it’s the right thing to do. I didn’t anticipate how much fun it would be and how much it would bond our family together.

The benefits of our family night:

– building a family identity
– navigating change together

– fostering relationships
– teaching values & practical skills
– solving problems
– modeling interpersonal communication
– making memories

We’re just getting started, but I can tell you this is a Meyer family tradition that’s going to stick around for a long, long time.”

Our desire is that you will make family night a lasting tradition in your home too. As we partner together to build young disciples, we can see that families both at home and at church – working together – can be a powerful force on behalf of children. For those of you who would like information on how to create your own weekly family night, we have created LOGOS@Home, a resource for families that provides 52 unique family sessions with all the trimmings.

Give it a try and see what happens in your family.