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?

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Sustainable Faith II

December 8, 2010

What makes the difference between a teenager staying connected to the church or straying from it? A previous article here shares several key observations by David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group on the topic. His organization has been researching what makes for sustainable faith and while the organization is still in the midst of the study, he did share several key observations at the LOGOS Live Conference in San Antonio, Texas in October. This article continues the discussion.

What about those of the “next generation” who do leave the church?  Do they share any common characteristics?  And if so, does that give church leaders clues as to how we can keep our young people engaged and connected to the faith?

David described three types of young people who leave…Prodigals, Nomads, and Exiles.

Prodigals: These are the ones who have walked away from their faith. They’ve made an intentional break.  Presumably they’ve had a negative experience with the church or with Christians.  They’re feeling angry or annoyed with Christians in general now.

Nomads: These are the spiritual wanderers who have gradually disengaged.  Church is just not as important to them as it used to be.  They don’t feel that they “fit in” to church anymore and they don’t see that church matters.  This is the most common group who leave the church.

Exiles: These are the young people who now find themselves in a culture or environment that is very different than what their “growing up in” church understands or accepts. Because of their occupation or where they live or how they live, they have a need to navigate new territory and don’t see the church as being helpful or supportive.

I’m wondering if many of our nomads started as exiles as they entered college.  Unless they were very intentional in connecting with a Christian community it would be all too easy to move deeper and deeper into a place that separates them from what they experienced in their home-church environment—no matter how beloved at the time. And then that separation just becomes the norm and there’s little recognition of the importance of a church community or for practicing their faith.

What do you do to maintain the connection with the post-high school (and particularly college attending) youth from your church?  Is it important to keep them connected not only to their home church leaders but also to their home church peers?

What are some ideas to reconnect with them on a regular basis and when they come home for their natural seasonal breaks? Do you plan mission trips or on-line Bible studies?  Fellowship gatherings?  Please share your ideas and thoughts.


Specials Needs Children and the Church

November 18, 2009

Working with special needs children for more than ten years while in ministry at a large suburban church, I came to love, admire and respect the families who daily deal with the issues that special needs children face. Some churches find it difficult to incorporate those with different abilities and/or difficult behavior into the life of the congregation; some churches have embraced this challenge in order to support these families and, in doing so, have become truly inclusive.

Children have many different learning styles and behaviors—not all due to disabilities or learning styles. Do you know the differences? Some behaviors may be due to: physical disabilities, language issues, emotional problems, learning differences, family problems, relationship issues, and/or below- average intelligence. Some special needs are mild and may be only slightly noticeable. Others may require medications, special equipment, or even a trained companion to help. And some “just clap their hands.” Whether mild or severe, all special needs children require their leaders to accept them and to love them in the same way that Jesus accepts and loves us all.

Here are a few general ideas to consider when thinking about ministry with special needs children:

1. Are your church teachers/ leaders/ helpers called to ministry with special needs and equipped to welcome and teach them all? God gives us all gifts to use to help build up God’s kingdom. Do you have a call process in place in your congregation for calling people with the appropriate gifts to the appropriate ministries?

2. Are your special needs families on board? When the teachers/ leaders/ helpers called to work with special needs are in place, aim for consistency and a close partnership with the family by beginning with a parent meeting. No special needs child should come into a new situation without all of the adults in partnership and in agreement. Otherwise it’s a recipe for disaster.

3. Do you have a church-wide discipline policy and do your children’s leaders have a discipline strategy for their meetings? Discipline is not a tool for controlling others, but for enabling the exercising of self control, especially important for the special needs child. A person who has learned self-discipline has self-control, self-reliance, self-esteem, and expresses orderly conduct. Self-discipline is assuming responsibility for our actions, and making decisions about our behavior.

It is important to accept special needs children as equal, to give them a sense of dignity and respect. For instance, it is essential that you do not add to the problems of your students by allowing them to do or say whatever they please, so you will want to engage everyone in the group in making a list of rules for all to use while learning, playing, sharing a meal, or worshipping.

Although there is a lot that the church can do to nurture and support the special needs child and his family, consider all that special needs children themselves can bring to the congregation. Adopt a zero rejection policy: exclude no children from the concern and activities of the congregation because of the severity of their handicaps. We all have handicaps; on some of us, they are more apparent.

• Do you have special needs children in your congregation? Enough for a “Special Needs Ministry Team” to plan and implement ministry programs for them? Or one or two who are enfolded into your general ministry activities?
• Is your church a welcoming, safe, and nurturing place for special needs children and their families?
• Do you have a call process in place for placing teachers and leaders of special needs children?
• Does your congregation screen volunteers for children/youth ministry?
• Are your special needs leaders equipped to guide the children who may need extra help?
• Does your Children’s Ministry enjoy an open and healthy partnership with the families of special needs children?
• Does your church have a discipline policy that applies to all who use your campus?

[Check out The LOGOS Ministry Webinars: “Hey You!” for more about calling people into ministry; “Love in Disguise” for more about discipline; “Friendly Fences” for more about church-wide discipline policies.]


Is Your Church Hospitable to Families with Children?

October 29, 2009

kids-outsideFour places where churches often fail families in Sunday hospitality: signage, nursery, worship, fellowship/coffee hour.

What about the signs in your church? Is it easy for first-time visitors to find a place to park? the nursery? the sanctuary? Sunday school rooms? the church office? the bathrooms?

The nursery is where effective children’s ministry can begin and also where visitors can get turned off a church. When parents return to pick-up their child, an upset baby with a dirty diaper will trump a great sermon.

Creating effective worship for all ages is a daunting task. Liturgy, music, sermon, prayers, creeds, the sacraments of baptism and communion all present unique opportunities for churches to include people of all ages, especially children. Today’s family wants family/intergenerational worship. Churches that continue to divide people by age, that continue to send children out of worship are missing the chance to nurture the family as a whole and to support those parents who wish to worship together.

The fellowship time that often occurs right after worship, but is a term that can also include any informal time where refreshments are served and people are invited to mingle, is usually planned with adults in mind. When children are left to their own devices, they will fill up the time and space with their own games. They may run around, grab food at will, and be disruptive. A progressive congregation understands this dynamic and plans this gathering time to include all ages—with appropriate guidelines and activities for all. Chaotic fellowship times can turn-off members as well as visitors.

There may be an unspoken attitude among adults in churches that relegates children “to be seen but not heard”…to be separate, not included. How can you change the attitude from “adults only” to “everyone is included, everyone matters!”? Approach your leadership now and start some discussions:

• Do the signs inside and outside of your church help visitors know where to go to find what they need? Can the signs be read or understood by children, too?

• Is your nursery staffed with two adults at all times? Does it address the needs of infants, toddlers and preschoolers? Does your nursery staff understand that they are in ministry to these little ones?

• Does your church send the children out of worship causing them to miss singing and praying with adults, witnessing baptisms, partaking in communion? Does your worship include opportunities for people of all ages to participate both as leaders and as worshippers?

• Are your planned congregational events always inclusive of children? Does your church welcome children at fellowship times or do the adults grumble about the children eating all the cookies?

• Is your congregation intentional about children’s ministry and about why it is vital for the church?

• Does your children’s ministry enjoy an equal priority with other ministries of your church?

• If you polled the children in your congregation, would they say they were valued and important to the church?

Raise the hospitality quotient of your church by making it a place where families feel welcome to gather together for mutual, life-giving activities and worship…welcome the children in the name of Jesus Christ!

Read the October issue of Heartfelt for more about helping your child prepare and participate in worship. Click here.


What you get is what you believe

February 12, 2009

We were in staff this week and I brought up a topic we had discussed before based on the pictured diagram.  Our beliefs shape our foundation of who we are which informs the decisions we make and the behaviors we express which produce the outcomes or the end result.  This is a cycle,  so depending on the outcome, our beliefs may be re-enforced or changed.  Therefore, it is not just about making different decisions, it is about having the right belief system in place. For example, I used eating and dieting as a model.  If I don’t believe that I have-  A)bad eating habits, B) I need to sacrifice what I want, and C)that good eating habits are essential- I can choose to diet all I want but I will keep failing because my beliefs aren’t in alignment with my desired outcomes.  So the net result will be I fail to stick to my diet and healthy eating plan.  Trying to make a the decision over and over again won’t work.bdo4

We can see evidence of this in Scripture as well.  If we look at Matthew 14: 22-32, we see Peter walking on water toward Jesus.  The world around Peter didn’t suddenly change in that moment.  The winds didn’t die down, gravity didn’t cease to exist, the waves weren’t gone.  Stones and other objects thrown into the water would still sink.  So what went on?  Peter’s belief system changed.  He believed that he could walk on water because Jesus called him even though everything around him was the same.  And so he made the decision to get out of the boat. The outcome was he walked on water until he changed to disbelief and decided to fear and then the outcome was he sank.

All of this to say, what are your beliefs right now.  Do you believe things are so bad that there is no way out?  Do you believe that things are hopeless?  Do you believe that there is no money to carry on in ministry?  If so, those beliefs will guide your decisions and the outcomes.

Or do you believe that God is in control and all things are possible?  That there is a way to go on in ministry with the resources God provides?  If so, that will shape your decisions and outcomes in  ministry?

Beliefs… Decisions…Outcomes…It is a powerful cycle.

What do you believe?


Time with God

January 29, 2009

timeandgod1I came to work early one morning this week and read this note on my daily calendar:

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 2:5

We Christians are not to be conformed to this world in the way we think.  The world by its advertisements, its conversation, and its philosophy is engaged in a gigantic brainwashing…. Time yourself next time you read the Bible and pray.  Compare your private time with God to the amount of time you spend watching television (shows, news, weather, sports, movies), or surfing the internet, or reading fiction.  Is God getting His share of your time and attention?  Is the world shaping your mind—or is Christ?

This caused me to ask myself a lot of hard questions:

Do I spend as much time with God each day as I do on my stuff?

Do I expect my personal relationship with God to be strong because I lump big blocks of time with God on some days to make up for days I “miss”?

Would I tell my spouse or my boss, “I am sorry I don’t have time for you, I am too busy this week?”

Do I spend as much time with my God as I do my spouse, my children, my friends?

Do I invest my time and my money with  God as much as I do my leisure, my vacations, my technology, my hobbies and interests?  Where my treasure (checkbook, time, habits)  is my heart is there also.

Most marriage problems are caused by lack of communication.  Most lack of communication is caused by not spending quality, honest, open time together.  Why would my relationship with God be any different?

Am I appropriately modeling discipleship for the young people I work with as I tell them how important a life with God is?

Wow, I have a lot to think about!  Thankfully God loves me just as I am and I am saved by grace. However, one of the best lines I ever received from Doris Milligan, our founder’s wife, was, “God loves me too much for me to stay that way.” Grace is not cheap.  God wants me to have the mind of Christ Jesus.  God wants my mind to be transformed.


Miracle

January 28, 2009

This picture says it all!

This picture says it all!