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Christine has over 20 years of children's ministry experience. She's the author of 10 books and hundreds of articles related to children's ministry. It's no wonder she enjoys an almost-daily latte to keep her going! She is also the executive editor of Children's Ministry Magazine and serves as Group's children's ministry champion, responsible for research, development, and innovation in children's ministry resources. 

Volunteer Leadership Tip #2: Plug People Into Relationships

One of the most amazing tips I've learned about leading volunteers actually came from my experience of recruiting volunteers.

Tip #2: Plug People Into Relationships

People will leave a task before they'll leave a relationship. So it's important to always have at least two people assigned to serve together on a given task.

Here's how this worked for me. We had a large group/small group ministry. So we needed people to do things behind the scenes to make our ministry shine. For example, we had a Supply Team that gathered supplies for the small group leaders and put them in boxes each week.

I'm sure one person could've done this all by herself each week, but instead I recruited four different women who became the best of friends. Each week they would gather to sort through the supplies. While they worked, they laughed, shared needs, and got to know one another.

Their longevity in our ministry was directly tied to their friendship with one another. Let's be honest, it's easy to leave a thing, but when you partner people with each other, they become friends. And saying goodbye to a friend is always tougher.

I know...it doubles your recruiting work on the front end if you have to get twice as many people. But just imagine how much easier it'll be when you don't have to fill holes because people are committed to serving with their friends.

Posted at 22:05

Volunteer Leadership Tip #1: Never Say "Thanks for HELPING Us"

In my blog over the next few weeks, I'm going to share with you the most amazing tips I've learned about leading volunteers through the experts in Children's Ministry Magazine.

Here's Tip #1: Never Say "Thanks for HELPING Us."

Words matter. And the way we say things to our team members matters even more.

It seems like such a benign thing, but when we say to the folks on our team "Thanks for helping us," it puts them in a less-than-important role. It's as though "us leaders" are the ones who really matter and these other people are helping "us."

Instead, thank your team members for their contribution. Say things like "Thanks for making a difference in toddlers' lives!" or "Thanks for making this outreach event a huge success by setting up and tearing down." or "Thanks for putting together those gift bags to make our teachers feel valued."

See the difference? It may feel nuanced, but when you point out the value of what people are doing, it actually makes them want to keep doing it.

Hey, thanks for reading this blog to invest in your amazing skills to lead volunteers. You rock!

(See how that works!)

Posted at 20:51

God, Give Me Patience!

There's something I need patience with. And it might surprise you.

I need patience with people who say this: "Don't ever ask God for patience, because he'll fill your life with trouble."

Really? I just don't agree. Remember the teaching where Jesus said that if you ask your earthly father for a fish, he's not going to give you a rock (or something like that). How much so does our heavenly father give us good things? The point is that God is a good and loving heavenly father who isn't out to get us.

If we ask for patience, he'll give us patience--not trouble.

This kind of thinking would be like saying, "Don't ask God for wisdom because he'll fill your life with confusion."

Maybe people are trying to be funny, but I just don't like it. God give me patience with the comments we make that reveal that we don't believe you are truly good.

That's my two cents today.

Posted at 19:44

Schizoid Parent Views

I just went with my daughter to her college orientation/registration week at MTSU in Tennessee. And there I heard very disparate things from what I hear about parents when I'm at church gatherings.

The VP of student affairs spent time with us parents and she talked about what she knows about us. She said that we're the generation of parents who had our kids on preschool waiting lists when we were pregnant with them, bought the "baby on board" signs, coached our kids' little league teams or called the coach to complain about why they weren't getting enough play time--and more. She called us "helicopter parents." And she did it all in such a congenial way that parents laughed as they saw themselves in her descriptions. She also said that we parents have been known to be too involved in our students' college life and job searches.

Enter schizophrenia. Because what I hear at church gatherings is how checked out today's parents are and how they don't care about their kids' faith development. I hear how parents won't volunteer, won't get plugged in, won't disciple their kids. (Are these the same overinvolved parents the VP talked about? What's true?)

Then I saw a post on facebook from a parent who was glowing about the family devotion time their family had had. Kids had acted out the Bible creatively and more. (And I wondered what century am I in?)

Is that the big divide? Can we in the church not stop holding up parents to this unrealistic standard of what "caring about their kids' faith" looks like? Unrealistic family devotion nights? Are we at risk of missing out on just how crazy involved parents are and what they are willing to do to pass on faith to their kids?

At the orientation, I spoke with a mom who said she didn't go to church but there's a reason she's raising her kids in the "buckle of the Bible belt"--morality. She said she and her girls spent hours in the car every day going to what we in the church would call distractions--soccer, ballet, school. That is where, I can guarantee, this mother is passing on her values to her kids. Like so many other parents today.

Maybe that's what Deuteronomy 6 is about. It doesn't say we need to do involved devotions, but instead that we need to pass on our faith throughout the everydayness of our lives--in the car, at the table, watching TV, while texting.

I pray that God will open our eyes to see parents and families accurately so we can indeed impact families and reach them in ways they'll understand and respond to.

Posted at 21:37

New and Improved!

I've worked here at Group for 22 years. And in that time, I've never seen Group and our staff stop learning. Just the other day I was in a meeting with Thom and Joani Schultz who modeled a learner's heart with something they're in charge of that could be improved. They were eager to hear critique and look at a new direction.

That learner's attitude is in all that we do here. It leads to us listening to hundreds of children's ministers every week on the phones, conducting research, holding focus groups, reading your emails, and more. It also leads to aggressive field-testing where we come out a little bloodied and bruised, but that's OK.

We're right in the middle of some enhancements for Buzz--even though it is still a new innovation at Group, we're ready to improve. We've listened to our friends in ministry and we're making Buzz even better! We've spent hours the last few weeks fine-tuning Buzz directions to ensure that they're crystal clear. We've brought in folks who walk through the directions while we take notes and ask questions--all in the name of ensuring that the revised Buzz will be exactly what we've promised for your volunteers--Instant Sunday School--yes, so easy that you just add kids!

We've learned a lot in the last two years. And we're making great changes. Thanks to field testing, we know for a fact that we're delivering extremely clear lessons! Things that may've been confusing to your volunteers in the past are gone! And we're excited to see your volunteers and kids get their hands on Buzz!

If you haven't checked out Buzz, go to group.com/buzz to learn more. And even if you've checked out Buzz in the past, check out our new and improved Buzz! You won't be disappointed!

Posted at 23:01

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