Back to School Big Focus: Begin With the End in Mind

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As you enter the new school year, the energy and excitement within your ministry will begin to build. Students are back from vacation, getting into a regular routine, and pulling into your church parking lot by the droves. But how do you take advantage of this season to create lasting impact in the lives of your students? Take a step back right now to get a big focus on why you do what you do.

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey challenges readers to begin with the end in mind. As schools are starting back and as ministries are kicking off, there are a few things we must do to truly begin with the end in mind.

FIRST, KNOW WHERE YOU WANT TO END UP.

You need clarity around the purpose of your ministry. Why do you exist? What do you want students to know, do or be as they graduate from the program? What is your pastor’s vision for your ministry? Stop thinking just numerical growth and more chairs filled, but at the end of this school year what does it look like to win? As you are beginning with the end in mind and setting goals, ask yourself if your goals are S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound)?

NEXT, KNOW WHERE YOU ARE STARTING FROM.

You might be guilty of looking at your ministry through rose colored glasses. Maybe it’s because you are assuming the best, or maybe it’s just blind optimism but you must have an accurate assessment of where you are starting from. What is the true spiritual climate of your group? What are your actual attendance patterns? Do you have enough leaders connected with the students relationally to get to the end that you have in mind? Ask God to give you wisdom and understanding and remember what it says in James 1:5,

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”

FINALLY, KNOW THE DIRECTION YOU NEED TO TAKE TO GET THERE. 

Now that you know where you want to end up and you know where you are starting from, you need to chart the course to get there. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said,

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

It’s not enough to think of the end that you have in mind, you must begin the work to get there. What do you need to be doing quarterly, monthly, weekly or daily to bridge the gap between your start and end? Who do you need to bring on your team, what tasks do you need to delegate and how do you need to communicate the mission to get the ball rolling?

Proverbs 16:9 offers wisdom where it says,

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”

In all things remember that your primary goal is to follow God and allow Him to guide your steps. As you move into this season and begin with the end in mind, remember the incredible call that God has placed on your life and thank Him for being a God who guides you along the way.

(Originally posted the Youth Specialties blog at: https://youthspecialties.com/blog/back-school-big-focus-begin-end-mind/)

9 Delightful Ways to Wrap up Your Summer

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You’re busy. You don’t want another to do list item to add to your ever growing checklist. But at the same time, I imagine you don’t want to miss out on low hanging fruit to propel the ministry forward. As the summer is winding down there are a few things that you can do to simply end on a good note. Here are nine delightful ways to wrap up your summer but feel free to write one or two of them down that will give you the most bang for your buck.

RELATIONALLY

Take a minute and pull out your phone to make a personalized video message to some of your student leaders. Don’t worry about it being perfect, just hit record, greet them by name, share a fun memory from the summer, and thank them for being a part of the church. Tap send and know that this might just make their day.

SPIRITUALLY

Set aside an hour on your calendar and find a quiet place to hang your Eno. Spend the hour talking with God about your summer. This quiet time can be full of appreciation for the past and seek wisdom for what lies ahead. Maybe even block off a little time for rest or just be still and know that He is God.

PHYSICALLY

Walk with a purpose. Connect with someone who you have not been able to see in a while and walk around the park. Or maybe go scout out a new retreat center or event location and walk around picturing what could be. Or maybe just walk boxes of accumulated junk out of your office and into the trash.

DIGITALLY

Take a few minutes and look through the photos on your phone. Post some of the summer memories to social media and remind your students and leaders of what you learned while you were away at camp or on that missions trip. Follow up with students who you recognize from the pictures but haven’t seen in a while and let them know you hope to see them at your kickoff event or in the lunchroom at their school.

MENTALLY

Take some time to simply think. Ask yourself these questions and take a few minutes to brainstorm the answers. Who are the future leaders for the ministry? What do you need to do to better equip your student leaders? Are you keeping your priorities in check? Why did God place you in this ministry and for what purpose? How will you continue moving forward to the goal God has set before you?

SOCIALLY

Connect with your loved ones, socialize with friends and maybe even consider leaving your phone in the car when you go to your next social gathering. Giving the gift of presence is good both for you and those you are spending time with.

ENVIRONMENTALLY

How is your workspace? Take some time to clean up your work environments. Clean off your desk and move all paperwork to either a file, the trash or delegate it to someone else to work on. If you have a youth space, walk through that environment and try to see the room with fresh eyes. Do the table tennis paddles need to be replaced? Are old signs still on the walls? Clean up that space so that you are ready to welcome new visitors to a clean room.

INTELLECTUALLY

Finish that book. You know, the one you started a while ago but set down and forgot all about. Pick it up again, scan through your underlines as a refresher, and continue working through the pages. You never know, finishing that book might be all the motivation you need to start another.

FINANCIALLY

Sorry to use “The B Word” here but how is your budget? This post is about fun, so let me ask, do you have leftover money in budget categories that you can use to set up next summer well? For example, if you have leftover camp budget money, could you use that leftover to send thank you’s to your workers or could you get something to remind the students of their experience or commitment?

Don’t let the next minute go by without making a plan. Instead of adding one of these to your to do list, why not simply make one happen? The summer will be gone before you know it so let’s wrap up on a good note.

(Originally posted the Youth Specialties blog at: https://youthspecialties.com/blog/9-delightful-ways-wrap-summer/)

 

Are You Accepting These Gifts from Christ?

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Have you ever given someone a gift they truly appreciated? You see their eyes light up with excitement, they wonder if it is truly theirs, and their heart is full of gratitude.

Or maybe, you’ve seen the opposite to be true. You find the “perfect” gift for your loved one, but then realize you were far more excited about the gift than the person to whom you gave the present.

We would all rather the person receiving the gift genuinely appreciate and love it. I imagine this was how Jesus felt when He met Zaccheus and offered Him multiple gifts. We must be like Zaccheus and accept the gifts Jesus generously gives.

The Gift of Acknowledgment In Luke 19, we see that Zaccheus climbed the tree to get a better view of Jesus. As Jesus came to the tree, He greeted him by name, acknowledging him despite his reputation. On his own, Zaccheus would have just been another member of the crowd, but with Jesus’ gift of acknowledgment, everything began to change for him. Being recognized by the Great Teacher by name would have truly been a gift! Dale Carnegie is credited saying, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Most likely today, Jesus won’t walk by your workplace calling out your name, but remember what Jesus said in Luke 12:7, “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” Accept the gift that Jesus is giving you of knowing you personally.

The Gift of Presence In Luke 19:5, Zaccheus comes down the tree and stands face to face with Jesus. Jesus doesn’t treat Zaccheus like a sinner but rather invites Himself over for a meal. When Jesus gives Zaccheus the gift of presence, Zaccheus graciously accepts with excitement and joy. This companionship causes the people to grumble, but Jesus still gives the gift of presence to the outcast.

Today we can be a friend of Jesus and accept His gift of presence by simply keeping spending time with Him a priority. Add appointments to your calendar to spend time with God just like you would with a friend. Set reminders to refocus throughout the day and attend a church where you can really be ushered into the presence of God.

The Gift of Grace Right after Zaccheus repents from cheating people on their taxes, Jesus gives him the gift of grace. Grace is an unearned gift that costs the giver and shows God’s love. There is nothing that Zaccheus could have done on his own to earn this gift. Even if he would have given back 10 times or 100 times the amount he had stolen, he would have still been found guilty of being a thief. Jesus forgave Zaccheus and gave him the same gift of grace that He offers to us today.

Isaiah 64:6 describes us saying, “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.” On our own, we can never pay back the debt that we owe, but when we accept the gift of grace that Jesus offers us, everything changes.

All of Zaccheus efforts weren’t able to accomplish his own salvation, it was only through the gifts that Jesus freely offered him. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Ultimately, Jesus had to come to Zaccheus’ house for his life to change. Today we must come before the Savior and through His gifts, our life will never be the same.

The Myth of Balance Workshop Series

The Myth of Balance Workshop Series begins July 10th and I would love for you to join me as we learn how to thrive in the tension of ministry, work, and life. We are called to be good stewards of our time, and I believe this workshop will keep us going the right direction. Sign up here: The Myth of Balance

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Does this sound familiar?

“This is just my busy season.”
“Next week will be better.”
“My family will understand.”

Ministry is messy, and it’s full of “exceptions” like these. Sure, you may have set office hours, but we all know those could change with the next email or phone call.

Sometimes we treat ministry like it’s an assembly line job with the same tasks day in and out, yet we’re always caught off guard when …

you get a phone call that means you are visiting a family in the hospital,
the lead pastor calls an impromptu meeting in the middle of the day,
last month passed without a day off,
volunteers call in sick,
Sunday’s coming.

Every week presents its own set of challenges. The question isn’t what to do IF they happen, but what to do WHEN they happen.

God never intended for us to sacrifice the family He blessed us with on the altar of the ministry He called us to.

In his new book, The Myth of Balance, Frank Bealer teaches you his proven formula for thriving in the tension of ministry, work, and life. He provides a tool for HOW you can reduce the stress and guilt from these untimely, but inevitable, exceptions.

But now he’s taking it one step further:
What if you could have direct access to Frank?
What if he personally guided you through every chapter of the book?
What if you could ask your specific questions—and get answers?
What if there was a supportive community of other ministry leaders who are also trying to shift their mindset from IF to WHEN, and ultimately to HOW?

Beginning July 10, you could be part of an eight-week challenge to reclaim your time and your response to the exceptions that come with ministry. Through live video, Q&A’s, group conversation, and practical resources, you will develop a customized plan to better manage these situations, allowing you to focus on the people in your care.

Dedicate your life to your calling, not your calendar.

LEARN MORE: MythofBalance.com

Share this post on facebook or twitter and I’ll give a FREE copy of the book away to one lucky winner! 🎉

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How to On-board New Volunteers

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The D6 Podcast helps you build an excellent family ministry in your church. On episode 63, we sat down and walked through all of the steps to process onboard new volunteers.

Recruiting volunteers is hard but you can make this process easier by breaking it down into manageable steps. Listen to this podcast for a tutorial step by step guide and check out the attachments for additional resources.

How to On-board New Volunteers with Corey Jones – https://itun.es/i6dj5Jk

Corey Jones provides us with a step by step tutorial on how to on-board a new volunteer. He begins with recruiting. Corey believes he needs to always be in a state of recruiting volunteers, so he must free himself to have the time on Sunday mornings to interact with people and recognize their gifts. Corey talks in great detail about his application process and even gives key components to his application. He shares how to handle that awkward conversation when someone fails a background check and how to recapture an applicant that may have gotten lost in the process. Corey discusses how to identify volunteers that may be ready for more responsibility, and he talks about how his own senior pastor has encouraged volunteering in their church.

There is valuable, practical, and ready-to-use information in this episode. Make sure to tune in!

Here are links to additional resources:

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3 Free Ways To Better Screen Your Volunteers

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There’s no question that we need to screen our volunteers, especially those who work with kids. But how do you properly screen workers on a limited budget with limited time? How can you ensure the safety of those who have been placed in your care when you are also trying to prepare for next Sunday? Here are 3 free ways to better screen your volunteers.

1. Know Your Process.

Can you list every step a volunteer must take in order to go from a pew sitter to a member of your team? Write down your full process and ask a lawyer, officer, and/or school counselor for feedback. Read over your application to make sure you are collecting the proper information and compare your application to that of other churches. Know your background check process and know exactly what the background check is screening. Know what questions you will ask a reference and what you will do when a red flag is raised. Know what standard questions you are going to ask in the interview and know how to ask these questions to get accurate information.

2. Follow Your Process.

While knowing your process is important, if you don’t follow it you will find yourself in trouble. Don’t cut corners or make exceptions, even if you know the person or they’ve been serving in another ministry. If your policy says that a person must be a member in order to serve then hit pause and wait for that step to be complete. Even if you desperately need someone to fill the position, or if your gut is telling you to let them through, still follow your process. When you always follow your process you can confidently tell parents that every member of your team has been properly screened.

3. Document Your Process.

Along the way, write down dates and keep a written record so that you know each step has been completed. Document the date your background check was sent out and write down when you have received a clear report. If any red flags are raised in the reference check or interview, write down both what was said and how you resolved the situation. If there is anything questionable or out of the ordinary also consider running the information by your supervisor and have them sign off on the document as well.

When you know, follow, and document your screening process for new volunteers you are on your way to building a healthy team. The time you invest in these three steps will help you protect the kids and can save your ministry from a sticky situation. What is one step that you need to take today to better screen your volunteers?

Are You Satisfied With Your Prayer Life?

And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. – Jesus, Luke 11:9-10

Are you satisfied with your prayer life?

Or to put it another way, do you rely more on your cell phone or your Heavenly Father for answers, security, and direction? When Jesus taught on prayer in Luke 11, He gave three visuals to clarify what it means to bring a request to God. As you go into your next time of prayer think about these three aspects that Jesus taught: ask, seek, knock.

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ASK: When you ask, make sure your motives are pure. James 4:2c-3 says, “Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.” When you bring your requests to God, have the same attitude as Jesus when He prayed in Luke 22:42, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not mine.” As you begin your next prayer, ask, but ask with a pure heart. 

SEEK: Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” Prayer is not just about asking, but doing the work and looking for the answers. James 2:17 says, “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” We need to be people who ask God and then put our faith in action by seeking His answers. Think back to your past prayer requests. Did you simply ask God for His favor or did you take it a step further to put your faith in action?

KNOCK: As you ask God and seek His answers, a few doors may present themselves. Your job is to step out in faith and pursue opportunities that glorify God. Knock on doors with consistency and persistence. Ephesians 6:18 says, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Don’t give up when the first door you knock on doesn’t open. Stay persistent in your prayers and continue seeking Him.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encourages us to ask, seek, knock, and then He says, “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:9-11). Take time today to ask, seek, and knock for we have a personal God who cares about you and your story.