The Doors To Your Church- Part 1

 I’ve  lived in the trenches of children’s ministry for what feels like the majority of my life. My parents were children’s ministry directors and volunteers for a decade at one of the largest churches in St.Louis. Church was our weekends and even some evenings. Since I was 12 I’ve had either a volunteer or staff position in ministry. I’ve been what I always thought of as “around the block” when it comes to planning, organizing, creating, strategizing. But for the last few years, I have been on the outside of the circle. I’ll be honest with you. There’s been many of times that I have kicked and screamed at God for allowing me to just be ” left” outside of the circle. Why was I seeing things about the church that I had never seen before? Why was it causing me to feel  like I was behind a plexi-glass one way viewing window?

The difference between now and then is simple. I’m a parent. Anyone in leadership and/or ministry that is not a parent I can confidently say you won’t get it fully until you become a parent. I use to take offense to that when I would hear a leader say that. But its truth.

I have learned more about the church, leadership and being a parent far more in the last 4 years of my life than when I was deep in the trenches of ministry.

Hear me out on this. For those of you in ministry, Sundays come fast every week, don’t they?! It’s what I like to think of as the “head down and keep moving” syndrome, the “plug and chug”  or the “just keep your head above water one more week” syndrome.  I rarely was encouraged to take a step back to see the full picture. I rarely was given the opportunity to see things through the eyes of those actually experiencing the environments or processes. I often thought I was doing those things, but I wasn’t. I rarely was led in a way that put everyone in leadership on the same page, but rather drew the unspoken hard lines and siloed them even more.

On day one of entering my kids into a new church nursery, I was struck with so many negative thoughts about the church that i had never had before. And from the look of some other parents faces, I don’t think I was alone.

You see, for the first time since I was 12, I realized that the church and the staff of churches often don’t realize that their church has many doors. Doors are multi-functional if you think about it. They are for entering and exiting. Just as easy as you can enter into one, the same is true for exiting. It’s not hard in a church. Some are even revolving doors.

That day 4 years ago, I realized that the church doesn’t always step back and realize that some of the most important doors to their church are neglected. Uninviting. Unmanned. Manned improperly without any review or strategy. Existing for the purpose of existing because it simply always has. Nobody really knows why, but its there. Existing for childcare to keep parents happy and attendance and giving up in the main service. And the saddest one to me is looking great on the outside, but no strategy at all once you enter.

Pastors, Children’s Ministry is a door to your church!  Preschool Ministry is a door to your church!

I don’t care how great your main service is, as a church, you will never grow to the fullest and reach the families of your community effectively if you are not paying attention to the Doors! Doors need strategies.The environments behind those doors need strategy.

In Part 2 and Part 3 of The Door To Your Church, I’ll discuss ways that churches may not recognize doors within their church through their Preschool Ministry and how they are often ineffectively used. Things like,the Parking lot. Your greeters and signage. Your child/family registration process and drop off experiences. Your volunteers and the procedures for new volunteers. Your strategy on what you want the kids in your church to walk away with weekly. Your follow-up  and your Main Service. All things that are Doors to your church through Preschool Ministry.

I have 3 children under the age of 5. Life came at me fast. I had 2 kids in 11 months, and I was so ready to get plugged into a church and community with others in the same phase and experience what it would be like to have my kids growing up in a church that we loved. I never knew that the journey of parenthood would bring me to wondering if the church has placed silencing plexi-glass boxes over families and hope and pray that they fit through their doors.

What Doors are there in your church that you might not be seeing? What Doors within your ministry need work? What Doors have you as a parent experienced both good and bad? 

5 Years Ago…

5 years ago today, I experienced the deepest of love at first site. My son Evan James was born. As he laid on my chest, fresh into the world, he ever so contently looked into my eyes. There was no raging cry. There was no squirming. Just simple love. To this day, he is the same. A very happy and content boy. He doesn’t need frills and exotic things to get him excited. He’s just content and sweet. He loves snuggles and has the most tender and soft heart. Don’t get me wrong, he’s got a lot of boy in him! He loves to run and play and get sweaty and smash bugs. We’re confident that he’ll take care of us in our retirement years with a Major League Baseball salary with that arm of his and his batting abilities! He is my most inquisitive kid. He ponders and truly wants to understand why something is the way it is. He is full of wonder and hope. He loves his Heavenly Father, but he also has a ton of questions he wants answered so he can know Him fully. He is patient. He is my child that I can tell him to do something and without fail, he does it with one ask. He is a hard worker. He is careful and his love is unconditional. He’s an incredible big brother! He already is a jaw dropping good guitar player at just 5 years of age and if you need something fixed, he’s not afraid to give it a try to fix it with some tools. Evan is extra special to me because he made me a mom for the first time. He was the gift that came to take us back so we could be reminded of how to love the world like God loves the world. We are so glad God gaves us YOU, Evan! We love you baby boy!

 

 


State Farm: Safety Tips + $100 Home Depot Gift Card Giveaway

Summer brings warm weather. Duh! I think we’ve all been experiencing that lately. I love Summer! There’s so much fun to be had– from vacations to playing outside to swimming and much more. However, safety should also be a part of summer fun to help avoid accidents.

State Farm Insurance has lots of quick and easy resources and tips to make sure everyone stays safe, whether it’s playing in the backyard or piling into the car for a road trip.  Some important tips include:

Home Safety

  • Check your wood deck or concrete patio for possible deterioration
  • Be sure to follow and enforce proper rules and safety measures around your pool

Auto Safety

  • Get your car serviced before you travel including a check of the engine and other systems such as the air conditioning and cooling, the tires, brakes, lights and windshield wipers.
  • Keep an emergency kit in your trunk – jumper cables, tools, water, emergency flares, and a flashlight and gloves – just in case.

More info about safety tips for your summer can also be found at www.StateFarm.com.

Giveaway

REQUIRED ENTRY:

1.  Leave a comment with your best summer safety tip.

BONUS ENTRIES:

1.Follow MomWithAMinivan through Facebook and  Twitter and leave a comment on this post

2. Like State Farm on Facebook and leave a comment on this post.

You have until Thursday (8/11) at 11:59 pm ET to enter the giveaway. I will choose a winner at random using the “And the Winner Is…” plugin, and send the winner an e-mail. The winner will have 48 hours to respond with his/her contact information or I will have to choose another winner. Happy entering!

Disclosure: I received the same gift package that the winner will be receiving to facilitate my review. I did not receive any compensation to write this post. The opinions are all mine!

 

Another Influence

As I sit here on day five of swim classes and watch my two 4 year olds swim unassisted laps, I’m in awe. How could this happen in just 5 short lessons?! We, my family and I, have been working with them on swimming all summer. You know the classic parenting lines to beginner swimmers: “Keep your mouth closed!” “Kick, kick, kick!” “I’ve got you.You are safe” “Reach with those arms!” “Stay on the side until I get there.” “Way to go!” All great things for us parents to say. But honestly, my kids were no where near the swimmers they are now this entire summer until swim classes. Why? What was the difference? I was saying all of the right things to teach them. I was patient and encouraging. I took several splashes to the face for the sake of teaching them. I’ve come to one conclusion that has made all the difference: Ms.Jillian. Ms.Jillian is my kids swim teacher. I was a little concerned about how my kids would respond to being in a pool without the safety of mom or dad or someone they know. Man,was I wrong! Here’s the reality that stares me in my face today: Ms.Jillian has said all of the same things I have said to my kids about swimming. My kids needed someone else to show them and say the same things  before they “got it.”

Life lesson here for me as a parent: Sometimes my kids need the voice of another in their lives.

My  kids will not always hear or “get” what I am saying every time. As a parent, that’s a hard one to swallow isn’t it?! But whether Ms.Jillian knows it or not, she is in a partnership with me as a parent. She too wants my kids to know a life saving skill.  There will be things that your kids need to hear, talk through and/or be influenced on by another trusted  individual. You as the parent certainly will always have influence on your kids lives. No doubt about it. Even the worse of parents have an impact on their kids whether they know it or not.  For me, I want to set my kids up for success in the department of being able to trust another adult individual to talk through life things with, when they don’t really want to “hear” what mom and dad are saying. I want to think that my kids will always listen to me and always learn what I teach them. Sometimes though, it  takes a partnership with a Ms.Jillian and her voice in my kids lives for me to be the best parent I can be to my kids.  It’s the partnership of having the same goal in mind that makes all the difference.

Partnership: a cooperative relationship between people or groups who agree to share responsibility for achieving some specific goal

 

4 Years Ago

Four years ago today, 07-27-07 at exactly 1:07pm, entered the biggest surprise and one of the best blessings of my life. A baby girl, my daughter, Jenna Emerson. She graced the world with her entrance with her mighty voice blaring and it hasnt stopped yet! She was quite a surprise for us just a short 11 months after her brother arrived. Yes, that’s correct, in a 11months, 2 babies! While a lot of it is a blur, Jenna has never failed at being a consistent source of Joy. That girl is fierce when it comes to emotions. She loves greatly and the girl is all about fun and making people smile. Seriously, it’s taken me years to get this witty and funny, so she puzzles me in how natural it is for her in just 4 short years of her life. Jenna’s name means “Little Song Bird.” I prayed to God that if I had a baby girl, I wanted her to be a loud voice for Him. There couldn’t be a more fitting name. She is little, loves her some music and is vocal. Just the other day in the middle of Macy’s she randomly shouted excitedly “Hosanna!” The girl has such a innocence and trusting relationship with her Heavenly Father. She has some killer blue eyes and one of the most common comments about her is how big and how often she smiles. She is covered with the finger prints of God from head to toe! We are so glad that God gave us you, Miss Jenna! Love you baby girl to the moon and back.

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