Monday, September 06, 2010
As ever, so much has happened since I last posted.
Last week my voluntary three days a week worker left to move city and I am really missing her - not for what she did (though that was AMAZING!), but I am missing her person. She's lovely. We got on very well. I had given some thought to a variety of things for her to do that gave her a broad experience of children and family work. Having someone who knows your innermost thoughts and feelings and passions and motivations for the role that you play is priceless; matchless. It really helps me to have someone else to share thoughts and ideas with. I think its a stress reliever in more ways that one; its not just about the actualy physical work and emails. Sadly many people in the paid church roles crash and burn - I hear of this quite regularly - we were warned on this and coached about this at Bible College and from one-to-ones with tutors as the staff there were well aware of "crash and burns" and worse. There were some real tragedies too. But that's not a strand of this post I want to dwell on! Pastoral workers and ministers can be notoriously left on their own to cope with things and those who work with youth and children suffer from this as they are out of the morning service for some or all of the time.
The most secure rock of a person feels it when they hear people talk about how awesome the service worship/teaching/ministry was and you were out in another building/room. Maybe one day children and youth team will regularly and spontaneously be asked the question:"what was God doing amongst the children/youth this week in the morning service?". Hee hee, feeling a bit mischevious..... imagine if the first part of every church meeting was spent discussing the complaints of the under-18s. Just imagine it....
"we insist on fair trade squash....in china mugs!"
"we wonder why the chocolate bourbons have been replaced by Rich Teas. That's an unacceptable budget cut".
"To be honest, the games time went on far too long, visitors would have felt quite uncomfortable"
With my children's worker leaving, but with the possibility of her carrying out a similar role in another place, I am reminded that I am also called to is prepare and train other people to do everything that I can do. I have not forgotten the wise words of one of the first pastors I worked alongside who said to me: "Lynn, your job is to do yourself out of a job". Extreme? Perhaps. But true. Challenging? Definitely.
What kinds of experiences did I give an assistant? This is a question I am asked by other church leaders who are thinking about how to broaden their staff team. She went each week to the parent/toddler group to chat to folks. She assisted me at a daytime Alpha course, caring for the participants and meeting up with some outside of the group. I gave her lots of opportunities to lead during the holiday club. Sunday by Sunday, she planned for and taught groups of children, moving onto have oversight of the week by week teams if I was preaching or away. She stepped into the leadership role of the midweek children's club (my role there has always to be to support and facilitate and not run the show; so I would chat with parents as they came to drop off children). Certain pastoral situations we talked and prayed through together. She saw the real behind the scenes of administration and planning for 170 children. She emailed teams on my behalf - in short - she was an amazing help and I hope I have helped her to have a good experience of children and family work.
So I'm a bit sad not to have her. I saw the goodness of God and his call all over her life and its always lifegiving to be part of that.
On the plus side, I have kicked off a new term with loads of new volunteers that I didn't have to try all that hard to get as I harnessed folks who had a great experience at our summer holiday club (it went sooooo well, all credit to the brilliant team). I've just organised the re-launch of the midweek kids club, written an article for these folk and a four-pager for these folks, had my annual review, accepted a request to write an academic book review and another article for the EA after saying I couldn't do it till October. If only the writing things paid me some money I'd be more inclined to write some more (in home time of course) as it's really hard to get time to do it as well as I would like!
Coming up, I have been asked to help a national organisation with prayer events for children and adults together (oooooh I sense the fulfillment of a prophecy coming on) and I hope to run a new event in my own church for parents of babies; introdcing some principles for refreshing and renewing faith in the hard, first year of being a parent. I'm also re-running the highly successful Triple P course in a local school and October should see the next block of kids discipleship.
Ongoing, is the usual Sunday/Thursday stuff but I have instigated a new method of "presenting" given our increased numbers in a smaller space (hall) so I have to do some modelling and training on that, and encourage all the new teams to regroup and hold individual team meetings. Got a stack of contacts/visits to do - a dozen new children in the last couple of weeks. Woooo-hoooo....bring it on...! ....honestly I have never experienced such rapid increase before in my past place or even till now. I do believe this is to come to churches more and more if they will only open their hearts to children and God's heart towards them. See this post for some key thoughts.
Regarding our pastoral care: we are opening the front door real wide but, as with many growing churches, closing the back door remains a challenge for us.
But before all of the October stuff..........on 25 September, I have my annual training and vision day for pastors and leaders and kids team and youth leaders and parents and....anyone with a heart for children!
This will be my seventh and new this year, is a twin track - with practical topics such as using the Bible creatively with children or dealing with challenging behaviour, along with seminars for pastors/parents on setting a vision for young people in your church, children's faith development. If you live in Scotland/N England and you are interested in coming, maybe bringing a kids ministry team or kidnapping your church leaders/pastors and bringing them, then email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Lunch and materials are provided and it costs £5. In the last few years I have had 40 to 50 of my own team and the same again from other churches and denominations and I feel this is such a positive step forward; doing things across denominations is so important and a sign, I believe, of a coming move of God. Please, Lord!