Archives For barbara

In her Orange ’12 session on training special needs volunteers, Linda Martin shared about Nehemiah as he led the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem. That session started me thinking on how much this applies to all volunteers. There doesn’t seem to be any indication that Nehemiah was a builder before he was a cupbearer and the people that he was leading and directing to build the wall weren’t builders either. Chapter 3 identifies some of the people building as goldsmiths and perfume-makers. God took people who were willing to engage in something away from what they knew and understood and were comfortable doing and enable them, thru Nehemiah’s leadership, to build a wall that would allow the inhabitants of Jerusalem to live their lives without fear in the city of Jerusalem.

As volunteer kidmin, we can often feel as if we have been called to serve and/or lead people who are out of their comfort zone to a place that is out of our comfort zone! It’s not an easy task. But the reward is worth it. To build a ministry where children and families can find help to live their lives in a vibrant relationship with their Creator is a noble goal. Many days, it can be seen as an unattainable goal. But, like Nehemiah,we can say, “The God of heaven will give us success”. When we keep God as our source, He will give us success. The key is to keep our focus on God. Yes, we will find help from other leaders and quality resources, but our ultimate success will come from God.

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What I Wish I Knew at 50

Barbara Graves —  November 21, 2011

Still looking back in this series and in my children’s ministry, there is one more thing I wish I had known at 50:

That networking will make you smarter than you are.

I had just turned 50 when I came on staff at Momentum Church.  A children’s pastor with  30 years experience, yet I was at a complete loss as to where to begin.  All my previous experience had been in very traditional church settings.  Momentum was a portable church, setting up and tearing down every Sunday to have a worship service.  That meant putting everything you used to teach, all tech, all props, all everything, in a box and loading it in a trailer, set it up at the theater, have service, then put it all back in boxes and back on the trailer; all before the first movies began at noon!

How do you do games?  What back drops work best?  What materials all will hold up to the constant loading and unloading?  How do you have a clean, safe nursery on the floor of a theater?  The questions came faster than I could write them down.  It seemed that every turn, every department, every inch of the ministry was unlike anything I had ever done before.  I was clueless.

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What I Wish I Knew at 40

Barbara Graves —  November 18, 2011

I guess I am just a slow learner.  Or maybe, we do keep learning our entire life.  Either way, there was at least one thing I wish I had known as a kidmin when I was 40:

The more you share, the more you can do.

With time and tenure in ministry, I accepted a wider area of responsibility.  However, it was difficult for me to learn to let go and let others take on fully projects, tasks, or positions within that area. I think there were two reasons I struggled with letting go: First, I have a deep sense of obligation that what is entrusted to me be done to the best of my ability.  So when I released ministry to others, to allow them to serve along side me, I really didn’t release it completely.  I  shared some of the responsibility for that area, I shared some of the work that needed to be done, but I still helped.

And secondly, I didn’t want to give anyone the impression that they were being dumped on.  I learned, eventually, that giving someone the opportunity to minister, in their own way, within clearly established guidelines and goals, is a great blessing, both to the person serving, and to the church as a whole.  If I clearly share the vision, the goal, the purpose of the ministry that a person is assuming, and then I follow up with them, encourage them and help resource them with what they need to minister, there isn’t a feeling of being used or abandoned.

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What I Wish I Knew at 30

Barbara Graves —  November 17, 2011

As the years went by in ministry, I learned a lot.  But still, after 11 years in kidmin, there was still so much I didn’t know.  Looking back now, here’s what I wish I knew at 30:

You can say no.

It’s ok, even though what you have been asked to do will make an eternal difference somewhere to someone, if you are all ready booked, if all your hours are all ready taken, then it’s ok to say no.

You are not called to do everything.  You are called to do the thing that God has given you a deep passion and burden to do.  So often in my 30s, I would find myself completely overwhelmed by tasks and projects that had been added to my plate.  Not forcibly, but by my own agreement.  These were all things that were great projects.  They were often noble tasks.  They almost always resulted in someone feeling God’s love.  But they were not what I was called to do.  And it was too much.  But because it was a good thing, I would say yes.

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What I Wish I Knew at 20

Barbara Graves —  November 16, 2011

As a volunteer at 20, there was lots of stuff I didn’t know about kidmin.  And now, I realize that there is even more that I don’t know, but there are a few things that I have learned.  If there was one bit of knowledge that I have now that I wish I had known then, it would be this:

What you’re doing is going to make a life time of difference in some of these kid’s lives.

At 20, I knew that ministry was important.  I knew that kids were capable of learning a lot.  I knew that the time we had with them at church needed to be meaningful and well planned.  But I don’t believe I could grasp the significance that children’s ministry would hold in some of these kid’s lives.  I didn’t realize that these services, Sunday School classes and mid-week sessions would be depositing seeds of faith into children that would grow and grow, and years later, these kids would verbally recall to me some of the events of our times together.  Not only do they remember, they see the value in it now, too.

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Ministry as our Escape

Barbara Graves —  November 2, 2011

Often we talk about how to avoid burnout in ministry.  We address situations that can lead to volunteers working long hours at church, neglecting other responsibilities including their family, jobs, and even their own health.  When we get caught up in the “serve, serve, serve, serve, serve” or “I have to do it all because no one else will” traps, we are on a fast tract to burn out. We talk about balance and how we can avoid being completely burnt out, used up and dead when it comes to our ministry.

But on the other extreme of that pendulum swing, is the person who uses their ministry to hide or escape from the areas of their life that are in crisis.  These can often be  difficult situations at home or at work.  If the situation at our secular job is demanding, we may find it easier to ignore the issues there, and pour ourselves into our ministry tasks.  The same scene can be repeated for issues at home.  If we have a strained relationship with our spouse or teenager, often it is just easier to avoid or ignore those issues and pour our emotions and efforts into ministry.  If in turn, those who benefit from our ministry, whether it be church staff, or parents, feed our need for affirmation by praising the efforts we have put into our ministry, this can easily start a cycle of ignoring those areas of our life which need to be dealt with and corrected.  Instead of facing the issue with the difficult spouse, we ignore it.  Focus on ministry.  And we can easily justify it, because ministry is for eternal benefits.  How can you argue with someone who is bringing the Good News of Jesus to others?  You can’t trump Jesus!!!  But in the long run, we aren’t going to last.

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Jim Wideman shared his heart about the importance of volunteers in the afternoon session at the Illuminate Conference.  Here are some of the comments that he made.

We should bring people alongside and give them a place to serve the church.

Serving others is God’s plan for his children and we, as volunteers, are called to serve two ways:

1.  God has called us to serve children.

2.  God has called us to serve our leaders.

When serving is hard and we are tempted to complain about what God has called us to do, remember Paul.  If you went up to Paul and started to complain to him, he would say, “I wrote 3/4 of the Bible and we didn’t have ink.”

The secret to seeing your dreams come true is this: “Help others reach theirs.”

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One of the breakouts that I chose at the Illuminate Conference was Sam Luce’s session, At Your Service.  This was a great session with Sam, which came as no surprise.  Here are some of the thoughts that he shared with us.

We can create environments that can be barriers or bring people to God

(He shared this video)

[tentblogger-youtube D7_dZTrjw9I]

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When Kenny Conley announced that he would be doing his Illuminate Conference in Birmingham, I was thrilled because that’s just about 3 hours from me, and I could take my volunteers to this conference that was geared specifically for them.  And Illuminate-Birmingham did not disappoint.  Here’s some of the thoughts that Jim Wideman shared in the opening session on Time Management.

Time management is in the Bible: Continue Reading…

Stop, Drop and Roll

Barbara Graves —  August 9, 2011

While most kidmin policies and procedure manuals will contain detailed instructions of what to do in the case of a fire or other emergency at your church, few give you instructions on the best way to handle those fires that are “metaphoric” rather than literal.  But in the ministry world, and especially when dealing with kids, I have found that I have needed to address burning situations far more often that I have had to put out bags of burning microwave popcorn that has been cooking for 33.00 rather than 3.30 minutes.  (FYI.  Popcorn will burn, as in, flame, in a microwave and the smell takes 3 days to clear.  Don’t ask me how I know.)

If you haven’t had to put out “fires” in your ministry yet, you must be a new children’s leader, or you are leading alone.  People working together, rubbing elbow to elbow, are certain to eventually cause enough friction that you will need to address.  So, when these situations occur, I go back to the basics that we learned in kindergarten;

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