Jennifer Longenecker is the Kidmin1124 Volunteer Champion of the Week

Wayne Stocks —  November 5, 2010

Volunteer Champion Welcome back to the Kidmin1124.com Volunteer Champion of the Week. There are thousands and thousands of volunteers who turn out each weekend and selflessly serve children in churches around the globe. They do not do what they do for recognition or accolades, but at Kidmin1124 we would like to shine a light on some of these volunteers as a way to say “Thank You!” So, each week we recognize one volunteer from the world of kidmin who goes above and beyond in their service to God’s kids. Our hope is that this segment will provide some well deserved recognition to individual volunteers. More importantly though, we have asked these Volunteer Champions to share some of their insights and experiences with us so that we can all learn from their wisdom. This week’s recipients, based on a nomination from her husband David, is (drum roll please):

Jennifer Longenecker

Here is some background information on Jennifer:

Jennifer Longenecker1. What is your full name?

Jennifer Longenecker

2. Where do you live (city, state, country)?

Austin, TX, USA

3. What church do you attend and serve at (please feel free to include the web address of your church)?

Fitzhugh Baptist Church

4. How long have you been involved in children’s ministry?

about 13 years

5. What position(s) do you volunteer at in your children’s ministry?

I am the children’s director and I teach the preschool Sunday school and Cubbies classes.

6. Tell us about your family (spouse, kids, etc.)

My husband, David, and I have been married for 13 years and we have been blessed with 5 energetic and unpredictable kids.

Any links you would like to share (blog, twitter, facebook, cmconnect, etc.)

My blog: www.jenniferlongenecker.blogspot.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1644051811
My husband is the Awana Commander and uses www.twitter.com/fitzhughawana

We also asked Jennifer to share her thoughts and wisdom on some selected questions. Here is what she had to say:

1. What do you know today that you wish you knew when you first started working in children’s ministry?

When I first started I didn’t have a clue what I was doing I just knew that the church needed some help. I wish I had thought to seek out some training at that point. But instead I flailed along. I wish I had looked for training opportunities. When I finally did get some training God showed me that my passion lies with the preschoolers.

2. How have the needs of children changed today compared to when you started?

I can really only speak for what I know about preschoolers, but these are pretty universal. In my experience, children today still need the same things they needed 13 years ago. Besides needing to be taught the fundamentals of what sin is, who has sinned, and why we need a savior, children need to know that they are important and special to God. They need to feel loved and accepted, they need to feel safe and they need to be taught on their level in ways that they can understand. They need for their teachers to be prepared and ready to explore God’s word with them. They need to see their teacher excited about what is being taught, and most importantly they need to see Christ reflected in you.

3. What is the single greatest lesson God has taught you through your volunteering in children’s ministry?

The lesson that stands out the most to me is to follow God’s leading and trust His direction no matter what. I once took on a temporary teaching assignment for a K-2 class under the assumption that the church would continue to look for a permanent replacement. A few months into it I realized that the church had kind of stopped asking for help. I continued to teach and continued to give reminders that we still needed to find someone to take over permanently. Two years went by and my strength and love for teaching went with it. During that two years the class went from a K-2 class to a K-5 class. Several times I felt like I needed to just say “no” I couldn’t do it any more, but I felt guilty about having those thoughts and felt like I would be letting God down. Well we all know where guilt comes from don’t we? Satan was happy as a clam to have me in that class because the longer I stayed there the less effective I became. Well the day finally came when I had to say “Ok, I will finish this month out and then I’m done.” The month came to an end and someone stepped in long enough for me to find someone with a passion for that group. I took a much needed break in which God nurtured and refreshed my soul. He brought me back to my passion and I am now teaching the preschool Sunday school and couldn’t be happier.

4. Tell me about a mistake you made while serving in children’s ministry and how it changed you?

See my answer to question 3. They are one and the same.

5. Can you think of a situation or a child that had a real impact on your own spiritual development?

This isn’t really what you are talking about, but the biggest thing that has made an impact on my spiritual development was attending Sunday School week at Glorieta this past Summer. God showed me that I wasn’t giving my best to Him and not only that but that I hadn’t surrendered every area of my life to Him and that until I did I couldn’t meet my full potential in serving Him.

6. As a volunteer yourself, what advice would you give to a new or young children’s pastor who needs help learning to recruit or retain volunteers?

The most effective way I have found to recruit volunteers is to get face to face with them, tell them exactly what I need and what will be required of them and ask if they would be able to fill that position. If they give me a so-so response I ask them to pray about it for a week and then I check back with them at the end of that time.

7, What do you do personally to achieve balance in your life?

I have to do a daily Bible study and I have to keep up with a daily prayer journal. Without it I feel clouded and doubts and negativity will quickly sweep in.

To Children’s Pastors and Others who would like to nominate a volunteer for Kidmin1124 Volunteer Champion of the Week:

We need your help!  We are looking for additional nominations for future Kidmin1124.com Volunteer Champion of Week recipients to keep this segment going. If you have a volunteer, or know of a volunteer, who really goes above and beyond, please e-mail their name, e-mail address and brief explanation of why you are nominating them (a sentence or so) to wayne@kidmin1124.com. We need your help to make this series a success.

Prior Recipients of the Award:

Prior recipients of the Kidmin1124 Volunteer Champion the Week Award include:

Wayne Stocks

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Wayne is married to a wonderful woman and has four kids whom God uses to teach him on an almost daily basis. He is blessed to volunteer in a wonderful children's ministry at New Life Church Gahanna. He established Kidmin1124 for those who give their time to kids and feel passionately about children's ministry. When he isn't working on Kidmin1124, he maintains another blog at WayneStocks.com and contributes articles on a regular basis to Ministry-to-Children.com.

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