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 Joe McAlpine, is (drum roll please):
Here is some background information on Julie:
Julie Reising. You didn’t ask, but I work as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at my “day job”. I work for a not-for-profit agency providing home-based counseling services for physically disabled adults and seniors…basically, a counselor who makes house calls.
2. Where do you live (city, state, country)?
Harrah, OK (Just outside of Oklahoma City)
3. What church do you attend and serve at (please feel free to include the web address of your church)?
Cornerstone Church, Midwest City, Oklahoma
4. How long have you been involved in children’s ministry?
Decades…well, 1-1/2 of them anyway!
5. What position(s) do you volunteer at in your children’s ministry?
I started out at a small United Methodist Church when I was recruited to teach Sunday School to preschoolers and early elementary kids. I went on to chair the Children’s Education Committee of that church, and was the VBS Coordinator for a 5-church cooperative VBS each summer for 3 or 4 years before moving out of that community.
I am now a “Coach” at Cornerstone…The Coaches are a visioning and administrative leadership team that supports our fabulous Children’s Pastor.
6. Tell us about your family (spouse, kids, etc.)
It may sound cliché, but I have been married to my best friend and the love of my life for 22 years. Paul is an electrical engineer for the construction industry, and he volunteers in the Security Ministry at Cornerstone. He is a man of God and I am blessed to live life with him. We have two children, Dalton (almost 15) and Rachel (age 10). Both of our children are sweet, loving, bright and talented (of course I think so – I’m their mom!). Most importantly though, they both possess a servant’s heart and know Jesus as their personal Savior. Dalton volunteers at Catalyst (Cornerstone’s youth ministry) and Rachel volunteers at Cornerstone Kids.
We also asked Julie to share her thoughts and wisdom on some selected questions. Here is what she had to say:
1. What is the single greatest lesson God has taught you through your volunteering in children’s ministry?
To experience God from a child’s perspective. They are the best at praying to God like they’re talking to their best buddy, the best at worshipping with joy and a complete and utter lack of self-consciousness.
2. What have you learned about leadership as a volunteer?
Delegate, delegate, delegate. Give people a job, train them well to do it, and LET THEM DO IT, even if they don’t do it exactly the way you would. Always have a mentor who can help you grow as a leader, and always be a mentor to someone new to leadership.
3. How did volunteering so much affect your own children and family (good and bad)?
Early on, I didn’t have good boundaries and I was very busy proving to others that I was “good enough”, so I never said “no” to anything having to do with church ministry. It just felt so good to be needed! To make matters worse, I’m a bit of a procrastinator, so I wouldn’t ask for help because I was always meeting deadlines at the eleventh hour and I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone. God dealt with me several times before I began setting better boundaries. One example: when my son was about 3 years old, I was busy meeting some deadline or other at the last minute, when he began to run a fever and was obviously coming down with a virus. My husband was working late, so I took my son with me to the church and he slept on the floor while I attempted to fulfill my obligation. Somehow my friend got wind of this and she immediately intervened and contacted our pastor, who forced me to go home and called in other volunteers to take care of the ministry task. I thank God that I have figured out He does not mean for me to sacrifice my family for the sake of ministry. Now, I guard my time and schedule very carefully, always praying for balance.
On a positive note, my volunteering has helped create an atmosphere where ministry is a part of our everyday family life. My children understood at a very young age that ministry is part of being a Christian, and they give of their time freely and joyfully.
4. Tell me about a mistake you made while serving in children’s ministry and how it changed you?
This is an embarrassing story to tell, but God taught me so much from it that I’ll share. A few months ago two elementary-age kids were being picked up from service by their older sister, who also works in our ministry. The boys didn’t have their name tags on, which is something we have been stressing to both parents/guardians AND the children for months because the name tags provide a security feature that lets us know that the children are being picked up by the same adult who brought them to church. Anyway, it really got under my skin that these boys disobeyed our requests and I took my frustration out on them by lecturing them at great length in my best “stern mommy” voice – you get the idea. Through it all and immediately afterward, I felt very righteous in my anger. Needless to say, my pastor got a call from the sister, and I got a call from my pastor. Pastor Joe (and God) dealt with me gently and lovingly, and I quickly realized how I could have handled the situation in a loving manner. It hit me square in the face – make that the heart: I had gotten so wrapped up in enforcing the rules that I was sacrificing relationship. And relationship is what it’s all about in children’s ministry. I called the sister, asked her forgiveness, and shared with her what God had revealed through this…and I thanked her for calling me on my misbehavior. It’s not as if I didn’t know relationship with these kids was important, but somewhere along the course of 15 years of ministry I was losing sight of it. Now I make it a point to correct children in the most loving manner possible, and to build relationship with them well beyond the correction.
5. 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?
Model healthy boundaries in your ministry and be willing to hold boundaries for those you lead when they aren’t able to. This prevents burnout for everyone, especially you. (Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint). Have a clear vision for your ministry and cast vision to your volunteer corp continually.
6. What is the biggest challenge you think kids face today? How can children’s ministry meet that need?
I believe children today are being taught that they can “have it all”. It’s kind of a spin on the American dream, but we – as a culture – are taking it to the next level. No one wants to miss out on anything, and new technology helps us believe we CAN do it all and have it all; we needn’t say “no” to any opportunity. The reality, in my opinion, is that by saying “yes” to quantity, adults – and therefore children – miss out on quality. Quality time, quality products, quality relationships – the list goes on. And children suffer two-fold: by learning an unhealthy lesson to attempt to fulfill in their own lives, AND because they become part of the “quantity” of their parents’ lives.
It is imperative that Children’s ministry go the extra mile to create quality in children’s lives: to model a quality relationship with God, with spouses, with others. To help children (and maybe even their parents!) learn to say “no” to some things so they can say “yes” to what is truly important and significant.
7. What do you do personally to achieve balance in your life?
I surround myself with wise, wonderful, interesting, loving people. I am blessed with abundance in this area. And I make time for fun. Fun with friends, fun with family. And quite frankly, I think almost anything can be fun, when it’s done with the right attitude and with the right person.
8. What is the most impactful book you have ever read in relation to your work in children’s ministry?
Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life”. While not specifically about children’s ministry, I think this book provides an excellent blueprint for Christian life. My study of it helped me understand, develop and channel my passion for leadership and for children.
9. Please share the “best” way you have ever shared the gospel with a group of children. What age group?
I will never forget sharing with a group of older elementary kids the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane during Vacation Bible School several years ago. We acted out Jesus praying “on his face” and crying out to God to “take this cup from me”. Then finally, not Jesus’ will, but God’s will to be done. I think that by acting out what is such a moving scene, it became more real for the kids. They were able to relate somewhat to the sacrifice God made for us, and that of Jesus giving himself over to God’s will.
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. We had to skip our post last week due to lack of nominations. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: