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 Nicki Straza, is (drum roll please):
1. What is your full name?
My name is Kurtis Miller
2. Where do you live (city, state, country)?
I live in the beautiful Brantford, Ontario, Canada (aka: The City of God 😉 )
3. What church do you attend and serve at (please feel free to include the web address of your church)?
4. How long have you been involved in children’s ministry?
I have been involved in children’s ministry for about 10 years, combined between churches, children’s camp, and foster care.
5. What position(s) do you volunteer at in your children’s ministry?
I work as Kids Ministry Director for LAFF Academy which is our midweek children’s program, I also work with our Sunday morning program and many city events, festivals and church functions (as well as Circle Square Ranch Children’s Ministries during the summers).
6. Tell us about your family (spouse, kids, etc.)
As yet I do not have a family of my own, though I did operate a group home for 3 and a half years, working with 18 children between the aged of 6 and 18. You would be surprised at just how much parenting experience you can acquire when you spend that length of time living with and raising a specific group of children. You develop attachment to them and they really do become like your own children. Something that makes me all the more excited to have children of my own one day when God brings that special woman along to be my wife.
7. Any links you would like to share (blog, twitter, facebook, cmconnect, etc.)
We asked Kurtis to share his thoughts on selected questions. Here is what he had to say:
1. Can you think of a situation or a child that had a real impact on your own spiritual development?
Every time I hear a child pray, it rocks my world. Kids are not stuck in years of learned spiritual behavior. When you tell a kid, they can talk to God, get ready for them to be truly honest. Some of the most powerful, moving, heart-warming and sincere prayers I have witness have involved phrases such as “Bless Sponge Bob, Patrick Star, and all the people of Bikini Bottom.” When you teach a child that praying is talking to God, they take that information to heart and actually talk to God and believe he hears them (the same way we as adults should). They don’t see it as a religious tradition. If you want to see true faith, teach children to talk with God when they are young. They will pray with power, and you will see the effects of your kids’ prayers.
Every time I hear a child pray, it challenges me to pray like them, to remember that Jesus has given me a relationship and wants me to talk to him, and expect him to hear me.
“Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.’ ” – Luke 18:16-17
If you want to see your own faith grow, watch your kids, and take a lesson from them.
2. 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?
I think the best way to find attract volunteers, or retain the ones already involved, has 3 aspects:
a) Talk to God about it, after all when you really get down to it, isn’t it His ministry? Ask him to send you competent help for your ministry that can invest and be useful. People that you can invest your skill and knowledge into, and watch grow into people that could one day take over for you. It’s always good to replicate yourself, that’s what happened when the early church started. God sent people, and the apostles (who replicated themselves after Jesus), replicated themselves in the newcomers and sent them out. A ministry should always have potential to grow and spread.
b) Present your program to potential volunteers as an opportunity. If you go fishing for help, you may find a person here and there, but it’s a lot of work, and requires a lot as “asking, convincing,” etc. As a second side to this option, I think people are more apt to show long term interest in something if they feel they are involved because of what they bring to the program, as opposed to coming out to help because of a sense of the program’s neediness. If you present it as an opportunity, people will come to you, and if you spend time praying about it, God will send them. Why spend all that time trying to net fish, when you can have the fish jump into your boat?
c) Create an environment of responsibility and appreciation. People usually volunteer because they love to get involved and to be helpful. Give your volunteers responsibility in the ministry that makes them feel like a necessary part of the groups functioning. Giving your volunteers meaningful work will make them feel important; fulfilling the reason they are volunteering in the first place (to be helpful and involved). The second part of this is to be appreciative. There is no such thing as being too praising and praise offers value. People like to feel valued and appreciated, the same way you like to feel valued and appreciated. The simple aspect of appreciating someone could be the pin that holds their involvement in ministry. Never take your help for granted, and always show your appreciation.
3. What do you do personally to achieve balance in your life?
I have a philosophy, “God never intended for you to be so busy working toward your destiny that you have no time for relationship,” (that includes relationships with people and with God). Just because you are alive, doesn’t mean you are living.
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest.” – John 10:10
We live in a society that is Busy! There is always so much to do, the work really is endless. It seems often that there just aren’t enough days in a week, or hours in a day to get everything done, and so we give up this and that so that we can accomplish that and the other. However, if you find yourself not able to see friends, family, or take some time for yourself and God on a consistent basis, you may actually be hindering your effectiveness.
You need time for yourself, you need time with just you and God, you need time with friends, family and other believers. Adam started out life with a lot of work to do, and even though he hung out with God every day and spent a lot of time enjoying creation, God still knew that he needed interaction with another person.
God wants us to enjoy our lives. He wants us to Live, not just be alive. Take time to relax, get out in God’s amazing creation, enjoy the company of people he has put in your life, or find something you can do that you enjoy (that is recreational).
For myself, things like snowboarding, and horseback riding allow me to awe at God’s amazingness, and just relax with him and de-stress from the rest of the world. Find something that will do the same for you.
4. Many of us have a “favorite” or a “defining” moment in Kidmin. What was yours?
Most people would expect to see the Sunday school answers here, “My kids worshiping,” “Kids getting saved,” etc. Mine however, may sound a little selfish at first but I will explain.
My favorite Kidmin moment is the day I come back from being away. When I walk into the room and the kids see me, yell my name and come running with smiles and hugs. That makes me melt, and smile for hours. Children’s Ministry is about more than getting the bible into kids heads, it’s about more than just teaching and hoping they learn something. It’s about relationship. Most people in leadership don’t realize the impact they have on those under them. To the kids in your ministry, you are more than cool. You are basically a real life superhero, and when you take the time to get down on their level, interact with them, and show interest in their lives, it changes their world. Think about when you were a kid, think about the people you idolized and wanted to be like. Now imagine you could have been friends with that person, and the impact that might have had on your life. You can have that affect on the children in your ministry. So when my kids come running, showing they miss me, it shows that I am indeed effecting their lives positively, and building good relationships with them.
To Children’s Pastors and Others who would like to nominate a volunteer for Kidmin1124 Volunteer Champion of the Week:
We are looking for additional nominations for future Kidmin1124.com Volunteer Champion of Week recipients. 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: