Church Talk: How to Blow It With Volunteers

If you know me or follow me, you know that my journey to find a new church was a long one…a painful one…an insightful one. There are a few churches where we attended that I actually thought “Hey, we could stay here!” I have served in ministry for almost 15 years, and I’m not one to sit on the sidelines. I jump into the deep end with both feet. I don’t need anyone to say “Hey you’re so awesome! Hey you have experience, please stay here!”  I just want to serve.  I believe in the church, and know the power of God and have dedicated my life to serve Him, with or without a paycheck.  Although my preference is WITH  a paycheck, I don’t muddle around over details such as those.

With the few churches where I truly thought we had a future, I would sign up to volunteer, make meetings with Pastors, offer my services–consulting, teaching, training…whatever was needed.  Including rocking babies or shaking hands. I was an able and willing person ready to give back. Besides, when you are in a new church, serving is one of the absolute best ways to meet people and begin building relationships. With great expectation I filled out forms, signed up online, did whatever I was asked and the most amazing thing happened:

NO ONE EVER CONTACTED ME.

I’m not even kidding. And not just once…several times. So this is a pattern in churches, a dangerous, and ugly road we are building.

I’m a grace-extender. I understand overworked and underpaid. But if you want to completely blow it with volunteers, just never contact them. I know it sounds like a “duh”! But I write this to encourage you to re-prioritize your To Do List, your daily meetings, and even your values.

Ministry is about people, and not just the people you serve. We often think if we are in the ministry of children, kids are our target audience. That couldn’t be further from the truth. ALL people are your target audience regardless of your ministry area. To say we need to group people is a very corporate perspective. As a ministry leader in whichever “department” you lead, people are the most important…this includes volunteers.

Volunteers are the absolute heart of your ministry.

They will stand in the gap, and be raised to lead in their own way. They are the entire reason you exist. As I train or teach or consult one of the greatest struggles is finding and keeping “volunteers.” Volunteers are simply people who are searching for the same exact thing you are: God. And God is in our serving. No matter how busy your day, or how imperative other tasks seem to be, volunteers should always be your number one!

When you don’t contact people back they won’t contact you. And you build a reputation, one that I had once. I was horrible at calling volunteers back, because everything else needed to get done. But volunteers are the “be” part of our ministry not the “do” part of ministry. They are the part of our ministry that builds relationship and draws us all closer together and closer to Jesus!

Pick up the phone, give them a call.

LG|LP

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P.S. For regular ministry encouragement–LIKE my FB Page!!—-> over there some where

How To Live Recklessly: Lessons From A 3 Year Old

Anyone who knows me knows that I love me some kids. Adults can get on my nerves, with their well thought out opinions, thinking they know what they are talking about. Kids, most of the time, actually do know what they are talking about. Kids are so much better.

Yesterday I spent the day in the Fiesta Texas water park with my youngest and two nephews. For hours, me and this little were BFF’s.

Fearlessly, he ran through water, climbed up rope ladders and swam deeper and deeper. We walked into the pool, that gradually got deeper as you walked into it. With every step, his little heart raced, becoming more and more excited at the adventure that lied ahead. I wised up pretty quickly and rummaged through to find a small enough life vest. He moved his little arms and legs as fast as possible, not knowing that it was me who actually propelled him forward.

He was swimming.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. ”

As we reached the shallower areas, he would just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. I would say, “Blake, put your feet down.”

He realized he could touch the bottom.

He would jump, jump, jump, letting his vest bob him along the shoreline.

Then off he would swim.

When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

After three hours in this pool we trekked to the wave pool–and for anyone who has been at Fiesta Texas and pushed a stroller from the bucket play area to the wave pool know the trek I’m talking about. Oh, my friend, I’m thankful to not have to use a stroller any more.

The waves encouraged a whole entirely new level of courage in that little person. He bobbed along, jumping, allowing the waves to push him in and out, up and down. The waves would get the best of him, and he found himself under the water. I would say, “Blake, you have to hold my hands.”

His little fingers would grasp tightly around mine, rebuilding his trust in himself, knowing I would not let him go.

The water would come crashing, forcing out giggles and wonder.

One little hand would surrender.

Then the other.

Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.”

He would bob along, and closely I stood, as he was determined to master the pool himself. The water would come crashing…and again I would gently remind him, “Blake, You have to hold my hands.”

Come,” he said.

Then he would see “the Guys” splashing and playing several feet away.

“Guys! Guys!” he would yell, quickly letting go of me, his safety, and “swimming” as fast as he could toward the big guys, ignoring the crashing of the waves that threatened to fall upon him.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Oh I want to be like Blake, like the child Jesus wants me to remain.

I want to move my arms and legs as fast as I can, knowing Jesus is guiding me forward, closer to him, closer to fulfilling all he has for me.

I want to run as fast as I can, not even knowing I can put my feet down to walk.

I want to jump out of the boat when I hear the voice of Jesus, letting go of all I know that I know is safe, ignoring the crashing of the waves, recklessly ignoring what my mind would see as treacherous.

Everyday, I want to pursue Him so fiercely that I am completely exhausted from the joy of being in his presence.

Kids are so much better. Live Reckless. -Tiff

A True Story of a Ridiculous Mother

This past weekend I took Zac to Fiesta Texas so he could swim his energy away. I took up residence in a lounge chair and did what I do best…watch people. And in the summertime, my people-watching reaches a new level because I am wearing sunglasses. I can watch people and they don't know they are being watched. Sounds creepy, but I'm a writer. I simply stand firm on the fact that I'm doing research, developing characters, whatever.

So this mom and her friend and their two girls were sitting next to me. I took a pic of them in front of the wave pool for their Instagram or Facebook. Then Blonde mom and her 8 year old or so daughter stood in front of the pool, and brunette mom snapped a photo. Blonde mom came back and checked the photo and it wasn't what she wanted so she wanted another one. She stood next to her daughter, and leaned down and whispered something to her.

Mom stood up and the daughter, I KID YOU NOT, this EIGHT YEAR OLD LITTLE GIRL

I

KID

YOU

NOT

…sucked in her stomach.

I wanted to do what Jesus would've done and smack that mom in the face…okay maybe not the face, but perhaps just a simple sucker punch to the stomach. Perhaps. (after a conversation with my sweet friend from Florida [wink, wink, you know who you are] I want to make it clear that Jesus would never actually punch someone. He didn’t even beat the crap out of the guy who sold him to send him to the cross. It is ME that wanted to punch the mom….I’m working on being more grace-filled…I am a work in progress.)

I planned on writing an open letter to the Blonde Mom, but feel it more fitting to write to every parent. There is no pressure or formula to raise our kids flawlessly. As parents we are just imperfect people raising imperfect people. But there are certain things you just cannot do. And this is one of them.

So I say this to you with the same anger Jesus had in the temple when he freaked out and flipped tables:

Your child is not a canvas in which to paint your insecurities.


I'm not judging, I'm stating observations. Blonde mom–now known as 'Ridiculous Mother'–doesn't like herself. She is more concerned with what her Facebook friends think about her. To this mom, that sweet little girl is a direct reflection of her. I mean, we can't have our middle school friends thinking that our 8 year old growing super cute kid is anything but perfectly thin.

Every time we push our kids to be thin like we want to be, or be the best athlete like we wish we were in school, or even be protected more than we were, we are leaving a permanent mark on complete purity.

So stop.

Stop hovering, and feeling guilty. Stop caring about what other people think of you…as a person and a parent. Stop telling your kids to suck it in or suck it up. As a counselor I have worked with too many young girls who refuse to eat. As a youth leader I have seen too many boys who will never measure up to their dad's ridiculous expectations. Stop hurting your children because you haven't dealt with your own heartbreak.

I'm speaking to myself as much as I'm speaking to you. I live so afraid that my children will look back and hate their childhood, or feel in some way that I have failed them. My daughter told me last night that I care about these things more than they do. We all do…we care about things our kids don't even consider–like whether or not they look fat in a swimsuit.

What insecurities have you unknowingly pressed upon your child's heart–making it theirs?? How did your parents do that to you? Comment and Share

LG|LP <3 Tiff

Why I Send My Kids to Public School (Unforgettable Adults)

Creating Unforgettable Adults is one of my main goals as a mom. To our family, an Unforgettable Adult is one who is a strong, Christ-follower who is rooted in an identity that is unshakeable and is willing to trail-blaze for Jesus.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

Recently our school district received anonymous threats from a crazy who claimed he planned to shoot up a random school on a Thursday morning. On Tuesday, with my heart racing, my kids went off to school. The night before, Michael and I laid in bed talking about the terror that scurried through my veins and prayed and prayed and prayed. Some of my homeschool friends used it as an opportunity to sell the “homeschool business”. But we just prayed and so did our kids.

Throughout the last twelve years of school, we have dealt with bullying–by kids AND teachers. We have endured hatefulness from small children, and loneliness when our kids didn't feel as if they belonged. My son has struggled to learn to read, and we have had to do stupid “busy-work” homework on many nights. We've stressed through the STAAR or FCAT or LMNOP or whatever standardized test my kids have been pressured to take that means absolutely nothing at the end of the day.

In all of the struggle, we believe, with our whole hearts, that it is preparing and growing them for the realities of this harsh world. We would much rather them struggle through these experiences while they are under our care.We believe, with our whole hearts, that God can use them NOW. As Christians, if we keep taking our kids out of public school then certainly there will be no God there. They are called to make disciples, they are called to be Salt, they are called to be Light. Not later, but now.

Through every child, we have taught them how to reflect Christ. Public school and all of it's crap wonder has taught them empathy–how do you know that kid who was mean to you today didn't watch his mom get beat up, or go without a meal? They have learned that God is working in every single person's life at every single moment, and they can choose to be a part of that work.

Public school has taught them that sometimes the system isn't perfect, and sometimes it flat out sucks, but we must follow rules and laws, as long as they don't conflict with the Gospel. My kids have been exposed to the ridiculous theory of evolution, and we've had the privilege of challenging our beliefs and digging deeper in the truth of God our Creator.

Sending them to school teaches them perseverance and diversity. It teaches them that not everyone is the same, but everyone needs the same thing–JESUS. They have learned to stand up for themselves and their beliefs, even at the risk of persecution or rejection. It has been a painful and tough road–for them and me.

Public school has been the perfect chance for my kids to learn to lean into Jesus more and less into me. They are learning that Jesus rescues, not mom. Without the wind from me hovering, they've been free to spread their wings just enough to test out this new life in Christ they've been given.

It's not the best situation, but Jesus nor the Apostles were ever in the best situations–actually they were in the worst. But because of God showing His power in those horrible situations, they finished well, and became Unforgettable Adults that changed the world. And that's the goal, my friend, that's the goal!

What are your kids learning from Public School? Comment and share with me how your kids are becoming Unforgettable Adults.

Guns In My Kid’s School, Spankings and Other Fun Parenting Stuff

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Ever have a crappy, horrible, why did I get out of bed kinda day? Tuesday was mine. It started with lower back spasms and muscle relaxers. Then it turned into this:

“Mom, I have a headache.”

“Do you need me to come get you?”

“No, it’s okay. We’re on lockdown anyway.”

“For What?”

“Apparently there are kids with guns on campus.”

Meanwhile, my phone rings. It’s about the middle child in middle school:

“Your child is suspended from riding the bus for three days… “

And then when I picked up the youngest from Private Christian School, the teacher told me this:

“He can be such a good, loving child, but if I could’ve paddled him today I would have.”

<sigh>

So how’s that whole Parenting According to Amos thing going for me? I won’t even ask you, because most likely your children are close to perfection and you’ve just humored me in reading what I think God is saying to parents through the prophet Amos. Most likely your children get all greens or smiley faces on their agendas. Most likely your children live up to every single responsibility you ask of them. Most likely your children get all A’s on their report card (not even one ‘F’, not even one). Most likely you just pity me, looking down on me with a pierced mouthed smile, trying to let me know through your eyes that someday, I will be a better mother and everything will be okay.

But in the meantime I take this to heart–like God is telling me to straighten it up, to tighten the reins on my little family:

“Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you…against the whole family…”Amos 3:1

Oh and it doesn’t stop there either, because verse 11 says this:

“An Adversary shall be all around the land; He shall sap your strength from you, and your palaces shall be plundered.”

God was speaking of the Assyrians at the time, but now, I consider my adversary Satan himself. And yes, he is sapping my strength and yes, he is plundering my palace. My child was held in a classroom for 2 hours yesterday so the 10 police cars full of officers could search students class by class. (There were kids peeing in bottles in the corners of rooms–no kidding. I have photographic evidence, but I’ll spare you.) My boys are forgetting their manners, and what obedience is, and how important honesty is to our family, and to God.

But I am reminded that the Adversary is the real enemy, from the beginning of my life to the end of my children’s. I must discipline my kids, I must teach them a better way of life. I must teach them to fight from a place of Victory in Christ, because if I don’t stop the disobedience now–if we don’t teach our kids honesty, responsibility, respect–then one of our kids could be the one at school with a gun.

When God speaks of disciplining his chosen people of Israel in the book of Amos it’s because he knows the possibility of the outcome if he didn’t. We can’t ignore the possible outcomes in our own kids lives.

What are some ways you need to stand firm against the ADVERSARY and not allow him to sap your strength?

What is your worst day ever with your kids?

Share with me!

READ THE BOOK OF AMOS