Please Don’t Put Me in The Nursery

Sally has been attending your church for a few weeks and she’s beginning to really enjoy the atmosphere, people and overall feel for the church.

She continues to attend and immediately makes it known that she’s willing and desires to help serve the church —  you, as the leader, are super excited — who can’t use more volunteers, right?

When talking with Sally her excitement is blooming, you see passion right in front of your eyes. As the conversation progresses, she says, “I’m willing to do whatever you guys need.”

Two days later you email, text, or call Sally — “We actually have an opening in the nursery. Would you like to fill in?”

Eager to serve and thinking you, the leader, has her best interest, Sally accept’s this volunteer position to change diapers and care for babies, all without an adequate thank you from parents later on.

While some people are gifted to work in the nursery and are needed (absolutely needed), others are poorly placed. The nursery has become the default position for volunteers to serve within our churches.

After months of serving in this role Sally discovers that something is missing. The nursery suddenly becomes mundane, she doesn’t like it, and her overall joy of one time serving in your church is slowly becoming non-exsistent.

So, what happened?

You, as the leader of your church, poorly placed a committed volunteer. As a staff pastor, I’m aware that there are hundreds — if not, thousands — of people who fit into this story.

Leaders, this is where you and I have failed. We’re so dead set on filling the status quo of volunteers in vacant ministry spots we miss out on strategically placing skillful individuals in places to flourish.

A true visionary leader places people in positions of their own strength where they will flourish. A true visionary leader has no problem identifying these people and finding a place for them to serve in large capacities. – Dr. Elsie Reyes Cook, of SUM Theological Seminary.

Let’s look at three areas, strengths and elements every church leader must posses so the next time someone in our church volunteers, we know where to place them.

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Youth Ministry: Honestly, Do Numbers Really Matter?

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So, if we’re being honest

The youth group we pastor isn’t very large.

While our student connections equal that of a high school swim team, we currently only see half of them throughout the week. Half of that group makes up the core, AKA – the students, who never miss, AKA the eccentrics of the crowd who are equivalent to the main characters of Disney’s Recess.

The added half fluctuate week-to-week and month-to-month depending on schedules, extra curricular activities, home lives, etc.

And if we’re still being honest

This time last year my husband and I set goals and laid out vision for 2014. The target was clear – we set numbers for first time guests, student attendance, leadership team growth as well as salvations, baptisms and more.

We strived along with our core students to purposely hit these figures, not for the intention of meeting quota or bragging rights, but simply because numbers don’t lie.

As the body of Christ, we can celebrate when salvations increase, baptisms climb and Holy Spirit baptisms rise because that means we’re doing what Jesus called us all to do.

Still, it’s the end of year. My numbers are scanned. My goals are examined. My results are in the books. Still, it’s the end of the year – and the youth group didn’t grow.

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Atheist Perspective: My Conversion to Christianity

Photo Credit: Jared Rarick (creationswap.com)

Photo Credit: Jared Rarick (creationswap.com)

It was this time five years ago — with the weather cooling and Thanksgiving approaching — that my Christian journey began to take shape and focus.

At 19-years-old, I was a college student who, aside from adjusting to the biggest cultural shock in the world moving from Massachusetts to Louisiana, was particularly normal. My hobbies included the usual from a college student: drinking, moderate drug use, cussing and sports.

On the surface, I wasn’t a bad person. I treated people with respect, tried to love everyone, and passionately desired to make a difference in the world.

However, around November (2009) my comfortable life slowly shifted.

… I (GASP) started exploring the world of Christianity.

Now, although I deeply hate writing in third-person, there’s a method to what appears to be a blog centered around myself. I’m going to identify — through my experience — how a normal, good-striving, spiritually deprived college student with no religious background turned to Christianity.

While a lot of elements played into my conversion to Christianity, the following three played the largest role.

(Disclaimer for the super religious people: I fully understand Jesus draws all to Himself (John 12:32) and Jesus was involved in all these areas of my life. However, from my atheist perspective, these elements bridged the gap from Matt “The Atheist” to Matt “The Christian.”)

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Hey Preacher: Stop Yelling At Me

Glancing from left to right with hundreds of students and young adults gathered listening to a typical sermon — disinterest ensued in their faces.

Long drawn out yawns heightened, constant social media surfing started, and direct eye contact to the ground ensued.

Following the message, I was curious about their mannerisms.

“What did you think of message.”

“Man, he wouldn’t stop yelling. It was annoying. I couldn’t pay attention.”

The same response echoed from the mouth’s of five other teenagers and young adults. I wasn’t surprised — in fact, my answer to them was similar.

“It was hard for me to pay attention too.”

I’ve also been in this conversation before. This person didn’t yawn, take out their phone, or stare into the ground — they left the service completely. Later, I discovered why — the preacher had the inability to talk like a normal human being. Literally, the tone and delivery of this preacher ran off an unsaved young adult.

As a fellow “preacher” and lover of God’s word, I have a mindful request for other preachers — can you please stop yelling at us?

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