Ministry to Parents finishes its’ January focus to build a parent ministry plan through organization. We asked Heather Stoll, author and lead editor at Ministry to Parents, to share parents’ top tips for ministry leaders on organization
Dear Pastor, Leader, and Staff Member,
I am a mom of two kids (one boy, age 19, and one girl, age 15), a wife, and a former staff member at a mega-church. My husband also served in full-time ministry for 20+ years, so I get to claim staff wife experience, as well! I have been entrenched in the church bubble, but I have also recently experienced what it’s like to be a regular church-going member.
Because I have been where you are, I can (somewhat) confidently suggest that organization is probably the last thing on your mind. It may not even be “in” your mind at all. You have students and children to lead, parents to counsel, budgets to reconcile, emails to write, and lessons to prepare. There are eternal souls in the balance, and you have so much to do! Who has time to get organized? And even if you get organized, how will you ever stay organized?
I get it. I do. Remember the opening paragraph?
There probably is too much to do and too little time to do it. But, there is also too much on the line. That’s precisely why you need to make organizing a priority.
Organization is usually discussed in the framework of what and how. It involves lists and files and plans, as well as time management, time blocks, and calendars. These components are crucial to organization. But, the key to organization is the why. Why should you care about being organized? Why should you take the time to do the steps to stay organized?
Because organization builds trust.
Today’s family is attacked from every side. Everyone and everything wants their attention, their money, and their time. Sadly, the church is often just another competitor in the marketplace.
You can argue that spiritual matters should be a priority for every family—and you would be right. But in this culture, being right doesn’t earn you a room packed with attentive parents and kids. I propose that trust could.
According to Merriam-Webster, trust is:
1a: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something
b: one in which confidence is placed
b: reliance on future payment for property (such as merchandise) delivered
Trust enables parents and students to “rely” on your “character, ability, strength, or truth” to place confidence in you and your ministry and your message.
Consider the following scenarios. Do you see yourself in any of these situations?
- It’s the first student meeting of the new year! “Steve” is excited about the upcoming year and believes God is going to move mightily! He shares some initial thoughts about events to get the kids excited even though he doesn’t have everything finalized yet…The service goes well, and Steve is encouraged. As he heads to his car, a parent stops him. “Mary texted me during the service,” she says. “She is so excited about the chance to go on the mission trip this summer. Can you send me the dates tomorrow morning? We are finalizing our summer vacation, and I want to make sure she can go!”
- The children’s ministry volunteer meeting starts in an hour. “Kendall” has been slammed all day with meetings, an unexpected call from a parent in crisis, and preparing the chapel lesson she forgot she had agreed to teach. Now her printer has decided to go on the blink. Oh well! Her volunteers are always so sweet and understanding. They won’t mind that she didn’t have time to prepare an agenda or copy those worksheets they wanted. At the end of the day, the most important thing is pointing kids to Christ.
- “Susan” has an 8th-grade son, “Robby,” in Pastor “John’s” youth group. Although Robby’s grades are good, Susan is concerned about some of his new friends from school. She’s also noticed some new apps on his phone. Last weekend, she caught him watching videos on a site she doesn’t recognize. As a single mom, she feels like Robby needs a stable male influence in his life. Pastor “John” agreed to meet during lunch at the church. Susan had to ask her supervisor for extra time because it’s a little far from her work, but this meeting is critical. Hopefully, she will get some guidance! Traffic is heavy, but she arrives a few minutes before noon. John’s assistant warmly welcomes her and offers her something to drink. “John just called, and he’s running about 20 minutes late, but he’ll be here as soon as he can…”
- “Jason” has been telling his pastor about his need for more workers in student ministry for weeks. He finally gets a mention in the service and is thrilled at the great response! Wow! He needs to develop an onboarding plan and set up an initial meeting! Hopefully, he can get that done this week and call everyone soon to invite them to a new volunteer meeting.
- “Shelly” has been counseling one of her students, “Savannah,” for several months. She’s been struggling in school and with friends, and her church attendance has been declining. Shelly meant to set up a meeting with the whole family, but it’s just been so busy. Savannah’s mom left a message earlier in the week and sent a text (was that yesterday?). Hopefully, she can give them a call today.
- Stephanie is the mom of 10th-grade twins. She teaches at the elementary school, serves as a caregiver for her aging parents, and volunteers in the student ministry. Pastor “David” asked her to lead the planning committee for student camp. After some prayerful encouragement, she agreed. Although her time has been limited, she is pretty confident about the work she’s completed. In fact, she has most of the games and breakout sessions finalized–with workers for each one! She pulls in the church parking lot, gulps down the rest of her “drive-thru” dinner, and dashes into the church. The first person she sees is Pastor David. “Stephanie! I’m so glad to see you! I talked to a buddy of mine last night about their church camp and he helped me come up with an amazing new idea! I’m changing the theme and shaking up the schedule—it’s going to be awesome! I can’t wait to tell you all about it at the meeting!”
These scenarios are everyday examples that happen all too often in ministry. And I get it. You are busy and stressed and pulled in a thousand different directions. I also know that you care deeply, and you pray fervently, and you work long hours. You want to make a difference, and you want kids to know Christ. But today’s families need more than just a good heart and the best intentions. They are busy, and they want to know that you can be trusted with their time and their resources and their children.
So how do you earn trust? How do you build confidence in your ministry? How do you present yourself as organized?
- You do what you say you are going to do.
- You keep your word and your promises.
- You prepare.
- You honor appointments.
- You arrive and start meetings on time.
- You respect other people’s time and appreciate the time they give you.
- You listen to other’s people’s ideas and concerns.
That may mean you have to arrive earlier to the office, say no to lunch with friends, or learn how to delegate. You may also have to tolerate mundane tasks like calendaring, planning, and even email inbox filing! If you are still struggling to manage it all, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Access the amazing resources at MP2 here or reach out to an organized parent in your church.
Don’t worry! You already know her …she’s got three kids, works full-time, has two in travel ball and one in competitive cheer, and she just texted you to ask about next year’s calendar!
Heather Stoll has more than twenty years of ministry experience, predominantly in the area of communications and media. She has served churches in South Carolina, Florida, and Tennessee, alongside her husband, Jeff. Together, they have two children, and they currently reside in Saint Augustine, FL. You can contact Heather at email@example.com.
If you enjoyed Parents’ Top Tips for Ministry Leaders on Organization, check out other posts on How To Build a Parent Ministry:
Want More Help Getting Organized?
The Annual All-In-One Event Kit includes everything you need to coordinate these 4 Parent/Student events: The UpGrade, Father/Daughter Dance, Mother/Son Nerf Night and Family Splash Day.
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