09: Taking Your Questions On Family Devotions, Volunteers, Planning During Covid, and More!

Making Sense of MInistry episode 9_ volunteers, family devotions and Covid 19

In this episode, Kirste and Brian discuss your questions! These questions include family devotions, volunteers, planning during COVID, and more!

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Ashley : 0:01

Welcome to the Making Sense of Ministry podcast presented to you by the youth ministry Institute, a podcast designed to help you lead well in your ministry transform lives and impact generations. Here’s your host Brian Lawson.

Brian Lawson : 0:14

Welcome to episode 9 of the Making Sense of Ministry podcast. This is the podcast designed to help you lead well in your ministry transform lives and impact generations. Today I’m here with the one and only Kirsten Knox. Kirsten is our Senior Director of ministry partnerships at the Youth Ministry Institute. And she’s a youth ministry pro veteran and expert. As we all know, we’re beginning our fall ministry and COVID is still here. Everybody feel my pain on that one. We know that’s not what we hope where we hope to be. But here we are. So to help you out today we’re going to tackle some of the questions that you are amazing youth, mystery and soup community have sent to us. But before we get to the questions, are you looking for personalized contextualized support from a seasoned youth or children’s mentor professional. More than that, would you love to take an assessment that will highlight your greatest strengths and the areas you have for growth opportunity for growth? with professional coaching from the youth ministry Institute, we will write a comprehensive developmental profile about you which to be honest friends, no one else has this. This is something that we have that no one else has. You also get monthly coaching sessions with the season ministry professional using the highest quality curriculum. And the best part is that all of it is contextualized for your specific goals, your areas of development and the ministry you serve. We’ll put links down in the show notes for both the children’s and the youth ministry coaching. Quick note friends, we had some technical difficulties were recorded this conversation with kearson I and so my audio quality is not quite as high as it normally would be. So I apologize for that. But I still think the content is great for you to hear. Okay, let’s get started tackling some of your questions. Welcome, Kirsten. Are you ready to tackle some of these listener questions with us?

Kirsten Knox : 2:05

I am. Hi, Brian. Yes. Good.

Brian Lawson : 2:08

Good to hear from you how first off just curious how have you been? And how have you been coping with life in COVID seasons?

Kirsten Knox : 2:16

I think my word recently has been Alright. I’m doing all right, coping with it. But I think for me the last couple weeks, it’s come to this realization that we’re in this for the long haul. And so there’s been a sense of, I would say, at times a little sense of sadness, and thinking through that and trying again, to readjust what I anticipated the fall looking like from my own life professionally. And what does that look like? So there’s just really been this space of trying to figure that out again, I’m like, okay, we’ve been here again, we’re here again. And just adapting today today as things shift and change.

Unknown Speaker : 3:00

Trying to do that it’s a little takes a lot more energy. So I’ve tried to figure out other ways to other things that energize me and putting a little bit more of that in my life because it just recognized so much right now just feels heavy. And like there’s such a drain

Brian Lawson : 3:19

Yes, I agree. And I just heard that there’s a the college football seasons in question. Hall and that’s just heartbreaking for me.Kirsten Knox : 3:31

I’ve listened into some sports talk this morning and the same thing and I was like, I mean, just those kind of things that seems so fall ish, right? Like fallen football to me go together. And you know, I’ve also recognizes what an escape sports is for me. And so just not having it. There’s also right I mean, or potentially not having it is just another sense of loss. You’re like, they just like those just keep coming. Yeah. You know, what’s it

Brian Lawson : 4:00

It’s interesting to me how many things in our everyday life are actually life giving to us that we don’t really realize, you know, going to a movie theater or, or, as you said, having sports to kind of lean into and and sort of help you enjoy moments and not thinking about other things that you’re dealing with. It’s just, it’s, for me, as we now into another season this, it’s just been interesting to see that there’s so many things that we lean on for life, giving moments and to keep us going and energized. And so that’s it. I don’t know what to do with that. I just think that that’s such an interesting thing that I’ve noticed that I hadn’t noticed prior.

Kirsten Knox : 4:41

Yeah, just identifying those right, because they’ve been so common in our lives. They’ve just kind of been there. But I think you’re absolutely right. That makes so much sense to me when you say that, that. Yes. And I think that’s why there’s this sense of sadness and grief that seems to keep reoccurring as loss as well. Those things are gone. Because it’s not just losing football, it’s losing another or whatever that may be just but losing another thing that was life giving, and trying to adjust to that and figure out, cope with that. I think all that right. It’s the continued journey that keeps different challenges coming.

Brian Lawson : 5:19

Yeah, yeah. So, for me, I think some of the stuff that’s helped me going is evening walks. I mean, I know that sounds simple, and everybody’s probably been doing that for a while. But that has been really helpful to me, and then finding moments where I intend to try to focus in with my family has been helpful as well. And so in addition to your regular spiritual formation, stuff that I hope you’re doing all the time, but those are some of the things that have been been helpful to me, and let’s just be honest, spend watching some Netflix.

Kirsten Knox : 5:53

Yeah, I’m like, binge watching TV is never I’m like, I think now maybe I can say that’s a hobby.

Brian Lawson : 6:01

Oh, no.

Kirsten Knox : 6:04

Like maybe moved up. But yes, I think those are important as we walk through this for me, it’s been going to the beach by myself, like just trying to take some chunk of time to just be there that has been helpful and some alone time because we’re so together all the time with and the second has been reading. I typically don’t call myself a big reader, but fictional books that are just fun, right like that I can just kind of escape into the world has been two things that I’m like, Okay, I gotta be intentional about putting this in my routine to help energize. Yes, yeah.

Brian Lawson : 6:44

So before we dive into these questions, I think for anybody who’s listening, we we hope that you’re finding ways to sustain life because you are losing lots of things that help infuse your spirit with life, emotionally and just raise your energy level, but hopefully you’re exploring other things that you can do now, and that you’re taking care of yourself. Because I think that’s the number one thing. And that’s what we we even teach all the time, is that, you know, if you’re not taking care of yourself, you can’t really minister on the people very well. So we hope that you’re doing that. Yeah. So these questions that we are going to tackle are questions that that you have given us or over recently, but also over a few weeks. And if we don’t hit the question that you asked or or we didn’t answer something that you hope we would have answered when this podcast episode ends, then just send us an email to podcast at YMinstiute.com and we’ll see if we can get to your question either in another episode, or potentially we can put it in our Facebook group as well then making sense of industry Facebook group. So this first question Kiersten comes from Justin in, I believe it was Arizona. And this question goes, we begun meeting in person And due to concerns with COVID, we can no longer have live music. So what are some ways we can still include worship in our gatherings? And before we start recording, you asked Kirsten if this person obviously meant that they were going to they were in person activities, but maybe they couldn’t have the worship band, I guess is what I’m gathering. So what you?

Kirsten Knox : 8:23

Yeah, that’s what I thought like singing. So the, I would imagine for him his question, right, what they have said is singing isn’t something we can do right now. So how are we doing worship and filling that spot and that space? Of what? Yeah. You know, in a phrase I’ve been thinking over and over as we kind of re look at adjusting programming and changing things to fit the new environment that we are in is this phrase of purpose over programs. I think it was probably always a good phrase, but it has tended to come up more for me and so when I was thinking that came up, when I Thinking about this question of, sort of, you know, we’ve had this sense of loss of not singing corporately, as they gathered. So how do we, what do we do? How do we worship? So I was thinking, the bottom line of that is what is really the purpose? And what value does that bring to our gathering or our worship? And then how can we feel that same purpose and gain that same value just in a different way?

Brian Lawson : 9:28

Yeah, you know, that’s a that’s a great, great question, you know, purpose over programming. I was thinking a few weeks ago. You know, I’m a huge believer in in your mission, and your purpose, whatever you call it, that you know, what it is that you’re trying to do and why you’re trying to do it. And I don’t think that that changes necessarily. But I feel like we’re trying to fit programs into something that doesn’t exist anymore. And we’re trying to make, we’re trying to make our programs the purpose rather than the purpose thing, the purpose. And we’re all guilty of this because we want to go back to what’s comfortable, and what’s easy. But yeah, we’re attached to that write those programs, meaning to us, we’ve seen God working through that avenue, right, like there’s an emotional attachment as well as just a lot of memories. And also that’s the way we’ve been wired and somewhat, kind of been trained to do ministry. Mm hmm. Yeah, and I love those moments, right? I love the moments I’ve had with with students, or even in children and worship type gatherings, those have been so unique and special. And then have to say, okay, we need to switch that is is actually difficult for me personally. Yeah. But when I when I first heard this question, I was actually thinking about what what is the root reason why this person Can’t have live music and I came to it was probably the singing. It was probably the physical act of seeing. And so I thought, Okay, so how can we, regardless of whether they should or shouldn’t put, how could we think about a way that they could replicate that and I thought you can’t have everybody sing. So that’s obviously a no go. But I thought about what if they had some sort of music playing over your speakers, or maybe it was on the screen or not, I don’t know. But some sort of music and you gave them something in their hand to hold that they could keep because you for that you will clean after that would just be reflective. So so the idea would be that they hold this item. And they’re listening to the words that so that they’re sort of reflecting on what the words mean. And it could take that it really could kind of move the heart, it’s not going to replace seeing But, you know, it will give them the essence of feeling moved and contemplating what the words are saying.

Kirsten Knox : 12:07

Yeah, I think that’s a great idea. And that back to the purpose right of one of the values of worship is creating that space, where you connect with God and usher you into the presence of God. So I think that right, doing something tangible, because singing is tangible, like I was thinking about similar but didn’t come up with the object part. So I like that because I think that adds that to the next level of, if it’s the singing I can do. Can I have the words up there and even the band play and think, you know, meditate and think silently, those words as they play along? And listen to that if you if you had real common songs, right, people could probably a lot of people could probably could fall, follow along just in some worship songs or hymns or however they’re doing that or just playing a song through YouTube and having it up on the screen and giving some results. relection time for people to do that, I think, yeah, filling out how do I? How do we still meet that purpose and create that space for connection and reflection? Just differently.

Brian Lawson : 13:14

You know, it also brought to mind, things I’ve done where I’ve done prayer stations, and I know lots of people have done this. So it’s not, it’s not a new idea. But I think bringing in some prayer stations can be helpful, you will have to, you have to be strategic about how you do that, you have to make sure they’re not taking objects that everyone else is going to use as well. So it needs to be something that they either don’t touch anything or that they touch and take on their own that keep themselves and that can be spaced out properly. But I think that if you can come up with some prayer station activity, where music is playing, you also get a similar impact as live as music in it and it may even be more impactful, to be honest In some ways, especially if your group has not done it a whole lot, right, but I will say something. Yep. Yeah, I will say and you could probably confirm or disagree with me. But if your group has never done prestations expect it to be awkward and expect it to be confusing for some of your kids. So you’ll really want to explain what it is they’re going to do and the purpose because if you’ve never done presentations, it can feel weird to a person. Yeah, I think that’s absolutely right, particularly those first time.

Kirsten Knox : 14:36

And I thought about introducing like, art or even in that space. And you could do that with music you could do another time to think about some of the creative arts dance could fill that space with music, or even spoken word. And could you use some of the songs to do spoken word if you had someone who had that gift instead? But a time really to think of creatively what other form of art Do we have, that we can really put in that space to create those moments, and that space for students or children to connect? Yeah, I love those. That’s great because you actually could have students leaving that because when you lose, when you lose live music, you lose the band also, and a lot of times that students in the band, and so they lose that ability to participate. But what you’re saying is, is you can have other things that still give students a chance to participate, rather than just being observers. Yeah. And I also thought about prayer, like, obviously, we’re like, yes, pray, but different ways of leading students through different types of prayer concert of prayer. There’s just a lot of different creative ways of doing that, which again, creates that space and that reflective time for them. So I think they’re, you know, they’re Several different creative ways to do that. And I would guess that there is a little bit of trial and error, right when you’re trying those things, to try and see what really connects with your students. And really just give yourself freedom. Because I think sometimes trial trial and error can be hard for us as leaders, because we want everything to be home run the first time. But to give yourself permission to say, Hey, we’re in a new environment, we’re going to try some things differently. And as we walk through it, we’re going to find out what really connects to our with our students or children and find things that doesn’t connect as well and maybe adjust and change but really just having that flexibility, but probably more just giving yourself a lot of grace and compassion as you walk through that I think will be valuable. Yeah, absolutely.

Brian Lawson : 16:51

Well, there you go, Justin. I hope some of that helped. And if anybody else has ideas about what you have done, for worship, to help replace in person worship, you know, leave a comment in our Facebook group and help others out. Let them see what you’re up to. Cuz, you know, I should have said this the beginning but we all know none of us have done this before. And so we’re all still we’re all still learning as we’re going. Okay, here’s the next one. This is from Kathy in Illinois. And Kathy is a children’s director. This is what she says, I’m the children’s director at my church. And we have emailed out our family devotions. When I asked families about what I sent out back, like he never received what I sent, which means they’re probably not opening the emails. But how can I get families to do the devotions that I guess?

Kirsten Knox : 17:38

Yeah, we’ve all been there. Yes. You’re like, I get it. I think when I heard that question, the first thing I thought about was the mode of the delivery, right, how she’s delivering them. I would imagine from the question, it sounds like those are happening through email. So the first thing I would ask is, is that the best way for your families to receive it so thinking about Communicate, you know, they will say we need to communicate something seven different ways for people to get it. And that might be a little much of sending out the devotion seven different ways. But I would think of pulling a couple of my families who I think would engage in that if they were opening it and asking them those questions. And what might be an easier way? So is that a Facebook group is that different ways of giving it to them? that that would be helpful so that the mode of delivery was my first thought that that could be the first challenge for them if they’re just bombarded by emails, and sometimes it’s easy to miss emails that that might be difficult for them? Yeah, I was just talking to somebody.

Brian Lawson : 18:44

Gosh, I don’t remember who it was a few days ago. And they were telling me that they really open hardly any of their emails right now. That there’s just so much going on that they just run down their finger down the list and delete them unless it looks really important. They don’t even They don’t even open open them. And so that’s kind of what I was thinking is is that odds are they’re just not seeing them. And so they’re not necessarily top of their priority. Yeah. And I feel like just with email, I’m like, every few years, I don’t do this, but I’m like, Is there a need for me to change my email? Because I feel like so much junk emails, right? That I’m getting all these advertisements of when I’ve gone to the store, and they’ve asked for my email, of course, to give it to them. Like, I just sometimes hate going through my emails. Because I’m like, because there’s so much stuff that I don’t even want to look at that I just delete. Oh, there. I have so many email accounts. Okay. So here’s the question, Kirsten, this is a little sidetrack. But what was your first email account through like, Who was your first email account through? Was it like, hotmail? Was it Netscape? Going back to AOL?

Kirsten Knox : 19:52

Wow. Let’s think i think i think mine was a Yahoo. Yahoo.

Brian Lawson : 19:57

Yeah. Every time I say Yahoo, I still think of that commericial. I don’t want to say hello message Yahoo.

Kirsten Knox : 20:09

came to my I think that was that I know you’re alone.

Brian Lawson : 20:13

Yeah, I think I definitely had an AOL email address and still remember those days but yeah, so go back to the question. I think, you know, I think the purpose and intent here is good. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I think that maybe like you were saying motor delivery, I would print them out and I would either mail them or take them directly to the house and drop them off. Yeah, I think maybe, maybe you print out like a little make a little box of some supplies that they need. And and the paper papers in them or whatever it is that they have, and give them like two or three weeks at a time. Or what however long it is. Yeah. And again, my phrase for this one right comes back purpose over program. So I would think to if

Kirsten Knox : 21:00

What is the purpose of them doing those family devotions? And maybe that’s awkward for some families, maybe they don’t, maybe parents feel a little insecure about leading them. So thinking through also asking them those questions, I would spend some time asking my families, some of those questions. But whatever that purpose is, what am I trying to get them to gain? What is the value? And are there different ways of doing that? So if family devotions, they don’t seem to engage in that way, doing a bedtime story with children couple times a week where they can log on and do that, or doing a Facebook Live or Instagram Live, or you’re like those different ways of thinking, How do I do that? There might be some other ways of problem solving that that would be helpful. And maybe it’s an activity so is there instead of the devotion that I’m sitting down and reading as a family and maybe part of that is already activities, but is there a game that I could accommodate They could play that I could give them a spiritual truth from that they could talk about as a family. So I think those are other ways to think about if they’re not engaging that way first, is it the mode of delivery? Is it just they’re not getting it? Or is there some intimidation or overwhelming factor that they’re experiencing through that? And if so, are there some ways that I can facilitate that that would help relieve some of that pressure? Because I think, for parents right now, oh my gosh, right. Like, there’s so much pressure for them of going back to school. What am I doing with that? Or like, am I working and my kids are hot, like, they’re just trying to keep their hands around everything. And I just think there’s some things that are just going to go through the cracks because they can’t manage everything. And so am I asking parents to manage one more thing by adding one more thing to them when they already feel overwhelmed? And is there a way for me to do that, that maybe doesn’t feel overwhelming to them. And depending on your contacts, I think that can look very different for parents.

Brian Lawson : 23:05

And if you’re if your school district is, is looking or going back in person versus virtual learning, I don’t know what part of the country or where you’re at listening to this, but I would say, put out some kind of resource or letter or phone calls to parents just asking how they’re doing with the decision, the school district and how they’re managing a stress that they’re feeling about that. Because that is a huge opportunity for a win for you if you just show concern for parents in that moment. Because parents are all over the place about whether the kid should or shouldn’t go to school, whether they’re making the right decision or the wrong decision. Could they be hurting their child unintentionally by either sending them or not sending them. So just for you, a great place for you to sit whether you’re in children’s or youth ministry. is to just be an advocate for the parents, and listen and call them send them a letter, just something to help them feel a little bit more of these this season, I think would be a great win for you right now.

Kirsten Knox : 24:14

Yeah, I think that would be great. I just think parents are now there’s a lot of parent guilt, no matter where you land or what you’re deciding. And so think as leaders for us to think about Yeah, how do I come alongside How do I listen, how to show empathy? How do I just hold that space with them no matter where they’re at? That would be such speak such value and care to them and this season, and recognize that right now, they may not be engaging in a lot of other stuff. Just because right now in this moment, life is confusing and chaotic. And just to be able to connect with them and care for them, I think if I’m right like that would speak volumes to me. I think that would be very powerful.

Brian Lawson : 24:55

Kathy, I hope that helped. Let us know what what you’ve done and what’s work for you. So the next one, we actually received a few variations of the same kind of question. And I actually got these A while ago as well. is we’re talking volunteers now. So a lot of questions about volunteers, like how do we get them to come back after this COVID stuff? Can we keep them engaged even when we’re not meeting in person? And how in the world do we recruit volunteers right now? I mean, those those were all over the place, somewhere from youth, people somewhere from children. Some of the churches are meeting in person in some art. So really, I think the core of the question is, what about our volunteers right now? And how do we continue to keep them and develop them recruit? So when I was thinking about this question, I was thinking about Initially, the recruiting piece, and how do you recruit new volunteers when you’re not seeing people? And I think first off, that is that is just a challenge period. But But for me, some of my strategies wouldn’t necessarily change. And what I mean by that is, normally I would observe people from a distance, I would ask around for good names, and I’d be thinking about them. And I would write their names on my whiteboard. And I would just pray about it about that person specifically and watch them for a while. And then I would approach them individually and say, hey, I’ve noticed this about you. And I think you would be wonderful for our team because of this thing I’ve noticed about you. And I would also have my adult leaders do the same thing as well. You can’t necessarily watch them like you can because you’re not in person. So you can’t necessarily do that. But I think the essence is still the same in the sense that you can ask around for names and then call and just have conversations with people and just say hello Wanted to connect with you. I know you’ve been coming to our church for a while, and I hadn’t really had a chance to talk to you. And I just want to hear about your life and just have a conversation with you over the phone. And so then you’re starting to build and learn a little bit about that person to then decide later. Do you want to ask them to be a volunteer? I, I think the core is still the same. It just might change a little bit how you go about doing it.

Kirsten Knox : 27:22

Yeah. And I think that right intentionality of just continuing to connect with people and build relationships. And it may be that you don’t you’re not utilizing them right now. Like those particular people, but continuing to, to have people that you’re connecting with so that when those needs do arise, you have people that you’ve cultivated that and ask them about that stuff. So they’re kind of ready for that. And the other thing that I think about Brian is there. I mean, in this more virtual world that we’re doing ministry, there are new needs that might have risen in your youth ministry or in your children’s ministry. And so there may be places roles that you didn’t need before that now you need filled and need help with the opens up possibly different types of volunteers. So some may just be recruiting because there’s someone who’s really good at maybe there’s, you’re doing editing and there’s someone in your church, it’s gifted and editing. So you ask them where you didn’t need that before, but now you need it now. So I think it would be wise to look at the next six months, even though that’s crazy to think about, because we don’t, there’s a lot of uncertainty in that. But if I was just kind of looking at where I kind of think things may be or where some of the gaps in the youth ministry with how we’re doing ministry now, even if I know some people are doing some in person activities, so what needs Do we have, and you might have different people a season for different people to come in and serve. Because I think to the other part with prayer, I had a number of parents that serve in the youth ministry and children’s ministry and right now Now, I would imagine for a lot of people, they’ve watched parents not be able to do that, because they just have so much going on. I know I, volunteer youth minister at my church, and I’ve had a couple of our adults that work with our students say, Hey, I’m just trying to manage my kids at home right now. Like, I can’t do all of that. So they have stepped back for the season. So I’m thinking right, like, how do I reengage them? How do I possibly engage new people for those roles? So I think those things are all good questions to think about and looking at where your needs.

Brian Lawson : 29:33

Yeah, I love that. I love the idea of thinking about what the new needs are. I was just talking to one of our board members for the youth ministry, it’s two on Friday, I think it was and she mentioned on how great of an opportunity this is for the church to to engage the artist community right now because there’s so many digital needs. They can help us meet. And so, you know, what if we applied that principle to the youth ministry like we do to the larger church where we’re trying to recruit more digital people, but what if we do the same? I mean, just because you can, as a youth minister or children’s minister, do a live thing by yourself, doesn’t mean you should, right? And Can’t you find somebody potentially to help you and you’re engaging a new person, as for your people that you currently have, and trying to get them to come back? I mean, if you’re talking about coming back in person, I think that you’re always hindered by that person’s comfort level with being back in person. And I think it’s appropriate for you to honor that. I mean, if they’re not, if they’re not comfortable, then I then I think, as a leader, it would be wise of you to affirm that they’re making the right decision for them, and that you believe in them and that you support them in that decision. No way should you imply guilt to the person, because if you do, you’re going to lose them period. Because there will be a day when we come back together, whatever, whatever that is 2025 for all we know at this point in time, but, but, but if you don’t, if you don’t treat that relationship with empathy, then you will lose them in the long run. And so you do have a little bit of your hindered by their comfort level. And so you just need to do your best to honor that. But if you if you’re reopening in person, and you are doing it in a very wise way, consulting lots of experts and people who have been psyched to share with you, and you are specifically trying to keep the protection of the children and of your volunteers as the number one priority, then you can communicate that I think if you communicate very specifically, what you’re doing that might help encourage some of your volunteers to come back Because if I know that a leader is going to have my health in mind, and that they’re doing everything they can, and they’ve laid out specifically what they’re doing, I, personally would feel much more comfortable coming back to volunteer. If I knew those things.

Kirsten Knox : 32:14

Yeah, absolutely. And I think looking at you may have had a volunteer that did several things, right. Or in a night, they did several things, but shrinking kind of their responsibility on me like giving it more in bite sizes, I think also might help people be just we’re in a season of being overwhelmed, and it being chaotic. So I might have been able to count on them for X, Y, and Z. But can you right now just do x, right and giving them a little less to do in specific that I think in that also could help you recruit someone else for that spot. And for those who are still doing very much all virtual ministry I think particularly connecting engaging with students is difficult. It has its own challenges. But also so much needed particularly right now students need that. So utilizing them to kind of make your group smaller, no matter what size you are, how do you make that smaller and give that leader, a group of five or six students? And maybe it’s, hey, every week, can you check in with them? Every week? Can you write them a note or every other week or whatever system that you create, but in a sense of making your groups smaller, so that you have different smaller groups, and I know we’ve done small groups, and youth ministry and children’s ministry forever. So maybe it’s just redesigning some of those responsibilities. But if I’m an adult, and you give me a way to contribute that I feel like it’s going to help students in the season, then I’ll probably show up for that. And if my schedule is all crazy right now, if it’s writing letters, or making phone calls or sending texts, I can slip one here and there for a few minutes that do that in bite sizes. That creates a little bit more fluidity that I think would be valuable for adults and also for sooner?

Brian Lawson : 34:01

Yeah. Well, and even even in children’s ministry, I think that, you know, children’s ministry, small groups may not operate exactly like youth ministry, small groups. But you could still use your volunteer to break down the groups and say, Okay, this family unit is now a small groups. So here’s three families that I just want you to focus on. And as a leader, it might be beneficial for you to send your volunteer like two to three questions to ask that family every week or every two weeks or however often they’re contacting families. Because if I’m a volunteer and you say, hey, Brian, I want you to look over these three families and just contact them and make sure you’re staying in regular communication, encouraging and praying with them. I may not always know what to ask them about. And I may not always know what to say. But if, if my children’s director or youth director sends me a list of questions to say, Hey, here’s the things that maybe you could ask me about this time. It makes me feel more calm. Because I’m going into it with something to say, and somewhere to go. And so for you, maybe you equip your volunteer a little differently than you might normally, instead of small group curriculum, you’re giving them small, small group conversation starters or pieces. It’s not really designed around a Bible story. It’s more designed on emotionally checking in with somebody.

Kirsten Knox : 35:21

Yeah, I think that’s great. Right. I just I think the question we can ask that would be helpful is, how do I help my children, my teenagers or even families feel seen and feel heard? says we’re looking at this new season of doing ministry continuingly to do ministry differently, and how can I utilize my adult leaders to help them feel seen and help them feel heard? Yep. Yep. So

Brian Lawson : 35:51

next, next question. I’m thinking about the fall, the winter and even the spring, right. There’s so much unknown and I’ve said We didn’t get this question directly, but I’ve seen it as a lot of places. What are you doing this fall? How are you going to do it? Really all these questions revolve around how do I plan correctly? for the fall, the winter even the spring when I have no idea what’s going to happen? So as a leader, how do I make those plans? And then how do I communicate them when I’m so unsure myself?

Kirsten Knox : 36:26

Yeah, that what right is so we’re just so used to particularly in the fall, producing our calendar, right, like fall when you start back at school and at Why am I we oftentimes say we would like for you to have a year’s calendar, right? So it just feels time to produce that or that you had been working on it to produce it first, when school starts, and it’s just different, right? And you’re like, I don’t know what two months looks like, what three months looks like. I think first I would think about not having as long range plans and keeping it shorter and people. I think in this season understand that so I mean, I’m not giving you a year calendar, because we really don’t know. But can I give you the next two months or three months? Depending? In your context, I also think it would be valuable to look at your schedule, like if it was a regular fall. And look at that and think, what am I absolutely, I just can’t do right. Like for us, we’re thinking going away, or any of our trips aren’t happening. So it’s, if we were to do anything, it would be local. Right? So what is the normal that I would just automatically say right now it can be, but what is it that we could do if we adjusted it and changed it and maybe that we changed it to do some kind of virtual way we changed it to do with social distancing. And then once you have those programs or events, activities, and I think you can really think about your purpose of what are we trying to accomplish, and how are we doing that with what we have, that we know we can work in, but really again, looking at The purpose so how are students and children connecting? How am I helping them grow in their faith? How am I helping them serve? Right? Like, there may be creative ways to do that. And just reimagining allowing yourself to reimagine. And I would say, don’t do that by yourself. Do that within your teams. So whatever teams leadership team, or people that help make you those help make those decisions for you is walking through that with others, particularly is helpful in planning your fall in this COVID season.

Brian Lawson : 38:33

Yeah, yeah. You know, I would, I’m one who really wants to plan on purpose and plan strategically. For me, I always thought about two things. I was what I really kept in mind when I was planning. I mean, there was others, but there was two primary focuses was one, does what I’m planning, push the mission forward. And the second is how does what I’m planning impact the momentum, and what type of momentum flow do I want? And this may be silly, but in my mind, I always visualize like a, like a line, line chart. But I was never good at math, but anyways, a line graph chart where I sort of visualize like a mountain of momentum and in my head and thought, okay, when is the peak of momentum? And when do I want that in the season? And so for me, that’s, that’s always what, what I did and how I plan. And so for me, I would create two or three different calendars. And I would create a greenlight calendar that if everything goes perfect, here’s what we’re going to do. Assuming COVID is just not an issue, this is this is the ideal situation. Then I would make sort of a yellow, yellow light calendar where we had to do and we can do in person stuff. But it has to be very, very socially isolated social distancing from each other. So that’s very much a concern. And so my events are going to be much more scaled back much smaller. And they’re going to be much very focused on on the purpose of that moment and eliminate any extra programming that’s not really necessary to the purpose. And then I would make a red light calendar, like what’s the worst case scenario? We have to we can’t meet in person anymore, this this fall or this winter for the next several months. So what what does it look like for me then to run a ministry completely online? So personally, that’s what I would do. And when I say this, I would, I would work with a team of people and kind of get their input the leaders and some students and just get input from everybody. And I would make these as in, I would write the notes down on a piece paper for myself. They wouldn’t be published, right. I wouldn’t publish the green, the yellow and the red instead. We’ll just have these so that I felt secure and knowing that I at least have some options. And then I think I would only release, maybe 30 days out calendar. You know, if there’s, if there’s major event coming up, I might let them know, Hey, we’re tentatively playing this one major event, three months from now, just so you know, the dates, but that’s it. And I would only like that I would only release 30 days out at a time.

Kirsten Knox : 41:28

Yeah. And I think you can do that. And everyone is very understanding of that. And this season, right. And I love what you had to say about momentum. Because I think that’s particularly important as we’re in this season, and people are experienced so much loss is really to look at your ministry, your children’s ministry, youth ministry and say, Where is the momentum for us? And how do I leverage that as we walk through this season and really focusing on where there’s momentum And energy, because we need that and people are having such a lack of that right now. But I think that really can help your engagement. So for all of us in different ministries that may look differently, but where is that? And if you would look at your ministry and say, I don’t know, or I’m not sure we have any then experimenting and some ways to create some of that momentum, I think would be valuable.

Brian Lawson : 42:25

Yeah, yeah. And you know, if you can’t have trunk or treat this year, it’s just like summer camp, we you probably be sad that you can’t have it or maybe you won’t be you hate putting it on but you might be sad and the people might be sad that it’s not gonna happen. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try something new. And that doesn’t mean trunk or treat will never return. Right? It just means right now. And so I would encourage somebody if you’re like, well, I just can’t do my fall big. Either kickoff or as a I had in mind was towards the end of the fall, I was actually in November. If I can’t have that big beach retreat or that big truck or treat, what I would do is say, How do I find something else I can do that gives a sense of moment momentum. Remembering that it doesn’t mean that that’s going to permanently replace trunk or treat that’s not going to properly replace your beach retreat. But instead, I’d still want to capture the essence of that momentum that it creates. And so what is something that we can work on and develop and try to see if we can’t capture that momentum? And you may fail, you may fail miserably at it. It may be an awful events, you may say, Well, that was a big mistake and never do it again. But you got to try. And this is the season to try.

Kirsten Knox : 43:46

Yeah, I think so. And I think people are more forgiving when we missed the mark. Right? Because no one has been here before. And so for us who don’t like to miss the mark or you know, are pretty hard about wanting to succeed and achieve that. Is the season that hopefully, maybe one of the skills we learn is being able to do that better, of taking risk and try new things. Because there’s such more of a forgiving spirit, I think with that and trying things in ministry that people are more open to. And so maybe it gives us some more self permission to be able to do that. I will say with our youth ministry, what we noticed is students love deliveries. That has been a momentum factor. And so what we have talked about is once a month, we want to deliver them a package that they then use on our ministry, not because we’re still doing that virtually, we meet on Monday nights. But I’m like, if we could give them a bag over the weekend, and then I can help utilize my volunteers to do those deliveries and split those up, then they would get a box that would have supplies that we would then use that Monday night. And we get like we don’t we can’t do that every week, right? We don’t have the resources to do that every week. But if they can count on that once a month that they would receive that from us. And then we would have all the activities and they would have the supplies and that creates momentum and excitement that we have seen in the past. They love those deliveries.

Brian Lawson : 45:12

Who doesn’t love to get packages? Right? Who doesn’t? Like packages? Right? And when you say that I just picture putting the most random things in the boxes. So they’re like, Why in the world? You know, am I getting? Gosh, why in the world? Am I getting this sprinkler? Like, what am I gonna do with a sprinkler for for youth youth group like, or, you know, just the most random objects you can think of? Like, why am I getting this dirty old sock? Yes. No. Yeah, it’s it creates right like interest.

Kirsten Knox : 45:46

Yeah, I think I hope we’ll see how this works. But my hope is that it increases engagement. So right, some of the students who maybe haven’t engaged as much as I would like and zoom will be like, Ooh, I’m going to show But for this one, and so maybe, maybe there’s a group, right? That’s our bigger funnel that once a month we see more students at that. That event, which is our regular week, but that ministry night, and then that’s something we can build and have momentum on. So we’ll see how it works. But that has been Yeah. I’m like, how do we create that? in a way that’s helpful? and fun?

Brian Lawson : 46:21

Yeah, absolutely. That’s, that’s excellent. I love that idea. When we developed our visitor follow up plan at the Ministry I was at we I really wanted to send big packages to new students. I mean, I wanted them to get these gigantic boxes filled with like candy and the most random things, but I just wanted it to be a box. Because when you get packages, it’s just exciting. And it’s fun, and we financially couldn’t do it. So we came up with other options, but I love your idea of just delivering packages, and then putting random things in it because you’re right. I do think that would pique curiosity and makes sense won’t be like why why did they send me this? Let’s go drop this off, I gotta be there to find out. That’s great. That’s great. And you know, I wonder if you can’t put like a random, maybe you already thought of this, but I don’t know, let’s say you put a cup and all of them and you mark one cup with like a stamp. And whoever gets the box with that stamp when something or Yeah, like a random thing or something. But just thinking creatively, I think is important. And yes, this season is the season to try something new, and to fail miserably. Because really, that’s where you’re going to learn. And I would rather try something new in this season. That doesn’t work, then to have that in a normal season where everybody thinks I should have it all together.

Kirsten Knox : 47:42

I’m like, Dan, right. We’re all we’re all trying this. We’ve never been here before. So we’re going to figure this out together. And there’s the freedom to try new things. I think we need to, to leverage that. And I think another important question that I’ve been thinking about is for us as leaders to ask our families and our children and students, what do they need from us during this season? And that might help us as we look at our fall calendar. Because we’re very attached right to our programs and the way we’ve done things and our traditions, and some of those may stay. But as we’re thinking about it more from the perspective of what do they need from us right now? And just asking that question, I think speaks value when we ask that question to people, and you can ask it a little differently, but getting that kind of information. And that might also help you design what this fall looks like, or possibly the spring is really not do. What do I think families need from me, or what do I think students need from me, but what if they had the opportunity to be able to tell me? Yeah, yep. And really allow that to drive some of what you do and what you plan. That’s good. So as we wrap it up, we’re kind of running out of time. So I just want to ask

Brian Lawson : 49:00

Real quick here says are any, any words of encouragement that you’d like to leave with our children’s and youth ministers or anybody else who’s listening to this episode?

Kirsten Knox : 49:09

Yes, I I mean, I think for us as leaders, this can be a really discouraging time. And more than that a heavy time as leaders and so what I would say is to remember the truth that God has given you what you need to do what He has called you to do. And in this season, what He has called us to do at leaders looks different. And as much as that is stretching for us at times or creates confusion for us at times is just to remember that the Holy Spirit is working through you and will empower you to be able to do what He has called you to do, and that you are making a difference. We don’t see people as often so you may not be seeing the fruit of all of those things, but resting in in the truth that God is using, and most applying what you are doing. And there are ripple effects that you may see some of them but a lot of them you won’t see. So this is the season of knowing that I’m doing these things and I’m trusting you to work through it because here’s what I bank on. That you have given me what I need to do what you have called me to do. And that is enough.

Brian Lawson : 50:21

Well, friends, that’s all we have time for today. Don’t forget to check out the links in the description for professional youth and children’s ministry coaching. Also, if you’re looking for a ministry, job, or other resources, be sure to check out our website, we’ve got a job board and we got blogs on there and other things that could be helpful to you. That’s yminstitute.com. Until next time, friends, I hope we’ve helped you make sense of this thing we call ministry.

Ashley : 50:46

For more information regarding coaching, consulting, job placement and online courses, join us at yminstitute.com

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