11: On Terrifying Parent Meetings, 2021 Budgets, Should We Require Parents To Volunteer, And More!

Episode 11 of the Making Sense of Ministry Hosts and Guest

In this episode, Brent Squires joins Brian and Kirsten to discuss your questions! These questions include “terrifying” parent meetings, 2021 budgets, and should parents be required to volunteer?

In his third decade of youth ministry, Brent Squires is the cohost of the How’d They Do That? ministry podcast, and serves as the Student Ministry Pastor at Bay Area Community Church.

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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: 0:13

Welcome to Episode 11 of the making sense of ministry podcast. This is a podcast designed to help you lead well in your ministry, transform lives and impact generations. Kirsten and I are back again. Hey Kirsten How are you? Hey, everyone doing good. How are you? Good, good. And today we have a special guest Brent Squires. Brent want to say hello?Brent Squires: 0:34

Hey, everyone. How you doing from Annapolis, Maryland.Brian Lawson: 0:37

All right. We’re glad you’re here. Glad you’re here. Brent is the student ministries, pastor at Bay Area Community Church in, as he said in Maryland, and Britain has been in student student ministry for 20 plus years. I think before we talked, he’s in his third decade is what we decided before. So in addition to his work at bay area, Community Church, Brent is also the co host of a ministry podcast called How’d They Do That, which I strongly recommend you check out I listened to a little bit about it. Brent, want to give us a quick rundown as to what that podcast is all about.Brent Squires: 1:09

Yeah, it’s really just a podcast, kind of interviewing other folks from around the country, both known and unknown, small church, big church, you name it, who are doing interesting, unique, exciting things in student ministry. So we just get to hear a little bit about their stuff. And then we get to steal it, do it ourselves and make ourselves look good. That’s the main motivation for the podcast.Brian Lawson: 1:33

Excellent. I actually listened. I was listening this morning to your interview with Josh Griffin. And so there’s some interesting stuff in there, which I which I enjoyed. Kirsten and I are glad you’re here today, Brent, and everyone, we’re glad to listen, we’ve got some good stuff to share with you. But before we get there, I’ve got a few other exciting things to share. Here at the making sense of ministry podcast, we don’t shy away from tough questions. And we we don’t think you should either. Questions really are a sign of growth. And it’s way easier to hear God’s answers when others join you and asking those questions. So that’s why I’m excited to tell you again this week about our sponsor, the social hub for all your spiritual dilemmas and questions is only a click away with our friends at be a disciple calm, head over to their website and scroll through their affordable ecumenical accredited, short term online courses all taught by content experts, they will be in the company of others where it’s safe to discuss hard questions. And if you have questions, and you’re looking to grow, enrolling course today, and as they say, ask away, be a disciple calm. And the second thing I want to share with you is I don’t know about you, I’ve never met a youth or children’s pastor or minister that doesn’t love free stuff, particularly free money, or in this sense, a free amazon gift card. And so you may know that kearson I have been answering your questions, last couple episodes. And we’re gonna keep doing that. And as a way to say thank you. And also to hear some more your questions, we’re going to give away an Amazon gift card coming up in the next couple of weeks. So to qualify for the drawing, you need to email your questions, whatever they’re about children’s or youth ministry, or what you’re facing in your church, email your questions to podcast at y m institute.com. And, and then what we’ll do is we’ll take everybody who’s emailed us, we will put you in for drawing to win that win that gift card. So no matter what your question is around, send it our way to podcast at y m institute.com. And also, be sure to tell us if you don’t want your name set over over the recording and we won’t say your name. Lastly, at the youth ministry Institute, we have a thorough and proven process to help churches find the best match for their open ministry positions. One of those searches we are currently doing is get ready for this this is this is a big one. We are currently helping the largest United Methodist Church in a country find their next Director of Student ministries for their main campus. And you heard that right. If you’re United Methodist, you probably know about Adam Hamilton, this is the church where he’s the senior pastor at the church has five campuses. And this position will collaborate with a large staff and the main campus which this position will be at reaches over 3500 students. And we’re currently taking applications for that position. So friends, it’s really exciting. I hope that you’ll consider applying and if you’re interested in learning more, head over to our website, why am Institute COMM And you’ll see a banner right at the top of the homepage, just click on that. And that will take you to where a site they’ll give you all the information. So we hope you’ll apply or if you don’t apply, maybe you’ll know somebody that you can send the information to. Because we really want to help help you have this great opportunity and also help them find the best match for their position. All right, here we go. Let’s get into some questions. As I mentioned earlier, we got kyrsten and Britton here with us and Brent, I’m curious, could you just briefly tell us about your call to ministry and and Maybe what has kept you in ministry? over the just a few years that you’ve been doing it?Brent Squires: 5:05

Yeah, sure. No, I appreciate that. It’s my privilege. call to ministry, safe as a young child grew up in a Christian home was a PK didn’t really feel the call the true call to ministry until later in life, actually worked for a number of seasons for the team formerly known as the Washington Redskins, and thought that that was my dream job and my my career, started volunteering and student ministry reluctantly, actually was looking for a way to get uninvolved, just because I really didn’t take time in the early stages to build relationships with students. But once I did that, then I felt God called me into ministry, and I couldn’t think of doing anything else. So it took about a year and a half to transition away from the NFL to a small church and about maybe 30 kids at its at its at that present time. And just fell in love with it and didn’t know a single thing was reading every single book. You know, I remember getting my first shiny copy of purpose driven youth ministry by DOUG FIELDS and all every book like that back in the 90s. I read them all, and was just trying to play catch up and made pretty much every most of the mistakes that you can make in student ministry. And then started catching a rhythm and just kind of really felt like that was what what God had called me to do. So I’ve been at three different churches of different sizes, and got to experience a good bit of student ministry. And it wasn’t until, you know, over halfway into my time and youth ministry that I started feeling like I think I’m a lifer. I think I’m gonna do student ministry until I just can’t do it anymore, or until there’s no church in America, that will hire me. And so now I’m 50 years old, I’ve been doing student ministry for about 2324 years. And I’m just excited to see like what God has in the future. So I’ve been able to coach some folks and work with some churches. And, as you mentioned, doing things like our podcast is very life giving, and then just focusing on building the church that God has me out here in Annapolis, which continues, you know, I thought even you know, a year ago at this time, I thought things were kind of on cruise control, but in a really good place. And then COVID happened and now it’s it’s as if every you know, we had a huge building, we have a 25,000 square foot dedicated student ministry building that we just opened a little bit before COVID. And now that’s totally taken off the table, everything that we’re doing is outside. So even with a building with every conceivable toy, and trinket that you could want, we’re not able to use any of it. And so it’s like back to doing parking lot games. And our building sits right next to a major interstate that connects Baltimore, to Annapolis. And so literally truck like semis are going by in the middle of my talks. And it is, um, I’m setting up chairs and on the asphalt. So I feel like it’s my first year of youth ministry again, but in a sense that super in big, big rating. SoBrian Lawson: 8:19

yes. And so you know what the moral of the story is that no matter what size of church, you’re always going to stack chairs.Unknown: 8:25

Yeah, I remember saying that to my staff. I remember saying when we, when we close down our old facility, we refurbished a piece of our old facility. And then we added on that with an expansion. And when we were closing that facility down, I remember saying and thank God for this new building, because I’m never setting up chairs again. And the man like I have no idea what 2020 was gonna bring, because now we’re setting up chairs outside in the parking lot on Sunday nights and on Wednesday nights and a lot of them.Brian Lawson: 8:57

Yeah, I’m curious, since I think I asked you in just a moment about customer about COVID. But I’m curious. In your episode, I was listening to Josh Griffin, you kind of talked about a moment where you weren’t sure if you were gonna stay in youth ministry and you were thinking about shifting out into a campus pastor role. So I know we’ve got a lot of people who may be are especially in COVID, thinking about whether or not they’re going to stay in this because it’s been so difficult. So I wonder if you could just share about your experience and how you decide to stay.Brent Squires: 9:29

Yeah, I wasn’t necessarily feeling dissatisfied with student ministry, but our churches, it was growing. We weren’t able, for some of the big holidays, Christmas and Easter in particular, we weren’t able to hold the capacity in our in our current church sanctuary. So we talked about doing kind of a satellite campus out of high school, and it was actually my idea. I said on Easter Sunday, let’s go to a high school rented out and hold a satellite service there. And so our senior pastor said, great, it’s your idea. You’re in charge of it. I was like No, I just wanted I just pitched the idea. I don’t want To be in charge of it. I’m a student pastor. And he was like, nope, go for it. And so we set it all up a couple of months of planning and processing. And, you know, I literally was picturing maybe two or 300 people and 1500 people showed up from our community. And most of them, were unchurched. And so he asked me, he said, I want you to look, we’re gonna, we’re gonna plant a campus there, and I would like you to go and be the campus pastor of it. And that was not necessarily in my plans. I had a short stint of for about three years where I was a lead pastor at the church that I grew up in. And so I had some experience in doing kind of the lead role. But man, I was very content with my student ministry role. And as I mentioned, we were just a year away from opening up this new facility, which I had been, you know, deeply, deeply involved in every aspect of that, and I wanted to see that come to fruition. So the long story short, is I said, I need some time to pray about it. And I went away to a youth pastors retreat. And Josh Griffin from download youth ministry was the speaker there. And I hadn’t met Josh, a couple other times in the past, and I asked, hey, just Can we talk? And can I just get some, you know, just insight from you? And he said, Sure, after that message tonight, let’s grab some time. And we’ll talk. And his message was, it was something to the effect. The title was why you should stay in youth ministry. And are five reasons why you should stay in youth ministry and divorce. It was Yeah. He told me later. Like, I that was the plan before I had talked to you. I didn’t say that for you, obviously. And then every every one of those like five points or whatever it was, like everyone else in the room was gone. And it was just me and him. And God was speaking through him to me. And and so that was my answer. And so I went back to my church, I literally didn’t even drive all the way back from the retreat to my church, I stopped halfway at a Starbucks went in, pounded out an email to my pastor kind of saying, Hey, I feel like the Lord has spoken. And I’m going to stay in student ministry, which he fully understood and supported that. So. Yeah, it was more of just like, Am I really called to this? And is there a next stage? You know, I was 48 at the time. So at 48, is there still room for a 48 year old and youth ministry? Or have you aged out and what that weekend clearly showed me was like, age, it’s not so much age, because you can be old and dumb, you can be young and dumb. You can be old and called. And you can be young and called. So it’s really about calling and obedience to follow that. And so yeah, I feel like the next however many years in youth ministry, you know, to the extent that God can use me, I’d like to, I’d like to feel that I’m going to be available make myself available.Kirsten Knox: 12:53

Yeah. What a powerful experience. I love that. God really shows up in those moments and gives us direction.Brent Squires: 13:00

Yeah, I wish that would happen all the time. And God probably says, I do too. You just don’t pray enough. If you prayed and sought me a little bit more, you’d get more direct answers like that. SoKirsten Knox: 13:11

I love it. Yeah. Well, Brent, the next question we have is primarily for you in it. And you answered this a little bit, but I wondered if you could share a little bit more about what adjustments and shifts Have you made during COVID?Brent Squires: 13:26

Yeah. You know, I’m like everybody else. I don’t have any magic bullets or great answers. I feel like COVID, as I mentioned earlier, was a great creator of a level playing field for all ministries, no matter your budget, your, your facility, your resources, it kind of made, you know, everybody’s either not meeting or meeting in a parking lot. There’s a few states that have been blessed and not been terribly impacted by some of the orders. And they haven’t been as affected by kind of some of the disruptions. But most of us have been what what we here at my church did, I have seven, seven staff that report directly to me, and so we circled up early, and just said, basically, everything is either not necessarily canceled, but it’s all on hold. Like we’re gonna hold it open handedly. For the next year that I’m talking like, March, April, and we’re just going to process no more than eight weeks at a time. Because you know what, first it was 15 days to slow the spread. Well, that was like, what, eight months ago now?Brian Lawson: 14:32

Feels like it feels like 20 years.Brent Squires: 14:34

Yeah, I literally Remember, you know, on the first day that our state shut down, I remember thinking how are we going to get through two weeks of no ministry like how are we going to do that? And you know, like I said, that was back in March. So we looked at just doing eight weeks out and just kind of stuck which is totally against my personality. I’m enneagram three, and so like eight weeks out with not good And that was not, that was not good enough for me. And so we just kind of looked at those eight weeks and planned no further out than eight weeks. And that’s largely what we’ve been doing since then. And then we came up with kind of, I don’t know if it’s a mantra or a game plan, or I called it, just kind of like our post COVID strategy. But like, now, I’m not sure when post COVID is going to start, because it seems like we’re still in COVID. But at the time, I was calling it our post COVID strategy, which was actually pretty simple. It was, first, let’s not forget what our purpose is. Our purpose is to point students towards Jesus. So like every single day, we have to remind each other we have to remind ourselves, we have to remind our volunteers that our role is to point students towards Jesus, which is helpful, because we don’t have to have technology to point students to Jesus, we don’t have to have a building, we don’t have to have a program. We can point students students to Jesus in a variety of ways. And we don’t have to be limited. The second thing was a total rip off from Andy Stanley, I think a podcast I listened to from him. And it was, we want to prioritize a responsibility over authority. So before we all had a lane, and everybody had a job description, and the seven or eight of us on our team, and then we have two other campuses, so the staff from those campuses, we all did what was in our job description. But when COVID hit job descriptions went out the window, because some people, their whole job was tied to a service. And we weren’t having services at the time. So we had to start really prioritizing on what the responsibilities were like what just needed to be done, rather than what our titles were or what our job descriptions were. And that’s that’s, that’s difficult, that’s challenging. The third thing is, we want to focus on solutions, not problems. So in the early days of COVID, even up there now, there’s always there always seems to be a problem that’s presenting itself, like, you got to wear a mask, it can’t do this, you can only have so many kids, you have to meet outside or you can’t. And the problems kept, they weren’t speed bumps, they were becoming mountains to us. And everybody wanted to stop at the problem. And basically, you know, almost call it a day, myself included. And so we had to kind of beat the drum of we’re not going to focus on problems. God is with us, we have a team, the answer is in our team, we just have to look deep enough and hard enough to find it. And that’s been very, very helpful. And then the fourth thing wasn’t originally the fourth thing on the list, it was something a lot more academic. But I felt super convicted that about this, this adding this fourth one back in and taking out the original fourth one that’s just choosing joy. We know the Bible tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. And throughout COVID it’s been a joy, soccer for a lot of ministries that I know a lot of you folks that I’ve talked to and myself included. And so we needed to inject joy back into that. And we couldn’t manufacture that that could only come from his spirit. So those four things have been kind of like our Northstar, if you will that kind of kept us over the past like five or six months really grounded and focused. And we’re gonna hang on to that, at least through January one and see what pivots we make come the other side of this crazy year.Brian Lawson: 18:22

I think that’s great. I really love the I mean, I love all of it. So the Andy Stanley one I caught on that a long time ago, too, right? I remember him saying you walk down a hallway. And you know, somebody who just does their job won’t pick up a piece of trash they see on the grass, but somebody who takes responsibility and ownership for the whole thing is going to pick up trash I see on the ground, even if it’s not their job, because they care about place. I remember him saying that that’s stuck with me for sure.Brent Squires: 18:46

So that’s why I’m out in the parking lot setting up chairs, like, because I didn’t used to do that we had people that did that. And but now it’s like, well, but it needs to get done. And we don’t have volunteers on site at the time when we need to set up chairs. So I can’t be too big to set up chairs.Kirsten Knox: 19:05

Brent how have you seen that impact your team? Because I think walking through that as a team, there’s probably some real benefits that have come out of that teamwork. But how have you watched that happen?Brent Squires: 19:15

Yeah, well, the first couple of weeks, I just kind of shared that. Like it took a couple of weeks for me to form that. So I just thought of different thoughts and like let’s create kind of a strategy for us to have some sort of internal motivation or inspiration, something that we can remind each other again and again. And so then when I formed those four put said we’re going to go with these four, then for two weeks, three weeks, I taught on it at our weekly Monday morning staff meeting. And I just shared why I chose those why they were important and what each one of them meant to us. And I could have continued doing that for you know for the rest of time. But you know what i what I’ve learned and what you I’m sure know both of you is that you never learned something more impactfully than when you have teach it. So now at our staff meetings, I turned the corner and I started saying, Okay, now somebody else is going to teach it today. And so I said, we’re going to reserve a portion of our staff meeting each week to focusing on this, this kind of like North Star concept that we have. But I’m not going to teach it because I already know it, I already have it memorized, like, now I need you guys to teach it, because then you can re emphasize it to the group, while learning it yourself. So now, each week, we just go around and somebody, you know, even if they’ve shared in the past, somebody different shares on it again, and we’re gonna keep doing that. And we can refer back to it, you know, when we see something happen, and somebody doesn’t pick up the trash in the hallway, we can say like, Hey, remember, you know, remember number two on our list, like we it’s not about job descriptions and authority. It’s, it’s about responsibility. And so we’ve been able to catch each other and just, you know, playfully encourage each other to kind of re emphasize one of these points, or we hit kind of a speed bump, and we all kind of like get locked on. Well, we can’t do this, because we’re not allowed to have that many kids or whatever. And it’s like, Well, okay, but that’s the problem. But we’re not going to stop there like, so look, can we break the group into multiple pieces and do multiple events? You know, there is a solution to this, if it’s something that we really feel bad is directing us towards? Let’s not stop short. Let’s think through the problem to a solution and see where we come out on the other side.Brian Lawson: 21:32

Yeah, that’s excellent. So we could just stop the podcasts now. I think I mean, I think, right. That was great. No, I think that, that the student issue there, sounds very blessed to have you kind of leading that and guiding that, because that’s good, good insight. Because too often people do stop at the problems. And then they just say, Well, I quit. But in reality, if you if you spend time, together, dreaming and you’re willing, you’re willing to shift, you can actually find things that are better, likely than you ever would have discovered otherwise.Brent Squires: 22:03

Yeah. And so we had to shift. Yeah, and the first three are actually the easiest three, it’s number four, choosing joy, that actually for me, is the hardest one, because it’s so easy, you know, I can get motivated, but motivate. Motivation tends to be external. You know, like, it’s somebody motivating me from the outside, and I don’t, I don’t need to be I’m pretty self driven. So I don’t necessarily need to be motivated from the outside. What wrecks me is me, so so I need something other than me, I need the Holy Spirit. So the past three months I really been pressing into, Lord, I need more of the fruit of your spirit and like joy, like draining joy, like I need to constantly give me joy, you know, just because there’s, you know, every every other week, like, it seems like our state’s getting a new, you know, we’ve gone forward, and then we’ve taken steps back and what we can do and what opens and what closes. And, you know, here, sitting here at the time, this podcast is being recorded, like, we don’t have any public schools in session, like in person, no school sports, things are largely opened, but not fully opened. And our churches, you know, still We’re at 2500 person church, but we have maybe 300 coming between two services on a Sunday in person. So it can be depressing, it can be discouraging, and man, the joy of the Lord is the strength that I know I have to rely on. So.Brian Lawson: 23:33

Yeah, absolutely. So our friend Allison from Kentucky asked about parent meetings. Particularly she was preparing for a parent meeting and was terrified. And that’s what that’s what she said she was terrified. So she asked what important things should I share at at the meeting? And just from context clues I would gather this is likely her first time ever doing a parent meeting, and possibly her first season in ministry. Really? I would imagine she’s, she’s new. So what insights do you guys have? to that? What what are important things that need to be shared at a meeting parent meeting? In your mind?Kirsten Knox: 24:19

I mean, first, I would say they can be intimidating, right? Especially if you’re new to ministry, and the first time you’re having those, you know, Allison, you feel terrified or scared and be like, Yeah, right. Like it is an intimidating experience. So give yourself permission to be in that space. The one I would say one thing that I would put as a priority is sharing your heart, that sharing your heart with your parents and also the dream you have for what students will experience children will experience when they are there. And connecting that with parents is really important. Man, I think information and those things also have got to be a part of that because that’s helpful. for parents to have that information, but I think it’s really easy as leader sometimes. What is the details, and miss that first part of really just connecting with them? And I would think about as what are leaders that I like to follow? And what makes me want to follow them? And when doing those kind of meetings, kind of framing that and understand and how am I going to be that leader for them. And I think when I know people heart, and they really share that with me for ministry and for things that I value, that that really helps me connect. So I would spend some time on the front end, really doing that, and sharing that passion. And parents will love that, especially when that’s about their kid, because they recognize it takes a village to do this. And they’re intimidated to parenting is hard. So to have someone to walk alongside them who loves their kid and is excited and wants to point their kids to Jesus, I mean, that will help that connection and those relationships.Brent Squires: 25:57

Yeah, that’s good. I resonate with so much of that. And I’ll just add to that, that I have raised three kids, like all my kids are out of high school and into college, but it is still intimidating. So I can I can empathize with you. That would the person with the question would being intimidated. What I what I would suggest is, here’s what I’ve learned from experience, most parents, most parents will crawl through broken glass to get to somebody that is going to help them or encourage them with their kids. And most parents are willing to do almost whatever it takes including pay big dollars to get their kids to an expert, or someone that has at least more expertise than they do when it comes to their kids. For example, if the kids struggling in math, parents will do whatever it takes or pay whatever it is to get their kids a math tutor. They’ll do whatever it takes to get their kids to soccer practice, even Little League Soccer. And I’ve seen parents hire pitching coaches and the kids ate, you know, like, because they want their kids improve at pitching. You know, they’ll pay big dollars for a piano or violin lessons.Unknown: 27:10

And soBrent Squires: 27:12

what you have to do, what we have to do is look at ourselves, like we are the experts, at least in terms of church discipleship ministry, even if you don’t feel like an expert, you have to view yourself not in an arrogant way. But most parents, most parents do not feel overly confident with discipling their own kids. And I would say the majority of parents aren’t even intentionally discipling their kids. So you come along, and you’ve got great content, we’re assuming you’ve got availability, you’ve got volunteers, you’ve got programming, they probably view you a lot more as an expert than what you give yourself credit for. So lean into that you don’t have to be an expert on parenting kids, you know how to, you know, stop some of the behaviors and things of that nature, you can just refer them to books, and like a Jim Burns type person or, you know, other ministries that focus on parenting, what you can do is be a, an expert on the resources that are out there. And on the discipleship components. And again, if nothing else, you probably are the world leading expert on your church’s ministry. And if they’re at your church, or at least bringing their kids to your church’s ministry, you are an expert. And that will grow the longer that you’re there. And then if you just wait around long enough, you’ll be older than all the parents of the kids in your ministry like I am. And, and then you will legitimately be an expert. Because I was super intimidated might when I first got into youth ministry, I didn’t even have kids. And I didn’t worry about that. Because I thought, Oh, man, I won’t be in youth ministry. By the time my kids are older, I’ll I’m way too smart to be stuck at the level of youth pastor. Two to three years, I’ll be like everybody else, I’ll be something bigger and better. And here I am all these years later. So yeah, you will eventually stay around long enough, out, outgrow some of that and be older than all the parents.Brian Lawson: 29:16

Yeah, I think the core when I was thinking about this is I just imagined somebody who’s younger, probably never, you know, obviously doesn’t have kids. Maybe that’s not even on their radar ever or for a long time. And, and so I remember sitting I mean, being in like a friendship Hall thing. And, you know, there’s parents at tables sitting there looking back at you. And I remember thinking, Oh, I’m even with kids. I guess I have answers for you. So you’re right. I think that that feeling is something that we all experience at different times. And I think no matter how old you get or how long you’ve been, you still can encounter that and I I think it’s important to note, you’ll have some parents who legitimately just want information, they just want a calendar and sign the document and move on. And that says nothing about you andBrent Squires: 30:09

be an expert at providing that. Be, don’t fail in that area. Because if you fail in that area, you’ll lose parents.Brian Lawson: 30:17

Yeah, I mean, just one of the best ways is to have some printed information to give to them. Yeah. You know, I think I said last episode that I had a printed handbook to give to parents when they came for the first time. And it wasn’t because I thought it was necessary. It was because I wanted to make parents feel warm and fuzzy inside. Like, I wanted them to feel that we cared, and that we took what we did seriously. And that stability. Yeah, and that was really the whole intent was to help them see that. And so. So if you guys have said, I think sharing them, sharing with them, where you’re coming from, where your heart is, what your passion is, and that you’re there as an advocate, advocate for them to help them and however you can. Oh, and by the way, here’s some important information that you might need. I mean, I think it can be as simple as that. I don’t think we need to overcomplicate it. And you don’t need to feel like you’re there to tell them how to parent, because that’s not not that’s not the point. You’re just you’re just advocating there for them to help them. So if you can go in there with that sort of attitude of I’m just here to advocate for you, however I can, I think that that might take a little bit of the pressure off of feeling like I have to be something that I’m not. Which, which I just I remember, I think I remember every parent meeting. SoBrent Squires: 31:35

yeah, a little more brutal. In the early years. If you start out quoting experts, then slowly gradually start dropping the credit to who the expert was. And then people will just say, like, you know, well, Brian always says, you just take all the credit for like, sure, expert. Legal, butBrian Lawson: 31:58

I don’t know, either.Kirsten Knox: 32:00

Remember that parents are overwhelmed. They are they’re trying to hold. I mean, they’re trying to wrap their hands around everything. And that’s exhausting. And providing a space where they feel heard, they feel like you’re on their team, listen to I think, largely most of us, but particularly parents felt under heard. So being able to create space where they can share that and you’re just to show empathy and understand I get it, it’s hard, right? I don’t have to have been a parent, I don’t have to be a parent to really be able to say, This is hard. I know you love your kid and you want what’s best for them. And making those decisions is hard. And there’s not always a clear answer, and just really be able to create that space for them. And understanding I think will help parents take a deep breath, and realize that we’re in this together and being able to connect and have you which you will be an asset to their life. And you may not always do that. And sometimes maybe they there will be times there’s conflict or hard situations, of course, but by and large, I think they’re looking for teammates, and if you can present that, then that will be very beneficial.Brent Squires: 33:05

Yeah, I always push back to Deuteronomy six, where the burden is clearly on the parents to be the chief and primary disciple Maker of the student, then I go to a fusions and I talk about how the church is really to be equipped. And you know, so you know, I think, you know, you don’t want to you don’t want to shame parents and say, like, well, you should be doing this, like you’re the primary disciple maker like, but but some parents do need to be told like, this is your job, like you cannot stand before the Lord one day, and try to explain to him why you did not prioritize the discipling of your kids. So you did do need to sound the alarm a little bit. But then in terms of taking the pressure off of yourself, your role, our role is to be the equipment. And so some of it’s very practical, like making sure that you have proper information available that you have thought through the calendar, and you have, you know, permission slips and all that type of stuff. And then some of it is a balance of not overwhelming the parents with 30 emails in one week about different things. But you know, one or two clear concise communication methods is probably about enough. And then just telling them how much you care about their kid, they will love you. If you tell them that you care about their kid, you know, like they they will become your best friend and, you know, maybe even volunteer for your ministry. Because what what parent in their right mind is not going to be the biggest cheerleader of somebody that is working hard to care for their kid and point their kid towards Jesus. So if you do those things, I think it will take some time but you’ll grow into it.Brian Lawson: 34:46

Yeah, one of the things I learned for my wife when she was from teaching was that she makes obviously sometimes had to make phone calls to parents that aren’t pleasant. They you know, they have class something called class dojo now, so it makes it easier but there was a time That didn’t exist. But she also made phone calls that were just positive. They were just nothing other than the rave on on the student to their parents. So I think also, if you can extend beyond your meeting and think how can I also rave about their kids to them at other times would also help. And let’s just be real honest, if you get some parents to show up to your meeting, you’ve already won. Sometimes that’s the hardest part is just getting parents to show up. I’m not against bribing parents to show up, I will give away something to get them to come. I don’t really care. But that’s just that’s the way I operated.Unknown: 35:36

So if they’re a difficult parent, just recommend another church in your town. brag about how great that church is, and how awesome their youth ministry is. And then they’ll leave you and they’ll go to that other church, and then you won’t ever have to worry about them.Brian Lawson: 35:50

And that’s a pro tip. Don’t tell your senior pastor. That’s just a pro tip for you.Unknown: 35:54

Yeah, just make sure they’re not that that parent isn’t one of the biggest tither’s in the church.Kirsten Knox: 35:59

servation to know ahead of time. Yep. All right. So we our next question we saw posted recently in a group and thought it would be good to tackle here is primarily focused in children’s ministry. The question is, should you require parents to volunteer? And if so, how do you present that to the families the first time?Brian Lawson: 36:24

My first response is no. I mean, I don’t mean that to be. That sounds a little callous. But I think it’s hard for me to think that I could require a parent to volunteer, but maybe, maybe. I mean, I guess sports teams do that, right. I mean, some sports teams require parents to volunteer. So I think my gut is just just that that’s probably not the best idea. Because you’re also not not only are you going to potentially upset some parents, but you’re also probably not going to have the best volunteers. I would imagine if they’re, they’re out of obligation.Brent Squires: 37:02

Trust me, you don’t want that. You do not want that. Yeah, I would, I would think the word require is probably too strong of a word. Again, I think, I think your church and your ministries have to build a culture where the staff is not seen, like the children’s ministry can’t be seen as like, well, we pay our tides. And so your job is to watch our kids, you know, because then it’s like pay to play type mentality. And that’s, that’s not what we want in the church require is, you know, to Brian’s point, then you get people that don’t want to be there aren’t loving kids and giving their best, or might not even be Christians. So you don’t want to do that. There’s some there’s a space somewhere in the middle, where you want to build a culture where people your ministry is exciting enough. And people see the vision that you’re not just providing daycare on Sundays, you are discipling kids, and you’re not the primary disciple maker, that’s the parents role. But you’re in a quipper. And you’re there to do function in that role on a Sunday, or whatever your context is. And if you can build a culture where people see that you’re really pouring in the children. And, and it takes a lot of people to do you know, I mean, the ratios have to be, you know, such that you’ve got enough adults to cover kids, for a variety of ages. And if you’re, if you’ve done that, then you know, you, you probably will more than likely have those with a heart towards children gravitate towards your ministry, there may come times, and our church has had to shut down different rooms because of a ratio situation. And people show up with their kids. And they can’t check their kid into that room. And it’s like, well, we’re only 106 or one eight, or like, with small kids, like babies that might be I think, one to two or I don’t know what it is that that’s out of my paygrade. But then it’s just then it is practicality. It’s like, I’m sorry, we just can’t take any more kids because our standards are super high. And some parents have walked away really upset and even angry, but appreciative that the ministry has those standards, because nothing will be worse than walking into a two year old room. And there’s 83 two year olds, and like me and Brian sitting there with all the kids, you know, like, parents would be horrified at that. And so they kind of respect the fact that you’ve got high standards for your ratios and all that type of stuff. So, but require Probably not.Brian Lawson: 39:30

Yeah, I think about there’s the heart of this question really is they just don’t have enough people. I mean, that’s, that’s really, I think the heart of this question. Which, which I think I just advise, I think you need to find a new strategy. I don’t think this requires strategy is going to land you where you want to go. If that means you shut down some room sometimes that may be necessary and is to Brent’s point, I think that actually might speak some level of of credibility to You that You take this serious and that you’re trying to protect to make sure you stay safe. And and I think that this is where you need to get real personal in your recruitment. I mean, you really need to be watching people from a distance and having conversations and asking around, and then individually asking people who volunteer and to consider it. And I’ll see why it matters. We call it shoulder tapping.Brent Squires: 40:24

So you actually, we actually have a profile for who we consider to be like the ideal candidate to volunteer. And, and then as your ma forces you to come outside of your ministry bubble and rub shoulders with the rest of the church. Even if the only reason is you’re doing that is because you’re trying to find people that fit that profile. And then you’re, then you’re trying to build some sort of connection. And saying, like, hey, like, you fit this, even, we even said it like that. Sometimes you fit this profile. you’re the type of person that we’re looking for in ex ministry, would you consider sitting down with me and having coffee and learning about how you can get involved and doing a lot more of that, then you attract the right people, if you’re in a church where you’re having to shut down rooms, because you don’t have enough volunteers, then that means that you are probably growing like you’re you probably have a good number of church folks coming. So there is a most likely a big enough pool of people to pull from, you just maybe have to dig a little bit deeper into finding who those people are.Kirsten Knox: 41:30

Mm hmm. Yeah, I think when you require it has the tone of desperate. And I don’t, I’m not usually attracted to help and volunteer and things that feel desperate, because I’m going to ask, Well, why isn’t anyone else wanting to do this? Right? If they don’t have one, there may be a reason why. And people want to be a part of I want to be a part of things that are successful. But I think another aspect of that is, as you’re recruiting, being able to tell stories of wins, and be an excellent storyteller.Brent Squires: 42:01

Yeah, that’s awesome.Kirsten Knox: 42:03

You want those short stories and that stories that someone else could then repeat. So when they’re sitting in their circles, they can say, Hey, did you hear this cool story about this kid or this volunteer and being able to share that so that when people see things are exciting and successful, they’re attracted, I’m a, I’m attracted to things that are successful, I want to be a part of that. Because I don’t want to miss out. So something, something good is going on there. And I can start that with just a few volunteers start where you are, and start moving in that direction. And see that oftentimes is a long game, not a short game of getting where you want. But I coached children’s minister this week, actually, he’s in her first six weeks there. And the culture that she walked into, was that parents had volunteer X amount of times a quarter. And she said, This just doesn’t work. For me, this is how I’ve done it. And I’m like, correct, right? This doesn’t work. And we work through some strategies of how to how to shift that culture and work through that. But she inherited that and she’s like, yeah, this, I can’t do this. And I’m like, I think that’s the good thing. All right, let’s move in a different space so that you can have different volunteers and that people want to be a part of what you’re doing.Brent Squires: 43:18

Yeah, practically, practically speaking, parents do sometimes come to church to get a break. You know, so in other words, they’ve been some, like, when my kids were younger, my wife was a school teacher. And then we had our own kids. So that really the last place she wanted to volunteer was children’s ministry, because then 24 seven, she was with kids. So many parents are like, you know, I kind of need a break. I’m coming to church to be edified, and to be around big people and stuff like that. So I think to a certain percentage of your children’s ministry should be the parents of your kids. I mean, they obviously have a vested interest. But don’t don’t forget to look at other great sources of volunteers. People who are empty nesters, like they’re super smart now they’ve they’ve learned they made all the mistakes on their own kids have a really wise and and probably enjoy the fact that they could be around kids for an hour or two on Sunday and then leave them and go go back home to their own house. It’s like grandparents. So don’t neglect maybe looking at some of those. You know, and then there’s then there’s the young group of college kids who maybe have more energy to be around like those, you know, rambunctious third grade boys or you know, things like that. So, sometimes people only go to that one well of parents, but there are other places where you can find sources of good volunteers.Brian Lawson: 44:47

Yeah, I wonder if they shouldn’t, you know, if I was in their position, I would get my whiteboard. I had a whiteboard in office, and I would just write down every name I could think of, who is even a potential To ask, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to be the right fit. It doesn’t mean I may find out later, they were a horrible idea. But I would just put every name on the board that I possibly could. And I would look at that list every single day. And I would find every opportunity I could to interact with that person for a couple of weeks, probably. So I could learn more about them and then and approach them. So. So our last question for this episode is all about budgets. So we’re, we’re, I guess, gosh, we’re in October now, I kept keeping, it’s still September. So lots of churches either have already finished their budget, or they’re just starting a budget, depending on how your your year runs. So what’s what suggestions do you have to someone who’s trying to put together their budget request for 2021? And this might feel even more strange, because 2020 was so weird. And so the numbers are probably significantly off. So I’m just curious, what would you guys would say, are some suggestions or pro tips that you’d have for somebody in youth or children’s ministry, when they’re thinking about their budget for 2021?Brent Squires: 46:06

Yeah, that that’s gonna be a tough one, just because like, if somebody can tell me what 2021 is gonna look like, then I can tell you how to budget. Sure. But in react, the reality is, we never know what the next year is going to hold. We typically base our budgets off the previous year previous previous year’s growth, success or failure of an event, you know, how things how we evaluated it. So let’s just look for a minute, and then I’ll pass the baton into 2021, as if it’s, it’s just a COVID COVID year, not just a normal ministry year, but there’s going to be disruptive disruptions and limitations depending on where you’re at. So I would go into it kind of leaving a good portion of my budget with some flexibility. You might not have summer camps next summer, we don’t know that that winter retreat, may get put on hold or might not happen. So I think one side of you has your foot on the gas, where it’s like, we’re gonna treat 2021 as if it’s a normal year. But then another side of you has to have like your foot ready on the brake, because you’re going to make course corrections. It’s probably not the year to start too many ambitious programs, or, you know, to start some, a lot of things that are new, I’m not suggesting don’t start anything new. Because there are some things that are going to be COVID specific, that will be new, like we’re running on on site. High school kids can come to our facility and do their online schoolwork here at our facility. So that’s new, I wouldn’t have suggested that, you know, in a non COVID gear like, Hey, if you’re at home school, and if you’re a homeschool, and you want to come here to study do that. We’ll put staff in the room with you to to monitor TV. So. So that’s something new that we’re doing. But pretty much everything else, we’re leaving very open handed, and not starting very many new things. That’s probably those I know, that’s really big. But that’s probably maybe two big recommendations that I would make.Kirsten Knox: 48:10

I think those are great. And I would also add that talking to your supervisor or your pastor depend on who that is, and really understand what is kind of the tone that they’re looking at for budget for 2021. So that you can align under that would be helpful. They may be asking people, everyone to cut a little bit or they may be saying Nope, we’re staying the same, but just kind of understand what being a team player What does that look like? That’s good feel for what that is? And I think Yeah, having the bigger buckets that you have here are thoughts of how we’re going to spend those little ones, but possibly the bigger buckets helps you to be able to pivot when you have to as things change. And there’s a great tool, a book called youth ministry tool. And it’s like a worksheet work. She used to have a desk that’s there’s the old computer desk. When I first used it, that’s how we did this. But I think now that Brian, I think you go online, and they have a giant app for it now from download, and it has great I mean it just step by step kind of lead you through it and you can customize and put your own stuff in. It’s one thing I’ve used for years of being able to do, and then depending on how the culture of your church, I think also with your budget of putting some of your purposes in there or your strategy, as a part of your budget that you submit it the Why is particularly important, I think, and I think it’s always important. It’s something we talk about a lot, but particularly in this season, when the church may be having to make decisions about where they spend their money and see if they understand the value and the why behind it. And you can do that in short, little ways. It doesn’t have to be something big. I think that also if I’m just glancing if I’m on the finance team, or whoever’s making those decisions and looking at your budget. I can see kind of your purpose and your y as long as with the numbers and a real brief way, I think that adds value. And then when I would imagine for many churches, hard decisions are being made during budget time.Brian Lawson: 50:15

It’s good. You know, I think I think the only thing I would add, I think those that was all great is, if you’re new to your church, or you’ve never done this before, I would ask the question and find out from your your leadership or your finance committee, whoever it is, are they going to look at every category? And how each category landed as an under over or on budget? Or are they just caring about the overall number? And I think that’s a bit that’s significant, because if they only care about the overall number, it gives you some flexibility, particularly going in 2021, with so much unknown. So that I think that would be good information for you to know the churches I served at always just cared about the bottom number, did you stay under the bottom number, and that was all they really cared about. And so I think just just have that conversation. So you know, what the expectation is, particularly next year, and hopefully, they’ll even if they go by each individual line, that they’ll have a little more grace than maybe they’ve had in previous years because of everything going so fluid. So, Brent, thanks for being on and Houston as always so awesome to have have us all here together. So friends, that’s all we have for today. Don’t forget to check out the links in the description for more information about anything we shared in this episode. We’d also love for you to join our Facebook group making sense of ministry group. You can submit your questions on there, but remember, we are doing a giveaway. So if you if you want to be eligible for the the giveaway, send your questions to podcast at yminstitute.com. A d until next time, friends, I h pe we helped you make sense of t is thing we call ministry.Ashley: 51:54

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