In this episode, Brian and Kirsten share 5 things you should do in 2021. These 5 things will engage the people in your ministry, set you up for success, and will inspire you to stay in ministry – even when it is difficult.
Professional Youth Ministry Certification
Professional Youth Ministry Coaching
Professional Children’s Ministry Coaching
YMI Job Board
Join Our Facebook Group
Subscribe To Content Filled Emails
Find the Youth Ministry Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Linkedin.
Find Brian on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Linkedin.
Brian Lawson: 0:14
Welcome to Episode One of our second season of the making sense of ministry podcast. This is the podcast designed to help you lead well and your ministry transform lives and impact generations. I’m Brian Lawson and I’m here with my co host, Kirsten Knox. Kirsten, how are you doing today?
Kirsten Knox: 0:29
I am doing well. I’m doing better I should say I have. Since we have started to set this up. I’ve had some coffee had a little bit of a frazzling. Morning. So I’m feeling a little calmer. So as you take a big drink of that coffee, right?
Brian Lawson: 0:46
The goodness of coffee? Yes, yes. And although 2021 has started a little rocky, we are in 2021. And we are out of 2020. So that is good. And we’re in the second season as podcasts. So what are you looking forward to this season? Here’s some What do you think we’ll we’ll do that people will love.
Kirsten Knox: 1:03
Oh, you know what I’m looking forward to just having conversations along the way as we readjust to ministry and getting back hopefully, right. This is the big hope that at some point in 2021. Ministry feels full in person ish, right like that, we get back to that. So just kind of navigating and doing that together and figuring it out. Because there’s a lot to figure out. So I just think, talking about it and walking through that. I’m excited in this season.
Brian Lawson: 1:33
Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m so ready for things that to feel normal. Although we all know that it’s gonna be different. And there will be adjustments, but to at least feel normal will be fantastic when that day comes. So just out of curiosity, Kirsten, I was thinking about this. I’m wondering if you could bring back any one of your events this year with all the bells and whistles with no COVID concerns? There’s no limitations? Like, what would be the one event that you’d want to make sure you brought back?
Kirsten Knox: 2:04
Oh, hands down, I would say trapped, this is an event. It’s an all nighter me? Well, I say this, I do not like lock ins are really all nighters. But years ago, had a friend developed this event called trapped and it’s a 12 hour, we do it from 8pm to 8am 12 hour competition, where you start with two teams, and you end with one survivor at the very end of the night or early in the morning. And then you have some big grand prize that they get. But it is so much fun. I’ve been doing it for the last 13 years, and this year would have been 14, which we did not get to do it.
Brian Lawson: 2:43
So hold on. So you have one survivor. So how do you get down to that survivor? So like if someone wanted to do trapped? Like what’s the basics of how they get down to one survivor,
Kirsten Knox: 2:53
okay, so you divide up into two teams, we usually we did ours around Thanksgiving or not Thanksgiving Halloween. So we did a black team and an orange team. And every hour on the hour is an immunity challenge. So they do some kind of team building activity, the team that wins wins immunity for the hour, the team that loses then goes to the elimination round, where people from their team are eliminated. And the eliminations were all by chance. And your immunity challenges were team building and like working together because it never wanted anyone. Kids have all different kinds of skill levels, right. So you’re like, I don’t want anyone to get eliminated because of that. And then we’d have high schoolers that are eliminators. And they dress up it has a little bit of a Halloween feel to it. But so then you get immunity. So every hour, right, you have this immunity challenge. But if you get eliminated, you still participate in your immunity challenges with your team because you still want your team to win, even if you’re out. But if they go to the elimination round, you just don’t go like you stay back. I like that. Because I was concerned when you’re talking about people getting out like what do they do the rest night? But if they’re still trying to help their team save Yeah, yeah. So it still engages them. And then you have you know, basketball things going on that you have an irregular all nighter, right? Because when the other teams that the elimination round, there’s a team that’s back, so you have to have some kind of activities, we had a gym so we would do kickball, and different stuff. But then the teams get smaller and smaller. So at one point early in the morning, you combine to one team and that’s when you don’t participate anymore with your team when they become one. So at that point, you’re probably down to 10 or 12 people and then they compete against each other and then a number of them will get immunity like the person that wins the activity gets immunity sometimes to people get immunity depending on the activity. And then I think this is key, we have a readmittance game. So several times throughout the night everyone who’s been eliminated gets to play this activity, and then you can reenter the game. So if any eliminate live, right and so you come down to a couple and then you have a grand prize survivor.
Brian Lawson: 5:08
So okay, so the name trap freaks me out. So like I don’t like the idea of being trapped. But but it sounds pretty neat. It sounds like it’d be good event for for group to do whenever they can, again, just change the name that’s all, you know, like, sound like survivor in some ways.
Kirsten Knox: 5:23
There is a twist to that. Yes. And if you’re doing it in a different time of year you could change it to whatever name you want it but yeah, we loved it. Our kids loved it. That was one of the first things they said this year was can we be? Are we gonna be able to trapped? I got that question at Christmas. Yeah. I wonder what all of our listeners like what all their kids and students are asking for you know, like, what’s that? thing? They’re all I can we do that this year, please. I’ve gotten trapped and summer camp. Hmm. Yeah, like going away for the summer doing some kind of summer trip has been a two so far. Oh,
Brian Lawson: 6:01
yeah. I think if I, if I was I was torn when I was thinking about this either summer camp, because we really have a great camp down here in Florida, where we’re at Warren Willis UM camp is fantastic. So shout out to them. They do a great job. Makes it easy on us, youth, youth and children’s ministers because we don’t really have to do anything. Which is great. But so yeah, that one is great. And I love that. But I also would really want our beach retreat back. Being a Florida we go. And we’d go in early November. And so it was kind of chilly kind of not. Did you get in the water? A little bit? A little bit, but we mostly went to the pool. So it’s like a we called it a beach retreat. But it really wasn’t a beach or pool retreat. we would we would go out and do stuff on the beach games and stuff and like nighttime activities out there. But But yeah, that was that I loved it. And I think we liked it too, because the beach felt different in November than it doesn’tget that. But yeah, so I’m sure all of our listeners probably have things they just saw won’t come back and their and their students too. Yes. And here’s what I also want to not have to say put your mask on.
Kirsten Knox: 7:19
Put your mask on, put your mask on, no no over your nose to write like up like, I’m ready not to say that or to remind some of our students others did really great and you know, a couple we need to continue to remind so I’m ready for that phrase to be out of my vocabulary.
Brian Lawson: 7:36
So, okay, this is a little side tangent. I don’t know about you, but I watch TV and I see people without their mask on. I was like, wait, what are you doing? Put your mask on? And I forget Oh, yeah, that was 10 years ago. We didn’t need mask 10 years ago. So did crazy. Weird things. Yes. That there’s I don’t know if enormously around mask yet. But like it’s starting. Yeah. Right. Like I still forget mine. Our times are getting ready to walk in some places like Oh, yeah. But then again, when I don’t see it, like on TV, I’m like, What is it? So it’s an odd? I don’t know. odd thing. Oh, so if you are still listening to us, you know, Praise Jesus for you.
Brian Lawson: 8:17
But so in this episode, Kirsten, I think you and I were talking we, we felt like maybe it was good to share, like maybe the top five things that people should consider doing this year and 2021. Yeah. Like, and so as we were talking, we we sort of find these things would be incredibly important to our listeners this year into their ministries. And so I’ll start with the first one, and then and then we’ll go from there. So the first one we thought was so incredibly important for for you to do this year is to communicate 10 times more than you think you need to Yes. And you said when we were talking about this, that you felt like you would annoy people.
Kirsten Knox: 9:02
Yeah, I in my head. I’m like, Yes, I mean, repetition is good, repeat it, repeat it. And then there’s always this fear of mine that I’m being annoying. And what I have discovered is it’s in that spot that I’ve probably hit the right amount. So be annoying with your communications of repeating, we’ve just had so much change, right? Like your events or change times are impersonal, virtually, like there’s just been so much. And parents also are navigating so much other change in different arenas that they’re in that I’m like, they need to see it more often than what they used to need to see it. And I think that was a lot too. So yeah,
Brian Lawson: 9:40
I mean, trying to keep up with my own children’s schedules with school being virtual for them. I’ve got one child and one type of virtual and another and another type of virtual and the schedules change all the time. And then my I’ve got my schedule my wife schedule, so yeah, it’s just so incredibly difficult to keep track of everything anyways, under normal circumstances, but especially now, and like you said, with all the change that has happened in our ministries, you know, going some in person than out of person than back in person and digital and who knows anymore at this point in time. So, and I think we even have trouble keeping track. grown ministry sometimes like Wait, are we digital this? Yeah. So. So yes, I think communicating way more than you think you need to is absolutely necessary. I mean, post the same social post three times before your meeting, send out the text messages twice or the you know, send out emails multiple times. But use all the avenues and use them multiple times right now, because I think that’s really important. If you want people to show up, let’s just be honest.
Kirsten Knox: 10:43
You don’t have to change the content. Right. So you don’t have to develop that once. Whatever that looks like. just repeating Lee’s sending out there I think is important and needed. Yeah, absolutely. Kirsten, what’s the second one? Number two is identify new student leaders. As we were thinking about this, Brian, and I were thinking about this, we’ve had some changes, you’re starting a new year, even the fall will look differently. So probably the way you recruited student leaders or identified student leaders looks different. But just to be thinking intentionally about who are those and spending some time identifying those would be helpful.
Brian Lawson: 11:23
Yeah, because, you know, we really think and when we say student leaders, it doesn’t need to be a formal student leadership team. I mean, I even think you can do this in children’s ministry. And maybe we don’t give enough credit to our older fourth or fifth grade children in our in the ministries. But really, you’re just asking them to give inputs to provide their gifts to take ownership. And I think a fourth or fifth grader can even take a little bit of ownership of things in the children’s ministry. You know, I think about my wife teaching at school, I mean, there her students have jobs. And part of that is because they take ownership of the classroom, I take ownership of the family there. And so yeah, I mean, I think seeking to identify the new ones, maybe there’s something you always need to do anyways, because students leave children leave, they graduate to the next ministry, or they graduate out of the youth ministry all together, or they move around. But yeah, this year with all the turnover, I think seeking out the new ones, and keeping an eye out for the ones who’s who. Gosh, I always remember this was this is an old thing, but who cleans up, cleans up the room. Yep. You know, if somebody sticks around and cleans up the room, or picks up the Bibles or the chairs, or I see somebody intentionally saying hi to somebody who’s new man, those are the people that I would really gravitate towards trying to try to get them to take some ownership because they obviously already loved the place. And the people. So and you know, what I’ve noticed in this season recently is some students feel underutilized, because things that they are used to being involved in have, are not happening the same way or maybe not happening at all. And so they have this capacity, that maybe a different capacity to invest into do differently than what it was a year ago.
Kirsten Knox: 13:20
And I’ve noticed that there are some students, at least in our youth ministry that have shown that so I’ve tried to give some space where they can have a job or to do something and take ownership of an area. And it’s different, there’s been a shift for a couple of our students that I didn’t anticipate, but that I have seen and I felt like that was interesting. To take note of and then to think about, I mean, the question I asked is, how do I, how do I continue to nurture that? And take advantage of this new opportunity for some of our students? Yeah, yeah.
Brian Lawson: 13:57
The third one, on our list of things we think you really need to do in 2021, is find your parent advisors. Now I say this as somebody who never had an official Parent Advisory Committee. To be honest, I’m not a committee person. I don’t like committees. But teams, you like teams, I like teams, I want them to feel like they’re part of a team. But I don’t know that I ever officially have them. But I did have parents on my, on my volunteer teams, so they were consistently putting having input. But also I think, if you find parents who you can just call or text, talk through an idea with see how they respond to something you’re thinking about. Or you can ask them, you know, how are we serving you, you know, what we’re doing helping you actually? Or is it just making your life more difficult or complicated? So having some parents that I think you can bounce ideas off of whether it be formal or informal, I think will be very significant 2021 as we seek to move forward and rebuild many things.
Kirsten Knox: 15:04
Yes, and I when you’re thinking about that, identify and parents that have kind of navigated this differently, to get different perspectives, not just the one that more aligns with how You are thinking about navigating this. So parents that have been more cautious that maybe their students have only done virtual things or parents who can’t wait and are ready for pickup students to be their students to be in person and are asking for that, like, identify the different parents than where they may be. And being intentional about asking people in different thought processes, I think will be helpful. I did. I mean, I have to think through that, because I tend to ask people who write who think like I do. So I’m like, okay, getting that input will be helpful, because I’m like, they’re gonna, if I’m not asking for their input, they’re giving their input. And I want that to come to me versus in the parking lot or different places. So creating an avenue for that, I think is particularly important. Ouch. Right? I mean, they’re giving input and they have opinions whether or not you want to hear them, you know, whether or not you’re trying to hear them.
Brian Lawson: 16:11
Yeah, I think reaching out to them. And getting advice is fantastic. Because it is so easy to sit in your office, and just map everything out and be done, and move on. And think, yeah, everybody thinks like me, and this is great. But then then you try to actually do it, and it doesn’t turn out well. And oftentimes, it’s because you didn’t bring other people along in the way absolutely also didn’t communicate. And you also don’t have students or children that take ownership, but that’s besides them.
Kirsten Knox: 16:40
Yes, I think that is so true, to be able to get their input and to listen to them. And you’re I think sometimes the fear of doing that is that people aren’t going to agree, right? They’re gonna have different philosophies. So if I ask them, am I responsible for doing what they want? And I think people want to be heard, and recognize that in a group of people, people are navigating this differently. And I think most people understand that. But the value is then being heard. But I don’t think that Oh, wait, right. I’m gonna take what everyone thinks. And I’m work through that process. So listening to different perspectives, there’s value in them being heard, and then you’ll gain some great nuggets of then how to navigate it, and understand how they’re feeling.
Brian Lawson: 17:23
Yeah, and I don’t think we’re saying that just because one parent disagrees that you have to bow down to that. That’s, that’s not what we’re saying. But but we are absolutely saying, There’s wisdom and insight and listening to many different people involved. And you’re also, like you said, allowing them to be heard. And when you feel heard, sometimes you’re willing to go along with something, even if it’s not what you would have chosen, but because somebody took the time to let to listen to you. You’re more. Okay.
Kirsten Knox: 17:53
Yes, I think that’s absolutely true. And there’s power and collective thought. So in this season, I just think we need to lean into that space as much as we can. Yep. Number four, seek identity and belonging outside your work.
Brian Lawson: 18:11
Ooh, Ouch, that one.
Kirsten Knox: 18:13
That one’s hard.
Brian Lawson: 18:15
Kirsten Knox: 18:18
We were thinking through that. When you’re thinking about how important it is, particularly, again, we say this all the time, particularly in this season of I think what it hasn’t exposed is the unhealthy ways we have gained our identity through ministry. Right, some of those things have been taken. We’ve watched our engagement levels change, or we’ve, we’ve watched those kind of things and didn’t maybe always realize how much our identity we get out of feeling successful in youth ministry. And what that looks like right now is different. So I think in that exposing that it also gives us an opportunity to develop that identity and belonging outside of our work, and being able to navigate that. Yeah, I remember, I don’t know if I’ve said this in previous episodes. But I am a dad. So I repeat stories. But
Brian Lawson: 19:10
I remember there was a season where I had felt like I was spinning my wheels in lots of ways. And what I mean by that is I was just doing stuff over and over and over again. But never feeling like I was actually seeing results. I mean, yes, I was seeing people and they were growing in faith. But I didn’t see anything tangible from my work. And so that really bothered me. And so I picked up the habit of painting partly because I had done it when I was kid, and I always loved it. I just had put it away for years. But part of the reason why I picked that up was so that there was something physical and tangible when I was done. Like I finished painting and there was something there, good or bad, doesn’t matter. There was a physical object there. Also, mowing the yard also was a little bit of that for me that I felt like I accomplished something that there was a sense of accomplishment there. And so for some of us, I think that means finding something else you can do that you can physically see something you’ve accomplished and remind you that that your work of the church is just part of what you do. It’s not all of what you do. It’s not all of who you are by any means. But we fall into that trap so easily.
Kirsten Knox: 20:21
Yeah, we absolutely do. I had a professor in college who said that all the time to us, and I didn’t really recognize it. Right. And until I got in ministry and realize Yes, that finding our identity outside of our ministry can be a real struggle, I had a friend say to me a number of years ago about finding a place outside of the church to serve. And it was a habit of hers that she did a ministry, it was a place where she found inspiration, and also felt like, she could be a good follower. Volunteer, then you learn when you’re a good follower, you can learn how to be a better leader. But when she first said that, to me, there’s a part of me was like, I just thought, how do you have the energy to do that, like, I and I could, you know, and I could give all the excuses about how much I do for my job and how ministry is all over the place. And it’s inconsistent, right? Maybe that had to do sometimes with me not always setting really good boundaries in those areas of my life also. But when I followed through on doing that, there was something life giving about that. So finding, I would encourage our listeners to find an organization in your community that you align with, that you believe in what they do. So that you have an outlet where you can just go and serve, you don’t have to be responsible for anything, you don’t have to show up early and set up or do any of that kind of stuff, unless that’s your job, I guess, at the volunteer space, but just being able to go into serve and build relationships with people that there’s no responsibility or expectation, because you’re the youth minister, or you’re the children’s minister, and you just get to be you and be able to serve. That was one of the things that I have discovered in ministry, I won’t say that I’ve always had the discipline of doing it, even though I have experienced the goodness of it, which is the interesting part, right. But in 2021, here’s what I’ve also noticed about my life is I think there’s, when you start a new year, there’s just this natural energy, right, like, energy and restart. And in this year, I haven’t felt that. And I’m not sure I always identify that that was a part of starting a new year until it didn’t happen. And I think there are many reasons for that part of pandemic part of just all that’s going on in our world. So I recognize the need to be intentional about being a part of engaging in things that inspire me. Yeah. And I think that can be through volunteer work, that could be through reading, looking for spaces. So in my time, this week, my reflection time I was thinking, What inspires me, and how can I engage in that? Because I need that I need that. My soul needs that this year. Yeah.
Brian Lawson: 23:08
You know, also, for me, I found this is where the network of other people who do the children’s or youth ministry, because we have a network of youth youth ministers here that I was that I belong to for years now. And help lead but also just participated in at different seasons. And going there with no, like you said, no responsibility, you know, no expectation. And just being there was so important. And sometimes I would have a lot to say, sometimes I wouldn’t, sometimes we would talk ministry, and sometimes we wouldn’t. But just being there with people who were like minded, and I could be real with made a significant difference in making me feel like I belonged. And just having a positive impact on how I saw myself and therefore how I saw others. Because a lot of times I think how we how we see ourselves, reflects on how we treat and see others. So, and this year, like you said, kearson, we’ve come out of a crazy 2020. We’re in 2021, which is probably going to have its own craziness like every year does but we’re in this year, and so seeking identity and belonging outside your work will be absolutely significant. And another thing which will bring us to the fifth point that we really think you need to hear for and do for 21 is that Kiersten myself and Steve and Annette and those of us at the youth ministry ends to we actually really think that 2021 and 2022 there’s going to be a lot of staffing changes at churches. I mean, actually really just in general across all markets like all jobs and all markets but especially at churches because it’s been such a traumatic event. And people have questioned everything. I mean, they’re many people question they’re calling they’re questioning whether or not they still can do the work that they’ve been doing. And so there’s just a lot of reasons why and usually not financially related. I mean, these are just personal related issues, but we really think that a lot People are going to be changing their roles and their positions. And so for you, whether you’re in youth or children or family ministry, number four, the seek identity and belonging outside your work, can go a long way in helping you, and helping you stay grounded in the season where you might be questioning things, which then takes me to number five, which I think is also a way for you to stay, stay in ministry, really, let’s be honest, like, if you are questioning your calling, or you’re uncertain, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Our fifth tip for 2021 that we really think you need to do is to look for professional development, seek opportunities for professional development, whatever that might look like, whether that is a conference that you go to or digital conference, maybe it’s books, you pick up some new books and say, Hey, I’m gonna make a goal to read so many books, maybe it’s through courses, or you maybe you go to seminary, or you or you go finished undergrad degree. Obviously, here’s kearson. I believe in youth ministry Institute, we have things that we do as well, that can be helpful anything from coaching to cohorts. But here’s the Why do you think professional development could help somebody stay in their position? If they’re uncertain right now?
Kirsten Knox: 26:33
I think it grounds us in why we got into this in the beginning, right? Like, my circumstances oftentimes can get in the way of me remembering why I started this or why I began this and my passion. So I feel like that professional development can reignite passion for us at times, the phrase that I’ve heard oftentimes from youth ministers, and I’ve caught myself saying is, this isn’t what I signed up for. Right? Like the way I’m doing ministry now, and I do it part time at my church. It’s just not what I signed up for. Right. And, and in that we can get caught in that space, and the all that comes with that. So I think professional development, there’s a grounding. Again, I think there’s inspiring that happens, we get inspired when we do that. And to find a way that works for you. I mean, whether that’s podcasts, webinars, there’s a lot more virtual opportunities, coaching, there’s different ways to look at that. To do that. I think it’s again, looking at things, when I grow my leadership, that’s life giving to me, there are areas I want to grow in, right, there are areas I want to develop. And so being able to identify those and take some time to do that, as a leader, where do I want to, to increase my ability or be a better leader, and then go find those spaces, also just helps with my confidence in ministry. And I think just in developing, so I think life giving, again, that can be another space, that’s life giving to us.
Brian Lawson: 28:04
Yeah, and, you know, when we say professional development, I mean, we were kind of mean in a lot of areas, because your ministry, and your service there is attached to a lot of the health of you as an individual. So this could be physical, emotional, this could be spiritual. So maybe you need just need a sabbatical or something. If your church offers that, or you need to seek out a spiritual advisor. Or if you’re like, I just don’t even know where to grow, that I’ve just been in this so long. And I’m kind of numb and I don’t know what I really need. This is a place where maybe a coach comes in. So a coach comes in and asks you questions and sees where you’re at. We have an assessment that we do on individuals core to call it a core competency. its core competency assessment, and that, you know, that’s a beneficial tool for maybe somebody who’s feeling stuck, and they’re not sure how they need to grow and develop. So whatever it might be, find an opportunity to develop professionally, because it will remind you of your calling, it will help you stay even in the midst of uncertainty and when you’re feeling uncertain, and instead you’re going to focus on development, it’s almost like you’re choosing not to focus on the uncertainty, instead focusing on what you can control. And that is your own your own development. So those are the five just to recap, communicate 10 times more than you think you need to. Number two, identify new student leaders, I even think these could be fourth or fifth graders, I think they can do fantastic. Number three, find your parent advisors, whether formal or informal, doesn’t matter for seek identity and belonging outside your work. And lastly, number five, look for professional development. And before we wrap up, I’d like love I know, we’ve got great interviews coming up this season. We’re going to interview some people who are doing fantastic administer, you have some interesting insights. And we’ll be back to your questions as well. We will we will answer your questions at the end of episodes after the interviews. So make sure you submit your questions to our Facebook group or firstname.lastname@example.org you c n email them to that email addre s. Yes, well
Kirsten Knox: 30:14
That’s all we have for today. We would love for you to join us on our Facebook group, Making Sense of Ministry group. And if you’re looking for free resources, a job board, or professional development, then head over to our website at YMInstitute.com, and until next time I hope we’ve helped you make sense of this thing we call ministry.