Monday, May 25, 2009

Scheduling for the Summer, Should I ramp up or slow down...

This time of year there is always talk about whether or not to slow down during the summer.  My friend Tim Schmoyer even posted about the benefits of stopping your ministry (to a degree) during the summer.  You can read his blog at  

I tend to disagree with Tim somewhat but do love some of his reasoning.  Personally, our ministry makes some changes but doesn't shut down.  The only thing we will completely stop is small groups.  The changes we make allow us to work with a smaller staff to give those adult leaders who want it a break.  I understand that reasoning that some ministries slow down.  I talked with a YP who has over 800 students a week during the school year but during the summer he is less than 200, that is a huge change.  Sports, camps, vacations and everything else cause students and adults to be gone for ministry programming.

Personally, I believe that it is too hard to ramp up once schools begins.  I know there is a natural transition for some students, but I believe consistency works to your advantage.  While I know that a bunch of students are unavailable during summer but in some small part we need to continue to reach out to the student who doesn't get to go on vacation or who can't attend a sports camp.  

I think each ministry needs to evaluate their own personal needs during the summer.  So rather than giving a do or don't list, here are some things to think about...

1. How much more time do students have during the summer?  Use this to your advantage.  Plan each day/week to spend some one-on-one time with students.  For us, we do a thing called summer lunches.  Each week students are invited to come to lunch with me and my assistant.  They decide where we eat.  We go, hang out and come back to the church.  This provides a great time with them and we have some fun doing it.

2. Rather than stopping a piece of your ministry, can you change it?  We are normally split with Jr & Sr High but during this summer, we are combining to help with adult volunteers and to give the students a sense that kids are still coming.  If your numbers are way low, consider moving away from the church.  Take field trips instead of having a service at the church.

3. Low on adults, look for new adult leaders to help fill in.  If you have a big whole in adult leaders during the summer, consider finding some temp help.  Maybe you had your eye on someone but they didn't want to commit.  Get them to help for the summer, letting them know that they can leave once the summer is over.  Summer is only an 8-12 week commitment, so it might be easier to get out.  Who knows, maybe they will stay on once the fall begins.

I know in my own program, I do everything I can to build consistency in the kids.  I think this helps them as they are navigating the busyness of the rest of their lives.  Because of this, stopping or even slowing down during the summer isn't a real option.  I think we sometimes forget the kids who are left behind when we stop doing the ministry.  I know it is nice to stop or slow down during the summer but I thoroughly enjoy spending more time with students and mixing things up during the summer.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Book Review: The Shack by William P. Young

I think I am going to start writing reviews of all the books I read.

I downloaded the Shack onto my iPhone through the Kindle software. The Shack is the first book I have read entirely in digital form. I actually like this format because I have the book with me wherever I go since it is on my phone. I hadn't planned on reading this book until I found out that Pastor Steve was doing a sermon series and then some of the parents in our group were talking about it, so I decided to read it.

I didn't know anything about this book when I started reading it. I have never heard of the author either but I am glad I read it. The author did a fantastic job at bringing the story to life. I felt like I was in the story the whole time. Let me give you a brief overview (without spoiling the story). The book is about the story of Mack and his journey through a major tragedy in his life. Mack is like most of us in that we know who God is, but we don't always know God. The meat of the story takes place in what would seem a dream, as Mack interacts with his ideals of who God really is. He is rocked to his core and his beliefs are stretched as far as they can go. He battles inside himself until he is able to reconcile his ideas to the realities.

As I read the Shack, my own thinking was rocked. My ideas of who God is, what God wants from me and how I can accomplish that have been changed. I even used some of the thinking from the book in a lesson I did with my students.

I look forward to re-reading this book in paper form within the next couple weeks. Hopefully, I can do it before Pastor Steve starts his series on it.

I give this book an A-.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day Elizabeth

Today, millions of people will call their mom.  Many of them will fake it, just to be the good son or daughter.  Others will be genuine because they haven't seen their mom in months or years.  Beth and I both live 10+ hours from our moms, so Beth called hers this morning and I just called my mom in the late afternoon.

We ended up skipping our own church this morning because I had no responsibilities.  We visited Restore Community Church that meets at Park Hill High School.  I am Twitter friends with a couple of their tech people, so I figured we would see how the services were.  It was good stuff.  Weird going to a school for a church service, but they do a good job making it not feel like a school.  I enjoyed the message the pastor brought.  He looked at Mary, the mother of Jesus and talked about how she must have felt.  Talked about how mothers all over the world have those same feelings.  They did something really cool though.  They gave everyone a blank envelope and piece of paper inside.  The pastor told all of us to write a note and the church would send it for us.  I thought that was very cool and the kids wrote letters to their grandmother.

Today we also spent some time looking at old pictures.  It is amazing how things are changed.  My wife cried in seeing the photos of our kids as babies again.  I love my wife.  I know she struggles sometimes spending most of her time at the church.  I bought her an iPhone for Mother's Day and she is loving it.  Now she can't make fun of me for spending so much time on mine.  I am glad she liked it and hopefully it will help keep her organized.

I am thankful for the woman that God brought into my life.  The last 15 years have been an incredible journey and I just see them as getting better and better.  I don't always treat her like I should but she stays with me anyways...

Thank you Lord for Little Bit...