Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Saying thanks

What two words have the power to keep you going? That’s right, you guessed it…thank you! (“You won a vacation” is actually four words!)

You know how well those two little words can encourage you to keep at it. When someone notices and says “thank you for all your hard work” it gives you that little extra ooommpphh to keep at it. Maybe it shouldn’t be that way – we should do what we do with a pure heart not expecting any thing in return, but who are we kidding??? Heartfelt appreciation gives me the desire and strength to keep going.

Another question… what do you have little of in a new church (besides just about everything)? Money, probably! I don’t know many church planters who have an abundance of money laying around. So I thought I’d write about a few ways to say thank you to the people in your church who work so hard week after week – most cost less than $5.

1. Our funds were tight for our MOPS babysitters this year, so I made up some cards using candy bars. I wrote a short note on a half sheet of poster board and taped candy bars in the place of some words. (You’re worth more than a 100 Grand. You are the best babysitter in the Milky Way. We know our kids sometimes act like Airheads, but you make them Smarties. We love you to (Reese’s) Pieces. Hugs and Kisses.)

2. Buy a small can of Play-doh and attach a simple note that says, “Thanks for shaping our kids’ lives.”

3. Buy a $5 gift card from Starbucks (or fast-food restaurant). Attach a note that says, “Thanks for all your hard work; enjoy a little treat from us.”

4. Buy a pack of note cards or a magnetic shopping list – Add a post-it note that says, “Thanks for your “noteworthy” contributions to our church.”

5. Give a flashlight (with batteries) and a note that says, “Thanks for letting your light shine.”

These are just a few ideas (thanks to Children's Ministry magazine for some of them) if you think about it, I’m sure you could think of lots more. Slip one in a teacher’s class before she arrives on Sunday morning or put one in a gift bag with tissue paper. It’s not really the gift that counts; it’s the thought and appreciation behind it!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Caring for your Team

We recently discussed with a small group of church planters how to keep workers on your “team.” Maybe you're wondering how to keep the few workers you have in the new church (or at any church) from getting burned out. I don’t have tons of ideas, but I wanted to share a few thoughts.

When we were first planting a church in Delaware, I would regularly receive a call from one of the new women in the church. At first, I really wanted to help her and listened to her for what seemed like hours on end (believe me, we really did have some LONG conversations). Finally, when this dragged on too long, my husband “encouraged” me to limit my time with her on the phone. Looking back, I thought I was helping her but I realized that she didn’t really want to grow or change; she just wanted my attention and a sounding board.

I naively thought that I had to give equal attention to every needy person that needed it. (And believe me, it seems that new churches attract some needy people- at least ours did!) I now see that I should have used my time more wisely. After all, we only have a limited amount of time. I think as church planter wives, we need to invest in that group of people who are involved, teachable, and growing. (I’m not saying to ignore people who need help, but they can easily suck up all your time and energy.)

How to do that, you ask?

We got together with our leadership team once a month. There was no big agenda – we ate dinner together (we took turns meeting at each others’ homes) and then talked and prayed together. It gave us a chance to share our hearts with them and see how they were doing. Playing games and eating pizza can join your team together.

Text or call the women of your leadership team regularly. Get together for coffee. Go shopping together. Get to know them and build a good relationship with them. If there is no relationship, it is hard to help or even confront them when it is needed.

Be vulnerable with them. Share your struggles with them and they will be more open to you. Don’t worry about being a “spiritual giant” --- people relate to us more in our weaknesses than in our strengths (Thank goodness, I usually have plenty weaknesses to share! HA)

Find small ways to show appreciation – a blog on that will be coming soon. It doesn’t have to be something expensive or big; just a note sharing a specific thanks or praise for what they are doing will mean tons!

How do you care for the leadership team in your new church? Post a comment – don’t worry that it’s a simple idea –those are usually the best.