Tag Archives: change

Big News (For Me Anyway)


I have been at Sheffield Family Life Center in Kansas City, Missouri for the past 10 years. Two of those were as an intern, but the past 8 years I have been involved in full time ministry for youth and children.

November 8th, 2009 will mark my last Sunday at Sheffield. I have taken a position at a church in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Why the move? Family mostly. Jenn and I have felt a ‘stirring’ for a while now. I’ve even told folks I felt like a major life change was coming… but didn’t have a clue what it would be. Jenn and I finally decided to sit town and ask God what the deal was. We started with putting together a 5 year plan for our family. I asked Jennifer where she saw us in 5 years… the first thing out of her mouth was, “I want to raise our children around family”.

I guess I had known that she had a leaning toward her folks. There had been quite a bit of travel back and forth since the kids had shown up. But this was the first time she’d just laid it out.

We prayed about it, wrote out our list, and told God that though we were making plans, it was His that we truly wanted. God rarely speaks to me directly… so we committed to two things:

We’re Moving Slow – We gave God plenty of time to let us know if we were moving the right direction. We literally prayed, “God we ask for brick walls if we’re moving the wrong way… but we look forward to mile markers of conformation if we’re headed the right way.”

We’re not going to make any decisions that we’re not willing to unmake in an instant – Though we make our own plans… we do not put our trust in our own decisions. At any point in this journey that God leads differently, we’re ready to change direction in a moment.

There were a couple of brick walls. They typically hurt when you hit them… but if you’re moving slow… not so much. Eventually after every networking resource I had in Georgia, North Carolina and Florida dried up… I got an email from a Pastor in St. Petersburg. We talked, really hit it off and the next thing I knew I was in Florida for two days of interviews.

Long story short… we’re packing up the house and moving to Florida for the next chapter of our life. The job is everything I’ve wanted. The location is everything Jenn wanted. It’s a wonderful gift from God.

Though it’s a little heartbreaking to leave the kids and folks at Sheffield, I know that they are in God’s loving hands… and that He will send someone along to replace me that will be so great that they’ll make me look like dirty dish water by comparison.

So, reader. Have you ever changed churches? Do you have any tips? Post them, or any other thoughts, in the comments.

Don’t Make Permanent Changes For Temporary Situations

set in stone

Over the last ten years I’ve been in full-time ministry, most of that in children’s ministry, I’ve found myself repeating a few phrases over and over. The title of this post is one of them: “Don’t make permanent changes for temporary situations”.

Though I’ve never had a paid ministry assistant, over the years I have had several volunteer folks who have helped to fill that role. Almost without exception, in the first few months, they would come to me with a situation and a solution… and I would find myself repeating that same phrase. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about, then I’ll explain why it’s not a good idea.

John was one of my newer volunteers but he was a natural and due to his willingness and availability had become someone I relied on quite a bit. After a few months I had placed him as coordinator over our Sunday evening program for elementary. He came to me one night with a situation… our attendance had dropped over the last two weeks. He proposed that we move the entire program to a different set of rooms that were smaller. What he didn’t know or realize was that every year around this time we had the same dip in attendance but always picked back up. He also didn’t know that if we gave up our rooms, other ministries would be glad to make use of them and we’d never get them back. He wanted to fix a temporary situation with a permanent solution.

Here are the hoops my situations have to jump through before I consider a permanent solution:

1. Is it consistent?

Before I make a new policy or a major change I want to make sure it’s not an isolated incident. I’m not going to make a new policy because one child was left late after a program… but if a month of Sunday’s goes by and I’ve got three or four families consistently abusing our workers by picking up super late… I’m going to write up a policy.

2. Is there history I’m not aware of?

For any situation you come across… someone in your church has seen it before and has dealt with it. Typically the Pastor or another staff member who has been there longer knows something you don’t. In my situation with John, he didn’t know how many years we had worked to outgrow the other set of rooms… I wasn’t about go backwards just because of an annual dip in attendance!

3. Am I Acting or Reacting?

Some situations seem bigger than they really are. We all get sick children in our ministries from time to time… but with swine flu running amok, we’re tempted to go nuts and treat every kid with a sniffle like they’ve got the plague. I always want to be sure that I’m not just reacting to the high-pressure of a temporary situation. In the heat of the moment, especially when dramatic people are involved, it can be tempting to start churning out changes and new policies until the storm passes. Making choices based on fear, feelings and self-protection is never a good idea. Sure, you solve the immediate issues, but later you have to deal with the consequences of choices made in haste. Does the situation warrant a huge change? Usually your common sense will serve you better than a policy. Urge your volunteers to look at the big picture. Keep existing policies and procedures in mind and use common sense.

We can easily get drama-happy… where we want to make big deals out of simple issues so that we can feel like we’re doing something important. Drama is not ministry. Ministry is what we do after the drama is quickly and graciously dealt with.

If You Only Had Three Months… What Would You Do?

If you were leaving your position in three months… and wanted to leave the ministry you’d been building in the best condition possible… what would you do in the next 30 days?

I have recently put this challenge to myself and realized I had a vision or two that I had been holding off on for no good reason. I immediately called a meeting and boldly laid out my vision and I think things are going to start moving that direction. It’s exciting.

It’s the same as when you sell your home. There are a ton of things that you suddenly realize you need to fix that you were living with and had actually grown to accept. Looking at your home through a buyers eyes helps you see things in a more honest light. This exercise can help us to light a fire under ourselves to jump on those projects, programs, tasks or whatever that we’ve gotten used to being less than what we’ve wanted them to be.