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Conducting Effective Quarterly Reviews For Staff

admin 18/07/2016 0


By Jim Wideman

All of us in ministry wear many hats. Within all of our individual responsibilities wether it be Children’s or Student Ministry you’ll find many similar roles.

We all must align key leaders, we all must champion every age group, we all gauge effectiveness and success, we all access ministry systems, and we all expand learning, which includes the training of all staff and how your leaders are growing and developing as well as what’s happening in our classes and services.

If you have ever read any of my books or articles you’ve heard me say over and over that you cannot have an effective ministry team without consistent evaluation. Several months ago a group of Orange Thinkers got together because we saw that staffing the church needed to be rethought and use different processes. That’s why we established a new Orange partner, NextGen Staff Solutions.  In working with church leadership we’ve discovered it is paramount that churches understand that building a great team is more than just a Human Relations function. It’s all about fit and having the right gift set. With this in mind, I think, it is time to rethink the annual review process and move to a better way to align key leaders, champion evert age group, gauge effectiveness and success, access ministry systems and expand learning.  What I’m proposing are Quarterly Reviews.

What’s wrong with the annual review? Isn’t that how we get a raise? I think one of the four quarterly reviews still need to review compensation, benefits, merit and/or cost of living increases but working on improving skills and effectiveness once a year is not as successful as an ongoing consistent quarterly process. You see building a team calls for more consistent and intentional evaluation. Here’s how I conducted quarterly reviews for years.

The first step is to identify what needs to be evaluated. At the 2016 Orange Conference I taught a workshop on “Redefining The Role of The Children’s and Student Pastor”

I introduced 12 key roles that we all are responsible for no matter what age group we work with. Some of these have to do with people some deal with production. The bottom line is they all need consistent evaluation. Here’s a list of these roles to evaluate along with a key question about each one to be answered on a regular basis.

1.Support the FAMILY: How am I helping parents win at home?

2. RECRUIT for Growth: How am I pursuing new and quality leaders to invest in kids?

3. ALIGN Your Whole Team: How am I repeating our core ideas to staff and volunteers to keep everyone aligned?

4. MIND for Talent: Who am I giving opportunities  to so they will grow their skill and talents.

5. Setup to SERVE: What opportunities am I giving to kids they can experience service?

6. Think VERTICALLY: How have I created clear steps to tradition into and out of each phase of ministry?

7. Refine SYSTEMS: What are the foreseeable challenges that I have to currently implement to each management system?

8. Improve Programing: What did we learn from last week’s experience that can be applied to next week’s program?

9. Evaluate CONNECTION: How am I getting feedback from small group leaders to monitor the strength of group relationships?

10. Elevate TRUTH: What need does my audience feel and how does the Bible truly apply to their reality?

11. Think HORIZONTALLY: How does this week’s message fit into the big idea that we are teaching each specific age group?

12. Constantly Improve ENVIRONMENTS: What are we doing to create a visually appealing environment that reengages kids and students every week, every month, and every season?

The second step is to determine your present grade point average. Just like in school I use a simple four point GPA. Go through each of these twelve roles and determine your present GPA. Here’s my definition of each grade, feel free to change how it works best for those you lead.…

A = 4 Points-Very consistent just minor improvements needed in this area.

B = 3 Points-Do  most of the time, needs some improvements.

C = 2 Points-On and off lacks constancy.

D = 1 Points-Hit or miss, no consistency, need major improvements

F = 0 Points-Non existent, needs a new plan, and tons of work.

The third step is to determine what needs to be addressed during the quarterly evaluation for improvement. Once you go through each of these individually and determine with your supervisor what needs to be improved I use this three step approach to pull up the present grade point average.

Step 1: Select the three areas that need the most work.

Step 2: Come up with a plan to improve some times it’s as simple as reading a book or doing research, make you need to call your Orange Specialist or consult an Orange Coach.

Step 3: Is to set a deadline. Maybe it needs to happen over a few weeks or by the next quarterly review but without a deadline you won’t work on it like you should. (I wouldn’t do my taxes if their wasn’t a deadline.)

Now comes the hard part, work your plans with all that you have within you. Remember it is not a sign of weakness to ask qualifying questions or to ask for help between the time of the next quarterly review. In fact I believe knowing your limitations is a real sign of wisdom. Feel free to tweak your plan to make sure you are making the necessary and needed improvements.  At your next quarterly review identify ahead of the meeting what improvements have been made and assess your new GPA. If you have brought what you’re working on up to the desired GPA, then repeat the steps above to determine what you need to work on next. If you still have more work to do on an area you’ve been working on keep improving and updating your plan until you have reached the GPA you are desiring.

I hear what you are saying Jim, this seems like it will take a long time and require a lot of work. You’re right. I learned years ago that ministry looks a whole lot like work. In fact the truth is, all churches have problems that need working on, the key is to be committed to find a set of problems you want to spend the rest of your life evaluating and improving.  You’ll be surprised how much more effective your ministries will be by moving away from the annual review system and replacing it with quarterly reviews. It’s also important that you celebrate the victories along the way. There will be many. A smart leaders knows the importance of celebrating the wins. Don’t just focus on what needs to be improved also focus on what you are doing that is working. It takes both. The key is, if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time. Give this approach a try and you’ll see the difference first hand.

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Stay or Go

admin 13/05/2016 0


By Jim Wideman

I have met a lot of children’s and student pastors in my life. Anyone who knows me knows I like to network. Being a professional conference attendee, most of the leaders I meet fall into one of three categories those who have found where God wants them to be, those who are not sure where they are suppose to be and those who want to leave where they are because they know that they are not presently where they are suppose to be. At different times in my ministry over the last thirty-five years I have been in all three categories.

My quest to find God’s plan for my life started in 1973. There I was minding my own business, selling drugs to my High School when one of my best friends told me eight words that rocked my world. Those same eight words still rock my world today. What are they? You know them, “ God has a wonderful plan for your life!” Jeremiah 29:11 tells us “I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God’s plan for my life is so much better than the plans I came up with own my own. These last thirty-five years of serving Christ has been an amazing journey. I am so glad the Lord called me to minister to children and their families. It has been wild to see God place me in five wonderful churches under five wonderful pastors. There has been more deposited in me through the leaders, and the people God has brought into my life than I have ever given.

In watching people in ministry in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s and now in the 10’s I’ve come to realize finding a position in the ministry is not hard to do butfinding the right position is a lot harder. I am glad I went to every church that I’ve been on staff at. I’ve loved everyday I worked and served at each of them but I’ve also loved everyday that I haven’t worked at each of them too. God used the four wonderful churches that were all part of his plan for me to prepare me for His plan for me, today!

Over the years, I think I’ve heard every reason under the sun why people have decided to make a change. Some are negative and some are positive. Things like lack of vision from senior leadership, frustration or burnout, moral and ethical failure, not willing to change (stubbornness), a loss of trust or confidence in leadership or in you, the church outgrows you or you outgrow the position or church, constant conflict as well as you’ve completed the task and it’s just time to go. Some times the reason(s) to seek a change can me neutral or mutual, things like a change of philosophy or a change of pastor or you’ve been given a new assignment or promotion or you’ve been faithful in that which is another man’s and God gives you your own ministry. With all that stated, the only time to go is when God says to and gives you a release for your next adventure.

Now that we’ve talked about why let’s take a look at how to make a change. How you leave is as critical as why. Here are seven musts for a smooth exit.

  1. Go on time. Don’t be early or late they both cause problems. Wait until you have been released. Once you know that it’s time to go and have peace then go. I have only been late in leaving one time and if I could do it over I would have left earlier. On time is the best time!
  2. Go quickly. This means different things to different people. Ask your leader how much time they would like you to allow. ( i.e.: month, two weeks, or immediately) I think the faster the better! If God has released you, it’s over so leave.
  3. Go with your mouth shut. This is the hardest one. Don’t contact church people, let the Pastor tell others how he wants it told. Don’t fellowship with people you have never had fellowship with before you resigned. There are always those who want “the dirt” beware of people wanting to be your friend that have never wanted to be your friend before.
  4. Be Positive. If you can’t be positive because there is nothing positive go back to number 3.
  5. Always leave in a way that you can come back for a visit or attend church there no matter what has transpired. Walk in integrity! Point loyalties to the leadership not to yourself. You get to move on they have to stay. When you do come back. Come back right! (We’ll discuss this more later.)
  6. Leave the ministry in better shape than you found it. I believe a mark of true success is you’ve left a successor. Leadership might not want them but you should be training and raising up others for them to choose from. You’re only as effective as your team.
  7. When you leave, leave! Don’t call workers. If you have special friendships, be a friend but don’t discuss church stuff. A rule I have followed since I made my first ministry change in 1983 is don’t go back and visit unless you are invited by the Pastor or have his permission to attend. (It’s been a good one, too!) Don’t allow workers or staff to call you and talk about the church. If people are saying bad things about you after you leave, (and they will) let God defend you. Here’s a great truth to live by “You cannot control what others do, but you can control your attitude and reactions to their choices. Make good ones!”

When you begin to sense a change might be taking place. Here are seven steps to make sure you are making the right choices.

  1. Listen to the right voice. Sometimes I hear God other times it’s gas (pizza late at night is the wrong voice.) You are the Lord’s, He is your shepherd. You hear His voice and know His voice. The voice of a stranger you will not hear! Ask God to remove blinders or hindrances to hearing His voice.
  2. Remain faithful to the vision of the house. I believe it’s what you’re doing now, not what you’ve done in the past that matters. Stay faithful in the small things always! Allow your gifts to make room for you. If they don’t want or need your gifts at your present location, your gifts are needed somewhere else. Pray and talk to God about what you sense, not others.
  3. Don’t go looking for greener pastures. Wait on release. If we truly work for God he will show us our next assignment. Don’t try to help Him out.
  4. Don’t get into fear. If your Heavenly Father can take care of birds and flowers, He knows how to take care of His children. Stay in faith not in fear.
  5. Remember no matter what God is in control; he has a place for you and knows where you live and how to get in touch with you. It is His job to keep His promises to you and He will!
  6. If it is time to go never look back. Keep looking forward. Your best days in God are always ahead when you are making choices according to the Word!
  7. God operates by the law of mutual benefit. He will take care of you and the ministry you left. It’s not your responsibility to worry about the kids or workers you leave behind. If this is good for you it’s also good for the church and vice versa!

Okay Jim, that’s all well and good but in all my seeking God what do I do when God says stay? How do I stay put? Those are good questions, I’m glad you asked them.

Have a current vision. The best vision is a fresh vision. Ask the Lord daily to renew and refresh his plan and vision for your life. It’s also important to keep yourself refreshed.

How? Go to church, read your Bible, pray, enjoy your family, take time off, and make time for hobbies and other stress relievers. Another way to stay put is to keep your heart and life pure. Flee from ungodliness and evil thinking and doing. Guard your attitude. Sure I’ve been hurt we all have, but I will not be a victim. I choose to be a victor that’s why I choose to take every thought captive and line it up with the truth of God’s Word.

One of the things that has helped me stay put is by never letting what I do become old hat. Choose to keep changing and trying new things. You’ve heard me say this before “same actions bring same results.” Another thing that keeps me appreciating where I am is networking. Experience is the best teacher but it doesn’t have to be your experiences that you learn from. Don’t ride a dead horse, if it isn’t working stop doing it. Don’t be sucked in by religious tradition it is totally up to you to stay tuned in and up to date in every part of your ministry. Be teachable. Teachable people have longevity.

Stay hooked up with your Pastor and all the leaders above you. Be a team player.

Be loyal.  If you need help, ask for it. Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m in over my head”

A good leader knows their abilities and weaknesses. It’s up to you staff for your weak spots as well as work to improve them. Keep a servant’s heart and be on the lookout for pride. If you know you are to stay, get leaving out of your mind.

Obedience brings blessing! Over the years I’ve seen this principle work over and over again. If God tells you to go, be obedient and God will bless you, if He tells you to stay be obedient and He will bless you. When you are obedient you can expect the blessings of God. Have faith. Expect victory. Expect promotion. And never forget obedience has rewards!

My prayer is that you discover God’s plan for your life and ministry and follow the Nike principle “Just do it!”

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15 Smart Things To Do Your First Year

admin 13/05/2016 0


By Jim Wideman

It’s your first day on staff as children’s pastor at a new church. The senior pastor has introduced you to the staff, donuts from your first day welcome party have been reduced to crumbs in the bottom of an empty box, and you’re sitting alone in your office. Now what? How you handle the next few months will have a tremendous impact on the remainder of your ministry. Let’s make sure you get off on the right foot.

By the way, this advice applies whether you’re launching a ministry from scratch or you’re the new children’s pastor at a church of two thousand plus.

  1. First, do nothing. 

Spend a few months not changing anything that’s currently in place. Use the time to find out what’s been done in the past. Ask lots of questions. Observe carefully. You need to understand exactly how the pastor, parents, kids, and current volunteers define a “great” children’s ministry. It’s likely that their definition won’t be in complete agreement, but everyone will assume your definition of “great” matches his or her own.

  1. Now Fix Something- but something small. 

Find one small problem and fix it. Don’t tackle anything big yet; nobody knows you well enough to trust you, and you may create a bigger problem than you solve. Find something- anything- that makes life a little better for your kids, teachers, or kids’ families. You want people to realize that you’re actually good for the organization and worth listening to.

  1. Connect with your leader. 

When you go into a church to serve as children’s pastor, decide you’ll be committed to and support your senior pastor. I believe every church staff member should give the senior pastor what the leader wants. We need to all be working toward the same goal. When you come into a church, ask yourself, “What can God teach me through this pastor?” Your teachable attitude will allow you to do significant ministry and also grow spiritually.

  1. Figure out where you are. 

Once you understand the pastor’s vision for the children ministry, see if you have the resources you need to meet it. Is the correct leadership in place? Do you have the right tools—the curriculum, furniture, and rooms? Summarize on paper how you view your current ministry situation. Summarize where you think the ministry should go, too, and share what you’ve written with your senior pastor. This is your pastor’s chance to fine-tune your direction before you set out and make changes.

  1. Join the team. 

Go to lunch with other people on your church staff, one at a time. Ask what’s important to them. Hear their heartbeat for ministry. Remember that even if the youth group consistently leaves the room you share in chaos, you and the youth pastor are on the same ministry team. Next year you’ll be releasing some of your children into the care of that youth pastor. Esteem that pastor and offer your support. If we want others to respect us, we need to respect them. That means respecting everyone on your team. Don’t fall into the “Us versus Them” trap. “We’re all on the same team.”

  1. Determine where you’re going. 

Set goals area of your children’s ministry. What do the kids in the

Nursery need? The preschoolers? Be specific. Here’s a great exercise to help you develop goals: Ask yourself what you want children to do when they’re adults. Make a list. You want them to know Jesus? Write it down. Want them to have a servant’s heart? Write it down. Want them to be givers? Put it on the list. Now you become those things, and put people who do those things in front of children. Teach children what God’s word says about those things, and model what living it looks like. Let your ministry be a place where children see what God wants them to become and where they can practice serving, giving, and being faithful. People follow people with a plan. If you haven’t developed a plan in your first three months to get from where you are to where you’re going, people aren’t going to follow you.

  1. Communicate with the right people. 

Most children’s pastors spend 90 percent of their time working on communicating with kids. That’s great, but you need to communicate with other audiences, too. Create a newsletter that tells parents what you’re teaching and what’s on the schedule. Since you can’t assume that “take-home Papers make it home, you have to communicate by snail mail, e-mail, or even a worker webpage

Look for ways to keep information flowing to your team also remember to communicate upward.

  1. Update job descriptions. 

Everyone needs a job description. I like to give every volunteer his or her job description, plus everyone else’s job description. When volunteers know where they fit, everyone does better. Write your own job description first, and submit it to the senior pastor for tweaking. Then write everyone else’s description. When your job description aligns with the pastor’s vision, and the other job descriptions align with yours, you’re all on the same page.

  1. Build a team. 

We say team building is important. We even believe it. So why don’t we do it? If you don’t allow others to learn by doing—coaching and encouraging them as they go—there’s no way you’ll build a team. See yourself as a coach and a mentor whether you have a team of two hundred or a volunteer staff of two. Delegation is good: it’s letting someone represent you in accomplishing tasks and duties. You need that. But even better than delegation is duplication: creating an exact copy of an original. When you instill your heart and passion in another children’s worker, you’ve gone beyond just delegation and actually duplicated yourself.

  1. Be visible in worship. 

It’s important for your own spiritual life that you be in worship. It’s also important for your own spiritual life that you be a worshipper. Your actions set an expectation that every children’s ministry volunteer should be growing in his or her faith. Sit right down front, and be visible as a cheerleader for the church, not just for your own ministry.

  1. Use the church calendar.

Make sure your church office has a central, master calendar and use it. Staying coordinated with other ministries avoids facility conflicts. It also increases participation in children’s ministry because families don’t have to choose between conflicting meetings.

  1. Tend to the budget.

Find out how budgets are done, by whom, when, and what the approval process is. Become an expert in the process before you have to produce an annual budget. You can accomplish more with money than without it, so don’t be shy about figuring out how to ask for money. To create a budget, ask yourself what you want to accomplish in the lives of your kids. Then develop on paper a ministry that meets those goals. Price the programs and total them up. That’s the budget you’ll ask for.

  1. Shelve the great program you did in your last church.

The program that went well in your last church may not meet the needs of children in your new church. Always start by identifying needs and then finding a program or curriculum that addresses those needs.

  1. Be creative and open to change. 

Creative people are open to new ideas. They put things together in innovative ways. They tweak and twist and rearrange stuff. And they don’t accept the first solution offered just because it’s the easiest. That tiny change you wanted to make in your first few weeks may just be adding some direction signs so that people can find their way from one place to another. A small change, but a huge difference.

  1. Do the job only you can do. 

The first priority for any children’s pastor is to work on leadership skills. We have to be problem solvers, encouragers, cheerleaders, coaches. You simply cannot spend all your time in classrooms with kids. Ask the Lord if you’re more valuable to your pastor being a leader of leaders and a problem solver than as a teacher of kids. There are other people who can teach kids, but you may be the only one who can do your role.

This might not seem like a full year’s worth of things to do but believe me, these fifteen things will keep you busy. It’s not easy doing all fifteen of these at the same time. Some will be easier to accomplish than others. The key is to remember this first year is all about relationships. One of the best words of advise I could give a person in a new position or church would be to remember that ministry is a marathon it is not a sprint. Don’t try to do everything that needs to be done all at one time. It’s also important to remember that your family also needs you. They are new too. They’ll make the needed adjustments they need to make if they have you leading them. Don’t be an absentee parent. Be the leader a home as well as at the church.


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