Why You Should Do Devotions With Your Leadership Team

Guiding your leadership team in a look at God’s Word and a short time of prayer says several things.

  1. My relationship with God is a top priority.  This sends a clear signal to your team that you are in a relationship with God. You care about what God has to say in His Word, you want to study it often, and you want to demonstrate that you are bringing the tasks ahead of you to Him.
  2. I want us to follow God together.  I am concerned about your spiritual/inner life. I was at a Bible study last year, that was providing some wonderful Biblical insight. Near the end of one meeting, one of the women began crying, relating that something very painful and disruptive had happened in her life two weeks earlier. Without any appropriate time to share this information, she had felt pressured to “keep smiling and fake it”, so as not to disrupt the flow of the study. Your team members are coming from their own stressful, complicated circumstances. Giving them a chance to share their concerns and then leading them to God’s throne can be healthy and loving. (If this time gets too long perhaps you can have one or two people share each day, instead of the entire team).
  3. You follow Christ’s example. You are modeling Christian leadership to your team. Imagine that the men and women on your team will emulate Christ when they move into a higher levels of leadership. We do often lead as we have been led. Spending time looking into God’s Word, listening, praying– these are marks of Christian leadership. Don’t be afraid to try new things, or even fail in front of your team. “We tried something new last week, that didn’t work very well. I want us to ….” Even demonstrating how to fail well can be a wonderful lesson.

Don’t just make your “Christian effort” during devotion time. This should go without saying, but coaching, praying, encouraging, even loving confrontation should happen throughout your time with your team. Spending time in God’s Word, and in prayer, is a wonderful way to begin each work day, and it sends multiple important messages to your staff. Do you read Scripture and spend prayer time with your team? If so, when and how?

Providing Childcare at Your Events

One of the biggest challenges for some events is securing childcare.  While every event doesn’t lend itself to bringing children, there are times when providing programming for children is both necessary and allows for greater attendance.

Ask any church staff member, and they will probably say positions in the children’s’ department are some of the hardest to fill.  This same mentality often carries over into event childcare.

How can you implement childcare during your adult sessions at your conference?  What can you do to recruit workers for your next event?  Here are a few ideas and tips to aid in planning your next event.

  1. Determine the ages for which you can provide childcare.  This will depend, in part, on your event space accommodations.  If caring for infants, will you have cribs available?  Can you bring in pack-n-plays?  Is there water access?  Can you refrigerate snacks? For older children, are there outdoor activities available?  Is there a playground?  If you are caring for a wide variety of ages, do you have space available to separate them?
  2. Determine the charge for childcare.  Let’s face it – childcare is typically expensive.  While you don’t have to charge the going rate for babysitters (that would make it most likely impossible for anyone to attend!), you have to cover the cost of your supplies and possibly pay for workers.  It is perfectly okay to make this fee nonrefundable, as well, due in part to pre-planning necessity.
  3. Think outside of the box if you are having trouble securing childcare workers.  Do any of your event staff have older, responsible teenagers/college age children who could serve?  Check with your host location.  They might have a list of childcare workers or possibly interns who could work.  Contact local churches or religious groups within colleges/universities for potential childcare workers.  I once worked at an event when an entire church youth group came and served as childcare workers for a conference for the entire week.  The church used this as a mission opportunity to provide back yard Bible clubs during the childcare times.
  4. Think safety.  Anytime children are involved, you need to make every effort to ensure their safety.  You will need to have background checks on your workers.  You should also contact them prior to the event to verify they are indeed the type of person you want working with the children of your guests.  Reference checks are also beneficial.  In addition, you will want to have first aid available and obtain information from parents regarding any allergies, special needs and medical conditions.  Security measures for dropping off and picking up children, as well as emergency contact information are vital.

However you choose to implement childcare at your events, hopefully these tips will be useful as you plan.  Remember, providing childcare can allow for much more intimate times with your adults if they know their children are having a great experience.

Simple Fundraising Success: Give Them Something they Need

Every year the youth in my local church raise money for a service trip. Over the past 50 years the leadership has determined, through trial-and-error what events and services raise the most money. I thought I’d share their findings with you, and include a principle that you could employ for some simple fundraising success.

Here’s the principle: make it easy, and give them something they need.

What are the two most popular and successful youth service fundraisers at my church? The after church potato and soup lunch and the group housework service. Here’s a quick description of each.

Potato and Soup Lunch: Once or twice a year the youth schedule an after church luncheon. They hire a caterer at a discounted price, advertise for at least four weeks and set up tables with table cloths and candles. Then, at 12:30 on the date advertised  the fellowship hall is opened up and guests make their way through a potato, soup and salad bar. The food is hot, and delicious. Guests can choose their own potato and salad toppings. Someone is playing piano and guitar music softly in the background, and  diners enjoy chatting with their immediate, and church family. A basket at the front holds donations. A small note next to it supplies guests with a base cost per person, so that guests understand what the meal cost the youth and that money given over that amount will help fund the service trip.  These luncheons are always very well attended. The convenience of participating cannot be understated in this case. People are already hungry, a delicious meal is ready on-site, and four hundred people stop in ready to eat and donate.

Group Housework Service: The second successful fundraiser involves a team of anywhere from two to thirty youth working together. In the fall and in the spring, times when people are looking outside at their yards and thinking “I really need to get out and rake (spread mulch, weed, mow) but when am I going to find the time?” the youth group advertises willing workers and a coordinator’s cell phone number and email address. Church members contact the coordinator with a weekend date that works for their schedule, a description of the project, and a ballpark number of workers needed. The youth and a supervisor show up on the agreed upon date, do the job, and then accept a donation for their work that will be divided by the number of people in the group. This fundraiser also has the convenience factor, allowing people to choose the time, date and project type.

If you are helping brainstorm for a fundraising event, think about what people will be doing around the scheduled date. Buying Christmas gifts? Getting ready for back to school? Spring cleaning? Putting on snow chains? Consider tapping in to these tasks, and you might find a unique and lucrative fundraising idea. What do people need and how can you provide it to them in a convenient way?

Creating A Fantastic Fall Welcome Basket

It’s so fun and encouraging to enter a room and see something there especially for you. A welcome basket could be a wonderful gift for your speakers, special guests, or every guest at a small retreat. With a new season coming up Tuesday, September 24th, here are some ideas for what to include in a fall themed welcome basket.

Bottle of cider
Caramel popcorn
Apple butter
Soft blanket
Water bottles
Candy (caramels)
Local jams or jellies
Coffee mug
Coffee beans
Tea bags
Small journal
Tiny wreaths
Pumpkins or gourds
Fall seeds
Guidebook of area hikes/attractions

I hope you can picture a beautiful basket holding some of these items sitting on a desk, conference table, or bedside table. Be sure to include a note of welcome and appreciation. “John, Thank you so much for agreeing to speak at this year’s Pastor’s Conference. Your humility and wisdom will be a gift for all the pastors who are attending. Know that our leadership team is thankful for you, and praying for you this weekend. Please, let us know if you need anything. Sincerely, Jim.”

Don’t feel pressured to choose ten items off the list above, especially if your budget is tight. Even two or three items grouped together and set in a small container with a handwritten note will be a special treat.

When I’m preparing baskets, I purchase everything non-perishable weeks or months ahead of time. Then I put the baskets together, and stick a note in each one listing what I need to buy and when I need to pick it up. For example “1 small pumpkin, buy Sept. 3-4.” I also make a note about the item in my calendar. That way- I’ll see the note, pick the items up, and then know which basket to place them in!

Happy planning!

Creative Ways to Divide into Groups

In our small group at church last Sunday, the leader wanted us to break up into small groups.  In an effort to mix us up, he had us number off.  There we were, ranging in age from 30 to 70, simply counting off by 1, 2, 3.  Needless to say, it proved quite difficult for some of the group.  I’ve experienced this countless times with children and youth, but this was a new one for me with middle aged adults struggling to count off by threes!

Meeting Of Support GroupThere was a very intentional purpose in not having us choose our own groups.  We flock to people we know.  We separate into groups where we are most comfortable.  That was not the goal of this exercise.  The goal was to meet new people, get out of our “familiar” and hear the ideas and opinions of others.

Breaking up into smaller groups is often an important element in retreat settings.  If you’re looking for ways to separate your group into smaller units, here are some ideas you can implement.  (Note:  these are intended for groups of approximately 25-50 people.)

  • Candy in a Bag – Put different types of wrapped candy in a bag (if you want to have four groups, use four types of candy).  Have each person choose a piece of candy.  Separate into groups based on the types they choose.
  • Birthdays – Ask participants to find group members who share the same birthday month as they do.
  • Animal Sounds – Before you begin, write the names of different animals on slips of paper (based on the number of groups you want to have).  These can include cows, pigs, dogs, horses, etc.  Have everyone draw a slip of paper out of a basket.  In order to find their group, each person must make the sound of the animal on their paper.  (As an alternative, you could also use vehicle sounds, motions pertaining to different sports, etc.)
  • Seat Colors – Prior to the group arriving, tape a strip of colored paper under each chair in the room.  When the participants take a seat, have them look under their chairs for the slips of paper.  Break them into groups based on the different colors.
  • Arm/Finger Cross – If you need two separate groups, here are two possible ideas:  Have everyone cross their arms across their chests.  Divide into groups based on which arm is crossed over the top.  One group will include those who crossed the right arm over the left, and the other group will have those who crossed the left arm over the right.  In addition, you can also use this same principle with thumbs.  Have guests close their eyes and interlock their hands.  Groups are formed by which thumb is on the top – right thumbs on top form one team, while left thumbs on top form the other.

Do you have other creative ways to separate into small groups?  Share in the comments section below!

Fundraising Twist

Don’t you love going to fundraising dinners? Ahem.

A friend of mine, who has been to countless such affairs, affectionately calls them “rubber chicken dinners.” He says the same four meals, all involving chicken, have been served at fundraising dinners in the south for the last twenty years. Joking aside, here are a few ideas to spice up your next fundraising event.

Choose a local, national or international event to coat-tail.

Do you have a local festival that everyone loves to celebrate? Grab on to that theme! Think Watermelon, Shakespeare or Apple Festival. Or a local marathon, Arts and Crafts Fair or Car Show. Set up your event so the time and place complements the large event instead of conflicting with it.

A major national sporting event? Project the game and divide the participants into teams for the evening. Have the team battle in a few fun games, and see which team can raise the most dollars, pledges or volunteer hours.

An international event or celebration? The Olympics, the World Cup, awarding the Nobel Peace Prize… Tailor your food and decorations accordingly. Add a note of celebration and uniqueness to your annual dinner.

Find something that people are interested in, but not already booked for. Unless you can offer some incredible draw, don’t host a Superbowl or Oscar party, people often have traditional parties that they attend every year. You don’t want to be in competition. You want to grab on to something that they are interested in, but don’t have any plans for–yet.

Make it fun! I already mentioned dividing the participants into teams- what else could you do to get people out of their seats and having fun? Adults don’t often have many opportunities for pure fun. You might be surprised how engaged a group of professionals can get when you invite them to play kickball, or compete in a scavenger hunt.

Using local, national and international events as a spring board for your next fundraising dinner can bring a refreshing twist. Wishing you lots of fun and funding for your cause!