Archive | April, 2017

Dealing with Distractions in Ministry – Part 2

In our recent newsletter, I shared a few ways to minimize the distractions that our smart phones bring when it comes to ministry. In this post for today, I want to address another distraction that, when left unchecked, can take us away from the important parts of our ministry… email.

I sat in on a recent webinar on dealing with email and the one statement that really stuck to me was, “Email is a to-do list that someone else can add stuff to.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve had days before where an email (or three) ended up consuming my day because I chose to focus on it rather than the more important tasks on my “to do” list. So how can we manage email so that’s not distracting us from the more important aspects of ministry. I offer three suggestions.

  1. Establish set times to check and process email. In other words, don’t just check it randomly. Set aside times where you can take 15-30 minutes to address emails and process them. One rule to go buy is the “Dr. Pepper Rule”, checking emails at 10:00 AM, 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM.
  2. Get your inbox to zero if at all possible. For each email, decide if there’s an action that needs to be taken and either do it, or give yourself a reminder to do it at some point in the future, then file it away. Emails in our inboxes just build up over time and psychologically can be overwhelming.
  3. Communicate boundaries with your staff in regard to email. I tell my co-workers that I don’t keep my email program open all the time and I have certain times when I check it. If there’s something they need an immediate response to, they either drop by my office or call my desk phone. Also, I at most only check my email one time a day on my day off, and prefer not to check it at all.

I realize these suggestions may or may not work for everyone, but I feel that implementing variations of them based on your context will help you focus on what matters most in ministry and avoid being a slave to email.

These thoughts above are from Rev. Richard Wood, our partner in ministry for youth, children and social media ministry. He is an associate pastor in Sanford, North Carolina .

Nurturing Connections and Faith – Part 3

When the Israelite families would travel to other places, often times it would be with their extended families.  Children would have the chance to mingle with cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents – all ages together.  These times offered informal opportunities for the children to learn from other adults besides their parents.  Today with our mobile society, children often live far from their extended families.  Our faith communities can provide families with children this valuable experience through intergenerational gatherings.  Typically at church we gravitate to our regular groups but with a little intentionality, faith communities can facilitate relationships across the generations.

Spring and summer months offer a variety of opportunities for informal gatherings with all age groups.

Consider planning once-a-month church-wide activities beginning in May or June and ending in August with an end of summer celebration.

Take me out to the ballgame – Plan a trip to a professional baseball game or one of the minor league teams.  If you have students who play on summer teams encourage classes to go out and support the teams.  Take the church bus/van or carpool to provide opportunity for conversation.

Day trip to a state park, lake or beach – Bring your own picnic or plan a potluck picnic with different groups bringing different parts.

Outdoor movie night in your back yard – Plan this before it gets too hot

Holidays – Memorial Day or July 4th, many communities plan special events.  Encourage members to bring friends and meet at the park or celebration area to enjoy the community event.  Depending on the setting, you could consider making it a community service project by providing a water station or activity booth.

Ice Cream Gatherings – Plan times in between the bigger summer activities to meet at the local ice cream or yogurt shop.   Have a regular gathering on a specific weekday every other week during the summer.   Weekdays work better than weekends since many people travel on weekends.   These kind of gatherings offer a break in the middle of the week and a chance to catch up with friends and meet new members.

These are just a few ideas.  What do your members and community usually do during summer?  What activities and celebrations happen in your community in which you can participate?

When planning for summer activities, involve leaders from all age groups to offer input and help plan.  If you haven’t had summer activities then plan just one a month or one in June and one in August.

This year plan to take advantage of informal summer gatherings to help make connections with members and your community.

These thoughts above are from Mary Langley, one of our partners in the ministry. Her primary focus is working alongside churches in children and family matters. She is based out of Raleigh, North Carolina.