Making Sense Of Ministry

Starting A New Job, Trunk or Treat, COVID Policies and the Church Parsonage | Season 1: Episode 10

September 29, 2020 Youth Ministry Institute Season 1 Episode 10
Making Sense Of Ministry
Starting A New Job, Trunk or Treat, COVID Policies and the Church Parsonage | Season 1: Episode 10
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Mikiala Tennie joins Brian and Kirsten to discuss your questions! These questions include priorities when starting a new job, Trunk or Treat, COVID policies, and more!

Mikiala grew up in South Florida. She started volunteering in student ministry while still a student herself and hasn’t stopped serving students since. Mikiala works in ministry because of her desire for people to truly know Christ. For six years she has served at First United Methodist Church of Stuart and currently has the role of Director of Discipleship and Student Ministries. She lives with her little Yorkie, KiKi Okoye Tennie.

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Ashley :

Welcome to the making sense of ministry podcast presented to you by the youth ministry Institute, a podcast designed to help you lead well in your ministry transform lives and impact generations. here's your host, Brian Lawson.

Brian Lawson :

Welcome to Episode 10 of the making sense of ministry podcast. This is the podcast designed to help you lead well in your ministry transform lives and impact generations. I'm back here again today with Kiersten Knox, Kiersten Say hi. Hey everyone. And we also have today's special guests Mikiala tennie. Mikiala is the director of discipleship and student ministries at first UMC steward. She's also involved with us and our work at the Florida annual conference for the United Methodist Church. And that's how we got to know her and it's been a real joy working with her. So we're glad she's here to share some insights with us and we think you'll enjoy her as well. Here at the making sense of ministry podcast, we love tough questions. We never shy away from them questions really are a sign of growth. And it's way easier to hear God's answers to those questions when we join in others asking those very same things. That's why today I'm excited to tell you about our sponsor. Be a disciple calm is a great place for you to go when you're when you're dealing with spiritual questions, and you need some friends to help you with that. I'd encourage you to scroll through their affordable ecumenical accredited short term online courses, all taught by content experts. Here you'll be in the company of others where it's safe to discuss hard questions. If you have questions, and are looking to grow enrolling course today and ask away at BeADisciple.com Okay, let's get started. Welcome back again to kearson. And welcome Mikiala. It is so good to have you both here today. So Mikiala, you serve at first UMC Stewart and we found out something interesting right before we started, we found out you live in the church parsonage which is right there on campus. So what is that like? What's the good and what's the bad? And what's the weirdest story you got?

Mikiala :

Oh, man, I don't I don't know about the weirdest story. I know that. I mean, it's obviously a blessing. And wow, the commute you cannot beat that for sure. But yeah, it's definitely interesting to live in the parsonage. My My house is right next to the church preschool. And so some days I wake up to children screaming. During Christmas, I wake up to Jingle Bells at 7am being screamed at the top of their lungs, speakers, you know, why wouldn't you scream on the playground? That early in the morning? So yeah, so it's very interesting. You know, seeing my coworkers the maintenance man walking by when I just want to walk my dog haven't even had my coffee yet. You know, I call it camp FOMC sometimes because you step outside and you're like, Oh, hey, boss, oh, hey, coworker, oh, everybody. It's just like, you know, you're at summer camp, but forever. So.

Brian Lawson :

So so I have to ask you, because this is this is really important. I think this is important for all of us in different ways. But maybe especially for you. How do you set the boundaries in that kind of environment? I mean, I would, I mean, because I imagine church members just pop by or think, you know, in some ways, their mind is probably like we pay for that parsonage. So we own it. So we can just stop by right.

Mikiala :

There's definitely some bits of that. But what I found works is really just ignoring, you know, that's the best way for vendors, like I love you in Christ, my brother or sister. But today is not the day where I'm supposed to answer the door. Especially because I'm in my pajamas. And only I should be seeing me in my pajamas right now. So you know, I'm just gonna stay in my room. My daughter might Mark her head off at the doorbell. But we are in fact not here because we are unavailable to you in these moments.

Brian Lawson :

Yeah, and I think that's so important for people to know, right to infer ministry leaders, it's like okay to not always respond when it's appropriate, you know, when it's your day off or when, you know, those kinds of things.

Mikiala :

So appropriate. I remember. We were We were planning for our annual pumpkin patch. And somebody's like, well, since he was so close, why don't we just put some of the pumpkins on your back patio? And I was like, absolutely not. You will not be putting pumpkins on the back patio so that anytime you need to sell the extra ones. You have to come to my pet. Oh, no, no, no, no, no, that's not gonna work.

Brian Lawson :

Kirsten you have some some parsonage experience, right?

Kirsten Knox :

I did. I grew up in a parsonage and most of the time it was right on campus. But I was the kid so I don't think like the boundaries part are people coming up? We did have people that would stop by at different you just never knew different times. You never know when someone was gonna stop by but that didn't bother me then. So I think as an adult, that would be a lot harder than it was But I just remember like, I wanted to paint my bedroom. And my mom's like, well, we need to go through the trustees and get that done. And I'm like, Yes. was always the process. But those other things. Yeah. Was it? Did you grow up Methodist? I did. Yeah. So I think I've learned because I grew up Baptist. I'm like, Oh, so they really do take that whole method thing very seriously. There is a method, there is a process. And that's how it's done. So I keep learning about that.

Brian Lawson :

Yes, there's a method to form the committee, yes, to form another committee. So

Mikiala :

to talk about the method.

Kirsten Knox :

My mom always used to say to us that we had to be a good steward of the church's money. So like, turn off the lights when you leave the room or just be responsible, and I always liked it cooler. So in the winter, I would like to crack my window. And I grew up in Indiana and put my fan in my window and blow it in at night so I could snuggle in the blanket. And my mom at some point be like, Kirsten, you have to close your window and take the fan out. And I'm like, why she's like, cuz you're causing the heat and oh, how to kick on. And I'm like, like, like, that was a problem, right? I'm like, what makes me so sad? Yeah, she's like, we have to be a good steward of the church's money. And I remember thinking as a kid, I don't know who the Stewart person is, but I don't like. I was like, she always said, we got to be a good steward. And I'm like,

Mikiala :

who is the steward is not helping us.

Kirsten Knox :

I don't like to keep

Brian Lawson :

Kirsten, You're calling me out on being a bad steward here. You know, I'm like, let's crank the AC down real cold.

Mikiala :

Listen, I'm all about it. I run hot already. So I'm like, I need all the fans on the AC because your girl struggling? I get it. Yeah.

Brian Lawson :

Okay. I'm wondering like, how long have you been there? And and I wonder if you just briefly could tell us a little bit about, like, how you got involved in in ministry? Or how you felt called to ministry?

Mikiala :

Yeah, absolutely. So I'm sitting at my church for six years now. And which has been a huge blessing, because I was just able to graduate the sixth graders that were there when, when I first got here. So that was a huge thing for me. Um, and I would say that, I mean, my call has really just been something that God's been working on throughout the entirety of my life that I just really didn't realize at the time. But I've been a nanny for as long as I can remember. And I started leading Bible studies in student ministry when I was 16, in student ministry, as well. And so God just kind of was working that out. And I'm always everybody else's children's perpetual onto like, that's my role in life. And I love it. I have like seven nieces and nephews, and God children that I've just adopted into my world, because my family taught us that we love big, and we're just always adopting people into our family. And so to me, you know, that's ministry as well. And that's just how my personal life has always been. And so it only made sense for that to take root in my career as well. And so, when I was at summer camp, when I was at the very end of my senior year of my undergrad, that was when I felt the Lord calling me to go back to school, get my master's in youth ministry so that I could have the tools that I needed in order to minister to the best of my ability to the kids that I was already serving, you know, I was on T to somebody and I was a youth leader to somebody throughout my entire life. And so God really just impressed on my heart to make sure that I was doing the best that I could in those areas. So So then I did it. And then there was ministry. So

Brian Lawson :

yeah, I love that. I love that. That's excellent. I love that whole philosophy. In fact, if I guess it was probably about two years ago now, I've had one sermon in my whole life where I had a standing ovation at multiple services, which was weird, right? That doesn't happen in church. First off, so it was strange. But the whole concept of the sermon was about stewardship, ironically. But, but it was about that, that we should constantly be inviters. All right, and that there's always an invitation, and we're always pulling up an extra chair to the table, and that we should always had the philosophy. And so that's kind of what I was hearing describing, and that's fantastic. So I think we've got some questions to tackle. Some of these questions are questions that people have sent us directly. Others are things that that I have just seen in groups, and we've heard a question we got from Kyle and he says he's from New York. I'm not sure if that's upstate or the city. But he asked a question about starting in his at his church. This is his first full Time position. And he just started, which, you know, first off go you call for starting in the middle of pandemic, you got this. But his question really was like, What was he need to do? Like what are some of the first things he needs to think about? and prioritize is really what his question was? And then I have a follow up that I thought of after I read his question. So here's what you guys think what would be some of the first things that you would say Kyle maybe needs to focus on or prioritize? I know, kearson, you led a workshop specifically about this. So I don't know if you have some insights to share?

Kirsten Knox :

Yeah, I was thinking, what I tell people oftentimes in that season is to spend time very intentionally about getting to know people. So to build relationships. In that year, I did teach a workshop on at root and and we talked about prioritizing people over programs. And I think when you first start in a place, you have such this internal drive, to be results oriented, and to do things and to change things. And that makes sense. Because that's kind of how we are wired. And we want to do that. But always say, hold off on that. And really spend time getting to know people, I would identify groups of people like in your church, your parents, your students, children, who are the influencers in those circles, and really spend some time getting to know them, and asking questions and listening to understand the second part of that is really to understand the culture, I think the gift of being new to places, you have an objective perspective, and you're not as emotionally attached to all the things that they are. And that's a gift. But also you have to be careful in that and really try to understand the culture and the whys. And all of how people are attached to the activities, the events, the program, whatever that looks like for them. So really asking questions and listening, I think and showing empathy to wherever they are. Because if you're new, and that's difficult, that transition, but it's also very difficult for them as they transition into a new leader and getting to know you. And they're really giving them space to feel that in that transition. But I would say build relationships. And even outside the youth ministry be intentional about that, I'd even make the list like Who are those people that I want to make sure I spend time to getting spending time with them, getting to know them asking questions to do that. So they have some kind of strategic plans to do that. And then also, just to be a student of the culture, and getting to know them and their church and all of those things. And I would read this making big changes for the first year. And, as always, that's kind of why might as a rule of thumb that we tell people I'm like, let's there's a safety issue, then right there. There's some immediacy there that you have a judge into. But other than that, to be real hesitant about coming in and making changes, but more coming in and listening and building relationships.

Brian Lawson :

Yeah, you know that. I mean, that's kind of you kind of touch base a little bit on my follow up question, because I think we all probably agree that being very careful. And making those changes that first year is really, really important. Because you don't know what kind of landmine you're going to lock into. I mean, you may accidentally change something that someone that was beloved six years ago brought in, and it's been held on to for all that time as if you're holding on to that person, you may actually walk into that, I walked into a situation where I played a game of bill of a beloved youth minister who had passed away while doing the job. And I played that game, not knowing that I was actually bringing up wounds. And I was only there for three weeks, you know, at that point, so I then had a lot to deal with. So you never really know how something got to that point. But the quite the question that fall of that I have is how do you gauge when it's appropriate to make a change, particularly like in that first year? Because we all know, we probably have lots of things we want to change, like, Oh, yeah, that this would be great to change. And this would be great. But we have to hold off on those. So how do we how do we gauge when it actually is appropriate to make a change within that first year? Mikiala, I don't know what would? What do you think about that?

Mikiala :

I think, um, I agree with Kirsten, in that, you know, that first year, try really hard not to touch anything in that because my thing is, you have to go through as many first in a season as possible so that you just have proper context period, about what you're dealing with. And so we always try really hard in our lives to make sure we have as much context as possible before we make decisions and that that goes towards ministry too. And so for me, the only reason you should make changes is if you just do not have the resources, if whatever is happening, and is just not long term, and sustainable for you as a ministry leader for The volunteers who are trying to help make it happen, then go ahead and make that call. But at first, as much as possible, try to just keep things rolling, because people are going through that transition, because you do need to learn what's going on and how people feel about certain things and where they're at spiritually, like, there's so many things that go into that. But I would say you want to still set yourself up as a new person for success as much as possible. So if there's something that's completely draining you as a resource, if you can't be in two places at once, which is my constant struggle in ministry, then make a call, so that you can actually pour as much as you can like, to the best of your abilities, you know, don't, don't shoot yourself in the foot right off the bat. So that would be the only guidance I have in terms of making one call.

Kirsten Knox :

I think that's so good, right? Like if it's about resources, I remember when I one of the churches I served in, I was there only a few weeks. And before I got there, they were in the process of renovating the youth room. And one of those steps was getting new carpet. And I mean, and they had very old carpet, and had some rat issues. So like changing carpet would be very important to know. And so we're in the midst of doing that, but I came in like, as that was happening, it was already set to happen. Like I didn't make any of those decisions. But the carpet got changed in the youth room, after I started just a couple weeks. And I remember this Sunday after we had high schoolers very upset about this change. And I like I really didn't anticipate at one because it wasn't a change that I a decision I made. But I think they were just so sensitive to change in their fears of what might change. And this is the real safe place to them and a place that they value and they got disrupted, even on a very minor, it was a safe place to put a lot, I think a lot of that anxiety and those feelings. But I remember that just as I was like, I didn't see that coming. And so we had to have that comfort, but you should know about the carpet. And I'm like, I really don't think your value is on the carpet being changed. And so set up that opportunity. But I think there's those things really to be aware of, and if if there's something a change that has to be made, I mean, I think working with your team, and then if they feel motivated to make that change, or if it was a change that was already in process, and you come into it in a place they were already moving in that direction, then I would think you can walk through that. But even that to be very careful. And doing that. And communicating would be very helpful as you walk through that.

Brian Lawson :

And so many interesting stories are wrapped around the flooring of places, right? I went, we were doing a renovation in one place I was and and I went on vacation. And when I went on vacation It was supposed to be there's like a cafe area and it was supposed to be like the concrete stained floor. I come back. And a trustee had made a decision to put down like this tile laminate stuff that looked like cheese it. I mean, it really looked like cheeses. And his response was, well, it's the same color as what you were gonna get with stained concrete. I'm like, No, it's not. I was gone for like a week and I come back. And it's completely different. The plan is completely different. And so then the teenagers all walked in, and I called it the cheese at floor and assumed I picked it and I was like I had nothing to do with.

Mikiala :

That's what you get for leaving. How do I tell

Brian Lawson :

you? I tell you? Yeah. So I, you know, I think you got you guys were right on and really maintaining consistency that first year to understand the culture. But there are moments where change is necessary. But you need to make sure that it's not just you making it because you want it. You know, it needs to be something that actually has a legitimate safety concern, or serious reason behind it. And I would say pull the team behind the decision. And if you can get your team to make that decision rather than you. That's always better because then it's it's a collective group that they decided that you support. particularly early on that's that's really important. I know I had an issue with some bands. When I first got a church, there was two bands, and they were competing together. And I found out that they were separate band worship bands because the brother and sister weren't getting along. So they started to separate. So it was toxic from the beginning. And the whole thing. They were like one band thought they were better than the other and it was just not at all the culture we wanted to create. So So we, we in that first year, merged them into one band, and I did get some pushback. And if I were to do that over again, I think I would do some better communication and pull in the team a little bit better on that decision. But so a few weeks ago, we hosted some more digital gatherings. Those, for those who don't know are where we basically host zoom calls for youth and children's ministers where we provide some encouragement and a place to ask questions and community And in case you don't know, we are starting some cohorts, these are eight week intensive cohorts that will start on the day, this releases will start two days after. So, if you're hearing this on the first day or so this is released, I'd encourage you to check out those cohorts, we'll put the link in the show notes. But anyways, during the digital gatherings, particularly with the children's ministers, trunk or treat came up. And then I think that the CDC has also come out with some guidelines, saying that trunk retreats are sort of high risk events. For whatever reason, I'm not going to sit, argue whether it's right or wrong, I'm just just telling you what, what they have said. So I'm curious if you guys know, like, what what are your churches doing? Are they doing this event? Have you heard of any churches who are looking at alternatives? Just curious what our thoughts are on this group about about that? Yeah,

Mikiala :

it's definitely a tough spot to be in, you know, just being in the middle of a pandemic. But I know that churches in our area are looking at doing more drive thru type of things, where you know, you invite families to still decorate their cars, and then they can have the kids drive through and see the trunks. And then at the very end is when they'll get their treats. Like in a goodie bag, they can pass that over without too much physical contact, and all that stuff. So I've heard of that being done. And others just having families decorate their cars at home, and then send in videos and pictures so that they can be put in the Sunday worship experience so that everybody can see might just be a fun family activity together. But then the church gets the benefit of seeing the different ways that people are creative. I think for student ministry, one of the things we might do is just maybe an outdoor Movie Night, something like that. I haven't told my kids that yet. So nobody tell them because I don't usually like to say things ahead of time. But make sure we post this on your ministry page. So they see Yeah, thanks for that. Right. So, so yeah, we're just trying to think of different ways to remain safe, but still try to celebrate the season and have a little bit of fun. It's definitely a hard spot to be in, though.

Kirsten Knox :

Yeah, so true. I heard this one idea at our digital gathering that I thought was really good. This children's minister talked about, they were still going to have their congregation decorate their trunks and spread the cars out. But then they're going to take the students or the children, and they were kind of like a parade or like a like kind of like a runway, they would walk down in their costume one by one, and people could see them in their costumes. And then they still have that. And I was like, that is so cool. Because they get all that attention. And here, I've had this costume and everyone gets to see it. And then at the end, they would have their goodie bag that they got to have, which I was like, that was really cool. When I heard someone talk about also, like, oh, if you could add, like a place where people could get pictures, and be able to add that to decorate it so they can take some pictures with their costumes before they walk through the parade runway of decorated cars. I thought that was a really good idea.

Brian Lawson :

Yeah, I remember that one that was stood out to me, Kristen. And I think I think you can do that in a safe way. I mean, I think that so I tend to be so I was joke that I was a germaphobe by the students. They all said I was germaphobe. to them. I was I think maybe the most adults, I'm not that much. But to them especially I was well kearson might disagree. But um, so this obviously whole situation puts me on high alert. But but so when I was thinking about that i thought you know that in concept is so great. But how do you do that with people screaming? So because right, the screaming is part of the issue, potentially. And so I thought, you know, if you space the cars out, well, like you mentioned kearson if you really make sure that they're spaced far enough out both directions, and between vehicles. But then potentially you also could give them like little cowbells like I give everybody count some other noisemakers that's not screaming. And then then here's the clever part, I think, put speakers out with crowd screaming from the speakers behind the cars. So it sounds like people are screaming and then they've got all these, you know, noisemakers so and then you just send kids down, you know, with space between them. And I think you could totally do it and would fill like, I mean, just like the NFL and like the sports are doing where they're putting in fake audience noises. I mean, we could you I think you could totally do that. And kids, I think would love that. So yeah, that parade stood out to me too. When I heard that.

Kirsten Knox :

That'd be great. Yeah. And then I also heard, I was looking on Facebook and someone had talked about the Great Pumpkin parable. It's a book for how to research that cuz I'm like, I don't know what that is. And so they talked about doing storytime and creating that space for that and an evening or maybe watching In the Great Pumpkin movie into an outside movie, like you had mentioned. So like, I think there are a lot of different ideas to think about what to do, I would just say, talk to your leadership. And each church is navigating this differently. And make sure whatever you do is really communicated well to your supervisor as you're thinking about it, but also works within the guidelines that your church has set up so that it's consistent in whatever you do.

Brian Lawson :

Yeah, yeah, that's great. That's great. So I would say if anybody knows some great things they're doing for trunk or treat, or they've seen some great ideas, maybe they're not doing it, or even for student ministries. I know lots of people do pumpkin patches, and people are trying to think through that. I would love it if you guys post that in the making sense of ministry group and share that because I know there's other people who could really use your ideas. And we think that collectively, as a community is where the best ideas are found.

Mikiala :

Absolutely.

Brian Lawson :

Yeah. So this next question, I actually saw this posted in a group that I'm a part of, you know, we're all part of these different ministry groups. And I thought this was a great question for, for people to hear answered. And the question was, do you keep notes after each week's lesson or gathering about, like, what could use improvement? And also, do you keep notes about the kids or students? And so that was the That was the question. I don't know the full context of the question. But that's what they were asking. So. So What do y'all think? What do you do?

Mikiala :

Yeah, I am, I, I'm more so keep mental notes in terms of like the lesson after teaching one, we're always our own worst critic. And so that kind of just sticks with you, you're like, well, that bombed That was terrible. So just keeping that in mind for the next time that you have a speaking engagement. So I don't necessarily keep written notes about that. But I definitely keep notes on my students. And one of my favorite parts of a meeting that I have, is when I sit down with our ministry, small group coach, her job is to, to encourage our volunteers and our leaders. And so she helps in that regard. And so we sit down together, and we look at the list of students that we have in our ministry, and we just talk through them, you know, what's this kid got going on? How do we be in prayer for this student? And, you know, what? How long has it been, since we've seen the students face and what's going on in their life? What can we do to reach out to them, and I love that because it it, it makes the ministry smaller in the sense of you getting to know what's going on with your kids. And when you can write those things down and keep track of different things that are going on, then you're able to, to build on more of that relationship. Versus You know, when you have youth ministry, and everybody's coming at you at once, it's really hard to keep track of what's going on with everybody and all that. But if you take the time after the fact, once the craziness has died down, and really sit down and think through and remember different things about different students, and even what's going on in the lives of the leaders, and how we might need to offset some of the leadership help, because they might be going through something at home, you know, just really trying to help make things work? Well. That's a really important part of what we do.

Brian Lawson :

Yeah. So you said you have a ministry, small group coach, is that right?

Mikiala :

Yeah. What is what is

Brian Lawson :

that role? Is that a volunteer? Like, how did you get to that?

Mikiala :

Yes, it's a volunteer role. So our ministry is, is small group lead. And so when you ask the question, Well, how do you disciple students? Our answer is always well, we disciple them via small groups. And so our small group leaders are the most important part of our ministry. But when you get to a point where you have 13, small group leaders, we know that it's impossible to really be a great mentor of more than eight to 10 people, you know, so I have my admin volunteer who's fantastic. I don't know where I'd be without her. But she kind of took on more of a role of pouring into those leaders, as well, so that those leaders can pour into the students, we have to be very intentional about how we disciple our leaders. And so we work together to make sure that we do that to the best of our ability, so that that's modeled for them. And they can in turn, do it for the kids. So Wow,

Brian Lawson :

excellent. I love it. That's a great position. If you don't have that. You should get that. Yeah, it's

Kirsten Knox :

so good. Yeah, I hadn't thought about I don't think I've ever written them down like cat notes. Afterwards, I did a lot more of the mental notes of after teaching the lesson. But I also would say, asking some of your small group leaders or whoever has other adults, that's been a part of you teaching that lesson and getting their perspective is always helpful when you're trying to decide what what really well, what could we do differently and their perspective because, yes, I think we are our own worst critic. And so getting other people's perspective can be very helpful. Sometimes it takes some courage to ask that question to other people, right? Like, you got to be ready for that. But I would say if you're a note taker, and document kind of stuff documented and all that stuff is kind of the way you are wired and would be helpful, then, yeah, keep those notes. But yes, the most important part is then communicating that with the people that are there serving those students. So how you do that, we oftentimes, I would do one on ones with my small group leaders. And that would be a time when we would talk through those kinds of things with their students. Because there are times I received information or new things that were going on that they may have not always gotten, or that they did in small group that I didn't know. So being able, there are different ways to do that. But creating an avenue where you can share that information before and after, even before programming or after, for us small group leaders were there and having that kind of time to touch base with them. And communicating with them was always helpful. But having that, but I'm with you, Brian, I love this coach idea. And being able to do that. That's great. Yeah,

Mikiala :

I would also add, Kristin, you just reminded me now that we are trying to figure out how to do ministry in the pandemic. And with COVID. Our ministry, we're working really hard at trying to do like hybrid ministry, kind of like the school systems where you have online ability to come to youth group and in person ability to come to you through. And so what that means for me is that because we do that via zoom, I now have a recording of the lesson that I've taught. And so it's really painful. But it's also really helpful to just watch your lesson and go Okay, so I can work on that I can work on that. So yeah, it hurts, but it's good.

Kirsten Knox :

Yes, I would say too, and there were times that they would pick out things that went really well, that I wasn't really always good that scene because I could tend to see where I thought I could do better. And the critique part and missed the part of what was really good. And what really went well, and having them speak into that off the created space for that. For me at times, it was also very helpful.

Brian Lawson :

Yeah, I think for for me, so I didn't take notes weekly. But I would say probably every month or every couple months, during our leader meetings, we would ask, Hey, how are things going and do a sort of informal evaluation. And then, at the end of every school year, we did a really significant evaluation for primarily as we were thinking about the next year. And so we would do that every year. And then when we would have big events, so like, let's say we had a fall retreat, or if you had like trunk or treat, you know, you have a folder with all these files, potentially in it, maybe it's a digital folder, or maybe it's a physical folder, I would go through within just a couple days after it was over. And I would write down all of the real wins. Like all the things that we love that went really well. And then I would also write down the things that were opportunities, right things that could use some improvement. I stole that opportunities, language from Target years and years years ago when I worked there. But But then I would just, I wouldn't even think about anymore, I'd write it down, put that piece of paper on top of the folder, in it. And then so when I open it the next year start planning, I've got that those notes to look at from the previous year, because I know I won't remember unless I have those notes. So that's what I would do for for events. The depending on the number of students, I think you have or children. The how you do notes about kids or students specifically may change, you know, when you have only 10, it's pretty easy to kind of keep track of that yourself. When you get to 2030 4050, whatever number, it becomes significantly more difficult. And so we we invested in Planning Center, which I know lots of people are familiar with. And we we ultimately started using that for notes on students. The kind of notes that went in, there were things that we thought that their next leader might need to know. So when they transferred to a new leader, also in there were significant life events that we thought were important to remember. Or if there was an incident or safety issue, we also would put that in there. And then also if we had to contact the parents for both positive but also negative reasons, that was all in there. And that was really helpful. I think the important part of that is that our leaders had access to most of that information, at least the people in their small group. So you really have to train your leaders on how to use that information and how not to use that information. And I also I think we had this may not be the right term, I'd have to look back but like a nondisclosure agreement or like confidentiality agreement that that they signed every year that says you got to understand this information does not leave these circles in these places. So I was that's how we we ultimately ended up doing it. Just we got to a place where we felt like we needed to have it in a database somewhere. So that's that's how we did but however you find the due notes, I do think having notes are important. Just however you go about doing that I think can can vary. Because, as the other two have said, it's, it's you guys have said it's important to, to evaluate, even if it means watching yourself from a zoom recording. painful as it is.

Mikiala :

struggle is real, my friend.

Brian Lawson :

Yep, yep. Okay, so the last question I actually receive from autumn and Jonathan, but also other people, and I've seen lots of people asking this question. And it's about COVID policies and waivers. So should they have COVID policies at their church? I'm assuming about the youth or children's ministry specifically? Do they publish them? Do they not? And do they need waivers for the kids and students? First off, I'll say before we answer, we're not lawyers. So don't this is not this is not legal advice. And we don't pretend to be that, but what do you guys think about about COVID policies? And do we publish them or not? What are your thoughts

Mikiala :

with them with that disclaimer, like I'm gonna circle back to at the beginning of this conversation, we started talking about our friends, the trustees, and all the different committees that churches have. And so as a ministry leader, I totally feel like this is an opportunity to lean into exactly what those committees do best and what they are there for. And so whatever denomination you are, whatever your church has set up, lean into those leaders who work in that, you know, they want to make sure that the church is safe as a whole. And therefore, your ministry as a whole is safe. And so if there's a way for you to ask those questions to them, I know because I work at a church that falls under the United Methodist conference, we get a lot of our guidance from the conference. And then it goes directly to our senior pastor who answers for I our entire church. And so I'm constantly bending his ear and saying, Hey, what do you think about this? Like, those decisions are not just me and my volunteer team? We do the ministry side of things, and how do we have a great event? And how do we minister to students, but when it comes to those safety issues, I need to hear from those people who do that on a larger scale. And so you know, find out what those rules are. And then you ask them, Do we post it, do we not because they have to figure that out for the overarching church. And so whatever the church is doing as a whole, that you guys come as a ministry, you fit in within that, and you make sure that you're doing everything that you can to stay safe. So, so yeah, I would just kind of like, get in line with whatever the church is doing, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, or be the one that has to be at the forefront of making those decisions. Find somebody who can make those decisions with you and for you in that regard.

Brian Lawson :

Yeah. And that really shows support of the church as a whole, right? I mean, when you do that, you're saying you're also submitting to authority of other leaders in the congregation, which then also makes you seem as a team player, as well, absolutely. You know, which is always good to project to the other people on staff and to the other leaders in the church. And

Mikiala :

safety is too important not to be a team player about, you know, we don't want to go Freewheelin and, you know, get into trouble, because we didn't think about something, we got to have so many bases covered. So it's important to ask all those people about those things.

Brian Lawson :

Yeah, absolutely.

Kirsten Knox :

And I think what also would be helpful to I would add is that your different age levels are doing it the same? I realize in all contexts that might be difficult in some places more than other. But yes, lean into your church leadership. And that's the decision that not just you make the off though, it would be helpful if everyone was doing that the same way. And so that families who had children and teenagers knew what to expect and can navigate that and some cohesiveness would be helpful.

Brian Lawson :

Yeah, yeah, we had a lawyer. Well, so he's, he would not fall under this type of law. But his recommendation was always don't publish a policy, unless you are 100% gonna stick to it. You know, it's better to just not have it published. Now. I'm not sure how we all feel about that, how leaders feel about that. But from a legal perspective, he said, it's better to have nothing published than to have something published and not follow it. And so I would say whatever you're going to do, if your church publishes it, and you publish it within your ministry, just make sure that that whatever that is, that it happens. And to be honest, that's really great for communication and for people to feel safe and to trust your leadership anyways. Right? When you do what you say you're going to do, it really makes a significant difference on how how people feel about you and the ministry and the trust that they put in put in you. Do you guys think? Yeah. Do you guys think waivers are necessary? I mean, what are your thoughts on waivers during COVID? I mean, I personally think that maybe it falls under your general waiver.

Mikiala :

For part I mean, I think it depends on what we're talking about, like we as a church had to have waivers for our volunteers for those who would be coming on to the church campus, specific to COVID. But that was just something that came straight down from the conference. And we just had to abide by that. They didn't give us instruction in terms of waivers for the students, I'm sure if we wanted to, we could implement something, but we just kind of took that direction. And we just had our leaders sign those. So it depends on the context and what you're trying to accomplish. I feel like

Kirsten Knox :

I've known churches that are doing waivers and churches that aren't. So again, I would say, lean into your church leadership and let that be a decision that they make and that you are in line with. But also, I mean, personally, I think COVID is something right, we're learning to live in, I always wanted to say when it's over, I'm not sure that's ever gonna happen. So being able to put it in your waiver with all the other stuff that you have in there that releases the church of liability, there might be some simple ways of doing that. I mean, I know for us, when we would have those waivers we use that when we went off campus, we didn't always have a waiver for anytime, right? Someone showed up for a program that they had that. So I think there's some logistics, to like, work through and think through, but as long as you're, I would say, be in line with your leadership and then create a plan that's workable, and that everyone is on the same page would also be helpful as you work through that.

Brian Lawson :

Yeah, you know, I bring up Disney again, because you know, my family's slight Disney fanatics, but but when you walk on on their property, they just have a sign out. I mean, it's just, you know, basically, it's the waiver published on the sign that you acknowledge these risks just by being here. And so maybe it's as simple as your church just puts out a puts out a sign somewhere that says, By being on campus, you understand these risks. And, you know, we're working hard, obviously, to mitigate them, but at the same time, they're still there. So, yeah, like these two have said, just think about, just think about your church leadership. And what it is that they would, would have you do, I think, working together, and being cohesive in your communication, and what you follow is really important. So I think we're kind of closing up our time together. Do you guys have any kind of last thoughts that you want to share? Before we close out this episode, with our listeners,

Unknown Speaker :

I got just brought one of my favorite verses to my mind. And so I would just love to share that for everybody who's listening. It's Romans 15:13. And it says, "may the God of hope, fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit." And that's just my prayer for all the listeners. We are operating in very strange times, but we serve a God who gives us hope. And that's what we can operate out of. And so that's my prayer for everybody as well.

Brian Lawson :

Excellent. That's beautiful. Yeah,

Kirsten Knox :

I would say what I've been thinking about a lot this week, shared a little bit about it at rooted is that God isn't wasting your efforts. And that has just been something I have been meditating on and thinking a lot about. The things look differently, not being in person or as we used to be, I think sometimes we don't see the fruit or it doesn't look the way we would always like but just to remember that the the care, the compassion, the love, that you are giving students and families that God's not wasting that and even if you don't see the effects of that God is using that. And that is powerful.

Brian Lawson :

Excellent, thank you both so much. Well, friends, so that that kind of brings us to the end of today. One thing we're going to put I'm gonna put down the show notes as we were talking, I thought this was important. Our friend Kelly Minter has written several articles for us that we've posted about mental health. And she also played a significant role in the workshops at this last conference. But she's also taking new clients and she's been in ministry, she's been in youth ministry, so she understands a lot of what you're facing, and may be a good person for you to reach out to. So we would strongly encourage you, anytime, but especially during this season to reach out to a counselor of some sorts during the season. If you don't know one, I'm gonna put a link down to where she's at. So that you can look look her up and, and I know she can take clients no matter where they're located because she can do this on zoom. So we would love for you to check that out. Also down in the description, I'm gonna put a link to our Facebook group, which is the Making Sense of Ministry group. Really love to have you in there and involved and sharing your ideas and comments. But also, you can submit questions for the next podcast episode. And I think soon we're going to do a giveaway for people who we choose your questions for. So watch out for that. And until next time, friends, I hope we've helped you make sense of this thing we call ministry.

Ashley :

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