So, I took a quiz about what font I am. It told me I was Helvetica. It’s pretty accurate, but it’s a bit like a horoscope: so broad, it could fit anybody. ;) I am quite fond of Helvetica though, so regardless, I like the result. What font are you?
If you’ve read this blog very long, you’ve probably realized by now that I love Starbucks. I love their coffee, and I love writing about them too. One of Starbucks’ core values is something called legendary customer service. Legendary service means that your customer service is so great that people remember it. Trouble is, a lot of Starbucks stores don’t have it. Why is this?
The main reason–legendary service begins with knowing that there are two sides of the service counter. Not only are behind-counter tasks important, so are things on the front side of the counter. This means cleaning and forming conversations with customers. A lot of Starbucks partners have forgotten this fact. They, quite frankly, don’t care about the other side of the counter. It makes them just like any other fast food employee. It’s not legendary.
No, I haven’t forgotten I’m writing on a kid’s ministry blog and not a business blog. Just give me a second. We as kids’ ministry people (and ministry people in general) have a tendency to barricade ourselves. Behind the stage, on the stage, in a back room, in a sound booth. Instead of heading out before the service and hanging out with the kids, we’re too busy “hiding”. Yes, I realize you have to prepare. I get that. But don’t forget that you’re serving those kids. Your ministry is to share the love of Christ with them. You have to spend time with them to do that. They’ll remember you more. They’ll connect with you more.
I’m far from innocent in this area. I feel that most of us are probably that way. Make a special effort to talk to some kids this Sunday. Don’t make them come to you. Go talk to them. Remember- there’s two sides.
Volunteer appreciation is a term that gets thrown around a lot. You know you need to appreciate your volunteers, but some children’s leaders forget what it means. That’s what I want to address today.
Appreciating your volunteers is important, especially in younger generations like mine. We like to know that we’re really being helpful and doing good. It’s important to us in any area of life. There’s an issue though. In a lot of ministries, “volunteer appreciation” means a sheet of paper that says “You’re a lifesaver!” with a mint in the middle. The thought is appreciated, but it usually doesn’t mean much.
When was the last time you shot off a phone call or email to a volunteer just to say, “Thanks for changing the life of a child”? Better yet, when is the last time you took your volunteer to lunch just to say thank you? Make volunteer appreciation more than a cheesy candy gift. Make it something real- something a volunteer can walk away from and feel encouraged and cared for. Make it personal.
I kind of accidently stumbled across a simple post I first wrote shortly after the inception of this blog. It was simply a quote from a Starbucks cup (you know the ones), but I thought it was worth repeating here nearly 2 years later.
“It’s relationships, not programs that change children. A great program simply creates the environment for healthy relationships to form between adults and children. Young people thrive when adults care about them on a one-to-one level, and when they also have a sense of belonging to a caring community.”
-Bill Milliken, founder of Communities in Schools
The Way I See It #237 off a Starbucks Cup
This evening I was reading through my devotional book I read every night, Extreme Devotion. (It’s really great, and you can check it out by clicking its picture to the left.) Today’s devotion was about a missionary who went to Korea in the 1800s with a Korean Bible in tow. The missionary was killed before he ever spoke to a single Korean. However, his Bible is still read today by Christians in the restricted nation of North Korea. Over 150 years later, his action and subsequent death are still a testimony to Korean Christians.
You know what’s so cool about that? He had nothing to do with the growth but planting the seed. It’s kind of like he planted a garden then had to move away, so someone else started tending it. That’s where the parallel comes in.
Sometimes (no, most of the time) we have trouble letting go of our “gardens”. You know them: the ministries, events, duties, etc. that you’ve always done. It might be camp, VBS, summer outreaches, or whatever you may do. It’s your baby and you don’t want to let it go. The thing is, sometimes in order for it to really grow, you need to let go of it.
The death of any great ministry can be a leader who won’t let go. It’s just like a parent who won’t let go of their child once they’re out on their own. God has put volunteers in your church specifically so you can let go. I appreciate being able to serve under a children’s pastor like Ryan, who’s willing to let go of these projects when he can. For instance, a good portion of our VBS planning has been handed off to one of our best volunteers, Carol, for several years now. There was an opportunity to let go, and he took it. It’s helped both Ryan and our VBS in the long run having someone with the resources necessary to really invest in the ministry. He recognized that a volunteer was put in his path to be a great resource for him.
So what this summer could you hand off to one of your “resources?” Look at the things you refuse to let go of, but could really use someone else to tend to them who has the time and know-how. Use the amazing volunteers God has blessed you with to their fullest! It is called “summer break” after all.