Some times people don’t volunteer for jobs at a church because they don’t know what the job actually is or what they’ll need to do if they sign up.  110_03851

1. Describe jobs in ways people can understand. Churches are into changing names, programs, positions these days. So when you tell the congregation you need Sunday morning traffic team administrators, they might not respond, not being sure what that is.  But if you say, “We need someone to direct traffic in our parking lot on Sunday mornings,” they get it.

2. Write job descriptions of the different service opportunities in your church. Be specific and let people know with whom they’ll be working. Especially if you have a larger church and not everyone knows everyone else.  Seeing that he’ll be working with Joe Doe might make John Smith agree to do the job. He worked with Joe on the building project last year and enjoyed the teamwork. (Writing a job description also gives you opportunity to tell the volunteer exactly what you expect from him – before he even begins the job.)

3. Be honest. Don’t present the job as something “they’ll only have to show up for once a week,” if indeed, the job also includes monthly planning meetings and bi-monthly Saturday events where the volunteer will need to keep 35 fifth graders occupied at a pizza party.  No surprises.

4. Give the volunteer a specific duty at the very first meeting. What sometimes happens is this:  New volunteer shows up, but all the veteran volunteers are super busy doing what they’ve been doing for the past five years and new volunteer feels lost and unneeded. After a couple weeks, he fades out of view.

I remember, as an Awana director, needing more leaders. For many years, I had talked to one lady in our church about being a leader.  But she had never worked with kids before and hesitated. Finally, she agreed.  I was diligent about talking to her about what she needed to do, but when she showed up the first night of club, everyone was busy with first-night chaos and no one had time to walk her through “on the scene.”  Needless to say, I lost her s quickly as I had gained her.  Now someone could argue that if she was truly wanting to serve, she should’ve given me another chance. But I still wonder what would’ve happened if I had handled it better.


110_03791A new ministry is beginning and you need volunteers, so a couple sentences get put in the bulletin/worship folder and then you pray and wait.

Sometimes the best way for someone to see the need AND get interested in what’s happening, is by inviting them to visit the ministry for which you’d like them to volunteer. By actually seeing something IN ACTION, people get interested. Now there are faces on the bulletin/worship folder announcement.

You could ask the person to be a guest speaker or substitute for someone who is sick.

I remember a family in one of our churches who weren’t at all interested in our Awana program. Even though many of the people in the church were involved, this family simply saw it as a little club for a few participants.

I asked the lady to do our Christmas-focused large group lesson for the 3rd-6th grade girls and she readily agreed. She showed up that night with a few handouts.

“I don’t think that’s enough,” I told her.

But she brushed me off. She was sure she knew what to expect. 

As more and more girls wandered into our room, I could see her eyes get big. By the time she started her lesson more than 40 girls were sitting in front of her.

“I had no idea this was happening on Wednesday nights.” She was clearly stunned.

No, she didn’t instantly become an Awana leader, but she and her husband did take an interest in what was happening with the kids.

All the talking about Awana meant nothing to her – but when she actually saw it in action, she understood.


Here are ideas to get people interested in the ministry for which you want them to volunteer.

1. Have a dedication service for those who are already involved. Ask them to come up front during a Sunday morning service, explain the ministry and then pray for them as they begin the fall session.

2. Invite people to visit the ministry and see what’s happening.

3. Ask the pastor or someone to encourage people to volunteer and why.

4. Ask a couple people who have been affected by the ministry in the past to give testimonies of what a teacher/leader/staff member meant to them and what they learned about the Lord through the ministry.

5. Give specifics about what is needed. “We have a need for a staff person to work in the kitchen, pouring juice and setting out cookies, during our summer VBS.”  Or, “We need an usher to work one Sunday a night.”


110_0377QUESTION: How do you get people to do things? We struggle with commitment in our church. People don’t show up for things they’ve promised to do or won’t even volunteer in the first place.

Answer: A couple pastor’s wives have asked me to write about commitment and the lack thereof in the local church.

Well, I’ll do my best, but no one (except the Holy Spirit) or no thing or no plea can make someone who truly is NOT committed, BE committed. Our goal is to trigger something in those people who are sort of committed, but don’t know how to take the next step.

Actually, there’s a question I’ve been asked hundreds of times concerning commitment and even though it’s a simple question – even THAT question is confusing.

The question is this: Do you spell commitments with one T or two Ts?

See, I used to work at a Christian bookstore called Commitments and people would ask us that dozens of times a day while writing out their checks. The confusing part about it, is they would say one or two ts, but actually meant two or three ts. Think about it.

Back to the church commitment challenge. My Dad always told Ken,  “Don’t expect anyone to do anything. Then when they don’t do it, you won’t be disappointed, but when they do come through, you’ll be thankful.”

Well, that was my dad for you and what he did for Ken educate him so that he didn’t walk into the pastorate with heaven-colored glasses.

Because, when you get down to the nitty-gritty of church business, some people aren’t and never will be committed.

I think there’s several reasons for this.

1. People lack commitment to anything these days. Many people that is.  Excuse me for bringing in Brad and Jen of Hollywood fame, but I remember reading an article (when they were married) where each admitted that they didn’t know if they had found the love of their lives. OK. Excuse me. If you love someone and married that someone that you are married to the love of your life. That’s commitment. What kind of commitment comes with “I’m not sure.” Yet, that’s the way we think in our world. “Not sure, I changed my mind, I need time for myself, etc.”

2. Society promotes the “me first” message. True, some people over-commit, but I sincerely don’t think that happens as much as some people “under-commit.” Yet, magazines are crammed with articles telling us to put ME FIRST or SAYING NO or BE SELFISH and TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF.  Again, some of these concepts are important in moderation, but the Bible stresses that we are to put the other person first. (Remember, the Bible also says we need time to rest from our labor.) Funny, I think the Lord understands we don’t need all that much encouragement to think about ourselves, that comes naturally.  But we do need encouragement to sacrifice our time and effort toward others. What if magazines starting including articles saying entitled OTHERS FIRST or SAYING YES or TAKE TIME FOR THE OTHER PERSON?

3. So much happening. When soccer and art lessons and school activities compete for our time, the Lord can get pushed off to the side. Unfortunately by doing that, we are teaching our kids that the Lord is our lowest priority. Then they grow up and teach the next generation and each generation gets a little more lax.

4. In this age of specialists, people think “I’m not qualified to do it” when asked to help out at the church dinner, teach a class, plan a banquet, work on an outreach team.

5. People simply don’t understand the importance of teaching a kids’ class or helping set up for the youth group Bible quizzing event. They have this silly idea that “someone else can do it.” 

Tomorrow – some things to do when needing volunteers.


110_03612Remember a couple weeks ago I talked about the verbs in Philippians, chapter 4 and how those verbs are great instructions for life? The first verse was “stand fast.” 

The second verb is “rejoice.”  That’s probably the verb that gets the most mention, but is also one of the most difficult to actually DO.

 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Here are some reasons to rejoice today.

1. Spring is coming this week – at least in name! (By the way, I took the picture of these daffodils, THIS SPRING,)

2. We are each a unique creation of God. He loves us, thinks about us and cares about us.

3. God created families – a group created before towns, countries, basketball teams or Facebook. A group of people who can love, support and “be there” for each other.

4. We are in ministry, where we have the joy of seeing people come to Christ and grow in Christ.

5. We lived in a chaotic world.

      *People have no worth (if you don’t want the baby, kill her before she’s even born. If you don’t want the old people, kill them, too.) 

      *People have no stability ( If everything is temporary, where is the security?)

      *People have no meaning (if you don’t think life is worth all that much and you don’t believe in God and heaven, what IS there to live for?)

      *People have no boundaries (if there isn’t right or wrong and we’re all left to flounder, what’s the use?)

Yet, in the midst of that we do have worth: 

       *Worth – who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time (2 Timothy 2:7)

   *Stability – “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

  *Meaning – For me to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21)

  *Boundaries – And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right. (2 Thessalonioans 3:13)


How cool is that?




110_0368I’ve seen a lot of pictures on the walls of children’s ministry wings of churches.  In fact, I have been in two or three churches where the children’s wing was elaborately painted like a town.

The church I visited last week did something unique. Someone painted a mural of a different country in each of the classrooms – the countries represented areas where they supported missionaries. What a great way to keep the missionaries in mind and to remember to pray, write and e-mail them.

I’m guessing this is China.


My funniest plane story …

Some of you have heard this, but here goes …

I was flying to Tennessee and the flight attendant was bringing around the beverage cart. I was on the aisle seat with an empty middle seat and then a business woman sitting next to the window.

I was thirsty, but not overly thirsty and didn’t want an entire can of soda. So, when the flight attendant asked me what I wanted, I said a “half a cup of Coke.” Now, that seemed like a simple request to me. You take the cup, you fill it up half way and hand it to me. The lady next to me, heard what I said and she, too, thought it was a reasonable request.

But for some reason, the flight attendant didn’t “get it.” She took a styrofoam cup (I am not making this up) and with her fingernail, went around the middle of the cup, literally cutting the cup in half – until she only had a cup bottom with an understandably ragged edge. She then filled that with Coke and handed it to me. I was in such shock, I couldn’t even think of anything to say – like “next time could you give me the top half?”

“WHAT?” asked the lady next to me, “was THAT all about?”

I have no idea. I don’t know what possessed her to rip the cup in half.  As a test, I asked for the same thing on the return flight and actually got a half cup of Coke.

My coolest plane story …

I had to change planes on one trip and because of that there was a mix-up with my seat. The flight attendant had to figure out what was happening, so everyone seemed to be aware of the confusion.

I finally found my seat next to a window. A very, distinguished, older gentleman was sitting on the aisle.

As I settled in, he said, “Don’t worry. Stuff like that happens to all of us.”  Then he started chatting about where I was from and where I was going.

Turns out he was the retired head of the medical school at a prestigious university.

I told him I was heading south for an Awana Conference. He looked at me with interest.

“Have you heard about Awana?” I asked.

“Not sure. I’ve heard about something called Awana, but I don’t think it’s what you’re talking about.”

So I explained what I was talking about.

“That’s the one,” he said, but he still looked curious.

“What do you know about it?” I asked.

He then told me his story. He and his wife belonged (to what we would consider a cult) and they had raised their kids in this false religion. The three children all grew up to be very educated, successful adults — and all three walked away from the cult and one by one, had become Christians.

“I don’t know what we did wrong,” he mused, “to think all three of our children rejected their childhood beliefs. They talk to us about their faith all the time.”

He then went on to tell me that he had recently visited his son who was the commander of a large Awana club. The son had invited the dad to come to the club, watch and take pictures of the kids. The dad did and was very impressed.

He asked me some questions about what I believed. I could tell he was thinking. I knew all the confusion and the mixed-up seats on that plane had happened for a purpose. I was glad to be able to support the things his son had been telling him. I knew that what I told this gentleman would not be the last time he heard about Christ.


110_03212Some more TRIP TIPS.

1. Arrive about an hour and a half a head of time. “They” always tell you two hours, but I’ve never, ever needed two hours. But still, you never know what might happen. Ken and I always had this thing where I would call him as soon as I got to my gate – to see how quickly I could get through security. My record was five minutes – he wasn’t even out of the airport.  O’Hare is usually fairly quick – though maybe it’s just because I’m used to it. I’ve found the Florida airports to take the longest.

2. This is my routine. I get through security and go straight to the gate to make sure the plane is really leaving from where the boards say it is leaving. This last weekend, my plane actually left down an entirely different hallway than the gate marked on my boarding pass. Then I check out the bookstore (of major importance), check out the newstands and buy snacks for the plane.

3. Gum is great for taking off and landing – especially if you have the ear-pressure problem. I don’t have that, but gum is still great for moistening your mouth.

4. Chewy candy, such as gummi Lifesavers, are my new “must haves” for the plane. They keep your mouth moist and keep you from drinking so much fluid, which often means crawling over everyone to get to the restrooms.

5. Take lots and lots of stuff to do. You never know how long you’ll be inside that plane. (Five hours on last Wednesday’s flight.) Once last fall, we sat on the runway watching a thunderstorm come in, rain on us and move off to the east. I spent the time texting Tami, who was sitting in the back of the plane.  I always treat myself to a book that I really, REALLY want to read. Planes aren’t a good time (at least for me) to read something in depth that requires a lot of focus.  Too much going on.  I also take my iPod and earphones … and my Nintendo DS with the New York Times Crossword puzzle game inserted. (Yes, I have one of those because my kids bought it for me FOR the plane.) Or you can take your Kindle (which I don’t have, but …) or watch a DVD on your laptop.

6. Take Kleenex or handwipes.

7. I usually take a jacket and then use it as a pillow. That works well.

8. After the plane takes off, you can usually move to any empty seat you desire. Don’t be afraid to get up and do that. They don’t care.

9. Early flights are good because planes aren’t so backed up on the runways.

10. Start a new collection – luggage tags from the different airports where you fly.  (I now have more than 30 different airport tags in my collection. Makes a fun bulletin board.)


Tomorrow – 

*a funny airplane story

*a cool airplane story.


110_0499Lately a couple people have talked to me about how much I fly and said that they seldom fly anywhere or maybe have never flown anywhere at all.

The fact that I travel so much is sort of funny to my family since I used to get deathly sick on airplanes. Well, at least the people around me got deathly sick after I got a little bit sick, if you know what I mean. But I figured out the problem. (Not a fear problem, an oxygen problem.) And now I do fine. 

I’ve also learned some things and since more and more pastors and pastors wives attend conferences and conventions and need to fly across the country, I thought I would spend some time sharing tips that I’ve picked up.

Incidentally, the picture on this page was taken out the plane window Saturday night, right before we hit the turbulence that unnerved the pilot. Talk about the calm before the storm!

Anyhow – here are some tips. 

1. Remember that there is a weight limit on bags on most airlines. (Otherwise you pay even more than you’re already paying.) You can carry quite a bit without going over the limit. My brother hit the limit last fall when we went to San Antonio, but only because he had several books, workshop handouts and his tripod in his bag.  He took out a few books and put them in his carry-on and was fine.

2. Dump everything out of your pockets, briefcases and purse before you go. Only put stuff back in that you’re sure will get through security. You don’t want to get hung up in line (or hang up everyone else) because you forgot to take out your nail clippers and pocket knife.

3. Check all flights to any airport in the area you’re going (if you have a choice). Funny. I saw a thing on the web that used Oakland/San Francisco as an example. The site said always go to Oakland because it’s cheaper. Well, west is exactly where I just went. I wanted to fly into Oakland, but all flights had you making a stop in faraway places like Dallas or Las Vegas. So, I checked San Francisco and got a round trip,nonstop  flight for only $190.00 which is unheard of.  So check even the busier airports – you might catch a deal.

4. Wear shoes that you can slip on and off, because no matter what airport you’re at, you’ll have to take them off. No one wants to stand behind you while you unlace or lace your knee-high boots. Nor is that really a lot of fun for you to have to do, balancing on one foot in a security line.

5. Don’t worry about being fashionably layered. If you have on a t-shirt, sweater, blazer and jacket. You will need to remove the jacket/blazer/sweater layers. So just wear the t-shirt or pullover sweater layer. Again, unlayering yourself in an airport line isn’t all that much fun.

6. Have a pocket or place in your briefcase/purse to keep your id and boarding pass handy. Airports differ in what they want to see and when they want to see it.

7. Go with an electronic ticket. You don’t even need to worry about remembering to take it to the airport. Just go to one of those self-check computers and stick in a credit card. Your name will instantly pop up. You type in the airport/city where you’re going and presto!  Your boarding pass pops out. (They they call your name for you to check in your baggage.)

8. Name tags on baggage are good. (In fact, some airlines MAKE you have a name tag on your luggage. One clerk stood impatiently while I wrote one out.) But put in an address other than your home address – such as your work or church  address. Sometimes unscrupulous characters check nametags to see whose away from home.

9. Tie ribbons and bows around the handle of your suitcase, because this is the truth. Many suitcases look the same. Those ribbons identify it. Some people put stickers on their suitcase or even paint pictures on them. Just do something to distinguish your black bag from everyone else’s.  That’s not only so you can find it quickly, but to keep others from claiming it.

10. Figure your bag will be opened. Especially during fall conferences, I bat about 70%, having my bag inspected. I think it’s because I have at least 2,000 sheets of paper in my bag because of workshop handouts. It makes the bag heavy, but coming home sure is nice.

Tomorrow. More tips.


110_03631Visiting other churches is always fun. One thing that’s especially cool is how quickly you connect with other Christians even though you’ve never met them before.

This past Wednesday I had the privilege of visiting Hessel Church in Sebastapol, California.

The Hessel Church Awana T&T club is in BIG competition with Central Bible. This is because Dawn (my hostess and T&T director) is the sister of Ruth H. ( Central’s T&T director). Each week they figure up what percentage of kids said what percentage of sections.

Hessel Church is a large, rural church built on the side of a hill. You can actually see the evolution of the church in the buildings arranged like stairsteps as you proceed up the driveway. To get to the church, we passed fields of mustard in full bloom. (I took pictures, but again, the moving car made it all rather blurry.) Across the road from the church, wild peacocks screeched as the cars pulled into the lot. The whole place had that outdoorsy camp smell.

Inside, the place was buzzing with kids attending Awana.  110_0378









Even if you don’t have Awana, see if you connect the children’s ministry at your church with another church in another part of the country or world.  This helps kids understand and adults remember that we aren’t the only ones who love the Lord Jesus Christ.