Friday, August 10, 2007

Lessons from my Cat

My husband and I have a crazy cat. He loves to fly around our house like a mad-cat, and randomly jump against the wall. The real treat happens when he jumps and grabs a door frame, five feet up, and clings to both sides of the frame with all four paws, a wild look in his eyes as he checks to see if I noticed. Other times he takes the calmer approach and simply jumps against the wall six feet up. I have the scratched paint to prove it. One day, my husband pointed out that Wylie (our cat) is like a five-year-old trying to get attention. The "Look at Me!" mentality. Whatever he's doing, I can just hear him thinking, "Look how fast I can run!" or "Watch, I can jump high!" or "Did you see that? I jumped!"
Once the five-year-old behavior was pinpointed, I remembered a time at church one Sunday. Elaina, one of our kindergartners, first proudly showed me that her bangs had been cut (I didn't see a difference) and then kept asking what else was different about her hair. I wasn't sure, after all, nothing looked new, she simply wore two pig-tails. Turns out she'd never worn pig-tails before, so this was very exciting! And my Elaina encounter didn't end there. She then pro ceded to run back and forth across the room, calling out, "Look at me teacher Jill! Do you see how fast I am?"
The first couple laps back and forth were easy to be excited about. But when she kept going, my enthusiasm began to waiver. I still needed to make sure all the volunteers showed up, make contact with a specific parent, and get some fliers to another class.
My husband's observation of the similarity between our cat and a five-year-old made Elaina's antics click in my mind. She is at an age of discovery where every coordinated movement or new look is exciting! She is so proud of what she's capable of. But when I get caught up in all that I have to do on a Sunday morning, I loose sight of the most important aspect of my job--the children. Rather than looking up at all the adults and tasks, I should be looking down at all the kids. Getting excited about every accomplishment, celebrating a high running speed, and being equally excited about the first ever pig-tails.
They may not be jumping six feet in the air or grabbing door frames, but the kids in my ministry are designed wonderfully, and deserve all the praise and attention I can give.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

It's That Time of Year Again...

September is looming. And so is the dry erase board in my office. On it I have a line for each volunteer needed in the fall. And some of those lines are filled, but unfortunately, quite a few are still blank (something to celebrate though! More lines are filled than in past years!). This is the time of year when people start avoiding eye contact with me. Oddly enough, though, I love recruiting! My husband starts laughing when in a conversation, someone says they're majoring in education, or love kids, or enjoy their nieces and nephews. He knows what question is coming. "Oh really? Have you ever considered working in Children's Ministries?"
While I never want to be seen as a stalker, I love making one on one contact with a person, and inviting them to join our team. I'd way rather have a conversation about what appeals, what age group is favored, and what services a person is available than just depend on an ad in the bulletin.
Two years ago we started a new "marketing scheme" for fall recruitment. People didn't seem to notice the onslaught of "URGENT NEED" notices in the bulletin, so we took a more gentle approach. We planted ourselves with a booth in front of the main entrance to the church with large pictures of children's faces and a big sign that said, "Amazing Face: Who influenced the life of this child?" During announcements in "big" church, a picture was shown of one of our staff people as a baby (one week it was the senior pastor, another week the executive pastor, another week the middle school pastor). Everyone was invited to come to our booth and guess who the baby in the picture was. And then, we would draw one correct entry randomly, and that person got a $20 gift certificate to a local restaurant.
Here's the catch... the entry form was also the sign up form for working in Children's Ministries! We had soooo many people volunteer!
The next year our theme was a play off of Master Card commercials, only we called it Master Care. Playing games-5 minutes. Leading hand motions-15 minutes. Holding a baby-30 minutes. Leading a child to Christ--Eternal.
This year, our theme is "Flip a Child's Future for Christ." We've printed up stories of children who's futures looked bleak until a friend brought them to church. Now, their future is being flipped. We'll see how it goes.
But all this to say, as much as I don't like the frustration of seeing blank lines filled slowly, I love recruiting!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Upholding the Standard of Excellence

Sometimes I don't want to worry about how something looks and settle for less than the best. But then I remember where I work and change my mind. At our church, there is a high standard for image. Some perceive it as a vanity issue. I see it as obedience. God put His absolute best into creation. After all, He made us in His image. Why should we, His followers, be content with just ok? It seems like in Children's Ministries, it's easy to loose track of a good image, after all, do the kids really care how our display table looks?
Our Women's Ministries Director makes every display she does beautiful. It doesn't matter if it's for a season-long Bible study or a one night event, her promotion displays are elegant. My hope is to make a "Pattie Quality" look to everything I do. I want my Children's Ministries displays and tables to catch the eye of a mother and make her want to be a part of something so nice. To be specific and to the point for the person who has to stop by quickly. To instill excitement in onlookers. But most of all, I want to honor the Lord by putting the effort into making my work reflect the work He did in me.

Sony Style USA