Church Stuff Doesn’t Have To Be Boring…

boring meetingI recently had the opportunity to train children’s ministry leaders and volunteers at a local small church.  I have to admit that I was somewhat dreading this event because it was in the middle-of-nowhere in Central California.  I just wasn’t looking forward to the 2-hour drive on my Saturday morning.  To my surprise, they actually had 20 volunteers show up… this is amazing given that they have around 40 children on Sundays.

We spent about 2 hours together.  We laughed a lot… we made lots of noise.  We jumped up and down.  We used chenille wires to create things.  We used sticky fingers, rolled dies, and played games.  After our 2 hours together, many individuals came up to me to thank me for coming out to their church.  Many of the comments I heard were:

  • I can’t believe how fun this was!  I certainly didn’t expect this training to be so active, interactive, and fun!
  • My daughter (6 yrs old) was upset that I dragged her to church on Saturday morning because I couldn’t find a sitter.  But she had so much fun that she can’t wait to come back to church on Sunday!
  • You make children’s ministry so fun!
  • This is the most fun I had at a church meeting!

Well, I’m very pleased that everyone had so much fun… but it got me thinking… Why do people automatically assume that any training at church, including the ones for children’s ministry, is going to be boring?  Well, it’s probably because that’s their past experience with any ministry workshops and/or trainings.  Well, first of all, I believe that if you work with kids or youths, you just can’t have boring, non-interactive trainings.  We must lead by example, and if the leaders don’t know how to have fun, build relationships, and interact, how can we expect the kids to do the same?  Secondly, I believe a team that laughs together stays and grows together… so I believe having fun together is a big component of a successful team!

So people…. please… let’s stop making church stuff boring… and let’s bring the fun back… especially for children and youth ministry stuff!!!  Afterall, the Bible is actually the most exciting book ever written… and face it, living a Christian life definitely isn’t boring! Let’s have fun!!!

At one of my workshops at KidMin Conference... we love to have fun!

At one of my workshops at KidMin Conference… we love to have fun!

stop taking ownership!!!

I’ve been on staff at several churches for the past 20 years.  When you’re in ministry, you spend a lot of time discussing ways to get people, especially volunteers, to own the ministry that they’re serving in.  After all, we want people to take ministries seriously and care for them as they would care for their own personal affairs.  However, I recently had a conversation with a pastor regarding teaching people to let go of ownership!  Many of you in ministry may totally disagree… but in the process of trying to encourage people to take personal and earnest care for these ministries, we’ve created monsters.  (I can just feel all these crazy eyes right about now…)

Let me explain… I’ve come across dozens of stories of a single person who has such tight hold on one aspect of ministry that other people are too scared to get near it… or that one person who is THE obstacle to making any changes… or that one person drives people out from getting involved or worse, out of the church altogether!  It sounds crazy, but it happens more often than not!  It’s often that ONE person who has such tight hold on whatever they’ve taken ownership of that it alienates or discourages others from serving joyfully.

We’ve forgotten that this is God’s ministry… not mine nor yours nor Mr. Smith’s.  We’ve led people to take ownership in such a way that it’s become their personal ministry with personal agendas and personal directions rather than God’s ministry with His agenda and direction.  What starts out as a good intentions often lead to disasters… and I think this is one example.  I have witnessed a church where one elder single-handedly drove out all paid staff, other leaders, and eventually majority of the congregation.  And it came down to the fact that he felt too invested in this church… and if ministry direction didn’t fit his vision, it was rejected.  He was very dedicated… he was at the church practically every day… He served with much passion and commitment… In fact, I believe he truly loved the church… but his tight ownership of the church eventually led to people being hurt, rejected, bitter, and departure from the church.

open-handsSo what if we encouraged people to release their tight grips… and release their ministries into the hands of God… after all, God is the owner of the ministries that we’re in, not me nor you nor Mr. Smith!  What if we encouraged people to really listen for God’s direction… and be good stewards of the ministries instead of owning it?  It may just seem like semantics, but would that change people’s thinking and attitudes?

REAL Leaders, Marines, & Moms

So in case you didn’t know, I’m a huge fan of Simon Sinek!  I have a very short attention span, and I can barely sit through anything that takes longer than 10 minutes…  But I’ll sit through 50 minutes of Simon Sinek’s talks.  I find him amazing, fascinating, inspiring, and brilliant!  This morning, I came across this youtube regarding the title of his latest book.  It’s a must see-and it’s only 4 minutes!!!

I absolutely love what he talks about here because this is also biblical leadership.  When I first started ministry, I was trained under an amazing man of God.  He truly led by example.  We would have monthly church beautification Saturdays (that I actually dreaded because I’m not a physical labor person)… but my senior pastor taught us that we needed to be there before everyone else arrived, and we already needed to be cleaning rather than just waiting and sitting around.  As much as I hated these monthly ritual, I always looked to my pastor with awe.  He would show up in his sweats, and he was on his knees gardening at the back of the church.  When I was in seminary in LA and commuted by plane to SF to church, he and his wife gave me the keys to the church mini-van and his home so I would never ben stranded anywhere.  He said I was always welcome.  I could raid their fridge whenever I was hungry.  I knew that this was a man who was willing to lay his life down for any of his staff and congregation members.

So it came as a shock when few years later, I had a pastor who told me that congregation members shouldn’t see me in my “street clothes” or they shouldn’t see me working and living like the rest of them.  My new pastor told me something that was completely opposite of what I had been taught by my first senior pastor.  Over a decade later, I’m always surprised to hear of leaders that demand or feel entitled to the royal treatment.  Aren’t leader suppose to serve?  That’s what I had been taught…

When I came across Simon Sinek’s “Leaders Eat Last,” I just burst with excitement and emotions:  “YEAH!!!  That’s what leaders are!!!”  He even goes on to say “you’re either a leader or you’re not!”  WOW!!!  Marines eat last… Moms eat last…  How about us church leaders?  We live in a society/culture where many church leaders are often revered and put on pedestals.  People often serve me first because I carry the title “pastor” (which I really dislike by the way… I’ve never been fond of titles)… but perhaps we should take note from the marines and moms and learn to eat last!

Crazy Pills…

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged… Life has been pretty busy, to say the least… I feel like I’ve been on a roller coaster ride for the past several months!  And yes, I’ve been feeling like I’m taking crazy pills (remember this from Zoolander?)

If you’ve been around me lately, you have probably heard me say this a lot!  I have always struggled with my identity growing up.  Trying to fit in when you’re not part of the majority has not been easy.  When I was the only asian girl in my elementary school in Kansas, I desperately wanted to wake up one morning with blonde hair and blue eyes.  When I moved to Los Angeles and found myself among other Korean-Americans that looked like me, I realized I was very different from them but desperately tried to fit in by acting like them.  When I found myself in the midst of Korean-American Christian community in college, I struggled to fit the cookie cutter mold of what I perceived to be the perfect Korean-American Christian girl.  I was pretty lousy fitting into that mold, although I’ve always been really good at faking it!

In my late 30s, I no longer care about fitting into a mold.  I just want to be the best ME that God made me… I thought that would be easy, but I’m learning that it’s not easy being me (I’m sure Kermit the Frog can relate).  It’s not easy being me because I don’t fit in any mold that has been expected of me (for the most part).  I’m coming to terms with the fact that I don’t think like a typical Korean-American, a typical Christian, nor even a typical girl (I guess that’s why I’ve been considered one of the guys most of my life–which is NOT a compliment to a girl nevertheless)!  People tell me that’s what makes me unique and that’s what makes me ME… but when I see people giving me crazy looks after I open my mouth, all I’m thinking is “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.”  Thankfully, I have met some kindred spirits along the way… but for some reason, God has not placed me with my kindred spirits currently…  so right now, I’m learning.  I’m learning to be patient.  I’m learning to communicate in ways that people understand.  I’m learning to hold my tongue.  I’m learning to show mercy.  I’m learning to be kind.  I’m learning to forgive.  I’m learning to love.   I’m learning to trust in God’s leading.  I’m learning to feel normal even when I feel like I’m on crazy pills.

CRAZY-PILLS