January 23, 2014

Good Ideas (From Other People)

Over the course of ministry, I've tucked away ideas that I've gathered from others, I've pulled them out at opportune times, and the really good ones have become staples in our ministry. All of them are from other people; none are my own. And now I happily share them with you! Might you share some of your tried-and-trues with us at the end of this post?

Bless the Staff Wives
My friend Shauna, a church planting wife in San Francisco, is a well of endless ideas, especially when it comes to blessing people. This summer, when we were on sabbatical, Shauna and I sat at the cutest little coffee and pastry shop and talked shop. She told me about two things she does to bless the staff wives at their church:

Christmas Bells: In December, Shauna gathers the ladies for a dinner. Throughout the evening, she rings jingle bells to announce that a treat is coming. She then passes out little gifts from special people in their lives. For example, a staff wife's mom might send a fun piece of jewelry for each of the women.
Night of Comfort and Joy: On the anniversary of the church plant, all the ladies bring a comfort food to a gathering, and together they create a time capsule answering specific questions about the previous year: favorite moments, saddest moments, most challenging moments, hopes for the coming year. They read through the previous year's time capsule and celebrate what God has done.

I know what you're thinking, because I'm thinking it too: I want to be one of those staff wives at Shauna's church!

Don't Forget the Staff Kids
On Leading and Loving It a few years back, one of the pastor's wives mentioned that she celebrates the staff kids once a year. I hadn't thought of that! I immediately jumped on her idea, using Valentine's as the perfect excuse to shower some love on the kids of our staff and elders. It was so fun putting little treat bags together, writing notes thanking them for "sharing" their dads, and delivering the bags to our sweet kids, including my own.

Roll Out the Red Carpet
In my opinion, "Thank you" is simply not said enough, especially in the church. Saying thank you is a simple yet meaningful gesture for anyone, but especially for volunteers who sacrificially serve week-in and week-out.

In Bill Hybel's book Courageous Leadership, he mentions literally rolling out the red carpet for church volunteers. I love that idea and, as soon as I read the book, I knew I wanted to make sure our leaders regularly felt loved, appreciated, and special. Because we don't have a church building, I've settled on an annual dinner at our house. We move out all the furniture, we set up tables and a nice dinner, I develop a fun theme, and we have a time where we celebrate how God is using each other in our church and community. It is now the highlight of my year!

Go Smaller
The book that has most informed our ministry is Transforming Discipleship by Greg Ogden. The idea behind the book is simple, and it's something my husband says all the time: More time with fewer people leads to greater kingdom impact. That idea has sparked a passion in me for discipleship, for focusing smaller, and investing deeper in others.

52 Snow Days
As I write, it's a snow day at our house. The kids are outside sledding and community group has been canceled tonight. We have no where to go and no where to be, so we'll make a fire, maybe read Harry Potter or work a puzzle, and have some hot chocolate. Snow days are fun because everything shuts down. And they are always a reminder of what my husband says, the idea he's taught me how to implement: "God gives us 52 snow days every year." He's right--we have 52 sabbaths every year, and we should treat them as snow days, when we shut work down and just enjoy life.

What are the best ideas you've gotten from others? Perhaps they're words that have stuck with you or ideas that you've implemented in your church. Or perhaps they are examples you've seen that have meant something to you. We'd love to hear (and steal them)!