ariel-myers

Hi, I’m Ariel Trucke.

Highlands Ranch, CO

Experience

Stapleton Church
Kid’s Ministry and Local Impact Director

Education

Dallas Baptist University
BA in Biblical Studies
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Masters in Christian Education

Church Affiliation

Non-denominational

Years In Ministry

11 years

Personality

INFJ

Skills

Teaching in large and small group settings, Writing/editing/preparing curriculum, Recruiting and training leaders, Equipping families, Planning and executing special events

Tools & Software

Planning Center, Microsoft Office Suite

Personal

Married

Top 3 Strengths

Precise0%

Thoughtful0%

Wisdom0%

Kid's Pastor Questionnaire Responses
Personal Info
Please share briefly how you became a Christian.
After growing up in a family that believed in Jesus, but didn’t really go to church, I had some confusion about how to know if I was really saved. At 15, I began going to a youth group with some friends. For months I wrestled with the idea of believing that Jesus was real, that he was God’s Son, and that he died for my sins, but I didn’t know if having that knowledge meant that I was saved or not. After much thinking and praying, I talked with a friend, and she quickly helped me to understand that if you don’t know for sure that you are saved, then you are probably not saved. I met with one of my small group leaders and prayed with her to accept Christ as my savior.
How would you describe yourself?
  • Fun
  • Motivational
  • Serious
  • Organized
  • Loving
  • Inspirational
Personality Type
I am a 1 on the Enneagram with balanced wings. I am an INFJ-T (an Advocate) on the 16 Personalities strengths finder test.
Tell me about some people (i.e. authors, mentors, and ministry leaders) that have had a big impact on you.
Authors/Ministry Leaders: C.S. Lewis; Timothy Keller; Lysa Terkeurst; Andy Stanley; Reggie Joiner; Carey Nieuwhof; Craig Groeschel Personal Mentors: Becky McAllister, she mentored me during my time serving at First Baptist Dallas, she was the Elementary Director thereat the time. She continues to mentor me, she now serve with Kids at Heart as their Eastern Europe coordinator. I have learned much about teaching a curriculum writing through her. Also Sherrie Campbell another Children’s Director in Houston, Texas, and Kaylyn Hopper, one of my professors at Dallas Baptist University.
Parents/Volunteers
How do you plan to engage and inform parents or guardians about your ministry objectives and progress?
I regularly try to connect with parents one on one, through social media, and through monthly newsletters. I also send out weekly notes that let parents know what we are doing in their child’s class, as well as provide resources for parents to be equipped to disciple their children at home. I partner with my lead pastor to have resources mentioned in key sermons, and then make sure to have those resources available to parents.
Tell me about a time when you developed a new team of volunteers into a strong working group. What did you do?
When developing a team, I first pray that God would give me eyes to see the people in my church that he has placed there for the purpose of meeting children’s ministry needs. I have one on one conversations with those people, sharing the heart of our ministry, and asking them to prayerfully consider being a part of the ministry. I have new team members first spend at least two weeks observing in their new environment. I give them resources that explain our expectations, and take time to meet with them after they have observed to answer any questions they may have. I then partner new team members with strong existing team members that serve in the same capacity. I usually have team members serve in this way for at least two weeks, so that they can be trained in activity participating in their area of ministry. Then I have the two team members switch roles for one week, with the new team member leading, and the experienced team member observing, and giving help as needed. Our final step is to allow the new team members to lead in their area on their own, although I try never to have team members that are actually leading alone in a ministry area.
How would you alleviate the confusion when you are communicating with volunteers and it becomes apparent that they don’t understand what you’re saying or vice versa?
I try to explain myself in multiple formats, both verbally and in writing. I also always follow up with giving time for my team members to ask questions so that I can quickly know if they do not understand something. Likewise, I will follow up with questions of my own to make sure that I am understanding them clearly as well.
Spiritual Growth
Once you lead a student/child to Christ, how do you communicate their decision to their parents? Once a child accepts Christ as their Savior, how do you begin discipling them?
When a child is ready to accept Christ, I have resources that I share with them and their parents that they can use at home. These resources have been designed to help parents disciple their children, and to help children understand what it means to accept Christ. After the parents and child have had time to go through the devotions of their book (devotionals vary based on the age of the child) I meet with the parents and child to talk with them about the child’s decision, and to help teach the child how to share their testimony. In this way, I can be sure that the child is able to understand what their decision means, and that they are ready to be baptized. I also provide a new Bible or devotional for children when they are baptized. I make sure that their small group leader know that a child inter group has accepted Christ, and I make sure the parents and small group leader are working together to disciple the child.
As the spiritual leader of the children’s ministry, how are you going to help volunteers grow in their faith?
I encourage my leaders to apply our weekly lessons to their own lives, to share in their small groups about times they have grown in the way our lesson is describing. I also encourage my team to participate in serving in one service, and worshipping in another each week. I help my team members get plugged in to weekly community groups at our church, as well as offer one on one mentoring for those that feel they need more help in their own spiritual growth. I send weekly or bi-weekly resources that can be used to foster their spiritual growth as well.
Ministry Growth
Share with me what you would do to deal with a fast-paced, always changing environment. Have you had this experience in a previous position?
God’s word never changes; it is the same message today as it was when it was written. However, the way we share God’s word is always changing. As the Church, we must be capable of communicating God’s message in a way that touches people today, in a way that people are communicating with each other. In children’s ministry, this means building genuine relationships with my team, my children, and their families. I am constantly talking with other ministry leaders, within and outside my church, to find out how they are communicating with their people. I am seeking to find better ways to keep up with changes, and I coordinate with other ministry leaders as well as teachers in public and private education in order to learn from their experiences. I also take time to make sure I am keeping up with children’s ministry standards across the country by listening to podcasts, reading books and articles, and attending conferences whenever possible. One instance where I have done this is through the creation of the special needs ministry in my church. I worked with the top autism specialist in my states public education system in order to create individualized education plans (IEP) for each child that comes into my ministry with special needs. As much as possible, children are able to integrate into their age appropriate class, but we also make sure that they have the buddy and the helps that they need in order to be able to build the best relationship with God that they are capable of.
How would you evaluate systems and structures to see if there could be improvement?
To evaluate systems and structures, I would take input from team members that are acting out the systems or structures that we have in place. I would seek their input on previous experiences in different, but similar settings, as well as get feedback on what seems to work best for which team members, and what seems to not work so well. I have also had ministry leaders from other ministries, as well as other children’s ministry leaders from other churches come in and observe our system. I find that outside input from someone with relevant experience is a strong source for constructive feedback. I also try to observe other children’s ministry setups whenever possible. If I can find a church with a similar teaching style, or organizational structure, I like to observe their services to find ways to improve on my own ministry execution.
What was the most creative idea you introduced in your last ministry role? What steps did you take to implement that idea with leadership, volunteers, and families if applicable?
The most creative idea I implemented was the use of a shared space to meet two big ministry needs. With our special needs ministry, I needed a space for children with special needs to go if they needed to decompress, or if they had accomplished all of the tasks on their IEP, and were ready for their motivation reward. We created a space for these kids, but then I came across another need for our church, which the same space would have to meet due to the limited space of our building. With having multiple services on a Sunday, we have families that attend a church service as well as serve in a separate service. This can make for extremely long days for their children. For a long time, the only solution we had was for children to attend their class during one of the services, and then stay with their parents, or attend class again during the second service. Both of these solutions can be difficult for parents, and therefore parents will limit the amount of times they serve in order to create a better church experience for their kids. To solve this problem, I created an element to our children’s ministry called “Hangouts”. By slightly modifying the special needs space during our second worship service, children that have attended their class during the first service are check-in to the Hangouts class, where they are able to simply hangout. We have multiple board games, a Nintendo Switch, puzzles, books, coloring books, and various other activities for kids aged 2.5years-6th grade. Currently this works for all age levels as our children that qualify for this class are not a large number, but as our church grows, we will need to divide these kids into different age groups. Our special needs kids are still able to enjoy this space as well, they just have more peer interaction if they are in there during the second service, which is generally a good thing!
What goals have you set in the past for your ministry area. Did you accomplish them and if so, how did you accomplish them?
I have set many goals for my ministry, one of them was to shift our video large group teaching to live teaching in all of our spaces. Within one year of arriving at my church, I was able to train and equip my preschool team to live large group teaching. Shifting the elementary group to live teaching took longer, but I was also creating different class structures over that time. Once we had a strong class structure in place, I was able to train a few key leaders to teach the large group lessons. My follow-up goal, which we have recently met, was to recruit enough small group leaders for each class so that our large group teachers could focus solely on leading large group and acting as the classroom coordinator. For each of our services, we now have one or two dedicated large group leaders, as well as weekly small group leaders for each of our two to three small groups.

What would it take to grow a children’s/youth program?
Growing a program takes time and focused dedication. I would start with developing a few key leaders to help with ongoing volunteer training and recruitment. A children’s ministry is limited by the number of volunteers it has, not by the number of families in a church. As the volunteer base grows in numbers and training, they are able to take on more kids, thereby making growth possible. I would also enlist families in our church to advocate for our program. I would have them inviting their friends to our church, and have some of those families also involved in the ministry, so that when their friends’ kids come to church, they will have some familiar faces in their groups. I have also grown ministries through special outreach events. Holding special events outside of Sunday mornings is a great way to get new kids into the building, and a great inviter opportunity for existing families. Then on the following Sunday, holding a special event in the service for families that participated in the event helps to get families back to the church for service.
Children come to church with specialized needs, different learning styles, and family stresses. Do you have a strategy to provide significant ministry to meet these needs?
My strategy is to train specific volunteers to partner with kids that have specialized needs so that they can be included in their age appropriate classes as much as possible. I work with the families to determine what the best approach is as far as inclusion goes, and then we come up with an individualized education plan (IEP) for their child that the volunteers are trained to follow. I think it is also important to have a separate space for these children for when their needs can become too intense, or a distraction for other students. This space would be designed for the child to decompress when needed, to refocus, or to finish their IEP with less distraction around them. The space would be used as positive reinforcement to help create a fun and safe learning environment for all the kids in the ministry.
Describe the diversity of some of the ministries with which you’ve worked. …races, income levels, perspectives. Were there challenges that caused you to change your ministry approach?
I have worked in mixed race and mixed income ministries. Some of our families have excess income, and some are barely able to pay their bills, or sometimes, ask the church for assistance in meeting their financial needs. As a result, I have always tried to design my ministry to be open to all people, and to provide extra activities that are affordable for all people. When taking kids to overnight camp, I generally ask that families try to pay for at least half of their child’s tuition, but in cases where that is not possible, I will go to other families in our church and ask if they would be willing to sponsor a child for camp. I would never turn a child away from an event due to lack of tuition.
Is there a process that you go through when choosing a platform for screening volunteers, curriculum choices?
I use Ministry Safe to screen all of the volunteers in my church. Specifically for children’s ministry, I meet in person with a potential volunteer for at least thirty minutes. Volunteers must complete an application which includes their salvation story, church background, and at least two non-related references that are called prior to a volunteer being able to serve. When a volunteer first begins serving, they observe with other trained volunteers for at least two weeks, and then move into more intensive hands on training in their particular area of serving. For curriculum choices, I am looking for something that is age appropriate, and that focuses on the Gospel as much as possible. I want something that includes large group and small group teaching for most of my age groups, but small groups are a must. I want a curriculum that is going to use the Bible as its main source for information, and something that is engaging to children in a way that fits with what they are doing in school at home. This means I am looking for a curriculum that utilized activities and technology in a way that kids are already familiar with, and that will hold their interest.
What have you done in the past to ensure your church has a safe environment for children, including emergency procedures.
I have been a part of planning out security protocols for the entire church, so that I can speak into what is needed for the children’s ministry. I have specific volunteers that help with children’s ministry security. All of my volunteers are trained in active shooter and weather related drills. All of my classroom doors are locked from the outside when the doors are closed, and they are designed to have “safe zones” in the event that classrooms need to go into a lockdown situation. We utilize Planning Center Check-Ins for checking in our children. Each class has room leader that facilitates drop off and pick-up. When a child checks in, they receive a name tag to wear, and a name tag for their teacher to keep on the class roster. When a child is picked up, the tag they are wearing is matched to their parent’s pick-up tag, and then their name tag is removed. Children are only allowed to be released to adults with the correct name tag. Siblings are not allowed to pick up a child from class, even if they have the correct tag.

Favorite Bible Story

The Story of Esther

Favorite Scripture

Joshua 1:9