Judi

Hi, I’m Judi Irwin.

Westerville, OH

Phone Number

(614) 245-8169

Email

[email protected]

Experience

Central College Church
Director of Children's Ministries

Education

Ohio Christian University
B. A. Leadership & Ministry

Church Affiliation

Non-Denominational

Years In Ministry

20 years

Personality

ISFJ

Skills

Teaching, leadership development, recruiting, policy and procedure development, event planning & coordination, evangelism, team building, productivity, inventory & budget management

Tools & Software

Microsoft Office Suite, Planning Center Online, Elexio Connect, Song Select

Personal

Husband: Mark
Children: 2 older daughters

Top 3 Strengths

Passionate0%

Strategic Thinking0%

Leadership0%

Kid's Minister Questionnaire Responses
Personal Info
Please share briefly how you became a Christian.
I am blessed to be on this road of life in Jesus! I often say that I was wooed into the presence of God from an early age. He first made Himself known to me at the early age of 3 or 4 years. I didn’t know “who” He was at that time, having no theological knowledge of God yet, but He was with me, ministering to me, and speaking to me. This, was my first encounter! Then, It was The Holy Spirit who ministered to me as a child of 7 years. I was invited to church by a school friend and at home one day while playing “church”, through the reading of my Father’s old Gideon’s New Testament and Psalms/Proverbs, the Holy Spirit moved in my heart. Within the cover I discovered the Roman Roads to Salvation and upon reading through them, and seeing my Father’s childhood signature upon that page, the Lord ushered me into His glorious kingdom. This was what I call phase one of my conversion. Eventually, my entire family began to attend church. At 12 years of age, my mother became radically converted to Jesus through a women’s Bible Study. Our family life changed dramatically in the following days, months, and years. By age 13, I was totally living in the light of the Lord and saw and experienced Christ daily in my home (witnessing my Mom’s transformation) and for myself in daily times with the Lord. My life is a continual journey with the Lord. Growing, serving, learning more and more about Him and experiencing His goodness, mercy, comfort, acceptance, encouragement, and eventually call to ministry. He truly is my Rock and my Redeemer!
How would you describe yourself?
  • Motivational
  • Flexible
  • Inspirational
  • Loving
  • Organized
Personality Type
ISFJ
Tell me about some people (i.e. authors, mentors, and ministry leaders) that have had a big impact on you.
There are several ministry leaders that have had a big impact on me. Most recently, Michayla White, current Executive Director of INCM (International Network of Children’s Ministry), Jim Wideman, Craig Jutila (dec’d), both Children’s Pastors on the National level and authors who have personally coached me; Janie Tinklenberg, Christian Educator and Regional Trainer for the Reformed Church in America, and Rev. John Watson, Ruth Haley Barton, Author and Spiritual Director (mentors), Brene Brown and Henry Cloud and John Townsend (all authors). Several adjunct professors at Ohio Christian University. Pastor Andy Saperstein at Vineyard Columbus. The Holy Spirit has been my best teacher! Previous supervising Pastor, Joel Esala. My Spiritual Director, Michelle Morris.
Parents/Volunteers
How do you plan to engage and inform parents or guardians about your ministry objectives and progress?
I am an effective communicator. I engage people in small and large group meetings, one on one “Coffee times”, trainings, regular email communications, passing them in the hall, greeting parents following ministry times, checking in on teachers and children in classrooms, Ministry FaceBook and other Social Media posts, Newsletter articles and Newsletters for Children’s Parents and the Team, reports, marketing materials (internal and external), etc. There is no end to the ways that people can be kept informed. As Social Media evolves, I’ll continue to use it as another way to reach out and inform or communicate events, objectives, progress and celebrations, as they apply to various groups.
Tell me about a time when you developed a new team of volunteers into a strong working group. What did you do?
I was once hired part-time as the Children’s Director at a church. I gathered a small group of leaders around me and extended that team to include many members in the church as one on one prayer partners with our children. Each child was given an adult member who would touch base with them on Sundays, weekdays, and would be praying for the child and his/her family, as needed. This gained great energy and a family element among the membership! About a year later, the Pastor asked me to come onboard to serve children and youth and families, ages: birth to High School, as the Director of Christian Education. I set out to gather a defined group of leaders for the Middle School ministry and the High School ministry. Previously, these teams were informal. Together we identified strengths that we wanted to lean into and weaknesses that needed to be built up. While the church elders had delegated my work to me with the youth ministry, they hadn’t consulted the youth leaders. Upon my enlightened awareness of this fact, I realized that I needed to work gently with them, so they didn’t feel like they had been “unseated”. Truth being, staff can not do ministry alone. Faithful brothers and sisters in the faith need to be serving alongside of us! As leadership groups were formed, we set about meeting on a regular basis. I made myself available for one on one counsel with leaders and parents. Eventually, I was successful in gaining the trust and respect of the MS and HS youth leaders, too, as we worked together to address challenges and celebrate successes! Eventually, I “pitched” a joint retreat of all of our Christian Education ages/stages…Elementary, Middle School and High School. They were doubtful of how this would look or work! I drew up a plan and upon presentation, some were excited while others were hesitant to engage in this “experiment”. The Retreat came and was a great success at all ages and stages of ministry! There was much celebration and this was the foundation of a joint effort in many things to come in the future! What else did I do? I offered informal and formal trainings to our leaders and parents. I encouraged them to pray in all things and allow God to speak. And God did speak! In a voice of unity. I continued to meet one on one with people and to love on them! We were a family of God. They felt my support. They understood my open door policy and my willingness to hear from them. The children (and youth) grew in wisdom and knowledge of the Lord, as they experienced this unity among the leadership! Joy unspeakable!
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?
First, I would be about building relationships with every volunteer and delegating volunteer leaders of each volunteer group to be the leaders that are sitting around the planning table with me. We would develop a survey of sorts (perhaps even brainstorming meetings) and offer all volunteers and parents the opportunity to speak into our future. The leaders would aide me as we plan and dream for the future, using the top things that were received from among the large group. Then the leaders would become fellow communicators to their teams and network of parents, regarding the goals, events, messages we plan to bring together! It is important to walk WITH people and not delegate all things down to them. There is great value in having many voices speak. Then, the message becomes OURS and they can clarify any confusion that may come up from other volunteers or parents/guardians/ministries. I would also seek the partnership and input of our pastor to engage in this process or to approve of the plans and the direction we are leaning into as the process unfolds.“If confusion occurs one on one, as people often filter a message from the perspective of their own life experiences or get caught up in a thought or ponder a question and may miss additional details along the way. My own dear Father was one such person. When this occurs, I need to acknowledge the confusion with something like, “Whoops, I think I’ve lost you. Let’s double back and figure out where.” Then, circle back and restate the basic message, then say it again in a different way and provide examples. Then ask if they are with me thus far? If clarification has been made, we can move forward. If not, we need to stop and have some discussion. Are there questions that they have that need to be clarified before the message can be fully understood? Is there a phrase that I am using that they don’t understand and I need to explain. Let’s allow for some time to ask clarifying questions of each other and have some discussion. I am quick to ask forgiveness if my communication has been unclear and I am willing to restate the message in a new way, after hearing their perception I will ask at the very beginning of my service and continue to communicate forever, that I am a safe person. I am warm and open, forgiving and patient, compassionate and understanding. As they come to know me, and my “open door” policy, I will first ask them what brings them in and I will LISTEN. Making assumptions is dangerous–let’s clarify, have discussion, ask forgiveness, offer grace, and come together in unity. In summary, building relationships and getting to know one another can be foundational to good communication. Inviting leaders of leaders to be a part of the process as we plan the ministry together allows for a sense of ownership “our message/plans” instead of “your or my message/plans”. Then, as we move on together, we have set up a foundation of being willing to
questions and knowing one is welcome to ask can eliminate fear, false assumptions and possibly even a place to heal from past, negative experiences with other people. I am a question asker, so to our people, I say “Ask away!” Asking questions communicates that one is engaged in the process.
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?
With children who are connected regularly to the church, I would celebrate with their parents by verbally letting the parent know of the child’s decision. I make it a practice to send a pamphlet home with the child to help them to understand the decision they have made. The pamphlet reiterates the Salvation message to the child. Hopefully, this pamphlet makes its’ way into the parents’ hands. Another pamphlet is mailed to the child which is a “Now that I’m part of God’s family” message. A second opportunity for the parent and child to talk about his decision to follow Christ. I would also celebrate with the child’s regular teachers or small group leaders about the child’s decision, if they were not present. I also send a letter to the parents offering some helpful resources and steps that they may take to engage the child in continuing on the path with Jesus among the family unit. These steps would be followed for children not regularly connected to the church also, except that I may not have an opportunity to follow up with the parents verbally. In the letter I would send to them I would invite them our ministry services, events over the next year and offer to be a resource to them if they have no church home. As my service continues, and I begin the process of discipling them, I am reviewing curriculum and the entire ministry plan with each child in mind. Are we serving these children in the best way possible according to their needs? I continue to engage in informal conversations with the kids about life, activities, and watch for “life application” moments that relate to scripture to call to their attention and celebrate their successes!
As the spiritual leader of the children’s ministry, how are you going to help volunteers grow in their faith?
I make an effort to live my life in such a way that I want others to “catch”. With the resources available to me, I like to send parent equipping videos from a faith based publisher weekly. Scripture is dotted throughout these videos and I would encourage the parents and volunteers to view these and make this their weekly focus. In the curriculum we use, I look for Volunteers to be provided with a weekly lesson preparation devotional Even if a volunteer is not scheduled to serve for that week among the children, I ask them to utilize the brief devotion in their time with the Lord sometime that week. This keeps our ministry flowing in the direction of unity and keeps volunteers up to speed with what is being taught and distributed to our families outside of “Big Church”. Meetings and ministry times (ahead of children entering) will begin and/or end with a brief devotion that feeds the volunteers. I will pray for volunteers and families on a regular basis and let them know that I’m praying for them. Especially, if we have had a one on one about something that they are facing in life or ministry. I will offer group trainings and video trainings, that they can view at their convenience at home. These things will equip them for service and encourage them in their own growth and walk of faith. I am a believer that the Lord works On us. In us. And Through us. as we serve. While we are working with the children to understand and experience God, God is working on and in and through us. We are HIS children!
Ministry Growth
What is your philosophy of ministry?
I am in ministry because I received a literal “call” from God to serve children and families. My philosophy is founded on the Great Commission, given to all believers by Christ himself. We find this in Matthew 28:18- 20. We are to go into all the world and preach the gospel, baptizing believers in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teaching all that Christ has commanded, making them disciples. Life transformation in people and discipleship as a life journey is the call I have received. My way of entering into this work is by building relationship with people leaders/disciples, children and their parents in much the same way that God did as we see in the scriptures which detail the journey of human kind from creation, into a Hebrew people called by God and in covenant with Him, organizing the Jewish faith and the fulfillment of prophecy in the coming of our Messiah, Jesus and His relational example for us in His life and ministry. People need to know that they are loved, unconditionally, by God, our Father, the creator of all things seen and unseen. Forgiveness is available as a result of that love. And God has a purpose for every person who will follow after Jesus, because above all else God desires relationship with us! As I lead, I remember how merciful God has been to me and I offer that same mercy to others. I recall the love of Jesus at the cross, for me and I want every person I encounter to know that love and the forgiveness that comes with Christ’s sacrifice. There is freedom in Christ and it is my desire that every person understands and experiences that freedom. When each child, parent, volunteer understands to the best of his/her ability what that means, the Holy Spirit will complete the process as the person enters into a life of discipleship and a voice to others that Christ came for all. That God desires to be in relationship with them! So, my philosophy of ministry urges people to gather together into the presence of the Lord God Almighty and allows for each to encounter Him and invites them to experience Him for themselves. The Holy Spirit will move in and among the people. Then we continue growing one another in the example of Christ as we journey on in God’s eternal Kingdom, already and not yet. When I began in ministry, I told the Lord that if my life of service affected positive change for Jesus in one person, it would be worth it! I can say that the Lord has honored that goal hundreds of times over. I am a servant leader of God, in the service of human kind. We all share in the ministry of moving along in the Great Commission, making disciples.
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?
There were several creative ideas that I introduced in my last ministry role! I was tasked with identifying a new curriculum, as the current curriculum was disliked by many. Then, I was told by many that the children’s leaders felt like nomads in their own church. The church ran a preschool and academy and they had possession and control over every room in the building. The church school teachers gathered their weekly supplies in the basement and took them to their rooms throughout the building, to teach. Then had to return them to the basement, small supply room or across to another building. Whew! So, I set about identifying a curriculum. We settled on a large group/small group ministry time instead of a traditional graded Sunday school. This meant, we needed a space to worship together. There was an area they had tried to use recently, that was way too large, and that didn’t work. Kids had just run wild. So I identified another large space, that had lower ceilings and movable walls that could be divided after large group worship to accommodate age graded classrooms. Working with the schools, we redesigned this space and added storage cabinets that would accommodate the normal supplies of the church program in the rooms or near the rooms where the elementary students would be worshipping and having their small group times. This worked! We improved lighting, aesthetics, sound, added A. V. and media components, furnishings that could be removed quickly and stored as the area flexed from Children’s Ministry on the weekends and evenings to school needs M-F. The idea flourished between my supervising pastor and me. We then presented it to the school directors who were hesitant. We eventually, came about a general plan that we all agreed upon and put it before the other pastors and elders, where it gained enthusiasm. I identified a contractor and worked directly with him and his sub-contractors to initiate the needed construction and overall plan, continually keeping the church Administrator, my supervising pastor, staff, school directors, parents, leaders advised of our plan and progress. The full renovation happed in 10 days during an extended school Christmas break. The big reveal was met with celebration and good feelings by all, in the end! Two years later, another similar but smaller renovation occurred for the preschool ministry. It took a lot of prayer, persuasion, casting a new vision for the facility, willingness to be flexible, attention to detail, awareness of how the schools needs would be maintained and enhanced, approval from various leadership teams (the Church Administrator (who would help to move the projects forward), pastors and church staff, buildings and grounds, budget and finance, church architect, preschool boards/directors/teachers, academy board/principal/teachers, children’s leaders, parents). It was a BIG undertaking! Hallelujah!
How would you evaluate systems and structures to see if there could be improvement?
There are many steps to evaluation. *First, it is important to hear the history of a given church. This helps me as a new leader to access what has been done before, what has worked, what they liked about it, what has not worked, and to inquire of all invested parties regarding the level of willingness to be flexible (See what I said there?). *Second, I receive the top 1-3 goals that my leaders/supervisor have for me to accomplish in the near future. *I access facilities and lean into the speaking of God in all of this, as He gives me a vision. ***Throughout this entire process, I am sharing my findings with my supervisor and listening to his input or redirection. *I enter into a survey of sorts with all interested parties–volunteers, children’s leaders, children, parents. This is an opportunity to dream without limits! There will be plenty of time later to make the dream practical. *Throughout the process, I am considering the possibilities, based upon the feedback I am receiving. *Then, I ask my leaders to commit the process and the feedback to prayer and allow the Lord to speak. We must all remain open to hearing new things/possibilities. *With my leadership team, we discuss the “what ifs” *We commit these tentative plans to prayer, remaining open to redirection. I’m continuing to keep my supervisor informed of the process and am open to his/her input and redirection. *Throughout this process, I am encouraging people to look at the churches’ mission statement and children’s mission statement. Do these steps, plans echo our mission? If not, we need to redirect, unless we have been empowered to feel free to alter our mission statement. Eventually, we will make a plan. Get feedback. Alter the plan, as needed. Then set ourselves to executing the plan. Questions to ask: Do our facilities now allow for us to execute this plan? If not, how can we alter them? Does our current curriculum meet the needs of the teachers/leaders? Parents? Children? Are the identified Core Competencies we’ve established for the children in our ministries being met? No core competencies identified? Let’s identify them! What are the goals of our Children’s Ministry? Are these being accomplished? If not, how can we adjust? Do we need to identify goals? Is our staffing appropriate? If not, how can we adjust things to make it successful? Recruit more people? Adjust our meeting spaces? Adjust the way we do ministry? This is the thought process that I will be engaged in all along and I will invite others to journey with me in this process! Then we will come up with a plan or I will and ask for input from others to be sure they are with me! We continue to flex and flow to adjust our ministry to meet the goals, core competencies, needs, and address the pressure points, as we refine things. Then, hopefully, we can engage in a trial time of committing to a plan. At a pre-determined time later, we will solicit feedback from the invested people, make needed adjustments, and eventually, move into a long term commitment to continue in this plan. Annually, we will review our plan and access its success in meeting our goals, core competencies, facility needs, etc. Make needed adjustments and move on again. The key is to bring our invested people together and work in unity to accomplish the ministry plan that we have identified. It’s a Team effort!
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?
Flexibility is key to ministry. Our world is always changing and we must adapt and change to make our message of Christ relevant to the current culture. This is especially important as we serve children! I make a plan and always have a plan B, just in case we need to flex. Ideally, and often, I will even have a plan C ready to fulfill our purpose or goal, and yet continue the ministry we are about. This is how I approach every Sunday, every special event, every fellowship, etc. We can make our plans, but we need to hold them loosely before the Lord and be ready to make adjustments, as He directs. Failure to flex with the flow can result in a missed opportunity to carry the message and the example of Jesus forward as others witness our work. This is an experience that is to be expected and not dreaded. God’s work is good work and His kingdom is an upside down kingdom, and may not look like what we planned. But when we commit our work to God and allow Him to lead us, only success can come. But remember, God’s success may not appear as our minds may have envisioned it. This is God’s work and we are His servant leaders.
What goals have you set in the past for your ministry area. Did you accomplish them and if so, how did you accomplish them?
It was a two year process. The goals were: Identifying Core Competancies and Milestone Moments (to be celebrated) for children at each age/stage, make a facility plan, identify and implement a new curriculum and staffing/recruiting of the ministry and develop a comprehensive Child Safety Policy. Year one, *I listened to the successes and pressure points in the children’s ministry and prioritized the above list. I set about working on all of the above. * First, within 3 months we had a new curriculum and format for Sunday morning ministry to children. It was a one quarter “try me”. I received some feedback from the small and large group leaders, we “tweeked” some things and moved on to use that curriculum for the entire 4 years that took the children through the entire Bible, as appropriate for elementary children. *Alongside the new curriculum introduction, I set about securing large and small group leaders and explaining how things were going to change as the new school year approached. In 3 months, I had met with all leaders, some who were hesitant to return and others who had told my supervising pastor, “I’ve had enough, count me out for next year!” They were gracious enough to meet with me and express their frustrations and concerns. I asked them, “What changes would you like to see which would encourage you to come back for just one more year?” I heard loudly about facility struggles, being nomads in their own church, needing a small space for supplies IN their space. Keeping the children together and not spread all over the facility so parents had to traverse 3 buildings and 3 floors to retrieve children of varying ages. I “found” money by talking with the church accountant and administrator, which had been placed in a special fund for furnishings for children and ordered 3 storage cabinets on wheels which could be placed in the appropriate spaces for the leaders each time there was children’s ministry. After the ministry time, the cabinets, which were on wheels, were stored in a nearby closet, until they were needed next. Interim plans for facilities were made and succeeded until the pending renovation in the future. I asked these folks about how we could improve our environment and space in the future and as the year unfolded, we had a tentative plan to present, garner approval, fund, and implement for the next year! *Staffing was falling into place as we made small changes and plans for a BIG facility renovation. 3 teachers who had resigned, promised to return and give me 1 year to address their pressure points. New parents stepped up to the plate to “help”. Teens were invited to serve as “helpers”. I had my staff! *Core competencies were identified and the Children’s Ministry Renovation Team was gathered to set about fulfilling all the goals that we had identified in my first 3 months. *As the first year unfolded I began to make plans for year 2. I gathered a team of an educator, nurse, attorney, a youth ministry representative, an elder, my supervising pastor, myself and we began to make preliminary plans for developing a Child and Youth Safety Plan. In year two that was completed and approved by the Elders. It included medical procedures, permission forms for administering meds, on site sign in procedures and registration forms, off site field trip guidelines and permission forms, tornado evacuation procedures and plans, fire evacuation plans and designated meeting place onsite (across campus) and offsite, at a local business. Nursery policies for cleaning, child check in, sick child process, etc. And much, much more! Year 2 APPROVED. *Year 2 also saw the renovation of the children’s ministry space. *Excitement was building and I assumed leadership of the Children’s Music program also. A musical was presented, new hand chimes were purchased, concerts were presented at Retirement Homes, etc. The Milestones were being introduced to the children, parents, and church. Many celebrations occurred! Year 3, we grew the children’s music program, presented many special events, the overall Children’s Ministry was hitting it’s stride. More and more leaders were identified so we could expand programs and events and not overtax those already serving in the Sunday ministry Area. The Children’s Ministry Renovation Team transitioned into a Children’s Ministry Team, as much of the “renovating” of the program was now completed. We said goodbye to the faithful ones who had seen us through this process and moved on with some of them and expanded our leadership team. All along the way, I was building relationship with members, parents, communicating regularly with all keeping them updated on our direction, hopes, dreams, goals and asking for feedback. Little by little, families who had marginalized themselves were returning to our fellowship. We were growing in numbers of children and families served, we were growing in health in ministry and our leaders and parents were growing in their faith and commitment to our church family–one another! *Each year, I identified 3 goals with the help of my supervising pastor and I set about with our children’s ministry team, addressing those goals and meeting them! Everything that was initially identified as a pressure point was addressed in my time there. The main thing I do is to communicate! Broadly and regularly. LISTEN to the invested parties and address their concerns as I am able, and Keep them informed of the progress. *Year 4 and 5 saw me taking on the leadership of the sports programs. MVP basketball and Sports Camp, which previously had a dedicated staff person. She had left just before my arrival and the programs had been in limbo in my first 3 years on staff, having no real staff leadership. I was able to give these programs the support they needed and to grow their effectiveness and secure needed equipment by supplying them with a budget.

This is my experience at only one church. Each church has its own needs and pressure points. It is my responsibility to identify these and address them to the best of my ability. I value the people around me. The people I serve and those I serve alongside. Building relationship with these children of God and serving alongside of them is my extreme pleasure. And I love them. As they come to understand that I care and I’m advocating for them and their children, we gain momentum! Together Everyone Achieves More–TEAM.

What would it take to grow a kid’s ministry program?
To grow a kid’s ministry program I need to take everything to the Lord in prayer. I need to have a listening ear to His leading. I need to have a listening ear to the leaders, children’s teachers, parents, and the children! I need to return to the Lord regularly and talk with Him about the input I’ve heard. I need to bounce ideas off my supervising pastor, teachers, leaders, parents. What motivates them? What are their dreams? Then alongside my leadership team, we need to come up with our priorities, goals and go about them year after year. Mostly, after listening to the Lord and my people, I need to love on my people– My kids, my parents, my teachers, my leaders. I express love for them in small ways and in meeting their needs the best I can. I befriend them. They come to know they can call me, come to me and I’ll pray for them. I’ll support them within the church walls and beyond. I will be their mentor, coach, cheerleader, confidant, and friend, as well as their leader. It all begins and ends with people. Our people are our BEST advertisement in our community. When our families are fulfilled, they tell other families! God may desire us to be about growing our roots deep in HIM. As we set about making leaders and disciples to go into the world and witness the gospel to those needing it–that is growth! Let’s make disciples of our children, their parents, and our leaders/teachers and the Holy Spirit is about preparing the hearts of our community to receive it. I have stories that I’d love to share with you of people and kids I’ve nurtured who have done just that! I look forward to telling you some of these in the future! Glory to God!
Your members/guests and their families 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?
Yes! First, our teachers and leaders are equipped with knowledge of different learning styles in our church and by me. This is important for them to have knowledge of. We teach the way each group of children learns, not the way which is most comfortable for the teacher. This is why having the right curriculum is important. It must help them to adjust and offer many options so the teacher/leader can plan her/his lesson for the children in his/ her group. I am a proponent of identifying people within the church who have special training in specific areas who may be willing to come into a classroom and aid a teacher/leader as they meet the specialized needs of a particular child. If we find a need in several children that we serve, we may be able to provide a specialized classroom or develop a ministry to meet these needs. This requires the help of many in the church. Facilities, budget, external training.

It is important to have people upon sign in and/or registration that can talk with parents and be open to listening to guests when they arrive, who may express their child’s specialized needs. Our greeter team is essential to our success as a church and their training is important. I can provide that! One Children’s ministry network with whom I am affiliated provides an annual event and ongoing online trainings, encouragement, and equipping for teachers/leaders who encounter specialized needs in serving their children. We don’t need to have all of the answers. We have a network of children’s leaders nationwide that will help equip us for the work to which we have been called.

Describe the diversity of some of the ministries with which you’ve worked. How did you go about learning and educating yourself in order to effectively reach your community?
Wow! This is an amazing question! I have served as a liaison between my home church as I worked to prepare our facility for opening a preschool. Developing procedures, addressing state licensing, establishing accounting practices, communicating with families and the community before opening. My work was sufficient to providing the church with a provisional license. Then I supported the director as we opened and operated once we opened. In a short time, we were able to get a permanent license. I met with the licensing and followed the licensing requirements., one task at a time. The pastor had been through the process at his previous church, and was able to help me understand things along the journey.

I studied at Columbus State Community College and earned an Associate’s degree focusing on Psychology and Sociology. I have a Bachelor’s degree from Ohio Christian University in the area of Leadership and Ministry and Bible and Religion. I was awarded the AIM Honor Graduate award for my leadership, dedication, and knowledge and exceptional witness in the Christian faith. This was the most humbling experience of my life! I graduated with a 4.0 gpa. I have served as a worship leader (vocalist) in all but one of my churches and have served as a children’s choir director. I studied voice for 8 years and was a soloist, competing at the state level with superior ratings. I had the joy and honor of stepping out of my children’s ministry box, during my internship at Ohio Christian University. I served The Better Way, now the Columbus Dream Center for 2-3 years, beyond my internship. This ministry serves the indigent poor and the homeless in Inner City Columbus. I served meals alongside of various churches providing meals, delivered large group messages or teachings to our clients, prayed for our people, helped organize and implement various special events to our community and visited and fed the homeless at their camps in the innercity. The director offered me training in a one on one capacity. I have served as a conversational partner in the International ministries. I have been a member of the prayer team, and been a small group leader to an adult group. Then I transitioned to serving as a small group leader coach. I received equipping and training for international ministries, prayer team, small group leader and coach, from my home church.

For my ministry to children and youth, I have received equipping and training from various pastors, educators and psychologists in educational groups in and around Columbus and in topics from leadership, to dealing with difficult people, to serving ADHD children, and learning styles and more. Also, I have been affiliated with the International Network of Children’s Ministries for many years and make it a practice to attend their annual conferences and participate in their certification program in CM, and online equipping opportunities. I have been mentored by some of the best people in Children’s Ministry or at the local church level! I am open to sharing what I know with anyone who is interested! We are all the Body of Christ and we need one another.

Many of these opportunities were unpaid! But all of them together have brought me to the place that I am today, as a Servant Leader. My home has been made professionally in the area of Christian Education. The Lord equips the called.

Is there a process that you go through when choosing a platform for screening volunteers, curriculum choices?
Yes. Screening volunteers: I interview each and identify their specific skills, interests, or spiritual gifts, then provide them with an Application, a document that they sign stating they are in agreement to the church’s mission and doctrinal statement/standing, Secure Permission to initiate an online background check and then provide training or pair them with an experienced leader if no training is planned in the near future. The training on our Child Safety Policy is one I expect every volunteer to take once. Then I do a quick review of the highlights and any revisions which have been made at our Annual Training which prepares them for the launch of a new school year. I typically offer this on two different dates, to accommodate summer vacations, or personal availability–feeding them lunch helps too! Choosing curriculum: I need to be aware of past curriculum usage. Special needs of children, it needs to accommodate the 7 different learning styles we currently acknowledge in children, so that teachers may plan to use the styles that their children possess in their group. There is a brief Q & A teachers can do with their class/group that I will provide to them, at the beginning of the year, so they can access their groups. Curriculum needs to be foundational in the Bible and teach biblical stories and examples of living life with God. The curriculum needs to reflect the doctrine of the church. It needs to be a tool for the teachers to use with ease and understanding and not a challenge to them. Not all “teachers” teach professionally. The curriculum needs to have a life application component that answers the kids question, “Why do we need to know this?” The Bible needs to be taught in an age appropriate manner at each level.
What have you done in the past to ensure your church has a safe environment, including emergency procedures.
I have developed and established, with a group of people within the church possessing specific knowledge in various areas, a Child and Youth Safety Policy. Once the group is in agreement of procedures, policies, etc. we take it to the leadership for approval or revision. I have fulfilled this task at each of the 3 churches I have served. We may require some building adjustments if a children’s room is near an external door. All of this can be discussed and considered among the Safety group and we can advise on possible adjustments.
How would you describe the ideal relationship between senior/lead pastor and kids pastor?
The ideal relationship between my lead pastor and the kids pastor (me) has been one I’ve had the pleasure and joy of having in the past! It is collegial, as we are both a part of the family of God. The lead pastor sets the vision for the church and it is my job to understand that vision and talk with him about how that may be exercised in the children’s ministry. It is my hope that s/he would be open to hearing my input, after I understand how s/he sees the vision in children’s ministry. I would hope that my experience in ministry to children and families would be respected. I am a continual learner and I realize that each church has a unique Personality and that with two minds or more, there is strength. I would look to him/her to share with me about the church’s personality, and equip me for success. I would look to him/her as my Pastor. Praying for me and the ministry I lead, Leading me in his/her wisdom, equipping me for success, supporting me as I address pressure points and as we work together for the good of our kids and families and the growth of the church! I will communicate often with the lead pastor and hope that s/he will keep me updated on things that are occurring in other ministries within the church, as these may affect my leaders or our ministry together. I would hope that s/he would be gracious, patient, and forgiving with me as I learn and if I make a mistake…it’s going to happen! I will work alongside and will make every effort to keep him/her advised of all things children’s ministry, so as not to surprise him/her. I want to support him/her also. I’ll pray for my lead pastor and our leadership, as well as my children’s leaders, families, and children. It is my prayer and hope that we would be in sync and of one mind as we work together serving our brothers and sisters in Christ and meeting our community! I have a letter of recommendation from my previous supervising pastor that will tell you how we rolled together! I have supplied that for your review.

References

Mark Gearhart || (614) 827-5298 || [email protected]
Julie Bradley || (614) 296-5918 || [email protected]
Joel Esala || (614) 440-2221 || [email protected]
Amanda Lawson || (419) 302-9292 || [email protected]

Favorite Bible Story

The Good Shepherd and the Lost Sheep

Favorite Scripture

Nehemiah 8:10b