A “Fruitless” Sunday

Fruitless Sunday

Quick Family Update: We are now working in a church plant ministry in the southwest and have been since March 2016. We hold our services in a local elementary school. We travel around 30 minutes to services on Sundays and meet in the pastor’s home on Wednesday nights. We are still living with my in-laws which is allowing our children special time to spend with their grandparents. My husband serves as the assistant pastor leading music and teaching the adult Sunday School class while also working a full-time job. We are all growing and enjoying the new experience church planting really is… this story is from a “fruitless” Sunday this summer!

The plan was to have a Sunday morning “Fun Day,” a morning Vacation Bible School type service in hopes to meet people in our community. Our little church plant had a group of eight teenagers and four adults come for a week on a missions trip. Throughout the week we went out in the blistering heat and passed out flyers in the neighborhoods surrounding the elementary school where we meet. The teens practiced special music weeks ahead before they arrived and did fundraising for their trip well in advance.

Canvassing for our upcoming event

Meeting and planning where we will put out flyers

The week before our event…

The sun was wearing us out within two hours of putting out flyers. Water bottles were in high demand. I took all five of our children out two days of four to put out flyers on doors. It was hard to get through those two smaller neighborhoods without sweaty foreheads and pink cheeks close to being overheated even though we stopped toward the end every five minutes for a drink. Our Tres (nickname for 3rd child), who is six years old and learning to read, began recognizing the “No Soliciting” signs that were dispersed along the neighborhood doors. Our baby rode along in the stroller playing with a little monkey key chain, I was constantly adjusting the shade over her to keep her feet from being sunburned. The teenagers did more leg work but came to the end of the mornings just as drained. When the afternoons came, they crashed into a heap taking naps on the couches because the heat had zapped their energy. The flyers were distributed and a few contacts had been made.

The day of our event…

Two hours before the service we were setting up around the school for the fun water games. Water balloons and other supplies were ready, ice in ice chests for snow cones, two lessons ready for younger and older children. We waited in anticipation.

Several people waited outside the school gates to welcome visitors but no one came.

No one.

Not one kid, adult, or new guest at all.

My heart had built up an anticipation for multiple visitors so when no people came it was a crash of disappointment. I won’t lie, I am human, and a woman with emotions. I was disheartened. I wanted to cry for everyone who put forth all the effort. I was not disappointed in God but surprised at our results. I tried reading the faces of the other adults as the morning service time came and our services began with just our small handful of church folk.

Were we really okay with what looked like an event of menial proportions?

The answer is yes,  we were okay. The group went on with the program with our children (our children plus the pastor’s children = 8) They still played the games planned, ate the snow cones, gave away the candy prizes and did the “Grand Prize” drawings that had been advertised in our flyers. Most importantly they went on with the Bible lesson and the youth pastor spoke about “The Greatest Gift Ever Given.” Almost all of our children have given a profession of faith except our Cuatro (4 year old). We all needed the reminder of Christ’s gift of His own precious life dying on the cross for our sins that day.

The youth group treated our “ministry kids” as if they were just as important as any visitor.  The pastor and the group did not just drop the program because guests did not arrive. It could have been easy to throw our hands up in the air and have everyone join in together for the regular church service. Our children were taught ministering to them was important because it’s true: Ministry children are important too.

Sunday night the youth group sang, “If just one more soul were to walk down the aisle, it would be worth every struggle, it would be worth every trial, a lifetime of labor would be worth it all if it rescued just one more soul.” My heart was struck that may not have been our week to rescue one more soul but if in the course of time we see someone saved, a Sunday like that day genuinely would be worth all the efforts.

After Sunday was over…

The thought occurred to me that night as I lie in bed in the twilight of sleep, there was fruit. The fruit of my womb, my children. The fruit of my pastor’s wife’s womb, her children. The fruit of some parents and youth leaders and a pastor in that neighboring state were there ministering to us. The fruit of paFruits of Laborsrents and youth leaders decades ago were there, my husband and I and our pastor and his wife. We are all fruit of labors people invested in our lives for the Lord’s sake. The Lord Himself has been the investor of our lives, nurturing our hearts all along to help us have spiritual growth and understanding. He has been watering, pruning, investing since we were all children to bring us to where we are today. We, the ministers, count as fruit although at first glance the “reward” from the labors for our current day left us seeming empty-handed. The truth was the opposite. The enemy would love for us to discount the Lord’s investment and make us feel like failures.

Church planting is beginning with a bare field and seasons of time include sowing the seed of God’s Word and letting people know you are in the community. To all the church planting families out there I say, keep planting, the Lord will give the increase. Don’t give up on reaching out in the community to all the “neighbors” out there, souls still need Christ no matter your attendance. Compel, sow with energy, pray in earnest with tears, fruit will come in its season.

To all the Ministry Mamas out there I say, even if it is only your children teach the class or run the program! When the church van or bus route is filled only with your children share the joy of the Lord with them and invest in them in a special way. Relish the moments of only watching the few babies in the nursery, laugh and have fun with them for they too need a good experience in learning to love going to church. When your ministry seems to bear no new fruit and no visitors walk through the door or souls come forward in a church service, do your job and leave the rest to God. Value those who are present, they are fruit worth loving and investing in!

 

Sunday Morning Make-Ahead Breakfasts

One way to make your Sunday morning easier is to make breakfast ahead of time. Invest some time on Saturday or earlier in the week into preparing your family a healthy or more filling breakfast for Sunday. You can choose to make a breakfast casserole and pop it into the oven when you wake up, fix something up in the Crock-pot overnight, or have some hearty foods frozen in your freezer. You will make for a happier husband, kids, and self if you’re filling up your tank on a day that we all know requires more energy than any other day of the week.

Sunday Morning Make Ahead Breakfast Ideas

Numerous ministry families rob themselves of the proper nutrients their bodies need and run on empty stomachs to face a busy schedule of service because they do not take time to eat on Sunday morning. You can help your family prepare for the ministry race by planning and preparing before the race begins. Just as you would plan for a Sunday afternoon meal, make breakfast a priority too!

I used to hand my children cups of cereal Sunday mornings and feel so guilty for the extra sugar they were having but it wasn’t just sugar, they were going without protein. After church ended I would be frustrated because they were begging to eat candy before we could get into our van and get home for lunch. (Okay, that’s kids but you get my drift…) They were starving because our breakfasts were only carbohydrates. They burned those sugars when they were excited to see their friends and singing at the top of their lungs in Junior Church! Experience has taught me if our kids have a heartier breakfast they do better at listening in their Sunday School classes and being a blessing to those around them.

Now, imagine how your husband serves without any energy to go on: doing busy tasks, dealing with unexpected situations, even diving deep into counseling situations. Sundays for a pastor have been said to be as hard on a man as a full-time work week with the burdens they carry on top of the physical job of preaching, teaching, and ministering.

If your husband has eaten healthy filling foods on Sunday mornings (and before all other services) he will be more prone to act in the spirit not the flesh.

We all know hungry men can be bears. A good breakfast can curb the bear and make him bear-able to be around.  Note: There are husbands do not like to eat before preaching and I understand it helps with nerves or is similar to fasting, but be sure to have good foods available if and when he would want it.

Sunday Morning Breakfast Quote

Ashley, a friend of mine has a breakfast casserole that she makes ahead on Saturday. On Sunday morning while they are getting ready she pops it back in the oven and lets it brown on top and warm up so her family gets a full stomach before they arrive to church. She shared her recipe with us.

Breakfast Casserole

Ingredients:

1 bag of frozen hash browns (12 oz.)

1 can of green chilies, mild or spicy (omit if you don’t like green chilies)

12-18 eggs

1 lb. of cooked breakfast meat (sausage, bacon, or ham)

1/2-1 lb. of shredded cheese, depends on how cheesy you like it

Add salt and pepper to your taste.

How To:

Spray the inside of your baking pan (glass or metal) with oil.

Add hash browns to your pan, then add your meat mixture on top.

Beat your eggs in a separate bowl, then mix in green chilies.

Pour eggs into the pan. You might need to shift your pan back and forth to have the eggs settle between the hash browns.

Sprinkle your cheese on top.

Bake at 400  about 45 minutes until the eggs are cooked and browned on the edges.

Remove it from the oven when it is set and browned on the edges. Then, let it cool, cover and refrigerate until Sunday morning.
Reheat in the oven while you’re getting ready for about 15-20 minutes at 350. Serve with salsa and warm tortillas for a Southwest flavor or fruit and toast for a filling Sunday morning meal!
More recipe ideas for make-ahead breakfasts for Sunday morning:
Ministry Mamas, give us your ideas!

If you have any breakfast favorites for your busy Sunday morning that are hearty and healthy and even in the “make-ahead” category then please share them with us in the comments.

Helping Your Ministry Man Be Organized

Helping Your Ministry Man Be Organized - Updated

This is an updated post that was written two years ago. I hope that it is a blessing to a ministry wife that just doesn’t know quite what to do when it comes to helping her husband become more organized. ~The Ministry Mama

What Helps Your Ministry Man Most

Each husband and each ministry is different, so this cannot be a one size fits all approach to helping your husband but I hope that some of the helps will benefit your specific situation.

The primary thing you can do to help your ministry man be organized is what a ministry wife said,  “Help him find what works for him.” There are a number of things you can do  but the first thing you can do before you help is, ask! Use the helpmeet’s most sensitive question, “What can I help you with?” Then, listen and help with that (it won’t always be what you assume for it to be).

Keeping track of schedules is a big problem for ministry men…

Whether your husband has a calendar in an organizer or a calendar on his phone or online he may need you to help him keep up with all upcoming events. Many men are very good at this, others are not. This will need to be something  you help with according to his preferences. Events and appointments are always added or cancelled and you will need to be involved knowing how to schedule your own time according to his calendar even if he is a top-notch organizer. The key is regularly discussing your upcoming events.

Find a good organizer and/or calendar and use it! If your husband needs you to schedule those events for him you do not have to wait until you are in the church office to do it. When you are discussing it, do it right then! If you have a church secretary or even a trusted child (teenage or single adult women are great for this) then by all means delegate. Be sure that reminders are given to him so that he has the event of the day or week in his mind. Another idea is to have it written on a white board calendar out in open view where he can look at it regularly. Update it as items come up as soon as possible.

Other Ways You Can Help Your Ministry Man Be Organized

  • Cleaning His Office – Does his office become the storage place for upcoming church events? Is he a coffee drinker that piles up those coffee cups? Help him clean it up if you can. His office is a place where he can minister to others and his effectiveness will go farther when people are not distracted by a messy space. Clean work spaces also lend to greater productivity. This can have an effect on his sermons and outreach.
  • Creating an Organizational System – This could be a paper filing system in a filing cabinet with marked file folders for copies of documents that need to be accessed quickly. It may also mean that you help him find a digital way of organization like using a system like Trello or helping him learn and use Excel so he can keep track of work more easily. If you are good at this, then use it to his advantage.
  • Delegating – Helping him use his church secretary or a responsible Christians that have an interest in church work. Part of being in ministry is generally having the oversight over many things at once. If you can help him learn to delegate and work with other people to get tasks accomplished, then this will relieve some time and stresses.
  • Give Him Time to Focus – At times, all your husband will need to organize himself is quiet time. Many ministry husbands have in-home offices, so if possible, let him have his study time in a quiet environment. Do quiet activities with your children so he can have sufficient time to take care of business. If needed, help protect his quiet and study time from time interrupters from yourself and even others.
  • Having Clothes Ready – Save time for your husband by having his church clothes ready. Your laundry habits can positively or negatively effect him being on time and ready for the day. So get that laundry done in a timely fashion and have them hung and ready to go. P.S. Don’t forget the socks!
  • Keeping His Ministry Car Organized – Does your husband run here and there and do things get lost in transit from church to home and vice versa? Then he may need your help regularly cleaning out the car. He needs to have a car that is presentable for helping other people. Last minute car rides are easier to say yes to when you have a clean car for them to ride in. Also think about adding a trash bag, a storage container for his tracts to keep them from being ruined, and a pad of paper and a pen. If you share a vehicle do a quick clean-up after you get home from every outing.

Note: I realize that some of these areas are things that your husband can take care of by himself. I also acknowledge that you are a busy woman with a calendar filled with tasks yourself. Kindly, I want to remind you of your husband was designed to need your help and it would be better to help him in areas where he struggles with organization and help him be successful, and not neglect the opportunity and have him flunk out in performance. I pray you will be able to see his organizational needs and help him where the Lord prompts you to do so.