Seasons

Posted: April 23, 2014 in Granger Community Church, Team

During my 12 years of staff ministry, I’ve held twice as many staff positions as actual careers. Since 2001, I’ve served as our technical director, media specialist, arts volunteer specialist, i-mag director, director of volunteer involvement, guest services director, and now…(drum roll)… I have the awesome privilege of launching and leading a ministry in a role we’re calling director of engagement.

What a privilege it will be to build new teams, structures and systems that will help connect anyone and everyone who desires, to take their next steps.

What excites me more than this honor is the fact that Granger Community Church has taken Goliath-like steps to ensure that opportunities are available for people to take steps of growth, connection and engagement. These opportunities will help shape disciples, strengthen relationships and activate people’s faith.

Tonight, we’ll introduce initiatives like groups, neighborhood advocates, classes, events, weekly onramps for growth and engagement practices or “way finding” proposals that could shape our future and assist in “closing the back door.”

We’ve revamped our data support systems to assist in this venture. We’ve poured in resources and hired additional staff to launch with success. We’ve restructured, re-tooled and re-visited what really matters.

It’s about making disciples. This principle is integrated through all our programming, offerings and plans for the future. It’s important. In fact, I remember reading that somewhere before. It seemed like it was in red letters.

So what will it take for this new venture to succeed? More than anything, I believe it’s a team with passion to see everyone connected and on a path of growth in their walks with Christ.

Our lead pastor has asked so many times, “Which way are your feet pointed?” and has said such profound statements as, “If you keep walking this direction [as he illustrates], you’ll end up over here.”

That next step is hard,” Dr. Beeson continues. “If it wasn’t, we’d already have taken it.” (On a side note, I love it when he lobs softballs like this right across the plate! It’s really not rocket science.)

Our hope in all of this is that we’ll make it easy for everyone to know the options that will assist in that walk or offer opportunities that will take some of the difficulty out of that step.

Perhaps your church has already activated such a ministry. If so, I would love to hear your successes, your best practices and your challenges. Email me at kvolheim@gccwired.com and let me know your thoughts.

Gift of Time

Posted: December 17, 2013 in Granger Community Church, Heart, Team

‘Tis the season when many make a conscious decision to “give above and beyond their normal giving” to assure our community knows that they matter to God.

Teams of volunteers (who are already engaged in ministry all year long) recognize the opportunity to offer more of their most precious gift — time — so that the most precious gift can be shared and experienced this season.

Volunteers not only recognized this chance, but are taking full advantage of the occasion by serving in a hundred different capacities year-round. They serve out of the love of changed hearts so that the experience of thousands and thousands will be enriched. They are part of presenting the hope of the world through this local Body.

Last week it struck me once again that there are just so many things that happen behind the scenes. If it weren’t for these amazing volunteers, these special touches just wouldn’t get done.photo blog test

Have you ever considered that during this season about 30,000 programs get stuffed? Ever take time to consider that someone placed in holders and prayed over candles for 10,000 guests?  Have you ever asked who gets here at 6:00 AM in close to zero temperature to clear the lots and sidewalks or who runs traffic for special events and weekends? Maybe you wonder just who is it that arranges for 200 gifts to be distributed to children in the inner city? Did you know that someone actually prepared meals for the artists who gave thousands of hours for the Christmas production? Yep, thousands of hours. Volunteers built the sets for the production…and volunteers will tear it down too. Or who even comes back to clean up the used candles and clean all the wax out? It’s sure not any of Santa’s helpers. 

People serve outrageously all year long. When one’s heart has been changed, you can’t help but give back. There are a bunch of things happening this season to take away obstacles for those who’ve been invited to hear about and receive that same gift of a changed heart. I’m grateful this season for those who’ve joined in the call.

Connectedness

Posted: September 19, 2013 in Encouragement, Granger Community Church, Team

After about a half dozen summer team gatherings, I’ve been reflecting on the bond that holds teams together.  If you thought that bond is Jesus- that would be the Christian thing to say-but I’m not sure it’s the correct answer for everyone.

What I’ve seen are teams gathering and sharing in community.  They’re having fun getting to know one another in a setting where they don’t have to look at their watches in order to hit their next mark. They’ve been taking boat rides together, eating, playing games, laughing and getting to know each other’s stories.

This might be shocking to you, but not all of our team members share the same love of Jesus that you or I might. They’ve been invited into a community of Christ followers who share that common bond; but for now, they’re just happy to be invited to something outside of their isolation and on to a team where they can help, where someone knows their name and will listen to their story.

They’re taking steps, we pray, that will lead them to this relationship with Christ that bonds many of us. For now, we’re celebrating that they’ve taken a step. The funny thing is that eventhe convinced” need this community to stay engaged.

I was reminded recently of a teaching that our Senior Pastor spoke on several years ago. Take a look and I’ll wrap this up:

So, are you making time for this connectivity to happen? Are you allowing those who serve in your ministries time where stories can be shared-where volunteers know they matter and their journey matters? Are we making room for the conversations that could lead to life change?

I’m paraphrasing from my Pastor but he said something like:

People join our teams because they value the task or they buy into the leader; they love working with you. You’re inspiring, encouraging, trustworthy, successful and fun. They join because they’re invited, but they stay because they’re valued as a person. Who they are matters and they know that because of the care, encouragement and community that is at the heart of every team.

I recently asked an uber volunteer when and why he decided to get involved at the extreme level he does. (I’m talking tons of hours a week serving and sharing Jesus with underprivileged kids.) Without a second of hesitation he shared that it was at a team gathering where his wife served. He wasn’t involved at all, but he said God spoke to him through the community he was witnessing.

Our teams need this. People need this. If it helps, look at it as ministry wrapped in koinónia

Most people who know me would have opinions on what my biggest challenge is.  Let me reveal it now so you can focus on this post. It’s me. My biggest challenge has always been, and will always be, me. Focusing on what God has called me to every moment or – as our Pastor has said hundreds of times – “doing the next right thing” will always be my biggest challenge.

On to my second biggest challenge:  Rarely – well, on occasion…truth be told, nearly every week I vent (refer back to paragraph one) to my wife about something involving volunteerism or volunteers. I’ll express concern to her about a volunteer just not getting it when it comes to a ministry or responsibility. Relax – if you’re taking the time to read this, it’s not you.

Claudia’s default response to me of late has been “Kim, they’re volunteers.” That phrase woke me up at 2:33 a.m. recently. What I remember waking to was a teaching around here that I’ve heard more than a hundred times:  “Excellence Matters to God.”

When I bottom-line Claudia’s response, I get what she’s saying…I’m the staff person, I get paid and volunteers don’t. Part of me gets that. About five percent of me. It’s in the 95% where my second biggest challenge lies: helping volunteers who follow Christ understand that they are equally as vested in the mission, vision and values as any staff member.

I’m not talking about equal hours invested in ministry. I’m speaking in terms of stewardship – the stewardship of our available time, focused with excellence to serve for the cause of Christ. Excellence in our ministries matters to God whether individuals are paid or not. Giving our best, as if it matters to the cause of Christ (because it does), will change our entire perspective of how we prepare, present and perform our ministry.

Our volunteers – your volunteers are on the front line of this battle. It’s only in games like Risk where the “soldiers” on the map have no influence on the outcome of the mission.

It doesn’t matter the ministry. If we fail to internalize and live out that what we’re participating in has the potential to impact a life for the Kingdom, then we’ll never give it our all. (As a side note, if it doesn’t have the potential to impact a life, cancel it.)

I pray for our leaders to get this, I pray for them to challenge their team members to leave nothing at their “post” when they leave, to fully engage themselves in the ministry at hand, to be focused and intentionally seeking out how God will use them in the next moment to help others take a step towards Christ.

Man, if I could get this solved I’d get more sleep.

Greetings,

Looking back on 2012, I am left amazed beyond words at what God has done through the ministries of Granger Community Church. If there’s one thing I don’t want to get lost in all of this is that very little could happen without the collective efforts of well over 2,000 volunteers. Teams of volunteers led by hundreds of leaders across the body of this church have been instrumental in accomplishing what no one would have thought possible a very short time ago.

To just run effective weekend services (52 times a year) that offer incredible arts, awesome teaching, care for students and kids, guest services that consistently rock our visitors, technical arts that are second to none and all the support ministries that accompany every weekend service so that guests have the opportunity to take steps towards Christ is a monumental accomplishment on its own. Not only here on the Granger Campus, but volunteers who minister with the same diligence throughout the region, campus wide and around the world through hundreds of your ministries.

I’ll only refer you here: 2012 Volunteer Ministry for the partial list of what has been done through this collective Body for the cause of Christ in the last year. This is Granger, Indiana, friends. Although Granger has a post office, not much would be known about this place on the planet apart from the association of a church body that has changed so many lives. This visionary church, your church, would not even be known were it not for God working through His people, on Mission to impact thousands of church leaders and countless thousands of individuals — all impacted by the ministries you serve. Just amazing.

The privilege will continue in 2013. We’ll look back, God willing, and say much of the same. Not what “we have done” but rather, “look what God has done through His people.” Look again at the lives changed, look at the stories of God’s faithfulness through your impact in this last year. Re-visit these events and look through the videos on the new and expanded website here. Explore this new site and examine for yourself what happens every week.

Look at what God is doing as His people in Granger value core principles: Love, Steps, Truth, Impact and Team. These aren’t just slogans on our windows, rather a path to fulfill our 2016 Vision. These values, as they are applied to you, your teams and your ministries, will help us to help others take their next step towards Christ. It’s been an incredible year — it’s going to be an incredible year.

Thank you for your tireless efforts, for your intentionality to serve on mission. Thank you for giving time, for putting aside self for others. There is no better definition of Love than when one serves. Thank you for leading and for your impact — much of which you don’t even know about. This could not happen without God’s purposing through you.

Your staff is honored, your church is blessed, but more than anything, Christ is being made known at all of these touch points because of the ministry of His people — you.

Blessed,

Kim

We’ve just celebrated an amazing conference here at GCC called ReInnovate. Many, including myself, left with a lot of new tools in the box to reach others outside the box:) As always, there were arts that spoke to the heart, opened our eyes, and left attendees with ideas that will revitalize the true meaning of  “the church”.

I had the honor to catch up with some friends, meet some new ministry partners, and be reminded once again of what a privilege it is to be a part of this local effort to resource the body of Christ.

Today I want to share with you another tool that will go a long way in helping your leaders and volunteer teams grasp some of the best practices in guest services.  It’s a video training that Mark Waltz has made available. I’ve copied his post and summary here.

Often times, the barriers that keep guests from returning are the “first impressions” that we’ve not trained our teams to make. We’re just like you; in that, we want our guests to come back! We want them to hear the life-changing message of Christ. We want them taking next steps, growing and engaging their faith 24/7.

Mark won’t say it, but just like his books, there are no better tools available on the planet to help your teams rise beyond the expectations of any guest entering your facility. In this video production, you’ll find effective and practical training that will remove many of those obstacles standing in the way of achieving that goal. They’ll help you take these practices outside the walls of the building where you meet. In addition to providing specific training to your teams, there’s a special session for leaders that gets to the core of great volunteer leadership.

Invest in the commitment of resourcing your teams and leaders. You’ll find a snippet here…You’ll not regret it.

An Overdue Post

Posted: September 11, 2012 in Team

Celebrating volunteers comes pretty easy for me. It’s a shame I don’t take the time to write of them more often. They simply make our weekends work, and this weekend was no exception. As a matter of fact, this weekend was exceptional.

What made this weekend stand out was how our teams performed when most every normal weekend function they engage in changed.

In short, we cancelled a service and ran the ND football game on the big screens in its place. You can challenge the reasoning behind this series–I’m not going down that path–but I will point you here for a better understanding.

This post is to celebrate scores of volunteers who were willing to embrace change in order to bring a positive experience to a guest who’s not sure they matter to anyone, let alone, the creator of the universe.

Because the game started at 3 PM, opening the doors to the public a full two hours before the cancelled 5 PM service required adjustments for nearly every volunteer team to navigate.

It required our performing and technical arts volunteers to arrive for rehearsals before 1:00. For most of those team members, that equates to almost 20 hours of ministry over the week in the building alone. We transformed the auditorium by adding tables and games. We contracted a food vendor, gave away gifts and added our own halftime entertainment.

For almost seven hours on Saturday, our Usher/Greeter teams welcomed guests, ran food, monitored video games and corn hole. Traffic volunteers showed up early to prevent potential chaos while Campus Guides were in place early to assist visitors. Our Kids’ ministry volunteers adjusted to the game plan, Scores of volunteers served behind the scenes prior to the event. Popcorn was popping and soft drinks distributed-not because of our great staff, but all because of our amazing volunteers.

No one complained when further adjustments had to be made to accommodate the game running into the “normally scheduled” 7 PM service. They simply adjusted their ministries on the fly.

Before the end of a very long day, the auditorium needed to be transformed for Sunday. Over a dozen volunteers hung around till well after 10 PM to make that happen. Well done, TEAM!

Within all of this, I need to spotlight one particular volunteer. Let’s call him Bill (because that’s his real name). Bill O’Hara is battling another round of cancer. I’m talking Stage 4 cancer. Throughout the last several months of treatment, Bill has continued to prioritize the two ministries he serves.

He’s got some decent days and then the days that you would expect him to have. I watched him this weekend as he welcomed guests and their children, knowing all along there was no place he would rather be. His commitment to volunteering puts every excuse I’ve had the responsibility to listen to, to shame. I’m honored to serve with such great teams of volunteers.

In case you’ve not heard, Granger Community Church is within weeks of completing the expansion of our newly developed Atrium space. In my 17 years with the ministry here, there has never been more happening at one time.  There’s a wave of excitement in every department while nearly every ministry team is experiencing, or soon to be experiencing, change. It’s just the New Normal…,and I like it!

Here’s a thought that came to mind recently as I considered all that’s in front of our Guest Services teams. Whenever a change of this magnitude happens, it’s a great time to cast vision for additional changes you’ve dreamed of or thought should have happened long ago or to just process with leaders about what’s effective and…well, what’s in need of tweaking.

This newly developed Atrium space, and all that goes with it, is but one part of the global change happening here at GCC. We’re laser-focused on what it takes to reach our communities for Christ. This Atrium space is part of the 2016 Vision, and it’s going to change the way our Guest Services teams interact. It will create opportunities we’ve not had before. There’s a sign posted in the construction “window” for our teams and guests to consider-it reads, in part:

Think about a comfortable and artistic place that’s open to the regional community during the week, not just for Granger church people or services. Everything will be designed as an invitation—from soft seating with conversations and mini-meetings in mind to inspirational retail, from quality food and beverages to good music. People will meet and friends can gather—no strings attached. Think of this campus as the building where the church gathers, not a place that is the church itself.

Bring friends who might not be willing to sit in the auditorium in a straight row, but would feel more comfortable sitting in a soft chair or at a cafe table with you while sipping a latte or eating a sandwich.

In addition to the change in physical space and logistics for our teams and guests, we’re examining ways to strengthen our teams as well. Here’s something we’re taking from our Elkhart Campus. Beginning sometime in August, all Guest Services team members, (normally 50 per service) will “huddle” before each day’s services before being sent to ministry points. It won’t be a long gathering, but I’m convinced it will bring unity and a better understanding of the big picture. It’s a time to cast vision, share best practices and experiences, encourage one another and most importantly, corporately seek God’s help and blessing on what’s about to happen.

Change is good, and when combined with an opportune time, it can be great.

Allow me, if you will, to put on my Director of Volunteer Involvement hat and share a few thoughts with you that I’ve just shared with some staff members. I’ve asked them to consider again, how to build into their leaders so that those same leaders will lead with strength. Here’s how it went:

Recently, I’ve been reminded to look at a few important things to keep in front of any team leader you’ve entrusted to lead. Perhaps you’ve nailed all of these- we’ve heard them all before. Maybe this is just an exercise for me but I figured I’d send it along to let you assess how you’re doing with it too.

As for me, I’ve once again learned that there is nothing more important than keeping the vision of your ministry in front of your leaders and requiring them to keep that in front of their team-your teams. How do you do that? You have to communicate with them….and often. What do you communicate? Things like:

  • Clarify the win for your team, your ministry. Share with your leaders what really matters as they lead those God has entrusted them with. Make sure your leaders know that what they’re doing is making a difference-more importantly, make sure they communicate that to their team members
  • Communicate your expectations with your leaders so they know what’s required of them as they lead those who make your ministries a life changing force. Things like follow through, like best practices for your ministry. Develop a set of expectations for your leaders and ask how that’s going
  • Encourage your leaders, build into them so they will model the same for their team members. Set the example by sending them the notes, by calling them without an “ask,” by sharing stories of impact that happen because of their ministry, by knowing their spouse’s name or their cats name
  • Care for your leaders in their time of need, again, so they will care for their teams. Pray for them, let them know you’re praying and ask them to do the same for their team members
  • Be present for your leaders and their teams, make the time to be social and expect them to offer the same for the team they lead

As you know, I didn’t come up with this stuff, I just know that when applied, it works. You’re teams will rock when these things are happening and when a team rocks, our ministries impact will rock, and when our ministries rock, changed lives happen-not only those we intend to reach with our ministry but for team members on the journey with us.

Great Guest Services Experience

Posted: April 4, 2012 in Team

It was only a few short weeks ago that my wife and I were able to venture off to the high seas! Yep, our two sons purchased a 7 day Caribbean Cruise with Norwegian (NCL) for our 35th anniversary.

Before sailing off, it was hard for us to imagine, short of a Concordia disaster or food poisoning, what a bad cruise could be. Because of our experience, I now have a base for what a great cruise should be.  NCL set the bar pretty high.

Going into this thing, we paid $25 a day for gratuity, charged to our account, regardless of our activity! On top of that, for every purchase that required a signature, there was an 18% gratuity added! So what would make me want to throw two dollar tips around like old gum? I’m telling you, it didn’t seem like enough for how “Mr. Bradley” and Ms. Claudia were treated. OK-now you know my first name.  J

Even the broken English when struggling to pronounce our last name was warm and unexpected. Here are a few other things that surprised us:

  • Rooms cleaned twice a day
  • Towels crafted as different animals every evening
  • Remarkable service in the dining areas
  • Follow through with our requests
  • Table servers remembering our names
  • Clean surroundings and outrageous requests answered
  • Free smiles everywhere
  • Bar waiters remembering our names and drink preferences
  • Waiters spritzing us at poolside

Two ways to look at this: the first is that we (our kids) paid a bunch of money in non-optional gratuity so we should have been treated well.  We went with the optional view, to reward great service and to express our thanks with some extra good old fashioned green-backs. In addition, I see no reason at all, should God bless us again, to look further than NCL.

I’m just sayin’ that it was like leaving family on our departure. We took pictures with them, thanked them by name and even filled out one of those surveys normally tossed like, again, old gum.

Our entire experience left me wondering what extra steps can our teams take every weekend to WOW our guests? The extras that will make them ask “Why would we look further than this church that went out of their way at every step to make us feel like family?”  This link will give you at least a hundred of them.  I suggest you pick it up!