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First Impressions

First impressions

Ushers and greeters are your church’s first impression.

I’m sure you have all heard the saying that you only get one chance to make a first impression. It is true in your personal life, and it is true in your church.   An area of serving that is often overlooked in churches is that of Usher.  Not everyone can be an usher. Just as not everyone can be a worship leader, work in child care, repair the building, or preach the sermon. We each have our unique God given gifts, and that includes people who are wired to be good ushers. I love how well Dan Reiland outlines the importance and “how to’s” of the usher ministry in the article below.

“Your Usher Ministry”

by Dan Reiland

One of my favorite ministries to lead is the usher team. Their role is so important, but often undervalued, undertrained, and less than organized.

The ushers are a huge force in setting the tone for worship and helping to prepare the people to hear and respond to the Word of God.

I’m pulling a portion of the training notes for our usher team and adapting for this article. If you would like the full usher training manual (free) CLICK HERE!

An usher is a spiritual ambassador for the local church – God’s ordained and organized body of believers. The usher serves as a “first representative” of Jesus Christ for a worship service. Though we thoroughly enjoy the creative edge of our worship services, make no mistake, this is a holy event where God is meeting with His people.

From the tabernacle in the Old Testament to the temple and synagogue in the New Testament, God’s presence and the teaching of His word is of supreme importance.

Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Exodus 40:34

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Mark 1:21-22

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. John 8:2

Who Can Serve as an Usher?

Not just anyone can be an usher. In the same way that not just anyone can sing in the choir, work in children’s ministry or lead a small group. The right gifts, passion, and ability make a big difference.

As you recruit new ushers keep spiritual qualities, characteristics and usher responsibilities in mind. Please make sure you work in coordination with your section leader or a service leader rather than practicing “random recruiting.”

The fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23 is a solid guideline for a good usher. This is not about perfection, but a heartfelt motive and desire to live a life of a spirit-filled believer.

Qualifications of an Usher

• You understand the vital role of the usher ministry.

• You enjoy and care about people.

• You possess a servant heart.

• You are committed to the vision of “your church name.”

• You are supportive of the leadership at “your church name.”

Responsibilities of an Usher

1. Committed leadership

• Prepare yourself spiritually.

A good usher comes prepared mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. This is not to be seen as a duty, but a privilege to connect with God as part of your preparation. Don’t feel like this requires an hour of Bible study before you show up. God is far more interested in the commitment of your heart than the amount of your time. Take a few moments at home to connect with God and ask Him to use you as a representative of His love and an agent of His redemptive plan.

• Take initiative!

This is huge. The cardinal sin of an usher is to not pay attention. At all times watch what is going on in your section and jump in to handle it. If you aren’t sure what to do, ask your section leader. The only wrong choice is to do nothing. Never assume “someone” else is taking care of the need. Pay attention, take initiative, and make it happen!!

• Absorb the pressure of the moment, don’t transfer it.

Most of the ministry of an usher is pure joy. Seriously, it’s a lot of fun. But on occasion there are moments of pressure when someone is upset or something isn’t working right. In these moments never transfer the pressure to the person entering into their worship experience. You are the leader. You absorb the pressure. Get help if you need it, but never make the issue their problem. You help deliver a solution.

• Own your section, lead your section, shepherd your section.

This is exciting. In an average environment with average ushers, once the seats are filled the ushers relax and mentally check out. As a leader you are empowered to take ownership of the area of seats you serve in and give leadership where needed. Think of your area like you are responsible to do everything in your power to ensure that all those people have the best opportunity possible to connect with and hear from God. You can shepherd the people by getting to know them, praying for them, learning their names, and meeting appropriate needs.

• Follow the direction of your head usher.

All good leaders are good followers. It is important that you follow the leadership of the person responsible to lead you. Be supportive and encouraging. Offer suggestions if you have good ideas, but don’t be overly sensitive if your ideas aren’t used. Your head usher will do his or her best to serve and lead you and the rest of their team well.

2. Core tasks

In each of these areas you will receive practical hands-on training.

• Help people find a seat.

This seems obvious, but there is an art to it. The art is all about making people, especially new people and people far from God, feel comfortable. Their insecurities can rise and their feelings of self-consciousness prevent them from connecting with God.

Imagine what it feels like to walk into an unfamiliar restaurant or other environment and not know what to do. Do I seat myself or do I wait to be seated? Who do I talk to if I have a question? Who do I tell if I have special circumstances? (e.g. potential medical condition)

Your job is to move toward and engage people quickly and with confidence to help them know what to do. Don’t leave people hanging. Let them know that you can handle anything they need, and that you are the one that can make this a smooth and enjoyable experience.

Don’t make them come to you and ask. You approach them with confidence and a smile. Take charge with grace and poise.

• Collect the offering.

On a divine level, the offering is part of worship. It is the opportunity for worshippers to express their love, trust and obedience toward God. On a practical level, the financial needs of a large church are significant. Your smooth and coordinated execution of an offering can and does impact the resources that fund the Kingdom. On a security level, this is one of the most detailed functions of an usher.

You will be trained in the actual physical process for receiving an offering in a live session.

You will receive detailed training that will help us ensure compliance with legal guidelines and practical security issues.

• Assist in the execution of special moments.

Many churches are known for creativity in their worship services. From motorcycles to doughnuts, to tractors and bottles of coke, you just never know what may be coming down the aisles! Some of the special moments are fun, some are crazy, and some are deeply spiritual. Things like crossing a bridge, writing in journals, or taking communion. The service of an usher is crucial to these moments being leveraged toward life-change.

We are depending on your flexibility. Don’t get flustered when last minute changes are made. That will happen. Just keep positive, stay flexible and know that creativity is at work “making the magic” that makes all the difference.

• Get an accurate people count.

Why does this matter so much? Why must these numbers be so accurate? Why can’t we just make a good estimate? The answer is that every number represents a person. We want to be good stewards of all that God has entrusted to us and therefore it matters that we know how well we are reaching people. Just like in the book of Acts, they counted, recorded, and celebrated how many people were saved . . . we count too!

• Re-set and clean up the auditorium.

People will leave papers, cups and “stuff”. The glamorous part of an usher’s ministry is cleaning up after each service. In addition, supplies such as Bibles and pens are replenished.

Remember, many hands make light work. If all ushers jump in and help, it takes about 10 minutes.

3. Common sense

• Maintain proper appearance and personal hygiene.

• Show up on time.

o Section leaders 40 minutes before the service. o Ushers 30 minutes before the service.

• Read the bulletin – get informed, stay informed.

• Wear your name tag.

• You are not required to usher every Sunday, but when you are on the schedule, give it 100%.

• If you are on the schedule and can’t make it, it is imperative that you call your section leader.

• Smile, talk to people, and learn their names!!

Yes, there’s more, and as mentioned, you can have the complete training booklet – CLICK HERE!

Happy Ushering!!


Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  – 1 Corinthians 12:20-25

Questions every team member should ask themselves

Ask questions in order to evaluate your effectiveness as an individual player on the team:

Ask questions in order to evaluate your effectiveness as a player on the team

A few years ago America was caught in a frenzy of game shows.  One game show that did extraordinarily well was a fast moving game called “The Weakest Link.” In this game contestants would work as a team answering a variety of questions and attempting to bank as much money as possible.  At the end of each round the contestants would privately vote on who they felt was the weakest link.  Typically the weakest link would be someone who was unable to answer some of the questions or took too much time off the clock when answering the questions.  The game would finally arrive at two players who would compete for the amount of money the overall team had won, but only one person walked away with the money.

The idea of the weakest link can be played in the teams of any organization.  You have heard the statement “a team is no greater then its weakest member.”  This is true!  The strength of your organization should not and cannot fall on the shoulders of a few.  Every team member must be working at being the best player they can be.  I am not saying your organization should be voting off players until it gets down to one, but I am saying that every player must be working toward becoming a player of substance.

Here are a few questions that you and your team members can ask about yourselves to evaluate your effectiveness as an individual player on the team:
1)  Do I add value to the team?
The team has to be a better team because you are a part of it.  You bring something to the table that adds value to the overall success of the organization.

2)  Do I add value to others?
In other words am I bringing out the best in those around me?  Does my attitude and actions cause my fellow team member to become bitter or better?

3)  Am I quick to give away the credit
A successful team has no room for those who are so insecure that they need the spotlight on every occasion.  A valuable team member is quick to give away the credit because it shows that they are caught up in the team’s successes not in their own individual accolades.

4)  Am I raising up potential leaders?
Truly successful team members are consistently raising up new leaders.  They do not hold down people out of fear of being outshined.  They understand the power from multiplying leadership.

5)  Is my attitude positively contagious?
Nothing can lift up a team quicker or tear down a team faster then attitude.  Make sure your attitude is healthy and positive.  Believing and speaking the best about others and about the organization you serve.

6)  Are you producing?
A team member must be producing.  This includes achieving objectives, creating new concepts, growing as a leader, lifting the value of the organization, getting it done and then some.  Be that kind of team player and you will never lack a team to play on!

Take these questions to heart.  Talk about them in your next staff or leadership meeting.  Challenge each of your players to live out these six qualities and your team will be playing a whole new game!

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE FOR THE DAY

“You’ve got to have good athletes to win, I don’t’ care who the coach is.”
Lou Holtz – Former Notre Dame football coach

Tips for coping with critical people – Part 1

Learning to cope with criticism

Learning to cope with criticism

One of the most difficult challenges facing leaders is learning to cope with criticism.  The greater your influence grows the greater the criticism grows.  If you’re going to be a mover and a shaker, if you’re going to attempt great things, if you’re going to deal with people at any level you will, without a doubt, face criticism.

With the reality of the inevitable critic it would be to every leader’s advantage to discover ways to cope with criticism.  If you do not discover a method for handling criticism then you are destined to continually struggle as people serve you their hard hits of judgment.  No matter how much we would like to believe in our personal confidence we are all vulnerable to criticism and we allow it to become a stronghold in our life.

Here are some ways to help you in coping with critical people:

1)  Face the critic within
A team of sociologists studied a small community and discovered that each of them admit to criticizing those around them.  The same group of people interviewed, were appalled to discover that they themselves were often criticized by those closest to them.  The result of the study was that each person must realize they are being criticized but more importantly they themselves are critical about others.  This is a hard reality!  Each one of us, criticize to some degree.  The first step in overcoming the critics around you is to face the critic with in you.  Admit your problem and then begin correcting it and you will be on a road to coping with the hardest of critics.

2)  Don’t tune them out
Your critics may have something valuable to say, they may have some truth behind their complaint.  E. Stanley Jones was quoted as saying “Critics are the unpaid watchmen of my soul.”    Criticism can help you, if you will take less time being offended and more time being creative and discover the hidden gems behind the hurtful comment.  However, you must be smart enough to know when someone’s criticism is meant to hurt you and has no truth in it.  These are the ones that you must tune out!  Remember their criticisms say more about them than about you.

3)  Filter the amount you let in
It is easy to focus ourselves on the one negative comment and ignore the ninety nine positive comments.  I am guilty of this myself!  I will step off a stage, after making a presentation, have a hundred people tell me how wonderful it was, but when one person makes a negative comment I begin to focus all my energies on figuring out why this person doesn’t like me.  It is a horrible trap to fall into.  Be careful not to allow one person to dominate your time and energy because of their critical spirit.  Know what you need to listen to and know what you need to tune out.
4)  Host a complaint session
If you have someone who is continually criticizing you, set up an appointment with the person.  Go into the meeting with humility and simply say “I know you have some concerns about me and I wanted to give you an opportunity to share them one on one.”  Make sure in the meeting to limit their time to complain.  Don’t let it turn into a bashing session on you.  After they have shared their concerns, address them confidently and humbly.  Ask the person at the end of the meeting to work with you, by not sharing these complaints to others, but by partnering with you to overcome the possible problem.

Next time, I will continue giving you practical ideas for coping with critical people.  Work on the four ideas I gave you with those critics that surround you.  If you’re a leader then you have no choice but to discover ways to cope with the inevitable criticism.  Learn how to deal with it now and it will save you a lot of personal heartache.

Until next time,

Chris

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:

“In the end, criticism discredits the critic.”
Denny Duron

Soaring with your strengths

Discover where you are naturally gifted and invest your time in it

Discover where you are naturally gifted and invest your time in it.

Maybe you have heard the saying “people don’t burn out in their strengths, they burnout in their weaknesses.”  This is true! When you and I love to do something we usually don’t burn out in that area of our lives, it’s when we involve ourselves with areas of weakness that we are quick to be drained.  When we participate in areas that we don’t have a natural gifting or passion we find ourselves burning out and trying to figure a way out.

My son loves to play baseball and as many American children, has high hopes of playing in the Major Leagues.  He is not interested in any other sport except baseball.  He would play baseball day and night if he could.  I have also noticed that of all the other sports he has sampled, baseball is where he is most naturally gifted.  It is where his passion is strongest!  Now because he is passionate, loves the game and has some gifting in the area of baseball it is rare to see him burnout and say to me “Dad, I don’t want to play baseball.”

In any organization, church, company or team it is important for the leader to discover the areas of strengths for themselves and for the individual team members. The last thing you want to do is to have you or any of your team members spending a large amount of time on something your not good at and that you don’t even like to do.  Below are two simple rules to follow that will help you to move in the right direction of placing you and your team members in areas where you will receive the greatest amount of results.

Rule #1 –  Discover what you love to do and do it with all your heart
When evaluating where you or your team members spend the majority of your time you must ask yourself “What do I love to do.”  What is it that brings the most joy to my life? What I suggest is that you take out a piece of paper and write down your “likes” and “dislikes.”  Exhaust everything that comes to your mind and write it down.  You will find that there are things that you love to do and that you couldn’t imagine ever burning out in those areas.  For me personally, I love to communicate but I don’t love to administrate.  I love casting vision, but I don’t love carrying out the details.  The more I place my energy in the things I love the happier I am and the more effective I am!  Find what you love to do and spend more time doing it.

Rule #2 –  Discover where you are naturally gifted and invest the majority of your time in it.
Michael Jordan is known as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.  He is most known for his career with the Chicago Bulls and the incredible ensemble of players they had in the 90’s.  But do you remember when he retired from Basketball and tried his skill at Baseball.  In his own words it was the worst mistake of his life.  He is a Basketball player not a Baseball player.  He has a God given gift in a specific sport and he does his best when he stays within his gifting.  It is important for you and your team members to operate inside of their gifting.  What is it that God has designed you to do…what is your gifting?  You and your team members will be happier and more successful when you operate in your area of strength.

Chances are there is two or three things that you do very well and most importantly you love to do.  Discover those areas and spend the majority of your time doing them.  Your personal life and the life of your team will reach its potential when it operates with these two thoughts in mind…what do I love to do and what am I good at?

Until Next Time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE FOR THE DAY

“When you’re passionate, you’re focused, purposeful and determined, without even having to try.  Your body, mind and spirit are all working in unison towards the same goal.”                                                                   Marcia Wieder