Playlister Podcast: Trey Sullins from 3Circle Church

This podcast episode features an interview with Trey Sullins, Kids Ministry director at 3Circle Church. Trey gives us insights on his background and how he went from studying nursing in college to leading Ministries around the country.

Chris Holland
July 22, 2021
Kids Ministry Leadership

Playlister Podcast: An Interview with Trey Sullins from 3Circle Church

This podcast episode features an interview with Trey Sullins, Kids Ministry director at 3Circle Church.

Trey gives us insights on his background and how he went from studying nursing in college to leading Ministries around the country.

Here are a few highlights:
  • It can sometimes be hard to lean into what you’re called to do- but you won’t regret it
  • Having a diverse employment background is useful in Ministry
  • Forgiveness takes a weight off your shoulders
  • You can meet people where they are through activities like Church Fortnite tournaments

Just play the video to check out the episode or read the transcript below:

Chris Holland:

Today we have Trey Sullins from 3Circle Church in Alabama joining us today. Trey is responsible for a lot of things at 3Circle Church, but I'll hand the mic over to him. Trey, could you tell us a bit about 3Circle Church and everything you do there?

Trey Sullins:

Absolutely. We're a church mostly in the South Alabama region, Baldwin county. We have two campuses there. We have a campus at Midtown, which is downtown Mobile, and then we have a campus in Thomasville. So I am the family pastor over all four campuses and I get to lead an amazing team of about 12 individuals. So it's super exciting to be a part of something that God is using. We're growing like crazy and super excited to be a part of 3Circle Church.

Chris Holland:

Could you share a bit about your background? What called you into ministry? How did you find your role at 3Circle Church?

Trey Sullins:

Well, man, growing up, I've always wanted to make a lot of money, so I started off my college career wanting to be a doctor and come Chemistry 2, that didn't quite pan out for me. So I decided to shift gears a little bit and I wanted to become a nurse. And during that time of my life in college, God began to pull at my heart. I had not been living the life that I really needed to be living at that time. And so God called me back home to Mobile.

So I went to the university of mobile and got into their nursing school and figured out, "Man, that's not where God's calling me." So I didn't quite fit there. And I loved numbers, and so I went ahead and got my accounting degree and the last part of my accounting degree there, a job opened up at a local church there in Mobile and they had just built a family life center and they said, "We need somebody to come and work on this family life center."

Which means to mop the floor, clean off all the scuff marks and start a basketball league. "Oh, and by the way, you're going to be in children's ministry. So we need you to help out with children." So my official title was minister of recreation and children. It was exciting. At this point, God had not called me into ministry. So I was working at this church, I was on staff, I was learning, I didn't have a clue what I was doing.

I knew how to play basketball. That's it. I didn't know anything about kids. I didn't know anything about running and leading people. I didn't know any of that. So I did the best I could and I hacked at it and during all of that, in this learning process, God began to tug at my heart. So I began to ask the question, how do you know you're called into ministry?

And so in that journey, in speaking with some godly men and women in my life, my parents already knew I was called into ministry from the first day that I came home from the hospital. They said that, and I don't know how much of that I believe, but I do think that God has had His hand on me my whole life. And so by that point, I committed to full-time Christian ministry, not having a clue what I was doing.

And so, not knowing the avenue or the direction that God was calling me, I began to look back on my life. I've been a lifeguard. I've worked at inflatable companies. I've done animal balloons, all this stuff. So my life wrapped around leading kids. And so I began to build that passion and that welled up inside of me. So I was very specific that God called me to do children's ministry.

At that time met my beautiful wife, graduated and worked at this church until she graduated. We got married and we'd loaded up a truck, moved to Fort Worth, Texas, to go to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. So there, I got on staff at First Baptist church in Euless, Texas, and started my seminary career. Seminary career led to a job in Southwest Florida, a place called South Biscayne Baptist Church, now Fellowship of South Biscayne. I think it's Fellowship of South Biscayne.

I served there for a couple of years, we started having babies there and then God called me to first Baptist church in Jackson, Mississippi. So I was the children's pastor at First Jackson and that was an interesting time in my life. That's where my son was born. He was born at 27 weeks and we battled and struggled there, but God had me there for a reason.

Then there I left and went to Albuquerque, New Mexico and served as their children, preschool/family pastor at First Baptist Church in Albuquerque. That was a beautiful time in my ministry and I was able to see a different part out of the South and see how God ministered there, and then made my way... and in that process at First Albuquerque, God called me back to school.

So He called me back to school and I was not obedient, so nothing really was happening there. So I finally went back to school and I got my doctorate at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in curriculum and family ministry. And so I began to figure out what God had next for me. I didn't really know why I did that, but I just knew God called me there.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

And so I went on a mission trip. On my way back, I had a phone call from Chris Bell, which is senior pastor at 3Circle Church saying, "Hey, we're interested," and we have a conversation. Mobile's my home and Fairhope is about 45 minutes away. And so I never thought I would ever go back home and God ended up pulling me back home. So I left the arid dry New Mexico, was brown and we didn't have grass, everything was rocks and cactuses and coyotes and roadrunners too, back here to Mobile Alabama, where this summer it has rained twice, one for 42 days and one for 36 days.

I mean, it rains all the time here and we have all different kinds of bugs and animals. So God called me to 3Circle Church, put me in a new role as family pastor with some ties to children's ministry here. And I've been able to walk along, brand new leaders. I've been in the ministry for 23 plus years and still as passionate today as I've ever been. So that's a long story.

Chris Holland:

You mentioned working in lots of fields... originally planning to be a doctor, then a nurse, then getting an accounting degree, and going to seminary, so you had a really diverse employment background. How did that range of experiences help shape how you operate today and what are some times when it's useful to call on all those other experiences you've had?

Trey Sullins:

It's the greatest thing, and I'm glad you asked that question because being in this type of ministry, being in ministry in general, you have to really be a Jack of all trades. You really have to bring in your accounting, you have to bring in your nursing. We had a kid run through a glass pane at our church.

And so I knew a little bit about first aid. I knew inflatables. We ran inflatables all the time and I know how to operate that. And while I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico the Baptist association there had a party trailer that had an inflatable in it, and I knew how to operate it. I knew how to work on it. I knew how to do all those things. But the great thing is I've done everything from preschool to kids, to students. I've done young adults, I've done all of those types of ministries, so that when I walk alongside a young leader that comes into our organization, and we love them green. We love them right out of school. We love them where they're hungry to learn.

Trey Sullins:

We walk alongside and go... I can look at them and physically say, "I've been there, I've done that. I know where you are. I know that ministry, maybe not to the degree of a great student pastor, but I know student ministry." And just taking all of those things, they have all pointed in one direction and that's creating a leader that can lead many different types of people. And I've been so grateful to have those tools in my toolbox and every so often I need to pull it out and I need to use it. So it's really cool to have those things in my toolbox. That's a great question. I love that question.

The book Range explains how having a diverse background sets you up for success

Chris Holland:

Absolutely. Well, that is awesome to hear you didn't really think about how much all those other experiences would need to come up in ministry, but they do a lot. You got a lot of different things happening all the time, so having that robust background is definitely useful. And then the other one's, obviously, you really zigzagged around the United States for a while. You did different roles, you have moved a lot.

Change like that, whether it's locational or occupational, change is not easy to do with just your nerves and stuff. It's not easy always for your family. What tips would you have for leaning into that calling when you're experiencing it? What were some things that helped you do that and lean into to know it was the right choice?

Trey Sullins:

Well, some of the stories behind some of those moves were pretty interesting. And the first half of my career, even at, through seminary and through my first church, they were typical moves. They were typical, my first church right out of seminary, first full-time paycheck, super excited about it, made a whopping 20 something odd thousand dollars out of the shoot. And man, I was in high heaven, man. I had made the big times at that point.

But then at that stage in my ministry, I felt God moving me to First Jackson, which is a... it was total opposite of where was. The church in Southwest Florida, we were laid back, our music was riding the times and it was just one of those churches that was free. And we were able to do unique things and get creative with our ministries. And then God was calling me into a church with a lot more structure and a lot more rigidity.

If you know anything about First Baptist, Jackson, Mississippi, it is a pretty traditional, straight laced ministry opportunity. And they called me in, they said, "Hey, you're way over here to the right, we're way over here to the left, we want you to bring us somewhere in the middle." And I was like, "I can do that." And so things moved a little rapid there, a little bit more rapid than I think they were ready for.

And I just didn't know if they were ready for me, but I did know we were there for a very specific reason. And that specific reason was for my son. And my son was born at 27 weeks. And he died a couple of times and it was just a huge struggle. And through that struggle, everybody that we need for the services that we had and being double covered in insurance because of his disabilities and all that stuff, we were able to take care of him. And in that process, I was asked to resign because I just didn't fit at that location.

And that was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do because I've never been let go from anything in my entire life, I've always added to. And that became a very bitter time in my life and a very big struggle to be able to navigate. And at that time, there was a pastor in Lake Charles, Louisiana, who began a conversation with us, and he didn't know me, I didn't know him, but he was walking us through this. And they were times he would call and just talk to my wife, and he would call and just talk to me.

And he was my pastor at that time and I didn't even know him. And so the day that I was released from First Jackson, man, he called me and said, "Hey, I want you to come see me. I got a job for you." But man, at that point I was angry. I was bitter, I was frustrated and I just knew that wasn't where God called us.

I didn't have anywhere else to go. I didn't know what I was doing, but I just knew that that wasn't right. I wasn't reading my Bible, I wasn't praying, I didn't have any time because I was angry. I was bitter and I was just... everything. And I... man, I badmouthed that person, that church, I badmouthed that pastor anytime I got an opportunity. And man, it wasn't until I got to First Albuquerque because our relationship in Arlington, Texas with a guy while I was in seminary, he was out at First Albuquerque. And so pastor there called me and offered me a job over the phone. And I was like, "Whatever."

And so I went out and visited and I was like, "Man, I don't know." I was still in the dumps. And that's when my beautiful, amazing, awesome wife looked at me. And she's like, "You got to quit it. You got to quit it, you got to get up, let's get back on this thing and let's go. This is where we need to be." She was the one that kinda brought me back from the pit of despair into that.

And so I began the beautiful journey in First Albuquerque and man, it was a culture shock for everybody because we had grown up... my kids were born in Florida and Jackson, Mississippi. So we knew rain. We knew grass, we knew all of that. Then we moved out there with nothing. And so then we got out there, but it began a beautiful journey with the beautiful people. And the church was downtown Albuquerque in Broadway and Central, a beautiful old building.

And God called us to move out to the West side. So we moved out to the West side. We were the oldest church in the West established back in 1865. We were the oldest church plan on the West side. It was crazy. So we moved and we saw exceeding growth and amazing opportunities. And that's when I told you, God called me to go back to school. So there was one time I was on campus at Southwestern taking a class. And after class I went back to my hotel room and I'm sitting there and almost audibly in my mind, God said, "You need to call that pastor at First Jackson and apologize." And I was like, "What?" I was like, "That is absolutely not what I want to do."

But I knew it was God. And so I called my wife and I said, "Baby," I said, "I have to call this guy and I have to apologize." And so, man, that began a unique journey. I was able to call, I talked to him immediately and I said, "Man," I said, "I need for you to understand." I said, "I need to apologize to you. You are God's man for that church. You were there for a reason, I was there for a reason and I don't believe in how it happened, but I'm sorry that I have talked bad about you behind your back. I'm sorry that I've bashed this church. I'm sorry that I've done all of that."

And he was shocked and he was like, "I did not expect that." And so we began to... he said, "You are an amazing human being and you did amazing at your job. We just weren't ready for you. And this was not the fit for you and maybe we didn't handle it on our part. Is there anything else?" And we just... man, I laid it all out there. And after that point, I can't tell you the freedom I had because I carried those bags for years. For years. And so I was able to release those bags. And even to this day, I'm super free from all of that and God has delivered me from that. And then, man, moving back home, I fell in love with the people of Albuquerque and I fell in love with the ministry out there because the ministry is different.

And out there, people, on a Sunday, they don't have to be in church. They're not supposed to be in church. In the South on Sunday you're supposed to be in church. Everybody knows you're supposed to be in church. Out there, it's not. You can't go door to door out there and share the gospel. You have to earn the right to share the gospel with somebody by building relationships. So you have to build the relationship. They have to know that you're invested in them then you can share the gospel where they will hear you. And if they respond to the gospel, it is sold out. There's no faking out there, man. Either you're in or you're out. And that's what I fell in love with. It was the hardest place to do ministry but it was the most rewarding when you see the outcome of these changed lives and they were all on fire, man.

So I've prayed outside, man. I didn't really want to come back home. I didn't. But this opportunity came up, God says, "That's where you need to be." So I moved back home. I moved back home 45 minutes away from where I grew up and I'm able to establish a ministry here that I never dreamed I would be a part of, in a church I never dreamed I would be a part of.

3Circle Church, the three circles represent local, regionally and globally, and we have an impact across all areas and all facets. And so I'm able to be a part of that. But our foundational... everything that we do is wrapped in scripture. Everything we do is wrapped. And I always tell people, "If I didn't serve here, I would attend here." And that's an amazing thing to do. So hopefully that answered your question.

3Circle Church in Fairhope Alabama

Chris Holland:

Oh, it more than answers it, Trey, and thank you for being so candid and open with your response there. It sounds like you really did have some interesting, a little extreme ups and downs there on your journey, and just always leaning into your calling is a great way to see it. So you're glad you got to experience those different areas of ministry and lift the weight off your shoulders after making amends with the First Baptist, Jackson, folks and then finding your way back home into the Alabama area is just an amazing, amazing story there.

And I really like what you said of, "If I didn't work at 3Circle church, I would attend 3Circle Church," because that was probably a question anyone joining or thinking of joining a ministry should ask themselves. It's like, "Well, okay, maybe I'd work here, but would I go here?" And if that's not a yes, you probably shouldn't work there because then it might not be an ideal fit.

Trey Sullins:

That is exactly right. And I've even seen people, on staff take their students and their kids to other churches for their programming. And that didn't quite go over well with the leadership of the church, but man, at the situation that that guy was, then I didn't really blame him.

Chris Holland:

As a kids Ministry leader, you oversee lots of programming. How do you plan for engaging kids ministry programs, especially in person and online, and how has that shifted between the different ministries you've served at?

Trey Sullins:

Well, in all of the ministries I've ever been a part of, we didn't have an online presence for kids. Just like every church in the world during the pandemic, we found a way and we figured it out. We tried to make it happen. We tried to do what we could, and the great thing about 3Circle Church is for our adults, we already had an online presence. We already had access to equipment, we had access to cameras. We had access to all of that. So the transition for our family ministry team to go online was a little bit easier because we have people that could help us and we have people that could film us with lighting and audio and transitions and putting in content and all of that stuff. So we tried to figure out what that looked like.

And so as we went on and as we continued to do it, we got better, of course, and we streamlined everything. And so from that point on, here in Alabama, we started meeting back not too long afterwards. So we came on campus and our online presence went from here and it started dwindling down. And right now our online presence is very nil because we're all on campus. And so everybody... and so I still keep up our online content, very basic online content because I want to give kids when they go on vacation, when they go to the beach or they're sick at home or whatever, I still want them to have an option and an opportunity to watch it.

It's a little bit different for our preschoolers and our junior ministry at 3Circles because they watch all the videos over and over and over and over and over again. So not only do they see it at church, but they see it at home and that's something that our parents can open up YouTube and show them an early video and show them... and what we tried to do during the pandemic is keep the faces of all of our campus team members on the camera, so that their kids, regardless of who's getting it, gets to see their campus space and people that they're familiar with. So we tried to do that.

If I had to do it all over again, I would go about it a totally different way because over the last year, man, God's been taking us on a very unique journey with online gaming, online streaming, online content for students and for kids. And we were able to outfit one of our rooms with streaming gear. And so we would probably approach it a little differently instead of being on a stage and, "Hi boys and girls," and trying to be structured, going into worship and into a Bible story, to the memory verse and back to a closing video, and then, "See you later," it would be more like what we're doing right here, me talking to a camera, "Hey, we got a craft right here. So this is the craft we're going to be doing today, boys and girls, and this, that and the other. And here's a fun little toy I bought. Yeah. Look at this little toy."

So we would engage in a totally different way, but also tell the Bible story during that engagement. I think getting creative in that arena and trying to be on that forefront because I see kids doing this all the time. And if they're doing this, I would much rather them do this with my face on there or a team member's face and us being able to communicate with them and having that bond and that relationship because, man, I did a poll the other day with all of our team and all of our kids and everybody is watching YouTube and they're playing video games. Or if they're not playing video games, they're doing something online and I'm going, "Why do we not do that? Why do we not have that there?" They're watching people unwrap toys and they're watching them play with the toys. I can do that. I can unwrap toys. I could play with toys. Why can't I do that?

And so right now, our church believes so much in this, is that they've bought us equipment to do this. So we have streaming equipment, but also for our student ministry, we have Fortnite tournaments. We get on and we play Dragon Ball Z for our anime crowd. And we've got a stream tonight that we're going to be doing at 8:30 for our Dragon Ball Z tournament. It's going to be a cool opportunity, but man, on campus, just trying to create an atmosphere and a field that kids want to be a part of. We try to take into account all learning styles, we try to take into account every different type of kid. Boy and girl, old, young, very active, very shy. We try to hit a lesson in many different facets and through hands on, through video, through just talking and through play, and we try to incorporate all of those elements.

Church Fortnite tournaments can be a great outreach tool

But here's the great thing, is in each one of our campuses, the culture's different. We have a campus on Fairhope, Alabama, which is our main campus, five and a half miles down the road, we have our Daphne campus, and just that five and a half miles, the culture is so different and how kids interact is different. And just the type of kids is different.

And from our Daphne campus to 45 minutes down the road to our downtown Mobile, that culture is very different. And at Thomasville, which is north in middle Alabama, that culture is so different. So how each child interacts with curriculum, so we had the same basic principles and the same basic constructs inside the curriculum. But outside of that and how culture wraps around that is all defined by where those kids are and where they... And so not only are we just teaching a curriculum, we're teaching kids. That's the bottom line.

So when I have all my teacher training, I'm going, "Yes, we have a curriculum, but we don't teach that. We teach kids. And those kids have stories. Every single one of those kids have stories. So if we can find out Johnny's story and if this little girl keeps bringing a doll, you ask what the doll's name is and you build relationships." That is the key to any successful ministry is to not be so rigid and structured with a timeline, which I think is valuable, but you're teaching kids and each kids has a different story and they each bring different piece of luggage in with them.

And inside their luggage is so many different things and things that we probably never, ever want to think about. And we have those kids for 62 minutes every Sunday. And those 62 minutes is filled with God's word and love and acceptance and investment in relationships and fun, laughter.

It's those kinds of things. So man, I think there's a future in online streaming and gaming, and I spent some time at Elevation Church with their team because they started this online gaming thing and nobody else was doing it. And so I went up there and spent some time with them. And so I came home, we bought equipment and we just started doing it and I've seen kids interact and engage online and then show up to a campus, give their life to Christ and that's their home, that's their community.

And their community is on Discord. And the beautiful thing is my son sat me down a little over a year ago and says, "Dad, we need to do this. Put together a proposal, put together a whatever." And so we met with some of our senior leadership and we met with some of our student guys and he presented why we needed a Discord. And that's where it all started, man. We started with 10, now we have 150 and it's growing. We have a Twitch channel with 87 followers and it's growing and we've only been doing this a little over a month and it is growing like mad.

And we've got people from Honduras, from Alabama, from Georgia, from Florida to Mississippi and Tennessee all engaged in their online community, otherwise would not be on our campus. And so it's a ministry that I think needs to have some legs. And so I'm doing everything I can to get the word out. And I've tried to walk alongside churches who are frightened of the idea and a little bit timid, but to say, "To be innovative and to, to look at your culture and to look at where kids are, oftentimes we have to leave the comfort of our realm of knowing what is going on and going to where they are, regardless of what you want them to do."

Of course, I want them to go outside and play, build forts and go swimming and play outside on their bikes and scooters. And that's what I've preferred. And as I talked to a mom about it, a mom would go, "I limit my kids' online access." And I'm like, "That's beautiful. That's what I want. That would be my goal is that everybody have that great, beautiful balance."

But what I know is reality is that's not what it is. And so, like I said before, if they're holding this contraction in front of them and watching somebody on YouTube or Twitch, I want it to be me. I want it to be me so that I can give them the gospel. I can use it as a ministry. Every time we have meetings for streams, I've put up on the board how we pointing people to Jesus, and that's why we do. So you create a culture online and on campus that in the online now for me is a totally different beast. It's not putting together and recording a video and posting it on YouTube, now it's online interaction with chats and talking to them online while live.

And so I'm in somebody's home that's in Honduras, that is typing on their chat in English and we're able to have a conversation and I've got kids, I had two... couple of brothers in New Jersey who were playing that had no church affiliation. And man, we're trying to find them a church home to go to. I think it's something huge and I don't have a predecessor that shows me how to do all of this. I mean, I've got a machete, I'm chopping down trees, I'm making mistakes, I'm doing these things and I'm blazing a trail trying to figure out what do I do next? And I have no idea, but I'm doing it.

Chris Holland:

Absolutely. And, I mean, I love the idea of the meeting them where they are by getting to some really unorthodox avenues. I never really saw it a bit potentially using Discord or Twitch or gaming services or having a Dragon Ball Z or Fortnite. Some more rigid people in ministry might think, "Hey, why would I even bring a Fortnite into my church? That doesn't go over here in ministry." But it does.

So what are some guiding values that you and the rest of the team at your church use to operate and decide on a big things?

Trey Sullins:

The value that I instill in my team is they have, number one, excellence. Excellence is using the resource that you have to do the best that you can. And resource is not necessarily money, it's time, it's people you have at your disposal, it's kids who know things about streaming. I know nothing about streaming. I know nothing about Twitch. I know nothing about all of those things, but it's being excellent in what we're doing by putting the right people where they need to be. And that either could be somebody on your team or not on your team, but using the resources you have to be the best that you can possibly be.

Having clear values helps your team think through the lens of what is important

And two, and I say this to my team all the time, is you have the freedom to fail. You have the freedom to mess up. And oftentimes I have conversations with my team members and I look at them and I'm going, "So I don't see you pushing yourself to the point of failure. I don't see you pushing yourself to the point of being uncomfortable. I don't see you trying anything new that could potentially be a breakthrough for your ministry." And so my goal for them in order to do those things is to try. They have the freedom to try and the freedom to fail.

Now, they must learn from that failure. They must not make the same mistake twice. There's a lot of caveats there, but the reality of it is, is I want them to have the freedom to fail. For some of us, that's easy to do. I love it. But for some of us on our team, that's the most difficult thing in the world, is to push themselves to the point of failure and the point of maybe this won't work. So I give them permission to do stuff like that.

So, that's part of the values. And man, just believing that people are called also to do their part and to do their ministry part. And God has gifted them with some unique abilities and allowing them to use those abilities and to be in their sweet spot and making sure people are in their sweet spot. That may be an uncomfortable conversation. That may be saying, "Hey, I know you really want to do this, but here's where I see your gifting. And here's where I think you can you could spread your wings and really fly. So here's what I would ask you to do, is put this down and pick this up and move in that direction."

I'm constantly wanting my team to be successful. And if that means me walking alongside of them and cooking hamburgers and hot dogs for their events or deejaying their events or taking names for their events or whatever, that's what I do. It is my goal as a family pastor, is to make sure everybody around me is successful. And so the value is that we're family and we do things together and our goal is to make others successful.

Chris Holland:

Absolutely. I mean, that is your top responsibility as a leader. And I really liked that you then see how it's really important to fail, because if you're not failing, then you aren't really probably trying anything new, you're just staying in your comfort zone the whole time. And being able to have an environment where it's like, "Hey, we're not going to criticize you for just trying something new and failing at it," is super important because then that enables you to try these newer ideas and stuff and understand that, "Hey, in our culture we're establishing here, we want to spend more time out of our comfort zone. And it's not always going to be pretty, but again, still maintaining excellence if you find out that you don't want to touch a hot stove twice after you learn that something is not a good idea." So that is outstanding info there, Trey.

Chris Holland:

What are some of your short and long-term ministry goals?

Trey Sullins:

Our short-term goal at this point is to build a volunteer base that will help us be successful in us reaching kids and reaching students, but also teaching those volunteers that we at 3Circle Church, we want more for them than from them and building that mindset of we believe that God's called you or gifted you to serve in a certain area and in that, God will take you to the next level and he will continue to grow you as you make yourself available to be used by him. And so that's what we teach our volunteers and our volunteer base, is we want more for them than from them. And so in that short term goal is to build a volunteer base that allows us to continue to be more effective and to be more outreaching.

It is critical for a Ministry to recruit and retain volunteers

And longterm goals is to create students that are godly, that have a relationship with God, because our family ministry philosophy from junior all the way through high school is, in junior, what we do is we teach them that God loves them and God wants to have a relationship with them. And then in kids, we teach them to love God back and to have a relationship with Him, and that it's a two way street. And then when they reach our preteen ministry that not only do they need to love God, but they need to love each other and they need to get along. And then our mid school ministry is they love each other and love the church. And then in our high school ministry is they love the church and serve the church.

So they build on one another. By the time they graduate and are going into our college and to start their career, that they have built a relationship with Jesus and they love each other, they love the church and they're serving the church somewhere. So our long-term goal is to be successful in that, in everything that we do and to build as many of those kids, as we possibly can by partnering with parents and creating environments that are user-friendly and able to be used to teach.

Chris Holland:

That is very important goal to have in our life. In short-term goals on increasing volunteers and such, and where you communicate to volunteers that, "Hey, we're not asking for stuff from you, we're asking stuff for you there." And then with the perspective of just summing up exactly what you're aiming to teach each ministry by age group like, "Hey, for the preschool, it is understand God loves you." And then to the high school where it's like, "Hey, you are loving the church and serving in the church," just knowing crystal clear what the goal of ministry, what you plan to communicate is definitely, probably helps on the smaller stuff that goes into that big picture.

Trey Sullins:

It does. It absolutely does. And so it helps them be able to plan and prepare and to zone in so that when they know they get... a brand new fifth grader, their goal is to, number one in every area, yes, we want you to have a relationship with Christ and we build up to where they're supposed to be. And so when the next ministry hands off, they're able to pick up and go, "I know here's what they've been taught. So here's where we're going to take them from here." So we try to build that and build that culture, that culture of, "We're family. Yeah. We do things together."

What other advice or info would you want to share for ministry leaders out there?

Trey Sullins:

Well, what I would say is that ministry is not for the faint of heart, but it is one of the most amazing things that God could ever call you to do. And oftentimes, we walk through life and we get burned out and we lose focus because we're focusing on the wrong thing and where we're heading in the wrong direction or we're not managing our time well, we're not managing our experience in ministry well. And sometimes you find yourself in a location that is not as open to change and open to move, but that God's called you there. So what is it that you're learning? And you sit and you learn and you give what you can, and you do what God's called you to do in where you are.

And I would suggest don't look ahead of where you are, be where you are. And that also, why is not a dirty word. Why is something, for some, that could be extremely offensive because you may be in an organization that has a certain way and a certain thing. And you ask the question why, that becomes a dangerous question. But it's not. It's not a dirty word.

It helps us to understand, it helps us to come together. It helps us to be one, and it helps us to move forward and get a clear understanding of why we do what we do. And what is the purpose behind? Because everything we do in ministry must have a purpose. It must have an end goal of what you're shooting for, because if not, then you'll hit it every time. If you're aiming at everything, you'll hit it. You got to know what you're aiming for, and you got to know what you're trying to accomplish. And you set out to do that in the most creative and innovative way.

My suggestion would be... is to stay ahead of the curve, figure out what your audience is, what your target is, find out where they are and figure out how to get where they are. Understand that you're going to have kids that won't step foot on your campus unless you go to their school, unless you go to one of their games, unless you create a relationship online, or you play a game with them online, or you build a relationship because relationships are key in everything that we do.

And everybody loves to hear their name. Everybody wants to be known. And so if your focus is on them and their names and what they want to do, that's the greatest way to build a relationship, is to focus on them. So those, and I've got a ton of them in my pocket, but man, I could go on and on, but man, I really appreciate the opportunity to share what my passion is and what God's called me to do and what I love. I love my job. I love what I get to do. And I love that I get to do it with the people I get to do it with.

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