Playlister founder Chris Holland interviews Beverly Bieker, a Kids Min leader and Playlister partner.
Beverly shares tips on the following Ministry topics:
- How to have a Kids Ministry where Kids "drag parents back to church"
- Ways to use VBS for outreach
- Tips for using Playlister
Just watch the video below or read the transcript to learn more.
Can you tell me a bit about everything you do at your church? What called you into ministry? How did you find your role at South Mountain Community Church?
All right, well first, thanks for having me on the show. And second of all, my role is... We are one church with many locations, which many churches are today, and I'm not at the main church; I'm at one of our campuses. So I handle birth up to fifth grade, so I'm in charge of all of those areas. And I'm setting up the rooms, I'm setting up the curriculum, I'm recruiting the volunteers, I'm training the volunteers, I'm building their relationships.
I'm also planning fun family get-togethers and team-building activities and all the things that normally come along with ministry. The way I actually got started in ministry is kind of funny. I've been a longtime preschool teacher and I've always loved kids. I grew up in the church. I never helped in kids ministry, really though. I was kind of too busy doing all the fun high school activities.
I had walked away from the church for a while and when I came back... Well, what happened was, someone invited my daughter, and my second grade daughter to a vacation Bible school. And because she brought the whole family to vacation Bible school, I was like, "Oh yeah, what am I doing with my life? I need to get back in church. I need to be teaching my kids about Jesus."
So because of someone having a good VBS and a good children's program, it affected me. So that was like our family getting back involved in church. And then later on, my daughter was in seventh grade and she came to me and she's like, "We needed to start serving in the kid's ministry because one of my friends, their parents have to serve for two services because they're so short-staffed. So do you think we can help them?"
So I'm like, "Sure we can help them." I could do that. I could commit to serving once a weekend with my kids in my classroom. That would be awesome. And then as that happened, the church was like, "Hey, we have a position open. We'd really like you to apply for it."
And the ironic thing was because I had been divorced and I had made bad choices in my life, I felt like I would never be worthy to be on a church staff. So when the church invited me and wanted me, it made me feel like they really believed what the Bible said, that it was a church for the broken and the lost and that anybody was welcome and that your past wasn't who you are, that they saw you as Jesus did. So my daughter and I started serving, and then I joined the staff.
And then I don't know if anybody knows this, but usually if a mom's on staff, her kids end up having to be on staff and her husband's on staff, but they're all unpaid staff. They're all helping setting up. So I have four kids and all of them help me. My oldest is 21 and my youngest is nine. And going to church and setting up the classrooms and putting the toys out and cutting the crafts is all how we spend our time together, but they truly enjoy it.
So I was on staff at Saddleback Church in the nursery. I was a team assistant. We had a couple of people on that team. So I was responsible there for setting up the baby areas, the toddler rooms, the two-year-old rooms. And then I left California and I moved to Utah and I just happened to be driving this random way to my new house and I saw a sign for South Mountain Community Church.
So I checked it out online and they had Celebrate Recovery, which I was familiar with, and they offered DivorceCare, which was another program that I was familiar with, so I decided to check it out.
And we went there and my family all loved it. They loved how close it was to our house; they loved how warm and engaging the people were. So we started volunteering there right when we got there and then they had some changes. And once again, they're like, "Hey, we know that you have experience in kids ministry. Would you please apply for this position we have open?"
So that's how I became on staff at South Mountain Church and I've been there for almost a year. September will be a year.
Oh, wow. Well that is quite a story, Beverly. And thank you for being so open and sharing the so much there. Two threads I want to pull on there.
VBS kind of roped you and your family back into serving and being a part of the church. How did that alter the way you viewed it to really prioritize it on your list of things to do?
So we look at VBS as one of our outreach events. We don't have too many outreach events in kids ministry because a lot of times we're just trying to keep up with the week to week kids ministry. But VBS is where kids can bring neighbors from the community and it's super fun and super exciting.
And then what the last couple of churches I've been attending have done is on Friday night, instead of doing the VBS during the day, they'll do a VBS family night where you bring your parents and they get to see the things that you've learned and that you've made, or the games you've played. And through doing that, you're bringing the parents onto your campus and you're getting into talk to them and get to know them. And they're getting to see their kids light up and be super excited and helpful. And then the kids are dragging the parents to church. There are so many times that if we do things right, our kids are dragging our parents to church, which is how we win.
Okay, I love that idea of the kids bringing their parents to church. It’s great to hear you specifically labeled VBS as an outreach activity. This is how we're going to reach more folks to look at it through that lens of it being critically important.
How does your background make you prioritize inclusiveness and that you're here for folks that don't necessarily think they're qualified for a ministry?
Well, one of our key points is that we want to build a relationship with the kids. The biggest thing we could do, it's not necessarily about the Bible story, it's about knowing that kids have a safe and fun place where they can be seen and known. That's what we really want them to do, because it's the relationship that keeps bringing them back, usually.
It's the relationship that brings us all back, even adults. So I tell my volunteers, "If you can just come and have fun and connect with a kid, that's the most important part of your job." The curriculum then comes second because once a kid feels safe and known and loved, then they want to come back and then they want to ask questions. They want to know more about the Bible, but if they're not feeling those things in the beginning, then it's hard for them to listen to the story.
Absolutely, love those core tenants, feeling safe, known, and loved because that is super important foundation for your ministry to be operating on and I love it. That adds the criteria for volunteer success. That is outstanding. And I'm sure that will help a lot of churches as they plan like, "Hey, what should we really have our volunteers core focus be?"
How do you manage to create and spreading engaging kids ministry activities and such both in-person and online?
Well, the in-person is super easy. We use Orange Curriculum, so they give you lots of fun and engaging products to use at home. And then here in Utah, people love to travel all summer long. So even though we've been back in person for a while, we still have so many people out of town, but we don't want to miss those families or even people that still have a sick person at home and can't make it to church. We still want to include them.
So through Playlister you can send out the email with the link for the videos. So we'll change up the videos, we'll throw a few things in there because using Playlister has made it so much easier to edit my video content and change it to what I want it to be. And then the link is super easy, I just set it up in MailChimp, so people are still getting it.
I had a parent the other day say, "Hey, my kid comes home and he's singing this song and I want to know what song it is." And then I just send them the link that they would've gotten in the email and been like, "Here, you can now watch this at home and you can talk to your kids about it." So it's worked out amazing for our church to be able to use the Playlister app to engage with people at home and at church.
Awesome. Well, that is exciting to hear. We are honored to be able to be the tool you can use to connect with them in both spaces.
How much clock time do you think Playlister has saved you?
I was just having lunch with my friend and I was telling her about this podcast and how I love Playlister because it's given me so many hours back a month. I want to say I probably have four to eight hours back a month that it's worth my time. My time is so valuable and the cost of it has made it so... It's affordable that I'm like, "I'm getting my time back for this low price."
And it's so it's so easy to use for the volunteers in the classroom. I love that I could save lessons, I could save songs from before. If there's a song that the kids loved a few months ago, I get thrown in every once in a while just to spruce things up and the kids love that.
Awesome. Well, that is exciting to hear, four to eight hours, that is a lot of time. We are glad we can give you that back and you can focus on the actual parts of ministry. So, happy to do that Beverly and excited to hear we are making an impact.
So shifting gears a bit, it sounds like you've worked with a lot of very outstanding ministries. You mentioned working as a part of the team at Saddleback and now at South Mountain, so you've gotten to see different environments.
What are some of the key values or principles either you or your whole team kind of operate by?
Well, usually safety and security for our children is always number one, because if we don't have a safe and secure environment, that's the foundation of everything else. And then South Mountain has some really good programs.
You can belong before you believe because a lot of people, especially here in Utah, are trying to figure out if they're coming out of a former religion or they were raised around a certain religion and they don't really know what is true. We need to give them a safe time to process that. And a lot of times, I can have my kids will bring their friends to church and they want to come and help in a classroom as an assistant. And as they're sitting there, they're like, "Hey, this story is a little different than what I was told, can you tell me more about it?"
So by creating this safe, fun environment, everyone's learning. The leaders are learning, the kids are learning, everyone's growing in their faith. We also want people to be adaptable because sometimes as we all know in kids ministry, things don't go the way that we had planned or something happens and we have to be flexible and just go with the punches.
We believe that God changes people from the inside out, so we try to be patient with people. A lot of times we have people that are new to our type of church, so they don't know what to expect or kids who are a little afraid. So we try to just meet people where they are and then love them there and love them well.
Absolutely. I love that. "Belong before you believe.”
What are some of your short-term and long-term ministry goals?
Well, I feel like I tell my husband, because he works in the restaurant business, that the restaurant business and children's ministry are kind of in the same boat right now, where we don't have enough workers, but we have a lot of people who want to be fed. We're trying to figure out how to make this work.
So here in Utah, a lot of restaurants have signs that are like, "Please be patient with our staff." Like, "Since COVID, we've been short staffed." And I feel that a lot of kids ministry leaders are struggling right now. It's so hard to get volunteers back after coming back after COVID, but we still have new families wanting to check our church out. So just trying to maintain our standard of having a fun, engaging experience for the kids, with leaders who are fun to be around, who are knowledgeable, who are patient and kind, has been difficult. It's been really difficult.
So my first stop is just trying to get rebuilt. Basically we're all rebuilding right now after COVID. We've never been through a pandemic. People are still a little scared, so how do we do this together?
So I was struggling for a while. I was feeling alone and discouraged. Like, "I can't get people to serve. I have these kids that want to learn." And I reached out to some other people in my position and then it just made me feel better knowing I wasn't alone, that we're all in the same boat together and that we were going to get through it. God's never let us down. We may not know what it looks like. We may be living moment to moment, but God will be faithful to provide.
So my short term goal is just trying to rebuild my team right now and get some new people in. This weekend we did an open house where we invited anybody who was interested in learning about children or student services to come and we kind of told them how we do things and what would we expect from them.
And we had 12 new people sign up to test drive, take a tour in a classroom, which is amazing. I want to shout it from the rooftop because coming from COVID to have 12 adults, who aren't already serving, taking that next step in their faith journey is amazing.
And then my long-term goals, would just be to be able to build out more of my ministry. Right now we're only doing Sunday mornings for our kids and then some summer activities and maybe once a quarter family activities like a trunk-or-treat event or a Easter event. But I want to start trying to add in a weeknight program for kids. I want kids, if they can't make it on Sunday, or if they want to bring a friend that can't come on Sunday because they're not allowed to, then they can come on a Wednesday.
And this summer we did a Bible study for parents with free childcare. And normally when we do childcare at our church, it was just people playing with kids, playing games, having fun. But I had this idea. Because Playlister is so easy to use and Orange gives you so much curriculum, I took their so-so show and I took some of our dances and I took some of their activities and I spread the content out over two.
So we are reinforcing what the kids were learning on Sunday on Wednesday night. And the kids loved it because it was funny and engaging. And then my volunteers loved it because it gave them something to do instead of just playing games for an hour and a half. They had content for 30 minutes and organized games to help their time pass faster, too.
Wow. I mean, that is outstanding. And two big takeaways there, you just mentioned, Beverly, one in the short-term goal focus like maintaining that standard of excellence and just the engaging, the fun, the loving environments, where all the kids are cared for and everything, that is super important. There's a book called The Score Takes Care of Itself by the coach that turned around the 49ers from a really horrible football team to one that got multiple Superbowl victories.
The premise of the book is, "Hey, if you focus on the fundamentals of what makes your ministry great, your organization great, whatever your end goal is, it's going to take care of itself." Just to focus on those fundamentals, definitely as you should, applies to ministry and not just football.
So then, the other thing, expanding your ministry, just honing in on maybe one starting point like that midweek ministry service, the midweek kids time. Just pick one thing, try that out, see how it goes.
What other advice would you offer to ministry leaders?
Get Playlister because you will stop dreading setting up the videos. Even if I forget, on Saturday night, I'm like, "Oh my gosh, I totally forgot about my videos." I can open my laptop at home on my couch and within five minutes, I've updated everything.
If you're an A type personality, which I am not, you can plan them out for a whole month in advance, so you just sit down and while you're in that mode, you just get it all cranked out. That has been super helpful.
My other advice, besides getting Playlister (because you'll be so happy you did), is just for people in my position to reach out to the community. If you're feeling overwhelmed, if you're feeling frustrated, if you're feeling burnout, find someone to talk to because what we do is very difficult. Loving people requires us a giving of ourselves and it's hard, but then even more so when you don't have the supplies you need, like volunteers, it makes it even more challenging, but we can't lose sight of what we're doing because it is so important.
Our kingdom work is so important. If one church didn't set up VBS and my kids didn't get invited by her friend, I don't know if I would be sitting here today. We don't always get to see the impact of what we do in kids ministry because a lot of times, it takes a long time for the story to play out, but just know that what you're doing, it does matter. Even if you don't feel seen right now, God is working in you.