Category Archives: Volunteers

Volunteers are Awesome!

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By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

Have you ever thought about how many volunteers are serving on any given Sunday in our church?  Much of church ministry is done by people who willingly give of their time, talents, heart, and love.  This equates to a lot of volunteers each week.  In Heroes Gate alone, we have over 95 people helping children to be safe, to be loved, and to learn and grow in their faith every Sunday.

Over the course of a year, these volunteers are serving a lot of hours.  They don’t do it for money, fame, attention, or any tangible gain.   Most are just excited to invest in the next generation.

I’d like to challenge you and your family to show your appreciation for the volunteers in your life this week.  They might be part of Heroes Gate, but you could also show appreciation for volunteers with your child’s school or sports team or elsewhere.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Make a card or draw a picture
  2. Create an encouraging poster
  3. Bring a yummy treat
  4. Say thank you in person with a big hug!
  5. Make a short 10 second video saying thanks
  6. Snap a photo or selfie with the volunteer and send them a copy of the photo or even make a thank you card out of it
  7. Share a story of how your child was impacted or encouraged by a volunteer
  8. Sing a song

I’m sure you could think of many more ideas, but these are a good start.  Another great way to appreciate volunteers is to keep them in prayer, asking for encouragement, protection, peace, wisdom, and joy for them and their families.

Take the volunteer appreciation challenge and bless those who serve you and your family!

 

A Colorful Village

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By Ruth Richmond, Associate Worship Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

God cares for us through the willing hands of people around us. It’s his design to accomplish his purposes in partnership with humans.  One stunningly beautiful result of this design is that the gifts, talents, faith and even the interests of the people that surround us swirl their colors into our lives. God uses others to help us discover talents and have experiences that reveal our own capacities for things like faith, love and strength.

I have a very colorful testimony not because I took a dramatic turn away from evil, but because all of my life willing Christians dipped, speckled, swirled, and buffed me. They enabled me to catch the light and reflect it in my own way so that I could bring prismatic light to dark places. I was shown my strength and was deeply, honestly connected to the love of God through the Christ followers around me.

My general trajectory was set by the age of six or eight because of the early influencers around me at church.  I wonder what I would be doing today if I’d had different people around me at church as a child?  Don’t you love looking back at your life and realizing a new thread of the narrative that God was weaving in all along the way? It’s a proof of His love that He works so much together for our good regardless of whether we will ever notice or thank Him.

Speaking of that, thank you God, for the rag-tag group of farmers and small town folk at the First Presbyterian Church in Ellsworth, Wisconsin. (Amen!)

Wow, God – thanks for Toots, who taught me about Jesus’ birthday and sang with us in pre-school. Thanks for Bessie, the quiet gray widow who took on the challenge of teaching rambunctious young grade schoolers!  (Amen!)

Thanks for the Pastor and his wife who began to lead the church when I was six. And that she started a choir for the children. Thanks that she was willing to stick with it even though we were squirrely. And thanks that she noticed I could always start a song in just about the right key, because then I noticed that about me, too, and started thinking of myself as musical. (Amen!)

Thank you for the local band teacher John, and his wife, Kay: Deeply passionate educators who joined our church and shared their interest in music contagiously. Thank you for the clarity of their love and for their obedience to leave us when you called them to minister at a school in the Philippines. (Amen!)

She (Kay) was my first and, therefore, my favorite piano teacher. My lessons were right after school. She prayed with me and had me memorize scripture verses. She taught me to play hymns and insisted that I sing them simultaneously. She taught me to write down musical thoughts on paper. I was eight when we started and thirteen when she left. By then, the path was level before me. At seventeen, I wrote my first five songs for piano, all in one sitting. At nineteen, I started working toward a music degree at Bethel College.

Now, I feel closest to God when I am writing musical thoughts on paper. I have worked for fifteen years singing, playing piano, and bringing music to this church. I have little kids of my own to share music with.  And, I’ve just been tasked with supporting and developing the worship area in Heroes Gate, so I have truly come full circle!”

My experience proves that when it comes to kids, it “takes a village”. A village full of willing, loving adults. Not because kids are difficult, but because they’re curious and clear: Ready to have the color and love of their village swirled into them.

I’m going to use this blog to give a little pitch! I am currently looking for accomplished musicians who can support the kids’ worship time in Heroes Gate. The village is forming now. If Woodland Hills is your church, please seek God about joining me and then contact me at rrichmond@whchurch.org.

We Need YOU!

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We are gearing up for a fantastic summer in Heroes Gate, but in order for that to happen, we need your help! We are giving our incredible school year volunteers the summer off, and we are looking for new volunteers to fill their shoes while they’re taking a break. We invite you to prayerfully consider helping in Heroes Gate over the upcoming months. Here’s the scoop on what you can expect if you decide to volunteer with us:

  • You can choose how often you volunteer and which days and Sunday service work best for you
  • We have four age-groups from which you can choose to work with: Infants, Toddlers, Preschool, and Elementary, or, if you’d prefer to work as a one-on-one buddy with a special needs child, we have spots open with that, as well
  • We’ll have yummy snacks ready to help power your morning with the kids
  • You’ll help the children of Woodland Hills know they are loved and important to others as well as Jesus

We’re so excited for this summer and have a lot of fun in store for the coming weeks. We hope you’ll choose to be a part of it all!  To sign up online, click on this link, or you can contact Bethany Blick at bblick@whchurch.org.

Thank You, Volunteers!

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By Paula Bowlby, Associate Early Childhood Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

Our school year has almost wrapped up, and summer is nearly upon us. The regular volunteers that you see week after week will soon be on summer hiatus. We as a Heroes Gate staff would like to thank our regular volunteers for all they have done over the past year and send them off with blessings and prayers as they take a break for the summer.

We know there are many wonderful stories about how our volunteers have blessed your family throughout this year. Whether it was going above and beyond to make sure your child felt loved, a volunteer’s big, welcoming smile, or a hug or a personal note, I am sure you have experienced care from our volunteers in some way this year. Our volunteers are awesome and give so much to the kids of Heroes Gate! A few stories we have heard and seen this past year include volunteers setting up snack like a tea party for the little girls, playing hide and go seek in the room, bringing ice cream treats, helping out with Club 56 fun nights, and providing plants for Mother’s Day.

Our volunteers partner with you each week to provide a safe and loving environment for your kids to learn about Jesus. They pray for your kids and strategize with us to make Sunday a great day for your kids so they learn to love Jesus.

This Sunday, we’re excited to provide cards for you or your child to write his or her leader a note. Would you take some time this week or on Sunday at the card station to thank the volunteers who have poured love and care into your child this year? Would you pray with us that we are able to staff the rooms for summer so that no child is turned away? And would you consider giving 4 Sundays this summer so other children can hear about Jesus? We’d love to have you join us for a fun and exciting summer in Heroes Gate!  Sign up is easy and online!  Or you can chat with any HG staff on a Sunday morning, and we’d be happy to talk about what summer opportunities might fit you best.

We have such wonderful volunteers! Thank you, thank you, thank you for all that you have done for the kids in Heroes Gate!

**Parents and Volunteers: Tell us how you or your child have been blessed this year in the comment section below!

Blueprint vs Warfare: A World of Difference

Our Heroes Gate staff and volunteers were blessed and honored to have Jessica Kelley speak at our Mid-Winter Training at the end of January.  Jessica shared with us how she came to set aside a “Blueprint Worldview” of God and came, instead, to believe firmly in a “Warfare Worldview.”  We asked her to write a post for our blog giving a brief summary of what she talked about at the training with our volunteers and the insights she had for helping them work with kids who may be experiencing tragedy or hardship.  Though written with volunteers and ministry in mind, the principles and ideas she lays out can easily be translated into family life and friendships.

By Jessica Kelley

Recently I had the privilege of speaking with the Heroes Gate Volunteers regarding God’s role in suffering. This subject is especially meaningful to me as a survivor of child loss, and it’s a topic I enjoy researching, writing, and occasionally speaking about.

Our training began with a discussion about the monumental suffering transpiring throughout the world. We noted that the typical Christian response to pain is filtered through the blueprint worldview. The blueprint worldview is the belief that God planned or specifically pre-approved every event that humanity would experience from the foundations of time. This would mean that both good things and evil things are part of God’s mysterious, divine plan to glorify himself. We’ve all heard blueprint thinking in clichés like, “Everything happens for a reason,” or “It’s all part of God’s plan.”

Perhaps the biggest problem with the blueprint worldview is that it pollutes our picture of God. It portrays an all-controlling God whose character is mysterious and whose plan seems arbitrary. It renders God as the designer of, or complicit in, specific horrors ranging from individual kidnappings to the Holocaust. And this begs the question: If this is God, and God is love, what does love even mean?

We then turned our attention to the warfare worldview. The warfare worldview asserts that God is love (1 John 4:8) and that his purpose in creation was to expand his love. This desire involved risk, however, because God wanted a bride, not a robot. It was necessary for God to offer his creation the irrevocable (no-take-backs!) freedom to choose love or reject love. Because God is all-knowing, he would have perfectly anticipated the possibility that love would be rejected. Yet due to his unlimited intelligence and creativity, God could be confident that even if love was rejected, he possessed the wisdom to ultimately bring all things under his loving lordship. It was a hope-filled risk.

A quick scan around the world today confirms that love is often rejected. Disease, oppression, violence – these don’t reflect the blueprint of a loving God. In fact, Jesus consistently battled against such things while identifying Satan as the “ruler of this world,” (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11). The good news is that God will have the ultimate victory, but for now when we encounter radical suffering we can echo Jesus’ words in Matthew 13 and proclaim, “An enemy did this.”

How does the warfare worldview impact the way Heroes Gate volunteers respond to hurting children? Let’s say a child comes in and confides that her mother’s cancer has suddenly returned. Below are three phrases to avoid and three suggested responses.
Instead of: “God knows what he’s doing” or “It was meant to be.”

Perhaps offer: “God knows how to meet you in this pain to bring comfort.”

Instead of: “God’s ways are sometimes mysterious.”

Perhaps offer: “We know God’s heart, Jesus perfectly revealed it. God loves you deeply and is hurting with you. And yet we can be confident in God’s creativity, wisdom, and desire to work with us to bring good out of this.”

Instead of: “We can trust that this is God’s plan/timing/will.”

Perhaps offer: “We can trust the heart of God, and know that he wouldn’t want this for you. You’re not being punished, and it’s not your fault. And while God wouldn’t desire for you to suffer this way, he’s always had a plan in place just in case this happened and he knows how to bring the most good out of it.”
If you have questions, comments, or would simply like to learn more about our family’s story, please visit http://jessicakelley.com.