Why do we run Selah the way we do?
In 2009, I felt a prompting from God to start a moms ministry at Southland. I resisted at first because of my personal fears and insecurities. I didn’t think I could lead other women and I was extremely nervous that I would fail. But when I couldn’t let go of the vision, I realized this was an obedience thing. If I didn’t obey, I’d miss out on something God had for me.
So, then I began to ask God what exactly He wanted. How did He want to help moms and what format could the church use to accomplish it?
The first thing He showed me was that moms needed to realize that they have a very important job! Number 1: This means we are incredibly valuable to God. And Number 2: We need to pull up our boot straps and treat our job as a real job. Our kids need us to be their primary teachers, helping them learn the things they need to become successful adults. I sensed God say that Selah needed to be a place where moms came to be refreshed (because our job is hard), reminded of their responsibility, and given tools to become the best moms they can be.
The format we set up for first group was two-fold. Every other week, moms would meet with kids for teaching, discussion and prayer. This is the refreshing and reminding part. On the alternate weeks, moms would meet with their kids to do a structured program that included physical games, singing, reading, crafts and free play. This was the practical tools part of the program. It gave moms a chance to learn play ideas, connect with their kids in their environment and see the ways other moms did things.
In our second year, we started having the preschoolers come twice a week. The leaders (myself and 2 co-leaders) would take care of the Tuesday preschool program so moms could just drop their kids off and have a break. On Thursdays, they would be expected to be in the church. At this point we had 22 moms and we had to figure out how to adapt our original plan to accommodate more moms. First, we tried splitting the moms into 2 groups and switching them half way through the morning. The transition time ended up taking too long and being too chaotic, so we ended up having a few moms take turns each week with the kids.
At 40 moms, we needed to find outside help for the growing nursery so that moms with preschoolers could focus on just helping in that area.
At around 100 moms, we transitioned the Baby Basics group of new moms to Tuesdays so that we could ask them to help on Thursdays. Several of these moms became key volunteers, even though it’s hard for a new mom to commit at that level!
The following year we tried splitting all the moms into 2 groups so that ½ would meet on Tuesdays and the other half on Thursdays. We highly encouraged moms to come both days (be with their kids one day and in group the other). We offered discounts to moms who would volunteer so that we could get enough help. But there was still never enough. It was draining to find moms to help fill in all the gaps and we rarely met our ratios. Only about 2/3 of our moms were involved in the kids programming, which wasn’t the original plan.
One day, I was praying about our volunteer needs with a friend and they got a picture of a truckload of apples. The leaders and I were walking behind the truck picking up the apples that would fall off the truck and being thrilled with each one. I sensed that the apples were our volunteers. Then the truck stopped and we opened up the canvas cover to find that the entire truck was filled with apples! I started asking God to show me where this treasure trove of apples was! Then one day on a prayer walk I realized that they were the moms themselves. God said, “They were always there for you right under your nose. They were the original plan.” My own insecurities had kept me from sticking to the original plan for this program. As hard as it would be, we needed to get back to God’s plans for Selah and require the moms to be with their children in some way on a regular basis.
This revelation happened at the same time that Southland was planning to go from 2 to 4 services. I knew we needed to ease the 2 days a week burden off of our moms (and myself!) and go down to one day a week. As well, we needed to get back in alignment with God’s vision for Selah. So we created a plan to split the moms in half, creating 2 groups. These groups would take turns being in the chapel and being with the kids. In this way we could effectively meet ratios and give moms time to learn in a hands-on environment.
I realize Selah would be much more relaxing if we could come each week to drop off our kids with free volunteers and enjoy time to ourselves. But that isn’t how God has set Selah up. All we can do is choose our attitude about it. I admit there are weeks when I’d rather not make the effort to get out the door when I feel tired or sick or lazy. But I know that’s not smart because I’ll be missing out on something God wants to bless me with or use me to bless someone else with. After 8 years, I’ve also realized that we can do more than we think! I’ve led fitness and music while having terrible morning sickness. I’ve taught alphabet games while nursing my baby. And I’ve led many mornings after sleepless nights. I’m not saying there aren’t times when you legitimately shouldn’t come, but as the leader I’ve had to push through a lot and I’ve learned more is possible than you think.
So let’s focus on the blessings of being intentional in our ministry…
What are those blessings God has for us and our fellow moms if we just commit with a good attitude?
- Community. Community for ourselves and others. We all want a place to find belonging and support in our motherhood journey. Coming and committing to both weeks means that another mom also gets to come and find community while you take care of her child.
- Spiritual Roots. On the spiritual side, there are huge benefits for your child. There is a well-known study called the Hemorrhaging Report that studied why some kids stay connected to the church and why some leave. One of the key things they found was that kids of parents who actively serve in church with their kids tend to stay involved through their teen years. So, when you come to Selah with your child and show active engagement with them in their activities, it helps them set down strong roots into the church.
- Attachment Bonds. Spending time in your child’s class also forms huge relational bonds with you and your child. Yes, they may act funny because you are there or you may not feel like you are just one-on-one with them, but regardless, they know you are there and this builds brain bonds. This connection piece will help you disciple them.
- Training Practice. The Live-It weeks are an opportunity to try out the principles we teach in the Learn-It weeks. It can be easier to try these on other peoples’ kids because you have to be nice to them. You might also see other moms trying them and learn valuable skills just from watching others.
- Personal Character Growth. Committing to Selah is a chance to grow your own character. Think about what is hard for you in those weeks and prayfully make a plan to grow in that area.
I’ll leave you with some tips from a current Selah mom. These are mantras she has made for herself to stay positive about the Live-it Weeks and they are great! I also encourage you to re-read Our Selah How To Guide before we start back up again. Now that we are half way through the year, this will be a great refresher.
Be on time!!!!!!!
Be energetic, eat breakfast!
Pray before coming
Prepare your kids before coming
APPRECIATE the other moms
RESPECT the other moms
Respect the Selah rules and needs
Have a servant heart
Be out of your comfort zone
Selah should be a safe and welcoming place: no yelling, harsh tones, eye rolls, grabbing or pulling!
Work as a team in your room. Ratios are tight so yes, bond with your child but love, acknowledge, and be hands on with the other kids too.
Remember how you want the other moms to treat your child on the opposite weeks.
Two hours every other week is actually not that big of a sacrifice.