I met Patty in a small group Bible study. She heard me ask people for stories about leading from the side and pulled me aside afterward to tell her story from early in her relationship with Church.
Patty moved to a rural area for her husband's job and went to the church nestled in the hamlet, her three young kids in tow. The only worship service was at 8:30 am, the sanctuary was cold so as to save money, and her children were the only ones present. She was the youngest adult present by a couple of decades.
"Even for the adults the worship was boring. I was a never going to keep my children interested."
After a few months Patty realized she needed to speak up rather than complain to others. So she met with the leader of the congregation and asked for a family service later in the day. He was kind and caring, listened fully, and clearly was not interested in creating another service.
It took some weeks of reflection for Patty to realize that she might be able to create the alternative worship herself. She got support from another elder in the congregation and buoyed by that support asked the leader again, this time if she could do the work herself. He said yes.
"I was new in the area, and new to rural living, so I had no idea how hard this would be. There was hardly anyone coming for the first six months." She was used to working with teams and expected other parents to offer help, but that didn't happen. Still, Patty was not deterred and somewhere along the way realized that if she asked the children to help with the worship she might get more response.
Starting with the connections her own kids made at school, slowly kids accepted her offer of opportunities for leadership. The kids were young so their parents came along. As the children’s leadership team grew, parents and other adults began to volunteer and eventually the whole ministry was run by a lay team.
"It's easy to get frustrated," Patty told me, "but I had the motivation that I wanted my kids to enjoy Church the way I had growing up."
I asked Patty what she learned about leading from the side. "Mostly I learned that my voice is important. I thought this could work, and it had a lot of struggles, but in the end I was right. We offered something that was needed and so it worked."
Do you have a side-ways leadership story? Use the contact page to share more leading from the side stories!