Did You Know

Common Listening Mistakes

“You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.”

-M. Scott Peck

3 Common Listening Mistakes

Drifting Off in Thought

  • Making a grocery list in your head. Suddenly remembering you need to make a hair appointment or pay a bill. When you are preoccupied your mind wanders and you have stopped listening.  Before your next Kin visit, take some time to empty your cup so that you can be fully present with your Kin.

Listening to Respond

  • We often believe that we are listening but we are actually waiting for a chance to talk. We may want to tell our own story, offer advice, or even make a judgment, but when we listen in this way we are not listening to understand but rather to reply. We can’t listen if we are waiting for our turn to talk.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand;

they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey

Passing Judgement

  • Our preconceived ideas/assumptions make it hard to actively listen without being judgmental or jumping to conclusions. Be a non-judgemental presence in your Kin’s life, work to look at the world through your Kin’s perspective and leave the judgment outside.

Remember, you cannot truly listen if you are doing something else, so avoid daydreaming, creating your response or passing judgment during your next Kin visit.


Leader’s Corner

In this leader’s corner, we share resources for active listening exercises you can use with your volunteers.

Simultaneous Conversation –  illustrates what emotional effect that occurs when listening does not happen

The Power of Active Listening – This exercise shows the power of active listening.

Circle Story – Avoiding preconceived ideas/assumptions about what a Kin is sharing

As Mark Just Said – practice listening to others and avoid jumping in

Line Story – Avoid interrupting and practice staying present while listening

Mirror – Mirroring body language and remaining focused

Journey to Work –  There are lots of barriers to active listening.

Stop Listening – Demonstrates the impact of listening and not listening have on a Kin

Preparing for Volunteer Inquiries

Did You Know – Preparing for Volunteer Inquiries

Many volunteers will likely seek additional information prior to deciding to volunteer. It is important to have a process in place for handling these initial inquiries.

Managing Volunteer Inquiries

1. Initial Volunteer Contact

The first point of contact for your potential Kin Ministry volunteer is crucial to whether someone becomes an actual volunteer. This person needs to to be very knowledgeable and welcoming. During this initial inquiry be ready to provide clear information about Kin Ministry, the volunteer role, time commitment, and expectations as a volunteer as well as the volunteer selection process.

2. Church Website

Use the Kin Ministry FAQ template, provided to you in the Sharing Kin Ministry materials, to build out a webpage on your church website, where volunteers can go to seek additional information. Don’t forget to include a link to provide the volunteer with contact information or a volunteer application.

3. Information Packet

Provide volunteers with an informational packet about Kin Ministry via mail or email. Be sure to include; information about Kin Ministry, a volunteer job description and your volunteer application form.

Assumptive World

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”

― Isaac Asimov

Our tree rings, our cup, and our assumptive world impact our listening. We recently reviewed how our tree rings and our cup can impact our connections, but what about our assumptive world?.


Did You Know – Assumptive World


Do you remember the duck-rabbit story?  Did you see a duck or a rabbit?  Our assumptive world is the way we see things.  BeFriender Ministry teaches it is the lens through which we view the world.

Used with Permission. © BeFriender Ministry-A Listening Presence. Bloomington, MN

Below, Shirley Taylor teaches us some ways to avoid making assumptions.

How can we avoid making assumptions?

Be patient – What the speaker has to say is just as important as what you have to say.

Listen carefully – You can’t hear another person if you are thinking about what you want to say

Take notes – In a social connection taking notes on paper may not be appropriate, but you can take mental notes.

Rephrase – State what you just heard the speaker say in your own words. Use this opportunity to ensure you haven’t made any assumptions about what the speaker means.

Don’t interrupt – When the speaker stops talking, pause and reflect on what they just said before jumping in. Just because they paused, doesn’t mean they are finished talking.

© Shirley Taylor.

When you prepare to make your next connection make sure your tree rings, cup and assumptive world don’t get in the way of listening. Mentally recall what you learned in class before you begin a visit so that you can be fully present during your Kin connections.


Checking assumptions throughout our Kin visits is vital. It is key to building trust and a strong relationship with our Kin.
Phillip Patston shares a scenario where he made an assumption about someone he just met. He goes on to share how that assumption impacted his communication with the individual. Consider using Phillip’s story as a launching pad for group discussion on assumptions.

Phillip begins:

We all do it. See someone new and, within seconds, our brains start making up stories about them. Or we meet them, exchange a few words and before we know it, we’re filling in the gaps with our imaginations. The result? Assumptions.

I did it recently…


Where to Recruit Volunteers

Did You Know – Where to Recruit Volunteers

Last time you received 10 steps on how to recruit volunteers. Did you develop a recruitment team or review your risk management process? Are you ready to take a look at where to recruit volunteers.

Where to Recruit Volunteers

1. Regular Church Publications

Use your church bulletin and newsletter to share the volunteer opportunity. Take advantage of the bulletin insert provided to you in the Sharing Kin Ministry Materials.

2. Church Social Media Accounts

Post the opportunity on your church social media accounts.

3. Church Website

Post on your church website. You could also include the FAQ template provided to you in the Sharing Kin Ministry materials.

4. Mass Email or Text

Take advantage of email and text messaging to share with a large group quickly and easily.

5. Announce It

Make announcements at services, educational sessions and meetings. These can be great opportunities to share the Kin Ministry video.

6. Word of Mouth

Current volunteers are powerful recruiters. They are committed to your cause and believe in your mission.

7. Invite them to an information session

Some Kin Ministry leaders find success in inviting potential volunteers to a get to know Kin Ministry session. Consider providing lunch or snacks.

8. Send out a Mass Mailing

Put together an informational packet and mail it out to everyone within your congregation. This can be an expensive option, but some people need to be able to touch and hold the information, they like to be able to refer back to it as they contemplate their decision.

9. Hang Posters

Use the posters provided within the Sharing Kin Ministry materials to not only educate your congregation but begin recruiting volunteers.

10. Create a Bulletin Board

Put together a bulletin board to promote Kin Ministry. Use the board to share news about your ministry as well as your volunteers. Include pictures and pockets that contain information on Kin Ministry and volunteering for your program.

11. Church Bulletin and Newsletter

As discussed earlier, these resources can be used to get out the initial information on Kin Mininstry and the need for volunteers, but they can also be used as an on-going education and recruitment tool. Consider running a regular column featuring Kin Ministry. You can focus on the Kin to help your church get to know them as well volunteers and their work.

Empty Cup

In this edition of Did You Know, we will again go back to our volunteer training and recall what we learned about Empty Cup. If you have your workbook, you can turn to page 8 to review the notes you took on emptying your cup.


Did You Know – Empty Cup

Sandy has softball practice, Jon’s school project is due tomorrow, Wendy needs to go to the doctor, the dishes are stacked in the sink, you forgot to set out the meat for supper and work is crazy. You scan through your mental to-do list as you head out the door to connect with your Kin and as you do the list just keeps getting longer. With all of this racing through your mind, how can you possibly be a listening presence for your Kin?


As we make connections and build trust with those we visit, it is imperative that we become mindful of being fully present. The first step is taking time to prepare ourselves for a visit. During your training you learned the importance of creating space in your cup as part of your preparation.

Reflect on the following questions:

1. What do I remember about the Empty Cup?
2. What tends to fill my cup?
3. How has my cup impacted my connections?
4. Have I been taking the time to create space in my cup before, during and after a visit?
5. How can I continue to create space in my cup in order to be fully present with someone?

The process of emptying your cup gives you space to be with your Kin. To be fully present with our Kin, we must attend to the person we are visiting.  

Used with Permission. © BeFriender Ministry-A Listening Presence. Bloomington, MN

How to Recruit Volunteers

Did You Know – How to Recruit Volunteers

Volunteers are essential for your ministry, but finding them can be a challenge.  Volunteer recruitment is a critical activity for Kin Ministry leaders.  Finding the right volunteer is even more important.  Today we take a look at how to recruit volunteers and then next time we will focus on where you might find them.

How to Recruit Volunteers

1. Develop a Recruitment Team
Gather key members of your staff and congregation to create a volunteer recruitment team. Ensure the team has all the information they need to be effective in their role.

2. Focus on Your Message
Use a compelling message. Make it short and simple, but also direct, while communicating the need for volunteers. Don’t forget to describe what will be expected of the volunteer and to point out the benefits the volunteer will receive.
Volunteer Recruitment Messaging

3. Benefits to Volunteering
While you are seeking volunteers to benefit your program, it doesn’t mean there are no benefits to the volunteer. Things like making a difference, using their skills and talents to share God’s love, meeting others in the community, learning a new skill, meet new friends, working for a cause they believe in and helping others can all appeal to a volunteer.
Benefits of Volunteering

4. Ask
People like to be asked to volunteer. A personal face to face ask from a Kin Ministry leader or volunteer is the most effective. You can also spread the word by adding a section to your website, use your social media account, or add it to your newsletter and bulletin.

5. Layout Next Steps
Whether you want your volunteers to fill out a questionnaire, complete an online form or contact your church office; it is important to be clear about what an interested person needs to do next to be considered as a volunteer.

6. Sometimes “No” isn’t “No”
Sometimes a “no” means “not now”. If offered, listen to why a volunteer is telling you no. Often times what they are really saying is no, now is not the time. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to ask them again in the future.
When a Volunteer Tells You “No”

7. Volunteer Experience
Are you giving your volunteers what they need? Volunteers, who are educated, supported and understand why their work is important find value in their work. Volunteers that feel needed and appreciated stick around.
22 Top Tips to Increase Volunteer Support and Retention

8. Leave a Position Unfilled
Sometimes we get so worried about filling our volunteer roles that we accept anyone. When we take this approach, we are often left with the wrong person for the position and a list of problems that come along with the unsuited match.

9. Discernment Process
Ask questions, more questions and still more questions. You can start with the discernment questions provided to you during leadership training. Meet face to face. Pray about your decision and for your prospects. Be prepared to turn away a prospective volunteer that isn’t a good match.

10. Risk Management
Consistently following your organization’s risk management plan is a key to protecting your Kin, volunteers and your organization.

Tree Rings

As a volunteer or leader with Kin Ministry, you attended the volunteer training provided through our education partner, BeFriender Ministry. As a refresher from your training, we will begin to review what we learned. Last time we reviewed the 4 Guiding Principles. Today we will be reminded of our tree rings.


Did You Know – Tree Rings

You, as a Kin Ministry volunteer, are called to support and nurture those you connect with on behalf of your faith community.  Through your understanding and listening presence, you are a living reminder of God’s love.  When we serve as that reminder, let us be mindful of the people, life events and experiences that shape our lives and how we listen.


Refer to the reflection questions you received prior to volunteer training.

1. Significant people in my life – people who have influenced me:
2. Significant Life Events (include challenges and joys)
3. What experiences have you had with isolated individuals?

• How might your past experiences with isolated individuals impact your future relationships with isolated individuals?

These people, life events and experiences stay with us and create the tree rings of our lives. Do you remember what our training taught us about tree rings? Let’s take a look.



Used with Permission. © BeFriender Ministry-A Listening Presence. Bloomington, MN

Tree Rings

Rings – When we look at the whole, the tree ring and our life, we can see the patterns and directions beginning to emerge and come clear. Everyone has a unique pattern, as the experiences in their lives are unique to them.

Knots – The knots show a time of growth through difficulty. We, too, have knots in our lives.

Bark – The bark serves to protect the tree. Without the bark, the tree would die. Yet, the bark is porous enough to allow the tree to grow. The bark is like our defenses. They cannot and should not be stripped away, yet, they must be open to allow for growth.

God is There

God walked with you when you created your tree rings, he held you up as you healed your knots, and he sees through your defensive bark. God calls you to serve based on what he knows of your heart, mind and soul. God promises to be present and to support each person in their ministry just as he does with you.

Used with Permission. © BeFriender Ministry-A Listening Presence. Bloomington, MN

Recognizing Your Volunteers

Did you know that National Volunteer Week is April 7-13?
Did you know that President Richard Nixon established National Volunteer Week with an executive order in 1974, as a way to recognize and celebrate the efforts of volunteers. As Kin Ministry leaders, you can use this week to shine a light on the volunteers that keep your ministry running.

Today we share some ways your can recognize your volunteers, but first take a minute to learn:
1. Why Recognize Volunteers?

2. Best Practices for Recognizing Your Volunteers

Recognizing Your Volunteers


Hold a special thank-you brunch after your Sunday church service.  This is also a great time to recognize a particularly great volunteer.

VIP Parking:

Reserve 2 or 3 parking spots, close to the church building, for Kin Ministry volunteers. Don’t forget the “Reserved for Kin Ministry Volunteers” parking sign.


Send an article to your local newspaper highlighting the contributions of your volunteers and the impact they have made on the community.

Volunteer Highlight:

Share a short story about or an interview with your volunteer in your church newsletter or on a bulletin board within your church. Don’t forget to include pictures.

Shout-out on Social Media:

If your church uses social media, take advantage of this platform to send a shout out to a specific volunteer for their service and commitment to your ministry.


Have t-shirts, pins, mugs or tote bags made that recognize the individual as a member of your Kin Ministry volunteer team.

More Ways to Celebrate Volunteers:

Taking Care of Yourself

Did You Know – Taking Care of Yourself

I was recently reading a White Paper from Vanderbloemen Search Group that talked about their research around avoiding burnout in ministry.  What struck me about the paper was the need for leaders to make sure they are caring for themselves.  I know each of you and I know how you devote completely to your churches and the people in them.  So when I read the article I had an ah-ha moment and started to worry about each of you and your risk for burnout.  So this DYKS is about you taking care of you as shared in the white paper 10 Ways to Prevent Burnout in Ministry.
In this very busy time of the church calendar, will you take the time to care for yourself?

Take Care of Yourself

A church is only as healthy as its leaders

1. Take care of your soul

Jesus taught us that the Christian life is “inside out.” Proverbs 4 says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Nothing is more important than guarding the attitude of your heart. Set aside time for personal Bible study, fellowship with family and close friends, and use the Sabbath to refuel and center yourself and your walk with the Lord.

2. Take Care of Your Body

Getting the body well contributes to the well being of your soul as well. One study found that when a group of people suffering from mild to moderate depression exercised for at least 20 minutes 3 times a week, they were significantly less depressed 5 weeks later. The benefits were immediate and were maintained as long as they kept on exercising. Make healthy living – eating, exercising, and sleeping – a priority.

3. Take Care of Your Mind

Learning inspires growth and innovation. Read a new book on your area of ministry, take a Bible class, and attend leadership conferences. It’s difficult to feel stagnant or burnt out in your ministry when you’re being challenged to try new things.

Taking time away to refocus and be refreshed is not optional – it is vital for your health and longevity in ministry. Perhaps you’re suffering from burnout because this has not been a priority for you in the past. If you’re new to the discipline of rest, try this: rest 1 day every week, 1 weekend every month, 1 week every year, 1 month every 5 years. Whether or not this guideline works for you, establishing regular, scheduled rest is a must. Is it time for you to take a sabbatical? Do you set aside the Sabbath to truly rest? If you preach on Sundays, are you using Mondays to recuperate?

10 Ways to Prevent Burnout in Ministry

by: William Vanderbloemen
Vanderbloemen Research Group

4 Guiding Principles

A Kin Ministry volunteer is someone who listens with compassion, accepts people as they are, respects another’s spiritual journey and embodies the caring presence of God.
The BeFriender Ministry Guiding Principles are the ground rules on which you build your relationships with your Kin. Over the next several months we will review each of these principles and how they play an important part within your connections.

Did You Know – 4 Guiding Principles

1. God is present

Volunteers are aware that they are in God’s presence when connecting with someone and that the time shared is a blessing to both the Kin volunteer and the Kin.

2. Caring not curing

Volunteers accept people as they are without telling them how they should be, listen with compassion without giving advice, and allow others to make their own decisions without trying to decide for them. The care offered by volunteers provides an opportunity for those they connect with to make choices and grow.

3. Nonjudgmental presence

Volunteers provide a sacred and safe space for someone to talk about their experiences, thoughts, and feelings without being judged or criticized.

4. Active listening

The value and healing potential of having one’s story heard is profound. Volunteers actively listen by using communication skills that create an environment of respect and dignity.


A Kin Ministry volunteer is a companion on the journey through life transitions.  Through listening, nonjudgemental presence and compassion, volunteers bring with them the caring presence of God and the community. Honoring the 4 Guiding Principles that you learned in training supports and strengthens the Kin Ministry relationship.

Used with Permission. © BeFriender Ministry-A Listening Presence. Bloomington, MN