Did You Know

Giving Thanks for Your Generosity

I recently attended training provided by Thrivent Financial called Engaging Generations Through Generosity.   During this training, they talked about the 5 expressions of generosity. As the presenter defined each expression it struck me just how generous you are in your work as a Kin Ministry volunteer. Kin Ministry volunteers fall into each of the 5 expressions of generosity.


Hospitality is defined as kindness.  Each time you visit a Kin and show them unconditional love or provide a non-judgmental presence you are being generous.

Emotional-Relational Support

Each time you make an intentional effort to be involved in someone’s life, to be a compassionate listener or to offer your support you are being generous.  Your work with Kin Ministry is a perfect example of the generosity expression called emotional-relational support. It is simply defined as being there.


We have heard the stories about the volunteer who grabs a small gift for their Kin, something they know their Kin will enjoy.  We know about the cards you send, the devotions you pick up, the cups of coffee your purchase and so many of the other gifts you give to your Kin. You don’t have to, it is not expected, but we know you are providing gifts to your Kin.  It doesn’t matter how big or small, your gifts are an example of you being generous.


This definition of Volunteering/Service reads just like the job description of a Kin Ministry volunteer and is just another example of your generosity.
Did you know that the Independent Sector reports the value of a volunteer hour is $25.43?

Monetary Gifts

Whether you donated to your churches Adopt-A-Kin campaign, paid for the gas to get to your Kin connection, or have given up a chance to work overtime you have provided financial resources to your Kin Ministry program.  This is just one more way you are being generous in your work with Kin Ministry.


Your generosity to those you serve is remarkable.  During this season of thanksgiving, we want to be the first to recognize you for your generosity and thank you for your commitment to those you serve.  I hope you will take some time this month to reflect on how you have positively impacted your Kin through your generosity.  Thank you for giving so much to those around you!


Interested in Learning More

Learn more about the 5 Generosity Expressions and take a free personal assessment to explore your personal generosity journey.*


*Please note you will be asked for your name, email and zip code.  Currently, I have not received any spam mail as a result.

Serving Your Kin Through the Holidays

You know the song…It’s the most wonderful time of the year!.  Well for many of your Kin,  the holidays can serve as a reminder of just how lonely they feel.  Here are a few ways you can help your Kin through this holiday season.

Blue Christmas

Not everyone is feeling excited and cheery about the holidays. We can help by acknowledging that Christmas isn’t the most wonderful time of year for everyone.  Consider hosting a Blue Christmas to reach out to people who do not feel the joy or excitement of the Christmas holiday. A Blue Christmas service has a more quiet and somber feel than a traditional Christmas service.  It often focuses on the comfort God offers during times of trial.

Discipleship Ministries, Building Faith and Nouwen Network offer some resources to get you started.

Kin Tree

During the month of October have your volunteers discover and then share with you something their Kin would love for Christmas.  Anonymously decorate your Kin Tree with those wishes. Then ask members of your congregation to adopt the Kin and their desired gift for Christmas. Collect the gifts through the month of November and early December.  Finally, in December, have your volunteers or the post office deliver these gifts to the Kin on behalf of the church.

This is a volunteer opportunity for those who prefer to volunteer without an ongoing commitment.

Card Shower

During the month of October collect donated Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year cards.  Then in November, provide volunteers with 5-6 cards and ask them to write a personal note on behalf of the church to the Kin, address and stamp the card. Starting a few days before Thanksgiving start mailing the cards, one per week, to the Kin.  The Kin should receive a card every week between Thanksgiving and New Years.

This is a volunteer opportunity for those who prefer to volunteer without an ongoing commitment.


The Holidays and Your Kin

Did you know not everyone looks forward to the holidays?  Amid the parties, gifts, cheery songs and good wishes, many people dread the holidays and are feeling more lonely than ever.  I know what you are thinking, summer just ended, I am trying to get back into the swing of the fall season and you are asking me to think about the upcoming holidays? The holidays tend to sneak up on us and are often very busy, which is why we need to be proactive and prepared to connect with our Kin through the holidays.

Five Ways to Connect Over the Holidays


  • One of the easiest ways to make your Kin feel remembered during the holidays is to send them a card with a short hand-written note.  This month create or purchase a Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year card.  Take a few minutes to write a message, address and add a stamp to the cards.  Then add calendar reminders to mail the cards about 2 days before you would like your Kin to receive the card.


  • This isn’t in everyone’s budget, but if it is in yours, arrange to have flowers delivered to your Kin over the holidays.  You can make the arrangements now so you don’t forget during the holiday rush.

Share the Taste of the Holidays

  • During your visit(s) this month, make a point of discovering your Kin’s favorite holiday treat.  Then, over the next few weeks, whip up a batch of their favorite treat and store them in the freezer until it is time for delivery.  It is important to note any dietary restrictions your Kin must follow before delivering food to your Kin. Imagine how excited they will be to know you remember their favorite holiday treat.

Extra Visit

  • One way to help your Kin combat loneliness over the holiday is to make an extra visit or two.  Your connections don’t need to be long, just enough to let your Kin know they are special to you and that you desired to spend some extra time with them

Make a Call

  • The holiday season is busy.  We know extra visits aren’t always possible, you may even have trouble getting your regular connections completed.  A phone call can be a great solution.  Plan to take 10-15 minutes to call and connect with your Kin over the holidays

The holidays are busy, so no matter how you decide to connect with your Kin during the holidays be intentional about it, plan it out and add it to your calendar. The important thing is to connect.

Why Tracking Connections on The Kin Ministry Platform is Important

Karen Lampe teaches us in “The Caring Congregation” that “In order to give excellent care, it is so important to build a recorded history.  This history will help the caregivers remember what has been offered and what might still be in order for care.  Missteps can be avoided and good decisions are more likely to be made to achieve the best care.”

Lampe goes on to say ” Everyone must be on board with communicating about what has happened so that no one is duplicating efforts.  Dates and participants in the care should be recorded.  Also important is the need for clear understanding about the confidentiality that is required around each situation.”

Reasons to Use the Kin Ministry Platform

For the Volunteer

Help Your Church Leaders: This is the number one reason.  Even if you don’t want to track your visits, please do it for this reason.  Volunteers who regularly use the platform to record their visits save their leaders valuable time, time that could be spent with someone in need. When leaders spend their time chasing connection information, they are not spending time in ministry.

  • Communicate Urgent Situations: Use the “urgent button”. in the notes section to quickly and easily notify leadership of an urgent situation.
  • Notes Section: Use the notes section to keep your Kin of having to retell their story and to show you care by remembering those things important to your Kin.
  • Accountability: When did you really make that last visit?  Your Kin is counting on you; receive visit reminders when it has been too long since a visit was recorded.
  • Confidentiality: Document your visits electronically in a secured location, with no paper records of visits floating around.

For the Leader

  • Ministry at a Glance: Real-time dashboard view of the state of your ministry
  • No one left behind: Automatic alerts when a Kin is being left behind.
  • Notes Section: Keep abreast of each Kin by reading the Kin notes section.
  • Prove You Care: Address claims that you didn’t give care to your congregant.
  • Urgent Alerts: Receive alerts when your volunteers indicate someone is in urgent need of your attention.
  • Accountability:  Provide monthly accounting of your ministry to your board, congregation, and community.
  • Time Saver: See at a glance who is in the most need of your attention, no more eating up valuable time that could be spent with a Kin by chasing paper and making calls.
  • Providing a Transition: Where there is new leadership, within your church or Kin Ministry program, you can quickly and easily get everyone up to date.

Leaders review these reasons with your volunteers at your next team meeting.  Often times when volunteers understand the importance of doing something, they are more likely to follow through on completing the task.

Silence in Conversation

“The word LISTEN contains the same letters as the word SILENT.”

-Alfred Brendel

Silence is Golden

Did you know it is a good thing for your conversations to have moments of silence? Silence, a form of non-verbal communication, can have a positive effect on your Kin relationship and can serve several purposes:

Full Attention: Waiting to be sure your Kin has finished shows that you are focused on what they are saying.

Share Completely: It gives your Kin a chance to add additional important information. It may give your Kin the reassurance to reveal something they were reluctant to share.

Time for Reflection: It gives you a chance to reflect on the information shared by the Kin and helps prevent misunderstandings.

Time to Think: It forces you to think twice about how you want to respond.

Silence is a normal part of the conversation, don’t feel pressured to fill the silence.  Allowing time for silence can be a powerful tool for a deep and meaningful conversation.


Leader’s Corner

Use this game to reinforce the concept of silence.  Volunteers will learn to let the speaker finish speaking and themselves to finish listening before speaking.

Count to 5

Why Train Your Volunteers

Did you know that volunteers who understand what is expected of them do a better job and feel more satisfied in their role as a volunteer?

Reasons to Train Your Volunteers

Set Expectations

  • Training your volunteers sends the message that there is a minimum standard that you and your congregation expect them to uphold. Additionally, volunteers who have the same training will perform tasks and respond in a similar manner.


  • By training your volunteers, you are making a statement that your Kin Ministry program is professional and capable of the important work of your visitation program.

Develop a Sense of Belonging

  • In addition to getting to know the people within your program, volunteers also appreciate the time, effort, and expense that goes into a solid training experience.  Knowing the training was done for their benefit makes them feel valued.  Completing the training makes them feel like they have done what it takes to call themselves a Kin Ministry volunteer.

Build Confidence

  • Training gives volunteers the tools and skills to confidentially perform their assigned tasks. It gives the volunteer confidence in their ability to go out and make connections with your Kin.

A “Weeding Out” Technique

  • Volunteers who commit to and complete training are more likely to live up to their connection commitments

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.