With three boys of her own, Nicole Miller, takes children’s’ ministry at United Methodist Temple to heart, often pondering new ideas late into the night, in spite of her often-hectic schedule. When asked to serve as Day School Director as well as Children’s Ministry Director, she prayed for the courage and confirmation to serve two jobs in one. “I was ready for God to shut the doors on that idea, but He didn’t,” she admits. “I wanted to be obedient, and God has now blessed me with my assistant director, Lori LaBove, who compliments my weaknesses, and He provided faithful parent volunteers and teachers that make this combination of positions work.”
Rev. Guy Williams and former pastor Dr. Jesse Brannen recognized Nicole’s passion for children and have encouraged her to stretch outside her comfort zone on occasion. Guy says, “Our vision for this dual-ministry position was to tighten the ministry aspect between the church and school and make it much more than just a school meeting at a church.” This double-director duty has had several clear benefits for the church and the children. “I’ve been able to add more Bible to the day school curriculum, and add chapel to their weekday schedule,” shares Nicole, “which is great for the 63 preschoolers and it ministers to the teachers as well.” Additionally, she provides a natural bridge from the preschool and community back to the church by encouraging the weekday students and their families to attend the Temple on the weekends. The day school, a strong beacon for the church, has a strong reputation in the community as evidenced by an ongoing waiting list.
Adds Nicole, “I would not be in ministry today were it not for Jesse seeing something in me that I had not seen at the time, and I would not have taken on the day school role without the encouragement from Guy and the school board seeing it working as a good fit.” She can see God’s hand in Lori’s role in the ministry, as well. “Since she and her husband have their own business,” adds Nicole, “Lori wasn't looking to work in the day school either, so it is pretty neat how God brought us together. I think that is important to look for people who have gifts that you don't have.”
To publicize the Temple’s outreach events, Nicole sends flyers to area schools, places posters on community bulletin boards and uses Facebook and Facebook “boosts” to get the word out. “When we survey people after an event, we learn that 90 percent hear about us on social media, and that is an effective, budget friendly way to invite the community.”
- Some 200 people show up for Breakfast with the Bunny and experience the youth reenacting the Easter story followed by an egg hunt. “
- The VBS season is Nicole’s favorite, as volunteers and kids just appear. “Our volunteer, Charles Morgan, is a big kid at heart and does story time with puppets and makes it extra fun by doing magic tricks, creating cannons with confetti or a balloon drop on top of the kids. The kids are ecstatic when he is around, so we are blessed to have him in our ministry.”
- As school gets underway for the fall, the annual Backpack Blessing event brings people from near and far back to church and a routine. “In addition to providing a full breakfast, we will do some fun things in Sunday school and give backpack tags to our children and students of all ages that remind them they have been prayed over,” says Nicole.
- The Temple’s Jingle Jam event last Christmas was a church-wide production featuring adults acting in skits, youth dancing and singing and children telling the gospel story. “More than entertaining our members, we offered this variety show to brighten the holidays of our community and enrich their lives with a meal and gifts.” With wide participation, Nicole also celebrated this outreach for helping church families to be active in their child’s spiritual journey.
Puppeteer Charles Morgan can often be heard saying, “I’ve got the two best jobs at the church; I get to play the bass in the praise band and I get to work with kids. In fact, I could qualify for senior discounts but, in reality, I’m just a 55-yr-old kid myself.” He has invested in the young for well over a decade because he knows he is planting seeds. “It was heartwarming this summer,” he says, “to hear one of the high school graduates mention Mr. Charles and the puppet Bubba are among the highlights of her childhood at the Temple.”