Friday, September 30, 2011

What is Real Worship and How Do We Help The Children in Our Churches Understand It?

What is worship? In many churches singing on Sunday morning is what we do for worship; but is this real worship? Certainly there’s Biblical precedent for worshipping God with songs and music focused on Who God/Jesus is. John 4:24 instructs us to worship in spirit and truth – focused on the truth of Who God is. Singing/music is a legitimate and important part of worshipping God, but isn’t the only component of or way to worship God. If worship is more than singing on a Sunday morning how can worship leaders/teachers lead children . . . and adults, into a fuller understanding of worship both in their class and in the church service?

If we’re going to involve children in a fuller experience/understanding of real worship, then we have to know what worship is. Let’s look in the Bible and see what we can learn about worship. I love the account of Abel and Seth – not Bible people who you would initially think of as having much to teach us about worship? Oh, but they do! The reason Abel’s offering pleased God and was an act of worship is because it was an act of obedience. Cain didn’t worship as God wanted him to; he disobeyed and disobedience resulted in a life filled with anger. When we obey God, as Abel did, then worship becomes the result of our obedience.  As we know, Cain killed Able and God gave Adam and Eve another son, Seth. Seth and his sons obeyed God and Genesis 4 ends by telling us, “that was when men began to call on the name of the Lord”. Just a few of the obeyers/worshippers from Seth would include Noah, David, Josiah and ultimately Jesus.

If we want our children to become daily worshippers of God, then first of all they need to see worship as more than just singing songs on Sunday morning. Help your children understand daily obedience is a major part of daily worship because without obedience they can’t worship God. I’ve long been a huge “fan” of providing specific ideas for children to take what they learned out the doors of the church to live in their everyday lives. The first step to making worship a part of children’s everyday lives is to celebrate acts of obedience!
Ÿ  Worship in class –
o   Allow children to share in their small groups what they did that week to worship God through obedience.
Ÿ  Worship in church –
o   Provide time at the beginning of your church worship service for children to share their experiences of obedience and worship!
Ÿ  Worship in class and church –
o   Allow children who share to also select a song to lead others in worshipping God together!
As children understand how obedience is lived in their everyday lives they’ll see worship as the natural outflow of obedience and a major part of their everyday lives!

If we want  the children in our churches to have a fuller understanding of worship they also need to know real worship involves giving of our whole selves. The Book of Leviticus is all about instructing and teaching people how to worship God through their offerings. The offerings were a gift brought to God as an act of worship. Children need to know the offering of our whole selves is a fragrant sacrifice of worship and pleases God – Ephesians 5; I Peter 2. This is a major part of worship; in fact, if we do not give our all to God we can’t worship Him. How can we encourage the children in our church to make daily giving their all to God part of their worship of Him?
Ÿ  Worship in class –
o   Allow time for Small Group Shepherds/teachers to share with the children why they give their all as a volunteer.
o   Talk with children about what they can do each day to give their whole selves in worship to God.
o   As leaders model worship through giving their all, allow them to lead the children in a time of worship through music.
Ÿ  Worship in church –
o   Present volunteers as people who worship God with their all. Along with worshipping with music set aside time each week, every other week or at least once a month to showcase those in your church who give with their whole selves as worship to God!
Ÿ  Worship in class and church –
o   The purpose of the Psalms are for prayer, praise and teaching so allow children/classes to give their all by  volunteering to choose a psalm and lead their class/church in praying it back to God.
o   On the Sunday you focus on worship as the result of giving your all, allow children and their Small Group Shepherds/teachers to lead the musical worship or at least one or two songs.

Finally remember, along with worshiping by obeying, giving our all and music, we worship God by loving others. In Mark 12 Jesus said the most important command of all was to love God with all our heart, soul and strength. He said the second command was to love others as we loved ourselves and this loving of God and others with our all was more important than offerings. We can model real worship of God by loving/serving others. When we elevate loving and serving others as the ultimate act of worship our faith will be real and active and will result in joy and worship with music.
Ÿ  Worship in class –
o   Involve children in quarterly or at least semi-annual service projects and be sure to share these acts of service/worship with their class.
Ÿ  Worship in church –
o   Make the big commitment to presenting a full picture of worship by beginning each week’s music worship with sharing how children showed love/service for others and then allow the music worship to flow!

As the children . . . and adults . . . in our church have the opportunity to experience a fuller, more complete worship they’ll understand worship of God is a real part of their everyday lives!

One More Prayer For Your Ministry - Pray For the Most Important Thing!

There are certainly many things for us to pray about when it comes to praying for the children, families and volunteers in our ministry, but I think we can take a cue from Jesus as to the most important thing for us to pray about. In Matthew 22:37-40 someone asked Jesus which command was the most important; He said, "‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Loving God with our all and loving others as we love ourselves. Jesus said these were the two most important things . . . so if they are important to Jesus, certainly the are important for us to be praying about these two things, too!

Dear God, first I want to thank You for Your incredible love for me, for the children and families in my church and for the volunteers. Thank You! Please help me make the choice to love You with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind . . . with my all! As I serve the children, families and volunteers in my church, please help me show them how to love You. Please help them make the choice to love You with all their heart, soul, mind . . .with their all! Please help us all know there is nothing more important than for each of us to love You with our all! As we experience Your love and make the choice to love You, please cause this love to overflow our lives and to be generously given to all the people You bring us into contact with! Please help my life, and the lives of the children, families and volunteers in my church be known for the way we love You and love others! Please help us look at others with the eyes of love with which You look at us! Thank You for Your love! Amen!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Surf's Up! Children's Ministry Resources Around the Web . . . iKids!

I'm delighted to share with you a new blog where you will find information, ideas and resources to "help you iNspire kids to iMitate God"! iKids is written by Ron Brooks and as he says, it is his goal to help you "find many resources you are free to use.  Everything from lessons, to devotion guides, blog entries, videos and more.  Feel free to look around and use anything you see. Everything that we do is done to encourage and build up our kids. We believe that they can know God in a personal way, and that He can use them the same way He can use adults. For that reason, we chose the following verse to be our main theme for all we do."

Some of the resources you'll find on iKids include lesson ideas, small group activities,  abstinence resources, memory verse cards, family devotion ideas, crafts a discussion forum and more . . . plus it is all free!

iKids is in the beginning stages so keep checking back to see as they add new and additional content and if there is something you'd particularly like to see, just let Ron know!
iKids is a site to keep your eye on! Thank you Ron for providing this resource!

Another Prayer For Children's Ministry . . . Pray for Children, Families and Volunteers to Have Joy!

Joy! It is something many people would pay anything to have and yet it is as gift from God . . . we don't have to - and really can't - buy it. Joy is the result of knowing and walking with God; just take a look at Philippians 4 and you will find out how to have real joy!

 "1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (NIV)

So, commit to pray for the children, families and volunteers in your ministry so they will experience this amazing gift of joy!

Dear God I pray this day for the children, families and volunteers in my church. I love them and pray they will choose to stand firm in You! Please help them choose to rejoice in You! Please help them experience Your joy as they show Your gentleness to everyone they see on this day. Please strengthen them with the truth You are near them this day so they do not have to be anxious about anything and as they thank You because they know they are able to share their concerns and needs with You through prayer. As they talk with You today, please give them Your peace and guard their hearts and their minds. Please help them think about those things which are true, noble right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy and please help them live what they have learned. As they do these things, please bless them with Your incredible gifts of peace and joy because they know You are with them! Please help them learn to be content whatever their circumstances and know they can do all these things because You will give them the strength to do so! Thank You, Amen!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Manners and Children's Ministry

header imageWhen we serve in children's ministry we are dealing with people all the time . . . young and old. It is essential for us to show good manners in the way we interact with others . . . I'm so thankful for my friend Maralee McKee, the Manners Mentor. She knows how to help us "discover the manners which matter today: simple, savvy, sincere skills which help you become your best self!" I encourage you to check her blog for specific answers to your every day encounters and her facebook page for daily tips to help you as you interact with others. For example, her tip for today - "When an acquaintance or friend says, 'No' to an invitation or request it's a matter of respect to accept their answer without hesitatioin or question. Asking, 'Why not" can make them feel guilty or like they're being interrogated. When someone says, 'No' you can answer, 'Perhaps another time. You're always welcome to join us!' Or, 'Maybe next time. We can always use extra hands!'" Keep this advice in mind when recruiting . . . if a person says "No", accept their answer. It is fine to leave the door open for them to reconsider another time, but graciously accept their answer without trying to "guilt" them into serving!

Another Prayer For Children's Ministry . . . Pray for Children to Grow in Jesus!

As I posted a few days ago, we certainly need to be praying for the children in our ministries so they come to know Jesus and choose to ask Him for His forgiveness and grace, and we need to pray for them so they will grow in Jesus and come to know and walk with Him!

Ephesians 4 -"14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."

Galatians 5 - "22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."

Dear God, I pray for (name) and thank You he/she chose to put their trust in You and receive Your gift of forgiveness! Please help (name) grow to know and walk with You so he/she will no longer be an infant tossed and blown about. Please help him/her to grow to know and walk with you and become an active part of the body, Your church, as he/she serves You! Please help (name) grow in You and show Your fruit of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control as he/she lives their life every day and keep in step with You."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Does the Church "Tolerate" Some Types of Bullying?

I'm certain if I were to ask anyone in children's ministry we would all say we are completely against bullying. But, stop for a moment and think. Do we actually "tolerate" some types of bullying? Are there some types of bullying we "turn a blind eye to"? Consider the following -

  • when we play games - typically in our mid-week ministry - do we ignore when the "athletic" kids talk about not wanting the "non-athletic" kids on their team?
  • do we accept as just part of "the way it is" when the popular kids are in their "cliques" and they intentionally leave out the "loner" kids?
  • do we as teachers/small group leaders give more attention to the popular kids?
What is your policy on bullying? I'm sure you wouldn't allow a child to physically harm another child or even say overt unkind things, but do we hold everyone in our children's ministry to the standard Jesus held up for us in Matthew 22 . . . . 37-40Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them." (the Message)

Do we really make sure the adults and children in our ministries love others as well as they love themselves? Even if the "others" are "different" from us? I've watched as churches turn a blind eye to bullying. When my daughter was in 5th grade there was a girl at the church we attended who was "different". She was somewhat developmentally delayed and quite socially delayed. The other girls in my daughters class didn't want to have anything to do with this girl, but my daughter befriended her . . . and paid a big "price" for doing so. The other girls ostracized my daughter. This is an example of bullying . . . do we do anything about this type of bullying, or do we ignore it? 

What do you do at your church whey bullying rears it's ugly head? What if the children who are being the bullies are from the families of church "leaders"? What do you do?

Let's commit to be absolutely certain our churches are truly safe places for EVERYONE. With the news from the past week of the boy who took his life, we need to stop and
honestly evaluate what we do in our ministries to be sure we love others as well as we love ourselves and we need to be sure the children in our ministries understand this means not only being kind in word and action, but it involves including others like Jesus would do if He were physically in their class.

Let's have a true zero-tolerance policy when it comes to all types of bullying.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Check Out Kidmin1124 . . . I Wrote About Teaching Kids the True Meaning of Worship - Obedience is Key!

Kidmin1124I am delighted and honored to write for kidmin1124 and for the next several weeks I'll be posting about Teaching Kids the True Meaning of Worship . . . this week's post looks at how obedience is key to worship! Please take a moment to check this post out and make kidmin1124 a regular source for information and resources for your children's ministry!

Another Prayer For Children's Ministry . . . Pray for the Laborers!

As I posted on Saturday, we need to pray for the children in our church and community and ask God to make their hearts tender and open so they will choose to believe and be saved! Today I want to talk about how we also need to pray and ask God to send us the "laborers"/volunteers we need for our ministries! 

I firmly believe no one cares more if we have the "laborers" we need in our ministries than God does. God went to great lengths and sent Jesus so we could be forgiven and learn to know and walk with Him, so clearly this is a message He wants others to hear. We need volunteer in our ministries so we are able to reach children and families. These are simple facts. So, we need to make praying and asking God to send us the laborers we need a regular part of our prayers! Consider the following -

  • recruit a special team of "pray-ers" and involve this team in praying specifically and regularly for volunteers and for your volunteers . . . pray and ask God to send volunteers and then hold those volunteers up in prayer
  • commit to launch your ministry each Fall with time spent in prayer
  • schedule regular times of prayer to ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers and to hold your volunteers up in prayer
  • find a specific prayer partner for each volunteer so they are individually supported in prayer all year!
Matthew 9:36-38 - "36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” 

Dear God, I thank You for having compassion on us when you see how we are harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. The harvest is plentiful - there are so many children and families in our church and community, and the workers are few. Please send out workers into Your harvest field!" Thank You, Amen!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Christmas for an Orphan - Involve the Children and Families in Your Ministry!

Yesterday we took our grandson Josiah shopping to buy the gifts for his Christmas for an Orphan box . . . he wanted to fill a second box for his baby brother Caleb to send to another boy, so of course we agreed! Josiah picked out the toothbrush, toothpaste, bandaids, crayons, candy and of course HotWheel cars for his box! I have a few additional toys for him to include and today he will pack his boxes so Poppa can mail them tomorrow! 

We talked with Josiah about making a "bank" so over the coming year as he does special things to help his Poppa and I we will put money in his bank and then next year he will be able to use his own money to buy the things for his boxes so other children will receive gifts for Christmas! We will remind Josiah to pray for the children who receive his and Caleb's boxes so they will learn about how much Jesus loves them . . . this is the best gift they could ever receive!

This is such a simple project . . . perfect for the children and families in your church to participate in! Consider Putting Feet to Their Faith by involving the families and children in your ministry in filling Christmas for an Orphan boxes. Encourage parents and/or teachers/small group leaders to take their children them shopping for the things to fill their boxes and be sure to involve them in praying for the children who receive their boxes! Christmas is about giving . . . Jesus giving us real life and His amazing love and it's about us giving to others!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

How Do We Pray For Our Children's Ministry?

When it comes to praying for our children's ministry, I assume we all make it a regular part of our every day to spend time doing so, but what should we pray for and how do we pray? I have never found a "formula" for praying which really helped me pray. I tend to get "lost" in the "steps" . . . pray for this, then that and then the next thing just seems to be too "rote" for me. A number of years ago I heard a sermon by Dr. Ed Dobson - he was my dean of students during college and ended up the Senior Pastor at Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, MI. He was preaching on prayer and said if we personalize and pray Scripture it is one of the best ways for us to learn how to talk to God. I decided to give it a try and found he was right . . . at least for me! So, over the next few days, I'll be sharing some personalized Scripture prayers for children's ministry with you! The first prayer is a prayer for salvation . . . of course while we can not pray the prayer for salvation for a child, we can pray and ask God to make their hearts tender and open so they will choose to believe and be saved!

John 6:44-51 - "44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever."

Prayer - Dear God I thank You for drawing me to You and pray for the children in my church and community. I ask You to draw them to You. I thank You for teaching us so we can learn from You and come to You. I ask You to make the hearts of the children in this church and community tender so they will also be able to learn from You and come to You, too! Thank You for being our Bread of Life which has come down from Heaven! Thank You for bringing us eternal life when we believe in You! I pray for the children in this church and community and ask they will choose to believe in You so they will receive eternal life from You, too! Thank You, Amen!"

Friday, September 23, 2011

VeggieTales the Little Drummer Boy DVD!

I'm so delighted for the opportunity to share with you the new VeggieTale DVD which releases October 1st - the Little Drummer Boy! Veggies took the classic story of the Little Drummer Boy and added their "Veggie touch" by adding songs, fun and most importantly, a much-needed lesson we all need to hear!

In this story, Junior is hurt when he thinks his friends "ditched" him when they went caroling. He becomes angry, but Grandpa Grape encourages him with the truth, "sometimes people make mistakes and the best thing you can do is to forgive them." He then shares the story of the Little Drummer Boy with Junior, who learns, "every good story has some bumps along the way" and "when our hearts are filled with joy and love we are able to forgive those who hurt us." Veggies re-tells the story of the Little Drummer Boy with a strong emphasis on forgiving others - a message we all need to hear . . .  "Far more powerful than what any person could take away from him was the gift of love and forgiveness given to him the first Christmas morning! Because God forgives us - we can forgive others!" Talk with the children in your ministry about a time when they were hurt by someone. Help them understand when they make the choice to forgive, they are making the choice to show God's love and experience joy! Just as in this story Aaron and Junior made the choice to forgive, we can do the same!

"The Little Drummer Boy features a special version of the iconic “The Little Drummer Boy” song performed and recorded by Dove and Grammy Award-winning artists BeBe and CeCe Winans just for this episode, as well as the brand new Silly Songs, “The 8 Polish Foods of Christmas” and “Can’t Smile Without Ewe.”

"Additionally, Big Idea has teamed up with Christian Charity World Vision to provide gift-giving opportunities through World Vision’s Gift Catalog, offering families ways to teach their children about the joy of giving and helping others in need. More information about the partnership or to view the Gift Catalog can be found at" I love how VeggieTales provides real opportunities for us to help our grandchildren live out the truths of the messages in their stories . . . when the little drummer boy was willing to set aside his hurt and give to someone else, he received the best gift of all - love and forgiveness! Let's involve the children and families in our ministries in giving to others this Christmas . . . and World Vision's gift catalog is one excellent option!

I'm delighted to share free downloadable coloring pages with you from the Little Drummer Boy! Just follow these two links and print them out for the children and families in your ministry to enjoy! (You'll find two more links on my other blog  - grandma's cookie jar - for two additional free coloring pages).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Continuity . . . Connect the Children's Ministry With Your Church!

So . . . if you have paid attention to be sure all areas of your children's ministry connect so the Sunday, Midweek, Summer and other ministries have continuity and are taking the time to connect the children's ministry with the parent's ministry, the last area to connect with, is the other areas of your church. It is important for the entire church to know what is happening in the children's ministry. Consider the following . . . 

  • be sure your senior pastor is "on board" and knows what is happening in the children's ministry and shares from the pulpit on a regular basis the vision for the children's ministry along with the way it is impacting the lives of children and families and volunteers in your church
  • make time each month for volunteers so they are able to share with the entire church what is happening in their area of ministry, how they have been able to see God work in the lives of children and how it changes their lives to serve in the children's ministry
  • involve your children's ministry praise team - made up of children - in your "big" church praise time. Allow them to join your adult praise team at least once a quarter and give children an opportunity to share about what they are learning and how they have been able to live it in their lives
  • add a flier to your bulletin each week highlighting the things the children are learning each Sunday - encourage everyone in the church to take a moment and talk with a child to ask them what they are learning and how they lived it in their lives
  • pray, pray, pray - ask everyone to be praying for your children's ministry - for the children, the families and the volunteers!
These are just a few ideas, but whatever you decide to do, be sure to do something to help your entire church "catch" the vision for children's ministry and to "connect" everyone to the things which are happening in your children's ministry!

Denver and the Mile High Orchestra Groovy CD!

I'm extremely happy for the opportunity to share a new CD for your children's ministry and for the families in your church . . . Denver and the Mile High Orchestra - Groovy! I first saw this group on Go Fish Guy's 2010 VBS and am delighted to learn of their continued collaboration - they signed with gfk Records to make this CD. It is as Denver says, “'a really cool marriage,'” noting each group benefited from the other. 'They’re vocally driven; we’re instrumentally driven.' Plus they had more fun than grown men should be allowed to have, choosing songs from their own childhoods and writing new cuts for their new—if slightly shorter—audience." 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Continuity . . . Connect the Children's and Parent's Ministries!

So . . . you have a vision and purpose for your children's ministry and you are watching to be sure each part of your children's ministry connects to the others, but have you collaborated with the leaders of your parent's ministry to be sure the children's and parent's ministries connect and have continuity? Consider the following . . . 

  • Deuteronomy 6 is pretty clear about it being the parent's responsibility - and joy - to be the primary disciplers of their children. There is certainly a role for the church, but it is the parent's primary responsibility, so what do you do to be sure the parents know what their children are learning? Do you communicate regularly - or ever - with the parents?
  • Do you take time to be sure the parents know the scope and sequence of what their children will be learning?
  • Do you take time to help parents understand the materials their children bring home and how to incorporate it into their family's conversations throughout the week?
  • Do you have a unified curriculum so all ages of children learn the same lesson the same week - this makes it significantly easier for parents to continue the conversations at home throughout the week.
  • Do you give parents ideas of what to talk about with their children during the week?
Continuity is so important if we want to see lasting results in our children's ministry and this includes continuity with the parents. Think about what you can do to connect your children's and parent's ministries!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Continuity . . . No "Islands Unto Themselves"

Stop and think for a moment . . . do the various parts of your children's ministry "connect"? Do they compliment and reinforce one another or does each area "do their own thing"? If we are truly serious about being effective, then not only do we have to have a vision/plan for our children's ministry as a whole, but we have to be sure each area is connected to the other things we do in children's ministry. Consider the following . . . 

  • when you select curriculum, do you do so because the curriculum is something other churches use or because it provides the tools you need to be effective and "on-point" regarding the vision/purpose of your children's ministry?
  • do you pay attention to how each area of your children's ministry connects with the others . . . for example, does the children's church lesson build on and reinforce what the children learned/did in the Sunday school class? Does the mid-week teaching continue to build on what the children learned on Sunday with more focus on living what they learned? 
  • do you plan ahead so your summer ministry stays on-target with your vision/purpose? Do you evaluate summer curriculum and opportunities with a focus on how they will build on what you are teaching your children on Sunday?
These are just a few questions to get you thinking about continuity in your children's ministry. Be sure each area of your children's ministry connects with and reinforces what the others are doing so your overall ministry is focused and effective! Tomorrow we will think about how continuity needs to reach beyond the children's ministry so what the children and their parents both learn/do is connected.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Continuity . . .

Continuity . . . what is it? What does it look like in children's ministry? How do we have it? How do we know if we do not have it? These are important questions to think about . . . and find answers to. This week I'll be talking about continuity, for today . . . consider the following . . . 

  • do you know what the vision/purpose is for your children's ministry?
  • do you know what the vision/purpose is for your parent ministry?
  • do you know what the vision/purpose is for your family ministry?
  • do you have continuity between the different areas of your children's ministry?
  • do you have continuity between your children's, parent's and family ministries?
If you do not know your vision/purpose for your children's, parent's and family ministry, how can you move forward in any of these areas? You have to know what you want to accomplish if you are going to accomplish anything. If you do not know your vision/purpose for your children's, parent's and family ministry, how can you have any continuity? What are you doing in each area of your children's ministry, your parent's ministry and your family ministry? Do each of these areas have their own vision/purpose specific to each area, but still connect? They are separate areas of ministry, but if we are going to be genuinely effective in each, do they not have to have a continuity? What do you do to connect each of these ministries? They cannot just be "islands unto themselves". They have to connect. How do you connect them? I'll talk about this tomorrow.


I'm honored and delighted to say in addition to writing this blog, About the Children's Department and grandma's cookie jar, I'm now also writing for kidmin1124! My first article posted today - you'll find it at this link. I encourage you to add kidmin1124 to your list of favorite children's ministry sites - you will find - as they say on the kidmin1124 site, "information related to and relevant to the target audience - the kidmin community and to volunteers and bi-vocational children’s ministers. We hope to edify, instruct, teach, share and commiserate on issues important to those who work in children’s ministry and particularly issues relevant to volunteers and volunteering.  Ultimately though, as with all we do, are goal is to bring glory to God and assist in any way we can in reaching kids with the Gospel the Christ." 

If you are not familiar with kidmin1124, it was started by Wayne Stocks. He had "a hunch there were others like himself who felt torn between his “day job” and his passion for children’s ministry, Wayne started a facebook page for children’s ministry volunteers and bi-vocational children’s ministers.  Based on the success of this page, and discussions with others, they decided a blog such as Kidmin1124 would be a benefit to the kidmin community in general and to volunteers and bi-vocational ministers in particular."

"The name of this site is based on Proverbs 11:24 which says:

'One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.'
As volunteers and bi-vocational ministers, we give freely to God’s children, and we find  we are immeasurably blessed through this work far beyond whatever we give.  Even those who are in full-time vocational positions recognize the time devoted to children’s ministry far exceeds even other ministries.  Which is what this site is all about.  We aspire to give back to those who give so freely to God’s kids."

Thank you Wayne for allowing me to join your team of writers! Check kidmin1124 out - you'll be so glad you did! 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How Can We Be More Effective?

I've been enjoying the video clips with George Barna . . . they give me definite things to think about. Please take a moment to listen to this clip with George Barna as he talks about how the church can minister more effectively today . . . 

Then, consider the following -

  • what type of "Nuggets" do the children and families in our church go home with?
  • what are we doing to help children and families develop a Christian World View?
  • how can we treat children and families as individuals?
  • do we mentor or do we "mass produce"? how can we move to more of a mentoring model?
  • it is not all about the teacher - it is about the student - what does this look like in our ministries?
  • are we focusing on what really matters - the people?
How do you answer these questions for your ministry?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

This IS Job One . . .

I watched a video by George Barna today and want to share a few of the main points he makes . . . consider the following -
  • Children are THE most important mission field you as an adult will ever encounter!
  • Children are THE mission field God sent parents to win over for Him!
  • Nobody else can have the impact on kids a parent can have!
We all agree, children are the most important mission field in the world - and we agree parents have the most influence on their children and who they become, but as Barna said, "The problem is, parents surrender this impact to the world." We surrender children to -
  • the media for eight hours a day
  • the schools for six hours a day
  • the church for two hours a week

Who/What Influences Kids and How Does This Change Your Ministry?

Now, consider the following . . .
  • media - movies, television, books, internet and music are five powerful influences in our lives and in the lives of the children and families in our ministries 
  • the messages from these sources of media remain in our minds and heart and shape the way we think, believe and our behavior
Here's a question for you - how do we use media to communicate with the children and families in our ministries?
  • family and public policy also shape what we think, believe and how we behave
  • the typical church family has almost no spiritual life together - they may go to church together, but even there they separate and go to their "own" areas of the church for ministry
  • in the home where families spend the most time together, faith is not an essential part of their time together
Here's a few more questions for you - do these influences push us toward understanding, desiring and wanting to live for Christ and what does it take to really facilitate real Christian living? Do these questions require any changes in the way you approach children's ministry at your church? If so, how do these questions change what you are doing in your ministry?

VeggieTales - Bob Lends a Helping Hand

Bob Lends a Helping Hand DVD
If you have a series of lessons or a focus on helping in your children's ministry, consider this new DVD from Big Idea - "Bob Lends a Helping Hand" as a resource for your classrooms and to recommend to families in your church! This DVD has over 70 minutes of Veggie fun with their classic "Tomato Sawyer & Huckleberry Larry's Big River Rescue", "Lyle the Friendly Viking" and "Bob Lends a Helping Hand Sing-Along" all on one DVD!

Put Feet to Their Faith and Help Your Kids Give Other Christmas Memories!

Christmas memories! We all have wonderful Christmas memories from when we were children . . . it is part of the "wonderfulness" of Christmas! Each year in our children's ministries we spend considerable time deciding how to share the Good News of Jesus and give new Christmas memories to the children in our ministries.This year, take some time to talk with the children in your ministry and share some of your best memories with them. Ask them what they remember from previous Christmases and then remind them there are children around the world who will have their own Christmas memories because they, and others, are filling boxes with gifts to send for these children. Ask your kids if they have been thinking about the things they want to put in their Christmas for an Orphan boxes and have their Small Group Leaders/Teachers make plans to go shopping with them to get the items they need for their boxes.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Let's Let Our Actions Speak!!!

Yesterday I posted about how our actions speak louder than our words . . . today I'd like to consider how just a few actions can communicate our love so much better than any amount of words. Every church has children who have a difficult time "connecting" with other kids. What can we do to help these children feel like they genuinely belong? Consider the following -

  • first of all, be alert. Notice. Pay attention. Watch . . . we can not help a child if we have not been paying attention. Make it a priority to notice if a child tends to be excluded, sits alone, doesn't participate, attends sporadically. Notice. I can not say this enough . . . pay attention and NOTICE!
  • if you notice a child who seems to be left out, talk to their parents. Ask if they have any suggestions for how to help their child feel as if they belong.
  • find a prayer partner for this child - approach the "senior saints" in your church and get them involved in praying for children who are at risk of feeling unwanted. (by the way, it would be a great idea to have a prayer partner for each child in your ministry regardless of if they have trouble connecting or not)
  • talk with the child's small group shepherd/teacher and ask for their suggestions - encourage them to make a point to intentionally engage the child - have them visit the home with you to connect with the parents and child outside of class
  • approach key children in your ministry, challenge them to be watching for kids who may feel "left out" and help them think of ways to include these kids.
These are just a few suggestions, but do not do nothing. Commit to pay attention and notice and commit to let your actions speak!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Remember: Actions Speak Louder . . .

One of the pastors at my church posted a video link on his facebook yesterday about National Back to Church Sunday. It got me to thinking . . . 

  • what impact does it actualy make on children - and adults - when we say they are welcome, but our actions do not really back those words up?
  • what would a truly "honest" video about the actions of our church look like?
  • why should anyone really want to set foot inside our church?
  • I guess church isn't really for girly men! - At least I wouldn't want to say it was to the men in the video :^)
Seriously, what do our "actions" say about the type of church we are? It can be so very easy to say a person is "welcome" and we want them to "belong", but do our "actions" really show this? Consider the following -
  • if we really want children - and adults - to feel like they "belong" to our church, are we diligent about watching for the "cracks" people can "fall though"?
  • what do we do if we find a "crack"? - do we ignore it while it becomes the "grand canyon"?
  • are we serious enough about wanting our church to be a place where anyone and everyone can really belong to take a clear and honest look and then to act?
Remember: Actions speak louder than words!

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's Not Too Late . . .

Our new Fall ministries have begun, but did you take time to sit down with the parents and share your vision/purpose, the curriculum their children will be learning from and how they as parents will be able to continue the learning all week at home? If not, it isn't too late to do so! Consider the following -

  • schedule at least two dates in the next couple weeks for parents to sit with you and learn about what will be happening with their children at church - set aside one Sunday for adult classes to focus on this and one or two evenings during the week so parents are able to choose a time which best fits their schedule
  • get a mailing out sharing the info parents need to know
  • post on-line a copy of your mailing
  • make phone calls to be sure all parents know what will be happening with their children and most importantly, how they will be able to continue the learning at home
Parents are the ones who are primarily responsible for teaching their children about God and how to know and walk with Him, so it should be part of our "must-do" list each Fall to be sure we communicate very well with our parents. Equip them, help them know what to do to, "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." (Deuteronomy 6:7)

"Furious"; CD from Jeremy Riddle!

September 20th Jeremy Riddle releases his new CD - Furious. He says, "It’s hard to come up with words which depict the magnitude of Christ’s love – the depth and width of it. Furious doesn't work outside of the context of love; we tend to translate the word as angry, but I see it as a super-powerful force; stronger, deeper, broader than our vocabulary can fully describe."  In January 2011, the former jr. high youth pastor came on staff as worship community pastor at Bethel Church in Redding, California - the most beautiful place on the face of the earth (I lived in Redding for a few years) - where Jeremy facilitates a worship community of over 200 people within the church.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Put Feet to Their Faith With Christmas for an Orphan through WorldHelp!

If you are looking for a service project your kids can really understand and participate in whole heartedly, consider Christmas for an Orphan

  • Talk with your kids about the things they look forward to at Christmas - certainly receiving gifts will be one of the things they look forward to. 
  • Talk with them about how there are children around the world who will not receive gifts, unless others send them gifts. 
  • Ask them what they can do to earn money to buy gift items to send other children and organize your classes/small groups so they can earn money and then go shopping to purchase the items they need to fill their boxes.
  • Plan a box-filling party and be sure to spend time praying for the children who will receive the boxes - pray they will learn about the best Gift they could ever receive . . . Jesus!

Christmas for an Orphan is a wonderful opportunity for your kids to focus on what really matters at Christmas . . . sharing Jesus' love with others!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Calling All Parents, Grandparents and Other Interested People!

I've had a lot to say about children's ministry and if it matters, really matters in our churches. We may think it matters - and certainly want it to matter - but in far too many churches children's ministry is at "the bottom of the totem pole". Take a few minutes and watch this video clip from - be patient and watch all of it!

Children's ministry matters . . . for your child, grandchild and for all the other children in your church and community. When we just assume the leaders in our churches give children's ministry the vision, passion and priority it needs we may end up finding out they really didn't and we missed a key opportunity to reach children.

Watch this clip again and then ask your friends and family to do the same. Take out your pastors, elders and church leaders for a cup of coffee and ask them if they can tell you the vision, passion and plan your church has for the children's ministry. Ask them how they are measuring whether or not they are realizing their vision in the children's ministry. Ask them what their plan is to come alongside the parents and teach them to disciple their children. If you are a parent, do you feel like your church has equipped you to disciple your children? Talk to parents in your church and ask them if they have been equipped by the church. Go visit the children's classes and talk to volunteers. Talk to the children. Ask them what they learned and how they plan to live it in their lives. These are important questions. Don't assume you know the answers - be sure you do!

When the children's ministry fails to have the priority it needs, we will end up failing to reach our children and will not equip them to know how to live their faith in their every day lives. This is too great a price to pay. If you are a parent or grandparent you know this is too great a price to pay. Be sure your church leaders know the same.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ginny Owens - New CD "Get In, I'm Driving"

Get in I'm DrivingI'm delighted to share with you a new CD from Ginny Owens - "Get In, I'm Driving" which releases on September 13th! Ginny is a, "three-time Dove Award winner, including the Gospel Music Association’s 2000 New Artist of the Year recipient, and multiple ASCAP Award winner."

"Get In, I'm Driving" has eleven songs on it - each one has a powerful message and when it is combined with Ginny's bluesy-soulful, rich voice they become songs which are sure to end up on your personal "favorites" list! Just look at the chorus of one song, "Lay It Down" - Lay it down, - Everyone’s got a burden; - That’s just part of livin, - So take the one you’re given - And lay it down; - Don’t let it define you, - You’re not strong enough to - Carry that around - Go ahead and lay it down. Or, consider the lyrics to "Get In, I'm Driving" - I use to be afraid I’d never figure out - Who I was meant to be; what I should be about; - Guess you could say I was the square peg in a round hole - Seemed everyone else had a secret I didn’t know;- But as the time has passed I’ve come to understand, - God made them who they are - And He made me who I am - - So now I march to the beat of my own drum - Sing out the words to my own song, - Give thanks to the One Who gives me life; - Every day is like a new adventure, - I can almost hear Him whisper, - "If you wanna take the ride of your life then - C'mon, get in, I'm drivin." Powerful lyrics with messages we all need to hear! 
Check out Ginny's new CD - you will find the lyrics put in words the thoughts and questions you have and the music is wonderful! 

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."