Monday, October 31, 2011

What Does a Thankful Life Look Like?

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away . . . so of course, we all tend to think and talk about being thankful. Thankfulness; however; should be more than something we just think and talk about. What does a thankful life look like? We want the children in our ministries to live what they learn, so when it comes to being thankful, we want them to understand what a truly thankful life looks like when it is lived in their every day lives. Consider the following . . . 

  • first of all, a thankful person will voice their appreciation. When we are thankful, we do remember to take the time to say, "thank you!" My husband and I took our three year old grandson shopping. One of our stops was Sam's Club. As Josiah sampled some ice cream, he told the sample lady, "Thank you!". She said, "Wow! This little boy is the only person today who has said thank you!" Sadly, all too often, people do not say thank you. A thankful person will tell others "Thank you". If the children in your ministry have not learned to say "thank you", be sure to help them learn this most basic way to really be a thankful person. Showing good manners by saying "thank you" is more than just having good etiquette . . . it is about living and showing a "grace-filled" life! Check the Manners Mentor Blog for great information and resources for all you could ever need to know about manners!
  • a thankful person will also show their appreciation. If you only "say" you are thankful, but never "show" your appreciation, your "thanks" will not seem real. As just mentioned, be sure to say "thank you", but pay attention. Watch to see if there are opportunities for you to "show" your appreciation as well. If someone has helped you in the past and you see an opportunity to help them, it gives you the chance to show your appreciation when you do so. Plan opportunities for the children in your ministry to show their appreciation to others. For example, if a volunteer is ill, have the children in their group/class plan a way to do something for them - make cards, write notes, make soup, go to their home to rake leaves, shovel snow or even do the dishes. Help the children in your ministry learn to be people who not only "say" they are thankful, but rather are people who "show" they are thankful!
  • a thankful person will also become a giving person. When we are truly thankful for the many ways God blesses us, our thankfulness will overflow into the lives of others! Look for opportunities to "Put Feet to Their Faith" and equip the children in your ministry so they are people whose thankfulness overflows out of their lives and into the lives of others! When you involve your kids in projects to gather food for those in your church and community who are hungry or raise money so children around the world are able to have clean, safe water or any other service project, you are providing them opportunities to let their thankfulness flow into the lives of others!
A truly thankful life is one where saying and showing appreciation becomes second nature. As you enter this "thanksgiving season", be sure to focus on helping the children in your ministry understand what a truly thankful life looks like!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What Would Your Life Be Like Without God's Word?

For the past month I've been encouraging you to involve the children in your ministry in a project to help bring God's Word to the Mwinika people in Mozambique. Today I'd like to ask you to stop and think for a moment, what would your life be like if you didn't have a Bible? How would you know Who God Is? How would you find out how to know and walk with Him? Where would you turn for help, encouragement and answers? How would you find truth? What would your life be like without God's Word?

If you haven't already planned a project to Put Feet to Their Faith and involve the children in your ministry in raising money for the Mwinika Bible translation project with New Tribes Mission, take some time this week to decide how you will do so!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

CM Buzz . . . Bullying . . . Our Words & Attitudes Matter!

When you have a moment, please check an article I wrote for CM Buzz . . . Bullying . . . Our Words & Attitudes Matter and be sure to pay attention to your children's ministry - make sure the children know it is never acceptable for them to be unkind to others!

"Blessings in Disguise" and "Dehumanizing People" and the Children's Ministry

I have shared links to STRAIGHT4ward with Loretta Baughan in past posts and want to share two more with you today and ask a few questions for you to consider . . . 

First, in her post, Blessings in Disguise, Loretta powerfully wrote about what happens when a parent learns their "precious child or other family member is afflicted with a health problem can turn everyone’s life upside down. A parent’s natural reaction is to move heaven and earth in an effort to do whatever it takes to solve the problem… to make things better. But that’s not always possible." She goes on to share her own experience as a mother with children who are "special blessings from God". A true must-read for all of us.

Secondly, in her post, Dehumanizing People, Loretta writes about how, "In schools across the country, districts using GLENCOE Education in Sexualitytextbooks, are subverting some students’ Christian, Pro-Life values by introducing a grey area concept in what is, and should be, a black and white issue. In teacher-led discussion, the class analyzes three different viewpoints on abortion… yes, three: against, in favor, and what they call “A Third View”. Loretta clearly explains what this "third view" is and shows how dangerous it is. Again, another must-read for all of us.

Take a few minutes and read both of these posts and then consider the following . . . 

  • what message does your children's ministry really communicate about children who are these "special blessings from God"? Do you have a plan in place to warmly welcome, include and engage all children and their families in your ministry? When you do not have a plan in place to do so, you communicate the message these children are not valued.
  • do you have a plan in place to come alongside parents who have children with special needs so you are able to offer support, encouragement and practical assistance to them and their families? Read again what the pastor in Loretta's account said to her . . . and see how it impacted her life. How can you be used of God to encourage a parent in need of such encouragement?
  • how do you communicate to children - from the youngest ages - all of us are loved and valued by God? What do you do to help children grow up with a tender heart for others so they have the ability to show patience, love and concern for those who society may deem less valuable? How do you equip children with the truth so they are able to discern the lies they will be taught and have the strength to take a stand against them?
We need to say children who are "special blessings from God" are valued in our churches . . . and then take the steps to show it by the way we act and live!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Check Out Kidmin1124 . . . I Wrote About - Trust . . . Takes Seconds to Break, Forever to Repair

For the past couple weeks I've been posting about Trust on Kidmin 1124 . . . please take a moment to read my post, Trust . . . Takes Seconds to Break, Forever to Repair. Please take a moment to follow the link and read some ideas on how to begin the long road to repairing trust.

Let's Pray So Our Children Grow in Jesus and Come to Know and Walk With Him!

All week I've been posting about doing the most important thing . . . praying for "eyes to be open" in our children's ministry. So . . . today I'm sharing another prayer for the children in your children's ministry - let's pray 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."

Brittany Hargest, Love All the Way!

There are many great music options available for Christian families to enjoy and sing together, but as children get older, they may want to look for music with less of a "child focus" and sound, so what music can you recommend to these families in your ministry? I'm happy to share with you a new release from Brittany Hargest . . . Love All the Way!  Brittany originally was part of the group, Jump5, and this is her debut album which, "combines club beats with lyrics that communicate the hope, love and acceptance which are found in knowing Christ."

The ten songs on this album will have children and families singing and dancing, and most importantly, provide opportunities for families to talk about the important messages in the songs. Such as in the song, Love All the Way, - look at these lyrics, "God's love can't be tamed - He says He will never change the way love stays the same - God loves all the way!" This song alone will give families weeks of important conversations!

My personal favorite song on the album is "Miracle" - look at some of the lyrics, "Hard to breathe, life's suffocating me, grounded with broken wings, I'm on my knees today . . . but You see a miracle You see something beautiful when You look at me, see what I could be You call me one of Yours . . . so help me be everything that You see even when I just don't believe". Powerful!

And the song, You Met Me . .  . "You met me in spite of my shame You called my name You met me!" All of us want our children to know God met us in spite of our sin and He calls our names!  You can listen to a clip of each song by checking this link.

Thank you for reading About the Children's Department - please share this blog with the people you know!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pray for Eyes to be Open and for Children to be Drawn to God!

I've been posting this week about making prayer the first thing we do in our ministries. I've shared a sermon by Dr. Jim Samra on prayer and how we need to pray for our "eyes to be open", but what else 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, today I'll once again I'd like to share 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!"

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What Do I Need to "See"?

For the past few days I've been encouraging you to take 26 minutes to listen to a sermon by Dr. Jim Samra of Calvary Church, Grand Rapids, MI . . . if you have not listened to it yet, you can do so by following this link. Dr. Samra said while "imparting information" is important in our ministries, it is most important for us to pray for "eyes to be opened". He is right.

In our ministries we "impart" a lot of "information". We teach Bible lessons, we train volunteers, we encourage parents . . . we "impart" a lot of "information". But, do we focus on asking God to "open eyes"? What are some things we need to have our eyes . . . and the eyes of children, parents and volunteers . . . opened? Consider the following . . . 

All or our eyes need to be open so . . . 
  • we are able to "see" and know God!
  • we are able to "see" the things in our lives which keep us from walking with God.
  • we are able to "see" where God is leading in our lives!
In addition, the children in our ministries need their eyes to be open so . . . 
  • they are able to "see" and respond to God's love!
  • they are able to "see" how to grow in their walk with God!
In addition, the parents in our ministries need their eyes to be open so . . . 

  • they are able to "see" how to lead and disciple their children
  • they are able to "see" how to make wise decisions as parents
In addition, the volunteers in our ministries need their eyes to be open so . . .
  • they are able to "see" how to connect with the children in their groups/classes
And finally, in addition, I need my eyes open so . . . 
  • I am able to "see" each child, parent and volunteer in my ministry and how God wants me to impact their lives!
What do you need your "eyes" to be "opened" so you are able to "see"?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Make Prayer THE Priority!

Yesterday I posted about a sermon from Dr. Jim Samra - if you didn't listen to it, please check this link and take 26 minutes and 48 seconds to do so . . . you'll be glad you did!

So, Dr. Samra said we need to do the most important thing . . . pray. Yes, teaching the Bible - giving information - is important, but the first thing we need to do is pray. Do you pray, really pray, before you do anything else in your ministry? It can be far too easy to just go about the work of the ministry and plan, organize, train, prepare, teach . . . all without really spending time in prayer. Consider the following ways to make prayer not just A top priority in your ministry, but THE top priority . . . 
  • make prayer the first thing you do in your personal life before you begin to "work" on any part of ministry.
  • recruit a team of "pray-ers" - people who will commit to pray regularly . . . and make it the priority for you to pray with them for your ministry, for the children and families in your ministry and for your volunteers
  • always begin and end each and every meeting you have with prayer
  • do as Dr. Samra mentioned . . . have a team of people who pray during Sunday School, Children's church, mid-week and any other ministry opportunity for "eyes to be opened"
Pray. Don't just talk about praying, but really pray. Make this your prayer . . . 

"Dear God, on this day as I see the 'armies' which surround the children, families, volunteers in this church . . . and the armies which surround my own life, please help me to 'not be afraid'! Please 'open my eyes' so I am able to see, 'Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' Please open the eyes of the children so they will see You! Please open the eyes of the families so they will see You! Please open the eyes of the volunteers so they will see You! Thank You, Amen!"

Monday, October 24, 2011

"Open Our Eyes"

In our children's ministries . . . and in our own lives . . . what causes the "lights go turn on"??? How does God's Word move from the head to the heart??? How does God's Word move from being "words on a page to something which stirs our soul and becomes real to us"??? I listened to Dr. Jim Samra from Calvary Church, Grand Rapids, MI preach on this yesterday . . . he calls us to consider the following from Ephesians 1:15-23 . . . 

  • we need to not be interested in simply providing information transfer - instead, we want God's Word to "sink into our souls" for the "light to go on"
  • God wants us to "know Him better" so the "eyes of our heart might be enlightened"
  • know . . . the hope to which He has called us - the hope of His calling . . . the hope of God calling us - we have an amazing future awaiting us!
  • know . . . "the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints" - it is God's glorious inheritance! We are God's inheritance! We are God's prized possession - what He most wants in life!
  • see . . . "His incomparably great power for us who believe" - God has the incomparably great power to give us life!
  • Paul says prayer is the most important thing . . . "I keep asking God to give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation so you will know Him better!" 
  • II Kings 6:14-17 - "Don't be afraid. those who are with us are more than those who are with them." "Open his eyes so he may see!"  The army is already there!
  • Our eyes need to be open so we can know the hope to which God has called us, how much He loves us and how great His power is - if we could just have our eyes opened!
  • we need to pray for eyes to be opened . . . this is the most important prayer!
  • simply giving out information is not the point . . . pray, pray, pray for God to open their eyes and let them see!
  • prayer is the most important thing because nothing happens until God opens our eyes so we can see!
So, as you listen to this message and think through these points, ask yourself what you can do to make prayer be the most important thing in your ministry and in your life. I'll be posting about prayer all week . . . remember, prayer is the most important thing! We need to pray and ask God to "open our eyes" and to "open the eyes" of the children in our ministries!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Put Feet to Their Faith With a Project to Bring God's Word to the Mwinika People in Mozambique!

For the past month I've been sharing a project you could involve the children in your ministry in to help bring God's Word to the Mwinika people in Mozambique. "More than 200,000 Mwinika people live in Mozambique. A team of NTM missionaries has begun teaching evangelistic Bible lessons and church-planting but lacks necessary funds to move forward with Scripture translation. The missionary team has prepared the groundwork for translating the Scriptures into the Mwinika language. The translation project will extend over the next 15 years including printing of the Old and New Testaments and continuing translation and literacy preparation work. You can be a part of reaching the Mwinika people with the Gospel of grace. Helping to fund the translation project will ensure that further generations of Mwinika people will be able to read the Scriptures and grow in the knowledge of God through your provision."

You can involve your kids in this project by helping them raise money to send to New Tribes Mission for this project. Consider the following ideas for raising money . . . 
  • have children make bookmarks with their favorite Bible verses and then sell them and give the money to this project - you could print the verse in a different language, such as Russian - 16Ибо так возлюбил Бог мир, что отдал Сына Своего Единородного, дабы всякий верующий в Него, не погиб, но имел жизнь вечную. - and then have the kids write it in English.
  • have the children make pictures showing people learning God's Word, make your own "art gallery" and then have a "showing" where people can "bid" on the art work. Donate the money raised to this project.
  • involve the children in learning verses and Bible praise songs and put together a "show". Sell tickets and donate the money raised to this project.
These are just a few ideas . . . what can you think of to help your kids raise money for this project and "Put Feet to Their Faith"?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"Dear Mr. Jesus . . . " & Some Excellent Resources on Child Abuse

Child abuse. It is one of the things which most clearly shows our world is "broken". It is something which I'm absolutely sure breaks the heart of Jesus. Sadly, it is something we see all too often in children's ministry. Wayne Stocks, the guy who brings us Kidmin1124 and Divorce Ministry 4 Kids, has posted some excellent resources on child abuse . . . take some time to read and put them to use in your ministry . . . 

We need to know what to watch for and what to do when we suspect a child is being harmed. These resources will help us do exactly this. Thank you Wayne for providing these much needed tools.

Take a moment to watch this video, "Dear Mr. Jesus" and commit to do what you can to protect children. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fathers Matter . . . How Do We Translate This to Children's Ministry?

I watched a short clip on YouTube today about how fathers matter to a child's education. Take a moment to watch it and then consider the questions below . . . 

So, if . . . 
  • a father is a top influencer in a child's education, isn't it reasonable to conclude a father is a top influencer in a child's spiritual growth???
  • a father's one point increase in his involvement in parenting resulted in a four point increase in a child's academic test scores, isn't it reasonable to conclude if a father even slightly increases his involvement in discipling his child it would increase the child's spiritual growth???
  • fathers are the second most influential person in inspiring a child to read, isn't it reasonable to conclude a father is highly important in inspiring their child to read the Bible???
  • fathers read, their children will want to read, so isn't it reasonable to conclude if a father spends time reading his Bible, his children will want to read their Bibles???
  • the frequency a father reads the Bible to their 1 to 2 year olds is linked with their greater interest in books later in life, isn't it reasonable to conclude if a father spends time reading the Bible to his very young children, they will have a greater interest in the Bible later in life???
  • how fathers spend their time with kids today directly impacts how they will behave in the future, isn't it reasonable to conclude if fathers spend time with his kids today, they will have a greater interest in God in the future???
So . . . how do we get dads to engage and take spiritual leadership of their children today? Consider the following . . . 
  • realize while we certainly have a role in the discipling of children, we can not have the impact on children their own dads can have
  • share this information with the dads - if most of them knew these things, most of them would take their role as dad more seriously
  • provide opportunities for dads to be equipped - give them the tools they need and the confidence to use them
  • pray, pray and pray some more . . . pray for and with dads

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Please Check Out CMBuzz for a Post on Showing Love So It Is Felt!

I'm honored for the opportunity to join the CM Buzz writing team . . . please check my post on "How Do We Spell Love in Our Children's Ministries?" and pick at least one or two things you will do so the children, volunteers and parents in your ministry will "feel" it!

Ed's Story, It's Our Story . . .

When I was in college, more than a few years ago :^), Dr. Ed Dobson was the Dean of Students. One of the best things about college was being able to listen to him preach on Sunday nights! Because there were so many students, we were told if our last names began with the letter A - L we were able to go to the regular evening church service. If however, our name began with M - Z we "had" to go to the old auditorium and listen to the Dean preach. The following week it switched off so every other week we "got" to go to the regular service. The Dean was preaching on the Book of Philippians . . . we all wanted to hear him, so we would get there hours before the service began so we could stay to hear him. It became who "got" to hear the Dean and who "had" to go to the regular service!

I'm from West Michigan, and eventually Dr. Dobson became the Sr. Pastor of Calvary Church . . . I loved to watch him on TV! He could teach God's Word in a way which was so understandable and so applicable and so real! Eleven years ago he was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) He was given 2 to 5 years to live. He is still alive today, and is releasing a video series we all need to see! Take a few minutes to watch the first video, It Ain't Over - be sure to view the reflection guide, too. Think about what he has to say as it applies to your own life. Think about it as it applies to families and volunteers in your ministry. What can you do, what can you say when they have difficult times in their lives?

Too often we end up with the same, tired, "pat" answers. Dr. Dobson is real. Take time to consider and know how you would respond in these kinds of situations so when they happen . . . and they will happen . . . you are ready. As they say at "Ed's Story" . . . Ed's story, it's our story.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Anything - Love = Nothing

Do you ever listen to sermons from pastors at churches you do not attend? I like to listen to sermons from the pastors at Calvary Church, Grand Rapids, MI . . . especially when the weather gets cold and I'm stuck at home on Sundays. This past Sunday I listened to a sermon by Dr. Jim Samra on I Corinthians 13 - Think. Love. Live. Love Never Ends. Take 33 minutes and seven seconds to listen to this sermon . . . you will be so glad you did!

There! Did you listen to it? If not, please do!

Okay, now, a few thoughts . . . 
  • do you do what you do in cm with love, or are you just being a cymbal - just making noise?
  • no matter what we do if it is without love, it is nothing . . . even if the world tells us we are amazing.
  • love is absolutely essential!
  • anything - love = nothing!
  • there is a way to do acts of love, without love . . . so what is love?
  • what love is like . . . love is patient . . . love is kind . . . love is patient kindness or kindness which never quits or gives up! Seek other's interest above our own!
  • continuing kindness which goes on and on and on - gives without expecting to get anything back like God gives to us - this is what we give to others
  • love in relation to ourselves . . . does not envy, it is content . . . does not boast . . . is not proud . . . is not rude, does not draw attention to themselves . . . is not self-seeking . . . love is not about me!
  • love orients itself around other people
  • love in relation to others . . . love is not easily angered . . . love is the choice not to become angry with others . . . love keeps no record of wrongs . . . love is a choice to throw those files away!!! . . . love does not to rejoice when others stumble
  • love chooses to live in the present and not in the past
  • love does not ignore sin or call right wrong, but love rejoices in the truth God confronts us with the truth and love rejoices in God's grace and He is Good and none of us are!
  • love in relation to God . . . love bears all things, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres  - love is the choice to still bless God in the midst of our difficulties when we do not see or understand, the choice to say God is Good, God is Faithful! Never give up believing!
  • Love is a decision! 
  • Love never fails, love wins, because love is the only thing which will last!
  • Love is what will last forever because God is Love!
When we love like I Corinthians shows, we are being who God wants us to be . . . Christ-like! To be like Christ is to love. Remember anything - love = nothing, so in children's ministry remember . . . 
  • the thing which matters the most and which will last is love
  • we need to do what we do because of love and with love, for no other reason
What will you do today and this week because of and with love?

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Boil the Frog Slowly . . ." Check this New Post from Loretta Baughan!

If you have not taken the opportunity to check out STRAIGHT4ward with Loretta Baughan, please take a moment to do so. Loretta's most recent post - "Boil the Frog Slowly: Staking Claims on the Next Generation" will give you many things to think about. 

As you read it, thank about how we might do this same thing in the church . . . 

  • Do we tend to give the impression to parents that they need us to teach their kids? 
  • Do parents tend to relinquish the role of primary discipler of children to their church? 
  • If so, why? 
  • How can we better equip parents so they are the primary discipler of their children?

Read Loretta's post - it will give you much to think about!

Please Check Out Kidmin1124 - My New Post is About Trust . . .

I'm so honored for the opportunity to be part of the Kidmin1124 writing team. If you have not yet checked out Kidmin1124, please take a moment to do so. You'll find a wealth of resources from a variety of writers all geared towards helping, "those who freely give of their time to God's kids!"

My new post is on trust . . . "Trust . . . Takes Years to Build . . . " When you have a moment, please check it out!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Put Feet to Their Faith and Involve Your Kids in a Project to Bring God's Word to the Mwinika People!

My Put Feet to Their Faith ministry focus and project for the month of October is the New Tribes Mission work to translate the Bible into the language of the Mwinika people in Mozambique. Look at some of the reports about how this work is progressing . . . 

The Mwinika people are coming to understand their hearts must change. One man spoke of this - “Loudly he proclaimed: ‘What is on the inside counts more than what is on the outside. God looks at our hearts, not at how many times I go to my [religious gathering place]. What does it help if I go often to pray, but while I am there I am thinking bad thoughts? God knows my thoughts! My heart must change and follow God’s ways.’”

"Because attendance at the literacy classes has sharply declined, the missionary, Francois, took the opportunity to help the Mwinikas understand how important it is to be able to read their heart language. He opened the Old Testament written in Hebrew and told the group, 'This is the Word of God and it was written in its original language.' He explained this in terms used by the traditional religion most of the Mwinika people follow and everyone was very interested. They gathered around to see if they could read Hebrew. But no one could. Then Francois held a copy of Genesis 5:3-5 in Arabic. The local leader took the text and was able to recite it in a singsong voice, but no one understood the words, not even the one who recited them because he had no idea what they meant. Everyone agreed: they did not understand the Hebrew or Arabic language.
Then one of the Mwinikas, Salimo, picked up the Scriptures in Mwinika and began reading Genesis 5:3-5. Big smiles broke out among the crowd. 'Yes, we understand this!' People began to understand God wanted to speak to them in their own language and the missionaries had come to bring them God's message."
What can you do to involve the children in your ministry in raising money for the translation of the Bible into the Mwinika language so they are able to hear and understand God's message?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Aim A Little Lower . . . Where Are You Aiming?

As you think about children's ministry and the vision your church has for children's ministry, take a few minutes to watch this clip from 2fish5bread . . . 

Aim lower! Think smaller! Give Up! Go have a cup of coffee!

What can you do to help your church catch a vision for "aiming lower"? Consider a few of these ideas . . . 

  • show this video clip to your church and start the conversation
  • allow children to share with the church what they are learning and how they are living what they are learning in their every day lives
  • highlight a volunteer and a child in each church newsletter to share with the church all the amazing things which are happening in your children's ministry
These are just a few ideas . . . what will you do to "Aim Lower"?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Be So Very Careful . . . Don't Be A "Sponge"!

When we serve in children's ministry - or any area of the church - it can become very easy for us to accept the kindness of others . . . 

  • a kind word to lift our spirits when we are tired - don't you typically have at least one person who speaks kindly to you each week?
  • free babysitting
  • invitations for dinner
  • gift cards, meals, books, other gifts
  • prayers by the people in the church
Children's ministry can be hard work, so it is nice when people in the church appreciate what you do; but do you make it a point to return the kindness shown to you? Consider the following . . . 
  • do you look for opportunities to lift other's spirit with a kind word?
  • do you notice if someone is sick and place a phone call - or at least send an email to let them know they were missed and you are praying?
  • do you send a meal - or even a part of a meal - when someone else is experiencing a difficult time?
  • do you return invitations for dinner and invite people to your home?
Don't use the excuse of "pace of life" - we all have a "pace of life" and we are all busy, but we all make time for the people and things which are important to us. Don't be a "sponge" - taking in the kindness of others, but not giving it back out. Be so very careful to share generously with others what you have been blessed with!

Where Does Your Church List Children's Ministry In It's List of Top Priorities?

Do you know where children's ministry "rates" on your church's list of top priorities? If you were to ask the leaders of your church, where would the rate children's ministry? Where would parents rate children's ministry? Do you know where grandparents rate children's ministry on your church's list of top priorities? Take a moment to watch this video . . . 

Ask the people in your church where they rate children's ministry on your church's list of top priorities then hare this video with them. After they watch it, ask them again where they rate children's ministry and make a plan to be sure children's ministry is a top priority at your church!

In Your Busyness, Don't Forget to Pay Attention!

There are so many things to do in children's ministry on a Sunday and Wednesday . . . be sure we have our curriculum ready, all volunteers present and accounted for, supplies ready to go, people ready to help visitors and the list goes on and on. While there are so many things to do, don't forget to pay attention. Children and families may have needs they won't voice, so be sure to pay attention to the following things . . . 

  • as the weather gets cooler, do you have children showing up in clothes which are not appropriate for the season? Do they have coats, mittens, scarves, sweaters, sweatshirts, shoes, socks, etc? Do the clothes they wear fit? Are they worn out? Pay attention to these things because if a child shows up in summer clothes or missing warm weather items, it may mean their family needs help.
  • do you have children who are too skinny? When you serve snacks do they practically "inhale" the food or tuck it in their pockets to take home? As the cooler weather arrives parents may have higher utility bills and have to skimp on other areas of their budget and children may be hungry as a result of this. 
  • when you have special events which cost money to participate, do children from the same families never participate? It could be the family just doesn't have the budget for extras of any kind.
Some families will not ask for help, but if you are paying attention, you will be able to see which families may be in some level of distress. Consider the following ways you could help . . . 
  • regularly make it known if families are in need they are welcome to let you know - so many families struggle in this economy and many need a little help.
  • if you have families who are hesitant to ask for help, approach them and ask them to help you set up and run a clothes closet and food pantry. If they are able to do something to "earn" these items, they may feel less embarrassed at needing help.
  • always provide a way for children to "earn" at least part of what they need for special events - you could even require all children to "earn" part of their cost for events so all children are doing this. Find families in your church who are able to help others and ask them to sponsor children who otherwise would not be able to participate. 
These are just a few ideas, but whatever you do, be sure to pay attention and have a plan for what you will do when you see families in need in your ministry.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Check Out Kidmin1124 . . . Loving God and Others is an Essential Part of Real Worship!

I'm honored and delighted to be able to be part of the Kidmin1124 writing team and have finished my posts on real worship. I've been writing about this for the past three weeks - today you'll find my post - Loving God and Others is an Essential Part of Real Worship. Please check it out and be sure to check all the great resources on Kidmin1124!

Surf's Up! Children's Ministry Resources Around the Web . . . STRAIGHT4ward with Loretta Baughan!

Okay, first of all, STRAIGHT4ward with Loretta Baughan isn't "technically" a children's ministry blog and secondly my sister is Loretta Baughan, but this is absolutely a blog well worth adding to your list of must-read blogs! Loretta writes this blog because, "Life is full of twists and turns, triumphs and pitfalls, ups and downs. This blog and the coming podcasts will attempt to tackle issues confronting modern-day families, from the perspective of a Christian conservative, straight-talking mom. "

Loretta posted yesterday, October 10th, about how all children are precious in Jesus' sight and this post, and corresponding podcast is one well worth the 30 minutes it will take to listen as Loretta shares about exceptionally challenged children, genetic research, abortion, how we are all created with a purpose and a parent's love. If we are going to be effective in children's ministry and  be able to serve and engage all children and families, what Loretta has to say is of utmost importance. 

Loretta's blog will be highly informative, eye-opening and will help you have a heart for some of God's most special people . . . and will challenge you to do all you can to be inclusive in your children's ministry for exceptionally challenged children and their families! Thank you Loretta for this blog, it will hep us all understand better and be better informed!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Children's Ministry Matters Today!

I saw this video clip on 2fish5bread's website and on CM Connect and wanted to share it with all of you. Take a few minutes to watch and then share it with the leaders, parents, grandparents, church leaders and other interested people in your church.

We need to ask ourselves what is most important to us. Where do we want to see our church focus it's energy, time, people and finances? In our churches our first staff hire is obviously for a senior pastor. The next hire in most churches is for a youth pastor, but really, after that shouldn't we be turning our vision, passion, plan and priority to the children's ministry? In far too many churches the third hire is for someone to lead music. Don't get me wrong, I understand music can be an effective way to lead people in praising God, but when 43% of people make the decision to follow Jesus before the age of 13 how can we put music ahead of the children?

Think about it parents, grandparents, church leaders and anyone who cares about children. What matters the most? Does singing matter most or does being sure the children understand God's gift of forgiveness and how to know and walk with Him their entire lives? Does it matter the most we have opportunities for adults or that families are a priority and the church is equipping parents to raise their children to know and love God? What matters the most? Parents in 20 years will you care what the music was like or will you care more if your children were reached, discipled and your family learned how to be strong?

Where is the priority in your church? Is there a vision, passion, plan and priority on children and families which is obvious to all? Are the parents being actively equipped to be the primary disciplers of their children? Is the children's ministry a visible part of the church? Is it held up before the people as a vital and important part of the church? Does your children's ministry extend beyond Sunday morning, Wednesday night and one week in the summer? These are important questions to ask. 

Children's ministry matters and the price is too high to pay when it doesn't have the vision, passion, plan and priority in our churches that it needs to have.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Can Manners Help Us Be Real in How We Interact With Children, Volunteers and Parents?

Maralee McKee is the Manners Mentor and she speaks and writes about manners. On her blog, the Manners Mentor, she has a post about how to be Real and Polite. In it she says there are those who believe moms no longer care about manners; they say manners are a dead issue. Do you believe manners are something we no longer care about?

Maralee says, " Etiquette and manners are two different things. They tend to be lumped together. To be understood, they must be separated." She says, "Manners are the language of our truest self. Their foundation is anchored in our heart. They can’t be faked. Kind manners are our regard for the feelings and comfort of others. Manners are the hidden fruit  our spirit yields. Hopefully it includes a healthy crop of kindness, gentleness, self-control, patience… the list continues. Don’t be fooled; when expressed properly, manners never cause us to become a doormat. Instead, we’re a beacon in an unsteady world.

Maralee says, manners are . . . " a virtue, and like any virtue it’s never too late to acquire it for ourselves. How to add a virtue?
  •  First prayerfully desire it;
  •  second practice it until it becomes the rule instead of the exception in your interactions. 
Once grounded in your heart, it becomes an attribute and no longer a mask."

Maralee goes on to talk about Etiquette - it's value and importance. Read her entire post at this link, and while you are at it, take a moment to "like" her blog on facebook so you are able to receive her daily manners moments! And notice the link between manners and the Fruit of the Spirit! If we are living each day making the intentional choice to show the Fruit in our everyday interactions with others, we will be people who treat others with grace!

As we work with those in our children's ministries, lets model how to be "real" and help them learn to show regard for the feeling and comfort of others by the manners they have so they are able to become a beacon to their world!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Involve Your Kids in Bringing God's Word to the Mwinika People - Put Feet to Their Faith!

There are people around the world who do not have Bibles in their language . . . this fact may be difficult for the children in your ministry to understand since they likely have more than one Bible in their home. Consider the following activity - 
  • gather your children together and collect all their Bibles - place the Bibles in a box and set it aside.
  • give the children pages you printed with John 3:16 in other languages - follow these links for Chinese, Swahili, Albanian and Arabic)
  • ask your children if they can read the Bible verse on their pages, then talk with them about how they would feel if the only Bibles they could ever see were in these languages. Ask them how they think they'd be able to learn about God and His love and grace if their only Bibles were in these languages.
Other than having someone tell us about God, we can not have any way to learn to know and walk with God without having a Bible in our own language. This is the case with the Mwinika people in Mozambique. Check this link for a report about translating the Bible into Mwinkia from New Tribes Missionary Phil Henderson and share this account with the children in your ministry. Talk with them about what they can do to raise money to help fund the Mwinika Bible and spend time praying for the translators so they will have wisdom and clarity in translating the Bible and the Mwinika people so they will be able to learn of God and His love and grace!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

How Do I "Shift" My Church's "Resource Base" to "Change the World"?

The other day I posted a video clip of George Barna asking an important question - "Do you need to shift your "resource base" from "maintenance" to "changing the world in ways you've never seen in your lifetime"? So . . . how can we tell if we need to shift our resources in our church and what does it mean to shift our resource base and how might we do this? Consider the following -

First of all, does my church need to shift it's resources?
  • If the children's ministry is mostly "out of sight" of the church, you may very well need to "shift" your resources.
  • If the people in your church - including church leaders - are not able to share with others the vision for your children's ministry, you may very well need to "shift" your resources.
  • If your children's ministry is not a place where children want to be, you may very well need to "shift" your resources.

Secondly, what does it mean to shift your resource base?
  • Take a serious and honest look at where you spend your resource of money - budgets are tight, but take a close look at where you spend money and honestly evaluate as to if the money is being spent in the most effective manner. If a program/expense is not really needed or not really effective, then seriously consider what you might do instead with this resource to reach children and "change the world"!
  • Take a serious and honest look at where you spend your resource of people/volunteers - we need people to accomplish the things we want to accomplish in our ministries. We can only ask so much of people - we are all busy with work, families, and all the other things we do, so you need to know what the people/volunteers are doing in our church and what do we need them to do?
  • Take a serious and honest look at where you spend your resource of time - we only have so many hours available each week . . . what do we do with these hours? What ministry opportunities do we offer to children and families? What would we like to offer? 
Finally, how can we shift our resource base? Clearly if you want people to see the value of children's ministry, you have to be firmly convinced of it's value yourself. How do you communicate it's value to those in your ministry? Consider the impact it could have on your ministry and on your ability to "change the world" if you were able to get the people in your church to refocus their attention on the value of the children's ministry. If they were able to "catch" your vision for the children and families how might this change everything? For one thing, they might become involved, and if they are involved in serving children and families, wouldn't they grow in ways they might never with some of the other things you are currently doing? Shifting your "resource base" from "maintenance" to "changing the world in ways you've never seen in your lifetime" does not have to come at the "cost" of other areas of your ministry . . . it can instead breathe new life into your church as a whole! What will you do to "shift" your focus?

Join me tonight on CM Connect Blog Talk Radio for the Kidmin1124 Radio Show at 9pm (eastern) - you can join in the conversation on the CM Connect Chat Room! We will be talking about vision and how to form a cohesive vision . . . which  is essential if we are really going to have a children's ministry which changes the world!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Kidmin1124 Radio Show - How Do I Form a Cohesive Vision?

Please mark your calenders and plan to tune in to the Kidmin1124 Radio Show Thursday, October 6th from 9pm to 10pm (Eastern) for a discussion on forming a cohesive vision. I've been invited to be part of the panel and look forward to interacting with you through the CM Connect Chat Room on this important topic! We'll be talking about the following questions -
  • What does a cohesive vision for children's ministry look like?  
  • How does it interact with student ministry and young adult ministry?  
  • What is the principal role of the church in the spiritual nurturing of kids?  
  • How do I figure out what my vision is?  
  • Is my vision biblical?  
  • How do I get others excited about my vision?
"The word vision is thrown around all the time in children's ministry cirlces these days, join the team from Kidmin1124 as we talk in practical terms about what a children's ministry vision is and how it should look."