Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"No Cookie-Cutter Children's Ministries"

Hello! Today we are going to take a quick look at the subject of curriculum . . . next week we will spend the week looking at the different types of curriculum and how to choose one that will be the best "fit" for your ministry.  You can depend on "About the Children's Department" to help you find and review curriculum and resources for your children's ministry.  

 If you are reading this post you are likely a children’s ministry worker - possibly part of a paid staff at your church, but more likely a volunteer with a heart for effective children’s ministry!  You read books, blogs, attend conferences and try to get all the “ingredients” right and yet, your children’s ministry does not look like the children’s ministries you read and hear about.  You see churches around the world where their children’s ministries are alive and growing and you look at your church and wonder how to get there.  You try to implement the things you have learned and while some of it may work, you are often left wondering why your ministry doesn’t look like what you’ve read and heard about.

There is a very good reason for that - there are no cookie-cutter children’s ministries.  What works in one church, may or may not work in another.  And, while there are components that are essential for every children’s ministry to be effective, there is no “secret recipe” where if you make sure you include each ingredient, you will be guaranteed an effective children’s ministry.

I enjoy cooking and discovering new recipes is so much fun for me!  I know if I find a recipe, I may like it exactly as it is, but I will probably need to change this, add that or take away something else.  For example, when I was a child my grandma made the most amazing sour cream cookies.  They were easily six to eight inches across.  She always put one raisin in the middle of each cookie - which I quickly removed before eating.  I make the same cookie, but put a dried blueberry in the middle of each of my cookies and absolutely love them!  Children’s ministry is like cooking.  Take a recipe, but be willing to replace ingredients that don’t work with ones that will make your ministry more effective for your church.

There are several "main ingredients" for effective children's ministry - such as developing your children’s ministry purpose/vision and understanding your church's history, community and culture which we will look at next week. Once you know these "ingredients", then you are ready to select a curriculum that will provide the most effective tools to help your church genuinely engage and teach children. Keep in mind, you are not teaching a particular curriculum. You are teaching the Bible. Curriculum is simply a tool to help you engage children and teach them as effectively as possible so they will remember God’s Word, so they will be able to understand God’s Word, so they will be able to live God’s Word so their every day lives will be changed! If we do not remember God’s Word, we will never understand God’s Word. If we do not understand God’s Word we will never live God’s Word. If we do not live God’s Word our every day lives will never be changed. When you look at curriculum options, remember, you want to select the most effective tools possible to help you equip the children in your ministry so they will remember, understand and live God’s Word for truly changed lives! 

Next week we will also look at the five "types" of curriculum - traditional, large group/small group, non-traditional, bridge and rotation and examples of each and then in January we will spend the entire month looking at 2011 VBS . . . I just received two more kits today for the review! You can be sure, "About the Children's Department" will regularly look at curriculum and provide reviews to help you find the best tools possible to help you teach God's Word for changed lives!

Let me know what your biggest curriculum questions and challenges are and I'll find you some answers and resources to help you in your ministry! Thank you for joining me on this blog - please "like" me on Facebook and help spread the word about "About the Children's Department"! Tomorrow we will take a quick look at supporting and encouraging our volunteers with much more on that topic to come in future months! See you tomorrow! :^)

Monday, November 29, 2010


Today is the "official" launch of "About the Children's Department" blog! I'm looking forward to both sharing things about children's ministry with you and to hearing from you about your questions and successes in children's ministry!
In the coming month we will talk about recruiting, curriculum, volunteer appreciation and take our first look at our "Feet to Their Faith" opportunity for our kids to live what they believe! Then in January we will see my top ten VBS picks for 2011 complete with the reviews and comparison chart I've written for years for Your Church Magazine
It is my goal for "About the Children's Department" to be your "source" for information, ideas and resources and answers to your children's ministry questions. Thank you for joining me in this endeavor!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Why am I writing this blog?

Nearly fourteen years ago after serving in a children's ministry where I was disappointed by decisions made due to church "politics" rather than what was genuinely effective, I began to write a webzine - "About the Children's Department". My goal was to provide information, ideas and resources to help churches keep their children's ministries as effective as possible.

Eventually I began to write for "Children's Ministry Magazine" and then "Your Church Magazine/Christianity Today" and was a contributing writer for a book from Group Publishing -The Humongous Book of Bible Skits for Children's Ministry - and a project from Big Idea/VeggieTales - VeggieTales Veggie Connections Preschool Curriculum. I consulted for Gospel Light Publishing, Group Publishing, Zonderkidz/Big Idea/Willow Creek and taught Children's Ministry Magazine Live Workshops across the country. Through all this I met so many people who served in children's ministries - some where decisions were made based on the goal of effective ministry and some where they were made based on "politics".

When I was diagnosed with MS I wanted to be able to continue to try and make a difference in the thing I cared so much about - Children's Ministry - and began to write my own curriculum; kidz Connection. I never imagined churches in places like South Korea and  Kuala  Lumpur, Malaysia would use my curriculum!

Now along with continuing to write kidz Connection I want to refocus on what I care so much about by going back to what I began with the webzine - "About the Children's Department"; but this time in a much more interactive format as a blog. I look forward to being able to provide information on effective children's ministry resources - and the opportunity to have discussions with those of you who read this blog. We will be able to help one another find answers to our children's ministry questions and share ideas that have worked for us!

It does matter that the children's ministries in our churches are genuinely effective. In his book, "Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions" George Barna said most people make decisions for Christ before they are 13 years old; yet in so many churches decisions about our children's ministries are made based on politics and far too often this important ministry is run like children's ministries from the 1950's and 1960's. Churches hire people to lead singing before they even think about hiring someone to be sure their children's ministry is genuinely effective and yet, it is the children's ministry where most decisions for Jesus will be made. Children's ministry can be genuinely effective and can truly engage children so they understand, remember and live God's Word for changed lives. It is the goal of "About the Children's Department" to be a source to help churches do exactly this!

Please take a moment to "Like" us on Facebook and "Follow" us on our blog and then tell your friends, family and church about my blog so they will be able to join our conversations as well!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Look what we will be talking about on About the Children's Department!

I've planned out the coming four months of topics to cover on "About the Children's Department"! Beginning on Monday we will spend a week looking at some of the things we will be talking about - beginning with my favorite . . . recruiting! In December we will look at curriculum, how to plan a year of volunteer support and encouragement, have an idea on how to "put feet to your kid's faith" and how to pick your VBS! January will be all about VBS with my top ten countdown and five ways to use VBS! February we will look at outreach, safety, volunteer appreciation and recruitment and another "feet to their faith" idea! March we will look at a variety of resources for church and home and how to evaluate and choose curriculum as well as another "feet to their faith" idea! Plus a whole lot more! Please plan to join our discussions and tell your friends and family to check "About the Children's Department" out!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What is "About the Children's Department"?

I believe there are a couple of things that are central to children's ministry. First of all we must have a commitment to being effective. If we do things simply because "we have always done it that way" - whether it is accomplishing anything or not, we are in grave danger of being ineffective. Children's ministry matters too much to not be effective.

When I was in high school I was a teacher's aide in the elementary school. I was also the Sunday School bus captain on one of my church's busses. Juan was a boy from my class at school who rode our Sunday School bus with his four brothers every week. We had a real ministry on our busses with Bible stories, songs, & verses. Every year we had children put their trust in Christ for salvation on our busses. The last Sunday of my senior year, on the way home from church Juan raised his hand and put his faith in Christ! The next day I went to a Christian camp to work for the summer before I went to college. Two weeks later I received a letter from my mom. In it she told me that Juan and one of his brothers were playing with their dad's gun, it was loaded and went off killing Juan. He was only 7. Children's ministry matters because these children matter - they are a treasure from God and we have no guarantee that the children in our ministry this week will be here in two weeks. We must be effective now. It matters too much not to be.

About the Children's Department will serve as a tool to help you find the tools you need to be as effective as possible in your children's ministry. We will look at curriculum, resources, ideas to help your kids "put feet to their faith" by serving others home and around the world and we will be a place where you can ask questions and share your ideas as well! I pray "About the Children's Department" will prove to be an effective tool for you. I'd love to hear from you!