Sunday, June 26, 2011

Look What We Will Be Talking About This Week on About the Children's Department!

The summer is 1/3 over and in many churches children's ministry is in full gear. This week as we look towards Fall ministry, I'll be asking some questions about children's ministry and what it can look like as well as some questions about what it could take to get our churches to work together. Friday is another "First Friday Freebie" and I'll have something fun for free and will be announcing another "Family Pick". Please join in the conversation this week on About the Children's Department!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Put Feet to Their Faith With a Project to Provide Food for Those in Need!

For the past month I've been encouraging you to involve the children in your ministry in a project to gather food for hungry children and families in your community. In every community there are families who do not have enough food. In your own church there are likely families who do not have enough food. If you do not have a food pantry in your own church, there is likely one in your community. Find out where your local food pantry is and involve the children in your ministry in gathering non-perishable food so you are able to help families in need. Make this part of your on-going ministry as hunger is something which sadly is part of far too many families everyday life. Consider some of the following ideas -

  • When you have an event for children/families "charge" and admission "fee" of non-perishable food
  • Designate a certain Sunday each month as your "Food for Families" Sunday and ask children to bring a non-perishable food item with them to church.
  • Set aside one month a quarter as your "Bringing in the Sheaves" Month and have everyone in your church bring in non-perishable food for your local food pantry.
Whatever you decide to do, make helping hungry families a regular part of your ministry!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mid-Week Curriculum Side-by-Side Comparison Chart

Well, this wraps up my curriculum reviews for 2011! I'm posting the link for my Mid-Week Curriculum Side-by-Side Comparison Chart - please feel free to download and make as many copies as you need - just as you are welcome to do with all my other curriculum comparison charts! Please keep in mind, you will find my VBS Side-by-Side Comparison Charts separate from the Mid-Week Chart, but if you are considering utilizing VBS for your mid-week ministry this coming year you will find my reviews and charts are still available for you to utilize as you determine which resources are the best "fit" for your ministry.

Next year I'll add some additional resources to my Sunday School, Children's Church and Mid-Week Curriculum Reviews and Charts and keep my charts up-to-date with the most current information available so they will be able to be a useful resource for you!

I Have A Winner In My Illustrated Bible New Testament CD Give-Away!

David and GoliathI'm happy to announce Marie Troller James is the winner in my Illustrated Bible New Testament CD give-away! Thank you Marie for reading About the Children's Department and thank you Illustrated Bible for giving me a cd for review and another for give-away!

If you haven't had the opportunity to check out the Illustrated Bible, you can do so by checking If you go to this link you will be able to download for free several Bible stories, so be sure to check it out! The Illustrated Bible is a wonderful resource for use in your ministry and for use in the homes of the children in your ministry! Check it out to see if you might be able to use it in your ministry!
The First Christmas

Next Friday I'll announce another "Family Pick" give-away, so if you haven't taken a moment too "like" About the Children's Department using the tab in the "find us on facebook" box ON THE BLOG, please do so now so you will be entered in my next give-away!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Look What We Will Be Talking About This Week on About the Children's Department!

The Illustrated Bible: Complete New TestamentIn this coming week I'll complete my 2011 curriculum reviews with reviews of some resources you could use for your mid-week ministry - I'm reviewing some resources you are familiar with and some you may not have considered before, but would make excellent resources for your mid-week ministry. In addition, I'll be giving away one Illustrated Bible New Testament on CD this Friday, so if you have not taken a moment to "like" About the Children's Department using the tab in the "find us on facebook" box ON THE BLOG, please take a moment to do so and you will be in my drawing!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

"Put Feet to Their Faith" and Involve Your Children - and Families - in a Project to Help Those In Need

All this month I've been talking about involving the children in your ministry in a project to gather food for your local food pantry. In every community in across this country, and around the world, there are people who struggle to provide food for their families. We typically have food drives around the Holidays, but hunger happens all year long . . . and the Summer brings unique challenges for those who struggle to feed their families as children are not in school where they receive one or two meals a day. Consider involving the children and families in your church in helping others by hosting a community picnic. Invite your neighbors to join you - they do not need to bring food - and ask families in your church to bring enough food for their own family and enough to feed one or two additional families. Ask everyone who can to also bring a non-perishable food item to donate to a local food pantry. Plan games and make it a fun event for families . . . and one where you are making a difference by showing you truly do care about the people in your community!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Family Pick - The Illustrated Bible New Testament!

The Gospel of JohnI'm very happy to announce my new "Family Pick" . . . the Illustrated New Testament on CD!  Neely Press has released their complete Illustrated Bible on two cds - one for the Old Testament and one for the New Testament - "the Word of God for the child of God in all of us!" This Bible is available in the International Children's Bible and New American Standard Version and as it's creators say, is not "just another children's Bible storybook. In other words, we didn't want to have Bible pictures alongside words which are a retelling of God's Word, the Holy Scriptures. We wanted to draw attention to, magnify and clarify the actual Word of God. In those words lies the power of the Holy Spirit to change the lives of children and adults alike. In the same way written illustrations, or 'word pictures' are used to help make an idea easy to understand and memorable, our visual illustrations will make the actual Word of God easier to understand than ever before."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Follow-Up Which Really Follows Up!

So . . . you've given thought to your goal for Vacation Bible School 2011, evaluated VBS resources in light of their scope and theme then determined which one or two or more had the best "fit" for your unique ministry and made your selections. You recruited, trained, supported and appreciated your volunteers, but there is still one more thing to focus on . . . planning and implementing follow-up which really follows up!

For many churches VBS is their primary, and in some of those cases their only, outreach to their community for the year. It is so important you have a vision, passion and plan for your VBS which reaches beyond the five days of ministry. Along with having a goal for your VBS, be sure to think ahead and have a vision for what you will do after your VBS to reach out to the families touched by your VBS.

After VBS is Over . . . Follow-up!

So, when another year of VBS is finished; volunteers have gone home, your decorating team  puts away all props, posters and parts of VBS returning your church to “normal” what do you do next? What do you need to do to build on the work accomplished in VBS and how can you continue to minister to non-church families VBS allowed you to touch? Too often we do not really follow-up with the contacts VBS gave us with non-church families . . . what can we do to show these families we want to serve them, not just their children, all year long?

Effective follow-up can be designed and accomplished without a large budget and without a large staff of volunteers if you focus on praying, evaluating and planning!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Put Feet to Their Faith With a Project to Provide Food for Those in Need!

What did you eat for breakfast this morning? What do you have planned for your Sunday dinner? do you know what you are eating for supper tonight? Do you have food in your pantry, cupboards, refrigerator and freezer? Are you hungry? I mean, really hungry? Do you know what it feels like to be hungry, not because it is getting close to a mealtime, but because you do no have any food to eat?

Sadly, there is a growing number of people in your community who do not have enough food to eat. Food pantries across the country are seeing an increase in the number of people who are turning to them for help to provide food for their families. You probably have neighbors, family and friends who need help from a food pantry . . . maybe you even need the help of a food pantry to provide food for your family. This is a real and growing need and it is one we can involve the children in our ministries in to make a difference!

Put Feet to Their Faith and involve the children in your ministry in collecting non-perishable food for your food pantry or a food pantry in your community. Talk with the children about how so many families need help providing food for their families and get them involved by praying and by collecting food. We - and the children in our ministries - can help and can make a difference!

Friday, June 10, 2011

I Have a Winner in My Find It! At the Zoo Give-Away!

Find It Games Zoo Version - Yellow EndsI'm happy to announce Wayne Stocks is the winner in my Find It! At the Zoo give-away! Thank you Wayne for reading About the Children's Department and thank you Find It! for sending a Find It! at the Zoo game for my review and another for give-away!

I love the Find It! at the Zoo game! It is great fun for the whole family and perfect for use in Sunday School - especially with lessons on creation or Noah and the ark! It truly is a "hand-held scavenger hunt" and is something everyone will enjoy! Find It! games are also great for in-between classes or any time when you want kids to work together - pair them up or put them in groups and see which group is able to find the most objects in a specific amount of time. Tie it in with working together, community and showing the Fruit of the Spirit in the way we interact and play with each other. Find It! is fun and unique and great for church and home!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Put Feet to Their Faith and Help Provide Lunches for Children in the Summer!

All this month I'm encouraging churches to "Put Feet to Their Faith" and involve their children in food drives and projects to raise money for food to give to a local food pantry. In every community across this country - and around the world - there are children and families who are hungry. We can help! We can do something tangible which makes a real difference in the lives of others! Consider some of these opportunities to get involved and help hungry children in your community -

  • In 2009 the National School Lunch program provided free or low-cost lunches to more than 31 million school children in the United States of America each school day. Many of these children would not have been able to have lunch without this program. Today in 2011 I suspect this number is even higher with the increased number of parents who are unemployed or underemployed. So, what do these children do during summer break when they are not at school? The US Department of Agriculture has a Summer Food Service Program which feeds hungry children over the summer and your church could get involved as a feeding site for the children in your community. 
  • Feeding America became involved in feeding hungry children when school is not in session through their BackPack Program. "There are children in America that rely on resources such as free or reduced-priced school lunch, during the school year. The BackPack Program is designed to meet the needs of hungry children at times when other resources are not available, such as weekends and school vacations. The BackPack Program concept was developed at the Arkansas Rice Depot, after a school nurse asked for help because hungry students were coming to her with stomachaches and dizziness. The local food bank began to provide the school children with groceries in non-descript backpacks to carry home. In addition to providing nutritious food to school children in need, some BackPack Programs provide extra food for younger siblings at home."
  • Feeding America also has a program called Kid's Cafe; "Kids Cafe programs provide free meals and snacks to low-income children through a variety of community locations where children already congregate—such as Boys & Girls Clubs, churches or public schools. In addition to providing meals to kids, all Kids Cafe programs also offer a safe place, where under the supervision of trustworthy staff, a child can get involved in educational, recreational and social activities."
These are just a couple possibilities for how you could get involved and help the children in your community who are hungry in the summer when school is out. Check this link for 101 Ways You Can Feed the Hungry and Help the Poor for some additional ideas and/or check with your local school to see what is currently being offered and how you can get involved!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Family Pick - Find It! At the Zoo!

New Find It Games FIND1006 Find It At The Zoo-Animals Great For Parties Game Nights Or Family FunI'm so happy to announce my new Family Pick . . . Find It at the Zoo! I love Find It! games - they are great fun for the entire family - but when you add zoo animals it is sure to be something everyone will love to play with! The makers of Find It invite you to find all -"39 animals. Can you find the giraffe, duck, rhinoceros, whale, elephant or eagle in this self-contained scavenger hunt? And, yes, the hard-to-find penny is still hidden in every Find It game. Whether you re 8 or 98, it will be a hard game to put away. Play Find It At the Zoo in your home, car or office. " 

They are absolutely right . . . a Find It! is a "self-contained scavenger hunt" and it is great fun! Each Find It! includes a pad with a list of each animal hidden in the Find It! Check them all off to win the game and then start the scavenger hunt all over again! In addition, each Find It! has a penny hidden in it . . . if you find the penny, then you are a champion Find It Finder! Find It at the Zoo is great fun for use at church and at home! As you find the animals, talk with your child(ren) about the animals God made and ask them which animal is their favorite!

I'm so happy to announce Find It! has sent me a Find It at the Zoo for review and another for give-away! Next Friday, June 10th, I'll give one away! If you have "liked" About the Children's Department using the tab in the "find us on facebook" box ON THE BLOG, then you are entered in my Find It at the Zoo give-away! If you haven't, take a moment to do it right now and you will be entered in the drawing! It is this simple!

First Friday Freebies - Joy to the World the Lord is Come! Christmas Program!

I know it is just the beginning of Summer, but it is also the ideal time to begin thinking about what you would like to do at your church for a Christmas program. For my First Friday Freebie this month, I'm giving away a Christmas Program - Joy to the World the Lord is Come! This is a program which can involve everyone in your church from the little children to adults. Two big "pluses" to this program - other than I'm giving it away for free - are first of all it has a solid message about the reason Jesus came to be born as a baby! He came to die for us and rise again so we can be forgiven for our sins and know and walk with Him forever! Secondly, the songs are all familiar carols we all know. This is a huge plus when it comes to learning the program! This program has something for everyone to be involved - singing parts, speaking parts, building sets and of course, praying the message will be clear to all who see it! Consider presenting Joy to the World the Lord is Come to the people in your church and community this year!

We Have Two Winners in My VeggieTales Live! Sing Yourself Silly DVD Give-away!

I'm happy to announce Robin McCoy and Julie Godwin Snyder have each won one copy of the 
Veggie Tales: Live! Sing Yourself SillyVeggieTales Live! Sing Yourself Silly DVD give-away! Thank you VeggieTales for sending this dvd for my review and two more for give-away and thank you Robin and Julie for reading About the Children's Department!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Look Back . . . and a Look Forward! Recruit, Support, Encourage and Train Volunteers!

As I began to write About the Children's Department I said I love recruiting volunteers . . . this is so true! I always looked at it as being on a treasure hunt . . . volunteers are a treasure, a gift from the hand of God! They are there in our churches - some of them know who they are, and others do not . . . yet! Recruiting is the opportunity to help people discover the joy of serving . . . and there is certainly a lot of joy to be had in serving in children's ministry!  I've posted a lot about recruiting . . . how to plan a month of recruiting, how to screen volunteers, gave you eight complete recruiting themes and plans and more! Check my blog and look at the tab on the top for recruiting to find my posts on recruiting!

In addition, I've posted about supporting, encouraging and training your volunteers as well . . . which are certainly lots of fun! After all, what is more fun than telling someone "thank-you" and then planning opportunities to show your appreciation! I always planned two big appreciation events throughout the year - an appreciation dinner in the Spring and a Holiday Open House the weekend before Thanksgiving - and every other week I gave each volunteer a little "surprise" to say "thank you!" It is all so much fun!

We always made training mandatory - training for VBS each year and then before our Fall ministries kicked off we had another mandatory training for Sunday and Mid-week ministries. Of course, training can be a lot of fun! Our trainings were always interactive as we walked our volunteers through the materials they would be using . . . and of course had lots of food! We have tried special training opportunities - such as Sunday evening electives - which I really liked as well.

In the coming months I'll continue to help you countdown to and plan a Holiday Open House and will post about recruiting and training your volunteers as well! So, what do you do to recruit, support, encourage and train your volunteers?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Look Back . . . and a Look Forward! Safe Church Nurseries!

During the months of April and May I spent a week talking about the components of a safe nursery and essentials for a safe nursery ministry. I posted about safe nursery polices, equipment, toys, checking babies in, designing a top notch nursery environment on a shoestring and more! It really matters what our nurseries are like . . . we need to have specific policies in place to ensure our nurseries are as safe as possible for the children we are entrusted with. In addition I reviewed a couple nursery curriculum resources which provide the opportunity for our nurseries to minister to children and parents as we begin to lay a foundation grounded in God's Word for these little ones!

Bright Starts Grab and Stack BlocksI reviewed a number of toy resources in these articles and would like to mention one additional toy for your church nurseries today . . . the Grab & Stack blocks from Bright Starts! These blocks are made from soft fabric and comes in a set of four - each featuring different patterns and characters. I especially love the textures and sounds on each block. Each block rattles, jingles or crinkles, had tags, knots, letters, numbers, colorful patterns, cute characters and setw in loops. I love these blocks and so will the babies in your nursery!

If you do not have specific policies for your nursery and/or are trying to determine how to make your nursery environment engaging - especially on a shoestring - take a look at these posts and see if there is anything there you could do in your ministry!