Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Children's Ministry Around the World - Punjab, Pakistan and the Star Sunday School & Youth Ministry!

For those of us who live in the USA it can be easy to think children's ministry around the world looks much like it does in our churches, and while in some places there are many similarities, in others there are significant differences. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at children's ministry around the world and invite you to join me on this "journey" . . . we are sure to rejoice at all the children who are learning of Jesus and learn how to pray specifically for those who serve around the world sharing Jesus with children everywhere!

Book Review - God told me

Life can be, and oftentimes is, difficult. It can be, and oftentimes is confusing. But, our God doesn't leave us on our own to figure out or decipher these difficult and hard times! He gives us His Word and He gives us His direction . . . we just have to know how to listen for God's voice! This new book by Jim Samra helps us understand what God's "voice" sounds like and learn to listen for Him!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Make Your Own Children's Ministry Hats with Duck Tape!

Duck Brand 1344909 1.88-Inch by 10-Yard Colored Duck Tape, Totally Tie DyeAround my house Duck Tape is held in high regard! After-all, the world is held together by Duck Tape! :^) So, when Duck Tape began to produce tape in colors and patterns, well, needless to say, it got my attention! I love taking a few minutes to browse the Duck Tape website to see some of the creative things people are making with Duck Tape and decided to share a fun pattern with you for making your own Duck Tape Baseball Hats!  This craft is one you could use to make your own children's ministry hats . . . ones which are very unique and affordable! Brainstorm with the children in your ministry to determine the colors you want to use for your hats and design a "logo" to represent your ministry . . . of course use Duck Tape to make your logo! Encourage them to design a logo which represents a way God has blessed them or one which goes along with a theme you are learning and then lead them in praising God for His blessings! Have fun with your hats! :^)

Put Feet to Their Faith - Help Stop Malaria & Malnutrition with World Vision

Ahh, summertime! Time for swimming, having picnics, playing outside and time for mosquitoes! Here in the USA mosquitoes are mostly annoying, but around the world they are deadly. Put Feet to Their Faith and involve the children in your ministry in a project with World Vision to help provide mosquito nets and food for people around the world in need!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sneak Peek for VBS 2013 - The Mighty God - God Leads Moses & Me - Bogard Press

I'm happy to share with you a "sneak peek" at Bogard Press' VBS for 2013 - The Mighty God - God Leads Moses & Me! Bogard says, "The Mighty God - God Leads Moses and Me is a study from the book of Exodus which will show how God led Moses through the perils of his life and remained faithful to him in extreme circumstances. We will learn on this quest ways God loves us, calls us, saves us, guides us and cares for us - just like God did with Moses. So come join us for The Mighty God VBS 2013! " Let's take a look at their scope and sequence - 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Have You Heard about the Fammin Blog Tour?

Have your heard about the Fammin Blog Tour? Matt Norman is the children's pastor at the Rock of Winter Haven in Winter Haven, FL. He began to ask himself, "What is Family Ministry?" and he began to ask children's and youth pastors he knew the same question. Matt invited them to blog their answers to this question and the Fammin Blog Tour was "born"! I am one of the people he has invited to blog my answer to this question - which I will be doing on August 7th, but I wanted to let you know about the Fammin Blog Tour.

Princess Faith's Mysterious Garden . . . I'm Giving One Away!

I've been reviewing some of the books in the Princess Parables series: so far I've reviewed Princess Hope and the Hidden Treasure and Princess Charity's Courageous Heart. Today I want to share with you the book, Princess Faith's Mysterious Garden.

Second Chance Give-Away . . .

Last month I reviewed the book, Princess Hope and the Hidden Treasure and had a drawing to give one away. The person who won never got their address to me so I could have the book sent to them, so I'm having a second-chance give-away for this book. If you would like to be included in the drawing for this book, which will be on July 30, 2012, please comment below. (You will find the review at this link)

Friday, July 27, 2012

I Have a Winner . . .

I'm happy to announce Doug Olson is the winner in my Princess Charity's Courageous Heart book give-away! (You'll find the review of the book at this link) Thank you Doug for reading About the Children's Department (please message me your address by August 10, 2012 so I can have it sent to you) and thank you Zonderkidz for sending one for me to review and for making another available for me to give away!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Don't Miss Out on the Blessings!

Yesterday I wrote, "EVERYONE who believes is part of the body and has something to offer" and wrote about the people who you might "pass over" in your mind as you think about who to recruit for your children's ministry. Today I want to consider a few of the blessings from involving people who have extra challenges . . . 

Focus on Knowing You can Truly Trust God!

I've been writing about where our most important focus should be, shared Psalm 86 and focused the month of June on depending on God and putting ourselves in His hands. This month my focus is on crying to God for help because I know I can call on Him and I'm confident He will answer! Today I want to think about how God answers, why we can be confident He will answer and how this confidence changes our lives! 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

EVERYONE Who Believes is Part of the Body & has Something to Offer!

When it comes to volunteers in your ministry, most of them are probably people who you would describe with the word, "normal". By this I mean, they likely are people who have no serious illnesses or physical challenges. But, who might you be missing out on? Who might be able to serve even if they have an illness or physical challenge? When you think about recruiting, are there people who you "pass over" in your mind because they have an illness or physical challenge? If so, think about the following . . . 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Love is More Important than Anything Else

Yesterday I wrote about church politics and how to identify it. I said, church politics "show up in the way we treat each other" and looked at Colossians 3:8,9. I said, "We must have a zero tolerance for church politics and we must do what God tells us to do . . . stop it!" 

Today I want to spend a little more time in Colossians 3:10-17 and see what God's Word tells us to do . . . if we do these things church politics will not be a problem in our children's ministries.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Stop It!

Stop Sign 2 Clip ArtSo, yesterday I wrote about church politics and the damage it causes in churches and to people; today I want to write about how to identify church politics. Look at Colossians 3:8. 9, " But now you must stop doing such things. You must quit being angry, hateful, and evil. You must no longer say insulting or cruel things about others. And stop lying to each other. You have given up your old way of life with its habits."

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Don't Betray Others

The title of this post may have gotten your attention, and while I did want to get your attention, I also want you to stop and think about the following questions -
  • Why is it in children's ministry - and in the church - we are often so quick to betray, marginalize and wound those who serve alongside us?
  • Why do we use "shame" to further our own agendas and church politics to move people out of our way?
  • Why do so many people end up deeply hurt in our churches?
I've served in churches where it was an absolute delight to do so! I've also served in churches where church politics and using people as "pawns" resulted in people feeling betrayed, wounded, feeling alone and marginalized. While the sad potential certainly exists for church politics to "rear it's ugly head" in any area in the church, I've noticed it shows up often in children's ministry. I've wondered why this happens, and think it may be for some of the following reasons -

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Danger to Beware Of . . .

I'm all for striving for excellence in ministry. We want our children's and family ministries to be excellent, but as we strive for this "excellence" there is something we have to beware of. Something which can cause great damage. This "something" is our own ego.

Have you ever heard a church leader say they do not want someone else to do something in the ministry unless they can prove they can do it as well - or better - than they can? This is ego talking. It certainly is not the Spirit of God talking. This kind of "ego" often leads to "hogging" ministry to yourself or micro-managing and both of these things lead to discouragement and pain among those who God sent to serve in your ministry.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

101 Verses That Stick . . . I'm Giving Some Away!

God's Word is powerful and living . . . as Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (NIV) It is for this reason we read it. It is for this reason we study it. It is for this reason we memorize it. God's Word is unlike any other words because it is God's words!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Maintenance" or "Change the World"? Which Will You Choose? (re-run)

I saw a very interesting video by George Barna. It is only one minute and four seconds long, but in those 64 seconds he asks a very important question - one every church needs to answer! Watch it and answer it for your church -

Sneak Peek VBS 2013 - Everywhere Fun Fair - by Cokesbury

cokesbury-vbs-2013-logo-transp.gifI have another sneak peek at VBS 2013 - this time from Cokesbury! Their 2013 theme is; Everywhere Fun Fair Where God's Word Comes Together! Children will meet neighbors in the Bible, explore the life of neighbors around the world, learn how to be a good neighbor to everyone and discover God's love welcomes everyone!

Check their scope and sequence -

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sneak Peek VBS 2013 - God's Backyard Bible Camp Under the Sun/Under the Stars - Standard Publishing

I'm happy to share another sneak peek at VBS 2013 . . . this time, from Standard Publishing! They have released their theme for 2013 - God's Backyard Bible Camp Under the Sun and Under the Stars with the focus of teaching kids to serve under the sun and under the stars!

I love it when a VBS focuses on involving kids in serving and it clearly looks like this will be the focus for Standard's 2013 VBS! Check out their scope and sequence - 

Focus for July - I'm confident God will answer!

I've been writing about where our most important focus should be, shared Psalm 86 and focused the month of June on depending on God and putting ourselves in His hands. This month my focus is on crying to God for help because I know I can call on Him and I'm confident He will answer! Today I want to think about how God answers, why we can be confident He will answer and how this confidence changes our lives! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

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 day, 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 the dean of students at the college I attended 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, I thought I'd share a personalized Scripture prayer for children's ministry with you! This 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!

"Then Jesus Beat Them Up!" Are You Sure Your Kids Accurately Remember God's Word? (re-run)

I'd like to share a video clip of an interview with a three year old . . . take a moment to watch it and then consider the following questions.
  • Do we really do a good job of accurately presenting God's Word so little   ones will remember and understand God's Word?
  • Do we ask enough questions after we teach God's Word to be sure what the kids "heard" is what God's Word really says?
  • Do we help children with the understanding and living part of teaching them God's Word, or do we leave it up to them to figure out what God's Word means - if anything - to their real, everyday lives?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

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.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I Have a Winner . . .

I'm happy to announce Buffy Asaro is the winner in my Princess Parables, Princess Hope and the Hidden Treasure book give-away! (You'll find my review at this link) Thank you Buffy for reading About the Children's Department - please message me your address by July 21, 2012 so I can have this book sent to you) and thank you Zonderkidz for sending one for me to review and for making another available for me to give away!

Put Feet to Their Faith - Pilots for Christ - Prayer Cards!

Imagine your child or grandchild or a child in your ministry was seriously ill and needed to be able to get to a hospital far away for treatment. What would you do? How would you get him or her there, especially if you couldn't afford to travel to the hospital? This is where Pilots for Christ comes in. They are my "put feet to their faith" ministry focus for the month of July and I'd like to encourage you to involve the children in your ministry in praying for this ministry and for the people they serve!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Princess Charity's Courageous Heart - I'm Giving One Away!

There is a lovely series of books young girls are sure to become huge fans of . . . the Princess Parables by Jeanna Young and Jacqueline Johnson. In these stories, girls are introduced to five sisters - Joy, Grace, Faith, Hope and Charity, the daughters of the king. In the stories about these sisters, readers also learn some of Jesus' parables. In the story, Princess Charity's Courageous Heart, along with learning about how Princess Charity showed courage and cared for a boy in need, readers will also learn about Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan.

Some Questions to Consider - Are We Really Reaching Out to Our Communnity?

So much of what we do in children's ministry is geared to "outreach" . . . we want "unchurched" kids to come to our events, but so often rely on the children in our ministries to bring their friends and on "word of mouth" for families to hear about an event and decide to send their children to our church. But what are we doing to actually, really reach out to those who are not part of a church in our communities? Consider the following questions -
  • Do you know the statistics for your community? 
  • Do you know the number of families in your community? 
  • Do you know how these families "break down" based on income, race, age, employment, education, marital status and housing status? 
These are important things to know if you are serious about reaching out the the people in your community. Check city-data for free info on your community. Just like it is difficult to move forward in your ministry without a specific, written vision/purpose statement, it is difficult to reach out to your community if you do not understand who the people actually are in your community. One thing city-day provides statistics on is the percentage of people in your community who are affiliated with a church. For my community 52.86% of the people are affiliated with a church. I find this shocking. If any community in this country is a "Normal Rockwell-type" community, mine is . . . or at least it was when I was a child. Now nearly half the people in my community are not affiliated with a church.

So, how can we reach out to our community? I mean really reach out - not just hold more events and "hope" people show up. Consider the following idea -

VeggieTales the Penniless Princess . . . I'm Giving One Away!

Back in May I posted a "sneak peek" at the new Veggie story . . . the Penniless Princess. I said, "Through the years there have been some truly delightful VeggieTales stories . . . I particularly enjoyed Lord of the BeansIt's a Meaningful Life and Pistachio! But I have been waiting - ever since I heard it was in production - for the release of The Penniless Princess, so you can imagine how happy I was to receive the review copy in the mail! I also want to let you know VeggieTales does NOT disappoint with their newest Veggie story! The Penniless Princess is completely enjoyable to watch and most importantly - as we have come to expect and appreciate with VeggieTales - provides solid messages for families to talk about together after watching the story! As VeggieTales says, 'The DVD’s story is based on the children’s book, A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and helps to teach an important lesson about knowing your own true worth inspired by Philippians 4:8, as well as trusting God, no matter what happens in life, based on Romans 8:39. VeggieTales: The Penniless Princess—God’s Little Girl includes plenty of engaging and fun music fit for families, with the all-new Silly Song “Best Friends Forever” and the featured song “No Matter What,” both in sing-along versions in the DVD bonus features.  Other bonus features include a special tour of London with the popular French Peas characters, a hilarious look at the history of the Teddy Bear, a discussion guide for parents and behind the scenes clips.' And if all this wasn't enough, 'Big Idea Entertainment has teamed up with Mercy Ministries® to help hurting girls free of charge restart life with a new perspective.'" 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Some Questions to Consider - How Do I Build On the Momentum Any Event Provides?

We all have various "events" in our children's ministry throughout the year. Some of us make use of VBS, camp, sports events, family events, holidayevents and other opportunities, but we all plan for at least one event in our calendar year. I'm all for events . . . and more than one in a year . . . but, if we are only providing these events to provide an event . . . we have wasted an opportunity. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sneak Peek VBS 2013 . . . Kingdom Chronicles from Answers in Genesis!

I'm happy to share with you another "sneak peek" at VBS 2013 - this time from Answers in Genesis! Their 2013 VBS is called Kingdom Chronicles - Standing Strong in the Battle for Truth! AIG says, "Lower the drawbridge! Open the gates! Get ready to charge into a time filled with kings, kingdoms, and majestic castles! Amidst the pages of The Kingdom Chronicles, your knights and fair maidens will
  • Discover that we’re involved in a battle between two kingdoms—the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the Enemy;
  • Understand how they can become citizens of God’s heavenly kingdom;
  • Learn to prepare for battle by wearing the full armor of God daily;
  • Be equipped to serve and obey our heavenly Commander—the King of kings;
  • Determine to train their brains to know, memorize, and obey God’s Word!" 
Let's take a look at their scope and sequence . . . 

Some Questions to Consider - What Do I "Do" With My Vision/Purpose Statement?

Okay . . . so you have a specific written vision/purpose statement . . . now what do you do with it? Maybe you have it painted on your wall and or printed on your children's ministry materials, but what do you actually "do" with your vision/purpose statement? Consider the following possibilities -

I Need Volunteers! Please Help!

You may or may not know in addition to writing About the Children's Department, I also write another blog, grandma's cookie jar. The goal of this blog is, "just as grandma's cookie jar should always be full of good things, this blog will be full of good ideas, information, activities and reviews of things to help grandma . . . and grandpa, mom and dad too . . . pass on a heritage of faith to the children in their lives!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Remind Your Volunteers How Special They Are! (re-run)

As you plan for the beginning of your new school year of ministry - new classes, new children, new families and new volunteers, take a few minutes to gather all your volunteers and read them a story. Yes, a story . . . You Are Special by Max Lucado.

You Are Special (Max Lucado's Wemmicks)It is far too easy for us to get . . . and give "dot stickers" and "star stickers". We all need to be reminded of what Eli told Punchinello when we've received "bad marks", "'Oh, You don't have to defend yourself to me, child. I don't care what the other Wemmicks think.' 'You don't?' 'No, and you shouldn't either. Who are they to give stars or dots? They're Wemmicks just like you. What they think doesn't matter, Punchinello. All that matters is what I think. And I think you are pretty special.' Punchinello laughed. 'me, special? Why? I can't walk fast. I cant jump. My paint is peeling,. Why do I matter to you?' Eli looked at Punchinello, put his hand on those small wooden shoulders, and spoke very slowly. 'Because you're mine. That's why you matter to me. (You need to) decide what I think is more important than what they think. The stickers only stick if you let them. The stickers only stick if they matter to you. the more you trust my love, the less you care about their stickers.'"

Some Questions to Consider - How Do I Determine My Vision/Purpose for the Children's Ministry?

Our Fall Ministries begin in just over a month and a half, so as we prepare there are a few questions for us to consider. Yesterday I said my, "first question may seem like an obvious question, however; in all the many years I worked with churches, over and over again I had people tell me they didn't have a specific, written vision for their children's ministry." I went on to share a few thoughts about reasons why we should have a specific, written vision for our children's ministries. Today I'm writing about what to do if you do not have a written vision. I believe it is essential to have a specific, written vision for your children's ministry if it is going to be effective . . . so what do you do if you do not have a specific, written vision for your children's ministry? Consider the following suggestions/steps -

Monday, July 9, 2012

Is Your Church Really a Safe Place?

Yesterday I wrote a post entitled, Never Give Up!, and shared Romans 12:9-21, "Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good. 10 Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself. 11 Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord. 12 Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying. 13 Take care of God’s needy people and welcome strangers into your home. 14 Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them. 15 When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad. 16 Be friendly with everyone. Don’t be proud and feel that you are smarter than others. Make friends with ordinary people. 17 Don’t mistreat someone who has mistreated you. But try to earn the respect of others, 18 and do your best to live at peace with everyone. 19 Dear friends, don’t try to get even. Let God take revenge. In the Scriptures the Lord says, 'I am the one to take revenge and pay them back.' 20 The Scriptures also say, 'If your enemies are hungry, give them something to eat. And if they are thirsty, give them something to drink. This will be the same as piling burning coals on their heads.' 21 Don’t let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good." (CEV) I said, "As you work on your children's ministry this week, be honest with yourself as to if you love others sincerely, or not. If not, make it right and where you have been mistreated, return love for their mistreatment. Never give up!"

Some Questions to Consider . . . Why Do I Have a Written Vision for My Children's Ministry?

As we look forward to the start of our Fall Children's Ministries, there are a few questions for us to consider and while this first question may seem like an obvious question, in all the many years I worked with churches, over and over again I had people tell me they didn't have a specific, written vision for their children's ministry. So let's think about a few reasons why we should have a specific, written vision for our children's ministries -

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Put Feet to Their Faith - Pilots for Christ

The ministries I highlight each month with my "Put Feet to Their Faith" service challenge, are typically ministries you are familiar with; such as Samaritan's Purse, WorldHelp, Angel Tree, etc. But there are also many, many ministries you may not be familiar with which are ministries you could involve the children and families in your church in as well. One such ministry is Pilots for Christ.