Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sunday School Curriculum Reviews Ahead!

As I wrap up a month thinking about recruiting, I'd like to say, please remember the most important things . . . 
Looking ahead - the month of May I will be reviewing Sunday School curriculum with individual reviews, side-by-side comparison charts and new this year - information about curriculum from people who are actually using it!

Don't Miss Out on the Blessings!

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

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 . . . 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Keep The Volunteers You Have By Encouraging and Thanking Them!

I've been writing about recruiting volunteers and while I focused most of this past month on recruiting new volunteers, the past few days I've been writing about the easiest - and best way to recruit . . . by keeping the volunteers you already have! Today I want to talk a bit about encouraging your volunteers . . . I'll be writing much more about Volunteer encouragement, but today I just want to take a quick look at the topic.

Book Give-Away - Can't-Wait Willow!

I love books for children with great illustrations, solid story which are written in a way which will capture the attention of little ones and help them learn something important. Can't-Wait Willow!which was sent to me for free to review by ideals children's books, is one such book! I am delighted for the opportunity to let you know about this book - and to give one away!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

I Have a Winner!

I'm happy to announce Gianna is the winner in my The Berenstain Bears Good Deed Scouts Help Their Neighbors book give-away! (You'll find the review at this link.) Thank you Gianna for reading About the Children's Department (please message me your address by May 5, 2013 so I can have it sent to you) and thank you Zonderkidz for sending one book for me to review and for making another available for me to give away!

Pray for the Volunteers You Have!

I've been talking about recruiting by keeping the volunteers you already have and said to, Take the Time - and Make the Time - to Know Your Volunteers! and Support the 
Volunteers You Have!. When I talked about recruiting new volunteers I talked about how we need to pray and ask the Lord of the Harvest to send volunteers.  Yesterday I mentioned being sure you have a prayer partner for each volunteer, so, today I want to focus more on praying for your volunteers and to encourage you to make praying for the volunteers you have a top priority - consider the following -

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Support the Volunteers You Have!

For the past couple days I've been talking about The Best, Easiest and Most Fun Way to Recruit by keeping the volunteers you have and being sure you Take the Time - and Make the Time - to Know Your Volunteers! Today I want to focus on supporting your volunteers. 

It can be so easy to be so caught up in trying to be sure you have your "bases covered" by having enough volunteers, that you do not think you even have time to focus on supporting the volunteers you have. But, if you do not provide the support volunteers need, you will probably find you are always recruiting because you will not be able to keep the volunteers you have. Consider the following -

Friday, April 26, 2013

Teach Your Class to Sign!

If you are looking for something fun, useful and engaging which you could do with the children in your class, consider teaching them some American Sign Language. Sound interesting? It is really pretty simple to do if you just take one or two words or a sentence at at time. 

I've been teaching the children in my first grade Sunday School class one word a week which connects with the point of our Bible lesson - the kids are loving this and each week we review the words/signs from previous weeks!

Take the Time - and Make the Time - to Know Your Volunteers!

Yesterday I wrote about the benefits of keeping the volunteers you already have so today I want to write about one way to do this . . . take the time - and make the time - to know your volunteers.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Best, Easiest and Most Fun Way to Recruit!!!!

I've been talking all month about recruiting and while I think everything about recruiting is fun, there is one way to recruit which is the best, the easiest and the most fun ever . . . and the most effective. What could this be, you ask? Retention. Keeping the volunteers you already have! If you are successful at keeping your volunteers then your recruiting demands will reduce significantly. As we wrap up April I'm going to look at this - keeping the volunteers you already have starting today with the benefits of retention!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

NIrV Kids' Quest Study Bible - I'm Giving One Away!

Last week I posted a review about the NIrV Kids' Quest Study Bible and today I want to announce a give-away for one of these Bibles! As I said in my review, "I love how questions I might, and often do, wonder as I read are found right in the text - along with answers! This is a great Bible for children to help them begin to learn how to wonder and ask questions and most importantly, how to find the answers in God's Word! This is the Bible I'm giving my grandsons when they are old enough for it! There most certainly are a lot of options out there when it comes to Bibles for children, but one of my favorites is the NIrV Kids' Quest Study Bible!" 

Spiritual Gifts - How Do We Use them and What Difference Does It Make?

I've been talking about Spiritual Gifts this week - why God gives them to us and what they are. Today I want to talk about how we use them and what difference it makes when they are used - which of course, has a lot to do with recruiting!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

So . . . What Are the Spiritual Gifts?

Yesterday I wrote about why God gives us gifts, so today I want to take a few moments to look at what the gifts are which God gives to us! 

If we look in Ephesians 4 we can see what most of them are; "As a prisoner of the Lord, I beg you to live in a way that is worthy of the people God has chosen to be his own. Always be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each other and love each other.Try your best to let God’s Spirit keep your hearts united. Do this by living at peace. All of you are part of the same body. There is only one Spirit of God, just as you were given one hope when you were chosen to be God’s people. We have only one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. There is one God who is the Father of all people. Not only is God above all others, but he works by using all of us, and he lives in all of us. Christ has generously divided out his gifts to us. As the Scriptures say, 'When he went up to the highest place, he led away many prisoners and gave gifts to people.' When it says, “he went up,” it means that Christ had been deep in the earth. 10 This also means that the one who went deep into the earth is the same one who went into the highest heaven, so that he would fill the whole universe. 11 Christ chose some of us to be apostles, prophets, missionaries, pastors, and teachers, 12 so that his people would learn to serve and his body would grow strong. 13 This will continue until we are united by our faith and by our understanding of the Son of God. Then we will be mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him." Did you see the gifts in this passage? They are:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Spiritual Gifts - Why Does God Give Them to Us?

When a person becomes a Christian God's Word teaches He gives "gifts" to them! So, why does He give gifts, what are these gifts, how do we use them and what difference does it make? How does knowing these answers relate to recruiting? These are great questions to consider and we will be looking at these questions and answers all week - particularly in relation to how they apply to recruiting!

New Look!

As you may have noticed, I recently changed the look of About the Children's Department. I wanted to "freshen" it up and make it easier to find your way around the blog. I'm so thankful for a husband who is in IT and his willingness to help me! :-)

Along with wanting the blog to look sharper, I wanted it to be easier to find information. To this end I left tabs for some of the topics you may most be searching for info on - such as VBS, Curriculum, Recruiting, etc. These tabs are at the top of the page. There is also a tab for the Table of Contents. Plus, if you know a few words of the post you are looking for you can enter them in the rectangular box at the top left of the page - the one with the magnifying glass in it.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Prayer for Volunteers . . . (re-run)

I've been talking about recruiting volunteers for your children's ministry, so today I want to remind you about one of the most important parts of recruiting - asking God to send us the "laborers"/volunteers we need for our ministries!

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

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Bibles for Children - my first Hands-On Bible!

I have had the opportunity over the years to review quite a number of Bibles for children. I'm happy today to share with you a new Bible for preschoolers . . . 

Focus - Depend on &Trust God . . . for Volunteers - Share the Joy!

I posted yesterday about our Focus . . . depending on and trusting God for the volunteers we need. Today I want to talk about sharing the joy!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Let's Plan a Volunteer Recruitment Month! - "I Am Available" Theme!

If you have been reading my recruiting themes and want to try one, but do not have a lot of time to pull it together consider this one using the oldie, but definitely goodie, from Petra - my all-time favorite band - I Am Available!

Focus - Depend on &Trust God . . . for Volunteers!

As we continue to think about recruiting, let's think about focusing on Depending on and Trusting God. We can not give to others what we do not have for ourselves. If we are not growing spiritually, we will not be equipped to help our volunteers grow spiritually. If they are not growing spiritually, how can we expect the children in our ministries to grow? Sometimes it is easy - too easy - to focus on the "things" we need to do and lose sight of the thing we really need to be focused on . . . knowing and walking with Jesus. Check this link for a personalized Scripture prayer from Psalm 86 for us to focus on which encourages us to depend on and trust God. 

I Have a Winner!

I'm happy to announce Karol is the winner in my Chick-fil-A Leadercast Prize Package give-away! (You'll find the post at this link) Thank you Karol for reading About the Children's Department (please message me your email/address by April 21 so I can arrange to get it to  you) and thank you Chick-fil-A for making this available for give-away!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Touch Bases on Planning Your Volunteer Recruiting Month!

I've been talking about planning a month to focus on challenging your church to think about becoming involved as volunteers in your children's ministry. In addition, I've given you eight complete plans to help you plan an entire month of recruiting - each one built around a specific theme and song -
  1. "Finest Hour"
  2. "For Such a Time as This" 
  3. "Tell Me Again"
  4. "Lifesong" 
  5. "Hand in Hand"
  6. "For Future Generations"
  7. "Glorious Day"
  8. "Meant to Be"
So . . . if you are planning to focus the month of May on recruiting for your Fall Ministry Team, look over each of these theme/plans and choose one for your recruiting month theme. Then consider the following ideas for implementing your plan to focus on serving with the children's ministry!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chick-fil-A Leadercast . . . & Leadercast Prize Package!

Leadership is essential for children's ministry. We all can point to examples of leaders who led well . . . and likely some who did not. If you are in children's ministry you are a leader whether you lead adults or children or both; so what kind of leader are you? 

As you read this you probably know what Chick-fil-A is, but you may be wondering what a Chick-fil-A Leadercast is . . . well . . . it "is a one-day leadership event broadcast LIVE from Atlanta, GA to hundreds of locations around the world on May 10, 2013. Strengthen your leadership by simplifying your life. SIMPLY LEAD." They say, "We are busy - and this may, unknowing, be holding us back. What if there was potential impact in simplifying our lives so our leadership could thrive? Leading in a complex world requires simplicity to cut through the clutter. Saying NO to what may seem good could help increase your capacity to live your life to the fullest. Join us at Chick-fil-A Leadercast as we learn to Simply Lead." 

Remember: Actions Speak Louder Than Words

When it comes to recruiting and dealing with your volunteers please remember, actions speak louder than words. If we say one thing, but do something else people will notice. Regardless of who we are, we all are accountable for our actions; but when we are in ministry we bear a stronger accountability.

I once heard a pastor preach about how he was "terrified" he would not live up to James 3 where it says "teachers will be judged more strictly." But, then his words did not match his actions. He said one thing, and repeatedly did something else. 

I think it can be far too easy to say one thing and do something else - we have to be intentional about being aware of what we say and what we do so the two "match". And, if we discover our words and actions do not match, we need to immediately do whatever we need to do to make things right; unlike the pastor I knew who refused to take responsibility and did all he could to make others look like they were the ones who were doing something wrong.

Do not let this happen in your ministry. On a personal level we have to be sure our walk and our talk match, but in ministry we have to be ever so much more careful to be certain they match. When our words and actions do not match we are certain to cause pain.

So, keep the following in mind . . . 

Bibles for Children - the NIrV Kids Quest Study Bible

NIrV Kids' Quest Study Bible: Real Questions, Real Answers (New International Readers Version)There most certainly are a lot of options out there when it comes to Bibles for children, but one of my favorites is the NIrV Kids' Quest Study Bible!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book Review & Give-Away - The Berenstain Bears Good Deed Scouts Help Their Neighbors

Most churches have a library and encourage families to sign out books which they can read to and with their children, so today I'm sharing a review of a book which would make a great addition to any church library - plus, I'm going to give one away!

Let's Plan a Volunteer Recruitment Month! - "Meant to Be" Theme!

As I've said many times, I believe volunteers are a gift from the hand of God . . . a treasure, so when it comes to recruiting, we are actually on a "treasure hunt"! God created the volunteers we need and placed them in our churches - some of them know who they are and are serving . . . and aren't you so very thankful for them! Others do not realize yet, they are the treasure God has given to your church, but as you present your volunteer needs, they will come to realize this and you will find in them some of the "hidden" treasure you're looking for!

I love this song by Steven Curtis Chapman - yes, it is from a VeggieTales dvd - "It's a Meaningful Life" and the message is one of how each child is "meant to be" making the world so much more than it ever would be without them. However; I believe this song - and it's message - would work very nicely to build a theme for a month of recruiting because the volunteers are "meant to be" and were made by God to "touch the lives that they touch"!

Monday, April 15, 2013

I Have a Winner!

VBS Give-Away!I'm very happy to announce Lynn McLaughlin is the winner in my Go Fish Gotta Move! VBS give-away! (You'll find the review at this link) Thank you Lynn for reading About the Children's Department (please message me your address by April 22, 2013 so I can have it sent to you) and thank you Go Fish for sending a kit to me to review and for making another available for me to give away!

Bibles for Children - the Illustrated Bible!

The Illustrated Bible: Complete New TestamentNeely 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 Bible Versions 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."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Are We Experiencing "Groaning Pains"?

As I watch the news I can not help but to once again wonder, "Are we experiencing 'groaning pains'?" In Romans 8:22 it says, "For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." It sure looks like all creation is "groaning". I did a little checking and in 2012, 125 people died due to Hurricane Sandy, the hotter and dryer summer than normal brought on drought in the USA and in Africa. Around the world there were earthquakes in Italy, the Philippines, China, Iran and Afghanistan, floods in the USA, China, Russia, England, Ireland, Africa, Nepal and other places as well and there were tornadoes - not just in the USA, but in Canada, Europe, Australia, Poland, Japan, Indonesia, India and Turkey. There were also typhoons, cyclones and hurricanes around the world; all which claimed lives and left people homeless.

So how do we look at these disasters? My heart breaks for the people who were impacted by these natural disasters. So many people died and so many more had their lives literally torn apart. We need to pray for them. We need to give as we are able to ministries such as WorldHelp and Samaritan's Purse so they can go and offer tangible help and more importantly, share Jesus with the ones who survive.

Let's Plan a Volunteer Recruitment Month! - "Glorious Day" Theme!

Most of the songs I select to build a theme for my recruiting month have a strong message about serving and while Glorious Day from Casting Crowns doesn't have this message, the message of the song is the reason we do what we do in Children's Ministry. It is the message of Jesus and this song, for this very reason, would make a wonderful song to build a theme for a month of recruiting!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

God's Leading . . . Are You Sure?

I often hear people in children's ministry talk about how God is leading them in their ministry. Often it is shared with the goal of taking their ministry in a different direction. There certainly may be times when God is leading us to go in a different and new direction, but we need to be careful to distinguish between God's clear leading and our own wants. There is a lot of "power" with being able to say, "God is leading me to . . . " because how does someone "argue" "against" God and His "leading"? Consider the following thoughts -

Bibles for Children - The Adventure Bible for Young Readers!

Adventure Bible for Young Readers, NIrV, TheIf you are looking for a Bible for young readers, one which will help them understand how they can read and know how to live what they learn - take a good look at The Adventure Bible for Young Readers!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bible Review - NIV real-life Devotional Bible for Women - I'm Giving One Away!

Along with reviewing Bibles for children, I'm happy for the opportunity to review a few Bibles for grown-ups, too! One of these is the NIV real-life Devotional Bible for Women - and I'm delighted to say I'll be giving one away on my other blog - grandma's cookie jar! If you are looking for a Bible with in-text devotionals which will take you through a year of Bible reading and study, definitely take a look at this Bible.

I Have a Winner!

I'm happy to announce Pam Paparone is the winner in my Read with Me Bible Deluxe Edition give-away! (You'll find the review at this link.) Thank you Pam for reading About the Children's Department (please message me your address 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!

Let's Plan a Volunteer Recruitment Month! - "Hand in Hand" Theme!

One of my favorite "oldie" groups is DeGarmo and Key. I love their music, their sound and I love the message to their songs. So, when it came to selecting music for a theme and video, well, the song "Hand in Hand" is absolutely perfect! I used this song in a church with a long history. I was able to get photos of their original building and even of classes and volunteers from decades earlier. By combining those old photos with video of the church with it's current classes and volunteers it made an amazing video! The added bonus was the strong message in the song, so again while I realize this is an older song, it is well worth considering as the song you choose to build your theme around for your recruiting month!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

When You Recruit Remember Why You Serve!

Why do you serve in children's ministry? What do you enjoy the most about serving? What is the most amazing thing which has happened while you served in children's ministry? What have you learned about God while serving? How have you come to know and walk with God more by serving? How has God worked in your life while you served in the children's ministry? When you recruit, don't forget to remember these things . . . and share them with others in your church!

Bibles for Children - the Story for Children

I've been spending time looking at some of the many Bibles on the market for children. If your church gives Bibles to children, these reviews will be helpful for you. If you do not give Bibles to children, then as parents ask which Bible they should give their child, hopefully you will find the information in these reviews - and in the side-by-side chart which I'll release at the end of my review - to be helpful resources for you and for the parents in your ministry! Today I'll take a look at the Story for Children from Zonderkidz.

The Story for Children, a Storybook Bible (Story, The)The Story for Children is part of the Story products from Zondervan and provide a unique opportunity for the entire family to spend time learning of and understanding God's story and where we "fit" in His Story! As Zondervan says, "The Story is helping people in churches everywhere experience Scripture like never before. Carefully selected verses from the Bible are organized chronologically. From Genesis to Revelation, your church members will come to understand God’s story and how their stories intersect with it."

The Story for Children
Author - Max Lucado with Randy Frazee and Karen Hill
Illustrator - Fausto Bianchi
Publisher - Zonderkidz

Ages: 4-8

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Don't Forget - Go Fish VBS Give-Away & Read with Me Bible Give-Away!

Just a reminder . . . in two days, on April 12, 2013, I'm giving away one Read with Me Bible Deluxe Edition (you'll find the review and details at this link) and one April 15, 2013 I'm giving away one Gotta Move VBS pack worth $400 from Go Fish (you'll find the review and details at this link). Check these links out and get in on the give-aways!

Let's Plan a Volunteer Recruitment Month! - "Lifesong" Theme

I've been sharing recruiting theme ideas with you which you could use to focus your church for an entire month on the opportunities which are available to serve in the children's ministry.  As I've said, I really like using a theme for a month as it gives you a consistent message and one which is more likely to get the attention of the people in your church. So far the themes/songs I've shared have been older songs, but if you are looking for a theme and would like a more recent song, consider this song from Casting Crowns - "Lifesong"!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bibles for Children - Pray & Play Bibles from Group

Pray & Play Bible for Young ChildrenIf you are looking for a Bible storybook which you can use with the children in your preschool children's ministry, take a good look at the Pray & Play Bibles from Group Publishing.

Don't Forget to Keep the Volunteers You Have!

All this month I'm talking about recruiting volunteers, but when you think about your volunteer needs, don't forget to focus on keeping the volunteers you already have! You don't want your children's ministry to be a "revolving door" where people volunteer and as soon as their commitment is over, they are "gone". If we are not keeping the volunteers we have, then we need to take a look at what we are doing to discover why this is happening and make some serious changes. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

May = Sunday School Curriculum Reviews!

Yes, during the month of May I'll be focusing on Sunday School curriculum and will share reviews, my side-by-side comparison chart and this year I also have people who will be sharing why they chose the curriculum they chose and what they like best about it! May is the ideal month to look at the curriculum you want to use for the Fall because it gives you time to evaluate, make your decision and then arrange for training so your volunteers are ready to go!

Please plan to join in the conversation during the month of May!