Friday, February 28, 2014

Let There Be Light - I'm Giving One Away!

There certainly is no shortage of picture books about creation, but a new book from
Desmond Tutu, illustrated by Nancy Tillman, brings a wonder, delight and awe to this account which shares how; "In the very beginning, God's love bubbled over when there was nothing else - no trees, no birds, no animals, no sky, no sea - only darkness. Out of this love, God spoke. 'Let there be light.'" And this retelling of the creation account only gets more beautiful from there!

Safe Nurseries + Safe Equipment = Welcoming & Effective Ministry!

It really does matter if the nurseries in our churches are safe places for babies. If they are not clean and safe, then parents won't - and shouldn't - leave their children in the nursery. If parents aren't able to leave their children in the nursery, they very well may not come to church and we lose the opportunity to impact a child's life from the very beginning; which means we lose the influence we are able to have on an entire family. Nursery ministry is not just about caring for babies - although this is a very important part of a nursery ministry. Nursery ministry is about ministering to the family - to parents, babies and siblings. Effective nursery ministry is a tremendously important part of the church - and it needs our attention. Jesus said to let the children come to Him - we need to be absolutely certain we are ready with a clean, safe and welcoming place for the littlest of these children!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I Have a Winner!

I'm happy to announce Sarah Yurga is the winner in my Rivet the Puppet give-away (You'll find the review at this link) Thank you Sarah for reading About the Children's Department (please message me your address by March 6, 2014 so I can have it sent to you) and thank you Cokesbury for making Rivet available for me to give away!

VeggieTales Veggies in Space - I'm Giving One Away!

What do you get when you combine several space themes, talking veggies, humor and a solid message? The new VeggieTales story: Veggies in Space, and it does not disappoint!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Resources on Child Abuse

Sadly, when it comes to talking about safety in our children's ministry, we have to also talk about child abuse. It is one of the things which most clearly shows our world is "broken" and 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 brought us Kidmin1124 and writes 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 . . . 

Child Safety - Severe Weather & Fire Policies

When we talk about safety in our children's ministries we think about screening our volunteers, signing in and picking up children, abuse prevention policies and staffing levels. We don't always stop and think about fire safety and having a severe weather policy, so let's take a few minutes to do so right now.

Fire safety requires some thought, action and communication. Consider the following . . . 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Safety - How Do We Have Parents Sign the Children In and Pick them Up?

Years ago when I served in a church in Northern California another church in town had a child abducted from their nursery by the child's grandparents. The grandparents showed up, the child identified them as their grandparents, so the nursery workers released the child. This church needed a policy and system for signing in children and picking them up.

At my church we had some grandparents who visited with their grandchild. These grandparents had custody of their grandchildren and were afraid the parents would come and try to take the children from our children's ministry. I explained our policy and showed them how we required adults to drop off and sign in their children. The adult received a copy of the form they filled out and we only released the child to the person who returned with the form and was listed as the person who was supposed to pick the child up. When they learned of our sign in/pick up policy they were relieved and began to regularly attend. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Safety - Policies Which Make Sense!

When it comes to safety there are three "roads" to take which remind me of the story of the Three Bears . . . one is "too hard", because we go overboard and implement too many policies which become burdensome and frustrating. Another is "too soft", because we think we are fine as we are and do not implement the polices we really do need which leaves us open to children being harmed in our ministry. The third is "just right", where we are thoughtful and carefully implement those polices which make sense and make our ministries a safe place for children. Obviously we all want to take the "just right", thoughtful approach, so let's consider policies with our staff/volunteers, facilities and children which make sense and will enable us to create an environment where children are safe.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Minion Inspired Thoughts About Recruiting!

I love recruiting . . . yes, I know you may think I'm crazy, but I love it because it means I'm inviting people to experience the amazing joy which comes from serving and besides, children's ministry is great fun! We play games, sing songs, make crafts, do science experiments, have dramas and most importantly, learn how we can know and walk with Jesus! What could possibly be better?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

More Thoughts About Burnout

This past summer I wrote about burnout - and was invited to also write an article for
kidzmatter about the same topic - The Truth About Burnout. When I wrote about burnout last summer, I said, "One word can bring feelings of frustration, fear and despair to people in children's ministry - especially those who recruit. This word is, 'burnout'. People leave children's ministry because of it and others do not join in because of it as well." I also said, "I have never experienced burnout. I was thinking about this in the past week and came to the conclusion the reason for this is because serving brings me so much joy and energy! It is a delight, joy and honor to serve so my focus is on these things and I have not experienced burnout."

It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking we are burned out and then quit serving. When we do this we pay a huge price . . . joy. I firmly believe when we become believers, God gives us gifts which He wants us to use in whatever church we are part of. He does not do this for them to be a burden, but rather for us to experience joy when we use them. God does not want us to feel "burned out"; He wants us to experience joy! Serving and using the gifts He gives us is one way we do this.

Using our gifts does not mean we will be burned out; this is a lie from the Devil. Using our gifts means we will experience an amazing joy! This is the truth! We must make the choice to believe the truth and take steps to help ourselves and those who serve in our ministries with us so we are not deceived into believing we are burned out. Check these links for ways to do this . . . 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Safety - Develop Child Safety Policies and Train Your Volunteers!

What child safety policies do you have for your children's ministry? Are they written down? Do you train your volunteers so they know these policies and procedures? Do the parents know what your child safety policies are? Do those in leadership positions in your church know them? Along with being completely committed to doing all you can to ensure the safety of your children's ministry and screening all of your volunteers, you need to have a written child safety policy which you and all your volunteers follow each and every week. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Safety - Screen Your Volunteers . . . ALL of Them!

In our children's ministries safety has to be our top priority. We want to be able to introduce children to Jesus and help them learn how to know and walk with Him for their entire lives . . . to do these things we must be committed to making our ministry the safest place possible. The first place to begin with this is with your volunteer screening; consider the following;

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

FREE Resources from What's In the Bible?!!!

I'm delighted for the opportunity to share some links with you from What's in the Bible . .
 . they are offering several FREE resources which you might find a use for in your ministry! Check these out . . . 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Safety - Our Top Priority!

Today we are looking at a very important topic . . . Safety in our Children's ministries. While our top mission is to reach children for Jesus and then disciple them so they know how to walk with Him their entire lives; our top priority must be safety. If we do not provide the safest environment possible for the children we are entrusted with, then we do not deserve the opportunity to share the news of Jesus with these children. We must be absolutely committed to doing all we possibly can to make our children's ministry a safe place for children.

Monday, February 17, 2014

How Does Your Children's Ministry Support Parents With Special Needs Children?

When it comes to family ministry and being intentional and effective in your family ministry; do you stop to think about your ministry to families where they have a child with special needs? Does your children's ministry provide the support and encouragement these parents need? Loretta Baughan wrote a powerful and thought provoking post on Modern Day Eugenics on her blog, STRAIGHT4ward with Loretta Baughan. Please take a moment to read this post and then consider the following . . . 

I Have a Winner!

I'm happy to announce Joan Eppehimer is the winner in my Go Fish Shine VBS Prize Package give-away! (You'll find the review at this link) Thank you Joan for reading About the Children's Department (please message me your address by February 24, 2014 so I can have it sent to you - and thank you Go Fish for sending a kit for me to review and for making another available for me to give away!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Don't Miss Out on the Blessings!

Yesterday I said, "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 . . . 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

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 . . . 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Take God's Word Out the Doors of the Church!

My background is fairly conservative when it comes to church. I grew up in a
church where children sat and listened to their teachers, wrote in their student books and memorized Scripture. In High School I participated on a quiz team and loved everything about it. I wanted my children to experience the same "church" as I did, so when they were little I had them involved in a mid-week program with lots of Bible memorizing. My children excelled at Bible memory, moved through their books quickly and amassed their pins and badges. I was sure all of this was how it "should" be until something happened during one awards ceremony which began to completely change my opinion. All the little four year olds were waiting to receive their awards for the progress they made in their books . . . all except for one little boy. This boy had great difficulty memorizing. He did not receive an award that evening . . . and went home in tears. When I saw him crying I wondered what his "view" of God looked like. Did he see God as Someone Who would only be pleased with him if he were able to memorize Bible verses? Was this the view of God I wanted children to have? Of course it wasn't.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

VBS 2014 - FREE VBS - Abundance Orchard & a Mission Project Resource

I was invited to share a free VBS resource with you which equips your church to help children and families in your community who do not have enough to eat, so, of course, I am very happy to do so!

Society of St. Andrew ( is a nationwide faith-based nonprofit which engages volunteers in hands-on mission and service, gleaning in fields to recover fresh fruits and vegetables which are shared with agencies feeding the hungry. Last year, their 36,848 volunteers distributed 96.5 million servings of nourishing food right here in the US. Their mission statement talks about nourishing souls as well as bodies, which they do through Lent and Advent devotional materials, a hunger focused Bible Study for youth and adults and a work/study mission retreat program, Harvest of Hope. They also create VBS resources every year, primarily for congregations wanting a mission emphasis to add on to their VBS using commercial curricula.

Sad Facts About Hunger in America

I'd love to be able to say there are not children and families in America who go to bed hungry . . . but sadly, this is not the case. In your own community - and very possibly in your very own church - there are children and families who go to bed hungry. Consider the following facts and statistics on hunger in America from Share our Strength . . . 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

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!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

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 . . . 

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Truth vs Lies

While there are certainly many essential things we need to teach the children in our
ministries; there is one thing we do not tend to teach them which our failure to do so can leave them vulnerable to being deceived. What is this, "thing", you ask? Simply put; it is the truth of how the Devil is a liar.

Why is this an essential thing for us to teach the children in our ministries? Simply put; because children are so easily deceived by this Liar. The world is full of the Devil's lies; for example, so many children's books, movies and games involve magic. It is a lie from the Devil that this magic is something which would make our lives better, more interesting, fun and powerful. The truth is God is the One Who gives us better lives, makes them more interesting fun and true power comes from Him. However; far too often this message is not given to children, so they are deceived by the Liar to think they will find what they want apart from God.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Second Chance Give-Away . . . Rivet the Puppet

Puppets are something you can always use in your children's ministry and VBS
is a great opportunity to build your selection of puppets as several publishers offer beautiful, unique and fun puppets with their curriculum. These puppets are typically priced affordably, so take a look at the puppets which are available and add them all to your ministry resource room because if you have them, you are likely to use them!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Mark your calendars for February 15th!!!

Before you do anything else today, mark your calendars for February 15th!!!
Grab a red pen and circle the date!!!! Why, you ask? Well, because it is the day after Valentine's Day!!!! So, you ask? Because the day after Valentine's Day all the heart-shaped Valentine's Day candies go on clearance!!!! 

Why would you want to buy heart-shaped candies? Well, please allow me to share just a few of the many things you can do with heart-shaped candies in your children's ministry . . . 

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Truth About Burnout

I was recently invited to write about burnout for K! Magazine/KidzMatters; so since they
posted the article on the KidzMatters site, I thought I'd share part of it with you and provide the link for the full post.

"I do not believe burnout is really a problem in children’s ministry. Stay with me for a minute as I explain. When we, or a volunteer, are tired from serving, instead of identifying it as, 'we are tired', we call it burn-out. Or, when one of us experiences frustration because we are serving on our own or took too much on for us to be able to handle, instead identifying it as we are doing too much on our own, we call it burnout.

There are other examples, but the point is, burnout is not really the problem. Misidentifying, or even not identifying, the problem is the problem. When we fail to correctly identify the problem, we can’t solve the problem and sadly, the end result is, people leave ministry and do not experience the joy God has for them when they serve. This is a true tragedy.

I Have a Winner!

I'm happy to say Virginia from MN is the winner in my Arrow Island VBS kit give-away! (You'll find the review at this link) Thank you Virginia for reading About the Children's Department (please message me your address - - by February 14, 2014 so I can have it sent to you) and thank you RBP for making this kit available for me to give away!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Other Part of Effective Children's Ministry - Part 2

So what can and should the church do to help parents in these areas? Equipping parents involves training them and this is a vital – sadly often ignored – area of critical ministry the church is in the unique place to offer to parents; both from the church as well as the community. The church can impact church families by offering classes to help parents in the following areas:

VBS 2014 - Blast Off! from Group Publishing

I'm delighted for the opportunity to share Group's weekend VBS with you . . .
Blast Off! The idea with this resource is to provide two affordable 2 1/2 hour sessions, plus a one hour celebration which churches could use over one weekend . . . or over three weekends . . . or they might be able to spread it out for one Saturday a month for a Summer of fun!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Simple Valentine's Day Craft

Valentine's Day is next week, so if you are looking for a simple craft which the children in  your ministry could do . . . and one which has a purpose, then look at this great idea I found on Pinterest for a Valentine's Day Bird Feeder!

The Other Part of Effective Children's Ministry

What does and should children's ministry look like in our churches? What is
the true, God given role for the church to fill in the area of training and teaching children? For many, many years we have mostly focused on the area of teaching in Sunday school, mid-week ministry and for special events like Vacation Bible School. While these are certainly areas the church can and should strive to be as effective as possible due to the tremendous way they allow us to reach in to the “church” kids and out to “community” kids, true, genuine and lasting effectiveness is achieved as the church fills it’s role in equipping and encouraging parents to fill their God-given role as the primary teachers of their children.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

VBS Follow-Up Which Really Follows Up!

So . . . you've given thought to your goal for Vacation Bible School 2014, 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.

Monday, February 3, 2014

VBS 2014 - Shine! from Go Fish; Top Pick for Music & a Special Give-Away!

I am happy for the opportunity today to share with you the new VBS from  Go Fish - Shine! This VBS will challenge children to "Shine" for God and be a "glory giver" and not a "glory getter"! Once again, Go Fish has amazing music and is my Top Pick for Music for VBS 2014!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

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!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

I Have a Winner!

I'm happy to announce Werner is the winner of the Guardians Construction VBS kit (you'll
find the review at this link). Thank you Werner for reading About the Children's Department, (please message me your address so I can have it sent to you) and thank you Nourishing Faith for making this available for me to give away.