Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Another Prayer For Children's Ministry . . . Pray for Children to Grow in Jesus!

We certainly need to be praying for the children in our ministries so they come to know Jesus and choose to ask Him for His forgiveness and grace. This is one of the primary reasons for us to do what we do in children's and family ministry. But, along with praying for children to be saved, we also need to pray for them so once they do, they will grow in Jesus and come to know and walk with Him!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Object Lesson - Amazing Make-Your-Own Snow

I love object lessons because they tend to get the attention of children! I especially like them when they are activities we can allow children to do with us! So, when I was browsing on Pinterest and saw this link for making Erupting Snow - I had to share it with you!

Follow this link and you'll find the ingredients and directions for making "snow" and for having it "erupt"! Simple and fun, this is a project children will love, remember and want to show to others!

There are so many possibilities for making an object lesson with this cool project, consider the following:

Monday, April 28, 2014

Awesome, Fun and Simple Gospel Object Lesson

I am extremely happy to share a link with you to a video of a truly amazing and fun object lesson from Brad Brown which you can use with and teach to children to help them understand the Gospel!

Another Prayer For Children's Ministry . . . Pray for the Laborers!

Yesterday I posted about prayer and our children's ministry; I said, "We need to pray for the children in our church and community and ask God to make their hearts tender and open so they will choose to believe and be saved!" Today I want to talk about how we also need to pray and ask God to send us the "laborers/volunteers" we need for our ministries!

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; 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 -   

Sunday, April 27, 2014

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" . . . praying 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 with 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!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Open Our Eyes

In our children's ministries . . . and in our own lives . . . what causes the "lights go turn on"??? How does God's Word move from the head to the heart??? How does God's Word move from being "words on a page to something which stirs our soul and becomes real to us"??? Take some time to listen to Dr. Jim Samra from Calvary Church, Grand Rapids, MI preach on this . . . he calls us to consider the following from Ephesians 1:15-23 . . . 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Take God at His Word!

As I thought about what I wanted to post today, I remembered an opportunity I had to hear Dr. Stan Mast preach from Philippians 4:6,7; Acts 4:23-31 about, "Changing the way you pray"! Please take 29 minutes to listen to it - it will be some of the best 29 minutes you spend today!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Special Give-Away - Let's Go Explore Books

Have you had the opportunity to visit countries such as, Israel or Egypt or cities such as Jerusalem and areas such as Galilee? If so, your personal experiences and even photos would certainly be helpful resources as you taught children about the Bible accounts which happened in these places.

If you, like me, have not personally visited any of these places, books can be wonderful resources to help the children in your ministry be able to picture and better understand what these places are like and better understand what it might have been like to live there as well. Of course knowing these things can help children to have a fuller understanding of the Bible, so resources like the "Let's Go Explore" books from Zonderkidz are worthwhile books to have in your children's ministry classes or your library. I'm very happy today for the opportunity to let you know about these books and to give some away!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What Are You Afraid Of?

When it comes to recruiting volunteers, what are you afraid of?  Yes, I said, "afraid". So often people in children's ministry seem to almost "hate" recruiting or at least strongly dread and dislike it. Which leads me to my question; what are you afraid of? Are you afraid people will say, "no" when you ask them to serve? Are you afraid you will feel "awkward" if people say "no"? Are you afraid you won't have the volunteers you need and then worry about how to "cover" the "bases"? What are you afraid of?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

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. 

Last year I taught the children in my first grade Sunday School class one word a week which connected with the point of our Bible lesson - the kids loved this and each week we reviewed the words/signs from previous weeks!

Monday, April 21, 2014

I Have a Winner!

I'm happy to say Wayne Stocks is the winner of The Jesus Bible! (You'll find the review at this link) Thank you Wayne for reading About the Children's Department (please message me your address by April 28, 2014 so I can send it to you) and thank you Zonderkidz for sending one for me to review and for making another available for me to give away!

God's Grace Requires Us to Show Grace

Yesterday at my church, as in many churches across the country and around the world, we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus! It was awesome to sit in a service with at least a thousand people and hear the joy as we sang about how Jesus is alive, listed to my pastor talk about Jesus's resurrection and how He gives us His grace, forgiveness and life and watch as an entire family was baptized (son, mom, dad, grandpa and grandma!) 

Today, before we all get back to our day-in-day-out lives, I want to share something with you which I read from UpWords with Max Lucado. He said, "So, how often do you sin, hmm… in an hour?  For the sake of discussion, let’s say ten times an hour.  Ten sins an hour, times sixteen waking hours, times 365 days a year, times the average life span of 74 years.  I’m rounding the total off to 4,300,000 sins per person!  How do you plan to pay God for your 4.3 million sin increments?  You’re swimming in an ocean of debt. But God pardons the zillion sins of selfish humanity.  He forgives sixty million sin-filled days.  He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where He always wanted us to be.  And He did it by the grace of Jesus Christ."

If we are Christians, then we have been the recipients of God's incredible grace, pardon and forgiveness - which we all celebrated yesterday. Do we freely offer this grace, pardon and forgiveness we have received to those who hurt, offend, upset or wound us? Are our lives marked by grace - not only receiving it, but in generously giving it to others? Consider the following -

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Christ the Lord is Risen Today! Alleluia!

Today is Resurrection Sunday - the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus! I thought I'd share Glad's performance of the classic, Christ the Lord is Risen Today - enjoy and remember . . . because He is risen today, you can raise your joys and triumphs high and sing because death no longer has a sting or victory! Jesus did fight the fight and the battle is won because Jesus lives again! Alleluia!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Jesus is Bigger Than We Think!

Tomorrow is Resurrection Sunday; the most important day in history! As I Corinthians 15:13,14 says, "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.". But He is alive! We do have hope! We know He will return for us one day! (1 Thessalonians 4:14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.)

Jesus is alive, He is bigger than we think and He is able to do ever so much more than we can even imagine; but do we live our everyday lives as if we really believe this? Do we serve in our children's ministries as if we really believe this? Or, do we become overwhelmed and frustrated with all there is to do and think there is no way we can actually do all the things we need to do?

Friday, April 18, 2014

What Curriculum Do You Use and Why?

What curriculum do you use? Why do you use it? What do you like the most about it? What might you like to see be different with it? Throughout the month of May I will be focusing on curriculum. While I can sit down with a curriculum, read through it and give you a review of it's strengths and challenges, actually using it is the way to know the most about a particular curriculum line. 

I have actually used a number of curriculum lines throughout the year; but not all of them. So, I'm asking you to please get involved with this year's Curriculum reviews. As I post the reviews, please comment if you have used the curriculum in the review. Please tell us why you chose it, what you like the most about it and if there is anything you might like to see be different with it.

My reviews focus on the features of a curriculum, the type of curriculum and it's strengths. Your comments can truly serve to help those of us who are trying to find our best curriculum fit by hearing first-hand from people who are using the curriculum; please share your perspective! Thank you!

Sunday School Curriculum Reviews - Why Make a Curriculum Change?

In a couple weeks my curriculum reviews for 2014 begin; I'll also be releasing Side-by-Side Comparison Charts to help you as you evaluate curriculum looking for your best curriculum "fit". This year I'm also including info from people who use some of the curriculum, so, as we move closer to the start of my reviews I want to take a moment to consider some reasons you would NOT want to make a curriculum change as well as some reasons you WOULD want to make a change . . .

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jesus and the Bible are Not Boring; Why do Children Think They Are?

Jesus was not boring. While there is no verse in the Bible which says, "And He was not boring.", I believe we can see from Scripture how He was not boring because adults and children wanted to be around Him! We all know children do not want to be around people who are boring; and they do not want to listen to boring people either.

The Bible is also not boring. Think about it! In the Bible we have true accounts of real people; real people just like us, who either made the choice to know and walk with God, or not. These real people; real people just like us, actually talked with God . . . and had Him talk to them! These real people; real people just like us, watched as God did miracles . . . such as parting the Red Sea! Can you imagine what it was like to walk through the Red Sea on dry ground!!!! These real people; real people just like us, fought real giants, believed God when He told them not to be concerned about an army significantly larger than their own which was on it's way to fight them and then led their people to "battle" singing all the way, did not burn up in a fiery furnace, spent a night with hungry lions, walked on the water with Jesus, saw Jesus raise dead people, give sight to the blind and on and on the true and exciting accounts go! The Bible is absolutely NOT boring!

So, since Jesus is not boring and the Bible is not boring, why do so many children think they are? Why do so many children think the Bible is just a book they take to church with them and then leave in their van all week until they are on their way back to their Sunday School class? Why do so many adults think these things, too?

There are probably several reasons for this, but I think some of them are . . . 

Sunday School Curriculum Reviews - Think About the "Tools"!

My 2014 Curriculum Reviews and Side-by-Side Comparison Charts begin to release in May, but today we will talk about the "tools" you'll find in your curriculum; scope and sequence, intentionally engaging children in the teaching of the Bible lessons, how to get even shy children talking about the Bible lessons, a unified scope and sequence, "live-it" activities and "Put Feet to Their Faith" service projects!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sunday School Curriculum Reviews - What "Type" of Curriculum is Your Best "Fit"?

Yesterday I wrote about finding your best curriculum "fit" by identifying your vision/purpose first, because once you have a vision/purpose, you are ready to select your best curriculum “fit”. 

As you look for your best "fit", keep in mind, the Bible is what you are teaching. Not a particular curriculum. Curriculum is only a “tool” to help you engage children so they experience, remember, understand and live God’s Word for truly changed lives. If it is Biblically sound, any curriculum can be made effective – some curriculum just provide better, more effective tools than others. We select curriculum because it is the best “tool” for our volunteers to utilize so our children will be truly engaged and know how to live God’s Word; not because it has fun gadgets, DVD’s, or colorful artwork! Make sure the curriculum you select provides tools to not only teach the Bible facts – which are important and we do want our children to learn – but also engages children so they understand what these “facts” mean for their everyday lives!

When finding your best curriculum “fit”, keep in mind the different types of curriculum as they each utilize specific teaching styles and tools. Think about what will best help you accomplish your vision/purpose for children’s ministry.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sunday School Curriculum Reviews - How to Find Your Best Curriculum "Fit"

Once again, during the month of May I'll be focusing on Sunday School curriculum reviews. I like reviewing curriculum in the Spring so you can make your decision about which curriculum is your best fit by the beginning of the Summer. This allows you to have time to fully train your volunteers so when the Fall begins they are ready to use the new material! With this in mind, today I want to talk about how to find your best curriculum "fit". 

There are many curriculum options available on the market, so how do you find the best curriculum “fit” for your church; and once you determine your best “fit”, how do you know when or even if you should ever make a change?  

Too often we base our curriculum choices on familiarity, marketing and even tradition rather than the carefully thought through and prayerfully considered vision and purpose for our children’s ministry. When we make our curriculum choices based on “familiarity” or marketing, we end up changing curriculum so often the children in our ministry never receive a complete understanding of God’s Word, as no one scope and sequence is completed. When we choose our curriculum based on tradition, we may find ourselves utilizing a teaching model no longer as effective, resulting in our children not really understanding or living God’s Word. Consider the following components to help you find your best "fit" . . . 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Get Rid of Gossip

Yesterday I wrote about gossip and shared some excellent information from Maralee McKee
about how to stop gossip. I also said, "Gossip is something I hate. Gossip is not "harmless". Gossip is not something those of us who serve are okay to "participate" in. Gossip causes pain and is something we must not only be on guard for, but it is something which we must be resolute in having nothing to do with it."

I understand how it can be extremely easy to find yourself in a situation where we not only hear others gossip, but where we take part in the gossip as well. But, we must be on guard for gossip and see it for the vile and hurtful thing it is, rather than something harmless which everyone does. When we allow gossip to be part of what we and our ministry does, we will have ministries which cause damage.

In the past I was at a church where the pastor in charge of the children's ministry not only listened to gossip, but he justified doing so as, "part of his job". He mistakenly thought it was acceptable for him to listen to gossip because as a pastor he thought he should be hearing what others had to say. Sadly, he allowed gossip to form his opinions of others and then he spread the gossip. As you might suspect, this caused significant damage because when he, as a pastor, said something about someone else, others believed him; even when what he said was not the truth.

Whether we are the pastor, children's director or a volunteer in the children's ministry, we absolutely must have a zero tolerance for gossip. We must see it for the vile and hurtful thing it is. We must be absolutely committed to not only be a person who does not speak and spread gossip, but to also be a person who does not listen to gossip for the following reasons . . . 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Gossip - Stop It.

Gossip is something I hate. Gossip is not "harmless". Gossip is not something those of us who serve are okay to "participate" in. Gossip causes pain and is something we must not only be on guard for, but it is something which we must be resolute in having nothing to do with it.

My friend, Maralee McKee wrote an excellent post about gossip, which I'm going to share a bit of with you and link to the full post so you are able to read it all. Please take the time to do so.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Summer Ministry Possibilities - "Freshen Up" Your Vacation Bible School!

Okay, Vacation Bible School is almost a "given" for many, if not most, churches when they think about Summer Ministry Possibilities . . . but there is a very good reason for this! VBS is one of the most effective outreaches - and for many churches - their only outreach of the year, so as we consider Summer Ministry Possibilities, we need to first of all take a good look at Vacation Bible School. Why is VBS a good Ministry Outreach Possibility? People expect it. While this might sound like a negative thing, it is actually a very good thing because since they expect it, the people in your church are more likely to volunteer to help with it and the people in your community will be watching for the dates so they know when to send their kids.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Do You "Roll Up the Sidewalks" or "Kick it Into High Gear'?

What does Summer look like at your church? When it comes to your children's ministry, do you pretty much, "roll up the sidewalks" or do you "kick it into high gear"? If a new family were to visit your church in the summer, what would they think about your children's ministry? Would they be able to easily see your passion and commitment to children and families? What does it look like if you are a church where they "roll up the sidewalks" or a church where they "kick it into high gear"? Consider the following -

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Prayer For Your Ministry - Pray For the Most Important Thing!

There are certainly many things for us to pray about when it comes to praying for the children, families and volunteers in our ministry, but I think we can take a cue from Jesus as to the most important thing for us to pray about. In Matthew 22:37-40 someone asked Jesus which command was the most important; He said, "‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dream a Little - Part Two - Get Others In On the Dreaming!

In my earlier post, Dream a Little!, I encouraged you to dream about what you'd like to do in and with your ministry if money, time, space and volunteers were not an issue. I'd like to take this thought a little farther and encourage you to dream, but when you do, let others in on the "dreaming" with you!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Prayer . . . a Wide Road and a Narrow Road Approach in Children's Ministry - Help Children Pray!

I’ve been writing about prayer – the wide and narrow road approaches. I’ve said, “When it comes to our children’s ministries, we all know we need to pray, but there is a ‘wide road approach’ which leads to a shallow walk and a ‘narrow road approach’ which leads us to a deeper walk with God.” Today I want to consider a few ways you can help the children in our ministries develop a narrow road type of prayer.
I don’t want to try and give you a “prescription” or “formula” for children to follow when they pray. I have found these things only kept my prayers “stunted” and “robotic”. Consider trying the following to help children learn to take the “narrow road approach” and learn to have a deeper walk with God!

Be So Very Careful . . . Don't Be A "Sponge"!

When we serve in children's ministry - or any area of the church - it can become very easy for us to accept the kindness of others . . . 
  • A kind word to lift our spirits when we are tired - don't you typically   have at least one person who speaks kindly to you each week?
  • Free babysitting
  • Invitations for dinner
  • Gift cards, meals, books, other gifts
  • The prayers of the people in the church

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Jesus Bible - I'm Giving One Away!

There certainly are no shortage of Bibles on the market today; for children and for adults. But a new Bible from Zonderkidz; The Jesus Bible, is one which will help children - and adults - see how Jesus "shows up" in every book of the Bible!

I Have a Winner

I'm happy to say Rebekah is the winner in my Must-Have Marvin! book give-away! (You'll find the review at this link) Thank you Rebekah for reading About the Children's Department, (please email me your address so I can have it sent to you) and thank you ideals children's books for sending one for me to review and for making another available for me to give away!

Take the "Narrow Road" Approach to Praying in Your Children's Ministry

Prayer . . . a Wide Road and a Narrow Road Approach in Kidmin   Part 2 Children\s Ministry YouthYesterday I wrote about the “wide road approach” to prayer and said, “When it comes to our children’s ministries, we all know we need to pray, but there is a ‘wide road approach’ which leads to a shallow walk and a ‘narrow road approach’ which leads us to a deeper walk with God.” and shared a few “warning signs” to watch for.
Today, I want to look at the “narrow road approach” and share a few “mile markers” to help us keep “on track” as we think about prayer. I also want to encourage you to take time when you pray to find at least one Scripture verse and then personalize and pray it back to God. By doing this, you will find you are able to keep your prayers focused and will learn to pray in accordance with God’s will; after all, what can be more in accordance with God’s will than Scripture?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Beware the "Wide Road Approach" to Prayer in Children's Ministry

When it comes to our children’s ministries, we all know we need to pray, but there is “wide road approach” which leads to a shallow walk and a “narrow road approach” which leads us to a deeper walk with God. Today I’ll look at the wide road approach and “post” a couple “warning signs” for us to consider and then tomorrow I’ll look at the narrow road approach and post a few “mile marker” signs for us to consider.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

I Have a Winner!

I'm happy to say Karen from MN is the winner in my Young Women of Faith Bible give-away! (You'll find the review at this link) Thank you Karen for reading About the Children's Department (please message me your address by April 12 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!

Dream a Little!

It can be easy to get so involved with all we have to do with children's ministry . . . recruiting, training, teaching, etc . . . we find ourselves focusing on those things and don't ever take a moment to dream. Certainly we want to be sure we are taking care of the things we need to do, but we also need to make time to think about what we might like to see happen in our ministries as well. If money, time, space and staffing were not an issue, what would you like to be able to do in and with your children's ministry?  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Take the Blinders Off!

Okay - today I'm writing about something I care so very much about . . . children's ministry. Some of you who read this need to know, what I'm writing doesn't really apply to your children's ministry . . . but before you read a bit further and decide your ministry isn't the ministry I'm talking about, read the whole post and ask God to remove your "blinders" and help you honestly evaluate to see if there might be at least some of what I say which applies to your ministry.

I don't have horses . . . the one time I rode a horse the entire camp laughed about it all summer long (I was a counselor at a camp and they thought it would be nice for the counselors to have an opportunity to ride the horses . . . I just couldn't get my horse to go straight and we kept getting "stuck" in the bushes - it was an experience!) However, even though my personal horse experience is limited - and not highly successful - I do know about "blinders". They are put on some horses to help keep them from being distracted by the things around them. Blinders can be good, but I think in children's ministry they can also keep us from being effective.

Far too often we don't know what we don't know. We think we know what we are doing and we move forward, but when we look back for results - children and families with changed lives - we see our youth ministries still ended up being a "salvage ministry" because we really missed the mark in our children's ministry. So, what can we do to keep from "missing the mark"? Consider the following -

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why Make a Change?

Next month my 2014 curriculum reviews begin and I'll be reviewing Large Group/Small Group, Non-Traditional, Bridge and Traditional curriculum. I'll also up-date my Side-by-Side Comparison Charts to help you as you evaluate curriculum looking for your best curriculum "fit". So, as we move closer to the start of my reviews I want to take a moment to consider some reasons you would NOT want to make a curriculum change as well as some reasons you WOULD want to make a change . . .

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Free Resurrection Sunday Lesson

Resurrection Sunday is three weeks away . . . if you still haven't decided what you will be doing for Resurrection Sunday . . . maybe this lesson will work for you! Resurrection Sunday is the most important day in the history of man! If Jesus didn't rise from the dead then our faith would be in vain. But He did rise from the dead! This is one of the things which sets Him apart from all the other religious leaders throughout time! I Corinthians 1512-22 . . . "We have preached that Christ has been raised from the dead. So how can some of you say that no one rises from the dead? If no one rises from the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, what we preach doesn't mean anything. Your faith doesn't mean anything either. More than that, we would be lying about God. We have given witness that God raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if the dead are not raised. If the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith doesn't mean anything. Your sins have not been forgiven. Those who have died believing in Christ are also lost. Do we have hope in Christ only for this life? Then people should pity us more than anyone else.But Christ really has been raised from the dead. He is the first of all those who will rise. Death came because of what a man did. Rising from the dead also comes because of what a man did. Because of Adam, all people die. So because of Christ, all will be made alive." (NIrV)

But in fact, Jesus has been raised from the dead and in Him we shall be made alive! This is absolutely something worth celebrating! I'm delighted to give you a free Resurrection Sunday lesson for Preschool/Early Elementary and a free lesson for Elementary age children. You could use them in your Sunday or Mid-Week ministries . . . or anywhere you like!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

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

It is April 1st and if you are not already planning to focus throughout the month of May on recruiting volunteers for Fall 2014, consider doing so. If you recruit in May you will likely end up identifying most of the volunteers you need; which gives you the summer to fill in any empty spots and plan a training before you begin your Fall ministries.

I like to recruit with a theme; and find songs which connect with my theme to build my recruiting around. 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 around for a month of recruiting!