Friday, October 31, 2014

Share the Joy of Children's Ministry - a Simple and Pure View of God!

Recruiting can be a never-ending job at times, but one way we might find more people to serve in our children's ministries is by sharing the joy which comes from serving in children's ministries! For the next few days, I'll share some of joy I experience by serving in the children's ministry at my church; today it is the joy of being able to see all over again a simple and pure view of God!

What do I mean by this? When we serve in children's ministry - especially in the younger ages - we are able to see God through a child's eye, and they typically have a very simple and pure view of God! For example, when my three year old grandson visited my church, on the way home he was talking about how God created all the colors . . . especially his favorite colors! We all know God created everything, but do we stop and marvel and praise HIm for the simple things He created; like all the colors?!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Children's Ministry Matters Because We Need God!

Do you remember a few years back when the nightly news asked, "Since chimps show compassion to one another is morality in our genes? If it is, why do we need religion?" It seems there has been a lot of attention given by the media to "knowledgeable" people who say we no longer need religion or God. As a parent, grandparent and someone who serves in children's ministry I find this disturbing.

I have noticed there is a strong move in education and the media towards eastern religions and the belief we all can choose any god we want because they are all the same. Schools teach extreme environmentalism with the idea of  "Mother Earth" and there are no absolutes. Movies, TV shows, video games and books all constantly include messages about how "cool" it is to be a witch, or to have magic "powers". Our children are bombarded from the time they get up in the morning to the time they go to bed with these ideas in both subtle and very overt messages. They are told they do not need God and yet the truth is we all need God . . . more so now than ever. In spite of the messaging our children hear every day, we do need God and most wonderfully . . . we can know, love and serve Him because He loves us!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Commit to be Someone Who Does What They Say They Will Do

For the past few days I've been writing about how to help children in our ministries. Today I want to talk about something we can, and must, do to to help adults in our ministries; absolutely be people who keep our word. Yes, this may sound like a, "no-brainer", as we all agree we need to keep our word and not be people who lie, but it can be very easy to fall into the trap of not keeping our word. We must be on guard and watching to be sure we keep our word when it comes to working with our volunteers, families and the children in our ministries.

It may seem obvious why it matters for us to be sure we do what we say we will do; clearly God's Word tells us to be people who do what we say we will do. But beyond obeying God, it matters because when we do not do what we say we will do, it is extremely likely we will cause hurt to others.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How Do I Help a Child Who . . . Has Parents Getting a Divorce?

Few things can be as difficult, confusing and painful for a child than to have their family fall apart because their parents are getting a divorce. While children may respond outwardly in different ways; some children cry, some act out and others say it doesn't matter and laugh it off, you can be sure they are all hurting.

Divorce Ministry 4 KidsSo where can you turn to find information to help you know how to help children whose parents are getting a divorce?

I know of two excellent sources of information and help . . .  

Monday, October 27, 2014

How Do I Help a Child Who . . . Won't Settle Down in Class?

Let me start this post by saying any child can have a bad day - just as any adult can. If a child stayed up too late Saturday night, or wasn't able to sleep well, or is not feeling well, or didn't get the cereal they wanted for breakfast, or couldn't find his/her shoes and had his/her parents unhappy with them, or for any reason they just are not their normal self, it can show in the way they behave . . . or misbehave in class. When I talk about a child who won't settle down in class, I'm not really talking about the child who typically behaves. 

The one I'm talking about is the one who consistently, week after week, won't settle down. The child who won't sit still or stop talking. The child who doesn't follow directions and who seems to almost enjoy getting other children to follow his/her lead. So, what do we do; how do we help a child who won't settle down? Consider the following . . .

Sunday, October 26, 2014

How Do I Help a Child Who . . . Does NOT Want to Be Here?

Children's Ministry is a place where there are children. This is pretty much a "no-brainer", but because there are children in our children's ministries, while most of the time most of the children participate without any trouble, there are times when we will have to give focused care to specific children. So, for the next week, let's look at specific times when specific children will need focused care . . . starting with the child who does NOT want to be here.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

It's Christmas; a Christmas Family Experience - I'm Giving One Away!

While your thoughts may be turning towards the many blessings God has lavished on you (and He does lavish many, many blessings, big and small on us all the time) and you may be starting to plan your Thanksgiving dinner with your family and/or friends, Christmas is really just two months from today. If you are looking for a resource which you can use in your ministry to help families celebrate on Christmas Eve; take a look at this Family Christmas Experience from NextGen4Christ . . . and stay tuned after the review, because I'm giving one away!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing - I'm Giving One Away!

On my other blog; grandma's cookie jar, I'm busy announcing all my 2014 Christmas give-
aways. (Every year throughout the month of November I have a lot of special give-aways for Christmas!) Yesterday, I shared my review for a lovely book by Sally Lloyd Jones and illustrated by Jago - yes, you may recognize them as the author and illustrator of, "The Jesus Storybook Bible".

Since I thought you might be interested in Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing as well, I'm sharing the link to my review and am encouraging you to check it out - you have time to enter the drawing for the book if you like! (It would make a lovely Christmas gift to a family on your list!)

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing will do exactly this; it will make your heart, and the hearts of the children and families in your ministry, sing as it reminds them of the truth of how very, very much God loves them! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What Are Your Questions?

What are your biggest challenges in children's ministry? What questions do you have which you do not know where to turn to find answers? What might you like to do, but are not sure how to begin? What is your biggest concern in your children's ministry?

Please comment and ask me your children's ministry questions; if I do not know the answer, I'll find someone who does and share the answers with you!

So . . . what are your questions?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Make a Real Difference - Save a Child from Ebola for Just $3!

Yesterday, Michael Chanley - the founder of CM Connect - posted some amazing information about ebola and how we can make a real difference by saving the lives of children in Liberia for just $3! How is this possible, you ask? Read this post and then I am challenging everyone who reads About the Children's Department, to go and donate $3 and save a child - of course if you want to donate more, feel free to do so!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Great Christmas Book - Belfry's Christmas Gift - I'm Giving One Away!

Over on my other blog, grandma's cookie jar, I'm giving away a wonderful new book from Whitestone Media - Belfry's Christmas Gift. This book is in the Theo Presents series and does such a delightful job of presenting what Christmas is all about: God gave His love to us!  In this story, Belfry, the little mouse, is too little to have much he can give to Theo for Christmas. While Belfry is feeling sad and trying to think of a gift he could give, he notices a lonely clockmaker who the other animals are afraid of and stay away from. Belfry helps the clockmaker and shows love by giving of himself to him.

I won't spoil the story for you, but you'll find my full review and the details for how you can be included in the give-away - which is on November 20, 2014 - at this link.

Belfry's Christmas Gift is a great book to add to your church library and to recommend for families as they will have much to talk about as they read this book together at Christmas . . . and all through the year!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Thank You . . . with a Little Fun and Creativity!

I love pretty much everything about children's ministry, but one of my favorite things is thanking and appreciating the volunteers - after all, what is more fun than expressing a heart-felt thank you?!!!

Yesterday we handed out a "thank you" to the Sunday volunteers at my church (the Wednesday night volunteers will receive their "thank you" on Wednesday night). We ordered Lego 2x2 bricks (orange for Sunday morning volunteers and white for Wednesday night volunteers), glued pin tacks to the back of each one, put each pin through a card with Ephesians 4:16 printed on them, (From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.) along with a red "Thank You" design and a "Thank you" from us; "Thank you for doing 'your part' to help the children at Calvary trust and follow Christ for the rest of their lives!" Our volunteers all wear a photo id on a lanyard, so they will be able to pin their Lego pin to their lanyard.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Make The First Contact Memorable!

Smile Mouth Teeth Clip ArtThanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner, potentially bringing first-time visitors to our church, so, it is so very important for us to think about what we do to make the first contact with a visitor to your church and children's ministry, because first impressions are so important! Did you know the first ten seconds . . . yes, seconds . . . you meet and greet someone can, and usually does, impact the relationship you end up having with the person! I learned this, and five top tips for making a great impression from Maralee McKee's blog - Manners Mentor! I especially love tip three . . . 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Three Keys to Identifying a "Positive" "Wake"

I've been writing this week about what you have in your "wake" at your children's ministry. I said, "We are truly responsible for the people serving in our children's ministries; responsible to help them serve with joy and to be sure we do not harm them.I also shared three warning signs to be watching for so we do not leave a trail of hurt people in our "wake".

It truly does matter what we do and say with and to those God sends to serve in our children's ministries, so to help us not only identify if we are leaving people who have been encouraged, supported and who are filled with joy in our "wake", but to also help us know what to do to have this type of impact, consider these three "keys" . . . 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Candle Day by Day Bible - I'm Giving One Away!

There are no shortage of Bible storybooks for children, but recently Kregel sent me a book to review which I really like because while it is a Bible storybook, it is actually something more than just another Bible storybook.

I Have a Winner!

I'm happy to say M. Davis is the winner in my give-away Dare U 2 Open This Book and JustSayin'(You'll find the reviews at this link.) Thank you M. Davis for reading About the Children's Department (please message me your address at by October 24, 2014 so I can have it sent to you) and thank you Zonderkidz for sending these books for me to review and for making another available for me to give away!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Three Warning Signs for "Hurt" Left in Your "Wake"

Yesterday I asked, "What are you leaving in your 'wake'?" and said, "We are responsible for the people God sends to serve in our ministries. We need to be sure we are encouraging them and helping them grow in their walk; not harming them. Sadly, in too many churches, volunteers are not encouraged and supported; they are used and abused leaving wounded Christians who do not want to serve again. We must be on guard we do not allow our ministries to be one which does this."

We are truly responsible for the people serving in our children's ministries; responsible to help them serve with joy and to be sure we do not harm them. I have served in ministries where serving truly was a joy (and where I serve now it definitely is a joy), but sadly, I have also served in ministries where the ego of those in leadership caused pain and actually left me determined to never serve again anywhere. Thankfully, God had other plans for me!

So, what are some warning signs we may be harming and not encouraging those God has sent to us to serve in our ministries? Consider the following . . . 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What Are You Leaving in Your "Wake"?

When I was a child my parents had a house on a lake where we spent our summers and most weekends. I loved to spend my summer days swimming in the lake. Some friends a few houses down from us had a speedboat and often took us water-tobogganing. I loved water-tobogganing! I got quite good at it and rarely could be thrown off the toboggan - no matter how many times I went over the "wake" from the boat.

So, the other day I was thinking about this and about the "wake" we leave in our ministries. Is our wake one where people are excited and enjoying the "ride", or is it one which "throws" them off and leaves them "wounded"?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Support the Volunteers You Have!

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 -

Monday, October 13, 2014

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

I've been talking off and on for the last 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. I'm going to look at this for a few days - keeping the volunteers you already have, starting today with the benefits of retention!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

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

Recruiting can be a never-ending job, but one way to reduce the recruiting is for us to keep the volunteers we have. One way we can do this is to take the time - and make the time - to know your volunteers.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

I'm Thankful for the Opportunity to Serve!

The other day I wrote about how I'm thankful for the Children's MInistry leaders at my church and for the vision they have for the children's ministry. I said, "The focus in our children's ministry is truly creating ministry which is exactly this - focused and intentional!"

Today I'm thankful for the many opportunities to serve at my church! Yes, I know most churches have no shortage of places for people to serve, but I have been at churches where some leaders did not trust others to serve and wanted to do everything themselves. When a leader does not let the people at their church serve with the gifts, talents, and abilities God has given them, they are robbing them of the joy of serving. So, I'm very thankful for the opportunities to serve at my church!

So, what are you thankful for? Consider yourself asked!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Love Letters from God - I'm Giving One Away!

In addition to writing About the Children's Department, I also write another blog; grandma's cookie jar. While I do include recipes from time to time, the idea for 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!"

Each November I have a month of special Christmas reviews and give-aways; I begin posting the reviews in October and draw winners throughout the month of November. Today I posted my review of the new book, Love Letters from God, written by Glenys Nellis. In my review I said, "While there is no shortage of Bible storybooks on the market, Love Letters from God is truly unlike any other I've ever reviewed! God's Word is personal; truly God's love letter to us, but this is difficult for a Bible storybook to communicate to children; until Glenys' book! With the short, simple presentation of key Bible Adventures, Love Letters from God not only helps children learn these Bible accounts, but helps them understand how they are far, far more than "stories"; they truly are God's letters filled with love to them from Him! Look at the, "love letter" from the Adventure of the, "Sneaky Snake" . . . "Dear _________ (I LOVE how you can put your grandchildren's names here!!!) Do you ever do things you shouldn't, like Adam and Eve did? It makes me sad when my children' do something wrong. But, I want you to know if you say you're sorry and trust me, the most wonderful thing will happen - I will not remember your sins! I will only remember how much I love you . . . because you are my precious child, and nothing you can do will ever stop me from loving you. With a Heart Full of Love, God" Is this not how you want your grandchildren to view God?!!! I certainly want mine to see God like this! Love Letters from God will absolutely be a book my grandsons and I work through together! I would love to see, "More Love Letters from God" to help children work through God's Word in this personal and unique way!" Please take a moment to check my review at this link - and enter the drawing for this delightful book!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I'm Thankful for the Leaders and Vision in our Children's Ministry!

Yesterday I wrote about how people are challenging others to share three things they are thankful for on Facebook and shared how I'm thankful for the amazing volunteers I have!

Today I'm thankful for the Children's MInistry leaders at my church and for the vision they have for the children's ministry. Our Children's Pastor not only has a wonderful vision for the children's ministry, but he is focused on seeing the vision carried through each area of the ministry! Plus, even my three year old grandson knows who Pastor Joel is and that he loves Jesus and the children in our church! They have also been impacted by Pastor Brian (and are sad to see him leave). The focus in our children's ministry is truly creating ministry which is exactly this - focused and intentional!

Definitely people and things I'm thankful for! So, what are you thankful for? Consider yourself asked!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I'm Thankful for the Volunteers I Have!

For the past few weeks I've noticed something going around on Facebook where people tell three things they are thankful for and then challenge people they know to do the same; so today I'm telling something I'm thankful for and then challenging you to comment and share what you are thankful for!

I'm thankful for the amazing volunteers I have! My volunteers love Jesus and the children in their classes! They have enthusiasm and come prepared for their class! Plus, they always have genuine smiles on their faces when they greet the children in their classes! God has truly blessed us with amazing volunteers and I am extremely thankful!

So, what are you thankful for? Consider yourself asked!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Thank You for Reading About the Children's Department!

Yesterday I found out About the Children's Department is one of the Top 50 Family
 Ministry Blogs for 2014 as rated by Sam Luce (see this link)! 

I also found out we are one of the Top 100 Children's Ministry Blogs (we came in at #25!!) as rated by Tony Kummer at Ministry to Children (see this link)!  

Thank you so much for taking the time to read About the Children's Department! I sincerely appreciate each of you - please follow these links and check out the wealth of resources, ideas, information, and help which you will find at both these sites!

Monday, October 6, 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 . . . 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

I Thank God! What Do You Thank God For?

I've been writing about being thankful and expressing our thanks to God; intentionally. So,
today I want to ask you, what are you thankful for? When it comes to your ministry, what are you thankful for? When it comes to your life, what are you thankful for?

It is far too easy to become so focused on the day-in-day-out busyness of serving in our children's ministries that we do not even stop to think about, let alone express, our thanks to God. We do ask God for a lot of things, but do we make thanking Him a priority?

Saturday, October 4, 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?

Friday, October 3, 2014

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!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Book Reviews - Dare U 2 Open This Book & Just Sayin' - I'm Giving One Away!

I get sent a lot of books each year to review - some are excellent, some, not so much. But, the other day Zonderkidz sent me two books for children 8 to 12 years old which I love and am very happy to let you know about! Dare U 2 Open This Book is a unique devotional for guys and Just Sayin' is for girls - if you are looking for a devotional which you can recommend to the families in your ministry; definitely take a look at these two books! Let's take a closer look at both of them . . . 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Be Thankful - Involve Everyone in Saying Thank You!

A few days ago I wrote about being thankful. I said; "I have recently been giving thought to being thankful. I think far too often we sound like greedy, selfish children. We are quick to ask God for things, but do not spend much, if any, time thanking God. I wrote last Summer about planning a Prayer Walk in your ministry - perhaps now your Fall ministry has begun, it is time to plan a Thanksgiving Walk. Post specific answers to prayer in each area of your ministry and invite people in your church to walk through your children's ministry and spend time thanking God for the many ways He is answering prayer and blessing your ministry. End with a time of worship and corporate thanksgiving for an evening focused on being thankful!"

While I think having a "Thankfulness Walk" is a great idea, it may be more than you can put together at this time. Another way you can focus on being thankful - a simpler way - would be to ask your volunteers to email you something they are personally thankful for. Then, each week in your weekly communication, you could include the thing one person is thankful for so everyone can thank God together! This is simpler and keeps your focus on being thankful all year!

This is just another way you can be intentional about thanking God for His many blessings. What do you do to intentionally thank God?