Sunday, November 30, 2014

Top 5 Reasons for Focusing Children on Giving at Christmas!

“Christmas time is here. Happiness and cheer. Fun for all that children call, Their favorite time of the year!”
Ah, yes . . . Christmas time is here and while children are likely to be focused on the gifts they hope to receive . . . as for many children it is their favorite time of year, I believe it is the ideal time to redirect their focus to giving to others! So . . .  here are my Top 5 Reasons for Focusing Children on Giving at Christmas . . .

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Countdown-to-Christmas - The Christmas Project

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I greatly enjoyed celebrating with my family and keeping my three grandsons for a sleep-over! The past couple days have been busy and filled with joy!

So, today, I am very happy to start my "Countdown-to-Christmas" where each day I'm delighted to share with you a Christmas song I enjoy! Today, I'm sharing a song from - The Christmas Project from the former lead singer of Petra (my all-time favorite group), John Schlitt! (Just a note on the "side", years ago when we lived in Redding, CA, my husband provided transportation and security for concerts - when Petra came to town, he took our five year old son with him to the concert - Petra was his favorite! After the concert our son rode in the van with his dad to take the band to their hotel. These guys were tired after a long day and concert, but the took time to not only answer a little boy's questions, but to engage him in conversation! This mom was touched and impressed and they have been my favorite band ever since. They not only sang songs with "spunk" and excellence, but they were genuinely nice people!)

The Christmas Project is described as: "Grammy and Dove Award winning vocalist John Schlitt, one of the most distinctive voices in Christian music, has never recorded a Christmas song--until now. Schlitt's The Christmas Project is slated to release digitally and through online retailers November 19, with a brick and mortar retail store release to follow in 2014. The full-length CD is comprised primarily of beloved traditional Christmas carols, but this doesn't mean The Christmas Project is all egg nog and holly. This album rocks with the unmistakable John Schlitt style which legions of fans have come to know and love."

The Christmas Project has ten songs - most are familiar and loved carols which you will be quick to join in and sing along - but be ready for some unique and special "touches" to these familiar Christmas songs!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thankful or Wantful?

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and today people are rushing to the stores for the "Black Friday Deals". People have turned their focus to the things they "want" . . . and this includes the children in our ministries as they think about the things they want to receive for Christmas. 

It seems like there is so little focus given to being thankful and while we might be quick to encourage children and families to take time to be truly thankful rather than focus on the things they want, how often do we actually do this ourselves? Consider the following . . . 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Be Truly Thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving! As we focus on being thankful today, I want to take a moment to encourage us all to be intentional about being thankful all year . . . not just in November. I've been talking with my grandsons about being thankful people. I tell them we love to be people who are thankful and encourage them to look for reasons to be thankful to others and to God. If the habit - or "mind-set" of being thankful is one which is encouraged and celebrated from the youngest ages, I believe it is one which will become a part of who we are!

While being thankful is part of having good manners, I think it is more than a manners "issue". Being thankful goes to the heart of who we are. It can be far too easy to be a person who just takes advantage of the kindness of others; which is something people who serve in churches need to be on guard for. We have people who volunteer their time, abilities and gifts to serve in our children's ministries. These people give and give and give - and we happily take what they give. Do we truly stop to let them know how very much we appreciate them and what they do? Or, do we take them for granted?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How Do You Model Genuine Appreciation & How Do You Teach Children to Appreciate?

It is oh, so easy to take people for granted and worse, to end up taking advantage of
others. While I am sure none of use want to treat others in a "shabby" way, if we are not focused on genuinely treating others with appreciation, we may find we are not treating others as we should.

So, if it matters for us to be focused on genuinely appreciating others, what do you do to do this? Especially when it comes to genuinely appreciating volunteers as they are people who often end up feeling like they were taken for granted and/or taken advantage of in our children's ministries. Consider the following ideas . . . 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Do Churches Still Have "Mean Girls" Who "Rule" in Children's Ministry?

Yesterday I asked if children's ministry is sexist because, sadly, there are times when women are "labeled" as, "bossy" or "pushy" as they are use the gifts God gave them, but a man who did the exact same things would be "labeled" as, "a strong leader" or as "someone who knows what he is talking about". Please know, I have had the joy to serve in several churches where I was truly valued and not treated in a sexist way, but sadly, there have been times when I experienced this in churches. Clearly not all churches are, "sexist", but there are some where women who serve are treated badly.

I'm not upset or trying to be negative about children's ministry, but if we do not identify and acknowledge things which need to be changed, they will not be changed. And, definitely any church which treats women in a sexist way, needs to make changes.

I said I'd share over a few days some ways this "sexism" might show up, so today I'd like us to think about if we experience this poor behavior the most from an, "unexpected" source; other women. I think in most cases the "mean girl" mind-set from junior high and high school is something most women grow out of and come to see as behavior not to be embraced, but there are some who continue this behavior and who gossip well into their adult lives. So, what might this look like in a church? Consider the following questions -

Monday, November 24, 2014

Are Churches Sexist in their Children's Ministries?

For the next few days I'm going to write about something which may be controversial; I sincerely hope you will comment as I would really like to hear what you think and what your experience has been.

Children's Ministry is a place where women are sometimes discriminated against and treated badly. Yes, there are churches where they treat women in children's ministry very well; I have had the joy to serve in several such churches, but it can also be a place where women are not treated well. Please allow me to give some examples over the next few days - one a day - of what I'm talking about . . . 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Your Thanksgiving Inventory

Thanksgiving is this week . . . so today, this post about being thankful is for you and is for fun! Are we truly thankful people? Do we get so "caught up" in the busy-ness of life we don't spend time "taking inventory" of all  God's many, many blessings in our lives?  Take a moment to watch this skit about "Your Thanksgiving Inventory" from the skitguys - it is sure to bring a smile to your face . . .

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Do You Know How History, Community & Culture Impact Your Children's Ministry?

Too often we tend to think children's ministry is just comprised of churches and children, which, technically, it is; but our churches . . . and our children . . . are not identical.  Our communities are different.  Our people are different.  Our histories are different.  Our cultures are different.What works in one church, may or may not work in another.  And, while there are components which are essential for every children’s ministry to be effective, there is no “secret recipe” where if you are certain to include each ingredient, you will be guaranteed an effective children’s ministry.  
So, what do you do to help your church’s children’s ministry be as effective as possible?  Well, while we can’t all follow the exact, same recipe, use the exact same cookie-cutter and expect our ministries to all be successful, we can discover our own unique "recipe" tailored to "fit" our unique community and people and then set about to implement our own, uniquely effective ministry which impacts the children and families in our own church and community!

Friday, November 21, 2014

How Do You Help Children Learn to be Really Thankful?

While we like to think we are thankful people, most of us do not actually live like we are thankful. Oh, yes, we talk about being thankful; especially in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, and when we pray we typically thank God for something, but are we truly thankful people? Consider the following questions . . . 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What Do You Do with the Potential "Controversies" at Christmas?

We are just a week from Thanksgiving and then a month of celebrating, special events, programs and parties leading up to Christmas! Definitely a busy time of year, but also a time of year which has great potential to stir up "trouble" as you try to discern the best way for your children's ministry to handle things such as; gift exchanges, special service projects, dealing with "Santa" and just how many special events should you plan in this month when families already tend to be so busy. Do any of the following sound familiar to you . . . 

I Have a Winner!

I'm happy to say Sandee Cole is the winner in my give-away! (You'll find the full review at this link.) Thank you Sandee for reading About the Children's Department (please message me your address by November 27, 2014 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!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How Do You Handle Hurt & Disappointment?

Serving in Children's Ministry means you will experience a great deal of joy . . . what
could be more joy-full than telling children Jesus loves them and being able to see children respond and then go on to know and walk with Him?!!!

But, sadly, serving in Children's Ministry also means you will very possibly experience hurt and disappointment at one time or another. While all of the church has a big "target" on it, Satan especially does not want us to be successful in Children's Ministry, because when we are and children put their faith and trust in Jesus, Satan loses them for life. So, if he can side-track or even derail Children's Ministry by causing hurt, disappointment and strife, he certainly will.

Some people, unfortunately, make it easy for Satan to do this. They may have a big ego, want things to be their way or no way, or have a negative, complaining, gossiping spirit and are convenient "tools" for him to use to hurt, disappoint or get people to step down from serving in Children's Ministry. They may make decisions, or get others in leadership positions to make decisions which hurt, disappoint or which you can not go along with. 

So, what do we do when we find ourselves in a situation where others have made decisions which cause us to have to step back from serving in Children's Ministry? Consider the following . . . 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Be Encouraged! God Sees & Remembers!

Serving in Children's Ministry can be one of the most joy-filled things you will ever do! Serving in Children's Ministry can be one of the most pain-filled things you will ever do. Both of these sentences are true. Serving can be joy-filled because you are able to use the gifts and abilities God has given you to help children learn of God's love and grace and how they can know and walk with Him for the rest of their lives! Definitely joy-filled! It can be joy-filled because you get the opportunity to serve with others who are giving their all to the Children's Ministry - some of the most wonderful people I've ever met serve in Children's Ministry!

It can also be pain-filled because far too often people give Satan a "foot-hold" by being negative, complaining, gossiping and insisting on having their way. Children's Ministry should not be a place where people end up hurt, but it is a place with a big, "target" on it because Satan does not want us to be effective in reaching children and helping them learn to know and walk with God. If he can side-track us or even better, derail us, he will do so and sadly, there are people who allow themselves to be used in this way.

So, if you are someone who is being negative, complaining, gossiping or insisting on having their way - stop it! Do not let Satan use you to side-track and derail ministry or to hurt others. If you are someone who has been hurt, check out Hebrews 6:10 -

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thankful for . . . Faithful Volunteers!

When it comes to children's ministry there are no shortage of things you need to provide ministry to children, but clearly one of the biggest needs is for volunteers. As you focus on being thankful this year, take time to thank God for the volunteers you have . . . even if you need more, be thankful, ever so thankful for the volunteers you have!

And, take time to show your thankfulness to your volunteers as well. Consider a couple ways to do this . . .