Thursday, March 31, 2016

Family Ministry on a Shoestring - Family Amazing Race!

A few years ago I asked people on CM Connect what they were planning to do during the summer with the families in their church and community. Derek Weaver is the Kid's Pastor at Remedy Church in Delmar, MD and he mentioned they held their own version of "The Amazing Race" for their children and families. I told him I'd love to hear the specifics and asked if he would be interested in writing a guest post for my blog . . . he was kind enough to do so! I'm going to share Derek's guest post with you again, with some ideas on how to do an event like this - on a shoe-string!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Family Ministry on a Shoestring - VBS!

Over the past years, I've typically taken a week about this time of year to focus on ideas for family ministry events /activities . . . all on a shoestring - so any church can do these things! While I know I have shared these ideas before, I am going to share them again - you may be new to About the Children's Department and this would then be the first time you see these ideas. You may have read them before, but did not try them at the time - perhaps they now fit better with your summer goals. 

Do you plan family ministry events/activities? While there are some which can be very expensive, there are also lots of ideas which are very affordable . . . just may take some planning. With Summer just a few months away and children out of school, it is the ideal time to kick your Children's and Family Ministry into high gear! As families continue to look for ways to make their dollars stretch, this gives you additional opportunity to reach out to children and families; so over the next few days, I'll look at some ideas for Children's and Family Ministry you could do on a shoe-string!

Let's begin with Vacation Bible School . . . yes, VBS! Many churches plan VBS each year . . . most of you are evaluating curriculum, planning to recruit your volunteers and have your week of VBS scheduled. If you have not already done this, take a moment to think about how you might be able to offer a VBS ministry to the children in your church and community . . . 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

There are no Grills or Microwaves in Heaven

I am a grandma and I love being the grandma of Josiah, Caleb and Shane! When you think about Children's Ministry you may think about parents, but don't forget grandparents. Grandparents are in a unique position to have many important conversations with grandchildren. There is something "special" about grandparents because most grandchildren do not see them everyday; which makes the times they do see them, very special . . . for grandparents as well!

Monday, March 28, 2016

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.”

Sunday, March 27, 2016

But in Fact Christ Has Been Raised From the Dead!

Today is Resurrection Sunday! The most important day in all history! Just look at I Corinthians 15:1-28, 51-58 - 
"Brothers and sisters, I want to call your attention to the good news that I preached to you, which you also received and in which you stand.  I passed on to you as most important what I also received: Christ died for our sins in line with the scriptures, he was buried, and he rose on the third day in line with the scriptures. He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve, and then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at once. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Remember Birthdays, Send E-Mails and "Adopt" Those Volunteers!

Yesterday we looked at something you can do to have a ministry of support and encouragement for your volunteers. Today we are going to look at two simple ways to encouraging volunteers and one idea which has the potential to invigorate your volunteers and church like nothing else! 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Absolutely More Fun Than a Barrel of Monkeys . . . Encouraging & Supporting Our Volunteers!

I know when you are serving in Children's Ministry there is no shortage of things for you to do, but one area which tends to be overlooked is taking time to encourage and support your volunteers! Volunteer encouragement and support are two very important parts of effective Children's Ministry and have always been two of my favorite parts of Children's Ministry, too! 

Your church and my church have each been gifted with volunteers who faithfully serve in the various areas of our ministries. While these people certainly do not serve for our thanks, it absolutely is appropriate to take the time to thank them! I have always enjoyed the ministry of appreciation - what could possibly be more fun than taking the time to thank and encourage those who serve as volunteers in our churches? There are many ways to thank and encourage your volunteers, so today and tomorrow I will look at a couple ways you can do this!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Prayer . . . a Wide Road and a Narrow Road Approach in Kidmin - Take the Narrow Road

Yesterday 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?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"Prayer - a Wide Road and Narrow Road Approach in Kidmin"

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’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.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Where Are the Pieces and Do They Fit Together???

Have you ever felt like the pieces of your life just don't "fit" together? Or like there was a "piece" missing? Have you ever wanted God to "put the pieces of your life back together"? 

Well, if you have - or even if you haven't, this passage from Psalm 86:10b-17 (The Message) is sure to brighten your day!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

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.

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 -

Deeper In 4 Grandparents & Parents, Too! - Mini-Edition is FREE for Five Days!

I believe one of the most important things we can do for the children we love - both our own children and grandchildren - is to pray for them. While we may believe this to be true, we may also feel confused about how to pray effectively for them. This is why I love praying Scripture for my adult children and my grandchildren - and is why I've released two Scripture prayer books . . . Deeper In 4 Grandparents & Parents, Too! Praying the Scriptures for the Children You Love - Old Testament Edition and Deeper In 4 Grandparents & Parents, Too! Praying the Scriptures for the Children You Love - Psalms Edition.

These books give you 52 weeks of Scripture passages - one passage a week - which are then personalized into a prayer for yourself and for the children you love. These passages are divided each week into seven portions which allow you to focus on a specific portion of the prayer each day. The goal for each book is to guide you into thoughtful and specific, focused Scripture prayer, each day for a year.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Free For You . . . One Illustrate My Own Bible Heroes Book!

I LOVE books for children! I really LOVE Bible adventure books which introduce children to people from the Bible; when those people are some of the "unknown" heroes . . . well, I especially LOVE those books! So, a few years ago I sat down and wrote several Unknown Bible Hero books, but since I'm not really an illustrator, I thought it would be fun to write the books so children could be their own illustrator and illustrate their own book!

Friday, March 18, 2016

That Wasn't Exactly How the Adventure Went . . .

You've studied and prepared for the Bible adventure you are going to teach this week to your class, then you share the lesson with the children. Of course they will remember it the way you taught it . . . don't be so sure! Just because you have "taught" a lesson, it does not mean the children "heard" and will "remember" the lesson. Consider the following examples . . . 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Look What People are Saying About Deeper In 4 Grandparents & Parents, Too! Praying the Scriptures for the Children You Love - Psalms Edition - & I'm Giving One Away!

Yesterday I was very happy to share with you the news about the release of my new book - Deeper In 4 Grandparents & Parents, Too! Praying the Scriptures for the Children You Love - Psalms Edition. I think this is a book which will prove to be a very useful tool for grandparents and parents as they focus on praying for their grandchildren/children . . . but, then I did write it, so it is possible my opinion would tend towards the "biased" side!

So, today I thought it would be fun to share with you some of the opinions of people who read my book before it was released . . . 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Announcing - My New Book - Deeper In 4 Grandparents & Parents, Too! Praying the Scriptures for the Children You Love - Psalms Edition!

One of the most important things we need to do as leaders in Children's Ministry, is to share resources with parents and grandparents which will help them pass on a heritage of faith to the children they love. So, with this in mind, I'm very happy today to share with you my new book - Deeper In 4 Grandparents & Parents, Too! Praying the Scriptures for the Children You Love - Psalms Edition!

I firmly believe one of the most significant things grandparents/parents can do for their grandchildren /children to pass on a heritage of faith is to be consistent and faithful in praying for them. This book will help them do exactly this by guiding them each week for a year in praying specific passages from Psalms for themselves and for their grandchildren/children.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Make a Significant Difference in the Lives of Children - Engage Parents & Grandparents . . . and Check the New Legacy Coalition Website!

I am all for Children's Ministry. I believe an effective Children's Ministry can, and does, make a difference in the lives of children. I believe it matters what we do in our churches with the children. I believe a strong church has a strong Children's Ministry.

Having said these things, I also believe the ability of a Children's Ministry to significantly impact the lives of children in a lasting way is limited if the Children's Ministry does not also focus on the family. When studies show the average child is only at church twice a month (check this link and this link for the specifics on the studies) . . . which works out to about two hours out of every 336 hours - yes, two hours - we can not continue to put our energies, staff, volunteers and funding in just these two hours. We have to look at what we can do to help engage and reach children in as many of these 336 hours as possible (two weeks=336 hours).

So, how do we do this? Keep in mind, God's Word tells us children are to be engaged and reached in all 336 hours we have in a two-week period of time. Since it is clear you, your staff and volunteers can not possibly engage children for all these hours, we have to focus our efforts on following God's guide-line for children . . . which is of course, the best guide! In Deuteronomy 4 and 6 He says teaching and engaging children has to be a day-in-day-out focus. This is the role of the family.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Free Family Event - Trusting God Journey!

Sometimes in our Children's Ministries, we become too focused on children. Yes, I just said, sometimes in our Children's Ministries, we become too focused on children. Why did I say this? Because while focusing on children is important, our impact - our genuine impact on children is limited. We will be significantly more effective if we are also focusing on the family - all of it including the grandparents.

Yes, we need to focus on Sunday and Wednesday ministries, but if most children only attend these twice a month (as research by AWANA showed), then clearly if these are the only or primary areas we focus on, our genuine impact is significantly smaller than we may realize.

We need to focus on the entire family - as I said, including grandparents. 

One reason we do not offer family ministry opportunities, is because we do not stop and think to plan ahead. We are so busy with the day-to-day ins and outs of our ministry, we don't take the time to plan ahead for a special event. So, today I'm delighted to give you a back-to-school family event . . . My Bible Journey - Trusting God Journey which you can being to plan for now, so you are all ready to offer it the end of August or beginning of September! (Just click on the link - My Bible Journey - Trusting God Journey which is above in blue.)

Often when children return to school, some of them feel apprehensive and even afraid - what will their new classes be like? What will their new teachers be like? Will they have friends? There are so many questions . . . potentially so many things to be concerned about. Parents also have many concerns . . . will they make the right decisions when it comes to raising their children? Will they be able to keep their jobs? If they do not have a job, will they be able to find a job? Will they be able to make their house payment? What will they do if gas gets more expensive again? Grandparents wonder if they are passing on their faith and if they are truly connecting with their grandchildren? They wonder how to do this more effectively. So many potential things to be concerned about.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Resurrection Sunday Craft

If you ask, most people will say Christmas and birthdays are two of their favorite days in the year, but one of my favorite days is Resurrection Sunday! Without it, we would have no hope. Look at I Corinthians 15:13-22, 
"If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." We have hope because Jesus rose from the dead!

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Dr. Seuss Quote for today - You're never too old . . .

As you have likely gathered from recent posts, I sincerely believe churches need to "expand" their "definition" of "family" to include grandparents. God's Word is clear it is His plan for generations to pass on faith - grandparents to their children's children. So, with this in mind, I'm happy to share a Dr. Seuss quote with you today which "fits" and reminds us to engage them in passing on their faith . . . "You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child!" 

This is a quote I really love, and it is 100% true! When it comes to reading to, teaching and nurturing a child, we are NEVER too old! Look at Deuteronomy 4:9 -
 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
God wants us to teach our children and their children after them - clearly this is His plan for grandparents! Plus, Deuteronomy 6:4-9 tells us to make teaching our children a very high priority . . .
"The LORD our God is the only true God! So love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. Memorize his laws and tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you're at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning. Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and foreheads to help you obey them. Write these laws on the door frames of your homes and on your town gates.

As a grandma, one of the most important things for me to do is to pass on a heritage of faithfulness to my children and grandchildren. One great way to do this is by reading and then connecting what we read to a child's walk with Jesus! When we read books to children we can tell them, "over and over again" about God's love and faithfulness to us. We can read when we are at home, on trips, at bedtime and of course, reading from God's Word is a tremendous way to start the day! 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Unless We Care . . . & Show It

Today I want to look at another Dr. Seuss quote and how we can help the children in our ministries understand what God's Word says about it. The quote is . . . "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not!" 

This quote makes me think of a few questions . . . What do I care about? Who do I care about? How much do I care? What am I willing to DO in regards to what and who I care about? I John 3:16-18 says . . .
"This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but closes his eyes to his need—how can God’s love reside in him?  Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action.
Jesus cared about us . . . a "whole awful lot", but He wasn't willing to just talk about how much He cared. He acted. He came. He gave His all. Do I give my all? 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Legacy Grandparent Conference - Please Join Us!

Don’t miss the first regional Legacy Grandparent Conference on May 9-10 at Grace Church of Eden Prairie, MN, with national family ministry leaders such as Larry Fowler, Wayne Rice, Rob Reinow, Linda Ransom Jacobs and more.

Grandparents have incredible influence and a biblical mandate to disciple the next generation. It is time for us to recover a biblical understanding of the place and purpose of grandparents and engage an army of 30 million Christian grandparents who have the potential to change a generation for the glory of Christ and the good of families. 

The Legacy Grandparent Conference is for grandparents, pastors, church leaders, and anyone who wants to pass on a legacy of faith in Jesus Christ to future generations. 

Mon-Tues, May 9-10, 2016 | Monday, 4p-9p; Tuesday, 9a-4p, Grace Church. This is a conference unlike any other, where you will:

SoulFeed Box from LifeTree Family & Save $5!

Yesterday I wrote about one of the most important things we can do as people who serve in Children's Ministry . . . let parents and grandparents know about resources which are available to them to use at home with their children /grandchildren to pass on a heritage of faith and shared LifeTree/Group's Buddy Box with you. While our Children's Ministries tend to focus on families with younger children - grades four or five and below - many families do have children who are in college and younger children who are still in elementary school. Plus, we do need to expand our definition of "family" to include grandparents - and many of them have grandchildren who are in college as well. So, today I'm very happy to let you know about a unique and excellent resource for college kids, which you can share with the parents and grandparents in your ministry . . . and let them know how they can save $5, too!

Subscription boxes have become quite popular - you can get them filled with most anything; in this case, the SoulFeed box is a subscription box which is filled with items to get college students thinking about God, His love for them, and their walk with Him. You may choose the length of your subscription for these care packages - monthly, every four months, every eight months or individual boxes, which gives you a lot of flexibility! Group Publishing/Lifetree sent me one box for free, so I could see what is inside and let you know all about it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Buddy Box from Group & a $5 Discount!

One of the most important things we can do as people who serve in Children's Ministry is to let parents and grandparents know about resources which are available to them to use at home with their children/grandchildren to pass on a heritage of faith. Today I'm very happy to let you know about one such resource, which you can share with the parents and grandparents in your ministry . . . and let them know how they can save $5, too!

Subscription boxes have become quite popular - you can get them filled with most anything; in this case, the Buddy Box is similar to subscription boxes in how it is filled with items to get families thinking and talking about God, His love for them, and how they can know and love Him back. It is different in how it is not a subscription! You may choose the boxes you want, whenever you like without being locked into a subscription! Group Publishing/Lifetree sent me one box for free, so I could see what is inside and let you know all about it.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Don't Cry Because It's Over . . .

The Dr. Seuss Quote for us to think about today is . . . "Don't cry because it is over - Smile because it happened!" As you go through this day, take a moment to keep in mind, as we go through life, there will be times we rejoice and times when we wonder what is happening. The important thing to remember is God knows what is going on - even when we do not. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" 

We need to remember how important it is for us to have an attitude of thankfulness and joy at all times . . . I Thessalonians 5:16-18 - "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." When we experience something wonderful, be thankful! Rejoice and then look forward to the next part of God's plan for your life and how you can give joy to others!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Dr. Seuss Quotes . . . Today you are You . . .

Those who serve in Children's Ministry know Dr. Seuss impacted children for generations, and continues to do so long after his death due to the many, many books he wrote which children still read and love. While his stories are fun, many of them also have a bit of truth in the stories, so I thought it would be fun to share a few examples of how you can take familiar Dr. Seuss stories and use them to point children to Jesus!

I'm starting today with a very familiar Dr. Seuss quote . . . "Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You!" I love this quote and it is truer than true! As you go through this day remember, God created you to be the amazing, incredible person you are. Psalm 139:16 says, "but with your own eyes you saw my body being formed. Even before I was born, you had written in your book everything I would do."

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Free Resurrection Sunday Lesson!

I originally posted this lesson a couple years ago . . . but, thought since you all may be looking for ideas for Resurrection Sunday 2016, I'd share it with you again! 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)

Friday, March 4, 2016

What Do I Need to "See"?

In our Children's and Family Ministries "imparting information" is important, but it is infinitely most important for us to pray for "eyes to be opened". In our ministries we "impart" a lot of "information". We teach Bible lessons, we train volunteers, we encourage parents and grandparents . . . we "impart" a lot of "information". But, do we focus on asking God to "open eyes"? What are some things we need to have our eyes . . . and the eyes of children, parents, grandparents, and volunteers . . . opened? Consider the following . . . 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Make Prayer THE Priority!

When we serve in the Children's Ministry, there are many things which are "important" for us to do, but the most important thing we not only can do, but must do, is to pray. Yes, teaching the Bible - giving information - is important, but the first thing we need to do is pray. 

Do you pray, really pray, before you do anything else in your ministry? It can be far too easy to just go about the work of the ministry and plan, organize, train, prepare, teach . . . all without really spending time in prayer. Consider the following ways to make prayer not just A top priority in your ministry, but THE top priority . . . 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Do Not Be Afraid!

What are you afraid of? Well, if you are like me the first thing you think of is spiders! I do not like those hideous creatures at all! In fact, I firmly believe the only good spider is a completely dead spider; so one of my rules when my kids were growing up was, "Kill all spiders until they are dead and then kill them again!" Killing them at least three times seems appropriate - at least to me!!! And just so you know, there is no such thing as a "small" spider!

Well, beyond the obvious things, like spiders, what are you afraid of? More specifically, what are you afraid of when it comes to your ministry? Are you afraid you won't be able to find enough volunteers? Are you afraid the children and families won't be reached? Are you afraid of church politics? You may say you aren't "afraid" of these things, but how much time to you spend thinking - or even worrying - about them? These are all legitimate things to be concerned about, but we do not have to be afraid.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Fathers Matter . . . How Do We Translate This to Children's Ministry?

If our family ministries are going to be genuinely effective, we have to engage, educate, and equip dads. I watched a short clip on YouTube about how fathers matter to a child's education. Take a moment to watch it and then consider the questions below . . .