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Kids Ministry

The Red Book Mark Harper

“The Red Book” by Mark Harper should be on every shelf of every Children’s Ministry leader. It is a great ministry hand/guide-book that is easily digested with practical application steps.

This book covers the important aspects of Children’s Ministry. Mark doesn’t only tell you what those aspects are, He shares his own experiences, insights, and how you can put in place those ideas into your own ministry. Every chapter is short. When it comes to Ministry, there is a ton to unpack even if we’re only considering the most basic elements. Great nuggets of timeless wisdom and knowledge in every chapter. Steps you can follow the next Sunday.

I will admit, I had one part of the book in which I had a struggle with Mark and do not see eye to eye with this comment of his. On page 57 he writes: “In my opinion, too many of us have bought into this philosophy of “teach less for more.” I do agree with the idea of teaching less for more. The way Mark uses this thought is not correct. Mark writes how our kids are starving for the word of God. If you are starving then you feed that hunger. I agree we have people starving for the word of God and that we should feed them as much as possible. The “teach less for more” isn’t people like myself saying we need to teach less of Gods word. Let’s look instead at what we are doing in our services and make sure we have given the word priority over all the extra things. That is “teaching less for more”.

In my ministry, we have made small groups where the word can be shared in a way the kids can flesh it out. The “Word” has such a priority, that it gets more than half our time together each week. This time is what gives us more bang for our investment than anything else we can do.

Outside of this, this was an incredible refreshing book to read. I enjoyed this book so much that I am ordering it for all my leaders and I would urge you to do the same. I am using each short chapter as a stand-alone teaching in my pre-service huddles with my leaders.

Thanks, Mark Harper for such a great book that anyone of any church size can use.

Summer Camps 2015

I am sitting here in the “Church/Chapel” area of where the kids services take place every night here at our 2015 Open Bible Church Camp. This year the theme is “Obey Your Thirst” and a friend of mine who I have known for years through networking but never in person until now, Jerry Moyer of the Jubilee Gang, has answered my request to come and do our camp this year. They are doing great and it is such an honor to have them ministering here. Every night the altars are full and God is moving in the lives of these kids. Last night, the kids started coming forward before he even gave the altar call, that was pretty cool.

I will include some links and pictures in this post and invite you to follow them and see what God is up to at this year’s Camp.

Here is when we preached at JCC’s Family service camp and we had dads play games with their kids. This is the PJ stuff.

DC PJ stuff 2

Here is the other dad who competed.

DC PJ stuff

Here is a pano of part of Wildwood Hills Ranch where we hold camp.

Wildwood Hills camp ground pano

Josiah going swimming
Josiah going swimming

Purple team practicing team cheer
Purple team practicing cheer

For me, this year was very busy but full of great life lessons. I will post more as time goes on and I get back home from all the camps where my internet connection is stronger. But for now, my greatest take away is that if the kids have someone loving on them and caring for them, they can and will do great things.

Why you should answer the call to volunteer in children’s ministry

Volunteer Jump

Here is another guest post by a friend of mine who pastors here in Iowa, her name is Dawn Ferris. Enjoy the challenge by this post.

My heart is so burdened. I often write for those in children’s ministry—volunteers or other children’s pastors. But today, I’m writing to those who need to hear call of God to help out in their church’s children’s ministry programs.

There appears to be a serious shortage of people who are willing to make a commitment to helping children know Jesus. Across the country, in large and small churches, east coast, west coast and mid west, churches and children’s ministers are struggling to find people to serve in their ministries.

It’s a spiritual battle, and it is taking place within the walls of our churches and within the hearts of God’s people.

Children’s ministers are no longer called to minister to children, but to empower volunteers to serve. It has even been suggested that 85% of a children’s pastor’s time should be delegated to recruiting, equipping, encouraging and appreciating volunteers.

Yet churches and parents often still expect that same children’s pastor to invest another 85% of their time teaching, encouraging, planning events and equipping children.

Since 85% + 85% = 170% of their time, well, “Houston, we have a problem.”

Jesus knew it, and so He told us, “Ask the Lord of the Harvest to bring workers into the field. For the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few.”

Truer words have rarely been spoken. Children are so receptive to the love of God. Children are hungry for people to invest in them. Children want to be led. But the window of time is short, because children aren’t children forever.

And like the leaves change and fall with the seasons, a children’s open to the things of God has a very short window.

Don’t wait to be asked. Your children’s pastor or ministry leader may be swamped under the demands of a 170% work schedule. People often have a zillion reasons why they can’t serve in children’s ministry, but here are five I’ve come up with as to why you should consider answering the call of God and making the call to your children’s ministry leader.

5 Reasons to Answer the Call to Serve in Children’s Ministry

1—You have a chance to be a part of leading children to Jesus. Without Jesus, people are going to hell. With Jesus, people can be saved from hell. Care enough to help save a child.

2—You have a chance to be a part of leading children to Jesus. Repeatedly in God’s Word people found their way to Him because someone else led them there, and sometimes they did it when they were tired, beaten, shipwrecked or endangered. In the U.S., out of all those, we can probably only claim tired. Come and lead a child to Jesus.

3—You have a chance to be a part of leading children to Jesus. God promises us that He will equip us and strengthen us for His mission. Trust God to empower you to help lead a child to Jesus. He’s very reliable, and trusting Him can change your perspective and your life.

4—You have a chance to be a part of leading children to Jesus. To paraphrase Mordecai when he talked to Esther, if you don’t do it, someone else will, but you may be in your church to help for such a time as this. Children’s Ministry may be a little dangerous sometimes, but so is the alternative.

5—You have a chance to be a part of leading children to Jesus. We are in danger of raising another generation of children who don’t know Jesus. If you are reading this today, God is calling you to do something about it. Think about it. If you knew God was calling, wouldn’t you want to answer the phone?

Ok so those five reasons were really just one reason. But, what more reason do we need to serve than the privilege to partner with God to lead a child to Jesus and to see them saved from hell?

Answer the call. Make the call. See what God will do. Then write and let me know!! There’s nothing I love better than a great story of God at work in people’s lives.

Coming soon: What you can do to help when you are just not a “kid person”—not everyone is.

Something’s Fishy – Focused Prayer for Kids and Leaders

disciples praying

Guest Post by Dawn Farris who is the Director of Children’s Ministries at New Testament Christian Church, Keokuk, IA. You can find out more about her at her blog www.whosthefarris.com or follow her on twitter @whosthefarris

“And pray for my cat and my dog and my goldfish and bless all the world. . . Amen”

While children’s prayers can be heartfelt and sincere, part of our call in their discipleship process is to help children grow deeper in the discipline of prayer.

Because prayer is more than just talking to God, it is both an offensive and defensive weapon in the spiritual battles we face every day, this week in our children’s ministry, we used what we called “fish prayers” to help HiSKidZ grow in their prayer and spiritual lives and walks with God.

Our younger children made fish refrigerator magnets and our olders made bookmarks to help remind them to pray the fish way. (Yes, along the way we practiced our fish faces, fish sounds and fish tales!)

Here is what we shared this week with our kids; and our leaders and parents loved it, too, since this isn’t just a great way for kids to pray, it’s a great way to pray for kids.

F=Faith
Pray for faith. The disciples prayed for Jesus to increase their faith and we can learn from their example. We talked with HiSKidZ about how the world can chisel away at their faith, so we need to pray that God increases our faith and the faith of our friends.

I=Integrity
First we had to explain integrity. Our simple definition “doing the right things for the right reasons” helped kids to understand that they could pray to be honest, sincere, helpful, kind, forgiving, generous and more. Since we have used virtue based curriculum in the past they understood praying that the words adhered to our walls would be adhered to our hearts.

S=Salvation
As we talked we found that most of our kids were not praying for people to get saved. It didn’t take long to realize that prayers for people to “be saved” were most definitely in God’s will and we became excited to see what God will be doing as we begin to pray for our family, friends and classmates to know Jesus as their Savior.

H=Holiness
HiSKidZ define holiness as “being set apart for God.” Again when asked, most realized they had never considered praying for their life to be set apart for God. Our older kids even concluded that one of the reasons many kids grow up and don’t follow God could be that there weren’t enough prayers being prayed for them to be set apart for their whole life.

Just as a fish can swim deep down into the water, HiSKidZ and their leaders went home this week with a new tool and plan to help them go deeper in their relationship with their Savior and Friend, Jesus.

Kids are BIGGER than your lemonade stand

In the commercial above the dad gives the phone to Susie because “it has a calculator”. Too often this is exactly how adults show their confidence in kids.

There is a generation of kids today who are taking the tools people are willing to give them and turn them into something completely new.

The last scene of this commercial is great where the girl has renovated the front of the house and expanded it up to look like a major business building. She even has an assistant. When dad asks: Where’s Susie? A young boy working and posing as her assistant asks: Is she expecting you?

Take time today to let kids know how much you believe in them.

You get from volunteers according to what you give them. How’s your getting?

Hands holding a gift box isolated on black background

In our pursuit of recruiting volunteers for our children’s ministries many explain that they are not getting the volunteers. I think we need to look inward before we begin to talk about how people just don’t volunteer in our ministries.

First I start with the view that volunteers want to be successful. They want to make a difference. They want to be part of a team because that is just how God made us all. I do think there are some steps we can take to help potential volunteers to be successful, able to make a difference as they serve on our teams.

What volunteers are able to give depends on what we give to them first.

Let’s start with those you already have as volunteer leaders. Have you established an environment that allows those currently volunteering in your ministry to be good walking billboards for you?

* Can they say you take care of them by having proper child to leader ratios?
* Would they say you give them the proper tools to get not just what you have asked them to get done but what about to get done what God has put on their hearts to do with the families?
* They feel immersed and knowledgable about the mission and vision because it is in writing, its taught to everyone and lived out for all levels of volunteer commitment within your children’s ministries?
* They have been mentored by a more experienced and seasoned volunteer. This helps with that all too often feel that some go through as they are thrown into a ministry and left alone.

Lastly but by no means finished, let’s look at a few things we should be giving to our new volunteers. Lets start after they sign up and have background checks done because at this time we all now we have to at least do this step.

* Do we have a process of getting to know them personally?
* Take them through some gift test to place them in the right spot?
* Can we hand them our ministry manual? This will help with a lot of uncertainty about how they order supplies, chain of command, discipline policy, and more.

I believe that if our giving is great then our getting will be good. How is your getting?

What else would you add for those already in the ministry?
What else would you add for those looking to come into the ministry?

That’s the ministry I want

comparison

In my times of hanging out with other children’s pastors I am often hearing how they are trying to do this, or that, because this person does it or that church does it. I often times find that many are listening to the “big names” in the Christian community (because they tend to have a bigger/wider platform to speak from) and it then appears they are the ones to copy. If we want our ministries to grow many of us have convinced ourselves we must BE them. Then we undergo a rude awakening when our copying fails to produce the same results and we wonder why. The problem is it works for those children’s pastors because it is their calling. It doesn’t work for us because the Lord has a different plan for us. We must spend our own time on our faces asking Him what that is, there is no short cuts.

An unfortunate trend in ministry is, we so desperately want to be “more” we stop looking for the purpose God gave US and look to others to answer that. The issue isn’t when we take wisdom and apply it, the issue comes when we try to copy who they are. We play the “numbers” or the “comparison” game, and allow it to make us feel empty and like a failure. If we don’t have enough kids or can’t build the same size and noticed platform to speak from we are doing it “wrong.”

To try to keep from the “That’s the ministry I want” syndrome I suggest know what being “You” Means. Get to know your strengths and weaknesses. THEN read the books, listen to the sermons, and study what others are saying. It is the same when reading the Bible. You don’t first start with the commentaries, you first start with God’s Word and find what it says to you. Once you have that then you can grab a commentary.

So go ahead and read the books, listen to the live streaming, look at other children’s ministries if you need to, but, most of all simply don’t forget Christ just wants you to do what He asked of YOU, no one else. Allow that knowledge to drive you towards, that is the ministry you want to have.

Children’s Ministry Videos

Call me slow, but I just discovered these you tube videos from Children’s Ministry Magazine. They have a full list of videos on a variety of topics about things on Children’s Ministry.

Here are just a couple:

The Mohawk Snap Object Lesson

20/20 Vision

So do you have any other places or videos that you have stumbled across recently that can be used in children’s ministry?

Children’s Ministry is not for the faint of heart

Childrens-Ministry

I’m being challenged by God to think through do I still tackle ministry with the same hunger and edge that I did when I started into the ministry. As I look around to some of us that may not be considered the young guns in children’s ministry anymore, I find that time has often started taken its toll on many of us.

Why is it so hard to stay in children’s ministry and keep your edge and hunger? Some of my findings are that many have learned to keep things where they are not terrible but they are not buzz worthy either.

Here are some possible reasons buzz worthy children’s ministry can prove difficult:

You run the largest group of people in the church being served.

You oversee the greatest physical, social, emotional, and mental developmental span of any ministry in the church (babies through preteen)

You are required to train the most specific and varied volunteer ministry in the church (because of the developmental range and varied ministry requirements within that range)

You most likely run the largest group of volunteers to lead and manage

You will have the largest amount of weekly “maintenance” (everything from cleaning nursery toys to picking up teaching supplies to managing multiple environments)

You must be diverse in using and knowing the greatest amount of teaching material (varied curricula to meet developmental needs, object lessons, crafts, supplies, etc.)

Your role as a pastor remains perhaps the least understood or appreciated pastoral level position in the church, as reflected in the fact that it is typically the lowest paid “leadership” position on the staff

You are expected to spend as much time (or more) investing, ministering, praying for and building into other adult leaders as you do kids.

You need to know the latest and greatest technology available to keep up with the kids and to be able to educate the parents in what their kids are talking about.

You must be a strong problem solver and can push through the most difficult problems seeing that you are setting an example for the most impressionable minds in the church.

You must have a strong understanding of the Bible and theology.

You will continue to be a student of culture and not come across as someone who is trying to fit in, but actually does fit in and understands those in the culture.

You must be a master communicator for ages birth to death. Your comfortable talking to a room full of adults as you are speaking to a room full of kids.

You will not usually end up with paid staff, part-time or full-time, helping you like other departments may get. Instead, you have to use 100% volunteers.

These are but a few reasons Children’s Ministry is not for the faint of heart. These are also the reasons why children’s pastors or those overseeing children’s ministries need to be prayed up everyday as we hit the battle field. What an honor to be trusted with so much!

One method to create children’s ministry object lessons

playdough

I have recently had a lot of my volunteers coming to me asking how do I create object lessons for everything we talk about in our children’s ministry? So I thought if they have this question then many others may have it as well.

Here is one simple way I create object lessons.

Pray. Enough said on this point.

After Prayer I will start with the main point of the scripture. This may be one of those ways that my method is different from some that I talk with. Starting points with object lessons differ.

Example, some start with this order:
Idea: God is creative
Scripture: Genesis 1:1
Object Lesson: Use a tub of play-dough and mold it into something live on stage

Some may come up with the object that they feel is really cool then the idea and then scripture to support it.

Example:
Cool object: Glow in the dark tub of play-dough
Idea: God is creative
Scripture: Genesis 1:1

Whereas I come up with the scripture that I want to illustrate then go create the illustration.

Scripture: Genesis 1:1
Idea: God is creative
Object: Glow in the Dark Play-dough.

This difference in all 3 may sound small but to me it is all about what is trying to be shared? The scripture, Idea, or Object? For me it helps to keep my focus and priorities knowing it is the scripture I am trying to share but I am using an object to aid in it. I am not sharing an object and pulling some scripture together to help share the object.

Now about the object itself, if you use one that is familiar with your audience I find the less you need to spend time explaining what it does or what it is. But with every object, familiar or not to the kids, it is a good investment of time to explain the object and make reference to it. Your goal is to get the children thinking about the value and purpose of the object (play-dough is used to create what I want, if it is soft it is useable to me, it will become whatever I want it to become, it will only look as good as the skill of the one molding it, I can mold 100 things with it and each will look different) which will help them relate to the value and purpose of the concept you are going to link to the object.

This was not meant to be a complete list or way of how to create and use object lessons, I only wanted to get you started. I hope I was able to share why I start with the scripture and make any object I may use connect to that and not some scripture connect to an object. This is only one simple way of I am sure many ways.

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