Archive of ‘Kid Min’ category
Why do so many leaders look so grumpy? Yes, we bear alot of responsibility and yes, we have a whole lot on our plates. But some of us have allowed all of that to steal our joy and make us pretty much no fun to be around.
Here are some things to remember to up your fun level:
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. You are the leader and you are important. But, come on, you are a normal person too. You may be kind of a big deal, but let everyone else think that, not you!
- Talk to people. Don’t be too busy or too whatever to not talk to people. Build relationships. Sometimes as leaders we kind of hide. Get out there and make some friends.
- Take people to lunch. Make someone’s day and buy lunch for them. You don’t even have to talk about your ministry or your job. Talk about life. Be a normal person.
- Throw some parties. Have people over to your house. Make it a big to-do or don’t, whatever fits your family’s personality. There’s always a reason not to. Do it anyway.
- Smile a lot.
- Laugh a ton.
Serve the LORD with gladness! Psalm 100:2
I remember my first kidmin “emergency”. It was during college and I was a summer children’s ministry intern at my home church in Chattanooga. One VBS morning I walked in early with a student ministry helper when we heard a “help” down the hall. A volunteer walked out with blood pouring down her face from her scalp. I was 19 and I did not love blood! This was my first true test in how to react in a truly stressful situation.
Leadership is filled with stressful and challenging situations. They can be small or they can be intense. Whatever the situation, leaders must remain level-headed.
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
2 Timothy 1:7
When pressure is high, how do you respond? It is important to remember that those we lead will mimic and multiply our reactions. People look to us to know how to respond. If we freak out, we will encourage chaos.
In high stress, we lead out of power, love, and self-control.
- We seek God’s power. We lead from His authority. We take control of the situation as much as the situation demands. We evaluate the situation and are not afraid to respond appropriately.
- We remember to lead out of love for all of those involved. Fear causes us to lead out of self-protection. Leading out of love forces us to put others’ needs first. Even in times of stress and times we might need to lead a little more strongly, we still lead with kindness and love for others.
- We show self-control by keeping our own emotions in check in stressful situations. We control our feelings and reactions enough to be able to evaluate the situation and develop a plan to respond.
Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:13
Here are three eternal truths in ministry:
1. Volunteers will mess up.
2. You will be disappointed.
3. Your true leadership shows in your reaction.
I had a very wise friend share the importance of this trait many years ago. If we are not quick to forgive those we lead and serve, we are going to be full of a whole lot of bitterness. We must learn how to hold people accountable without holding grudges.
It is not forgiveness to not address issues or broken commitments with people. These things must be addressed. Where we get into trouble is when we are hurt or upset by something and we don’t address it. Or we choose not to forgive and we walk wounded.
There are plenty of skills and tips and tidbits that leaders can incorporate into their repetoire. There are lots of things we can learn to do and not do. But then there are also some core qualities of who we need to BE. In this last pre-baby blog series, we will explore several of those.
My number 1 would be a personal and active relationship with Jesus, which I just blogged about not too long ago. So instead of repeating myself (which I do alot these days), feel free to go back and read that one. :)
After a true devotion to God, my next number 1 quality would be that every leader needs a servant’s heart. This should not be a surprise and many people smarter than me have written lots of words about it. But I think there are too many minutes that we forget to live it out. We get caught up in volunteers who don’t keep their commitments or what someone did not do for us or what the pastor didn’t announce from the pulpit. I see too many leaders, especially in kidmin, get caught in more of a victim’s heart than a servant’s heart.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
If anyone could feel entitled, if anyone could play the victim card or if anyone should be allowed to focus on what others should do for Him, it could have been Jesus.
But He didn’t.
He took off his robe and washed stinky feet. And then He allowed Himself to be mistreated, beaten down, and put on a cross. For others. For me and you.
1. Serve your pastor. Stop making a list of all of the ways your pastor could better help your ministry. Repent of any resentment you feel. Instead, look for ways to serve him and make his world better and easier.
2. Serve your volunteers. They are not your employees. They are people who give up their time because they love Jesus and love kids. Look for ways to serve them, help them, and make their worlds better.
3. Serve parents. Yes, parents do goofy things and sometimes make our kidmin worlds a little messier. What can you do differently to better meet the needs of parents? How can you serve one of your ministry’s parents this week?
4. Serve kids. Model servanthood for those in your ministry by seeking to serve them. Set the example of considering others better than yourself and looking for ways to help.
Bottom line: Be willing to do whatever it takes. Less complaining. Less wishing of what others would do for you. Serve. Help. Meet needs. Love like Jesus.
Whether it is for a special kids’ service, an Easter Egg Hunt, or any other Easter event, I know I am always searching for a good and fun gospel presentation for this time of year. Here are a few that I have used in Easter events in the past:
Large Resurrection Eggs
We hid large eggs all around our stage. Each egg was filled with most items similar to the original resurrection egg sets. We had a high energy, funny person race to find all of the eggs while the kids pointed them out. We then opened them in order and talked through the Easter story and the gospel.
I had 5 helium balloons and talked about how we all have a desire to go to Heaven. Lots of people try different ways of getting to heaven. I talk about 4 different ways: being more good than bad, hiding our sin, going to church a lot, and believing in something/anything. For each one I talk about how it doesn’t work… we can’t be good enough… and I pop one balloon. Finally I talk about the gospel and how Jesus died to take care of our sins. Instead of popping the balloon, I cut the string allowing the balloon to fly away and talk about how trusting in Jesus is the only way to go to heaven.
Sin is gross!
We did two versions of this. First, I had a planed volunteer join me. We talked about different examples of sin and for each example we poured something “gross” over his hand. We did syrup, dirt, sand, cottage cheese, and whatever else we could think of that ended up with his hand looking pretty nasty. We talked about that is how sin makes our heart look. God is holy and perfect and can’t hang out with that yucky stuff. The volunteer then gets to wash his hand off as we talk about the gospel and how Jesus died for our sins. When we trust in Him, God cleans up our hearts and makes us right again. The volunteer shows his hand is now clean.
A more dramatic example of the same idea is to have a planned volunteer that you can pour a bucket of slime on his head. This again illustrates how gross sin makes us and separates us from God. The downside is that the slimed volunteer can’t really get clean quick enough, so it is better to have him go out of sight while you share the gospel.
What is your favorite gospel presentation?
I really do believe that leaders read a lot. Good leaders know that there is so much more they need to know.
- Read books in your field. Read everything you can get your hands on that is related to what you do. If you are in kidmin, read everything that is out there.
- Read books that relate to your field. For children’s ministry, this would include parenting books, child development books, educational theory, etc…. The more you know, the better you can lead.
- Read books that have nothing to do with your field but stretch you. These may be books that families in your church are reading or books that are a new subject or will expose you to a different way of thinking. You don’t have to love it, but reading something different every now and then will help your brain and your perspective.
- Read theology books. We want to be solid in what our kids are learning. Reading theology books are challenging to me, but I’ve found it greatly helps me in thinking through how to teach theological concepts to kids and gives a great foundation.
- Read blogs. Find really good blogs that you can learn from and that stretch you. You can see the list of my favorites on the righthand side.
- Find out what other leaders are reading. When you like a leader, find out what they are reading and go get it. Here are recent lists from two of my favorites: Jonathan Cliff and Sam Luce. You can see some of my faves in the cool little Amazon carousel on the right.
- Actually read. We are busy. And sometimes our bookshelf fills up with good intentions, but we never actually read what we have collected. But we do find time to watch lots of tv or linger on Facebook. Read!
One common reason that I hear parents share for why they don’t want to take their kids to big church is what if the pastor starts talking about something that isn’ t kid-friendly? We’ve experienced it alot, most notably last year on September 11. Kaylie was just in kindergarten, so we had never talked about what had happened. But we had a video about it during the church service, complete with images of burning buildings and crashed planes. For an inquisitive and soft-hearted little girl, that raised approximately 5,000 questions. Here’s what we’ve come to grips with concerning kids hearing about grown up stuff in church.
- It is going to happen. Just like, inevitably, when you finally bring your unchurched friend to a service, the pastor is going to preach about money, when your kid is sitting beside you, some uncomfortable topic will come up. It will happen.
- Our kids are going to hear about these topics anyway. Like it or not, kids are going to hear about sex, homosexuality, and other “grown up” topics somewhere. Likely from a friend or on the playground or on the bus long before we get around to talking about it.
- We would prefer our kids’ first exposure to these tough topics to be in the context of church. I think too often we are way slow in addressing worldly or uncomfortable issues with our kids. Our lack of conversation often results in an understanding on some level that God is not involved with those types of topics, which is far from the truth. Too often we begin informing our kids about these uncomfortable topics when they are “older” and likely when they have already had many views and opinions formed by the rest of the world. Do I want to explain what the word “prostitute” for the first time following a sermon or following a trashy conversation at the ballfield? Truthfully, I don’t want to talk about it at all! But I will have to. And I’d rather it come from a safe environment.
- We have the opportunity to have awesome conversations with our kids. Yes, they are tough and uncomfortable situations. Yes, the conversation with my 5 year old will be different than that with my 7 year old. But sometimes these conversations triggered by something they heard in big church result in laying the foundation for a Biblical worldview concerning topics I certainly wouldn’t have brought up on my own. That is not a bad thing.
So, what do you think? Have you had to have awkward conversations from something your kid heard at church?
A few disclaimers first…
- This is not the Funderburke Proclamation of how everyone should parent.
- We are (obviously) not anti-kidmin. This is just a philosophy that we have adopted in our own home and I wanted to explain why we do what we do.
- We are big believers that every family has the right and responsibility to figure out how God wants them to parent in their household. This is just what we do.
Kids in big church is an oft-debated topic in kidmin world. Some churches and people consider themselves staunch family-advocates and believe that all children should be in big church with their parents. Others believe that kids should never be in big church and that children’s ministry is the only place they should be.
Our family lands kind of in the middle. I love, love, love for my girls to be in age-appropriate environments where they learn about Jesus on their level with friends their age. I love for them to develop relationships with other adults who love them and who invest in them relationally and spiritually. I would not have them miss that for the world. Kaylie and Brenna participating in children’s ministry on Sunday mornings is top priority.
But for our family, since the girls were babies, we have felt that for them to only experience the children’s ministry environments would lead to them missing out on the big picture of the church as a whole. It may be old-fashioned of us, but I like them seeing and experiencing corporate worship in the realm of big church. Here are a few reasons why:
- We want them to see Mommy and Daddy worship. I want to model worship for our babies and for them to experience it with us. They will learn about worship and experience worship in kids ministry. But I also want them to experience worship with us as a family, in the corporate setting. I believe there is something powerful that happens in my little ones’ hearts when Daddy is holding them and singing out to Jesus. I believe even when they are wiggly, they notice what it looks like for their parents to worship the Savior. And they join in. And it is beautiful.
- We want them to see the other grown ups in their world worship. Typically in church we sit with the people we do life with. I love that they see their friends’ parents, their babysitters, their “big” friends, and other people who they have relationships with in church and worshiping God.
- They absorb a whole lot more than we think. When the girls go with us, I make them participate in the singing and worship, but allow them to color and draw during the sermon (no offense, pastors). I am always amazed at how even when I think they are totally engaged in their markers and papers, they will pop up to answer Pastor’s question or whisper something to me that is totally related to what he is talking about.
- We want them to see baptism and communion. While our kids’ worship team often brings the kids in to see baptism, that doesn’t happen at every church. I realized once that kids who only go to kids’ worship for all of their elementary and preschool years could potentially not see baptism or the Lord’s Supper in action until 6th grade. These are such essential parts of church life and I want them to see it early on.
- We do want them to learn what big church life is all about. Several years ago red flags popped up in my own spirit as I watched 6th graders struggle with the transition of moving on to big church. They just didn’t want to. After all, they didn’t play games and jump around with motions in there. It wasn’t “fun”. I think that is a disservice on our part. While our motivation is not necessarily to make sure our kids know how to sit still in church, I think it is ok for them to learn that church isn’t always high-entertainment. It is more than the kidmin activities we provide. And, honestly, it does not hurt for them to learn that sometimes we sit and are quiet, even if we don’t really want to be. That’s life!
- We are creating spiritual memories. They are not big huge Disney World type memories. They are those tiny precious, captured moments. And I don’t know if my girls will remember much of it, but I will never forget listening to my girls sing “Worthy, You Are Worthy” so sweetly and out loud together. I will never forget holding Brenna as a baby and singing “God of this City” and asking God to use her to change the world. That’s probably a selfish reason. But there you have it.
I am very curious about your thoughts and what you do in your family? Please share in the comments below!
Our volunteer team is working through several sessions of training focusing on effectively teaching large groups of children. In our first session we talked about how we must ENGAGE the kids we lead. I made up a pretty cheesy acronym to help remember what that looks like:
1. Exciting. Kids are repelled by boring. If we want kids to retain anything we have to say, excitement has to be a top priority in our presentation. Boring and monotone cause kids to tune out immediately. We are exciting through our tone of voice, through our body language, and through our presence on the stage.
2. New. We have the great challenge of making every Scripture we present feel new to the children. This is a challenge because you have kids who have heard Jonah and the whale 5 million times. Their first reaction is to chalk it up as “been there, done that”. But Scripture is living and active, and God can have a new message every time kids hear His word. It is our responsibility as teachers to present His truth in new and fresh ways to help kids continue to process the truths.
3. Gospel-centered. Everything must point back to what Jesus did to us. We can not allow our teaching to lean towards helping kids think the Bible is focused on them. The Bible is focused on God’s redemption story. If we teach and don’t point kids towards Jesus, we are missing it.
4. All in. Our goal has to be to get every kid involved and engaged in the lesson. Granted, this won’t always happen, but that has to remain our goal. A win is when we draw everyone in.
5. Glorifying. Exciting games and cool object lessons are great. But if kids leave and only remember the games and glitter without remembering the truth about Jesus that you taught, it was a teaching fail. We must make sure that we glorify God and not teaching methods, tricks, and fun.
6. End Result. We are not teaching for the sake of information or head knowledge. We are teaching for life
Catherine Greer shared her personal experiences as a foster mom in our last two posts (here and here). Today she shares interesting insights into unique needs that kidmin staff and volunteers need to be aware of.
1. Teachers should keep in mind that foster children lack social skills, including being “bossy”, poor language choices, and not following rules.
2. Usually a child is delayed a few years behind their physical age, both mentally and emotionally, depending on when the neglect in their life began.
3. These kids need extra attention and love. They probably have not heard much about God.
4. Structure in the classroom is best and having the same teachers each week is extremely important.
5. Usually, these kids have lacking attention spans, as well as hygiene and bathroom issues.
6. Often, foster children have eating and/or hoarding issues. Sometimes this even manifests to the point of stealing.
What have you experienced as unique needs of kids in foster care?