Tuesday, April 26, 2016


I will be the first to admit fundraisers are not my favorite things.  In fact, I don't think anyone really loves doing them.  When I started in ministry, I made the choice that I would not ever ask the children in my department to go out and sell something.  They do that at school, they do it for their sport leagues, they shouldn't have to do it for church.  And I know the feeling of seeing a child come up with an order blank wanting me to buy something and I can not because I simply don't have the funds to do so.  I don't want to be the reason that someone is put in that position at church.  But we have to raise funds right?  So, what to do?  Here are a couple things that we have done that has worked and yet, hopefully kept people from being put "on the spot".

Make a meal
Many people in my church go out to eat on Sundays.  So, twice a year at my church, we provide a meal after the morning worship service. Soups are always a big hit and we provide several choices for people.  Last time we had four types of soups (all homemade), several sandwich options (including a create your own sandwich bar), dessert, and a beverage.  We have done baked potatoes instead of sandwiches, but the sandwiches are much easier unless you have multiple ovens in which to bake potatoes or keep them warm.  Remember, you can't sell food unless you have a license but donations are fine.  If you have people who are willing to donate food for the event, this can be a wonderful fundraiser.  Plus, the people enjoy being able to sit and fellowship with their church family after the morning worship service.

A Lemonade Stand
I got this idea from another Children's Pastor friend.  For one month in the summer, near the parking lot of our church, we set up a lemonade stand and as people go to their cars, they can pick up a cup of lemonade and sometimes a sweet treat as well.  We put out a donation jar and it's a wonderful way to connect with people, but it's not pushy at all.  And the kids get a kick out of putting out the "orders".  It's a fun and simple way to raise funds.

Ongoing Donation Jar 
Have a place where people can always leave a donation if they so desire.  When I was in high school, we had a large water bottle that sat in the church foyer to raise funds for Nazarene Youth Congress.  It was a great, no pressure, way to raise funds because it simply just sat out in the foyer.  Theft was prevented because the top was too small for the money to be taken out of by hand, it was always in a public location when it was out, and it was locked up between services.  People don't always have a check book handy, but they do generally have some change in their pockets.  This is an easy way for that change to help your ministry.

Yard Sale
I have seen this done a couple of different ways.  In one, people donate items for a yard sale that is run by the Children's Department.  In another version, people purchased table space for their own yard sale at the church.  Either way can be a great fundraiser. 

There are lots of other fundraisers that are out there and lots of ways to do them.  Hopefully these give you a starting point.

Have a blessed week!


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Stress Relief...

Any kind of ministry is stressful.  There is always something waiting to be done, someone you need to contact, a schedule to prepare, a meeting to attend, and the list goes on an on.  When you add to that the normal stresses of life and family, you can easily feel overwhelmed.  For me, there is an added component in that I have a neuromuscular disorder that will flair up if I am under too much stress.  So believe me when I say that it is important that you find ways to relieve stress because it can do a lot of damage to your physical and mental well being.   I am not a doctor, but because of my own situation, I have had to find things that help me relieve stress in order to be able to function normally.  So below are a few things that have helped me to keep my stress levels at a reasonable level.  Perhaps they can be of use to you as well.

Remember Who is really in charge
We often try to do everything ourselves.  We want all our ducks in a row and when things don't go according to plan we can get very put out.  But, here is the thing, no matter how much we try to control everything around us, there is always going to be something else that we wish we could change or that we wish were different.   Keep reminding yourself that God is in charge and you are a tool for Him to use, but you are not the whole toolbox.  You are not meant to do everything.  Keep up with your devotions and prayer time so that you keep your focus on the right things.  This one thing, in itself, will do wonders for keeping your stress levels at bay.
Take your day off
I have mentioned this is other blogs, but it is too important not to repeat.  You are not superhuman and your body needs time to rest.  So, make sure you take your day off.  And make sure that at least part of that day is indeed restful.  I know people who pack so much into their "day off" that it's actually more busy than a work day.  Those are fine sometimes because, after all, there are things that must be done, but being overly busy on every day off is not giving your body and mind the rest it needs.  If nothing else, set aside a couple hours for something that you enjoy and find restful.  That will be different for everyone.  Some people love gardening and find it refreshing and rejuvenating to do so.  For others, being in a garden is just hard work.  Similarly, for some sitting down and reading a book or watching a tv show is relaxing, but for others, they need to be moving to be able to relax.  The important thing is that you find something that you find restful and make sure to include that into your schedule regularly.  

Laughter is a great stress reliever.  Take the time to laugh with your family and friends.  Life is a serious prospect, but don't be too serious.  Have fun. 

Find a hobby
This sort of goes back to taking your day off, but it is important that there is something you like to do that is outside of work and family.  Whether it is bicycling, reading, fishing, playing a video game, or some other activity, it is important that you have a hobby that you can do to unwind. 

Cultivate friendships
Our friends are an important part of our lives.  Don't let your friendships continually take the backseat in your life. There are three or four women in my life who are my confidants and supporters, but are also willing to tell me what I need to hear even when I don't want to hear it. It is important that I stay connected to those women.  You don't have to see people every day to keep a friendship strong.  Two of my very closest friends live literally hundreds of miles from me, but because of phone calls, texts, and social media, we are as close as we ever were.  Don't let friendships fall by the wayside.  They are vital to our well being. 

Everyone deals with stress a bit differently, but hopefully these tips are as helpful to you as they have been to me.

Until next week! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Music and Motions...

I love music.  I was a music major in college.  I know how powerful it can be as a teaching tool.  And I love using motions in music.  Not everyone does and that's ok.  We must all lead worship the way that works best for us.  But I want to share why I feel motions are so important in children's worship.

Motions help memorization in young learners
When I lead worship, I have children as young as 3 and as old at 12 in the service.  That means that a large group of the children in the service either can not read yet, or can not read fast enough to follow the words on the screen.  Motions help them remember the words to the song.  I tend to use the same motion for certain words in nearly every song we do.  So, for example, if we do a motion for "Jesus" in one song, it will probably be the same motion in another song.  The same goes for words like "Mighty", "Strong", or a lot of other common phrases in music.  Those who can not read, can remember those motions and it helps them to learn the music.

Motions create more freedom in worship
How many times have you been sitting in an adult worship service and you don't feel like you can even lift your hands in praise because...well...no one else is lifting their hands.  We feel like we must fit a certain mold when we sing.  Motions encourage movement.  It's not just "dancing", it's freely using our bodies in worship.  Children NEED to move and using motions gives them that opportunity, but still in a somewhat structured way.

Motions teach leadership skills to older children
I know that probably sounds like an odd thing to say, but it's true.  As kids get older, sometimes they start to feel like they are "too old" for motions.  But this is an opportunity to teach them about being leaders.  It's not about "THEM".  The younger kids need the motions in order to learn and remember the songs (see above) and the older kids need to be involved so that the younger kids don't feel out of place or strange for enjoying the motions. Our older kids need opportunities to be examples of leadership and this is just such an opportunity.

I am a huge advocate of motions in music.  There is something special that happens when the right motions are put to a song.  All of the sudden that song is even more powerful, but "pointless" motions can have the opposite effect on a song.  I once did a musical where we had to redo nearly every motion in every song because they literally did not go with the words being sung.  In order for them to be helpful, they need to apply.  If you are trying to sing about being joyful, then making a frowning face is not going to be a good choice.  But neither is jumping up and down for "joy" appropriate if the song is slow.  Which motions you choose are as important as which song you choose.  So, when creating motions for your music, make sure they add to the worship experience and not just fill space in the song.

If done properly and prayerfully...motions in music can be a huge asset to your ministry.

Until next week!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

CM Conference 2016

Last year, my friend and I attended the CM Conference in Louisville, KY and it was an amazing experience.  So this year, I was doing all I could to spread the word so that more people I knew would be able to attend.  This year, I attended with 4 other people and we had a spectacular time.  Not only is the conference extremely well done, but it is affordable.

No, really...it is actually affordable.   This conference does everything it can to be accessible to people from all church sizes.  They start with a low price and then if that is still too much, they have scholarships that you can apply for to cover part or sometimes even all of the cost.  The way the leadership at the CM Conference genuinely care about under served churches is a blessing that is hard to describe.

So, what is attending the conference like?  Well, it's 4 days, includes 4 amazing and inspiring worship services, 12 Workshop opportunities (with over 90 workshops to choose from), has a cool exhibit area that gives you the opportunity to learn about and/or buy helpful ministry tools, and to top it off, it allows you to connect with people who work with children from around the world. There were folks there from Canada, Iran, Australia, New Zealand, and India...and those are just the ones I saw or connected with.  What a blessing to hear/see how God is moving all around the world!

I was given the opportunity to present a workshop at the conference this year and what an honor that was.  Mine was "Children's Ministry on a Shoestring Budget" and I thoroughly enjoyed leading it.  If you would like the handout, I'd be glad to send it to you, just send me a note.  I also attended some  amazing workshops including, "Handling Trauma filled Children in your Kids Ministry" (full of wonderfully useful information and led by Darren Washausen), "Gospel-Based Entertainment: How to use Crazy Games and Skits to Share Jesus" (led by Jon Wicks and very very well done), two workshops led by Tim Cleary titled "Why the Church Needs Digital Disruption" and "As You Wish - Recapturing the Power of Storytelling in Children's Ministry" both of which were great and gave me much to think about, and Trisha Peach led an incredible one called "Standing up to Bullying in the Church." I could go on and on.  All of the workshops I attended gave me something to think about and helped me grow in my ministry.  There were literally workshops about just about every aspect of Children's Ministry.

If you missed this year's conference, all is not lost.  The workshops were recorded and you can purchase them through the CM Connect website for just $2 a piece!  There are in process of being added so it may take a few days for them to all be there, but I'm excited about that because there were several workshops that I wanted to attend, but had to choose between onsite.  I'm looking forward to purchasing them soon.

So, do yourself a favor, check out a couple of the workshops from this year and then sign up to attend next year.  You will be so glad you did.

Until next week!