Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Co-Workers in the Kingdom

Over the course of a year, there are lots of events that the Children's Ministry plans at my church.  But we are just one of many churches in our area.  There are four other Nazarene Churches, as well as many Church of God (Anderson) Congregations, plus Baptist, Wesleyan, Methodist, Presbyterian, Assembly of God Churches and more.  Most of these churches, if not all of them, have an active Children's Department.  Some people would see all these other churches as competitors, but I think it is important that we see them as our Co-Workers in the Kingdom.   

Have you talked to the Children's Ministers at the other churches in your area?  If you haven't, I would suggest that you do and here are a few reasons why:

They can help you get to know the quirks of the area.
Every place is different and every area has it's own unique quirks.  If you are new to an area, these other ministers can answer key questions like: 
Is there a specific park that is especially good, or bad for having activities?
Are there community events (parades, fairs, etc) that you should be sure to plan around?  
Is there a certain sport or school that seems to take precedence in the area?  
Are the schools easy to work with for events. Do they not allow church involvement at all?  

They are full of fun ideas
Check out the children's departments in the churches around you.  You may not have time to see them all, but see if you can look at a few.  You can glean new ideas for decorations, check-in, signs, and many other things.  Sometimes, just viewing a new department will get your own creative juices flowing.

They are doing the same job you are...connect with them.
There is something very special about connecting with other Children's Workers and if you have the opportunity to do so, it will be a blessing to not only your ministry, but also to your own personal well being.  

We are co-laborers in the Kingdom and we should be supporting one another and helping each other grow.  If you haven't already,  would challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and connect with another Children's Pastor from a nearby church.  We're all on the team.  Let's work together.  And you might just make a new friend too.  

Until next week!    

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Review Days

I love doing series lessons.  We've done a series on great people of faith (Billy Sunday, Fanny Crosby, Billy Graham, The Five Missionaries to the Waodoni, Martin Luther, etc), did a super fun series on the Judges, "toured" the Holy Land in a Biblical travel series, and lots of others.  And each series ends with one Review Day Sunday that is full of lots of games to help them remember what we have learned.  We had one recently to finish our current series and I was reminded of a couple things that are helpful when doing a Review day so I thought I'd pass them along to you.

Not every child was there every week
In fact, there is a high probability that none of the children were there every week.  A series is usually 6-8 weeks long and in that time we will have either one or possibly two Family Sunday services where our children will be in the main sanctuary and not children's church so that extends the time a bit longer.  If you stop to think about it, probably most of your kids will miss at least one Sunday over the course of 8-10 weeks.  So keep that in mind when preparing your games.  I combat this issue by using teams for the games.  No child is ever on their own so no one has to have all the answers.  They work together no one feels pressure to know the answer all the time.

Include at least two games that can be played by a visitor 
A new child won't know many (or any) answers from the series you are reviewing, so include a couple games where they won't feel like the outsider. For example, we were just finishing up a series where we were "traveling" to different locations in the Holy Land and one of our games was a bingo game that reviewed those locations and lots of others too. Every child could play and even the newest had opportunity to win because it was Bingo, not a question/answer game. I also included a game where the answers to some of the questions were literally in front of them on the pages of a previous game.  We had two new children at our last review game and I think they had just as much fun as everyone else simply because the service was planned with them in mind...even before we knew they were coming. :-)

Be flexible and be prepared to change things up
Like everything else in ministry, the unexpected is to be expected. Be ready to add a game or activity if the service goes long or perhaps change a game if necessary. My preschool teacher had a family emergency urging our last review game so I can a child much younger than the others stay in our service...but with a few tweaks, all went well.

Have fun!
Review days should be lots of fun. Enjoy it! Praise their memory when they answer correctly and encourage team work when a question is missed. It's not about who wins (in fact I've started taking away points from a team if I see/hear gloating), it a celebration of what they have learned and how they are growing in their walks with the Lord.

Until next week!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

An Unusual Week

This week's blog will be a bit different.  We had a death in my family on Thursday evening and it has taken a bit of a toll on me.  My Grandfather was 84 and sadly he had not been very much a part of my life for the last few years.  However, his passing has been much more difficult than I expected.  Grief snuck up on me in ways I simply wasn't prepared for.  Indeed, I fell apart over a cup of coffee in a restaurant early Sunday morning because it reminded me of a memory with Grandpa from days gone by. 

However, I am reminded that in everyone's lives there will be difficult days.  The children we work with have them, the volunteers who work with us have them, and we will have them.  During those days it is important that we remember where our strength comes from.  Yesterday, I sat down and wrote a poem trying to find the words to help me work through the feelings that were stirring within me. Now, I am by no means a poet.  In fact, outside of an assignment for school, this may be my first poem.  However, God spoke to me through that activity and I thought that I would share it with you all.  I hope it brings you, during your difficult days, at least in small measure the comfort if has brought me.

Next week I'll be back to the regular Tuesday's Tips.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Trip Book...

All through the year there are various activities that will include a trip of some sort for our kids at church.  It might be a Bible Quizzing meet, it might be Church Camp, it could be a retreat of some sort or any number of other activities.  It’s easy for those things to run together.  And we don’t want to lose the memories associated with those trips.  To help with that, at our church, we have instituted a “Trip Book.” 

The “Trip Book” is simply a notebook (preferably hardback so that it lasts a while) that we take on our special trips.  At the beginning of each trip we put the following information:

Trip Name: (Bible Quiz Meet, Retreat, etc)
Who is on the trip:

Then throughout the trip, we write down anything we want to remember.  It could be something serious (like how God talked to the kids or an important event that happened), or something funny.  Sometimes pictures are drawn or favorite songs are listed.  I let the kids decide what goes in the book.  It is their way to record memories for those who didn’t get to go as well as help those that went remember what we did.   The same book accompanies all the trips until the book is full and then another book is started.  

This is a simple and inexpensive (the only cost is the price of the notebook) way to help children connect with each other as well as take note of what is going on around them.  Just recently, we took several preteens to an event that only one had attended before.  She immediately got out the "Trip Book" and showed all the others what had happened on the last trip.  It was fun for her to remember and gave the other preteens exciting things to look forward to.  I highly recommend you try out a “Trip Book” with your group and see what they decide to record on your next trip.

Until next week!