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Children’s Ministry Current Affairs Leadership Uncategorized

Tweetable Leadership – A Review And Thank You To Jim Wideman

One of my all-time favorite books in the Bible is the book of Proverbs.  What I love most about it is that there are hundreds of bite-size nuggets that give you so much to think about in just a few words, nuggets that are key to living a successful Christian life.

Over the last couple of days I have had the privilege of reading through the new book by Jim Wideman entitled, “Tweetable Leadership”. When I received it in the mail, I opened it up and immediately felt right at home as I saw literally hundreds and hundreds of bite-size statements packed with wisdom and knowledge on how to be a successful leader within Children’s Ministry.

This awesome book is divided up into seven chapters dealing with a wide range of leadership topics such as leading by example, how to keep your life simple to do more, how to stay spiritually healthy, and probably my favorite chapter entitled “What old Jim wishes young Jim knew”. In addition to the bite-size sayings within each chapter, each chapter also concludes with 5 to 6 pages that are traditionally written and packed with insights from Jim.

I would highly recommend that you pick up this book, but I must say that you need to be careful with it. Go ahead and sit down and read through it once, but don’t let the overwhelming amount of information discourage you. This is a lifetime worth of information that you will need to take some time incorporating into your ministry. Take a few of the principles and apply them over a month or so, then continue to add along the way. Trust me, I can honestly say that after 22 years as the children’s pastor here at Fellowship Church, these are the things that will make you very successful over time.

Thanks Jim, for taking the time to put this great book together. I appreciate all that you’ve done for kids ministry in the 19th, 20th and 21st century…just kidding, you’re old but not that old. 🙂

You are an Absolute Children’s Ministry Rockstar!

Children’s Ministry Current Affairs Parenting Uncategorized

A Parent’s And Childrens Pastor's Response To The Supreme Court Ruling On Same-Sex Marriage

gay marriage

Yesterday my good friend, and fellow children’s pastor, Brian Dollar wrote up a fantastic article on how we as parents, and children’s pastors, can respond to questions our kids may pose to us about same-sex marriage. I was thinking of writing an article like this myself, but, to be honest, I couldn’t have done a better job, so I asked Brian for his permission to re-post it here. You can check out the link to his blog at the bottom of the article for more great stuff.

Hope this helps you as much as it helped me!

How do I talk to my kids about this?

On Friday, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States determined that marriage between homosexual couples would be legally recognized in all fifty states. No doubt, our kids are hearing all about this topic both on the TV and, many times, on the playground.  It’s hard for any parent to control the context in which their child may have conversations regarding this important topic.

Many Christian parents have struggled with the question, “How do I talk to my kids about this?” Likewise, many Children’s Pastors have struggled with the question, “What is my responsibility in this? Should I discuss ‘Gay Marriage’ with the children in my Kids Church?”

Some thoughts for Children’s Pastors:

I think you have to be careful what issues you are addressing in Children’s Church “as a group.”  So many children are at different points in the journey regarding both mental and emotional maturity.  When you address something as weighty and serious as homosexuality and gay marriage to a large group of kids, it is very difficult to do so in a way that is appropriate for EVERY child.

In addition, many parents (as they should) want to be THE ones to discuss topics such as this with their kids.  I understand, many parents DON’T ever discuss it with their kids.  That’s unfortunate.  However, you don’t want to undercut parents by addressing it publicly in a large group of kids.  This should be something that parents include in their general talks about “Biblical Sexuality” with their kids.

Of course, if a child asks you a direct question about it – treat that just like you do any other question about sex or sexuality.  Answer with, “I would be happy to share my thoughts with you about this subject.  Let’s talk to Mom or Dad when they come to pick you up.  Perhaps together, we can answer your questions in a healthy way.”  Then, follow the cues of the parent.  If they do not wish to discuss it right then and there, follow their lead.  Allow them to do so on their own terms and in their own timing.

An alternative to discussing this with the large group is to offer a special class or “discussion” in which you allow parents to sign their kids up to attend.  Encourage parents to attend with their children.  Rather than coming at the topic in a negative manner (i.e. “We are AGAINST gay marriage”, etc.), discuss the topic within the overall umbrella of God’s plan for our sexuality (“God created male and female to complement one another.  Marriage is the life-long commitment between one man and one woman.”).

The topic of “gay marriage” and “homosexuality” is a difficult one for kids.  Yes, it is becoming much more commonplace and a topic that they are hearing more and more about, but it is also very polarizing.  While we don’t ever shy away from the Truth, we also must be wise and careful when dealing with the youngest among us.  We want clarity, not confusion.

Some thoughts for Christian Parents:

Depending on the age of your child, they may or may not be aware of the Supreme Court decision. They may or may not be aware of the subject of “Gay Marriage” at all.  Don’t feel pressure to bring the topic up to your child simply because it is in the news, all over Social Media, etc.  Your child may be too young to even consider the conversation.

If your child asks you a question about it, address it. However, if your child is in the 4th Grade or above – they are GOING to hear about it. Kids love to talk about things that seem “taboo,” so it is better for you to be the FIRST one to speak with your children about this issue. It’s a lot harder to deal with when you are having to UNDO the misinformation your child may have already received from friends or the media.

As you have this conversation, remember:

  • Don’t freak out! – Don’t overreact and freak out! I see too many parents flip out over things like this. Don’t go on a diatribe about the “liberal agenda” and the “LGBT Conspiracy.” Just calmly share with them how, although some people choose to live their lives in contradiction to what God planned and the Bible teaches – our goal should be to pray for them, show them God’s love, and display God’s character in everything we do. Don’t flip out! Children take their emotional cues from you, the parent. Although there is reason to be concerned about our nation and community regarding this issue, God is STILL on the throne. There is no need to panic!
  • Don’t only give PART of the story! – Don’t simply say, “We believe that Homosexuality is a sin.” Explain to them what “sin” really is – “CHOOSING to live outside of God’s plan and purpose for your life.” Sin is the willful choice to disobey God’s commands. Revisit the story of Adam and Eve and how sin and temptation has been a problem for human beings since the beginning of time. Remind them that, although people make choices that are the opposite of what God has commanded, Jesus came to die on the cross so that ALL sin can be forgiven. All we must do is admit our sin, receive forgiveness, and CHOOSE to follow Jesus every day!
  • Don’t focus on the DON’T! – More important than the fact that “We DON’T believe that ‘Gay Marriage’ is right,” children need to hear what we DO believe. They need to hear that God has a plan for marriage. He created male and female and desires that they come together for a life-long partnership with God as the Head. God wants to bless the family unit with His presence on a daily basis. It is a sacred institution, and no law, decree, or court can change what God has planned since the Creation of the human race.

A reminder for us all:

Children are watching you during this critical time. In fact, THE WORLD is watching Christians during this time.  If they see you addressing this issue with anger, bitterness, or (God forbid) hatred in your words or tone of voice, that will send a confusing message to them.  After all, God is Love.  He created EVERY man, woman, boy, and girl.  He loves them ALL!

Remember that Ephesians 4:14-15 (NLT) states, “Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”

That is our mandate as the Church….to speak God’s truth with love.  Just because the truth of God’s word is different from the beliefs of others or the ruling of a court doesn’t mean we should join with others who choose to resort to name-calling, picketing, belittling and hate. As children of God, we need to be careful that our speech, tweets and posts are speaking the truth in love. We need to T.H.I.N.K. before we tweet.

The Church should respond in the same way that God instructed the children of Israel in 2 Chronicles 7:14:

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

We can’t force others to be humble – but we can be humble.

We can’t make people pray and seek His face – but we can.

We can’t force people to turn from their wicked ways, but we can and should clean up our ownlives.

When we do, God promises, He will hear from Heaven and heal our land.

The answer to this world’s problems and America’s problems is Jesus. Share Jesus. Share His love. Share the difference He has made in your life. Trust that when people encounter His grace – they, too, will be changed!

For more great parenting or children’s ministry posts check out Brian Dollar’s Blog!

Children’s Ministry Leadership Parenting Uncategorized

A FREE Kid's Website Teaching Biblical Leadership Values To Kids!

a free kid's website

As I discussed in my last blog, Children’s Ministry Leaders and Parents must have vision when teaching and raising kids. You must have the vision that, what you pour into a child today, makes an impact in their life tomorrow. At Fellowship Church, we have a firm commitment to reach the next generation of leaders and we feel like the best way to reach 3-13 year old’s is through technology, specifically, a free kid’s website they can access any time, any where, and on any device. For us, that is LeadershipForKids.tv. While in the past we offered this tool for a small cost, we decided, in order to reach the widest audience possible, we would make the website free. Yes, FREE!

As a parent myself, I cannot stress how important the Bible lessons on LeadershipForKids.tv are to the life of a child. Most parents will download apps for their children to keep them distracted, or entertained, but these apps are not necessarily teaching children valuable lessons they will need in life. Instead, I encourage parents to go to LeadershipForKids.tv, hand the child the phone or tablet, and let them watch a video based toward their specific age group. LeadershipForKids.tv will not only keep your child busy and entertained while you, as the parent, are driving to school or making dinner, but LeadershipForKids.tv will also help your child learn valuable Leadership Traits from the Bible. These Leadership Traits will ultimately help your child become a leader who makes a difference in this world.

When you register online for LeadershipForKids.tv, your child will have access to Music Videos, Bible Stories, Leadership Videos, and Bible Plans that can be accessed any where and at any time! On LeadershipForKids.tv you’ll discover more than 300 of your child’s favorite Bible Stories and over 60 unique Leadership Traits for your child to learn from! Is your child struggling with patience? Watch the Leadership Video “I Will Be Patient!”. Is your child good at encouraging? Watch the Leadership Video “I Will Keep On Telling Others To Do What Is Right!”.

I have been doing Children’s Ministry for over 21 years here at Fellowship Church, and I have discovered that there is one truth that will always stay the same: Learning about God is life-changing! So help change the lives of the children around you by registering and using the site today, and by sharing LeadershipForKids.tv with everyone you know!

LeadershipForKids.tv is the at-home portion of the Elevate curriculum. To learn more about the curriculum itself go to ElevateAtChurch.com

Children’s Ministry Leadership Parenting Uncategorized

Vision And Legacy: Seeing Kids As Leaders

Children’s Ministry leaders and parents, more than anyone else, understand vision. You must have vision when you are working with kids because although you teach kids to love God and love others, you won’t always see immediate results or changes in their lives. As parents and as Children’s Ministry leaders, you need to have the vision that what you are doing now will make an impact in a child’s future. You have to trust that, over time, everything you pour into the life of a child will come out in a positive way.

I saw an example of the legacy left in the life of a child this summer at FC Kids Camp. This year at Allaso Ranch, more than 50 students and adults who attended Kids Camp as a child over the past 21 years, returned to volunteer, as seen in the video above. Why? So they could share their passion for loving God and loving others with children 2nd through 5th grade, so they could hand the legacy off to the next generation. When these students and adults were young, we looked at them and asked ‘are they really getting it?’ and now we can see that they did. These volunteers, because they have lived it, understand why we do what we do in the lives of children and they want to do their part in helping continue the legacy to make a difference in the life of a child.

Because I’ve been doing Children’s Ministry at the same church for 21 years, I was personally able to see these children grow up in the church and come back to serve at camp. However, I know this group of 50 people is only a small portion of those we poured our time and knowledge into. I know there are hundreds or even thousands of kids that have moved elsewhere, who I won’t ever see the fruit of our labor in their lives. So although it’s about leaving a legacy, even more, it’s about having the vision to understand that you are making a difference in the future of these kids, even when you don’t see the fruit now. You need to persevere with the great calling you have been given as a parent and as a Children’s Ministry leader because what you do in the life of a child does matter.

You may not always see the fruit of your labor on earth, but you will when you get to heaven. When you stay committed to God and to church you will be able to more successfully stay focused on the vision God has given you. When you invest your time and knowledge into the life of a child, that child will grow up and have the opportunity to impact others. And before you know it, the legacy of loving God and loving others that you left with one child is being passed down for generations to impact hundreds and potentially thousands of people. Stay committed to the vision and know that you are making a difference.

Children’s Ministry Current Affairs Uncategorized

Teaching Creationism To Kids

Recently, a couple of questions have come up from Elevate users asking about which lessons teach the Creation story and which can be used to teach Creationism. In Elevate, we believe in teaching kid’s God’s Word as early as possible, and because of this, we have several lessons that teach the Creation story, the story of Noah, and an entire series on those Bible stories for younger age groups. These Bible Lessons don’t include specific apologetics when it comes to Creation, dinosaurs, or the worldwide flood because we are providing you as the teacher with the flexibility and time to discuss the lesson as your ministry decides.

For those of you looking for lessons specifically about Creation and Noah’s Flood, here are the ones from Elevate, based on age group:

Creation Lessons for ages 3-6 – The Roanoke Jones Jr. series is eight lessons on the overview and story of Creation. It is probably our most comprehensive lesson plan for Genesis 1. Another lesson on Creation is Lesson 1 from the series Upsidedown Town Jr.

Noah’s Ark Lessons for ages 3-6 – The entire series of Port of Call Jr. is the story of Noah spanning all the way from the building of the ark to the rainbow. Other lessons where the Bible Stories are about Noah can be found in Upsidedown Town Jr. Lessons 5 and 6.

Creation Lessons for ages 6-12 – There are three lessons on Creation for this age group. Allaso Ranch Lesson 3, Adventures in Science Lesson 1, and Zooplosion Lesson 1.

Noah’s Ark Lessons for ages 6-12 – There are two lessons from the story of Noah for this age group. The Great Skybridge Showdown Lesson 2 and Zooplosion Lesson 8.

If your ministry already has these series, you can create something similar to what we do at Fellowship Church – we put together a few weeks we call ‘the Best Of Elevate’, and pick different series. Or if you need to purchase these series, you can find them all on ElevateAtChurch.com.

For those of you interested in more information on Creationism vs. Evolution – there is a place called the Institute for Creation Research that has a local center in the Dallas area. They have several resources on their website: http://www.icr.org/.

Children’s Ministry Parenting Uncategorized

It's Time For A Summer Adventure!

Summer is here, and you know what that means! Kids are out of school and ready to have some summer fun. This summer at FC, we’ve created a way for children to take their favorite Elevate characters with them and learn about the Bible wherever they go!

Have you ever heard of Flat Stanley? You print him off and take photos with him on your vacation. Kids love to take their picture with Flat Stanley, so we thought, why not make a Flat Wonder and Palette as well as a Flat Tex and Cookie for kids to take their photos with this summer?

Children ages 3-6 will embark on a Summer Adventure with Flat Wonder and Palette. Parents can go online at LeadershipForKids.tv/WonderPalette to download the .pdf.

Children ages 6-14 will saddle up for a Summer Round Up with Flat Tex and Cookie. Parents can go online at LeadershipForKids.tv/TexCookie to download the .pdf.

Sound like something your child would like? Here are the steps to create your own Flat Wonder and Palette or Flat Tex and Cookie:

1. Print the .pdf from LeadershipForKids.tv/WonderPalette or LeadershipForKids.tv/TexCookie

2.  Follow the instructions provided to create your very own Flat Wonder and Palette or Flat Tex and Cookie

3. Take photos of yourself or your child with Flat Wonder and Palette or Flat Tex and Cookie while on vacation, or hanging around the house

4. Post the pictures with the hashtag #FlatWonderPalette or #FlatTexCookie to have your photo featured in the Photo Gallery!

Kids leadership is important. And that’s why this summer, as a part of Wonder and Palette’s Summer Adventure and Tex and Cookie’s Summer Round Up, there is a 12 week Summer Bible Plan for ages 3-6 and ages 6-14. Have your child watch one or more of the listed videos per week whether at home, or traveling across the globe. Each weekly video has been specially chosen for your child with a Bible verse for every day, as well as Elevate music videos that your child will love. Your family can also download the free LeadershipForKids.tv App on their iPhone or Android device to access Wonder and Palette’s Bible Plan as well as Tex and Cookie’s Bible Plan under the ‘More’ section on your mobile device.

These Summer Bible Videos, Flat Wonder and Palette, and Flat Tex and Cookie will be able to travel with you and your children wherever you are headed this summer. Whether your adventures take you to Paris, San Francisco, China, or the living room, be creative, have fun, and make this summer one your child won’t soon forget!

Note: If you haven’t yet signed up for LeadershipForKids.tv, you can sign up for 30 days free.

Children’s Ministry Uncategorized

VBS Is Almost Here, But What About The Weekend?

Vacation Bible School

With all your VBS planning, don’t forget to plan the weekend!

Summer is right around the corner and with summer comes Vacation Bible School! Do you already have a plan for what theme or series you are doing this summer? Whether you do or don’t, Elevate can help. There are 5 years worth of Elevate Kids and 3 years worth of Elevate Jr. curriculum to choose from that can help enhance your weekend experiences surrounding and supporting your VBS material that you utilize during the week. And then you can decorate once for the whole summer!

Below are a couple examples of VBS curriculum and their suggested Elevate series by theme, in alphabetical order. Special thanks to Kidzmatter Magazines VBS 2014 Showcase in their January/February issue that we used to create the chart below.

VBS Curriculum Elevate Series
AgencyD3: Decide, Discover, Defend Spy Chase or Roanoke Jones Ace Detective
Arrow Island: Choosing God’s Way Treasure Quest or Shipwrecked
Basic Elements Adventures in Science
Blast Off Starlight Station
Faith Expedition Journey Below The Earth, On The Trail, The Great Race
Game Plan Super Sports Spectacular or Goodman’s Global Games
Gangway to Galilee Shipwrecked, Port of Call, To The Depths
God in Action Heroes of Mega City or Epic
Gotta Move Center Stage
High Power Sports Super Sports Spectacular or Goodman’s Global Games
International Spy Academy Spy Chase
Jungle Safari Treasure Quest
Living Inside Out City Streets or UpsideDown Town
Praise Break Center Stage
SHINE Center Stage or Entourage
SonTreasure Island Shipwrecked or Treasure Quest
Under The Stars Allaso Ranch
Weird Animals Zooplosion or To The Depths
Wilderness Escape On The Trail
Workshop of Wonders The Great Skybridge ShowdownRobot Repair Shop, or Make Things Industries

Are you planning your own VBS? or using another VBS not mentioned above? Let us know or use some of the series below:

Are you doing a circus-themed VBS? Check out Under The Big Top

Are you doing a medieval times-themed VBS? Check out Kingdom Tales

Are you doing an undersea-themed VBS? Check out To The Depths

Are you doing a round up or rodeo western-themed VBS? Check out On The Trail!

You can base your VBS around an Elevate series or you can purchase an Elevate series to go along with the VBS you have already selected, whatever you choose, we would love to help you Elevate your VBS!

 

Also, check out our Pinterest boards to see great decorating ideas from these series and more!

Children’s Ministry Parenting Uncategorized

What Can Kids Learn From Biblical Judges?

Biblical Judges

Gideon, Samuel, and Samson are familiar names to those of us who grew up going to church as kids, but what about Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Eli or Abimelech? Who were they and why do they matter today? Why does it matter what a couple of people over 3,000 years ago did? More importantly, why is it relevant today for kids to learn from the Biblical judges?

Looking back through the Old Testament, the time of the judges was a turbulent time – a time when “all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25b NLT). Sound similar to today’s world? Just looking at the news each night makes us reflect back and think, maybe this is relevant because similar things are going on in the world around me. For our Goodman’s Global Games series we take some Bible Lessons from these judges and make sure they are age appropriate so kids can learn that doing things God’s way is better than doing things the way we think is right.

What can children learn from the judges in 1-2 Samuel and Judges? They learn leadership traits such as:

  • How to live life God’s way
  • How to be a leader through actions instead of words
  • How to help others
  • How to be brave when they are scared
  • How to obey God
  • How to choose good friends

The judges of the Bible were leaders who lived a life that is an example to us. Your children can watch these Bible Lesson videos on LeadershipForKids.org or churches can use these lessons from Elevate’s Goodman’s Global Games series. There are no wasted lessons taught in the Bible. Many valuable leadership traits can be gained from each person in the Bible, including from each of the judges.

Behind the Scenes Children’s Ministry Elevate Uncategorized

I Failed David Wakerley From Hillsong

Elevate Kid's Worship Music

Recently, David Wakerley said that I failed him. Well David, I only have one thing to say to you…you’re right, and I’m sorry.

David is the awesome Kid’s Pastor at Hillsong Church and is the creative director of Hillsong Kids. He has a blog well worth reading at DavidWakerley.com. For the last several months, David has been reviewing children’s music designed for Christian kids and I would highly recommend looking at his blog for the latest in such resources.

David and I have had multiple conversations over the years, the most recent being at a CPC conference in San Diego. Unfortunately, in our conversations, the children’s music that we produce here at FC Kids never came up. So, as he was scouring the Internet, he just happened to stumble across our kid’s worship music and was hurt that I had kept it from him. 🙂 Obviously, his ribbing me about not telling him about our music was done in jest, and he went on to give our children’s music a very kind review. For that I say a big thank you.

So, to make sure our children’s music is not a secret, if any of you are looking for creative kids music that can be downloaded as MP3’s and as music videos to use in your children’s ministry you can find them at ElevateAtChurch.com/Music. In fact, we have a free music video download for Easter – to download Hosanna, enter the code EASTER at checkout before Good Friday.

And, of course, to find the best kids music in the world, be sure to check out Hillsong’s Kids Music.

Now, all I can hope is that David will forgive me.