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Children’s Ministry Conferences Elevate

Q&A: “How can I extend my weekend curriculum to Wednesday nights?”

Seven Ways To Extend Your Curriculum

There are many ways to extend your curriculum an extra hour or even two. In Elevate, we’ve purposefully included additional small group activities and review games that you can use in an additional worship hour, or on a weeknight while showing the Bible Lesson again. Here are a few time-tested ideas to extend your lesson, no matter which curriculum you use:

  • Show the Bible Lesson and Main Point from the weekend – repetition is key at this age and the Bible Lesson is short enough to be seen again, even if you don’t show the Skit.
  • Use more or all of the small-group lessons – each Elevate lesson includes 4-6 activities for you to choose from and you can use whichever activities you did not use from the weekend.
  • Play the full review game – yes, this is included for each lesson in the Elevate curriculum but you can make up your own review game to play as well. We like to come up with wild ways to “buzz” in the answer (bean bag toss, catch the ping pong ball, etc.)
  • Add songs – you can add music videos to your media software, like an additional worship song or two. You can play your favorites from a past series or you can ask the kids which one they want to play. You can check out all the Elevate music videos on our website.
  • Use “Game Break” time – these Large Group games don’t have to relate to the lesson, they can just be fun themed games. You can search online for “Large group games for kids” and pick one that fits your time and space.
  • Minute to Win It – these type of games take very little supplies and are a lot of fun. You can use these at the beginning of your time as children come in or toward the end of the time as children are being picked up.
  • Make the time Game-Show style – if you are using the same lesson, capitalize on the review game style, ask the questions, and then have a spinner to spin in between each question that lands on either Song, Game, Minute To Win It, Activity, Messy Game, etc. Our kids LOVE this style as you can also make it a competition between teams and not just individuals.

Another option for your Wednesday night, especially if you have used Elevate for an extended amount of time, is to grab other lessons that reinforce the weekend lesson. For example, Elevate teaches many lessons on prayer from different Bible characters. If you learned about prayer from the lesson of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane on Sunday (Good News Kids), you can follow up with the lesson about the life of King Asa on Wednesday (To The Depths Kids).

What ways do you extend your curriculum lesson past an hour and a half?

 

This was one of many additional questions from Pastor Mike’s C3 Conference Q&A session. Stay tuned for more or click the Q&A tag to see other questions and answers.

Children’s Ministry Elevate FC Kids

Become a part of the greatest kid’s ministry on earth!

FC Kids Staff

One of the best things about children’s ministry is the team of people you serve with each and every day – and the FC Kids Ministry has a position open on our team! We are looking for someone who loves to serve kids in a creative way, and who wants to be a part of the amazing life-change happening here at Fellowship Church!

FC Kids and Elevate provide a strong Bible-based curriculum but also focus on all aspects of a child’s senses; we want to capture a child’s imagination for Christ the moment they walk into our building! The person to fill the role of Campus Children’s Pastor in South Biscayne/Northport, FL would be responsible for crafting a creative children’s experience to facilitate the spiritual lives of the children, as well as responsible for equipping the volunteers through recruiting and training. From the exciting opportunities that come up weekly, to the big events we plan for, you could be a part of the only thing Jesus ever built – the local church!

Please email your resume (or even a friend’s!) to mike.johnson@elevateatchurch.com.

Children’s Ministry Conferences Volunteers

Q&A: “What should a volunteer schedule look like to avoid burnout?”

avoid burnout

A Balanced Spiritual Life

This is a common question in any ministry, but especially for those working with children. The easy answer is balance and consistency, but the logistical answer depends on your church schedule.

Let’s start with balance. We want everyone who is a part of our church to find a place to serve so they can grow as Christ followers. That being said, we have the policy that if you are not attending church, you need to stop serving. Does that sound harsh? We have this policy to protect our volunteers. For example, we all probably have those “super volunteers” in our ministry who will say yes to everything we ask of them. Can they serve an extra service? Of course! Can they stay late to watch the staff kids? Their pleasure! Can they come Tuesday and count out small group supplies? Sure! However, the longer we ask them to do everything, the swifter they burnout, especially if they do not have an opportunity for corporate worship. It is better for us to protect our volunteers and help them learn a balanced spiritual life so they can be an example to others long-term.

On the other side, we all have the volunteers who are so afraid of committing because they don’t want to experience burnout. They may have already experienced burnout before, at a ministry or even as a PTA parent. So they try to “balance” serving with the rest of their life by signing up to volunteer once a month or just “when they can.” However, in this scenario, they miss out on true connection with the kids and other volunteers and eventually drop out of serving entirely.

That is why we talk to our volunteers about this up front during recruiting and in volunteer training. We first talk about Matthew 22:37-40 and God’s plan for a balanced spiritual life, and then we show this short video example to our volunteers.

A Balanced Spiritual Life (volunteer training video)

Hopefully, as volunteers see this modeled out by our leaders and other volunteers, they’re able to grow into consistent, thriving volunteers who do not burnout.

The Logistics Of A Balanced Schedule

Now onto logistics. As I mentioned in our Q&A breakout at C3, I’d encourage you to talk to your pastor or leadership team about having two services; then volunteers can attend one and serve the other every weekend. We have 3 services available at our Grapevine campus. When we first opened our Fellowship Church Celina campus, volunteers had the opportunity to come to Grapevine on Saturday night and serve at Celina’s single service on Sunday morning. The Celina campus has since moved to two services on Sunday morning.

If you only have one service for the foreseeable future, we have heard of churches on a 4 week or 8 week schedule – where the same teachers teach the whole Elevate series, or at least 4 weeks in a row. Other churches’ volunteers serve on an every other weekend schedule. There are pros and cons to both. Whatever your schedule, remember consistency and balance is key to connect with kids and avoid volunteer burnout.

What ways does your church help volunteers avoid burnout?

 

This was one of many additional questions from Pastor Mike’s C3 Conference Q&A session. Stay tuned for more or click the Q&A tag to see other questions and answers.

Children’s Ministry Elevate FC Kids

Q&A: “How many games should you plan for one children’s service?”

To answer the question “How many games should you plan for one children’s service?” we have to go back to why we use games in the first place. We believe that children learn while having fun, which is why we revolve all our games around the lesson or theme to engage the children’s attention for each lesson. The number of games we use in FC Kids at Fellowship Church varies from 3-6, and some weekends a lot more. This is also why we write 5-6 different activities per lesson in Elevate Children’s Curriculum. These include Small Group application activities, Opening Activities, and Review Activities. We usually start off with an opening game to help all of the kids become involved. We do this because children can be dropped off in our FC Kids ministry up to 15 minutes before service actually starts. Then there are games that help illustrate the lesson, like “Forgiveness Freeze Tag,” “Courage Shield,” “Thank God And Share,” or “Worship Cube” to name a few. How many of these we pick depends on the time we have available to play games. Are we having an extra long service? Even if you are not sure how long service will go, it is always best to prepare a few extra application activities and games just in case! We also like to play Minute to Win It games or other games like I Spy during the review time of the lesson.

So the short answer to the question “How many games should you plan for one children’s service?” is, “However many games you need to fill the time and teach the children that week’s lesson.”

 

This was one of many additional questions from Pastor Mike’s C3 Conference Q&A session. Stay tuned for more or click the Q&A tag to see other questions and answers.

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, anywhere, and on any device. For us, that is LeadershipForKids.com. 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.com 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.com, hand the child the phone or tablet, and let them watch a video based toward their specific age group. LeadershipForKids.com will not only keep your child busy and entertained while you, as the parent, are driving to school or making dinner, but LeadershipForKids.com 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 go online to LeadershipForKids.com, your child will have access to Music Videos, Bible Lessons, Leadership Videos, and Bible Plans that can be accessed anywhere and at any time! On LeadershipForKids.com you’ll discover more than 400 of your child’s favorite Bible Lessons and Music Videos 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.com with everyone you know!

LeadershipForKids.com 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/.