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Children’s Ministry Current Affairs 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 questions Pastor Mike did not get a chance to answer during his C3 Conference Q&A session. Stay tuned for more!

FC Kids Uncategorized Volunteers

I Serve: Recruiting New Volunteers!

As a leader of a children’s ministry, one thing you need to be comfortable with is the fact that you will always be recruiting new volunteers. If you’ve been in children’s ministry long enough you realize that volunteers come, and volunteers go. No matter what you do, the back door to volunteering will always be open because people enter into different seasons in life, people move away, or life circumstances simply cause your volunteers to step away for a while. Knowing this, it is imperative that you always keep your front door open. In other words, if you’re not constantly bringing in new volunteers, your ministry will suffer. You need to make sure that as one person goes, you have another person coming in.

To help us do this, we promote volunteerism here at Fellowship Church every weekend. One of the ways we do this is through promotional campaigns. Our latest volunteer campaign is called “I Serve FC Kids”. In this campaign we used flyers, posters, and standup cutouts to keep in the forefront of everyone’s mind that the programming in FC Kids only happens because of volunteers, and that those volunteers are people just like them.

Our goal is that, when people walk into Fellowship Church, they understand that we value volunteering as a major tenet of our church. Therefore, when the ask is made of them to volunteer, it doesn’t catch them by surprise. We want them to think, “Volunteering is important here, so I’m sure someone will be asking me to volunteer soon.” And believe me, we will.

Scroll through the pictures above to see some of the ways we promoted this campaign.

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

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/.

Uncategorized Volunteers

Going Fishing: Recruiting Volunteers Part 3

Over the last few weeks I’ve been talking about recruiting volunteers. I’ve talked about not neglecting all types of potential volunteers. I’ve talked about why, biblically, we are to serve others and involve others in serving as an administer even more than as a minister. And now, for the practical side of recruiting volunteers. Fishing.

There are three types of fishing and each type snags a different type of volunteer.

#1. Go fishing with a Net

It’s basically a large call out to the people of your church. It could be an announcement in the bulletin, it could be a flyer you hand out at the door, or a booth in the lobby. This is getting the word out for vacation bible school, or summer camp, or a build project. Make sure they have a way to respond or a call to action.

Example: After one of our campaigns to increase awareness we handed out volunteering cards to everyone in the service. We had talked about it, been praying for them, and we got back 150 cards from people interested in volunteering. So that gave us a hot list to start calling to plug people into volunteering.

#2. Go fishing with a Pole

You are going after a specific type of fish or volunteer. To get this specific type of fish, you need to go to the ‘pool’ where these fish are swimming. If you need a builder, go to the men’s ministry to a bunch of guys to help build. If you need someone on stage in a kind of ‘ra-ra’ get kids excited way, go to the drama team. You need to be strategic when recruiting volunteers for a specific role.  We even use our database and print out a list of people based on their hobbies or jobs to call about specific opportunities in our ministry.

You can also create a pool to fish from! Example: We have a class called the Newcomers Class for people interested in joining our church. That is a pool we want to fish from because those people are obviously interested in finding out more about the church, so they may be interested in serving once they hear about the different ministries. Another thing we do is called our Volunteer Tour. We take people behind the scenes to see the different areas within the church in action and to answer the question, ‘what type of ministry do I want to serve in?’ Then we take the list and find out exactly where they want to serve.

#3. Go fishing with a Spear

This is when you make a deliberate effort to go after a specific person. Maybe you’ve noticed a man or a woman or teenager that you want to get serving. They may be one of those that you have been praying for for a long time. Or you may not even know them and may have watched them and noticed them. Usually these types of people do not respond to the net or pole, they only respond to direct conversation with you when you share the vision of your ministry. And they can turn out to be the best volunteers.

So there you have it. The who, the why and the how of recruiting volunteers. Every principle I’ve talked about is a principle we use at Fellowship Church to involve everyone in loving God and loving others. You can’t be a week at Fellowship without hearing about volunteering and you can’t be here a month without expecting to be asked. Again, volunteering is not about you, or even the kids, it’s about involving everyone in God’s kingdom so they can grow into fully mature followers of Christ. So be bold, and as we say at Fellowship Church, “Go for the ask!”

You can download our recruiting campaigns for free on ElevateAtChurch.com.

Uncategorized Volunteers

The Most Important Part: Recruiting Volunteers Part 2

Last week I said “God has called me to not only involve those who want to volunteer, but to involve those who don’t want to volunteer as well. And you know what? God has given you that calling too!” Now I know that that is a bold statement, so before you hyperventilate, let me explain why I believe the Bible tells us so.

What’s Most Important?

The Bible speaks of a time when a Pharisee came to Jesus to ask Him which commandment of the Law was most important (Matthew 22:36-39 NIV). Now personally, I say that’s a great question (even if the motives of this Pharisee weren’t the purest). After all, my inquiring mind tells me that if there is one thing that God wants me to be doing above all else, I want to know what it is so I can make sure that I am doing it! Well, believe it or not, Jesus gave the Pharisee an answer. He told him that there were not one, but two commands. The first and greatest was to love God with all your heart, soul and mind. The second one, which was like it, was to love your neighbor as yourself.

There you have it. The Top Two. The Twin Towers of power. The Two Beacons of light that will guide us in our deepening walk with God. Jesus said, and I paraphrase, “So you want to be obedient? OK, then love God in your actions, in your words, in your thoughts and in your worship; and love others as much as you love yourself.”

Simple right?

Yeah…not so much. Especially that “love your neighbor as yourself” statement. That’s a tough command for all of us, and it’s one we usually try to sweep under the rug and casually act like it’s not there. The problem, however, is that we can’t do that, because without obeying this second command we will not grow spiritually.

Grow in Love

To show you what I mean let’s turn to the book of Ephesians, chapter four (Ephesians 4:14-16 NIV). Here Paul says that all baby believers should desire to grow and become mature under the head of Christ. In real life babies are cute and cuddly…for a while. Soon however we expect those babies to grow up, assume responsibility for themselves and become fully functioning members of the family. This is true for us spiritually as well. Paul says we must grow and mature as a member of God’s family (His body) so that we can assume responsibility for ourselves and become functioning members of that family.

To make this happen Paul says that we must grow and build ourselves up in love. Love for who? Why the very ones Jesus commanded us to love of course!  Love for God and love and others!

Interesting huh? If we merge the divinely inspired words of Paul with the words of Jesus we discover that in order to mature, each of us must grow and build ourselves up in our love for God, AND each of us must grow and build ourselves up in our love for others.

But we’re still not done yet, we have one more question. How do we grow and build ourselves up in this love? Paul gives us the answer. We grow and build ourselves up in love as we WORK. And that my friends is the hard part. We must work at loving God (through Bible study, prayer, obedience, church attendance, etc) and we must work at loving others (through acts of kindness and service). If we do this God promises us that we will grow and become a mature part of the body of Christ that He will use to do His work.

OK, so you might be asking “what does this have to do with recruiting volunteers?”. My answer…Everything! If we can fully understand the process involved in becoming a mature believer it will completely change the way we recruit volunteers. Let me explain. Our job as Children’s Leaders is two fold. To bring children into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and to bring to maturity the leaders who serve alongside us in completing this task. In God’s eyes, one is not more important than the other…they are equal. Someday I believe we will all stand before God and be accountable for the children He placed in our care. But I also believe we will be held accountable for the adults He put in our church that He wanted us to help grow and become mature by getting them involved in serving others. What a privilege it is to be a children’s leader! God has chosen you to have the greatest opportunity to help people mature in their walk because you have been afforded the place with the greatest need for people to be serving in the church, the ministry to children! We need to keep this in mind when recruiting volunteers. There is no other area in the church that has as many service opportunities (opportunities that will cause a person to grow and mature) as what the Preschool and Children’s ministries have to offer. We should rejoice in the fact that God has given us this privilege of being so involved in the maturation of others (and the rewards in Heaven for doing so)!

So here it is in a nutshell. If I truly believe that people only grow and mature when they are loving God and loving others, then it is my responsibility to help them to accomplish both. My job is not to do the work of the ministry all by myself, my job is to give the ministry over to God’s people so they can become mature as they serve. In a very real sense I am more of an administer than I am a minister. My job is to organize and provide opportunities where people can can work at loving God and work at loving others! This is a great task!

volunteer to grow
How to Ask

When I ask a volunteer to serve, I shouldn’t go to them with hat in hand asking them to do me a favor by serving in the Children’s Ministry. Instead I should go to them boldly telling them that I want to do them a favor by getting them involved. If I have this attitude, I will now see recruiting volunteers in a whole new light. When I ask someone to volunteer, I will not feel guilty about putting them out, or about bothering them. Instead I will see their life as my responsibility, given to me by God, to grow and mature through service. I will say “I love you enough to keep asking you over and over and over because I know that if you don’t serve, you won’t grow. And I love you too much to let that happen.”

I hope you can now see that if a volunteer is to ever reach their full potential, they need to lead a balanced spiritual life. If a person’s only focus in life is to love God by feeding on His Word, then that person will become spiritually obese. However, if a person only focuses on serving others, that person will burn out due to a lack of spiritual nutrition. Everyone in the church needs to be doing both; loving God AND loving others. When they do, the Bible promises us that they will become a mature part of the body of Christ, ready to do even more of His work. When that happens, we will have all the volunteers we will need.

So challenge yourself this week to personally ask at least two people to come volunteer in your ministry. And remember – it’s not, “Do me a favor,” it’s “Let me do you a favor – come volunteer”!

Next week I’ll be talking about the top three ways to recruit volunteers. And it’s all about fishing.

Uncategorized Volunteers

The Big Box of Potential: Recruiting Volunteers Part 1

When I think about recruiting volunteers, I think of a big yellow box with the word “Potential” emblazoned across the top of it (Why yellow? Because when it comes to recruiting I try to envision as many happy things as I can!) When I open this cheerfully colored box I see inside it every person who is part of my church. As I look closely I also see that every one of these people fall into one of four distinct groups.

In The Big Box

  • The first group of people are wearing t-shirts and hats that say “I LOVE KIDS” . These awesome folks are jumping up and down with their hands raised yelling “Pick Me! Pick Me!” I like this group because they often come with their own “object lesson tool kits” and sometimes even provide their own snacks.

  • The second group of people are those who are looking up at me and casually wondering why I am looking at them. They’re somewhat interested in volunteering but definitely not as fanatical as the first group.

  • The third group consists of people who are totally clueless that the lid is even open and that I am standing there watching them. For these people, children’s ministry is not even a blip on the radar.

  • The fourth and final group are those who, the moment I took the lid off, scampered off to the dark corners of the box trying to hide. They are the ones who, for some reason, see me as a threat to their normal everyday life of bliss and happiness.

As I look at these four groups of people my natural inclination is to primarily focus on the first group. Why? Because they make my recruiting task easy and even fun, two words not usually associated with volunteer recruitment.

As for the other three groups? Well I try to get them involved. I either call them (but only when I know they won’t be home so I can just leave a message) or I type up a sincere, heartfelt letter and click the Send button. Beyond that I don’t give them a lot of effort because, quite frankly, when I reach out to them I almost always hear the word NO more than I hear the word YES! And, since I don’t like the indigestion the word NO gives me, I tend to push these three groups out of my consciousness.

Recruiting Volunteers, What Now?

But, to be honest, if I do this it presents a couple of big problems for me. The first is that there just isn’t enough of those “pick me, pick me,” people to cover all the areas I need. The second is that as a church leader (and if you work with kids you are a church leader), God has called me to not only involve those who want to volunteer, but to involve those who don’t want to volunteer as well. And you know what? God has given you that calling too! So this week, when you look for people to ask to serve, don’t just look for those ‘pick me types’, go for the ask when it comes to the other types of people as well – even those who don’t even know you have a kid’s ministry. Biblically, we are commanded not to neglect those other three groups of people.

Now I know that is a bold statement, so before you hyperventilate, in my next blog I will explain what the Bible says specifically about volunteer recruiting.

Children’s Ministry Current Affairs FC Kids Leadership Parenting Uncategorized

They're not "JUST kids", they're future leaders

Recently, I had the opportunity to present a message at Fellowship Church entitled They’re Not “Just Kids”. In it I presented the fact that our children are our nation’s and world’s future leaders, and the qualities and values we invest in them now will determine their success in life, and the success of our future.

This message is one that EVERY PERSON who has a child in their life needs to hear! For those of you who work with children within a ministry, or for a living, I hope this encourages you and reminds you again of the importance of what you do. For everyone else, I promise you, it will forever change how you look at children!