The Bible is full of pictures of families; parents and children, brothers and sisters, and as we read these stories we see ourselves in the characters- warts and all. But we also see God's grace at work in families and relationships. Susan Martins Miller, in her book 'Family Ministry Events- Building faith and community in the families of your church' says, "Caring for families is crucial. The church has a unique opportunity to walk alongside families through every stage and phase of life. The same kinds of skills that healthy families use for living together at home, for creating positive, secure relationships are the skills the church needs to use to make the congregation a vibrant faith family. A church that is committed to family ministry understands this and looks at its entire ministry through the family lens."
So.. how do you make family a priority in your ministry? Start in small ways..meeting them where they are rather than where we think they should be... highlighting the phases of life for children and families.
Here's a simple suggestion: Whenever a family brings along their new baby for the first time to church, highlight that milestone. Introduce the family and the new little one to the entire church family, pray for them and highlight the importance of families in the lives and faith development of children. Personalise and present this certificate to the family and, if possible, include a Bible story book. We also attach a silk rose to the certificate and present the family with a family manual with growth milestones and suggestions for impacting this young life placed in their hands. You can download the certificate below...
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So... you're looking for something a little different for your kids' segment in the worship service or for a special event. Have you considered the large number of books of Bible skits available? These books cover a large number of Bible passages and themes for various ages and it's always an added highlight to involve the kids- children love to be involved and parents enjoy seeing their children taking an active role in these presentations. Some of these books even come with sound effects so check out some of these titles...The Humongous Book of Bible Skits
Interactive Stories for Young Children
Big Book of Bible Skits
Are you in the midst of planning this term's kids' messages for church worship services? This is one resource that you need to check out! These segments are not just object lessons, powerful as they may be. These activities present interactive experiences that will involve the whole church family. Group Publishing describes it this way: 'Transform every sermon into a family-friendly, everyone-engaged, nobody-fidgeting experience. Just add one of these 3- to 5-minute activities and you’ll see children sit up…lean forward…and hang on every word. Which means parents and other grown-ups will be more attentive, too.' Each segment requires little or nor prep, common themes or passages and includes a CD with take-home family bulletin inserts.Download
a sample segment and see for yourself. The book is available from our online store
or from Group.
Along with organising lessons and rosters for your children's programs, you're probably in the midst of thinking through the material you'll be using each Sunday for children in the church worship segment. This week, we'll present a few suggestions. Although we've mentioned it before, the Lost Sheep material is worth highlighting again for those who missed it. "Fresh, vivid and attention-grapping, these stories touch the heart and illuminate the mind." Max Lucado. These powerpoint-style presentations come complete with a prompt booklet and the story to read aloud. Storytelling kits are available for immediate download for $10/kit. Download a free story-telling kit
Other free resources and activities
are also available to download to supplement the storytelling kits.
Often, as leaders, we're called upon to highlight the importance of children's ministry to our church and our church leaders. We may need to encourage and motivate new volunteers with a vision of all that we seek to achieve through God's strength and enabling in children's ministries. But more importantly, families will need to be encouraged to share our passion and commitment as, each Sunday, our teams seek to make each moment count, ensuring that our time with these kids has eternal impact. For these occasions, try this clip from 252 (the Rethink group- Think Orange) to remind everyone that our time is limited. Most churches will have little more than forty hours per year with these kids. Although you may not use the 252 curriculum, the clip highlights 3 basic concepts for kids- I can trust God no matter what, I need to make the wise choice and I should treat others the way I want to be treated. It's a great clip to remind everyone that time is slipping away. Every moment counts!
Those of you who work in children's ministry are on the frontlines. It's your arms that wrap around a child or a shake a hand or soothe a hurt or point the way to eternal life. We're cheering you on, whispering encouragement. Your devotion to Jesus is palpable. Your service to him is sincere. Your sacrifices, while mostly hidden, are seen by the God who's called you into the noblest of callings. We want your ministry to be like a super-charged magnet that draws kids to your irresistible Saviour for a lifetime! (And so do you!) Children are the future and the present. The're mouldable and eager to learn. Their hearts are soft. Their faith is pure. We can think of no higher calling than to build a faith foundation for the church of today- and tomorrow. Christine Y Jones (Children's Ministry magazine)
Ministry to Children has posted an extensive list of reasons for children's ministry and, at the start of a new year, you're probably wanting to highlight its importance with your church family. This week, we'll present just some of the inspirational material available to challenge and inspire others to be involved in this ministry.
I hope you've had plenty of time over the Christmas holiday break to relax, unwind and have some fun. Hopefully, you've spent some time catching up on blogs, and de-cluttering your office and now you're ready to put aside 2010 and begin the challenges of a new year in children's ministry.
When you're working with children, it's easy to become caught up in the weekly momentum of lesson preparation and rosters and finding resources, knowing that the next week's deadline is always on the horizon. There's a danger that you could suddenly realise that it has been months since you and your team have thought about, or wrestled with, the details and the big picture of where you're going in children's ministry. Next Sunday is, at most, seven days away, and so our urgency can get the better of us.
As Scott McClelland (Collide magazine) puts it: 'Whatever routine you find yourself in, you must be intentional about rising above it. Block off time to re-imagine, to pull things apart and mix up the pieces. This seems like the best way to discover something new about your work, while also making sure that the things you carry over from week to week to week, project to project, are actually worth keeping. Carry over that which is best, not that which is convenient. In order to know the difference, you're going to have to rise above your routine.' Take time with your ministry team at the start of this year, and at regular intervals, to meet together and pray together while you re-examine, re-imagine and dream a little.
While the start of the year produces the rush to buy calendars and reorganise our lives, we also need to take some time to focus on a more important aspect of our lives and our ministries. "We have schedule planners, computerized calendars and self-stick notes to help us organise our business and social lives every day, but what about organising the other side of our lives- the spiritual side? Tempted to give imbalanced attention to the public world at the expense of the private, we become involved in more programs, more meetings. Our massive responsibilities at home, work and church have resulted in a lot of good people on the verge of collapse. Gordon MacDonald's book Ordering YOur Private World
equips a new generation to live life from the inside out, cultivating the inner victory necessary for public effectiveness." Find it in our online store.
'Building Church Leaders'
has prepared a downloadable resource in their 'Practical Ministry Skills' area- Spiritual Disciplines for Busy Church Leaders.
It's so easy to get lost in the frantic pace of ministry that sometimes we neglect our own spiritual lives. The practice of personal spiritual disciplines invigorates your personal relationships with God was well as your ministry. Download it for yourself or to present to your ministry team.
Pack includes: Hurried Sick (John Ortberg), An Introduction to Solitude (Henri Nouwen), Finding a Steady Rhythm and more.....
Download the pack from Building Church Leaders
now and use the code 'BESTOF2010' to receive a 25% discount.
The start of a new year provides the opportunity to start with a fresh approach to planning and organisation for your ministry team. The Planning Center has been designed specifically for music teams and the planning and organisation of worship services but it also has growing appeal for those who plan and lead the Sunday programs in children's ministries. Why? I'll list some of its features and you can check it out yourself to see if it has potential for your own needs.
Part of its appeal is the price. Planning Center is an online program and offers a Free Plan for those who operate one service type (or children's program) per week with up to 10 volunteers on roster. The paid plans range in price from $14/month to $99/mth for 25 services and unlimited people. And you can trial it free for a month.
Planning Center allows you to easily plan and prepare your weekly lesson and roster your volunteers and share the planning with them. Its clean, graphical interface makes it intuitive for you to edit your plans, and for your users to view them. You can link media (video, images) to items in your plan. It's easy to create your own categories for unlimited flexibility in organizing your lesson plan flow and scheduling and assigning your people to your plans. Contact details are easily added- email addresses, phone numbers, physical addresses and even a picture for each person on your team. Assign your people to properties that you create. Create one property for leaders and another for greeters and then simply tick the appropriate box in each person's profile. Send an email to all people or specific categories of people scheduled/rostered on your plan which include their customized times and links to get the lesson plan. Print customised reports/lessons to have hard copies on-hand.
Planning Center's Facebook integration has quickly become one of their users' favourite features. Volunteers with the Facebook app installed will receive a Facebook notification whenever you schedule them. Clicking the notification will take them to the Facebook application, where they can respond right from within Facebook.
Check it out at www.planningcenteronline.com