The devastating tornado in Oklahoma and the magnitude of this disaster has generated world-wide attention. Even here on the Gold Coast, it has received front-page newspaper coverage. Our thoughts and prayers are with this community as they deal with the heart-breaking destruction and loss.
The Skit Guys have responded to this tragedy with the offer of a free clip, 'The Storms of Life'
, in the hope that you can download and use this to encourage discussion about this and other tragedies. (see below) "We hope that your church community will remember ours. Remember that there’s a community aching. Remember there’s a lot to rebuild––both homes and hearts. Please keep OK in your prayers today and in the weeks to come.' Skit Guys
In Australia, natural disasters are common: drought, cyclones, fire, floods. The predictability of these disasters has been immortalized in the imagery of our poetry and literature, but are you and your children's ministry team prepared for it? Can you comfort families and children and help them cope with disaster?
There are a number of points to keep in mind.
1. Children need physical reassurance. They need to be with their family to feel safe. Keep in mind that displaced children will require even more physical comforting. 2. Children need to talk. Listen to them. They need to know others understand and share their worries and concerns. 3. Talk honestly.... but don't scare them. Share worries in an age-appropriate manner. 4. Remain as calm as possible. Maintain normal routines as much as you are able. 5. Expect regressive behaviour. Generally, such behaviours will fade over time. More helpful information can be found from the following resources:
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This Sunday afternoon, our church is presenting a special family concert as a community outreach event. A large part of the community has no connection with church, has never attended a church service and many do not even know a church exists nearby.
We hope and pray that this free concert, one of a number of community family events planned over the next few months, will create an awareness of the church and will encourage families to come along and enjoy this event.
The concert includes a meal (BBQ) with plenty of fun, kids' activities- jumping castle, music, face-painting, balloons, inflatable activity centre and more. We will have a live Christian band and a guest presenter- Christopher Wayne, a gospel illusionist. I've included a clip about Chris below.
A community outreach event can be a daunting task but just requires a bit of planning ahead of time. If you need a little assistance with this, check out the Children's Ministry Easy Planner Pack. It includes plenty of set-by-step checklists for your kidmin event planning. See here
for more information.
I've also included a Special Invitation ppt slide for an event that can be easily altered to your needs.
Vision- animates, inspires, transforms purpose into action. Our church Vision Dinner was held last Friday evening.. a time when we could consider: 'Who are we? Where is God leading us as a church and in our ministry?'
It gave us the opportunity to highlight our focus on Family Ministry, explain more about our programs and encourage the church family to visit our Tweedkids Facebook page.
We used a number of resources in preparation for our special Vision Dinner event and you may find them helpful yourself.
First, I found a great powerpoint presentation template at Graphicriver
that was so easy to add text and images for a dynamic presentation. They do charge a few dollars for these templates but, for a special event, it's really worth it in terms of quality and time. You can find more here...
I also used Animoto
to create a short clip for our TweedKids and you can check it out below. I've mentioned Animoto before and you might like to read more about this online program here...
I created some great littleBox Brownie cameras
to add to the tables since a 'Vision Dinner gives a picture of what lies ahead.' I added the wording to the design before printing the boxes and assembling them. The design cost $4 to download but again, worth it.. it was a great little focus point for the dinner and I filled the cameras with M&Ms.
How often do we access daily news media sources and learn of dangerous situations needing the help of emergency services? Whether it's police, fire and rescue services, ambulance, Life Guards, SES, St John's, Rural Fire Brigade... these organisations provide help and assistance to many, often without thanks or real appreciation.
You may wish to take the opportunity, as a church or a children's ministry, to invite members from these groups to a special 'thank you' family service or event. A simple postcard-style invitation has been included in the file below plus a couple of decorative pieces- bunting, small labels for attaching to packs of chips or drinks, cupcake toppers. When we contacted these organisations, some offered to bring along their emergency vehicles, much to the delight of the kids! We also painted up some cardboard boxes as firetrucks and emergency vehicles and held races for the kids.
You may wish to present a special certificate to all the emergency service personnel present. A simple certificate is available below. Another gift suggestion is to present each organisation with copies of the popular movies Fireproof and/or Courageous.
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Earlier this week, we were flooded in. The aftermath of ex-cyclone Oswald caused wide-spread flooding to a large part of south-east Queensland and although our home was high and dry, we were certainly affected. Roads were impassable, electricity was cut, phone and internet coverage was down. I had no way of contacting my family and no way of determining their safety, circumstances or needs. I was totally isolated.
If you work in children's ministry you can not function in isolation.You need to connect with others- your church families and the community, your team and a wider ministry network. You need to develop 'Relationships', the second element of our F.R.E.S.H. approach to children's ministry. Building relationships is an integral part of a thriving ministry. So.. how do you go about it? Check out these 3 areas and click through to the practical suggestions and ideas.
- Communicate often through church announcements, bulletins and flyers.
- Update the church family following a special event. (We produce a short clip of photo highlights using SmileBox or Animoto.)
- Provide information about your ministry prayer needs.
- Upload photos of lessons & crafts to your ministry Pinterest boards and Facebook page.
- Send news releases about events to the local/community newspaper.
- Provide regular newsletters to families ..see here
Don't do it alone.
- Develop teams in your ministry to share the load, to encourage and support each other.
- Take time to discover your leaders/volunteers' strengths and skills.
- Have fun! If you and your leaders are enjoying ministry, so will the kids.. and parents will notice.
- Develop a circle of key leaders for each department or group.
- Encourage key leaders to connect with those in their group.
- Encourage leaders to connect & encourage parents.
- Equip your team. Schedule training and resourcing. Try email training.. see here
- Make training fun! include inspirational content with practical hands-on skills- teach face-painting, balloon sculpture, puppetry, photography...
- Involve in other ways those who cannot be actively participating: sending birthday cards to kids, prayer, website updates, buying supplies, emailing roster reminders, painting backdrops.
- Share inspiring stories.
- Join a children's ministry network in your area. It's a great way to encourage other leaders and share skills, information & ideas
- Start one, if none exists.
- If all else fails, look at an online group.
- Connect with your senior pastor and/or church leadership. Meet once a month to share what's happening with families and ensure your ministry is in line with the direction your church is heading.
- Develop a link with other church ministries. Develop a link with youth ministry and leadership programs. Ask the seniors' group to share their skills with midweek programs. Highlight Grandparents' Day with kids and the church family.
Wow! What a week! Our kids' club program concluded for the year with all the excitement of 'One Starry Night' where kids and their families experienced Mary and Joseph's journey to the manger. This was a different style of program from our usual kids' club afternoons, so we were interested to see the reaction of children and families. We included a few additions: Bethlehem passports with stickers and stamps for them to collect at each activity station, and a combined large group session to start the evening off with some carols, a special welcome to all the parents who had joined the evening events, a special Christmas clip of the Christmas story and the opportunity to highlight the family service on the following Sunday. We also concluded the event with a festive buffet-style dinner for everyone.
But, it was a terrific night with more kids than we expected turning up and many bringing along their parents. If you haven't checked out this Christmas outreach program, then click here
for more information.
I've included a short clip below of highlights of our One Starry Night event- kids at various activity stations, leaders dressed for the part in Bethlehem garb and parents getting involved with their children in some of the activities. See below. I'll briefly outline the One Starry Night Sunday morning family service, with the resources and elements we included in my next posting.
Australia holds Grandparents Day on different dates determined by the state: NSW will celebrate it this year (2012) on Sunday, October 28; QLD- November 3. But the sentiments are the same- an expression of recognition, love and thanks for their ongoing support, encouragement and nurture of our families.
So.. what do kids think about grandparents?'Grandpas and Grandmas like to play games with grandchildren, listen to them tell what happened in the park and at school and answer questions. They especially like to read stories to grandchildren from big books with lots of pictures.''Grandmas and grandpas are older than mothers and fathers. They usually have grey hair or white hair. Sometimes grandpas have no hair at all, but that's alright because grandpas don't need to use a hairbrush and comb every morning.''Grandma lives at the airport and whenever we need her, we just go and pick her up.'
The Bible highlights the importance of age and wisdom,too. Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. (Prov16:31) Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days. (Job 12:12)Celebrate this special event with your children's ministry and church family with some of these activities:*
Special diplomas for the kids to complete and hand to their grandparents... here
* Print off this special booklet of things to do with your grandchildren to give to the grandparents on Grandparents Day...here
(Ensure your printer settings are on 'booklet' before printing.)
* Show one of these grandparents day clips... see below
* Print off the Grandparents Day table decorations and present a special morning-tea for everyone, especially the grandparents, following the service. See file below.
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In Australia, Father's Day is little over a week away. While some feel that the importance of Father's Day limps along behind the splash of Mother's Day, it remains a wonderful opportunity to encourage and thank fathers for their involvement in the lives of their children. And fathers certainly are an integral part of family life.
You have no doubt read many sources listing the positive impact involved fathers produce in their kids. Indeed, family scholars the world over have produced a large body of evidence from thousands of independent studies on the important contribution that fathers make to children and to the success of the family unit. Consider: Children with involved fathers are more confident, better able to deal with frustration, better able to gain independence and their own identity, more likely to mature into compassionate adults, more likely to have a high self esteem, more sociable, more secure as infants, less likely to show signs of depression, less likely to commit suicide, more empathetic, boys have been shown to be less aggressive and adolescent girls are less likely to engage in sex.
So.. what will you do in your area of children's ministry for dads, this Father's Day?
Check out this list of 26 Adorable Father's Day Gift Ideas from How Does She?
"Seagulls screech, waves crash, salty mist sprays your face. Welcome to Rocky Point Lighthouse.. where kids shine God's light!' It's a great introduction to Group's Rocky Point Lighthouse program and our kids' club theme for this term. The format of this program covers just two 21/2 hour sessions and one Sunday celebration, so we've combined this exciting theme with lessons from FaithWeaver Friends.
We promoted this upcoming program for a couple of weeks, and then held an orientation lunch following Sunday's worship service for leaders and others interested in knowing more about this program and possible involvement.
So..I decorated our lunch table in a nautical theme and set it up in a prominent area. The lunch went well and created a lot of interest. Following lunch, I handed out individual activitiy station manuals I had created with all the leader information included (printed off from the program resources CD). I highlighted some of the activitiers, crafts and features of this program...and the result? Two new leaders joined our Kids Club team!
If you're interested in the decorative media used for our lunch table, you can find the downloadable set at Bird's Party Shop. (See here..)
It includes cupcake toppers and wrappers, water bottle labels, napkin rings, mini snack boxes, party bunting, icons, straw flags, buffet labels and patterned paper.
With more than 12 million users regularly using Pinterest, you're probably wondering if there's any potential for your children's ministry or just a waste of your time and effort.
A pinterest pinboard tells a story in images and videos of who you are, where you come from and what you do. This information may be clear to your church family but, in reaching out to your community, it gives a glimpse into your children's ministry world and allows them to get to know you and what's important to you- where your focus lies. In other words, it helps you connect with families.
So, how should you set up and develop your Pinterest?
Think about creating a dedicated board for each of your age-groups or programs. Pin some of those age-group's craft or science activities on those boards. Pin your mission focus. Pin your ministry/group logo. Pin images (and videos) of performances or drama presentations. Often, you'll be provided with stock images with your children's programs that may be useful to include. Remember, do not pin images of individual kids or name them and certainly not without parental permission.
Pin pictures of your program resources, your rooms ( hopefully, visually exciting), your large group activities. If you know someone who's good with photography, see if they'll come along and take these pictures for you.
Create a board for resource recommendations, parenting resources, family movies, and hopefully, helpful parenting articles you've written for your ministry blog.
Take every opportunity to direct your readers back to your ministry webpage, your children's ministry website or your ministry Facebook page. Put links in the description field for your pins or pinboards and in your Pinterest profile. Use every opportunity to connect with families both within your church and the community beyond.