We are obsessed with time. It's been said that time is what we want most but use worst.
Time, or a lack of it, is the topic of everyone's conversation and every family complains of a frenetic family calendar and schedule.
In children's ministry, there is a huge pressure to produce and use time wisely. After all, there is always the next lesson to prepare, event to organise, family to contact and meeting to attend.
But there are a number of helpful programs and apps that can simplify your life and organise your time. Check out the following list. What programs do you find helpful?
For more ideas, check out this article to structure in a productive day.
ASTRID.. a great little program and app that I use to list my tasks. I can also use it to change my emails into tasks and appointments. (Any.do is also good.)
CATCH.. a free app to capture ideas and turn them into action.
eWALLET.. stores important personal information passwords, cards etc. (256-bit AES encryption)
TRIPIT.. organises all your trip details- flight info, hotel reservations, excursions, rentals, meetings etc.)
NAMERICK.. if you forget the names of parents and others, this is for you. SHOEBOXED.. take a photo of your receipt and Shoeboxed copies the date, total, payment type, store and category. Keep track of your expenses.
Recently, I learned of a couple of children's ministry volunteers who were tired and discouraged and pulling out of the team. I had worked with these people a few years ago and known them to be fun, enthusiastic, passionate volunteers. What had happened? Family concerns? Health issues?
Sadly, no. It was something simple- a basic but ongoing issue with systems and structures. There weren't any.. or rather, the structures weren't very stable. Lesson materials and resources were provided late or missing crucial elements. Sign-in sheets for parents went missing. Broken equipment was never fixed. New programs arrived late and volunteers had to improvise, and team communication was sporadic. Discouragement had set in.
In other words, there were some serious problems with the planning and organisation within the team leadership.. with tragic results. If you struggle with this issue, then help is available.
Start FRESH today, and restructure your systems and planning with a special Children's Ministry Planner Pack.
We've created a pack filled with planning materials and resources for all your children's ministry needs.
You'll find included:
* weekly ministry planner
* daily ministry & personal planner
* blank personal planner
* ministry event planner
* budget planner
* research sheets for noting and recording worthwhile websites and apps
Download and print these resources now.... $9.95 for the full pack.
(The next blog post will include some additional apps that you may find helpful for planning and organising your ministry and daily tasks.)
Mother's Day- that special time of the year when we remember and celebrate mothers and their important role in our lives and families.
Promote your special kids ministry Mother's Day events with your church family using a Mother's Day powerpoint slide.... we've provided a couple of choices below to download and personalize. You can easily make your own, though, with the help of a couple of resources that we've listed below.
The first image and slide was created using SmileBox. We've highlighted SmileBox before and find it really helpful in creating graphics and movie clips quickly and easily. See here for more information about SmileBox.
We used a simple little app called BubbleFrame to make the second image. It takes a few minutes to become accustomed to the controls but you can quickly make attractive little designs to use on your powerpoint slides.
Check it out here.
You also might like to check out and download some free Mother's Day fonts and there's a wonderful little list of these at Krafty Cards etc. A special font can really make a difference in a design or any of your promotional materials so check them out....
Some time ago, Elevate at Church launched a program for families- Elevate at Home. The idea was to make their Sunday morning kids ministry program materials available for families to download and use at home to develop and grow leaders: making good kids into great leaders.
I don't know if you accessed their materials and promoted them with your church families but the quality of animated Bible stories and lesson materials is excellent.
Now, they have revamped the program and are offering the resources to families on a subscription basis- $3.99 per month. It's great value and well presented. The other positive feature of this new approach is that you don't have to download the clips. The new improved website allows kids and families to watch any lesson movie at any time using any device. It's worth taking some time to check it out- here!
Mike Johnson, children's pastor and executive producer says:
"This new and improved, streaming website takes the stories (lessons) from the Bible and brings to light the leadership principles that are contained within them. From the lesson of Gideon we can learn about confidence. From the lesson of Nehemiah we can learn about perseverance. From the lessons of Paul we can learn about commitment, and the list goes on. This program gets kids into God’s Word during the week so that it can be learned and applied to their lives now, and in the future.
Our world needs, and will need, men and women who will step up and lead our world in a God honoring way. That’s why you and I have given our lives to work with kids - to teach them God’s Word today so they can impact their world now, and the larger world tomorrow".
Bullying is a sensitive topic for many kids struggling at school, in the playground, with classmates and sometimes even at home. It's not something that we can or should avoid discussing with kids and there are an increasing number of programs that you could consider using in your kidmin programs. Below, I've listed just a couple.
But you also might like to consider the 'Truth or Trash' iPhone app, from iKAN Ministries, to use in conjunction with your programs or discussions. The game app was produced to help kids discern the difference between the potentially harmful opinions of others and real truth. It also includes a Scripture reference after each question/answer.
' Imagine a day in your life when you are not longer affected by what others think or say about you. Throughout your life many people will have their opinions of you. It's hard at times not to feel rejected or worthless. This game is designed to help children and adults quickly recognise the difference between someone's opinion, general facts and what is really true.' Check it out here...
1. The Protectors... Comprehensive Freedom-From-Bullying Programs and Resources
2. Stop Harassing Me Postcard program... an effective program to reduce instances of cyberbullying for older students.
3. Comforting Kids in Crisis... practical ways to help kids through their greatest challenges.
4.Fez and the Big Bad Bully.... a Bible memory buddy book from Group about standing up to bullies
5. StarShip Alpha.... a five-week program from LifeChurch dealing with the topic of bullying.
6. The Great Race.. a program from Elevate about Nehemiah. Week 3 deals particularly with bullying.
7.Truth or Trash... app as above
We'd been there since early morning setting up for our Easter family event, 'Rock-n-Roll Easter', unsure of how many families and children would shortly walk through the door. The program was simple: children's ministry was responsible for a 15-minute segment of the worship service, the children's program and the following Easter egg hunt outside. This year, we'd decided to use Group's Rock-n-Roll Easter Event, and all the leaders were enthusiastic.
Our worship service segment involved the kids as much as possible.
1. We started with the kids singing one of the praise and worship dvd songs provided in the kit. (If you haven't used Group's praise dvds before, it's well worth checking out. The kids really enjoy the music and love doing the actions and singing along with the kids on the clip. And.. it removes the pressure of wondering if the kids will sing or be overcome with stage-fright. The kids are also more confident and I just had to remind them that they just had to sing along with the songs we'd been practising during our regular programs.)
2.We followed with a clip with photos of the kids during their mid-week program, made using SmileBox, followed by the puppet skit supplied with the kit.
3.Some of our older kids presented the puppet show and it was also easy to prepare, since the voice-over audio is provided in the kit, too.
4. We included a clip from the Skit Guys to highlight the resurrection (see here).
5. The final segment was another song with the kids singing- He Arose. We encouraged the whole church family to join in singing this well-know chorus.
Then we went out for our program. And again, it was really easy. We sang a couple more songs with the kids, showed them the Easter clip, A Very Special Easter.
The Rock-n-Roll Easter Event provides clear instructions and resources for 8 activity stations; Gospel Wristband, Rock Craft Station, Resurrection Cupcakes, Rolling Rock Game, Silly Sphere Pool Station, Easter Skin Decals, Rock-n-Roll Singer station, & Candy Basket Station. We allowed the kids to go to whichever station they wanted, but limited the number allowed at any one time at a station. It worked really well... and the volunteers enjoyed it... (a big plus!)
We played music to bring them all back to the main area before going out to the Easter Egg Hunt. The program suggests hiding plastic eggs which can then be redeemed at the designated area for a bag of Easter goodies including a comic Where the Rock Rolled Away that shares the gospel in a fun way. It worked very well with many parents commenting that they had never been to a better Easter program and Egg Hunt that not only was heaps of fun, but taught the kids something, too.
So.. would I recommend it? Definitely... Our numbers swelled to three times our usual crowd of families and everyone had something encouraging to say about the morning. I even had new families coming up afterwards wanting to sign their kids in for our mid-week program, too.
What programs did you use this Easter and how did it all go?