Three Things to do Five Minutes Before Every Event

It is five minutes before VBS/Sunday School/Children’s Church/Mid-week clubs and you are trying to finish setting up while two volunteers want to discuss their schedules and the kids are running around screaming. Does this scenario sound familiar?

I think it is all too familiar for most Children’s Ministry leaders. Rather than letting the chaos control you, take five minutes to reset. There are three things that all leaders should do 5 minutes before every program or event.

Three Things to do Five Minutes Before Every Event

First, check the schedule. Look over what is about to happen. As the leader, you need to know what is scheduled and who is responsible for what.

Second, pray. Ask God for wisdom, love, and creativity. Most importantly , ask God to give you clear focus during the event to see opportunities to share the gospel and to build relationships with kids and volunteers.

Third, remember that it is all about making disciples. No matter the purpose of the specific program you are leading, everything in Children’s Ministry is about making disciples. What is going to happen during this event that will help you do that?

This is a good habit to develop but it’s not going to work unless your volunteer team knows that this is important to you. Tell them what you are doing and how long you need to do it. Then suggest that they develop the same habit.

Duck out of the room and find a quiet place to go through these three steps.

If everyone on the team is doing these three things and understands the importance of them, prep work will get done sooner so that there is time for this reset.

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8 Reasons Why I am Thankful for Children’s Ministry Volunteers

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Children’s Ministry volunteers spend extra time with kids who need it.

I saw this happen during VBS. One child was pushing the limits and required extra attention. Two of my volunteers didn’t even hesitate. They spent the time needed with him and even spoke with his parents when they came to pick him up. By the end of the week, that child showed respect for those volunteers who spent that extra time with him. Another child who attended VBS had just lost an 11 year old friend and was grieving. One of the volunteers listened when he needed to talk, forgetting the schedule and what everyone else was doing. He gave that extra attention and care to a child who desperately needed it. I am thankful for Children’s Ministry volunteers who spend extra time with kids who need it

Children’s Ministry volunteers add fun and laughter.

VBS was scheduled to start in 2 days. The stress level was high and decorations still needed to go up and the team doing it was small. I pictured myself and my husband pulling an all-nighter in the church basement hanging streamers and ocean creatures from the ceiling. And then 8 volunteers showed up (of all ages) and a stressful evening turned into an evening of fun and laughter. The work got done (and it looked great!) and we had such a good time! Volunteers add fun and laughter to jobs that need doing, but they also bring joy to events with kids. Kids need to see joy from volunteers and they need people in their lives who add fun and laughter. I am thankful for Children’s Ministry volunteers who do both.

Children’s Ministry volunteers are committed.

These volunteers commit to a wide variety of roles with a wide variety of time required to fulfill those roles. Not only that, but they are committed to learning and getting better at what they do. I am thankful for volunteers who are committed to serving God with the gifts He has given them for His glory!

Children’s Ministry volunteers are creative.

There is a whole spectrum of creativity and I have worked with volunteers on both ends of that spectrum! I have worked with volunteers who are creative in designing décor and classroom. I have worked with volunteers who are creative in building a team and accomplishing goals. I have worked with volunteers who are creative in finding ways to connect with and relate to kids. I am thankful for the creativity of Children’s Ministry volunteers.

Children’s Ministry volunteers are willing to get down to a child’s level.

They tell terribly unfunny (to adults) jokes because they know that kids will laugh uproariously. They do skits and puppet shows. Our song leader recently told me about how his family was laughing at him because he was in his living room dancing around learning actions to new songs for our Sunday School kids. I am thankful for Children’s Ministry volunteers who are willing to put aside their pride and connect with kids on their level.

Children’s Ministry volunteers often spend many hours outside of their specific role preparing, decorating, and building relationships.

A Sunday School teachers responsibility may be for 1 hour on Sunday morning, but they spend a couple of hours preparing during the week. They also spend extra time decorating their classrooms and getting to know their students. I am thankful for Children’s Ministry volunteers who are willing to spend time outside of their primary responsibilities.

Children’s Ministry volunteers support each other.

I am currently responsible for a team of Sunday School teachers (and a fantastic team they are!). I have discovered over the last few months that I am often the last person to know if someone is going to be away. And that’s not a bad thing, because they are finding replacements, switching schedules, and stepping in to help each other. I love it! On top of that kind of support, volunteers support each other when life gets hard – praying for each other and offering to help where needed. I am thankful for Children’s Ministry volunteers who support each other.

 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1:4

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8 Free Ways to Get a Children’s Ministry Education

Back to school

Many volunteers participate in Children’s Ministry because they have a passion for raising up godly children. But what happens when they want to enhance their skills and Bible knowledge? It’s not as if they can drop everything and get a Bible College degree.All Children’s Ministry leaders deserve training.

Here are 8 free ways to get a Children’s Ministry education.

1. Watch for free ebooks.

A number of websites will periodically offer ebooks for free. Keep an eye on these sites – many of them include Children’s Ministry, theological, or Bible study books. Also watch for child development, discipline, and classroom management. My friends over at Kidology will highlight ebooks by Karl Bastian and others. Amazon and Christian Book are also two sources to look at.

And, sign up for emails from David C. Cook, they’ve curated a list of free ebooks from all over the web.

2. Set up a free library with other Children’s Ministry leaders in your area.

Contact other Children’s Ministry leaders in your area and arrange to share books with each other. Everyone involved can create a list of books that they are willing to include in the library. Once you have received these lists, combine them into a single book list that includes the name of the book, the author, who owns it, and contact information from that person. Then, borrowing books is easy!

3. Make Use of Children’s Ministry Websites.

There are hundreds of Children’s Ministry websites. Some are subscriptions sites, but many are free. Find one or two solid ones that offer articles and training in Children’s Ministry. Then make it a part of your weekly schedule to visit these sites for study purposes.

4. Design a Curriculum.

Most Bible Colleges post their course catalogs on their websites. Look at one or two that offer a degree that allows you to major in Children’s Ministry (or Christian Education). Look at the courses that are offered and then make a list of the topics that are covered. Once you have a list of topics you can look for books on those topics in the church or public library, look for articles on those topics on Children’s Ministry websites, and create a list of questions to ask Children’s Ministry leaders (see point 5).

5. Meet with the top Children’s Ministry leaders in your area.

Make a list of the top Children’s Ministry leaders in your area and invite them over for coffee. Ask each one specific Children’s Ministry question (see point 4). Also ask for book and website recommendations.

6. Audit a class

If there is a Bible college in your area, look into auditing a class. Some colleges charge a fee for auditing a class, while others offer it for free. Take courses on topics like Children’s Ministry, Leadership, Theology, Bible, or Child Development.

7. Visit other Children’s Ministries in your area.

Plan a few Sundays throughout the year to visit other Children’s Ministries. Call ahead and let them know that you are planning to visit and would like to observe their Children’s Ministry programs. Note check-in procedures, volunteer teams, curriculum, schedules, routines, discipline, relationships, and leadership.

8. Youtube and Vimeo.

There are many Children’s Ministry training videos available for free on youtube and vimeo. For example, Discipleland offers over 50 leadership training videos including “Ten Traits of Children’s Ministers Who Run a Good Race for God,” Learning Styles for Children,” “Helping Children Develop a Biblical Worldview,” and “Classroom Management.”

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Is It Worth It?

childrens ministry don't be anxiousLast week I was the speaker at a Bible camp for kids ages 9-11. Next week I am speaking at the VBS at our church (where I am also the director). It’s been a pretty busy summer getting ready!! It can be all too easy to get caught up in the details when involved in events like this…I found it happening to me.

Tuesday at camp I shared the gospel with the kids and I shared my testimony. I gave the cabin leaders some material to share with their cabins (the Romans road and some questions to ask the kids about what they understand and believe about Jesus). Wednesday morning a cabin leader told me that a girl in her cabin gave her life to Jesus after chapel!

That moment I knew that all of it is worth it. One child saved makes all of it worth it.

I came home from camp and immediately jumped into all the last-minute details of VBS for our church. When I feel like it’s getting too much, I remember that girl and pray that God would continue His work in the lives of the children who come to our VBS.

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:1-7

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What To Do When You Fail to Accomplish Your Children’s Ministry Goals

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As a Children’s Ministry leader you are constantly setting goals for your programs. Your goals will help inspire you, grow your programs, and meet the needs of the kids in your church. I like using SMART goals because they force you to create well-thought-out goals.

SMART Goals

Goals are the short-term steps that will help you reach your vision, achieve your mission, and fulfill your purpose. SMART is a mnemonic – a memory device to help you remember the five components that make up a good goal.

SPECIFIC

  • They are simply written. They give the what, why, and how of the goal. They are clear to anyone with a basic knowledge of the program. A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general one.

MEASURABLE

  • There is tangible evidence you have accomplished the goal. You want to put concrete numbers in your goal to know if you are falling behind or are on track.

ACTIONABLE

  • Action steps are built right into the goal – it’s going to tell you what to do. That means that a SMART goal needs verbs.

REALISTIC

  • This type of goal motivates you. Rather than dragging you down because you just can’t see how you will accomplish it, a realistic goal challenges you while motivating you because it can be met.

TIMELY

  • Putting a date in your goal creates a practical sense of urgency. You will know by a specific date whether you have accomplished your goal or not. You will also be able to see if you are on track to finish it or if you are lagging behind. Including a date for completion creates internal pressure to accomplish the goal.
  • Don’t give yourself too much time, though, because this can affect your performance. It almost encourages procrastination.

What to do When You Fail

It happens! We don’t always accomplish our goals. So, what do you do when you fail?

1. Take a Close Look at the Goal

Read it over carefully. Was it specific? Was it measurable? Was it actionable? Was it realistic? Was is timely? If the answer to just one of these questions is no, that could be the reason the goal was not met. Try re-writing the goal (with a new timeline of course!) making sure that you include each of these components.

2. Consider Why You Didn’t Reach Your Goal

You may have written a really solid SMART goal and still not reached it.

  • Did you forget about it? Consider using a reminder to track and measure your progress – keep a journal, write the goal on a whiteboard that you see everyday, use a tracking app on your phone or computer.
  • Did you procrastinate? If you are a procrastinator, consider breaking down the goal into smaller steps giving yourself some small task to accomplish on a regular basis that will help you meet your goal. What can you do today, this week, or this month that will take you a step closer to accomplishing your goal.

3. Consider an Accountability Partner

It’s much harder to forget about a goal or procrastinate working on your goal when someone else knows about it and is keeping you accountable.

 

Sometimes you can re-write the goal and try to reach it again. Sometimes a goal cannot be tried for again. In this case, don’t beat yourself up too hard about it. Give yourself a break. But, also, don’t let yourself completely off the hook. Look at why you didn’t reach the goal and make it a priority to not make those mistakes next time.

Learn more about SMART goals and lots of other Children’s Ministry strategies in The Well Equipped Volunteer Children’s Ministry Handbook.

 

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