Coming Soon – Free VBS Available for Download in the New Year!

Are you looking for a VBS for your Children’s Ministry this summer? Sometimes VBS’s are expensive or are not created with your church’s needs in mind. Then you’ll love this…

In early January 2018 I’m releasing a free, customizable VBS that has been used in small and large VBS programs.

This VBS includes the following:

  • evangelistic Bible teaching
  • fun games
  • cool crafts
  • delicious snacks

Kids love this program and some of the kids who attended have talked about it for years after. Even though it’s fun, we haven’t scrimped on clear gospel teaching.

You’ll get all of the customizable files in Microsoft Word for you to use in your church, no cost and no strings attached.

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A Simple Strategy to Manage Your Kidmin Music Library

childrens-ministry-musicIf you are anything like me, you have a lot of songs and videos of kidmin music! It’s hard to remember all the songs and it is even more difficult to remember what type of songs you have. In order to help you choose a good balance of songs for Sunday morning worship, put all your songs into categories. Categories are helpful because they give us a way of organizing music that help us create balanced sets for worship times.

Here are the song categories I use. The first three categories are for specific kinds of songs – Christmas, Bible verse, Hymns. The next five categories are more related to the style of song – pace or theme. You might want to use something similar or add to it for your own situation:

Christmas

This category is for all songs that relate to advent and Christmas. We tend to only sing Christmas songs at Christmas, so it’s helpful to put them together.

Some examples of songs that would be in this category include:

  • Angels We Have Heard on High
  • He Made a Way in a Manger
  • Joy to the World

Bible Verse

These are Scripture songs; Bible verses put to music. These songs may fit any of the next 5 categories but I find it helpful to put them together.

Some examples of songs that would be in this category include:

  • Wherever You Go – Joshua 1:9
  • Eternal Life – John 3:16
  • Life and Breath – Acts 17:34-35

Hymn

These are hymns or any song found in a hymn book.

  • Standing on the Promises of God
  • Holy, Holy, Holy
  • This is My Father’s World

Fun

These songs are usually high-energy songs with lots of actions. Kids love to sing these songs because it’s an opportunity to maybe be a little silly and to get some wiggles out.

Some examples of songs that would be in this category include:

  • Boom-Chaka-Laka (Overflowing)
  • Every Move I Make
  • Superstart

Active

These songs are usually high-energy songs that are accompanied by clapping or actions. The difference between fun songs and active songs is the content. Fun songs can be silly whereas active songs are more serious in their content. They are about who God is or they are songs of praise.

Some examples of songs that would be in this category include:

  • Almighty Creator
  • Friend of God
  • My Redeemer Lives

Bridge

These songs are not as fast or high-energy as active songs and are used as a bridge to slower, more worshipful songs.

Some examples of songs that would be in this category include:

  • All the Earth
  • Blessed Be Your Name
  • God is Great

Worship

These songs tend to focus on who God is. God is holy. God is great. These songs are generally mid-tempo or slow. Songs that are full of this content yet are fast paced are probably better in the active category.

Some examples of songs that would be in this category include:

  • Here I am to Worship
  • Amazing Love
  • You’re Worthy of My Praise

Commitment

These are songs that speak of our commitment to obey Jesus and to follow Him. These songs talk about what we will do. They are our response to God and have messages like: “Thank you;” “I will serve you;” and “I will follow you.”

Some examples of songs that would be in this category include:

  • Make Me Wise – SovereignGraceKids
  • Holiness (Take My Life)
  • I Give You My Heart

Now that you have categorized your songs, it is easier to put together a set of songs for your Sunday morning worship time.

How do you evaluate the music you use for worship with kids? These 6 questions will help.

What’s your goal when leading kids in singing? Stir reverence and evoke worship.

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6 Questions to Ask When Choosing Songs for Worship with Kids

Worship God SignWhen I was young, there wasn’t a lot of choice when it came to music to sing with kids at church. Recently there has been an explosion of music for kids. And it is easier than ever to find the format that works for you – music, video, lead sheets. There is so much to choose from that it is now more important than ever to be discerning. Evaluate each song carefully before you sing it with kids.

The purpose of singing with kids at church is to teach kids about worship, tell them truths about who God is, and give them opportunities to respond in worship to God. Therefore, songs should be chosen either to express truth about God or as worshipful response to God.

Here are some questions to consider when choosing songs to sing in this setting:

What is the value of singing this song with kids?

Does this song highlight God’s character? Does it magnify Jesus? Does it teach a truth about God, Jesus, or living as a Christian? Is it a fun song with little or no spiritual value?

For example, the song Lord, I Lift Your Name on High is a joyful song of praise. It is simple and easy for kids to sing. The chorus highlights the gospel, thereby focusing on Jesus and giving kids the reason we praise God.

What does this song teach about God or Jesus?

This is an easy question to answer. Look carefully at the lyrics to the song and note what, if anything, the song teaches or highlights about God or Jesus. The song could focus on God’s holiness or Jesus as our mighty Savior.

What does this song teach about living as a Christ-follower?

Songs like this are usually songs of commitment or encouragement. These songs highlight our dependence on God, becoming like Jesus, showing love, patience, and kindness.

How much of this song needs to be explained to kids?

This is a very important question to answer. Some explanation is okay (as long as you actually talk about the song with kids and explain any concepts or words that the kids might not understand). If a song requires too much explanation then it is probably not appropriate to sing with kids. Some songs are written in a highly symbolic, figurative or complex way that younger kids especially simply won’t understand. You want to choose songs for kids that are written simply, literally, and clearly.

For example, Before the Throne of God Above is a song that is about the relationship we have with God because of what Jesus did on the cross. It is a wonderful song full of truth that leads believers to worship. However, it is full of words like “plea,” “graven,” “thence,” “depart,” “counted free,” and “pardon.” It also uses phrases like “before the throne of God above” and “a great High Priest whose name is love who ever lives and pleads for me,” which are harder for kids to understand because of the structure of the phrase.

A better song to sing with kids that focuses on the relationship we can have with God because of Jesus is Mighty, Mighty Savior (from SovereignGraceKids). This song is sung in a progressive order that kids understand. It still has a couple words and phrases that will need to be explained, but in general the song is one that kids will understand.

Is the theology of this song correct in all aspects?

This is really important. We remember what we sing. Kids will develop a theology of God from the songs they sing so it’s really important to make sure that the songs are true. Even if one line of the song is wrong, the song shouldn’t be used.

Is it appropriate for this setting?

Finally consider whether the song is appropriate for the setting of worship time during Sunday School or Children’s Church. Also consider the length of time you will give to worship during these programs. This will help you decide if a song is appropriate or not. For example, some songs are fun but don’t have a lot of real value other than drawing kids in and getting their attention. If you have a short time, you may want to stay away from these songs.

Once you have gone through this process you will have a well-thought out list of songs to sing with kids.

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How to Put Together Ready-to-go Emergency Lessons

childrens-ministry-emergency-lessonAn emergency lesson is one that prepped and ready to go for situations where a substitute is required and has no time to prepare a lesson. The sub should be able to open the envelope or small container and easily follow the lesson inside.

So, emergency lesson kits should be simple, require no preparation, include no complicated activities, and need little supplies or equipment.

These kits should fit into an envelope or small container with everything ready (unless items needed are kept in the classroom the lesson will be used in – pencils, markers, etc)

Put together one lesson kit for preschool kids and one for elementary kids.

Putting Together a Lesson for a Preschool Emergency Kit

The lesson should include a Bible story, song, game/activity/craft, and coloring sheet.

1. Choose a key theme and write it in a simple sentence. For example, God made everything.

2. Choose a Bible story and write it out or even better provide a Bible story book. With a Bible story book the volunteer simply reads the story and the visuals are included. For example, tell the story of creation from Genesis chapter one.

3. Choose a simple song that the volunteer can sing acapella that reinforces the theme. Pick a song that has music familiar to the volunteer. For example, change the lyrics to “God is So Good” to

God made the day.
God made the day.
God made the day.
And He said it was good.

It’s easy to add verses changing what God made (God made the night; God made the stars, etc).

4. Choose a simple activity/game/craft that reinforces the theme. For example, set out play dough – encourage the kids to make trees, animals, whales, etc.

“You’re making a horse. God made the horses. God made everything.”

5. Choose a coloring picture and photocopy enough for an average size class.

6. Gather all the supplies that will be needed. Consider what will definitely be available to the substitute volunteer in the classroom. For example, if crayons and play dough will be in the classroom, then you don’t need to include them in this kit. You will want to include a short introductory letter stating what is expected of the volunteer and what they will find in the kit (include the key theme in this note and where to find any items they will need that are stored in the classroom), clearly print out the song to sing with the tune used, if you are printing out the Bible story, format it so that it is very easy to read – big font and space between paragraphs, photocopy enough coloring pages. If identification is required in your program, include a blank nametag that the volunteer can fill out.

Putting Together a Lesson for an Elementary Emergency Kit

Each lesson should include a Bible story, game/activity/craft, and/or activity sheet.

Since the teacher will not have time to prepare the lesson, you want to give them a lesson that is Biblical and meaningful yet easy to present. I would recommend choosing a Bible story that the class can act out.

Example – Jesus Wants Us to Trust Him

Key Theme – Jesus Wants Us to Trust Him.

Hook – Ask a volunteer to come to the front. Stand behind the volunteer and ask if they trust you. Say, “I want you to trust me and fall backwards. I will catch you.” After the demonstration talk with the group about whether the volunteer demonstrated trust in you or not. Say, “Today we are going to be talking about trust. Trust is confidence in something that is true or belief in someone. Jesus wants us to trust Him.

Bible Study – Split the class into two groups. Each group is going to read a different passage of Scripture and present a skit to the other group. Give each group a passage of Scripture (Mark 2:1-12 or Mark 4:35-41) to study and 15-20 minutes to come up with a skit. Tell the kids that the skits should emphasize how the people in the story showed they trusted Jesus or showed they didn’t trust Jesus. Each group will present their skit.

Discussion – Jesus wants us to trust Him. Why is He worthy of our trust? (because He loves us; knows everything about us) What does trusting Jesus look like? (obeying Jesus even when it’s hard; choosing to do what is right; doing the right thing even when we are scared).

Application – Is it hard to trust Jesus? Can you think of a time when you didn’t trust Jesus? What are some ways you can trust Jesus this week? Pray with the kids encouraging them to ask God to give them an opportunity this week to show that they trust Jesus.

Activity/Game/Craft – provide copies of an activity sheet related to the memory verse. A maze or code is always fun.

Memory Verse – Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:4

Gather all the supplies necessary for this lesson. If the classroom doesn’t have a prop box, include a few props to make the skits more engaging for the students. Include the instruction sheet for the volunteer (a thank you note, the key theme, lesson outline, where to find any items stored in the classroom), index cards with one Bible passage reference written on each one, photocopies of the memory verse activity sheet.

2 Important Last Steps

1. Once you have a complete lesson in an envelope or small container, label it clearly and store it in an easy-to–access place. Find a spot to store your emergency lessons that is easy to remember for your volunteers and easy to get at when needed.

2. Let everyone know what it is and where it is. This includes your team of volunteers, all substitutes, and the pastor.

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6 Ways that “Boring Forms” Provide Essential Insight into the Pulse of Your Ministry

It can feel like you are inundated with forms. There are so many forms to fill out for every program and the administration of it all can end up feeling overwhelming. So you end up with a stack of forms on your desk that you barely look at except to check that they are filled out and to ensure you are aware of any allergies.

Children's Ministry Paperwork

But I believe that these forms have so much more value. Registration forms and attendance records particularly are valuable tools in Children’s Ministry. These records offer more than compliance with insurance companies and contact information for families.

Here are 6 ways registration forms and attendance records provide essential insight into the pulse of your ministry:

1. Trends in Attendance

Look at attendance records over a quarter and over the whole year. You will notice trends that can help you make decisions about how to plan for the future, when to begin and end programs, and see when there might be significant drops in attendance.

For example, you notice that attendance dramatically drops off of your clubs program after June so that might be valuable information to consider shutting it down for the summer.

2. Ratio of Churched Kids to Unchurched Kids

Registration forms can tell you how many churched kids are attending your programs and how many unchurched kids are attending. This is especially helpful information for outreach and evangelistic programs.

You might notice that your outreach program only has 10% non-churched children and 90% churched children. In this case you need to look at ways of encouraging those kids to invite their friends and of ways of getting the word out in the community.

3. Consistency in Attendance

Attendance records can tell you who attends programs consistently and who doesn’t. Looking at these records will also tell you if a student who has been consistent suddenly drops off.

When reviewing attendance records you may notice that a certain child has been missing from the program. You may want to follow up and find out why.

4. Awareness of Family Schedules

With families busy with so many different activities, it can be difficult to know when to schedule events or programs. Taking a look at your attendance records can help you become more aware of the family schedules in your church.

You may notice that attendance as a whole drops off at a certain point in the year. You may want to do some investigating and find out why. The answers might help you schedule the program to fit the needs of families better.

5. Drop in Specific Program Attendance

It’s valuable to take a look at registration and attendance over a number of years.

You may notice that certain programs that were well-attended in the past have far fewer attending now. This may mean you need to look at changes to the program or the possibility of ending the program if it has run its course.

6. Registrations for Kids Who Don’t Actually Attend

You may notice that you received registration forms for children who are not actually attending the program. You may want to follow up with parents and find out why this is.

As you can see, all that paperwork that you feel inundated with in Children’s Ministry is actually essential. If you take the time to review your records you will find insight into the pulse of your ministry.

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