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

childrens-ministry-be thankful

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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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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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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