Be Amazed Once Again

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 1 John 4:14

The Gospel is awesome! Let me encourage you to consider the wonderful truth of the gospel and be amazed once again at the love of the Father in sending His Son to be the Savior of the world. As you listen to this song, remember Jesus and His death on the cross that brought you life.

How many kings step down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

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Classroom Management – Introduction

childrens ministry classroom managementOver the next couple of weeks I will be posting a series on classroom management. Not realizing that it was going to turn into a series, last week I posted Classroom Management – Consistency and Routine.

Before I continue with the series, I want to take a step back and talk about why classroom management is so important and why I am doing a series on it and not on discipline.

I get asked about discipline a lot. Volunteers have specific situations in mind and specific questions about discipline in the classroom.

Discipline is an important topic. I have talked about it before and I will talk about it again. But discipline is a skill teachers need to learn to deal with situations that have already arisen. Classroom management is about preventing those situations.

That is why I want to do a series on classroom management. Learning the skills of managing a classroom well prevents a lot of the behavior issues that lead to discipline and gives the teachers confidence and hopefully joy as they serve the Lord.

So in the next few posts I will be talking about what a teacher needs to know and do when it comes to managing their classrooms well.
I have already talked about consistency and routine. These 2 things are hugely important to a well-managed classroom. Continuing the series I am going to write about being prepared, using time wisely, making use of reasonable consequences, and a few other tips and skills.

Teachers, remember, you are in charge in the classroom! Embrace your role. Lead with confidence and love.

Check out these other posts in this series:

Classroom Management – Consistency & Routine

Classroom Management – Use Time Wisely

Classroom Management – Preparation

Classroom Management – Offer Choices

Classroom Management – Expectations

Classroom Management – Reasonable Consequences

 

 

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Nursery Tip-Teach 1 Thing

I have written about teaching one thing elsewhere on my website. I talk about it in training seminars. It’s an important concept for teachers to understand and to practice.

Those of you who serve in the nursery may feel that you are simply babysitting. You may even wonder what kind of training or support is available to you since you just look after babies.

Let me encourage you! You are not just babysitters! You are vital members of the children’s ministry team and deserve just as much support and training as other volunteers.

teach one thing nurserySo, in this post, I want to talk about teaching 1 thing in the nursery.

First, the concept of teach one thing is simple. When planning and teaching your lesson, plan and teach one central truth. Deciding ahead of time what central truth you want to focus on helps you plan activities, teach a succinct, focused lesson, and helps you with the direction to take application time discussion.

Now, obviously you don’t teach lessons in the nursery, but the concept of teaching one thing still works really well.

Get together with other nursery volunteers and brainstorm 12 key Biblical truths. These will be your central themes.

Having 12 key Biblical truths allows you to focus on one per month. Repetition is important, especially with younger children. So, choose one per month and focus on that theme every Sunday for that month.

Some examples of key Biblical themes are “God made everything,” “God loves you,” “Jesus is God’s Son,” “Jesus saves us.”

Once you have chosen 12 key Biblical themes, schedule them for the year and then build some activities, ideas, and prayer requests around it.

Make a poster with the theme of the month in big letters and pictures that highlight that theme. Hang the poster of the month at a crawling babies level and let them interact with the poster. As you notice a baby looking at the poster, point to it and read it out loud.

Here’s an example – for the month of November your key theme is “God is big!”

A song you can sing in the nursery is “My God is so Big.”

My God is so big, so strong and so mighty. There’s nothing my God cannot do!
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty. There’s nothing my God cannot do!
The mountains are His, the rivers are His. The stars are His handiwork too!
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty. There’s nothing my God cannot do!

An activity idea could be playing blocks. Build a big tower and say, “That is big! Wow! God is bigger! God is big!”
Pray with the children, “God, You are a big God. You are big enough to take care of us. Thank you for taking care of us. Amen.”

Throughout the morning in the nursery, find ways to talk about your key theme with the children. Read the poster, sing songs, pray with the children, talk about it as they play.

Use the opportunity you have when serving in the nursery to help the children in your care build a Biblical vocabulary and build a strong foundation of Biblical truth.

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4 Simple Tips to Prepare for the Unexpected

Are you prepared for emergencies?
A few weeks ago I woke up on Sunday morning and I was sick! Even though I was leading Large Group Time and teaching the preschool class, I knew I couldn’t go.

People get sick; emergencies happen. It is important to have a plan for dealing with those unexpected things.

1. Recruit a go-to person

As a leader, it is important for you to have someone able to step into your shoes. Recruit someone who is already involved in children’s ministry; someone who is able to handle emergencies. The go-to person should be given the volunteer schedule and the sub list. They should also be given a brief description of what their options are in an emergency (ex. canceling a class, contacting a sub, etc.) It is important that the go-to person be given the authority to handle the situation as they see fit.

2. Recruit Subs

Recruit a few people willing to be subs. Subs are volunteers willing to step in when needed. They may be given notice or they may be asked to step in with very little notice. It is important that you give your subs teacher schedules, class routines, behavior management polices, an overview of the curriculum. The more info they have, the smoother the transition will be when they are called to serve – especially at the last minute.

3. Communication

Do you have the phone numbers of your volunteers handy? Do they have yours? Do you have more than one way of getting in touch with your volunteers? In an emergency, people need to know who to contact and how to contact them. Make this information available in obvious places in your classrooms.

4. Make sure your team is aware of emergency procedures

Before emergencies happen! Let your volunteers know that you have a go-to person and who that person is. Make sure your volunteers have the sub list. Make sure your volunteers have your contact information and the phone numbers of team members. Let them know what will happen if you get sick at the last minute. Your team will be confident and it will be easier to recruit new volunteers if they know that you have procedures in place for those unplanned situations.

 

Flu hits, family emergencies happen. Be prepared by having people ready to step in and make sure you let your team know what the procedures are for those emergency situations.

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Now is the Time to Start Cultivating Next Year’s Volunteers

childrens ministry cultivate volunteersHere are three ideas to start cultivating next year’s volunteers.

1. Keep the volunteers you already have through appreciation and training

Recruiting is an ongoing issue for children’s ministry leaders. But it is less stressful if you have a core of volunteers who return year after year. The best ways to ensure your volunteers keep coming back are through appreciation and training.

Appreciation

There are many ways to show appreciation to your volunteers. The most important thing is to do it! Here are some ideas for showing appreciation to your volunteers:

Send a thank you card – Write a personal note to each of your volunteers. If you have a lot of volunteers, consider spreading this task throughout the year. Think about each volunteer individually and write a specific appreciation note. Maybe something you noticed about their service and an area of their character that has made an impression on you. Mail these thank you cards to their home address. Knowing that you have taken the time to write a personal card and mail it to them will mean a lot to your volunteers.

Appreciation banquet – Plan a special evening just for your volunteers. It doesn’t have to be really expensive in order to be meaningful to your volunteers. The appreciation evening can be formal or informal. It can be a banquet or a potluck. But take the time to plan out the evening.

  • Here is one idea: offer an appreciation evening where the kids in your children’s ministry prepare, serve, and clean up the meal and plan a program. If the kids are talented musically they may play an instrument or sing a song. Ask a couple of the kids to share why they appreciate their teachers. This appreciation evening idea shows that you are thankful for your volunteers and that they kids they serve appreciate them too!

Seasonal appreciation – you could send out seasonal appreciation gifts. These can be serious or humorous. Let your personality shine in the way you show appreciation to your volunteers!

  • At Christmas you could ask some of the kids to decorate Styrofoam cups. Then add a specialty hot chocolate package and a small packet of mini-marshmallows. Simply wrap it in tissue paper and tie it with ribbon. Add a tag with a simple message “Thank you for serving.”
  • For Valentines you could send valentines cards to your volunteers or package up some Hershey Kisses in a treat bag tied with a ribbon. One possible verse you could write on the tag would be Ephesians 3: 16-19 – “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
  • For spring you could send your volunteers packets of flower seeds. In an attached note tell them that you are so thankful for them and their commitment to growing disciples of Jesus.
  • Take them out for coffee – again, this may depend on how many volunteers you have. Take them out in groups or individually. Use this time to get to know them. Let them know that you appreciate what they do. Be specific if you can.

Give them a break – this appreciation idea is especially significant for those volunteers who have served faithfully over the years. Offer to take one of their teaching days so they can have the weekend off or find a sub who can teach one Sunday for them. This idea works for all scheduling options – year-long, or rotation schedules. Make sure your volunteer understands why you are giving them a break. Let them know that you are thankful for their faithful service and what to encourage and re-energize them by giving them a little teaching holiday.

Training

Offer at least one training seminar each year. If you are not comfortable doing the training yourself, consider asking someone to come and help you. There are many different areas of training for children’s ministry volunteers. Whatever you choose, ensure that it is pertinent to your team.

2. Personally seek out new volunteers

Announcements from the pulpit are a good way to inform the congregation of your volunteer needs and to let them know how best to pray for you, but they are not the best way to find volunteers.

Approach possible volunteers personally. Let them know what your specific need is and why you thought of them. Make sure they understand what you are asking of them and the time commitment you require. Give them time to think and pray about being involved in children’s ministry. Encourage them to ask questions.

3. Ask God to raise up people to serve in needed areas and ask the congregation to pray with you

Spend time praying for the specific people you will need. Pray that they will feel a call to serve in children’s ministry, have a passion to see kids discipled, and a willingness to be a team player.

Ask the congregation to pray with you. Making your prayer needs known to the congregation reminds them that children’s ministry is a vital part of the church and that everyone can be involved through prayer.

Recruiting volunteers can be a daunting task. These tips will help make it a little less so.

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