Give Thanks Whatever Your Circumstances

For those of us in Canada this is Thanksgiving weekend. We hang out with friends and family. We eat copious amounts of turkey, ham, and pumpkin pie. And hopefully, we remember to give thanks.

childrens ministry give thanks fallI am thankful for fall. I love this season! I love the smell, the changing leaves, the crisp air, the crunch of fallen leaves under my feet. I love the colors of fall and the tastes of fall. I love pumpkin pie and cinnamon and nutmeg and squash.

I am thankful for my husband. He is smart and funny and totally supportive.

I am thankful for salvation offered through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. I am thankful that I am a child of God.

Remember to give thanks this season, no matter what your circumstances.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.                                         1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Having Trouble? Take Heart!

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

I love that phrase – take heart! It’s evocative.

I immediately thought of that movie “Beauty & the Beast.” Near the end of the movie, Gaston is gathering a mob to storm the castle and he says, “Screw your courage to the sticking place.”

Take heart! Screw your courage to the sticking place.

Take heart is not a phrase we use very often. It means be encouraged, gain courage, be confident.

Jesus is speaking to His disciples. He reminds them that in Him they can have peace. Jesus is also totally honest with them. He tells them that in this world they will have trouble.

We all understand trouble. We all struggle with relationships, finances, job issues. Yesterday a friend of mine had brain surgery to remove a tumor.

In this world you will have trouble. But Jesus wasn’t done yet. But… I love that phrase! Take heart! I have overcome the world, Jesus says.

Take heart! Jesus spoke truth and then He gave hope.

We can be brave; we can gain courage; we can be confident because this world in which we have trouble has been overcome.
Jesus is the conqueror. He has defeated sin and death. Jesus has overcome!

So, today, in the midst of your trouble, screw your courage to the sticking place. Jesus never changes. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Jesus has overcome the world!

You’re Not Alone – Children’s Ministry is a Team Effort

Confession Time – I love Nascar! My husband and I look forward to the Sunday afternoon race. When I first started watching Nascar I was focused totally on the drivers. They were the ones in the car driving skillfully, or not; getting caught up in accidents or causing accidents. One man does the work and wins the race. Successes are celebrated by one person and failures are carried by one person.

But I realized pretty quickly that Nascar is not a one-man sport. It is a team effort. Actually, it is a huge team effort. For example, the pit crew trains for 14 seconds of work in which everybody needs to do their job fast, accurately, and still keep their eye out for a teammate who needs a hand. It’s impressive.

childrens ministry teamChildren’s Ministry is a team effort. Sometimes leaders can start to feel like they are all alone; that they are doing the work with little thanks or maybe that there isn’t anyone else who understands or carries the same burden for the children in their church.

But effective children’s ministry happens when a team of people are working towards a single goal, have a passion for making disciples, and understand that each part of the team is important.

An effective children’s ministry team is one in which each member of the team knows their role on the team and works together as a team

So, remember that you are not alone! Value your team, build your team, praise your team, train your team, and let each member have their moment (give credit where credit is due.)

For by the grace given me, I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.  Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12:3-5

God is my Fortress, I Will Never Be Shaken

I loved making forts when I was a kid. My brothers and I would make them in the basement, in the living room, and out of lego. We had a cool tree house in the backyard that often became a fort. The best though was the fort at the top of Bruno’s Hill.

Bruno’s Hill was probably not that big of a hill, but when you’re 9 it seems enormous. We would play for hours on Bruno’s Hill. There were trees and huge rocks. There was an old fort somebody had made years ago. It was falling apart and rotting, but it was a fort.

When we were playing games up on Bruno’s Hill, that fort became the safe place. When we needed a time out or a place to hide, the fort was it. That fort was our place to rest.

A place to rest – doesn’t that sound perfect? Children’s Ministry is not usually described as a restful ministry. It’s loud and crazy and fun and exhausting and stressful.

Volunteers in children’s ministry deal with kids and the problems they face. Children’s ministry volunteers also support and encourage other volunteers through the challenges in their ministry and the stuff that comes with life.

If you are a volunteer in children’s ministry, you need to find a place to rest.

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:1-2

True rest is found in God alone. He is our place of rest. He is the One who saves us. He is our Rock. God is our fortress.

Run to God for safety, for a place to rest. God is your fortress, you will never be shaken.

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:1-2

4 Things To Do In Your Own Spiritual Life To Be A Better Children’s Ministry Volunteer

1. Read your Bible

This sounds obvious, I know. All believers need to be spending time in the Word. Why?

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Scripture is inspired by God; it is God’s Word to us. If we want to get to know God and build our relationship with Him, we read the Bible.

All Scripture is useful for teaching us, rebuking us, correcting us, and training us in righteousness. When we read the Bible, we need to read it as God speaking to us. It can be tempting to be thinking of our children’s ministry kids or even our volunteers when we read Scripture. But God’s Word says that Scripture is useful for training us in righteousness. Take the time to read God’s Word and consider what God is saying to you.

Finally, Scripture is useful so the believer may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Do you wish you had more training as a children’s ministry volunteer? Your training starts in the Word of God. Scripture will equip you for the work God has gifted you to do. As you read your Bible, you will grow and become equipped to teach and influence the children in your care.

2. Study your Bible

Reading the Bible and studying the Bible are 2 different things. I have read the Bible in the past and at the end of the day realized that I don’t really remember much of what I read. Studying your Bible is about digging deeper, seeking to gain a better understanding.

Learning to study your Bible means that you don’t need to depend on what other people say the passage means. Learning to study your Bible means that you become a better children’s ministry volunteer because you will recognize wrong thinking, wrong application of a Bible passage, and you can pass on the habit of Bible study to the kids in your care.

Bible study sounds daunting. There are some great resources to help you. I highly recommend Kay Arthur’s How to Study Your Bible and Discover the Bible for Yourself.

3. Pray

This also sounds obvious. But it is much more difficult in practice. Prayer is talking with God. Prayer is such a vital part of building our relationship with God. Prayer is talking and listening. The amazing thing is that the God of the universe hears us, cares for us, and speaks to us!

It’s not wrong to practice praying. Praying is not easy and it takes determination and perseverance. Read about prayer in the Bible; look at how people prayed in the Bible; pray Scripture as worship.

As you practice prayer, it will start to affect your life and your ministry. Kids will see you and learn from you.

4. Learn theology

Don’t be scared! You don’t need to be a scholar. I will give you some easy tips to help you study theology.

Theology is the study of God.  So when I say learn theology, what I mean is study God’s attributes and characteristics. Take time to learn about God’s holiness, goodness, all-powerfulness, omniscience, omnipresence.

This is important in the life of a believer. It’s important to be able to discern truth and not be swayed by incorrect thinking.

There are many books and resources available, but be discerning. Ask your pastor for a recommendation, or choose recommendations from already trusted authors.

There are a lot of theology texts out there and most of them are huge! If you want to jump right in, then go for it! If you want to start with something a little less daunting, I recommend Bruce Ware’s Big Truths for Young Hearts. Dr. Ware is a theology professor who wrote the book because he wanted to teach his children what he was teaching his students. This is theology for kids, but it is still theology. This is a great place to start. It is easy to read and yet still challenging.

Learning theology will help you to be a better children’s ministry volunteer. It will help you teach children big truths about God and show them how to discern truth and lies.

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