Don’t miss the opportunity to share the gospel with kids this Easter!

Here are 4 tips for sharing the gospel with kids during Easter:

1. Be intentional about weaving the gospel into the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection

When you tell the story of Jesus death and resurrection to the children in your ministry, include the gospel. Children will not understand why Jesus had to die if we don’t tell them about God’s holiness and people’s sinfulness and Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. When we share the truth of the gospel, we give the kids something to really celebrate Easter morning.

2. Redeem crafts and games

I recently did a craft with my class of preschoolers. The original instructions were to color and glue two popsicle sticks together to make a cross. Stand it in some modeling clay and add a swath of red felt and some flowers at the base. I realized that I wouldn’t be able to tell the kids what the red felt was supposed to be, so I decided not to add it at all. Instead, I printed off small rectangles of card stock that read, “Jesus is our Mighty Savior!” As we were making the craft, we focused on what it means that Jesus is our Savior. Now, when the kids look at their cross crafts, they will hopefully be reminded that Jesus is a mighty Savior.

As you are planning crafts and games to play, take time to think about what the game or craft focuses on. Don’t be afraid to change or refine them to highlight a gospel theme. Redeem the craft or game you are playing by using the opportunity to share the gospel.

3. Use the symbols of Easter

It’s important not to make assumptions about what children understand. Especially when it comes to symbols, it’s important to explain what they mean to children. The cross is probably the biggest symbol of Easter. Children will recognize a cross having seen it in churches, on necklaces, etc, but it is unlikely that children will understand what it symbolizes. Explain simply that a cross helps us to remember that Jesus is our Savior. When you explain what it means that Jesus is our Savior, you are sharing the gospel. Tell children that when we see a cross, it helps us remember that Jesus died to take away our sins. Jesus saved us from our sin. Jesus is our Savior.

I played a game with my preschool class called Hide the Cross. It was a hide and seek game where one child hid the cross and the rest of the class found it. If I had just played the game with the kids without talking about why we were using a cross, we would have had fun, but I would have missed an opportunity to share the gospel with my class. Instead, I told them that we were using a cross because a cross helps us to remember that Jesus is our mighty Savior. Jesus is mighty; that means He is strong! Jesus is our Savior; that means that He died to save us from our sin. Jesus is our Mighty Savior!

4. Gospel-centered activities

There are many activities connected with Easter. Many of these activities do not focus on Jesus or the life-changing message of the gospel. Turn those activities into gospel-centered activities.

At Christmas, it is quite common to see Nativity sets in homes and at churches. Nativity Sets highlight the true meaning of Christmas and if they are child-friendly, allow children to interact with the story. Something similar can be done for Easter.

Make a diorama of the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. There is a great deal to be learned by making the key characters with your children and using them to tell the story over Easter weekend. You may choose how many characters are necessary for your ministry based on your children’s ages and how detailed you want your re-enactment to be. You can create your characters and set with play dough, clay dough, cardboard, etc. A basic set would include Jesus, a cross, a couple of guards, a tomb with stone, and an angel. As you re-enact the story over the actual time frame of the weekend it makes children (and adults) more aware of the hours Jesus suffered and the days his followers waited in fear and confusion. It also highlights the wonderful surprise of the empty tomb.

If you are looking for a snack idea, try Resurrection Buns. Form some dough around a marshmallow. When baked, the marshmallow melts so there is a hollow space in the middle. As you enjoy these snacks with your children, talk about how they remind us of the empty tomb. The empty tomb shows that Jesus is a Mighty Savior! Follow this link for a recipe for Resurrection Buns.

If you choose to have an egg hunt, you could hide plastic eggs with verses or symbols of Easter within them and after they have been found, gather together to read or talk about the significance of each. A few of them could be left empty as well, as a reminder of the empty tomb. A few treats mixed in will also be appreciated.

There are many activities to offer children over Easter. Take the time to plan gospel-centered activities that will provide children with more than just a fun time.

 

Don’t miss the opportunity to share the gospel with kids this Easter! Give them something to celebrate! By being deliberate about sharing the gospel with kid this Easter you are making it all about Jesus, our Mighty Savior.

Christ died for sins once and for all time. The One who did what is right died for those who don’t do right. He died to bring you to God. His body was put to death. But the Holy Spirit brought Him back to life. (1 Peter 3:18 NIrV)

Here is a saying that you can trust. It should be accepted completely. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. (1 Timothy 1:15 NIrV)

Why Biblical literacy is an issue that every Children’s Ministry leader needs to address

biblical literacyI read some articles and blog posts the other day that were centered on the issue of Biblical literacy.

One blogger I read said they were concerned that a focus on Biblical literacy would mean making a relationship with God less important. In another article, the author calls Biblical illiteracy a crisis and “the most dangerous threat to the viability of the Church in America”.

What is Biblical literacy?

Biblical literacy is knowledge of the Bible. But it’s about more than just having memorized all 66 books of the Bible and knowing the 10 Commandments. Someone who is Biblically literate understands the big picture story of the Bible. The Bible is not a book of stand alone stories; it is one big story – the story of God and His people.

Biblical literacy is hugely important. We need to know the Bible because that is where God reveals Himself to us.

In his book, Revolutionary Parenting, Christian researcher George Barna states that most of our children are Biblically illiterate and that more than half believe Jesus sinned just like us when He was on earth.

Biblical literacy is crucial for our kids because the Bible is where we get to know God. God chose to reveal Himself to us primarily through His Word – the Bible. Our kids need to know the Bible. Not so that they know that Zephaniah comes before Malachi, but that they understand that the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Zephaniah keeps His promises. As they read and are taught how everything fits together and begin to understand the chronology of the Bible, they will see that over and over again, God keeps His promises. And maybe they will come to trust our faithful God. They will see that God is holy and that people are sinners. They will see that our holy God made a way for sinners to be saved because He is loving and merciful and gracious.

If our main goal is making disciples, Biblical literacy needs to be an important part of our educational strategy. We want kids to know, love, and follow God. The primary way our kids will get to know God is through the Bible.

So teach your kids to love their Bibles! Encourage your kids to be reading their Bibles; help kids understand how to navigate their Bibles; encourage them to become familiar with the books of the Bible. Not just so that they can say they have memorized all 66 books of the Bible, but so that they can get to know the God of the Bible.

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.

Curriculum Pick – Discipleland

It can be hard to find good, solid, Biblical curriculum. I spend a lot of time previewing different curriculum and searching for the best-valued and most Biblical curriculum for my readers.

Discipleland is one of my top 3 picks. Here’s a promotional video about their curriculum that highlights one of the reasons why I love Discipleland – their systematic approach to teaching fundamental truths.

Check them out and let me know what you think.

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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