Did You Have Fun Today?

childrens-ministry-funThis question is heard fairly regularly after Sunday School. As much as I want kids to have fun in Sunday School, I think it is the wrong question.

The questions we ask affect how kids understand the purpose of Sunday School, the importance of Sunday School, and how they should approach Sunday School. For example, if the only question they are asked about Sunday School is whether or not they had fun, they might conclude that it’s not very important if it’s just about having fun or they will approach Sunday School as a place that is primarily about fun and might end up disappointed.

There are a lot of things that kids will call fun. School and Sunday School are probably not high on that list. However, kids can have fun in Sunday School (it helps if they aren’t comparing it to paint ball or a water park!)

We need to help kids understand that Sunday School is primarily a place to learn about God and develop a relationship with Him and that that process can be fun and enjoyable. One way we can do that is by asking the right question.

I recently listened to an interview with Dick Crider, the Discipleland Training Director. He was discussing this issue and suggested the question we should be asking kids is “Tell me what you learned about our God today?”

Rather than asking, “Did you have fun?” we should be asking, “Tell me what you learned about our God today?”

I think that is an excellent question.

First, it highlights what Sunday School is actually about – it’s about God!

We want kids to have fun learning about God. We want kids to enjoy spending time with their friends learning about God. We want kids to fall in love with Jesus and want to learn more about Him! We want to take time to build relationships with kids while teaching them about God! Sunday School is about God and this question helps kids to understand this primary purpose.

Second, the wording of the question assumes that something new was learned about God.

We can never know all there is to know about God. There is always something new and exciting and interesting and amazing to learn about God. Phrasing the question this way encourages kids to dig for and look out for new things to learn about God.

Also, if teachers know that this question is being asked of their students, it gives them some additional motivation to focus on God in their teaching and put the work into teaching in such a way that encourages exploration and excitement in digging into the Scriptures to discover truth about God.

Third, I love that the question asks what you learned about our God today.

Those asking this question have a relationship with God, enjoying learning new things with God, and want to talk about God with kids! This question encourages conversation.

So, parents and teachers, ask kids, “Tell me what you learned about our God today,” and when you do ask with enthusiasm. Be interested and excited to hear what your kids learned about God. Ask with enthusiasm because you want to have a conversation with your kids. Be enthusiastic about discovering new things about God!

Ask with enthusiasm and ask over and over. Repeat this question every week. Don’t give up. Expect an answer. You may not always get an enthusiastic answer. You may sometimes hear, “Nothing.” But be persistent. This question is a great conversation starter.

So ask and be prepared to answer this question from your kids as well. This question can be asked after Sunday School, church, clubs, VBS, devotions or quiet time. It’s not only for after Sunday School. Be ready to answer if your kids ask you to tell them what you learned about our God today. Remember, it’s about a conversation. Kids are also watching you. Is learning about God important to you? Is it just for kids? Is learning about God a way of building a relationship with Him?

Finally, let’s get back to the fun issue. Even though Sunday School isn’t primarily about having fun, that doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun in Sunday School!

Ask the follow-up question, “What fun things did you do to help you learn about God?”

You can have fun learning about God! Maybe there was an interesting activity or a cool game or a really interesting story. Whatever it is, kids are learning that spending time learning about God is important and we can have fun doing it!

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