Small Groups for Kids: One year down, two to go!

Woo hoo! Today was a great day. I officially finished the first year of my mid-week program that I am writing, simply called “Small Groups for Kids.” After having tried nearly all the mid-week programs and not loving any of them, I decided to write my own. Of all the curriculum I’ve tried, there were things I liked. But with each one of them, I was left wanting. Here are the things that I didn’t see any curriculum addressing? How do I know the Bible is true? How do I use my Bible? How do I pray? What do I pray when I don’t know what to say? How do I have a quiet/devotional time? When reading the Bible, where do I start? These are just some of the questions I attempt to answer. The main point is to prepare and train kids spiritually, lay a solid foundation before they get into middle school. All of this is done through small groups, where kids develop strong relationships with their peers as well as with their small group leaders. I just want our kids to know what they believe and why they believe it and to have the tools they need to study their Bibles and grow in their relationship with God. Back to the point of this post… I just finished year one. 24 separate lessons for K-2nd grade (I co-wrote...

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Calculated Risk

In less than two months, I’ll be a father. Finally. For over ten years of ministry I’ve often gotten strange looks from parents or fellow leaders as a result of some plans or programs. Occasionally they would actually say, “one day, when you’re a parent, you’ll do these things differently.I know my life is about to change. I know everything is about to be different. But I’m really anxious to see if I’m really going to do some of these things differently. I’m not rebellious by any means. If anything, I’ve always been more of a people-pleaser. But sometimes when I get these strange looks and comments about not understanding, it drives me to want to really mix things up. Risk is what prompted the writing of this post. Sometimes I do things in children’s ministry that isn’t expected… sometimes I wish I took more. The first time I ever held a lock-in, I didn’t make the kids lay down until 4:00 AM. I took the kids to a bowling ally and I had kindergartners glow-bowling at 12:30 AM. I think there’s nothing funnier than having a 6 year-old look at you with bright eyes and exclaim, “I’ve never been up this late before!” No one ever told me that I had to have the kids down by 11:00 PM. Heck, that’s when I usually start the scavenger hunt. I...

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Marshmallows on carpet is like gum!

We’re doing a series right now with the elementary kids called Oops. It’s a fun series on forgiveness. The idea behind this series was to really live up the “Oops” part of it by making a mess every week. This week we had kids digging for gummy worms through 5 gallons of chocolate pudding (all in a baby pool) with their faces. It was great fun. Personal critique: The kids who participated really enjoyed this, but becasue it was fairly separated from the rest of the kids (being on stage), it wasn’t that fun for them. Also, it took too long. We’ll rethink another activity for next week that involves more kids and is almost as much fun to watch as to participate. At the end of the service we did a review game where kids answered questions about what they learned. For incorrect answers we dumped contents of buckets on the kid who answered the question and for correct answers we dumped the buckets on the crowd. We dumped gum drops, marshmallows, Easter grass (it was too cheap to pass up), tortillas (I couldn’t resist. Miguel, the children’s pastor at our Denton campus was using the same supplies and he’s of Mexican descent. This was a shout-out to my man Miggy!) and a variety of other things. Our facilities team was really nervous about the 5 gallons of...

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Hosting a real drive-in movie

Here’s an idea I had several years ago and has proven to be a very effective event. Four times a year I plan a drive-in movie to hold my church parking lot. Here’s what I do. I project the movie on a large screen on our parking lot and project sound through an FM transmitter, which allows viewers to tune into the specific station in their vehicles. Most back into parking spots with minivans and truks and enjoy the movie from the back of their vehicles or in nearby lawn chairs. I usually have the sound coming out our parking lot speakers (it’s already wired) for those who aren’t near a car speaker. I rent the largest screen I can without haveing to use a truss-styled screen (9×15 feet I think) for $80. I use whatever projector I can get my hands on (usually I pull my projector from Kids Church). I bought an FM transmitter for $300 (I think. I’ll post the brand and the cost when I come across it again). Although it’s a bigger cost up front, I’ve used it flawlessly close to a dozen times now. I also sell concessions at a reasonable price. Basically, I break even. I don’t charge anything for the drive-in (actually you can’t by law if you’re showing a movie). I hang the screen a few hours before the show and...

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Do you know where your kids are?

One thing I am very passionate about is keeping track of kids who attend my church. Over 6 years ago I listened to tape of Jim Wideman talking about the importance of tracking kids. He equated tracking attendance to shepherding your flock. I immediately felt guilty. My church tracked numbers more so than it did individuals, so I ended up buying a cheap attendance program that would allow me to keep track of my kids. Because my church was not bought in to the idea of the tracking I wanted to do, it ended up being a lot more work for me and I din’t really achieve what I wanted. Several years back, I relocated to a church in Texas and was part of the process of implementing Fellowship One as our ChMS. I was thrilled as this was exactly what would help me do what I wanted to do. Within a month or so, I had some reports tweaked that cranked out the data I needed. Every Monday morning I had reports on what kids had been missing for 3, 6 and 9 weeks, kids who were first time, second time and third time visitors as well as kids who were having birthdays that week. With a few tricked-out excel macros, I could push a few buttons and within minutes I had labels that volunteers could stick on pre-printed/age...

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Children’s ministry making an impact in the African bush!

The Villages of Ziga The tiny bike path we followed seemed to wind on forever, especially since the landscape didn’t vary. The rocky, sandy terrain, and especially the small knobby bushes were pretty hard on my little pickup’s tires and I worried since I had 400 presents in  the back weighing me down.  But we finally began to see kids pointing toward us calling out “nassara, nassara!” (white person) and we knew we were close. Sure enough, just a head we saw some of the houses: small mud-brick buildings, the metal roofs gleaming in the hot sun, and a bit further, the small school. This village is called Soubeira, and the population is 80% Muslim. As we pull up, we see the fathers and the village elders wearing the traditional Muslim clothes: the long “boo-boo” and the small woven cap. We setup, perform the Gospel drama and present the Good News about Jesus. For nearly everyone there, this is the first time they are hearing about Jesus in a way they can really understand. The children are in wonder at the drama and are nodding their heads during the Gospel message. When asked, nearly all raise their hands to receive Jesus as Lord. The Muslim parents look pensive, their eyebrows furrowed. We distribute the gifts to all the children amidst wild cheers and joy. We thank the school directors...

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A High Tech To-Do List

37 Signals is a Web 2.0 company that has several really cool products on the market. As a Web 2.0 company, all their products are online applications. This one in particular is no exception. It’s called Ta-Da Lists. What does it do? Well, simply put, it’s just a to-do list. That’s it, nothing else. I know, I’ve been to the leadership and time management courses that rebel against the idea of to-do lists. Honestly, I can’t really remember what the reasoning way, something about relating to projects with vision and mission rather than tasks. I guess I can see where they’re coming from, but when I’m running to pick up some stuff at the supermarket, I’ve got a list. If I attempt to conquer my grocery store visit with mission and vision in mind, I’ll be going back later for the eggs. Here’s the skinny. You can sign up for a free account (they’re all free) and create lists. You can have a grocrey list, a honey do list, an agenda for your next staff meeting list… whatever you want. In addition, you can share your lists with others. You might share your honey-do list with your spouse, share your agenda list with your staff or your christmas list with you momma! When you share, others can then add or complete items for the lists you shared with them....

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Really bad school exam answers

Okay, this hasn’t much to do with Children’s ministry, but was so funny. The Sutent Pastor at on our Keller, TX campus sent this to me a month ago. The best laugh I’d had in a very long time. Click on the pictures to see the actual...

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