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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Sometimes they do listen… and remember

Sometimes in the moment of any particular weekend, doubts of my effectiveness and usefulness creep in. Sometimes as I’m finding difficulty making a connection as I’m teaching or the kids seem to be very distracted, I really wonder what I could have done to have avoided this situation. Fortunately, I carry with me a certain knowledge that has given me confidence in these moments of self-doubt. This knowledge is something my children’s pastor passed on to me as I was beginning my role as a children’s pastor. Mr. Randy, who in my mind wrote the book on children’s ministry, shared how on many occasions he would sit in his car long after church let out and just weep. He’d weep over why the kids didn’t connect, why they were so distracted or why they totally missed the point. Hearing this from the man who shaped much of who I am as a believer and a pastor has helped me deal with the weekends I’d like to do-over. Now, when faced with tough weekends, I still mourn the lost connections and missed points. But instead of over-internalizing, I make note of what I can try to do better and then move on facing the new week ahead. Ultimately, I was obedient in my calling to teach and I did what was expected of me to share. I have to trust...

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