Tag Archives: Children’s Ministry
Posted on 22. May, 2013 by Kenny.
I absolutely love teaching. Teaching is one of my top spiritual gifts. Unfortunately I don’t get to do it nearly enough. There have been times though where I have received criticism from my teaching that I simply didn’t agree with. I’ve had people tell me that they thought I taught over the kids heads, teaching information that was too complicated. Yes, I probably push the boundaries a little, but as passionate as I am about teaching, I’m absolutely disgusted by our ability to bore kids at church. I push the limits of teaching over their heads only because the default is often to teaching down to kids. We’ve taught the same stories so many times, kids have lost the wonder and joy. I’ve always taken joy in presenting information in a way that challenges what they think is true, maybe even confusing them for a bit and thing bring resolution in a way to resolve the conflict in their minds.
A couple nights ago I was watching some TED talks on my phone while I was watering the grass in my front yard (everyone does that, right?). There was an amazing talk by Ramsey Musallam, a Chemistry Teacher at a Catholic School. It took a life-threatening incident to shake him out of what he calls pseudo-teaching. Now he has some very strong ideas about teaching students. If you teach/communicate within the church, this 6 minute video is worth watching.
The premise is that true understanding of material is much more likely if curiosity is provoked in the student. If we can engage their curiosity, then they will actively engage in the material, question it and explore it. He says that “Student questions are the seeds of real learning — not some scripted curriculum that gives them tidbits of random information.” He goes on to say that questions and curiosity are magnets that draw students to their teachers.
That leads us to the million dollar question. We spend most of our times with kids talking to kids and asking them questions. How do we create an environment where we turn the tables and get them to ask the questions. Ramsey goes on to say… “[If] we have the guts to confuse our students, perplex them, and evoke real questions … we as teachers have information that we can use to tailor robust and informed methods of blended instruction.”
The students questions are the seeds to real learning. How do you evoke curiosity and questions?
Posted on 02. May, 2013 by Kenny.
Several years ago, I read a pretty amazing book by Patrick Lencioni, Three Big Questions for the Frantic Family. Lencioni writes amazing books for business leaders about overcoming dysfunction within teams, having better meetings, clarifying core values and other important business objectives. However, he dipped into sacred family territory with Three Big Questions and I must admit, it made quite the splash in my family. Within a couple of weeks, we had a chalk board in our kitchen and several of our friends moved chalk and dry erase boards into their kitchens.
Was the book helpful? Yes! Are we good at applying the principles. Not always. Maybe we just need a coach to help us move along at times.
A new book just came out that approaches the same topic. Bruce Feiler wrote the book, The Secret of Happy Families. Bruce was inspired by Agile software programing, a system to keep teams on track with software development and saw connections to daily family life. The system encourages practices which encourage flexibility, bottom-up idea flow, constant feedback and accountability. Why not apply this to the family. He did and the result was a best-selling book and a TED talk.
What do you think? Have these business/family crossovers been helpful? Inspiring? Lacking?
Anyway, below is the TED talk by Bruce Feiler:
Posted on 02. May, 2013 by Kenny.
The best thing we can have in our lives is a community of friends who help us become better. They speak truth because they love us and they want us to get better. Then sometimes we just need the friends in our lives who like to mess with us a little. For the past 5 years, I’ve had this kind of friendship with Matt McKee, Sam Luce, Gina McClain and Jonathan Cliff. That circle has expanded in recent years to include other close friends like Jenny Funderburke, Jim Wideman and others, but these four know me better than anyone else. They’re there to encourage me and help me when I need to make hard decisions. I can’t imagine being in full time ministry without this crew. If you don’t have people like this in your life, what are you waiting for?
One way this group helps me (I think) is by encouraging me to be more succinct. Yes, I send very long emails… and I’ve sent many of them in the wee hours of the morning. I’m a verbose narcolept. I’m getting better though… really I am. However, yesterday I fell off the wagon. I called my friend Matt McKee and got his voicemail. I proceded to leave him a message. By the time I was done, the message clocked in somewhere around 5 minutes. So, Matt called me today and left me a voice message clocking in at 4 minutes exactly. It was a challenge for him, but I thought I’d share with you how Matt is trying to help me. Check out the voice mail below.
Posted on 25. Apr, 2013 by Kenny.
Orange released a new app yesterday. It’s both frightening, amazing and depressing all at the same time. Whatever emotion you feel, it’s a truth that no parent should ignore. We have limited time. Below I have put in both of my kids. Wow! Time is ticking away!
This app allows you to put in a child’s birthdate and it estimates the time left until their graduation. It is a visual representation of the time we have left to influence a child before they leave home.
You can also add in specific events and see the countdown until that day.
When you see the time you have left, you get serious about the time you have now.
Posted on 24. Apr, 2013 by Kenny.
Orange 2013 kicks off right now with a fusion of old school DC Talk with a dubstep vibe… very cool. You can watch live right now here. This is a no miss session, Reggie Joiner is going to talk about focus… specifically how it relates to the time we have left as kids grow up and we run out of time. Updates to come later, but don’t miss it!
Posted on 18. Apr, 2013 by Kenny.
If you’ve visited this site in the past two weeks, you’ve probably seen something about the Good Friday event we held almost three weeks ago. I didn’t hold anything back, everything we did is here. Below I’ll post all the links to the individual posts for quick reference.
I must say that this past Easter was the best Easter weekend experience I can remember. From Good Friday to Saturday and Sunday Easter services with our Family Egg-a-Palooza in the middle, it was hands down amazing. No doubt about it, we’ll do the Good Friday experience again. As a team, we’ve talked about just making some slight modifications to what we did this year and improve the whole experience We can change the content enough that it would feel new and unique, maybe changing out one or two of the stations.
The idea that came to us for the next version of the Family Good Friday Experience is where the event is more like a scavenger hunt. Rather than getting stamps in a passport, families are seeking pieces to a larger puzzle that will come together after they have visited all the stations that we’ve put in place. It could be a new twist.
I’ve also decided that we will have a phone app to pull this off. We’re in the process of building the content of a Family portal on our website for all things kids/students and resources at Gateway which would easily translate to a mobile app. The Good Friday Family Experience next year could be the perfect opportunity to launch the app. Regardless, we will use the app in parent’s phone to scan QR codes throughout the event to link to videos that will tell families more about each station. The more ways we can engage families, the better.
Below are the links in this series:
- Passport and Event Guides
- Lambs and Donkeys
- Passover Meal
- Bag of Silver
- Meaning of the Mystery
Posted on 16. Apr, 2013 by Kenny.
All the stations as part of the Good Friday Family Experience were great hands on environments that introduced kids to the events of Holy Week, but without focus, they could all seem fairly random as well. It was very important that there was an opportunity to bring all the pieces together and connect the dots. That was the point of the station, Meaning of the Mystery.
This was a veyr simple station, We took one of our large group environments, turned down the lights and used colored LED lights to create atmosphere and only light a very small section of the stage so that there were no distractions and only one focal point. Every came in every 20 minutes and sat on the floor around the stage. Our smallest group was about 25-30 and our largest was a little over 100. We did 6 in all though.
It was essentially a 12-15 minute talk that brought all the pieces together. On the stage I had 5 boxes. A heart was in the first, an apple in the second, a stuffed animal lamb in the third, a crown in the forth and a cross in the 5th. Over the 12-15 minutes, a story was told using an element from each box to support the story. This technique kept the kids engaged to the story because there was a new visual every 2-3 minutes with anticipation for the next one and it connected to much of what they had just experienced.
Posted on 15. Apr, 2013 by Kenny.
Okay, this wasn’t really a craft tent. We started with an idea and it morphed as we got closer to the event. The betrayal of Jesus for 30 pieces of silver was a major event of Holy Week, so we wanted to connect the kids to this as well. So, we decided to order little pouches and a bunch of silver coins. That might be an understatement. We planned for 500 kids, so we ordered 15,000 silver coins. Let me tell you, 15,000 of anything is a crazy! It was awesome. We had a treasure chest box, so we filled it to overflowing with the pouches easily accessible to the sides.
Here’s the idea we went with. Judas had a weakness… money. For him he had a price and that happened to be 30 pieces of sliver. The scriptures state that there may have been some things that happened that week that were outside Judas’ control (that’s a completely different conversation), but I’m convinced that things happened the way that they did with Judas because of a an area of sin that he didn’t have under control. The love and temptation of money was too much for him to handle.
As families entered the room, our hosts (who were a cross between used car salesmen and game show hosts) interacted with everyone. The promised money (silver coins) to perform various actions in front of the crowd. Many kids did the chicken dance for a few pieces of plastic, several adults recited all the words they knew to variou 80′s hits. It was fun, but then the point was made that in the same way we can all be convinced to do something embarrassing or funny, Judas was temped to do something unspeakable, and he did it.
Kids went into the tent, grabbed a pouch and counted out 30 pieces of silver. Once they got their coins, they had time to read through the passport page about this station and discuss the questions.
Posted on 15. Apr, 2013 by Kenny.
One of the stations we were most excited about was the Passover Meal. What happened at this important meal was huge. Too often, the topic of the last supper is cut short. Sure, it’s important because that is where Jesus did the first communion and it is where the story gets really interesting when Jesus rats out Judas with his plan to betray him. These are important parts of the overall plot, but there is so much more to this meal than those things and we wanted to capture that in this station. On several occasions, we referred to this station as a seder meal, but there were several who cautioned us against using that term in particular. This meal is very significant to the Jewish faith and we wanted to make sure we didn’t dishonor it. Instead, this station was simply about teaching what happened at the Passover Meal.
With the number of kids coming through this event, we considered many options on how to create a meaningful experience. I wanted to do whatever was possible to get the actual food on the table in front of these kids. I wanted to engage their sight, touch, smell and taste. It was a big hit as both parents and their kids walked out knowing so much.
We had fun with this breakout. We decorated the room to look like a 1st century dinner. We got 8 foot tables and put two of them side to side so that we could comfortably seat 12 people at each table. We covered with table clothes and burlap accents. We put the LED candles on every table and adjusted the room’s stage lights to light up each table with a soft glow. The room was incredibly inviting. At the front, we set up a cooking station where Chris, our Student Pastor would lead the station. We made it to look and feel like a cooking show. Chris wore what a chef would wear, he had stainless steel tables, food processors and even a cutting board with a “cutting cam.” We literally took one of our video cameras, hung it above the cooking area and displayed the image on the screen to the right of the stage. Chris could show the entire room what he was preparing just by holding it over the cutting board. It was so much fun, everyone LOVED it!