Oct 13, 2017

The Movement That's Changing the Way We Teach Kids

Did you see the television special a few weeks ago about the movement that is changing the way kids are taught?  It was on all 3 major networks at prime time.  It's big, exciting news!  Let's take a closer look.

The movement is called XQ: The Super School Project.  The movement is working to overcome the complacency of high schools and other institutions of learning that are outmoded and ill-equipped to prepare kids to thrive in today's world.

The movement reveals that while the world has rapidly changed, our methods of learning have barely changed at all.  The United States, who was once first in the world in high school completion, now ranks 23rd.

It's time we make the changes needed to once again become a leader in education and provide state-of-the-art learning for every child.  And that's what the movement is about.  It's bringing together students, parents, educators, entrepreneurs and other leaders to re-imagine and re-think how we teach kids.  It's about creating the schools of the future.

The movement focuses on collaborating to help kids move beyond just memorization and abstract concepts to becoming self-directed learners who can apply what they've learned and use it to solve the problems they will face in a rapidly-changing world.

Here are some examples...

Old Paradigm                New Paradigm
-follows orders               -co-creates plans to achieve goals
-product driven               -customer driven
-climbs corp. ladder       -seeks leadership opportunities
-change takes time         -team responds quickly
-9 to 5                             -flexible
-lifelong job                    -change jobs often
-completes tasks            -pursues goals

How kids learn best:

1. Caring, trusting, supportive relationships with adults.

2. Kids respond best when high expectations are set.

3. Kids need opportunities to contribute.  Provide them with a choice and a voice.

4. Learning experiences that are engaging, related to their interests, offer opportunities to succeed and provide feedback.

Essentials for effective learning:

1. Students need opportunities to learn deeply, so they can gain knowledge and the ability to apply what they know, make inferences and solve problems.

2. Learning is most effective when students are able to relate what they've learned to their real lives.

3. Students need meaningful, student-centered, learning experiences, that enable them to build toward mastery.

4. Stop rote memorizing and start applying knowledge.

5. Depth of learning is achieved when teachers integrate new learning methods and tools into their curriculum thoughtfully and mindfully to meet students' needs and interests.

6. Students learn best when teaching is personalized and varied.

7. Inspiring teaching connects to the real world.

8. We have to make learning something kids want to do.

Here's what children's ministries have to understand.  These principles and philosophies of learning are the same when it comes to children learning God's Word.  It translates directly into how we teach and communicate God's Word to kids.

We also have to understand this.  Normally the church lags behind the education world when it comes to making changes in teaching methodology.  This means the necessary changes in the church will probably happen several years after schools make the shift.  That's scary, because the result could be another generation of kids who grow up in church without gaining the spiritual knowledge, instruction and passion they need to follow Jesus for a lifetime.

But it doesn't have to be that way.  The church can learn from this movement and make the necessary shifts needed to raise kids who follow Jesus in today's world.  It's time we stopped doing children's ministry like it's still 1950 or 1980 or even 2010.  It's time we make the changes needed so we can be effective.

In fact, rather than lagging behind, we should be leading the way in making the changes needed to effectively help today's kids learn and apply God's Word.

It's time we replace lecturing with learner-based activities.  

It's time we replaced rows of chairs with circles where kids learn from each other just as much as from a teacher up front. 

It's time we made church relevant to the lives of today's kids.  

It's time we teach application just as much as we teach information. 

It's time we teach kids to think critically and walk with them through the hard questions they will face about God and His Word. 

It's time we shift the focus from the teacher to the kids. 

It's time we stop having kids memorize scripture without helping them understand what it means. 

It's time we embrace the fact that kids are wired to move and learn best through interaction, activity and movement.

This is just a small overview of the many great insights you can gain from this movement.  I want to encourage you to check out their website and watch this video below for more information.

So much is at stake.  We must be willing to change if we are going to help kids gain a faith foundation that will stand the test of time and see them develop a Jesus-centered worldview.

Let the children's ministry movement begin!  Let's start teaching today's kids with relevant methods and effective philosophies.

Your turn.  The floor is yours. Share your thoughts and insight about this in the comment section below.

Oct 12, 2017

You Are a Gift

If you serve in children's ministry, I have a word of encouragement for you today.

It comes from Ephesians 4.  Here's what it says.

"Now these are the GIFTS Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers."

This verse is describing leaders in the church.  Volunteer leaders like you.  And look what God calls you.

He says you are a "GIFT."

That's right.  You are a precious gift to the children and families of your church and community.  I know at times you may not feel like a gift.  You may feel taken for granted...used...unappreciated...forgotten.

Can I tell you today?  You are a gift.  A very special gift.  God has anointed and appointed you to influence people at the most crucial time in their life.  You see ,when you influence adults, you do not have the opportunity to influence them for the majority of their life, because they have already lived it.  But when you influence children, you influence them for their entire life.  Your influence and legacy continues for decades.

Children are very, very important to God.  So special that I believe He chooses the very best people, the most precious gifts, to serve in children's ministry.  You are one of the chosen ones.

The next time you get discouraged, may the Holy Spirit whisper the words "You are a gift" into the depths of your soul.  The next time you haven't heard the words "thank you for serving in children's ministry" for months on end, may the Holy Spirit comfort you by reminding you that you are a gift to the children and families of your church, even if they don't always grasp it.  The next time you doubt your abilities, may the Holy Spirit gently remind you that you are God's special gift, called and equipped to impact kids and families.

I honor you today.  I thank God for you today.  I praise God for creating such a special gift as you for children and families.

Have a blessed day my friend.

Oct 11, 2017

Elevating Children's Ministry in Your Church

I believe children's ministry should be one of the most important ministries in the church.  I believe it's the biggest key to reaching families and growing a church. 
A healthy children's ministry = a healthy church.
Without children, a church has no future.  Churches across the country are dying a slow death because they are not reaching children.  It's time for churches to shift their focus to reaching and discipling kids.

Children's ministry should have one of the largest budgets in the church.

The best people in the church should be serving in children's ministry.

Children's ministry should be a very high profile ministry in the church and receive lots of "air time."

Children's ministry should be a top priority when it comes to allocating staffing hours.

The children's ministry space should be the best in a church's facility.

But the sad fact is that in many churches this is not the case and it needs to be changed.  Now I know you believe this as a children's ministry volunteer or staff member.  But the honest truth is, you're probably not the decision maker when it comes to the church's overall budgeting, programming and facilities.

Often I see children's ministry staff and volunteers go to a conference and get fired up about elevating the children's ministry in their church, but they aren't able to effectively spread their passion to the lead pastor, elders, deacons, executive pastor, etc.  And without taking it up to the top decision making level, things remain the same.

We want to help you change that in your church.  That's why we're hosting the live webinar "Making Children's Ministry a Priority in Your Church."  In this webinar, we'll equip you with the knowledge, facts and strategy you need to help lead up and see children's ministry elevated in your church.  

Not only will you be able to participate in the live teaching and Q &A, but you'll also have access to a recording of the webinar that you can share later with the leaders in your church.  And as a bonus, you'll receive a copy of our ebooks "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams" and "Parenting with a Purpose."

You can register for the webinar at this link.  Below is more information as well.  Join us and together we can help you elevate your children's ministry.

Oct 10, 2017

20 Great Motivational Posters for Children's Ministry

Recently at the KidMin conference in Chicago,  I taught a workshop about building volunteer teams.

As part of the workshop, I asked the attendees to create sample posters to invite people to serve in children's ministry.  The posters would reflect some of the principles we were sharing regarding building volunteer teams.

They did a great job.  Below are the posters they created.  Maybe it will spark some ideas you can use to help build the volunteer team in your church.

You can get lots of more ideas about building a volunteer team in my book "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams."  It's available in hard copy and ebook formats at this link.