Nov 20, 2014

10 Reasons Preschoolers are Tougher Than Football Players

Preschool ministry is such an important part of the church.

Research shows that the first five years of a child's life are vital.  Early experiences provide the base for development and functioning throughout life.  Children learn more quickly in their early years than at any other time in life.

I tell parents the most challenging years of parenting are the preschool and teenage years.  I also believe preschool ministry is one of the most challenging but rewarding areas of children's ministry.

Preschool volunteers are my heroes.  In honor of preschool volunteers's 10 reasons why preschoolers are tougher than football players.
  1. Football players smell after a game...ever smell a preschooler after an accident?
  2. Football players hit hard...preschoolers bite hard.  
  3. Football players begin running out of energy in the 4th quarter...preschoolers never run out of energy.
  4. Football players yell in warm-ups...preschoolers yell so loud you can hear them over 100 adults in a restaurant or airplane.
  5. Football players eat protein bars...preschoolers eat glue sticks and crayons.
  6. Football players hide family secrets...preschoolers tell family secrets.
  7. Football players throw passes...preschoolers throw tantrums.
  8. Football players aren't always brave enough to say what they're thinking...preschoolers always say what they're thinking.
  9. Football players ask questions about plays...preschoolers ask questions about everything.
  10. Football players play with one ball...preschoolers play with hundreds of balls in the ball pit.

Nov 19, 2014

10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make in Children's Ministry

We all make mistakes in children's ministry.  But these are some of the worst mistakes you can make.  Avoid them at all costs.

Not running background checks on all volunteers.
You can't afford NOT to run background checks on volunteers before they start serving.  Please, please, please don't make this mistake.  You are putting your church in jeopardy when you do this.

Begging for volunteers.
When you beg for volunteers, it has the opposite effect.  People are not drawn to desperation, they are drawn to vision.  You may be desperate for volunteers, but don't ever show it.

Not partnering with parents.
No one has more influence in a child's life than his or her parents.  If you truly want to influence children, then influence their parents.  Always be thinking parents.

Placing a volunteer alone in a classroom. 
Never place a volunteer alone in a room with children.  You are putting your ministry in a precarious situation when you do this.  Always, always, always have two adults in a room.  No one should ever be alone with a child.

Being a one-man show.
If you do this, the ministry will be very limited and will plateau.  The best thing you can do as a children's ministry leader is build a team.  It's not what you can do, it's what you can empower others to do.

Placing volunteers where you need them.
Resist the urge to place volunteers where you have holes.  Place them in roles that match their gifts and passion.  If you don't, they will burn out and quit.  When people are in their sweet spot, they stay.  

Doing too many programs.
Don't make the mistake of stretching your volunteers, budget, and calendar thin with too many programs.  You can do a few things with excellence or a bunch of things with mediocrity.  Less is more.

Not aligning with the vision and direction of the church.
Children's ministry is not your kingdom to rule and reign over.  It's a part of the bigger vision of the church.  Make sure you are lined up with your leader's vision and direction.  Unity and alignment ushers in God's blessings.

Not partnering with student ministries.
Student ministry is not someone you compete with for volunteers, room reservations and calendar dates.  Work closely with the student ministry and partner with them to create a seamless ministry from the cradle to college.

Not giving first-time guests a great experience.
If you are not strategically giving guests a great first experience, you are missing a key factor in seeing them return.  People decide in the first eight minutes if they are going to return or not.  You can get more information about how to make those first 8 minutes a great experience at this post.

What other mistakes do you feel are critical to avoid?  Share with us in the comment section below.

Nov 18, 2014

An Inside Look at Our Volunteer Orientation

When you bring a new volunteer on your team, it's vital that you set them up for success.  How you bring them on the team will set the tone for their entire serving experience with you.

We have a five-step process for on-boarding new volunteers.  The final step is attending a volunteer orientation.  The purpose of this orientation is to cover the big picture.  Hands-on, age specific, on-the-job training then happens in the age environments they will be serving in.

Here is the handout we cover in our orientation.  The orientation is held each weekend during a service.  Would love to hear about your volunteer orientation and see any handouts, notes, etc that you cover.  You can share them with us in the comment section below.

Nov 17, 2014

One Small Change That Can Help You Reach Parents for Christ

This weekend we will be baptizing several parents of kids who are part of our children's ministry.

This happens almost every time we have baptism.  Parents who have come to Christ are baptized with their children.  We see this happen because of a change we made a few years ago.

Here it is.  We have parents attend their kid's faith commitment / baptism class with them.   It is required.  No drop offs.

Then we are very intentional in the class about not only sharing the Gospel with the kids, but with the parents as well.  This can be as simple as saying, "Parents, you've heard what it means to enter a relationship with Jesus.  If you haven't taken that step, we would like to invite you to do so as well."

And that's when the power of the Gospel reaches parents.  There is a family I am baptizing this coming weekend.  After a recent baptism class, (we have two classes - first week is salvation and second week is about baptism) I sat down with this single mom and her daughter who had attended.  They both wanted to be baptized.  They shared how they had went home and prayed to receive Christ's forgiveness together after hearing the Gospel in the first class.  Mom and daughter...both reached for Christ.

This story could be told hundreds of times over.  Be intentional about sharing the Gospel with not only kids, but with their parents as well.  Remember...

"When you reach a child, you change a life.  When you reach parents, you change an entire family."

Nov 14, 2014

What People Really Think About Children's Ministers

What does the general public really think about clergy?  A recent survey is very revealing.

Nov 13, 2014

Screen Time for Kids...the Debate

How much time should kids spend with technology?  This has been the subject of many debates.

In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that screen time be limited to two hours a day for children over age two, and that no screen time be allowed for children younger than that.

But that was 1999, when TV was the primary means by which kids consumed technology and it was normally done sitting still in a sedentary mode.  Proponents of technology say that times have changed and other factors should now be considered.

Some of the factors are...
  • Is it being used to support learning?
  • Is the use solitary or taking place with others?
  • Is the activity sedentary or active?
  • What are the content and features of the media?                                                      
  • Are the device's features age-appropriate? 
Based on these questions, how much screen time do you think is appropriate for kids?  The average child now has 5 to 7 hours of screen time each day.  This is including all forms of technology. 

Taking into account that technology is and will be such a big part of their education and future careers as they grow up, is 5 to 7 hours too much, about right, or too little?

Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.