Mar 27, 2017

Awesome New Kids' Bible...Free Giveaway

Hey friends, I'd like to tell you about an awesome new kids' Bible called "The Story Traveler's Bible."  

The Story Traveler's Bible helps kids go on the adventure of a lifetime and gives them front-row seats to some of the most captivating stories in the Bible. 

As I read through this Bible, several noteworthy things grabbed my attention. 

This Bible gives kids a great chronological overview of the entire Bible.  From Genesis to Revelation, the story of God's love and plan for our lives is beautifully woven through the 85 stories.  

This Bible takes kids on a deeper dive into Scripture.  Throughout this Bible, you see what I would call a "commentary for kids."  There are fun facts, thought provoking questions, life application, Bible memorization helps and discipleship cues.

This Bible is visually captivating.  Today's generation hears with their eyes.  And this Bible speaks loudly to them with great graphics, cartooning and illustrations. 

This Bible is a great tool for parents to use for discipling their kids.  We know that discipleship begins in the home and parents are looking for resources to help grow their kids' faith.  Whether it's reading it with them at bedtime or discussing the questions found inside, parents will love this Bible.

The author and publisher have graciously agreed to give away a free copy of this Bible to one of our readers.  You can enter the giveaway by emailing me at  We will select one person and announce the winner here on this site next Monday.  You can also purchase the Bible now at this link. 

Be sure to check out this great new resource. 

Mar 24, 2017

15 Takeaways from Kids' Choice Awards 2017

The 30th annual Kids' Choice Awards was held on March 11 in Los Angeles.  It is an annual awards show that airs on the kid-focused Nickelodeon channel.  It honors the year's biggest television, movie and music acts.  The winners are determined by the kids who are Nickelodeon viewers.

The Kids' Choice Awards provide great insight into kid culture and how to connect with today's kids.  Here are 15 takeaways that children's ministry can benefit from.

#1 - If you want to find out what kids like, then ask them.  The kids' choice awards lets kids vote for their favorite things.  The best way to find out what kids like is to ask them.   This can be done by surveys, focus groups, online voting, etc.

I have also let kids vote online for which worship songs they wanted to sing that coming weekend.  It was very popular among the kids in the ministry.  

#2 - Stay current with technology.  Voting started out by telephone and mailing in votes by snail mail.  But as technology advanced, voting moved to being exclusively online.  When texting arrived on the scene, that option to vote was added.  And in 2010, an app as added that gave kids the ability to vote with a smartphone.

While children's ministries can't always financially afford to be on the cutting edge of technology, they can stay as current as possible.  An example is moving to technology that allows parents to check-in their children with their smartphones.

#3 - Kids love slapstick comedy.  Kids have always loved seeing other kids and adults trip, wipe out or be involved in funny accidents or mishaps.  This is evident in the long list of celebrities who have been "slimed" on the show.  Think about how you can leverage slapstick humor in your skits, videos, games and teaching.

#4 - Kids care about social causes.  The Big Help Award was added in 2009 with the first recipient being Leonardo DiCaprio for his work in helping the environment.  Kids want to make a difference in the world and will partner with others to do so.  Show kids how God can use them to make a difference in the world now and as they grow up.  Give them opportunities to make a difference and they will readily respond.

Here, here, and here are a few examples of how you can do this.

#5 - Kids like sports.  In 2014, Nickelodeon presented the Kids' Choice Sports awards, honoring kids' favorite athletes, teams and sports moments from the year.  Michael Strahan produced and hosted the ceremony.  Think about how your ministry can leverage sports to minister to kids.  Many churches use Upward Sports to connect with new kids and families.  Another way churches use sports is through summer sports camps. 

#6 - Put talented people in front of kids.  Obviously Nickelodeon puts very talented people on stage as the hosts and faces of the award show.  When it comes to large group communicators, worship leaders and hosts, make sure you put your most energetic and talented people in front of the kids.

#7 - Kids are looking for role models.  Kids vote for actors, singers and sports heroes that they admire and look up to.  Show your volunteers what a great opportunity they have to be a godly role model and influence the kids they serve with.

#8 - Kids love to see their leaders pranked.  A huge part of the show is when the leaders get "slimed."  Incorporate your volunteers into messy games, skits and activities where they get pranked.  FYI - give them a heads up and provide them with the proper attire ahead of time.  

#9 - Music styles kids like.  You can learn a lot about kids' current tastes in music from the groups and artists they pick to receive an award.  Look for worship songs, game songs, background music, etc. that reflect these styles.  Here is a list of songs, artists and groups that won this year. 
  • The Chainsmokers 
  • Fifth Harmony
  • Maroon 5
  • OneRepublic
  • Pentatonix
  • Twenty One Pilots
  • Drake
  • Justn Bieber
  • Bruno Mars 
  • Shawn Mendes
  • Justin Timberlake
  • The Weeknd
  • Adele
  • Beyoncé
  • Ariana Grande 
  • Selena Gomez
  • Rihanna
  • Meghan Trainor 
  • "Can't Stop the Feeling!" — Justin Timberlake
  • "Heathens" — Twenty One Pilots
  • "Send My Love (To Your New Lover) — Adele
  • "Side to Side" — Ariana Grande feat. Nicki Minaj 
  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Daya
  • Lukas Graham
  • Solange
  • Rae Sremmurd
  • Hailee Steinfeld
  • "Formation" — Beyoncé 
  • "Juju on That Beat" — Zay Hilfigerrr and Zayion McCall
  • "Me Too" — Meghan Trainor "Stressed Out" — Twenty One Pilots
  • Martin Garrix
  • Calvin Harris
  • Major Lazer
  • Skrillex
  • DJ Snake
  • Zedd
  • Hamilton
  • Me Before You
  • Moana
  • Sing
  • Tiffany Alvord
  • Matty B
  • Carson Lueders
  • Johnny Orlando
  • Jacob Sartorius
#10 - Kids love heroes.  Super hero movies often get chosen as kids' favorites.  Examples this year are winners Captain America, X-Men and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The Bible contains the stories of the greatest, real-life heroes ever.  As we tell their stories and share the part they played in God's big plan, kids will respond. 

#11 - Kids love animals.  Another category in the awards is "Most Wanted Pet."  Here were the winners this year.
  • Baloo from The Jungle Book
  • Dory from Finding Dory
  • Po from Kung Fu Panda 3
  • Red from The Angry Birds Movie
  • Rosita from Sing
  • Snowball from The Secret Life of Pets
Think about how you can incorporate animals into your lessons.  The Bible is full of stories of animals. 

#12 - Friendship is important to kids.  Another category is BFF's (Best Friends Forever).  It highlights the kids' favorite friendships they saw in film and television.  Here were this year's winners.
  • Ruby Barnhill & Mark Rylance (Sophie/BFG, The BFG)
  • Kevin Hart & Dwayne Johnson (Bob/Calvin, Central Intelligence)
  • Kevin Hart & Ice Cube (Ben/James, Ride Along 2)
  • Chris Pine & Zachary Quinto (Captain Kirk/Spock, Star Trek Beyond)
  • Neel Sethi & Bill Murray (Mowgli/ Baloo, Jungle Book)
  • Ben Stiller & Owen Wilson (Derek/Hansel, Zoolander 2)
Friendships is what keeps kids coming to church.  Give kids the opportunity to establish friendships by providing small groups, icebreakers during lessons, etc.

#13 - Kids love to play games.  This is evident as kids voted for their favorite video games.  The winners this year were...
  • Just Dance 2017
  • Lego Marvel's Avengers
  • Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Minecraft: Story Mode
  • Paper Mario: Color Splash
  • Pokémon Moon 
Use games before service as a connection point for kids and volunteers.  Use lots of games (and it doesn't have to be video games - they play those all week and are looking for something different) in your lessons to help kids learn Bible truths.  Give kids game ideas they can play at home with their parents to re-emphasize the lesson they learned at church. 

#14 - Use colors kids like.  The colors that are used in the graphics, stage design, trophy, videos and the other parts of the show are colors that kids love.  When choosing colors for graphics, theming and designing, look through the eyes of a child.

#15 - Kids are intrigued with the struggle of good vs. evil.  This is reflected in the villains that kids chose as their favorites. 
  • Helena Bonham Carter (The Red Queen, Alice Through the Looking Glass)
  • Idris Elba (Krall, Star Trek Beyond)
  • Will Ferrell (Mugatu, Zoolander 2)
  • WINNER: Kevin Hart (Snowball, The Secret Life of Pets) 
  • Charlize Theron (Ravenna, The Huntsman: Winter's War)
  • Spencer Wilding (Darth Vader, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)
The Bible records the ultimate struggle of good vs. evil.  Show kids how the struggle has played out over the years and how it will eventually end.  Show them how they can be on the winning side when they give their lives to Christ and follow Him.

Mar 23, 2017

Is Sunday School Dying a Slow Death?

Sunday School.  Some churches still use this term for their Bible study hour at church.   But a large percentage of church leaders would say the term is an ancient relic that has been lost in the progressions of change. 

Is Sunday School an ancient term?  Well,  it is over 230 years old.  It originated in Britain in the 1780's.  During this time of the Industrial Revolution, many children spent six days a week working in factories, which resulted in them being illiterate.  Christian leaders of the day wanted to do something to change that.  Sunday was the only available time for these children to gain some education.  Robert Raikes, an English Anglican evangelical, was a key leader in starting the Sunday School movement.  The first "Sunday Schools" were literally schools.  They were places where poor children could learn to read.

Soon Sunday School spread to America.  Churches everywhere began to create Sunday Schools and the movement became so popular that by the mid 19th century, Sunday School attendance was part of most children's lives.  Even parents who did not regularly attend church themselves sent their children to Sunday School.   Although Sunday School started as a way to educate illiterate children,  religious education was, of course, always an important part of it.  The Bible was the textbook used for learning to read.  Children also learned to write by writing out Bible passages. 

As child labor laws grew and children started going to school during the week, Sunday School shifted toward being totally about religious education.  Sunday School also became an evangelistic tool for reaching children with the Gospel. 

Over the last 30 years, the term "Sunday School" has been used less and less.  As mentioned earlier in this article, churches have shifted toward more contemporary wording and methods.  While children used to attend one hour of "worship" and one hour of "Sunday School," many now attend one hour that is a hybrid of the two.  

Many churches have replaced the description with names like "Life Groups" or "Bible Fellowship" or "Connection Groups" or "Small Groups."  I don't think it is a negative think that the term "Sunday School" is being used less.  The word "school" is not appealing to most kids and the last place they want to go on a Sunday is where they have been all week.

The important thing is not that the name "Sunday School" is dying.  The important thing is that kids and parents are taught the Word of God, are part of a smaller group of believers where they are known and cared for and have the opportunity to engage in discussion about God's Word.  These are key components that you just can't get in a large group only format.  Whatever you call it, we must provide an opportunity for kids to be part of these elements that are a vital part of discipleship.  Discipleship happens through relationships and that doesn't happen staring at the back of the person sitting in the pew in front of you.

Your turn.  Do you still use the term "Sunday School?"  If not, what do you call your discipleship opportunities for kids and families?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Mar 22, 2017

3 Keys to Closing the Volunteer Turnover Door

Do you struggle with volunteer turnover?  Seems every time you work hard to get a new volunteer, you lose a current volunteer out the turnover door. 

It's normal to have some volunteer turnover.  People move away, get sick, change work schedules, have babies, etc.  But if you are seeing volunteer turnover beyond that, then there are other issues at play that are causing volunteers to walk out the turnover door.

But the good news?  You can close the turnover door.  No, it won't ever be completely closed, as I said in the beginning,  because life happens.  But you can move the door from being wide open to just a small crack.  Here are the 3 big keys to closing the volunteer turnover door.

When you meet with a new volunteer and ask them where they would like to serve, what do they normally say?  "You can place me where ever you need me."  And the temptation is to do just place them where you currently have an opening.  But don't.  Here's why. 
Don't place volunteers where you need them.  Place volunteers where they need to be.
Where do they need to be?  They need to be in a role that is based on their gifts and passion.  Simply put, they need to be in their sweet spot. 
If you don't help people find their sweet spot, their serving will turn sour.
When people are serving in their sweet spot, they thrive.  When people are serving in their sweet spot, they serve long term.  When people are serving in their sweet spot, they love what they are doing.  When people are serving in their sweet spot, they are happy.

How do you help people find their sweet spot?  There are several steps among which are having them take a spiritual gifts test and a personality test.  Another biggie, is simply asking them, "What would be your dream role here at church?" and "What do you love doing?"  These questions will quickly help you access what their sweet spot is.

Give volunteers permission to let you know if they are not serving in their sweet spot.  In fact, take the initiative and ask them one month after they start serving if they are in their sweet spot.  If they are not, help them find the role that is their sweet spot.  If you don't, they will let you know, but it will be too late.  It will be when they are walking out the volunteer turnover door.  

Have you ever been working on a project and realized you didn't have all the right tools you needed?  You try to make it work, but you get frustrated and eventually quit until you can get the right tools.  It's the same scenario with volunteers.  When you place them in a role, but don't give them the right tools or training they need to succeed, they get frustrated and quit.

Make sure you provide adequate training for new volunteers.  From an orientation to a clear job description to shadowing a seasoned volunteer for several weeks, it's important to set them up for success.  I am thinking now about a volunteer years ago that I pushed into a room without adequate training.  It was only a few weeks until he quit.  And looking back, I don't blame him.  Don't make this mistake with your volunteers.

I believe relationships is the super glue that keeps volunteers serving long term.  When volunteers are surrounded by people they know, care about, do life with and pray with, they keep serving.  Although many of these relationships will be formed organically, there are some key steps you can take to help foster relationships among volunteers. 

As stated in the first key, when you place volunteers in their sweet spot, it means they will be with people who share the same passions as they do.  This helps relationships naturally form around this common interest.  Some other steps you can take to help relationships form is to provide opportunities for volunteers to spend time together outside of serving, share prayer requests, do team building activities and form small groups with volunteers.

You can get many more ideas for closing the volunteer turnover door in my new book "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams."  In this book, I share a proven formula for not only bringing volunteers on your team, but keeping them long term as well.