May 29, 2020

Unlikely Friends (Great Curriculum Series Shows Kids How to Grow in Their Faith)

This curriculum series follows the story of a kid named Dave who has just moved into the neighborhood.

He's tries to fit in with the other kids but they want nothing to do with him.

Until a kid named Johnny steps in and offers his friendship.

The narrative leads kids into the story of David and Jonathon in the Bible and teaches them how to have a growing friendship with Jesus.

The series includes videos that feature the art work of a world-renowned artist who also draws for Sports Illustrated for Kids. Lessons are...

  • Week 1 - I Promise to Love and Follow My Friend
  • Week 2 - I Put My Friend First
  • Week 3 - I Share My Heart With My Friend
  • Week 4 - I Stand Up For My Friend

Delivered Electronically - Instant Download

Includes...

  • graphics for posters, social media, promotions
  • graphics for slides for Power Point, Pro Presenter, Media Shout, Keynote
  • 4 weeks of lesson videos
  • 5-minute video countdown
  • 4 weeks of lessons that can be used in large group format, small group format, traditional classroom format, mid-week format
  • lessons are editable and flexible to fit your specific ministry context
  • small group leader guide that's easy-to-use and requires little prep
  • hands-on, experiential, interactive learning
  • connects with all learning styles
  • games that bring fun and learning together
  • take home pages for each week

and much more

You can order the curriculum at this link.

Click here to see a lesson sample.

Click here to see a small group leader sample.

Below is a video sample from a lesson (click arrows to expand & watch full screen).

May 28, 2020

Why Kids Are Saying Your Ministry is Boring

Recently, I was talking with a children's ministry leader and she told me the kids were saying the lessons are boring.

Let me let you in on a little secret.  When a kid says a lesson is boring...it probably is. 

If you want to know if your lessons are boring...ask the kids.

You can do this by having a round table discussion with a group of 6-8 kids.  Ask them about the parts of your service and which ones they are bored with.  Make it anonymous, so the kids won't feel pressure to answer a certain way because they want to please you.  You need to hear the truth, whether it's positive or negative. 

Here are some proven ways you can make sure you won't hear kids saying the lessons are boring...

Stop talking so much.  When it comes to boring lessons, this is the #1 culprit.  If you are trying to use talking to keep kids' engaged for 15-20 minutes, you are setting yourself up for failure. Talking should not last more than 5 minutes at a time. 

Involve kids in the lesson.  When kids have to sit still, they get bored and easily distracted.  Get them up and moving during the lesson.  Have them be the Bible characters.  Have the rest of the kids be sound effects.  Get every one involved.

Honor kids' attention spans.  So here is the biggie.  Honor kids' attention spans which is 5 minutes max. For preschoolers it can be even less, like 2-3 minutes.  Look at your entire classroom time not as 60 minutes.  Rather look at your classroom time as being 12 x 5 minute sessions. 

Play games that have a purpose A quick way to wake a child up from boredom, is to play a fun and engaging game.  Play several games each week.  Make sure to involve as many kids as possible and have the game tie into the lesson. 

Sing worship songs that are age-appropriate and fun to sing.  I'm not sure why...but from what I have observed in my travels...we are trying to make kids sing adult worship songs.  Watch the kids during your worship time.  How many are actually singing?  How many are distracted because there are too many motions to try to copy?  How many are being asked to sing words that are over their head?

In my opinion, we need to bring back some of the old school songs that kids sang 10 years or so ago. 
These are songs that are written for kids and that engage kids and gets them singing.  Songs like...
  • Come and Go With Me to My Father's House
  • I Get Down and He Lifts Me Up
  • Every Move I Make
  • Jesus, Be the Center of My Life

Use video...but not too much.  It's okay to have a 5 to 8 minute at a time video segment but I recommend not going over that.  Kids have video messaging and ads coming at them non-stop now.  A full lesson on video can be too much of a good thing and kids get bored with it . Especially when the video is of someone just talking.

Watch the kids' reactions.  When kids get bored, they look away.  Watch and make a note of when kids start looking away.  Go back and tweak that part(s) of the service.

We have the most exciting, engaging lesson ever presented to mankind - Jesus and His plan of salvation.
The best lesson deserves the best presentation. 

I have often heard people say, "I'm not going to church, because I was made to go as a child."  Think about this - you don't have to make someone go where they want to be.  Their memory of church is that it was not relevant, not fun and boring.

I've never heard anyone say, "I'm not going to Disney World because I was made to go as a child."  Why not?  Because it was an exciting, fun place to go. 

My prayer is that we will give our very best to creating environments where kids will walk out with a smile on their face and God's Word placed in their thoughts. 

Your turn.  What do you think causes kids to say a ministry is boring?  What insight or advice can you give to someone to make the experience at their church one that causes kids to drag their parents to services? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

May 27, 2020

How to Help Kids Who Can't See Their Friends and Family Due to the Pandemic

I miss being able to see my grandmother.  She is in a nursing home and it is locked down due to the pandemic.  No outside guests.  Haven't been able to see her for over 3 months now.

I don't think I am alone.  Many, many people are feeling sadness and loss from not being able to see some of their family members and close friends. 
 
This can especially be true with kids when they can't see their grandparents, cousins, close friends, etc.
 
Let's look at some practical ways that we can help kids who are dealing with this.

Connect virtually.
Zoom.  Skype.  Facetime.  Messenger.  These are just a few of the platforms you can use to connect with family and friends.

During this time, we have been playing an online game with our adult kids called House Party.  It allows you to not only see each other on your smart phones, but also has fun games you can play together online.  Be intentional and schedule times to connect with each other online. 

Talk about fun times you've had together.  This is a great time to look through old photographs and watch those wonderful family videos you have stashed away.  This can deepen your relationships even when you are apart.

Our family started a memories box many years ago.  We put important things in the box that will remind us of events and memories that we have shared over the years.  A ticket to a show you saw together.  A flower from a graduation ceremony.  An airplane ticket to a great place you went on summer vacation.  A sea shell you picked up on family vacation to the beach.

Remind them that it's only temporary.  Yes, it has been months...long months since we were told not to get out.  And it may be several more months before we can engage in a "normal" or "new normal" life.  But remind your kids that it won't last forever.  For kids, time appears to move slower.  Remember how long it seemed until Christmas or a birthday finally came when you were a kid?  Let kids know that this is not a permanent way of life.

Let them know they will be able to get out and see their friends and family before long.  If you have specific dates when they say we can get out and about, share that date with them.

Model how to manage your emotions in a situation like this.  Kids pick up on our emotions and will imitate us.  Make sure you keep a good, positive attitude during these times of separation.  Show a spirit of gratitude for the blessings you do have.  When you increase your gratitude,  you will find that it helps decrease anxiety.  Rather than spending the time talking about the pandemic, focus on the fun things that will happen when you are able to be together again and good memories you have from the past.

Initiate contact.  Reach out to friends.  Contact family members.  Don't sit back and wonder if anyone is going to contact you to talk and catch up.  Take the initiative to connect kids to the people they miss seeing.

Help them see why this is happening.  
A big question kids may ask is "Why is God allowing this to happen?"  That's a question you need to be ready to answer because not addressing it could hinder their faith in God if not answered correctly.  In this previous post, I share what to tell kids when they ask this question. 

And if kids don't ask the question, then take the initiative and talk with them about it.  You want kids to have the right answers to critical questions.  And the right answers need to come from you.

Your turn.  What else is helpful for kids during this time?  We'd love to see your thoughts, ideas and insight in the comment section below.

May 26, 2020

20 Tips for Parenting Found in the Bible

The ultimate parenting book is the Bible.  It can help you raise your kids to love Jesus for a lifetime.

Recently, I was doing a study about parenting in the Bible.  Out of this, came these 20 tips for parenting.

1. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:4

2. Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

3. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.  I Peter 4:8

4. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  I Timothy 5:8

5.  As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.  Psalm 103:13

6.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.  Deuteronomy 6:6-9

7.  But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.  I Timothy 4:8

8.  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.  Ephesians 5:25

9.  You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  Deuteronomy 11:19

10. Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.  Proverbs 29:17

11. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.  Colossians 3:21

12. And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” Joshua 4:20-24

13. For it is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 7:4-11

14. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. I Timothy 5:8

15. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.  Psalm 127: 3-5

16. I will open my mouth with a parable.  I will utter hidden things, things from of old—things we have heard and known things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.  Psalm 78

17. And how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  2 Timothy 3:15

18. For the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:12

19. He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:16

20. Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:15

There is a whole bunch of parenting wisdom found in these verses.  I would challenge you to take time to go through them and write down some action steps you can take and how you can share them with the parents in your ministry.

Remember, as a parent, it's not about what you leave for your kids.  It's about what you leave in your kids.