Mar 28, 2017

Marriage and Divorce...the latest findings

The foundation of the home is marriage.  A strong family is grounded in a strong marriage.  The greatest parenting tool is a great marriage.
Let's take a look at the latest findings about marriage and divorce.

While divorce is becoming less common for younger adults, "gray divorce" is on the rise.  Among adults ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has doubled since the 1990's.  
  • In 2015, for every 1,000 married persons ages 50 and older, 10 got divorced.  This is up from 5 in 1990.  
  • Among those 65 and older, the divorce rate has tripled since 1990, reaching six people per 1,000 married persons in 2015.
This rise in divorce among older adults is linked in part to the aging of the Baby Boomer generation.  They are ages 51 to 69 and make up the bulk of this age group. 

The divorce rate for those younger than 50 is twice as high as it is for adults 50 and older.  
  • 21 adults ages 40 to 49 get divorced per 1,000 married persons.  This is up from 18 in 1990.
  • The divorce rate for adults ages 25 to 39 has fallen from 30 persons per 1,000 married persons in 1990 to 24 in 2015.  This decline is attributed in part to younger generations putting off marriage until they are older and couples living together unmarried.
  • The media age for marriage in 2016 was 29.5 and for women it was 27.4.  This is up from 26.1 and 23.9 in 1990.  
Adults who are in their second marriage are more likely to divorce.  During their young adulthood, the Baby Boomers had unprecedented levels of divorce.  Now most adults in this age group who have been married less than 20 years are in their second or higher marriage.  This is contributing to their rising divorce rate now since remarriages tend to be less stable than first marriages. 
  • The divorce rate for adults ages 50 and older in remarriages is double the rate of those who have only been married once (16 vs. 8 per 1,000 married persons).
  • Among all adults 50 and older who divorced in 2015, 48% had been in their second or higher marriage. 
I've often said, "we don't need more children's ministry in the church, we need more parent ministry."  I believe this is truer than ever.  If we are going to see children be spiritually healthy, then we must first help their parents have spiritually healthy marriages.  When parents have a healthy marriage, it creates an atmosphere where children's faith can flourish.

For far too long, children's ministries have relied upon "adult ministry" to equip parents to have healthy marriages.  In many cases, it simply doesn't happen.  I believe it's time for children's ministries to take the lead on helping parents have strong marriages.  It's time children's ministry directors start teaching parenting classes.  It's time children's ministries intertwine teaching about marriage into their baby dedication classes.  It's time "family ministries" focus on the heart of every family...marriage.

We must help parents see that their first commitment is to each other...even before their commitment to their kids.  The rise in divorce among couples age 50 and over shows that many married couples were only staying together because of their kids.  Once their kids were grown and out of the house, they had nothing left to sustain their marriage.  I heard the story of a couple who had a grandfather clock in their house.  Once their kids were grown and out of the house, they had to get rid of it.  Why?  The constant ticking about drove them nuts.  They had never noticed it when their house was filled with the noise of their children.  But now with the kids gone, the ticking dominated the silence.  We must help parents develop a deep love and commitment to each other that will continue to thrive even when they are sitting in the silence of an empty house one day.  

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.