Jun 24, 2016

10 Ways to Protect Kids From Social Media Dangers

Being digital natives, today's kids are immersed in the world of technology.  It's as natural as breathing for them.  But we must keep in mind that there are dangers lurking online.

Consider these findings.
  • The average age kids are exposed to pornography on social media is 11.
  • 70% of kids ages 8 to 18 are involved in pornography on social media apps.
  • 11% of kids admit to sending pictures to anonymous people. 
  • 80% of teens involved in sexting are under 18.
  • 12% of girls are pressured for sexting.
  • 38% of girls and 39% of boys admit to getting unknown sexting messages.
  • More than 104 million child porn photos have been found on social media apps since 2002.
  • The most dangerous apps for kids include Ask.fm, Creepy app, Kik, Pheed, Snapchat, Yik Yak, Tumblr and Vine.
  • The most common threats online for kids are cyber bullying, murder, sextortion, sexual abuse and spiking.
It is vital that we protect kids online.  Here's 10 ways.

1. Monitor their social media activity.

2. Be on their friends' list to remain updated.

3. Use available spying apps to view list of installed apps, remove or pause any app remotely.

4. Reduce the time they spend with smartphones by involving them in healthy activities.

5. Petition companies to legalize their terms of use to strictly prohibit kids under 18.

6. Educate kids about the impact, dangers and consequences of leaking private information on social media.

7, No under-age use of social media apps and websites.

8. Check privacy settings of computers/laptops/smartphones used by kids.

9. Limit kids to using technology in your presence.

10. Keep your kids informed about social media crimes and stats.

*This data is from OneSpy.com.

Jun 23, 2016

10 Questions Every Children's Pastor Should Be Able to Answer

Here are 10 questions that every children's pastor should be able to answer about their ministry.  As you read through these, what are your answers?  Your answers are a great litmus test of the health of ministry you lead.

If any of these questions cause you to start searching for an answer...or you're not satisfied with your answer...I've listed some helpful articles below that can be of help.

Let the questions begin. 

What is the vision of the ministry you lead? 

What are you doing to grow personally?

What is your process for leading kids to Christ?

How do you equip parents to disciple their kids?

How do you follow up with first-time guests?

How do you keep kids safe and secure in your ministry?

What is your current ratio of volunteers to kids?

What is a ministry lid you are currently working on lifting?

Who are you personally investing in?

What's your plan for building your volunteer team?

Jun 22, 2016

10 Object Lessons to Teach Kids About Giving

Each week in our children's ministry service, we take a minute before the offering time to teach the kids a lesson about giving.  We are seeking to give them a foundation of generosity, so they can experience a lifetime of the blessings and joy of being a giver.

Here are 10 object lessons we've used in recent months to teach kids about giving.  Feel free to use these in your ministry.

Giving is Greater Than Receiving
  • Read Acts 20:35 with the kids - "It is more blessed to give than to receive." 
  • Show the kids the words Giving and Receiving.
  • Ask the kids which the Bible says is greater...giving or receiving?
  • Explain to the kids that it's okay to receive things.  It's nice to get awards, birthday gifts, etc. 
  • Show the kids this - GIVING > RECEIVING.
  • But it's even better to give to help others because it makes an eternal difference and you're like Jesus when you give.  He came to give instead of receive. 
Don't Close Your Eyes
  • Read Proverbs 28:27 with the kids - "Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed." 
  • Bring up a picture of kids in need.
  • Explain that there are people locally and around the world who are in need.  They are in need physically and spiritually. 
  • When we see this, we have two choices. 
  • We can respond by giving or close our eyes to their needs. 
  • Have the kids close their eyes to the picture of the kids in need for a few seconds and then open them back up. 
  • Encourage kids to not close their eyes to those in need, but to look and respond by giving their offering to help others both physically and spiritually. 
  • When you do this, God has promised to provide for your needs. 
  • Read Luke 6:38 with the kids - "Give, and you will receive.  Your gift will return to you in full - pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap."
  • Hold up an empty clear cup.
  • Have another clear cup that is half full with water.
  • Pour some water from the half full cup into the empty cup. 
  • Bring out a clear pitcher of water. 
  • Use the pitcher to overflow the cup you poured water from. 
  • Explain as you are doing this that when we give, God has promised to fill us back up to overflowing.  You can't out give God. 
World's Tallest Tree
  • Show a picture of General Sherman - the tallest tree in the world.  It is located in Sequoia National Park.  It is 102 feet around and 275 feel tall.
  • It started as a simple seed that was planted in the ground years ago. (hold up a small seed and show the kids)
  • When you give your offering, it's like planting a seed.  It will grow into big things and make a big impact in people's lives.  
In God We Trust
  • Hold up a dollar bill. Ask kids if they have ever noticed that it says "In God We Trust."  
  • This is a great reminder that when we give our offering, we can trust God to take care of us and provide for our needs.  
The Half-Eaten Apple
  • Have the kids read Matthew 6:33a with you - "Seek the kingdom of God first."
  • Hold up two apples - one whole and one half-eaten.
  • Explain that we should put God first with our money (hold up the whole apple).
  • When we don't give Him 10% or we give Him whatever is left over after we finish spending on things we want, it's like we are giving him the leftovers (hold up the half-eaten apple).
  • Put God first in your giving.
Faithful with a Little
  • Show a picture of a $1 bill and a $1000 bill. 
  • The Bible says if you are faithful with a little, then God will trust you with more. 
  • May not have a lot of money to give as a child.  Maybe you get a little money from your allowance, birthday gifts, chores, etc.  Whatever it is, it's not likely a thousand dollars.
  • God says to be faithful to give from what you have now.  And as you are faithful with a $1, then God may give you the opportunity to be faithful with thousands of dollars one day.  
  • Giving faithfully from the little you have now opens the door to give faithfully from much more one day. '
Smiling or Frowning?
  • Read 2 Corinthians 9:7 with the kids - "Each one of you should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not out of regret or compulsion.  For God loves a cheerful giver."
  • Show a picture of the frowning face.  We can give money to God with a bad attitude.  Perhaps because your parents make you or you feel guilty. 
  • Show a picture of the smiling face.  Or we can give with a good attitude that says, "I'm giving this back to God because He is awesome and I love Him.  He deserves my best!" 
When You Love Someone
  • Share about a time you gave a gift to someone because you loved them. (examples - ring to wife, gift for family member, money to someone you wanted to help, etc.)
  • Explain that we have the opportunity each week to show God how much we love Him by giving our offering.   
Guess How Much Money Is In My Pocket
  • Tell the kids you have some money in your pocket.  Ask them to guess how much it is. 
  • Pull out the coins and reveal how much you have.  See who was closest.
  • Explain that God knows everything.  He knows how much money we have.  
  • One of the ways we can worship Him for being so awesome, powerful and all-knowing, is by giving back some of our money to Him. 

Jun 21, 2016

Children's Ministry...the Ripple Effect

I've recently gotten connected with a children's ministry leader who serves in a communist country.  He leads an underground network of over 30,000 children's ministry leaders who minister to hundreds of thousands of kids. 

I asked him how he came to faith and he shared his story with me.  He is a 4th generation believer.  In the early 1900's, a missionary from Houston, Texas came to his country and told his great, great grandfather about Jesus.  From the seed that was planted there have now been four generations of people serving Jesus in this communist land.  Wow...think about the ripple effect that it has caused and all the people who have been reached and will continue to be reached. 

This reminded me of the ripple effect of children's ministry.  When you tell a child about Jesus, you never know the ripple effect that it will start.  And that's one of the coolest things about children's ministry to me....you see fruit now...and you can rest assured that there will be continued fruit for generations to come because of the Gospel seeds you sow. 

If you're like me...at times you've wondered if you were really making a difference.  Rest assured you are.  Just keep planting those Gospel seeds.  You are causing ripples that will continue for eternity...and the full extent of it...you won't see until sometime in the future when you are in heaven and have a better view of the full picture.

Jun 20, 2016

Idea Generator or Idea Gatherer?

There's a secret behind the success of the award-winning children's movie "Inside Out."  Business Insider recently took an inside look and shared what it was.

The secret - the leadership style of the director, Peter Docter.  Instead of trying to generate the ideas for the movie, Peter listened to other people's ideas.

During the movie's production, Peter walked around the Pixar campus and engaged key people in conversation about the movie.  He also gathered observations from his family. 

Peter modeled a characteristic of a great leader...being an idea GATHERER rather than just being an idea GENERATOR.  You see..great leaders gather the best ideas from the people around them when making decisions.  

Dache Keltner, who is a professor at University of California, says that listening is a key way to practice empathy - and empathy is the surprising route to power and influence.  Research shows that teams that are led by empathetic leaders are more productive and innovative.  Bottom line...power comes from empowering others. 

Which would your team say best describes you as a leader?  Idea Generator or Idea Gatherer?  If you want to be an Idea Gatherer, here's some important steps to take.

1. Don't try to come up with ideas by yourself.  Gather people around you and brainstorm together.  You'll soon find that the smartest person in the room is the room.

2. Forget about the spotlight.  If you're concerned about getting credit, you'll never be an idea gatherer.  Instead of shining, help other people shine.

3. Detach yourself from owning ideas.  See ideas as simply ideas...not owned by or attached to you.  This will give you the freedom to be a gatherer.

4. Listen a lot more than you talk.  You can't gather ideas while you're sharing ideas and not listening.  Learn to ask good questions and then simply listen...a lot.

5. Never make decisions alone.  Idea gatherers never fly solo.  They involve others in the process. 

The more wisdom you gather from other people, the more productive, creative and successful you and your team will be.