It is hard to believe that the holidays are over. This means Christmas decorations must be put away, back to busy schedules, and new years resolutions. Most folks make financial resolutions, health resolutions, and family resolutions for a new year, but why not start your ministry off with a fresh start towards kids ministry resolutions. Here are some ideas that we hope you find helpful to kicking off the new year right!
1.Invest in Volunteers. As a leader, investing in your volunteers is as important as investing in your kids. This may sound crazy, but it is true. As one person, you can do only so much. A well trained and equipped volunteer multiplies what you can do, and a team of volunteers quadruples your multiplication efforts. To invest in them, start by getting to know your team of volunteers on a personal level. It is easy in the busyness of Sunday morning to take this group for granted. Make it a goal in 2017 to write a personal note to each of them thanking them for serving with you. This simple step can launch a year of renewed engagement for your ministry team!
2. Meet the Parents. I know this one if challenging! In the craziness of kids getting dropped off and picked up sometimes we are lucky to just say hello and check their security tag. Meaningful communication doesn’t just happen. It is a choice you must be disciplined to make each time to get to interact with parents. This year take a shot at improving your communication with parents. This might be standing outside your classroom (without the clipboard in hand) and intentionally greeting every parent, putting together an email newsletter, or organizing a parent appreciation night just to love on them. The investment is worth it! Parents, like volunteers, have a huge impact on ministry because without their support, there aren’t any kids to minister to.
3. “Use your 60”. At CentriKid we believe in the power of every minute with kids, so we want to use every one of them! We believe that you can intentionally take each minute to deeply invest in a volunteer or a kid’s life. Think about what you can do if you take those “random” minutes to stop a leader in the hallway and call out something amazing you saw them do with a child in class last week. Think about what you can do if you take those last couple of minutes of the hour on Sunday to stop a parent on their way out the door and tell them how you saw the light bulb go off in their child’s mind today during worship. Think about what you can do if you take the first minute of each class to hug a child and tell them how thankful you are that they are here today. Think about what you can do if you take the “commute” minutes on the way to church each week to thank God for the ministry to get to serve in and the people he has placed around you to help change lives!
We are praying for you and believe in what you are doing! Let’s begin 2017 with a grateful heart knowing that each day we are impacting little lives for eternal purposes! Take a moment now and jot down your 2017 Kids Ministry Resolutions!
Staying focused during the summer in kids ministry can be difficult. With warm weather, no school, sports, camps and everything else crammed into June and July, summer can be crazy and hectic. Your kids ministry attendance might be lower than normal. For the kidmin leaders, it can be a distracting time as well, or might seem like a less important time since less kids are there each week. I encourage you to do two things:
Encourage kids and parents to prioritize Jesus over any sport, practice, or activity.
In today’s world, sports and extra-curricular activities are highly esteemed. Which means that parents tend to encourage their kids to do every sport, dance class, or program, and end up having some type of practice or game every single day of the week. For many, this means sacrificing time spent at church learning about Jesus, or even time spent at home in personal, or family, Bible study. Encourage parents and kids to seek out Jesus above all things and to make Him the number one priority in their lives. Reach out to parents through social media, phone calls, or even emails with a challenge to finish out the summer with a new priority on having their kid involved in the kids ministry at church.
Encourage yourself to prioritize Jesus and not check-out.
It can be just as easy for you to take your mind off the throttle during the summer and coast through it. Constantly remind yourself that the summer season is just as important as any other season. With great times for outreach during the summer, it isn’t a time you want to just slide by. Be intentional, plan out the summer, and engage kids in a whole new way to make them want to come back and learn more about having a relationship with Jesus. Summer can be a more carefree time, but the eternal urgency for the kids is still present during the summer as much as it is during the school year.
Stay focused this summer, and keep pointing kids and their parents toward Jesus. What are some tips and tricks you use to keep your parents, kids, kids ministry, and yourself focused during the summer?
Many churches have an annual recognition banquet where dinner is served and a standard gift is given to all leaders. I asked my leadership team about this, and many of them felt that was a bit impersonal. Instead of having that once-a-year event where you recognize all of your leaders, why not start encouraging leaders with something brand new?
1. Get to know your leaders personally.
I have a sheet that I require my leaders to fill out when they begin to work in the kids area. It simply asks about some of their favorite things, and helps me to get to know some details about them. Check out this sample here! You may also choose to designate one night a week to have a couple of your volunteers over for dinner. It may take a whole year to have them all over, but they will surely appreciate you making the effort to get to know them.
2. Pray for your leaders.
Ask them weekly how you can be praying for them. Getting this information can be tricky because they will not all reply to your e-mail or text message, and some of your older leaders may actually require a phone call! One strategy I use is to have a check-in sheet in all of their rooms with these 3 questions: “1. What was the best part of your week? 2. What was the worst part of your week? 3. How can I be praying for you?”
The more you are praying for them and following up with them, the quicker that relationship is formed. I keep a prayer journal with a page for each worker. Also, you might send them a letter at the end of the year and remind them of the many answered prayers from the previous year!
3. Encourage your leaders with notes and small gifts.
Believe it or not, a personal card or letter goes a LONG WAY! I try to encourage at least one leader a week by sending them something in the mail. (I try to do this on Tuesday mornings and set aside 30 minutes to write as many as I can.)
Additionally, you could send a small gift. It’s simple! For example, on that info sheet, one of the questions asks the volunteer their favorite snack. I may have that food waiting in their room with a note. Many times they forgot about filling out the form and are amazed that they got their “favorite” snack!
4. Celebrate your leaders!
Instead of the standard speaker-catered dinner affair, I like to have a big party for everyone. Many times it will include tons of games and activities with prizes like gift cards and things I know my leaders like. The goal of these parties is for everyone to have a good time, get to know other workers and their families, and refocus us on doing God’s ministry! Some great venues for the party are tailgates, in a park, pool party, or even a Christmas party at your house. Getting outside the church walls is the key!
No matter what methods you use, the bottom line is that we must make out leaders feel appreciated. In order to do this we need to get to know them and encourage them in the ways that are meaningful for them. . Persistence and intentionally are keys to building a great team, whether you are leading 5 or 500 people. Encourage them and they will be your best workers!
About the Guest Blogger:
Evan Dickson is the Preschool & Children’s Minister at Concord Baptist Church in Anderson, SC, and a professor of Children’s Ministry at Anderson University. He has served as a CentriKid Camp Pastor and Director. He’s been involved in kids ministry for over 15, and is passionate about communicating the gospel to kids in a creative way to help them grow in their relationship with him. He is married to his wife Liza, and they have an 8 year old son, Noah, and a 5 year old daughter, Lainey.
In my first summer as a Camp Director, I learned more about leading well than I thought possible. The Lord walked beside me through new challenges, before me as I faced unforeseen obstacles, and with me as I navigated the sometimes murky waters of leadership. In this journey I was not alone, as I was blessed to serve alongside 29 of the most servant-hearted, hard-working, like-minded followers of Jesus that I’ve ever known. The Lord taught me much and continues to teach me from my 2015 camp experience. Let me share with you two lessons in leadership that I took away from my third summer with CentriKid Camps, and first summer as a camp director.
Trust the Uncomfortable
Be vulnerable. Have tough conversations. Embrace sacrifice.
No, these things aren’t easy, but they are absolutely necessary as you seek to lead a group in Christ. As a leader, don’t be afraid to open up. Look past the lure to avoid the problem and see the worth in wading through messy circumstances with someone in the hope of a better end. Surrender your ease to lighten the burden of someone beside you.
Being responsible for a group of 29 staffers along with 300-900 campers weekly is quite the challenge. I learned quickly to plunge into the trenches. Choosing to get messy and invest, no matter the cost, always brings forth the richer reward.
Honor your team
Romans 12:10 says, “Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
I was lucky enough to not just lead a bunch of college kids who were labeled as a “camp team,” but to serve brothers and sisters in Christ who became my family.
We did not just “love on” one another, we loved one another. A way that I did this as a leader was making my best effort to never take credit for something that I didn’t directly do. I learned that as a servant-leader you should always be quick to give recognition and credit where credit was due. Keeping the mindset that Paul spoke of in “out-doing one another in showing honor” was a driving theme throughout the summer.
I value each lesson I learned throughout the summer and hold them dearly. Leadership, at camp and in life, is a life-long journey that I am happy to walk. In this pursuit, I hope to always walk in step closer to Christ.
About the Guest Blogger:
Meg Brown has worked CentriKid since 2013, and has served as a Bible Study Leader and Assistant Director, and most recently as Camp Director at Lee University, Austin College, Lousiana College, and Shocco Springs. She’s a senior at Campbellsville University where she studies Educational Ministry and Public Relations.
The new school year has started and you are already taking your kids 100 different directions making it hard to remember the lessons that they learned this summer. How can you help your kids remember to be a disciple of Christ when they can’t even remember their lunch? I have been hugely blessed to grow up in a Christian home, so here are a few ways that my parents reminded me and my sisters how to be disciples of Christ. Try applying some of these to your family’s life as you grow in your faith.
1. A Disciple Encounters God Through His Word
My 8th grade sister’s favorite part of the day is lunch because she gets to talk to her friends and also see if mom packed her any surprises! At camp, we learned that a disciple encounters God through His word and that we are supposed to ingest it like food. Every once in a while slip a surprise snack into the lunch bag and write on a simple verse and note on a napkin that your child can read and be encouraged. On the ride home, talk to your child about how they used that verse during the day or how they were able to share it. Make this into a fun game and you will be surprised how fast your kids look forward to getting a Bible verse in their lunch box.
2. A Disciple Embraces God Through Prayer
Getting to school can sometimes be a hectic production of grabbing homework, packing lunches, and being sure all the kids are in the car. Once you are in the car, take time to say a prayer before dropping them off. The peace that comes from praying before you open the doors and start another crazy day will create a firm foundation for your kids. I still remember my dad praying for my oldest sister and I before we jumped out of the car for school and knowing that God was there with me no matter what happened that day.
3. A Disciple Engages with God Through Giving
As the kids go back to school, be sure that you are staying plugged into your church. We talked about how a disciple can give both their time and talents to Christ. Show your child that Christ is a priority in your life by being at church. You are the example that your kids will follow and when they see you giving your time to God, they will follow.
4. A Disciple Engages with God Through a Christian Community
Friends are a huge part of school and your children’s lives! Be intentional with those friends and their families. The friends your kids have will shape them and it is important that you invest in their friends.Creating a community of families that would hang out together has been a huge part of my walk with Christ. Having that group of Christian men that I could look up to and the support of so many people has encouraged me to grow as a disciple of Christ.
Parents, you are the number one example that your kids will be following. Starting school can be just as daunting a task for you as it is for them. Be sure to take some time to invest in your kids and their spiritual growth as you both grow as disciples of Christ.
Have you heard the exciting news? We are hosting #KMC15 at Nashville’s new Music City Center! KMC, or the LifeWay Kids Ministry Conference, is an annual gathering of kids ministers, leaders, teachers, and volunteers. Join us to experience inspirational messages and times of worship, practical breakout sessions, lots of laughter, and a ton of fun!
If you attended CentriKid during the summer of 2015, you received information about registering for KMC at a special discounted rate. This offer originally expired on 8/7/15, but we have extended the deadline. Don’t miss out on this great offer!
The theme for KMC this year is RADIATE. Together we will explore ideas related to making a difference in the world, standing for convictions in the midst of moral turmoil, and helping kids grow up as culture shapers rather than conforming to the world. This all starts with the gospel. Learn more about our theme here.
Some of our guest speakers include Eric Mason, Kelly Minter, Ed Stetzer, Sherry Surratt, Ryan O’Quinn, and more. Plus, don’t miss a special concert event featuring Cindy Morgan, Mark Schultz, Kelly Minter, and Andrew Greer!
You’ll see many familiar CentriKid faces at KMC in October, and we hope to see you there, too. This fall, don’t simply shine your light in a dark world—RADIATE!
A few months ago, a few of us from the CentriKid team took a mini-vacation to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I went expecting to have fun and make memories, but months later, I am still talking about how my mind was blown and how Disney completely exceeded any expectations I had for our trip. Exceeding expectations is one thing the Walt Disney company does best. Millions of people like me step into one of the Disney parks each year expecting a good time, but leave completely in awe at the excellent customer service, attention to detail, and “magic” they just experienced.
I recently just finished a book on this very subject from the Disney Institute: Be Our Guest.
In this book, the Theordore Kimi says:
“At Disney, exceeding guests’ expectations is the standard call of duty. If you study in the Disney theme parks, you can see how that works on myriad occassions each day. It shows up in the willingness of a restaurant hostess to not only provide directions when you are lost but to leave her post to guide you to your destination. It appears at the end of some late-night shopping when the cashier takes the time to find out who you are and where you are staying and recommends the free boat ride back to your hotel and offers a map of the dock..If the little wows are delivered consistently and continuously, they add up to a big WOW!”
As wonderful as Disney world is, it ultimately does not have much of an impact on eternity. The fun and the “magic” don’t have much substance, yet people flock to the park by the millions and millions. This is because all people have expectations, but Disney continues to exceed them.
Unlike Disney, your kids ministry (or any kind of ministry) has eternal impact. Getting Mickey’s autograph cannot compare to making the message of Christ clear to people who come to your church. What you and your church does to expand the kingdom of God is the most important task in the world. People and families in your community are going to come to your church with expectations. If Disney World can exceed expectations, so can we as churches who love Jesus Christ.
I encourage you to find ways to not only meet expectations of guests and current members of your church, but find practical ways to exceed those expectations so they return, train your kids ministry leaders and volunteers, and trust the the Lord will lead your ministry to reach people for Christ through those ways. Ultimately, we should seek to exceed expectations to glorify our God whom we serve.
In what ways can you exceed expectations in your kids ministry to help make the message of Christ clear?
We hope that anyone who comes to CentriKid has their expectations exceeded because of how we strive for excellence, build-life changing relationships, and make camp fun! We always try to improve in these areas and ask ourselves how we can make it better. We do it all to make sure that no one leaves camp without a life-changing encounter with Christ. If you haven’t signed up for CentriKid 2015, there’s still time. Sign up today!
Have you ever walked into a kids ministry space and wished you were still a kid?
Whether you are repurposing an old space or touching up an existing one, there are a few things you can do to make the area inviting for your kids, parents, and volunteers.
Add Some Color
The first and easiest way to recreate a space is by adding a fresh coat of paint. This will renew the space and give the whole area a clean look. When choosing colors for a kids area, it can be tempting to find the brightest and boldest colors out there and splash them everywhere. Remember that while your children’s area is a place for the kids to have fun, it is also a place for learning. Check out this color palette to create a fun and inviting area for your ministry.
Part of creating a welcoming environment for your ministry area is to be sure that guests and parents can always find their way through the space. Some of the best ministry spaces I have experienced were created through clear signs and directions. Simply updating the signs around your building can give the entire area a new look and become more welcoming to guests.
Engage with the Kids
In your main children’s worship area, having a system that enables you to run sound and video can be a great asset! Simply putting your logo on the screen and playing music as kids walk in will enhance the experience and get the kids excited for the time ahead. During worship, having the words on the screen or using curriculum such as Worship for Life will help engage the kids in worship. When teaching the kids, it is great to have visuals that reinforce your lessons so showing these as you connect the worship to the gospel will help instill the lessons into the kids.
The idea of recreating a children’s space can seem daunting, but giving the area a new look can help give new energy to your ministry and get your kids, parents, and volunteers excited to hear and teach the gospel!
For ten years I have been serving as a missionary to the South Bronx. In this place, God has worked more than I could dare ask, hope, or imagine. Honestly, He has done just as much in my life as He has done through my life. All that I have learned can be summed up with one word, faith.
Faith is trusting that something will happen because of what has already happened. Faith reaches with two hands, one to the past and the other to the future, and informs us what to do now.
I write to you today in faith.
Looking back, Graffiti 2 can testify to the great things accomplished by God. Countless testimonies abound from ten years of ministry. This vibrant ministry has birthed a church that God is growing as we continue to plant seeds of the gospel while we meet the needs in the Mott Haven community. Check out some videos of this work by visiting our Vimeo channel (vimeo.com/graffiti2ministries).
In the past, God has abundantly provided through the family of God. Centri-Kid was a big part of that in 2013 as you faithfully shared your mission’s offering with Graffiti 2
Looking ahead, I believe in total confidence that God has given us a clear vision moving forward. This vision involves
Standing in the middle of the past and the future, faithfully I am stepping and asking you to step with me in the present. In the coming six months Graffiti 2 is endeavoring to find God’s earthly resources for moving forward with this vision. To many individuals, it may seem impossible. We are endeavoring to raise more money in six months than we have in ten years. In my kingdom, this is impossible. However, in God’s kingdom, all things are possible.
To accomplish our goal we will be hosting Catch the Vision events across the country. We also will be coordinating a Week of Giving, May 3-9, 2015. More information can be found about these efforts by visiting our website.
We need your help in accomplishing our goal. Will you
We know in the end, it is all up to God, but He has worked through you, the family of God, in powerful ways to bless the ministry of Graffiti 2.
About the Guest Blogger:
Andrew Mann is the Pastor and Executive Director of Graffiti 2. In February of 2005, Andrew joined the staff of East 7th Baptist Church/Graffiti Community ministries to assist with youth programs and begin preparing for the new ministry plant of Graffiti 2 Community Ministries. In August of 2005, Andrew moved to Mott Haven and currently oversees the mission, vision, strategy and implementation of Graffiti 2 Community Ministries. CentriKid is proud to partner with Graffti 2 to help kids and communities have a life-changing encounter with Christ.
One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving. It is a time to gather with family and friends and it is always great to reconnect when loved ones live in so many different places. This is a great time to take a look at your ministry and see if you are fostering an attitude of thankfulness with your leaders, volunteers, and kids in your ministry.
One of the best ways to encourage gratitude in the kids in your ministry is to exercise gratitude in your own life. As you set the example of expressing appreciation, the people around you will want to emulate your generous attitude. Fostering gratitude in the kids that you lead becomes much more attainable when they can see your thankfulness towards others. Genuine gratitude is the goal, not simply reciting please and thank you. And it becomes incredibly difficult to teach kids something that you are not currently practicing. Taking a look at your level of gratitude is the first step in passing on a thankful attitude to kids.
Making kids feel valued is another important step to gratitude. It is very difficult to understand how to show appreciation when you do feel appreciated yourself. Creating a safe and loving environment where kids can be themselves and encounter a community of belonging will allow them to understand that they are appreciated and loved. When they can understand that they are important to you and important to the church, they will be much more inclined to understand the importance of gratitude.
Help the kids make gratitude their own. Each kid comes from different backgrounds and they need to understand what appreciation looks like for them. Asking them to think of people and things that they are thankful for helps them to understand gratitude for themselves. Sharing things that we can be thankful for in the church is a great start to creating gratitude in your ministry. There are many great ways for kids to express thankfulness, and it is important to cultivate a thankful and generous attitude all year long, not just in November.