Archive for September, 2014

5 Tips for Keeping Kids Attention

What we do in kids ministry matters. The message we have to share with kids about the Gospel and God’s love for them is life-changing — but the reality is that keeping kids attention is tough sometimes. Attention spans even seem to be getting shorter and shorter. Here are 5 tips from my toolbox that can hopefully help you.

  1. Be prepared .They need to know that you have a plan, and they respond better to you and to the material if they sense that it is something well thought-out and important.
  2. Create intrigue. anticipation is a powerful tool that can carry you into a lesson while you earn trust and favor with the kids. If they sense that you’ve got something “up your sleeve” then you’ve got them thinking, wondering, engaging with the lesson plan in a deeper way.
  3. Show enthusiasm. Kids will rarely exceed the enthusiasm you bring to a lesson or activity. They may have a lot of hyper-activity or nervous energy, but their true interest and enthusiasm will reflect what you model. If the leader is excited about something, the pupils will follow along. If you don’t care about the lesson or activity, why should the kids?
  4. Engage different learning styles. some kids connect better through reading, others through hearing, and sometimes a game or hands-on activity is the best way for a kid to understand a concept. In your lesson planning, keep these things in mind. Don’t get stuck in a rut of only using one teaching style. All children can learn through various styles, so keep your teaching methods varied.
  5. Kill it before it dies. this is a principle we use in games and recreation at Centrikid Camps… if something is going well, don’t run it all the way into the ground before you move on… stop the game while there is still interest so you can come back to it. If the game dies and kids lose interest while you are still playing, then its not something you (or they) will be excited about bringing back again another time.

We’ve blogged about keeping kids attention before!   Click the image below to check out Mary Wiley’s post “5 Practical Tips to Keep the Attention of Kids” from 2012 for more helpful tips!

Jeremy Echols

JE leads the camp team, finds new camp locations, plans training, and lots of other projects. He loves spending family time with his wife Emily and their daughter Madison.

Rec Resource… Amoeba Tag


Amoeba Tag

Equipment Needed: Field markers, bandanas

This is a simple tag game with a twist. Choose one player to be the tagger. When this player tags a runner, the runner must stop and join hands with the tagger. These two must now attempt to tag other players without unjoining hands. As the game continues, the chain of players will grow. Continue play until all players are part of the chain.

Play a second round, but instruct players to tie bandanas around their eyes like a blindfold. In this round, players MUST walk. For safety reasons, no running is allowed. When one player bumps into another, he or she must ask whether the other player is part of the tagging chain. The leaders should carefully supervise the boundaries to prevent players from wandering away.

Debrief: Mark 2:9-10

Ask: “What made this game difficult? Which round was more difficult?”

Say: “In this game, the first round was easier than the second round. In the first round you could see, but in the second you were blindfolded.”

Explain: In Mark chapter 2 you learn about Jesus healing the paralyzed man, but He also forgave the man’s sins. Jesus asked, “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, ‘Get up, pick up your mat, and walk’?” In this scenario, the first case is easier.

It is easy to tell someone, “Your sins are forgiven,” because there is no way to prove the statement, but when you tell a paralyzed man, “Get up and walk,” everyone expects proof. Jesus proved He is God by healing the paralyzed man, and this also shows us He has authority to forgive our sins. We can trust Jesus is God, and we can trust Him to forgive us and give us life.

CentriKid promises we will root everything in scripture. We want fun, we love playing games, and value building relationships, but we want to emphasize life change. Scripture and the teaching of scripture is a powerful agent of life change. In your ministry always look for ways you can take every activity and connect it back to scripture. We love Amoeba Tag. It is low maintenance and provides great teachable moments. Add this game to your resources. We love Amoeba Tag. It is low maintenance and provides great teachable moments.

Guest blog: Worship Through Creativity

How often do you think about creation? Have you ever thought about what it says about you when you’re creating something? From crazy concoctions in the kitchen to painting a canvas, you are living out the image that you bear in God and bringing Him glory in the process.

I have experienced first hand how lighting, theater and creative storytelling can be both an act of worship as well as a wonderful tool for kids ministry. A key to sharing eternal concepts in a kid-friendly form is to present material as visually and hands-on as possible. Kids are concrete thinkers. The more that a child can see, touch and hear the easier it is for them to grasp on to difficult ideas. One great way to teach children about who God is is by making use of their own creativity and curiosity.

Here are three concepts that the Bible teaches us about and how we can worship through creativity:

1. God is the Great Creator

“In the beginning God created . . .” (Gen 1:1 HCSB) This poetic introduction of the Bible teaches us a great deal about who God is and who we are as His creation. God, out of nothing, created all that there is. God is the greatest artist and story teller – EVER! Think about the beauty of waves rolling across the ocean, the magnificent light shows of a sunrise, or the intricate detail of a sunflower pedal. Each detail, every beautiful thing in the world was created by our great God.

2. Art communicates

Art has a way of communicating feelings and emotions that cannot be verbalized. Paul tells us in Romans 1:19-20 that, “since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made.” Think about this amazing truth – what we can know about God is already made known to us through His creation! Through the work of Christ, we can know God, truly and intimately, here and now. When we spend our time studying science, creating art, understanding how the universe works, we have an opportunity to learn little by little about the God who created each of those things. Through His creation, God reveals His “eternal attributes”, that is, His personality, His characteristics, His greatness, and His power. Every work of art, each scribble on a page, and every theatrical production that is staged is in some way telling the story of God and the gospel.

3. We create because we are made in His image

Genesis tells us that man is made in the image of God. Why can we create? Why can we invent cool contraptions, take spaceships to the moon and solve problems? We can do all of these things because we are distinctively made in the image of the great Creator. From the time we are born, we are naturally drawn to creativity, scribbling on a page, dancing to music and a million other ways that speak to the nature of our Creator. While not everyone of us will be the next Picasso or Vincent Van Gogh, every one of us has been given a gift to create and to imagine which can be used to share the greatest story ever told. As we create, we reflect in a tangible way how God restores in us that which is broken, dirty and sinful, making something new and beautiful in the process.

Kids are born with a natural sense of wonder of the world. Their curiosity is a natural and easy starting point for teaching them to see the glory of God around them. The intricate detail of a theatrical set, the colors used to evoke emotions during a worship service, or a visit to the local park can easily be used as a spring board into the creativity, attention to detail, and imagination of our great God.


Micheal Walley

Micheal is a CentriKid Camp Specialist and a volunteer in his church's kidmin each week. He has been serving with CentriKid since 2011 and on the office team since 2014. Micheal loves talking about kids ministry, leadership, coffee, and his wife, Anne Marie.

Explaining Quiet Time to Kids

Few things are more important than spending time alone with God reading the Bible and praying each day.  This is how we learn more about God, grow closer to Him, and strengthen our faith and understanding of Him.  We see in scripture how Jesus often withdrew to spend time alone with His Father. In my own spiritual journey, I became a Christian when I was in 5th grade, but I did not experience major growth until I began having a daily time alone with God in high school. Quiet time is important!  (which is why we start each day of CentriKid with it)

“Quiet time” may not sound that great to kids who do not enjoy sitting still for any period of time, and it sounds miserable to kids who do not like to be quiet.  (In fact, that’s why we call it “Time Alone with God” at camp.) Between school activities and sports practices,  teaching kids the importance of stopping for a little while each day and spending time with God should be priority in kids ministry.  Explaining quiet time to kids is important; they need to know why we do it.

I explain it to kids this way:

Quiet time is basically a conversation between us and God.  This is how we can learn more about him and grow closer to Him.  Think about your best friend.  Why are you close to him/her?  It is probably because you have spent lots of one-on-one time getting to know each other and talking about everything.  Our relationship with God is so much bigger and better than that!  Like scheduling a daily phone call or a FaceTime call with your best friend, make time in your day to talk to God whether it is before you go to school or before you go to sleep at night. Spending time each day praying and reading you Bible is how you get to know God, and how your relationship with him grows deeper and deeper! 

Ultimately, kids need to know that spending time praying and reading their Bible is extremely important. Before you explain this to kids, look at your own life and how much emphasis you place on your own quiet time with God.  In this busy world, do you set aside time to grow in your relationship with God?   Make quiet time an intentional part of your day each day!

What are some ways that you explain quiet time to kids?  Comment below or on our Facebook page and let us know!

Micheal Walley

Micheal is a CentriKid Camp Specialist and a volunteer in his church's kidmin each week. He has been serving with CentriKid since 2011 and on the office team since 2014. Micheal loves talking about kids ministry, leadership, coffee, and his wife, Anne Marie.

Creating a Culture

From the moment church groups get off the bus until they drive away at the end of the week, there are promises that every CentriKid team looks to uphold. They have become a part of our culture, but they are not just for camp. They can play a major role in  presenting the gospel in your children’s ministry every week.

Root EVERYTHING in scripture
We believe that the Word of God should be at the forefront of every program, activity, and game at CentriKid camp. We love to have fun and go crazy, but it is all to get children excited for the gospel. As children’s ministers, creating an atmosphere that is centered around the study of the Bible and teaching it to children should be the most important part of any programming. Kids love playing games, making crafts, and singing songs. Let’s be honest, I love all of that too! However, when we are able to connect these fun events to the scripture they take so much more away from Sunday morning than just a good time. They will see that the Bible is God’s truth in their lives.

Production KidsMinistry through relationships
At camp, CentriKid staffers see meal times and Hang Time as another opportunity to build relationships with kids. The conversations that happen during these times are sometimes more powerful than the conversations that happen during worship response time. Building these relationships create many avenues of conversation that can lead to presenting the gospel and learning how best to pray for and love on these kids. Working in a kid’s ministry, you have an amazing opportunity to create these relationships all year. Knowing the kids who are in your Sunday School class or in children’s church will create an environment that stimulates discussion. By loving these kids through a meaningful relationship, we are able to show them a small glimpse of the amazing love that God has for us.

Kid friendly programming
CentriKid would not be CentriKid if it were not for the high energy I Can’t Waits, crazy recreation games, and the amazing times of worship that kids and adults can experience at camp. We know that Biblical truths such as the Holy Spirit, the Tabernacle, and God’s redemption are not always the easiest things for kid’s to understand, but at camp it is our promise that all of the programming and Bible studies will be created with kids in mind. Kids from 3rd to 6th grade will enjoy the games and songs and they will also be taught the Bible at a level that is understandable to them and is applicable to their lives. Every week, you have an amazing opportunity to share the Word of God with kids so that they can apply it to their lives now and grow in their relationship with God.

Through a culture based in scripture, relationships, and fun, staffers are able to minister and love kids throughout the summer. How have you used the CentriKid culture in your church’s ministry?

Isaac Kierstead

Isaac graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Studio Art and Editing and Writing. He started working camp in 2013 and joined the office team in 2014. Isaac designs a lot of the items you’ll see at camp this summer, helps with track development, puts together group leader information and staff manuals. His favorite part of camp is I Can’t Wait and track times.

Leading well: Knowing Your Team

A leader of employees, teammates, or volunteers can experience better leadership by knowing  his or her team and serving them.

Here are 4 ways to know your team better:

1 – Learn about how they are wired.  Assessments like MBTI and StrengthsFinder can be great starting points for knowing specific things about how God created the individuals on your team.  I use this knowledge to help me plan our work and also gauge how we are doing together relationally.

2 – Genuinely care. This is where I break all the rules of modern management and leadership advice.  I believe that teammates are much more than just cogs in the machine and a means for getting the work done.  We spend time together outside of work and we get involved personally, not just professionally.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  attributed to Theodore Roosevelt.

3 – Write a handwritten note. Communicating with an employee about job performance is normal and essential.  But I’m talking about going beyond “good job” and “nice work.” Its tough to write a thoughtful note to somebody you don’t know well.  This exercise always challenges me to know my teammates better so I can have something meaningful to say.

4 – Listen and observe.  The tendency is for leaders to have all the answers and do all the talking.  When you listen and observe, you’ll be amazed at the insights your teammates have.  My 5th grade teacher always said, “We have two ears and only one mouth for a reason.”  Resist the urge to fill every silence or lead every meeting. Seek out opportunities to find the ways your team can shine, and then brag on them like crazy.

Experience the benefits of better leadership by knowing your team.  This approach to leading a team is built on the mindset that knowing the individuals on your team will help you create a better culture and lead the group more effectively.

Jeremy Echols

JE leads the camp team, finds new camp locations, plans training, and lots of other projects. He loves spending family time with his wife Emily and their daughter Madison.





FUNdraisers to Help You Get to Camp

Fundraisers are a great way to help the families in your church with the financial part of going to camp. But the bake sales and car washes are not the only way to raise money for camp. We have a few fun ideas to get kids involved and excited about camp all while raising money!

Peel Away Envelope Fundraisers

This idea comes from Micheal in Missouri, where they would print one image on top of another image and have squares labeled with dollar increments. When a person donated a certain amount of money they would peel that increment amount off. Once every amount was given and peeled off the image below was revealed! The bottom layer could show a picture of the kids who went to camp the year before or any number of fun images.

Kids Art Gallery 

There are so many talented kids at your church, so why not give them a chance to show off their skills? Kids can draw, paint, sculpt, build or even create a science project. The night the items go on display have a meal at the church to celebrate all the amazing work done by the kids in your ministry.

Scavenger Hunt

Have a camp themed scavenger hunt! Participants could ask for pledges to participate and the team that gets done with the scavenger hunt the fastest and the team that raises the most money wins a prize!

Bake sale + Recipes! 

Put a new twist on the bake sale! Print out the recipe that you used to bake your yummy sweets and sell the recipe with the baked goods.

There are so many fun ways to get kids and families involved with raising money for camp. Finances can be a little stressful sometimes, so it is always great when you can put a little fun in fundraising!

Tiffany Francis

Tiffany graduated from Georgetown College with a degree in communication and media studies, and received her Master's Degree from Murray State. She has been with Lifeway Kids since 2010 and joined the camp team in 2014 where she works on Bible Study, the camp store, and many other elements.

You Can Only Do that at Camp!

We love camp because it gets kids out of their everyday environment and routine. It is so much fun to give kids and adult leaders the chance to do things that they wouldn’t normally do.

Things you can only do at camp include. . .

  • CHOICES: what will I wear? what will I buy at the camp store? what tracks will I choose? what will I eat for dinner? how many scoops of ice cream sounds good tonight?
  • Play OMC with my color team
  • Purchase CK swag: buffs, peach plushes, CentriKid splat balls
  • Talk one on one with a staffer!
  • Meet kids from other churches
  • Participate in the color competition
  • Give out 500+ high fives in a week
  • Dance in a Monkey Shuffle Flash Mob
  • Celebrate your birthday with hundreds of people
  • Check mail from your parents, grandparents, etc
  • Compete on stage for party games
  • Eat Sno Cones daily
  • Worship with hundreds of people representing lots of different churches
  • Participate in a week long sleep over with your best friends

This list could go on and on. . . and it should because camp is unique. However, as we talk about FIT: Faith in Training we are focusing on what we do in response to God. Unfortunately some of the unique activities we do at camp should be a part of our daily lives. Consider these things and challenge your kids you bring to camp to make sure they do these things in their daily lives too

Thing you do at camp, but should be doing all the time include…

  • Time alone with God
  • Fellowship with believers
  • Studying scripture and applying it to our lives
  • Encouraging believers
  • Praying and giving to mission projects





Leading Well: Balancing Relationships and Results

Think about your leadership style: are you more focused on completing the task, or building relationships with those you lead? All leaders are wired to fit somewhere on the spectrum between “relationship-focused” and “results-focused.”  Most of the time, the best leaders are those who do not lean majorly in one direction, but do well at balancing relationships and results. Whichever way you lean, it is vital that leaders intentionally grow in their leadership skills to balance out these styles.

After you have identified your stronger area, use these 6 practical tips to help you balancing relationships and results:

For more relationship-focused leadership:

  • Show your team that they are valued.  Take a few moments and affirm them.  Don’t give general compliments like, “You’re doing a great job.” Be specific so that they know that you care. For example: “Katie, you did a fantastic job composing that budget report. Thank you for the time you put into it.”
  • Listen to your team.  This is perhaps the most important quality in building relationships with your team.  Whether it is a concern or an idea, listening is a wonderful skill for a leader to learn. Your team knows if you are not listening and are simply there to tell them what to do. Take the time to stop and really listen to what they have to say.
  • Be intentional about building relationships.  It’s not bad to put “build relationships” on your to-do list and set a goal to do something like write note cards.  As long as it is genuine, this could help you build relationships with your team.

For more results-driven leadership:

  • IMG_7609Make a to-do list, a schedule, and take notes. Try to have your to-do list completed at the end of the day. Try to stick to your schedule.  Have a standard way to take notes so you will remember things like an iPhone app or a simple notebook.  Whatever you do, don’t trust your memory and try to eliminate distractions.
  • Cut casual conversations short.  It is okay to tell someone that you will have to talk about something unrelated to the task later.  It does not make you rude or anti-social.
  • Keep accountability. Let your team know that you are trying to focus more on results and ask for their help to keep you focused on your tasks.  If they know that you are trying to spend more time focusing on results, they can help steer you in the right direction.

Those are some simple ways to help you balance out relationships and results in your leadership.  What are some ways that you balance your responsibilities?  Please comment below!

Micheal Walley

Micheal is a CentriKid Camp Specialist and a volunteer in his church's kidmin each week. He has been serving with CentriKid since 2011 and on the office team since 2014. Micheal loves talking about kids ministry, leadership, coffee, and his wife, Anne Marie.

Be Transformed at #KMC14

Transformation is at the heart of kids ministry. At the end of the day, we want to see kids lives transformed by the power of the gospel. We’re so thankful for the faithfulness of kidmin leaders and volunteers who proclaim the message and labor day-in and day-out to point kids to Christ. The work is not easy, but because of your unrelenting service to the Lord, children that are dead in their sins are receiving the promise of life in Christ! You truly are our heroes.

Even superheroes, though, have their limits…

Everyone eventually reaches a point of exhaustion, frustration, or complacency. Everyone has that moment of wondering, “Does what I’m doing really matter? Am I really making a difference?” Everyone needs a retreat  an opportunity to pull away from all the busyness and refocus and refresh. If Jesus Himself thought it was important to find time to pull away from the crowds to pray and spend time with the Father, then how much more should we follow His example and plan our own times of retreat and renewal?! At LifeWay’s Kids Ministry Conference, that is exactly the atmosphere and experience that we work hard to create.

This year, the theme of #KMC14 is “Transformed.” We invite you to join us as we explore together many of the foundational truths of kids ministry:

If what you are doing in your ministry doesn’t transform the hearts of kids, if it doesn’t shape the culture, if it doesn’t expand the kingdom, then is it really important? Is it really as good as God wants it to be? Is it really transforming?

At KMC you will experience great worship, inspirational messages, practical workshops, lots of laughter, and a ton of fun! With Jesus Christ being the center of everything we do, the LifeWay Kids team wants to be a part of a catalyst that leads you to go home refocused, refreshed, and ready to take your kids ministry to the next level. Don’t miss this conference! Sign up today.

Henry Dutton

Henry received a MA in Christian Studies and a BA in English, both from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. He began working for CentriKid in 2008 and joined the office team in 2012.