Archivo de la categoría: CHURCH LEADERS

A Little Child Can Lead Them…Really, They Can!

A Little Child Can Lead Them…Really, They Can!

by Tina Houser
A Little Child Can Lead Them...Really, They Can!
What if we encouraged children to lead worship? Are we ready for this?

Ever once in a while a child hits us with a profound thought that comes out of their innocent point of view.  It causes us to rethink our preconceived notions, brings us back to reality, or merely simplifies our outlook.  Then, we lovingly and a bit sarcastically quote, “And a little child shall lead them.”  It’s true that kids can point out the obvious and teach us a thing or two, but what if we intentionally taught them to lead?  What if we encouraged them to lead?  And, are you ready for this?  What if we encouraged them to lead adults?

Small and medium-size churches, sit up and take notice of what I’m going to say here, because you’ve got an advantage over mega-churches.  Because of the intimacy and the small community atmosphere of your congregation, you have an incredible opportunity to make something wonderful happen, not just with the children in your care, but with the entire church.  You’re at the advantage because of your size!  As part of your program, children can learn about leading worship and I’m not talking about leading other children.  Children, when given direction and supervision, can be a remarkable addition to the leadership of the corporate worship service.  In mega-churches, there are so many talented and capable adults who can lead, but it’s not always the case at the more common size local congregation with its 3-digit attendance.  It’s a perfect environment to introduce children to what it means to lead in worship and to have instilled in them that they truly are important to this particular body of believers.

The benefits to the congregation are numerous!  When children are included in worship leadership, they bring with them a certain enthusiasm and lightheartedness, and that’s something everybody needs to be reminded of.  After all, the scriptures tell us “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”  Children bring a smile, either to our faces or to our hearts, but really what they bring is strength.  One of the most difficult things for anyone to do when they come into worship is to check their worries of everyday life at the door and give God their undivided attention.  Children have a blessed way of breaking down barriers, refocusing our attention, and moving us physically into a more relaxed state.  With that accomplished, everyone is definitely more ready to worship.  I heard a lady say one day, “When I walk in the door on Sunday and see that the children will be singing, I know it’s going to be a good morning.  They always set the tone for praising.”  They change an atmosphere of quiet and tradition and stoic faces to one of celebration and praise!

When children are involved in the corporate worship leadership, it gives adults hope.  It’s easy to feel hopeless when every form of electronic communication delivers news of disasters and moral failures.  The trap of hopelessness snatches people when they’re in the middle of a personal crisis.  But, when we witness children “getting it” and really leading with their hearts, it fills that empty tank with fresh hope. They realize that what we’re doing here does matter.  We are making a difference.  Our commitment to the Lord with our time, money, and dedication will change tomorrows because of these children.  John Whitehead, in The Stealing of America, wrote “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will never see.”  Hopelessness makes us fear the message that children might take into the future, but witnessing children truly worshipping revives the hope that the living message we send to that time we will never see is a message full of God’s promise.

Children can also be an inspiration and motivator for adults.  When adults witness children reciting passages of scripture by memory, they can’t run from that moment when they are challenged to rethink what they’ve personally done to engrave God’s Word on their own hearts.  Families who know how much time and rehearsal have gone in to being able to give God their best, can’t help but re-evaluate how they prepare for being part of worship.  It breaks my heart when adults get up to share a solo and they start off by saying, “I didn’t know what to sing, and this song came to me this morning in the shower.”  What a terrible attitude for anyone to admit and an awful message to send to kids.  Children, in contrast, take the part they play in worship seriously and will work for months in order to participate.  That kind of commitment will raise the bar for adults as they contemplate their part in the service.

Another delightful benefit of including children in worship leadership is that it leads to numerical and spiritual growth.  Grandparents who have not attended church in years have been known to start coming because their grandchildren were regularly part of the worship leadership.  That led to those grandparents offering their hearts to the Lord and families being changed.  School teachers invited to see one of their students in a musical led to devoted and hungry disciples of Christ.  Children have monstrous influence over what adults do, and are anxious to share what they are doing in worship with the special people in their lives.  The inhibition of asking someone to join you at church, which seems to be part of getting older, isn’t yet present in kids.  They are anxious to invite others to anything that is exciting to them, and leading worship is just that.  When was the last time you really sensed that an adult was excited about leading worship?  Oh, yes, a little child WILL lead them.

As the children get more and more involved in worship, it will benefit your local children’s ministry efforts in unexpected ways.  The adults who make decisions at the church will have a more positive attitude about other things that are going on with the kids.  They will be more likely to allocate funds and lend their support and encouragement because they witness something powerful going on.

In a smaller church, pastors are often not as hesitant to give children that initial opportunity to lead in worship and maybe that’s because there’s a common atmosphere that “we’re all family here.”  Those opportunities lead to lifelong commitment to worship leadership and accepting the call into full-time ministry.  What pastor wouldn’t love to look back in retirement and know that he was part of that?

There are some key elements to keep in mind, though, which keep children’s leadership from having a “show and tell” performance characteristic and move it toward actually getting all ages to focus their hearts and minds on worshipping God.

First of all, monitor the vocabulary you use.  Drop the wordsperformanceshowrecital, and act from anything you might say to the children when referring to the part they will play in the worship service.  It is critical to teach a humble attitude of offering yourself to the Lord, an attitude that is expected of anyone who leads in worship.  This attitude has to be the focal point of everything you do with the kids as they prepare.  If the children approach what they are doing in the worship service the same as they would be for their part in a PTA program, then there’s no reason to do it.  It might as well be a school play.  Their mindset must be to bring God glory, not to get any kind of applause themselves.  Waving to parents and bowing for applause have no place, because they don’t fit into the purpose of pointing others to God.

By watching adults, children may get locked into thinking that leading worship means singing.  Singing is a great way, but kids can introduce adults to other ways.  Individually or in small groups, kids can share memorized passages of scripture, be included on the worship team, share an offertory on the instrument they play, learn sign language to a song, ring bells, be included in a skit, or make a video representing the theme of the service.  You might just find the adults swiping a few ideas for themselves.

Leading in worship is the perfect place to teach children to serve the Lord with excellence.  God deserves the best we have to give.  He doesn’t ask us to be perfect, but He does ask for our best.  We can do that by being totally prepared.  As the children work toward the day when they will share in worship, help them understand that if they’re not completely ready, then their part will have to take place at a later time.  Our serving should never be half-hearted or make do.  It’s not uncommon for children to work for months preparing for one service.  What a great example!

If you’re in a small or medium-size church and are wondering what kind of impact children’s ministry could have on your congregation and community, make one of your first steps to find ways that kids can share in worship.  Be ready for a transformation because your church will love it!

Tina HouserTina is the copy editor for K! Magazine and the publications director for KidzMatter. Most weekends find her traveling around the country, because she absolutely loves being able to train volunteers and professionals who have a heart for seeing kids become disciples of Jesus. In addition, she has written 9 books, including her latest called Secret Weapon, which includes 75 ways to engage kids in prayer. She and her husband now live in Woodstock, GA where they enjoy their preschool grandtwins. Check out her speaking schedule and books at tinahouser.net.  visit Tina at www.tinahouser.net

Impactos: 3

Equipping Children to Navigate the Bible

Equipping Children to Navigate the Bible

by Greg Baird
Equipping Children to Navigate the Bible
Teaching Bible literacy skills should be an integral part of our children’s ministry.

 

Guest Post by Vanessa Small

As our Sword, God’s Word is a tool we must teach children to use effectively in order to live the kind of life God desires for His followers. Teaching Bible literacy skills should be an integral part of our children’s ministry in order to equip children for life today and to lay a firm foundation for their future.

As children progress through elementary school, they are excited to put the new skills they are learning into practice. This is the perfect time to help instill a love for the Word in children as you integrate Bible navigation skills in your teaching and ministry.

Locating passages in the Bible is an essential skill our children must learn. In order to locate verses and passages, children must be familiar with the divisions of the Bible. When we see a reference such as John 3:16, we recognize that this refers to verse 16 found in chapter three of the book of John. However, many children do not understand how to interpret a Bible reference. Some think that the numbers refer to a page number on which they will find the verse. They are confused when they do not find it there.

When teaching Bible literacy skills to children, we must teach them about book, chapter, and verse divisions.

  • Demonstrate how to look up a verse in the Bible.
  • Talk through each step as you locate the book, chapter, and specific verse.
  • Direct children to the table of contents at the front of their Bibles.
  • Help them understand the breakdown of chapters and verses within a book.
  • Be sure to use child-friendly language when explaining these concepts (the “big” numbers tell us the chapter and the “little” numbers underneath tell us the verse).

After modeling the step-by-step process, give children time to practice finding certain books of the Bible and locating specific chapters and verses. During a Bible lesson, allow children time to find the passage(s) or verse(s) to which you are referring. Allowing children to engage in this process of discovery is a vital step in becoming Bible navigators.

As you are teaching these skills, continually underscore the importance of reading God’s Word. Help children understand what a special Book the Bible truly is. As you walk with children through the Bible, you will help to equip them with the skills needed to navigate their own Bibles, so that they will be kids of the Word. Over time, you will be excited to see the children digging into the truth for themselves. Encourage their efforts, and you will help to instill a love and hunger for God’s Word in children so that they will want to feed on it throughout their lives.

What have you found effective when helping children learn to navigate the Bible?

Greg BairdGreg is a Children’s Ministry veteran with over 20 years ministry experience. Greg has had the privilege of serving in four San Diego area churches, including under the leadership of both John Maxwell and David Jeremiah. He continues to fulfill his life calling through the ministry of Kidmin360, offering an experienced voice in equipping and connecting Children’s Ministry leaders around the country and around the world.  visit Greg at kidmin360.com

Impactos: 5

Teaching Kids Journaling

Teaching Kids Journaling

by Tina Houser
 

 
 
Teaching Kids Journaling
Tina Houser offers specific help in getting kids to “write it down.”

 

In recent years, school systems have put a huge emphasis on kids participating in regular journaling exercises. This is a great plus for the community of faith as we encourage kids to make spiritual journaling part of their personal disciplines. Just as individuals have preferences on hairstyles, clothing styles, the sports they play, and a plethora of other partialities they have, the actual form that journaling takes is specific to the person doing it.

First of all, let’s just clarify what journaling, as a spiritual discipline, is. Journaling is when a person makes a record of something. That’s where the similarities end, because from there, what is recorded, how it’s recorded, and how much is recorded reflects the journaler’s personality, spiritual maturity, and pathway strengths they prefer to use in processing information.

The Bible is a collection of journaling. The Letters of Paul are full of descriptions of what is going on, his thoughts, and how he thinks certain issues should be resolved. David gives us insight into his personal spiritual journal through the Psalms—a poetic and musical journal. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John journal about many of the events they all witnessed, but each one gives us a different view because they journal from a personal perspective. Much of the Bible can be viewed as God’s inspired Word being passed through the journals of these faithful followers.

Although I want to address intentionally equipping children to participate in spiritual journaling, the principles are just as relevant for teenagers and adults. So if you’re not journaling, before you encourage your kids to start, try out some of the ideas and approaches yourself. There is great value in journaling…not only for today but for tomorrow and for years down the road. Spiritual journaling:

  • Helps to give clarity. When you’re having a difficult time understanding a concept or a Scripture, writing down your random thoughts and then reviewing what you’ve written can be very insightful. It’s like rotating a piece of a puzzle and when you hold it a certain way, you see where it fits all of a sudden. In times of confusion, journaling can be the instrument that helps you sort out what questions you actually need to ask. What’s not making sense? Where do I get lost?
  • Provides a safe place. There’s no ridicule or wrong in journaling. The words penned there come from the heart. They may be very raw feelings, but they represent personal truth. It should be understood that journaling is private, and it’s something that adults should respect. Unless a child offers to share what’s written there, the privacy of their journaling should be guarded. When I journaled along with a group of kids, we regularly held each other accountable. Each time we met, I also gave them a chance to share something they had journaled. At first, very few of them read from what they had written, but after awhile, they really enjoyed sharing entries, especially those that were evidence of how they had worked through a particular issue. They recognized how God was working in their lives and were very comfortable sharing those journal entries.
  • Is a storehouse for years to come. One of the most valuable aspects of journaling is being able to look back. A journal is a record of spiritual growth. Through the comments and perspectives shared there, years later a child will be able to celebrate and embrace the journey that God has taken him on. It’s so rewarding to read about a spiritual struggle and then read months later how God has taken that incident and catapulted your spiritual understanding. That’s why it’s really important to date each entry in your journal. Without the words penned in the journal, it’s easy to miss out on recognizing where the spiritual journey has actually taken you.
  • Helps you meditate on God’s Word. Psalms 1:2 reminds us, “…his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he mediates day and night.” I think we all agree that it’s a good thing to stop, get quiet, and just ponder what God’s Word has to say…not so easy for kids many times, though. Journaling can help kids, especially those who have a difficult time quieting their spirits, so they can meditate on Scripture. As they contemplate what to write, their minds are stretching and reaching for thoughts that are deeper than surface, off-the-cuff, “church-y” answers.
  • Fine-tunes our spiritual sight. When we look for God at work in the world around us, we see Him. When a child knows that they will be journaling, things that would normally go unnoticed are now God-sightings. Recognizing God moving in situations and lives that are near to the child is a source of spiritual strength and growth. Too often, they don’t tap into that source of strength simply because they don’t notice. Journaling is a vehicle whereby kids pay attention and notice.
  • Articulates understanding and insights. Saying you understand something and being able to articulate it in the written word are two completely different things. Wrestling with words…just the right word…to say what it is that I’m actually thinking is mental exercise. But, as the words get rearranged and are handpicked as a description, understanding of Scripture or something God is trying to teach a child comes into clearer view. Writing it down seems to help it make sense.
  • Is an expression of emotion. Journaling is a way for kids to vent their feelings to the Lord Himself. Understanding that what is written on the pages is between the child and God and that God is big enough to handle any emotions that He created in us can be a powerful tool for kids to have access to. Being able to express themselves, which may mean emotions that they’re not proud of or feel like others would disqualify, very often gives them a handle on the emotions that seem so out of control. Many emotions function purely as a way of saying, “I want and need to be heard,” and journaling can satisfy that need.

In school, kids are usually given a prompt and given ten minutes to write whatever they think about that pertains to that prompt. It could be a sentence starter, and the child goes on to write a short story from there. Or it might be an old adage, like “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” that the child has to free-write about. A spiritual journal is similar in that you’re writing whatever you can mine from your brain, but the focus is different. It’s important that the child keep in mind that there is a purpose to their spiritual journaling, and that purpose is to keep them on their spiritual journey with God.

I’d like to suggest a variety of forms that spiritual journaling can take. Just like anything else you do all the time, if it’s always the same, you tend to lose interest. If you jog every day, changing your route can make a big difference on how quickly the time passes and what you notice on the way. If you like to read, there’s something special about the first day that’s warm enough for you to sit on the patio, enjoying the sunshine, while you crack open a new book. You can change up journaling by doing a few simple things.

Provide different kinds of notebooks and writing utensils for the child to use. Kids who have a high word smart intelligence naturally love to play with words. But one of the things that bring them additional joy when they write is being able to use a variety of papers and pens/markers/colored pencils. So in August, when the stores are full of school supplies, purchase a few extra special writing elements that you can randomly present to the kids. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the boost this gives their journaling discipline.

Let the kids decorate and personalize the cover of their journal. The traditional college composition books (you know, the black and white books full of lined pages for your essay questions) make great journals for a couple of reasons. Right before school starts, you can usually purchase them for 25¢…that’s a winner! And, the covers are sturdy enough that you can cover them with sticky paper or glue pictures on them without them disintegrating.

Encourage short-term types of journaling. Do a certain type of journaling for one month, then change. This gives the kids an opportunity to experiment with and find the type of journaling that is most beneficial to their personal spiritual growth. Some of these short-term journaling experiences are:

  • Book of the Bible. The child will concentrate on reading one book of the Bible. Each day they will respond in their journal to what part of that particular book they read. It may be that during the month that they’ll actually get through the book of the Bible more than once, which will reveal new insights in their second time through.
  • God-sightings. Every day the child will think about how they saw God working in the people or the situations around them.
  • Prayer. The kids will write their prayers and write about how they see God answering prayer. Encourage them to write to God about their relationship with Him, rather than listing the things they want God to tend to.
  • “I learned today…” This is one of my favorite things to journal. Every day, I am aware that God is teaching me something. I’m also learning something new every day. Recognizing that I’m learning about God each day is an exciting thing to write about (and it keeps me from feeling too old.)
  • Random Scripture. Take one verse. Read it and respond. Read it again and respond again. These verses don’t have to be connected.
  • Spiritual theme. Show the child how to use the concordance at the back of his or her Bible. Choose one topic and then read one of the verses listed under that topic each day. Respond to that verse.
  • Prompts. When you present the child with a blank journal, already have a question written on each page. Make it something fairly general that will allow them to write in a variety of directions.
  • Seasonal. Journal during the summer, Christmas, or Easter. There are special insights that can come through concentrating on what these special seasons mean in a child’s life.
  • Online journaling. Some sites, like YouVersion, have places on their Bible Web sites to keep a personal journal. What a fun way to change things up!
  • Sketch. Younger children who cannot write fluently may want to sketch their journals. Or once a week, a child can express themselves in their written journal by sketching what they are thinking about.
  • Verbal Journal. Some children are so uncomfortable with writing that journaling is more of a negative experience than a positive one. There are some options for these kids. Voice-activated journaling is now possible through electronic devices. Using one of these instruments can give a child who struggles with writing the same experience through sharing verbally.
  • Video. This is a wonderful option for kids who find writing difficult or who are just more verbal. Keeping a video journal can be done in private and has many of the same benefits…if not more. Through video, you can also see yourself, your body language, and you can talk faster than you could actually write down the thoughts.

Journaling can be great fun while helping kids grow closer to the Lord. Some kids will latch onto this spiritual discipline with excitement and others will shy away. Your responsibility is to introduce the possibilities and encourage your kids to find ways that help them connect to the One who created them. Journaling is definitely one of those great tools that they need to know about!

 

 
 
Tina HouserAfter 32 incredible years in children’s ministry within the local church, Tina is now the publications director for KidzMatter. Her primary responsibilities are to oversee the content of K! Magazine and to develop the totally downloadable year-round elementary kids’ church curriculum called The Kitchen. She absolutely loves being able to train volunteers and professionals who have a heart for seeing kids become disciples of Jesus, whether that is through writing curriculum, writing her 8 idea books, or being able to speak at conferences. Tina is married to the love of her life, Ray, and loves visiting her grandtwins, Bowen and Kendall, in Atlanta. Tina Houser has written a book called Easter-rific! which touches on 19 of the stories that occur during Holy Week. Included in the book are activities, games, science experiments, storytelling techniques, object lessons, crafts, and snacks. To order your copy, call 765.271.7055 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 765.271.7055 end_of_the_skype_highlighting ($15 + $3 S&H). visit Tina at www.tinahouser.net

Impactos: 0

What You Need to Be a Children’s Pastor

What You Need to Be a Children’s Pastor

by Sam Luce
 
 
What You Need to Be a Children's Pastor
What kind of person can run a children’s ministry well? Sam Luce gives great insight.

 

Of all the teens, young adults and especially those in Bible college I have asked what they want to do in the ministry, almost all say youth pastor. I don’t say this in a bitter way at all, because I was one of those who said the same thing: “I want to be a youth pastor.”

At age 13 I had a dramatic experience and knew that God was calling me to full time ministry. I went to four years of Bible college and took classes to prepare for youth ministry. I did a youth pastor internship for a summer in the church I currently serve as a children’s pastor.

My pastor approached me at bible college and asked me to work full time at the church with the youth. I moved out to Utica right out of Bible college. I arrived in Utica and helped my friend Mike Servello start the youth group. I was here for about a month when one of the pastors sat me down and explained to me that I was now in charge of all the kids’ ministries.

Honestly I was devastated. I felt I was called to work with youth. I just moved across the country. I prayed and asked God if this is what you want me to do, then you have to give me a passion for it. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen. I now feel so passionately about kids ministry that, given a choice, I will always choose kids ministry.

To be a children’s pastor you need the following:

1. Passion for God
2. Need to be very administrative. You can’t be a children’s pastor without some level of administrative ability.
3. You must be more kingdom-minded than department-minded.
4. You have to realize that what you do may not be seen by man and be genuinely OK with that.
5. You have to know how to recognize the gifts that people have and know how to implement them.
6. You have to know how to reproduce yourself in others.
7. You need to be able to communicate truth and vision to adult and kids in a simple manner.
8. You need to work well with the youth pastor. I love our youth pastor. He loves God, so do I and loves Guess Again. So do I.
9. You need to have ADD…well, that may not be a requirement, but it does help, and most children’s pastors I know have a touch of ADD if they were really honest.

Let me know what I am missing.

 

 
 
 
Sam LuceSam Luce has been the children’s pastor at Redeemer Church for over 13 years. A prolific blogger and popular children’s conference speaker, Sam has worked in children’s ministry for over 23 years and is also a contributing editor to K! magazine.  visit Sam at www.samluce.com

Impactos: 1

Teaching Violent Bible Stories

Teaching Violent Bible Stories

by David Wakerley
 
 
Teaching Violent Bible Stories
Should we teach kids the ultra-violent stories of the Bible? David Wakerley gives his opinion.

 

It’s time.

Time for something serious.

I don’t do too many posts like this, but I hope this opens up some serious discussion in the comments, because controversy is what gets lots of comments in the blog world, and I am unlikely to write something truly controversial like…suggesting that we produce a VBS based on the Twilight series of books.

So we are in the middle of creating our next children’s ministry curriculumHillsong Kids Big: Supernatural. I have been writing scripts like a madman, and one of the weeks includes the story of Jericho. I send the scripts off for a little theology inspection (as usual) to one of our lecturers in our Bible College, Duncan Corby…it comes back pretty good, a few tweaks here and there, but I haven’t yet become a heretic. Yay.

But we start a discussion about something I hadn’t really expected. Here is the question:

Should we be teaching/telling our kids the ultra-violent stories found in the Old Testament?

When you get to the end of Joshua’s army walking around Jericho, the walls have fallen, they then proceed to kill every single man, woman, and child in the city and burn it to the ground. This is all apparently sanctioned and encouraged by God (rinse and repeat for many other OT stories).

Now he was really thinking out loud and not endorsing the idea, but I need to (even if for my own sake) investigate this idea.

Let me present two perspectives as precisely as I can, because I don’t want this to be an essay.

YES: We should be teaching the whole counsel of God, and we can teach these stories in an age appropriate way. As children grow in understanding, they can then begin to explore these issues further. We have to present the Bible as a narrative, the story of God dealing with his people over thousands of years so that our children grasp the big picture of faith. After all, the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.

NO: Exposing our kids to these stories has aided in creating our violent culture. Where Christians quite happily support capital punishment and can justify war in a heartbeat. In much the same way that it is said that Jewish young men would not be allowed to read the Song of Songs until they were 30 years old, our kids should focus on the life of Jesus, who was a non-violent figure, until they are able to reconcile a jealous God in their hearts and minds.

I would love for you to post a pro/con thought in the comments, keep it short, focused, and don’t try to present dozens of ideas in one go. Especially if you can point me in the direction of some resources/books that cover this thought.

 

 
 
 
David WakerleyDavid Wakerley is a respected children’s ministry thought-leader and frequent conference speaker on the topic. David and his wife Beci serve as children’s pastors in Sydney, Australia and founded the popular KidInspiration blog. Both of them have a passion to see children’s ministries around the world flourish and thrive.  visit David at www.DavidWakerley.com

Impactos: 3

Developing Preschooler Hygiene Policies

Developing Preschooler Hygiene Policies

by Suzanne Arguello
 
 
Developing Preschooler Hygiene Policies
Good hygiene helps preschoolers have happy, healthy experiences at church.

 

Here are some steps to creating successful hygiene policies that are as easy as A-B-C.

All members of the preschool team must agree to follow the hygiene policies in order for them to work. Before you begin distributing new policies:

  • Alert church members to potential health and safety issues in preschool.
  • Arrange for a “town meeting” where parents and teachers from every preschool ministry can voice concerns and express their ideas. Ask health professionals (doctors, nurses, and/or public health specialists) from your church or community to be on hand at the meeting to answer questions.
  • Accept nominations of parents, preschool ministry teachers, a church leader, and a health professional to draft the hygiene policies or at least serve as an advisory board regarding current best practices in children’s health and safety.
  • Arrange for a system of accountability to be sure that every teacher and children’s worker knows, understands, and follows the hygiene policies in place.

Benefits of sound hygiene policies extend to everyone. Church is a hugging, kissing, hand-shaking kind of place. Ministries may be organized by age, gender, language, or marital status, but germs know no boundaries. Broadcast your church’s commitment and strategies for creating a healthy environment through:

  • Banners in classrooms reminding teachers of hygiene procedures, such as sanitizing toys, equipment, and diapering areas.
  • Bulletin boards prominently situated near classroom doors which advise parents of preschool health issues (chicken pox in the fours department or pink-eye among the toddlers), remind parents of the recommended childhood immunization schedule, list the hygiene policies, and perhaps even alert parents to toy and equipment recalls.
  • Brightly colored brochures detailing what the preschool ministries must do when a child gets sick at church, including rules about notifying the State Department of Health of certain diseases and reminding parents when to keep their ailing children home.

Cleanliness is next to healthiness, if not godliness, so for the sake of the entire church body:

  • Call every person to “a ministry of hand washing” since washing hands frequently and thoroughly is the easiest and best way to reduce the spread of germs.
  • Continue to emphasize good, consistent hygiene practices throughout preschool.
  • Consider the time and effort spent caring for children’s health and safety to be a ministry to them and an act of worship toward our Lord.

Instituting sound hygiene policies and procedures is a good place to start. However, policies are only effective in so far as people are willing to adhere to them. Here are some suggestions to consider as you develop a hygiene policy for your church.

Washing Hands – When?

  • After changing a diaper and removing disposable gloves
  • After assisting a child with toileting
  • After wiping a child’s nose or mouth
  • Before feeding a baby or serving snacks
  • Before and after attending to a cut or other injury
  • After handling pets or other animals

Washing Hands – How?

  • Use mild liquid antibacterial soap and warm water.
  • Scrub hands vigorously for 10-15 seconds.
  • Wash all surfaces, including backs of hands, between fingers, and under fingernails.
  • Rinse well.
  • To disinfect, dip hands in a diluted bleach solution.
  • Rinse hands.
  • Dry hands with a disposable paper towel.

Helping Preschoolers Develop Good Hygiene Habits

  • Provide antibacterial soap and paper towels for preschoolers to use after toileting.
  • For twos who are wearing diapers, encourage hand washing after diapering.
  • Encourage hand washing after inside and outside activities, before snacks, and before food-tasting experiences.
  • Guide preschoolers to wash hands after blowing nose or sneezing.

Hygiene Without a Water Source

  • Use spray bottle or pan filled with soapy water, a spray bottle or pan filled with clear rinse water, and a dishpan for washing hands.
  • If pans of water are used, change water frequently (at least twice during a three-hour period).
  • Place paper towels and wastebasket nearby.

Disinfectant Bleach Solution Recipe

  • Mix ¼ cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water (or 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 quart water).
  • Prepare fresh solution daily (or for each session). If there is no chlorine smell, a new solution should be prepared, even if the solution was prepared fresh.
  • Solution is not toxic if accidentally ingested. However, since solution is mildly corrosive, caution should be exercised when handling it.

Changing a Diaper

  • Diaper babies in their cribs.
  • Diaper ones and twos on a non-porous surface (such as a vinyl mat).
  • Put on disposable gloves.
  • Place waxed paper on top of clean diaper and slide both under child.
  • Roll soiled/wet diaper and used moist towelettes into waxed paper.
  • Fasten clean diaper securely.
  • Place waxed paper and diaper in palm of one hand. With other hand, pull disposable glove over diaper. Place glove with diaper in gloved hand. Pull other glove over other end of diaper. (This process seals diaper inside gloves.)
  • Wipe surface with bleach solution or change crib sheet if it has been soiled.
  • Wash hands. Also wash child’s hands.

Cleaning Teaching Materials/Furnishings

  • Before the session for babies and ones, fill three basins:
    1. soapy, warm water
    2. disinfecting solution (bleach solution)
    3. clear rinse water (or use running water)
  • Wash each toy and other teaching item used during the session, first with soapy water, then disinfecting solution, then rinse.
  • Set aside teaching materials on a towel or dish drainer to air dry.
  • For twos through kindergartners, wash teaching materials according to frequency of room use.
  • Regularly wash dress-up clothes, tablecloths, or other cloth items. Wipe table after each session with bleach solution.
  • Clean shelves and other furnishings according to frequency of room use and as needed.

Cleaning a Crib

  • Remove the crib sheet and all teaching materials.
  • Clean bed with soapy water, disinfecting solution, and clear rinse.
  • Clean all sides of mattress and rails.
  • Wipe rails dry with disposable towel.
  • Let mattress air dry.

Cleaning Walls and Floors

  • Clean door and door knobs regularly with mild bleach solution.
  • Clean walls and floors as needed. Consider using mild bleach solution on floors and walls.
  • If carpet is a floor cover, use a nontoxic, deep-cleaning process regularly.

Cleaning Contaminated Surfaces (spills of body fluids)

  • Use disposable gloves when cleaning contaminated surfaces.
  • Clean surfaces/toys when spills from urine, feces, blood, saliva, nasal discharge occur and when injury or tissue discharge occurs.
  • Wipe surfaces/toys with disinfecting solution (bleach solution).
  • Rinse with clear water. Allow to air dry.
  • Wash hands immediately after disposing of gloves. 
 
Suzanne Arguello teaches preschoolers at Desert Springs Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. visit Suzanne at lifeway.com

Impactos: 3

Leadership: Focusing on the Who

Leadership: Focusing on the Who

by Dan Scott

 

 
 
Leadership: Focusing on the Who
Dan Scott: “Don’t think of parents as your customers. They are your partners.”

 

Dan ScottIn staff meeting on Monday, Reggie was sharing some stories that he heard while on the Orange Tour. Some of the stories were precious: kids who are connecting with God through the curriculum. Others were heartbreaking: leaders struggling with a lack of support, illness, or personal trials. In the midst of sharing these stories, Reggie made this comment:

“We’re not just working with churches. We’re partnering with real people facing real issues and pain and struggles.”

The goal of any ministry endeavor whether it be in the church or through a para-church organization is not about furthering your personal agenda or strategy. That’s fine that you have one and want people to “get it”, but that can’t be at the expense of the people in your sphere of care.

They need to come first. If they don’t, we’re missing the point of ministry.

Take time to call your leaders and families. Actually listen to what they’re telling you. Celebrate what God is doing or offer a heart-felt encouraging word. Don’t necessarily try to solve any problem that arises; listen and be a shoulder they can lean on.

Don’t think of parents as your customers. They are your partners. Work to get on the same page in order to be more effective in sharing faith with kids.

Meet families where they are. Don’t make unrealistic expectations of them. Push them for sure, but don’t make them feel guilty for needing to tread slowly into this thing called parenting.

When you’re talking to other leaders, don’t make the conversation about numbers and initiatives. You can cover those, but focus your time together on stories that share both your passion for ministry and the struggles you’re facing as you move forward. Be real and respect each other as fellow ministers of God’s truth.

Those are just a few ideas. I’d love to hear from you. How do you focus on the who not just the what of ministry? Share your ideas below!

 

Dan Scott serves as the elementary director at Ada Bible Church, which is outside of Grand Rapids, MI. He establishes the vision for programming including curriculum, volunteer care, and environment. Dan enjoys sharing ideas and encouragement from his life and ministry. He has a busy speaking and writing schedule and was recently named one of Children’s Ministry Magazines’ 20 leaders to watch. Dan and his wife Jenna have four kids: Liam, Ellison, Addison, and Taye. visit Dan at danscottblog.com

Impactos: 3

When Families Fall Apart

When Families Fall Apart

She’s always been such a bright, happy child,” the teacher said to me. “Always listening intently and taking part in everything we do. But lately, she’s been withdrawn and participates only rarely. I thought maybe she was just going through a phase. Then today, in the middle of the Bible story, she climbed into my lap, turned her face up to mine and said, ‘My daddy went away.’ Her eyes were so sad; I didn’t know what to do! So I just held her. Can you tell me what’s going on in her family?”

I didn’t know, but I told her I’d find out. Several days later, I discovered that her parents had separated a few weeks earlier and were now in the process of a divorce.

I have to admit I was a bit shaken by this experience. It was the first time I’d encountered such a dramatic change of behavior in a child due to what was happening in her family. That was many years ago, and in those days, I didn’t know what to do for children in that situation. So I told the teacher to give her a little extra love.

It wasn’t until years later that the issue surfaced again. In a new children’s ministry position, I encountered more out-of-control behavior than I’d seen in all the years at my other church. As I became better acquainted with the families in the church, I discovered most of the problems could be directly traced to what was happening within each child’s family. We had children whose parents were separated, divorced, or remarried. We had children being raised by their grandparents, children in foster care, and those living with an alcoholic or addicted parent.

What bothered me most was that it was so difficult to connect with these kids! They weren’t interested in Bible stories, children’s choir, or Wednesday night clubs. Their disruptive behavior made it difficult for teachers to bond with them. On the other hand, those who were quiet and withdrawn were easily overlooked. I have to admit that, in those early days, I had absolutely no idea what to do. I found precious few resources to help, so figuring out what to do became the focus of my ministry. Today, fortunately, we know a lot more about reaching children who live in these kinds of family situations.

WHY They Can’t Connect

For children, family is the center of their world and the source of their security. When the family is in crisis, disrupted, or in any way different from what the children desire, they have difficulty connecting in church settings for the following reasons.

They’re in a great deal of pain. In any disrupted family, the children are always the innocent—and often overlooked—victims. They’re dealing with difficult life circumstances which they didn’t want or ask for! Consequently, they feel powerless over their circumstances. They experience intense feelings, such a grief, anger, betrayal, and guilt—just to name a few. These overwhelming feelings are frightening to children who aren’t yet emotionally ready to cope with them. Children express these feelings through aggression (acting out) or depression (withdrawal).

All these factors are in play as children sit in Sunday school classes. Is it any wonder it’s hard for them to connect with what’s happening in class? It’s hard to care about the kings of Israel when you’re not sure where you’re going to live or who’s going to pay the bills now that Dad has left the family. It’s hard to sing praises to God when you can’t understand why he didn’t answer the one prayer you wanted answered more than anything else in the world—that your mom would stop using drugs so you could all live together as a family again. It’s hard to care about witnessing to your friends when you can’t understand why your dad abandoned you to marry a stranger and he expects you to like living with her and her kids!

• They don’t trust easily. Children’s life circumstances form a filter through which they evaluate every other part of their lives. For instance, when parents divorce, children feel betrayed and that pain of betrayal seriously affects their ability to trust. But that’s seldom the end of the story. In most cases the child’s parents begin dating again and the children are exposed to new adult relationships—only to possibly have those relationships come to an end, too. How many times does it take before a child says, “No more! I’m not going to trust anyone again; it’s too painful”? This subconscious conclusion is common in children who’ve been wounded by the trusted adults in their lives and becomes a filter of distrust for every other adult relationship. This is a huge issue for us in children’s ministry—building trust with children who’ve been hurt by the adults in their lives.

They filter faith through their life experiences. They evaluate everything we say about God (and other spiritual realities) in terms of their life experiences. Many times in our support groups we hear of children who don’t believe in God anymore or simply have no desire to pray. When questioned why, we discover they’ve drawn conclusions about God based on their life circumstances, such as:

  • God doesn’t take care of my needs.
  • God doesn’t rescue me when I really need it.
  • God is punishing me for all the bad things I do.
  • I’m too little for God to see me (the invisible child).
  • God gives good gifts to everyone—but me.
  • I don’t want anything to do with God (anger response)!
  • I wish God would come and rescue me, but he probably won’t (victim mentality).

Of course, not all children respond to God in this way. Some of them find help and comfort in their relationship with God. But on the whole, we can expect children from families in crisis or transition to be struggling with God and skeptical of the spiritual realities we present.

WHAT Children Need

We must take seriously, and seek to meet, three primary needs of these children.

1. Consistent Relationships—This is the first issue we must address, because if children don’t trust us, they won’t listen or accept anything we say. To provide this, we must do the following.

• Keep classes and groups as small as possible. This is a difficult truth to accept when all of us face the problems of recruiting. However, trust is built as children are known by the adults who work with them. What we need to constantly remember is this: Children are changed by people—not programs! They don’t need bigger and flashier programming; they need teachers who care about them and will be there each week to lovingly greet them when they walk through the door.

• Model the positive qualities of God. This is the most important thing we do for children who have, or might be, disconnected from God because of their life circumstances. When we’re consistently present, unconditionally accepting, attentive, affirming, and reliable, we make it possible for children to believe that God could really be all these things we say he is!

• Provide a children’s support group. There are times when children facing painful life circumstances simply need a little more help and attention than we can provide in our regular children’s ministry settings. Children’s support groups integrate wonderfully with the ongoing children’s ministry programs and have proven to be highly effective. And they aren’t as difficult to run as it may sound. Excellent curriculum and training is now available. If you’re interested in this kind of programming, contact Confident Kids at www.confidentkids.com or call (805) 614-2824 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (805) 614-2824 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

2. Lots of Boundaries and Structure—In divorce situations, stepfamilies, and other nontraditional family settings, the lack of clear and consistent boundaries is a huge problem. Therefore, it’s a great source of relief to be in a class with clear boundaries, enforced consistently by the adults. To provide this, we must:

• Post class rules. This helps children know exactly what behavior is expected of them. Include the consequences for breaking rules (timeouts work well). Five rules are plenty.

• Consistently enforce rules. Apply the consequences as needed. This is crucial! Children will feel safe only when they know the rules will be enforced by the adults in the room.

• Provide lots of structure. Overplan your lesson, and engage the kids as soon as they arrive. Then keep them involved the entire time. Give special attention to transition times. The most vulnerable time for losing control of the class is when the teacher isn’t prepared.

3. A Safe Place—These children need an accepting place where they can talk about what’s real. Encourage them to talk about the realities of their lives with opportunities, such as:

• Prayer—Many times, children will share their deepest concerns at prayer time. Keep a prayer journal for your class to write all the requests. Use the prayer journal to pray for kids during the week, and then record what God is doing in the journal as kids report answers.

• Real Talk—Many children in nontraditional families have no place where they can talk about what’s happening in their lives. Consequently, they hold it all inside, where it continues to dominate their thoughts and emotions, and makes it hard to concentrate on what’s happening in the class. Many children aren’t thinking about what we’re saying because we’re not saying what they’re thinking about!

• Good Organization—Do your forms collect the information you need? For example, in divorce situations, the child has two parents who live separately. Sometimes, the parent the child lives with is not the one involved in your church. Consequently, when you send mailings just to the child’s mailing address, it never reaches the parent who needs to see it.

Forms should also clarify the identity of the person bringing the child. Is it a parent, stepparent, grandparent, or foster parent? Is the last name the same as or different from the child’s? Does the adult have the legal authority to give permission for off-campus activities? Are there any restraining orders against adults who may show up at church trying to gain access to the child? All these pieces of information are necessary for your children’s ministry to minister effectively to the child and family and to keep your church safe from legal problems.

The realities of divorce, stepfamily life, living in foster homes, coping with addicted parents—and a host of other subjects—need to be acceptable subjects for children to address in our ministries. It’s in the context of these discussions that we may find our best opportunities to talk about spiritual things.

Linda Kondracki Sibley is the founder of Confident Kids Support Groups (www.confidentkids.com).

Impactos: 3