Andrew Hudson joins the podcast to discuss how to build your team around you.
At the risk of sounding cliché, preschool ministry looks different than it did before COVID-19 became a household term. One of those differences is how preschoolers gather for Bible study and worship.
Some preschoolers are attending church in person. However, many preschool parents are reluctant to leave their children in a classroom at church. They may either stay home, or keep their preschoolers with them at church. That leads us to explore how to teach preschoolers the Bible effectively whether they come to the church building or not.
At my church, preschoolers only recently commenced gathering with other kids at church. When COVID-19 first hit, we began doing preschool Sunday School online every Sunday morning. After preschoolers started coming back to the church building on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, we decided to keep meeting virtually for Sunday School.
Here are six tips we’ve learned about teaching preschoolers virtually that may help you and your church as you reach preschool families that are not ready to return to church:
- Brevity is a virtue. Limit each week’s online session to less than 30 minutes, or you’ll find yourself talking to an empty room on the other side of your computer screen. Remember, you control the time online. Develop a simple teaching outline that includes games, songs, prayer, and a Bible story.
- Interaction is helpful. If you think preschoolers have short attention spans at church, just try to keep them engaged through a computer screen! Play games and sing songs with motions to keep preschoolers focused on the learning experience.
- Printed materials are useful. Even though you may choose to use presentation software to show posters and pictures, be sure to let the preschoolers see you holding a physical Bible. Also, change up your routine sometimes and hold up a physical teaching picture or Bible verse poster instead of relying on a presentation slide. In addition, follow up each virtual session by mailing a hardcopy of the weekly take-home page.
- Relationships are valuable. Make the experience personal and recognize each child by name. Also, encourage other preschool teachers to hop on the computer. Kids like seeing their teachers, even virtually. For an extra bonus, invite your pastor to make an appearance from time to time.
- Flexibility is needed. In order to reach as many preschoolers as possible, adopt a hybrid teaching model. Include both virtual and in-person teaching times every week.
- Breaks are okay. The business world has taught us during this pandemic season that we can experience virtual meeting fatigue. To prevent burnout, take a break occasionally and let someone else lead the virtual teaching experience. Not only will you get a break, but you’ll be equipping volunteers for ministry.
How long should your preschool ministry continue to meet virtually, even after preschoolers start coming to church physically? That depends on the context of your church and community. I suggest we keep meeting virtually until all preschool parents feel comfortable leaving their children in a preschool room. A free resource that may help you navigate how to minister to and teach preschoolers regardless of their physical location is LifeWay’s Kids Ministry From Anywhere webpage.
Landry Holmes is the Manager of LifeWay Kids Ongoing Bible Studies and Network Partnerships, Nashville, TN, and is a graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The author of It’s Worth It: Uncovering How One Week Can Transform Your Church and general editor of the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids, Landry is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. He teaches kids at his church in Middle Tennessee, where his wife Janetta is the Preschool Minister. They enjoy spending time with their two adult sons and their wives, and spoiling their grandchildren.
The ETCH Family Ministry Conference is coming soon—October 13–14, 2020—and this year, it’s a completely digital conference. Despite not being able to gather together in person, we’re so excited to be able to gather together with you virtually! ETCH Live will bring the very best of the ETCH directly to your computer or mobile device in an incredibly immersive and engaging experience. Sure, ETCH 2020 will look different than it has in years past. But is there anything about 2020 that isn’t different?
The theme for ETCH Live is REACH! We never guessed that while developing this theme more than a year ago that it would be so timely for 2020. We’ve all had to learn how to reach differently, creatively, and strategically over the past several months.
Now more than ever, we need to reach deeper to find our worth in the gospel—especially when the world seems so uncertain. We need to reach better—in new and different ways—as we seek to serve kids, students, and parents. We need to reach beyond our comfort zones to impact the culture around us. And we need to reach together with our colleagues in ministry, with our church family, and with parents to reach the next generation.
That’s our goal for ETCH Live—to help you Reach Deeper, Reach Better, Reach Beyond, and Reach Together.
ETCH Live will feature inspiring main sessions, practical breakouts, virtual group discussions on timely topics, opportunities for networking with other ministry leaders, live Q&As, a fully stocked online store, and some pretty cool gaming features that will allow you to earn points throughout the event and win prizes.
Make plans now for your entire ministry team (preschool, kids, preteen, middle school, high school, and even leadership) to join us October 13–14, 2020 for ETCH Live.
There are three ticket levels to choose from, General Admission allows each team member full access to the content each day of the event. Premium ticket holders get two weeks to view the main sessions and breakouts. And VIP attendees receive a FULL YEAR of access to the digital library of all of ETCH’s content. Choose the level that works for you. Register today at ETCHConference.com.
Fall is a time that we have new leaders and seasoned leaders serving in our children’s ministry areas. Have you done anything lately to show them how much you appreciate them? This year it may be more important than ever! Check out the simple project below:
Aaron Armstrong joins the podcast to discuss why kids can handle deeper subjects than we give them credit for.
One of the most common questions parents and kids leaders ask is whether or not a kid is ready to be baptized. In this post, three ways to answer this question will be explored.
How do we know when a child is ready to be baptized? This is a difficult question for many parents, kids leaders, and pastors, one that we all want to get right. How we answer this, though, hinges on our doctrine of baptism. If we don’t have a clear view of that doctrine, then this question will be incredibly difficult to answer. But once we determine that doctrine, the right question to ask to determine if a child is ready to be baptized comes into clearer focus.
What follows is three views of baptism—all coming from the presupposition that baptism is not an act of salvation, but rather an act of obedience done by believers. These views, then, are distinguished from each other by the precise role that baptism is understood to play in affirming a person’s salvation. For simplicity, I will call them delayed, quick, and immediate baptisms, defining them by when baptism is best believed to occur. We will interact with them from most complex to least complex.
Question to ask: Has there been any fruit of faith? This view stresses the importance of believer’s baptism and seeks to safeguard it as much as possible. The thinking is that a child does not need to be baptized to be saved, so a delay between a confession of faith (such as raising a hand or walking forward in a worship gathering) is not harmful. However, what is often harmful is when children who have not genuinely placed faith in Jesus are baptized, giving them the false notion that they are good with God.
This understanding of baptism then produces a goal of seeing evidence of salvation in a child before he or she is baptized. The hope is that if the child one day in the future questions his or her salvation, parents and leaders can point to a public confession of faith and evidence of conversion to affirm his or her salvation as best as possible.
The question then becomes what sort of fruit is to be seen and how much fruit is sufficient? The latter question depends on how long the delay between confession of faith and baptism is. The longer the time, the more fruit might be needed. Spiritual maturity generally occurs in ebbs and flows, but over time, marked progress should be seen. The former question usually draws parents and leaders to look for the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) as well as a deeper desire and practice of the spiritual disciplines such as Bible reading and prayer. Some parents and leaders also abstain from talking about baptism during this delayed period to see how much the child mentions it—a possible sign of a true desire to obey God.
Baptism in this view, therefore, is a critical marker in verifying a person’s salvation.
Question to ask: Has there been a confession of faith? Like Delayed Baptism, this view also stresses the importance of protecting believer’s baptism, but it is not as rigid in requiring to see fruit before baptizing. Rather, this view looks for a confession of faith (again, such as raising a hand or walking forward in a worship gathering) which is usually followed by an interview with the child before he or she would be considered for baptism.
During this interview, the goal is to identify an understanding of salvation in a child before he or she is baptized. Generally, the parent, leader, or pastor will seek to hear the child articulate the gospel, without coaching, and also to hear the child’s personal assent to the gospel—an awareness of sin, repentance of sin, recognition of who Jesus is and what He did on the cross, and a decision to trust in Jesus. If the child seems to have an appropriate understanding of the gospel, he or she is baptized soon after.
Baptism in this view, therefore, is an important marker in affirming a person’s salvation.
Question to ask: Has there been a profession of faith? Like Delayed and Quick Baptism, Immediate Baptism also affirms believer’s baptism; however, this view doesn’t see baptism as following a confession of faith, but as that confession of faith. In other words, faith is not confessed in a raised hand or by walking to the front of a worship gathering, but rather in baptism itself. A person professes faith in Christ and confesses that faith in Christ in baptism. The two are tied closely together, more than in the Quick Baptism view and much more than in the Delayed Baptism view.
Proponents of this view would answer a future question of a person’s salvation by pointing him or her to baptism. Baptism is held up as the time when a person took a public stand to associate with Christ and His church. That in itself is evidence of salvation. (This association is seen more clearly in the New Testament when being a follower of Christ was risky, as well as in places of the world today where persecution exists. Being baptized in that context is not taken lightly, adding weight to the act.) Those who hold this view, then, would baptize anyone who professes belief in Jesus and desires to be baptized. A brief interview may occur right before the baptism, or the questions asked of the baptism candidate in the baptism waters just before baptism would serve as such an interview affirming belief in Jesus prior to the baptism.
Baptism in this view, therefore, is an important marker in affirming a person’s profession of faith.
Brian Dembowczyk is the managing editor for The Gospel Project. He served in local church ministry for over 16 years before coming to LifeWay. Brian earned an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his family live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Kimba Campbell joins the podcast to discuss some simple ideas to help do kids ministry from anywhere.
Sometimes I wonder if that’s the response that Adam got from Cain when he asked him throughout his life, “So how was your day, son?” I can almost see in my mind Abraham, at over 100 years old, walking into the tent, laying down his cane, and saying the same thing to Isaac, “So, my boy, my great hope, my promise from God… How was your day?”
The spirit behind the question is good. We care about each other in our families, and one of the ways we do is by engaging each other in discussion. Talking and listening, giving and receiving. The spirit is right, and it’s certainly better than the alternative of not asking any question at all and instead every family member just being absorbed in their own stuff, even when they’re all together.
But even if the spirit is right, perhaps the question is wrong. And there are good reasons to believe this to be true:
1. It’s not specific enough.
“How was your day” is the textbook general question. And general questions generally receive general answers. When we ask a question like this, we are putting the responsibility on our children to volunteer difficult information rather than taking the burden on ourselves to know enough about what’s happening in their lives to ask them about that life in a more specific way. In other words, a specific question is a small way of dying to ourselves.
Instead of the general question, ask about specific relationships. Ask about tests. Ask about what you talked about the previous night. We want to show our kids not only that we care, but that we actually remember. But to do that, we have to listen, and then bring up what’s been talked about before. Which is, in truth, easier said than done, especially since we are already preoccupied with how our own days went. But again, here we have a small opportunity to die to ourselves for the sake of our kids.
2. It’s not hard enough.
“How was your day?” is an easy question. And an easy question asked is an easy question to dismiss. It’s as if both parties in the conversation can, in the span of 15 seconds, check off the daily check-in from their to-do list and get back to the real business of life. A general question, then, requires virtually nothing of either the asker or the answerer.
Engaging with our kids is not easy. It’s hard a multiple levels – hard emotionally as we hear about their pain, hard practically as it takes time and patience, and hard even physically sometimes as those children have trouble expressing themselves. But the hard is not bad. The hard is good, and so is the patience and perseverance that comes from it.
3. It’s not reflective enough.
As parents, and maybe in particularly as a father, we are meant to reflect something more. See, fathers are shadows of a greater Father. God has given us these children not only to protect them, provide for them, and teach them – He has given us these children for us to point them to their true Father. I am, as their dad, a visible portrait of an invisible reality. In other words, both when I do the right thing and when I come up short as a dad, I am but a shadow of who God is. By God’s grace, I pray that our kids might say over and over again when they encounter God is something like this: “It’s like daddy, but better.”
- God loves me like daddy does… only better.
- God provides for me like daddy does… only better.
- God disciplines me like daddy does… only better.
- God takes care of me like daddy does… only better.
Our questions ought to reflect that reality. That in the same way we are commanded to cast all our cares on the Lord – not just the big and significant ones, but all of them – so also should we be specific, attentive, and engaged enough to not just know what those cares are in our families, but to ask about them. In so doing, we are pointing our whole families, but in particular our children, to their greater Father in heaven.
Parents, let’s be diligent in this. Let’s not let ourselves off so easily, but instead press in and press on. It will take time, but as we do simple things like asking better questions we can develop habits. And those habits lead to the kind of culture we want to have in our families.
Michael Kelley lives in Nashville, Tenn., with his wife, Jana, and three children: Joshua, Andi, and Christian. He serves as the Sr. Vice President of Church Ministries for LifeWay Christian Resources. He is the author of Growing Down: Unlearning the Patterns of Adulthood that Keep Us from Jesus, Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal: A Boy, Cancer, and God; Transformational Discipleship; and Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life.
This post originally appeared on michaelkelley.co.
by Kimba Campbell
It was a typical Tuesday morning, and I had already been up since 5:00 a.m. It was my only time alone before the craziness started every day. I squeezed in a quick workout at home and sat with my Bible to savor the quiet. I remember many days reading about 2 verses in my Bible before I heard the tiny footsteps upstairs above me. I would say a quick prayer, and I knew the morning was off and running! Any mom out there knows the drill…breakfast for kids as you try to grab at least a few bites yourself, maybe try to load the dishwasher if there is time, try to squeeze in a quick shower while the kids are busy, etc. Then the never-ending packing of bags for preschool and school. Diapers, snacks, lunch, nap mat—the list goes on and on. I get the kids ready and then remember I forgot to pack myself a lunch as well. My oldest then reminds me that he needs a poster board for school today. The day is spinning as I am running around like my hair is on fire and probably yelled at my kids unintentionally. We managed to get out of the house just in time to drop my oldest at his elementary school. We drove about 15 minutes away to our church where I dropped off my other 2 kids at preschool. I gave a quick hug and kiss while my 2 year old was clinging to my leg crying. He cried every time I would drop him off at preschool at church even though he was at church so often. Insert “Mom Guilt!” Every mom knows what that means and feels like. I would then sprint to my office giving a quick “Hello” to other moms dropping off their kids. I would grab my laptop and notebook and off I went to a ministers’ meeting. As I sat down at the table in our conference room, I just wanted to cry. I loved my job, but I was worn out, exhausted and to be honest I was completely burned out. I had lost my focus on my “why” and just wanted to run away to the beach alone! The balance of mommyhood and ministry is overwhelming!
I managed to make it through the ministers’ meeting without crying as I was surrounded by men on staff. I didn’t want to break down and cry right then. The meeting ended, and then I sat down at my office desk. Although I had sat at this desk many times, God prompted me to look around my office. I saw a framed picture filled with tiny painted fingerprints of kids in my previous church and the child’s names written under each fingerprint. I then saw a picture my son had drawn of our family going to church using popsicle sticks for our bodies. I then looked at my bookshelf and saw my favorite cross hanging on the wall with a note of encouragement from one of my volunteers. God spoke to me right in that moment and reminded me of the calling He placed on my heart many years before that.
I have had many days in ministry since this day that I just wanted to quit! The struggle of balancing everything is overwhelming and exhausting. But…God is there. He gently lifts me up and fills me with His truth. I want to encourage you today. On days when you are struggling and just want to throw in the towel, I want to encourage you with a few truths God has given me.
Remain In Him
John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.”
During difficult days of ministry, we are called to cling to the One who created and called us. We must remember that He is the vine, and we can do nothing without Him. I think God allows these difficult days to remind us that we need to stay connected with Him.
Devote to Prayer
Colossians 4:2-4, “Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains, so that I may make it known as I should.
On days when I just wanted to quit, days that my attitude was nosediving south, were the days that I had neglected to pray. We must devote ourselves to prayer daily and continually.
Don’t Do It Alone
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
God reminds us that we are not created to live alone. God has given us each other. Surround yourself with people who can encourage and pray for you when the days are tough. Ask for help. Asking for help does not show weakness, it shows wisdom.
Remember, What You Do Matters
Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.”
We have the amazing opportunity to impact kids’ lives for eternity! Spend some time today praying, asking God to give you wisdom to lead, strength to keep going, and the will to give your all for His glory. Remember what we do every day really does matter!!
Kimba Campbell serves as the LifeWay Kids Publishing Team Leader for Bible Studies for Life. Before coming to LifeWay, she served on church staff for over 18 years in Texas, Georgia, California and Tennessee. Kimba is a Texas Aggie (Gig ‘Em Aggies!) and also earned a Master of Arts in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Paul, stay busy with their three boys.