Jeff Land joins the podcast to discuss how to better equip volunteers within your kids ministry.
By Jonathan Pitts
I’ll never forget Wynter, my late wife, telling me, “I think I’m supposed to write a book.”
“Write a book about what?” I said somewhat dismissively. We were 21 years old and dating and I had a bit of a self-righteous chip on my shoulder.
“I don’t know,” she said with her head tilted away from me in somewhat of a dreamy state. Truth be told, she didn’t care because she knew she would know when she knew. Ten years later with a 7-year-old girl, a 5-year-old girl and twin 3-year-old girls, she would finally come to understand what her book was supposed to be about. It was supposed to be a story that told our girls who God is to them and who they can be in Him. It was a story she desperately wished was told to her in a compelling way as a little girl herself. She wanted to present a better story in the gospel, and it turns out she had a knack for storytelling in a voice that made each and every one of the girls she’d reach feel special. It was as if she were speaking just to them. Her secret was that she was speaking to the little girl in herself. God would give her voice projection, and she’d end up reaching thousands and thousands more girls in her life and many more now in her death.
The book would start as a magazine and she would begin telling that same story through a lot of different ideas and themes. She wanted girls to see themselves in the girls that her magazine portrayed. She wanted regular little girls to know that they could do big things for God, just like the girls they were seeing.
That magazine would lend itself to a book and then another book and then several more, both fictional and non-fictional. Though Wynter passed away unexpectedly and suddenly at the age of 38, thousands of girls know who they are in Christ because of her commitment to bravely listen to and follow God’s prompting. And more will continue to find out because of her commitment to reaching them with a voice that they can relate to with a better story than the one girls often are told. But most importantly, her four daughters know and will continue to remember who God is through their mother’s voice and her urgency to reach them. She worked as if she knew her time to present them with truth and grace was limited. That should be the posture of all of us.
I am excited to announce our newest resource, God’s Brave Girl, to help you reach the girls in your world with this better story. This six session study will introduce your girls to Christian values in a way that they are able to palate and digest, so they can walk passionately and boldly in who God has created them to be. The world is telling our girls a sad story. We have a better one. Let’s continue to share it with relevancy, excellence, and beauty. It’s worthy of all of those qualities and more. And so are our girls.
Jonathan Pitts is an author, speaker, and executive pastor at Church of the City in Franklin, Tennessee, where he lives with his four daughters. Prior to pastoring, Jonathan was executive director at The Urban Alternative, the national ministry of Dr. Tony Evans in Dallas, Texas.
by Rhonda VanCleave
A few weeks ago I posted a blog with some “Back Pocket” Ideas for those moments when you unexpectedly need to “fill time” with a group of kids. Bible skills are my favorite things to use in a pinch and they are the “B” in my “Back Pocket Ideas.” But, I also have a few “A,” “C,” and “K” ideas – BACK Pocket!
A – Ask Review Questions. Repetition teaches! Ask questions about the Bible lesson you just had or maybe some you’ve had recently. One of my favorite “dollar type store” finds is a foam cube with dry erase dots on the side. You can print a question on each side. (Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?) A volunteer rolls the cube and you ask that type of question about the Bible study. Or, the volunteer rolls the cube and he must come up with the question to ask his friends. But what if you have no supplies? Turn a “Mother, May I” type game into a review game. Ask a volunteer a question. If they answer correctly, tell them what type of steps they may take (three baby steps, or two giant steps, etc.). Either way, asking the questions or involving the kids in creating their own questions helps drive the truth of the lesson home and redeems the time!
C – Create Conversations. Through the years I have been amazed at the return on investment I see when I just talk to the kids … about anything! I find out what they are interested in, what they like, or what is happening in their lives. If you’ve listened as they talked with each other, you can have some clues about topics to ask them about. I really believe kids are starving to have someone simply listen to them and take an interest. If you have a large group of kids, play a grouping game. Direct them to mill around until you call out a number, then they must get into groups of that number. Call out a topic and give them a designated time to share in their group. For example, thirty seconds for each person in the group to name his or her favorite movie or somewhere they would like to travel some day. These experiences can help kids learn about each other.
K – Kids Create. Never underestimate the ability of kids to make up their own fun games. Give some basic parameters or supplies and GO! They will often own the game and want to play again. I’ve seen kids do everything from design a putt putt golf hole made from (clean) trash to a Bible skills game using only craft sticks. Listen, guide, and most importantly, encourage while they work. A sense of accomplishment is a great thing.
Some things will work great the first time and you’ll use that idea again. Some may turn out to be “not so great,” but you never know until you try. Rest assured you accomplished more by trying than by letting chaos ensue. If nothing else, you’ve shown the kids that you value the time you have with them. So, challenge yourself to keep an idea or two in your “back pocket.”
As summer comes to an end and school begins, help your kids create a Summer Memory Jar. Download instructions and labels below.
Jenni Carter joins the podcast to discuss how we can set a long-term vision for our kids ministries.
Let your volunteers know you appreciate them. Attach one of these tags to a notebook for a fun surprise.
Landry Holmes joins the podcast to discuss how kids ministry needs curriculum that is trustworthy, biblical teaching.
By Kayla Stevens
Kids ask hard questions. The more time I spend with the kids in my life, the more amazed and grateful I am of their curiosity, inquisitiveness, and perspectives on the world around them. And if I’m honest, I’m also tempted to change the subject sometimes.
Talking about the hard stuff is not always easy or comfortable, but if one thing is true about this year, it is that we are learning to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Our current realities provide us with unique opportunities we can either shut down or lean into as we seek to engage kids with important conversations. As you have conversations with kids, consider these suggestions to guide your conversations.
- Recognize opportunities. Notice the conversations your kids are having, the questions they are asking, and the information they are absorbing. Lean into the hard stuff and use these moments to point your child to the gospel. Someone is shaping your child’s view of the world—make sure that someone is you.
- Help kids feel safe. Everything is personal for kids, from the toys they build to their dog’s names to what they are hearing from the media or friends. Remind your child that she is in an emotional safe zone as she asks hard questions and tries to understand what is happening around her. Be honest that you may not have all of the answers, but you are willing to find them together.
- Present facts in an age-appropriate and unbiased way. Share facts surrounding the conversation at hand with age-appropriate language. Try not to include your own biases at first, but allow your child the space and freedom to think critically. Recognize the message or messages that are being elevated and discuss those with your child. How does this information make her feel? How does she think God feels about what is happening?
- Discern together. Next, coach your child on how to approach these situations from a biblical perspective. What are the core struggles surrounding this situation? What words are we hearing to describe what is happening? Do those words have the same meaning as what the Bible teaches? What parts of this issue does the Bible agree with? Are there any areas that the Bible disagrees? Help your child see how this situation points to Jesus and biblical truth. Open your Bible and read passages together that speak towards the topic at hand. Don’t merely teach what the answers are; teach your child how to find the answers.
- Identify what your family can do differently. “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22 As you talk about the hard stuff, commit to action, not only information. Can you institute family walks around your neighborhood after dinner to pray for the details surrounding the conversation? Can you continue your research and seek to be more informed? Is there something you can do in your community? Find ways to evaluate how your family can take steps towards change that actively trusts Jesus, humbly sacrifices, and engages in ways that honor God.
Engaging in tough conversations with your kids isn’t always comfortable. It demands your time, attention, diligence, and discernment. And it is always worth it. Don’t be afraid to talk about the hard stuff with your kids. Pray for wisdom and discernment, and seek opportunities for your family to be a catalyst for biblical truth in a world looking for answers.
Kayla Stevens has been serving in kids ministry for over ten years. She is a content editor for LifeWay Kids and a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Kayla lives in Nashville, Tennessee and enjoys teaching kids each week at her church.
Jana Magruder and Brian Dembowczyk join the podcast to discuss how to deal with digital curriculum now and how important it is to still use curriculum.