Today we continue with part two of a 4-week series on healthy habits for kids ministry leaders, featuring LifeWay Kids director of operations, Chuck Peters. Throughout the series we will identify and unpack 8 tips to help set you up for success in your role.
Show your thanks to volunteers with a Spring Tea Party. It’s a great way to give a warm welcome to first-time leaders while also showing your appreciation to veteran volunteers.
Today we kick off part one of a 4-week series on healthy habits for kids ministry leaders, featuring LifeWay Kids director of operations, Chuck Peters. Throughout the series we will identify and unpack 8 tips to help set you up for success in your role.
By Alli Brown
Since they can remember, all kids know is the kids ministry at their church. They’ve grown up there, made friends there, and before they know it, it’s time for them to head to the youth group. Thinking about the kids in your ministry that will be transitioning to the student ministry soon may give you a wave of fear or uncertainty. They probably had that same fear about coming into the kids ministry from preschool!
I’m sure you’ve learned one of the best ways kids get involved is through those milestone experiences—camp, lock-ins, VBS, and so forth. They may look different, but these events are still happening while kids are in youth! The best way to start making this transition is to, first, partner with your Student Pastor. You don’t want “Graduation Sunday” to just be a hand off. Let the kids see the Student Pastor’s face, know things about him, and see him get involved. I remember when I was in elementary school, the Student Pastor would come to some of our events and hang out with us. He wanted to get to know us and know what to expect when we came to the youth. This gave us buy-in with him! We got to know him on a personal level, and didn’t feel like the youth group was looming over us when we were in 5th grade!
Talk with your Student Pastor about events they have coming up, and consider letting those 5th graders join in! Show them what they have to look forward to, but also how things are similar/different from the kids ministry. This is a great time for those 5th graders to get to know the middle schoolers, and even older youth that they’ll soon be included with at church. Juniors and seniors in high school may seem super intimidating to a 5th grader, but once they get to see them being silly and get to hang out with them at church events, they’ll see they’re not so scary and like to have fun just as much as they do!
The biggest worry—losing these kids in church. The kids ministry has been a place of spiritual learning, growth, and formation for them. One of the most critical things about this time is making that transition to the youth meaningful and worth it for them, or else we can see kids start fading away from the church. This is a great time to partner with the parents. Prep them for what’s coming, be patient with them, and maybe even provide resources for them as their kiddo is growing up! The parents will need to know it’s worth it for their kids to still be involved in the student ministry.
Just remember, this can be a crazy time in your life and the life of these kids, but they love you! Don’t become a stranger to them just because they’ve moved up to the student ministry. Always be sure to say hey and still give them a high five when you see them in the halls at church! Keep taking the time to invest in their lives. A few of these kiddos may even be the ones that come back and want to volunteer in the kids ministry later in life. Who knows, they may be the next Kids Minister to fill your shoes!
Logan Meek joins the podcast to discuss 6 practical expectation we can ask of our volunteers:
1. Active Engagement
2. Enthusiastic Participation
3. Relational Connection
4. Catalytic Conversation
5. Supportive Supervision
6. Prayerful Preparation
Logan Meek serves on the CentriKid Camps team. Logan began serving with Student Life and LifeWay after spending two years as a Sixth Grade teacher with Teach For America. He believes in the importance of strong kids ministry to help kids build strong spiritual foundations.
I started praying for a family I’ve never met a few weeks ago. Thanks to the internet, I learned that a Christian artist I’ve followed for a while suffered a tragedy. Her daughter, one year younger than my oldest, had a seemingly minor fall which resulted in a traumatic brain injury.
Doesn’t news like that just jostle you when you have kids of your own? It feels impossible — the reality that these precious children we raise could leave us in mind or body in a split second fall. Doing normal things. On a regular day.
I started praying for this little girl, and led my daughters to pray for her, too.
Then, a few weeks later, my youngest needed extra snuggles, so I was laying in her bed with her, and I heard my oldest daughter from the other room praying out loud. She started praying for the little girl to be healed, as we had been praying for weeks, and then her prayer changed.
“Jesus … actually, can you just come back? Yes! If you would just come back, the little girl would be healed and her mommy and daddy wouldn’t have to be sad anymore … I have to do school in the morning. What was your favorite subject in school? Well, you didn’t … WAIT, you probably did! You had to have your hand cramp and have your day be so long! Why did you do that? You could have just stayed in heaven …”
I cried. And I’m crying again now. What a prayer.
How often do I forget Jesus’ humanity? How frequently do I pray a list of demands rather than praying with the humility that would ask questions like, “Why did you leave heaven to come here and live this life of pain and suffering and the hand cramps of carpentry? You could have just stayed in heaven …”
You know how the Spirit answers that why question, right?
“Because I so love you …” (John 3:16).
And isn’t that what we’re all wanting to know?
I spend a lot of time teaching my daughters about who God is and how much He loves them, but my 8-year-old daughter’s prayer last week taught me. He is so powerful that He can change anything for any prayer at any time. And He’s so approachable that we can talk to Him about His favorite subject.
So, pray that God will help you teach your children about this glorious mystery of a God who loves broken people. Pray that God will work wonders. But also pray that He’ll help you see and learn from these little children, about the kind of faith that knows He hears.
Scarlet Hiltibidal is the author of Afraid of All the Things and He Numbered the Pores on My Face. She lives in Middle Tennessee.
Sam Luce joins the podcast to discuss that we all agree Family Ministry is a good idea. The question therefore is not how and where family ministry happened. The question we need to now wrestle with is what do we do to make family ministry happen and why do we do it?
Sam Luce has been a pastor at Redeemer Church in Utica NY for the past 21 Years. In those years he have served in multiple roles currently he serves as the Pastor to Families for all five of our locations. Sam served as chairman of INCM, co-authored “The Eric Trap,” has been involved in several book projects, and been blogging at samluce.com since 2007.
Dorena Williamson joins the podcast to discuss that today’s church is awakening to the needs of our growing multicultural world. Leaders long to be more equipped to minister to diverse families. Explore biblical ways to be inclusive while fulfilling the great command to love our neighbor.
Links to BOOKS by Dorena Williamson
Dorena Williamson is the author of ColorFull, ThoughtFull and GraceFull, published by B&H Kids. She speaks in Public schools, Christian schools, churches and conferences, fostering relevant conversations that celebrate the beauty in God’s Diverse Kingdom. A veteran of cross-cultural ministry, Dorena serves as First Lady of Strong Tower Bible Church in Nashville, a richly diverse faith community.
Use these downloads to show thanks for your volunteers in a fun way this spring.
By Andrew Peterson
During our first ten years in Nashville our family lived in four different houses. We liked the adventure of a new place. But after Jayber Crow I was done with transience. I was stirred by a longing to care for the land under my feet, to work in partnership with the earth instead of in opposition to it, to learn the names of the birds and the flora and fauna as well as the names of my neighbors, and to shepherd some corner of this planet for the sake of the kingdom. As far as it was in my limited power to do so, I wanted to mend the world—even if it was just a few acres of it.
As nice as it was to live in a little Nashville subdivision, pushing a stroller through the neighborhood in the evening and being close enough to Percy Priest Lake to take our little Sunfish sailboat out at a moment’s notice, Jamie and I both knew it wasn’t the house we wanted to die in. Our neighborhood, like so many subdivisions, practically embodied the word transitory. Neighbors came and went. New streets were always being carved out of the tree line. Every other day, it seemed, a “For Sale” sign showed up in someone’s yard. It wasn’t the kind of place we could imagine our grandchildren getting excited to visit.
By then, several of our friends had moved to East Nashville, where at the time you could still buy a pretty bungalow and renovate it on the cheap. There were cool restaurants and historic neighborhoods (a little known fact: the outlaw Jesse James lived there for a while while he was on the lam). Now East Nashville is the hipster center of town and the bungalows are priced like mansions, so we missed that boat. Then one day we visited some old college friends who had just found a farmhouse in South Nashville. Only minutes from the city, a winding road took us past cattle ponds and ramshackle barns, over bridges that spanned Mill Creek, and finally up a gravel drive to their hundred-year-old farmhouse. As soon as we arrived, I broke the tenth commandment. Sort of. I didn’t exactly covet my neighbor’s house, but I coveted the land. I coveted the peace and quiet, the story of the farm, the stands of hackberry and white oak and cedar. I immediately wanted to move there. By this time I had found in Nashville a people to belong to—could this be the place?
I sat on their front porch, eyeing a little house across the pasture. “Do you think any of your neighbors will ever sell?” He told me it was doubtful since the other houses on the hill were occupied by members of the family that had grown up there. But, come to think of it, the old cabin at the top of the hill was for sale. Jamie and I drove up and checked it out, but it was on twelve acres and well out of our price range. As we disappointedly crunched back down the gravel drive I had a vision. It burned itself onto my imagination so brightly that I can still see it now, clear as day. I saw Skye as a little pigtailed girl in overalls tearing through the meadow in the spring, the air full of sunlit pollen. Even as I pictured it I grieved because it didn’t seem possible that we’d ever live there. So we kept looking. I continued to wrestle with my discontent: was it worldliness or was it the Holy Spirit pulling me toward something? I just couldn’t tell.
Then about a year later my old roomie called and said his neighbors had in fact decided to sell, at a price we just might be able to afford. Jamie and I met with the owners, then we drove out there every day for weeks, dreaming, wondering, praying. I drove friends out to show them the property, asking their opinions, seeking wisdom. One day Jason Gray and I sat on the front porch of what would one day be our home and he prayed that God would give us the wisdom to know if we should try and buy it.
The catch was, the house was 25 percent smaller than our current one. And it wasn’t exactly pretty. The kitchen was literally the size of a walk-in closet and the décor wasn’t, shall we say, “aligned with Jamie’s taste.” But the building itself wasn’t what interested me. All I could see when I looked out the front window was that daydream of Skye’s pigtails bouncing through the meadow. (The boys probably weren’t in the daydream because they were busy building forts in the daydream woods.)
In the end, we went for it. Without knowing America was on the verge of the Great Recession, we sold our subdivision home for a tiny profit and bought a house in one of the last rural pockets of Davidson County. The day we moved in, Jamie cried. They weren’t happy tears, mind you. Our kids were growing by the minute, I was touring more or less constantly, and we had just done a very un-American thing: we had downsized. We had also down-styled. The old vinyl flooring was, well, old. One corner of the outdated carpet had been chewed up by the former owners’ cat. The kitchen, as I said, was miniscule. None of this would have been hard for her except that we had gotten used to the relative niceness of the subdivision house. “But look at the land,” I would say, encouragingly, with a grand sweep of my hand. Bless her heart, she took a deep breath and dug in. I love that woman.
“Can we please replace the carpet sooner than later?” she asked on the day we closed.
“Of course,” I said without really looking at how bad the carpet was. “We’ll get to it.” My mind was on cutting trails and building tree houses. I went out for a weekend of shows and came home to a shock. There was a pile of old carpet in the front yard. Jamie had single handedly torn it up and hauled it out with an iron will.
“Now. About that carpet,” she said with a smile. “Here are some choices for hardwood flooring.” Like I said, I love that woman. Without delay, she began making our house beautiful. And I started reclaiming the land. When we moved in I was finishing my first reading of Richard Adams’s masterpiece Watership Down, about a community of rabbits on a great journey to find a new warren. Not only was our new place built on the side of a very English-looking down, there were always rabbits in the front pasture.
We named our place the Warren—not only because our journey mirrored Hazel and Fiver’s, and not only because of the rabbits that abounded, but because the new house was so small that there were times—especially when the kids had friends over and it was too rainy to play outside and we were stepping on LEGOs® and bumping into each other in the tiny kitchen—when we felt like we were living in a little underground rabbit hole.
Don’t get me wrong. I know many people don’t have homes at all, so I shouldn’t be complaining about the size or weird layout of the house. I’m just saying that downsizing ain’t easy, especially with three small children. Especially—especially when one of the two parents has a job that requires weeks of travel. (Sorry, Jamie.) But when the kids came in with skinned knees from climbing trees, or when the sun threw golden light at the hill in the late afternoon and we all went out to watch the clouds catch fire, or when we woke in the misty morning and walked the trails in Warren Wood and saw the kids’ tree forts quietly awaiting their return, or when we sat on the porch on warm nights and listened to the barred owls calling to each other from the dark branches, we knew we had chosen wisely. God had provided a place we could love, a place our grandchildren could love as much as our children did. About five years in, we were able to build an addition that made the inside as lovely as the outside—and once again it was because Jamie, too, had a picture in her mind, and did the hard, creative work of incarnating it.
I tell you all this because place matters.
Of course, not everyone can move to the country, nor should they. But wherever you are, you might as well go ahead and pull up the carpet. Make it beautiful, even if you can’t afford it. Let your imagination run wild. Give your house a name. Watch how it changes the way you treat it. Let thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in our house as it is in heaven. I started keeping bees. Those bees pollinate the flowers we put in the ground.
Jamie hung pictures on the walls. She keeps candles lit in whatever room we’re hanging out in, year-round. If we ever move (and I hope we don’t) we will have left our mark on this home and on this property. When I walk the trails now I can hear the memory of laughter echoing in the trees. We have become members of this place, members of this community, of this kingdom—praying His will to be done in these woods as it is in heaven.
Excerpted with permission from Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson. Copyright 2019, B&H Publishing Group. This excerpt also appeared in the January 2020 issue of ParentLife.
Andrew Peterson is an award-winning singer-songwriter and author. In 2008, driven by a desire to cultivate a strong Christian arts community, Andrew founded a ministry called The Rabbit Room.