Download your free Go Time Kit to help relaunch your ministry!
The kit contains:
- Activity ideas
- Promotional materials
Download your free Go Time Kit to help relaunch your ministry!
The kit contains:
Summer is here, and kids ministry leaders everywhere find themselves re-entering into the joys and challenges of conducting busy summer ministries like VBS, attending summer camps, and creating summer programming to re-engage kids and families. It has been encouraging to see so much momentum around vacation bible school this summer. If there was any question as to whether kids would return to at-church events, the answer is a resounding, yes!
The good news is that the positive response we have seen to summer ministry events would seem to indicate that kids and parents are ready to come back to church. Ready or not, kids are coming back, and we need to make sure we are ready to go when they arrive. It may be tempting to take a break and relax with a major vacation getaway and let ourselves let down after camp and VBS are over, it would be wiser to take a brief respite and quickly reset our sights on fall. The reality is that the calendar is not our friend. Time is short, and, if we are honest, many of us are not really ready. If you feel like you have been running late and making a lot of last-minute decisions you are far from alone. We have all been functioning in a reactive mode, shrouded in uncertainty, without the ability to plan as far ahead as we would prefer.
Although we don’t have eons of time to regroup, we do have a window of opportunity to make preparations over the next few weeks so we can get out in front of what we hope will be a significant fall influx. But we cannot afford to delay. Now is the time to make key decisions and take important actions as we anticipate the restart of our kids ministries, some or all of which may have been on mothballs for the last 18 months.
We cannot afford to simply return to what we did a year and a half ago. This is time to reassess, reevaluate, regroup, reenlist, reengage, and possibly reinvent our kids ministry strategies, programs, and personnel. We need to re-design our ministries to make sure that they are well informed by the current state of our culture and make adjustments where necessary. In many regions churches have already returned to ministry as usual where they no longer require leaders or kids to wear masks or to enforce strong guidelines on social distancing, however it is wise for us to continue to implement standards and practices that minimize contact and maximize space for everyone in attendance. If you have not already reviewed and updated your guidelines, now is the time.
The Lifeway kids team has created two important and helpful e-books that you can find at lifeway.com/kmfa. 6 Considerations for Reopening your Kids Ministry gives insight in regards to standards of practice for safety, cleanliness and volunteer preparation and 10 Attributes of an Unshakable Kids Ministry helps you reevaluate your priorities so you can best serve kids and families as we emerge into a new post Covid season.
We anticipate what may be the largest fall kick off for kids ministries anywhere, ever, so we would all be wise to create strategies specific for re-engaging kids and families who have not attended regularly over the last 18 months, and to welcome and invite new families from the community to visit our churches this fall. Summer is a great time to offer fun family events in your fellowship hall or parking lot to attract and connect with kids and their families. This is a great opportunity to proclaim that your kids ministry will be back in a big way this fall. Starting this conversation early will help kids and families prepare now to be back then. To help you host a successful relaunch event, the Lifeway kids team has also provided a handy kit for creating your own fall relaunch celebration. The Go Time Kit is a printable download that will help you outline an experience for families that will reestablish relational connection between your church and the community you serve and restart momentum as we get ready to press go.
As we anticipate a massive return of kids and families to our churches this fall nationwide, we as kids ministry leaders need to not only gear up to re-open our doors and prepare our spaces for kids to be back, but also reevaluate our strategies in light of a world that has changed. Whether we are ready or not, fall is coming, and it is coming fast. Now is the time to get ready, and to reset, so that we can be all-systems-go as we near September and the relaunch of our kids ministries.
Chuck Peters is Director of Operations for Lifeway Kids. Before his role at Lifeway, Chuck had an extensive career in television and video production. He is a 3-time Emmy Award Winning producer, director, writer and host. A graduate of Columbia Bible College, Chuck, and his wife, Cris, have served vocationally & voluntarily in Student and Children’s Ministry for many years. They have four amazing children: Tally (21), Tristen (20), Tyson (14) and Tate (11).
By Alyssa Jones
As summer winds to a close and your family prepares for a new school year, create opportunities to intentionally engage your kids. Whether you have 5 minutes or 50 minutes, you can make your time together count. Here are four activities to make memories with your kids and spark spiritual conversations.
Babies and Toddlers: Sing a Bible story song
Sing to the tune of “London Bridge Is Falling Down” :
“Is there anything God can’t do*, God can’t do, God can’t do? Is there anything God can’t do? God can do anything!”
*Substitute “God can save His people” in subsequent rounds.
Read it: Exodus 2:1-3,5-6,10
Think about it: Who did God use to rescue His people from Egypt? Who did God send to rescue us from sin?
Preschool: Take a dip
Fill a wading pool with water or complete this activity at bath time. Provide people figures and encourage kids to dip the figures into the water as you count together to seven. If your kids are comfortable in the water, let them dip their faces into the water and blow bubbles.
Read it: Read aloud 2 Kings 5:1,10,14-15.
Think about it: Who made our bodies and can heal them? How can we take care of our bodies? Why do you think God wants us to take care of ourselves?
Younger Kids: Servant relay
Position a chair across the room from your child. Give your child a serving tray with five empty plastic cups. Explain that when you say go, she should carry the tray to the other side of the room, around the chair, and back. Then she will pass the tray to a family member who will do the same. Continue for each family member. If the cups fall off the tray, the player must stop and reposition them before continuing. For an added challenge, put silverware on the chair for the player to add to her tray as she passes by. How quickly can kids move the tray without losing the cups?
Read it: Read aloud or choose a kid to read Isaiah 53:1-6.
Think about it: What does it mean to be a servant? How was Jesus a servant on earth? How can we serve others?
Older Kids: Four corners obstacle course
Create an indoor obstacle course by using tape to mark a path through the room. Use chairs or furniture as obstacles for kids to go around, under, or over.
Guide two to four family members to hold the corners of a small towel or floor mat and balance a foam ball in the center of each mat.
Challenge family members to transport the ball through the obstacle course without letting go of the mat. If the ball rolls off the mat, players should start over.
Read it: Read aloud or choose a kid to read Matthew 9:1-8.
Think about it: What did the paralyzed man need? What did Jesus give him? How can we receive forgiveness from God?
Alyssa Jones worships and serves with her husband at Refuge Franklin, a church plant outside of Nashville, Tennessee. They have three children.
By Kayla Stevens
The families in our ministries are wonderfully diverse, unique, and different, and we celebrate those differences. Yet, as we serve the families in our churches, we may still have some blind-spots in how we interact with the different types of families we serve.
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with my good friend, Sara Lansford, a talented editor, Kidmin leader, and foster mom about how church leaders can be encouraged to serve both the non-traditional and traditional families in our ministries. Here are a few insights from that conversation.
What is something you want leaders to know about non-traditional families?
I really would love for church leaders to advocate that non-traditional families can be healthy families, too. Our culture often talks about things in terms of health and brokenness, and oftentimes families that are not traditional are seen as unhealthy because they don’t fit the traditional mold or model. But, what is true according to the gospel is that all families are broken. We are all broken by our sin, and that sin not only affects us and our relationship with God, but also our relationship with others, including our families. Whether our kids belong to a family through foster care, adoption, or biology, all of our families are broken and in need of Jesus. As such, we don’t have healthy families because they are traditional and unhealthy families that are not. We have families of all shapes and sizes that need the redemption and restoration of Jesus.
What is a misconception you see in the church at large in relation to kids from non-traditional families?
I think one of the misconceptions we often operate from is that children from non-traditional families are “bad kids” or will require more energy and patience than kids from traditional families. We don’t always say this aloud, but we may demonstrate this in how we approach behavior issues at church or the conversations we choose to have with that child’s adult. One of the best pieces of advice I heard about children and behavior is that every behavior is a sign of a need. If there is a behavior that is being expressed, there is usually a deeper need behind the behavior that needs to be brought to the surface. No child is the same and no experience is the same, but kids often know when an adult or authority figure sees them differently than the boys and girls around them. As leaders and volunteers, we need to make sure we are viewing each child in our care with equal dignity, respect, love, and expectations.
What can leaders and volunteers do to encourage and support non-traditional families in the local church?
When it comes to supporting and caring for non-traditional families in the local church, there are three things that come to mind that were so helpful for me. First, language matters. Our volunteers have changed terminology in identifying the adults in kids’ lives as “your grown-up” rather than mom and dad. It seems like a nuanced change, but for the families in your ministries whose primary caregiver is not a mom or dad, this shift is seismic. It recognizes and respects the caregivers and helps children feel included in understanding they have grown-ups in their lives like the other kids in their class.
Second, options are important. When certain holidays come about that celebrate family members, be mindful of the kids in your ministry and be ready to provide several options that everyone in the class can choose from. If your class makes a Mother’s Day card for moms or grandmothers, also consider options where kids can participate, such as making a card for a teacher or friend. Create opportunities for kids to feel included rather than singled-out because their family doesn’t include a mom or grandmother.
Lastly, I think it has been so encouraging for me as a mom to be part of a church that fosters community and communication. Having opportunities for kids of single parents to be taken somewhere special to shop for Christmas gifts for their grown-up or dropping off a meal kit basket on Valentine’s Day are small gestures that spoke volumes to me.
Families of all shapes and sizes want to be seen and want to belong. When we take the time to let people know we see them and love them, we open the doors even wider for them to grow deeper in biblical community as the family of God.
Kayla Stevens is a Content Editor for Lifeway Kids. She is a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and William Carey University. Kayla lives in Nashville, Tennessee and has served in Kids ministry for over 10 years.
We have a lot of roles as dads.
Depending on your child, and depending on their age, you might find yourself as a coach, a tutor, or a counselor. You might be a career coach, a protector, or a driving instructor. And on many days, you will find yourself doing all of the above and more. This is who we are. This is what God has called us to be. And all these roles fit under the great and glorious umbrella term of “dad.”
As Christian fathers, though, there is an even greater calling God has given to us – a calling that runs through all these individual roles. God has given us these children not only to protect, provide for, and teach – He has given us these children for us to be a shadow of their greater Father. I am, as their father, 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 when my children encounter God they might say over and over again something like this: “He’s like Daddy, but better.”
We are the first and most influential introduction our kids have to what “father” means – and we are meant to point their eyes upward through our character and interactions. This is indeed a high calling. It’s often an intimidating one. And it’s certainly one we fall short of on a regular basis. Yet we get up, day after day, bolstered by God’s grace, to try again.
Have you considered today how the way you speak to your children models God’s fatherhood? Have you thought today how your forgiveness models God’s fatherhood? Have you dwelled today on how your patience models God’s fatherhood? These are good questions to ask. These are good thoughts to keep in mind. But perhaps there is one other way—an even simpler way—to model God’s character in your home. It’s a way so simple it often goes overlooked.
Your steadiness as a father shows the steadiness of God to your family.
I love the many uses of “always” and “never” in the Bible as they describe the Lord:
The list could go on, but all these statements are meant to assure us of the steadiness of God. God is “always” and “never” a lot of things, and all of that steadiness ought to have a generally calming and peaceful effect on us as Christians. But as Christian fathers? It ought to do something in addition to that.
It ought to make us want to model that steadiness in our homes. Of course, you might look at this kind of steadiness and think it amounts to boredom. Maybe it does. But it also brings a sense of security and safety within our homes – that in many ways, our kids know what they get with us as fathers. We are the ones to be counted on, because we are the men who are solid and steady.
Men, there are moments to be “fun dad.” And there are moments to be “discipline dad.” But in all moments, there is the opportunity to be a steady father. Just as our heavenly Father is steady with us.
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 Alyssa Jones
Make a plan to read God’s Word with your family in June. This month, read selections from the Gospels and Acts. Read in the morning around the breakfast table, in the car on the way to school, after dinner, or at bedtime. Read the Scripture directly with your family, or retell the story in your own words. This tool includes questions according to kids’ ages and understanding. Allow kids to color in a day on a calendar after reading and discussing. End your reading time in prayer.
What about parents? Should I try to minister directly to parents? Is there value in building relationships with the parents of the kids I serve? Is that really part of my responsibility?
As a kids ministry leader, these questions may have crossed your mind at some point in your ministry. We would answer “Yes, there is great value to parents, their kids, our ministries, and our churches when we include ministering to and equipping parents as part of our strategy.”
Parents of the kids in our ministries need us to be strategic because they are often too busy to stop and think about parenting strategies. With bloated school, extracurricular, and church schedules, along with the rapid influx of technology threats and an ever-changing social culture, many parents are overly-stressed with their day-to-day responsibilities. This stress can lead to a fear that they are wandering through a completely unknown territory of family life. Too often this fear leads to frustration and spiritual stagnation in parents.
Parents are busy and stressed to the point of spiritual paralysis. We would be wise to come alongside them to help evaluate their role and responsibilities, being extra careful to take a “by your side” posture as we interact with parents. We have the opportunity to remind them of the Bible’s strategic commands related to parenting. For example, the Bible guides us to know that performance is not as important as a transformed heart. In the home, both discipline and teaching should aim at developing a child’s heart to honor both God and the parent. It’s not enough to teach kids to obey and simply feed them biblical facts. Merely gaining more information often only leads to arrogance. Our kids need gospel-transformed hearts to apply knowledge and biblical understanding to their lives through godly wisdom.
Some parents may not realize they are in the middle of these challenges, but many do. The success of parents living out their God-ordained role should motivate us to help parents pause and evaluate their parenting responsibilities.
What might a strategy for parent ministry look like for kids leaders?
You may have heard it said that if we are going to effectively reach kids with the gospel, we must also reach their parents. There is great truth to this, especially thinking about long term impact. Parents will benefit and appreciate when others come alongside them to help chart the course and navigate family challenges. As church leaders, we are positioned to do just that, so that both parents and kids can hear and experience the transforming power of the gospel.
For more of this conversation, check out the Kids Ministry 101 podcast: Parent Ministry.
Life overall is messy, and church life is no exception. In addition, COVID-19 has made both even more messy. What causes the mess? People.
One of my favorite quotes from the beloved comic strip Peanuts® is attributed to Linus, who exclaims one day, “I love mankind . . . It’s people I can’t stand!” I think we all feel that way sometimes. We love kids and families, but sometimes we lose our patience or get irritated with them. (Kids and families, by the way, love us but become frustrated with us, too.)
So, what are we to do about this situation? The apostle Paul’s writings offer insight for us today when kids and families don’t always act in ways that make it easy to show them Christ-like love. Here are some biblical principles that can help us be more loving:
So, why all this talk about loving preschoolers, children, and their families? For one, the Bible has a lot more to say about love, which is indicative of its importance. In fact Paul says in his closing statement to the church in Corinth, “Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14) So, while the world is thinking about love this month, let’s double-down on our desire to show the love of Jesus to everyone. Playing favorites is not an option.
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 a 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 five grandchildren.
Kids ministry can often be focused only on the kids. But it is important for us to engage families, as well! Parents need the support of the church as they live out their role of discipleship at home, and we as kids ministers can help set them up for success.
Here are a few ways to do this:
At the end of the day, we want to champion families to begin discipleship at home. With a family focused kids ministry, we are able to empower parents to get involved and get into the Word with their kids!
By Jana Magruder
If you are in kids ministry, you know that one of the most critical pieces of your role is connecting the Church with the Home. Many times, we think of the Church first, meaning how we engage kids when they are with us for small groups or Sunday school, VBS, etc. and then thinking that the purpose is to link what you are teaching kids at church to the home. Your strategy in doing this may be to connect with parents about which Bible stories kids are learning and how they can continue the learning at home. All of that is completely fine and good—until a pandemic hits! Suddenly, the whole model most of us have established is completely flipped. So now, we think of home first. Even if kids are starting to come back to church, we know that this next year is going to be uncertain, and we want families to be discipling at home, because this has really been our goal all along. We know the “why” behind family ministry is to equip parents to be the primary discipler of their children because it is a biblical command in Deuteronomy 6. Most of us have been banging this drum for a long time, and now is our time to truly call the families we serve to action whether at church or at home. And right now, especially at home. How do we do this? Here are 3 guiding principles for you to implement in your ministry right now:
The best way to reach families at home is to make it easy, give them God’s Word, and connect back to the gospel. If you need more tangible ideas for how to do some of the things suggested, check out our At Home resources that come with any of our curriculum resources including The Gospel Project for Kids, Bible Studies for Life: Kids, or Explore the Bible: Kids. Each of these have specific, one-link resources for you to send your families to engage their kids with the Bible and ultimately point to Jesus. Let’s face it, He is where our hope comes from, and the families you serve need the hope of Christ now more than ever.
Jana Magruder serves as the Director of Lifeway Kids. She is a Baylor graduate and offers a wealth of experience and passion for kids ministry, education, and publishing. She is the author of Kids Ministry that Nourishes and Life Verse Creative Journal, which she co-authored with her teenage daughter. She and her husband, Michael, along with their three children reside in Nashville.