Looking for a quick activity for kids at home or at church? Try this crossword puzzle.
Everyone’s headed to the beach after VBS, and you’re still teaching a handful of kids on Wednesday night because the volunteers and families have left town. When you do go on vacation, you head the opposite direction to attend the annual family reunion. Does that describe your summer prior to COVID-19? It does mine; however, this summer is different.
VBS has been postponed for a month and will be in a city park, mission trip style. Our family reunion in Texas was on Zoom. We’re not meeting at church on Wednesday nights, and we are doing virtual preschool Sunday School on Sunday mornings. But, my colleagues and friends are still going to the beach. So, I have a touch of FOMO (fear of missing out).
FOMO isn’t relegated to the summer. We can be tempted all year long to look at other churches, kids ministries, kids ministry leaders, and our own church families and feel like we’re missing out on all the fun. Some other ways we experience FOMO in the kidmin world include:
- Our kidmin attendance is not as big as everyone else’s.
- We don’t have new kidmin facilities like the church across town.
- We’re not doing anything cool or innovative for VBS this year like other churches are in the midst of a global pandemic.
- We don’t have a big kidmin budget.
- I’m not as creative as my kidmin friends on social media are.
If you’re not already depressed, consider making your own FOMO list. Or, don’t. I believe that Satan uses the fear of missing out to tempt us to focus on ourselves rather than placing our attention where it truly belongs—on Jesus.
Here are three simple ways to avoid kidmin FOMO:
- Spend time with God in prayer and Bible study, focusing on the person of Jesus. Doing so gets your mind off of yourself.
- Resist comparing yourself, your family, your church, and your kids ministry to others. God has placed you and your church in your community for a purpose.
- Limit your social media intake. Spending too much time following kidmin conversations can leave you disillusioned and unhappy.
Perhaps FOMO is not an issue for you. If so pray right now, thanking God that He has freed you from this temptation. If you are like I am, however, you are prone to FOMO and the many forms in which it appears. Ask Jesus to help you avoid falling into Satan’s trap. Remember, the grass is greener on the other side of the fence until you climb over the fence, set foot in another person’s pasture, and come face-to-face with an Angus bull.
Landry Holmes is the Manager of LifeWay Kids Publishing and Network Partnerships. A graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Landry served on church staffs before joining LifeWay Kids. He is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. Landry also teaches children at his church in Middle Tennessee. He and his wife Janetta are the parents of two adult sons and two daughters-in-law, and the grandparents of four adorable grandchildren.
by Bekah Stoneking
When teaching big truths to little kids, we sometimes bump into the unexpected—no matter how well-studied and prepared we are. In this post, I’ll share a story about a time a simple question resulted in an unexpected answer, which helped me get a peek into the minds of my Sunday schoolers.
“Raise your hands and tell me about your favorite worship songs!”
As a relatively new Nashville resident, I was surprised (but maybe I shouldn’t have been!) when one of my Sunday schoolers answered this question by saying his favorite worship song was Tim McGraw’s “I Like It, I Love It” (and I needed a moment to regain control of my group after several kids joined in the chorus— which we Nashvillians all enthusiastically sing in response to our local NHL team scoring a goal.)
I decided to hit pause on calling additional kids to share their favorite songs. I needed to explain that while we might joyfully sing Mr. McGraw’s 1995 hit as a response to something good, it is not, in fact, a worship song.
The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids defines worship as “giving honor, reverence, and praise to God.” Worshiping God can make us feel joyful, it can make our hearts glad, and it is good for us. But ultimately, worship is for God and it’s something we give Him in response to who He is and what He does.
I shared that one of my favorite worship songs is “How Great Thou Art” because it reminds me of how big and wonderful God is. And, the lyric “then sings my soul” just makes me feel joyful! This hymn makes my heart happy and helps my heart love God even more because it reminds me that God is big, He is always good, He is trustworthy, and He gives us hope.
I then continued our conversation:
“Worship helps us focus on God. We worship God when we sing to Him, but we also worship God when we read the Bible and when we pray. What are some other things we do in church and at home to worship God?”
The kids engaged in the conversation by identifying other church activities and personal disciplines—like giving an offering, taking the Lord’s Supper, obeying God, journaling, and sharing the gospel—as ways we can worship God with our lives.
And then finally, we went back to the original question. As my kids engaged with this new information and offered their answers, we enjoyed praising the Lord together by singing parts of our favorite worship songs as a group.
Today’s Takeaway: When you receive a totally unanticipated response, do not continue plowing forward. Instead, back up and ask your question in a new way. Guide the conversation by defining your terms and setting up guardrails to keep everyone on the same path.
by Karen Jones
When I was a Kids Minister searching for a curriculum to use in my ministry, my first task was to look at a curriculum’s scope and sequence. A curriculum’s scope and sequence is simply its plan. Scope indicates the content the curriculum intends to cover. Sequence indicates the order in which the content will be covered. Looking at a curriculum’s scope and sequence will help you make a quick decision if the curriculum is worth considering for your ministry or not.
First of all, it should be clear that the curriculum is teaching the Bible. You should see specific Books of the Bible and passages covered. If that isn’t readily apparent, move on.
Once you are sure you are looking at a Bible-based curriculum, look at the parts of the Bible it covers. Does it spend ample time in both the New Testament and the Old Testament? Does it include a variety of Biblical genres? Are there Books of the Bible avoided altogether? When Paul is giving his farewell to the Epheisan elders in Acts 20, he says, “Therefore I declare to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, because I did not avoid declaring to you the whole plan of God.” I love how the ESV renders that last phrase, “the whole counsel of God.” Let’s be sure to give the children we serve “the whole counsel of God.”
Once you are satisfied with the scope of the curriculum, take a look at its sequence. How long will it take to move through the curriculum? At what age will a child who started the curriculum, finish the curriculum? How long does the curriculum spend in different Books of the Bible? More practically, what is the time span you want this curriculum to cover? If you want a six-week curriculum, a curriculum with a three-year session plan, won’t be a quick fit, but could it be adapted to work?
When I first came to LifeWay, I was impressed and encouraged by the amount of careful consideration and deliberation that goes into planning each scope and sequence for the curriculums we produce. As an editor for The Gospel Project for Kids, I know firsthand the number of hours and voices that go into our three-year chronological scope and sequence. We are careful to spend a year and a half each in the Old and New Testaments. Our three-year plan ensures that a child will hear the complete story of redemption three times: as a preschooler, younger elementary, and older elementary student.
My friends on the Bible Studies for Life Kids team are just as serious about their three year study plan. They use the Levels of Biblical Learning as their guide to make sure 10 biblical concept areas—God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Bible, Salvation, Creation, Church, People, Family, Community & World—are presented through eight different age ranges, from infancy through high school, and reflect levels of understanding that follow how God designed children to learn.
My friends on the Explore the Bible Kids team believe every kid is worthy of every Book of the Bible, not just the ones that are easiest to read. Their scope and sequence takes them through every Book of the Bible in five years. They lead kids to practice the routines and skills required to better read, know, and apply God’s Word.
What are other things you consider as you choose curriculum for your ministry?
Our churches are becoming more diverse. For some children in our ministries, English isn’t their first or only language. We have an opportunity to reach them and their families while they are in our classes. Use the following tips as you teach children.
- Build relationships with the child and parents. Make an effort to regularly contact him or her. Share your story of how God called you to teach. Ask questions to get to know the child and his family. By building the connection with the child and family, you develop trust. Your actions communicate care for the child and that you enjoy the child being in your class.
- Create and develop a visual schedule. Children need and enjoy a schedule or routine. The visual schedule will help them know what to expect during the day and the activity that will happen next. If the child is a preschooler, find or take pictures of items to represent the activities during the class time. For a child able to read, consider using words with pictures or words only. It may be helpful to make the visuals in English and the child’s first language.
- Learn the most helpful way to communicate with the child. As you build a relationship with the child and parents, ask questions and most importantly, listen. Listen for clues for how the child learns best. Learn some common phrases in the child’s first language. Consider using a church member who speaks the child’s same language as a resource.
- Alter activities as needed. Use the curriculum as a guide. As activities are selected for each teaching session, you may need to alter them to help all children have the best learning experience. It can be something as simple as including the child’s first language along with English on cards, games, or other visuals.
These tips are beneficial for all children, regardless of what language they speak. We know all children have the same basic needs. However, each child is unique, the way God created him or her. Our task as teachers is to consistently teach boys and girls the Bible in a way they can learn and understand.
Churches throughout the Southern Baptist Convention will celebrate children’s ministry (ages birth-preteen) on Sunday, July 19, 2020. This is a great day to thank God for the ministry to kids, their families and their volunteers your church provides. This year’s Children’s Ministry Day may look differently than in past years. Your church may be meeting online, gathering for family worship, or offering children’s classes again.
No matter how your church is meeting this summer, use this day to remind kids of their importance in the church and how they can tell others about Jesus. Take some time during the service to recognize and honor kids ministry volunteers who invest in the lives of children and their families. A variety of resources have been created for leaders to use in their church. Click here to find the downloadable items. Select and use the resources that best meet the needs of your church. How do you plan to celebrate Children’s Ministry Day in your church?
By Shelly Harris
We practice Bible skills at church, but how often do we encourage families to practice Bible skills at home? Right now families are spending more time at home together. This is a great time to help families develop Bible skills with their boys and girls. Invite families to try these suggested activities.
- Encourage babies/toddlers to touch the Bible as you share that it is a special book.
- Using your hand to guide their hands, help babies and toddlers to turn the pages of the Bible. As you turn, point out the names of the Bible books or names in the Bible (such as Adam, Eve, God, Jesus, Moses, Peter).
- Tell a brief Bible story.
- Write the name of a Bible person on a piece of paper and help preschoolers find a matching name in the Bible.
- Gather toy musical instruments or pots and pans and create a rhythm while you practice saying a Bible verse or phrase of a Bible verse.
- Place a Bible marker in the Bible at a verse (example: 1 John 4:16b). Help your preschooler open to the verse and practice repeating the words or phrase after you (example: God is love).
- Name a book of the Bible for younger kids to find in their own Bible. Help them use the table of contents as needed.
- Select a verse and challenge kids to memorize it (examples: Psalm 56:3 or Ephesians 4:32). Find fun and unexpected places to write the verse to help them remember the challenge (on the bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker, on a notecard taped to the pantry door).
- Help kids develop the habit of daily Bible reading by helping them select a book of the Bible to read a chapter from each day.
- Guide kids to use a Bible atlas, the maps in the back of a Bible, or a map online to locate important Bible places (Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee).
- Challenge boys and girls to open to a Bible book you name on their first flip or turn.
- Name a Bible book and invite kids to name the book that comes before and the book that comes after.
Not all acts of disobedience are the same meaning that not all acts of discipline should be the same. In this post we will consider how 2 Timothy 3:16 provides helpful guidance for teachers or parents in helping choose the right course of discipline when a child misbehaves.
Disciplining a child is one of the more challenging aspects of classroom management or parenting. Not only is disciplining a child one of the least desirable aspects of being a teacher or parent, knowing how to discipline—what discipline is deserved—is often the most difficult part of all. There has to be a better way than extending the same discipline for every offense, or spinning a homemade “Wheel of Discipline” to choose how we will respond when a child misbehaves. Thankfully there is: 2 Timothy 3:16 overlaid on top of a common way to categorize our theological convictions.
If you have spent any time on Twitter, you know that people like to bicker over pretty much every doctrine there is. While sometimes we need to go to bat to defend a foundational doctrine and be willing to divide over disagreement (e.g. Jesus being the only way to salvation), there are other times when we need to agree to disagree in unity (e.g. our understanding of the end times) or not even worry about our differences (e.g. the color of carpet in the fellowship hall). We can think of these three categories as first level issues (agreement is of vital importance), second level issues (agreement is important, but disagreement can exist), and third level issues (agreement is not important).
First Level Discipline Issues. This would be disobedience that stems from an intentionally disrespectful and disobedient heart toward God or others. Whatever act of disobedience springs from this heart posture deserves the strongest of responses, a rebuke according to 2 Timothy 3:16. These offenses cannot be treated lightly or ignored because the heart of the child is at stake. For his or her own good, we need to intervene to provide a loving, but firm rebuke.
Second Level Discipline Issues. This would be disobedience that stems from what can be thought of as natural sinfulness. Unlike first level discipline issues, the child’s heart is not openly defiant against God or others, but they are still pursuing sin, requiring correcting according to 2 Timothy 3:16. We want to point out how the child has sinned and how that sin dishonors God and hurts him or her. We also want to coach the child on how to resist such sin in the future.
Third Level Discipline Issues. This would be either sins committed in ignorance or accidents because of a child’s carelessness. This level of discipline requires the “softest” response we find in 2 Timothy 3:16—training. Many times the child may not even know he or she did something wrong. Because there was no intention to sin, rebuke and even correction would not be fitting, but rather training—instructing the child in how to glorify God in his or her conduct in that situation.
You surely have noticed that I did not provide any specific ways to rebuke, correct, or train. That’s because there is no “right” way. Each child is different so rebuking, correcting, and training may look entirely different from one child to the next and it will likely look vastly different from a classroom to the home.
But here are three final tips on how to discipline a child.
First, never discipline out of anger. That means absolutely ever. Discipline in anger is an oxymoron. Discipline is always done out of love with a view of what is best for a child. Discipline in anger is done to feed the adult’s pride and can lead to physical, mental, or emotional abuse.
Second, discipline in the classroom must follow the church’s policies and procedures.
Third, discipline and grace are not mutually exclusive. Look for times and ways to extend grace to the child—for all three levels—to paint a beautiful picture of the grace God extends to us in Christ Jesus.
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.
By Ken Hindman
One of the critical responsibilities you have as a leader of preschool and children’s ministry is choosing great curriculum. You need to choose a curriculum that fits your discipleship and spiritual education needs for the kids at your church. For the past 30 years, I have witnessed a flood of curriculum resources targeted to kids. Let’s face it, the resources provided for kids is big business. This provides you with many options to consider, but is having these options always the best? Here are a few things to consider as you select curriculum for preschool and children’s ministry:
- Biblically Based
- Please read through the curriculum and make sure all items that are provided to support a teaching session are biblically based. Does it point the leader and the learner to the Bible? If not, you do not want that curriculum.
- Transformational Teaching
- Make sure the curriculum you choose points kids to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This transformation occurs only when a child moves from being an unsaved sinner to being saved through the blood of Jesus Christ.
- By now, you must know a two-year-old learns differently than a 2nd grader. Make sure the curriculum offers a wide variety of teaching options for younger, middle, and older preschoolers and younger, middle, and older kids.
- Interactive Learning
- Does the curriculum support the use of multiply modalities? If not, it is not going to be a good option for kids. Kids must move in order to learn. When kids are encouraged to use their senses to learn, the knowledge gained is retained at a greater rate and for much longer. I encourage you to make sure your curriculum choice allows kids to be kids. For the most part, kids do not like to sit in chairs all the time while attending your class.
- Teacher Training Support
- How do you train your teachers, leaders, and volunteers? The best curriculum choices will provide teaching training resources. Remember, a classroom is only as good as the teacher. Teachers are better when they are trained, equipped, and encouraged.
- Are kids learning how to apply the Bible to their life? I think it is important the curriculum teaches kids to be able to apply what they are learning to their everyday life.
- Maybe you have an unlimited budget, but I do not. I must make sure the curriculum I choose is a wise purchase. Am I getting the best value for my money? If I pay for a company’s curriculum and it is provided in an online format, it might not be the best option if I am spending tons of money every week to print out the products for each individual classroom.
- Curriculum Evaluation
- I would encourage you to walk through a curriculum evaluation process every 5-6 years. Products, price, and values, the needs of your church, ministry, and kids change. Take some time and do a thorough evaluation of the curriculum you currently use.
Joshua 1:9 states the following, “As for me and my house, I am going to choose to serve the Lord.” For myself, and the ministry I lead, the curriculum of choice is Bible Studies for Life produced by LifeWay. We use this curriculum because it meets all of the requirements I have mentioned. Plus, it provides colorful take home pages for kids, online support, curriculum resources for Babies, Ones and Twos, curriculum in Spanish, and curriculum for all ages of special needs learners.
Ken Hindman serves as the Children’s Pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee. He has served in preschool and children’s ministry for twenty-six years. He is a graduate of The University of Alabama with a BS degree in Childhood Education. Ken and his wife, Kristina, live in Arlington, Tennessee with their two sons, Mack (20) and David (18). He was named Staff Member of the Year in 2003 by the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Ken is the creator of Marketplace, a hands-on biblical learning experience for kids. Ken has designed a variety of programs for preschoolers, children, and families such as Resurrection Journey, Kid$ense, Creation Station, TeamKid Camp, Fall Fun Fest, and Journey to Bethlehem.
No doubt these last several weeks in ministry have been challenging. We’re discovering new ways to minister and lead while not meeting in person. As you’re creating and discovering new ways to minister. I encourage you to connect with your leaders. They may need your encouragement and ministry more now than ever before. Consider the following ways to connect with your kids ministry leaders during this time.
Communicate with Them: Your leaders need to hear from you. Be careful not to overload them with information, but to communicate important church information. Keep the information concise. Don’t assume they’ll “hear” it from social media, other emails, or another way.
Encourage Them: We all need encouragement. With the feelings of anxiousness, uncertainty, and fear, we need to be reminded God is in control and we can trust Him. The leaders need to know you care for them and you’re praying for them. Send a text, an email, a video message, a note in the mail or use video conferencing. Share a Bible verse and include a word of encouragement. Use this time to become closer to one another.
Equip Them: Even if you’re unable to meet in person, you can still equip your kids ministry leaders. Equip them spiritually. Offer suggestions for digital Bible studies, devotionals, and links to worship music. Equip them as teachers. Suggest articles and podcasts on kidsministry101.com. This free website shares practical helps for kids ministry leaders. Share with them ideas of ways they can connect with the kids in their classes. See this article for ideas on connecting with families. Additionally, share ways teachers can use digital platforms to connect with kids and their families. In doing this, it’s imperative your teachers have access to their students’ contact information, such as child’s name, parents’ name, phone number, email, and mailing address.
During this time, find ways to intentionally connect with your leaders. We’ve been given an opportunity to minister to our leaders as well as to the kids and families in our churches. Communicate, encourage and equip your leaders. In what other ways do you plan to connect with your team?