In this week’s episode of the LifeWay Kids podcast, our lead kids ministry specialist, Bill Emeott, sits down to discuss the importance of setting up a classroom. This is an element of kids ministry that has evolved over the years. Setting up a classroom in today’s culture can mean very different things because a classroom setting looks different at every church. For this conversation, we are simply defining a classroom as a physical place where kids will gather. The classroom environment starts with what kind of person is leading that small group, but then it moves to all the physical attributes of the space you are in. Bill and Jeffrey discuss the different types of environments and how that environment impacts the type of setup you need.
As kids grow, their understanding of foundational truth grows with them. In this episode of the LifeWay Kids podcast, Chuck Peters, Jana Magruder, and Bill Emeott discuss the importance of having a framework as we teach the Bible to kids. It’s vital that we understand how God made kids and how they learn at each stage of development. That’s why LifeWay Kids developed a framework called the Levels of Biblical Learning to help kids ministry leaders through this process. We introduce this framework in this episode of the podcast. To go even deeper, LifeWay Kids is also hosting a free, live webinar on Monday, May 9 at 11:30am (CST) that will fully unpack the Levels of Biblical Learning and how this framework can be applied in your church. You can register for free at live.lifewaykids.com.
Teaching Pictures are a powerful tool to use in any classroom, or even at your home. There are many styles of artwork to choose from when considering a teaching picture. The style of art you choose to display is up to you, and could be chosen based on your style of teaching, the environment you are using it in, or even just personal preference. Here are a few things to remember when using teaching pictures in your classroom.
- None of the figures being displayed are the actual people we are teaching about. These are drawings, not photographs. No matter the style of art, these are only an artist’s representation of what a real person looked like. Each artist will draw the same person differently. We can teach our kids to focus on the setting of the image, and not what the people look like, since honestly, none of us knows exactly what any of those people really looked like. (I secretly think we will all be quite shocked one day!)
- Focus on the setting. When we use a teaching picture it should do just that, teach. The art that is chosen for a particular story will serve the purpose of reinforcing the concept or lesson being taught. Use the teaching picture to elicit responses from boys and girls that go beyond the people, to discover what the picture itself is teaching. What does the setting teach about the Bible story? What are the people doing that lead us to learn more about God/Jesus?
- The artwork will convey what you help the girls and boys in your group experience through it. Many times I hear leaders criticizing one style of art while praising another style. In reality, kids today are in a very media driven society and are inundated hourly with photographs and real time video. It may take some work on your part to make sure when kids walk away from your group experience they know that the images of the people and stories in the Bible are as much a reality as the photo they saw this morning posted on their favorite social network.
At the end of the day, the teaching picture is a powerful tool. Teaching pictures can open a child’s imagination and transport them to a place in history. Use the pictures to help those learners connect with a Bible truth, and let that truth dwell in their hearts.
Let us hear some of your stories about your favorite teaching pictures and how you used them to open God’s Word in a new way.
Tim Pollard is passionate about helping kids dig deep into Scripture, which he pursues through his daily work as leader of the Explore the Bible: Kids team. Tim lives with his wife and daughters in Mount Juliet, TN.
- Lead without a personal vision, purpose, mission. Don’t get caught up in every “cute” option that comes along in kids ministry. Know where God is leading you, stay the course, and provide consistency with your leaders and ultimately the kids in your ministry.
- Operate with a “top-down” approach. You have been called to ministry to serve your leaders … not hover in power over them. What have you done lately to “serve” them?
- Neglect personal Bible study and quiet times with God. This is non-negotiable. A leader not in the “Word” is not a leader at all. You need to lead your folks from your overflow of spending time with God.
- Assume your leaders don’t need training. You are their coach. Take this role seriously. Don’t just tell them what to do, but, walk alongside them with steady encouragement.
- Put paperwork before people work. Obviously, some clerical work needs to be done in ministry. However, your number one priority should be to invest in your leaders. Give them your love and your time.
- Forget the power of prayer. Pray regularly for your leaders by name. Let them know that you are praying for them. Even ask them often “how” you can pray for them.
- Assume that change is easy for all of your leaders. Some of your leaders are totally willing to make changes, but, just need a little help understanding the need for change and how it will affect them personally. Take the time to “ease” them into change.
Consider personally addressing one of these for each of the next seven weeks!
Jerry Vogel serves as a Kids Ministry Editorial Specialist with LifeWay Kids. He is married to Janie and has four children and thirteen grand kids. Jerry is committed to enriching the lives of those who teach kids as well as making eternal investments in the lives of children.
How can I do a better job of recruiting volunteers? How can I keep my volunteers once I get them? We could probably give you a formula that would help you in both areas. There are some very creative ways to recruit volunteers and incredible ways to honor them once they serve in your ministry area.
But what if, instead of considering your volunteers as merely servants in your church, which they are, you looked at them as opportunities for discipleship? Looking through this lens might change your leaders, and your KidMin forever.
Listen in as we discuss the “layers” of discipleship that go way beyond the point that volunteers just show up. We’ll touch on some of these points…
- What it means to be a discipled-volunteer
- Casting a vision that will compel leaders to want to volunteer in your KidMin
- Moving beyond the recruitment to the development of leaders
- The Payoff of investing in your volunteers
Jana Magruder serves as the Director of LifeWay Kids. Jana brings a wealth of experience and passion for kids ministry, education, and curriculum writing. She and her husband, Michael, along with their three children attend Forest Hills Baptist Church where she teaches The Gospel Project to preteen girls.
Although we only launched a few months ago, thousands have tuned in to the LifeWay Kids podcast. By far, the most popular podcast of the year focuses on the essence of kids ministry. It’s called “The Top Three Things a Kid Needs To Hear Their Small Group Leader Say.”
You can click here to go to the original posting. (and we recommend it!)
Thanks for being a part of 2015 as we serve you in your ministry of making disciples. We have great things in store and hope that you’ll continue to tune in to our weekly podcasts.
Happy New Year from the LifeWay Kids team!
At LifeWay Kids, we love children and are dedicated to the ministry of resourcing the church to serve them well. For years KMC, LifeWay’s Kids Ministry Conference, has been the place for children’s pastors, leaders, teachers and volunteers to come for information, instruction and inspiration so they might be well equipped for the work of kids ministry.
We are very aware that kids do not stop being children when they leave the sixth grade, and that ministry to kids continues through middle school, junior high and high school. While kids and students do have different, specific needs, the child who grows through the programs within a church needs to feel a sense of consistency and continuity within that church. We at LifeWay Kids believe that we need to walk with kids and families to etch the Word of God onto the hearts and minds of children throughout their entire childhood. The church cannot afford to minister in silos. It is time for us to think beyond our departments with a larger view of the role of the church as we train up our children in the way they should go.
Many churches are moving to a family ministry model in how they structure their staffs. Some call it NextGen, others call it Family Ministry. Whatever you call it, there is a broad trend towards having a single pastor over all kids: birth through high school; and more and more ministry teams want to attend conferences together so they can strategize together.
We want to come alongside you as you equip families and minister to children. So, in order to serve you in the most effective ways possible, we are expanding the LifeWay Kids Ministry Conference to include middle school and high school ministry; to welcome in Next Gen, Student, and Family Ministry leaders & teams.
Next year we will unveil a brand new conference; one that includes everything that is currently KMC, but that also broadens its reach to serve anyone ministering to families. Next Fall, KMC becomes… ETCH.
ETCH stands for Equipping the Church and Home. This new Family Ministry Conference will excite, inspire, and engage your Kids, Student, Next Gen, and Family Ministry teams. We invite you to join us next fall, in Nashville, as we come together as one big, giant family, for ETCH.
See you there!
We know that we’ve got to lead parents into understanding that they are to be the primary spiritual influences in their kids lives. In fact, practically every Christian publisher gives “take-homes” to give to the parents when they pick their kids up. And yet, kids ministry leaders still find that many of the parents are not picking up the mantle of discipleship. In many cases, we find that the papers and items intended to be tools for parents are left on the floors of our churches.
It’s critical that we communicate clearly and consistently to parents as we encourage them to take the disciple-making lead in their kids’ lives.
This podcast features an interview with Jeffrey Reed and provides practical tips on how to make the 30-second hand-off an effective time for your ministry. At recent conferences, this has been a standing-room-only session. Today, however, you can sit down and listen to “30-seconds.”
Jeffrey Reed serves on the leadership team for LifeWay Kids. He came to LifeWay with a wide variety of ministry experiences including worship leader, director of children’s ministry, and executive leadership in several growing congregations. He, his wife Katherine, and their four kids attend The Church at Spring Hill.
It seems every day we are bombarded by more and more fundraising requests on social media. I have seen people using fundraising sites to help pay for funeral expenses, adoption expenses, and in some cases, even vacations! If there’s one thing I’m super uncomfortable with, it’s asking people for money.
While I am definitely not going to light the world on fire with my record for fundraising, there is one question that I am not afraid to ask. I’m not afraid to ask someone to help in the kids ministry area. When I was on church staff, I work with my children’s committee to recruit workers for different areas. Our method: ASK PEOPLE.
It was a little more complicated than that, but it really is the general idea. In my line of work, I hear children’s minister lament frequently about how hard it is to recruit volunteers. Generally, if you ask them what they have done to recruit they will give you some of the following answers:
- “I put it in the church bulletin”
- “It’s all over my Facebook page.”
- “It’s on the church website”
- “The pastor preached about it.”
Friends, let me be real with you for a moment. Those recruitment methods are not really effective. In fact, they are ALMOST pointless. People can hide behind the veil of anonymity in each of these methods. They can placate themselves into believing that because everyone saw this request, someone will respond and there is no need for them to respond. It’s just not personal.
If you really want to recruit volunteers you are going to have to ask people. Here are a few recruiting tips I’ve found to be helpful.
- Pray for God to show you or give you several names of people you have found to be children’s ministry champions. Ask those people to serve on a volunteer recruiting committee.
- Meet with your committee and make a list of names of people known to be growing, solid Christians in the church. Use the adult Sunday School roles to see names of consistent Sunday School attendees.
- Assign each committee member 3-4 names to pray over and determine areas where those people might fit as great volunteers.
- Assign a date in which each committee member will complete his or her task of personally meeting with or calling that person and asking him or her to serve.
- Come back together and celebrate the successes. Thank your committee and remind them that you will help them follow-up with each new volunteer. Follow ALL church policies and procedures for volunteer background checks.
Remember that recruiting volunteers is personal. You can’t rely on a bulletin notification of a need in the 3-year-old class to be your recruitment method. You won’t know if a person is going to say “no” unless you ask him!
Jeff Land loves life! That’s pretty great, because his job here at LifeWay is the Team Leader for Bible Studies for Life: Kids. Jeff loves his life which is so blessed by his amazing wife, Abbey, and their four sons, Reed, Nash, Will, and Tuck. A natural encourager and fun-lover, look for Jeff’s posts about teacher appreciation and game ideas. When not serving at work, Jeff serves 2nd graders at his church, First Baptist Church, Joelton, TN.
We interviewed Trillia Newbell, Director of Community Outreach for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, about her experience and influences in ministry. We’re excited to hear Trillia speak at this year’s Kids Ministry Conference!
What excites you the most about the upcoming Kids Ministry Conference?
Kids ministry is an important aspect of many churches. I’ve always served in some capacity with my church’s children’s ministry. There are some members of our churches who go a full month without hearing a sermon in the context of the Sunday morning service because they are serving and loving the children week after week with little to no recognition. They don’t need recognition because God sees and delights in their service, but so often they are the unsung heroes of the church. What I’m most excited about for this conference is the chance to encourage the faith of children’s ministry workers. I’m praying they would be stirred, refreshed, and energized for the tasks ahead in the next year.
If there is one lesson you could pass on to ministry leaders, what would it be?
I have two things (making up one lesson!) that I continually preach to myself. First, you can’t do it all and do it all well. I’m always tempted to take on more than I can actually do. Unfortunately, when I do this something is neglected or it’s all done half-way. Not that the tasks don’t get done, it’s that they don’t get done as well as they would have if I hadn’t taken on more. It’s been freeing over the past year to say no to many things and know that God will be more glorified in my no than my yes—even when serving seems like a great thing to do.
Secondly, the results aren’t up to me. In other words, whether you are teaching children’s ministry or speaking to a group of women, whatever it is you are doing, how the hearer responds is all dependent on the Spirit’s work and not based on me. That frees me to serve, love, and speak for the glory of God and without concern of myself. I want to be, as pastor Tim Keller says, self-forgetful. As I think less of myself, I can think more about those I’m serving and about Jesus who I love to proclaim!
Who was a big influence early in your ministry?
This is tough to narrow down. There are possibly a number of people I can say, so instead I’ll share a few people and a few ministries.
Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, and The Reformed African American Network were hands-down the three most influential ministries in my life (and remain so). The staff of each organization has helped to encourage my faith, develop my writing, and challenge my thinking. They were incredibly supportive. I’m thankful to God for those ministries. (I can now add the ERLC, which I have the joy of working for.)
I signed a contract with Erik Wolgemuth of Wolgemuth & Associates about three years ago. As my literary agent, he’s probably been the most influential voice (and ear!) in my ministry. He’s wise and helpful, grounded in the gospel and Word of God, and dedicated to seeing God glorified in what I do. He has helped me think biblically about what I’m writing and sharing. In many ways, I wouldn’t have a ministry if he hadn’t seen the potential, and I’m forever grateful for him.
Books, books, and more books. The Lord has graciously given us books. There are many books that helped shape my ministry and thinking, from Future Grace and Bloodlines by John Piper to The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good by Peter Greer. I’ve been blessed to be encouraged by books and writers.
Finally, my family is the biggest influence. I have an incredibly supportive and caring husband who helps direct me and lead me as I serve others. He reminds me that God is good, sovereign, and for me. He reminds me of the gospel when I forget it. He also helps me say no when I need to.
Trillia Newbell is the author of United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity and Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves. Her writings on issues of faith, family, and Christian living have been published in the Knoxville News-Sentinel, Desiring God, Christianity Today, Relevant Magazine, The Gospel Coalition, and more. She currently serves as Director of Community Outreach for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. Trillia is married to her best friend, Thern, and they reside with their two children near Nashville, TN.