In children’s ministry, it is very easy drift into the mindset that you must do everything yourself. This is why the art of delegation is, for many of us, an area of growth in our leadership. Does delegation mean you are working yourself out of a job? How do you know when you need to delegate something? In the newest episode of the Lifeway Kids Podcast, Chuck Peters, Lifeway Kids Director of Operations, sits down with Heidi Hensley, Children’s Pastor at Bayside Church to discuss answers to these questions. Heidi also shares some of her insights and delegation techniques as she leads her team of staff and volunteers at Bayside Church.
God wants to teach the boys and girls in your ministry from the overflow of what He’s already taught you in your heart. Here’s the problem, many of us find ourselves too busy to seek the flow from God’s Word and end up with a “trickle” (at best) instead of the fresh flow that comes from regular personal Bible study.
So, how do you find time in your very busy schedule for this important discipline?
I love teaching Sunday School and I want to be a good teacher to the kids I’m blessed to teach so I’ve decided to make this a priority. Each week I use the Bible content that I’ll be teaching that next Sunday as a guide for my personal Bible study. Each week (when I’m being a really good Bible study teacher) I start early in the week and spend 5-10 minutes a day reading, studying, and considering what God is wanting to teach me through the Bible content I’ll be teaching the kids.
Here’s my plan:
Day 1: Read the text from your Bible. Take out your favorite Bible and read the text … even if you know the account, read it again. God wants to speak to you fresh and new every time you read His Word.
Day 2: Read the “Leader Bible Study” in the leader guide. Take a few minutes on Day 2 to consider what the curriculum provider thinks about the text. In Lifeway’s on-going resources we provide a one-page deeper dive for leaders for each of our sessions.
Day 3: Re-read the text in a different translation. If you always read from the KJV then consider on Day 3 reading from the HCSB (or the other way around). For me, this is where I get out my paraphrased version of the Bible. A paraphrase helps me to hear the text differently and react to the translator’s interpretation.
Day 4: Choose a favorite commentary to read and consider. God has gifted many men and women with a deep understanding of Scripture and many have pinned their thoughts into commentaries. I’m simple, so I like a simple commentary, J Vernon McGee’s “Thru the Bible.” Find one you like (and understand) and enjoy the deeper dive of their thoughts.
Day 5: Read and review the Bible account, as it will be presented in the session. Go back to your curriculum and read, review, even practice how you will present the Bible account to your kids.
Teach kids from the overflow. You’ll enjoy it so much more!
Bill Emeott serves as Lead Ministry Specialist for Lifeway Kids. A graduate of Mercer University and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Bill has served as a Kid’s Minister and currently teaches 2nd Grade Bible study and Kindergarten Choir.
In this week’s episode of the Lifeway Kids Podcast, Chuck Peters, Lifeway Kids Director of Operations, sits down with Dr. Shelly Melia at last year’s Kids Ministry Conference (now called ETCH Family Ministry Conference) to discuss how important is it that we have a distinct philosophy behind what we do in children’s ministry. Having a philosophy helps provide clarity and focus in our ministry and that focus helps us to know what to say yes to and what to say no to. In other words, it’s a critical aspect as a children’s ministry leader, to help build and develop a philosophy for how you do what you do.
Many start out in children’s ministry in reactive mode. To develop a philosophy, you are getting to the 30,000 foot level where you can think about the big picture and become more proactive to your approach. Dr. Melia helps us think about practical steps for how we can start to develop a philosophy of ministry.
Dr. Melia has been in children’s ministry for over 20 years and currently serves as the Director of the Master of Arts in Children’s Ministry program at Dallas Baptist University.
In this week’s episode, we sit down with Dr. Eric Mason (@) at our Kids Ministry Conference in 2015. Dr. Mason is the lead pastor at Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, PA. He is also the founder and president of Thriving, which is an urban ministry organization committed to training leaders for ministry in cities locally, nationally, and internationally.
In this conversation, we talk about the greatest challenges in our culture to reaching kids and families, especially in the inner-city. Dr. Mason shares his insights on what churches can do to reach across ethnic, socioeconomic, cultural and other boundaries to win kids and families to Christ. Dr. Mason also expounds upon how his church has engaged their culture and some practical things they do to reach families and their community.
1 Corinthians 3:10 talks about building a foundation (a great passage for those of us who lead kids ministries). I’ve often thought of myself as a brick mason, laying foundations: brick by brick, one on top of the other. This foundation will be built upon by another “brick layer” and then another, until together we’ve built a spiritual foundation with which a child can grow his life. I think that’s a good analogy for our job of teaching kids the truths of God’s word: truth on truth, precept upon precept, one level at a time.
In the Levels of Biblical Learning®, Lifeway Kids has identified six age levels of understanding that follow how God designed children to learn.
- Younger Preschoolers are developing a sense of trust as needs are met consistently. They are sensing attitudes and expressions of love. As they grow they are can begin to recognize simple pictures of Jesus and sing simple songs about God. Younger preschoolers can listen to Bible stories and will start saying, “Thank You” to God.
- Middle Preschoolers are beginning to understand that God, Jesus, and the church are special. They can identify some Bible people and retell Bible stories. Middle preschoolers recognize that God and Jesus love people and help people in special ways.
- Older Preschoolers are starting to make conclusions about God and see Jesus as a friend and helper. They can use the Bible to find Bible phrases and verses and are beginning to make application to Bible verses. Older preschoolers have developed a conscience and are sensitive to feeling of shame and guilt.
- Younger Kids enjoy learning from their Bibles and are interested in finding out more about God and Jesus and His plan of salvation. They are beginning to have a simple understanding of sin and the gospel.
- Middle Kids are asking serious questions about religion. They are developing values and learning about being truthful and honest. Middle kids have a growing knowledge of sin and sense the need for a Savior.
- Preteens are seeking spiritual answers and beginning to adopt a religious belief system of their own. While forming concepts of personal worth they are developing a value system and can feel very deeply about their own experiences.
God’s plan is for children to grow mentally, physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. As Bible study teachers we will find success when we join God in the way He created kids to learn and teach them at appropriate levels of understanding.
Sixty-six books, categorized in ten divisions and placed in two testaments all brought together to make the greatest story ever told, the Bible. What an awesome privilege to share God’s story with His kids. How do you do it? One foundational level at a time!
On May 9 at 11:30 AM (CST), Lifeway Kids will host a free webinar that will dive deeper into the Levels of Biblical Learning. This webinar, “Growing in God’s Word” will discuss the six age levels, the ten biblical concepts, and the importance of teaching those concepts in age appropriate ways. Plan to join us by registering here!
Bill Emeott serves as Lead Ministry Specialist for Lifeway Kids. A graduate of Mercer University and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Bill has served as a Kid’s Minister and currently teaches 2nd Grade Bible study.
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.