Jana Magruder, Director of LifeWay Kids, joins us on the podcast this week to unpack the research in her new book, “Nothing Less: Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith.” Her book unveils a study that looks at the faith characteristics of current adults and looks at the parenting practices and habits they were exposed to growing up. As kids ministry leaders and as parents, how can we settle for “nothing less” than what truly matters?
Jeremy Echols, leads the CentriKid Camps team for LifeWay Kids , joins the podcast this week explaining steps kids ministry leaders can take to prepare practically and spiritually for camp.
“Daddy, I wish that we were in Mama’s Corvette,” my nine-year-old Nash said. I was caught off guard and quickly shot back, “Do what?” “The Corvette. I wish that we were in Mom’s Corvette,” he replied.
As fun as I think it would be, our family of six does not, in fact, have a Corvette. We do, however, have a well-used Acadia. Somewhere, somehow Nash had gotten the names mixed up.
This misconception led me to think about how we get things mixed up in life and how important it is that we clearly teach our kids in words and ways that they can understand best. That’s exactly why LifeWay developed the Levels of Biblical Learning. It’s intentional in its plan and its terminology for helping parents and teachers disciple the kids God has entrusted to their care.
We wouldn’t expect a first grader to have a developed sense of the Trinity, but we do want him to understand that God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This concept is part of a deeper foundation that is laid even as the child is a baby and we teach him that God made me (Father), Jesus told people about God (Son), and God helps me (Holy Spirit).
With each passing year, a child’s ability to understand more about who God is increasing. With the proper foundation, kids will take each year of learning and build upon that to reach a greater understanding of how much God loves them.
Just as I have work to do teaching my son, Nash, the difference between an expensive sports car and our family-sized SUV, we all have work to do teaching the kids in our ministries about who God is. By providing them with age-appropriate learning concepts through the Levels of Biblical Learning, you can be sure that you are teaching kids the way they learn best!
Sign up to receive an email download of 5 free Levels of Biblical Learning posters to hang in your classrooms.
Jeff Land is Publishing Team Leader for Bible Studies For Life: Kids. He holds a BSW from Mississippi College and a MACE from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jeff has served as children’s pastor and currently teaches second graders each week at his church. Jeff, his wife Abbey, and their four sons live in Coopertown, TN.
Easter not only provides us with the opportunity to share the gospel message with our guests, but with our regular attending kids as well. One of the greatest joys of kids ministries is seeing our kids grow and reach the point where they can respond to the gospel by trusting in Christ. And the great thing about our regular kids is that we don’t have to contain the Easter story to just one Sunday—we can spread it out over several weeks and go even deeper to help move our kids toward saving faith in Christ.
The Gospel Project for Kids team has just released a new Easter Bible study resource called The Big Picture Easter Bundle. If you currently use The Gospel Project in your ministry, you will have an Easter unit included in your Spring 2017 content. However if you do not currently use The Gospel Project, and would like to experience a gospel-centered Easter resource, this may be just what you are looking for. This five-session digital resource can be used in your preschool and grade school classes all five Sundays in April to share the compelling story of the final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry, His crucifixion, resurrection, and appearances to His disciples.
Each session is designed to last one hour and includes downloadable Bible story videos, songs, music videos, leader guides, activity pages, posters, coloring sheets, cards, and more. The Big Picture Easter Bundle includes all of that for preschool and grade school and more for just $74.99. Churches can print as many of the resources as they need for their leaders and kids, making this a one-size-fits-all resource!
The five sessions include:
- The Last Supper
- Jesus’ Triumphal Entry
- Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection
- The Emmaus Disciples
- Jesus Appeared to the Disciples
Each of the sessions will help share the Easter story with your preschoolers and kids, with each one pointing directly to the good news of the gospel through a Christ connection. If you are looking for Easter content to share with your preschoolers and kids, our hope is that The Big Picture Easter Bundle would be a resource that you could use to show your kids God’s love made known to us in His Son, Jesus Christ.
To learn more about The Big Picture Easter Bundle, visit www.gospelproject.com/easter.
Brian Dembowczyk is the team leader for The Gospel Project for Kids. 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.
I’m honored to host friend to LifeWay Kids, Barnabas Piper. We were honored to have him as a presenter at ETCH Family Ministry Conference this year and occasionally rub shoulders with him at our LifeWay offices in Nashville. Barnabas is a dad and often blogs about the joys and trials of parenting. I found this particular blog to be convicting as a parent, but also a helpful tool to share with you as a ministry leader to kids and families.
We all lie to our kids. Sometimes it’s on purpose and for what we deem a good purpose. Sometimes it’s because we so want them to believe something, to feel better, to overcome a challenge, or to work through pain that we will say anything to try to help. Sometimes it’s because we’re idiots and just don’t realize what we’re doing. Here are seven of the most common lies parents tell kids.
1) YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU SET YOUR MIND TO.
Right. Except for all the things you aren’t good at and simply aren’t wired for. Every child can do something well, usually lots of things. But no child can do everything, and we do them a disservice if we encourage them to pursue things they simply can’t succeed at. The challenge is knowing when to let them fail and when to convince them to avoid the road to failure.
2) IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT ANYBODY THINKS.
C’mon, parents. We don’t even believe this. We want to, but we don’t. We are trying to give our children a sense of security and self-confidence that we never developed. And, in fact, what people think does matter. It doesn’t change our children’s value or worth. But it matters because it hurts or helps. It matters because it lifts up or tears down. We know this because we feel it every day.
3) GOOD GRADES MATTER MOST.
Few of us would actually say this. We know we’re supposed to say that character and faith matter most. But our actions often give lie to these sentiments. In a thousand little ways we show our kids that their report card is their validation. We reward the grades but not the effort, overlooking the sweat and tears that went into that B-minus. We give our A-type oldest children achievement complexes that come back to bite them in the butt semester one of college when they get their first B ever. We devalue non-academic talents and soft skills (skills which will actually serve them far better than algebra two) in the pursuit of honor-roll parent status.
4) DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE RESULTS; IT’S EFFORT THAT COUNTS.
The answer to lie #3 is not lie #4. Results do matter. They matter a lot in life, and isn’t life what we are preparing kids for. There are times to comfort a crestfallen child with encouragement about how hard they tried. But they also need to be encouraged with successes. We need to praise their improvement and their results – learning an instrument, giving a speech, shooting a basket, driving a car, getting that B-minus. And we must remember that success is not a static standard. It is different from child to child and from instance to instance. Effort absolutely counts, and generally it leads to good results. But our kids need to learn that sometimes it simply isn’t enough to try hard.
5) IT’S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS.
This is like the lazy version of lie #4. “If you think nice thoughts that’s good enough.” Since when? Learn to express your nice thoughts. Write them well. Give gifts. Make something. Show affection. Be present. Be attentive. Do the work and make the effort to turn thoughts into something visible, tangible, and memorable. The thought counts when it becomes action otherwise it’s just wasted latent potential.
6) GOOD JOB, BUDDY.
This could be the tagline for today’s parents. You finished your French fries? Good job, buddy! You played a lazy game of soccer and lollygagged through the second half? Good job, buddy! You did a simple thing every child should be expected to do? Good job, buddy! Kids need affirmation. But over-affirming the basic standards of behavior or even poor behavior pushes our kids towards a perpetual need for praise for stuff that deserves none. Many of the jobs our kids do are good in that they are done, but the doing doesn’t deserve applause. Acknowledgement, yes. Even a thank you. But not praise. They are just a part of life. And the more we praise the mundane and the expected the cheaper our praise becomes for those things that actually deserve it.
7) IT WILL BE OK, I PROMISE.
This is the lie told with the best intentions. It is what we say when our children are frightened or hurt and we can’t do a thing about it. We cannot fix it. We cannot heal it. So we say, “the Sun will come out tomorrow” – it will be ok. But we don’t know that. Tomorrow might be worse. We cannot promise it will be ok. I mean, we know it will be ok because God promised it would be, but He didn’t promise we would feel better.
So maybe this isn’t a lie. Certainly not if we point them to promises that will be kept. Not if we tell them, yes, it will hurt but God is still good. Not if we say we will stand by them and help them and pray for them. “It will be ok” is a cheap phrase on it’s own – a platitude we utter in helpless moments. But it doesn’t have to be. It can be lift their little eyes to something and someone bigger than themselves that will not fail them.
Barnabas Piper lives in the Nashville area helping churches with leadership development. He is the author of The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity, Help My Unbelief: Why Doubt is Not the Enemy of Faith, and The Curious Christian: How Discovering Wonder Enriches Every Part of Life.
Here are three easy-to-create and fun-to-play Bible skill games to use this Christmas season. All items were purchased at Dollar Tree so they are very inexpensive.
- 1 piece of green poster board
- Thin tinsel garland
- Fold one large piece of green poster board in half (long edge to long edge). Draw ½ of a Christmas tree (crease toward the middle of the tree). Cut both sides of the poster board following the drawn line. Open the poster board to reveal a Christmas tree. (For a more sturdy game, consider laminating the tree.)
- Punch holes at the tips of each “branch” on the Christmas tree.
- Print portions of a chosen memory verse (Isaiah 9:6 is a great verse) at various punched holes. (For/a child/will be/born/for us,/a son/will be/given/to us.)
- Secure one end of the tinsel garland to the determined starting point. (Make sure the garland is long enough to crisscross the tree at each word or phrase of the verse).
- Lead young children to thread the garland from word (or phrase) to word (or phrase) to complete the verse.
- Option: For older kids, create two trees and allow kids to race to see who finishes first.
- Inexpensive Christmas bows (1 bow for each word in a chosen Bible verse)
- Two medium-sized Christmas gift bags
- On the bottom of gathered bows print the words to a chosen Bible verse (one word per bow). Place one set of prepared bows in a medium-sized Christmas bag. Create two sets.
- Determine a starting point and place the prepared bags on the opposite side of the room.
- Create two teams. Designate a prepared gift bag to each team.
- On start, player one from each team will race to his team’s gift bag, retrieve a bow, and return to his team to tag player two who will do the same. Continue until all bows have been retrieved.
- Teams are to gather the bows, turn them over to identify the verse words, and quickly place the verse in order.
- The first team to get the verse correctly in order wins!
- Wired tinsel garland
- Heavyweight paper Christmas gift tags
- Option: Small plastic Christmas ornaments
- Using a permanent marker, print the words to a chosen Bible verse on individual gift tags (one word per tag).
- Toward the top of each prepared tag, punch a hole.
- Create two sets.
- Determine two teams.
- On a flat surface, place both sets of prepared tags, face up and in random order (include small plastic ornaments as a fun option).
- Give each team a 3-foot piece of wired garland
- On “Start” teams should find the words to the chosen verse (one word at a time) and take turns “stringing” the Bible verse in order on the wired tinsel.
- Option: Add small plastic ornaments between each word of the chosen verse.
Here are other Christmas Bible skill games previously posted on Kids Ministry 101.
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.
- God has called you to your current position to serve as the leader of a Kids Ministry in a local church.
- God has been preparing you to make an impact on kids and their families.
- God never intended you to do all of the work involved in KidMin all by yourself!
Enter … key leaders to serve on your KidMin Team. A wise KidMin leader surrounds herself/himself with a ministry team. The purpose of the team will be to give you guidance, input, and help in making sure that boys and girls are impacted with the gospel and do so in a safe, loving environment. How do you go about choosing the members of your team?
- First, spend much time in prayer asking God to help you wisely choose the members of your KidMin team.
- Provide balance on the team … be sure to include parents and grandparents, Bible study teachers, both men and women, the key leaders of your Kid/Min touch points: VBS, weekday program, Sunday School, discipleship, other key ministries for kids.
- Educate the members as to what you envision them to do: pray for you and with you; help plan your annual calendar; establish and review policies related to your church’s ministry to kids; serve as a sounding board for you related to issues and challenges involved in developing and maintaining a healthy ministry.
- From time to time, communicate with your leaders who serves on your Kid/Min ministry team.
- Establish a schedule for meetings. Don’t just meet to have a meeting … insure that you value and protect the time of your leaders.
Jerry Vogel is an Editorial Ministry Specialist in LifeWay Kids. He is a graduate of Dallas Baptist University and has served over 40 years in Kids Ministry at the local church level as well as at LifeWay. Jerry currently teaches four-year-olds at his church.
Last week, I took the kids at my church to camp.
Every morning we would get up, walk to breakfast, and then head outside on the cafeteria’s empty patio for quiet time. The first morning, I explained to kids that they would follow the guide provided by the camp to read their Bibles, respond by answering questions, and spend time praying. Kids spread out quietly, and then one-by-one they came back to me to ask questions.
I quickly realized that I needed to not only tell them how to have a quiet time, as I’m sure I’ve told them dozens of times at church, but I needed to show them. I herded them into a circle and we proceeded to walk through the quiet time guide together.
These are great kids who are growing up in Christian homes, but many of them needed a little reminder about how to have a quiet time and why it is so important that we spend time with God each day. Your kids might need a frequent reminder as well!
As a children’s minister, one of my biggest goals is to help equip parents to disciple their children; and as a parent, my biggest goal is to point my kids to Jesus. There is no greater thing you can do for your kids than to model following Jesus for them. Let them see you do your quiet time. Help them with their quiet time. Spend time praying and reading the Bible together. There are so many great resources to help you do so today.
I’m a big fan of the Bible journaling movement. I love to draw and meditate on Scripture by writing out a verse. Recently, I’ve discovered that this can be done alongside kids as well! My kids are too small to do this yet…they can’t read, or write, or talk for that matter, but I look forward to the day I can do Bible journaling with them. For now, I’ll have to settle for journaling for them – writing in a Bible I will one day give them.
If you have littles (or like to color yourself), LifeWay Kids Director Jana Magruder and her daughter, Morgan Grace, have created the cutest little journal set for kids. You can grab a set, get your teenager an Illustrated Notetaking Bible for Teens, and get yourself a Notetaking Bible. Sit down at the kitchen table and spend some time together reading, praying, and memorizing as you draw and color.
We are giving away 15 copies of the Life Verse Creative Journal by Jana and Morgan Grace. Enter here!
Mary Wiley works with B&H Publishing now, but she was a member of The LifeWay Kids team for 5 years prior. She lives in Lebanon, TN with her husband, two babies under 8 months, and tiny, hyper dog. She serves as the children’s minister at Fairview Church.
This week’s episode of the LifeWay Kids Podcast features a conversation with John Murchison, the Director of Children’s Ministry at The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX. In our desire to share the gospel with kids, have we neglected to share that same gospel with the volunteers serving with us? The gospel is not just the way to become a Christian, it also sustains and motivates the work of ministry. In this episode John & Jeffrey discuss ways to recruit, train, sustain, and send volunteers with the basis of the good news of Jesus Christ.
This week’s episode of the LifeWay Kids Podcast, we sit down and have a conversation with Sherry Surratt about moms with preschoolers. What do preschool parents worry about? What do preschool moms think about church? As a children’s pastor, what are some practical things that can be done to reach preschool parents in your community? Sherry is the CEO of MOPS International. She lives in Denver with the love of her life Geoff, and has two kids, a beautiful daughter-in-love, & two gorgeous granddaughters. She’s the author of Just Lead! (Leadership for women), Beautiful Mess (a bible study for moms) and Brave Mom: Facing and Overcoming Your Real Mom Fears.