Category Archives: Children’s Ministry

Why Do We Have to Go to Church?

This morning, as we were getting ready for church, our eight year old daughter blew up in frustration and yelled, “Why do we have to go to church?”

Instead of responding with a quick answer, I was actually glad she asked the question. I would rather have my daughters ask good questions  and learn to think for themselves.

After leaving a full-time church job a few months ago, our family hasn’t really had to attend church. Each Sunday we have a choice whether to attend or not. And our girls know that.

So why do we attend church? Even the author Donald Miller has written about his personal struggles with attending church.

This month we are focusing each week on one of our family values. This week we are focused on the value of faith and answering Anna’s question of why we need to go to church is definitely part of the conversation. Notice it is really about why we NEED to attend church instead of HAVE to attend.

So here is my attempt at how I would answer the question of why church attendance is important to our family. Read the rest of this entry

Advertisements

Incorporating Children into Worship Services

One of the values we hold at Mountair Christian Church is that children are an integral part of the church. They have spiritual gifts that can be used and developed even while they are still children. Our hope is that they feel valued and incorporated into every part of the worship service as possible. Some churches keep children away from the adult worship services but we believe that by taking part in the worship services, children learn the practices and liturgy of the faith. Read the rest of this entry

Does Your Church Have a Kid’s Table?

There is a positive wave of conversation right now in youth ministry circles critiquing the youth ministry practices of segregating teens from the adult congregation. The folks at the Fuller Youth Institute have been researching what makes faith continue into adulthood. A big finding is that students who are involved in the adult community of faith have a longer, lasting faith. Here is a video that summarizes some of the questions and findings from their research:

One small change that we have made lately is making every 5th Sunday a Family Sunday. The children don’t go to Sunday School and we reformat our whole service to be family friendly. Our last Family Sunday we designed a Family Feud game show between two families and for the message our pastor interviewed his son. The big unifying message was about the effect that parents have on their child’s faith.

What does your church do to integrate children and youth into the life of the congregation?

Healthy Sexuality: Talking to Your Kids about Sex

Whether we like it or not, our children already are learning about sex from their friends and classmates. Even our six year old daughter learned the word “sexy” from her kindergarten classmates. As parents we have to step in and educate our children about a healthy view of sexuality even at a young age. If we hold off on “The Talk” until late elementary, we are way too late.

Hillary and I knew when our daughter came home from school saying the word “sexy” that we needed to start talking about healthy sexuality with her. The problem was that we didn’t know how to start the conversation. We have always appreciated the wisdom and practical insights that author and speaker Jim Burns brings to the table. So when we heard that he developed a whole series of books to help parents talk about healthy sexuality, we knew we had to get them.

One of the best parts about this Pure Foundations series of resources is that they provide resources to start the conversation with young children. We read the first book, God Made Your Body, to our daughters who are six and four. This first book is designed for children ages 3-5 and starts the conversation about sexuality by talking about how boys have penises and girls have vaginas. It also talks about how dads and moms “make love” and that is how the process of having a baby is started. Some parents might feel uncomfortable saying the words “penis” and “vagina” with their kids but I think it is important to call it what it is and provide a place for open conversation early on. Honestly, it made me uncomfortable to say those words but I would rather my girls hear those words from me before they hear it from their friends.

That same night I also read our oldest the second book in the series called How God Makes Babies, which is written for children ages 6-9. I joked with Hillary in the past that she would be the one to have “The Talk” with our girls. I wasn’t real excited to talk to our girls about sex. Before I knew it, I was having “The Talk” with Anna as we read through the book. This second book in the series is more frank about moms and dads having sex. I appreciated how Burns talks about the sacredness of sex within marriage even in a book for children. As we read Burns’ description of the act of sex, Anna asked me, “How does the man make it fit in the woman? Does it take surgery or something?” At that point I knew we were really having “The Talk” and I had to make sure that I didn’t laugh, but handle her question honestly.

Another section of How God Makes Babies that I really appreciated was when Jim Burns talks about how our private areas are not meant to be touched by anyone except for doctors or parents while taking a bath. In this day and age, our children need honest conversations on topics like this for their protection. Hillary and I have been working hard to talk to our daughters about how parts of their body are meant to be covered because they are special.

I would highly recommend this Pure Foundations series to parents out there who want to start the conversation on healthy sexuality. For parents of children in middle and high school there are two other books specifically for those age groups. Purity Code is written for middle school students and their parents. Accept Nothing Less is written for high school students and their parents. Jim Burns also wrote a parent companion book to this entire series called Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality.

Here is a brief video of Jim Burns explaining this Pure Foundations series.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWXKe6YM7ck%5D

Missional VBS: Out of the Church and into the Neighborhoods

Spunky and Dunky

The apostle John writes of Jesus, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14). Tonight our First Kids ministry is trying an experiment in following the missional example of Jesus and moving our Vacation Bible School program into the neighborhoods.

Historically First Presbyterian Church has done VBS like any other church and hosted VBS at the church. There are benefits to doing VBS at the church but increasingly it is harder and harder to invite neighbors to a church building. Culture is changing and the church needs to change its strategy in response. We have “franchised” our VBS program into four homes in our city in hopes of bringing in more children from the neighborhood. For years we have been encouraging families to see their neighborhood as a mission field and this is the next step in that strategy.

We are already seeing more children sign up for VBS this year, especially neighborhood children. I am excited to see what kind of impact this has on the neighborhoods and families represented. I am also thankful that I am at a church that is willing to try something new!

Instead of using canned VBS curriculum we decided to develop our own curriculum around two monkeys that we use for our Children’s Message each Sunday. We weaved the story of the Prodigal Son into a story about Spunky and Dunky and their lives in the jungle. We had some fun with using a green screen to shoot three videos that tell the story. This way the story can be the same at all four homes this week. Below is a trailer for the series. Pray that the love of God will be felt by all the children and families that take part this week. We are excited to see what God will do in and through us!

Calming the Storm: Family Lent Devotions for the Week of 3/27

A 1st century boat on the Sea of Galilee - Taken by Joel Newton

Big Idea: Jesus is not just another good religious teacher, he is the Son of God

Location:

  • For this family devotion, a change of location is needed
  • Find a local lake, the bigger the better, around where you live
  • Find a time when the weather is not too cold and travel to the lake for your family devotions Read the rest of this entry

St. Patrick for Kids

Here is the story of St. Patrick for kids courtesy of Veggie Tales

See you in a week! I’m taking a little blogging sabbatical for spring break to enjoy some family time in Colorado.

Journey to Easter: Family Devotions for Lent

Today I am working on a set of family devotions for the season of Lent. My hope is that this will provide us with a valuable tool to help our children experience what it was like to be one of the disciples journeying with Jesus. What did they see? What did they think? How did it make them feel to watch their Master go through what he did?

Here is an outline of the devotions:

Week of…

March 6 – Peter and Andrew follow Jesus – Luke 4

March 13 – Jesus heals the captain’s servant – Luke 7

March 20 – Jesus feeds the 5000 – Matthew 14

March 27 – Jesus calms the storm – Luke 8

April 3 – Jesus welcomed into Jerusalem – Luke 21

April 10 – Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples – Luke 26

April 17 – Jesus’ death – Luke 27 – to be done on Good Friday

April 24 – Jesus’ resurrection – Luke 28 – to be done on Easter

I will be writing these devotions with a target audience of preK-2nd grade but you can tailor them to your children. They will last about 15-20 minutes and will include activities to drive home the message and experiential ways to immerse the children in the stories. My goal will be to get the devotion out by Monday of each week. This week’s lesson will be done this afternoon.

 

Here’s a link to the Family Lent Devotions for 2012

Feedback and Why it Scares the “You-Know-What” Out of Me

Asking for feedback scares the “you-know-what” out of me. But I need it. One of the things that my time at Apple taught me was to elicit honest feedback and respond to it in a healthy way. In Apple Retail we used a system called NetPromoter to gauge how we were enriching the lives of customers. I was addicted to reading customer’s comments and then helping our team respond to what our customers were needing.

So today I sent out a survey to the parents at First Presbyterian Church to get a vibe for how we are doing in meeting their needs. It is hard to read some of the comments and not take them personally, but I am addicted to reading them.  One of the questions we asked them was, “How likely are you to recommend our church based on our Family Ministry programs?” It is this question that we are paying particular attention to.  We want to have a program that people are proud of and talk to others about. I desperately want to know how we are doing and how we can improve our ministries here. I love reading the responses of those who are honest about the ways that we need to improve. Specific feedback is gold to me right now.

How do you receive feedback in your church or job? How do you rise above taking it personally and use it to improve how you do your work?

Rethinking Sunday School

Our educational system is broken. Culture has changed and yet our educational methods have stayed the same. We invent new disorders to explain why our children can’t sit still in our outdated classrooms. Something needs to change. The same goes for our educational methods in the church. Moving toward the entertainment model with cool videos and a kid-centered worship band isn’t it either. Just because kids are happy and entertained doesn’t mean they are learning.

So what does a new educational environment look like? I don’t know yet but I am driven to find out. I would love for the church to step out and innovate.

Here is a great video that spurred my imagination this morning:

What do you think? What will the new learning environments look like?