Oct 27
2011

Your Face Says It All

Posted in: Weekends

Every October my daughters and I have a huge, life-changing decision to make about faces.  What face are we going to carve on our jack-o-lanterns?  You only get one shot, and if you mess it up, you have to wait an entire year before you get to carve another one.    That is a ton of pressure!

So we take every precaution to get our faces as perfect as possible.  We draw out several different designs on paper, compare it to our actual pumpkins and decide which ones we want to use.  Then we carefully draw out the faces in pencil and double check them against the original design before I put it under the knife.

Over the top?  Maybe a little, but when it comes to crafty stuff in my house, that’s just how we roll.  After all, these things are on display for our entire cul-de-sac to see night after night.  The result?  Jack-o-lantern masterpieces!  Okay, maybe they’re not perfect, but they are very intentional.

If only I were so intentional when it comes to my own face.  The expression of our faces is far more important than we realize.  So often we come in to the weekends preoccupied with all that we have to do.  We have lessons to lead, kids to corral and chaos to manage.  Too many times, my face and yours says to kids that we are busy, stressed or at the very least, distracted.

This weekend I was reminded that when it comes to Children’s Ministry, what we communicate with our faces is a big deal.  I was in the back of the room at our Danville campus when I saw a boy approach a Life Group Leader named Mary.   When she saw him coming, her face instantly lit up with total joy.  Her expression said, “You are loved.  You are precious.  I am so glad you came to see me.”

It was genuine, and it was striking.  It was a holy moment.  I’m not exaggerating to say that it was like seeing the face of God.  It’s the way the Father lights up when He sees His kids.

Mary let the Holy Spirit shine on this kid simply by letting out the light God has placed inside of her.  I don’t know what this kid’s week had been like, but I can tell you that the reaction he got had to have totally changed his day.

Proverbs 15:30 says, “a cheerful look brings joy to the heart.”  The way we physically react to kids matters.  Our message of love isn’t just a matter of words but of unspoken body language that communicates their value to the Father.

So, this weekend, smile A LOT.  Let God’s love burst forth every time you see one of His kids so they will have no doubt that about how much they mean to Him.

 

Oct 18
2011

Lights, Camera, Action

Posted in: Vision

If you’ve served for any time at all in Southland’s Children’s Ministry, you’ll know we are blessed with fantastic large group programs.  Thanks to our talented volunteers, the stuff that happens on our stages is out of this world.   In the last couple of years, though, we began asking ourselves how we can capture some of the best of what we do to set up new Southland campuses to create amazing experiences for kids. 

Enter the cameras!   A couple of months ago, we installed our first camera package in our 3rd-5th grade Children’s Ministry environment.  Each weekend we video all of the worship, drama and teaching that happens on our stages to pass off to our Danville campus and will eventually send the same programs to Richmond Road. 

For the past month our Danville volunteers have taken the footage and scripts from Harrodsburg Road and have used it for rehearsal for their own large group programs.  Just imagine if you were a teacher at our Danville or Richmond Road campus.  Think of how much easier it would to be to prepare if you could watch a video of someone doing your lesson live on stage.   Our Danville children’s worship leaders are also able to use video of Harrodsburg Road worship to enhance their own services and give their kids a bigger experience.  Because of this technology we are also able to show dramas each week that we would never have enough people to be able to pull off live on all of our campuses.

I can tell you from seeing it in action myself that our Danville team is taking the Harrodsburg Road content and knocking it out of the park!  But don’t just take my word for it, here is a link to some video from last weekend’s large group program at Danville using curriculum that was shot a month ago at Harrodsburg Road:

Danville Club Orbit 

We are now synced up in 3rd-5th grade and over the coming months we will be phasing in cameras in both K-2nd grade and preschool.  By the time our Richmond Road campus opens in January of 2013 we will have full video support in all of our preschool and elementary environments.    So, as you see cameras moving into your rooms on the weekend, know that they are here to equip all of our campuses to help kids experience God’s big story wherever they happen to attend. 

If you volunteer on one of our stages, know that soon God will be using you to serve kids on three different campuses!  If you’re a Life Group leader, you can also help by giving our staff feedback of what worked well or what didn’t work in your weekend curriculum.  Because we’re operating on a one month delay, we can pass what you’ve learned on to our other campuses so they can hit the ground running and more effectively reach the kids God sends their way. 

It’s exciting to be a part of one big Children’s Ministry team in many different locations.  I can’t wait to see how God will use each of you on all of our campuses to help kids discover God’s awesome plan for their lives.

Jul 20
2011

When You Just Don’t Feel Like It

Posted in: Vision

You ever have one of those weekends when you  just don’t feel like serving?  Yeah, me too.  True confession time.  I did NOT want to work in Children’s Ministry on 4th of July weekend.  Why?  Two reasons.  First, we would have several leaders out for the holiday weekend.  Second, we were using video curriculum which meant I didn’t even get to teach.  

Think about it.  I knew we’d be low on leaders, but we had no idea how low we’d be on kids.  That meant I was probably looking at a weekend that was more about crowd control than life change. 

I’d just come off of our Off the Hook production where people were telling me right and left how God had used the experience to impact them in a huge way.  What an awesome privilege!  But now, I felt like I was going to spend the weekend babysitting.  Babysitting!  The word every Children’s Ministry leader hates! 

We don’t want to babysit.  We want to impact the next generation!  We want to reach kids and families with the amazing truth of God’s word.  But with few leaders in the room, that takes a backseat to just keeping things orderly and safe. 

Who wants to spend their weekend in survival mode?  Not me!  So, I had a rotten attitude Friday night and Saturday morning.  I love Children’s Ministry so much that that rarely happens, but every time I thought about going in that weekend, I cringed.   At a wedding the night before, I got to hang out with some of my team, and I could tell they were probably feeling the same way. 

Then God kicked my tail.  Saturday morning He clearly knocked me in the face with the story of Gideon – a story about a guy who was about to go to battle with a huge army, but God told him to send most of them home.  God wanted to show off, and Gideon had way too many soldiers for God to do His thing. 

I heard the message loud and clear.  God was saying, “I do my biggest stuff when people have the least to work with.   Just watch what I can do.”   He also reminded me that if anyone else had referred to the weekend as babysitting, I’d be ready to start a fist fight.  What was I thinking calling it that myself?

It didn’t matter what numbers we had, God’s kids were coming to church!  It didn’t matter which leaders showed up.  They would be the elite – God’s special forces who could take major kingdom ground whatever the odds! 

At that point, everything changed.  My attitude did a 180 as I began to pray for God to do big stuff.   Our team got together before the Saturday service and prayed for God to do something amazing.  And guess what?  He did! 

I had one of my all time favorite weekends in 16 years of Children’s Ministry.  I ended up ditching the video and teaching my heart out in preschool.  God showed up and He brought plenty of leaders with Him.   The kids walked away excited about God that weekend because I finally stopped feeling sorry for myself and got on board with what God was doing.

Bottom line?  Don’t be like me and let your attitude or expectations make you miss out on what God wants to do.  Jesus said His Father is ALWAYS at work.   Always!   Even on weekends we’re tired.  Even on weekends we’re stressed.  Even on weekends we just don’t feel like serving. 

We can either join Him or miss the boat.  So, on those weekends you’re just not at your best, read the story of Gideon and invite God to remind you that He does His biggest stuff when we have the least to bring to the table.

Jun 6
2011

Welcome to the Epic Story of Children’s Ministry!

Posted in: Uncategorized, Vision

Who doesn’t love a good story?  Do you remember your favorite stories as a kid?  One of my favorite parts about serving in Children’s Ministry is that every week, I get to help tell the greatest story of all – God’s story! 

If someone asked you to tell them God’s story, where would you start?  Adam & Eve?  Creation?  Earlier than that?   Where would you end? 

The fact is that God’s story actually spills past the edges of the Bible, going back before creation and continuing long after the early church.  God didn’t stop moving after the apostle John wrote the final words of the book of Revelation. 

No, the fact that you’re reading this right now is a great reminder that God’s people have continued to tell His story to the next generation who told the next generation and on and on and on until someone told you that there is a God who loves you, who’s so crazy about you that He in fact died for you, and now you get to pass this amazing story on to someone else.

And that’s why you’re serving in Children’s Ministry.  Because it’s time to pass the baton.

Psalm 78:6-7 talks about this awesome picture of the Israelites telling their kids about what God had done for them, the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, “so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God . . .”

It’s absolutely mind-blowing to think that God’s story intersects with your story, that He influenced the people who influenced the people who influenced the people who influenced you.  Now, it’s your turn.

God’s story has led up to this very moment, and the responsibility and privilege of passing it on is your hands.  No pressure, right?  No, actually.  No pressure.  Only joy and honor that we get to influence the next generation by showing up in a Children’s Ministry room week in and week out, loving on kids and watching His story and your story become a part of their story. 

That will be a tale worth telling long after all of us are gone.

May 9
2011

Permission to Stop

Posted in: Groups

For the last few weeks, I’ve invited some of our Children’s Ministry team members to guest post here on the Magnetic Ministry blog.  Up this week –  Tobi Florence, 3rd-5th Grade Groups Leader.  Tobi leads our 3rd-5th Grade Life Group Leaders and Welcome Hosts.  You can read more from Tobi on her blog, Intentional Parenting.

 

Last winter my son came home with a report card that was not in line with his abilities. When his dad and I asked why he had these grades, his response was a very irritated, “I don’t know.” After several unsuccessful attempts to drag some real conversation out of him, we decided that talking was clearly not going to produce the results we desired. We spoke to his teacher and learned that most of the issues seemed to stem from lack of effort rather than lack of knowledge.

Resolution—Take away the distractions.

Translation—No TV, video games, or computer on school nights.

This was not well received! All three of our kids moaned and groaned over it day after day. Remarkably my son came to me one day and said, “Thanks Mom for taking away the video games and TV and stuff during the week.”

 WHAT?!?!

No kidding, that’s what he said! Of course I wanted to hear more… I asked, “Really?” He then began to tell me that it was really hard for him to have the self control he needed to choose homework or studying when the temptation was there to do things that were more fun.

Of course, I realize that most kids aren’t going to verbally come to thank you for not allowing them to do something they love, but they absolutely feel appreciation in their hearts. Kids crave boundaries and discipline. Not only that, God calls us to them. Proverbs 19:18 says, “Discipline your children while you still have the chance; indulging them destroys them.” One definition of discipline is “training to act in accordance with rules” . If we can begin to view discipline in this positive light, the possibilities are limitless!

May I challenge you to take this definition of discipline to your Life Groups and bless your children with it?

Establish some boundaries for the kids. Get their buy-in. Put them in writing. Review them weekly, as needed.

Your group time will be even more fun than it is now, and the kids will feel safe and loved when they know that you are in charge.

–  Tobi Florence, 3rd-5th Grade Groups Leader

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