May 2
2011

Preparation Begets Presence

Posted in: Uncategorized

For the next couple of weeks, I’ve invited some of our Children’s Ministry team members to guest post here on the Magnetic Ministry blog.  Up this week – Laura Langley, Preschool Groups Leader.  Laura leads our Preschool Life Group Leaders and Welcome Hosts.  You can read more from Laura on her blog, Think Out Loud.

“Be prepared.” That’s the Boy Scout motto.

My Dad, the ultimate Boy Scout, has drilled this into my head for as long as I can remember.

Extra cash, oil in the car, flashlight, keys, phone, lip gloss (ok, maybe that one came from my Mom.)  The notion was to always be prepared.

I’ve always taken this advice with a grain of salt.  My unfortunate lack of discipline often leads me to be naively optimistic.  Assuming all will be fine, I rarely take the time to fully prepare.

I skim the chapters before class.  I assume I have enough gas to get me there.  I bum a pen off my neighbor.

Preparation begets presence.  A good friend and strong voice in my life shared this with me a couple years ago.  I’m recognizing again and again just how true it is.

When my gas tank is full, my oil is clean and my tires are aired up I enjoy my trip.  I’m not distracted. I’m fully engaged.  I see the scenery.

When I know the material, have read the book and come with questions, I participate on a deeper level.  I bring something of value to the group.

Every day we show up to our jobs, our families, our responsibilities, our kid’s soccer games, our meetings.  But how often are we really present at these events?

I just spent the last year and a half in a quiet, foggy season waiting on the Lord.  I knew God called me to something different, something bigger.  I also knew that there was something significant He needed me to learn before He could open the door for me to go.

I was in a season of preparation, restlessly and expectantly waiting on the Lord.

It was uncomfortable.  It was lonely.  It was disheartening.  But it was worth it.

I’ve begun a new chapter here at Southland, and I can honestly say I’ve been present for it all.  That’s big stuff for me!  As one who has lived in the “checked out” stage for too long, I can’t tell you how alive and engaged I feel today!

The weary wait was worth it.

I’m learning again and again that God is faithful.  The wait is essential.  The preparation is uncomfortable, but His Presence will make your soul full.

I don’t know what you’re waiting for.  I don’t know how or what the Lord is preparing for you.  But I do know it matters.  I do know we need you.

I challenge you to take some time this week to ask God what it is that He’s preparing you for.  Jesus has invited you into an adventure you can’t afford to miss!  I pray God would give you a teachable heart.  I pray you wouldn’t just show up, but that you would actually be present, even in the season of preparation.  

Find the time this week to walk through your material for the weekend.  Sit with your Life Group and listen.  You won’t be distracted.  You won’t worry about what’s coming next.  You may be on the receiving end of a powerful moment.  You may share the joy of Jesus with a child.  You may give an encouraging hug to a weary parent.

 If you show up prepared and ready to meet your kids where they are, you create the conditions for God to show off.  You won’t be thinking about anything else.  You’ll be fully present in the moment.

God has a moment for you this week.  Don’t miss it.

- Laura Langley, Preschool Groups Leader

Apr 25
2011

You Get What You Pay For

Posted in: Uncategorized

For the next three weeks, I’ve invited some of our Children’s Ministry team members to guest post here on the Magnetic Ministry blog.  Up this week – Tyler Johnson, Children’s Ministry Programming Leader.  Tyler leads the team that oversees all of our Large Group program, from worship and storytelling to sets and tech.  You can read more from Tyler on his blog, Paint and Foam.

I love infomercials!!  In fact, I have a strange addiction to buying “As Seen on TV” items.  I own a Shark Steam Pocket Mop.  I use a Swivel Sweeper every week.  I’ve used Power 90 (or the newer P90X).  I currently have bananas sitting in a Debbie Meyer Green Bag.  I have a Turbo Snake hanging under the sink in the bathroom and my kids love it when I make Pancake Puffs on the weekend.  I’m a sucker for the infomercial sell!!

However, nine times out of ten, what I get in the mail is not what I thought it was when I ordered it.  When I ordered Power 90, I thought I was getting a 10 DVD set.  What I got was 10 workouts on a single DVD.  My first Turbo Snake broke the first time I used it, and my Swivel Sweeper doesn’t really swivel anymore.    So many times my wife has to look at me, when the phone is in my hand, and tell me “It’s not worth it.  Tyler, I know they just knocked 1 whole payment off, but it’s not worth it.”

What you pour into these kids however, is worth it.  Rarely do we see the benefit of our work.  I was able to see the result this past week.  A mom and daughter stopped me in the hallway after church and wanted to ask me a question.  The daughter (very shyly) asked me if I would be able to baptize her.  I was thrilled!!  I was ecstatic!!  Of course I would!!  I gave the little girl a hug and told her I was proud of her.  That’s when the mom asked, “Would you baptize me too?”  If I was excited before, I was beyond excited now.  You bet I’ll baptize you!!!

I had no idea the daughter was thinking about baptism, let alone the mom.  But they had been shown the love of Jesus through Children’s ministry.  They had been show love, and now they were ready to accept it.

Never underestimate what you do.  Never underestimate the value of your time you spend with kids on the weekend.  You may not see the fruit of all your hard work.  You may not always see what happens.  But it’s worth it!!  It’s always worth it.

And speaking of worth it, I need to go make a call about this Slap Chop.  If I order in the next 5 minutes, I get a 2nd one for only shipping and handling.

- Tyler Johnson, Children’s Ministry Programming Leader

Apr 18
2011

Goodbye For Now

Posted in: Groups

The school year is almost over and, here in Children’s Ministry, we’re coming to a finish line of sorts.  Many leaders and kids will go their separate ways for the summer.  Kids will soon promote up to the next grade level.  Some leaders will move up with them.  Others will be saying goodbye as their kids move on without them. 

At the very least, leaders will be taking a break and Life Groups will disperse. Even leaders who are serving over the summer will discover that kids’ attendance will be sporadic and unpredictable at best. The end of May really is the end of an era. 

So my question for each us is, “What do we need to do to finish well?”

In Acts 20, we see the apostle Paul saying goodbye to his friends in Ephesus.  He knows that God is about to send him on to Jerusalem to face imprisonment and hardship.  Paul knew he would never see his Ephesian friends again so he tells them, “I now place you in God’s care.  Remember the message about His great kindness!  This message can help you and give you what belongs to you as God’s people.” 

The Bible ends the story by saying, “After Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed.  Everyone cried and hugged and kissed him.  They were especially sad because Paul had told them, ’You will never see me again.’” – Acts 20:36-38 (CEV)

Paul definitely finished well with these guys.  He poured out his heart to them, warned them, encouraged them and said his goodbyes in a meaningful way.

So how about you?  How are you going to wrap up your time with the kids this spring?  What can you do to finish well and give a meaningful goodbye before going your separate ways for the summer?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Tell each child in the group one thing you’ve appreciated about them.  For kids you don’t know very well, just tell them you’re glad you got to hang out with them.  Remind them God loves them.

 

  • Take pictures of your group on your last day together and e-mail them out to the kids’ parents. 

 

  • Give families a card with your e-mail address and encourage them to e-mail you prayer requests and updates over the summer. 

 

  • Write out a prayer that you’ll be praying for each child over the summer and give it to them. 

 

  • Give each child in your group a meaningful token of your love for them.  Maybe it’s a card or a trinket to remind them of your time together.

 

  • For you guys who are into scrapbooking, make some kind of memory book together that represents the year you’ve had.  Have each of the kids sign it or contribute to it in some way.

 

  • Schedule a Life Group reunion party over the summer.  Meet for a picnic and play date at a park or do some other fun summer activity.

 

  • Go outside the box and use your creativity to dream up some totally unique way to say goodbye to your kids.

 

Whatever you do to close out your year with your Life Group, just make it significant.  Use it as another opportunity to remind kids of their tremendous value to you and to their Creator.  This could be your last chance to speak encouragement into the lives of these children.  What are you going to do to make it count?

Apr 4
2011

What’s In It For Me?

Posted in: Adventures In Children's Ministry, Groups, Programming

Let’s face it.  Serving in Children’s Ministry is hard work.  It costs time, emotional energy and sometimes, a little bit of our sanity. 

Some days those precious kids we love are nuts.   Some days we have personal struggles that make serving even more difficult.  Some days we just don’t feel like showing up.

But it’s during those times when God may just surprise us.  Here’s an e-mail I received from Kim, one our amazing magnetic leaders, who reminded me of how you just can’t out-give God.

Jason,

I just have to say that the Children’s Ministry is such a blessing to be part of. I had a really bad week and was pretty depressed before I volunteered this weekend. This week, whether the kids knew it or not, they really were an encouragement for me.

At the end of small groups we were getting ready to pray, and one of the girls wanted to lead the prayer.  When she prayed you could tell that she really got this week’s message (on being generous), and she also thanked God that we are able to go to such a wonderful church. Her prayer was what I needed to hear.

Every week I pray that God’s light, love, mercy and caring shine through me and onto the children in my Life Group.  Well, this week God used my children to show me his love, mercy and caring.

I second her thanksgiving to God that we have such a great church to call home. I truly would be lost without God, and I thank him for all the wonderful people he has placed in the church I call home.

Thank you guys so very much for being awesome!

Kim :)

Yeah, we all sacrifice to serve, but Kim’s story reminds me that I always get back far more than I can ever give away.   Take a few minutes to pray before next weekend and ask God, “What do you want to give me through my time with the kids?” 

Sure it’s more blessed to give than receive, but don’t be surprised when your time with God’s kids opens the door for the good stuff that God wants to send your way.

Mar 28
2011

What Every Parent Wants You to Know

Posted in: Parents

Last week I e-mailed several parents in our ministry and asked them, “What are the most important things you want all of our Children’s Ministry leaders to know?”  I got back several great responses and was surprised to see how much they overlapped.  I’ve grouped the comments into five categories and condensed or combined some of the feedback that repeated what others said.

So without further ado, here’s what some of our parents had to say to you, our awesome leaders. 

1. My child needs connection.

  • My children love consistency and routine.  Every week when they walk in and see the same faces greeting them they feel more comfortable.  
  • I want leaders to know how important it is that someone knows my child’s name in a church this size and that they are excited to see them.
  • I wish every volunteer knew how nervous kids are when they first arrive.
  • I want leaders to know how important it is to help my child to get to know other kids in their room.
  • Get down on my kid’s level, smile and talk to them by name.
  • If a child is freaking out about leaving Mommy and Daddy, please do everything you can to make them feel welcome. 
  • One of the most important things is for my child to feel like they are a part of the church. 
  • I want them to have fun!!

2.  I want us to partner to help my child know Jesus.

  • We want to walk together.
  • I welcome and appreciate leaders’ input into my kids’ lives.
  • I want to know my kids’ leaders.
  • I want my kids’ leaders to know me – to know my name, phone number, e-mail and be a part of my family’s life. 
  • I don’t have all the answers, and I am looking to you to help give me resources to raise my child the right way. 

3. My kid needs challenge.

  • I want my child to be challenged, not just hear a good story and learn how to apply it.
  • Set behavioral boundaries and feel comfortable lovingly enforcing them.

4.  Parents need help too.

  • Please be on time – When you have multiple kids, it is hard to get from one end of the church to the other in one piece.  When the doors open late because volunteers aren’t present, it is hard on us parents to make it to service in time.
  • If I don’t know where to go, show me…take me there.  This place is huge and your extra effort will be remembered!

5.  What you do matters.

  • I’m really grateful for positive influences in my kids’ life. 
  • My kids really do listen and soak in the teaching. 
  • What you invest in invaluable.
  • We appreciate you.
  • You have influence.
  • Your time is being used for Kingdom purposes.
  • I really value everyone who trudges through the hard times to be there for my kids week to week so that they can have a great experience.  The one touch that they give each week means so much and is a seed planted in our children’s hearts!

 

I know for me, it was great to get this feedback as I think about how I can better lead our kids, partner with parents and leaders and serve families here at Southland.

Now, it’s your turn.  I want to hear what you have to say to parents.  What are the top three or four things you wish every parent knew?  I’m going to compile the your answers in a post for parents to read on the Southland blog.  Just put your response in the comment section on this blog post or e-mail it to jbyerly@southlandchristian.org by Friday, April 1st.

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