Feb 15
2011

5 Tips For Navigating Detours with Your Group

Posted in: Groups

One of the hardest things about leading a group of kids is keeping them on track.   Every single weekend you know the clock is ticking.  You never have enough time to get through all of your curriculum.  When you sit down to lead your activity, you sometimes feel like you’re wrangling a group of caffeinated squirrels. 

At every turn your kids are ready to derail your discussion and take the conversation in a totally different direction than the lesson is supposed to go.  Sometimes these detours are kids sharing their hearts.  Other times, it’s kids just being kids.    

The bottom line is that detours are not always a bad thing.

Last summer, I took my wife and daughters out to pick strawberries at a local orchard.  We had driven several miles through the country when we came to a huge barricade blocking the road.  “Road Closed” signs made it clear that we would not be continuing any farther.   

I couldn’t believe they didn’t have a sign up by the highway five miles back.  To make it worse, I didn’t see a single detour sign, but had to meander around the back roads finding my own way.  (more…)

Feb 8
2011

4 Ways to Build Confidence as a Kids’ Leader

Posted in: Groups, Programming

My first morning in Children’s Ministry was a total disaster.  I have vivid memories of stepping into the small, rural children’s church feeling like I was about to take the biggest college final of my life.  My stomach hurt.  I was shaky, sweating and an overall wreck.   In short, I was terrified of children.   Fifteen years later I can’t imagine anything more comfortable than walking into a room full of kids.

So, what changed?  For one, just doing Children’s Ministry week in and week out made all the difference.   But even without much experience, here are four things anyone can do to build confidence as a kids’ leader.

1.  Pray

James says the prayer of a righteous man or woman is powerful and effective.   Anyone who has a relationship with Jesus has been declared righteous, so take advantage of that friendship and pray it up.  How many times have you gone into a weekend worship service without having prayed about it?  As a Children’s Ministry leader, you’re stepping into a spiritual battle on behalf of families.  The enemy wants to knock you off your game and take you out, so get serious about the fight and power up first in prayer.  Getting God in the mix is an instant confidence booster.

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Feb 3
2011

Losing Your Marbles?

Posted in: Adventures In Children's Ministry, Groups

Ever feel like you’re losing your marbles leading your group of kids?  Check out this hilarious story from one of our amazing Life Group Leaders about her Adventure In Children’s Ministry!

 A few months ago I read the small group activity and was worried, as each child was to hold a marble to remind them of God’s treasures. I lead a large Life Group of elementary boys. So, I immediately bowed my head and prayed, “Lord please, just help me keep them from flinging marbles at each other or getting them lodged in their noses!!”

 Sunday rolls around, and I was still nervous but the boys were excited for marbles. Instructions to not throw the marbles were given, I passed them out, looked down in my basket for the other supplies and, in that small bit of time, marbles started appearing in ears.

 ”Look Miss Jenn!!! I put it in my ear!!” I went through the rules again and they took them out.

 Then my small, quiet friend Colin looked up at me with his big blue eyes and said, “Ummm Miss Jenn, I put my marble in my pants and I can’t find it.”

 I laughed to myself and had Colin stand up and try to shake the marble down his pant leg, but it wasn’t coming.

 Then Colin looked down at me while I shook the legs of his pants and said, “Yeah…I think I may have lost it in my underpants.” Good thing they got to take those marbles home!!

 God has blessed me with my crazy group of boys. I love them all to pieces! Being a leader isn’t always easy but it sure is fun!

 Congratulations to Jennifer who just won a gift card to Chick-Fil-A for sharing this Adventure In Children’s Ministry.  Send us your kid stories, silly or serious, and we will put you in the drawing for another Chick-Fil-A gift card on the first of the month!  Your stories = free chickin!

Jan 31
2011

How to Use Personal Stories to Connect with Kids

Posted in: Groups, Programming

Whether you’re teaching a creative large group program or leading a small Life Group, personal stories can be one of the most effective tools you can use to connect with the kids you lead.   It’s amazing how a simple story can reel in kids who would otherwise be bouncing off the walls.   Kids love stories.  Some of their favorite stories are about the childhood adventures of adults just like you.

The great thing about this tool is that we all have a lifetime of stories.   Here are a few ways you can use them this week to capture kids’ attention.

1. Ice breakers.  Personal stories make a great way to start a lesson or Life Group time.   When teaching on God rescuing lost people, I opened with a story about a time I got separated from my mom in a K-Mart.  I started by asking the question, “Who’s ever been lost?”  I had them from the first sentence.

2. Application.   Stories about how you learned a lesson and applied it to your life help kids see a practical example of how the Bible truth you’re teaching might play out in their own lives.   After you tell your story, connect the dots by saying, “Okay, that might not ever happen to you, but you might deal with something like that.  Think about how God could you in that kind of situation.”

3. Consequences.  By telling kids of the times you made the wrong choice, you can help them to see the potential consequences of not doing life God’s way.  Kids are shocked and awed by stories of the times you acted selfishly and got burned by your own sin.  

Now that you know how you can use your stories, consider these guidelines when busting them out this weekend with your kids. 

1. Make sure it’s relevant.  Just because it’s a great story doesn’t mean it will help you teach kids God’s truth.  Only use stories that actually tie in to what you’re trying to communicate.  Otherwise, you’re just filling time.

2. Use common sense.  The story about the time you broke your brother’s bike is probably a better choice than the story about the college spring break trip where you ended up in jail.  Make sure your stories are age-appropriate.  Save stories with mature themes for PG-13 audiences.  When in doubt, leave it out.

3. Take advantage of friends, families and photo albums.  Think you don’t have any stories to use for that lesson on generosity?  Ask those who knew you when you were younger or check out old pictures to help jog your memory.  Try journaling too.  The more stories I write down, the more I remember.

 4. Tell other people’s stories.  Stories about your own kids or other kids you know can be just as effective if you don’t have one about you that fits the situation.  Just make sure you’re not embarrassing any kids in the room (including your own) by telling their stories without permission.  Stories that are no big deal to you could be mortifying to a seven year-old. 

Whatever you’re talking about this week, use your experiences to  impact the lives of the kids God sends your way.  Who knows, maybe some day they’ll be telling stories of their own about an amazing leader who told them a story that changed their life.

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