Friday, August 4, 2017

New Christmas Curriculum

Backstage Bethlehem is a four week large group/small group curriculum designed to help kids have a blast learning about Jesus this holiday season.

In each lesson, we'll peek behind the curtain of the Christmas story to see the cosmic drama that was unfolding backstage in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.

Each Backstage Bethlehem lesson features:
  • a creative large group lesson 
  • an interactive small group activity
  • complete supply lists
  • ideas for set design and props
  • tips to adapt the lessons for any size church
  • game cards and other reproducible small group supplies
  • short training videos that explain each lesson


Week 1: Jesus is the best gift ever.

That ordinary looking baby in the manger is also our Creator, King, Savior and Friend, and He is worthy of our worship.

Week 2: Don't miss out on Jesus.  

Christmas is a busy season, packed with holiday fun, but the best Christmas ever stars when we make time for Jesus first.  

Week 3: The gift of Jesus is for everyone.

When it comes to Jesus’ birthday party, everyone is invited.

Week 4: Christmas is all about Jesus.

With all of the presents, decorations and celebrating, it's easy to think that Christmas all about us, but Christmas, just like every day, is all about Jesus. 

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Episode 006: Are You Taking Time to Rest?

Are you taking time to rest? Rest your body. Rest your mind. Rest your soul. Are you taking time to reconnect with God and the people you love? In the hectic world of Children’s Ministry, this topic is mission critical to our success, and so that’s what we’re going to be talking about today on Episode 006 of the Simple Kidmin Podcast.

A picture of neglected rest
Here is the picture that I took on vacation that I mentioned in today's podcast.  It's a powerful visual reminder for me of those seasons when I neglect spiritual and physical rest in my life.

Personal Evaluation

How about you? Read through the following signs that you may not have a healthy rhythm of rest and work in your life. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • You feel overwhelmed. 
  • You’re irritable, anxious or depressed. 
  • You find yourself thinking more about what you don’t have (volunteers, big enough rooms, budget, time, support from you senior leadership, etc) instead of being thankful for what you do have. 
  • You can’t see where God’s at work in your life and ministry. 
  • You’re envious of other churches or ministries. 
  • You struggle with being present and enjoying the moment in front of you. 
  • Little things seems like a big deal and you have a tendency to overreact. 
  • You resent interruptions. 
  • You feel underappreciated. 
  • Kids are stressing you out.

A Healthy Rhythm of Work & Rest

In his book, Building a Discipling Culture, Mike Breen uses the picture of a swinging pendulum to illustrate God's plan for a healthy rhythm of working from a place of rest. If we push into the work side, eventually that pendulum is going to swing back towards the rest side (burnout, illness, etc) whether we like it or not. If we don't choose rest, rest will choose us.

Illustration by Blake Berg
You can read about how I explain this concept to kids in the God’s Big Adventure family devotional.

A Few Practical Steps

Here are the three things I did on vacation last month that resulted in an incredible week of Sabbath with my family. I'm working on applying them in daily and weekly doses so I can build this same rhythm into my every day life.

1. I unplugged from e-mail, social media, news websites and texting.

2. I leaned into intentional time with God.

3. I exercised regularly.

A Healthy Rhythm for Your Children's Ministry

Here are a few questions to evaluate the health of your ministry:

  • Is your ministry calendar always full or do you have strategic seasons where you pull back? 
  • Are you and your leaders running from event-to-event or are you building in time for planning, praying and relationships? 
  • Do you need a season of pruning, where you deliberately cut back some things from the church calendar to make ministry more sustainable and fruitful for the long haul? 
  • Do you keep going to back to the same leaders asking them to jump in and do extra or are you raising up new leaders to share the load of ministry? 
  • Finally, are you giving leaders time away before they burn out or are you overworking people until one day they’ve just had enough and they quit? 
  • And are you relationally connected enough to your leaders (or have other leaders who are shepherding them) so that you know where they’re at personally and if they need a break?

For a deeper dive on this topic, check out Matthew Sleeth's 24/6.  I just finished it on vacation, it's a very practical and helpful guide for practicing Sabbath in a hectic world.  

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What Every Kidmin Can Learn from Gregg Russell

As Children’s Pastor I’m constantly looking for examples of people and organizations that do a great job of engaging families.  Whether I’m at a restaurant, grocery store or even on vacation, my kidmin radar is always going, searching for new ideas and transferrable principles I can apply at church.
So, when my family sat down at our first Gregg Russell concert on spring break, it was a no brainer.  This guy is a master at engaging families, and I knew immediately I could learn some valuable lessons by watching him in action. 
In case you’ve never heard of him, Gregg Russell is a musician and comedian who has been entertaining families on Hilton Head Island for the past forty-one years.  Russell performs six nights a week on a stage under a picturesque live oak tree at the edge of the water in Harbour Town in the Sea Pines resort.  Dozens of kids sit on stage at his feet singing, laughing and begging to get picked to be a part of the show.
Here are five things every kidmin can learn from watching Russell in action.  
1. Create space for families. 
Back in the seventies, Charles Frasier, the man who developed Sea Pines, made a brilliant move by putting Russell front and center.  The stage and benches, nestled under the 300 year old Liberty Oak, make it obvious that Sea Pines values families. 
So how can we make family experiences central to our ministry?  Do our facilities say, “We value families?”  Do we create opportunities for families to come together as a part of the regular rhythm of our church? 

2.  Engage kids and you get the parents.
Half the fun of watching a Gregg Russell concert is watching the kids’ reactions.  He’s hilarious and they love him.  As a result every parent and grandparent loves him too. 
One of the best ways to reach parents is to make sure their kids are having an amazing experience.  Are our kids engaged and do parents notice?
3.  Include parents in the fun.
Just because kids are on stage doesn’t mean Russell leaves parents out.  Throughout the show he directly addresses the parents, includes jokes just for them and sometimes even has some parent sing-alongs.
Are we including parents in our ministry too?  Do we create opportunities for them to join in on the fun?
A dad singing "My Little Teacup"

4.  Take time to listen to kids.
At every Gregg Russell concert he invites kids to come up and sing for the audience.  Many of the kids make elaborate signs to get Gregg to pick them.  I’ve always been impressed that Russell takes the time to go through the crowd and read every single sign to the audience.  He says that he knows the kids put a lot of time into it and he wants to value their effort.  You and I know that also goes a long way in connecting with their parents.
In the busyness of our ministry, are we really taking time to listen to kids and value them as individuals?

5.  Stick around. 
Russell has been performing in Harbor Town for over four decades, and because of it, he has impacted generations.  He’s had several other opportunities in the entertainment world which could have taken him away from Hilton Head.   Yet, he chose to stay planted under the Liberty Oak, and because of it, he has endeared himself to kids, parents and grandparents who return year after year to see him again.
Parents who sat on stage with him twenty-five years ago bring their kids to the concerts to share their childhood experience.  It’s really like Russell is a part of their family.
Are we committed to staying in Children's Ministry and in our church for the long haul?  Are we sticking around to develop relationships with multiple generations?   Are we raising up leaders who will do the same?

So those are my five take-aways and the questions I'm asking myself.  How about you?  If you've ever seen Russell in concert, what could you learn and apply for your church setting?  
If you haven't been to a Gregg Russell concert, who else have you seen who engages families effectively and what can you learn from them?  The important takeaway is that we're constantly looking for these examples and learning how to make our children's and family ministries better every chance we get.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Episode 005: Baby Dedication Services

Does your church do a dedication service for parents who want to make some kind of public commitment to raise their child to know Jesus?  Have you ever thought about making it more intentional?  

Last year we did a total reboot of the service we offered and created an experience for parents of babies called Rooted.  Check out the newest episode of the Simple Kidmin podcast to hear more about it.  

Click here to listen in iTunes.

Parents committing to raise their child to know Jesus

Rooted welcome desk where families check in and pick up their gift bag

Friday, February 17, 2017

Episode 004: How to Set Your Leaders up to Win (Part 2)

This is the second part of a two-part episode about setting our leaders up to win in Children's Ministry.  In Part One I said there are eight things every leader needs from us to succeed, and I covered the first four on the list: 

   1. Vision
   2. Clear Expectations
   3. The Right Tools
   4. The Right Environment

In today's episode we will look at the other four things our leaders need from us for success. You can listen on iTunes or on the embedded player below.


Once you're done with this episode, download the Leader Culture Report Card to grade yourself on how you're doing in each category.  

On the report card you'll see there is a column to evaluate where you were a year ago, where you are now and one more column you can use for a mid-year check-up six months from now.  

You'll notice there's one version of the report card for you to fill out, and if you're feeling brave, another version to share with your leaders to get their feedback. 

Here are the other four things our leaders need from us along with links to specific books and other resources I reference in the podcast.  

Monday, February 6, 2017

Welcome to the Simple Kidmin Podcast!

Big news today!  This morning I am officially launching the Simple Kidmin Podcast, a podcast designed to encourage and equip you as you lead kids, parents and volunteers. I'm celebrating 21 years in Children's Ministry this year and just want to pass on what I'm learning along the way.

I'll be releasing a new episode every other Monday morning.  If you subscribe to the Simple Kidmin newsletter below, you'll receive the show notes delivered straight to your inbox loaded with helpful links, pictures and videos that will take each podcast topic a little bit deeper.
You can take a look at the show notes here:  

Episode 000: About the Podcast
Epidode 001: Living as a Kid of the King
Episode 002: KidSplash Family Experience
Episode 003: How to Set Leaders up to Win (Part 1)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Simple Kidmin Podcast Episode 003: How to Set Your Leaders Up to Win (Part 1)

We work hard inviting new leaders to serve in Children's Ministry, but once we place them in the ministry are we setting them up to win?  

In part one of this two part episode we'll cover four things that every new volunteer needs from us to succeed in their role.  You can listen on iTunes or on the embedded player below.

In this episode we dive into the first four of the eight things every new leader needs from us to set them up to win.