Sunday, February 15, 2009

My Favorite Volunteer...

...would have to be my husband. I couldn't do my weekends, let alone the rest of my week, without him. Not only does support me throughout the week by listening to all my stories, giving me feedback on my ideas, working hard at his full time job and washing most of the dishes, but he also sacrifices his days off to help at church. He runs the slides in Bridge 45 during the first service (and plays hearts on the computer the rest of the time). He's a division leader second service in Adventure Mountain (K-3rd). He welcomes kids, looks out for the loners, assigns small groups, escorts boys to the bathroom, and takes care of the occasional (or in today's case, regular) discipline problems. And then to top the day off, each week, he carries my coat and my purse (although the purse is carefully cloaked under the coat) downstairs to patiently wait until I'm ready for him to haul our 45 pound crate of registration materials back to the office. But he doesn't just volunteer for my ministry--he also runs slides and leads a small group on Tuesday nights for our college/career group, and leads our young & marrieds community group.

We've learned a lot over the past (almost) three years about how to avoid burning him out. And more than that, I've learned a lot about submitting to my husband despite having the more dominant personality. Morning Star is blessed to have him at our church. I'm blessed to have him as a volunteer. But most of all, I'm abundantly blessed to be his wife.

What I Love to Hear

This morning my Executive Pastor, Ken, called me over to meet a lady. I recognized her as a mom in our ministry, but wasn't sure we'd actually met. We shook hands, etc. and then Ken explained why he called me over. The mom had just been telling him that their family had attended our church off and on for the past few years. But they just became consistent in the past couple of months because her kindergarten daughter loves her class so much.

"Aleah is up, dressed and ready, every Sunday morning," the mom told me. "She never wants to miss a week. It's because of her that we're coming regularly."

Reminded me of a time when a family greeted me in the lobby before service. "Thanks a lot," the mom said. "My husband and I wanted to skip church and just sleep in this morning, but the kids wouldn't let us."

I love stories like this! We know that the child's enjoyment at church greatly influences a family's attendance. If the child hates it, they'll fight it. And parents will get tired of the fight and eventually give in. But if the child loves it, there's no stopping them from being at church each week.

Just one more reason why Children's Ministries is so important!

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I am officially a Twitterer. I've heard it mentioned frequently on blogs, Kidology, and Facebook. I'd even been told at times that I should Twitter too. But I never really felt like I'd have that much to say... "Sitting at my desk," "watching TV," and "walking the dog," didn't seem like anything that would interest anyone else.

Then I heard of a new Children's Ministries hash tag so people could follow conversation about Children's Ministries on Twitter. Still didn't really understand what would be so necessary about it though. Then I sent a blog link to Chris, our media guy at work, and he noticed other twitter posts on this blog. He asked why I wasn't on Twitter. I finally admitted the core of why I hadn't joined in yet: I didn't know how to Twitter. So he sent me a LONG instant message (should have been an email) on how to do it. And now I'm hooked. I can follow some of my favorite Children's Ministers from all over the country. And I've discovered so many more!

So, that was a very lengthy version of what could have just been: @jill_nelson joined Twitter.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Power of Suggestion

I'm a sucker for the kiosks by the check-out stands at the grocery store. I will have crossed off every item on my carefully prepared list, but suddenly, I just have to have that lint roller. Or that chapstick. Or that flavor of gum sure looks good... My husband says that those stands were designed just for me. Store clerks see me coming and stock up with plenty of not-quite-worthless items that I surely cannot live without. And don't get me started on what a food commercial can do for me. I will have just finished eating a very filling dinner, turn on the TV and suddenly I have an intense craving for Dairy Queen Blizzards, or french fries, or Starbursts, or _____ (you fill in the blank). Oddly enough, this sea-food hater found herself craving fish 'n chips after a Long John Silvers commercial. And don't get me started on the mere mention of cookies.

But despite how dissatisfied it makes me, I love the power of suggestion. Thoughts that might not originally occur to me become real. Foods that I may have forgotten my enjoyment of are savored once more. Or, that cat-fur covered sweater may finally have the chance to look new/clean again. But what if we turned this masterful marketing tool around and used it for good in Children's Ministries (or the church at large for that matter)? What if rather than blatantly telling people of our need for volunteers, we suggested it instead? What if there were subtle reminders throughout the building? What if people attended a service and left with the quiet thought of, "I should really start serving,"? It would just be gentle reminders that their experience that Saturday or Sunday wasn't complete. I have a feeling it would work on someone like me.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Iron Sharpening Iron

I'm excited to be presenting in two workshops at the Conspire Conference this year. One is on new practices for small groups. I'll be sharing about how we're approaching small groups differently in Bridge 45. I've loved the conference calls with Mindy Stoms and Chris Boss and hearing about what they're doing. I've even been able to put some of their practices to good use!

With the start of Adult Education Classes on Sunday mornings, we're now having quite a few more children attend multiple services. For our Adventure Ranch (preschool) classes, Lucy is using the Promiseland "In the Beginning" curriculum first service and is creating a simple, activity and game based program for the second services. In two months, the two services will swap what they're doing, and so on. We've found that preschoolers have a really hard time sitting through the same thing twice in a row. So far the new system is working well (even though we've only been doing it 2 weeks).

But figuring out a way to change things up in Adventure Mountain (k-3rd) was a little more complicated. Each lesson builds on each other so much, and a lot of our kids go back and forth between which service they attend, that we couldn't just do something completely different in the two services. We've been using Promiseland's "Looking at the Pieces" curriculum written for 2nd/3rd, and we make a few adjustments here and there to help it reach the kindergarten and first graders.

That was when I remembered what Chris shared about how they approach small groups at his church. They still have large group teaching and small group time, but not as segmented as we do it. The kids sit in their small groups during the teaching, and as each point is made, the groups do an activity, have a discussion, or look up the story in the Bible. This way, each point is presented and immediately applied, rather than expecting the kids to remember 3 points 20 minutes later. I don't think it should be too hard to use this concept with our current curriculum. We'll just break up the teaching and slightly adjust the activities. So the elementary kids will still get the same message twice, at least they'll experience two different methods.

I love being able to learn from other people who do ministry to children!

Sony Style USA