Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Who'da Thunk?

We had another Family Movie Night on Friday and it was a big hit! It was our second highest attended out of the four we have now had, which was pretty surprising considering it was Spring Break week. Our snack bar has served items such as candy bars, popcorn and Capri Suns, but we've been looking for an additional unique item to sell. While at Conspire, Lucy and I noticed that their coffee shop sold a "cup of dirt," or a cup of pudding with crushed cookies and gummy worms on top. We loved the simplicity of the idea! Jared was on top of things and found all the materials we needed for a minimal cost (did you know you can buy large cans of pre-made chocolate pudding??), and we started promoting it at church the Sunday before.

100 people (children and adults combined) attended on Friday, and we sold 25 cups of dirt. One mom told me that her kindergartner daughter was ready to skip going to Grandma's house and come to the movie night just so she could have a cup of dirt.

Who'd have thought that such a simple, inexpensive snack would create such a draw for our event? We'll definitely keep serving dirt, and be looking for any other toxic, gross, or filthy snack ideas for future times!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Conspire Day 2, session C

Cultural Trends that Affect Children's Ministry, Larry Shallenberger

Why pay attention to culture? It's what you do when you love someone. You get into the culture of someone you love.

Trend 1--Outsiders view Christianity as the disease and not the cure
-It's socially acceptable and profitable to attack God. Organized religion is thought to create the problem.

Themes from Unchristian
-Too Hypocritical
-Too focused on getting converts
-Perceived as anti homosexual
-Too sheltered
-Too political
-Seen as being judgmental

These people had tried church but it didn't work out.

They doubt that we really love people the way we say we do.

Don't teach kids isolation, teach them love.

We've been given a theology of engagement--go into the world, love people.

Teach kids to bring their friends because they love them.

Try to create new heroes for the kids.

Emphasize servant hood.

Let the kids know there is a right and wrong.

2. Changing Face of the available Volunteer
The church once depended on moms because that was who was available. But who's available now?
-Retiring Boomers
*Want to make a difference not a contribution
*Not afraid to make a commitment when they see there is a payoff (what's in it for me?)
*They want flexibility

*Don't go the library, they google info for it
*As apt to shop online as go the store
*Video game expectations
*Multi Taskers
*Media Multitaskers
*Think digitally
*Looking for Causes
*Team players but want to make a unique impression
*Want to be mentored by adults they trust.

Trend 3: The falling Price of Video Technology
We cannot use video to replace volunteers
"Electronic Flannel Graph"
Kids are becoming passive learners
Technology expands one thing, amputates others.
-People only remember 10% of what we hear and see in a month, 40% of what we discuss, 70-80% of what we do and 90% of what we teach someone else.

God made human beings to grow in community.
Use video, but evaluate on its ability to launch a conversation, he personally never uses clips longer than 5-7 minutes.

Conspire Day 1, Session 3

Discover Each Child's Strengths, by Jennifer Fox

Children need us to teach them to love themselves so they can know how to love others.

Our world needs strengths to be discovered and loved.

It's a matter of perspective.

We're so drawn to weaknesses in kids that we often overlook the strengths.

There's something we are born with and will go back to again and again.

Talents are what you're good at. Strengths area feeling you have inside. We're energized by our strengths.

Find talents that are also strengths. The problem is so many people are pushed to develop talents that are not a strength.

3 types of strengths

Peel back layers of specifics to get to the heart of the matter.

Being good at something something isn't a strength. A strength is where we'll make the biggest, most meaningful difference for the longest amount of time.

Kids know they're good, but they don't know where to take it.

Customize it to allow kids to work together with their strengths to make a meaningful contribution in life.

Conspire Day 1, Session 2

Spirital Formation of Children--Dr. Ivy Beckworth & Dr. Donald Radcliff

How do you define it?
-By encouraging children to be Christlike--connecting child and God, see that they're growing and learning, we are not the ones doing the forming, God is. We can facilitate.
-Helping children to love God and live in the ways of Jesus.

How do we know we're spiritually forming kids?
-Watch and listen to them--see God working
-You can't measure it. Not a test, but a testimony. Have them tell their story.

Forming children is a process, a journey, and we are the beginning of it. We get to watch for the little moments.

We continue each day with faith that God will continue to work in that child.

"Church is good at doing things for children, but not as good at doing things with children." John Westerhoff

Conspire Day 1--Session 1

I meant to write and post this last night, but Lucy and I were having too much fun talking!

Here are the points that stood out to me from Session 1, "Discipled by Culture," by Phil Vischer (creator of Veggie Tales).
-More people in America have a TV than a fridge or indoor plumbing.
-"Electronic media in our lives is not optional--it's a necessity."
-2 out of 3 8-18 year olds have a TV in their bedroom.
-1 out of 3 0-6 year olds have a TV in their bedroom.
-1 out of 5 children under the age of 1 have a TV in their bedroom.
-Most kids have most of the media, most of the time.
-8-18 year olds have 7 hours and 50 minutes of daily media content in 5 hours of media time--kids are using multiple forms of media at a time.
-25% of 8-18 year olds come from homes where the TV is unrestricted and always on.
-Kids engage in media more than anything else except sleep.
-Kids today spend less time watching programs w/ clearly adult themes. There are more programs designed specifically for them.
-But, there's less motivation to create family programming because of this. There isn't a family to watch family programming0--they're all watching TV in separate rooms.

So how does this affect kids?
-As they get older, they're wanting to move on, they're wanting to grow up.
-"By segregating kids, when they decide they're too old for kids shows, they fall off a cliff."
-We are compressing childhood. They're outgrowing kids shows before they're ready for adult themes.
-They are losing a sense of adulthood. Adult programming is shaping a kid's perspective of what adulthood is. We have idealized a point in the lifestyle of humans-giving them a spring break mentality. They are between obeying parents and having responsibility.
-Compartmentalization of faith--Go from church all about God to shows where there is no God and there is no church. Kids see that God exists only on Sunday and the rest of the week He is gone.
-Advancing a new religion of fun. Everything is about fun. Fun, as a concept, is absent from the Bible. Kids think they have to be having fun every minute of the day.
-"Kids [TV] programming is marshmallow peeps--empty calories."

Things We Can Do
1. Do we need to fill our churches with media? It's all about content. The most affective teaching device in a class environment is you. You can love, have relationships.
-Help parents--they are clueless. We have to help the parents. the Kids' brains are overweight stuffed with peep media.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Change of Format

A few weeks ago I blogged about how I was inspired to try a new format in Adventure Mountain second service. We've had quite a few kids start attending two services because of the addition of adult education classes on Sunday mornings. So this week we gave the new format a try, and it worked great!

We've been using Promiseland's "Making it Connect" curriculum. We're still using it during both services, but now implement it differently second service. After activity stations, the kids were dismissed to small groups for Kid Connect time. Then we had worship, followed by the pre-teach of the large group lesson. A minute or two into the teach portion, the curriculum called for the teacher to read that day's Bible story. Instead, we had the small groups go over the Bible story themselves by looking it up in their leader's Bible (and kids who brought their Bibles looked it up too). Then the large group teacher continued the teaching until they were supposed to read the memory verse. Once again, we had the small groups look it up instead. The teacher finished the lesson (omitting the post-teach), and the groups were supposed to do their small group activity. Then we'd end with the post teach for large group.

We figured it would take extra time for the additional breaks, and began things 5 minutes earlier than normal. But our kids got so into the new format that we ran out of time to do the small group activity at all! The response from the leaders was great. Their kids loved looking up the lesson in the Bible. And the large group teacher had a much easier time keeping the kids' attention because they didn't have to listen for such a long period of time. The only improvement that needs to be made in that area, is have the small groups not spread out as far when it's time to do the verse look up, or remind them to come back in closer for the teaching time.

I'm excited to see how this new format continues to improve!

Friday, March 6, 2009

New Image Means New Signs

Back when we launched our new name, Adventureland, and the new logo, we also had new signs made. I've been meaning to take pictures for a while and finally did!

Church Wide Garage Sale

Our Student Ministries are in the middle of running a HUGE church wide garage sale. They use this event to raise money for their Spring Break Missions. Last year (from what I heard) the garage sale brought in $10,000. And that was with 2 semi-truck trailers full of stuff. This year, they filled 3 trailers. We were almost expecting less stuff because of how the economy is doing, but have been amazed by the generosity of those in our church (not to mention, partnering with a lady who runs estate sales--she's given all her leftovers to us).

The garage sale takes a lot of work, but it's been amazing to see how much support it can bring in.

This picture is of our south auditorium (the old sanctuary).

This is our north lobby which became the furniture showroom

And there was even more in the south lobby and outside! And another blessing--God gave us good weather!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Two Weeks From Today...

I'll be on my way to Chicago! Jared, Lucy, Caleb (our Bridge 45 Intern) and I will be on our way to attend Conpsire. Last year I blogged here , here and here about what a journey it was to get to Conspire. This year's journey is an addition to last year's and so much more.

When I was a sophomore in high school (11 years ago) my mom went to her first Promiseland Conference. She was new to her position as Children's Ministries Director, yet not new to being innovative in ministry to children. At that time there were different locations for the conference, and she went to one in British Columbia. I remember her calling me and telling me how amazing it was. That she was so excited to find out she wasn't the only one who knew church could be more than the traditional Sunday school I'd grown up with. She told me about their amazing sets and props she saw. She told me how much I'd love to see it.

I can't remember how many more Promiseland Conferences she went to. Even though I didn't think a job in Children's Ministry was in my future any time soon, I thought it would be too cool to go to one too. In 2006, my mom and I attended the Promiseland Conference together. It was like a dream come true for both of us. We were less than 3 months away from my mom handing the program at Morning Star off to me. It was like a great passing-of-the-baton event.

Sitting in the main sessions as well as the break out sessions, the English/Communications college major in me dreamed of a day where I might be one of those presenters. Not because I wanted acknowledgement or accolades for my job. But because that would fully encompass two of my dreams--leading children's ministry and being a speaker. I also feel like I've had such great people to learn from (especially my mom), and have already experienced so many valuable lessons, that I'd just love to share!

Knowing that background, imagine my reaction when I received an email asking me to be a presenter in two training experiences at this year's Conspire Conference (the new name for the Promiseland Conference). I literally went tripping out of my office to tell Lucy my exciting news and couldn't keep my words straight when I called my mom.

Two weeks from tomorrow, I'll be soaking everything in. I'm sure I'll feel encouraged and rejuvenated by the main session speakers and the worship. And two weeks from Thursday, a dream will come true. With two children's ministries people whom I greatly respect and am impressed by (honestly, I don't feel worthy to be sharing alongside them), I'll talk about what we've been learning about small groups and 4th and 5th graders here at Morning Star. And two weeks from Friday, I'll once again be sitting in the audience, soaking everything in. I can't wait.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Another Great Movie Night

Friday night was our third Family Movie Night and I'd say it was our best so far! We had almost double the attendance of last time (110 compared to the 60-some from before) and everyone had a lot of fun! We sold over 50 bags of popcorn at the snack bar, and all sorts of candy.

We started the Family Movie Night as a replacement event to the Family Experience we did over the past year and a half. As much as I loved doing FX, it became too much to pull of with the addition of Saturday service, and our families didn't respond with as much interest as we'd hoped for. Family Movie Night has quickly filled a need for those in our church--an inexpensive (if not free), safe, fun outing for families. But we don't just end the movie and say goodbye, we also provide the families with a discussion guide that leads the parents in a conversation with their kids about themes and concepts from the film.

I love how the families in our church are responding to this event. And I love how simple it has been to pull off. We obtained a license through CVLI for a great price, which gave us unlimited showings of movies from authorized producers for a year. What I appreciated about CVLI, as opposed to other companies, was the extensiveness of the producers they work with. Then we just had to purchase candy and drinks (we only provide Capri Suns and water to avoid messy spills) to sell at the snack bar to cover the costs. One of the best elements, though, was the gift of a popcorn machine from one of our volunteers. It fills the building with the smell of popcorn, and has the taste of that from the movie theater. And reading through the movie reviews on Kidology also helps inspire the discussion guides we give out.

So we've found and easy to provide, fun, cheap, well received event for the families of our church. Can't wait for the next one (which is March 27 in case you were wondering)!

Sony Style USA