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  • July 2009

    When I was in my first year of full-time children’s ministry kids camp was a new experience for me… especially when it came time for lunch. It was very kid-centric fare featuring hamburgers, hotdogs, cold mac-n-cheese and applesauce and the like. The best part were the kid-sized portions they gave even to the famished adults. I can’t wait to tell Paul the Apostle how I suffered for Christ.

    The servers were volunteers, so I made sure to be polite to them. They were serving exactly how they’d been instructed after all. I noticed that to make eye contact I was having to either stand on tip-toe or hunch down to see past a home built sneeze guard over the serving line. Every day I got a little more annoyed at this small inconvenience. I thought, Why don’t they hang this thing about two inches higher so we can see through it! Doesn’t anyone believe in excellence anymore? I know this seems ridicules… and it was… but stinky boys, unrelenting heat and little food make for an easily irritated man.

    One one particular day near the end of camp as I went through the line, I noticed the kids around me getting their food. Many of them would look up and thank their server as I had done… but without ducking or toeing up. I ducked down low to their level and looked up at the servers. I had a perfect view of every face. Then it hit me…

    This thing wasn’t hung for me… it was hung for them.

    This became one of my core values immediately. Everything in my ministry had to be passed through that filter. To this day whenever I do anything, like set design) I will go and sit low in a chair in each major section to make sure every child can see. I don’t use cursive fonts because lower elementary can’t read them yet. I keep the lights bright in my chapel because some kids are leery of dark places… especially first time visitors.

    Here are some questions I constantly ask myself:

    1. Will they understand it?

    2. Can they see it?

    3. Are they scared of it?

    4. Can they apply it?

    5. Is it too long for them to pay attention?

    6. Could they repeat it? Re-teach it?

    7. Are they being bad, or being their age?

    8. Will they get it?

    9. Will they want it?

    10. Will they remember it?

    6 – Mickey J

    July 26, 2009 · 2 comments

    gok-classicart

    My take on the whole Michael Jackson thing.

    Play

    How do you handle head lice in Sunday School?  My husband and I are the SS directors for a small church.  We face this problem every year.  Some of the older teachers freak out when they have a child with head lice.  What is the best course of action with the teachers, child and the parents? Janel

    When we’re faced with an issue that is potentially embarrassing issue we are are very honest and clear with the parents. It is always handled by myself, the children’s pastor. I state the facts (in this case head lice), letting the parent know that the child has lice… we give them information on how to clean the lice from their child… including tips on clothing, headwear, bedding, siblings etc. and in some cases offer to purchase the kit or kits.

    You may find some information online and create a fact sheet and have it ready to give to parents. The key is to be compassionate, respectful and private.

    As far as the response in the classroom. Teachers should be instructed possible issues such as lice. They aren’t the end of the world. They don’t attack with flaming torches and pitchforks. They can’t leap 10’s of feet through the air to infest the entire classroom in a single setting. Have them pull the child aside, explain to them the situation… tell the child to be mindful (if they are old enough) and then contact the parent (or let the child go back to class until service is over).

    I have found in every sensitive situation that the best course of action is to be immediate, clear and kind. The more I try to beat around the bush, overly sensitive and mushy, the more it actually makes the family feel embarrassed and trashy.

    There’s a great article over at CleanCasts on producing podcast promos by host and producer of The Ramen Noodle and Are You Just Watching?, Daniel J. Lewis.

    Check it out!

    Most of these resources you’ve probably heard of or maybe even use yourself but just in case you haven’t… here are a few online resources I use in Children’s Ministry every week.

    Bible Gateway

    Link: http://www.biblegateway.com

    Description: Online bible with verse lookup, keyword search, topical search and multiple versions.

    How I Use: I use it while on the phone to quickly find verses for specific needs or questions. During service prep it’s helpful to find the easiest to understand version of a particular verse. I also find reading a passage in multiple versions helps in my own understanding since I don’t do the Greek and Hebrew thang.

    Animation Factory

    Link: http://www.animationfactory.com

    Description: Low-cost animated clipart, video backgrounds and PowerPoint backgrounds. The cheapest resource for full-motion animated video backgrounds online anywhere.

    How I Use: This is where I get video backgrounds for the song videos we make in-house. The animated clipart also comes in handy for Jump Videos and such.

    Google Images

    Link: http://images.google.com/

    Description: Search images that are available online (but be careful what you search for!).

    How I Use: I use Google Images almost daily to find pictures to help illustrate sermon points, find photos of bible characters, images of real settings in the Holy Land. It’s also how I find images for posts on this website.

    Google Docs

    Link: http://docs.google.com/

    Description: Online document editing and sharing suite.

    How I Use: You can not only create Word-like documents online, you can share them with volunteers. If I’m working on a service with a lot of input from key volunteers, I’ll share the document with them and allow them to fill in their own service segments for review. You can also create online spreadsheets. We use one to track BGMC giving and it is shared between myself and the BGMC coordinator. I also use it to put together show notes for the CMMonthly podcasts and share it with Super Dave so he can add his own thoughts.

    Gmail

    Link: http://mail.google.com

    Description: In my opinion the best email service on earth. Gmail is free to use and has powerful features including my favorite feature, message threading (groups emails by individual conversations).

    How I Use: I’ve been using Gmail for years now. My first email dates 10/04/2004. It is the best way to stay connected to your email from any computer (or cell phone) anywhere in the world. I use it to keep my contacts organized. You can label them and group them as needed. You don’t actually have to delete your emails, you Archive them. Gmail then allows you to quickly search through your archive for any word or phrase in any part of your email, not just the subject. This has come in very handy in the past when I need to confirm sent emails or facts discussed via email from the past.

    I also have 6 different Gmail accounts that are able to be funneled into my main account. When I reply, it does so as if I was logged into that particular account. This is an excellent way to keep your emails organized since I know what the topic is based off which email it was sent to (one email for each podcast, one for graphic design projects, a personal email for church and friends).

    Google Groups

    Link: http://groups.google.com

    Description: Free email groups with extra features.

    How I Use: I use Google Groups constantly. I have a separate group set up for each of my ministries as well as a master group containing every email in my department. Not only can I send out emails to everyone in a particular ministry, members of that group can also email one another. When they do, the email goes out to the entire group. So it’s like having a conversation in a room of people… but online and through email.

    If I send out an announcement, and one person has a question, the question goes out to everyone in the group. I or others can answer, and the answer goes out to the entire group as well. It saves me from having to answer the same question again and again. It also allows my top-level leaders to have the same access to their workers that I do. Groups especially comes in handy when there’s a cancelation or other last minute announcement that needs to go out quickly.

    One of my ministries has a separate group set up just for the parents of the children in their groups. They use it for announcements and discussions.

    What do you use online?

    I shared my stuff! Please share your online resources in the comments!

    10. Hosts who read their iTunes reviews as a segment… or even better, to start off their whole show.

    9. Jokes that only the hosts get… not even regular listeners.

    8. Um… (dead air) um… ah. Ummmm.

    7. Hosts talking about technical glitches forever.

    6. Hosts that talk like they’re bored out of their mind. Why should I care if you don’t?

    5. Shows with no discernable format between episodes.

    4. Shows that go on for over an hour, but have the content of a 15-30 minute show.

    3. Hosts that talk to people off mic that aren’t in the show. It’s so fun hearing one side of a conversation!

    2. When the host sounds like he’s recording in the middle of a echo chamber standing about 10 feet from the mic.

    1. Heavy breathing and mouth noises… like smacking. *shiver*

    I’m just curious about the folks reading and contributing to CMMonthly.com.

    [poll id=”2″]

    I’ve done a lot of blogging about delegating to volunteers this week. Now I’d like to ask for some input from you.

    What parts of your ministry have you delegated?

    What parts do you feel belong to you alone?

    What is the biggest challenge you face with those you delegate to?

    What advice do you have for others who are struggling to delegate?

    nlb-itunes

    Every single podcast I do has an underlying purpose. Nobody’s Listening is about sharing a Christian’s life with the masses. Geek Loves Nerd is about helping married people get along. Children’s Ministry Monthly is about helping the ministers that are overlooked in the current ‘leadership focused’ trend.

    CMMonthly is a ‘Christian’ show. Geek Loves Nerd is a show driven by Biblical truths and practical life applications. But Nobody’s Listening is just a clean comedy podcast done by two Christians and a Seeker. I’ve had a very few folks question this over the years… and I’m sure my worst critics are those who haven’t even let themselves be known. The criticism would be why haven’t I produced a Christian comedy podcast rather than just a clean one?

    The answer is simple: I only do shows that I would want to listen to myself… and I don’t listen to Christian podcasts. Neither do folks who are not Christians.

    I thought I would share some examples of the great ministry that goes on behind the scenes specifically of Nobody’s Listening Podcast. Not with the intention of defending myself, (only the guilty need do that) but as a way of sharing the joy I have experienced, and hopefully promoting the idea of just doing a great show rather than a great Christian show.

    From an anonymous teen:

    please dont read this on the show
    if when you pray to god and you just say the same thing do you still pray???
    plz get back to me when u can

    I think prayers should be like conversations. When we talk to our parents or friends… do we say the same things? When you talk to God you can talk to him like a friend.

    Sometimes it helps me to pray using a guide… Up, Out, In.

    Up = I thank God for being there, and for anything he’s done in my life recently.
    Out = I pray for those around me and the world.
    In = I pray for my own needs and shortcomings.

    Of course this isn’t THE way to pray… it’s just one possibility.

    I hope that answers your question,

    James

    yea it dose

    fav

    One gentleman goes from:

    I’m an Atheist. I don’t think injecting God would help since it would be like trying to draw blood from a termite.

    To:

    Whatever God has in store for me, I accept it.  I don’t pray for perfection.  I pray for peace, happiness, love

    fav

    I’m a gamer and podcast geek, and found out about Nobodies Listening through ELR but kept putting off subscribing to the show until a few weeks ago.
    Through that I heard about Geek Loves Nerd and downloaded that show the beginning of last week and listened to your last show today. Your shows have really inspired me to look to God more. I’m not ready to find a church yet and based on my childhood have a really warped view of Him and need a major healing in my heart in that area but I wanted you to know you have planted a seed through your podcast and I wanted to say thank you.

    fav

    I just really appreciate the podcasts you put up and the fact that you are straight forward about your purpose it sure beats having to listen to someone who tries to be fake about everything or tries to change themselves for what other people want.

    fav

    Even though I’m an atheist I still like the podcast. Keep it up

    fav

    Just wanted to let you know that I am an atheist and enjoy your podcast

    fav

    I am a pagan who really enjoys the podcast and I don’t mind you religion or it’s influence on the show, I like it.

    fav

    I’m another pagan, and while I try not to hug too many trees, I really don’t own a wand.Or an owl, unfortunately. I call myself more a polytheist, though. I really don’t mind the Halleluiah’s of the show, it just makes it more unique to you.

    Interesting story that happened recently, while waiting for the bus… I was standing under a shady area, by myself. Three girls came my way, they had crossed the road and headed in my direction. They stood in front of me, and at first I thought "Oh Crap, they’re going to trip me and steal my bags" – instead, they asked about me, where I came from, where I worked and then offered to pray for me, because I looked sad.

    Then I thought, with this recession, who isn’t? If I were someone else I would’ve told them: (in Norwegia accent) "I’ve got news forrr Youuuu… I’m not a Kreeest-chian!"  But I said "Sure! Do we hold hands?" They laughed, shocked that I was probably the first that didn’t shoo them away as I later noticed that they were offering to do this to others along the trail. One girl was almost nervous in putting her hands on my shoulder and I told her not to worry, I wasn’t going to burst into flames. I actually felt fantastic after that. 😀 I decided that the prayer should go to my mom, as she needed them more than me.

    Giving away parts of your ministry responsibilities is mandatory if you want a thriving, growing ministry that’s not bound by your limits and abilities. A children’s minister that is secure in their calling can allow others to develop parts of their ministry… even if that volunteer is more talented with it than we are!

    If there are so many benefits to delegation… why aren’t more ministers doing it? Other than the common reasons ministers don’t delegate, I think it’s because it’s harder than doing it yourself (at first) and folks simply don’t know how to do it properly.

    Delegating is harder than doing it yourself… but it’s worth it.

    Training someone else to do your job may sound like a great deal. You give it away and don’t have to worry about it any more. Not true. Giving away a task means you have to train the person… and constantly evaluate what they’re doing to make sure they’re doing it correctly and improving along the way. It won’t always be harder than doing it yourself… but you’ll never want to completely walk away. The ministry is still your responsibility.

    Here’s how to delegate properly.

    1. They watch you do it – We must always, always, always display what we want. Folks who have never done an object lesson will never ever learn what you want in a conversation or from a manual. They need to see it in motion.
    2. They help you do it – Bring them up on stage with you and have them help you. There is no time limit on any of these steps. If they need three weeks singing behind you as you lead… give it to them.
    3. You help them do it – It’s a major step… but you’re still there to support and help if they need you. This is a far cry from the typical way folks are dropped head-first into children’s ministry with no training or leadership. Give your volunteers the gift you may have never had yourself.
    4. You watch them do it – This is the step that never ends. Offer a lot of praise. Give constructive feedback. Keep them in the service prep loop. Make them a part of your team. This is more on you than them.

    Delegating is harder than doing it yourself… but it’s more than worth it.