Children’s Ministry: To Be Wonderstruck

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Children are an important part of the church and have an essential place in the covenant community. In the book, Heirs of the Covenant, Susan Hunt explains that our relationship with God is personal and individual, but when that relationship is established, we are immediately in community with others who are in relationship with Him. … In other words, children and adults are in community together. “Covenant is a promise that stretches from Genesis to Revelation: I will be your God, you will be my people, I will live among you.” Children’s ministry is centered in the grace-relationship that God offers to us through Christ.

Stop to consider how many children come to church and the limited number of hours we have with them each week. We have a grand responsibility to shepherd each child towards Jesus. As a child truly begins to believe he or she is God’s masterpiece, created anew in Christ, there is no stopping them from doing the good things God planned for them long ago.

IMG_3580In children’s ministry, our purpose is to partner with families in building a spiritual foundation that will lead a child to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. A nursery or children’s ministry does not simply plead for volunteers. Rather, a church teaches God’s people the wondrous reality that we are adopted in Christ and empowered by His grace to reflect the Gospel in a vibrant covenant life. We point kids to Christ and away from themselves. We talk about our sin, our brokenness, Jesus’ love and the beauty of the cross. When a child’s confidence and identity is secure in Christ, they will begin to wonder and discover who God has created them to be.

“As they begin to comprehend the marvelous sovereignty of God, they begin thinking integratively. All of their thoughts about faith and life begin to coalesce around the person of Jesus. A biblical worldview starts to take shape. … Our knowledge of God’s character and His promise determines our view of our lives and the world.” (Susan Hunt)

As leaders in children’s ministry we recognize each child’s unique personality that is created in the image of God. We celebrate the work of Christ in a child’s life in order to strengthen his or her relationship with God for a deeper faith, for them to ponder and to wonder about God’s amazing love for them.  We must continue to “tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done … that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Psalm 78:4-7).

A carefully orchestrated children’s ministry with a well thought out purpose and plan will not succeed without dedicated prayer … prayers for God to intervene, for Jesus’ love to rescue, and for the Holy Spirit to make a new heart … for kids to be wonder-struck.

IMG_3570The photos were taken while working with a children’s ministry in Monterrey, MX. The best time ever! Confia en Dios! 

Wisdom About Life From a 7 Year Old

This is what you get when you sit a 7-year-old down and ask him to tell the camera what life is all about…..Things like, “The point of life is actually not all about easiness. It’s about hardness.”
(Please try to ignore the fact that he is wearing his sister’s pink socks.)

This clip is shared by my friend, Amy of her son explaining what life is all about. She earned an MBA and now is a SAHM to four kids and married to an economics professor. There is never a dull moment in their home. Here is Amy’s words:

Sometimes I feel it is futile to write or speak about anything, because it’s all been said before by people much wiser than me!  Do I really have anything new to say?  But recently I’ve come to realize that I do have a unique perspective on God’s goodness:  the way I see it being played out in the life of my family.  So here I stand and write, at the intersection of God’s Grace and our family. I have been very blessed with a very giving, loving husband, and children who make me laugh. It is a real-life Family Circus cartoon here many days.
To discover more winsome wisdom and most times hilarious fun, check out Amy’s blog at Frankly Journaling.  (www.franklyjournaling.blogspot.com

What is the Big Picture?

As a leader in ministry, what is the big picture? Are you thinking beyond your own lifetime?

Donna Harris­‑More Grace


What leadership quality would be at the top of your list? For me, I would say the ability to see the bigger picture. I recently discovered this parable that powerfully illustrates the importance of perception regarding my approach to work. This story demonstrates that there is great value in thinking positively and in seeing the bigger picture.

The Three Stonecutters

One day a traveller, walking along a lane, came across three stonecutters working in a quarry. Each was busy cutting a block of stone. Interested to find out what they were working on, he asked the first stonecutter what he was doing. “Can’t you see? I am cutting a stone!” Still no wiser the traveller turned to the second stonecutter and asked him what he was doing. “I am cutting this block of stone to make sure that its square, and its dimensions are uniform, so that it will fit…

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“Jesus loves me more-ther and I’m more alrighter than the sky is blue”

I like it when my husband says to me, “I love you.”  When we were newlyweds, I frequently asked him, “How much do you love me?”  I still ask him that question and 39 years later, he answers me the same way, “I love you eleventy-times-seven.”   And then I always ask another question, “How much is eleventy-times-seven?” And his answer to that question has always been one word, “More.” There is no number that can measure his love for me.

I get it! I am loved. My husband will always love me more. But even as grand as the word ‘more’ is, it can never totally satisfy the love that I need. There is only one perfect love and only one love that is more than enough and that is God’s love for me. I will never comprehend the true meaning of love until I come to understand that love is the very essence of God, because, God is love.

My family has experienced a lot of change and some unrest recently with moving to a new city and home. Everything is new such as a new state, a new community, new friends, a new church, a new job. During this transition, I would often say a prayer asking God to overwhelm us with his love. The one thing I wanted my family to experience–to rest in, to be sure of in the midst of complex change and uncertainty is this:

God loves us more…and his love is enough. Be amazed and in awe by the vastness of God’s love for you!

This week I remembered the profound answer of a young boy when his mother asked him, “How much does God love us?” And his answer will fill your heart with a smile and a laugh, “God loves us more-ther than the house is big; more-ther than the city is wide.”

Psalm 36:5 says: Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

Let’s praise the Lord for his great love! God’s love is wider than any continent, longer than any road, higher than any mountain, and deeper than any ocean.

I am continually overwhelmed by the love of God. If you ask me if I’m alright, I’ll simply answer the way that little boy did when he was asked that question, “I’m doing very alright! I’m more alrighter than the sky is blue!”

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song

The Love of God | Frederick M. Lehman

Keep Looking For The Mission He Has For You

Remember This

“Who will I serve?” Do you ask yourself this question? Do you think you’ll get an answer today, or do you think that answer is somewhere far off in your future? You do not have to wait until someone hands you a secret mission envelope or until you are hired for a job. You can start serving today, right where you are. The people you serve may be ones you know–your brother or sister, your mom or dad, or your teacher or pastor–or they may be strangers. Be on the alert! Whether you are rich or poor, tall or short, older or younger–God has work he has created just for you to do. He may put opportunities right in your path, or you may have to look more closely or walk a bit out of your way to find his clues. Just don’t forget to keep looking for the mission he has for you.

Beth Guckenberger, Tales of the Not Forgotten (p. 175)

You’ll want to read this book detailing the real-life stories of children and families across the globe. My heart was captured by the vivid and passionate imagery  and compelled to ask more questions…”Do I sit back or go ahead?” All great adventures have moments of conflict and suspense. God is indeed The Storyweaver! He is writing my story now and I can’t wait to live the next chapter!

(Also, the Kid’s Mission Resource, is also valuable to use in Children’s Ministry, especially during a focus on becoming missional.)

Tales of the Not Forgotten

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A portable church environment — #4

This is post #4 under category, “Portable Church–Church in a Box.” 

Portable Children's MInistrypreschool environment

Portable Children's Ministry preschool environment

Here are two photos of preschool environments in a high school classroom.  Simply furnished with a few folding pick-nick tables, carpets and mats. (We are grateful for the donated carpet!)

To set the rooms back up exactly the way the teacher left it, we make a note of the placement of desks and other furnishings on the classroom white board.  Often times, students have left posters on desks, school books, etc. Everything is noted and placed back in its original place.  Smart phones are used to take a photograph of the class, especially helpful for a very detailed arranged classroom. It’s important that we respect all of the supplies and classroom resources. This earns our trust with the teachers.

We have an incredible team of men and women that help set up children’s ministry every week. There are four set up teams that serve  for one month three times a year. We established a system that enabled the set up process to be completed in record time. We especially wanted to make it very easy for the newbies on the set up teams to quickly adjust to the set up process. Our goal is to have everything ready a minimum of 15 minutes before families and first time guests arrived.

Here are a few of the things that work for us:

  • Set up team arrives at the location about 20 minutes before the trailer arrives with the supplies. They map out the rooms, photograph as necessary and begin moving desks. They are careful to create a barrier of desks in front of the smart boards to discourage little people from exploring that area.  By the time the rooms are prepped, the trailer has arrived. 
  • We established this policy: “The classroom you set up is the classroom you put back in order.”  This helps to maximize efficiency and organization at the end of the morning. 
  • We colored coded the classrooms for each age group. For example:  Yellow-Nursery, Purple-Toddlers, Red-Preschool 3’s, etc.  Beside each classroom, we secure a color coordinated banner over the lockers. (Created small pockets on the reverse side of the banner for magnets)
  • Remember the last thing packed on the trailer is the first thing to come off.  We need the industrial size sweeper brooms and the colored banners off first. Often times the floors need sweeping before the carpets and mats arrive and if there is a question about  where a piece of equipment is to go, we simply direct them to “Yellow!” or “Green!”, etc.
  • Folding tables, pick-nick tables, carpets, bins, etc are all labeled with the color of the room.  We use colored electrical tape to put on top of the plastic bins or small supply boxes. (If a bin or box moves locations, we change the color of the tape.)
  • A supply list for each room and a photograph of how the room needs to be set up is placed beside each classroom door. This helps each team member work independently with setting up the room.  They  look at the photograph and place things accordingly. The supply list includes the number of carpets, chairs, tables, etc needed in that room. 
  • It is wonderful to have children accompany their parents and help with setting up. Those colored banners, colored labeled boxes and photographs of the classrooms make it easy for the elementary age kids to work independently too. 
  • All of the bins and smaller supply boxes are stored inside large carts. Each cart is labeled with a designated location (Preschool, Elementary, Administration.) Members of the set up team are assigned an area to set up for the duration of the month (rotation is to serve one month, three times a year). This also helps us to be more efficient with setting up and packing up the environments. 
  • Carpets are placed in the rooms first and vacuumed.  
  • Vacuum cleaners, cleaning products, first aid kits, colored banners and signage are loaded last on the trailer and the first to come off.

A portable church environment — #3

This is post #3 under category, “Portable Church–Church in a Box.” 

I’ve noticed that many of you have discovered the wonderful portable rocking chair to use in a portable church environment.  If you happened to miss reading that post, please go here (A portable church environment–#2) and definitely investigate the options of folding rocking chairs for a “Church in a Box” nursery environment.  Look at this picture of a sweet environment created for little ones. It’s amazing how a classroom for high school students can be transformed into a warm and cozy space for infants and little ones just learning to crawl or toddle about. Don’t forget to have a few pack-in-plays for the babies that just want to sleep. But you know what…those pack-n-plays are seldom used because our volunteers love to rock and snuggle a sleeping baby for the entire hour! (However, you should have that portable bed ready. Because on that one Sunday you decided not to set up the pack-n-play…it will be needed!) This nursery belongs to Church of the Redeemer, located in the Charlotte, NC area. 

Several weeks ago while vacationing with my husband, we visited Eternal Church, located in Fort Mill, South Carolina. We loved it! We were welcomed with friendly smiles, warm hand shakes and a hot cup of coffee! They were prepared to welcome us…their guests! Eternal Church is a portable church that meets regularly at the  YMCA in Baxter Village. The gymnasium floor was protected with floor tarps and hundreds of chairs were set up for worship.

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I really enjoyed taking a tour of the set up for elementary age kids. It was terrific to see kids meeting in small groups and listening to adults telling them about Jesus. It didn’t matter that they were sitting close to work-out machines. In fact, none of that was a distraction.

iPhone Photo

Portable Church or Church in Box works. I am a fan of church planting and multi church sites. It’s all about Jesus! Why else would a group of people give so much effort to set up church every week? Yes, it’s all about Jesus…plus relationships and don’t forget the coffee!