Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 11.11.43 AMToday is a day to CELEBRATE! A another great church has come alongside us to support us monthly at $100! That puts us over 50% in monthly commitments! Pray about being part of the 2nd 50%.

Head to http://doylefamilymissions.org and see what we’re up to – you can also follow the links in order to support us.

Why Partnering with Santen- compressedYou don’t have to be a high-Caliber Giver to get involved!

So if you were thinking that we were trying to tap you for that “$10,000-empty-your-life-savings-love-gift”… think again.

Although we appreciate the High-Caliber Givers, what it really takes is many individuals, families, churches, businesses and organizations giving Monthly Commitments that are actually do-able.

You can help us meet our goal for April (or any month for that matter). We are looking for individuals/families and churches to partner with us by making monthly commitments. Here’s how you can get involved:

  • 5 Monthly Commitments at $10
  • 4 Monthly Commitments at $25
  • 3 Monthly Commitments at $50
  • 2 Monthly Commitments at $100
  • 1 Monthly Commitment at $200

We are grateful for any amount you are able to give! Pray – see what He says… then CLICK HERE and set it up.

(if you prefer a commitment form that you can mail of fax, add a comment here)

564736_597514190259187_754582564_nIllustrating the Word of God for kids is a good thing.

I have often heard the argument:

“…if we, as children’s leaders use unique and entertaining methods, that children will remember the methods and not the message.”

It’s sad, really. It’s sad because I have watched effective Children’s Ministry communicators shy away from taking advantage of great and creative methods in their presentations because of that statement alone.

I was teaching several workshops on creative teaching methods at a children’s ministry conference where I overheard several criticize me and other workshop leaders for placing an unhealthy emphasis on the methods.

Guess what? I can agree with the statement:

“…if we, as children’s leaders use unique and entertaining methods, that children will remember the methods and not the message.”

However, I can only agree with that statement with the following addendum:

“…as long as most of the time, energy and emphasis is placed on the method and very little time, energy and emphasis is spent on the message.”

Unfortunately, the aforementioned addendum is rarely heard… thus holding back the children’s ministry specialist from embracing the effective methods that are available to him/her.

And all of that is worked out in the planning stages of the message. 

In the next few posts I want to explain a few things that should be happening BEFORE the presentation starts… and hopefully, you, the children’s ministry leader – a teacher of God’s Word, can find freedom to “Marry” the message and the method so you can bring your messages to life.

Stay tuned…

stress-2I have become a firm believer that the blame for many of the discipline issues we face in children’s ministry cannot be placed completely on the children.

After all, most of the time, children are just being children – they have not been deliberately sent by the devil to disrupt you class, service or small-group.

It starts with US. Yes, you and me and our ability to plan ahead, be engaging and going the extra mile. In this way we aren’t just disciplining children- instead we can attempt to steer children who are simply being children so they can have a positive experience, learn something new, stay safe and encounter and almighty God.

We have to handle the discipline issues before the discipline issues ever start:

Have a PLAN for the Kids from the Moment they Arrive Until the Moment they Leave. Be properly prepared to carry-out that plan in your service or class… Remember, if you are not prepared and you don’t have a plan, the kids are always prepared with their plan… and they will begin carrying it out.

This doesn’t mean you have to be super-rigid and run a military-reform school. You can have free-time,or activity time, but schedule it and make the time-frame seem intentional.

Give Them Something To Do. When kids enter your room, do you expect them to just sit there and wait until you’re ready? Again, they will interpret that as boring. Have activities and engaging things ready so when kids enter your room, they have something to do besides implement their own plan. We have a game table with UNO cards, Rock-Em-Socke-Em Robots and Jenga Blocks. We have a LEGO table. We 2 long tables covered with paper so kids can draw whatever they want. We have Speedstacks tables with timers. Occasionally, we have the old Nintendos with Mario Card hooked up.

These activity tables not only give the kids something to do when the enter the room, it is a way for them to connect with each other… and it’s a way for our leaders to engage with the kids and build the relational bridge (see below)

Don’t be Boring! If kids interpret what you’re doing as “boring”, they will have something they interpret as “fun” ready to go. Use variety, and relevant teaching methods. Use a child’s natural intensity level when planning your services. In other-words: put fun, exciting and fast stuff on the front end of your service. Put the serious stuff in the middle. End your service with fun, exciting and fast stuff. See my series on the Kids Are Bored

Aim at the older children with the stuff and aim at the younger children with the length: Use music, graphics, video clips, characters and verbiage the older crowd will relate to… the younger kids will “aspire up” and want to be like the older kids. But, use a minute per year of age for each segment. If the youngest child in your service is 6 – You have 6 minutes max for each segment. See my post on How a Child Interprets Their World

Have Clearly Stated Rules Ahead of Time. These should be rules that BOTH the child and parent understand… abd these should also be rules that CAN BE accomplished by the child.

Ron Brooks and I differ on our approach – and yet, we are still friends :) Ron’s approach is pushing a positive out come from the children ie. I Can Listen, I Can Show Respect, etc. For more of Ron’s view on rules, head over to his post.

Mine are direct and straightforward:

  • Don’t Leave Your Seat Without Permission – I emphasize that there will be times that permission is given. I also state that leaving your seat and invading someone else’s seat with your hands or feet is leaving your seat.
  • Don’t Talk Without a Microphone – I want the kids to know that there will be times to answer questions, but wait until the microphone is put in front of you. There will be appropriate times to laugh and cheer – but wait for something funny to happen.
  • Wear Your Name Tag – I want these kids to stay safe. I want to know that they are supposed to be in the room and I want to get to know and call them by their own names.
  • Obey All Rules – This covers the first few rules, but it also covers any instruction or directive that is given by any of our leaders.

Consistently Review the Rules. Kids cannot follow your rules if they don’t know what those rules are each week. We carve-out a time at the very beginning of our service to review the rules. Sometimes it’s quick and takes all of 2 minutes to review and explain the rules. Sometimes something fun happens… like a character enters who has the wrong idea about what the rules are. Sometimes we have a quiz-show and get kids from the audience to state our rules. Either way, guests will know what’s expected and regulars will be reminded.

Consistently Enforcing Those Rules. Make sure you and your leaders know when the best course of action is to sit with a disruptive child; when it’s time to separate children to different seats; when a child should remain afterwards so a discussion with a parent is necessary or when a child should be removed from a service or classroom and a parent needs to be notified. Read my last post on confronting parents.

Offer Incentives. Don’t just skip over this section. I have people all the time think that it’s wrong to bribe kids. Bribery has very little to do with incentives. Here’s my thought: Every kid wants to earn the trophy.  It’s really about the recognition for following the rules. Sometimes offering a tangible reward (candy, points for their team, points or “Bible Bucks” for your prize store, etc) is a great way to reward children – they all want to win the trophy. Other times, just “catching” kids who follow your rules with a lot of positive recognition in front of everyone else will make them want to earn it again. Both methods make others in the room want to earn the same trophy.

Enter a Kids’ World. Be relational. This earns you the right to be heard and respected – thus, eliminating a whole lot of discipline issues. Before I teach a group of kids, I love to walk around, give high-fives, fist bumps and shake hands. I ask funny questions and play as many of the games and activities as I can with the kids. I try to notice new shoes, haircuts, dresses and the toys kids bring with them. It let’s children know that I notice them and see them as a priority – not an afterthought.  See my post on the Stuff I’ve Kept in my Pockets.

Deliberately Approach “Those Kids”. You know the ones… these are the kids that you secretly hope are on vacation each week. They are the children who are consistently rambunctious, disrespectful and you seem to have issues with them any time they are in your class or service. I have had to make it a priority to pray for those kids during the week. I have asked God to give me compassion for these kids we typically define as “problem children”. And I believe that God has given me compassion for these kids.

Walk up to those kids each time they darken your door, get down on their level, look them in the eyes, smile your biggest and most sincere smile and tell them how happy you are that they are there. Ask them about their week, Ask them what was the funnest thing they did that week in school, invite them to play an activity with you. You will notice a difference.

I realize this has been a long post, but hopefully it’s given you some ideas as to how you can handle the discipline issues before they really become issues.

To listen to the radio show with me, Ron Brooks, and Tom Bump on March 20, 2014 – 7:00 PM Mountain Time.

If you missed it or cannot join us, I will post the link to the podcast at a later date.

It’s inevitable – Parent Confrontation

If you haven’t had to do it in your children’s ministry yet, then there’s probably something wrong. It doesn’t happen every week, but it will be a regular occurrence if you have to deal with discipline issues. There are some important factors to consider when confronting parents and having to explain a discipline issue. After-all, you don’t want to be known as the minister who is constantly a negative bearer of bad news or unpleasant to deal with.

Here is a concise list of the things to keep in mind if and when you will have to confront parents about their child’s behavior and actions:

  • Be respectful.
  • Look into their eyes.
  • Remember they are the authority figure in their child’s world.
  • Be clear and concise – explain what rules have been violated and the actions already taken.
  • Do yourself a favor ahead of time: have clearly communicated policies and rules in the classroom that both the child and parent are ALREADY aware of.
  • Be willing to offer an exception if it’s obvious the rules/policies were not known ahead of time.
  • Be forgiving, showing mercy and grace – Be willing to offer another chance.
  • Have a plan for moving forward with the child – If is this just a warning: what will the plan for the future be should we have trouble in the next few weeks?
  • Ask the parents to help you know what to do if the issue(s) ever surface again.
  • Pray a positive prayer over the Parent(s) and child before they leave.
  • Follow-up with the parent and the child later in the week.

What would you add to the list?

Back in 2012, after returning home from a missions trip to Kenya with Jay Risner, I knew that this trip had been different – I had been on numerous missions trips before. But, this one was unique…God was stirring something inside. It turned out to be a passion for the mission-field! What that would look like was unknown to Jennifer and I at that time. After a season of prayer and being open to God’s direction and timing, we were invited by Jay Risner to join his team as a missionary with KIDLink International.

As a partner with KIDLink, we will be developing Children’s Ministries resources for missionaries and Children’s Ministry Leaders overseas; ministering to children and training Children’s Ministry Leaders in 8-10 countries a year and bringing children’s missions awareness to Kids Camps, Churches and District events.

We are just starting the process of raising support and we hope to transition from full-time children’s ministries at Radiant to the mission field sometime in 2015.

If you would like to read more about it – CLICK HERE to head over to our Website: www.DoyleFamilyMissions.org

It is a season of challenges when you look at the economy and the funding of ministries in the local church. It takes much creativity these days to stay on top of providing a quality ministry to children – and yet, not having the funds available to make it happen the way you might be envisioning it. OK, I’ll just be straightforward with you: It’s downright frustrating… I know, I’ve been there!

Let me tell you a little story:

Once upon a time, in a land far from here, at a church I will not name…

…I was in the interview process and asked about the budget for children’s ministries. The Pastor asked me what I thought it would take to pull off quality children’s ministries a that particular church? I became bold and said that it would take 12,000 a year to do it. (remember, this was 16 years ago). The Pastor pondered that for a moment and said that he could get the board to approve that amount. I ended up getting hired at the church and was told that the amount I requested had been approved – I was super excited and ready to make some purchases. I approached the finance person to find out how to access those funds to buy some much needed KidMin supplies. She looked me in the eye and exclaimed, “Oh, you have to raise that money!” I’ll let that sink in for a moment…

…The way that church funded ministries was:

  • Have each Department Leader submit a budget proposal.
  • The Pastor would present that budget to the board.
  • The board would then approve it.
  • The board would then commission the Department Heads to go forth and raise the amount that was approved.

True Story.

So, for about 4 years, I had to provide quality ministry to children at a church of 1,200 by raising every dime.

I have decided to let you in on a few ideas that got me through those years – plus a few ideas I have used since and wished I had know about back then!

100 Envelope Fundraiser

This was originally an idea that was presented to the Children’s Pastors of the Assemblies of God to raise money for Missions or BGMC (Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge). So, let me state right away that this idea is not mine. But I’ve used it with great success.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 100 envelopes
  • A marker
  • A church service full of adults
  • The approval of your pastor
  • The leadership sold that this is your idea so no other department steals it.

I’ve done this fund raiser for missions as well as raising our own budget.

Here’s the basic idea:
You lay 100 envelopes across your platform. Each individually numbered 1-100. During the adult service, you ask families or individuals to consider choosing an envelope and putting the dollar amount that is on the front of the envelope… So, if the envelope has the number 24 on it, a family would give $24

Now you may be asking: “Why go that route rather than just a special offering?”

Answer: “Because, if every envelope is taken and returned you get $5,050 in one service.”

It kind of predetermines the outcome. And I don’t know about you, but anytime I’ve ever had a special offering taken in the adult service, we never even came close to that amount.

Your best results will come when you can identify where the $$$ is going.

A few years back, I did it in our three weekend services. Each service, we put out new envelopes. Almost all the envelopes were taken each service. We raised over $12,000 in one weekend. The $12,000 we raised, went to supplement our budget and help us remodel or “freshen-up” some of the classrooms

The key is to announce it a few weeks ahead of time with some clear explanation:

We basically explained that this was an easy way for them to help build up the Children’s Ministry budget with a one time gift. We explained that there would be 100 envelopes each numbered and that their family should come ready to choose a dollar amount. We also explained that if the amount they were thinking of giving had already been taken, to add other envelopes together to equal their amount.

Here are a few more ideas that have helped me in years past:

10/10/10

Find 10 children that would contact 10 other people that would each give 10 dollars.

This would get you $1,000 for your ministry.

Club 125

A family commits to giving for 12 months – $5.00 a month (that comes out to $60 per family that participates)

Multiply that number by the number of families willing to participate.

Events and adding a few extra $ to each fee

When you have a retreat, a family activity that costs something or an event that will require you to charge a fee… simply increasing each registration/ticket or cover-charge by a dollar or 2 each will give you that extra wiggle-room.

Dash for Cash

Parade your kids into the main auditorium during the adult service. Have the adults hold up any paper currency and have the kids run thru the auditorium collecting the cash. Play fun music in the background – kids and adults love this!

Here are a few low-cost events, prizes and supplies that might help the budget:

Paper Airplane Night

A night with a ream of white copy paper and craft supplies from your supply closet at church. Have families come, ready to fold and decorate paper airplanes. Do a few contests with bragging-rights as the prize: Longest flying plane, coolest decorations, most colorful, etc. If your church has a balcony, have the families line up to toss their planes off of the balcony to see who’s will fly the furthest.
Mini-Golf Tournament

Post Office Undeliverable Packages

Contact your local post office. There are several times a year when they get rid of the packages that cannot be delivered (no address, wrong address or incomplete address, no such address, the address is unreadable and there isn’t a viable return address) Ask them to contact you when they are getting ready to ditch the items and more often than naught, you can go pick it all up. Have an opening party at your church, Friends of mine have found high-end electronics, promotional items and all kinds of things that can be gifted or offered as prizes.

Paint Left Behind

Need to paint a classroom or a backdrop for a series? Contact your local home-improvement place (Lowes, Home Depot, Etc) or your local paint-supply place (Sherwin Williams, Dupont, etc) and ask if they have any custom paint that hasn’t been picked up or paint that’s been mistakenly mixed that they want to get rid of. Often times it’s free for the taking or there may be a small fee – but trust me, it’s a major discount. You won’t always find the colors you need – but who knows!

Craigslist

Look thru the Free section – you will find all kinds of craft supplies, drama props and who knows what else for your ministry.

List your needs in the Wanted Section and see what kind of response you get. Someone out there is just waiting to donate some unwanted piece of equipment or supplies to a church.

Everywhere you look there are ideas to be used in children’s ministry… just waiting to be unlocked! They could be hidden in the pages of book, the display fixture of a store, an interesting commercial on TV, during a conversation about a topic you never thought you’d be talking about, happening in a new song on the radio while you’re waiting for the light to change or in a moment of misfortune.

When you go out and about in your day, here are some ways to harvest those innovations so you can keep your ministry sharp:

  • Keep Your Eyes Open – always be saying to yourself: “What could this be? How can I use that? How could my church benefit from having/knowing about this?
  • Be Deliberate – Visit places that are interesting and unique… ON PURPOSE. There’s that one store in the mall that has unique displays. There’s that one park with playground equipment like no other. There’s that one 2nd Hand shop that always seems to gather interesting items.
  • Use Up Your Smartphone’s Memory – If you have a smartphone, you should be taking pics, capturing video, taking notes and recording voice memos of your surroundings and experiences. Invest in more memory if need be.
  • Catalog Your Finds – Evernote is a great way to organize the ideas and notes you collect so you can return at a later time to be creative. If Evernote is not a consideration, have a place to keep those ideas so they are not forgotten: Open a document program on your computer and keep a running list of those ideas… store pics and video on a hard drive… if nothing else, keep a notebook handy.
  • Visit The Bigger Guys – There’s that church near you that is bigger and has more resources at their disposal. Perhaps they have some innovations and things that could be adapted for your situation. They’re usually willing to share their thoughts and ideas.
  • Visit The Littler Guys – Often the drive of the newer/smaller church’s leaders pushes them to try newer things quicker… after all: Necessity is usually the mother of invention.  These guys have HAD to figure out how to solve problems; and in the process might have created the new process.
  • Empower The Team – You’re not the only one in your ministry that can do the aforementioned. Encourage your team to do all of these things! Bring it all together once in a while for a “Show and Tell” session: Everyone puts what they’ve collected over the last weeks or months their finds. Get out the whiteboard and start to map-out the finds into usable ideas whether your church or ministry ever uses them or not… you’d be surprised where these session might go.

A few months ago a scheduled a twitter teaching using Hootsuite (great for scheduling tweets or posts to FB). It never really occurred to me to add this to my blog as a list of tips for making your large group teaching more effective. So, here we go – #hash-tags and everything!

  • Teaching Large Group Tip 1: Have a passion for teaching kids! #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 2: Be prepped by knowing the Word & being prayed-up. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 3: Be prepped by knowing your lesson, rehearsing, and the right people are in-the-know. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 4: Make eye contact with as many kids as possible. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 5: B animated with your voice. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 6: B animated with your actions #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 7: Get kids as helpers 2 tell stories, hold objects, play games. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 8: Use multimedia – but don’t let it USE you. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 9: Use props & objects. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 10: Have unique characters & special guests. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 11: Background music helps with intros, outtros, teaching times, creates moods & segues. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 12: Sound effects are great – pre-recorded as a playlist in iTunes. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 13: More sound effects – kids with noisemakers during the story think old-time radio. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 14: Controlled lighting can create moods & segues. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 15: Become a master storyteller. U will attain perfection only by trial and error. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 16: Each segment of the service: Explain what UR going 2 teach; teach it; explain what U just taught. #kidmin

I sure do hope this gives you something to think about as you prep for your Mid-Week or Weekend large group experiences! And if you’d like to follow me on Twitter, my twitter handle is: @jamie_doyle

These past weeks, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve taught on the Word of God for our Children’s Large-group format.

Here are the Topics taught and the basic synopsis of each lesson:

  • “God’s Word is Strong” We used the story of the Wise and Foolish Builders and discussed how we will face storms in life. We can build our lives on many things: wealth, fun, friends and stuff. Unfortunately, those things will let us down. But if our lives are built on the Words that Jesus taught, we can stand strong.
  • “God’s Word Inside” We used the story of Jesus being Tempted by the devil and yet, Jesus had the Word of God inside of Him so he could use it wherever he went. We will encounter temptation every day! If we will put the Word inside, we can have it with us wherever we go.
  • “God’s Word is Sharp” We used the story of David and Goliath and emphasized the fact that it wasn’t necessarily the stone that won the fight… it was the message that God had already spoken that He would fight our battles for us. David knew that message and used it to win the fight. We ended this particular service by providing places where kids could pray what the Word says – We posted scripture verses around the room and invited kids to pray those verses over their struggles, trials and problems. It was an amazing altar time.

These were 3 lessons that were part of a longer series called “This Is BIG”. In years past, I have done entire 8-12 week series on the Word of God. Here is a snapshot of some of the past lessons we’ve taught in those longer series’:

  • The Bible is God’s Word
  • God’s Voice
  • The Word Inside
  • The Real Truth
  • The Word In Your Mouth
  • God’s Word is Like a Hammer
  • God’s Word is Like a Sword
  • God’s Word is Forever
  • God’s Word is Strong
  • Where Does Faith Come From?
  • What Do Your Feet Look Like (Beautiful are the Feet…)
  • God Keeps His Promises