Yep, It’s finally happening. And it’s really because my Pastor made a comment to me about my site. If you have been to it lately, you know that it’s in desporate need of updating and a redesign. So that’s taking place as of this posting. Hopefully before I leave for Armenia, the site will have a new look, a new structure and more current information – Including some of my newer products available for you to view. Thanks to all of you for visiting the site in recent years.

Anything you would like to see on the site? leave me a comment or two and I will consider it.

From time to time I get the privilege to go out and speak at some events and services outside of my church walls. My Pastor is so gracious for allowing me to do this. Here’s a quick run down of some recent outings that I have had in the last few weeks… for those of you who care. For those of you who don’t – Go and read my Pastor’s Blog, or listen to his latest podcast.

Chapel Service for Christian Life School in Farmington, MN

Chapel Services for Kidz Quake – North Dakota District Assemblies of God Kids’ Convention in Bismark, ND

Workshops for the Minnesota District of the Assemblies of God All Church Training Conference in Minneapolis, MN

In coming weeks I will get to go on a mission’s trip to train children’s workers in Armenia and also train children’s workers at the National Children’s Ministry Conference for the Assemblies of God in Springfield MO.

But, I confess: I still love the weekly and daily ministry that goes on at my home church River Valley Church in Apple Valley, MN. We have great kids, great parents, great leaders and I have an incredible Pastor.

Carl Lindelien – Pastor Carl and wife Dee Dee have been great influences on children all over the United States. Especially training and sending out Children’s Pastors. Carl was my Children’s Pastor when I was first saved. As a kid I sat in children’s church – absolutely marveled at the stories, songs, object lessons and puppets. Pastor Carl made Bible stories come to life. I joined his puppet team and he started to use me as his helper during services.

When he left our church, he had me spend time with him at his other church. I even interned under him when he was a Children’s Pastor in Orlando, FL. I am so glad that he took me under his wing and showed me the ropes at a young age.

I have written about Carl in earlier posts – here is a snippet of information about some of Carl’s accomplishments over the years:

Carl was the senior editor and head writer for the original first four quarters of Charisma’s “K.I.D.S Church” Curriculum published back in the early 90′s. He also helped edit the first quarter of Willie George Ministries’ “Kids One The Move” Curriculum.

…And, if you were ever involved in children’s ministries back in the late 80′s, you may remember “The Praisin’ Raisins” – a parody of the California Raisins. This too was a Carl Lindelien thing.

Carl has served churches of a few hundred to churches of several thousands and everything in between. He us currently the Pastor of a new church, Rivers Edge Church, planted in the fall of 2005 that is reaching people in fun and unique ways.

Can you figure out the connection with the photo? Good luck!

Keep it visual.
If you find yourself creating your own lessons (and I encourage you to do so), you are going to need to keep your lesson visual. Your class will pay attention and it will keep you creative. Here is a list of ways I’ve tried to keep it visual over the years:

  • Oversized or large objects… you can find these in various variety and novelty shops, online clown shops and you can attempt to make them yourself out of foam, Styrofoam, large format printing, etc.
  • Puppets – muppet-style, shadow, mop/broom, paper bags (thanks Fandango!)
  • Costumed Characters – big headed full-bodied costumes and people dressed-up as a character who had developed a character personality – start collecting funny clothing, wigs, masks, fake noses and other dress-up stuff.
  • Illusions – yep the evils of magic in church (by the way, take the poll)
  • Cartoons – Randy Christensen has two books on cartoon lesson – they are so easy and make you look good!
  • DVD clips – everything from a full-length movie to a five minute clip.
  • Science Experiments – you really need to get the sermons in chemistry set.
  • Dance Routines – Kids are great at coming up with choreography – just ask a group of 3rd-5th grade girls to figure it out – they’ll drop whatever they’re doing!
  • Clowns – again, Randy Christensen is the guy to get your resources from.
  • Athletes – they can come in and demonstrate what they do – they could be professionals or highschoolers. Either way, kids love ‘em!
  • Community Service People – Policemen, firemen, paramedics – Get them to bring all the cool stuff that kids love to see up close.
  • Extreme Sports Demonstations – Skateboarding, rockwall climbing, bull riding… There are people in your church and community that can do this stuff.
  • Live Animals – Kids love animals whether its a dog, gerbil or monkey. You can find people that can bring in snakes, tarantulas, iguanas, large cats, monkeys, tropical birds and other large birds.

Dick Gruber – I received Jesus as Savior at the age of ten at a Kids’ Crusade conducted by Dick Gruber and his wife Darlene. I watched him and knew that I was supposed to minister to kids one day. He inspired me to learn to juggle and use puppets. Dick has continued to give me great advice and help over the last 22 years.

He has served big churches and little churches and for a number of years was the children’s ministry specialist for the Assemblies of God headquarters.

Dick is now the Professor of Children’s Ministries at Valley Forge Christian College in Phoenixville, PA. He has recently launched a new, online, college level program for children’s ministry training called CMU.

Ok – So, Mr. Carrey isn’t holding up his thumb – but this is Rules of Thumb 7 – count the fingers homey!

Here we go: Try to use volunteers as much as possible when teaching – I mean, hey, they’re right there in the room with you… what a great visual aid! Kids always pay attention to their peers – it will also create an attention-getter.

Using helpers from the audience gives others a chance to participate in the lesson. I try to find something that a volunteer could do – even if the lesson doesn’t call for it. here are a few suggestions:

  1. Play the part of a charecter in a story.
  2. Hold some of the object, pictures, signs…
  3. Dress up in garb that relates to the objects (Doctor, Scientist, Hockey Player, Cop, Professional Wrestler, etc).
  4. Demonstrate a skill that relates to the lesson (jump rope, sing, play an instrument, make strange noises, quote a verse, recite the books of the Bible, sports related skills – you get the idea) – this could be completly impromptu.
  5. Read a Bible verse related to the lesson – race someone else to look up the verse and read it.
  6. Interview them like a reporter.

If your lesson doesn’t need volunteers or you cannot think of a way to involove indvidules or a small group of kids, then try to get the entire crowd involved by repeating phrases after you or mimicking actions that are relevant to the lesson – make your lessons great!

Two Part Rule:

One:
Have a place to keep your props before you’re ready to present it. You want to create an element of surprise – this can happen if no props or objects are seen before they are presented or displayed. This will help curious hands from disturbing your props.

Two:
Have a place to put your items after the lesson is over with. Behind the puppet stage or under a covered table or perhaps it’s something you can give away after you’ve taught the lesson. Wherever it goes, just make sure that it’s out of the way for the rest of the lesson so it doesn’t become a distraction. You’re also not going to want children getting their hands on things that you need to keep nice.

There are various kinds of places to keep your stuff before and after the lesson. Let’s examine a few.

The Show Basket or Bucket:
I got this idea from the guy in my last post, David Ginn. He has a large basket, box, bucket or some kind of container that he calls his “show basket”. Everything starts in the basket and then as it’s used in the performance – it goes back into the basket.

Curtain:
A buddy of mine actually has a place built into his stage backdrop in the children’s church room where a curtain opens and a table on casters, with the day’s prop(s) on display ready to be used. If you use a puppet stage you could have the items within reach, just behind the curtain as well.

Suitcase Or Box With A Lid:
This is essentially the same as the show basket idea with one exception: you can close the lid so the items are not as tempting to disturb as you are shaking hands with the kids at the door. My buddy and children’s pastor, Jeff Post, has developed and entire show around this box concept called: THE BIG BLUE BOX Sammy Smith has two nice show cases available (the professional prop case and the baby prop case). – it looks sharp and the kids will know that it’s the box where you keep all your cool stuff.

Magic Table:
I was just talking about this with my good friend Ben Murray. It’s basically a large box on wheels with the back open and shelves for props inside. Mine is on wheels and can fold down into a suitcase sized box with a handle for easy transportation. It’s made by Joe Lefler and you can have your local magic shop order it for you.

Just Cover It:
Use some decorative material to cover the item if it’s too large to fit in a box or behind a curtain.

Tip:
Here’s a little tip about displaying props or items to create anticipation: Don’t display it unless you know for sure you are going to use it. If you create the anticipation in the class and then never use the item – they will attack you! Or, they will just be really disappointed.

Many have asked what I study when it comes to developing my skills as a presenter. The answer is not as easy as going to the local Christian bookstore and picking up a book or actually going to the Children’s Ministry Sites and ordering the next wave in curriculum, manual or DVD. I do something that those of you harsh, anti-secular children’s pastors would never think of doing. I study and learn from those in the real world – who do what I do, which is present and perform – but, they do it for the masses of children in the secular, public world, as magicians, clowns, jugglers, storytellers and the sort.

I have recently revived my interest in a guy named, David Ginn. Do you know this guy, have you met him… heard of him? He is the godfather of the kidshow/elementary school assembly. Ask any children’s magician who David Ginn is and the probability that they are performing a version of one of his routines or using lines that have been made famous from his books are greater then the people who actually know how David Blaine makes himself float.

I love to entertain kids and educate them at the same time. So my interest in David Ginn began back as a Jr. High school student. A children’s pastor who I was helping (Jeff Post) allowed me to borrow a few of his books on children’s magic. David Ginn’s “Children Laugh Louder” was one of them. I also read his copy of the famous book “KidBiz” by the same author. It started me on my journey as a performer in my own home town. I also realized that it was helping me to develop my children’s ministry lessons. I have continued to collect his books, videos, DVD’s and props to this day – I have even gotten the chance to meet him and see him lecture – what a great guy!

If you’re interested in taking an interesting journey into the world of the children’s entertainer, then get some of David’s books or DVD’s “Professional Magic for Children” is a great place to start. “Children Laugh Louder” and the most famous “KidBiz” are the next two to get your hands on. Tell him Jamie Doyle sent you and he will say, “…Who?”

Practice Makes Perfect

The old sayaing goes something like; “Practice makes perfect… and perfect is as stupid does…” or something like that. Practice your lesson. Know it inside and out from start to finish. You don’t need to be distracted by accidentally dropping props or not knowing how to hold something so it can best be seen. Stand in front of a mirror if you need to see if you look natural. Analyze how the objects are to be used and make sure that everyone will be able to see it and understand. You may need to record yourself on video or audio so you can make adjustments to the words you use or which words or phrases to over emphasize. Give these children your best!

Over the years I have carried a number things in my pockets prior to Children’s Church services that have helped me to connect with kids and sometimes, just for a laugh. Here are a few in no particular order that you might try – if you come up with a few, e-mail me and let me know… Better yet: send a response to this post with your thoughts!

A Pair of Pliers – every week, a kid will approach me and show me his/her loose tooth. I will say, “here, let me help you with that…” And I reach into my back pocket and display the pliers (The bigger, the better). “Open wide and you can get a visit from the tooth fairy tonite!” Kids will usually laugh and cover their mouths. Parents are amazed at how witty this is.

A small “nerf-like” ball – As the crowd gets bigger, I will just toss it out and have the kids toss it back. They actually go nuts over this. I have also used my juggling bean bags to toss one out during some juggling. Then have a kid toss it back. We see how far away I can toss it and catch it again and keep juggling.

A Small Birthday Candle and Kitchen Lighter – Somebody always tells me that their birthday is either coming up this week, or it was last week, or it’s their dog’s birthday. I pull out the little candle and light it while singing happy birthday in opera-style. They get to blow out the candle and I have all the kids who are nearby cheer for them, their dog or brother – whoever!

Pocket Magic Trick – This is an obvious one. But kids are always asking me to do a trick, so I have one in my pocket most times. Some suggestions – a thumbtip and thumbtip streamer, I produce the streamer from a borrowed dollar bill; Some coins for a few coin slieghts; sponge balls for a simple multiplying trick; Ring and a rope routine; check your local magic shops for these items.

Miniature Wallet – This is actually a magic trick that sells under the name “Mistaken Identity” I don’t actually do the trick part of it, I just use the little wallet. I scanned, shrunk, printed and laminated my driver’s license, credit cards, and family pictures I also bought some miniature play money to keep in it. And I talk about shrinking my wallet in the washing machine.

A Microphone Without A Cord – I will walk thru the crowd and pretend that I am a new reporter and interview kids with the microphone.

A digital camera – I learned this from my good friend, Chris Kliner. Just have the kids do funny faces, fun poses, actions etc. This keeps them occupied for a long time. Then, next week have the photos up on the big-screen, so all can see them.

Tiny Squirt Gun – During the hot months, kids show up at our church in shorts and t-shirts. So have a little squirt gun and just randomly squirt it over the crowd. The water lands on them and they don’t know where it comes from. I also get the back of kids’ legs. I will always give in and let a few kids, squirt me!

Pad of paper and pencil – I will draw pictures of kids in the audience. They are always funny looking “Kid-Art” type of drawings and the kids always laugh. So I sign it and give it to the kid that I drew a picture of. I also draw a “Droodle” and quiz kids to see if they know what it is.

ok, that’s enough for now – questions, e-mail me.