I was honored to be included in Nathan Ward’s series of interviews about Gospel Magicians. Each week, he is posting an interview with Gospel Magicians from all over the world. You can watch my interview below and be sure towatch the others HERE
Thanks Nathan for including me! Hope to see you in the UK some day.
For this portion of the series, I want to focus on getting the Children’s Church experience started…
…Before you can start the 5 minute countdown, make a grandiose announcement, send in a crazy character, start your Bible on fire, or eat donuts suspended from a rope, we need some kids to come thru the doors. If the kids don’t show up, you’d be starting your Bible on fire for, well… nobody.
But what can you do to keep kids from getting bored from the moment they come into your ministry area?
Engage Them… Here Are a Few Suggestions:
Decor- Have your ministry room(s) decorated to reflect the theme of your ministry or the topic that you are teaching. Whether you have the ability, permission and money to deck-out an area for kids or you have to set it up and tear it down; kids know when they are being welcomedand if you’ve prepared for them. Banners, backdrops, balloons, props/scenery and murals will create an environment that kids will remember.
Ambiance- Music that is upbeat and fun or anticipatory will help kids feel like this is the place just for them. Light up the room(s) with different colors to help accent and compliment the look of the room. Video clips that are familiar or interesting to kids will make a welcoming experience. AND FOR GOODNESS SAKE – clean up the clutter, vacuum, adjust the temp and eliminate odor!
Activities- When kids enter any new environment, their internal intensity changes. Kids need an outlet for energy. So have some energy-outlet friendly stuff ready. Board games, twister, an art station, simple “carnival”-type games, long-jump contests, high-jump contests, follow the leader, quiz games, treasure/scavenger hunts, video games… Use your imagination. I mean, look at it as if “nothing kid-friendly is off-limits”.
Relational Interaction- Having the leaders in your areas who are initiating interaction will create a memory and set the temperature for an experience. What do the leaders do? Ask kid-related questions; about their clothes, school, shoes, movies, video games, toys, pets, vacation, friends, etc. Having some conversation starters are important. Read my post about “The Stuff I’ve Kept in my Pockets” These little items will help leaders start conversations and create experiences.
Rules are not a fun subject – but I believe they are necessary!
Regardless of the lack of actual comments on the last post – I was encouraged with the feedback from twitter, Facebook and with personal messages from friends, and fellow KidMin leaders. Hey, I even got a shout-out from the Kids Pastor at our church during children’s church while she reviewed the rules with the kids 🙂
Here we go with Part 2:
Consider Changing the Rules to Fit Your Needs
That’s why I have a rule that says: “Obey All Rules”. It gives us license that if we need to make a rule to help the kids learn, we will. If a leader has noticed a lack of participation with our worship times in previous weeks, he/she can say something like: “Today we are adding an extra rule… it’s called ‘Everyone Participates’. If it’s time to sing, we want everyone to sing, if it’s time to learn, we need everyone paying attention…”
Make Warnings & Consequences Fair and Helpful
You wouldn’t dismiss a child from your service with a harsh lecture in front of the other children should that child break a rule and it’s their first infraction…. would you? Of course not. It’s not fair.
Let’s face it: kids get excited and will respond with outward expression. If something exciting happens and kids exclaim: “WOW!” cool – it’s what we want. Right? We want children engaged – so make sure you and your leaders can discern when the breaking of rules is a reaction to what’s happening —OR— it’s a problem of the child just doing whatever they want and it’s distracting or interruption the service.
I tend to allow 2-3 personal, verbal warnings from a leader who is not teaching. After that, the child is moved back a row or 2 (I always try to move a child back —OR— off to the side if they are already a few rows back). This is usually serious enough in the mind of the child that they will try harder to follow the rules. If the child is still having a hard time, I have them moved to the very back row (we keep the back row of one of the sections reserved for this purpose). The child is told that before he/she can leave that they will need to have a short meeting with their parents and a leader.
There have only been a few rare cases in which we had to dismiss a child by calling their parent during the service.
By handling the consequences this way, it’s fair because the child gets to remain in the room and receive ministry and participate in worship. It’s fair because the parent get’s to part of the solution. It’s helpful, because the child is moved further back where fewer children will see that child if said child chooses to continue in their behavior.
Let me just state that there are at least 2 more parts to this subject – why so much? I guess I have a lot to say about it. Please feel free to share and comment.
I still believe that one of the best ways to minister to children is with the “Children’s Church” model.
Call it “Children’s Church”, “Kids Church”, “Junior Church”, “Large Group Time,” etc. Whatever it’s called, it’s important to promote unity through corporate worship and teaching.
During this series on Making Your Children’s Church Better, we will explore the little details that make a huge impact. Today, we’re talking “Transitions”. In the last 7 months, our family has had the privilege of traveling the United States and observe the services for children in churches and at Kids Camps. We’ve seen the good the bad and the ugly when it comes to service planning and presentation… and the transitions stood out the most. So, here are few of my thoughts, tips, ideas and advice for keeping your Children’s Services moving along smoothly:
Know what you’re going to say before you start speaking
Have a transitional statement and make it intentional: Don’t start your statement with: “Alright…”, “OK…” and “Well…” These are so common and it makes you sound like you’re unsure about what to say.
Consider a “grabber statement” as your first line:“Something REALLY embarrassing happened to me the other day…”; “When I was a kid…”; “I’m bringing my teddy-bear next week! So should you for our pajama day!”
Ask the kids a question that you’re confident they will answer:“Does anyone here like candy? I thought so – I’m going to give some away…”; “Don’t you wish you had more money?”
Get kids to respond by doing something rather than just raising their hands:“If you’re excited to be here shout ‘Oh Yeah!”; “When I count 3-2-1, Jump out of your chair and give me a big cheer!”; “Give someone next to you a high 5!”; “Knock-knock…I said: Knock-knock…”
Affirming statements will surprise your audience:“WOW…The kids in this room are pretty awesome.”; “Good morning, I’m so happy that you’re here!”: “I love getting to be with you – You kids are great!”
Get the group to mimic you: Clap your hands in a pattern and point to the kids. Keep doing it until everyone is doing it. Start chanting something that has to do with your segment: “Kids Camp is almost here… Kids Camp is almost here… Kids Camp is almost here…” Motion to the kids to start chanting with you – getting louder and louder as you go.
Music Transitions help to set a mood.
I love Music – it’s powerful and can be so useful in ministry. But like anything, it’s a tool that should enhance the message or segments that have already be prepared. Background music can be found in a variety of places. I personally don’t like using music with recorded lyrics as background music when teaching – I feel that it will detract from what’s being talked about. I also don’t like altar music that is popular worship music if I’m talking over the top – again, it can be distracting. I don’t mind using worship music with lyrics while children are praying during a prolonged prayer time.
Here’s how I use a background music for transitions and segments:
For Segments: I prefer to use music to create a mood during a segment When the assigned person begins talking the background music chosen fades in just loud enough to be heard but not overpowering.
For Characters: Music that’s used for characters is typically used to introduce the character with a few seconds of the music playing on the front end and to dismiss the character as they leave with a few seconds of music continuing and then fading away once they leave. When the main teacher begins to interact with the character, the music fades down to a very low level. In some cases the music might change to reflect the character’s dilemma or interaction. In other cases, the music might fade away altogether.
For Teaching (gospel magic routines and object lessons): The music starts immediately as the main teach begins talking.
For the Main Illustration: The music begins immediately as the main teacher begins talking.
Video Transitions help to set a mood.
Kids live in a visual, digital age and using visuals is so important. There are many ways to use video clips as teaching tools, but this post is specifically about transitions. Again, I highly recommend the background music produced by Brian Dollar and High Voltage Kids.
For Segments: As I am finishing my segment, the media team already knows my final statement. as soon as I say the final word in my final statement, they know to start the video. The video plays for a 3-5 second duration when the next person begins talking. As that person begins talking the video fades away and just a screen shot of the video remains on the screen.
For Characters: I do create intro animated and static videos (videos in which there is no movement on the screen, just an image that relates to the character) with music in the background to help introduce the character. again the music-video is typically used to introduce the character with a few seconds of the music playing on the front end and to dismiss the character as they leave with a few seconds of music continuing and then fading away once they leave. When the main teacher begins to interact with the character, the music fades down to a very low level. In some cases the music might change to reflect the character’s dilemma or interaction. In other cases, the music might fade away altogether.
For the Main Illustration: I believe a good “bumper” video can be a great way to transition into your main message. A “bumper” video is similar as a transition video used for various segments, but it’s customized with the title of your series and/or the title of the message. It’s only 10-20 seconds with music and video footage or animation that relates to your topic. Many curriculum companies include “bumper” videos for Large-group times. A “bumper” video can be easily created with the modern video editing software as well as creating animated slides in PowerPoint and Keynote that can be exported as digital video files. Perhaps I will demonstrate how I use Keynote to accomplish this in a later post.
A few More Thoughts
Timing is Crucial from Segment to Segment: In other words, if there is a leader on the stage presenting the announcements and I am the next person who is supposed to present the offering. I don’t want to be hanging out in the back of the room waiting for the person on stage to finish and motion to me or have to introduce me so I know when to start making my way up to the stage… thus leaving an awkward moment of silence or an awkward moment of the leader having to figure out what to say while I’m meandering my way to the stage. Instead, I want to know the list of announcements… and their order… and what the previous leader’s final statement will be. As the final announcement is starting, I make my way to the front. During the final statement, I start to walk on stage so I can begin my segment.
Stop Introducing the Next Person: Unless they are a guest-speaker or someone who is not known to the kids. Otherwise, use the methods already listed to make the transitions smoother.
Have a Microphone in your Hand or on your Ear: That way, when your segment starts, you’re not speed-walking to the opposite side of the stage to get it. Or, your not aimlessly searching around and asking,”What Mic do I use?” BTW: make sure it’s been tested and is functioning properly.
Props or Visuals In Place and Ready: If your segment begins with you walking on stage and picking up a prop, hand-out example, offering bucket or other visual — double-check that its in it’s place and ready to be used.
Get Everyone On the Same Page: Do meet with all presenters and the media team so everyone knows how to handle the transitions. It might be necessary to have a walk-thru rehearsal where media cues are practiced and opening and final statements are practiced. I suggest using PlanningCenterOnline.com to plan your services that will include the lengths for segments and transitional/media cues. There is a free version that can get you started.
We are excited to announce that we have reached the 75% point of our commitments!
We are blessed and thankful that so many have chosen to support us financially over the past year. The last few commitments that have helped us get to the 75% point are those that have taken advantage of our $30 Challenge. We are looking for 35 people who will be part of the 25% that will put us over the top and get us on the field.
IS IT YOU?
Pray about it – see what Jesus tells you.
If you’re supposed to join our team, go to The $30 Challenge, read all about it, and you can make the commitment online. And we will send you our Doyle Family Missions Coffee Mug as a way to say thanks and to serve as a reminder to pray for us.
Since announcing our new direction in ministry as full-time Missionaries to the children of the world, we get the question all the time:
“So, now… where are you going?” or “Where are you moving to?” or (because part of my testimony of being called into missions happened in Africa) “So, you guys are moving to… Africa?” most of the time these questions are asked as a puzzled look comes across the inquirer’s face.
We will hang our hats in Springfield, MO so we are close to the main offices of Assemblies of God World Missions. That, of course, necessitates a move from our home of 6 years, Colorado Springs, CO. We officially move during the last week of April, and at the same time, wrap-up 6 years of successful children’s ministry at Radiant Church.
From Springfield, we will collaborate with Jay Risner as part of KidLink International to make our way into 8-10 countries a year (yes, some of those countries will be in Africa) – Presenting large evangelistic services, school assemblies, worker training, developing new international children’s ministries resources, meeting critical needs and producing television shows.
We are down to the wire in order to get to where we are going. As of this writing we still need 27% of our monthly commitments to be made – YOU CAN GET INVOLVED with our $30 Challenge. Go to the page, pray about it, see what Jesus tells you and if you need to join our team… make the commitment!
Our entire family is excited to be at Stateline Community Church (Milton-Freewater, OR) for the 2015 Walla Walla Children’s Leadership Conference on February 19 & 2o. If you are in or near the Walla Walla, WA / Milton-Freewater, OR area – please come and see us and enjoy a great conference. Click here to find out more about the conference. Registration information is also available.
We are also SUPER PUMPED about being part of the Stateline’s Family Missions Service on Sunday, February 22. Pastor Owen Frost was my youth pastor when I was a gangly junior high aged kid. He planted a seed that’s been growing all these years in my life. Aside from that, Owen and his wife, Jennifer, pastor a great church that is reach their community by focusing on the family.
Please pray for us as we litterally will hit the Oregon Trail on Tuesday morning.
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Hi my name is Jamie Doyle and although, I am the Children’s Ministry Pastor at River City Church in Lafayette, IN; everything in this blog is my opinion, and is not necessarily the view of River City Church.