What If Your Team was Challenged to All Move Towards the Same Goal?

Ever notice how your team is working exceedingly hard, but pulling in different directions? How would your job feel if your team was challenged to all move to the same goal?

When your entire ministry team comes to one conference to learn, dream, and grow together you can be sure the office will feel the impact for years to come.

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At the D6 Conference, you will hear over 50 of the top family ministry speakers. Robby Gallaty will challenge you to rediscover your discipleship model. Brian Haynes will bring the clarity you need to build bridges between the church and the home. And Jim Wideman will help you think differently when it comes to successfully parenting over the long haul!

Instead of walking away from a conference feeling overwhelmed, the D6 Conference will inspire your team to get on the same page when it comes to equipping church leaders and empowering parents. Your ministry will be blessed as you incorporate Deuteronomy Chapter 6 into every day of the week. You will be encouraged as you network with other people building God’s Kingdom. And your soul will feel refreshed as you spent time worshiping, studying and learning how to intentionally impact every generation.

Over the years, I have been personally challenged with many impactful takeaways. Ron Hunter taught “The Slinky Dog is about leadership. Point the way, stretch and let the back catch up.” Robby Gallaty taught the KISS Method of evaluating: Keep, Increase, Start, Stop. And Christina Embree helped us all understand, “Brushing your teeth can become discipleship. Parking far away can be discipleship. Hearing sirens can be discipleship.”

If you are looking to grow as a Christ follower, spouse, parent, and pastor then I encourage you to join us in Greensboro, NC for the 2018 D6 Conference!

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Book Review & 2 Book Giveaway- Caught In Between by Dan Scott

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Are your preteens getting lost in the transition from childhood to adolescence? What if you could stop losing kids and instead engage them through a preteen environment intentionally designed to help them own their faith? What if your environment offered preteens the tools they need to move forward with their faith into adulthood? 

In Caught In Between: Engage Your Preteens Before They Check Out, Dan Scott shows readers how preteens think. Their brains are changing, they face school stress, extracurriculars are demanding their time, and all the while they are being bombarded by digital media. In the midst of this chaos, the church can be either a place that feels irrelevant or a place that adapts to fit their needs. 

This book is a practical resource to help you rethink preteen ministry. In our teaching, Dan challenges us to think, “How does what we share impact the rest of their week?” He shows us, “Our job is to move preteens from learning facts about the Bible to finding themselves in the Bible.” And he explains, “Our goal is to emphasize how the Bible relates to today while honoring why the passage was written in the first place. 

After giving us insight into the world of a preteen, Dan shows readers how to plan, prepare, and launch a preteen ministry and then he offers worksheets and checklists to keep you on track. Caught in Between is a resource for pastors and volunteers who desire to build a strong preteen ministry in their church. 

To buy your copy, just click the link: Caught In Between: Engage Your Preteens Before They Check Out.

To be entered to win a copy, just share this blog post and tag me (@coreyrayjones) and I’ll be mailing out two copies within the next 10 days. 

Does Your Team Have Momentum? #OT18

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Is your team all working towards the same goal? What would happen if everyone began moving together in one direction? At this year’s Orange Tour you can bring your team and begin seeing what would happen if you began speaking with One Voice. 

Parents and small group leaders are working toward common goals . . .

Staff and volunteers are compelled by a common vision . . .

Those who have influence are speaking a common language . . .

The church and the home are connected by a common strategy . . .

An entire community is inspired to champion common values . . .

#OT18 will be an opportunity to re-imagine the potential you can have as One Voice. 

Check out this video and then go sign your team up!

 

High Voltage Curriculum Review and Giveaway

Do you love your midweek curriculum? Do your kids? About three and a half years ago, we evaluated our midweek children’s program and realized we needed to make a change. One big change came through our choice of curriculum. We wanted something that captured the attention of our kids, could easily be taught by volunteers, and apply to both the first timer as well as every time the doors are open kids.

After thorough research, we gave High Voltage a try and have been using it ever since. Like all curriculum, we make some edits to fit our culture but over the years our students have both fallen in love with Skittles as we learned Biblical throughs.

“Jesus is for Everyone” taught our kids to be evangelists. Jesus spent His time ministering to the hurting, the sick, the lost, and the poor. Jesus was willing to spend time with ANYONE who would listen to His message.

“Joseph: Living the Dream” helped out kids understand how God can work through even life’s toughest circumstances. Though a 10-week view of the life of Joseph, we learned how to respond to failure, success, and even temptation.

And in “Questions, Questions, Questions” we were learning from six of the questions Jesus asked. Jesus used questions as a powerful tool and the kids, as well as the leaders, were challenged by these teachings.

If you’re looking for an easy to use curriculum packed with practical application, then give High Voltage Kids a try!

Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be giving away some of our pasts High Voltage series. Sign up to follow my blog via email or share this post and you will be entered to win!

3 Easy Tips to Prepare for #OC18 like an Expert

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Are you ready for The Orange Conference? I’m not just asking if you’ve purchased your ticket. I’m checking to see if you are really ready for all this conference has to offer. Do some work today so you are prepared to leave, learn, and return with all that God has in store for you. 

Prepare to Take Off: Make a List 

Open up your phone or pull out a notepad and begin your Orange Conference list. Write down everything you need to do to be away. Items might include:

  • select breakouts
  • download the OC18 app
  • read the welcome pack
  • follow speakers and bloggers on social media
  • create your shopping list for the Orange Store. 

These are great items to prepare for the conference, but also add items to the list that help you prepare to be away. Include things like:

  • schedule a date with your spouse before leaving town
  • prepare all materials and volunteers for the following Sunday
  • book hotel
  • turn on an autoresponder for your email
  • find someone to feed the cat 

You could also add fun items to your Orange Conference list such as:

  • purchase orange shoes
  • schedule some networking meetings
  • select restaurants nearby
  • create specific questions you could ask to see what’s working for other leaders across the world.  

Prepare to Take In: Write Notes 

We have all been there before where we hear a great idea but two seconds later the idea is lost forever. Don’t allow this to happen to you by figuring out today how you will write notes at the conference. Maybe you buy a new Moleskin, bring your laptop, or swing by CFA and grab a handful of napkins. Take notes that fit your style and can be referred to after you get home. Write down quotes that impact your thinking. Take pictures to help you remember. Follow #OC18 and see what those around you are writing. Consider sharing your notes online to help others hear what you are learning. And if you write down a next step for you then make sure you circle it, highlight it, or email it to yourself for later. 

Prepare to Take Home: Schedule Time 

If you want to prepare for The Orange Conference like a true expert, you need to schedule a time to digest the materials once you arrive home. Look at your calendar and schedule a few blocks of time where you can review your notes and determine the areas where God is speaking to you. Also, mark a few calendar appointments to actually read the books you purchased while visiting the Orange Store.

There are many amazing ideas shared at the conference and you will need time and discernment to listen for your next steps. After you have decided what your top priorities are and what ideas you will shelf for later, bring these ideas to your team and create a strategy to move forward. You could even schedule this team meeting now to take place in the weeks following the conference. 

Make sure you plan ahead to get the most out of this year’s conference. What would you add? How do you prepare? 

(Originally posted to Orange Leaders at: http://orangeblogs.org/orangeleaders/2018/03/08/3-easy-tips-prepare-orange-conference-like-expert)

Creating a Parent & KidMin Connection

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6 Ways you benefit when parents serve in their children’s kidmin

So you’re struggling to find enough volunteers for your kids ministry (it’s OK—you’re not alone!). You’ve created job descriptions and added titles to the flowchart. Now you’ve begun asking anyone standing around in the church lobby who doesn’t look busy if they’d like to volunteer. But you’re still coming up short. Let me ask you this: Have you ever considered a strong recruitment push toward the parents of kids in your ministry? 

No, I’m not talking about making another Sunday morning announcement, writing a newsletter article or adding a post to social media. I’m talking about actually sitting down face to face with parents and talking with them about the mutual benefit of serving in the very place where their kids learn.

There are great advantages for both the church and the family when parents serve in kids ministry. Unfortunately, they are hidden benefits, so doing our part to communicate them is vital to getting the word out. But when you do, you’ll find that your church will be healthier when parents serve alongside their kids.

Here are six great reasons that having parents serve in your kidmin is an advantage for you—and them:

1. Direct Access to Your Child’s Pastor

Most children’s pastors are busy. Each week they act as teacher, event planner, financier, stage designer and counselor, so it might be difficult for the average parent to simply sit down and hear the heart of their child’s pastor. When serving on the children’s pastor’s team, parents become part of his flock and the pastor will begin more intentionally to shepherd them directly. For example, instead of a dad awkwardly trying to find a way to let the children’s pastor know about his son’s surgery, he could—as a parent serving on the children’s pastors team—simply mention the prayer request in a preservice huddle.

2. Increased Family Time

With the growing pressure for kids to excel in school, the popularity of traveling sports teams and ever-changing family dynamics, it’s an understatement to say that families today are busy. In most churches, when a family arrives at church they immediately split up to attend church in their separate environments. But when a parent is serving in the kids ministry, the parent gets more time with his or her child. Parents who serve in their kids’ ministry are building memories that most other families will never get to experience.

What’s more, no longer will a kidmin event or outing pull the family apart. Because the parent servers as a volunteer who attends the outing, kidmin gatherings become a family event. That means the kids ministry in hour church actually can be a catalyst to bring families together.

3. Overflow of Sunday’s Lesson Into Weekday Life

When parents pick up their children after church, they usually ask them if they had fun and if they learned something. Unfortunately, the lesson often ends there. It’s not that parents don’t care about their children’s experience. But the conversation goes no further because of the parents’ lack of familiarity with the kidmin and the fact that most of them don’t personally experience the lesson.

This all changes when parents begin preparing for the lesson at the beginning of the week, when they laugh out loud during the skit, when they see firsthand the illustration the teacher presents, when they teach the lesson for themselves. During the week, parents will begin asking their kids if they are applying the Bible lesson they learned at church. This simple engagement leads to a learning opportunity by pointing them back to something they both experienced on Sunday morning.

4. Improved Ministry Effectiveness ]

Instead of creating a parent panel for feedback, simply recruit parents who can give you insight about your ministry’s effectiveness. Ask parents how the lessons are connecting with their kids and which illustrations are making the gospel presentation come to life. Ask the parents who are serving in your ministry to give you feedback on the first-time visitor process—and then empower them to improve the experience. The more diverse a group of parents you have, the more varied their backgrounds and experiences, and the more collective wisdom you’ll have to draw from.

5. Children Connected to Spiritual Mentors

When parents are part of a team of kidmin workers, they get to know the other small-group leaders. This allows them to strategically pursue ones who can help them speak truth into their children. Through consistently serving, parents will see that their kids are developing strong Christ-centered relationships that benefit the family.

It’s weird, but often parents can tell their child a hundred times to do something, without it sticking, but when another adult suggests they do something, it sticks the first time. Through relationships made with other leaders on their team, parents can comfortably find a mentor they trust to speak truth into their child.

6. Through-the-Roof Buy-In

Most people never become a raving fan or even an advocate for an organization until it makes a difference in their lives. Sure, the children’s ministry in your church is impacting the kids, but many parents don’t realize the difference it truly makes until they see it firsthand. And when they see it, their buy-in goes through the roof.

They begin recruiting other parents to serve just because they are talking about it in their small groups. Serving parents are in-the-know, and they naturally begin to ask other parents if their kids will be attending events. Some parents might even begin contributing financially to the mission of the church because of the impact your kidmin has had on their family.

Overall, your families and your church will be healthier when parents serve in their kids’ ministry. It might be your responsibility to communicate the benefits. But when you do, God will open the door to these conversations and create a parent-kidmin connection. So take some time today to craft a compelling vision that will reveal the hidden benefits of parents serving in your kidmin.

35+ Game Ideas from the Kidmin Nation Christmas Party

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At this year’s Kidmin Nation Christmas Party Ryan asked us to share what our favorite Christmas game is to play with kids. Everyone chatted in their favorite games and I organized a list of a few of my favorites. Here are a few game ideas that you can use for your next Christmas Party!

Corey’s Picks!

Haley Forrest : Gingerbread House on your Face! We give four to five different groups a collection of graham crackers, m&m’s, icing, etc. They are to create the best house possible!

Kerry Cressey : Wrapping paper game – teams have a time limit to wrap one person up in paper and decorate, and then a winner is chosen.

Becky Loughridge : Wrap leaders in Christmas paper and other decorations to simulate a Christmas tree.

Ashley Medina : Deck the Tree-Leader:  Kids have 60 seconds green streamers and bows to decorate their small group leader as Christmas tree.  It is super fun!

Susan Rutledge : One Hoof-Two Hoof – online game.  Kids hold up one, two or no hands (hoofs) and if it matches where the video lands – they stay standing.  Others sit. Whoever is left standing is the winner.

Laurie Alvarez : Snowball Fight with Pom Poms or crumpled up paper. Divide the kids into two and give them two minutes to throw them at each other over a dividing line. At the end of two minutes, the team with the least amount on their side wins!

Nativity Games

Jennifer Westering : Hide and Seek the Nativity. Hide all nativity characters. Tell Christmas story when each character is found. Characters are ornaments that kids can put on their trees to take home

Anette Shanks : From Anette Shanks to Everyone – Nativity Game…You share the Nativity story with the kids with the characters.  Then you have the kids close their eyes and you take a couple of the characters away.  They have to tell which people are missing and what part they have in the story.

Donna Osborne : Put the babe in the manger (like pin tail on donkey)

Melody McGuire : Nativity Bingo.

Gift Games

Amber Pike : The Syran Wrap Game. Kids roll dice and unwrap that many layers to get the candy

Rachel Nuckels : left, right game!!! read a story with left and right throughout. when each word is said, kids pass gifts to right or left!

Connie Lawyer : Guess the present! Wrap presents and the kids have to feel the present and try to guess what is in it! Then remind them the greatest gift of all – Jesus!

Nicole Strine : pass the present, roll a dice and pass left/right etc

Cazi Murvine : Musical Presents! We wrap gifts for the classroom. Each gift gets wrapped 4-8 times in different wrapping paper for each layer. We play music and when the music stops whoever is holding the gift gets to unwrap one layer.

Jerry Wages : We play All I Want For Christmas Whoever comes up with the best gift wins a prize.

Lorraine Hart : Unwrap the gift with kitchen mittens. If you roll doubles you get to start opening the gift. The kids continue to pass dice and when the next person rolls dice they can steal gift and begin to open. Continue till gift is opened by someone. I wrap the gift several times.

Dan Jenkins : A power point game called name that gift. We have items wrapped on the screen and they guess what it is based on the shape.

Minute To Win It

Sherri Gaskill : Candy Cane Drop. Tie a string onto two chairs placed about 3 feet apart. Give a kid a bunch of candy canes. Have them drop a candy cane from their chin. The object is to see how many candy canes they can get on to the string in 1 minute.

Amy Harder : Candy Cane Hook — Pour out candy canes on the table. Players take a candy cane in their mouths, hook side out. The players have to use the hook from the candy cane to pick up other candy canes and fill a bucket. The player with the most canes in their bucket at the end of time wins.

Mary Beavers : Wrap the Gift. Teams of 4 work together to wrap a box using only one hand each.

Sharon Alexander : kids like throwing candy canes in a Santa Stocking. they have 1 minute.

Sara Hlava : Snowman Face Race – vaseline, cotton balls & scooters – Go!

Mary Smith : Gift Wrap Scramble- kids work in teams wrapping gift with one hand behind their back

Christy Zentz : Candy cane relay.  Kids put a candy cane in their mouths, pick up red & green hardware nuts without using their hands and carry them up on the candy canes to a table.

Music Games

Ronnie Fernandez Lee : Christmas Song Scramble

Andy Penney : Christmas Carol Karaoke – We let the kids pick out a Christmas song and do karaoke

Ronnie Fernandez Lee : Christmas Song Scramble   Print large lyrics to Christmas songs on heavy paper,  cut them up in phrases, create teams and time the teams who build them in correct order on the floor, they have to sing it

Games with a Christmas Twist

Jennifer Nier : Reverse Christmas Charades-2 people up front-clue on screen behind them-everyone in the crowd act out the clue

Emily Hill : Steal the Bacon with jingle bells. Kids line up in 2 teams and a leader sits blindfolded in a chair with jingle bells under his chair.  Kids try to steal the jingle bells without getting hit with a pool noodle the leader is swinging.

Rick Moody : J-E-S-U-S instead of B-I-N-G-O and each square has something to do with the Christmas story.

Matt Cannon : Candy Cane/Ornament Cup Pong…. Use candy canes and Christmas ornaments. We use the ping pong table and red solo cups. We use candy canes and Christmas Ornaments to ring the cup and every time you ring it the opposite team has to chug milk

Vicki Ejibe : Hungry Hungry Hippos. Scooters, baskets, and marshmallows. Kid rides scooter and other kids holds legs and pushes scooter holding basket into the center of the circle to catch marshmallow.

Dan Jenkins : Santa, reindeer, sleigh – two kids partner up against two other kids and call out each of these things. They have to act out the one I give them and if their team guesses they win.

Jame Vallejo : Christmas Jeopardy.  Split into 2 teams and answer questions from 4 categories. At the end is a final question. Kids have to bet points and most points at the end win.

Judy Hiebert : Review Game: Christmas Acrostic, the answers are filling in letters.

Rhonda Bischoff : Signs – everyone makes up a sign, someone in center tries to see who is passing their sign to another person.

What game is missing from this list? Write your suggestion in the comments to be added!

Volunteer Gift Guide from I Love KidMin

 

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Are you looking for a small thoughtful gift for your volunteers? Do you need a bulk supply with a limited budget? I asked the “I Love KidMin” Facebook Group for help and here is an ever-growing Volunteer Gift Guide. Comment your ideas and they may get added to this post!

Christmas Theme

Annie Double The last two years I did a Movie Night with the Redbox Code and popcorn and that was a huge hit (that’s why I did it 2 years in a row).

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Courtney Moseley Kirk Last year I gave each teacher gifts wrap, wrapping tape and a poem I found on Pinterest. I got the best response from them compared to years past. It was inexpensive and practice. https://itsalwayscrafttime.blogspot.com/2010/12/neighbor-gift-idea.html

Image courtesy of Brad Waggoner 

Melody McGuire Christmas socks tied with a ribbon and stuffed with candy.

Dema Kohen Advent Calendar/Daily devotions and activities. Give it every year to the families in our church as part of the Mahger Project activity. (https://www.amazon.com/Journe…/dp/1589978242/ref=sr_1_2…)

Megan McGarvey our staff has a fun photo shoot and makes a Christmas card! We also send a gift card with it. (but people love the pictures)

Jessica Pryer I’m doing fleece throw blankets. I found some for $2.50 a person, and I found Christmas themed ones for a little over $5 at Walmart. There are multiple patterns and colors. Fun present that I wouldn’t mind getting myself.

Melinda Robison We do an ornament every year so less than $1 per person on oriental trading

Dema Kohen Love this set. Bought 10 of these two weeks ago. (https://www.amazon.com/Teeny…/dp/0762460903/ref=sr_1_1…) Comes with a little book too. $8 USD

Kayla Holbrook Ornaments! I like the wooden ones from Christian Book.

Terri Johnson Last year apple cinnamon ornaments! Apple butter, Christmas ornaments, magnets. This yr I am giving a card with a small ornament.

Missy Silassy This is my first year and I’m doing cards with a personal note and ornament for the adult teachers and cards with a note and mustard seed coin for my teen helpers.

Crafts

Mark Jones Our children’s ministry team made this for each of our teachers. I barely had enough barn wood! https://mrmarksclassroom.com/blog/2017/04/18/star-teacher-gift/

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Sandra Hiegel Hauenstein Bible tabs from Etsy!!! Biggest hit. Close second gourmet goodies from local shop! https://www.etsy.com/search?q=bible%20tabs

Nikki Steiner I just saw this on Pinterest and thought of this post. It was called Pick A Promise. Placing verses in a jar and rolling them up, then when having a bad day, you can pick one to read. You could do a variation of this with words of encouragement and appreciation from the kids and others in CE at your church.

Glenys Nellist The most meaningful gift was when we took photos of our teachers with the kids and then put them in a simple frame. We wrote something like ‘thanks for making a difference.’ Above everything else, or any gift, I think teachers need to know that they’re making a difference

Shelley Ward I made these Praise Jars for our Pastors and Children’s Leaders too. I decorated mason jars and filled them with inspirational bible verses. I thought this would make a good Christmas gift!

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Church Merch

Casey Satterfield Last year we gave a special Seahawks style T-shirt navy blue with green lettering with our kids logo on it with Jesus had 12 men too on the back. It was a hit and requested by our new team members!!

Lynn Peters This year it will be a new T-shirt with our new kids logo and a home baked loaf of pumpkin bread

Activities

Carla Garms Wiederhold This year instead of doing gifts I have asked my leaders if they wanted to serve together at Feed My Starving Children. They love the idea … We have scheduled for January and I will donate the dollars I would have spent to FMSC

Jennifer Rath Scott I’m taking them out to a movie this Sunday. 🙂 Time together is wonderful.

Donations

Katie Storm A donation in their name to world vision

Dean Christianson I started a couple years ago, “purchasing” farm animals for overseas organizations that give them to families to provide a living for them. I write out a card to each of the volunteers and they really seem to enjoy this rather than “getting” something. They seem to buy in to helping someone rather than getting something. https://www.heifer.org/gift-catalog/animals-nutrition/index.html

Shelly Lantz Akins I donate to a local charity in honor of my volunteers. I print out a card and give it to them that a donation was made in honor of the St. Andrew’s volunteers. Then I bake cookies and give them each 4 with the card attached.

Music

Yancy Wideman Richmond I have a lot of churches give my “Roots for the Journey” CD for this.

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Carla Champ-Hefner Jumpstart3 Cds Jeff McCullough

Mary Rice Hopkins I will send you CD’s or DVD’s for $5.00 a person plus shipping. Most popular one has sold 1/4 of a million copies. Great deal. Message me.

Books

Becky Wescoat A Journey to Bethlehem: Inspiring Thoughts for Christmas and Hope for the New Year http://a.co/gj1Flel

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Theresa Plemmons Reiter The book Simply Pray by Archie Buie. It is the only gift my volunteers thanked me over and over.

Shawn Howell ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas https://www.amazon.com/…/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_9aycAb7XA6M3X

Kimbell Dicken Botto This is awesome. It’s like the rip off calendars but it’s not dated (so you don’t feel bad if you miss a day) Beautifully illustrated and has short story with Bible reference to read more and a couple questions to get families talking. Amazon sometimes has the price as low as $12-15. http://a.co/hClZBlR

Food and Drink

Marta Cortez Two biscotti with a coffee gift card packaged nicely in a reusable Starbucks cup.

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Lauren Webb Rtic 30oz tumblers are only $7 right now on their website! Then you can cut a logo or something out of vinyl!!

Lauren Webb I bought the Christmas mini loaf pans from Lifeway. They are on sale right now for $3 each. I’ll bake some kind of bread and wrap them in a cellophane package.

Dana Sartin Find a candy shop or someone who makes. Gourmet Apples. Mine love them!!!

Tom Bump We made a sweet spicy Chex mix. Put in gift bags with a nice card attached. The team loved them. We made 110 bags. Was a lot of work but so worth it. We had 0 budget so I purchased it out of my own pocket.

Andrea Joy Rossignol Homemade fudge or cookies or something like that. It’s likely to be something everyone will enjoy, won’t create clutter in anyone’s house, and you’re giving of yourself rather than something from a store. The downside – you’ll have to MAKE all those treats!

Mandi McKibben I made freezer meals for my volunteers one year…talk about a gift that was appreciated!

Nicole Underwood I made salsa last year for them.

Christine Gerard Garner Wendy’s frosty tag!!! https://davethomasfoundation.org/contribute-through-wendys/

Libby Rinne We made these cute cocoas for our volunteers, cheap and cute!:)

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From The Store

Sue Edgerton We like to have teens fill out brief questions about their favorites at the beginning when they serve. Questions like: your favorite soda, your favorite candy, your favorite sport, your favorite color. These come in very handy when wanting to give a little thank you or a Christmas gift.

Jennifer Martin Burks Chick-fil-A calendars, blankets from Kohl’s (add initials for fun), travel mug with logo, anything with church logo really. Maybe a T-shirt with it on there.

Monica Piszczek Bath and Body Works soaps. I got 6 bottles for $19.00. Wrap it in cellophane or tissue and put a bow on them. Who can’t use soap!!!

Kate Sweitzer Wanted to share a truly last minute idea. I have a few young adult volunteers and I’m gifting them these EOS lip balms for Christmas tomorrow.

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Other Resources and Sites

Corinne Noble Here are some ideas I have used! https://www.kidmincorinne.com/blog/8-easy-ways-you-can-appreciate-your-volunteers?rq=appreciate%20volunteers

Lori Todd Baker Check out CTA, Inc. They have some very affordable gifts for all occasions. http://www.ctainc.com/

Melody McGuire I go to Harbor Freight and purchase an inexpensive tool tie with ribbon and candy.

Brad Waggoner I am going to do succulents in a fun little container. I haven’t decided on the container yet though…lots of options depending on budget. I get the succulents here…they are great! https://thesucculentsource.com/

Beth Kuhar Welman www.ctainc.com has great nativity-themed products for kids & adults (And seasonal stuff, with devotionals). Also, Oriental Trading has faith-based crafts & goodies.

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What would you add to this list? Comment to be added!

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The Tangibles and Intangibles of an Excellent Preteen Environment​

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The moment you walk in the door you begin to judge the atmosphere of any business. If you walk into a coffee shop you are trying to find where you place your order and what coffee options are available. You begin judging whether or not you will ever return based on the tangible things you see, taste, and experience as well as the intangible things you feel, smell, and hear. The same is true with the preteens that walk in our preteen environments. We might not have full control over the smells in the room, but we must do our part to create an engaging, affirming, and irresistible preteen environment.

Think About Your First Impression

As a preteen navigates your church, are you helping them find where to go with clear signage? And as they walk into your preteen environment, does the atmosphere communicate that you were expecting them? Walk through your environment and think about the seen and unseen obstacles a ten-year-old will be experiencing. Or better yet, talk with one and ask them about what they saw and felt. First impressions go beyond the first moment that someone walks through your doors. Have you ever gone to a restaurant and had a great experience up until the point the food was served? Think through how you cue a preteen throughout the service and help them understand what is about to happen. Do your part to help them feel comfortable as a visitor from the moment they pull onto campus until they are talking with their parents on the way home.

Create a Safe Place

Look around your preteen area to see if there is anything broken, outdated, or out of place and do your part to clean it up and keep it safe. When you walk into a department store and see the merchandise scattered on the shelves or a drink spilled in the aisle, you might turn around and walk out. Deep down you know it was a customer that made the mess, but you still wonder why the workers have failed to create an excellent environment for shopping. Your preteens might not ever need policies and procedures for things like an active intruder, but these must still be outlined and explained to leaders. The students might not see everything that has happened behind the scenes to keep them safe, but they will surely find out if it’s missing.

Design an Atmosphere That Lends Itself to Returning

Early every morning people faithfully return to their fitness center because they know that it’s both helpful and healthy. Are you communicating to preteens and their families the benefits of regularly attending church? And when they show up, are you helping them take their next step or are you trying to pile on too much and making them feel overwhelmed? In a fitness center there are people of varying degrees of health, but yet they all come to the same place to take their next step. In our preteen environments, we must realize we have different levels of health and lead small in such a way that we help each preteen continue to grow. We can do this through sharing a gospel truth through a game or fun illustration, by asking compelling questions, or by coming alongside preteens to help them discover the truth on their own.

The tangible and intangible environment you are creating for preteens will determine the success of your preteen ministry. Work at creating an excellent environment that preteens will come back to week after week.

(Originally posted the Orange 252 Kids blog at http://orangeblogs.org/252basics/the-tangibles-and-intangibles-of-an-excellent-preteen-enviornment/)

SaveSave

SaveSave

Helping a Family Through the Salvation Discussion

bible

Don’t you just love seeing a family come together around Jesus? I love seeing a family take the time to sit together, open up their bible and have a spiritual conversation. And this is God’s intent. God established the family as the primary spiritual leader for children, 1400 years before the church was ever established.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Parents are to be the primary spiritual leaders of their children. Impressing the love of the Lord into their hearts every day of the week. But then when it comes to one of the biggest milestones of faith, the salvation discussion, what most pastors do…is grab hold of the reigns and take over. But why? It’s not our role. And we will never know the heart of a child better than their parents.

What could happen spiritually for a family, if instead of a pastor taking over and leading their child to Christ, we empowered the parents in this faith milestone? This could truly change the culture of a family and be a moment that brings them together focused on God.

Many people grow up and doubt the decision they made for Christ as a child. What if that’s our fault? And what if we could do something about that today to change the lives of those in our church, forever?

So how do we do that? How do you help a family through the salvation discussion?

First: Identify conversation triggers
What happens in the life of a child that triggers a spiritual conversation or the desire to give their life to Christ? Ofen times we see kids begin to ask questions through communion. When they see someone take the Lord’s supper it sparks questions. Another trigger can be the baptism of friends. They wonder why their friend is making such a big deal of getting dunked. They begin to ask why and this can lead to many more questions. Another trigger is definitely the death of a loved one. They begin to grapple with the brevity of life and wonder what exactly happens when we die. After you have identified triggers, it’s time to do something about it.

Next: Help parents leverage these triggers for a family discussion.
Resource your parents with scriptures to read with their children and consider even making them an easy to follow guide. Provide questions for parents to ask their kids to further the conversation. Find resources like “The Baptism Book” and make these resources easily accessible.

Third: Help parents share their own salvation story.
Encourage parents to make their faith journey visual. Challenge parents to take their kids to the church or place where they accept Jesus as their personal savior. Motivate parents to bring in other people who were influential in their faith journey. And if going some on a trip or bringing people into the conversation is not an option then at least encourage the parents to bring a prop that helps share their story.

Fourth: Make the salvation discussion easy for families.
In your ministry, there are many different backgrounds and different depth of conversations. Consider creating different on-ramps for families to have an in-depth conversation. At our church, we have Family Baptism Classes. These classes create a family-centered structure where we help parents win by creating a user-friendly discussion guide. We provide everything a family will need from scripture, questions, and answers, to supplies, food, and props to keep the conversation flowing. Make sure you end the class by providing the next steps and give the family an easy on-ramp to the next thing.

Fifth: Encourage them to widen the circle.
Help families take full advantage of the people they have around them who are willing to help disciple their children. Bring in the outside voices to speak the truth. Point to different voices such as a small group leader, coaches, grandparents, and even other staff members.

Sixth: Make it memorable.
This is the biggest decision a person will ever make but we often fail to make it memorable. Consider recording a video testimony of the student and give gifts or keepsakes they can hold onto. Provide a new bible or devotional book. Print off a baptism certificate marking the date. Record the baptism and make a baptism video available for the family. Encourage families to save cards, write notes, record the moment. Find ways to capture the moment and share these moments with the family.

Finally: Follow up
Does your church offer a Next Steps class? Is this something that a family could go to together to learn more? Mark your calendar to celebrate spiritual birthdays year after year. And maybe even follow up with more Scripture verses for them to look at to continue growing and learning.

Salvation is why we do what we do. This is making disciples, who will go and make more disciples. So let do our part in ”Helping a Family Through the Salvation Discussion”. Let’s make this the priority it truly is.

For additional resources check out the following:

Baptism Guide

Baptism Scripture List

Baptism Certificate

10 Questions for a Child Who Wants to be Baptized