The Fearless Future of the Church
The story that unfolded across the world over the past many months of pandemic and lockdown rocked global societies, local communities, and family units. Every person encountered a new reality, a new way of living, and a new way of experiencing the world. Churches and community centers across our nation shuddered. Schools sat empty. Even community parks found their gates locked and chained. The world, particularly for our children, went silent.
In a moment, the spaces that once were filled with commotion and energy of kids were quiet, dark, and unused. But just as quickly as the lights began to dim in these spaces, the army of leaders serving children rallied.
Alliance family, our army rallied.
Creativity ignited throughout our churches and ministries because our children would not be forgotten.
Almost overnight, Alliance Kids workers and volunteers became filmmakers, live-streamers, parade organizers, door dashers, internet teachers, and so much more. There would not be a vacuum of ministry to our children. Not on our watch. Simply put, the doors on the church might have closed, but windows opened at a furious pace.
It wasn’t easy. Not everything worked. The learning curve was sharp in every way.
Time marched on, and situations changed. The challenges grew with internet fatigue, enhanced safety measurements, and massive volunteer shortages. Leaders continued innovating new ways to connect kids with discipleship and their faith community. Faced with mounting obstacles, changing policies, and a shifting ministry landscape, Alliance Kids leaders’ remained committed to the sacred call of discipleing the next generation.
It has not been ideal. Not everyone has returned. But this army stands firm and committed to the sacred task of sharing our faith, making disciples, and pointing the hearts of our kids to Jesus. As the landscape continues to change, we continue to rise and rally. We dream new dreams. And we use the lessons we have learned as fuel to transform our ministries. Why?
Because we are Alliance Kids and the call to disciple the next generation is sacred. It is hard and holy, and it matters profoundly to the whole kingdom.
Residing in our children’s hearts are the calls to lead churches, enter mission fields, open non-profits, and make disciples that make disciples. We will cultivate those hearts, those dreams, and place them in the Hands of our God because we are Alliance Kids, and we are committed to the Fearless Future of the Church.
Can you believe fall is nearly here? For regular people falls summons thoughts of colorful leaves, pumpkins, football, school, sweatshirts and more! If you’re involved in the kidmin world fall may be summoning feelings of panic, thoughts of quitting, and sleepless nights. Volunteers, new curriculum, launching of programs, the list of things to stress about goes on and on.
Take a minute and breathe, remind yourself this is God’s ministry not yours.His plans for YOU are not only good but his plans for your ministry are just as good.
Things to think about as you approach fall and look at curriculum.
- There is no such thing as a perfect curriculum. Every one has high points and low points.
- Curriculum is only as good as the person who is teaching it. Instead of curriculum hopping from year to year you may need to reevaluate. Is this a curriculum problem or a teaching problem? Even the most poorly written curriculum can be made to dazzle if you have teachers who are trained to adapt and adjust. And the best curriculum can fail if you have teachers who do the bare minimum, prepare the night before, and expect the curriculum to teach itself.
- Studies tell us we will most likely have only 40 hours a year with kids. WHAT!!!??? Anyone else concerned about that figure? It’s the truth. Once you factor in vacations, sickness, sleeping in, etc most likely you will have a very small amount of time with kids. Think on this: if I only have 40 hours a year with kids what’s the most important thing to teach them? That question has completely changed how I do children’s ministry and what I teach. It should change you too.
- Curriculum must take biblical truth and make it applicable to students lives. It has to go beyond head knowledge to penetrate their hearts. Memorization of facts sounds great in theory but in actuality how is that changing a kid’s life? How is that penetrating their heart?
- We have an epidemic of adults 18-30 leaving the church and not coming back. It’s a problem and I applaud and encourage those who are reaching that generation. I also look at it and realize that’s not an adult issue, it’s a kid issue. Somewhere along the way we in children’s ministry forgot about penetrating hearts we forgot about making biblical truth applicable. We have to step up, we have to change, we have to adapt and teach differently
With all of that in mind, look at your church and decide what type of curriculum will work best for you, your teachers, your building, your DNA.
Lastly, remember, it is Jesus who saves, the Holy Spirit who convicts, God who grows, not you. NOT you. You are simply to be his willing vessel. His grace covers over a multitude of bad crafts, poor stories, and rowdy kids. It’s His ministry and He’s far more invested than you will ever be.
I’ve put together a list of some curriculum divided into categories. This is not exhaustive by any means
Large group/small group This type of curriculum is designed for you to have children in small groups for practical application time and then move into a large group for the story and/or music time. This type of curriculum works well with limited space and is easily adaptable for any size group.
- 252 basics: www.252basics.com
- David C Cook Tru: http://tru.davidccook.com/Pages/home.aspx
- Living Inside Out (Group): http://group.com/childrens-ministry/sunday-school/living-inside-out
- Kids Kount Publishing: http://www.kidskountpublishing.com/
Media Driven/Video– This type of curriculum is very media driven. Typically kids will learn along with a DVD lesson. They are high energy and very engaging. The level of participation at the church level varies depending on what you’re looking for. Most curricula have options that allow you to choose to use what you want when you want. This type of curriculum works will with limited space and is easily adaptable for any size group.
- Empowering Kids: http://www.whowillyouempower.com/
- KidMO: http://www.kidmo.com/
- Elevate: http://www.elevatepastors.com/
Traditional- This type of curriculum is what most churches will be the most familiar with. Children are divided by age groups and typically stay in their classrooms with one or two teachers. Book work, crafts, and activities will make up the bulk of the teaching time. Because of the division needed for this type of curriculum typically you will need to have a separate space for each age group.
- River’s Edge: http://www.riversedgecurriculum.com/
- Group All in One: http://store.grouppublishing.com/OA_HTML/ibeCCtpItmDspRte.jsp?item=3162273§ion=13114
- Discipleland: http://www.discipleland.com/
- David C Cook Scripture Press: http://www.davidccook.com/curriculum/scripturepress/
- David C Cook Rio: http://rio.davidccook.com/rio/
- Children Desiring God: http://www.childrendesiringgod.org/
- David C Cook Bible in Life: http://www.davidccook.com/curriculum/davidccook/
- Gospel Light Give me Jesus: https://www.gospellight.com/images/SundaySchoolBanner/give-me-jesus.html
- Group’s Buzz: http://group.com/childrens-ministry/sunday-school/buzz
- Group’s Hands-on: http://group.com/childrens-ministry/sunday-school/hands-on-bible-curriculum
- Standard Publishing: http://www.standardpub.com/
- Lifeway: http://www.lifeway.com/
- Kidzana Ministries: http://www.kidzana.org/
- Group’s Faithweaver: http://group.com/childrens-ministry/sunday-school/faithweaver
Family Aspect- Family ministry is extremely important and these curriculum will help integrate the family as a whole into what your kids are learning. These go beyond just a take home paper to actually involving the parents and encouraging whole family interaction. Very creative and unique these are typically easily adaptable for any size or space.
- David C Cook Rio: http://rio.davidccook.com/rio/
- Tru: http://tru.davidccook.com/Pages/home.aspx
- 252 Basics: www.252basics.com
- Faithweaver: http://group.com/childrens-ministry/sunday-school/faithweaver
African American- Specifically designed for the African American community this curriculum works best in a church that is predominately so. Integrating the rich heritage of the African American people and weaving the story of the Creator throughout this is a unique and effective curriculum.
Special Needs- Ministering to children and families with special needs is a must in the church today. These websites and curriculum can help you do your best to reach everyone in your ministry.
- Joni and Friends: http://www.joniandfriends.org/
- Gospel Light Special Needs Smart Pages:http://www.gospellight.com/product_details.aspx?id=1174
As always, I count it a true joy and privilege anytime I’m invited to speak, train, or do seminars with a body of volunteers. Don’t hesitate to contact me to do training for you!
Beginning the Cradle to College Journey
I recently had the privilege to share with a group of parents that were preparing to dedicate their children. What a privilege, to share with them as they begin the cradle to college journey. I truly believe what happens at home is more important than what happens at church, and so starting well with a intentional strategy is key to help our children become strong men and woman of God.
And so that’s just it, who will they become, what will drive their decisions, what values will define them? I shared with these new parents that we need to Imagine the end. Not what their kids will become but who. And so as we considered this idea I shared a few things that would help them as parents on this journey.
- Time passes quickly! So have a plan have strategy to influence your child to discover Christ. When our kids are young they are so much more open to what we share with them, we are their greatest influencers, so we should seize the moment and develop our own action steps to influence our children.
- We cannot give our kids what we do not have. Kids need a clear picture of what healthy relationships look like. we have to model those for them. One of the biggest gifts we can give them is to see us in healthy relationships and/or marriage.
- Which brings us to point 3. If we want kids to have a growing relationship with Jesus, then we have to model our own relationship with Jesus. Kids need to hear us talk about faith and see how our faith affects our decisions and values.
All of these things are tools to help us be intentional about helping our kids make a decision to follow Jesus. Kids learn faster in the early years and so our investment will help establish strong roots for when the days of trouble come. If faith has been a part of their lives from the very beginning, then the tough conversations become so much easier. If we start talking about faith with our kids when they are middle schoolers, well, it’s going to be tough to introduce faith concepts.
So begin now, praying with them, appreciating God’s creation when outside, establishing family values based on God’s Word, reading God’s word to them, talking about what the Bible says about a particular situation that arises…the possibilities are endless. Take the time to invest in your children’s spiritual legacy, start young, imagine the end of this cradle to college journey.
Wooden pallets are great! It would be nearly impossible to ship large quantities of most materials without the solid, supportive structure of a sturdy wooden pallet. Stack up your merchandise, wrap it in shrink wrap and send it off. Pallets are good for more than shipping though. Pallet art is all the rage lately. I happen to own this one. A super talented friend made it for me. You can customize these things like crazy. Simply disassemble then reassemble the versatile material to fit your need or design idea, slap on a coat of paint and there you have it. A pallet recycled, repurposed, but still a pallet. Only now it has more value.
Take a look at each area of your ministry. Is what you’re doing moving kids and families toward becoming disciples? Allow yourself and others you trust to be critical as you disassemble those areas of potential weakness. Be just as critical of areas of perceived strength. Are your efforts in ministry being used to make disciples or make people busy?
Give yourself permission to customize when it comes to reaching the audience that’s before you. Package it however it best fits, but make sure The Message is clear and is adding value to kids’ understanding and relationship to God.
You’re still reaching kids and families. Only now you can measure success.