When One Teaches, Two Learn

Figuring out children's ministry one day at a time

Book Review: Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions

Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the phrase, “transforming children into spiritual champions,” I get rather excited!  I love working with kids and helping them to learn more about Jesus.  The idea of a “spiritual champion” is something I can really get behind.  That’s the goal; that’s what I’m shooting for.

One would think that the author of a book entitled Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions would be a die-hard, sold-out children’s ministry advocate.  I believe that George Barna is such a person, but he readily admits that children’s ministry was not always on the top of his list of priorities.  “Like most adults, I have been aware of children, fond of them and willing to invest some resources in them; but I have not really been fully devoted to their development.  In my mind, they were people en route to significance – i.e., adulthood – but were not yet deserving of the choice resources… From the moment I’d accepted Christ at age 25, I’d been seduced into believing the great myth of modern ministry: Adults are where the Kingdom action is.” (p. 11-12)

Barna’s goals for the book are simple: point out the importance of spiritual growth, as well as the many viable ways to utilize resources within the church body, and provide tangible examples of best-practices from the most effective children’s ministries in the country.  Further lending to his credibility, Barna’s claims are supported by data from two years’ worth of tested and refined nationwide surveys. If you’re ever looking for a solid, research-based argument in support of the value of children’s ministry, this is it.

Understand going in that portions of the book are heavily-laden with statistics, but don’t let that keep you away.  If you pay attention, the statistics are actually incredibly helpful in understanding children and families today.  Barna’s chapter on the importance of children from God’s perspective also serves as a refreshing reminder of why we do what we do in children’s ministry.  The highlight of the book for me, though, was Barna’s description of the methods and techniques that facilitate the greatest impact in the lives of children and their parents. Some of them seem obvious, while others may come as a surprise.

If you are heavily involved in your church’s children’s ministry, I would highly recommend Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions.  To volunteers, parents, and others, the book is certainly worth a read, but some sections will seem a little irrelevant (i.e. curriculum selection, large-scale ministry evaluation, etc.).  Overall, a great read, though.

Have you read Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions?  What do you think?


Creating a Binder for Ministry Ideas


“So, what are you doing?”  This is the question our senior pastor asked me when he saw me at the office paper cutter with a stack of a few hundred magazine pages.  “Well, rather than keeping all my ministry magazines, I pulled all my favorite articles and am trimming them up to put in a binder of ministry ideas.”

“I think you’re the only person I know who would do that.”

“You wouldn’t be the first one to tell me something like that.” 🙂

photo (1)

Honestly, I’m loving having all my favorite ministry ideas all in one place rather than scattered throughout magazines on various bookshelves.  Seems a little over-the-top, but I think there are plenty of KidMins out there that would appreciate having one too!  Here are the categories I came up with.  Maybe you’ll feel inspired to create a binder of all those articles you’ve had lying around too 🙂

  • Thoughts on KidMin:  These are more general articles on the big ideas of children’s ministry – hospital visits to helping kids transition, small church challenges to making a great first impression with your ministry. 
  • Statistics:  Children’s Ministry magazines puts out a few pages worth of statistics meant to keep children’s ministers up on current issues in the lives of children and families today.  I find them valuable in guiding some aspects of my ministry, so wanted to save them.
  • Family Ministry:  Involving parents is essential and many of the articles under this section are helpful in doing that.
  • Nursery Ideas:  I think so many of our church nurseries have simply become babysitting services.  There’s so much that we can be doing to establish a strong biblical foundation in their hearts and minds at this age, though!  
  • Pre-K/Kindergarten Ideas:  Oh, what fun it can be to help these little ones explore the world around them and the God that made them!
  • Early Elementary Ideas:  This section has ideas for crafts, lesson plans, service projects, and more that help draw children in the lower elementary grades closer to God.
  • Upper Elementary Ideas:  I’ve found some of the articles that I’ve included in here to be particularly helpful in helping preteens transition from children’s ministry into youth ministry. 
  • Special Needs:  Though I’m certified as an elementary teacher, I’m also a certified special education teacher, so exploring how to minister to children with special needs has been a particularly meaningful journey for me this year.  
  • Outreach:  Teaching children to serve while they are young helps to establish a spirit of service in them for the long run.  Creative outreach makes it all the more fun!
  • Technology:  I’m certainly still growing in this area.  I’ve found quite a few articles that can help me figure out how to incorporate technology in ministry, though, and I look forward to seeing how I can better serve the digital natives of this generation.
  • Lesson Plan Ideas:  These are mostly holiday ideas, but they’re still good ones!
  • Kids Night Ideas:  I’ve had a blast with our kids nights (especially the Barefoot Olympics on Friday!) and am always on the hunt for more good ideas.
  • Products and Resources:  These are mostly advertisements from magazines, catalogs, or mailings.  I throw quite a few away, but some of them are worth exploring further.

What other categories would you add for your “Ministy Ideas” binder?

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The Buzz About Children’s Ministry Training in Jamestown

Check out what others are saying about last weekend’s Children’s Ministry Training event!

Whole Room Shot

“Very visual and hands-on. EXCELLENT!”

“I have a deeper desire for children’s ministry!”

“You did a great job. I hope we do this again. I’m a teen pastor and I took some things away and am going to use them.”

“I found this event encouraging. Helpful ideas!”

“Thank you for all your prep and prayer in putting this together. We all need this boost in one form or another.”

“Even though I work with junior and senior high I found this very refreshing.”

Would you like to have a children’s ministry training at your church? I would love to hear from you, whether to share ideas or come to help in person!

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Children’s Ministry Training in Jamestown

This Saturday I had the opportunity to lead a series of training seminars for a group of over thirty children’s ministry volunteers from eight different churches in the western New York area.  It was both a blessing and a challenge to train leaders and teachers, but we had a great time learning and sharing together.   Take a look at what we were up to today!

Jamestown Alliance Church hosted the event and pulled together some great freebie materials.  I added a few handouts of my own to supplement the seminars and feature a few of my favorite resources.

Training Materials

The church provided quite a spread of snacks for everyone.  A long time ago, a friend of mine called times of Christian fellowship as “bellyship” because it often involves food!

We shared plenty of ideas with each other, but also broke open the Word.


Group Publishing provided us with free copies of Children’s Ministry Magazine and some other great freebies to give away to participants.  How cool is that?

Freebies from Group

That’s me!  We got things started with a bonus seminar entitled “Apps to Amp Up Your Children’s Ministry.”

Presenting Apps to Amp Up Your Children's Ministry

I featured about a dozen apps, but this is my showing off Granny’s Bible Dojo, an app that helps kids to memorize their books of the Bible.

Showing Off Apps

Our next seminar was entitled “Broken, Burned Out, or Bored in Children’s Ministry.”  We started off with a “broom tree experience,” just like Elijah had in 1 Kings 19.

Broom Tree Experience

We had quite a crowd!  They were very willing to participate and get the most out of the experience.  Hard to ask anything more of your students!


After our “broom tree experience,” we unwrapped some of the gifts of teaching that God has to offer us through His word.
Gifts of Teaching

Then, we spent some time in small group prayer for the day and for our ministries.

Small Group Prayer

Next was “Creative Worship Experiences for Kids.”  We divided up into small groups and each group was given a prayer station that could be used with children.  I’ll be doing a full post on prayer stations soon, but here are a few preview photos.

Prayer Stations 7

Prayer Stations 6
Prayer Stations 4Another creative worship experience was a series of stations entitled “The Five Senses of Easter.”  Stay tuned for a full post on how to create this experience for your children!
Five Senses of Easter

After a coffee break, we started back up with “Tackling the Small Church Challenge.”  To get us thinking, we started off with an activity entitled “Nails, Needles, and Nuisance.”  One volunteer was asked to remove a screw from a board using a pair of pliers…


…another was asked to thread a needle while wearing a pair of ski gloves…


…and a third was asked to pound a nail into a board using a ruler. It’s difficult to accomplish our goals when we don’t use the right tools!


Then, we spent some time brainstorming ideas to tackle the “giants” we face in ministry in a small church.

Whole Room Shot


We also had a fifth seminar entitled “Helping Your Kids Achieve Bible Literacy,” but our camera was exhausted from all the photos my husband had already taken!  This was my first time leading any sort of training for children’s ministry, but the feedback from the morning was positive.  I’m exhausted, but in a good kind of way 🙂  What a blessing it is to help others to grow in their ministry!


Sneak Peek: My Favorite Apps for Children’s Ministry

Today I’ve been continuing to prepare for the training seminars I’m going to be giving next month.  This one has been particularly fun to prepare because it’s all about apps that can enhance our ministry to children!  I have right around a dozen that I’ll be sharing during the seminar, but I’ve been having so much fun playing around with apps this morning that I thought I would share my top 3 favorites with you.

Granny's Bible DojoGranny’s Bible Dojo  |  Cost: $1.99  |  Seller: InsideOut Studios

What makes this app worthwhile?  What cooler way to learn the books of the Bible than karate chopping your way to level Granny Master?  Kids love learning alongside Granny and you will too!

Jesus Loves MeJesus Loves Me  |  Cost:  Free  |  Seller: Listener Kids

What makes this app worthwhile?  Little ones love to sing and this app plays right to that.  Kids can record themselves singing Jesus Loves Me, play matching games, and hear Jack & Scarlett share Bible verses about God’s love.

The ABC's of GodThe ABC’s of God  |  Cost:  $1.99  |  Seller: Robert Weichert

What makes this app worthwhile?  The ABC’s of God offers kids the opportunity to practice writing and identifying letters while learning about the attributes of God.  What a great way to reinforce school learning at church!

What are some of your favorite apps to use in your children’s ministry?  I’d love to add more to my list!

P.S. I’ll be releasing the rest of my list of favorite apps sometime in late February.  Stay tuned!

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The Opportunities God Drops In Our Laps

When I first started to explore the world of children’s ministry, I found a plethora of bloggers out there who have  goldmines of information to share from their experiences and the wisdom God has given them.  I signed up for e-mail updates from several of them, which for several weeks made my husband shake his fists at the sky, wondering why our inbox was constantly flooded with emails – Sorry, Hon!  Anyway, one of the blogs I follow is written by Sam Luce.  He has a lot of great ideas to offer, but his post today was particularly meaningful to me.  In it he asks, “when God gives you influence, what are you going to say?”  His question is directed more toward the idea of using social media effectively,  but it had a slightly different meaning to me.

You see, when I saw Sam’s post this morning, I was in the middle of working on the second of five seminars that I’m going to be presenting next month at a children’s ministry training event at another church in western New York.  It was humbling to even be asked to lead such an event, but even more sobering was Sam’s question this morning.  God has given me the opportunity to influence an entire region of children’s ministry workers.  What am I going to say?  Training other leaders is about more than equipping them with some fun activities; it’s about helping them to become more effective in reaching the little souls that God has placed in their lives.  It’s a challenge, but a worthy one.

So, my point is twofold.  First, would you join me in praying for this training event?  I’m thrilled to have the opportunity and am excited about what I feel God has asked me to share, but James 3:1 is clear that teachers will be judged more strictly because of their position of influence, so this isn’t a task I take lightly.  Second, I want to echo Sam’s question and challenge you:  When God gives you influence, what are you going to say?

Happy Tuesday, everyone.  And stay warm!

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New Year’s Resolutions Aren’t That Bad

I used to make new year’s resolutions when I was a kid.  They weren’t always well thought-out, but I still made them.  And, like most people, I rarely kept my resolutions.  As the years passed, I gave up making new year’s resolutions.  I think it was mostly due to the fact that I wanted to make meaningful, attainable resolutions, rather than just making resolutions for the sake of making them.  This year, for the first time in a long while, I came up with a resolution that was worth keeping.  I’ve decided that starting this year I’m going to work in some sort of activity toward the end of each children’s church lesson for the kids to show what they’ve learned.  The activities will take on different forms depending on the lesson and vary to keep the kids’ interest.

For the past two Sundays, we’ve used this activity with sticky notes.  The kids could either write or draw a picture of something that “stuck” with them during the lesson.  I really love this idea, especially because the littlest ones really got into it!  There are quite a few little pictures on those sticky notes!

What Stuck with You?


This week we’re going to start a four-week series called Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner based on a set of lessons from Ministry-to-Children.com.  At the end of each lesson, we are going to take a paper plate and cover it with short phrases or pictures that summarize what we learned.  I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

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Diapers and Allergies and Safety – Oh, My!

Nursery Policy Making

I’m up to my eyeballs in our children’s ministry policies and procedures handbook tonight.  Plenty of reading, examining other churches’ handbooks, and discussion with our volunteers behind, I’m down to the nitty gritty task of actually cranking out a Fillmore Wesleyan version.  Any ideas or tips on developing these sorts of policies from other KidMins out there?


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Wisdom Wednesday: Leadership

I read a quote the other day that struck a chord with me.

“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.”  – Max Lucado

What a powerful thought.  Leadership isn’t always popular or in the spotlight, but God can work so powerfully when we allow Him to be the focus rather than ourselves.

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Wisdom Wednesdays: Great Need, Great Christ

Source: Shamelessly Bold

I think so often I get caught up in my great need that I forget that I have a Savior who is greater than any need I could ever have. Trust Him. Rest in the knowledge that you have a great Christ for your need. Can I get an “Amen” to that?

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