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Christine has over 20 years of children's ministry experience. She's the author of 10 books and hundreds of articles related to children's ministry. It's no wonder she enjoys an almost-daily latte to keep her going! She is also the executive editor of Children's Ministry Magazine and serves as Group's children's ministry champion, responsible for research, development, and innovation in children's ministry resources. 

New Year's Resolutions--Not!

I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions; they just seem to heap more guilt and a sense of failure on me when I don't achieve them. That's not really something I need--ever.

But last year, I heard about choosing one word as a goal for the year. I liked that. And I chose accomplishment. And as I look back on the year, I do have a sense of accomplishment--and that feels good! I think I probably accomplished more at work than I did in my personal life, but I'll still take it.

So this year, I've grappled with what my word should be. And I've thought of all kinds of words and can't land on one: finish, grace, learning, power in weakness (that's three), and more. I've stressed more about my one word than I really want to. So I'm letting it go. It shouldn't be this hard. And I'm back to no New Year's resolutions.

That doesn't mean I won't pursue growth or change; it just means I'll do it like I always do--one day at a time--with ups and downs along the way, but no overarching goal to shine a spotlight on my failures. Maybe then my word really is grace (oh, here I go again....let it go...let it go!)

How do you approach New Year's resolutions?

Posted at 17:55

Learning More at Kidmin 2011

What's my biggest need that I think KidMin can meet in 2011?

I have a voracious appetite for learning from real people in real ministries. While I've learned a lot from speakers and workshop leaders, I always want more and I wonder what the people around me are thinking, but there never seems time to stop and talk.

I want to be able to have a meaningful conversation with people who are in the workshops/sessions with me. I want to find out what they're struggling with and what's bringing them great joy in ministry. I want to ask them questions and grapple with real-world problems together. I want to make discoveries by the grace of God together.

That's what I think KidMin 2011 (www.childrensministry.com/kidmin) will provide me. I'm so excited that we're going beyond the show and focusing on creating authentic conversations. We won't let a packed schedule stop conversations; instead we'll actually plan for these times in everything we do. I'm glad that KidMin will have a relaxed atmosphere with environments that encourage such conversations.

I'm really looking forward to getting to know real people in real ministries at KidMin 2011! #kidmin11

Posted at 19:02

New Year's Rant

Just got back from a trip where I got to be exposed to Christianity on the road. One radio station is challenging its listeners to listen to only Christian music for an entire month and see how their lives change. For some reason, that made me change the channel immediately.

Maybe it was seeing the Christian ghetto in road signs and church marquees that doesn't yet know how to communicate to a non-Christian world. So asking us to become even more insulated and out of touch with the real world just turned me off.

Take note of these signs I saw along the way and you decide. Do we Christians really know how to communicate to people outside our world?

A church marquee: "What's your focus? Joshua 1:7-9." (I ask you, what non-Christian is going to know what that means?) So maybe our audience really is just the church.

But then we saw this sign on the interstate: "Are you going to hell? Give your heart to Jesus to be saved." (I admit, I actually laughed at this one.) The fact that we think that someone is going to answer yes to the first question and be converted on the spot is mind-numbing to me.

I know...sounds harsh...and for that I apologize. But I don't apologize for imploring all of us Christians to figure out how to communicate the most amazing message of salvation to a lost world that really is going to hell without it. (And burying our heads in only Christian things doesn't help us be more effective.)

Posted at 17:00

My Christmas Wish: Protect Kids

One of the things I do is post the daily news on the childrensministry.com site. I love doing this to keep up on what's new with kids. However, finding the positive news means digging through a lot of really horrible things that happen to kids day in and day out--usually at the hands of their parents or other trusted people. Children are abused, neglected, tortured, and killed...all over the place...and every day.

So this is my Christmas wish. In addition to children's ministers being mandated reporters of abuse, I wish that we in churches and clubs and schools and anywhere else that children come would say to kids upfront and regularly and loudly: "This is a safe place. And no one should EVER hurt you. Not your parents. Not a teacher. Not a sibling. NO ONE! So if anyone ever hurts you with their words or their actions, that is NOT ok! We're here to protect you. And if you tell us that someone is hurting you, we will make sure you are safe now and forever." And then we do just that.

I wish that children knew that all they have to do is tell us that they're being hurt and they don't have to keep the secrets of evil people who hurt them...but they won't know that if we don't tell them.

Posted at 23:27

Nativity: Lights! Camera! Action!

One of the best Christmas gifts I've gotten this year is seeing our dream-child of an instant Christmas play come to life at a friend's church. It's fun to dream up something and then see it happen! So I asked my friend, co-worker, and local children's minister to share with you her experience of Nativity: Lights! Camera! Action!

Here in Teresa's own words: "FUN! FUN! FUN! was the buzz word at our church after performing our Nativity:Lights! Camera! Action! instant Christmas show. Although some had their hesitations as to how it was all going to come together, we were all pleasantly surprised at how smooth everything flowed. It was very clever to use the two main actors...the Director and his Assistant...to connect the scenes together. Some said it was the most fun they'd ever had doing a Christmas show. Some said it was great to be reminded how children think and act...we forget what it's like to be childlike...it was great to be able to act like a child again! They loved that the program was intergenerational.  

"We started our program with a sloppy joe dinner at 5:30 so families could just come after work and spend the evening together. We pre-registered as many as we could (only one week ahead of time) and assigned them to their scenes. We put stickers that went with their scenes on their name tags so they'd know which scene they were in. For Scene one we used stars, scene 2 we used animal stickers, scene 3 we used smiley faces for the puppets, and scene 4 we used butterflies because we couldn’t find angels, but at least we had wings!! This made it very easy for people to know what group they were in when it was time to get into their groups. Walk-ins were put in groups that needed more people...very easy.

"We used our outgoing families for scene one. For scene two, we used preschool families to be the animals. The families with teenagers, we put into scene three to make the paper bag puppets. Scene four we used our seniors and walk-in families. If scene four got full, the registration staff would assign the walk-ins to the scene according to their children’s age.

"At 6:20 we split into our scenes and did the family devotion, practiced the song motions, and created costumes. We did make sure our costumes were very easy...no glue, just glue dots, staplers, and stickers. We had multiage groups so parents and grandparents were involved in making their costumes and helping the younger ones. YES!! Each scene was ready to go in just ONE HOUR!!! Seventy people in all.

"We were ready to go by 7:30. There was laughter as we saw some of our more serious members ham it up on stage as stars for the paparazzi. We laughed as the animals crawled on stage, weary from the journey, then pretended to die if Kind Herod killed them...even the adults fell to the floor...all while pregnant on a horse!!! We clapped to the music as the puppets (the shepherds) sang their songs, then laughed as the teens and parents threw their puppets off and danced freestyle at the end of their scene.

"The finale was full of Angels from 1 month old to 80 years. We put our Seniors in this group because the song was slower as well as the action and they loved it. At the end we added a manger, Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus (2 month old baby sister) and their mom in her star costume. Then we had everyone come back on stage. The God Sighting was that the people who came to just watch the show didn’t realize that only the scene participants were to go on stage, so they all joined us at the stage and all eyes were on the baby Jesus!!! This while the whole cast sang “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”! Then the flashes from all the cameras just made the finale the best ending to a easy Christmas show that only took a little over an hour to put together and 26 minutes to perform.

"We ended with our Cast Party...cookies. Then as families left, we took their pictures in front of the Christmas Tree for the ornaments that we'll give them before Christmas. We also handed them their family devotion to use during the Christmas season.

"It could not have been any easier.  We were done by 8:30 with everything...cleaned up the church and were home by 9:30.Thank you for the experience of our church and guests participating in the Christmas story together....it was awesome to be a part of this Christmas Show!!!! Cut!......That’s a wrap!"

Thanks, Teresa! It was a blast to watch!

So if you're still looking for something to do for Christmas that involves everyone in your church and is ultra-easy, it's not too late. Get your Nativity: Lights! Camera! Action! kit at http://outreach.group.com/christmas/nativity

And check out this photo of Teresa's church's grand finale!

Photo 

Posted at 20:08

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