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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. 

Dear Girls: You Are Beautiful!

Demi Lovato just checked into a rehab center for reported eating disorders. I learned this because I post the daily news on childrensministry.com. And as I searched the news story, I see the sad report of her illness at this site: http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/2010/11/03/2010-11-03_adult_issues_for_tweener_fight__prior_woes_drove_lovato_to_treatment.html

And right next to the story are multiple ads to lose "belly fat." I feel sorry for girls. The messages that they're not ok are so rampant in our culture. My prayer today is that we'll help the girls in our lives see their beauty before God and to be okay in their skin.

Let's pray for Demi...she needs to know the same thing.

Posted at 16:50

Say Thanks to Your Volunteers

November--the month we focus on gratitude. Use this month to let your volunteers know how thankful you are for them!

From our archives, here are 3 P's from Bob D'Ambrosio, Consultant and Training Supervisor for Church Volunteer Central that can shape your volunteer appreciation efforts.

Personal -- While formal appreciation events are important, they don't take the place of the face-to-face ways we say "We couldn't do it without you!" These are often low-cost, quick, and heart-touching expressions of our love and appreciation. The pack of gum with a note that says, "Thanks for sticking with us," a "World's Greatest Helper" ribbon, and a reserved parking space for the "Teacher of the Week" are simple ways to communicate value.

Powerful -- A generic form letter thanking everyone for helping with vacation Bible school is well-meaning, but it doesn't have much impact. Appreciation needs to have a certain "wow" effect. Powerful appreciation is personal, sincere, and timely. Don't delay in your response. A thank you note received three months after the event loses its effectiveness.

Plentiful --People need to be reminded over and over that their time and ministry matters. They matter to God, to your church, to you! When we limit our appreciation efforts to an annual event, it lessens the impact. Don't get me wrong; an annual volunteer recognition program serves a great purpose, but it doesn't take the place of continuous praise and ongoing affirmation.

To read the complete article, go to http://childrensministry.com/articles/the-3-ps-of-affirmation

 

Posted at 18:47

Halloween: A Christian Response

With debate about what to do as a church in response to Halloween, I asked Ricardo Miller, children's pastor and one of our top-20 children's ministry influencers, to weigh in. Here's what he said.

Q: What are you doing for kids around Halloween this year?

Ricardo: For more than a decade at our church, Pathway of Life in Dallas, Texas, we have hosted what we’ve termed as “Fall Festival”--a fun, family friendly event where we open our campus up to the community with an outdoor fair. We have bounce houses, food and games and give out candy. We don’t encourage anyone to dress up, but don’t turn away those who do. It’s in a safe and secure environment and we have security patrolling the premises at all times. This year, we’re even introducing a Car and Motorcycle Show & a Barbeque Cook-off to encourage an even broader group to come. In each of our giveaway bag,s we include witnessing literature so people aren’t just getting goodies, but a Godly message as well. There is a large evangelistic team that also is ready to minister the gospel to the more than 3,000 children who are expected to be at the Fall Festival. This is our church’s 2nd largest annual event that is centered around reaching children in our community.


Q: Why aren't you just avoiding it?

Ricardo: We aren’t avoiding it because this is one of the largest family night outtings in our community where children in the public schools and the public at large are encouraged to go trick-or-teating. We take advantage of this opportunity to reach the thousands of families and allow them to engage in a good Christian-based alternative for their family. If we don’t seize this moment, we miss an incredible chance to engage and bring in those who may not know Christ and may never come to a church for a regular church service. We use this as an opportunity to show people the love of Christ. It’s all free and open to the public. I also believe one of the mistakes we make in the Body of Christ is trying to avoid or turn a deaf ear/blind eye to the things around us that we perceive as not godly. My position is that we were not placed on earth to allow the devil to take over, rather to allow the light of Christ to shine through us and for us to take territory for His Kingdom.


Q: What "fruit" have you seen by engaging with Halloween in the way you do?

Ricardo: Each year we see thousands of individuals give their lives to Christ on our church grounds as they gather during the Fall Festival, our Christian alternative to Halloween. Children and parents alike have been re-introduced to the local church and because of our fast-growing surrounding community we are able to introduce young growing families to the many services our church has to offer the community along with good Christian fun, fellowship and food. We see tons of new families joining our church shortly after this event and see a renewed level of excitement with our children as they get a chance to invite their unchurched friends to church, not only to participate in the activities but get a chance to be introduced to Jesus Christ through our Each One Reach One Campaign.

Q: What challenge would you give to kidmins who say "it's from the devil and we should just avoid it"?

Ricardo: For any kidmin who would say “it’s from the devil and we should just avoid it,” I would agree that Halloween has its origins outside of the church. However, I believe the church should not allow any customs, practices or traditions to take over our communities and we not have a counter attack to better reach our community and provide a better alternative to practicing something that was once dedicated to the devil. We ought not give the devil any days, weeks, months or years. Nothing belongs to him and one of the mistakes I’ve seen made consistently is handing over our schools, and our communities, to the hands of the devil when it is our responsibility, as kidmins to go wherever children are with a positive Christian-based program that will attract them to the Kingdom.

To learn more about Ricardo, go to www.ricardomiller.com.

Let us know what you think by posting comments here!

Posted at 17:41

Taking the Boo! Out of KidMin

What scares you the most in children's ministry? Not being effective? Losing your job? Offending people? Making the wrong choice? One of my biggest fears is no longer being relevant--and not realizing it.

The good thing is that our fears can give us an edge. They can make us hungry, teachable, and more sensitive.

But they're also something that's not from God. He doesn't want us to be fearful and driven by our insecurities. Instead, he wants us to trust him, to lean on him, to acknowledge that without him we can do nothing.

So how do we take the Boo! out of KidMin? We simply give our fears over to God--day in and day out. There's no trick in that, but there's definitely a great treat in the peace and the confidence that results from handing it over!

Posted at 13:54

Finis Was the Finest

Last night in the car, I told my daughter Abby about a pastor who'd made a huge difference in my life as a child. Three things he did in particular endeared me to him.

1. He let us decorate the loft of the church for Halloween--even though that was kind of controversial. I think he loved that we wanted to spend an afternoon in his church.

2. He took us swimming in a little creek at Falls Creek during junior music camp because we were too old for the classes. He dozed and let us play around after we walked forever to get there.

3. He opened his home on numerous afternoons when my friends and I would ask him for theological direction because our friends from another denomination had a different view on baptism than we did. And, of course, we were arguing with them.

I loved Finis Steelman. He was an amazing Indian Cowboy who loved God and loved us. He welcomed us just as we were--little children. He's gone on to heaven, but I just wanted to memorialize this sweet saint today in my blog!

Posted at 17:55

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