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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. 

PandaMonium Ensues!

I just spent the morning at Group's VBS field test for next year's VBS: PandaMonium.

I have to be honest. When I first heard the theme, I had one of those "what are they thinking!?" moments. Yeah, that's right. It went through my head: Who wants pandemonium in their ministry?

Then I went to the field test and saw the cuddly, lovable panda swinging from the branches. I heard the music. I saw the kids' eyes light up. I was taken in by the decorations, the experiences, the leaders. Everything about it now makes me ask "who wouldn't want PandaMonium in their church?" It's where God is wild about you!

So, check it out to see what you think. Here's a link to the Group VBS site: http://pandamonium.group.com/intro

Posted at 20:00

The Puppy Chronicles

We just got a puppy. Take a look at his photo at the bottom of the page! Sweet Teddy! And here are the puppy chronicles (which might just mirror your ministry right now).

Pre-Puppy: Reed asks, "Whose puppy is it more? Is it mine more?" Abby rolls her eyes.

Day 1: Reed and Abby text me simultaneously with numerous complaints that the other isn't sharing the puppy enough.

Day 2: Abby states that she's tired of having to watch the puppy constantly so he doesn't chew, pee, or poo. She's not so sure she likes the puppy. Reed hangs in there with constant care.

Day 3: Abby's done with the puppy. Reed hangs in there with constant care.

Day 4: Reed complains that Abby isn't doing enough.

Sigh...such are the puppy chronicles in our home. And, how is this like ministry? Let's compare our days to seasons of ministry.

Season 1: Excitement, anticipation of all the great things that are going to happen. Setting the vision. Dreaming.

Season 2: Obstacles appear; perhaps disillusionment enters in.

Season 3: Checking out; giving up.

Season 4: Feeling alone and overwhelmed in ministry.

In all honesty, for ministry and for puppies, all of these are a reality check. What do we do? We press on; we dig deep and we acknowledge that nothing is perfect but if we hang in there (in our case with puppy training) the reward will be great (in your case for eternity).

Here's a great article about the seasons of ministry: http://childrensministry.com/article.asp?ID=1855

Photo

Posted at 16:51

I Forgot...

Do you ever spend so much time trying to dig up something you forgot that you just give up? Maybe it's just a lifestage thing but I feel like I may be forgetting more than I'm remembering these days. And will it matter?

Watch me wax philosophic here. Maybe it won't. Maybe it's only the things that I do remember...not all the little details that I try to keep up with...that will ultimately shape who I am. And maybe whether I remember them or not doesn't really matter. Maybe the very fact that I was impacted by them at some point or exposed to them is all that mattered. That those things did their work in the moment shaped who I am today. I'm reminded of the book of James where the writer says that being exposed to the Word of God can be like looking in a mirror and forgetting what we look like. So we have to keep coming back over and over...one look is not enough--even a really good look.

So what does this have to do with children's ministry? For years, I've longed to create resources that'll help you impact children for a lifetime (I still do). But maybe, just maybe, in God's greater plan it's enough to impact a child for today. And then we have to entrust that child to God and his faithfulness to bring others (planting, watering, reaping) in the child's life even as a teenager or adult. Impacting a child for today (every today) may just be the impact God calls us to.

These are ramblings. I hope they'll mean something to someone. If not, I'll forget I wrote about this soon enough!

Posted at 18:51

Single Moms

I spent lunchtime this last Sunday with a group of 20 single mothers. Our church has an amazing ministry to these (plus 20 more moms who weren't there yesterday) and their children. After lunch, volunteers took the kids swimming and to play in classrooms so moms could talk and explore a topic.

I was their topic-deliverer. And we explored "be still and know that I am God." We started out, though, by doing the Stroop experience. First, I had them read the words in their correct colors--outloud. Then do the same with the words in different colors--outloud. Then I had them discuss how the second reading was like or unlike being a single parent. We made some great discoveries: frustrating, requires focus, tough, makes me feel stupid, hard work, exhausting, and more.

Then we talked about finding space in life to 'be still." There were tears and laughter. And I learned more about the challenges single moms face when they've experienced a divorce. It's not just about trying to parent their kids; it's about accepting that their family is ok...not waiting for the day when they'll be a "real family." They are a real family now.

There are also struggles beyond just trying to have enough energy for the day. There are real challenges when they get caught up in the court system and they pray to God that their attorney is better than their exes'...or at least that somehow their kids won't lose even more in the court system. There are financial struggles while money goes to legal battles; one woman is seeking to create a ministry where these families can live in others' homes while they fight these battles. There's loneliness, exhaustion, despair...and yet hope, joy, and love. It's an extremely complex venture.

I'm grateful to have gotten to spend time with them. It'll certainly change how we equip children's ministers with ideas to minister to these wonderful families.

To learn more about single parenting, check out Anne Doud's blog: http://annedoud.wordpress.com/

Check out the Stroop effect at http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/words.html)

Posted at 19:32

Make Your Ministry Shine 3

This is my last installment for Making Your Ministry Shine, so here's a zinger.

If you want to make your ministry shine, "don't play hooky"! (Says Keith Johnson: "Attend at least one church service each Sunday. It'll do your heart good, too. Attend with your family and sit together. For extra credit, sit together toward the front.")

I'll never forget the day our executive pastor Tom Davis asked me why he hadn't seen me in church. I hummed and hawed and couldn't come up with an answer. I was busy! I was doing ministry! There was so much to get done on a Sunday! Thankfully, he didn't let me off the hook! He challenged me and told me that it wasn't acceptable for me to miss Sunday services just because I was leading the children's ministry.

Oh, and the other thing...it's not okay to be there physically but not mentally and spiritually. It's so easy to sit there and remember things that didn't get done or worry about the new volunteer in the room with the challenging class. Pray...ask God to calm your heart and mind. And then discipline yourself to not sit there and make lists and be absent in heart and mind but present in body. If you need to, jot a note to yourself and then get back to listening for God's voice!

Believe me...people are watching...and they want to see if we value the church as much as we want them to. So don't play hooky! It'll do your heart--and your ministry--good!

For more great ideas, go to http://childrensministry.com/article.asp?ID=2191

Posted at 17:18

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