51 TIPS FOR THE NEW YEAR
FROM FIVE SEASONED CHILDREN’S MINISTERS
Debbie’s Super Skills –
- Take Up Juggling: It’s Sunday morning and three Sunday school teachers have just phoned to say they can’t be there today to teach their classes because of a soccer tournament their children are playing in that morning. Two third-grade boys have discovered the wooden crosses you were planning to use for your object lesson and are using them to have a sword fight, to the delight of the other children as they gather and to the dismay of their parents. A new family has just entered the building……say a little prayer, be quick, loving and decisive and keep those balls in the air!
- Practice Deep Breathing: What? The yearly budget is due today??? Breathe, just breathe.
- Remember to Stretch: “That’s the way it’s always been done” are the words that prevent us from being and doing our best. Go to every class, seminar, webinar and conference you can. Try new things; tweak and find ways to improve the tried and true. Learn, grow and stretch!
- Master the “About Face”: Your class for the first and second graders on “The Life and Times of John Wesley” for some reason isn’t capturing their attention—even though you brought along your John Wesley bobble head. It’s okay to momentarily stop, regroup, do an “about face” and try something completely different! Remember, we learn from our mistakes and as Mr. Wesley would tell us we are always striving for perfection!
- Flex Your Funny Bone: Be sure to find the joy in what you are doing. Smile, laugh and enjoy those precious little ones in your charge. A good belly laugh can make almost anything better.
- Join “Children’s Ministers Anonymous”: Find a sharing and support group! Go online, in your community or through your denomination. The encouragement, ideas and just knowing you are not alone—that there are others out there with the same joys and struggles—is invaluable!
- Practice Your Deep Knee Bends: Speak to children at their level—not just figuratively! Bend those knees and look them in the eye and let them see the twinkle in yours. For those of you with old “sports injuries”, sitting on a chair when speaking to a child can work as well!
- Practice Many Types of Prayer: Pray sitting, standing and lying down. Pray when getting that dreaded Sunday morning phone call, when cleaning “something” off the fellowship hall carpet. Pray when it’s hard; give thanks when it’s easy. Ask for forgiveness, for inspiration, for a humble heart. When giving a message pray that the kids will “get it”—praise the Lord when even just one does! Pray, pray and then pray some more!
- Show The Love! Let your children see how much you love the Lord. Let the Lord see how much you love the children. Strive to have everything you do reflect that love and your ministry will thrive!
- Learn to Walk a Tight Rope: The Education Committee wants an old-fashioned family picnic. The parents and children want games—messy games that include water balloons and shaving cream to name a few. The trustees expect everything neat and tidy. The Senior Pastor just wants it to be successful and bring at least 5 new families into the church. Remember to keep your balance, strive for the goal and you’ll get there.
- DEBBIE’S FAVORITE BOOK: Green Plagues and Lamb by Kathleen Long Bostrom
Dena’s Survival Tips –
- One size does NOT fit all
- Be flexible
- Experiential learning is the most effective
- Teach the child, not the curriculum
- Children are naturally spiritual
- Don’t be afraid of the children’s questions
- Let the children be who they are
- Often children are paying attention when you think they are not
- Children need to experience the presence of Christians of ALL ages
- Love the children; everything else is gravy!
- DENA’S FAVORITE BOOK: Formational Children’s Ministry by Ivy Beckwith
Jill’s Love-ly Tips –
- Create an “Affirmation File” to keep thank you cards or drawings to help remind you why you are doing what you do!
- Remember to look at the “Affirmation File” frequently!
- Make the most of every opportunity. You never know how this one day or activity will impact a child’s life.
- Children are usually attached to adults who also need to be loved.
- Balance “learning about doing ministry” with “applying knowledge to do ministry.”
- One way to children’s (and ministry partner’s) hearts is through the stomach!
- Take time to know and love each child.
- You are the children’s biggest advocate in the church. Be a strong voice for them!
- Take the time to pray about big decisions.
- It doesn’t matter how bad the Christmas Program dress rehearsal goes, the program is always a hit and a blessing!
- JILL’S FAVORITE BOOK: It Worked for Us - Best Practices for Ministry with Children and Families by Judy Comstock
Elizabeth’s Connectional Tips –
- Get on the worship committee
- Rhythm, not routine
- Leave some time
- Communal bins of supplies lead to friendships and cooperation
- Plan a season ahead
- Model what you want done – for students and fellow teachers
- Power of volume
- Count backwards
- Behavior is communication
- Make connections all the time – personal stories, life experiences, pictures
- ELIZABETH’S FAVORITE BOOK: Always in Rehearsal by James Ritchie
Melanie’s Eleven Because I Couldn’t Stop at Ten –
- Always begin with prayer. This is the one means of grace that we can practice alone and in community, and the one that is God’s gift of communication with God.
- Gather information that will guide your ministry with children by talking with key individuals and groups in the congregation, exploring the resources that you have in your local church, and contacting the General Board of Discipleship and your Annual Conference for advice and resources.
- Create a plan of communication with parents, guardians, and teachers of the children in your congregation.
- Suggest and seek out experiences that may be new or innovative in children’s ministries.
- Advocate that all children are welcome and expected to participate in the full life of the church as vital participants
- Set realistic and innovative goals.
- Assure training opportunities for teachers and leaders.
- Adopt a Safe Sanctuaries Policy and enforce it so that the congregation is a safe place for children and for the adults who engage with them.
- Use UM approved curriculum. Acquaint yourself with the curriculum and resource materials available from the United Methodist Publishing House.
- Stay connected and communicate with leaders in the congregation who work with youth, adults, and families. As children grow, the transition to youth will run more smoothly if you plan intergenerational activities. Open communication will allow everyone to work well in community.
- Remember Self-Care. Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Love yourself.
- MELANIE’S FAVORITE BOOK: The Child in Christian Thought, Edited by Marcia J. Bunge