Last month I was at my parent’s house and my mom mentioned that she had come across my “Sunday School pins” and thought I might want to take them home with me. For those of you who grew up Southern Baptist and are over the age of 50, you probably remember the pins we were awarded for perfect attendance in Sunday School. Each year that we had perfect attendance, we received a pin to add to our collection.
I hadn’t seen these pins in years. As I took them out of the box and “reconnected them,” I was reminded of one memory especially. When I was probably about 11 or 12 years old, my brother and I spent the weekend with family who lived out of town. This was a rare treat and we had lots of fun. However, on Sunday morning, I woke up to discover that it had been decided we were not going to church. I never knew the reason why – we just weren’t going. While we were playing outside, all I could think of is how “weird” it felt not to be at church and that I wasn’t going to get my Sunday School perfect attendance pin that year.
While we don’t award perfect attendance Sunday School pins at my church or other churches I’ve been a member of over the years as an adult, these pins remind me of the following:
They remind me of a habit that was developed at a very young age in my life – that of going to Sunday School and Church on a weekly basis. My parents didn’t give us the option of whether to go to church or not. Just like they didn’t give me the option of going to school or brushing my teeth, going to Sunday School and Church wasn’t a choice.
They remind me that I had a strong Biblical foundation laid through Sunday School as different adults taught me growing up about God, how He created us, and worked in the lives of people throughout the Bible. I am thankful for all the teachers that served weekly and who invested in my life and are a part of my spiritual journey.
They remind me that because of my parents and church partnering together – laying spiritual foundations, I became a Christian at a young age.
They remind me that because of this “habit” that was developed, I have always been a part of a church family. A church family that we have served alongside with in VBS and on mission trips. A church family that has celebrated as we were married and later when we had our two boys. A church family and Sunday School class that has supported and walked along with us during the tough challenges in life.
These pins also represent a couple of challenges for me as a parent and Kids Minister:
The challenge for us as families to continue to develop this habit of weekly involvement of our families in Sunday School and Worship. (Based on Lifeway’s Research, Jana Magruder shared with us in Nothing Less – Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of faith that the average regularly attending family is at church 2-3 times a month). With busy lifestyles and kids involved in multiple activities, attending Sunday School and church is becoming less of a habit. This means less of an opportunity for churches to partner with parents in laying spiritual foundations and less likely for our kids to be in church as young adults.
The challenge that in the midst of busy family schedules, it is often hard to find the needed volunteers to teach our kids in Sunday School. As a Kids Minister, I am reminded of the huge impact that volunteers in Kids Ministry have as they serve and as they teach our kids each week. They are helping lay life-long spiritual foundations. They are planting seeds and helping introduce kids to Christ.
While I know that these pins don’t make anyone “more spiritual” because of perfect attendance, I appreciate the value that Plentitude Baptist Church placed on helping me develop that habit of weekly Sunday School and worship attendance while I was growing up. Even though many years have passed, this is still a priority and a habit for our family – to be at church on Sunday morning in Sunday School and worship.
I was glad when they said to me, “let us go to the house of the Lord!” Psalm 122:1
The impact of intergenerational worship where we as parents and grandparents intentionally model and teach our kids how to worship and grow in their discipleship has long-term blessings as they grow in their faith.
Today, in this guest blog article, Kid’s Ministry Friend, Jennifer Williams, shares her journey of beginning to teach her 4-year old to worship.
Keeping little bodies quiet and little ears attuned to a sermon can be a challenge! As a preacher’s wife and mom of two young boys in our small church, I often feel the pressure to keep them as still and silent as possible. The old adage of “Seen but not heard” can be a trap in our modern church culture, which often leads to handing kids a phone or game to play just to keep them quiet. I’ve struggled to find a way to teach my 4 year-old to sit in church and actually engage in the worship service.
Recently, I started a simple, no prep strategy to help keep him tuned in. I write a few words in bubble letters on the back of the bulletin and encourage him to trace each letter as we hear that word in the sermon. These words do not have to be insider knowledge from the pastor. Look at the title of the sermon if printed, take a quick glance of the passage of scripture. Is he preaching on Old Testament characters, Ruth, Moses, etc.? Is the sermon in the New Testament with Jesus or Paul? Is the topic love or discipleship? Write those words down. Even if they aren’t pretty art, just write them down.
Now comes the fun part! Watch as your child engages with the sermon! It may take a few weeks, but it is the joy of my heart (and God’s too) to watch my boy listen and be excited to hear His Word preached. This strategy requires constant input from you. One day he will be big enough to listen alone and begging to sit with the youth, but for now, I get to join in the experience of worship with him.
When the pastor says a word on your list, get excited! Point to the letter, say the word! Tell him to listen again! As that little body gets antsy and starts to throw the pencil, point to another word that the preacher says and get him to trace that. (This seems to be a more concrete redirect than just telling him to stop!) After you’ve filled in all of the letters, I let mine draw and scribble on the paper. Sometimes he asks for more words, so I draw them too. He’s little and his attention span is only so long. We will increase it over time. I’m sure there will be 100 other strategies. And when our littlest joins along with us in worship, I’ll probably be needing something totally different!
Training up a child means in worship too. Do I listen as well? Do I “get” a lot of the adult meaning of the sermon? Probably not, but I’m teaching my son to love God, to worship Him and to love the church. It is certainly worth the sacrifice!!
Jennifer Williams is a pastor’s wife in small town southwest Georgia (Iron City Baptist), mom of two little boys, and the Children’s Ministry Coordinator at her church.
If you are looking for a great resource to assist in this journey, check out Parenting in the Pew.
As a kids minister who loves Bible Skills activities, I am always on the lookout for something new to add to my collection. VBS and Sunday School Kits have some great Bible Skill activities that can be saved and used multiple times. Check out this video for some resources you’ll want to save from this summer’s LifeWay “In the Wild” VBS material. https://youtu.be/pez8kcDq-Rs
With school starting in less than a month, back to school preparations are already beginning as the store ads are sharing all the back to school sales. We see the essential items our kids will need as they begin another school year – notebooks, pencils, markers, glue . . .
I’d like to add an essential item to this list not seen in most of the sale ads – a Bible. As our kids begin school and begin to read, it’s important for them to develop the regular habit of reading God’s Word. Lifeway research found that the number one predictor of spiritual maturity as young adults was regularly reading their Bible as kids. (Nothing Less – Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith by Jana Magruder).
As parents, grandparents, and Kids Ministry leaders, we need to make sure the kids in our life have an age appropriate Bible as they are beginning to read. Last month, I had the privilege of helping present our rising 1stgraders with a Children’s Bible. I love being a part of a church that invests in helping develop Biblical literacy with our kids!
As you look to purchase a Bible for your Kids Ministry or for a child in your family, there are several things to look for in a Bible:
Old and New Testament– Our Kids need to have a complete Bible with the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Durability – When purchasing a Bible, consider the durability of the Bible. While paperback Bibles are cheaper, they don’t last long. A hardback or leather-like cover will be more durable for children. The leather-like cover will last the longest but will probably be the most expensive. You’ll want to consider how long you anticipate that the child will use this Bible.
Age-Appropriate Bible– Choose a Bible appropriate for their age. Even though the Bible they had as a preschooler or a 1stgrader may still be in good shape and can be used, a preteen will probably not want to take it to church or camp. Kids are more likely to read their Bible if it is age-appropriate.
Realistic Bible illustrations– Children are concrete learners. We want them to know and have it reinforced that the Bible is God’s story and that the people in the Bible were REAL people, not some fantasy characters in a story. Realistic Bible illustrations reinforces this concept.
Translation choice– What translation is used at church during Sunday School and worship? You’ll also want to consider the readability level.
Last week in our Kids in the Word class, we had a fun time learning Psalm 119:105 – “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” I set up the activity in the hallway outside of our classroom and then turned off the lights and let the kids choose between a flashlight and a lantern to guide them.
Items needed: Permanent marker, card stock, scissors, painters tape and a flash light or lantern.
Preparation: Cut out foot or shoe prints – one for each word plus the reference in the translation you are using. Write one word per shoe print. Laminate for durability. Tape the shoe prints in order in a path on the carpet so that the kids can step from one word to the next as they recite the verse.
To play: Line the kids up. Give the first child in line a lantern to hold and use as they step/hop on each word of the verse and recite it. After they have followed the path and recited the verse, have them race back to the line and give the next person the lantern so that they can begin the verse path.
Have a race. Create 2 paths and 2 teams. See which team can complete the verse the quickest.
Leave the verse shoe prints in the hallway or classroom so that kids can practice the verse the next time they are at church.
Do a relay race. Instead of taping the shoe prints to the floor, place the shoe prints on the opposite side of the room. Have teams race carrying their lantern to pick up one word of the verse at a time. Once they have all the pieces, they can put the verse in order.
Parents can use this for a fun Bible Skill activity at home.
Create a path in a room, hallway, or through more than one area using the shoe prints. Give your child a lantern/flashlight and have them step/hop along the verse path while they recite the verse.
Keep the footprints in a shoe box and have your kids pull it out and put the verse in order.
Concentration – Turn the shoe prints over so that you cannot see the words. Have your child turn two shoe prints over at a time to see if they can find the 1stword (Your). If they do, place the 1stword on the table. If not, turn both back over and continue turning over two at a time until they find the word “Your.” Repeat for the 2ndword of the verse (Word) until it is found and so forth until all words of the verse are turned over in order.
“In all things God works together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
Today, during my quiet time, I was mediating on Romans 8:28 as I colored this page. I thought, “I’m not going to get this finished right now, today, with all of this detail work.” Then I was reminded that as I read His Word and recall scripture . . . I have to claim the promises even though I have no idea what the “good” or the plan will be. Just like I will finish the picture (eventually) and don’t know exactly what the finished picture will look like, God has a plan that He will “color in” to my life slowly bit by bit or all in a day or a week or a month . . .
Maybe for now, I will just leave this as a “work in progress” and as a reminder – I am a work in progress . . .
This month, I had the opportunity to tour an updated Kids Ministry Space in our area at FBC Loganville. (If you are a Kids Minister like me, you enjoy viewing the Kids Ministry spaces at other churches to get great tips/ideas for the space at your church.) While touring the space, I noticed 5 quick and easy improvements that can be used in the Kids Ministry Space at any church.
Use glass dry erase boards from IKEA in the hallway outside of your classrooms for announcements. You can use colored dry erase markers on these boards for a colorful, but clean, simple look. Share information with parents about upcoming activities or snacks you will be serving including any food allergy alerts.
Use easy to change snap frames for your classroom signs in the hallway. Does your church multi-use space (Sunday mornings, Wednesday night activities, and weekday preschool classes or homeschool groups that use your church during the week?) This is an easy, no hassle way to change out the classroom signs and keep your signage up to date. Just snap open the top and bottom to change out your sign!
Hang Bible Verse artwork in your halls. I love how it plants seeds of scripture in the lives of our Kids and families and is one of the first things to greet them as they enter our Kids Ministry areas. FBC Loganville hung this artwork in their check-in area. (I like that they made a separate area on the left where 1st time visitors can fill out paperwork away from the flow of the regular families checking in each week.)
Use easy to change sign holders for your classroom notices. These snap open on all sides and would be great to use for class schedules, fire drill/evacuation information, or other important notices. They have 4 sides that snap open to easily change out your class information.
Use large poster frames in your hallway. These frames can hold posters from what you are studying this month in Sunday school, large poster prints of Kids Ministry activities or pictures of kids in your ministry. With the easy snap open sides, it makes changing the large prints on a monthly or quarterly basis much easier.
A big thank you to Keith Wages, Families Ministry Pastor, at FBC Loganville for sharing the links where they purchased the glass dry erase board and frames!
A great ministry project for spring time is to create an Easter Basket for a senior adult or a shut-in.Holidays can often be a tough time for our senior adults who have lost a spouse and are living alone.Having your family or Preschool/Children’s Sunday school Class gather items to put in a basket is a great way to bless them and it provides an opportunity for our kids to learn how to minister.
Below are some examples of items to include in the basket:
Cross word puzzles
Card(s) created by the children
Adult coloring book
A small gift card
Some favorite coffee/tea
Once you have collected the items and assembled the basket, find a time to deliver it as a family or Sunday school Class.It will make their day!
Many of us find ourselves on a life journey in which there are often roads and detours that we wouldn’t have chosen.However, God’s plans are different from our plans . . .
Early in my ministry, I was on staff at a church that I loved! The church let me learn how to do ministry as they supported me, encouraged me and loved on me. But I had to leave . . . God called me to seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. I loved serving at that church, but God had other plans . . .
Fast forward a few years after seminary, I loved doing ministry on another church staff and couldn’t imagine serving anywhere else. God sent some incredible students through the youth group during those years and I loved it as we studied Experiencing God and the Mind of Christ together. To watch them grow deeper in their faith and to be a small part of the journey was incredible! In the midst of the joys and challenges in ministry, I became a young mom. As a young mom and minister I claimed Proverbs 3:5-6.
During this season, God opened an incredible door for me to step through in 1998 at 30 years of age. I began to serve as a State Missionary in Discipleship Ministries at the Georgia Baptist Convention.The position focused on my areas of passion – Kids and Family Discipleship and Bible Drill. I couldn’t believe it – How God wove all of this together and opened this door. I loved being a State Missionary and working with leaders across the state of Georgia.The opportunities of seeing kids grow in their faith through learning Bible Skills and participating in Bible Drill, helping equip new Kids Ministers and networking with experienced Kids Ministers were true blessings. In January 2019, I found myself at a new fork in the road.God had a different plan, a different path. He’d been preparing my heart again for the next step and journey and I just didn’t realize it... So after almost 21 years of ministry with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, I am trusting God to lead me on this new leg of the journey.During this phase, He is teaching me the importance of being still and waiting for His “road signs” along the way.
With this blog/website, I’ll be sharing about this journey in ministry and what God is teaching me, as well as sharing blog articles on ministry passions (Kids Ministry in general, kids/family discipleship, Bible Skills, Bible literacy, Leading kids to Christ, new Christian discipleship, VBS, missions, prayer, etc.), some of my creative passions (scrapbooking and card making), as well as a few family updates along the way.
I am trying (even though I am a “Martha”) to be more like “Mary” and sit at Jesus’ feet more often and for longer periods of time – instead of allowing the busyness of life to draw me away . . .
The beach, in the early morning, has always been a place for me to “sit” and remember to Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10.The picture above, taken on our mission trip working with a church planter in Hawaii in 2017, is a perfect illustration and reminder to me.The road reminds me of the journey. Seeing the beautiful scene of the ocean ahead is a reminder of our wonderful creator and for me to take some moments today to be still and know that He is God. . .
Thank you for joining me on a new Journey through life and ministry!