Get Out There and Insulate Yourself—How to Use Insulation Foam Board to Spruce Up Your Space

hiskidz sign
Maybe you are like me and are from a church on a pretty tight budget. I am from a pretty small town with a pretty small budget when it comes to pretty much all things Kidmin—or most all things for that matter. We are also in a location that is pretty far away from major shopping. So we are often pretty limited not only in supplies, but the cash for those supplies. But that pretty small budget shouldn’t hinder you from making things “pretty” around your kidmin space.

Anyway, God isn’t hindered by budgets—those disciples didn’t even have silver or gold, but they did some pretty incredible things anyway. And Jesus didn’t even have a children’s area. He had to share His space (and it was really His space, yknow??!!!) with, well, with the whole world and He never complained. And so, neither will I, well, most of the time I won’t.

This is why years ago we came to the decision that we would not let finances stop our creative minds from doing what we could with what we have to the glory of God.

Here’s the thing:
When it comes to practical ministry and design, one of my favorite things to use is insulation foam board. It comes in different thicknesses and sizes and it is super easy to use. It’s lightweight, easily paintable, easy hangable and easily change-outable!! Your lumber yard will cut it down to a manageable size for you or if you are as blessed as I am they will even deliver it to your door for no charge.
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Here’s How You Can Use It:
VBS
It’s VBS time and we have used foam board to make a time machine, a giant paint brush, a gazillion apps for room signs, check in signs and logos.
paint brushes

Add a little “pop” to your space
Last year we updated our hallway, which we share with our Christian School by using insulated foam board to create signs and arrows pointing the way to our “big kids” Sunday school class.
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Signage & PropsWe’ve used it to make signs for our KidCheck check in stations and props for our preschool rooms. It’s so lightweight you can hang it with fishing line. It’s easily transportable, and easy to carry.
check in

It’s not new, but I’m always amazed at the number of people who haven’t heard of using it. Maybe you are one of them! If you haven’t ever given it a try, now may just be the time to spruce up your next space or event for next to nothing–or maybe even nothing if you know someone in your church who just finished doing some insulation! Behold the joy of someone’s trash becoming your treasure!

So go on, get out there and insulate yourself or your space and be sure to let me know what you have done, or if you have another great inexpensive idea for ministry design. I’d love to hear what you are doing.

Bro Tell It On The Mountain

07-21-14 Bro Tell It Image

My coaching friend, Andy Partington, writes these words that I love and share often with our church. I am so thankful for the men who serve with us in children’s ministry every week at New Testament Christian Church.

Your ministry needs a few good men. It may even need a little more than a few! We’re blessed at my church to have men serving in every area of children’s ministry. But it wasn’t always that way. A few years ago our programs were entirely staffed with women. Now all of these women were gifted in teaching and serving in a multitude of areas. They were and still are valuable leaders and assistants in reaching and teaching children. But something was missing?

Boys need Bros
The basic needs of boys are the same today as they were 100 years ago, even though we live
in a society that has experienced many changes. Boys desire to be part of a group their own age that accepts them for who they are. They seek the attention and affirmation from male role models that they have what it takes to become men. What do the boys of your church need most? Boys need a relationship with Christ, and they need the men of your church to spend time helping them become men that God can use.

Finding a Bro
Alright, guys have a tendency not to respond to the same recruiting techniques as women. First, let’s just take guilt completely out of the picture. Let’s end those whiny pleas that the nursery or Sunday school is filling up and there just isn’t anyone to take care of these precious little blessings.

We know it’s true.

It’s just not the story that men want to hear.

Instead, let’s define a role that men will respond to and see themselves in. Storytellers, builders, thinkers, listeners, helpers, leaders, and visionaries are all labels that men will wear proudly, and they are all positions that you probably need in your children’s ministry, today!
Give the men of your church the opportunity to really hear your vision for children’s ministry and to know the roles that are available. If they are gifted in those areas they’ll be drawn to them. Listen to the conversations in the halls. Find out who builds. Find the hobbyists and enthusiasts who live to talk about their passions. Find the fathers who talk about activities that they do with their children. Once you have that list of men in your head, think of ways that they can be included in your programming.

Lead a Bro
Men will respond to strong leadership. I’ve seen it time and time again. If a weak leader is in place, women volunteers will be motivated to circle the wagons and step up into the void.
Men tend to do the opposite. A weak leader usually leads male volunteers to exit the ministry and find another place to serve that has well defined parameters and an efficient model of service. So, give good leadership and be prepared for a more testosterone filled teaching time!

Let a Bro be a Bro
This really works for anybody, male or female, but for someone to really feel at home in a ministry position, it must be truly theirs. Give your workers the space they need to truly personalize their experience. Allow them the opportunity to assist in setting goals, making plans, and evaluating their experiences. The children of your church and community need the unique talents and gifts that these men possess.

Andy Partington is the Minister to Preschoolers and Children at First Baptist Minden, Louisiana. You can find out more about him at andypartingtonblog.com

The Office—The Whys and Hows of My Kid Friendly Space

office 1

This week I had some visitors in my office. As they came bursting through the doors they exclaimed, “Ms Dawn! You have the best office ever!! It’s just full of so much fun!”

Seriously, few more precious words could ever be said to me about my office. I have always wanted my office space to be a kid friendly place. Years ago, when I first got an office, I was the volunteer coordinator of our children’s ministry program. I didn’t want the office to be seen as “my office,” but rather “the office” where children’s ministry took place, where other volunteers and of course, kids were welcome.

So I painted the former closet now turned office a beautiful color of noxiously perky orange (Yeah, I was orange, when orange wasn’t cool!) and we let the fun begin.

I’ve moved office space since that time. After being asked to consider a color other than orange for my new walls, I chose a lovely shade of white—but added vinyl adhesive polka dots! And, there are the orange curtains, an orange desk chair, orange tractor seat stools and tall table. There is gum ball machine, some sponge balls, a partial Mr. Potato Head collection, bouncy balls, a mini fridge, electric fireplace, and a zillion other kid friendly attention grabbing things. (No, my office isn’t really that big, it’s just well rounded!)

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People often comment about how much fun my office is, although not always with as much enthusiasm as today’s guests, and it makes me smile to realize that my office isn’t just a fun place, but instead it is a place that kids can relate to, connect with and enjoy. When they feel those things about my office, they also feel those things about me. They gain a sense that I am someone who “gets” them, and that I am someone they can trust.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to bring a smile to a kid’s face through my office space:

1) Color. You may or may not be able to paint your walls some crazy color, but even if your walls are white like mine right now, you can still make it pop with some great accessories, wall art, press ons, curtains, furniture, etc. (Most of what I have came from yard sales or someone else’s left overs.)

2)Toys. Keep some cool toys in your office. They don’t have to be the latest; they just have to be something kids will relate to. Currently one of our kids favorites is a sparkly filled water bottle, some old hand puppets, and my paper clip holder (it looks like a lady and the paper clips are her hair—the kids love it!)

3)Snacks. Since man cannot live on gumbballs alone, I try to have something on hand like fruit snacks or granola bars. Need to talk to a parent? A snack is a great way to occupy their child. Want to get a child talking? Have them sit down over a pack of fruit snacks and chat about their day.

4)Fun Furniture and Office Supplies. From my orange tractor chairs to my zebra striped stapler to my stiletto shoe tape dispenser, kids love the creatively eccentric things they find in my office. I even have a polka dotted broom that rests on top of a curtain rod. Why? I don’t know! I guess the question is, “Why not?”

So everyone now and then I look around my office and decide it’s time for something old to go out and new to come in. This helps to keep my view of ministry fresh, and keeps my focus on the heart of children and the precious responsibility given to us to help them understand how much Jesus not only loves them, but He “gets” them.

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3 Things Every Boy Needs To Hear

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In the coming weeks, I will be sharing some blogspace with two friends of mine in the children’s ministry world. Today’s post is from Andy Partington, children’s pastor in Louisiana.

A lot of time has been spent in my ministry on recruiting men, fathers especially, to volunteer with children’s ministry. Our church has been blessed with a great group of guys who work the nursery, pass out snacks, go on camping trips, drive vans, and lead worship for our kids. It’s a great privilege to see men and women serve alongside each other to reach boys and girls for Christ.

But there is another reason I have for bringing men into our ministry to children. In the community around us and all over the country it seems there is an absence of fathers. A boy may grow up in a two parent household, but the true paternal role is rarely ever seen. Boys have a list of essential needs that only a father or male role model can supply. We need to make sure that they hear:

“I love you”
It’s a basic human need to be loved. We were created to love and be loved by God. Despite this fact, it can sometimes be a huge hurdle as a man to express love to your sons and an even larger one to the boys that aren’t a part of your household. Yet, the need is still there. Find ways to say it, to show it in the way you live, to be an example of love to even the greatest discipline problems that you face. It will make such a difference and you will begin to see trust form in the eyes of the young men that you serve.

“I’m proud of you”Often times, it’s easy for the men in children’s Sunday school classes to become the “enforcer of rules” and the major disciplinarian in the class. This is absolutely fine, but we miss out on an opportunity to serve and show Christ-like love by not telling kids the good things that they’re doing. Point out when boys are well behaved. Take time to mention how good they did during the relay or scripture memory game. Give praise when praise is due. All too often, our boys don’t get the praise they deserve from dads and men in ministry.

“You’re good.”
This is a little different than “I’m proud of you”. I think everyone can benefit from knowing that we have the potential to be virtuous. The statement “You’re good” transcends pride and acknowledges that a boy can have and does have value in your eyes. I’ve seen this simple phrase melt the hearts of the most hardened elementary bullies.

I hope that this list of things that boys need is helpful to you. It’s certainly not exhaustive. Can you think of other ways to reach out and touch the lives of the young men in your church or community? Maybe there are some things that you felt you didn’t have that you needed growing up? Maybe there was a memorable moment in your development that you can look back on and bring to the table as you minister to your sons and the boys under your care.

Andy Partington is the Minister to Preschoolers and Children at First Baptist Minden, Louisiana. You can find out more about him at andypartingtonblog.com

Thanks for the Memories–Mama Mia Monday

camp wordsblackandwhite

I spent last week teaching at our local church camp. It was a great week! Teaching God’s Word is one of my all time favorite things to do, and teaching it at camp is like the icing on the cake of Bible teaching goodness.

While talking with some campers, they asked me how long I had been coming to camp, and although I wasn’t quite sure exactly how long it had ,I did remember one of my first times teaching was at a week of camp I went to when our son, Connor, who is now 26 was in the 7th grade.

“Woah! That’s a long time ago.”

“Thanks, campers.”

What made it especially cool though was that Connor was our missionary for the week. He now serves in Russia as an English and Bible teacher, and I am so thankful for the memories that we have made and are continuing to make as we have these precious opportunities to serve God together even though we are miles apart.

I told them how we used to teach upstairs above our slightly dilapidated bath domes and in shelter houses scattered around the camp. I recounted how I had taught in one of the shelters near our old outdoor chapel (before we got air conditioning in a retreat center) and had written the key points to my lesson in chalk in the beams of the shelter house. And I told them how the last time I checked (a couple of years ago) the words were still there.

So, of course, we took a quick adventure to see if anyone had yet dared to erase the “immortal” words of the summer of 2001, and alas they had not–the words were still there. The picture above is reinforced the heart of lessons on being servants of God.

That summer as I taught those lessons Connor was a camper, and he and I never told anyone that we were related. Oh a few people knew, but as I told stories of my sons and some of our teachable moments, the spotlight stayed off Connor and on God and His Word. At the end of the week, we had the “big reveal” and as I told the campers that my son was actually at camp as a camper, they wouldn’t believe it and we had a great laugh and made a great memory.

In the years since, both my boys and I have spent quite a few summers together at camp. Through those times of serving together, we grew as family, we grew in our faith and we lived out the words of the shelter house as we became servants of God. And we made memories. Lots of them.

Mama Mia! Lots of memories. Memories of rap songs, baptisms, a guy named Pierre, mildew in the camp, catching snakes, heat stroke, “keep away from the water balloons!” going back to the beginning and so much more. Oh so much more.

So Mamas, let me encourage you today that a great way to make lasting memories with your children is to serve with them–side by side. Find a project, go on a mission trip, serve at a camp. . . .let God grow you closer and bind your hearts together as you serve Him together.

Mama Mia! I’m thankful for the memories!

Why I Will No Longer Accept Your Child’s Facebook Friend Request–Mama Mia Monday

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Got another one–

Last week I received another facebook friend request from a child I know, and I just can’t click confirm.

I will admit I have accepted requests in the past. I talked with some friends about it, read some articles and finally relented with the belief that since their parents were allowing it, it was still a chance for me to connect with them and even to keep up with what’s going on in their lives.

But I was wrong.

Because in doing so, I affirmed to them that it’s okay to lie, that it’s okay to lie with your parents’ permission, and that I, as their children’s ministry leader, think a little lying must be okay.

Yet, that’s not what I believe at all.

I’ve been a part in putting them in danger of identity theft, bullying (from either side), child predators, negative self image (both physical and mental) and entrance to an adult world they weren’t meant to join until they were, well, adults.

Yet, I could never imagine doing that intentionally.

Children are not yet capable of fully understanding the consequences to some of their actions or the concept of marketing. Facebook is designed to target those who sign up for it. So when a child registers with a false age beyond their years, they are now targeted with ads for someone “beyond their years.” This includes sites about drinking, gambling, meeting singles and more.

In the United States it is illegal to collect information on people under the age of thirteen–one of the reasons facebook doesn’t allow children under the age of thirteen to have an account. I find it ironic how often we get upset when the government lies or acts unethically, yet now we are enabling that process. In fact, we have become the very thing we say we abhor.

And why?

I’m not sure. Some of the reasons I hear are so that our children can have friends, have fun or be like everyone else. Some parents have admitted they just didn’t want to tell their children, “No.” They didn’t want the fight. Others have said they felt like the lie wasn’t really a big thing because they are monitoring what their kids are doing on their pages.

We, as the adults in their lives, are supposed to help our kids navigate the waters of character and integrity. We are supposed to model for them virtues like truth, honesty, patience and self control. These underage users–Wow! That’s a startling term considering the addictive nature of social media– aren’t quite yet capable to understand the whole “when it’s okay to lie and when it’s not okay to lie” thing isn’t really supposed to be a thing. Apparently we, as adults, aren’t either.

Mama Mia!

**In 2011, ABC news reported that it was estimated that almost 7.5 million facebook accounts were used by underage children who were using facebook with their parents’ permission. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/underage-facebook-members-75-million-users-age-13/story?id=13565619

Ten Signs You You Need to Slow Down to Parent–Dadderdays

ten-things
One of my all time favorite movies is Spielberg’s Hook starring Robin Williams. In this classic film, Williams portrays Peter Panning, the grown up Peter Pan. Although Peter started out with a healthy motivation to work to provide for Wendy and the kids, he became overly entrenched in the grown up world. So much so that Wendy has to warn him, “You’re missing it, Peter, you’re missing it.”

Ever feel like you are missing it? You might be. Here are few warning signs that you might need to slow down to get your parenting adventures back on track.

1. You are reading this blog post or your wife is reading it to you.
2. Work is your life. Hobbies are your life. TV is your life. Your kids’ events are your life.
3. You don’t have time to stop and evaluate what you’re doing, or you’ve stopped looking forward to the end goal in your parenting.
4. You are never home on the weekends.
5. McDonald’s is the place where everybody knows your name.
6. You are skipping church because you are worn out from work and your kids extra curriculars or sports.
7. You’re not really sure what the term “date night” means because it’s been so long since you had one.
8. You haven’t talked to your kids since, well, since. . . .hmmm, when did you last really talk to your kids?
9. You aren’t growing in your knowledge of God and His Word.
10. Love, Laughter and Kindness are not words your children would use to characterize you.

Remember…the time we have with our children in our homes is short. Our goal is never to be busy parents, but we do need to be busy parenting. We want to be effective in all we do.

As Christian parents, we are raising little “Christ followers.” In our home our main parenting goals were to help our kids know Christ, follow Christ and share Christ with the world. But there were times when we got way too busy to do that well, or to do it at all. Taking time to reevaluate where we are on the journey, and then making the necessary adjustments to get back on track is a great tool to keeping the end in mind.

When we do, great adventures await.

Bangarang!

Hook

(If you’ve never seen it or haven’t seen it in awhile, a “Hook” family movie night could be a really great idea for some quality time with the family!)

Kids Answers–Thankful Thursday

kids answers magazine

It has been reported that more than one half a million people tuned into the Ken Ham-Bill Nye debate earlier this week. I was one of those, at least for most of the time. I’m not here to debate the debate, but rather to express my thanks to Mr. Ham for his grace in sharing the gospel, his strong conviction to the Word of God, and his ministry to children.

Ham and the team at Answers to Genesis continue to do a phenomenal job at providing resources and teaching that equip people with the truth of God’s Word and the evidence of His creation. Ham’s Kids Answers Magazine is a resource I had, quite honestly, forgotten about until after the debate. In looking back at the Answers in Genesis website, I came across the online version of the magazine. There is so much great stuff for kids here: videos, puzzles, weekly articles and a variety of activities, plus a special section just for parents.

Here’s the link: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/ka

It’s simply a great resource for you and your kids–those in your home or your classroom.

Answers in Genesis also offers church curriculum, Vacation Bible School material and if you are planning a trip in your near future, be sure to consider The Creation Museum. It’s located just seven miles west of the Cincinnati Airport, and is within one day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population. When you buy your tickets they are good for two days making them a great buy. My pastor/boss/friend, his children and grandchildren spent time there last year and they are still talking about what a fabulous time they had.

So today I find myself thankful for a ministry who is willing to take the time and make the commitment to help see that kids have the answers to some of the most important questions they may ever ask, and for helping children see that God made them and loves them and that He is, indeed, the Lord of all Creation.

dinosaur

ark

http://creationmuseum.org/

Super Easy Sheep Snacks–Taste and See Sunday

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You’ve heard me say it before, I love a good theme snack–especially when teaching preschoolers. Since we are now in week three of the Christmas lessons, this shepherd week. There’s an unwritten pattern to the Christmas story in children churches around the world. It goes like this:

Week 1: The angel comes to Mary

Week 2: The angel comes to Joseph

Week 3: Jesus is born and the angels come to the shepherds

Week 4: Wise men come bringing gifts.

Week 5: Review the above weeks above or a story about Jesus growing up.

Last year our shepherds week craft was shepherds staff cut out cookies. So this year, we gave the shepherds a rest and focused on the sheep and let the kids be the shepherds.

Here’s all you need to make just one or even a whole flock.

Giant marshmallows–guaranteed fun anytime, but they make for great big fluffy sheep
Skinny pretzel sticks–legs
Small traditionally shaped pretzels–these will be the eyes and nose.
Small pair of scissors or knife

Cut a slit in one of the ends of the marshmallow large enough to put the head piece into.
Put the head piece in there.
Stick the legs in and . . . .

Ta-Da! Ewe got sheep!!!

flock of sheep

Our preschoolers loved them. Well, so did our leaders! So have a little Christmas fun this year with your own little flock, and

Taste and See. . . .the Lord is good!!

Using The Corn Harvest to Share the Gospel–Taste and See Sunday

indian corn

This morning I had the opportunity to share a short message in our church’s main service as part of what we like to call “Harvest of Praise Sunday.” The service is centered around our praise and thanks to God for all He has done in our church through the year. My portion of the service centered around giving God thanks for the baptisms and decisions that took place. Having the double advantage of coming from a farming area and having a harvest theme service, I tied in the “wordless” book idea to corn.

It started with, what else? Yellow corn.

yellow corn

Yellow corn represented heaven, and the home Jesus is preparing for us there. (John 14:3)

black corn

Black Corn represented the problem–sin, and how our sin, if not dealt with, can keep us from heaven. (Romans 6:23)

red corn

Red corn represented the blood of Jesus which was shed for the forgiveness of our sins. (Hebrews 9:22)

blue-corn

Blue corn stood for the waters of baptism that wash us clean. (Acts 2:38)

White Corn

White corn reminds us that when we accept God’s offer of salvation, we are washed clean and pure. (Isaiah 1:18)

green corn

Green corn represented the growth that needs to come after we have been saved.  (2 Peter 3:18)

indian corn

We finished up with a picture of mixed corns to remind us that we need to go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey all God has commanded. (Matthew 28:19-20)

It was just a short, simple message,and I’m sure that in one form or another had been heard before by many. Then tonight, at our 6th grade discipleship group as we began our New Testament study, we got hung up on a question about sin. The kids were struggling to come up with answer to what we called the “problem,” because they weren’t sure what the problem was. When I uttered the words, “Black corn,” immediately they responded, “Sin!”

We were all pretty excited to realize they remembered practically every word of the morning’s talk, (I was really excited!) What I thought was so simple had stuck in their hearts and minds.

Why do I so often forget that the message doesn’t have to be complicated or flashy or entertaining? The message, quite simply, just needs to be the message. The message combined with the power of God, is all we need for a great harvest.

Corn? Who knew?

God did.  .  . Taste and See. . .the Lord is good.