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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. 

Be Willing to Delete

One of the toughest things in writing is falling in love with our words. They're so beautiful, artful. How could we ever cut them? But fitting great writing into a magazine or a book requires deleting excess. So cut we must. And what we find is that the piece is often better--more concise but still a thing of beauty.

The same is true in our ministries. We can so fall in love with a program that we'd never delete it. Yet, I just heard this line that I thought was really good (and I've edited it a touch): "Your ministry is only as good as your worst program."

It's true for us here with resources, too. We may have amazing resources, but if we let one languish or in any way become weak, that's what most strongly could represent our brand. And the weakest resource can be death to our brand.

Is there any program you're holding onto that if you get really honest with yourself is harming your ministry's brand? Feel free to prayerfully and sensitively hit the "delete" button. Your entire ministry will be stronger for it!

Posted at 22:42

Celebrating Changed Lives

During our Celebration Station workshop yesterday at the Celebrate Recovery Conference, Lori Keller shared a story about a child whose family's life was changed because of Celebration Station.

So here's the story...a little girl was spending the night with her friend Mary (whose family goes to Celebrate Recovery on Friday nights). So she went along with this little girl to Celebration Station, and she loved it! The next week, she told her mom she wanted to go back. So Mom went too. The next week, at Dad's house, she told him she wanted to go back. So Dad went too.

Soon, Mom on one side of the room and Dad on the other and the child in Celebration Station. They all found that they liked it.

And here's the kicker: God healed their family and brought the couple back together, restoring their marriage! (That's what I call a goosebump story!)

If you haven't yet checked out Celebrate Recovery and Celebration Station (and now the new Landing for youth), do it today. There are broken families who need healing in every community!

You can learn more at group.com/celebrationstation.

Posted at 16:16

What Price, Integrity?

Our family went to an amusement park this week with a water park. As we waited in line to get our tubes for the lazy river, a boy (around 11) asked me, "Can we cut?" I just looked at him. "My family is right down there and we need to stay with them," he said. I actually considered it. Then I looked down at the water to a family that wasn't even the same race as this child--and they weren't looking back in concern as though they were leaving their child behind.

Whoa! It's amazing how long lines can compromise someone's ethics.

But then it happened to me. My son and his friend had bought "rapid passes" that got them to the front of the line. They were tired of riding so he offered it to me. And I actually considered taking it for awhile. Then I thought about what I'd be modeling for him and declined. But I considered it.

It made me wonder: As a kid, long lines are enough to compromise a child's ethics. What inconvenience is it in our lives that would get us to compromise our ethics?

Just wondering...

Posted at 21:02

What Price, Integrity?

Our family went to an amusement park this week with a water park. As we waited in line to get our tubes for the lazy river, a boy (around 11) asked me, "Can we cut?" I just looked at him. "My family is right down there and we need to stay with them." I actually considered it. Then I looked down at the water to a family that wasn't even the same race as this child--and they weren't looking back in concern as though they were leaving their child behind.

Whoa! It's amazing how long lines can compromise someone's ethics.

But then it happened to me. My son and his friend had bought "rapid passes" that got them to the front of the line.

They were tired of riding so he offered it to me. And I actually considered taking it for awhile. Then I thought about what I'd be modeling for him and declined. But I considered it.

It made me wonder: As a kid, long lines are enough to compromise a child's ethics. What inconvenience is it in our lives that would compromise our ethics?

Just wondering...

Posted at 20:59

Hey, What's Your Name?

I had one of those spacey moments at Sunday school where I couldn't remember a regular kid's name--first or last. And I was doing check-in. The mom and child stood there smiling sweetly while I scrambled mentally--or maybe I was mentally scrambled (I'd only been gone two weeks).

Anyway, I fumbled with the last name in the system. Got it wrong. I couldn't ask! He's a regular! So I said, "Can you hold on a minute? I need to ask Abby something?" I went into the classroom and asked her. She told me with one of those "good grief, Mom" looks. But disaster averted!

So, I thought how do other folks handle forgetting a child's name who's waiting expectantly to be acknowledged. And I asked on our facebook fan page. Here are some of their great answers:

* Use a generic nickname. Names like "sweet potato," Buddy, Sweetie, Girl, Friend, Honey, Mshana Wam (means young man or lady in Zulu), Chickadee.

* Admit it. Sylvia Hagopian says, "I usually blame it on being "old" and then ask their name again. It really is important to them to feel accepted, included and special by having their name remembered so I pray for all of us that we get better at it. It isn't always easy - agh!!!" Vanessa Jones says, "Sometimes I'll do the whole, "Hey sweetie," "Hey dude!" etc thing but if it's a kid I haven't seen in a long time, it's usually not a problem to say, "You know how silly forgetful I am with names! Can you tell me yours again--I won't forget this time!" I've never had a kid get upset--they just usually laugh at me like I'm a dork and go on. Then I'm exrta careful to use their name a lot during the service lol."

* Fake it. Jon Dixon suggests: "Smile and say "Hey! Great to see you!" Add a brief conversation, then after they leave I use my phone to look their name up in our church database if I remember any part of it. If I find them I send a quick "It was great to run into your kid..." email to their parents."

* Play with it. Tina Kirk Fussel says, "With my preschoolers, I tease and say something like , "Do I know you? Oh, that's right. You're Bob (or some other random name like Esmerelda or Zacheaus)." They always start giggling and correcting me."

* Pray. Tina also says, "With the older kids, I'll just start talking to them like I know exactly who they are and pray that it comes to me. It often does."

* Wait. Joni Lum suggests, "I give them a hug and keep talking until I remember their name--lately we've had more visitors from vbs , thx Group :0), so I've had to fake it more than normal."

* Use nametags. Many said that's why they love nametags, because they do forget at times and it's so important for us to know kids' names. Mimi Keeler Leach uses the nametags to find the name with this: "It's really great when I can write them a name tag, or write their name on their paper. Then I ask them, "Can you tell me the letters in your name?" (Of course, this works best with preschoolers or kindergartners, who are just learning how to spell their names.)"

So there you go! If you ever space out on kids' names, try some of these great ideas from my friends on facebook! I know I will!

Posted at 16:52

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