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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. 

Watch Those Labels

Standing in the dessert buffet line at a church thing this week, I turned to see the parents of one of my former 2-year-olds. A sweet, precocious, active little girl.

I was surprised when they described her as having OCD and ADHD. She's 3 now! No official diagnosis, but they're sure of it because she has a short attention span and is on the go all the time. (Excuse me, but isn't that what all 2- and 3-year-olds are like?)

It concerns me because they said they can't wait to get her on medication. Just not sure this little one needs to be medicated, but then I'm no expert in diagnosis.  But then again, neither are her parents.

We need to watch those labels!

Posted at 17:22

Living Inside Out Lives!

After launching Living Inside Out a few years ago as a three-year scope and sequence, we decided to cut back to one year of modules instead of three (because of business stuff). Yet we heard this outcry from children's ministers who were using it. They LOVED it! And they weren't happy that we weren't delivering three years. It is fabulous as a large group/small group, media-rich resource! The themes are fun! I'm a big fan of Living Inside Out (www.groupslivinginsideout.com)!

And obviously, so are Living Inside Out customers. So...after much consideration, we're "relaunching" it with all three years--guaranteed!

In a meeting yesterday we discussed how to "tell this story" to our customers. And my big question because I know children's ministers are really smart people--with long memories and active networks: How do we convince people that we really do mean it this time!? (In my opinion, the word "guaranteed" isn't enough.) We need a strong promise and a story that lets people know that no matter what, we're doing all three years.

We broke trust with our customers. And now we need to regain it. Any ideas? What would it take for you to believe a company means it this time? (Because we do, but it means nothing if you don't believe us!)

Posted at 13:16

Go, Baby, Go!

I saw this last night on TV--late night TV! And while I'm not sure about the pressure to get babies to read, I did think that it's a great picture of what babies are capable of. Check it out: http://www.yourbabycanread.com.

Child development experts say that the first three years of a child's life are THE most important developmentally. Their brains are developing at such a high rate. And the foundations for everything in life are in these three years.

That's why we've created the Play 'n' Worship series for toddlers and preschoolers (and why we're considering babies next).

We're huge proponents of making nursery and preschool a place of ministry--not just a babysitting station. Kids this age are sponges! Let's soak 'em with God's truth and the love of Jesus!

Posted at 15:12

Check Toys for Lead

Mattel/Fisher Price will pay a $2.3 million fine over lead paint allegations. The fine comes from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission--the largest ever, and you can read more about it here: http://tinyurl.com/lnvua9

Elmo, Dora, Big Bird and more could be lethal to your children. The toys in question for lead paint were recalled in 2007, but they could still be lurking in toy boxes everywhere.

Children's ministries regularly use hand-me-down toys in our nurseries and preschools. Are you sure all your toys are safe? To check all your hand-me-down toys in your nursery or preschool, use this list: http://tinyurl.com/5f38l3

Posted at 16:32

What Women Want

My husband, Ray, who works at the Denver Children’s Hospital, recently sent me this article from Carrie Vaughan, leadership editor with HealthLeaders Magazine. I think there are parallels in children’s ministry. So why not learn from this for women volunteers and staff?

More than 80% of the people who work in healthcare are female. Only 9% of women who work in the healthcare industry are very satisfied with their work/life balance, according to a recent study by the Studer Group. On average, "women said one time per week that they have to make a decision where they feel they are deciding between their family and their job," says Quint Studer, founder and CEO of the Gulf Breeze, FL organization. "That is a sobering statistic."

Nearly 8,000 women took the survey, including nurses (23%), administrators (22%), physicians (2%), and other healthcare positions like therapists and lab personnel (53%). Studer says the top three things that impacted work/life balance were:

  1. A supervisor that’s supportive.
  2. Professional development.
  3. Concierge services.

(As healthcare leaders seek to find ways to improve their female employees’ work/life balance, maybe we in children’s ministry can learn from them.) Of course, improving the work/life balance for women is no doubt a puzzle for many male-dominated executive teams. But the solutions don't have to be complex—there are steps organizations can take right now. Here are six:

  1. Listen. Women don't want to be told what to do. They want to be asked for input, says Studer. For example, rather than telling women how you are responding to a challenge, consider saying, "Here is what is happening, what do you think?"
  2. Connect with women on a personal level. This may be a Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus issue. Healthcare (and the church) is still dominated by male C-suites that have created workplace cultures that are comfortable to them, says Studer. This may mean keeping personal and professional relationships separate. The problem is that many women want to work for someone who cares about them on a personal level. Studer says senior leaders need to create a culture that’s best for everyone in the organization, not necessarily the environment that’s most comfortable for them.
  3. Make sure systems and tools work. No one wants to come to work every day only to encounter inefficient and ineffective processes. It's frustrating to have to work longer hours because systems aren't operating correctly. It’s the senior leaders' responsibility to ensure that their employees aren’t wasting their time working around problems.
  4. Involve women in the hiring process. Women understand that teamwork is crucial in healthcare. As a result, they want to be involved in hiring their coworkers. (Boy! I wish this one was used more!)
  5. Ask women what concierge services they want. You may be surprised what you discover. They may want help finding the right daycare, or homecare for family members, or getting oil changed in their car, or dry cleaning. Meet with your employees to find out what services would really benefit them the most.
  6. Be flexible. It's hard for healthcare organizations to offer flexible scheduling options if they have staff shortages or high turnover rates. But flexibility is an important component to attracting future healthcare workers and retaining the staff members you already have, Studer says. For example, if you work with a nurse who suddenly has to cut back hours, often that nurse will eventually return to work full-time.

 

Posted at 17:30

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