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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. 

You Better Watch Out...

Ahhh, Santa...never quite sure what to do with the jolly old guy this time of year. As a child, Christmas was all about Santa for our family--no Jesus. So as parents, we went the other way with our children and had all Jesus, very little Santa. Now, my adolescents refer to that decision begrudgingly. Oh well, they get to do what they want with their children. I guess it's a Santa pendulum.

So what is the allure of Santa? This weekend as I finished up my shopping at the mall, I saw a loooong line of parents and small children waiting to see Santa. It stopped me in my tracks! Why would parents (who people often say are unmotivated to do anything that benefits their children) stand in that line? Children decked out in their finest Christmas wear wiggled impatiently. That couldn't have been fun for parents! Why would they do it?

I'd love to hear other insights (because I think we can learn from this for the kingdom of God). But here are a few things I think...

1. Parents want their kids to believe in something. And even though it's magical to believe in a man who delivers Christmas gifts to every single house in one night, it is something to believe in. (And parents will go to great lengths to continue the charade--and even dread the day that the children discover the truth and stop believing.) Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And, yet, we have the living, unchanging, never-disappointing truth about Christmas.

2. Children want it. Parents today are highly motivated to deliver what their kids want. So how do we create things (programs, take-home papers, training, etc.) that kids ask for--and parents say yes to? That's our challenge.

3. There's a benefit at the end. Parents get a memorable and cute photo of their dressed-up child sitting with Santa that they'll remember forever. It's one more milestone in life that parents want to mark. So, would parents do whatever it took to mark their children's faith milestones--if they felt there was great enough benefit at the end? I think so. And that challenges us to consider how to maximize milestones in a family's faith journey--so parents value the trip.

So, it made me think. And whether you're an elf or a grinch when it comes to Santa, here's wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

Posted at 16:49

How2 Rockin' Conference

Wow! Has it really been since Nov. 8 that I've blogged! It's been crazy wild around here, trying to get everything done for the How2 Conference. But now that it's done, maybe we should've called it the Wow2 Conference!!! It's amazing!

There are several things I like best about it--and that you won't want to miss.

1. Bring your LEADERSHIP team. This is high-level strategic stuff that you'll want to share with your entire team. (And there are so many benefits to your leadership team spending time together overnight and in the car and at the conference. It's team-building at its best!)

2. It's PRACTICAL--on steroids. Not only do you experience each session and workshop, but we're walking you through a step-by-step strategy in each session and workshop that gives you a workable plan when you walk out the door. So cool! It's building block upon building block!

3. It's REVOLUTIONARY. We're giving you EVERYTHING we use--leader transcripts, Power Point, videos, blank handouts...so you can experience the training (which is how Jesus did it...experience, then do) then go home and lead the training with your team.

So....whew! Now that the How2 Conference is a Wow2...Now2 get back to everything else I need to do. I really hope you guys make it a priority to come to the conference in your area. Check it out at group.com/how2

Posted at 18:56

Hot Topic: Today's Sex

Our "Hot Topic" (made you think) article in the Nov/Dec issue of Children's Ministry Magazine is "Beyond the Birds and Bees."

In it, our staff dug up real-life issues in actual children's ministries regarding hard-to-deal-with sexuality issues. For example, what do you do if you have a boy who really wants to be a girl and starts dressing as such? Don't believe that's a possibility? In our community, we have this very thing going on--and it's public knowledge because the boy/girl let a large newspaper do a huge article on him/her. And this person goes to a local youth group so the church team wonders which restroom the person should use; on overnight events, where does this person sleep? (I myself wonder about the deeper issue of what do you say about God their creator to a child who is seeking God and having gender identity issues?)

The easy answer is to just say these things are "sin" and discount them and the child and alienate children forever from the love and presence of God. But it's the chicken way--and the way that we so often choose because we are afraid of things we don't understand.

Another example: A family is experiencing divorce because Dad has a boyfriend. The two kids are in the children's ministry. What do you say to them? How do you minister to them? How do you separate your feelings about the dad's moral failure from the needs of the family for care and ministry?

I think the experts in the article did a superb job of helping us navigate some of these issues. But, I wonder, have others dealt with these--and more--issues surrounding "today's sexuality" and how have you dealt with them? What are some issues you're dealing with now that you could use expert help to figure out?



Posted at 12:50

How2 Conference--Gotta Check It Out

It’s that time of year again here at Group—strategic planning. It’s the time we cringe as we watch our calendars fill up with meeting after meeting for weeks. In the past, it was a grueling process that produced large notebooks of strategic plans that sometimes weren’t looked at until the next year of strategic planning—if we’re completely honest.

But things are different this year! Thank God! We’ve discovered a new way of strategic planning that shrinks 80 hours of meetings into two hours. This new process takes an overwhelming number of goals and narrows them to a few achievable key issues. It’s been amazing to work with our leadership team to intentionally dream the future, key in on our unique signature, build on our strengths, identify inhibitors that block our growth, and map our plan for success.

One of our dreams is The How2 Children’s Ministry Conference that’s launching in early 2009. It’s a brand new leadership experience where you and your entire leadership team will discover our innovative strategic process so you can plot your success for an entire year.

The How2 Children’s Ministry Conference maximizes our unique signature—“practical innovation.” It’s innovative because nobody does training the way we do. We don’t just talk to you; we walk you through experiencing the material so it becomes a part of you. After all, you remember only 10 percent of what you hear, but 90 percent of what you experience. This is definitely a leadership experience you’ll remember!

It’s practical because you get everything we use in the conference: all the media, scripts, leader outlines, videos, fliers, timelines, handouts, and more. No conference does that! We want you to walk away with everything you need to re-create the same strategic planning, training, and experiences for your team back home. We believe in you! That’s why we’re equipping you to equip others. Now that’s practical!

Here’s another innovation: We’ll give you a themed kick-off event; recruiting, vision-casting, and heart-warming affirmation videos; over two dozen training modules; and even more that’ll help you effectively renovate your ministry for life-changing results.

It gets even more practical with the challenges of today’s economy. We’re coming to an area near you for this Friday night and all-day Saturday event. That means no airfare needed so you can afford to bring your entire leadership team. And you’ll absolutely want to bring all your key leaders for great team-building and strategizing your bigger, brighter children’s ministry!

Don’t miss out! For more information and to register (because seating is limited), go to group.com/how2.

Posted at 16:21

Innate Compassion in Children

Yesterday in our 2-year-old class, I saw two amazing examples of love and compassion.

Devin was having difficulty leaving Mom when Abby and her mom arrived. The mothers talked and registered the children, and Abby saw that Devin was struggling. She patted his arm and said, "Devin, do you want to be my friend?" over and over. That softened him up and he did come in without any tears. And Abby stayed with him to play puzzles, hear the Bible story, eat snack, and more! In the Bible story of Jesus loving the children, I said each child's name, "And Jesus loves Abby," "And Jesus loves Daisy,"... and on and on. Afraid that I was going to leave Devin out, Abby called out "And Devin!" She was definitely a good friend to him! And I told her so. "Abby, you were so kind to Devin. Thank you for being a good friend." She smiled!

Then at the beginning of class as well, we'd encouraged two hesitant girls, Hannah and Ryann, to come on into the classroom and see if they could find the bunnies outside our window (we have a lot of wild bunnies out there). While at the window, Kolin must've sensed something because he turned to one of them and gently patted her on the arm.

How cool is that! To me, that's watching little ones made in the image of God show love, compassion, and empathy. These little ones never cease to amaze me!

Posted at 17:09

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