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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. 

Girls With the Blues

Another report from Iconoculture...

  • First the bad news: More than 2 million U.S. teens suffered serious bouts of depression in 2007, according to a nationwide survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (Reuters 5.13.08).
  • Now the worse news: Teen girls are especially vulnerable. Nearly 13% of young women age 12 to 17 reported being hard hit by depressive episodes, as opposed to 4.6% of the boys.
  • That's a huge gender gap, even if boys are less willing to admit their own unhappiness, as many experts surmise (Jezebel.com 5.14.08).
  • Posted at 22:56

    Something New for Teens

    Here's some interesting info from the latest Inconoculture mailing...

    • The Bridge in Joplin, Missouri, is a massive entertainment complex for teenagers that includes a state-of-the-art concert hall, gymnasiums, a skatepark and an Internet café. And it's all a Christian outreach ministry, to keep kids out of trouble and into the Lord.
    • With its wide variety of services and facilities, the complex aims to be a one-stop, all-day rec center built on nondenominational Christian values.
    • Prices are low and highly customizable. A three-hour session on the climbing wall? $7. A yearly all-access pass to everything? $650. Eternal life? Priceless.
    WHAT THIS MEANS TO BUSINESS
    • Christians increasingly are demanding mainstream recreation and popular culture that reflects their values. It's a nice convergence with kids' need to have somewhere to go and something to do.
    • Urban ministries are emerging that reach out to youth through rock 'n' roll, skating culture and other activities for healthy heart, mind and soul.
    Check it out...
    The Bridge in Joplin, MO
    Posted at 22:53

    Baby Steps--Incremental Growth

    I've learned something from my engineer/counselor husband over the last few years called "incremental improvement." We've had to hang onto this as step-parents or we'd completely lose heart at times.

    Here's what it's looked like: When Ray and I were dating, one of my sons wouldn't come out of the basement to even greet Ray the first time he came to meet my kids. That was painful and embarrassing. The next time, that son came out of the basement and nodded a greeting then retreated to his safe place. It was weeks before he could speak a word to Ray.

    Rather than letting that overwhelm us with disappointment, we learned to apply the "incremental improvement" principle to our family situation. We looked for baby steps and celebrated each one--rather than only looking for big changes. I'm afraid if we'd only looked for big changes, we would've never found them. It's been one baby step after another. And we've managed to stay encouraged along the way--for the most part. We still have ground to cover in bringing two families together (we've been marred 3.5 years now and experts say it takes 7 for things to feel natural). We've got lots more baby steps to take--when people are ready. And we can wait patiently--just as we did when our kids were learning to walk.

    How does this apply to children's ministry? I just did a podcast interview with Scott Werner, co-author of Turbocharged! (Group), and he reminded me that a great way for children's ministers to stay encouraged is to celebrate every single little baby step--rather than looking just for the big wins! (One baby step for me this Sunday was when 2-year-old Daisy ran into the room and jumped in my arms!) What are baby steps you can celebrate to ward off any discouragement--the child who finally opens up to his teacher, the shy child who offers a prayer request, the parent who tells you their child said he wants to love Jesus like you do when he grows up, or the child who accepts Jesus as his savior?

    Don't just look for big numbers, big results, pats on the back from church leadership, parades in your honor. Instead, bask in the baby steps--and you'll ward off discouragement that can be so endemic to children's ministry leadership. Don't let it step on you! Baby steps...baby steps...baby steps.

    Posted at 18:12

    Safety Continues to Be a BIG Issue

    Kidscreen reports that Toys 'R' Us has partnered with Safe Kids Worldwide to strengthen the toy store's safety outreach. The program will focus on giving parents and caregivers information to keep kids safe during playtime, and it's focused on five key areas: Summer Safety, Baby Safety, Halloween Safety, Holiday Toy Safety and Travel Safety. Look for materials in the mail and in-store signage.The safety tips will also be available year-round on www.Toysrus.com/Safety.

    So what's this mean for children's ministry? Basically, that safety continues to be one of the top-of-mind trends on parents' minds. And since I know that children's ministers are the most safety-conscious people in the church building, the real issue is "do parents know that?"

    How can you ensure that parents are up to speed with the amazing things you're doing to keep kids safe physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally? Just like Toys 'R' Us, you may want to take advantage of printed materials and signage in your ministry area. Let parents know that their kids are safe in your care!

    Posted at 16:02

    The New Classroom Style--Needed Now!

    Rick Chromey, one of the best Christian thinkers I know, just sent me a link to this article about Generation Y: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/why_gen_y_is_going_to_change_the_web.php

    Very intriguing from many angles, but the one that intrigues me, of course, is what are the implications for the Christian learning environment and children's ministry in particular?

    The article states: "They're Plugged In: The term "digital native" applies to most Gen Y'ers. Those in Gen Y grew up around computers, the Internet, mobile phones, video games, and mp3 players. They are web savvy multitaskers, able to watch TV, surf the web, listen to music, and talk or text on their phones, often performing several of these things at the same time."

    And, yet, when I think of the existing lesson structures in many Christian environments, I can't help but think of a monotone Ben Stein droning on and on about something listeners have tuned out long ago.

    We have to change! The classrooms of the near-future must mirror the multi-tasking world of children. They must be more like a computer monitor with icons for kids to choose from (choice!) and engage with (interactivity) and have fun with (enjoyment). Kids must be in the driver's seat--instead of the teacher. And I mean completely and totally--not some pretend arena where the teacher throws kids a bone of choice every now and then but is still very much the lesson plan deliverer.

    We're digging deep into what this looks like here at Group. And it's exciting! I think because it's so new, I'm at a loss for language--what's this called? Is anyone else doing this well? I'd be grateful for help in tagging this innovative learning environment--that hasn't yet come to life. Any thoughts?

    Posted at 16:49

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