Blog Archives

Church Nursery: More Than Just Babysitting?

Almost 2 years ago, we relocated our church’s nursery to another part of our facility. In conjunction with this move came a refocusing of our programming and curricular intent. We thought it was important to use the hour the infants and toddlers are in the Nursery for intentional spiritual instruction rather than just mere childcare. We wanted the best of both worlds – fantastic, professional and high quality childcare, coupled with intentional and structured spiritual instruction. And it has worked marvelously!

One of the gems of this whole process was NOT finding the “magic” curriculum which made everything hum along and fulfill our goals; rather it was a consistent routine. We created and posted a simple and sustainable routine which has been in effect since day one. I personally have two daughters who are in the church nursery and they can tell you the routine by heart! The kids know what to expect, they know what’s next, they know what to look forward to. There are no surprises or inconsistencies other than: what is the story today? or who is going to be hanging out with us today doing the singing and the projects?

It’s been amazing to watch what has happened over the last 2 years in our nursery. Our Early Childhood Director, Linda Waystedt, has zealously implemented this strategy (which she helped to create, which greatly helps the implementation by the way!). She is to be commended for her tireless work and leadership. Speaking as a parent, it’s incredible to me that when my girls come home from church they can tell me the story that Miss Linda (or someone else) taught them that day! It makes my heart happy!

I came across an article which emphasizes intentional discipling in our church nurseries:

Too often the church nursery is thought of as “only childcare.” What if it come be something more? What if the infant and toddler ministry was a prototype for the rest of your children’s ministry? If you want to take today’s child to the place where he will be a Christ-changed, hope-filled, productive adult we must begin in the nursery.

To start, both men and women must serve in the nursery. Kids need to learn, from their first Sunday in church, that men walk with God not just women.

God has given infants a very important task – learn to trust. However, when there is a different adult in the nursery every Sunday how can the child learn to trust in relation to the Body of Christ?

A “Discipler” is intentional in building a relationship with a child and with his parents. She knows everything there is to know about this child. She visits the child in his home and has their family to her home. On Sunday morning it isn’t a stranger who greets the child it is someone the child has grown to trust.

One Sunday I was getting out of my car when two families pulled up next to me. One dad had just gotten his six month old son out of the car seat and was walking to the back of the car when the other dad walked by. The six month old lunged out of his dad’s arms and the other dad just barely caught him. That other dad was in the nursery every week with the child – they had connected.

The adults who serve with the kids are trained to get to know each child beyond name and what family she comes from.

  • Because a “Discipler” is building a relationship with the parents too he knows what the needs and wants of the child are.
  • The “Discipler” knows the hopes and dreams of mom and dad for the child.
  • The “Discipler” has thought through and written out a plan of how each child to whom he is committed will be discipled in the coming year.

Add to this the value of indirect parent training that happens when your nursery volunteers come to the Children’s Ministry trainings – not only are they learning to disciple someone else’s kids, they are learning to disciple their own kids. Parents are studying the concepts that are taught in children’s ministry because they are serving in children’s ministry so it much easier to naturally continue the discipleship at home.

This approach will minister to each child as an INDIVIDUAL and we must be INTENTIONAL in everything we do. This begins in the nursery and is carried through the entire children’s ministry.

HT Ministry-To-Children.com

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David Takes a Census (story & video)

David Takes a Census and Buys a Threshold - y2_w26

King David decides to count his troops, realizes that was a bad decision (after the fact), has to choose one of three punishments, and buys the porch (threshold) where the plague stopped.

Interestingly, the “porch” that David bought became the sight where King Solomon placed the Temple.

Books of the Bible | First Ten (video)


This past Wednesday @ msy YOUTH, we did a blitzkrieg through the first ten books of the Bible: Genesis through 2 Samuel. We used a Skit Guy video entitled: “The Skinny on the Bible” to introduce the evening, then we did 5 books at a time. We showed a video segment from JellyTelly for each of the books of the Bible. The videos are meant for a younger audience, so I was pushing the envelope a little using them with middle school students, but it worked out great. The videos did a great job of keeping their interest as we plowed through 10 of them.

While the students were watching the videos they had to write down some key words for each book of the Bible. After we did the first 5, then we had students go and write some of those key words on posterboard that we had taped around the room, one for each of the 10 books of the Bible. Then the students watched the second set of 5, the went and wrote on the posterboards. It was a neat exercise that took up our entire programming time, but it worked remarkably well.

Some of the students realized their names came from the Bible. It was funny, because after all the students wrote on the various posterboards, in order to personalize things, we had them pick one book of the Bible that was their favorite (of the 10 we went through) and write their name (and circle it, so it was different that the key words) on the posterboards. Students whose names were in certain books ended up putting their name on that one!

Here are the links to the JellyTelly videos on YouTube:

David and Goliath (story & video)

David and Goliath - y2_w18

Young David does what King Saul is supposed to do: fight Goliath, defend Israel. Instead, Saul depends on David to fight for what is right. And David does so with courage and conviction. David would not let Goliath get away with cursing God and His people.

And the compare and contrast saga between Saul and David begins.

Read 1 Samuel 17:1-58

Vodpod videos no longer available.

TrueStory:Genesis


Rachel South interned @ Hayward Wesleyan for a couple of months last summer. She had the opportunity to experience the end of our Main Street Sunday morning ministry in May, and then she “created” and crafted a curriculum for the students over the summer months. She ended up self-publishing her curriculum:

This past fall semester I took a class entitled “Curriculum Theory and Development.” In that class I had the opportunity to self-publish my curriculum book. I designed, wrote, illustrated, and self-published a book called “TrueStory: Genesis”. The description reads:

TrueStory Genesis focuses primarily on the idea of storytelling. It takes the stories of the Bible and enables the students to tell, retell, and tell again the story of the week. It encourages using different ways to tell the story and to help every learner feel accepted. This curriculum goes directly through the Bible and empowers children to be able to understand the stories and retell them. It will help them as they grow older and start asking the “big” questions. This curriculum includes the whole family and brings the “faith home.”

Click to view or purchase “TrueStory Genesis” @ Amazon.com

Read more about Rachel @ her blog: rootedsouth.blogspot.com

Samuel Anoints David as King (story & video)

Samuel Annoints David - y2_w17

Samuel, while a little afraid, heads to Jesse’s house in Bethlehem in search of the next King that the LORD God wants to anoint. From the oldest, to the next six of seven sons, Samuel does not find the King God has chosen. However, little David is out in the fields with the sheep. He is brought in, God tells Samuel that this is the one, and Samuel anoints David.

Found in 1 Samuel 16:1-13

VBS 2011 @ Hayward Wesleyan


We are planning VBS (Vacation Bible School) for July 11-15, 2011 @ Hayward Wesleyan Church from 6:oo-8:3op (for preschool children potty-trained up through grade 5). Web landing page for future info: www.hwcyouth.org/vbs

For as long as I can remember we have used Group Publishing‘s curriculum for VBS. And while it has served us well over the years, I am ready for something different. I noticed it last year as I was planning for it. It was easy. I didn’t take much work. I knew the format and layout and expectations and ins and outs. And while this is typically a good thing, for me it is not. It lost it’s “allure” for me. It was predictable and boring.

If you’re not used to me (and how I manage things as a children’s pastor), I’m usually always writing, crafting and arranging my own stuff. I don’t trust curriculum companys to think for me, nor minister to Hayward Wesleyan’s children. Now I know you have to make curriculum your own and Group’s curriculum is just a shell, but for me I needed a change.

Typically we would just ALWAYS choose whatever “theme” and “content” Group had to offer. And with this year’s Group theme of “Pandamania: Where God is Wild About You” it helped me make an already easy decision even easier (I hope any church who uses this curriculum the best and hope it communicates the Word of God to children).

So with freedom of choice on my plate what are we planning on using this year? Inside Out and Upside Down on Main Street from Standard Publishing. Three things I like about this curriculum:

  1. It has to do with living the “Jesus-kind-of-way”, which is inside out and upside down.
    This is a topic which I talk and emphasize constantly with the children (and youth) @ Hayward Wesleyan: if you want to live “like Jesus” basically do the opposite of your natural human reaction (or intention) is and that opposite is usually the “Jesus-kind-of-way”. I’m intrigued to see how this is done with this VBS curriculum and excited to see not only the content, but also the effects after VBS.
  2. The theme compliments what our “environment” already is: Main Street!
    Again, for those of you unfamiliar with the children’s ministry @ Hayward Wesleyan, it is called Main Street on Sunday mornings. Over the last several years we have slowly tried to decorate and “theme” the “Main Street Hallway” and rooms. My (secondary) hope with this curriculum is to help propel us to complete some of our decor and leave this “temporary” theme, permanent.
  3. It’s different.
    Like I’ve already said, for me it’s going to be different and I am excited about that. Not only because it presents a new challenge, but I will have to redo our material and re-communicate and re-structure better. I think the way the flow works with this curriculum better fits our time frame and our expectations. I’m also excited to see how the volunteers and directors do with this new curriculum. They are always up for new challenges!

 

Storying


Even before I was the children’s pastor @ Hayward Wesleyan, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed approaching the Bible as a story, a narrative. After all, the primary form God chose to communicate His Word was through stories (remarkably not a “systematic theology” textbook!). Now, after over 7 years worth of Bible story-telling, I’m more convinced of this historically-proven and time-tested methodology of “storying.”

It’s funny to me… telling Bible stories as stories shouldn’t be rocket science. It’s fairly simple to accomplish. The trick is to believe in it. What I mean by that is: most churches children’s ministries and its curriculum are primarily focused on principles to be taught (and remembered), life lessons to be learned, and topics to be addressed (as developmentally appropriate). Curriculum companies (thus churches by default, it seems) approach educating children from topics and principles first, then picking Bible stories to support that particular lesson. While not an all-together bad approach, it seems, in my opinion, to be the wrong order of things. Perhaps approaching the Bible stories first and letting the stories speak for themselves (across time and particular ages) is more of the appropriate order.

It’s tricky because you have to do more work to apply things, and you have to trust that what God wants to teach the students as they participate in your children’s ministry (or youth ministry) will be His particularly special scope and sequence, and not necessarily ours.

Below are some links I’ve come across of people who participate in “storying”:

Any others?

Advent 2010 Children’s Curriculum

Back in the Spring, The Wesleyan Church headquarters asked if I would write a 4-week series of children’s lessons on Advent. It was a fun project to write for an audience outside of my own ministry context.

  • Week 1 – Hope: The Lord is With You
  • Week 2 – Peace: Have No Fear
  • Week 3 – Joy: Finding God’s Way
  • Week 4 – Love: That Changes the World

Download the lessons here: Advent Kids-Advent 2010 Childrens Lessons (588kb, pdf) – Link restored12.8.10

More resources from wesleyankids.org can be DOWNLOADED HERE.

Abraham – God’s Promise to FIX Humanity


@ msy YOUTH (that’s middle school YOUTH group @ hayward wesleyan) a couple of weeks ago, we talked about Abraham and God starting “to fix this world” back to “his kind of world” – the Garden (before humanity messed it up). God picked a man–Abraham–and promised to make a special people out of him (whose vocation as a people would be to show the world what God is like), give his people a special place to live (land of Canaan, crossroads of the known world at the time), and give his presence to them. I illustrated this story and the Abrahamic Covenant using one of Sari’s beautiful creations.

Sari loves to color. And she’s really good. It’s a beautiful creation. Unique to Sari and perfect. Sari’s picture is like God’s creation–unique to him and perfect. But humanity (Adam and Eve) tore creation apart when they chose to follow themselves rather than God.


Maybe God had some options with this “wrecking” of his creation. He could destroy it, scrap it, and start over with something else. He could erase humanity and rework things. Who knows… but what we do know is that instead of wiping us out, he chose to “fix” us.  He chose to “redeem” humanity. And his plan sought to create a special people, put them in a special/intentional place, and bind his presence with them–all through Abraham. This plan had its intent to bring the broken created world (humans included) back into right relationship with its creator–God. Back to God’s kind of world.

The picture doesn’t really look like the original creation does it? It’s got a rip and some band-aids holding it together. The Abrahamic Covenant was just the beginning of God’s redemptive/fixing plan–albeit a very important beginning. God has narrowed his focus from a worldwide engagement with humanity (Genesis 4-11) to one man–Abraham–and is going to begin his work on broken humanity.

Here is msy YOUTH’s working statement about the Bible: “The Bible is about God continually working to fix this world through his kind of special people in order to make his kind of world.”

Achan’s Sin and the Battle of Ai (story & video)

y2_w03 - Achan's Sin and the Battle of Ai

Things had been going so well for Joshua and the Israelites. They had conquered a mighty city (Jericho) by walking around the city and obeying the LORD! It seemed like nothing could stop them. The only thing that could stop them was SIN.

Achan, an Israelite man, decided to take some things from Jericho (something that the LORD explicitly told them NOT to do). Achan hid these things in his tent (a robe, some silver and a wedge of gold). When Joshua sent some soldiers to defeat the next city, Ai, they were defeated and 36 people died. The Israelites were dismayed and wondered why they didn’t win. The LORD told them that they had sinned. Well, they eventually found out it was Achan. The community stoned Achan and his family and all of his possessions.

Then the Israelites went on to defeat the city of Ai using an ambush.

Read Joshua 7:1 – 8:35
source Vimeo

Main Street | Sunday, September 19, 2010 | Year 2 – Week 3 | Achan’s Sin and the Battle of Ai

What is the Bible all about?


It’s precarious to summarize the Bible in one sentence, especially when its 66 books long containing hundreds of thousands of words and multiple interconnected stories.  But it’s helpful to start with something so to not lose the forest for the trees.

When I was at Wisconsin Wilderness Campus (WWC), Mark Jalovick had such a working statement: From Genesis to Revelation, God is seeking to rebuild his kingdom through obedient servants for the purpose of world redemption.

During this next school year (2010-2011), we are going to go through the Bible with the Middle School Youth group.  I wanted to use Mark’s statement as a reoccurring thematic statement every week–something the students can remember and repeat every week for the whole school year–however, I felt that it needed to be “reworded”.  Here it is:

The Bible is about God continually working to fix this world through his kind of special people in order to make his kind of world.

The Bible – Genesis to Revelation
God – as revealed in the Bible, Elohim, Yahweh, triune, Father/Son/Spirit
continually working – active presence and involvement
fix – right / redeem the wrong of the Fall
this world – broken humanity and creation
his kind of special people – Israel, Jesus, the church
make – craft/ redeem / procure his will on earth as it is in heaven
his kind of world – true humanity, the kingdom of God, heaven

Any other ideas or edits?

Small collection of Bible story videos

I came across a You Tube video channel with a few good, animated Bible story videos:

kris10cartoons

LifeChurch.tv Ministry Resources

LifeChurch out of Oklahoma City, provides almost all of its resources for free!  That includes cutting edge children’s ministry and youth ministry resources.  Once you set up an account with them you are able to download video lessons, supplemental lesson pages, even burnable DVDs.  The lessons come in various “series”.

Take note: the files you download tend to be quite large and take a long time to download (depending on your internet speed).

Curriculum includes:

Under the Sea – for 2 year olds
In the Jungle – for 3 year olds
The Ark – for 4 year olds
Crosstown – for 5 year olds

LifeKids series – 6-11 year olds

The Loop – middle school (10-12 year olds)

Switch – high school (13-18 year olds)

You can find all these resources and more by going to: open.lifechurch.tv