Archives For lynda

I’ve served in children’s ministry for 41 years and all this time the kids in the churches where I’ve served have been a mixture of “typical” kids . . . if there is such a thing. Children from homes where their entire family went to church, children from homes where part of their family went to church (most often from homes where their parents were divorced) and children from homes where nobody went to church (community, non-churched kids). But, in spite of all these years of experience with a fairly wide variety of children and families, I have not worked with children who were runaways. Honestly, my exposure to runaways is fairly limited . . . well, when my husband and I had been married for one year, we did work with children who were in a group home for juvenile delinquents and many of these boys were runaways at one time or another . . . but, my overall exposure was limited. I had no idea how many children in this country are runaways. This is until I added a tab to my blog for grandmas where I highlighted missing children so the grandmas (and grandpas, moms and dads) who read my blog could pray for the children and their families. I signed up with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children‘s website so they email me alerts to let me know when and where children are missing. I have to say I am shocked. There are days when my inbox is filled with these alerts. (I’m stunned how many of these children are from the state of Florida)

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children says, “Every year in America, an estimated 800,000 children are reported missing, more than 2,000 children each day.”  More than 2,000 children each day are reported as missing. Most of these children are runaways. Does this number shock you? It shocks and breaks my heart. So many hurting children. Just as I wrote this post I’ve received  five emails to let me know about children who are listed as Endangered Runaways. I’m stunned how many runaways are as young as 11 and 12 years old.

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I’ve been writing about the Top 5 Essentials for our Volunteers . . . #5 – provide resources, #4 – provide training, #3 – thank and encourage your volunteers and #2 – a listening ear. Last week I said, “A listening ear is one of the most precious things you can give your volunteers . . . it communicates better than words, you really do care!”  Today I’m going to look at #1 – give your volunteers prayer!

This may seem like a “no-brainer”, but when I talk about praying, I don’t mean the casual, “Lord please bless my volunteers.” I mean real prayer which shows itself in a three ways . . . Continue Reading…

I’ve been writing about the Top 5 Essentials for our Volunteers . . . #5 – provide resources, #4 – provide training and #3 – thank and encourage your volunteers. Last week I said, “When someone volunteers to give of themselves and their time to serve in your children’s ministry, they are giving something truly precious. When you thank and encourage them you are showing you understand the value of what they offer, you sincerely appreciate what they offer and most importantly, you sincerely appreciate them!” and then I gave a couple things to keep in mind and nine ideas for thanking your volunteers! Today I’m going to look at #2 – give your volunteers a listening ear!

We all have busy lives with stress, sometimes we just need someone who will listen. If we are too busy to stop and listen to the concerns and cares of our volunteers, then we are too busy. Be sure your volunteers know they can come to you if they need a listening ear and then listen and pray with them. One word of caution; be certain when you give a listening ear, you are not a party to gossip. If a volunteer begins to gossip, stop them. Encourage them to go to the person they are talking about to try and work things out. Do NOT allow giving a listening ear to become a vehicle for gossip. But, if your volunteer is not gossiping and just needs someone to listen, be that person.

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For the past couple of articles, I’ve been writing about the Top 5 Essentials for our Volunteers . . . #5 – provide resources and #4 – provide training. Last week I said, “Whatever you do, commit to providing training for your volunteers this year because it is essential. If we want our volunteers to be successful in their ministry, we need to provide the tools they need and training is an essential tool!” Today I’m going to look at #3 – thank and encourage your volunteers!

Your church and my church have each been gifted with volunteers who faithfully serve in the various areas of our ministries. While these people certainly do not serve for our thanks, it absolutely is appropriate to take the time to thank them! I have always enjoyed the ministry of appreciation – what could possibly be more fun than taking the time to thank and encourage those who serve as volunteers in our churches? There are many ways to thank your volunteers, but the first thing to keep in mind is it is absolutely essential to begin with something which isn’t very time consuming and build from there. Once you begin any ministry of encouragement to your volunteers you want to be able to maintain and continue that ministry. If you jump in and take on more than you can keep up with you may end up discouraging your volunteers.

Keep in mind, volunteer encouragement is all about thanking and encouraging your volunteers and includes things like planning big events such as appreciation dinners and holiday open houses and smaller things like weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly surprises!  Pick and choose those ideas which you are able to commit to and keep up with then add more as you are able to continue to maintain them.  Consider the following ideas -

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Last week I said, “There certainly are a lot of things we need to give our volunteers, but for the next few weeks, I’m going to share my top five essentials for us to give our volunteers.” Then I posted about the #5 essential thing for us to give our volunteers . . . give them resources! Today I want to take a few moments to consider the #4 essential thing for us to give our volunteers, training!

I know, I can practically hear you groaning as you think about volunteer training. I understand it can be very difficult to get volunteers to show up at training opportunities, everyone is certainly busy, but training is essential if we are going to be effective in our ministry.

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There certainly are a lot of things we need to give our volunteers, but for the next few weeks, I’m going to share my top five essentials for us to give our volunteers. Today let’s think about the #5 essential thing for us to give our volunteers . . . give them resources!

When we ask someone to volunteer their time, energy and self to serve in our children’s ministry, we need to be sure we are not also asking them to come up with the resources they will need to serve. Be sure you provide each of the following things for your volunteers . . .

  • Curriculum – this may seem like a “no-brainer”, but there are churches where volunteers need to find and buy their own curriculum. There are of course several reasons you want to provide curriculum;  first of course being if you provide the curriculum you can be sure of the scope and sequence, the specifics the children will be learning and can be sure they match up with the vision and goals for your children’s ministry as well as the doctrine of your church.
  • Craft supplies, materials for object lessons . . . everything a volunteer needs to serve. If you want your volunteers to engage the children in the activities each week, you need to give them the things the need to do this. You may have volunteers – or people who otherwise would be willing to serve – who can not afford to buy these types of things.
  • Bibles – if the children in your church do not have their own Bibles, be sure to have classroom Bibles – consider presenting children with their own Bibles, but be sure they first of all are able to use Bibles in the classroom.
  • Snacks and or treats if you want children to have these things. Ask your volunteers to show restraint in bringing extras to their class as this allows all your volunteers to serve on “equal footing”. If one volunteer is able to buy extras while another is not, children are likely to notice and may think their volunteer isn’t as “good”.
  • But in addition to this, you need to provide the resources because if volunteers have to find and purchase their own resources, you may have people who would otherwise serve, but do not because they can not afford to buy the resources themselves.

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I recently wrote about “seasoning” our words with grace and wanted to consider this a bit more. I wrote about the “power’ of our words and said, “Consider Colossians 4:6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (NIV) As you enter 2012, commit to be a person whose conversation is always full of grace, seasoned with salt so as you serve the children and families in your church and community the “echo” which results in their lives will “shape” them with the grace God so richly lavishes on us!”

Certainly we all agree we need to guard against the careless word which has the potential to harm a child – or any other person as well, but along with guarding against the careless word, we also need to guard against the “intentional” word. How often have we used our words in an intentional manner to “shame” or “discount” another person or their ministry, but do so in a way which is subtle? For example, do we hold up a ministry in our own church while “tearing down” a ministry in another church? Do we say something along the effect of the following, “We used to do that in our ministry, but found it was a waste of time, money and energy. What we do now is so much better . . . ” While it may be true there are things we may have done in the past which, for whatever reason, we no longer do, it doesn’t mean other churches should also abandon that particular type of ministry. Nor does it mean what we are now doing is “better”, it just may be more effective in our particular ministry, with our particular people, community and culture.

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I posted today on my blog for grandmas about the power of our words and thought I’d share a bit more about this “power”. As I said, “My friend, Maralee McKee the Manners Mentor, recently said, ‘What a parent says to their child won’t be heard on the news or read in the paper. However, it will echo throughout his life, shaping it and the lives of his family for generations which follow.’ ” She is right, and this is significant power. Words have the power to damage and cause great pain or they have the power to heal and give grace to others.

As I’ve mentioned before, I receive alerts from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children – these alerts break my heart. When I see the photos of children who are runaways, I wonder what kind of words did they hear in their homes? While some of them may be from loving homes and just became influenced by people who did not have their best interests at heart, it is very possible most of them have heard words which echo through their lives with pain. I’ve also watched as my children, grandchildren and the children in the churches where I’ve served “light up” when they are encouraged, applauded and lavished with grace and love!

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2011′s Blessings?

Lynda Freeman —  December 20, 2011 — 2 Comments

Can you believe it? In just a few days 2011 will be over. As 2011 ends and 2012 begins it can be very easy to be so focused on the things we are planning for 2012 we forget to take time to thank God for the many blessings – big and small – he sent our way in 2011. So, before 2012 begins, let’s take some time to remember the blessings you experienced personally and in your ministry throughout 2011. Consider the following -

  • Take time to stop and think about each blessing – big and small – He sent your way. Write them down and take one blessing a day until 2012 begins to focus on and thank God for the many ways He blessed you
  • One of the best blessings God gives us is the opportunity to be a blessing to someone else! Take time to seek God and ask Him how He wants to use you to bless someone else. Remember, a simple word of encouragement may seem small to you, but to the one who receives it, it could be one of their biggest blessings of the year!
  • Be ready to share with others how God has blessed in 2011 – this can be very encouraging!
  • And don’t forget to be quick to listen to how God has blessed others in 2011 as well! Rejoice with them and thank God together!

Psalm 111:1-4 – “1 Praise the LORD, I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly. 2 Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. 3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds,  and his righteousness endures forever. 4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate.” (NIV)

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It is really easy for me to be excited about Christmas . . . Jesus came to Earth and was born as a human so we can know Him – this is truly exciting! It is very easy for this message to be “lost” in all the “busyness” and the “celebrating” of Christmas. I, probably like most of you, tend to be very busy at Christmas and I absolutely love celebrating it with my family, particularly my grandsons! But I need to be sure to remember some very important things about Christmas . . . there are those who are so badly in need of hearing and receiving the message of Christmas – Jesus’ love.

In addition to posting here on Kidmin1124 and writing my own blog, About the Children’s Department, I also write a blog for grandmas – and grandpas, moms and dads, too – grandma’s cookie jar. Nearly everything I post on this blog is about the “wonderfulness” (may not be a “real” word, but it works!) of being a grandma! I do however, also share each week the photo and information on a missing child so everyone can be praying for this child and his/her family. I receive the alerts from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children – and these alerts break my heart. Many of these missing children are considered “Endangered Runaways”. When I look at the photos of these children – typically between the ages of 12 and 17 – I wonder, “what was he/she like when he/she was three or four?” They were probably just sweet, little children who wanted to be loved. I wonder what happened to bring them to a point where they chose to run away from home? For some, home is likely not a safe place where they are nurtured, cherished and wanted. For others they may have been influenced by someone with motives of their own. Regardless of why they ran away, the fact is they ran away. I wonder, “how might things have been different if they had someone in their lives who shared Jesus’ love with them?” As you celebrate Christmas this year, please make the following commitments . . . Continue Reading…