Archives For Volunteer Training Nuggets

There’s no question that finding just the right curriculum to fit your children’s ministry is a difficult feat to accomplish.  There are literally hundreds of programs available, from the most basic coloring sheets and stories to full-featured productions that rival the top entertainment programming available today.  And the cost for that programming is equally diverse.  But the issue often isn’t finding a curriculum that you can afford, but finding one that has the content, resources and facility requirements that match your needs.  These variables are what led to me writing my own curriculum for the last several years.

While you can apply these same suggestions to writing lessons for any age group. I typically recommend writing targeted at your elementary-aged children.  The preschool content of your curriculum is very basic and foundational.  The differences are usually in the style of presentation.  By the time children are in elementary-age classes, they are forming faith questions that should be addressed specifically.

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Leading a small group is one way that you can serve in children’s ministry. Small groups may look different in your church, but three basics will apply to small groups regardless of where you are.  I call them the “Three P’s of Leading a Small Group.”  They are:

1. Prayer

Prayer is so important. You need to be in prayer for your kids, your pastor, and your team. You need to be in prayer over the entire service – inviting the Holy Spirit in. You want to pray for any first time visitors and families who will be coming through your doors for the first time.   In short, you should be in consistent prayer for the kids who are already in the ministry and those who will be coming.

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Bible study can be compared to food for your spirit. And just like there are a variety of ways to consume your food, there are a variety of ways to feed your spirit God’s Word. I can eat my breakfast in a bowl at my kitchen table or from a wrapper going through the nearest fast food drive-thru. I can eat 3 meals a day or 6 meals a day. The most important factor is that I eat and that I get the proper nutrition as I’m eating. A diet of only one type of food isn’t healthy. It may keep me alive, but I won’t thrive.

These same principles can be applied to “feeding” your spirit God’s Word. The Bible is filled with a variety of types of reading. There are books of inspiration and there are books of praise. There are books of history and there are books for the future. There are passages devoted totally to praising God and others totally to instructing man. The important principle is to balance what you are taking in.

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Once upon a time, there was a farmer who had 100 acres that he was ready to plant.  He cranked up the tractor, plowed the soil, spread the seed and watered the entire farm thoroughly.  Then he put away his tractor, packed his suitcase and left on a 3 month vacation to Hawaii.  He returned rested and tanned and ready to harvest his bounty… Yeah, right.  That’s not how a farm works.

For a crop to grow, it must be planted and watered.  But beyond that, it must be fertilized and weeded and watered again.  Then more weeding and more watering.  To harvest a good crop takes a balance of nutrition from the earth and rain and sun from the heavens.  Much the same way, if we are to grow spiritually, we need to contribute to our spiritual lives a healthy balance of prayer and Bible study.  And often, in the busy lives that we lead, in order to have this spiritual food, we must make a plan to see that the time is there for both.

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Today’s society is becoming an increasingly dangerous place for both children and those that serve them. It is for this reason that a “Rule of Three” should always be enforced. The rule of three simply states that no fewer than three individuals should be alone at any time.

The ideal situation is to have a minimum of two adults present at all times. This not only reduces the risk for the child being abused, but it also limits the appearance of anything inappropriate. However, in many churches limited staffing makes this nearly impossible. In those situations, the rule of three still needs to be practiced, but another child can act as the third person. Even in these situations, every reasonable attempt should be made to find another adult or teenager to help.

NO ADULT SHOULD EVER BE ALONE WITH A CHILD. Never, under any circumstances should any adult be asked to stay alone with a child, take a child to the restroom alone, take a child home without anyone else in the car, etc. The only exception to this rule would be the adult’s son or daughter and even still I recommend caution as a visitor may not know that is their child and it may appear as though they are alone together. This can cause your church to be viewed as unsafe.

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For many years, the time a child was in a church nursery was considered childcare. And while it is true that the child is being cared for, the potential is for so much more to take place. As the evidence of the influence of the first years has increased, more importance has been placed on this area of ministry. Those serving in a ministry to infants and toddlers have the distinct privilege of bringing the first associations of being loved in God’s house, just like being loved by God to these little ones. And though they don’t yet understand the theology of a Heavenly Father who provided for their eternal redemption, they do understand that in this place, they are loved and cared for and safe. And those are the most basic needs that we all have and never grow out of, even as adults. We all want to know that we are loved, cared for and safe in the hands of our Heavenly Father. It is with this mindset that you should approach the subject of staffing and scheduling those who serve in the nursery.

Major scheduling factor: Does your church offer multiple services?
No. It’s important that those serving attend worship themselves so: Continue Reading…

Our average attendance is around 150 on Sunday mornings. Our children’s ministry is contained in the same building as our main worship services. We use a manual check-in system. What follows are the steps that we are using successfully.

1. Purchase a visual paging system–we purchased a single wireless visual display with three transmitters. A transmitter was placed in each ministry area. The visual display is located in the main worship area and is easily visible. Volunteers were trained in how to use the paging system. Check out www.microframe.com for more information.

2. Identification cards–At first we just gave each family a permanent number. This number is the number that would appear on the visual display should we need to get in touch with a parent. These were made simply and inexpensively on a computer using printable business cards.

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Working in children’s ministry is a great privilege and a great responsibility.  While it is important to have enough volunteers to maintain the safety of the children, it is also important that volunteers meet certain minimum characteristics in order to serve in children’s ministry.  While the individual qualifications may vary by church, the following are some basic requirements which apply to all children’s ministries.

The Non-Negotiable Requirements

There are certain requirements which should be made of all volunteers.  These are not dependent on your needs, or your church, or your lead pastor, or anything else.  These requirements are fundamental to having a safe and effective children’s ministry.

1. You must be a professing believer in Christ and strive to live your life as such.

Being a Christian is a key to working in children’s ministry.  The spiritual nourishment of God’s children is at stake, and it would be negligent to allow people who do not know Christ to fill that role.  There are many other volunteer positions in a church that non-believers can fill should they desire.  Children’s ministry should not be.

2. You must have a clean criminal record and good references.

The safety of our children must be a primary concern.  Accordingly, everyone who works in children’s ministry should have a clean background check and good references.  Screening, along with a personal interview, should be a fundamental step in accepting any volunteer application.

3. A Volunteer must continue to attend services and tend to their own spiritual growth.

In any ministry, and particularly in children’s ministry, we minister out of our own overflow.  Regularly attending service (or listening to recordings of services if multiple services are not available) is one key to continuing your own spiritual growth.  Things like regular time in the Bible, being involved in community and regular prayer time are also fundamental.  In order to minister to kids you have to make sure that you are being filled regularly and consistently.

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In the area of policies and procedures, the procedures are what you actually do to facilitate the service. This is the nuts and bolts of your service or your ministry. It’s how you carry out the vision that has been cast. No matter how wonderful and inspired your policy and programming are, if you don’t actually do what you say your are going to do, it will fall short of accomplishing what you mean to accomplish.

For a nursery ministry, the most important “procedure” to implement is to love the children that are brought to you for care. This first connection of being loved at God’s House often comes from those serving in the nursery. It is both a great privilege and a great responsibility.

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Volunteer Training Nuggets 300If you work in children’s ministry, your ultimate goal is to teach kids about Christ and help to point them to him.  In order to do this, it is important to understand the different ways that kids learn.  In general, kids can be classified as one of three types of learners:

  1. Auditory
  2. Visual
  3. Kinesthetic

In order to reach the kids you are leading, it is important that you plan your lesson to reach kids in all three groups.  So, let’s take just a minute to define each type then we will look at some tips for reaching kids which each type of learning style.

Definition of Learning Styles

  • Auditory Learners are kids who learn best by listening to the spoken word.  This type of learner makes up about 30% of the general population.
  • Visual Learners are those kids who learn best by what they see.  This represents about 60% of the general population.
  • Kinesthetic Learners learn by doing.  They are, what you would call, hands on learners.  They represent only 10% of the general population.

While kids will tend towards one of these three styles, that does not mean that they can not learn from the other styles.  A child’s primary learning style simply represents the way that they learn best.

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