Vol. 1 No. 1

About the Children's Department

resources for effective children's ministry

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    Before we know it summer will be upon us and with it comes many unique opportunities for ministry. In this edition we will be looking at VBS materials. Many, if not most of you who use VBS materials use them in your standard one or two week format - - - this can be a very effective outreach into your community as well as an opportunity to concentrate on teaching your church kids in a more relaxed, yet intensive setting. If however; you are looking for a new way to be effective with a summer VBS outreach we will give you a few ideas on different ways to utilize VBS resources.

    I believe there are a couple of things that are central to children's ministry. First of all we must have a commitment to being effective. If we do things simply because "we have always done it that way" - whether it is accomplishing anything or not, we are in grave danger of being ineffective. Children's ministry matters too much to not be effective. When I was in high school I was a teacher's aide in the elementary school. I was also the Sunday School bus captain on one of my church's busses. Juan was a boy from my class at school who rode our Sunday School bus with his four brothers every week. We had a real ministry on our busses with Bible stories, songs, & verses. Every year we had children put their trust in Christ for salvation on our busses. The last Sunday of my senior year, on the way home from church Juan raised his hand and put his faith in Christ! The next day I went to a Christian camp to work for the summer before I went to college. Two weeks later I received a letter from my mom. In it she told me that Juan and one of his brothers were playing with their dad's gun, it was loaded and went off killing Juan. He was only 7. Children's ministry matters because these children matter - they are a treasure from God and we have no guarantee that the children in our ministry this week will be here in two weeks. We must be effective now. It matters too much not to be.

    Along with being committed to being effective, we also must know what it is we want to accomplish. It is so important to have a written vision statement that gives you a standard to measure all you do by. We must know what our vision or purpose is and then be committed to that in order to be effective in our ministry.

    I pray that this issue will prove to be an effective tool for you. I'd love to hear from you - feel free to contact me at: dfreemansr@earthlink.net


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VBS Idea - Back Yard Bible Club

   VBS materials are some of your best curriculum buys of the year as they provide so many resources at a great price. VBS materials can of course be utilized as your traditional one or two week VBS, but there are many other ways to make use of them as well.

    Instead of a traditional VBS in a church setting, consider holding a Back yard Bible Club in church member's homes throughout your community. This can be a very effective way to reach into our communities for two reasons, first, with more working moms it can be a challenge to get children to and from a week of special 2 - 2 1/2 hour classes at a church. Also, those non-church families may feel more comfortable sending their children to a neighbor's home than to a church. If you would like to try Backyard Bible Clubs, the following schedule should prove to be helpful.

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VBS Idea - Summer Sunday School

   Another great way to utilize materials would be to use them in place of your regular Sunday School for Sundays during the summer. I learned how to do this from Jim Dahl - the children's pastor at a church we attended in California, and have done it at my churches for several years. It is one of the most effective ways to have an outstanding, exciting, and significant Summer ministry, and is a fabulous way to generate enthusiasm for Summer Sunday School - so often the summer can be difficult to staff with vacations, out of town guests and just so many other things competing for people's time in the summer. We gave our regular teachers the option of taking the summer off or being involved for however many weeks they wanted. The following schedule will help you plan for utilizing your VBS during Sunday School.

Schedule for Church and Sunday School
2's & 3's story BLA Music games craft
4's & 5's BLA story Music craft games
1st & 2nd story BLA Music games craft
3rd & 4th BLA story Music craft games
5th & 6th story BLA Music games craft
Schedule for Sunday School only
2's & 3's story/BLA craft Music
4's & 5's craft Story/BLA Music
1st & 2nd story/BLA craft Music
3rd & 4th craft Story/BLA Music
5th & 6th story/BLA craft Music

    Both schedules allow for all ages, except for the 2's & 3's to rotate through each area throughout the morning. You would have the teachers teach in just one area and then repeat it for the next group. The 4's & 5's and the 1st & 2nd grade would use the same rooms and teachers and the 3rd & 4th and the 5th & 6th grades would use the same rooms and teachers. For example, if you were teaching the story for the older children, you would tell it to the 5th & 6th graders while the 3rd & 4th graders were at craft ( SS only schedule) and then the children would switch rooms and you would tell the story again for the 3rd & 4th graders. This allows your staff to concentrate on one thing each week. This is a great time to involve your youth as group leaders for the younger ages. They would each be assigned a small group of children that they would stay with each week for the summer and then help that group as they move from area to area.

    These are just a couple of ways to utilize your VBS. You could also use them in place of your mid-week club program in the summer. You may want to use one VBS resource for a BBC or a traditional week of VBS, another for Sunday School in the summer, and yet another one for your mid-week classes. They are a good buy and the materials can continue to be utilized after the summer is over by using in your children's church. Whatever way you decide to utilize your VBS the important thing is to pray and to commit to being effective. Any parks department can provide our kids with fun and games during the summer. VBS is fun , but there is a reason for that fun - to direct children to Jesus and to help them learn to apply what they learn to their day in day out lives. I pray that this will be a truly effective and fruitful summer for your ministry!

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Vaction Bible School kits

    In this review we will be looking at VBS kits for 1997. I would like to thank the publishers for providing their kits for me to review for you. I am very pleased with the quality of the VBS resources this year as all of them have solid Bible teaching, hands on learning and interesting themes - these are the most important components for an effective VBS resource. My favorite features that some of the companies included this year - and I hope all of them will in next year's resources - would include the following: more reproducible resources, craft books with lots of options (some companies provided craft kits, but I prefer the books as they are a resource that will last for years and provide an excellent way to involve virtually everyone in your church as part of your VBS team by helping to bring in the supplies for the crafts), information to help you develop a written goal for your VBS, interactive Bible lessons, teacher devotions, reproducible music tapes, information on ways to develop a child protection policy, teacher commissioning service, and ideas on ways to thank your teachers after your VBS. I would like to encourage you again to utilize more than one kit this summer, and throughout the year as you will not find better resources at a better price anywhere. I hope the following reviews will serve to help you decide which resources to make a part of your summer ministry!

Sonrise Balloon Adventure
A High Flying Adventure in Faith
Publisher - Gospel Light
5-day plan, easily expands to 10 days
Lessons about: Moses; Elijah; Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego; Jonah; & Thomas

    In Gospel Light's Sonrise Balloon Adventure, your kids will travel around the world in the "World's Greatest Hot-Air Balloon Race around the World ever! "They will journey over raging rivers, foggy swamps, exploding volcanoes, boundless oceans, and the frozen Arctic. As they do they will have the opportunity to place their faith and trust in Christ alone for salvation and will learn that faith isn't a one-time experience. It is a life of faith that is the most awesome adventure of all as they learn how to commit to that adventure of faith!

    I found this to be an excellent VBS resource with solid Bible teaching and resources designed to help your summer ministry be as effective as possible. It is well suited for use in the traditional 5 or 10 day VBS as well as for Back yard Bible Clubs or Sunday School. Gospel Light provides you with an abundance of resources that will last well beyond the summer. Well done Gospel Light!

Meadow Mysteries
Magnifying Christ
Publisher - Regular Baptist Press
5-day - expandable to 10 days
Lessons about: Jesus' last week on earth

    If your kids like bugs, this VBS will capture their attention. In Regular Baptist Press' Meadow Mysteries, your kids will learn all about Jesus' last week on earth, how they can live with Him forever, and how to worship Jesus as they investigate they mysteries of the critters hiding in a meadow.

    This VBS offers solid Bible teaching and resources for an effective VBS and would work well with an outdoor VBS or as a BBC. I liked the way the concept of worship is taught with the two practical learning activities each day. Nicely done Regular Baptist Press.

Circle of Friends Ranch
Being Friends with Jesus
Publisher - David C. Cook
5-day curriculum
Lessons about: Zaccheus; Peter; Jesus

    This is a site based curriculum. Each day the children move to a different site and learn about Jesus from those who knew Him best, His friends. The children will see how knowing Jesus changed the lives of His friends and can change their lives, too.

    I found this to be a well written resource that would be very effective as a 5-day VBS or as a Backyard Bible Club. Children should enjoy the Wild West theme and the Bible teaching is sound. Nicely done David C. Cook.

Let's Follow Jesus
Publisher - Concordia Publishing House
5-day curriculum
Lessons about: Worship at the Red Sea; Crossing the Jordan River; Victory at Jericho; Jesus calls His disciples; Jesus' Crucifixion

    If your kids have always wanted to ride on a train, they will enjoy this VBS as they travel with the J-E-S-U-S express on a Bible tour to exciting destinations where they will learn about their Savior, Jesus Christ.

    This VBS has solid Bible teaching with a theme the kids should find interesting. It is well suited for a 5-day VBS or for a BBC. Good job Concordia.

Promise Builders for Jesus
Publisher - Standard Publishing
10 day curriculum
Lessons about: Joshua; Gideon; Ruth; Elijah; Balaam; Jonah; John the Baptist; the disciples; Lydia; Paul

    Standard's VBS will help your kids learn what it means to be a Promise Builder and to build their lives on the promises of God. Each of the Bible lessons teach about a promise God made and then encourages the children to learn what promise they can make to God.

    I found this to be an excellent VBS resource with solid Bible teaching and an abundance of resources designed to help your summer ministry be as effective as possible. It would be well-suited to use as a traditional 5 or 10 day VBS or as a mid-week program for kids. Well done Standard!

Wild Frontier Bible theme Park
Publisher - Group
5-day curriculum
Lessons about: Life of Christ

    Group's Wild Frontier Bible Theme Park is where kids will see that Jesus is the main attraction in this theme park as they learn about the life of Christ.

    I found this to be a good program for a 5-day VBS and extremely well suited for a BBC. Children will have many opportunities through hands-on-learning each day to reinforce the lesson for the day. The lessons are solid and provide for flexibility to allow you to set up your VBS in the way that will best suit your needs. Well done Group!

Adventure Fair
God's Kids in Action
Publisher - Augsburg Fortress
5-day curriculum, expandable to 10 days
Lessons about: Children from the Bible

    Augsburg's VBS invites your kids to the fair where they will learn how God worked in the lives of children in Bible times with lessons about Jesus in the temple, Miriam & Moses, David serves Saul, the forgiven son, and the feeding the the 5000 all in the setting of a country fair.

    This is a solid VBS resource with hands on learning and Bible teaching to aid you in having a very effective summer ministry. It is well suited for the traditional VBS as well as BBC and summer long ministry outreaches. Good job Augsburg!

VBS Comparison Chart
Solid Bible Lesson Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Hands on Learning Y Y Y L Y Y Y
Resources for 10 Days Y Y N N Y Y N
Additional Daily Activites Y Y Y N Y Y Y
Split TracK CD/Cassette Y N Y Y Y Y Y
Reproducible Music Y N N N N N N
Toddler Resources Y N N N N Y N
Pre-K Resources Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Kindergarten Resources Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
1st & 2nd Grade Resources Y *1 Y Y Y Y *2
3rd & 4th Grade Resources Y *1 Y Y Y Y *2
5th & 6th Grade Resources Y *1 Y Y Y Y *2
Craft Book Y Y Y Y Y Y N
Puppet Y Y N Y Y N Y
Interactive Bible Lessons Y N N N L L L
Teacher Devotions Y N Y Y Y Y Y
Teacher Commissioning Service N N N Y N Y N
Well Designed Directors Book Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Child Abuse Prevention Info N Y N N N Y Y
Teacher Training L N N Y Y Y Y
Written Goals N N N Y N Y N
Good Value Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
  1. RBP provides Primary currirulum for Grades 1 - 3 and Junior for Grades 4 - 6
  2. GROUP combines children from grades 1 through 6 into small groups and provides craft pop out books for each child

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   If you have an idea that has helped you to be more effective in your children's ministry and would like to share it with us, send your idea to: Bright Idea! at dfreemansr@earthlink.net

or send snail mail to:

About the Children's Department - Bright Idea!
6618 Vinton Ave. N.W.
Comstock Park, MI 49321

I will include as many as I am able to in future editions of About the Children's Department. Thank you for your help!

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    This portion of our resource is for you. If you have a question or problem you would like some help with, e-mail them to me and we will find some answers for you.

    We have a few questions from Lakeview, Oregon, about effective ministry in small, rural churches for this issue of About The Children's Department.

  1. How can we have effective ministry in classes of very few children with a large range of ages?

  2. When there are so few children, a teacher may show up to a class with no children or only one if just one or two families stay home, how can we deal with this?

  3. What can be done to attract young families to our church?

    When it comes to having effective children's ministry it doesn't really matter if you are a large or a small church, in that there are certain things that are foundational to effective ministry - no matter what your size. Granted, there are unique challenges that small churches face that the larger churches do not, but if you are able to accomplish some of the following it should help you to develop an effective ministry.

  1. develop, and put in writing your mission statement. This will give you a standard to measure all you do by and lets everyone know that this area of your ministry is important enough for you to take the time to put in writing what you want to accomplish.

  2. choose curriculum that will provide solid Bible teaching, hands- learning, and will allow you the flexibility to tailor it to your needs (in our next issue we will review curriculum).

  3. vary your program from time to time. Our message never changes, but our methods can.

  4. hold your VBS on Sundays in the summer

  5. consider having your Sunday School at night

  6. try some inter-generational events. For example, consider taking a month every quarter where the parents and children have their Sunday School together - VBS materials work very well for this and can be used throughout the year.

  7. plan events that would allow you to reach into the community. Often people around us may not really be aware of all your church offers, so special events that bring the community into contact with you can result in church growth.

  8. follow-up on visitors and absentees. If a teachers finds that there are no children or only one or two in their class, then encourage them to take that time to write cards to mail to those who are absent.

  9. build enthusiasm by encouraging teachers to help their class plan special out-of-class get togethers that they can invite their non-church friends to.

  10. offer parenting classes for the community. This can be a great way to expose new families to your church and ministry.

  11. offer adult studies that are interesting and relevant so that the parents are more likely to attend faithfully as well.

    These are just a few ideas to help your ministry grow and be effective. If you have an idea that has helped in your ministry, please e-mail it to me and we will include it in future issues.

    Some books and videos that would provide additional information of help for you - no matter what your church size - would include the following:

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    If you were to ask the parents in your church if they were consistently teaching their children about God, most of them would likely say "no". If you were to then ask the same parents if they would teach their children if they knew what to do, most of them would say "Yes!". In our Sample Edition, I suggested simple ways to begin to help your parents teach their kids that can form a base to build a parenting ministry from. We in children's ministry have limited time each week with the kids, so involving the parents will help all of us be much more effective in teaching our kids. One thing we can do to further help the parents in our church is to provide classes and resources for them, so from time to time I will review effective parenting resources in this section for you.

Teaching your Child About God
Authors: Wes & Sheryl Haystead
Publisher: Gospel Light Publications
Price: Group Study Guide - $16.99 Book - $10.99
Available from Gospel Light Publications by calling 1-800-4GOSPEL, or at your local Christian Book Store

    Teaching your Child about God Group Study Guide is a reproducible course that provides you with 6 - 10 sessions designed to help you give parents the resources and tools they need to teach their children about God at home.

    This book gives great ideas on how to promote the course to the parents in your church, is extremely well laid out, and gives lots of reproducible flyers and outlines for the parents to use to help them really think about how it all applies to their children and family. I especially like the activity worksheets as they give simple do-able ways for parents to begin teaching their children and the page on "getting the most out of church" - very practical.

    The book goes along with the study guide and for the parents to get the most out of the class I would recommend that they read it.

    I highly recommend this study - it is an excellent tool to help parents understand their children and how and why they need to teach them and then provides the resources to help them do so. This course should be offered frequently as part of an over-all ministry outreach to parents. Well done Wes & Sheryl and Gospel Light!

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About The Children's Department - Volumn 1, Edition 1
Copyright © Lynda Freeman
Last Updated April 6, 1997
Web Page by Lynda Freeman
Send an e-mail to Lynda at lynda@roundaboutthechurch.com

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