We made the top 100 Children’s Ministry Blogs.
- Church Based After School Ministry: Do you do RELATIONAL MINISTRY?
- Church Based After School Ministry: Presenting the Gospel to Children
- Church Based After School Ministry – Don’t Give In To “BORING”
- KidTrek – After School Ministry: Are You Providing Relational Ministry?
- Church Based After School: WHAT IS YOUR INTENTIONAL GOAL?
- Church Based After School Ministry: What Type of Ministry Does Your Church Have?
- Church Based After School: “Life’s A Pain”
- Church Based After School Ministry: SUMMER
- How would your church help “Michael” and his “Anarchist Soccer Mom?”
- Church Based After School Ministry: EXCELLENCE
Category Archives: Church Based After School Programs
“Come on I have a game to teach you. Sit on the floor here with me.”
They grudgingly came and sat down as I announced that we were going to play Rhythms.
“Rhythms? What’s that!” one boy whined.
“I’ll teach you this will be fun.”
“The goal of this game is that you want to be #1. I will be the first #1 and you want to get me out of my spot by getting me to call off the wrong number or not being in rhythm.” I explained.
I proceeded to show them how to hit their folded legs with their hands, then clap, then snap, snap. They had great difficulty getting their hands to cooperate – they immediately wanted to give up.
As I snapped my right thumb and middle finger I called “Number One.” Then I snapped my left fingers and called “Number Four.” Maurice was Number Four and he called out “Number Four” but couldn’t get someone else’s number out in time.
“This is BORING” Maurice complained and the other three chimed in “BORING!”
I insisted that they could do this, I insisted it wasn’t boring – the complaints continued.
I praised them for their effort and promised it might take time but if we worked at it they would get it. As much as I insisted that they could do this they insisted that this was BORING and we should stop, “Can’t we just play a game on the computers,” they begged.
“No! You are going to do this,” I continued to insist.
Then suddenly something happened, suddenly their hands and fingers did what they wanted them to do. Suddenly they were calling out the numbers – SUDDENLY I GOT OFF RHYTHM and had to go to the end of the circle. Raymond moved into the Number One spot.
The next thing we knew we were being called in for Family Time – the closing of the day.
I will forever remember as they headed out the door,
“HEY WANDA CAN WE PLAY RHYTHMS TOMORROW?”
I was living and working in a migrant labor camp in Texas – above are pictures of myself and husband (who I met while serving there). We were VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) Volunteers, part of President Johnson’s war on poverty. I was just out of college and had such huge dreams of making a difference.
Never will I forget the day that Lupe knocked on our door and asked if I would like to accompany her to court. She was going to court with two boys, both 12 year olds. They had put bricks on the railroad track and derailed a train.
I didn’t hesitate – to get out of the heat of the Texas sun and sit idly in the back of an air-conditioned courtroom sounded like an enjoyable afternoon. LITTLE DID I KNOW WHAT GOD HAD IN STORE FOR ME. As we entered the court I sat in the last row while Lupe went to the front to be with the boys.
The judge came in and asked the two boys to stand in front of him. Caesar wore a filthy, worn baseball cap. Pedro stood with his head bowed and never looked at the judge.
“Take that cap off!” the judge demanded in a gruff voice.
Pedro and Caesar didn’t move.
“I told you to take that cap off! Take it off now!.” the judge said in a slow gruff voice.
Again, neither boy moved.
Shouting this time, “Did you hear me? I told you to take that cap off! Do so now!”
Again, neither boy moved.
“You, you sitting out there,” the judge shouted pointing at me. “You’ve come into our small community thinking that you know everything. You think that you can tell us how to run our community. Well we’ll see. We’ll see if you have all the answers or not! I’m putting these two boys into your custody!
He hit the bench with his gavel. I sat there not able to move. What had just happened? This was supposed to be an easy afternoon, a little time out of the heat. Now at 21 I had custody of two twelve-year olds. What do you do with two boys who are about to become teenagers? Were they to live with us?
As we drove back to the Labor Camp Lupe and I talked about the options available to me. We decided it would be best for the boys to spend nights with their parents and spend days with us. Joe and Ellen, my two roommates and fellow Vista Volunteers, had a good laugh as I explained what had happened – that is until they realized how this impacted them too.
One of the first things we learned was that Caesar wouldn’t remove his cap because he had a scalp disease and his hair was all patchy. Joe took him to town to pick out a new, clean cap. A daily routine was making sure his head and cap were clean.
We checked with the school to see how they were doing. Because they were the children of migrant laborers and moved a lot the school was basically warehousing them. We requested they be tested. It took a little pressuring but eventually the tests were administered. Caesar had an IQ of 69, Pedro’s was 48.
Caesar and Pedro had no idea what the consequences would be when they placed those bricks on the railroad track. They were merely having fun trying to balance the bricks.
For the next few months I worked hard with the school and their parents figuring out what would be best for them. In the end we were able to get them enrolled in a residential school for mentally challenged children.
I remember the day I took them to the school. They were excited and I knew that they were going to receive training that would give them skills to function as adults on their own.
As I drove out of the school grounds I had a sense of accomplishment, a sense I had done something good.
Caesar and Pedro were American invisible children – there was no one in their lives who cared enough or had the sophistication to get them the help they needed. Little did the judge realize what a blessing it was for those boys when he placed them in my custody.
But as the years have passed I have often felt that those boys may have been left behind.
Not once did I speak to them about Jesus.
What did I truly give them if I gave them the whole world but they lose their souls? Mark 8:36
Years later, when I was concerned about the outcome of my own children the Triune God taught me what motivates most of us in what we do as we serve others. Motivation for What We Do In the years that I served in inner cities I saw this motivation over and over again. Just one example of what I observed.
WHAT IS YOUR INTENTIONAL GOAL?
- Don’t do the same old thing you do through the school year.
Kids need change – adults need change too.
Summer is a time to loosen up and have fun.
- SUMMER IS A TIME TO TEACH SKILLS YOU AREN’T ABLE TO INTRODUCE THROUGH THE SCHOOL YEAR.
Summer is a great time to teach children how to take a vision – plan it out, develop the vision and then implement the vision.
Learning to plan is a vital skill that children must learn in order to succeed in life. In her book “A Framework for Understanding Poverty,” Ruby Payne writes:
“If an individual depends upon a random episodic story structure for memory patterns, lives in an unpredictable environment, and has not developed the ability to plan, then …
“If an individual cannot plan, he/she cannot predict…
“If an individual cannot predict, he/she cannot identify cause and effect…
“If an individual cannot identify cause and effect, he/she cannot identify consequence…
“If an individual cannot identify consequence, he/she cannot control impulsivity…
“If an individual cannot control impulsivity, he/she has an inclination toward criminal behavior.”
If we are going to disciple the whole child we must teach them the skill of planning. When you have kids for a week you can walk them through the process of planning and implementing an event. They discover, perhaps for the first time, that they are able to create, to do some critical thinking for the best outcome and they have the skills to actually carry through on what they have planned.
Samples of such Day Camps are: The Fun Zone (they create a Penny Carnival they hold at the end of the week), County Fair (they work all week to create a fair which includes art judging, animals, baking, plants and a carnival), Christmas in Summer (they study how Christmas is celebrated in different countries and create an evening celebration of all these customs for friends and families.)
The wonder and excitement as the kids implement what they have created is amazing.
Romans 12:11; II Timothy 2:15
As Christians, we are called to a life of perseverance. We are to move ahead with careful, steady effort. To have an excellent Center, we cannot become sluggish or indifferent.
If you are diligent you will:
want to give up at times
BUT YOU WILL persevere
I had just begun as Children’s Pastor in a different church and knew that the most excellent Children’s Ministry was achieved when volunteers met monthly for training and evaluation. For the first few months, only a few people showed up. The fourth month, only two people were at the meeting. I was so frustrated I sat with the two who had come and cried. Everyone told me to give it up. People were just too busy to come to meetings.
Matthew 18 was always going over and over in my mind – I knew God expected me to do everything I could to provide an excellent Children’s Ministry. I REFUSED TO GIVE UP. Slowly the attendance began to grow until there were 20, 30 and even 40 people turning out for these volunteer gatherings.
EXCELLENCE DEMANDS GOING THE EXTRA MILE!
You will bear fruit if you are excellent.
What may be some of the fruit you will produce if you have an excellent Center?
(Children catching a love for Jesus, parents coming to church, grades improving, behavior improving, life skills learned, etc.)
There will be continual change and growth in the program. You will never be content with how things are going now, even if they are pretty good.
You will be growing as an individual, spiritually, emotionally and professionally. Don’t be satisfied with where you are. Browse through a book store at least once a month for the latest children’s books, educational books, and craft and recreational books. OR browse through the internet for books, children’s ministry ideas, parenting ideas.
Seek God daily! Allow God to show you His truth in your innermost being. Hunger after knowledge about child development, parenting skills and how to motivate children to learn.
LOOK BACK AT WHERE YOU’VE COME FROM
CELEBRATE WHERE YOU ARE
LOOK FORWARD TO WHERE YOU CAN GO
Through God, you can meet whatever is thrown at you. You know that apart from God you can do nothing. However, you know in your heart that all things are possible with God. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
You go beyond what you have to do. You look for what you can do, even if it is tedious or means more work, longer hours, getting dirty, looking ridiculous, or taking risks.
I was leading a vacation Bible school program with hundreds of children. Each day the children were to bring pennies, which were to go to a missionary. My son visited the first day and at the end of the day was giving me a critique of what he had observed.
“Mom, you have to give the kids a reason to bring in their pennies that is more concrete than just helping the missionaries,” he challenged.
So I thought about it and the next morning told the kids that if they brought in a certain number of pennies, she would let the interns (six college students hired to run the summer weekday activities) do anything to me that they wanted.
The interns told the kids that at the big closing celebration, they were going to turn me into a hot fudge if enough money was raised.
The week had a new excitement to it. I egged on the kids telling them there was no way they could raise so much money. The kids kept saying, “Wait till Friday night.”
Friday evening arrived. As families began arriving, I was walking around the church dressed in a long black evening dress. The kids were aghast! “Wanda, your dress is going to get ruined.”
“No way! You haven’t raised enough money,” I needled.
One dad came up and told me that he had gone around his office collecting money because this was one event he wanted to make sure happened.
As you might guess, the money was raised. I changed clothes and was brought out to sit in a wading pool while the interns poured ice cream, whip cream, chocolate syrup, nuts and cherries over me. The church was packed with children and families. There was a sense of electricity in the building.
I didn’t have to allow myself to be made a fool of, but I knew the difference it would make in the week. What I wasn’t counting on was the lasting effect it had. Many parents came up afterward and told me how much they appreciated my willingness to go the extra mile so that their kids could be challenged and grow.
Excellence demands a realization that I am responsible for the outcome of what happens at the Center. It requires awareness that one day, I will stand before the Lord and He will judge the effort I put into my ministry.
Aim for high quality in all you do. Continually ask yourself, “Can this be done better?”
Excellence demands that you be honest with yourself. It is easy to fool oneself because the heart is deceitful beyond all else, Jeremiah 17:9
It is easy to think you are doing something great – when you really aren’t!
Nine-year-old Marty loved Bill his Sunday school teacher. On Sunday mornings, he could hardly wait to get to church to be with Bill. Bill would call from time to time, and they would chat on the phone, or Bill would send him a postcard just to tell him how special he was.
One Sunday when Marty arrived at church, Bill was very excited. He told Marty that he had just purchased a new fishing pole and was planning to go fishing the following Saturday. He invited Marty to go with him, if his parents consented.
Marty was so excited! After Sunday school, he made a mad dash to find his mom and see if it would be O.K. Marty’s parents knew Bill well, and they were excited that he wanted to spend a day with their son, so they told Marty that it would be great. Marty ran back into the room to tell Bill that he would be able to go with him.
Bill was also excited and they made arrangements regarding their day of fishing.
Marty could hardly wait until Saturday morning. He told all his friends at school about his great Sunday school teacher who was going to take him fishing.
Friday evening rolled around and Marty’s family went out for dinner. When they returned from dinner, there was a message on the answering machine. It went something like this.
“Hey buddy, this is Bill. I really hate to do this to you, but I know you’ll understand. I was just given tickets to the UCLA – USC football game tomorrow. I know you were really counting on going fishing but we’ll do it another time, O.K., buddy? Love ‘ya. See ‘ya Sunday.”
Marty’s mother told this story.
She had just read a brochure on the emotional needs of children. After reading the brochure, Marty’s mom said that it was at that time that Marty suddenly changed his attitude about going to church. She hadn’t made the connection before.
As we prepare to provide the most excellent ministry we can for the children whom God sends to us it is vital that we consider each child’s emotional needs.
WHAT ABOUT THE EMOTIONAL NEEDS
OF THE CHILDREN?
Below is an interview which anyone who serves at-risk kids must listen to.
Rob Bryceson, Pastor of First Covenant Church Spokane, WA interviews a member of his church who grew up an over the top at-risk kid. It is amazing that he is alive today – even more amazing that he walks with God.
You may want to have a Kleenex handy.
We, who serve kids from dysfunctional homes, can learn what not to do from this man’s story. He accepted the Lord as a child, however due to mistakes the church made he walked away from the Lord in the week after entering the Family of God.