Category Archives: Training After School Programs

Church Based After School Ministry: Presenting the Gospel to Children

As you begin a  new school year are you prepared to present the gospel to your children?

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Church Based After School: WHAT IS YOUR INTENTIONAL GOAL?

joewandahereford

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?

Church Based After School Ministry: EXCELLENCE

A.  DILIGENCE

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.

Mediocrity IS OUR ENEMY

If you are diligent you will:

be   Challenged

get   tired

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!

B.        PRODUCTIVITY

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.)

C.        PROGRESS

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

D.        POWER

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

 E.        ABUNDANCE

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.

F.   RESPONSIBILITY

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.

Romans 14:9-12

  G.   QUALITY

Aim for high quality in all you do.  Continually ask yourself, “Can this be done better?”

H.   HONESTY

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!

The Challenge of the Pedestal

 

Church Based After School Ministry: Teaching Children To Pray

One of the most important tools you can give a child to walk through life is prayer.

When was the last time you took time to teach the children about the importance of prayer.

One of my passions is to teach children to turn their self-talk into an on-going conversation with Jesus. There isn’t a moment in the day that we can’t be talking to Jesus and expecting Him to guide us and direct us.

 

What do you do with prayer? 

When a problem arises, where is the first place you turn?  In your day in/day out living, how often are you in a conversation with Jesus Christ?  When your life is going good, do you share with Jesus the excitement of what is going on in your life?  What about when life is difficult?

 How will you teach the kids to pray without ceasing if this isn’t your lifestyle?

How will you challenge them to move toward a victorious walk with Jesus if your walk isn’t victorious?

A lesson on prayer

Below is a prayer I’ve prayed for you.

 Jesus,

I lift this faithful laborer up to You today.  Let him/her grow in his/her depth of conversation with You.  As s/he comes to You, bless him/her with a sense of Your presence.  Speak to him/her in his/her inner most being.  Oh Lord, I know You long to have a continual conversation with this child of Yours.  Please Lord; teach him/her how to speak with you constantly.  In Jesus name, Amen.

 

Church Based After School: Opportunity To Learn From A Man Who Once Was An At-Risk Kid

 

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.

http://www.fccspokane.org/2012/06/sunday-06-17-2012/  

Church Based After School Ministry: What Is/Is Not Relational Ministry?

Relational Ministry isn’t  easy – you must continually set aside what is easy and comfortable in order to minister to REAL NEEDS.

there are so many needs!!!

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this,
that someone lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:12-13 ESV)

RELATIONAL MINISTRY

Relational Ministry is Deuteronomy 6:4-9 put into intentional practice.

It will never happen unless verse 4 is a desire of your heart.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your might.
(Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV)

I would love to hear some of your stories of relational ministry meeting REAL NEEDS.

Church Based After School: Be Intentional With The Kids You Serve

Dimitri was a child full of anger — he had a right to be angry.

His mother was a prostitute and he had to deal with whatever man mom brought home that night. One night mom brought home a drunk who picked Dimitri up and threw him across the front of his car. Dimitri’s face was cut by the car’s emblem from his forehead to his chin.

Dimitri will live with the scar for his entire life.

Though he was full of anger he was so loving with our new born son. He would carry Joseph all over the Boys’ Club. I was never fearful — he loved Joseph. Dimitri was also in and out of our home.

Years later Joe was at a meeting in a nearby community when a young man with a large scar walked up to him, “Uh, are you by any chance Joe Parker?”

They hugged and Dimitri continue, “I want to thank you. I’m a probation officer now but I wouldn’t be what I am if it hadn’t been for what you did for me. All the time you spent with me — and you trusted me with your son.”

Children need long-term relationships with adults who are productive, empathetic and wise.These are the characteristics we want to see replicated in children that they too become self-sufficient adults.

Below is a chart showing some of the real needs kids have if they are going to become the self-sufficient adults we all hope they will be.

Below are some things that kids need to learn to be able to function as adults.

How are you being intentional in the mentoring of the kids so they will have these qualities as adults?

What Do Kids Need?

Training Secondary Nurturers

What Kids Receive From Secondary Nurturers