How Do You Say “Goodbye” To Your Kids?

It happens once a year.  All of our 5th graders move up to Student Ministry.  The Kids Ministry Staff and I have poured our heart and soul into each one of them for most of their lives, and then we send them on.

Promotion Day is a bittersweet moment for most Kidmin Leaders.  It is difficult to say, “Goodbye” to the children we love.  I have seen some Kids Pastors and leaders handle Promotion Day pretty poorly.  They turn it into a “cry fest” and begin to mourn the loss of those who are “moving up”, and the entire process becomes a sad event.

I once heard a Kidmin Leader tell his outgoing kids, “Don’t leave me!  You’re gonna be sad you’re not in Kids Ministry anymore.  You’re gonna miss me so much you will hate Student Ministry.”  I don’t think that Kidmin Leader realized just how insecure this made him look.  It was all about him.

We need to make the transition from Elementary Ministry into Student Ministry a positive and exciting experience for our kids.  This past Sunday, we said, “Goodbye” to almost 100 5th graders that were promoting.  We sent them out like missionaries to the mission field of Middle School.  We brought them to the front, lay hands on them, and prayed a commissioning prayer over them.

I told each of them, “I can’t wait to hear what incredible things for God you will do in Student Ministry!  Don’t wait until you are one of the oldest in the group to be an example.  Instead, from day one, be a leader in worship, prayer, energy, and passion for God!”  It was an incredible experience!

How about you?  How do you handle the “last service” for your graduating kids?  Is it a sad experience?  Or is it an incredible, moving experience that launches kids into Student Ministry?  Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Ten Rules For Dealing With Others

I am sure most of you have heard of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale.  He is one of the more famous authors and motivational speakers of the 20th Century.  He had “10 Rules” that he operated under when dealing with others.  I thought it would be interesting to see how many of these you are practicing on a daily basis in ministry:

1.  Learn to remember people’s names.  People’s names are important to them.  Forgetting a person’s nameis often taken as a sign you are not interested in them.

2.  Relax and be a comfortable person to be with.  Make sure it is not a tense situation being around you.  No one enjoys being around uptight people.

3.  Learn to be an easy-going person.  Take things in stride.  Don’t let little things bother you.

4.  Don’t be egotistical or give the impression you know everything.  Work at learning from those around you.  Learn to respect other people’s opinions.

5.  Be an interesting person.  Be open to new things.  Take on new challenges.

6.  Smooth our your rough spots.  Learn to be gracious, polite, and tactful.

7.  Be a peacemaker.  Forgive.  Honestly try to correct every misunderstanding you are involved in.

8.  Overlook people’s faults.  Work at choosing to like others until you learn to do it naturally.

9.  Boost other people.  Encourage them, support them, congratulate them, and tell them WHY you appreciate them.

10.  Develop spiritual depth so you have something to pass on to others.  Learn to share this strength with people you meet.

So, how are you doing with Dr. Peale’s “Ten Rules”?  How many have you mastered?  Which don’t come naturally for you?

“Helping Kids Deal With The Tornado Tragedy”

We are all in shock and disbelief about the tornado tragedy in Moore, OK this week.  Like many, you might have had the thought, “Wow.  That could have happened here.”  And, it’s true.  Tragedy knows no boundaries.  It does not discriminate between people.  Tragedy can hit any community, any family, any individual, at any time.

Aside from tornados – there are mass shootings, terrorist attacks, Earthquakes, and other tragedies that eventually strike every family.  The death of a loved one.  An accident that permanently injures someone.  The sudden loss of income due to layoffs or being fired.  These are the every day tragedies and losses that parents struggle to explain and help their children through.

This is a post that I originally posted back in the Summer of 2012 after the “Batman Theater Shootings” in Colorado.  It is a teaching I did for our parents on “How To Talk To Your Kids About Death And Tragedy.”  I thought it was appropriate to revisit this post this week.  I have included the outline below.

You can hear the audio of the entire teaching here:

Feel free to use this to teach the parents in your own church.  I pray it is helpful.

“How To Talk To Your Kids About Death & Tragedy” 

  1. Be honest with them.
  2. Use appropriate language.     Hebrews 9:27
  3. Allow them to ask questions.
  4. Allow your child to be emotional.   Ecclesiastes 3:4
  5. Be aware of your own need to grieve.
  6. Grieve together.  Romans 12:15      Job 2:11-13
  7. Don’t force an emotional response.
  8. Expect regression.
  9. Pray together.    Hebrews 13:5
  10. Remember that grieving is a process, not an event.

How Is Digital Media Affecting Our Kids?

I came across an incredible infographic this week (see below).  I thought you would be interested in what it shares.  We all hear about how video games, television, and other forms of digital media are keeping our kids locked in their homes and causing them to become obese, lethargic, and lazy.

Well, although there are certainly dangers – the key word is balance!  Parents must be vigilant in what kind of time their child spends in front of their digital playground.  But, teachers seem to think that using all kinds of technology in the classroom is going to be the wave of the future!

I am interested in what you think about these facts that are presented.  How will the use and overuse of technology affect Kids Ministry in the next ten years?  Share your thoughts in the comments section.

How is Media Affecting Kids?

You Can Take It, But Can You Dish It Out?

A few weeks ago I received an email from someone who was extremely negative.  It was from someone who disagreed with an approach I was taking in ministry.  I was not surprised to hear from someone who disagreed with me as I always invite dissenting and opposing opinions.  I want to grow by hearing from those who see things from a different perspective.

This email was different.  It was in response to the reader seeing the above graphic that was featured in our Children’s Ministry newsletter around Easter weekend (featuring a bunny and eggs).

Here is the email in its entirety…

“I have been doing children’s ministry for a long time and asked to be added to your updates.  I have to say I was shocked that the first picture I saw about easter was a bunny and your family event will be based on the egg and not Christ and that is sad!!!!!!!!!  When we start pleasing the world we should stop!!!!!  GOD BLESS AND MAY THE  HOLY SPIRIT CONVICT YOUR LEADERSHIP!!!”

I know that we, as leaders, understand that we will get criticized.  We are taught to deal with criticism – it’s just “part of the deal.”  I wasn’t shaken by this email.  In fact, I chuckled a bit as I read it.  However, the fact remains that this email was from a fellow Kids Ministry LEADER!

The content and approach of this email got me thinking.  Do we, as leaders, communicate criticism properly?  So, I thought I would share my thoughts on when it is appropriate to criticize – and how you should deliver that criticism.

1)  It’s OK to criticize – when you are part of the team.

Criticism is helpful when it comes from those who are on your team.  These people have a vested interest in the outcome and effectiveness of the leader they are criticizing.  As Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.”

This person was not a part of the team.  They had zero knowledge of what was planned at the event, the goal of the event, or how many times we would be presenting Christ at the event.  They didn’t ask questions and allow me to clarify.  They simply looked at a graphic – and lashed out with criticism.

I wonder – how often do each of US choose to snipe and criticize those who are doing ministry differently than we think they should?  If we are not on the team and are not privy to the information – we should hold back in our negative criticism.

2)  It’s OK to criticize  – when you are speaking in love.

Ephesians 4:15 clearly teaches, speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”  When offering criticism we should speak softly, carefully, and thoughtfully.  Avoid the “hit and run” approach that this person used in their email to me.  Don’t use ALL CAPS as a hammer.  Don’t use fifteen exclamation points to make your point seem stronger.  Many of us do this – it’s not helpful.  Rather than shooting arrows, ask questions and/or offer helpful solutions.

3)  It’s OK to criticize – but criticism is best offered in person.

E-mail is a terrific way to encourage someone or praise them.  It is not an appropriate tool for criticism.  Most likely, your tone will be misunderstood and you will simply offend the other person, thus causing them to miss your whole point.  These kinds of conversations are usually better handled face-to-face or, if necessary, over the phone.

Remember – E-mail messages live forever.  They are easily forwarded.  You can easily create a firestorm of conflict if you are not careful.  Trust me, I’ve been guilty of this in the past.  It is never helpful.

What do you think?  Am I wrong?  I invite you to share other ways that we, as leaders, miss the mark when offering criticism.  Let’s learn from each other (and each other’s mistakes).

(for the record – I did not reply to the individual who sent the email)