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A Peek Into My Small Group

11 Apr
I have had a few people as me what small group looks like for me in our children’s ministry. I lead a small group of girls in third through fifth grade.
Here is a peek into my small group.

We are dismissed from large group time to break out into our small groups. One of my girls will grab our small group bucket which contains our activities and supplies. As we gather in our circle, I will ask how everyone’s week was and if anyone has something about it that they would like to share. Now in a group of girls this could take some time, so I usually limit it to just a couple of stories.

I ask everyone to open their Bibles so that we can read our Bible verse together and talk more about it. For example, this past weekend our Bible verse was Proverbs 3:5, so I first asked if Proverbs was in the Old or New Testament. As the girls were looking up the Bible verse, I told them about Solomon and how he asked God for wisdom and that Proverbs was written to share that wisdom. We will then read the verse aloud a few times as not everyone has the same translation and the girls enjoy reading how it is worded in their Bibles. Then I asked the girls what they think it means to trust God with all of their heart. Then I asked the girls if we should only trust God for some things and not others. Then I asked what it means to them when the verse tells us not to depend on our own understanding. We listened to everyone’s answers and discussed each of them. We do this on a regular basis with our weekly Bible verses.

At this time we will move on to our activity provided with our curriculum. Sometimes I will add a craft to our activities which the girls can take home as a reminder of what they have learned and a way to share with their families. This past week we made beaded bracelets with a heart on them to remind us of our Bible verse. This activity time is when my girls are most talkative. They share about what is happening in their lives, talk about our Bible story, and really connect with each other. 
I guide the conversation by asking questions, but for the most part I am listening more than talking during this time.

Towards the end of our time together, I ask the girls if they have any prayer requests. We listen as each one shares. I repeat each one and remind the girls to be praying for each other through the week. The girls will also share any answered prayers during this time. Then we pray together. I ask the girls if they would like to pray out loud and explain that no one has to do so. We do “tap a knee” circle praying. Once a girl is done praying, she will tap the knee of the girl beside her. If someone doesn’t want to pray aloud, then she will tap the knee of the girl beside her. This goes on until the circle comes back to me and then I will close the prayer.

Most times the girls are released to their families from our small group. If we happen to have time left before pick up, then I usually break out playing cards (Uno is our favorite right now) or blank paper and colored pencils (I get lots of artwork to hang on my fridge this way). We continue our conversations in the extra time.

Although I am a big believer in planning and preparing for each week, there have been times when the Holy Spirit has prompted me to put all plans aside in our time together. This happened once when one of my girls shared that they were being bullied in school. We spent our time in group discussing this issue and I watched these girls encourage and love on each other. You can’t plan those moments.

I love these sweet girls and am so very blessed to be part of their lives. They are smart and funny and sassy and so very precious. In this circle, I have watched them grow in their faith, love on each other, and become a tribe.

What does small group look like for you?


The Action Bible – Review & Giveaway

27 Mar
I don’t know who was more excited when I was asked to review The Action Bible – me or my guys. You would’ve thought that there was gold in the box when it arrived in the mail. I was surrounded by eager boys waiting to take a look at it.

The Story of David & Goliath

The Action Bible is a collection of over 200 stories from the Bible
done in graphic novel form in chronological order.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

What I love about this Bible is that it is specifically geared towards my sons. They are visual learners and it speaks to them through colorful and engaging pictures. I also love that it can be used in our family devotion time as a conversation starter.
The Action Bible is a huge hit in our house.

Here is what my guys had to say about it:

A Bible especially for me! How’d they know I love comic books Mom?
Coolest thing ever!
– Zachary (age 10)

I really like the pictures. They are so colorful. I like that the Bible stories
show what I have been reading in my Bible.
– Conner (age 15)

I like that it puts a face to the story which gets you more into it. 
I think it will help those who think reading their Bibles is boring.
– AJ (age 16)

These books are fantastic companions to The Action Bible and we loved them.

My friends at David C. Cook have graciously offered to give away
a copy of The Action Bible to one blessed Saved Sister reader.
You can enter to win below.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Riding the Rollercoaster

7 Mar
Leading a small group of preteen girls is both rewarding and challenging. They are in that in-between stage and learning how to navigate new waters and we are part of the journey they are taking between child and teenager. Part of this new path is changing hormones and the emotions that accompany them. 
A preteen girl’s emotions can be up one minute and down another. 
This rollercoaster of feelings can sometimes manifest itself in bouts of tears.
Here are four pointers in dealing with this kind of emotional outburst:

Deal with it. Don’t ignore it or trivialize it. The situation may seem silly, but to a girl in the midst of the outburst it can be scary and overwhelming.

Talk about it. Taking the girl aside and giving her a chance to share how she is feeling and helping her identify why she is feeling that way is a huge help.

Normalize it. Reassure her that what she is feeling is normal for her age. Let her know that other girls are going through this same thing.

Pray about it. Take this time to pray with her and for her. Let her know that God wants to hear how she is feeling and will be there for her.

Part of being a small group leader of preteen girls is riding this rollercoaster with them. We are here to support and encourage them along the way.

I wouldn’t trade a moment of it and am so blessed 
to be a part of my small group girls’ lives.


My Heart Beats for This One

14 Feb
She smiles at me under her lowered eyes as she enters the room each week. She hugs so tight yet whispers her hello to me. She moves into the room slowly with shuffling feet. She stands back from the crowd of boisterous girls with such longing in her face. She doesn’t join in the chatter and giggles. During worship she sways back and forth singing praise to Him low enough that you would have to bend down to hear her voice. And then we gather in our circle to talk more about our lesson that day. She hesitates to raise her hand to answer a question. 

But today…such boldness. When I asked my girls for prayer requests, her hand shot up and she told us about her papaw who is sick. When the time came for this circle of girls to pray, her head bowed and her hands opened in front of her. In that moment when she would usually tap the knee of the girl sitting next to her, she instead prayed this quiet reverent prayer to Jesus. With each word offered, her hands raised a bit higher to Him. She didn’t hesitate. She didn’t whisper. 

This brave, sweet girl raised her voice to a God she knows, asking Him for healing. Thanking Him in advance for all He is going to do. Thanking Him for the girls sitting in the circle. Asking Him to answer all of their prayers today. Thanking Him for the gift of me.

Oh my precious girl. 

I wept. My heart overflowing. Knowing that she knows Him. That she lifts her hands to Him. That she doesn’t stand back from His presence, but enters boldly before Him.

My hearts beats for this one today.

 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me…”
Matthew 19:14 

Wednesdays With Women In Kidmin

13 Feb
Wednesdays with Women in Kidmin is about bringing together some of the leading 
women in children’s ministry to share their knowledge and passion. 
For us to gather and learn from each other…to sharpen each other.

As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend.
Proverbs 27:17

For the past few months several incredible women in Children’s Ministry 
have shared their hearts here on topics from leadership to motherhood.
You can read all of them here:
Women In Kidmin.

I am in the process of gathering another group of women
to add to the conversation and I need your help.

If you could sit across the table from another woman in ministry 
over coffee and could ask her anything, what would you ask?

Share your questions in the comments below.


Wednesdays With Women in Kidmin

16 Jan
Wednesdays with Women in Kidmin is about bringing together some of the leading 
women in children’s ministry to share their knowledge and passion. 
For us to gather and learn from each other…to sharpen each other.
As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend.
Proverbs 27:17

Leadership Lessons from Deborah
– Cherie Duffey

What advice were you given when you started in children’s ministry? 
I began my first days on staff at NewSpring Church after my pastor asked me about taking a temporary leadership role over the nursery.  I never thought it would lead to a full time ministry position, but over time, as I did whatever I could to serve Jesus and my church, I took on more and more responsibilities, leading me to where I serve now, as the KidSpring Director.  Because I was a complete “novice” in the beginning and I didn’t realize my role would turn into anything more, it never dawned on me to seek out advice as I was starting in ministry. Now, almost 9 years later, I can look back with the most grateful heart and say that I know Jesus was ordaining my steps, walking with me moment by moment and protecting me from seeing where we were headed as a ministry.  If I could’ve seen what was coming, I don’t think I would have been in the position as long!
What advice would you give to a women just starting out in ministry?

Recently I was preparing a Bible story for our kids and was reading about Deborah. I had one of those moments where the Lord just fills your cup through His word and shows you something you need to see. As I read Judges 4-5, I started writing down a list of 5 things that I have learned in my time in ministry.  I think they qualify as “advice” for other women in ministry as well. 
 1. Trust in God’s Calling on Your Life – (Judges 4:4-5)

· You are a child of God and your calling is to the Lord first. Deborah was a prophet –she listened to the voice of God and was ready to be used by Him! Being in ministry and getting advice is as simple as listening to the Lord and doing what He says. 
· You have other priorities in your life that come before the ministry. Deborah was the wife of Lappidoth–I love how scripture points this out, reminding us that a calling is first to the Lord, then to our husband/family and then to the ministry.
· You are a leader with spiritual authority.  Deborah was a leader of Israel who must have also been a good listener!  People came to her with their problems seeking wisdom, grace and justice.  With that in mind, we should grow more and more desperate for the presence of the Lord to lead us with every decision.
 2. Embrace Biblical Authority – (Judges 4:6)

· As a ministry leader, respect the man God put in authority over you. Deborah knew that Barak was her leader. She went to him when there was a problem.  Learn how to be led and how to lead up to the leader God has placed over you in ministry.
· Always listen to the voice of God and act on what you have heard. Deborah knew the Lord had issued Barak a command, and she knew she needed to act on it.
· Be a leader who asks questions and speaks from your heart rather than giving a direct order. Deborah asks Barak a question to prompt him to action, rather than telling him what to do.  This is difficult to put into practice but is absolutely effective in leading people.
 3. Be a Servant Leader – (Judges 4:7)

· Be a leader who asks “What can I do to help?” Deborah tells Barak she will help him.
· Look for opportunities to go to battle for your team. Deborah was ready to fight with Barak and for her people. There’s a balance with this. Fight for the vision of your ministry in a way that shows grace and also passion.
· Always be willing to serve no matter the cost. Deborah risked her life for the sake of her leader and her people.  Lead by example. 
 4. Recognize Your Value – (Judges 4:8-9)

· You can be a source of strength to the leaders above you and below you.  Barak did not want to go to battle without Deborah. Don’t be afraid when other leaders ask you for advice or your help.
· Be confident to speak up when you discern the need to do so. Deborah spoke up knowing that she had truth Barak needed to hear. Measure your words but use them when you know you should.
· You can have influence without telling the leaders above you and below you what to do. Deborah let Barak make the decision to take her to battle, and when she spoke truth to him, Barak listened.  She had influence with him because of the way she led.
 5. Be Willing to Fight – (Judges 4:14; Judges 5:31)

· You should be confident in knowing that the Lord is with you as you are a leader in ministry. Deborah reminds Barak that the Lord has gone before them in battle.
· You should fight to uphold the vision of your church and the vision of your children’s ministry. Deborah was fighting for God’s people to be free from the enemy.
· You should always fight for unity and peace. Deborah’s leadership brought peace to Israel for 40 years. Fighting to maintain healthy relationships with everyone in your scope of ministry will not be easy, but it’s essential. Learn to forgive because you’ve been forgiven.  Learn to love unconditionally, because that’s how Jesus has loved you.
Seeking advice from other ministry leaders is something I do regularly now that I’ve moved from “novice” to “beginner” status as a leader in ministry.

I’m so thankful for this opportunity to share with you, but I would love for you to add to this post with comments about the advice you would also give to other females starting out in ministry!

Cherie Duffey is the Children’s Ministry Director at NewSpring Church.  She has been married to Shane (a pastor at NewSpring) for 23 years and they have four teenage boys. 

Wednesdays with Women in Kidmin

9 Jan
Wednesdays with Women in Kidmin is about bringing together some of the leading 
women in children’s ministry to share their knowledge and passion. 
For us to gather and learn from each other…to sharpen each other.
As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend.
Proverbs 27:17

Women of Influence
– Karen Apple

I was a children’s pastor for a lot of years. Even before I joined a church staff, I thought of myself as a pastor (shepherd) to children. The women who inspired, initiated, encouraged, partnered and prayed with me are MY “shepherds” and my very special women of influence.

My mother taught “Good News Clubs” and Sunday school for many years. She made God’s Word come alive with facts she learned from the World Book Encyclopedia along with games and wondrous object lessons. Public school was hard for this learning disabled girl, but the Bible was easy to understand because Mother’s inventive, experience driven techniques were all wrapped up in a heart of love for kids and God’s Word.
Mrs. Kapel taught first and second grade children’s church. Stories about “kids like me” made the Bible messages relevant and SOOO interesting. Her influence lasted long after I left her classroom because her life reflected Christ’s likeness. I knew she cared for me so I looked for her each time I came home from college to tell her about my studies and plans for the future. I wanted to be just like her.

One Sunday night after the church service, my mother asked me what I thought about the missionary’s message. His words struck a chord in my twelve-year-old heart so I said, “I know I want to teach kids about God’s Word when I grow up.” 
She didn’t skip a beat before she said; “You start next Sunday night in the two year old room with me.” That night the exciting mentorship began and it launched me on a journey that continues today. What a BLESSING to have a mother with a passion for children’s ministry and a vision for keeping the fire alive and growing in me.

Mrs. Elizabeth continues to inspire me.  She’s ninety years old now and works every week in the kid’s ministry resource room. She taught four year olds forever and advised, encouraged and supported me SO often during my years as a children’s pastor. She didn’t just “do” children’s ministry, she “lived” her faith.  
One of our staffers once said, “When I grow up, I want to be ‘Mrs. Elizabeth’!”
Every leader needs a “Mrs. Elizabeth.”
As our kids’ ministry grew, we increased the hours of our weekday preschool director to include all early childhood ministries. Together we planned, cast vision, recruited and trained volunteers. We spent so much time together we began finishing each other’s sentences and nodding in agreement after hearing only one word.  The youth pastor listened in amazement then asked, “How do you talk in short hand?”

Beth replied, “Between the two of us we have one brain.”

She knew how to take our vision and give it legs. She also knew when my visionary brain was out of control and with gentle persistence and humor she reined me in.

We never said, “MY ministry”. It was “OUR ministry”. Children’s ministry was a TEAM. It included each staff member we hired, volunteer team leaders, classroom teachers, parents AND KIDS.


After MANY years in children’s ministry, a new passion grew in my heart. I loved talking to other kids’ ministers and volunteers. Hearing their hearts and investing in their lives thrilled me. I prayed about this new idea and a ministry to kids’ leaders was born.
One of the church moms knew about this new adventure and asked if she and her prayer team could adopt me. I couldn’t believe the wonder of God’s work. Hope is a passionate prayer warrior. Her life is a shining beacon of God’s grace in the midst of hard times.  She encourages me with her faithfulness, sweetness and passion for God’s Word and the power of prayer.
Mae and each woman I mentor ask how they can pray for me. Women of action are women of prayer and I am very grateful for their loving investment in my life.

-Are women who make God’s Word their joy. (“When your words came, I ate them; they were my JOY and my heart’s delight.” Jeremiah 15:16) 
-Are “imitators of God as dear children…” (Ephesians 5:1) 
-Make their hearts Christ’s home. (My Heart – Christ’s Home, Robert Boyd Munger, Andrea Jorgenson)
My life continues to change because of God’s shepherds of influence.

Karen is a speaker, mentor and writer who was a children’s pastor for lots of years. She adores Apples, especially her husband Steve.