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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?


Wednesdays with Women in Kidmin

14 Nov
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

Navigating Change

– Jenny Funderburke
I am about to do something new.
It is beginning to happen even now.
Don’t you see it coming?
Isaiah 43:19

Change is inevitable in both families and in ministry. As the woman in ministry it is likely that you will often have to navigate your family or your team through change, and sometimes both happen at the same time. This year I have experienced some high level personal change, from relocating and starting a new ministry position to unexpectedly expecting a baby. I have discovered that most principles of navigating change are similar, whether you are navigating your family or your ministry team.
1. Communicate ahead of time as possible.  I firmly believe that 90% of the work of navigating change happens before the change even happens. The way you coach your family and your team will directly impact the smoothness of transition. With my family, this has involved talking at length about what is coming, what it means, what it could look like, what the unknowns are, how it might make us feel etc… For example, as we prepared to find out the gender of our new baby, my daughters and I discussed what would happen when I went to the doctor and how they might or might not get the results they wanted. Likewise, with teams, err on the side of too much information and prep work. Try to fill in as many blanks as you can and identify the unknowns going in.
2. Acknowledge that everyone adjusts to change at a different pace. I had one daughter who was all in for our move to another state, but then acted out like crazy our first week here.  Some process change quietly, some act out, some get excited and some mourn for a little while. And that’s not just kids! Your ministry team is likely made of unique personalities. Your job as leader (and parent) is to guide and encourage each person through the transition.

3. Recognize that new is always uncomfortable at first. After my daughter’s first softball practice with her new team in a new league, her first response on the way home was, “I wish Coach Luke (coach from Alabama) was still my coach.” And at that moment, I really did too! But I reminded her that it didn’t feel right just because it was new and soon she would be just as comfortable with this new team. God used that six year old girl to remind me that new is not bad, it just takes getting used to. That is true in our families and in our ministry teams. People may growl a little bit at first, but change makes us uncomfortable. The good news is that it gets better!

4. Continually point towards what God is doing. The default is to see the negatives in change. Your job is to be the cheerleader and help your people see God’s hand along the way. Remind them of the big picture. When our family got sad about being in another state, we would remind each other that we know we were following God to move here and He has big things in store. We also talked about how it is ok to be sad, but we can’t dwell on it. You probably would use different language with your grown up ministry leaders, but the point is still the same!

5. Don’t take prayer for granted.  There is only so much that you can do.  You can’t change people’s hearts. You can’t bring permanent peace or acceptance of change. You are not the Holy Spirit. But God gives us direct access to Him through the Holy Spirit.  Pray for your family. Pray for your team. Pray for wisdom in navigating the change. Pray like you can’t get through without it, because truly you can’t and be all that God has called you to be!

Jenny Funderburke is the wife of Nate, her beloved computer geek, and mama to two crazy girls (with one more on the way!). She serves as Minister to Children at West Bradenton Baptist Church in Bradenton, FL and blogs at She also loves the beach and ice cream, preferably at the same time.

Being a Mentor

22 Jun

I am a firm believer in both having a mentor and being one as well. I think we should all have a Paul and Timothy in our lives.
For the last year I have been mentoring a couple of girls and it has been such a wonderful beginning in our journey together.
Here is what it looks like:
  • They have complete access to me which means they have both my home and cellphone numbers which they can use at any time to call or text.
  • We talk on a weekly basis about everything from family to school to faith. This is usually a phone call but once in awhile it will be in person.
  • I commit to praying for them daily. They will share prayer requests during our conversations or ones they send randomly throughout the week.
  • We have a date day or night every month. I will usually let them pick what they would like to do during this time together.
  • We commit to do a Bible reading plan together. This may be one chosen from YouVersion or a special Bible study.
Mentoring for me is also a partnership with parents and the opportunity to be someone to come alongside them as an additional voice in their daughter’s life. In order to do this, communication with the parents of the girls that I mentor is necessary, so I will have conversations with them on a regular basis.
I can’t even tell you what a blessing it has been to be a part of these girls’ lives. Over the past year we have laughed and cried together. We have learned so much and prayed big prayers together. We have had such a blast together and I so look forward to what God has in store for us in the years to come together.