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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?

Blessings, 
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What I’m Reading – Lead Your Family Like Jesus

30 Mar
My Thoughts

What I love about Lead Your Family Like Jesus is that it isn’t another “how to” book that you can use to check things off of a list to be a better parent. Instead it is a book that invites you to learn more about Jesus and implement those lessons in your home with a servant heart like His. Each author writes from their experience as parents and all they have learned along the way.


I especially loved the chapter in which Tricia Goyer shared about her experience of getting overwhelmed by her every day schedule. She and her husband sat down to look at everything she was doing and came up with a plan. She assigned each activity with a number from 1 to 4. 1 being those things that she had to do. 2 being things that she should do. 3 being things that she enjoyed doing and helped her. 4 being things she was afraid to say no to or things she did to look good to others. She ended up cutting out all the 4s and even some of the 3s. Doing so enabled her to refocus and evaluate her heart in all she was doing.

I also loved that Tricia shared how she prays for her children. 
She prays for their:

Head – that they will always lift their heads to look to the Lord and that they will allow God to life their heads when they are hurt or discouraged,
Shoulders – so they will learn to let God carry their burdens,
Knees – that they will get on their knees before God regularly, and
Toes – that a community of believers will surround them and keep them on their toes.

Love these messages from Tricia Goyer!




Enter Today - 3/25- 4/16!
LEAD YOUR FAMILY LIKE JESUS BY KEN BLANCHARD, PHIL HODGES & TRICIA  GOYER IPAD GIVEAWAY

About the Book

Does your family need a five-star general at the helm? A psychologist? A referee? Ken Blanchard, best-selling co-author of The One Minute Manager and Lead Like Jesus, points to a better role model: the Son of God. Joined by veteran parents and authors Phil Hodges and Tricia Goyer, renowned business mentor Blanchard shows how every family member benefits when parents take the reins as servant-leaders. Moms and dads will see themselves in a whole new light—as life-changers who get their example, strength, and joy from following Jesus at home. This user-friendly book’s practical principles and personal stories mark the path to a truly Christ-centered family, where integrity, love, grace, self-sacrifice, and forgiveness make all the difference.

You can purchase this book here:

About the Author

Tricia Goyer is the award winning author of over thirty books including Beside Still Waters, Remembering You, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences and is the host of Living Inspired. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife. 
Learn more about Tricia at her website: http://triciagoyer.com.
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.

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.

Blessings,

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.
  
THE INSPIRATIONS

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.
  
THE INITIATOR

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.
THE ENCOURAGER AND SUPPORTER

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.”
  
THE PARTNER IN MINISTRY
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.

THE PARTNERS IN PRAYER

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.
  
WOMEN OF INFLUENCE:

-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.

My God Sized Dream

8 Jan
I have sat down at the computer about a thousand times in the last week to write this post about my dream. I wouldn’t have guessed how hard it would be to actually put it into words, but I have to admit that it has been a struggle.

I have been serving in Children’s Ministry for some years now and I absolutely LOVE it. I have the privilege of loving on and sharing Jesus with an amazing group of kids each week. There is nothing like it. Or so I thought.

A few months ago God opened a door for me to lead a Bible study for moms. To say that I was scared is definitely putting it lightly. I am more than comfortable leading a small group of 4th and 5th grade girls, but to lead a group of women was totally out of my comfort zone. 
So I did it scared.

Something happened those first couple of weeks that I just can’t find the words to explain. Sitting around this table with these moms…God broke my heart. Not just for them, but for the moms of our church and the moms of our community.
The moms who hide behind the busy and get lost in the laundry.
The moms who feel discouraged and alone.
The moms who are seeking God and long for community.

My God sized dream is to be part of making that happen. 
A community of moms doing life together.

I don’t know what that looks like or how it will happen, but I know that He does.
I am trusting Him to lead the way.

What I do know is: 

I believe God has created and called me to love and encourage 
children and moms through shepherding, teaching, and writing.

God-Sized Dreams

My friend Holley Gerth invited me to join a group of dreamers that she affectionately calls her God Sized Dream Team. What a blessing to be part of this group. 

We will be gathering each week on Tuesdays at Holley’s to encourage each other and you to dream those God sized dreams.

Won’t you join us?
What is your God sized dream?

Blessings,



Wednesdays With Women in Kidmin

26 Dec
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

Adding Fostering to the Mix of Family & Ministry
– Kendra Golden

Three kids, a working husband, serving at church, and a more-than-full-time ministry role. I know what we should add! How about a couple of foster kids? It does sound pretty crazy, doesn’t it?
My husband and I like to blame our decision to become a foster family about 50/50 on Jesus and Francis Chan. We first started talking about it after listening to a podcast from Francis Chan’s former church. His executive pastor Todd wouldn’t shut up about fostering. The last straw came at the Orange Conference when Francis Chan said something like, “You know the next step God has for you. So take it.” I walked out and called my husband. When I got home, we started the approval process.
In December 2009, two little abused and battered sisters moved into our home. As a credentialed teacher, children’s ministry professional, and mother of three, you’d think I would have been more prepared for what played out. But being a foster family turned out to be way more than just having five kids instead of three (although five is a LOT more than three!). It was a doorway into a parallel universe of caseworkers, bio parents, judges, counselors, and countless crisis situations colliding every day while I commuted blissfully from one side of my suburb to the other.
Even among a compassionate, devoted-to-Christ staff, I feel like kind of a weirdo sometimes. It probably seems to my friends that every story I tell ends up having to do with our fostering journey. But in a way, it does. I have NEVER had anything serve as a bigger catalyst for spiritual growth than being a foster mom. No book study, no fast, no reading plan, no mission trip, no camp, no class, no sermon series, no small group, no retreat—nothing has ever challenged and changed me so profoundly as having someone else’s child under my roof. You know that part in the old Wizard of Oz where it turns into color almost without you noticing the moment it happened? That’s what has happened to so many passages of scripture viewed through the lens of this fostering experience.
Working in the triage unit for the epidemic of failing families has made me a more Christ-dependent person, but it has also affected how I design programming for our church. Having a names-and-faces knowledge of the stats for abuse, trauma, and neglect causes me to write in little cues to small group leaders, lines for characters in scripts, and even teaching points that offer hope for healing to the hurting kids sitting unidentified in our rooms.
If you are considering fostering, I’m not sure what my advice would be to you, since I say something different to everyone I talk to about it. I guess I would say not to use the “move forward until God closes a door” notion as you walk through this process. The truth is, you’ll run into lots of barricaded doors moving through a clumsy secular system that’s attempting to address a problem only Jesus can fix. So if you come to a closed door, don’t mistake it as an act of God. Kick it down. You’ll be glad you did.

Kendra Golden has been designing and developing LifeKIDS ministry materials for LifeChurch.tv ever since God snatched her out of her elementary teaching career back in 2003. She stays neck-deep in all things children’s curriculum—writing teaching content, programming worship experiences, making up songs, planning family connection events, and dancing around in an elephant suit. She has loved her writer husband Brannon since 1989, her son Kenny since 1997, her son Preston since 2001, and her daughter Evangeline since 2005. And they’re just crazy enough about Jesus to agree to be a foster family. Kendra also likes gangsta rap, cities, museums, movies, the OKC Thunder, and traveling.