Is your Kidmin Un-churched?

If I could change one thing about children’s ministry, it would be church attendance. Kidmins may be the most un-churched people in the church.

Four myths that make us think kidmins aren’t allowed to sit down (in church):

The nature of children’s ministry is organized chaos. You don’t get the luxury of an RSVP for the babies class, but that doesn’t mean that there should be chaos when 10 babies show up instead of the 6 for which you had planned. How do you break out of this exhausting cycle of last-minute adjusting/filling in? Your pastor comes to you and says, “I want you to start coming to the services.” Come up with a plan. It won’t happen over night, but that’s okay.

I LOVE KIDS! Okay, kids are great because they’re easy. You can win over a kid with little effort and they will looooove you for it. Adults are so high maintenance. Don’t hide in the nursery. Put yourself on the rotation to teach/be in the nursery, but schedule yourself for the corporate worship service for most weeks. It’s easy to be excluded from the “real life” friendships. You are “the glorified babysitter” that’s taking care of the kids of the people you WOULD be friends with…but, it’s okay because you looooove the kids? Wrong. Stop projecting that on yourself.

I’m paid to outwork everyone else. You may be able to “do it all” depending on the size of your church, but you aren’t called to “do it all.” Yes, it looks GREAT when you are busting your bum for every tiny detail. “She’s such a hard worker.” “Man, she never sits down.” This will catch up with you. You will either take it out on the same people who are admiring your efforts, your family, the kids…or yourself. And, let’s just be honest…you’re gonna take it out on yourself. For some reason, culture puts a gold star on this. Like, as long as you don’t take it out on church members, it’s okay. Guess what? You are a church member. Stop it.

It’s easier to just do it myself. You’re right. It is…for a minute. You are probably better at crafts than the average church member, but don’t limit your ministry by controlling/leading every aspect. Let the eyes and ears in the body of Christ connect in a way that shapes “your” ministry area. Set up a system that doesn’t need you at any given moment. Train people. Train people. Train people! When you have that accomplished, go to the sanctuary and worship corporately. Carry your Bible. Listen to the sermon. Take notes.

Some quick notes to pastors/elders/deacons/leadership:

Please (!!!) require regular church attendance of your kidmin. Not just the 6:30am service that no young families attend. Make it the service that their family can attend together…where their husbands/kids/friends/grandkids are happy to be.

Make it something that your entire congregation understands and supports.

Don’t let your kidmin get trapped in putting out fires every Sunday morning. You don’t get down from the pulpit and ask for volunteers to take up the offering. There’s a system…and more importantly a volunteer that provides leadership with that. Encourage your kidmin (and her/his support staff) to come up with the same type of plans.

Is your kidmin the only ministerial staff not involved in the worship service? Especially if they are female…send a message to the kids/teens/adults at your church that their feminine perspectives and leadership is welcomed and desired. Prayer, scripture reading, introductions, kids messages #oldschool, announcements, etc.

When you have a kidmin who doesn’t get the mental/emotional break to worship corporately, you have a staff person missing out on something that God does not want them to miss out on. Now, this is a super convenient…cause, well…she’s keeping the children and parents happy. What a perfect disguise. See past it just in case she’s too busy putting out fires to see past it.

 

Now…I could add ten different disclaimers. Unfortunately, I have had to learn most of these the hard way. I didn’t even know it was broken till I found myself in a season with no ministry responsibilities. There are some nursery volunteers and staff that are just as un-churched. The kidmin who decides to start going to church is not trying to get out of work. This takes MORE work. It takes a pastor’s support and defense. It takes planning ahead. It takes a shift in the culture of children’s ministry.

So here is my question…for pastors and church members: Is your children’s minister un-churched? Is that okay with you? How will you help?

 

 

Keith Dust

You know those pastors that just show up at your house with very little warning? That was Keith. It drove me crazy. I may or may not have given warnings to friends if he mentioned “stopping by” to chat. (They always appreciated the heads up.) I remember the first time it happened to me. We had hosted the youth group to our home the night before. Everything got cleaned up except a HUGE bowl of shredded lettuce. It wouldn’t fit in my fridge, so I ignored it. The next morning, Keith called. “I’ll be there in 15 minutes.” My husband waits five minutes (of course) and then tells me that my new boss is coming to our house in (now) ten minutes. I scramble. Bathrooms checked. Kids clothed. Bedroom doors shut. A quick vacuum. Crap. The lettuce. By this time, it’s a nauseating shade of brown…and I can smell it. Gross. I do what every good quick thinker does, I put it in my kid’s room with the door shut. Except that when Madelyn (who was five at the time) opens the door to greet Keith, she immediately tells him how hilarious it is that her mom is hiding stinky, brown lettuce in her room. Face. Palm.

See, Keith was almost old enough to be my dad, but he was new to the whole pastor role. He was not new to ministry. He was very well read and had a lifetime that was rich in faith based leadership experiences. He was a practiced listener who held strong convictions about hearing from the specific people of this specific congregation. Zero politics. He was there because he loved the people, and people loved him for it. I often joked that he had “Keith dust.” He could sprinkle it in any given church member to put them at ease. Talk about a super power!

Still, I assumed it would be “interesting” to watch his personal approach to pastorate be established. I had no idea how he would take me…the (at that time) emo kidmin who was barely hangin on. On one hand, I’m chill and reasonable. On the other hand, I have so much going on in my mind, that I often find a simple explanation difficult. When I decide that a situation is “awkward” (regardless if it is or not), I have to just sit quietly. The more I try, the worse it gets. For lots of years, I just sat quietly. I was afraid to say what was on my mind because I was overwhelmed with how to “perfectly” organize/edit/deliver it.  With that said, there’s not much I like more that sitting around a table listening to people talk about church life. #staffmeetings #churchnerd  How do we make this or that better? How can we help our adults that have special needs? Where do we put signs? Keith had no expectations for staff meetings; he was learning as he went. It didn’t take me long to figure out exactly how he was going to take me. Just like showing up on my doorstep, he didn’t care if it was messy. He just wanted to hear what I had to say.

I started prefacing my ideas/thoughts with this statement: “I’m gonna say ten things, but you only need to hear one or two of them. You gotta pick which ones.” This statement conceptualized a lot for me in ministry and in my personal life.

Keith gave me a safe place to say all ten of the things on my mind. He didn’t over analyze the eight things that didn’t apply. He appreciated them. Your crazy, extreme, emotion filled thoughts may just be the  vehicle for the thoughts that are helpful/insightful.

Let people talk. When your mind starts picking apart every word, tell your mind to stop. Hear the heart of what people have to say. For me, it’s hardest when I’m arguing with my husband. I go into hyper analyze mode…cause I’m trying to win. We both can find flaws in each other’s arguments quicker than we can get sentences out. It makes for a ton of back and forth…and very little progress. To this day, I’ve never met anyone I like better than my husband. He’s my favorite human. I know his heart. I’m the most important person in his world…and he consistently gives his life for me. Why does all of that fly out of the window the moment he ticks me off?  It doesn’t. Keep your eyes on loving people…not on every detail of what they say and do.

It’s Okay for Church to be Fun

Take a second to divide the things you do each week into one of two categories:

Serious/Necessary     vs.      Fun/Leisure

It’s not hard to categorize. Humans have to get stuff done- homework, taxes, weekly reports, chores, etc. Should you find joy in it? Yes. #superchristian  Do you find joy in it? Every once in a while…maybe?  Regardless…it’s gotta be done. What do you do with the other two weeks? If you’re smart, you go to Disney.

 For myself, the phrase “fun at church” came from a quote in Letters to Malcom, by C.S. Lewis:

“Joy is the serious business of heaven.”

Basically, one of the (fictional) characters in the book explains that heaven life is different than earth life. He uses the example that, in heaven, serious business would be the fun stuff. I chose Disney as an example for a reason. I get it, some people don’t like Disney. However, if you have ever been to Disney, you can’t deny that they are in the business of fun…and they are [obnoxiously] serious about it.

How different would your life be if you were required to provide 50 weeks of vacation for your family and 2 weeks of work/school? Heaven, right?

This concept resonated with me as a kidmin. Children’s ministry should feel more like Malcom’s description of heaven and less like…school. For adults, volunteering in children’s ministry should feel more like a night out with friends than [more] work. As a kidmin, I started getting serious about the things that brought joy to children: fun. I still did the same things that other children’s ministries did…I just focused first on asking myself new questions. Is [insert child’s name] going to enjoy this? Will they want to come back the next week? Will my programming win out over the competition of travel sports, extra dance lessons, a night at home playing games, sleeping in, and any other fun things kids/families want to do?

Here are some thoughts:

Don’t be afraid to break the rules. Let kids who don’t memorize well be equally rewarded for writing a scripture out ten times. Did they “memorize” it? No. Did they meditate on it? Yes.

Don’t be afraid to specialize. If you notice a child is not having fun during game time, let them do something different. It could be something as simple as a coloring sheet or something as complex as developing a new special needs ministry area.

Avoid activities that get kids in trouble. I’ve never seen a game of dodgeball go over without tears. Yes, it’s crazy fun, but there are five hundred other games just as fun…that are less likely to cause tears. Let them play dodgeball at school…where there are lots of rules and behavior charts.

Make exceptions the rule. If a parent comes to you with a concern for their child, work with them till you find a solution. If a third grader comes to VBS with their fourth grader bff, for goodness sake, let them be in the same class.

Not every event has to be a big outreach event or mission project. Not every Sunday school lesson has to be an in depth Bible study. It’s okay to come together just for fun…because it’s never only fun. Bringing joy to a person’s day/week is an extremely powerful thing…especially when you pair it with pointing them to Jesus.

Get methodical about presenting the Gospel. I spent my whole life in church thinking I had to talk people into the whole Jesus thing. Ugh. Soooo not my personality. Sadly, this worked fine for me in ministry for a long time. Then I had one of those boss/preachers who was suuuuper into the Great Commission, and suuuper against exclamation points and extra “uuuu’s”.  He basically told me to get over it. I needed to hear it. You can read more about it here (!!!).

Now, I can’t talk about fun at church without talking about fun at home. My dad lives his life with this mentality: when you get off of school/work on Friday, vacation begins. He doesn’t want to go to Disney. He wants to go home. He put his time and energy into making home a place we loved to be.  Maybe you can’t make every night about fun, but you could start with the weekends…then add a night or two. Eventually make room for a little bit of fun in your day…everyday. If you don’t know where to start, re-read the bold thoughts. Apply that to your home life, and see where it takes you.

Me? I’m thinking Disney should fall under the continuing ed category for kidmins. Go. Watch. Learn. Get serious about joy.

Materialistic, Messy Monsters

I should be a minimalist. After all, about once a week, I imagine how liberating it would feel to pack up 90% of all my kids’ toys, and sling them out of the second floor window of my home.  Clutter free carpet.  Beds that have nothing underneath them.  Kitchen islands that are only for preparing food.

Bahahahahah…

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I’m not willing to put the necessary “energy” in to becoming a minimalist.  I would LOVE it, but…in this particular area of life…I’m way too chill.  Grandparents ARE going to say “yes” to the things I would have given a big, fat “no.” I AM going to bribe kids with whatever works to get whatever to work. #dontjudge

I’m not mean enough to accumulate an “appropriate” amount of “stuff.”  Kate (Madelyn’s BFF) just gave her the most awesome, mind blowing, precious, tiny, fuzzy, most amazing miniature dog figurine in the world.  We currently have 14 tiny, fuzzy little dogs.  Why did I let one fuzzy dog turn into three litters?  I don’t know.  I guess I’m just glad she has a friend that adores her enough to share fuzzy dogs?

Life is messy. Two weeks ago, I told my kids that if they memorized the Old Testament books, that I would clean their rooms. Who knew that “someone else cleaning your room” was the secret to life? I felt like a rock star…cause my kids did Jesusy stuff outside of Sunday school. Obviously…my kids were thrilled. Less than 24 hours later, one child had completely destroyed her room. I don’t need to explain how I reacted. You know. “Parenting” at expense of my entire family’s sanity is obviously backwards/broken. #noyoucanthaveatoy #stopasking #pickthatup #nomoresugar #stopleavingthisthere #cleanupyourroom #CLEANUPYOURROOM #runawaycrying

If you are a Christian parent, you are a children’s minister. #rocketscience  At church, I can get pretty sassy about this concept: While the average church attendee doesn’t want to be surrounded by whiny, spoiled, messy monsters, I’m not trying to help adults be more comfortable with kids. I’m trying to show kids that God is real, and that he makes things different. But, as you can imagine, it kinda hurts my feelings to admit type this: I would be a lot more comfortable with my home life if my kids would just do what I told them to do. Christian parenting is not about making comfortable adults.

Here’s what Richard Foster says in his book, “Celebration of Discipline:”

The Christian discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward life-style.

To attempt to arrange an outward life-style of simplicity without the inward reality leads to deadly legalism.  

Insert celebration dance here. I’m okay! Trying to keep my kids/car/house/Friday folders/life in order is not simply a force of will that I’m failing at. So, Amber, chill out…but don’t check out:

My life is not simple. My mind can be.

How do I create in myself and my children an “inward reality” that is simple?  (aka…not materialistic, messy monsters)

Separation: an exercise in fasting

What would you do with your next two hours if you didn’t have any stuff? My first thought…take a nap! Second thoughts…yoga, go on a walk, have a conversation with a friend, etc. Try spending some time each week with your family…without your stuff. Don’t talk about it. They will think it’s punishment. 🙂 Just do the creative work to make it a positive experience.

Connection: an exercise in meditation

Have you ever meditated? I know people who think it’s totally stupid, but for me, a recovering over-thinker, meditation is a nap for my never ending stream of questions/critiques/observations. Meditation, however, is not about separation. I’d drive myself crazy trying not to think. It is about connecting to something. I “connect” to different things in meditation. I start with my breath…then usually add some sort of stretching into it. However, I always end with submission to the reality of God. He is good. He is smart. He is strong. He is the only presence from which I cannot separate. Here’s what God says about himself  in Isaiah 55:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

    so are my ways higher than your ways

    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Connection to a God that is so big and high can seem like an impossible task for us humans. That’s because it is. Connection to God is less about doing something…and more about the desire to submit to things you cannot see or understand.

Teach kids that being a Christian makes you different. Teach them that God does not go in to our human categories. He’s not a special day of the week. He is not one of your [many] check boxes. When everything is a flipping, hot mess, he is God. When everything is cleaned up and organized, he is God. When my kid destroys a room that I just cleaned up, I can separate from my stuff, my kids’ stuff, my life, my kids and clearly see my constant connection to God. Do it…just you and him…for a moment.  It is from that place that your children will see and learn about not being materialistic, messy monsters your inward simplicity. Not from a clean house.

Now…I’m getting off this stupid computer to go clean my house! 🙂

 

Dream Job

Imagine yourself in an interview for your dream job. Someone asks you this question:

“What are you passionate about?”

If you are like me, you were already a little nervous (ugh…interviews).  Your heart rate picks up a bit more because your mind just stepped into panic mode. I mean, there are so many places to start. Your honest, immediate response? “Do you have a couple of hours? Can I borrow the biggest white board you’ve got?” But instead, you maintain face by saying the first few things that pop in your mind; your short list. Your long list is more complicated. It’s best delivered little bits at a time.

My short list: human development, the local church, fun at church

Human development psychologists categorize life spans from birth to death. They identify trends (good and bad) found within those stages. A basic understanding of human development is super helpful in parenting and ministry. To say I am a nerd about human development would be an understatement. However, I am not a psychologist. I’m a children’s minister. My passion for human development comes when God interjects his will and presence into those stages and trends. He can transform us from self-centered survivalists to God-centered worshipers. Desiring God over self changes everything in human development. There are no longer good and bad happenings. Every experience becomes a medium God uses to reveal himself to his children. The boundaries set in human development theories are stretched into new dimensions: Birth to Re-birth to Death to Eternity. As a ministry leader, I call it Life-Span Ministry. As a mom, it’s just called life.

Call me a traditionalist…but I am passionate about the local church. I have close (Christian) friends and family that don’t care much for church. Their reasons are legit. I get it. Bad experiences are hard to get over…especially when they become the norm. Going into a new church can be uncomfortable. The thought of walking into a place where people have established, tight relationships can be overwhelming. It is hard, but be brave. Go anyway. If it’s broken, help fix it. If it’s great, give them a high five and join in the fun!

“Fun at Church” is one of my favorite contributions to ministry, and kids have proven to bring the most opportunity for fun. I am passionate about children’s ministry.  I’ve sent great grandfathers through inflatable bouncers with their grandkids. That’s a 75 year span! One of my  most proud moments was watching a grandmother spray whipped cream into a friend’s mouth…straight from the can. I can’t not mention that one dad that’s always willing to dress up like a bearded rock star to add hype to the annual Sunday school competition. What kidmin hasn’t asked their brand new worship pastor to dance at VBS in a full body cow costume (complete with udders)? Children’s ministry brings churches together in a way no other ministry does. It’s called fun. Some ministry leaders are serious about committee structures. I am serious about fun. As you follow this blog, you will find that even the committee meetings can be fun. (I know, I know…that’s pretty far fetched…but give me a chance!)

My long list: ambersugg.com

I wasn’t kidding when I said I would need hours and the biggest white board you’ve got. If you’re up to it, follow me! I’d love your input and company!

And, if you’ve made it this far, what’s on your short list? Maybe you are a mom. Maybe you are a ministry leader. Either way, pick three words/phrases…and post it in the comments below. Spend some time figuring out the “why” behind your list…journal it or share it with a friend. Then, let those passions lead you to action. Plant a garden for your family. Set up an art studio in the corner of your garage. Buy that new lens. Apply for that dream job…

Keep going…

Sam was an exceptional boss.

He had high, clearly communicated expectations.  “Dream big.”  “Think outside of the box.”  Those are words that we creative minds loooove to hear.   But…when it came to basics, I knew exactly what he expected of me as an employee.  I didn’t always agree with his expectations…but I respected them… because they were clearly communicated.   I could relax…there was no “unknown.”  He was simple, straightforward and consistent.

He was awkwardly encouraging.   Weekly, he would stop in my office just to say he appreciated me.  Not, “We love the work you do” or “You’re great.”  He said the words, “Amber, I appreciate you.”  It freaked me out at first.  “Ummm…thanks…but I totally suck at yada yada yada…awkward smile?”   Eventually, I could just confidently say “Thanks.”

He allowed me to minister as “me.”  My job description was established based on the gifts God had given me and how they fit in during that particular season at our church.  It did not look like a list of generic tasks.   I was doing things I loved to do…and we all know how fruitful that is both personally and in a ministry area.

He encouraged me to bring in people who were not “me.”   When I was not “awesome” at a necessary aspect of my job, he pushed me to find help.  Sometimes it was a new hire.  Other times it was learning to seek out and empower church members.  Regardless, I did not feel the pressure to be Super Kidmin.  I felt the pressure to build a team.

He forced me to “own” my ministry area.  Example: He wouldn’t let me fire people or complain about people just because they were not doing a good job.  He made me work with them till expectations were met…which meant extra time and creativity.  This taught me to hire and/or seek out the right people and to love (like, Jesus love) the people I hired.

He allowed me to be brave by not micromanaging me.  I love the word “brave.”  It’s so much better than confident.  I hate the word “micromanage.”   It’s totally overused/abused. ..but it’s all I got.   He gave advice and answered questions, but left the ball in my court.  He asked questions that made me think instead of just telling me what to do…and he kept things matter of fact.  “Fact” being a mix of simple/real life management concepts and God’s Word…and some “seminary words” that I probably should have googled…but that’s a whole different blog.

He was Gospel centered.  He had an agenda at our church from day one: Matthew 28:19-20,  “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.”   He wasn’t an emotional kinda guy…but when he did get emotional, it was about that.

And then he left…

I couldn’t even talk.  Heck, I couldn’t even breathe…cause I was crying uncontrollably…which is the first rule for female kidmins: do not cry in staff meetings!!!   I had made up my mind that “different” was going to be “horrible.”  I dreaded the transition phase.  I am not a self starter…I need a leader and a team.

It was hard, but, God was faithful…and different wasn’t horrible for long.

Sam was a good boss.  He taught me some things I didn’t know I needed to learn.   I now ask for clear expectations. I am not afraid to ask for encouragement…even if that’s awkward. I will be me…no matter what.  I’m going to be gracious to all people…even when it means I have to be brave.  But before all of that, I’m gonna tell kids about Jesus.

So…here’s the real reason for this blog:  hang in there.  You might think you are going crazy (really).  You might think things can never be as good as they once were.  You might think it’s God’s will for you to just go home.  It’s not.  I promise.  Keep going.  You may cry more than your rule book says you can cry.  You may throw kicking, screaming fits…daily.  You may need a couple extra weeks of vacation.  But, I promise…God is [obnoxiously] faithful…to His mission: Matthew 28:19-20.  Keep going…

Parenting Young Children: Ask Specific Questions

I get the unique opportunity to ask kids BIG questions in a setting that is somewhat pressure free. “Are there things that you DON’T want to talk to your parents about?” Every hand goes up in the air. It surprises me every time. I go on to explain to them that you guys (the parents) love them no matter what they are struggling with, and want to help. I also challenge them to talk to you guys about the specific things they are thinking about.

So, here’s my challenge for you parents (and me!): ask your kids specific questions. Reassure them that they do not have hide their thoughts from you. Don’t be surprised if it’s something as simple as finding an eraser that didn’t belong to them. But, also understand that it could be something very serious. I won’t list the things…you know them. But, I will remind you that they are real things. You know your kids…when you ask specific (and, often, uncomfortable-for-parents) questions, you will know if they need to talk by their reactions.

No matter what it is, be ready to respond with the same blend of mercy and grace that Jesus gives us.

If a kid walked into my office right now?

A few years ago, I filled out a cheesy spiritual gifts questionnaire at a local women’s event. Of course, I scored high in all the things I liked: charisma, intuition, teaching.  I got two stinking points in evangelism.

My thoughts:

I’m a “go with the flow” kinda person…not looking to step on any toes…and not looking to be labeled as one of “those” people.  Besides, Christianity is about being relevant and approachable…not a super-Christian-Bible-person-ish.  I’m on staff at a church for crying out loud…need I indulge in any MORE Jesusy things?  We “church people” have to be careful not to get too wrapped up in ministry…we have to remember there is an outside world…right?

I thought I was right…but I was wrong.  For me it took my new pastor/boss calling me out on it.  He simply stated that the Great Commission didn’t leave anyone out.  We are all called to that…first and foremost.

Thank God for his grace (really).   Here is the question I asked myself:

If a kid walked into my office RIGHT NOW and asked to become a Christian, what would I say?

I stumbled around in my mind for a minute, trying to convince myself that I wasn’t slacking as hard as I thought I was…then broke out into the ABC’s. You know…A (admit you are a sinner)…B (believe that His love will save you)…C (Confess that Jesus is Lord.)   Lame-O.  Don’t get me wrong…it’s usable   I’ve used it many times.  Do I think Jesus made it into those kids hearts?  Yes.  Do I think it’s more about the heart and mind of a child than the specific list or prayer they are led through? Yes.

However, I can’t think of any one thing that we should be more invested in than the simple explanation of the Gospel…to God’s favorite type of mind: a child’s.  That very day, I decided that I was going to pour the biggest part of my energy (as a kidmin and as a Christian) into understanding the Gospel…and translating it into kid language.   Kids started getting saved.  I said the same words every week.  Some weeks no one paid attention…some weeks they all paid attention.  But, about once a month, one kid looked straight into my eyes the entire time.  That kid…without fail…ended up in my office in a couple weeks wanting to share their news…”Mrs. Amber, I’m a Christian now.”

Here’s what that means. I just have to say it. The Holy Spirit will turn the attention of children and adults to his message as he pleases. I just have to say it.

I’m putting together a guide to hand out to our pastor and parents to use to talk to kids about the Gospel (see pictures).   Take a minute (or a few years) to jot down what you would say if a kid walked in your office RIGHT NOW.  It’s worth your time to invest in their discipleship process, and you might be surprised at how deeply it impacts your own.
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“I’ll be your hype man” -Toby Mac

I’m no fun.  This epiphany hit me in the middle of kids camp this past summer.  It was the moment in the service that “Children’s Minister of the Day” was announced.  I was nauseous at the mere thought of being chased by ninjas (part of the “hype”) up on to the stage and dancing around like a…yeah.  Would I do it, for my kids?  Heck yeah!  Do I want to do it even a tiny little bit?  Heck. no.

There is a huge difference between being a fun person and being good at making things fun for people.  Please, please, put me in the back of the room…in charge.  I’m great at picking people who will be hilarious for the improv part of the service.  I’m good at setting people up to be funny. I can hear myself saying “We should have a Children’s Minister of the Day each day!  Make them dress up and dance around really embarrassingly!”  I’m a good hype man.  For those of you who don’t know what a hype man is, google it…right now (and go with Wikipedia…the other one uses less than classy language).

I’d do it for the kids though.  I have my moments when I know I must break out of my introverted comfortable place….and be fun. But, it does not come natural.  I have had to learn this.  I’m finally good at it in conversation.  I had the office ladies rolling this afternoon talking about my experiences with hot yoga (don’t ask).  I’m working on it when it comes to large groups.  I would be comfortable being the hype man forever, but inevitably, my job requires me to step up and lead a committee or…even worse…a congregation. And, call me crazy, but I believe that sharing your life with other Christians (aka “church”) should be enjoyable.

Know your role and your goal.  I’m a hype man.  I love setting people up to be awesome.  I do it every chance I get.  However, most of my energy goes to pushing myself by getting out of my comfort zone. Last week I led the guided prayer for our traditional service (!!!), but in my prayer I said, “crosses path” instead of “paths cross.” I seriously hated every minute of it (all 1.5 minutes of it), but I’m forcing myself to have a “next time.”  Until then, I’m gonna run up and drop the beat before our Prayer and Care Pastor announces those on the hospital list!

Infomercial: Balloons!

Small "Giraffe"...super cute for a preschool event...
Small “Giraffe”…super cute for a preschool event…

 

Balloons are a great tool for kidmins.  There are seriously countless things you can do with them…and they make people (of all ages) smile.  Get a helium tank, an automatic air compressor for balloons, and a bag of balloons.  Next time a kid is crying…give them a balloon. Next time you make a hospital visit…take them a balloon.  Next time you need a float in the Christmas parade…blow up some balloons!

Kidmin Friendly

Today I lifted a column with 80 balloons on it.  All. by. my. self.  I use PVC pipes or heavy fishing line for the structure…then start wrapping it with balloons!

Church Friendly

Every time we have a church wide event, I end up filling up a dozen or so helium balloons.  It adds nice pops of color that adds energy/fun to the room.

Storage friendly

I find that storage drama comes in two different forms: so much that you can’t find anything or so little that you can’t keep anything.  One of our biggest problems is storage of large scale decorating items.  Balloons take up no space….seriously….grab an empty box and fill it with enough decorations to last all year.

Volunteer Friendly

Get a plan. Count out your balloons.  Draw a model of what you are going to build.  Call ten people to come blow up balloons, twist balloons and clean up.   Ballooning has several aspects: creativity, assembly, very simple math, etc.  I have teenagers that volunteer to blow up the balloons, kids that count and separate the balloons, and parents that help me twist them.

photo

Clean up Friendly

Please don’t hate me.  I give pens to kids at the end of our events…and they go crazy.  It’s an annoyingly loud mess…but cleanup happens fast and fun!