Nursery: Children’s Ministry Begins Here

Nursery: Children’s Ministry Begins Here

Too often, the nursery is considered a babysitting service for parents and grandparents. While it is essential to care for the physical needs of infants and toddlers while in the nursery, it is equally important to begin teaching them about Jesus. A baby begins to see the heart of God through the heart of the nursery volunteers. As babies learn to trust the volunteers, they learn that church is a place where people care about us.  Although a baby cannot understand a Bible story, volunteers can pray blessings upon each young child as they give them a bottle or rock them to sleep. As babies become toddlers, they can learn basic Bible truths such as God loves me and God made me through Bible stories, finger plays, and other appropriate learning activities.

Here’s what it takes to transform your nursery from a babysitting service to a ministry

  • Purpose: What do you hope to accomplish as you feed infants and do finger plays with toddlers? Every nursery ministry has specific goals: every child will be loved and accepted; every child will learn that God made him and loves him; every child will feel safe in the nursery environment; every child will be encouraged to develop acceptable social skills.
  • Leadership: A nursery ministry needs capable leadership. Above all, a nursery director loves infants and toddlers. She understands the value of providing excellent ministry to them. A capable director is able to develop good relationships with parents and volunteers. She is gifted in administration and able to develop schedules, procedures, forms, curriculum, etc. to help the nursery run smoothly and safely.
  • Established policies: Policies are developed to help the nursery be a safe environment for infants and toddlers. They should be carefully developed and well communicated to parents, volunteers and the congregation. They should be consistently but lovingly enforced. Some of the policies that need to be developed include: age of volunteers, training required for volunteers, types of snacks, discipline plan, sign in and sign out procedures, diaper and restroom procedures, etc.
  • Facilities: Your nursery facilities may not be ideal but they can be improved. Provide good lighting, paint walls and furniture, organize toys and equipment, and remove clutter. Above all, keep the nursery clean.
  • Trained workers: Select workers carefully by using a children’s ministry application and referral forms. Train them by modeling appropriate ministry to nursery age children as well as by providing books, podcasts, CDs, and DVDs on nursery ministry. Encourage the workers to be involved with the infants and toddlers by playing on the floor with them, holding them, reading or singing to them, and talking to them even if they cannot respond.

With careful planning, your nursery can be a place where children learn about the love of God.  There is no greater ministry.

Ideas You Can Use

Prepare the Classroom

Your nursery space should be carefully planned to allow for its many uses- playtime, rest, and care of children.

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Safety

The number one priority of any nursery is to keep children safe. A safe environment allows for peace of mind for parents and a place where children can feel the love of Jesus.

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Recruiting Volunteers

Recruit with this understanding: nursery ministry is a significant ministry. Nursery ministry meets the needs of babies and their families.

Recruiting Ideas

Teaching Children

Be intentional in your plan to teach young children, not just care for their physical needs.

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Family Milestones

Some of the best times to minister to parents are during significant events, such as births or baby dedications.

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Resources

There are many resources that can help with nursery ministry. Click the button below for a list to get started.

Resources

Making Christmas Memorable

Making Christmas Memorable

With each season that occurs throughout the year, change tends to come as well. Things begin to look different: flowers bloom, leaves fall, and the temperature increases and decreases depending on where you live. As the Christmas season approaches, there are also changes that take place. Yes, we see the physical changes such as decorations and lights that fill children with excitement and anticipation, but most importantly there is a reminder of eternal hope that comes through the birth of Jesus.

One of the most beautiful things about Christmas is that it not only highlights the coming of Jesus as a baby, but it is a reminder that we can be excited and filled with that same anticipation because Jesus is indeed coming again! Many times when we are teaching children, it can be easy to overlook the sacredness and the awe and wonder of this deep theological truth. If we begin to connect these dots to the children and families in our ministries, we are instilling them with something that goes far beyond a holiday season and deep into their hearts, minds, and hopefully their households.

The arrival of Jesus changed everything. He was constantly challenging those He encountered to live their live differently and to serve others. This Christmas season, let’s strive to display to kids the awe, wonder, and excitement Jesus brought to the world.

Ideas You Can Use

Celebrate Advent

One of the best ways to teach kids about the anticipation of Christ’s birth and return is through the celebration of Advent.

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Christmas retro background with christmas tree branches. Vector.

Create a Jesse Tree

This is a unique spin on the traditional Christmas tree. A Jesse tree is a way to teach children the salvation story from the beginning of the Bible.

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Give to Others

Christmas is a wonderful time to step away from the normal pace of life and think about others. Whether you are a children’s minister or a parent, you can create windows of opportunity for kids to help other people.

Giving Ideas

Prayer and Praise Ornaments

It may seem simple, but Christmas is a good time for children to reflect on their year and what is to come in the year ahead. Have children create prayer and praise ornaments as a reminder of all that God has done.

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Burning candle

Community of Faith

The Christmas season is not just for kids; it is for all people! During this special time of year, let children spend time with believers that are older and younger than them.

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Christmas Nativity Scene

Teach the Story

In the hustle and bustle of the season, sometimes we get so busy crafting and giving that we forget to teach the story of Jesus’ birth. Lots of magnificent details can easily be overlooked.

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Resources

 

cogop_smaller-2008Contributing Author: Joy Hensely

Joy is the Associate Pastor of Children at Spring Place Church of God of Prophecy. In July of 2016, she completed her Master of Arts degree in Ministry Studies from Lee University. Her desire is to develop and build relationships with children, their families, and volunteers that point them not only towards a growing relationship with God, but also fulfilling God’s call for their own lives.

 

6 Ways to Present Bible Lessons Creatively

6 Ways to Present Bible Lessons Creatively

Picture it: You’ve put hours into your children’s church lesson. You’re just sure that by the time you give your invitation for prayer your whole class will either be weeping at the altar or so inspired by your message that they will be running to the signup sheet for the next mission trip.  You boldly begin your lesson. You start out confident. Things are going well, and then 5 minutes into the lesson– IT happens.  You see the legs start swinging and little fingers poking their neighbors. You hear the whispers and see the squirming has begun. And while some students are getting fidgety and restless, others are blankly staring off into the distance.  It’s then that you realize you’ve completely lost all of them!  While their attention is somewhere, it is far from the lesson you are teaching!

So, what do we do to keep children’s attention?  How do we teach students in a way that’s effective and relevant? Sure, I could reflect back to the time when I was in Sunday school or children’s church, but I was born in the late 70’s. Let’s face it– teaching with a flannel graph, filmstrips and putting little foil star stickers on an attendance chart isn’t relevant, so therefore, would not be effective in the day in which we live.

Over the years I have watched churches put amazing effort into special events such as VBS, which is great; however, why don’t we put that kind of dedication and creativity into our week to week ministries?  Colossians 3:23 tells us, “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” I realize that we can’t necessarily transform our entire church every week like we would for Bible school. But we can indeed use our imaginations, creativity and online resources to implement those same strategies in our children’s ministry area, just on a smaller scale in a more focused way.  It’s important that if we are providing ministry for children, we do it heartily, as unto the Lord!

Ideas You Can Use

Open bible and cross

Bring Story to Your Classroom

Everyone benefits from making a simple Bible story come alive right in front of them.  The key is to find the main focus or the setting of your story, and ask yourself, “How can I create that in my room?”

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Bulletin Boards

Create Awesome Bulletin Boards

I love using bulletin boards in my children’s ministry area. They’re great for so many reasons. You can use them for information for parents/volunteers and to display student work. However, I love using them as a part of my lesson, especially if I’m teaching a series with a theme.

Bulletin Boards

Storytelling concept with hand

Become a Good
Storyteller

Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than having to listen to a speaker that has no enthusiasm! I’ve come to the conclusion that if it’s boring for me, it’s probably boring for the kids! That’s why we need to be good storytellers.

Storytelling Ideas

Digital Media

Use Digital Clips and Media

We live in a high tech world. Children will benefit from the use of media to make the Bible come alive.

Media Activities

Perform It

Perform It

All of us children’s ministers have, at some point or another, had our kids act out the Bible story.  Although this can be a great technique, after a handful of times it can become a bit redundant.  Continue reading for ideas using the same concept but with a fresh twist.

Fresh Ideas

Kid playing with finger paints

Get Messy

I realize that many people are bothered when things get messy! Messy things bother me in some ways, but not when it comes to ministering to kids. I’ve learned they absolutely LOVE messy object lessons and science experiments!

RESOURCES

 

Amy RevelsContributing Author:  Amy Revels
Amy was born and raised in Michigan. She began serving in children’s ministry at the age of fourteen.  She and her husband Furney have been married for sixteen years and have five children.  Together, they have served in pastoral ministry for over fourteen years as well as Intermediate Youth Camp directors for 5 years.  Currently, she serves as the children’s ministry director for the Great Lakes Region. Amy has served in children’s ministry for nearly twenty-five years. She devotes her time to homeschooling her kids and incorporating the Gospel in every aspect of their life.

Los niños experimentan a Dios

Los niños experimentan a Dios

En junio tuve una experiencia que me llenó de alegría y acción de gracias. La primera noche del campamente donde estaba sirviendo como la evangelista, entré al templo donde había 109 niños de ocho, nueve y diez años adorando. No sólo estaban cantando canciones y moviéndose al ritmo de la música; sino que también estaban adorando con sus manos levantadas en alto y con voz fuerte. Y eso sólo fue la primera noche. Cada noche los campistas adoraron con entusiasmo; escucharon activamente la Palabra de Dios; recibieron humildemente ministración; y oraron apasionadamente por los demás. Dios honró su adoración.

Durante estos momentos de adoración los niños pasaron al altar con lágrimas de convicción en sus ojos; creyeron, y fueron salvos. Levantaban sus manos en fe, recibiendo el bautismo del Espíritu Santo. Oraron con valor por los niños a su alrededor hasta que también ellos rieron y hablaron en lenguas celestiales. Participaron reverentemente de la Santa Cena. Llenos del amor ágape, se paseaban por todo el templo experimentando la verdadera comunión cristiana los unos con otros. Y nuevamente, a medida que adoraban a Dios y mostraban su amor los unos por otros, la presencia de Dios llenaba el lugar.

Los niños necesitan de la adoración. A través de la adoración, las mentes de los niños se enfocan en Dios, pueden sentir Su presencia, y su voluntad se entrega a la Suya. A través de la adoración, los niños experimentan lo real que es Dios —Su cercanía, Su amor, Su consuelo, Su dirección y más. Ellos comprenden que Dios no es solo un personaje de la Biblia. Él es real. Él está cerca. Él responde a sus oraciones y a su adoración.

A través de la adoración los niños se preparan para hacer buenas obras ministeriales —obras de compasión, intercesión, testimonio y dádiva sacrificial. Una noche durante la hora de la adoración, a medida que la presencia de Dios se volvía una realidad en la vida de cada niño, una niña fue bautizada por el Espíritu Santo. Sin cesar su adoración, ella se acercó a su amiga discapacitada, la abrazó y oró por su sanidad. Su adoración sincera inspiró un momento de ministración llena de fe.

A través de la adoración los niños responden afirmativamente a Dios de por vida. Durante este campamento de niños, un miembro del personal me contó sobre una campaña para niños en la cual él participó cuando tenía 12 años. Se fue la energía durante la adoración en este avivamiento. El ministro les dijo a los niños que los cristianos de la iglesia primitiva adoraban a Jesús hasta en las cuevas. Esto inspiró a los niños a continuar adorando. En cuestión de minutos, los niños comenzaron a adorar a Dios y fueron bautizado por el Espíritu Santo. Este miembro del personal no sólo recibió el bautismo del Espíritu Santo, sino que también sintió el llamado al ministerio. Él aceptó el llamado y ha servido como pastor durante toda su vida adulta.

Durante la última semana que vivió Jesús sobre la tierra, Él se encontraba en el templo haciendo milagros. Los niños vieron las cosas maravillosas que Él hacía –sanando, perdonando– y comenzaron a dar gritos de alabanza. Los líderes religiosos malvados le preguntaron a Jesús: «¿Oyes lo que éstos dicen?» Jesús respondió: «Sí; ¿nunca leísteis: De la boca de los niños y de los que maman perfeccionaste la alabanza?» Mateo 21:16.

¿Escucha usted lo que dicen los niños? Sí. Incluso hoy día Dios requiere la alabanza de los labios y los corazones de nuestros niños para que Su reino sea establecido en sus vidas y en su mundo.

Kathy Por: Kathy Creasy

 

 

Children Experiencing God

Children Experiencing God

In June, I had an experience that filled me with joy and thanksgiving. I was serving as the evangelist at a summer camp in Tennessee. The first night of camp, I walked into the chapel where 109 eight-, nine- and ten-year-old kids were worshiping. They weren’t just singing songs and moving to the rhythm; they were worshiping with hands raised high and voices emphatically strong. And that was just the first night. Each night these campers worshiped vibrantly; they actively listened to God’s Word; they humbly received prayer ministry; and they passionately prayed for others. God honored their worship.

During these times of worship children came to the altar with tears of conviction streaming down their face; they believed and were saved. They raised their hands and in faith received Holy Spirit baptism. They boldly prayed for others around them until they too were laughing with Holy Spirit joy and speaking in heavenly languages. They reverently took communion. Filled with agape love, they moved through the chapel experiencing true Christian fellowship with one another. And again, as they worshiped God and loved one another, God’s presence filled the chapel.

Worship is a must for kids. Through worship children’s minds focus on God, their emotions sense His presence, and their wills yield to His. Through worship children experience the reality of God—His nearness, His love, His comfort, His guidance and more. They realize that God is not just someone you read about in the Bible.  He is real.  He is near.  He responds to their prayers and their praises.

Through worship children “rise up” to do the good works of ministry—acts of compassion, intercession, testimony, and sacrificial giving.  During ministry time one evening as the presence of God became real to each child, a young girl was baptized in the Holy Spirit. In continued worship, she moved to her friend who was handicapped. She hugged her friend and prayed for healing. Her worship had inspired faith-filled ministry.

Through worship children say “yes” to God for a lifetime. During this kids’ camp one of the senior staff members reminded me of a children’s revival that he participated in when he was only twelve years old. During worship at that children’s revival, the lights went out. The minister reminded the children that the early Christians often worshiped in the darkness of the caves. This reminder inspired the children to continue worshiping. Soon every child responded in praise to God and was baptized in the Holy Spirit. This staff member not only received Holy Spirit baptism but was also called into ministry. He accepted that call and has served as a pastor throughout his adult life.

During Jesus’ last week here on earth he was in the Temple doing miraculous things. The children saw the wonderful things he was doing—healing and forgiving—and they began to shout praises. The wicked religious leaders questioned Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”  Matthew 21:16

Do you hear what the children are saying? Yes. Even today God continues to order His praise from the lips and hearts of our children so that His kingdom can be established in their lives and in their world.

Kathy

Contributing Author: Kathy Creasy

Kathy is the International Children’s Ministry Director for the Church of God of Prophecy.  It is through her leadership that this Developing Leaders, Impacting Kids website operates.  She has a  Masters of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University and a certificate in Children’s Ministry from Lancaster Bible University. Kathy is committed to providing encouragement and training to those who serve children. Kathy is married to Rick Creasy.  They have two sons and three wonderful grandchildren.

 

 

 

Engaging Kids in Worship

Engaging Kids in Worship

My church recently began having family worship services twice a month on Sunday nights.  The goal is to incorporate all ages in worship.  One of the ways we do this is by providing the children with instruments to play while singing.  I was next to one very rambunctious three year old boy this past week whose mom is on the praise team.  He loved the first song and was so excited about the worship.  As the song ended, he shouted loud enough for almost everyone to hear, “Good job with singing Mommy!”  It brought a smile to all of our faces. Not only had he been given the opportunity to worship God through song, but He had the privilege of being led into worship by his mom. As children’s ministers, we also have the privilege of leading kids into the worship of their God.

We know that it is biblical for children to experience true worship. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, children were active participants in worship.  Moses, Jehoshophat, and Nehemiah all invited children to be part of worshiping the Lord. (Exodus 10:8,9; 2 Chronicles 10:13, 18; Nehemiah 12:43) Jesus himself accepted the worship of children.  When the children saw Jesus healing the blind and the crippled in the Temple, they began to shout praises, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” This made the rulers of the Temple angry. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked Jesus. “Yes,” Jesus answered. “Haven’t you read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?”

We often think of worship as being a time of singing in church.  While this is certainly an important part of our worship, we can also teach children that worship is anything we do to show God that we know who He is and what He has done.  We can worship with words by singing and saying words of praise. We can also worship with our actions by reading the Bible, praying, and obeying Him.  As children begin to understand the different ways of worshiping God, they learn that worship is both a lifestyle and an experience.  We live our lives in worship (Romans 12:1,) and we also experience specific times of worship, such as singing and praising God in church.

Ideas You Can Use

View of hand writing on blackboard on desk

Learning Activity: “What is Worship?”

Make a large worship chart by writing the word “worship” at the top of the paper and including the following definition:  Worship is what you do to show God that you know who He is and what He has done.  Under the definition, divide the paper into two columns, “Who is God?” and “What has God done?”

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multicultural hands around Bible

Worship Using the Word of God

Use the Word to show children who God is, provide examples of worshippers, help children define right attitudes of worship, define worship, and invite children to worship.

Worship Activities

Noisy Nursery Lesson

Worship through Singing, Movement, and Instruments

Praise and worship is a wonderful opportunity to engage every part of the child— body (movement), mind (singing) and spirit (feelings of joy, sensing the presence of our God as the child focuses on who God is).

Active Worship Ideas

Blank paper notes pinned on cork board

Worship Through Prayer

Prayer is an important act of worship. Encourage your children to participate in prayer by planning creative, interactive prayer activities.

Prayer Activities

woman handing coins

Worship Through Giving

Giving is another way we can worship God with our actions. Vary the ways you invite children to give so that giving doesn’t become a habit but continues to be a true act of worship.

Giving Ideas

I love God text spelled in cubes on wooden background

Praise Cube

Make and use a praise cube to help children understand different ways they can worship God.

Directions

RESOURCES

Kids and Raising Money for Missions

Kids and Raising Money for Missions

Part of ministry to children is teaching them to serve Christ by serving others. Involving kids in a missions project is a wonderful opportunity to help meet this goal. These projects typically involve raising money, and children are often a bit unsure of how to handle this challenge.  Beyond asking their parents for money or dipping into their small savings, how can they raise money? Below are some ideas for how you can help children earn money for missions.  Hopefully these ideas will help you as you prepare to involve your children in the Helping Hands for Kids 2017 project- “Do Your Part: Helping Venezuela’s Pastors’ Kids.”

  • Generate excitement about the missions project! Use the materials provided at children.cogop.org to help children truly understand the need and how they can make a difference.  There are ideas for teaching children about the culture of Venezuela, the needs of the people, prayer ideas, and much more.  Don’t miss out on the opportunity to teach your children to have the hearts of servants.
  • Guide the children in preparing a presentation for their parents and grandparents, similar to a project they might do for school. Provide the children with poster board, art supplies, and pictures related to the project for which they they want to raise money.  Once they have prepared a visual board, help them practice using their board to share with adults about the project.  When children invest their time and effort into explaining the missions need, adults are more likely to give.
  • Ask an adult who is gifted in the area of media production to help children create a video to share in church and on social media. For example, the children at my church were raising money for Christians in Nepal to purchase chickens and goats.  Each child shared just one or two sentences about the need.  We filmed in different outdoor settings, and we even found someone with pet goats who let us film part of the video at their house.  Once it was edited, this was a wonderful tool for sharing about the mission project.
  • Be creative in helping children discover ways to raise money. One of the children at my church lives near a bookstore that purchases used books.  This child gathered up books she had finished reading, sold them, and gave the money to missions.  Another child held a traditional bake sale after church to raise money.  If yard sales or garage sales are popular in your area, this would also be a great project for the children to do together.

I love watching the excitement of children when they realize that they are truly making a difference in the world.  Beyond just making a difference, however, it is my prayer that they will know and understand the words of Jesus….”Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  (Matthew 25:40, NIV)

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Click for more information about the 2017 Helping Hands for Kids Project.

 

 

Institute of Children’s Ministry in Paraguay

Institute of Children’s Ministry in Paraguay

The Institute of Children’s Ministry in Paraguay was an amazing time of training and ministry. Participants developed discipleship plans for their ministries, learned creative ministry techniques, participated in times of prayer, and so much more. The grand finale of the Institute was a fiesta for the children of the community. The children’s ministers did a great job of promoting, decorating, welcoming, and feeding the kids and families. We love the commitment the children’s ministers and congregations have made to underprivileged, unchurched kids.

There were several young leaders who assisted Kathy in leading the institute. It was an honor for her to serve with these leaders who share a big vision of helping kids live an abundant life.

She was also privileged to visit the Dining Hall of one of our committed pastors who serve children. The children were the best–telling their names, giving hugs, and trying to teach their American visitor Guaranese (the native language of Paraguay).

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Mission Minded Kids

Mission Minded Kids

As a mom of two daughters and a children’s pastor, I wish I could tell you that my children developed a heart for missions through my inspired teaching, but I cannot.  My oldest daughter first became aware of the needs of others in the world through the Helping Hands for Kids program.  As a five year old, she attended a preschool class at the Assembly for Children in which the teacher shared about the needs of children in Guatemala.  She began to tell me all about it.  A few years later, we once again attended the General Assembly, and I took her to an afternoon mission’s fair where we learned about the work of missionaries in other countries.  Once again, we talked to someone about the Helping Hands for Kids program.  In a moment of divine inspiration, I asked her if she would like to be in charge of the program for our church.  She was excited and told me that she had been praying for God to give her something to do for Him!  That year, she was able to help raise over $1000 US dollars for curriculum and supplies for children’s ministers in Central and South America. Continue reading

Malawi Institute

Malawi Institute

The Malawi Institute is over. What a great experience. 55 participants–40 from the nation of Malawi including pastors, national leaders, and children’s ministers. The national leaders from five other nations were also present. Thanks to everyone who participated and everyone who served. Special thanks to Stephen Masilela, area presbyter, Phillip Segadika, overseer of Botswana, and Bernard Makhuna, overseer of Malawi.

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