5 Core Truths of KidMin Sunday School

5 Core Truths of KidMin Sunday SchoolWe are getting very close to launching the product lines of KidMin Solutions! I’m deep in editing and tech mode right now and hoping that by the end of the week (Yikes!) we will have the Christmas Play Collection and KidMin Sunday School curriculum available for purchase.  I will be posting a few sneak peeks in the next few days, but I wanted to start by sharing the 5 Core Truths of KidMin Sunday School. Each lesson I write and share with you is built around these core truths.

God Made You

By reminding kids who made them on a regular basis, we impress on their hearts their great worth. The more we explore this topic by talking about how God Made Us, the more we add to the picture kids hold in their heads of who they might grow to be.  I’m currently writing a unit about Kids in the Bible (available in November after we’ve tested it and edited it). The four week study has 4 Big Truths: God Made Me to Know Him, God Made Me to Listen for His Voice, God Made Me to Be Brave and God Made Me to Use My Gifts. We take the core truth that we are all God’s masterpiece, created for a purpose and explain and explore that to widen all of our understanding of who we are in Christ.

God Loves You

We all need the constant reminder of how much God loves us. We tell kids over and over in every imaginable way that God loves them- No Matter What.  No matter what we do, God loves us. We can’t earn that love. We don’t even deserve that love, but it is as true and as sure as our next breath. Kids need to know that. Parents need to know that. If we only succeed in getting this truth into the hearts and minds of the kids and families we serve, we are doing pretty well.

 God Forgives You

I have come across so many people who for one reason or another have drifted away from God and feel like they can’t possibly come back to church until they clean up their act. How would these people’s story be different if they had the simple and bombastic truth that God Forgives Us written in their hearts. God’s forgiveness doesn’t end, it doesn’t come with strings attached- fix this and be good for this amount of time and we’ll see kind of manipulations. God forgives when we come to him and freely confess and turn away from our sin. Even when we mess up and sin again the same way the next day…we come back and do it all over again and God Still Forgives Us.  It’s mind boggling. It’s life shaking. Let’s do all we can to help kids and their families understand this deep down to their very soul.

God is With You

We all feel alone sometimes. But we are never alone. No matter how solitary and painful the walk may be, God is with us. God is holding us together, giving us strength, working within us. Kids need to know that even when it feels like there is nowhere for them to fit in, they always fit with God. God never runs away or turns his back. He is always with us.

 God Calls Us

Kids need to see that they were created for a purpose. For the kid who never gets picked in gym class or sits alone at lunch, they need to know there is a reason they are so different. They have a calling that goes beyond the moment and into forever. But they also have a calling as a follower of Jesus to love others the best way they can. We talk about our calling being an every day kind of thing. If we’re paying attention, God is calling us to do all kinds of things- take care of his earth, smile at the new kid, say I’m sorry when we are wrong. Giving kids an idea of how they can serve God in their actual real lives makes it much clearer for them to follow God.

We need all five of these truths to create a full picture of who God is and our relationship to him. While our core truths are all God-centered, they are also Trinity centered. The Holy Spirit Calls Us…Jesus Calls Us…God Calls Us. All are true and important. As children grow, we get deeper into these truths, giving them a solid foundation of faith for them to grow into and own for themselves.

Helping Elementary Kids Cope With Disaster

God is With Us

 

As many of you know, there was a catastrophic fire at Christ United Methodist Church last night.  Our hearts are breaking, but we are trusting and leaning on God’s grace and mercy to carry us through.

I wanted to reach out to all elementary parents with some words and tools to help you explain to your preschooler what has happened.

  1. While the building is lost, Christ United Methodist Church and Agapeland are not. Pastor Ryan, Ms. Jaime and all Sunday School and Children’s Ministry staff are safe. (Younger elementary children may still think we live at the church)
  2. God will take care of us through this hard thing. We are amazed at the many ways other churches and members of the community are rallying behind us already.
  3. The church will go on and so will Agapeland. Leaders are making plans for our temporary church and preschool home and will be in touch soon.

Ways to help your child process grief or fear because of the fire

  1. Talk about what has happened as simply as possible. Fewer words are better.  There was a fire and the building is broken.  The church was never about the building, but about the people and the love of Jesus we all share.
  2. Art or journalling are great outlets for children to express their feelings about the crisis. Make art supplies and journals (even a composition notebook) available for your child.  Take time as a family to draw or write about your feelings together.
  3. I have created a YouTube play list of some of the songs we have been singing with the children over the last few years that have Scripture that I have found encouraging. Dust off those Seeds Family Worship CDs and play them in the car.  These songs are comforting and the Words are true.  The same is true of old VBS CDs and Bible Points.
  4. Keep as much of your normal routine as possible. Worship may be different, but everything else should stay as normal as possible.
  5. There will be hard questions and sad moments for all of our families. It is okay to say I don’t know and it is ok for your child to see your sadness.  As parents, we think we need to keep it all together for our kids and have all the answers.  We don’t have to.  God will give us what we need. It’s actually a good, faith building thing for a child to discover that we don’t have all the answers.
  6. If you feel your child needs to see the building, stay as far away as you can. Standing in the alley or in the parking lot as far from the building is safest.  The building is not structurally sound and there is much broken glass and debris that would be dangerous for children.

“The church is not a building, the church is not a steeple, the church is not a resting place, the church is a people!”

I will have some Scripture verses and devotional thoughts for this week soon.  Please know I love you all and am praying for us all in this crisis.

Helping Preschoolers Cope with Disaster


God is With UsAs many of you know, there was a catastrophic fire at Christ United Methodist Church last night.  Our hearts are breaking, but we are trusting and leaning on God’s grace and mercy to carry us through.

I wanted to reach out to all preschool parents with some words and tools to help you explain to your preschooler what has happened.  While these are specific to our crisis, most of these tips are valid for any crisis or traumatic event.

  • While the building is lost, Christ United Methodist Church and Agapeland are not. Pastor Ryan, Ms. Jaime, Ms. Michele, Ms. Amy, Ms. Wanda, Ms. Dawn, Ms. Isabel and all of the adults your child sees and loves at church and preschool are all safe.
  • God will take care of us through this hard thing. We are amazed at the many ways other churches and members of the community are rallying behind us.

Ways to help your preschooler process grief or fear because of the fire

  • Talk about what has happened as simply as possible. Fewer words are better.  There was a fire and the building is broken.  The church was never about the building, but about the people  and the love of Jesus we all share.
  •  Art is a wonderful way for preschoolers to express their feelings.  Give them paper and markers, paints or other supplies and let them create. They may not have words to express their fear or sadness.  Painting or drawing about it may help them express these feelings.
  • Do not be alarmed if your child pretends about the fire. This is a very healthy way for children to process a traumatic event.  Encourage this kind of play, even if it seems a little violent.  Children at this age sometimes need to “conquer” their scary things in pretend play to feel better.
  • Keep as much of your normal routine as possible. Preschool may be postponed and worship may be different, but everything else should stay as normal as possible.
  • If your child expresses worries that your house may burn down, talk about or even practice your family’s emergency plan.  This gives your child a sense of security and control over their surroundings that this fire may have upset.
  • If you feel your child needs to see the building, stay as far away as you can. Standing in the alley or in the parking lot as far from the building is safest.  The building is not structurally sound and there is much broken glass and debris that would be dangerous for children.

“The church is not a building, the church is not a steeple, the church is not a resting place, the church is a people!” Praying for all of us in this storm.  God is bigger and greater than even this.

Cueing Parents about Social Media-Notes from Orange Tour

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SCULPTURE & ARTYesterday, some of the children and youth leaders from our congregation traveled to Lancaster, PA for Orange Tour at the Worship Center.  If you are unaware of Orange Tour, it is a one day conference for children, youth and lead pastors.  Reggie Joiner, CEO of the Re-think Group and other leaders share great tools, tips and techniques for reaching the next generation.  I will be sharing what I learned over the next several days.

The most personally applicable session our team attended was a session with Jon Acuff on curing parents about Social Media.  Jon is the hilarious blogger behind Stuff Christians Like (both blog and book) as well as business/motivational books like Quitter and Start.  He’s also a very savvy social media user and leader.

Jon began by stating that there are two types of parents who talk to him about social media.  First, there are parents who feel overwhelmed trying to keep on top of all the available apps and social media.  Then there are parents who don’t have a clue about social media.  Jon defined social media as any technology that lets us share information about ourselves with someone else- this includes texting, email and xbox as much as facebook, twitter, instagram and the other forms of social media we typically thing about.

For parents who are overwhelmed keeping up with social media, Jon encouraged us to give up the fight and instead change our focus.  Instead of worrying about staying ahead of social media, we need to chose to focus on never changing truths- this is what we believe.  This core focus becomes our filter for all social media.

Jon shared five things parents need to do when thinking about their kids and social media.

1. Talk to kids about it before they use it

We need to talk to our kids about the social media they may be using before they start using it.  We start training our kids about driving long before they turn 16, why shouldn’t we talk about social media this way.  This is about helping them to understand each form of media little by little until they are ready to handle it on their own.  Jon talked about giving children small windows into the internet by allowing them access to a few websites (pbskids etc.)  As they grow, do things together- google things together while explaining that certain phrases can be problematic and lead them to places they don’t want to go.  Look up funny videos on YouTube together while explaining that recommended videos may not be appropriate.  If we begin sharing these tips while they are young, they will be wiser when they are ready to have their own accounts.

2. Be curious and ask questions

Kids don’t understand the real life filter between online life and real life.  We have to teach them it’s like a virtual sleepover, inviting people into our homes to stay awhile.  We must teach them to only share information with people they know in real life, just like they would only invite a friend to sleep over at your home that they know well.

Questions to ask our kids about social media:  What social sites are you on?  What do your devices do?  (this lets your child be the expert which they love.) What do your profiles do? Which of your friends have devices?  What are your friends posting?  Did you create anything?  Have you seen anything?

Each of these questions open doors to communication with our kids.  When we ask what their devices do or what their profiles do, we allow them to be the expert and show off a little (it’s also important to do a little research on our own to be sure there are not features to a media our kids are unaware of or are not sharing).  These conversations open opportunities for you to offer gentle encouragement and wisdom about the media your kids are participating in.  Social Media can be a bonding opportunity, we just need to enter the conversation with gentleness and love, not judgement or fear.

3. Leverage social media’s potential for good

Jon shared Philippians 4:8 as a great filter for how we approach social media.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

If we focus on the true and honorable things of social media, we can harness it’s potential for great things for our kids.  This comes with responsibility.  Our kids need to know they are building a digital footprint that will last a lifetime.  College admissions teams are checking social media profiles.  Many employers are doing so as well.  If our kid are aware of how their online behavior may impact their future, it changes what they do.

By focusing on the good of social media, we can also give kids opportunities for evangelism- posting pictures or links to church events and tagging their friends.  Kids can connect to a cause they believe in.  It can also allow them to pursue a passion- creating a YouTube channel, a blog, a Tumblr about their passions and interests.  With parent involvement this can be a very positive opportunity to channel social media for your child’s good.

4. Go Dark As A Family

Take time to turn off the media and be together.  Make the devices go to bed when you go to bed- parents set the example for kids.  Do activities where devices can’t be involved.  Turn off the phone for certain times together.  Practice latergrams- take the photo of your kid being awesome, but wait to share it when the moment is over.  Find ways to disconnect from media regularly.

5. Remember What’s at Stake

We have to teach our kids how to relate to people face to face.  The more we are online, relating through screens, the more we need actual conversation.  Social media is great but it creates problems too.  Problems like performance anxiety-how can I ever measure up to x?  Social media creates loneliness.  Self esteem is at stake.  There have been studies that show looking online for thirty minutes is more damaging to a girl’s self esteem than looking at women’s magazines (that have been proven to be very destructive).  We must remember what is at stake for our kids and help them manage it and learn from it.

 

 

What and Who is KidMin Solutions?

I am so thrilled to be launching KidMin Solutions.  I hope that this blog and website becomes a place for inspiration, support and conversation for all kinds of children’s ministry.

You may be wondering about the person behind KidMin Solutions.  My name is Amanda Rousu.  I am one of those people who in many ways prefers being around children than being with adults.  God makes some of us uniquely suited towards this mission of reaching the hearts of children.  I have been a public school teacher, worked in preschools and am raising three children of my own.

It is through my children that I became involved in children’s ministry in my church. As a stay at home mom of young children, I was recruited to help with the preschool Vacation Bible School.  Because I had teaching experience (I taught vocal music and drama before my children were born), my ministry director gave me a teaching manual and said something along the lines of “good luck and God bless!”  I’m sure she breathed a huge sigh of relief to not have to search any further for someone willing to teach preschool.  I loved every moment of that first week of children’s ministry, but found myself wondering about how to improve the program overall.  Fast forward eight years (and a major family move and another child), and I am now a children’s ministry coordinator at our church.

My passion in children’s ministry is planting the seeds of God’s Word into the hearts of children in as many ways as I can.  My approach favors relationship over crafts, content over gimmicks.  Our budget is small, our technology is limited, and space is tight, but we invest in the children with our whole hearts.  If this sounds like you, let’s start the conversation.  How did you begin in children’s ministry?