Ordinary Made Extraordinary (A Christmas Musical)

Ordinary Made Extraordinary

Ordinary Made Extraordinary

Setting: A contemporary church. Stage area should be empty other than a simple podium to one side. Center stage should be a large (6-8 foot tall and wide enough for your primary cast to fit behind to create the familiar Christmas picture of Mary, Joseph, manger, Angel and Shepherd kneeling) scrim or canvas which will be lit from behind to show silhouette of Holy Family 

Cast of Characters

Director: adult children’s choir or children’s ministry director, should be frazzled and distracted. While script refers to director as Mrs. C, this could easily be played by either a man or woman

Shepherd 1: a child

Wise Man 1: a child (boy)

Wise Man 2: a child (girl) – non speaking part

Jill: a child dressed as an animal or angel that can be changed to a wise man

Mary (Child version): older girl, bold and sassy

Joseph (Child version): older boy, grumpy and pushy

Angel 1: child, whiny

Cow 1: child, whiny

Shepherd 2: child

Shepherd 3: child

Shepherd 4: child

Angel 2: child

Assorted Children’s Nativity members (to fill out your choir and scene)- Non Speaking but will sing in a children’s choir

(All child parts except Wise Man 1, Mary, Joseph and Cow 1 could be other animals or characters in the nativity play depending on what costumes you have and your personal preference)

Narrators: can be up to 4 different narrators or fewer depending on your preference. Youth narrators work well as they can be assistants to the director during the opening scene

Hotel Employee:  Man in mid-late thirties (or older)

Choir Member: Woman old enough to be a grandparent

Garbage Man: Man of any age

Mary (adult): young woman in her early twenties

Joseph (adult): non speaking man of similar age to Mary

Music is flexible and can include traditional carols or special music from your choir or praise team’s repertoire.

Excerpt from Ordinary Made Extraordinary

Narrator 2:   And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Song Two: Children lead congregation in singing Angels We Have Heard on High (verse one only)

As song ends, the choir member should come out from behind the scrim.

Angel:  I wasn’t even going to go to choir tonight.  I ran errands all morning and then babysat our grandchildren.  We were playing dress up all afternoon and I guess I forgot about this silly halo in my hair.  But I needed to run some more Bibles to the (Local Hotel) anyway and church is kind of on the way.  I figured I’d go for a little bit, run through this week’s anthem and head out early.  It’s not like I’m the star soprano or anything.  Half the choir would have to be sick for them to really need me.

But every once in a while there’s a song that you just have to sing.  That’s what happened tonight. As soon as the piano started playing I just knew this song was one that was meant for something more than your usual Sunday morning.  This was a song to tell good news with, to tell the whole world about God’s love.  It was a song proclaiming all the things we’ve been waiting – a promised savior of the world.  It felt good just to sing the words.  And in the middle, it was almost like it was someone else singing.  Like God himself was singing through me.  And that was just practice.

Then I took the Bibles over to the Holiday Inn, for the Gideons.  I got to the hotel and had this feeling, this whisper in my head that said this was where I was supposed to be singing my song.  That savior I wasn’t so sure would ever come was here, born in the (Insert Local Hotel Name) just a few miles from my house.

I had to sing the news to the people.  I ran out of that hotel as fast as I could and told the very first people I could tell.  Sure, they were garbage men…a little smelly and not all that important, but I guess it isn’t my job to decide who hears the good news.  I’m just an ordinary person trying to follow God the best way I know.  Every once in a while, I get to be part of something extraordinary.

Choir Member returns to place behind the scrim

 


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God’s Promised Family of Abraham

The Promised Family ofGod’s Promised Family of Abraham Available for Sale!

This four week unit for Preschool, Upper and Lower Elementary aged students introduces the idea that God always keeps his promises. People fail in their promises, but God never does. By tracing some of the major stories of Abraham and his family, we teach kids that God keeps his promises to love us, to provide for us, to forgive us and to be with us no matter what.

Elementary students are challenged in this unit to read some of the more PG rated stories about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Esau and Joseph with their parents. By reading these stories together, they see that this family- God’s chosen family to begin a new nation- is not perfect. They make mistakes-sometimes really, really big mistakes. They have great hurts and sadness. We can find great hope in these stories for our own families. Included in this unit is a challenge calendar and brief weekly devotional thoughts to help empower parents to dig into this Bible reading challenge with their children.

Preschool students will playfully discover these same truths, making spoon puppets, playing dress up along the ways. Through playful lesson time, simple crafts and games with caring and faithful teachers, preschoolers experience the unending love of God.

To purchase Pre-School lessons, click here

To purchase Kindergarten-2nd grade lessons, click here

To purchase 3rd-5th grade lessons, click here

Bundles

To purchase both Pre-School and Kindergarten-2nd grade lessons, click here

To purchase both Kindergarten-2nd grade and 3rd-5th grade lessons, click here

To purchase both Pre-School and 3rd-5th grade lessons, click here

Click here to purchase the bundle for all ages God’s Promised Family of Abraham for all ages!

Purchase Upside-Down Jesus (grades K-2)

Untitled design

Want your kindergarten-2nd grade students to know the upside nature of Jesus’ teachings vs. what humans think? Upside Down Jesus is a Four week unit designed to teach kids Jesus’ teaching on blessings, love, friendship, money and appearances. This unit includes the Beatitudes, the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21) and more.

In this unit, children will create a class craft project for someone who exemplifies the monthly memory verse “If anyone wants to be first,he must be the very last and a servant of all.” Mark 9:35. They will also build barns out of spaghetti noodles and marshmallows as they learn about the Parable of the Rich Fool, play with Conversation Heart candy to explore our view of love vs. Jesus’ teaching and find hidden messages in their heart project to uncover Jesus’ teaching about hypocrisy.

 

Pennsylvania or non-Pennsylvania Resident?



Purchase Upside-Down Jesus (both grades K-2 and 3-5)

Featured

Untitled designUpside Down Jesus, a four week unit exploring the upside down ways Jesus taught about life, love, money and people is now available for purchase as part of KidMin Sunday School Curriculum.

In this unit children will explore:

  • The upside down nature of the Beatitudes and make a group craft project for someone who personifies the humble nature of this passage.
  • The upside down story of the Parable of the Rich Young Fool through dramatic play and a barn building activity with marshmallows and spaghetti
  • The upside down way Jesus talked about love compared with our culture’s view of love in advertising and Valentine candy including a science project
  • The upside down way Jesus looked at people- at their hearts, not their actions featuring a candy experiment and heart crafts
  • Memory Verse comes from Mark 9:35- Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last and the servant of all.


Pennsylvania or non-Pennsylvania resident?



Brick by Brick

Re-building Time

As you may recall,  our church had a catastrophic fire on May 4, 2015. You can read a little of our fire story here and here. Since that day, we have been doing ministry with scotch tape and glue and bandaids (metaphorically speaking). Nearly ever part of our ministry has been tweaked and re-evaluated out of necessity. Today, I’m sharing a few strategies and lessons learned through this summer of re-building.

1. In a Crisis, We NEED to Have FUN!

The only thing I knew for sure when we started planning for VBS was that it had to be off the charts fun for the kids and the leaders. With all the emotions coming out of the fire, we needed to just get messy and silly and have fun with kids. We needed to laugh. We needed to throw cheeseballs at each other and dump water on each other’s heads and do the things we normally would never do for fear of the mess. Having fun with kids while teaching them to Trust God in All of Life’s Messes pushed the lessons deeper into their hearts. Fun is a balm to weary souls and a way to connect deeper than we ever think with the kids we serve. They won’t forget the lengths we went to and the messes we endured for them this summer- and NEITHER WILL WE. Fun and silliness matters.

2. Building Relationships Within the Community Matters

Our congregation has a history of being involved in our community.  We made sandwiches and handed out water bottles and flood buckets for flood victims in our area, we gave donuts, coffee and handwritten notes of appreciation to the teachers of our community as part of our Random Acts of Christmas Kindness campaign. We reach out to our community. Never in a million years did we do that strategically to get something back from the community- it was all about serving God and bringing him glory. But in serving Him and building relationships with the schools and community leaders, we have been overwhelmed with support and assistance from those same leaders. Susquehanna University offered us space to worship. Area churches held fundraisers or took up special offerings for us. We held meetings in the library and community rooms. The offers of help and support were so numerous it literally took weeks to sort through them all.  We may not see these community leaders in worship with us, but we know for certain the work we have done to love and serve them has made an impact. We need each other- churches, schools, city government and neighbors. Investing time and resources outside our church walls to serve our community is valuable and WORTH. EVERY. EFFORT.

3. Great Ministry Does Not Have to Be Expensive.

Mess-a-Palooza VBS ended up costing around $1,000. I realize that may seem expensive to some, but it is less than half what I expected to spend using the curriculum I had purchased (and we were going to be doing that really cheaply to make it happen). Remember, we had absolutely NOTHING to start with- every item in my supply closets and cabinets were thrown out in the clean up process. Every marker, paper and bucket was a new purchase. We held Mess-a-Palooza at a local park so a good portion of our budget was related to being there- donations for the use of the park, signage we probably wouldn’t have made if not at the park etc.

If we had run this same VBS at our church with the supplies we already had, I think we could have done it for a lot less. And here’s the kicker- WE HAD THE BEST VBS EVER! That’s not me bragging about my product- that is what I heard from team members and kids who attended. We had a blast getting messy and learning to Trust God. It was awesome and I can’t wait to do it again next summer.

4. Take Time for Rest and Sabbath 

This is a lesson learned from doing the opposite for much of the summer.  Summer is always a crazy time for me. But this summer was like any busy summer we’ve ever had on steroids. The demands of creating a VBS from scratch in 8 weeks, continuing to write each week’s Sunday School lessons (while taking into account our strange classroom space and limited classroom resources), unending inventory sheets to be completed with pricing information, continuing to edit and work on the behind the scenes of this website and keep up with the needs of my family was overwhelming. I didn’t always manage it well. By the beginning of August, the stress and anxiety were wreaking havoc on my whole being. I knew I had to make some changes.

My amazing husband helped me tremendously in finding space for rest. We took a last minute trip as a family to NYC to see some incredible theatre, making memories and sharing laughter that was sorely needed. But I also started reminding myself to settle down, to be gentle with myself and to make space for quiet, for study and for worship. I am still working on finding space each day and each week for the things that refresh my soul and draw me closer to God. What works for me isn’t going to work for everyone. I may share a little more of this later this week for those who need ideas.

5. TRUST GOD!

At every turn in this season of messiness and heartache, God has provided everything we need.  His leading has been so clear to me when I remember that he has this all under control. My worry or stress is not going to make a bit of difference (in fact it usually makes things worse). When I lean into God, he gives me what I need, far more abundantly than I can imagine.

All summer, two verses that I have loved have come to mind over and over again.  The first is the theme verse of Mess-a-Palooza VBS:

Do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

We talked all summer about how God is with us. He’s so strong and mighty he can hold us up in one hand (with one hand tied behind his back we sometimes joked). When it all got too much, I sang our favorite Seeds Family Worship song with this verse. (Here’s a great video by another kids ministry with that song)

The other verse I have remembered over and over was the theme verse from one of our previous capitol campaigns.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Ephesians 3:20-21

He has and will continue to do immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine. His power is at work within me and within our church and within all who call on his name. Any glory from the re-building process or anything we have done this summer goes fully and completely to HIM.

 

To the Church in Crisis: Our Children are Watching

To the Church in crisis

As I’ve shared here and here and here, our church suffered a catastrophic fire early this week. Below is a message from me to the our church, but the overall message would apply to any church in any time of crisis.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We are facing a greater trial as a Body of Christ than most of us ever anticipated.  The future is full of uncertainty.  Almost every plan we had in place for the coming months are on hold or even shelved permanently.  Things we held sacred may not make sense any more.  It is hard, my friends, so very hard.

In the midst of this season of questions, I want to remind you of something very dear to me: our children and youth are watching every bit of this crisisTheir faith is being shaped by the words we say, the decisions we make and the way we behave.  We have a great responsibility to the next generation of believers to do this well.

Several years ago, we spent five weeks repeating those words in worship and Vacation Bible School – No matter who you are- TRUST GOD!  No matter how you feel- TRUST GOD!  No matter what people do- TRUST GOD! No matter what happens- TRUST GOD! No matter where you are- TRUST GOD!  Are we prepared to live this out right now?  We have to be.  The stakes are too high.

As we move forward, there will be strong feelings and opinions.  By nature of being displaced, we will have to do church differently.  We have to trust that God is directing our decisions.  I am reminded of King Jehoshaphat’s prayer in facing three armies swarming around Judah, ready to attack in 2nd Chronicles 20.  In verse 12 the king prays “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are fixed on you.” Can we fix our eyes on God and trust him to lead the way?

Can we dig deep into the promises of Scripture that our God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble?  Do we trust that we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us and that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus?  These are words your children have memorized over the last several years.  Now is the time to show them that we believe them.

Every one of us will have times over the next several months when we aren’t completely on board with a decision being made by leaders within the church.  That will always be the case.  How we choose to express those feelings matters so much more now.  If we are full of love and grace for one another, trusting that we are all trying to follow God the best way we know how, our kids will see that.  They will see a body of Christ working hard to BE the body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:31-32 says “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”  May we tattoo these words across our foreheads and inside our hearts as we move forward.  There is no wound quite so deep as a child hearing bitterness or ugliness about their parent from an adult church member.  As a leader with children who serves the children of our other leaders, this is so dear to me.  Be kind to one another…tenderhearted…forgiving one another as we have been forgiven.  This is a season where grace has to be the ultimate goal in all things.

I love this church and its people so much.  May we be knitted together in Christ’s love today and always.

In Christ’s Love,

Amanda

Trial and Error…a story of a craft gone wrong

BIGWriting curriculum takes me down some pretty crazy paths these days. As I get closer to being ready to launch the curriculum, I though I’d give you a sneak peek at what goes into creating these lessons.

I have been working on a unit about friends of Jesus whose lives were changed because of the time they spent with him. The lesson we are piloting this week (each lesson in KidMin Solutions curriculum is test piloted at CUMC) is about Mary Magdalene. Kids will explore why Mary Magdalene loved Jesus, staying stuck like glue to him even when it was really hard. Our Big News will be Jesus loves us and sticks with us no matter what.

As I was thinking about how to tell this story to our K-2nd graders, I wanted lots of stickiness in our crafts, Bible story and other reinforcing activities. Not in a “sticky faith” sens (although that’s always my goal), but actual stickiness to engage the senses as we learned.  My first step was deciding to use a sticky play dough or slime to help tell the story.  Children will stretch and mold this sticky slime while engaging with the Bible story.

My first stop when looking for ideas for crafts is Pinterest, so I headed there to find the best sticky, slimy dough. As I perused Pinterest for slimy dough options, I found a really fun looking craft idea that perfectly fit my theme- make your own window clings. The lesson applications practically wrote itself, connecting both our memory verse for the month (Romans 8:38-39) and our Bible story. The kids could take home a tangible reminder that Jesus’ love sticks with them no matter what. Better yet, the blog I found called for things I had on hand- waxed paper, glue and food coloring. Score!

I mixed a few drops of food coloring into my glue, poured it into a squeeze bottle and free hand glued a heart shape on my waxed paper. It spread into a round blob.  No good.  I tried using a cookie cutter as a boundary. The glue still spread and I didn’t have nearly enough heart shaped cookie cutters to make that feasible and wasn’t about to buy more because I knew the average Sunday School teacher probably wouldn’t want to do that. I left the glue to dry overnight to see what would happen in the morning. If the clings worked, I could modify my shape or find something to thicken the glue.

The next morning, my glue shapes were all dry. I peeled them off the waxed paper and attempted to stick them to my window. No go. They were not even a little bit sticky. Back to Pinterest. Several other blogs suggested using page protectors to paint or  squirt the glue on and also added a little dish soap to the glue.  I added dish soap to the glue I’d already mixed up, but they still spread like crazy. So frustrating!

At that point, I could have scrapped the whole activity and gone in a different direction.  But I have a feeling our kids will love the idea of making something they can stick on their window or mirror.  So I continued experimenting, leaving the glue to thicken overnight before using it and adding a little gelatin to the mixture.  These experiments are drying on my counter right now.  I’m not certain they will work, but it looks promising.  So far, my hearts are still recognizable hearts.

My adventures in glue and slime are all about finding fun and unusual ways to help kids connect with Biblical truths. I have a ton of boys in our elementary classes. They are not interested in coloring. They are only marginally interested in crafts at all. So the more I find something messy (but not so messy that my teachers spend hours cleaning up or Susie’s pretty church dress gets ruined), something weird or something that engages more senses, the happier they are. A few weeks ago, we painted with jelly bean paint- they were thrilled It’s a balancing act between these crazy antics and getting the message across, but it’s one I’m willing to work on. Our kids are worth this crazy trial and error.  Even if my kitchen is overrun with glue bottles every now and then.

Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt- Overview

ADMITI mentioned last week that one of the best things I did in children’s ministry last year was change our Easter Egg Hunt to an Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt.  A reader (hooray!) emailed to ask for more details about this event, so I’ll be sharing more about what we did in a few posts over the next few days.  Today, I’ll share an overview of our event.  Next week, I may share more details about specific elements of our Scavenger Hunt.

My inspiration for this event was from Sam Luce’s blog.  I’ve never been a fan of Egg Hunts because of the behaviors they tend to bring out in kids and even parents.  Being in Pennsylvania, we also combat unknown weather challenges (I will never forget spending an hour hiding eggs all over the local park we use in the freezing rain only to have 25 kids show up).  So after reading Sam’s blog and doing a little more thinking and praying, a team member and I decided to run with the idea of an indoor egg hunt.

As families arrived at the event (which was a two hour, come as you can kind of event), they were given maps of the church with the four stations highlighted.  As families completed each station, a team member stamped their map.  The stamp was their key to earning tickets for prizes. Each station had up to one hundred laminated paper eggs (that we had our congregation decorate in the weeks before the event) taped to the walls and furniture in obvious and creative ways as well as a theme.  This extended the engagement of the event.

Our goal is always to make things simple and provide as many ways as possible for a child and their family to encounter Jesus.  Our stations were intended to give parents tools to talk about what Easter was really about while still having fun and getting candy and prizes.

Sanctuary- The Life of Jesus

In the sanctuary (where families began), in addition to having over 100 paper eggs hidden around the room, we brought all of the art from around the church of Jesus’ life and placed it up front for families to see.  In retrospect, we should have put this in a smaller room to have more impact as the sanctuary is so large and there were a lot of eggs to find.  We played praise music that talked about Jesus’ life and love for us in this station.

Nursery-Resurrection Eggs

Each family could make a set of Resurrection Eggs in this station.  We had a set of cards (both a preschool version and an elementary version) to help families go through the eggs and talk about the Crusifixion and Resurrection of Jesus in an accessible way.  We had options for what to stuff each egg with, making them a little more personalized.  I will share more about this next week.

Youth Room- Egg-palooza

This classroom is at the end of a hallway that we were concerned would get congested, so it was strictly a “see how many eggs you can find” station.  One of our youth helpers taped some eggs to himself and hid around the room to add to the fun.

Fellowship Hall- Craft and Prizes

We had a very simple Easter craft set up at one end of this large room- foam crosses with stickers that children could decorate (this was leftover from VBS).  At the other end of the room, children brought their maps (each station stamped the map when families left) to get tickets and choose their prizes.  We kept it very simple- each stamp was worth five tickets so each child could earn twenty tickets maximum.  Prizes were candy and trinkets with a few larger items like Seeds Family Worship and VBS CDs.  Every child got a bag of candy simliar to what we had given out at past Easter Egg Hunts.

Overall, it was a successful event.  We drew a lot of families from our preschool (many of whom are not members of any church), but not as many older children.  We didn’t have the number of children we had from our usual outdoor Easter Egg Hunt on  a nice day, but everyone who came left with a big smile on their face, with tools for their family to experience Holy Week in a new way.  Reggie Joiner says we have to define the win for any given event so people don’t make up their own definition of what a win is- happy families equipped to talk about Easter at home was our win.

 

My Worst KidMin Choices of 2014

WORST KIDMIN

It is certainly easier to blog about the best kidmin choices I made in 2014 than the worst choices, but I think both are necessary for growth as a leader.  Maybe by sharing a few of my worst choices from last year, I can save you from making some of these mistakes too.  These are a little more general than my best choices from Monday because I hope they will be more applicable for you in your kidmin setting.

1. Valuing convenience and busy schedules over relationship

Perhaps the greatest lesson I’ve learned in the past year is that all the best things in life and in ministry are about relationships with other people.  Unfortunately, even though a part of me knew this to be true, I made choices last year with my crazy calendar in mind instead.

Two key places this really hurt my work in kidmin were in preparation for VBS and with my Sunday School team.  I was so concerned with how busy everyone is that I chose to create online training and meetings almost exclusively.  While I believe that an online or paper training packet can be a good back up, I realized that it was more important to sit around a table and talk with my teams.  Without face to face, eyeball to eyeball conversation, we lose sight of the team and building relationships with one another.  So often my Sunday School teachers and VBS team have excellent ideas for how to improve our ministry, but unless I’m sitting with them at the table, they may not share these ideas with me.

 

2. I battled procrastination and lost more often than I would like to admit.

Procrastination is probably my worst habit.  I intend to get lessons sent out in ample time and get distracted by any number of rabbit trails- anything from Facebook or other social media outlets to a phone call or getting bogged down in researching a minor detail of the Scripture the lesson I am working on is based upon (often this detail will not even become part of the lesson)  There was an evening last summer that I spent an hour trying to find information about hummingbirds for an analogy that I ended up not even using.  But more than that somewhat useful rabbit trail, I far too often procrastinated writing or the less glamorous parts of ministry (paperwork and organization of supplies) for personal distractions of reading or surfing the internet.  My procrastination typically led to me scrambling to get the work done at the last minute.  When this happens, something or someone else suffers, usually my husband or children.  This is one choice that I must fight to change in 2015.

3. Not utilizing my team’s gifts

I have a fantastic team of Sunday School teachers who are all endlessly creative and able to modify lessons to meet their own strengths.  But in order to do this, they need preparation time.  All to often, my procrastination (see number 2) meant they did not have this time.

In addition to this, I didn’t include them in the planning process for our units of study, allowing them to suggest activities or crafts that might help children learn.  Most of my team has been teaching for Sunday School for many years and knows their classes very well. Who better to bounce ideas off of than these fantastic teachers?

4. Sticking with a familiar plan even though it doesn’t seem to work any more.

We have an extremely small preschool class this year in Sunday School.  Going into this year, my teachers had wondered how this would work, but I decided to forge ahead as usual.  One of these students has special needs and I wasn’t sure how he would respond to joining the larger K-2nd grade class.  Because this class was so small, there were weeks where we didn’t have a class at all or only had one student.  We attempted to have class (because we have a roamer, this is acceptable under our Safe Sanctuaries policy).  This was not exactly disastrous, but not the best practice.  We are making changes this winter to adapt our model of teaching in our preschool-2nd grade class to better suit both the teachers’ and children’s needs.

5. Missing God moments in pursuit of productivity

Even with my tendency to procrastinate, I can also be a worker bee, keeping my head down and getting work done without noticing the little moments of joy and God’s work.  Get it done becomes my mantra and it takes an earthquake to shake me from task.  Now that I see this in myself, I can’t help but wonder how many God moments and opportunities for joy and wonder I have missed.  All I can say is that I am so glad that God knows me and my habits and loves me anyway.

I will be sharing my goals and dreams for 2015 on Friday.  I think you will see some connection between these bad choices and my goals for 2015.

My Top 5 KidMin Choices of 2014

MyI’m always a little slow with my end of the year reflection and New Year goals.  It’s not unusual for me to start making a New Year’s resolution on January 10th.  So why would my blogging be any different?

I started writing a best and worst choices of 2014 post last week (while it was still 2014), but I realized I needed a little more time and focus to have meaningful reflections.  This week, I hope to share with you the best and worst choices I made in KidMin last year as well as my hopes and dreams for 2015.  Since I’m a positive person by nature, we’re starting with the best choices I made in 2014.  Wednesday, I’ll share my worst KidMin choices of 2014.  Friday, I’ll share my goals and dreams for 2015.

My Top Five KidMin Choices of 2014

Top Five KidMin Choices of 2014

  1. Moving from a traditional Easter Egg Hunt to an indoor scavenger hunt.   I will be sharing more of the details as Lent draws closer, but this was far and away my favorite event of 2014.  If you are not a fan of the behaviors a traditional Easter Egg hunt brings out (not just in children), don’t be afraid to shake things up.  We had a fantastic turn out and everyone left with smiles on their faces.
  2. Introducing station days to Sunday School– our kids really enjoy the change of pace a station day brings.  I’ve talked about our prayer stations and other ideas before.  It might be my favorite teaching strategy of 2014.
  3. Making VBS Sunday a celebration with simplicity– in years past, we have dabbled in all kinds of different ways to celebrate the end of VBS.  Partially due to the theme of Weird Animals and partially due to our new Outdoor Worship Center, we conceived a time of worship (led by the kids), a quick hot dog lunch and a special program by Reptileland, a local zoo focused on (big surprise) reptiles.  We had a great turnout, not only from our congregation, but also from the families who attended both preschool and elementary VBS.  It was fun, it was memorable, it was simple and it was worshipful.  As I start planning for VBS 2015, this simple and memorable celebration is at the forefront of my mind.
  4. Attending Orange Tour with a team.  We took a portion of our youth and children’s ministry teams this year to Lancaster, PA for Orange Tour.  Time together to learn and experience new ideas is invaluable and the Orange Tour is a very affordable way to do this.  One of the best after effects of this day away was the shared vocabulary with my team.  Having team members hear from Reggie Joiner and others about strategy in children, youth and family ministry was very valuable as we worked together to solve problems and plan for 2015.
  5. Finding ways to be part of the local school district (particularly the elementary school) events and programs so that district officials and teachers know that  CUMC is a church that cares about the kids of our community.  This can be challenging, but so valuable.  A few ways we worked with schools in our area in 2014 were:  serving in the preparation and distribution of meals for kids in need as part of a community outreach mission, participating in the the elementary school’s Trunk or Treat event (we passed out pretzels and glow sticks attached to fliers about our church), making connections with the school nurses to support any kids in need and a church wide random act of Christmas kindness sharing encouragement and love to the teachers in our district by sending hand written thank you notes, Dunkin Donuts and coffee.  The middle school principal (who is usually rather stern) was downright giddy thinking about how he would share our donuts, coffee and cards with his teachers.  This year in particular, our school district has needed support from the community.  We have been happy to step up and be part of this support in as many big and small ways as we can.

What were the best choices you made in children’s ministry in 2014?  What ideas do you have for making 2015 even better?