Monthly Archives

July 2014

Books Kids with Special Needs

A Bible for kids with Autism

July 31, 2014


When I was at CPC2014 in Orlando I had the opportunity to meet Sergio Cariello.  He is the guy who illustrated The Action Bible.

What I love about this Bible, is that it is a Graphic Novel.  It is also full color & the pages are glossy paper.  My son who has autism has some sensory challenges and he doesn’t like to touch most paper.  However, because The Action Bible is made with glossy paper, the texture does not bother him.

The Action Bible makes a great option for kids who have  challenges reading.   It’s graphic novel style helps tell the stories of the Bible in a way that speaks to their learning style.  It’s also a great option for children who have sensory issues because of the glossy pages.

What resources do you use in your children’s ministry to help kids with special needs?


How do millionaires become billionaires?

July 28, 2014


Someone once told me that if a millionaire wants to become a billionaire, then they need to spend time hanging out with billionaires.

In order for a millionaire to become a billionaire, they must first learn everything they can from people who are already at the next level.  They learn what their goals and priorities are, they learn what their focus is, and how they make decisions.  They spend time with them, watching them, observing them, & seeing them in action.

If you want to become a better Kids Ministry Leader, then you need to spend time with people who are doing kids ministry at a higher level than you are.  What makes them a next level leader?
Here’s what to look for:

– they have a similar ministry to you, but have more responsibility

– they are from a church that is larger than yours (and their kids ministry is larger)

– they have more experience than you do

Once you find a next level leader, you need to connect with them, and spend time with them and learn from them.
Here are some suggestions:

– Go for coffee with a next level kids leader who is in your area.  Have a list of questions prepared that you can ask them about how they lead.

– Go visit a church on a Sunday morning to see their kids ministry in action.  Walk around with them & observe them as they connect with their volunteers.  Visit their office.  What do you notice?

– Take a team of volunteers with you to go visit a church that does a great job doing kids ministry

– If you don’t have a church in your area, is there one within a day’s drive that you can go visit?  (I have driven 8-10 hours just to go visit churches)

– Find a next level leader online & connect with them. is a great place to start.

Are you striving to improve how you lead?  If you are, then you should be hanging out with next level leaders, and in time, you will become like them.


EPIC Volunteers

July 25, 2014


EPIC takes place every summer at our church.  It’s the week where Kids Ministry takes over every square inch of the church, and helps kids learn about Jesus and have FUN!

It takes an incredible team of volunteers to make this happen.  All of them volunteer their time to make the week amazing for the kids.  Here is a list of our Leadership Team & what they do:

EPIC Director – oversees EPIC.  Communicates with the leadership team & helps them make their area of ministry happen.
Decor Leader – plans & designs the decor for EPIC.  Works with a team of volunteers to collect supplies & create ‘stuff’ to make the theme come alive.  I should mention that most of their decorations are made from cardboard that they paint & cut out.  Super LOW budget! 🙂
Admin Leader – works with the director to track registrations & admin stuff like name tags & lists of names.
Preschool Director – works with a team of adults to plan & lead the program for preschoolers.  We provide a program for children age 0-4 for the children of our volunteers.
Snack Leader – works with a team of volunteers to plan, & prepare snack for the kids every day.  They work hard to choose healthy snacks & food that goes with the theme each year.
Games Leader – plans & prepares the games for the kids.
Science Station Leader – each year we have chosen to include some kind of science creation every day instead of a craft.
Bible Station Leader – plans & prepares the Bible Lesson for the devotional station.
Stage Leader – works with the band,tech & stage team to make the open & closing sessions happen every day.

Other Important Volunteer Roles:

Crew Leaders – hang out with a group of 5 children every day & help them get to each station.
Registration Team – help kids check in & out every day.
Nurse – keeps us well supplied with band-aids.
Greeters – welcome people when they arrive & help direct them so that registration goes smoothly and quickly.
Preschool Team – run an entire program for the little kids so volunteers can leave their younger children in a high quality program while they serve.
Nursery Team – help with caring for babies of volunteers.
Photographers/Videographers – capture the events of the week on film so we can use footage for promo & appreciation events.
Volunteer Snacks – everyday we start the morning off with coffee & food for the volunteers before the kids arrive.  We have volunteers make snacks just for the volunteer team.
Family Event Carnival Team – organize carnival games, pony rides, bouncy castle etc. for the Family Event (Thursday evening).
Family Event Food Team – do everything needed to feed supper to all the kids and their families for Thursday Evening.
Parking Team – helps everyone find a place to park on the night of the Family Event
Shoppers – these people are given a list of supplies & they purchase what is needed for various stations
Missions Fund Raising Team – This year a team of people made jars of jam to sell at the Family Event to raise money for our missions projects.
Builders – sometimes we needed things built for our stations that required power tools or handy work.

Starbucks Runner – Ok, so maybe not a requirement, but it sure was nice to have someone go pick up an extra special treat for some hard working volunteers.

My role (Kids Pastor) is to make sure that everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing.  I work closely with the EPIC director and she works closely with the leadership team.  I pray for & encourage people as they serve.  I also make sure that hand written thank you cards get to each volunteer.  I don’t teach anything or lead any activities so that I am available to meet kids & parents & spend time with volunteers.




EPIC Science

July 24, 2014

Every summer we run an EPIC week for kids at our church.  It’s basically kids ministry on steroids.  The energy is high, the kids and volunteers are excited to be there and God does amazing things during the week.  Months of organization & preparation come to a conclusion at the end of this week, and each year we do it, it gets better and better.  We focus on helping kids grow closer to Jesus.  Some kids have never experienced church before, and others are used to coming regularly.  We post stories of what God is doing throughout the week on our “God Sightings” wall & it’s quite an experience at the end of the week to read story after story of lives that were impacted during the week.

This year we have 330 kids and a little over 150 volunteers.  It takes an incredible team to make everything happen with excellence.  Tomorrow’s post will be all about the team.  I will list the volunteer roles that are needed to make our EPIC week happen.


Disney & Kids Ministry Leadership

Leading a Team – Disney Style – Creating Magic

July 17, 2014
Creating Magic

This is one of my favourite books.  Creating Magic.  It’s a book about leadership.  It’s all about people.  Here’s a quote from the inside cover,

“It’s not the magic that makes it work, it’s the way we work that makes the magic.”

Leading a team is part of being a leader in kids ministry.  Lee Cockerell outlines some lessons that can help us as we lead a kids ministry team.

Continue Reading

Disney & Kids Ministry Leadership That's a cool idea!

Saying Goodbye – Disney Style

July 16, 2014
Disney Goodbye

Every time I go to Walt Disney World I notice how welcome they make you feel.  Everything from greeting you when you arrive at Magical Express at the airport, to the coach bus, to arriving at the resort, to arriving at the parks.  They do a great job of making you feel welcome.  But one thing I didn’t expect was for them to be just as intentional to say Thank you when we left.  Not only do they do a great job of welcoming you when you arrive, they are intentional about saying goodbye.

Continue Reading

That's a cool idea!

DIY Lego Wall

July 14, 2014


I went to my local library this past week and saw this Lego Wall when I was there.  Of course I took a pic & studied it to see how they made it.

Base Plates – 16 Gray 15×15.  You can find these on Ebay for about $15 each.

Shelf – the narrow shelf allows kids to get up close to the wall to do their creative artwork

Wallpaper Tray – x2.  These trays were the perfect size to fit on the shelf.

Lego – Ask for donations or purchase from Ebay.

Oh, and by the way, Congrats Germany!





That's a cool idea!

Do you have kids that forget to take home their crafts?

July 11, 2014


Preschoolers love to make crafts, color & do sticker art.  However, sometimes when it is time for them to go home, the artwork often gets left on the classroom table and doesn’t make it home to be displayed on the family fridge.

At our church we have a “clothesline” outside of the room.  When kids finish their artwork or craft, one of the volunteers hangs it on the clothesline outside the room.  When parents come to pick up their child, they check the line to find their child’s paper & it’s one less thing that the volunteers need to remember to do at pick up time.  We also hang the “parent page” on the same clothespin so parents grab that at the same time too.

Our ‘clothesline’ is made of lightweight rope and hung with 3M hooks that have a tab to remove them if necessary without damaging the walls.

That's a cool idea!

This idea helps keep preschoolers in the right spot

July 10, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 10.06.33 PM

2 and 3 year olds are just learning about sitting in a group setting and staying in their spot.

If you give them a visual place to sit or stand, it helps them stay in that space.

We found these little mats at Target.  They are about $3 each and are just the perfect size for preschoolers.  When it’s time to start Large Group, we play the clean up song.  Preschoolers help to clean up all the toys, and then they go get a mat.  They put their mat on the floor and during Large Group time we get them to sing songs & stay on their mat.  During story time, they sit on their mat.  They often need to be reminded to “stay on their mat” but at least it gives them a defined space where they need to stay.

That's a cool idea!

This simple idea helps us put kids into groups

July 9, 2014


Children in Kindergarten – Grade 6 are placed in small groups for Sunday Mornings.  We use a color system to help kids remember what group they are in.

When they arrive on Sunday morning, we give them a colored dot to put on their name tag.  That is the color of their small group.  Our sign-in sheet is also by color group.  We add their name to the section on our sheet that matches their color group.

Then when it is time for kids to go to their small group, it is easily identifiable for both kids and volunteers.   Red dot kids go with the red small group leader and sit on the red blanket.  We even have kids sit together as a small group during large group time, on the blanket that matches their group’s color.

We ordered our dots from Brodart, but dots can also be found from inventory supply stores found online.

Kids with Special Needs

3 Reasons why we have a Special Friends Ministry

July 8, 2014


I have a 13 year old son with special needs.  I know that he does not fit the typical mold for kids his age.  At school his teachers have made accommodations for him that allow him to learn and grow just like the other kids.

When children come to our church with unique challenges, I want to do everything I can to help them learn and grow just like the rest of the kids.  If our Sunday morning program doesn’t work for their learning needs, then we need to adapt the way in which we teach them.   We have a ministry called Special Friends.  It’s a volunteer role for one-on-one ministry.  The same volunteer spends time with the same child each week.

Here are 3 reasons why we have a Special Friends Ministry:

1.  Safety – A Special Friend can watch over the child with special needs, and help them be safe in a kids ministry environment.

2.  Growth – I know that each child with special needs is unique.  However, if they are able to grow & learn then we need to to all that we can to help them learn while they are at church.

3.  Parent Respite – Having a child with special needs can be challenging for the parents.  Giving them time where they can attend the adult service without worrying about their child is a huge gift that you can give them.

If kids can benefit from having a one-on-one volunteer with them, we find one for them.  Their role is to help that child feel safe, loved and accepted in the kids ministry environment, and to learn and grow in a way that is unique to them.  Here are the steps to making this happen:

#1. When a family attends for the first time, I make an extra effort to welcome them, chat with them & see how we can serve them.  If they plan on coming on a regular basis, then I start to look for someone to be their child’s Special Friend.
#2. The volunteer (Special Friend) meets with the parents of the child to find out about their specific needs and methods that will help them learn.
#3. The volunteer meets the child when the parents are there so they can interact together.
#4. Once they have connected, I leave the communication up to them.  They connect as needed, and adapt what they are doing as needed.
#5.  The volunteer goes with the child every week to the class.  They stay with the child as they move up in age groups.  They don’t help other children in the room, and they don’t teach the lesson to the class.  They are there to focus on that one child, and they have no other responsibilities.

The picture in this post is of a Special Friend Team at our church.  It is so great to see the two of them together.  The bond they have developed is truly amazing.


Leadership Motivating Volunteers

First Item on my Monday Morning To Do List

July 7, 2014


Summer is in full swing & we have lots happening on Sunday mornings at our church.  We have some of our regular volunteers as well as some parents and occasional volunteers helping in Kids Ministry during the summer.  I know that a lot of people could be out doing things on the weekends, especially when the weather is nice, so I really want people to know how much I appreciate them & the time they are taking to serve the kids and their families this summer.

So, the first thing on my “to do” list for Monday mornings this summer is to say THANK YOU!  I will email all the people who volunteered on the previous day, and thank them for taking the time to serve in Kids Ministry.

Throughout the year, I send Thank You cards to random people.  Sometimes it’s for going the extra mile, and sometimes it’s just to say thank you for faithfully serving.  That’s another Monday morning thing.  I write a hand written card and say something specific that I noticed.  Then I pop it in the snail mail box for them to receive some time that week.

Take the time to say Thank You.  It will make a huge difference.


Events Family Ministry Strategic Planning That's a cool idea!

Planning for Christmas yet?

July 2, 2014

I am starting to plan for the fall & the events that we will do for this next ministry year.

To kick off the Christmas Season, we have a Gingerbread Party on the last Saturday in November.  It is for families to build a Gingerbread House together.  We have several stations that families can go to:

Gingerbread Station – all the ingredients needed to build a Gingerbread House.  The house pieces are ready to be assembled.  The icing is ready to go in a piping bag & there are 6-8 kinds of candies on each table for them to decorate their house with.

Craft Station – a fun foam gingerbread man ready to decorate.  Glue & decorations ready to go.

Coloring Station – several options of Gingerbread people & houses ready for coloring.

Bounce House – to burn off some of that sugar.

Photo Booth – a professional photographer takes photos of families.  They are emailed a link where they can download their pics.

Snack Station – home made sweet treats to have a little snack so they don’t eat all the candy before it gets on the Gingerbread House.

Take Home Bag – info about our upcoming Christmas Events at our church, Christmas stickers & coloring sheets.

This event is for church families & for families from the community.  It’s a great opportunity for church families to invite non-church friends.

Recruiting Ideas That's a cool idea!

Don’t like kids? This volunteer role is for you!

July 1, 2014


Do you have people in your church who tell you that they don’t like to work with kids?  They can still be part of your kids ministry team!

Here are some of the roles we have in Kids Ministry that do not require people to be with the kids:

Bin Prep – For each age group we have a volunteer who does all the photocopying, chopping, cutting & prep for the Small Group Leaders.  They come in when it is convenient for them and get everything ready for Sunday Mornings.

Reference Checks – We check references for every person who volunteers in our Kids Ministry.  We have a volunteer who does all the emails/phone calls for all the new volunteers.

Birthday Cards – We send a hand made birthday card to every child.  We happen to have a retired person who loves to make cards do them for us.  She makes the cards, writes a message in each one & puts the address & stamp on the envelope.

We Miss You Cards – We track attendance for our kids.  If they are away for 3 Sundays, we send them a card.

Check-In – Volunteers help families with Electronic Check In & Sign-In at each room.

Decor Team – These people help with sets & props and work behind the scenes.  We also have a volunteer who decorates our Kids Space with the change of each season.

Resource Room Organizer – Although I do not have a regular person in this role, it is on my wish list.  Someone to keep the resource room organized & inventoried.

Sometimes people in these roles don’t mind being with kids, but they prefer to do these roles.  They are just as valued on our team as those who spend time with the kids.  Each person depends on the other, and that’s how they work together.

What roles do you have in your church that people could do if they don’t like to be with the kids?