Ermira Kollarja is planting a church in Fushe-Mezes (a suburb of the Albanian capital, Tirana). Since last month 70 kids from the local area have been turning up to their programs and Ermira asked for ideas – including ideas for Christmas. A couple of days ago I sent out a short message to a few in our network – and some of the many planters doing things for kids in their communities have quickly responded with a bunch of creative kids’ ministry ideas. Thanks to all who responded with ideas below. I thought all planters would appreciate getting these.
I have also posted these ideas on our blog/website – where you will also find an excellent article entitled The Parent Factor by Melissa Hambrick from Outreach magazine (recommended by Julie Weslake). You can go direct to this site by clicking on https://www.newchurchlife.com/index.php/kids-ministry-ideas/ – where you can also share your comments and add your ministry ideas. You can also send more ministry ideas to me (by email) and I will make these available on the blog.
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS – 04 Dec 06 Kids Special
Stories, resources, websites & equipping – including:
· KIDS – CREATIVE IDEAS FROM DANA KING
· KIDS – SOME KEYS ‘LEARNINGS’ FROM JIGSAW
· KIDS – MINISTRY IDEAS FROM NETHERLANDS PLANTERS!
· KIDS – CHRISTMAS IDEAS
· KIDS – IDEAS FROM ROSEMARY LETHBRIDGE
· KIDS ACTION NIGHTS – WORK WELL!
KIDS – CREATIVE IDEAS FROM DANA KING: Dana and Leslie King moved to Yeovil, England to plant a church. Two plants have been cultivated – and a community ministry involving hundreds of kids and a local charity to foster support has been established. Dana shares a few principles – and some very practical ideas:
· Involve community kids in planning and leading: Let them plan the day trips of their choice, the advertising for their friends and the incentives that will encourage them to involve their friends. Involve them in planning “bring-a-friend picnics” and have them cook. It will build their trust and confidence.
· Plan events that serve the community and create a positive image of young people – thus creating community ownership and reducing local crime. Form youth groups that evaluate the needs of young people and then empower them to take it to their local city councils – thus giving them a positive voice in steering local developments. Get them filming and using their technical skills to serve the community. Have them produce a local newsletter portraying all local community events – or informing people of all of the creative and useful community services. Have kids or youth host events for other groups in the – such as the elderly or disabled. Get involved in cleaning a pond or local park – or painting a wall.
· Involve families – and meet their needs. Plan Family Day Trips. Always invite parents to end-of-term sessions for kids clubs and activities – and get them to bring the food, take the photographs and contact the news media (for promotion and news reports). Plan for the transition times for their children – such as the time when small children start school. Work with schools to bring parents together with other parents to help their children settle into starting school or changing school. If the kids are happy with you the parents will always support you and cheer you on – and they become a captive audience and close friends.
· Never feel you have to verbally spill or seep the gospel to them. Kids are crying out for love, attention and time. Play pool with them, listen to them, be there for them, support them, empower them – just love them and love being with them. This is living the gospel. It is far more powerful than the verbal. They have enough verbal from their teachers and parents.
· We have found that the 'be with' factor is real. It changes lives and habits they see and experience it in action and want it. They will come to you for advice for you will be the most positive adult role model in their lives – and the most influential because you love them, you are not their parents and you don't make demands on them. We have young people that came up through our clubs now employed by us and volunteering for our projects. They carry and transfer our values and have become a strong influence for good in the community.
KIDS – SOME KEYS ‘LEARNINGS’ FROM JIGSAW: Jigsaw is a creative ministry in Fremantle, Western Australia – that may even emerge as a church plant. Brad Flynn shares the following insights from the past 6-8 months. This may give you some ideas to brainstorm around:
1) Kid’s Holiday programs are a great start! We’ve been utilising the Group publishing resources such as Serengeti, Bug Safari, Lava Lava etc. We’re just about to do one in the week leading up to Christmas. Parents “love” the opportunity to have their kids involved in the program while they go shopping. We’ve had a few kids from the holiday program join Jigsaw regularly – but not many (because at the present time it meets on Saturday mornings!). However, it’s great to interact with local community more and make new friends. It energises (and often exhausts!) everyone – and we all love it.
2) Multi-age grouping works really well! While sports clubs and schools group the kids into their age groups, we’ve discovered that kids really enjoy interacting with kids outside their peer group, both older and younger. The older children can “look out” for the younger ones and the young ones “look up” to the older kids. Sometimes there is an initial “shy” period for the younger children, but soon they become more comfortable and they often “rise up” to where their older friends are at.
3) Kid’s love to lead and do. We created name badges for different roles in our program so the kids can choose to be “tribal song leaders” (pick the songs and lead the actions), “tribal DJ” (cue up and play the background music) and “prayer warriors” (praying for the group). We’ve found that the kids love to participate in the running of the programs – not just to be spectators while the adults do the music, the prayers and the stories. When we do a story, we try to get as many kids “acting” or narrating as possible. It’s not as slick and it’s a bit rougher than if the adults did it all – but the kids love it. Perhaps the most important thing is that we are helping to develop their skills and are emphasising a simple, interactive, participative model of church.
4) Saturday morning – is not the best time for kids programs. While gathering on a Saturday morning works for Adventist families, most of our community children can find it a challenge due to:
a. Shifting between staying with separated parents on alternate weekends.
b. Playing sport.
c. Going away or going shopping.We are thinking of running an after school program next year, which would allow more community children to be regularly involved.
5) The more adults and youth involved – the better. We’ve found that a significant time in our weekly gathering (for Jigsaw) is the art/craft/cooking time where the kids and adults sit next to each other and create. The relationships that are formed between the adults and kids in the 20-25 minutes are laying a foundation for the children to feel valued in the community and to have “mentors” to talk to. A new girl spent 20 minutes at my wife Annette’s craft station – and then when she saw my wife next week, they were “best friends”! Working as a volunteer in my local government primary school, I have found that that many children are hungry for love and a little attention from adults.
6) “Go with the flow” programming. We’ve found that the program usually never runs according to our running sheet – we often have to “go with the flow” and make last minute changes. Kids are sometimes late, the length of the activities can vary and numbers fluctuate. But the success is not whether we timed everything correctly or in the right order, but whether we achieved our goals. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t achieve them all that week, but there’s always next week!
KIDS – MINISTRY IDEAS FROM NETHERLANDS PLANTERS! Here are ideas from three church plants in the Netherlands:
The Middelpunt church planting team use GAME NIGHTS – where teenage kids from the neighbourhood bring their own gear (like TV-sets and game boxes) to a rented community centre and have the time of their life, gaming all night. Middelpunt also have a GIRLS CLUB for young girls who come together like a small group. They share an ‘ice breaker’, watch part of a Bible or other DVD and talk about it. They then pray conversationally and do crafts or learn how to use make up the right way. Kids and families from both groups also participate in camping weekends and attend WORSHIP NIGHTS – a community worship time every two months.
The Almaarmere church plant conducts Binnenstebuiten – blocks of five Saturday morning programs (11.00-12.30) with an overall theme. All in the church plant are involved – and up to 40 kids from the neighbourhood join the planters’ 13 kids during those weeks. (After each block of 5 weeks the planters take a break for 3 weeks to prepare for the next series. It works well and helps save the small planting team from burnout.) The church plant uses the local community school for their activities – and a typical morning follows this plan:
11.00-11.20 Play Time takes place in a central school room where kids choose a game, puzzle or handicraft and adult leaders join in and talk with them.
11.20-11.35 Small Groups: The kids join small groups (a little according to age) and they discuss “How was your week?” and are introduced to the Bible story theme for the day – often in the form of a gimmick.
11.35-12.00 Song time & Story: All the kids and adults meet in a playroom and join in a “roaring song time” and the Bible Story – told with drama, plays, puppets, movies and visual presentations.
12.00-12.30 Small Groups: The kids then go back into small groups and the story is told again using crafts or games.On the last Saturday of each block of five weeks all parents are invited – sometimes at 11.00 am and sometimes later in the program. The parents are actively involved in the program at that time.
The E Kompas team conducted a WEEK ON SEXUALITY for community kids. The kids were placed in two age groups – with all sharing together on the first and last evenings of the week. On the other evenings themes were addressed in ways relevant to their ages. On the last evening a dinner was prepared and served to the young people by the adults.
KIDS – CHRISTMAS IDEAS: Here are some Christmas ideas from planters in Sydney, Australia:
· CHRISTMAS SHOEBOX: Kids go out to the community to invite people to pack a shoebox with toys, candies, books, etc. These shoeboxes are collected and then distributed to needy families with kids.
· SCHOOL BREAK CRECHE: Organize different activities and workshops during the school holidays. These usually run for 2-4 hours every day. Parents sign in their kids and leave them at the church/community center and have time to go shopping, etc. These are promoted in the schools and local community.
· NATIVITY PLAYS: This is for kids who like action, singing and drama. Invite them to be part of a program that is performed for parents and the community – like at the community Christmas Carols.
· KIDS CHOIR: Organize a kid’s choir for Christmas and invite kids from the community to be part of it. They can sing at different occasions like the community Christmas Carols.
KIDS – IDEAS FROM ROSEMARY LETHBRIDGE: Rosemary uses very creative ideas as a planter – now planning a new plant (The Watering Hole) in Southampton, England:
· CARD MAKING: In the UK card making is the number one hobby at the moment. Plan a Christmas card making class. Everyone needs cards so why not have fun making that special handmade card for that extra special person. This event works well in an intergenerational setting. There are card making websites – or, I am sure that someone's friend is already a card maker so why not ask them to lead a class for the novices.
· CARD & MINCE PIE PARTY: Buy a bundle of cheap Christmas cards. Sign them while filling your face with mince pies and hot chocolate – and then go out carol singing. In the UK people expect carolers to ask for money – so why not turn the tables on them and surprise them with handing them one of your Christmas cards and NOT asking for any money.
· CHRISTMAS DAY DROP IN: This is NOT a church service – but a chance for anyone (as families or on their own) to “pop in” on Christmas day for a few moments or even to spend the day at your worship or community centre. Ask local retailers and hoteliers to provide snack food with a Christmas theme. Have kids involved singing or presenting skits. Then plan to spend the day having fun.
· IDEAS: If you need some ideas for a Christmas service then why not make a donation to Spurgeons (one of the UK’s largest Christian charities working with children, young people and families) and ask for their Ants Christmas pack. Go to http://www.spurgeonschristmas.org/ . The CD, invitations, posters, drams scripts etc give a new and fun twist to the Christmas story.
· BALLOON PARTY: Use balloons to create all sorts of Christmas characters – and give prizes for the most creative. (Obviously this event also needs food!)
KIDS ACTION NIGHTS – WORK WELL! “Kid’s Action Night – is running in Tampere and it works well," reports Atte Helminen from Finland. "Some 80 community kids come regularly for this action and spiritually filled event." Established churches, church plants and home churches are using this ministry idea. Go to http://www.kidsactionnight.fi/index.php?sivu=english to get details on how it works. This is something you could use for the kids in your community.