5 Ways That Kids Can Serve in Kid’s Church

There is a common saying that says, “Children are the church of tomorrow.”

I HATE that saying.

The truth is that they can be the church of today, if we’ll let them. Everything that I think of when I think of being the church, they can do: salvation, worship, serving, leading, Spiritual growth, prayer. I see nothing in this lis that kids can do/be, if we will just give them the chance. It will mean setting up specific opportunities for children to be the church, but if we take the time to do this, it will be worth it. We have to remember that kids are not just little adults. They think, worship, and learn differently than we do. So, let’s set up opportunities for kids to BE the church that are design for them. With that in mind, here are 5 ways that kids can serve in kid’s church.

1.) Audio/Video: It was kind of a running joke in the 80’s that if you needed the clock set on a VCR, get a kid to do it. The truth is that they are usually pretty good with this tech stuff. For this reason running the A/V system is a great place for kids to serve. For most of my time leading children’s church  I had 4th of 5th graders that ran the computer for me. Running a powerpoint or other presentation software is simple, regardless of the age. With a little training I’ve even found that they could do a good job managing the soundboard.

2.) Worship Team: As an adult it is possible to get kids engaged in worship. But, it requires a lot more work than kids seeing their friends up there. Take time to teach them the motions. Be willing to let them be bad at it. Heck, even let them be a little goofy up there. Remember that the goal is to get them involved in the worship and for them to help get their friends more involved.

3.) Greeters: It’s great for new kids that come into your church to be greeted by friendly adults. It’s even better for them to be greeted and welcome by other kids. Train some kids to be greeters. Help them see he importance of it and show them what it looks like to do it well. Heck, they could even be placed at the front of the church with the grown up greeters.

4.) Buddies: Being the new kid in any situation can be difficult. This is no different in church. Train some kids to be “buddies” to the new kids. When a new kid shows up, assign them to their buddy. The buddy will then spend the day with the new kid. The goal is to make them feel comfortable from the beginning by giving them someone they can kinda feel like they know. It also gives them confidence that they will know where to go and what to do because their buddy will show them.

5.) Mentors: I remember a few years ago Craig Groeschel saying that at Life.Church, they have 5th graders mentoring kindergarteners. He said, “What 5th grader thinks that he can mentor a kindergartener? The one who has been told he can.” No matter how good a leader you are, no matter how cool you are, no matter how good you are with kids, the older kids will always be the ones that the younger kids look up to. How powerful could it be to disciple some older kids, and train them to disciple/mentor younger kids.

Bottom line: Ultimately the goal is to let kids BE the church. I’m convinced that part of the reason that so many leave church after high school is because they never really felt like they were part of it to begin with. Let’s allow them to be the church today.

Matt Norman

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5 Questions to Help Teach Your Kids Responsibility

Some time ago I asked my Facebook friends what their greatest parenting struggles were. This post is a response to one of those responses.

Laura wrote: “Knowing when to keep the reigns tight or let them step out on their own a little is another issue we struggle with.”

As much as we don’t want to admit it, our kids are growing up. Sometimes it seems like they get taller while they sleep. Even more importantly, they are growing in maturity. Some are doing this slower than others, but they are growing up. The struggle that Laura mentions is something even parent has to struggle with. This comes down to a question of responsibility. The amount to freedom you give them has to be in direct proportion to how responsible they are. It would be great if I could come up with a list of responsibilities and the right age at which they can handle them. If I could to that, I could write a book and travel around the world doing seminars. The problem is that every child is different, every family is different. Still, I think there are some thing she can explore that can help us answer this questions. So, here are five questions to help you teach your kids responsibility.

1.) What are their current responsibilities? Before we can talk about where are going we have to know where we are starting. If your answer to this question is “none”, then you may not be looking at it correctly. Are they expected to make their bed? To keep their room clean? In my house, my son has been feeding the dogs for the past few years. He’s 16 now and his sister is 9. Recently we passed down that responsibility to our daughter. This is, off course, in addition to things like keeping her room clean. Our son also has to take out the trash and do the dishes. He also is responsible for doing his home work. He’s in some pretty advanced classes. So, he often has quite a bit of home work. These are the sorts of things that your kids are probably already responsible for. Consider these. Make a list, even if only in your mind.

2.) How are they doing with these? Back when my son was still responsible for feeding the dogs, he would often forget. I explained to him the importance of him remembering this for himself. I explained that there was nothing wrong with using tools to help him remember. So, he set an alarm on his phone to remind him. My daughter does not have a phone, but she did set an alarm on her iPad. Once you’ve listed the current responsibilities your kids have, give some thought to how well they are doing with them. My son gets home from school before either my wife or I do. So, we expect him to get started on his homework when he gets home. He does a great job with this.

3.) Talk with them about it. Ok, this is not a question. More like an instruction, but it’s still good. After you’ve outlined the responsibilities and examined how well they are doing with them, you need to talk about it. Here are some steps to consider:

  • Point out the responsibilities they currently have.
  • Tell them what they are doing well with.
  • Help them to see the areas that they could improve on.
  • Show them some tools or ideas that can help them be successful with their current responsibilities.
  • Make sure they know that they can come to you for help in fulfilling these responsibilities.

4.) Did they grow after your talk? Now that you have helped your child see areas that they can improve and have given them some tools to help them do that, re-evaluate. Did they grow after your talk? Are they doing a better job now? If so, let them know. This is huge. They want to make you happy and giving them this reassurance will go a long way towards helping them really own their responsibilities. If they haven’t grown as much as you would like, talk with them again.

5.) What are some responsibilities you can give them next? From the beginning of this process, be thinking about what you can give them next. The goal isn’t to give them all the chores you don’t like doing, but to teach them responsibility. I’ll the first to admit that I like not having to take the trash out. But, that’s not the point. Consider what you will give them next, even before you think they are ready for it. Then, as they seem to be mastering their current responsibilities start training them for the next one. Finally, when the time is right, turn it over to them.

6.) Be nice! Ok, this is not a question either and it’s number 6. Consider it a bonus. Who doesn’t like getting a bonus. Anyways, be nice. Remember that you love these frustrating smaller versions of you. Remember that the goal is to help them grow, not to break their spirit. Trust me, if you are too hard on them they will actually end up moving backwards.

I hope this helps. I’d love to hear your stories of how you used these steps to teach your kids responsibility and how that went.

Matt Norman

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Would Jesus Drink Starbucks?

This time last year there was much discussion over the Starbucks cups. They had committed the most grievous of since by making their holiday cups just plain, red cups. As it approached time for Starbucks to reveal this year’s cup design it had me thinking, what would Jesus do? Ok, just kidding. I wasn’t really into the WWJD movement back in the day. But I really have been thinking about what all the hype over the Starbucks cups is really all about.

Here are a few thoughts on the topic:

  • No Christmas Trees: Starbucks Christmas coffee cup has no Christmas trees on it. Well guess what. Jesus never had a Christmas tree either. So, I doubt He’s offended because they left a tree off the cup.
  • No Reindeer: Unless I’m mistake, there were no reindeer in Bethlehem. So, by not putting reindeer on their Christmas cups they are actually MORE inline with the story of Jesus birth.
  • No Santa: Santa didn’t visit baby Jesus. Again, it would seem that by leaving Santa off of their cups they are actually closer to what we, as Christians’ celebrate at Christmas time.

Ok, these are a little tongue in cheek. Here are some serious thoughts about the issue.

Starbucks sells coffee.

At the end of the day Starbucks sells coffee. They will do what they think will help them sell more coffee. If that means a plain red cup, then they will use a plain red cup.

When you complain, Starbucks still wins. There is an old saying that even “bad” publicity is good publicity. When you fill up your social media feed with talk about Starbucks and their evil cups, you keep them on people’s minds. When those people want coffee, they are MORE likely to go to Starbucks because it is on the to of their mind.

Jesus never spoke out against such things. In fact the only people that Jesus ever spoke out against were the “church people”. Whenever we read of Jesus interacting with other people he did so with love.

Jesus probably WOULD drink Starbucks. Jesus turned water into wine, AFTER PEOPLE HAD ALREADY HAD MUCH TO DRINK. He had dinner with tax collectors, societal outcasts. He let a woman known for her sinful lifestyle wash his feet, because the “church people” wouldn’t. If He thought that there were lost people inside Starbucks I think He would walk right up in there and order a latte. I also don’t think He would have them put “Merry Christmas” on the cup as His name. He might say, “I Am”, or “Son of God” or “Son of Man” or “Savior of the world” or maybe “Messiah”, but probably not Merry Christmas.

God doesn’t need us to defend Him. If you are a Christian then you believe in the God of the Bible. This is the God that wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from the sky. This is the same God that flooded the entire earth because it had become so wicked. IF God is truly offended by Starbucks and their new cups, I think He can handle Himself.

The bottom line is this. It’s just a cup. The symbols that are missing from last years Christmas cups have nothing to do with Jesus anyways. So what if there are no snowflakes, Christmas trees, or jolly fat men. Christians need to stop complaining about such things.

I have a challenge for all these Christians that would have us not shop at Starbucks because of these cups. Try this and see how it works out for you: Go to Starbucks. Be polite and friendly to the barista and other customers. Smile and show them the love of Jesus.

Pay for the person behind you and maybe even the person behind them. In fact, just give the barista a $20 and pay for as many people as that will cover. Take it a step further and give her a $50 or $100 and buy as much coffee as that will buy.
Every time you want to complain about such things stop and think about it. Instead, go out and tell someone about the great things that Jesus has done for you. Share the gospel with them. In fact, anytime you feel the urge to complain about these types of things throughout your day, share the gospel with someone.

At the end of the day it is just a cup. Nobody is protesting red Solo cups and they have lead to more sin than a red Starbucks cup ever could. But, even if these cups were somehow sinful, the answer is not protest or boycott. Rather the answer is love and the sharing of the gospel. No one is going to come to Christ because they like the way Christians complain or fight. However, when they see how we love EVERYONE and they hear about the hope that is possible through Jesus Christ, then they just might be willing to give this Jesus person some thought.

Matt Norman

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From Playdoh to the Pulpit

I spent close to 10 years in children’s ministry and I LOVED it. I loved the kids. I loved playing games, planning events, and more. I loved teaching kids. I loved seeing kids understand Biblical principles and values, often for the first time. I loved seeing kids learn to love Jesus, to receive the gift of Grace from Jesus, and to start living for Him. I LOVED children’s ministry. But, somewhere along the line God decided it would be a good idea to point me in a different direction.

I still love Kidmin.

Yeah, that’s what us insiders call children’s ministry. See what we did there. Kidmin. Get it? Children’s ministry… kid’s ministry… Kidmin. Yeah, we kidmin types are pretty cool. Whatever you want to call it, I still LOVE ministry to children. I still love all the things listed above and more. Truth is I was completely content to spend the rest of my life in children’s ministry. In fact I was pretty sure that I was going to. So, what do I do when God decides that now it’s time to step out of children’s ministry and into something new. Well, if your smart, you do what God tells you to do.

From playdoh to the pulpit.

Throughout all my ministry I had never really considered that I might be a senior pastor some day. Sadly some people see children’s ministry or youth ministry as simply as step towards the role of senior pastor. It’s a “foot in the door” position for many. It was never that for me. I loved it. It was where I wanted to be. Sure, I enjoyed the few opportunities I had to speak in “big church”, but I was not working my way up to a “real pastor” job. I knew that, for the kids and families I ministered to, I WAS a pastor. Somehow I now find myself spending much less time playing with playdoh and much more time preparing for the pulpit.

Why the change?

Well, I certainly can’t even begin to say why God would chose me for this. All I can say is that He did. As is often the case I can look back and clearly see the path that God lead me down that got me here. It was a gradual change. I wasn’t looking for a change. It was just that the things I felt God saying to me in my study, prayer, and quite times began to change. No longer where they really kidmin focused. They became broader, bigger. Over time it became clear that God was leading me to pastor a church. I still had no aspiration for planting a church, but I came to believe that He was calling me to pastor a church.

Over time He brought me around to the idea of planting a church. I still wasn’t convinced, but I was willing to do what He told me to. You see I remember a story about a guy name Jonah who was given instructions from God and chose not to do them. That whole three days in the belly of a big fish thing didn’t sound like a good fit for me.

So, here I am.

It’s kinda crazy. It’s one thing to think about possibly pastoring a church someday. It’s something completely different to look back and realize that almost four months have passed since God started a new church in your town. What’s even crazier is that He made you the pastor of that new church. God has gone a put a church where there didn’t used to be one and I get to be part of that. Man, it has been a lot of work ,but it has been so much fun. It’s so amazing to see what God has already done and I can’t wait to see what He does next.

What it’s like to make this switch?

I’d love to say that I have all this church planting stuff figured out. Truth is I’m kinda taking it one day at a time. I’m just trying to listen to the guiding of the Holy Spirit and do what I’m told. I’ve been writing on this blog now for several years now. Most of that has been about ministry to children and families. Now that God has changed my direction, I think I need to change the direction of my blog too. So, moving forward I’ll be writing more about my transition from children’s pastor to senior pastor/church planter.

What now?

Kidmin was my first love in ministry. I still have a big heart for ministry to children. I also feel that children’s ministry if a key component in building a healthy church. So, I’ll still be writing about ministry to children and families. My blog has always been an outlet for whatever God has placed on my heart and it still will be. Stay tuned as I share stuff about church planting, kidmin, family ministry, family, and basically whatever is on my heart.

Matt Norman

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