blog series


repost for cpc friends

twice a year i teach a two week Gospel class for children that are seeking answers to what it means to be a Christian. at recent workshops i have taught several people have asked for the outline of this class. i thought it would be easiest to share the information here. this will be a three part series. here is what will be covered in each post:

part 1 – the what, how, and guidelines for the class
part 2 – what is covered the first week of class
part 3 – what is covered the second week of class.

005567177the entire class is based on the amazing resource from the Gospel project kids curriculum, “the Gospel God’s plan for me.” you can learn more and purchase “the Gospel God’s Plan for me” booklets here. each participant receives this booklet week one to take home and read with an adult.

here is the heart behind the class –
i believe that parents want to be an active part in leading their children to Christ. i also find it incredibly rewarding when a child prays to receive Christ with their parent/guardian/grandparent instead of me. so i began to wonder, how can i partner with parents/guardians to help them talk about the Gospel with their children and begin to understand if their child is ready to make this commitment of faith? i want authentic interaction between parent/guardian and child, because we often know that as kidmin leaders, we get sunday school answers. parents/guardians know their kids best, so i wanted to give them a chance to grapple with the Gospel truths. this is the very reason why i require an adult to attend each class with their child.

the model of the class –
during the class we study the five truths outlined in “the Gospel God’s plan for me.” i teach each truth straight from God’s Word. (i even have them turn to the scriptures in the Bible and mark them.) children and adults then experience each truth through engaging, hands-on activities. lastly, the children and their adult discuss each truth. i provide several questions and while i have their captivated attention, i have them turn to one another and discuss these truths just taught and experienced in a safe setting.

when the class is offered – 
i have traditionally offered the class on sunday evenings at five, but due to busy schedules i have moved the class our early service time on sunday mornings. parents seem to like the class in the mornings. they can attend my class and still attend small group and one of our other two worship services.


here are the links to part 2 and 3 in this series.
part 2 – what is covered the first week of class
part 3 – what is covered the second week of class.

20 lessons learned in 20 years (part 2)
(read part 1 here.)

some of the most effective ministry lessons are learned from mistakes and in-the-trenches ministry experiences. if you screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-1-22-25-pmare new in ministry here are some tips from someone with 20 full-time years of kids ministry experience to help you avoid pitfalls and burnout in ministry. 

11 – network
– if you leave a conference without a minimum of five other names, email addresses, and business cards, you weren’t trying.
– we are all on the same team. why are we not sharing ideas, solutions, struggles, prayer requests, praises, etc?
***make it a goal to leave your next conference with at least five new names and contact info. then make it a priority to connect with them when you return home.

12 – be mentored and mentor
– who has gone ahead of you that is speaking truth into you?
– who is behind you that you need to encourage and challenge?
*** do you have someone in your life whom you have given permission to call you out on sin, encourage your spiritual growth, and cheer you on?
*** who is praying for you and who in ministry are you praying for?

vent13 – safe place to vent
– find a safe person outside your office and church to vent to in confidence.
– get emotion out in a safe place so you don’t bring it to the meeting.
– let it out, then let it go!

14 – don’t break policy just to please
– if it is important enough to make into a policy, it is important enough to apply it.
– policy protects the whole, pleasing often satisfies a few.
*** are there polices you have that serve no real purpose?

15 – keep mouth shut
– confidentiality in ministry is a must.
– don’t have meetings after meetings. if you need to say it, say it in the meeting.
– no triangulation – talk to the person you have a problem with, not a third party.

silo16 – silos don’t make teams
– God’s truths deserve our age group collaboration.
– in age group ministries, we have to work together to help develop and support a Christ-centered 18-year-old.
*** where in your ministry team are there barriers and resistance to teamwork?

17 – be who God called and gifted you to be
– you are who you are and where you are because God created you and put you there.
– quit trying to be another ministry leader or ministry. be who God created you to be.
– comparison steals joy.


18 – grow in the valley
– some of your hardest ministry moments are your best teachers.
– give yourself grace from failures, so you can grow.
– allow conflict to build character so you don’t get stuck in the valley.
*** where have you seen God in a ministry valley?

il_214x170-521121394_ooe719 – yield to and leave room for the Holy Spirit
– you can’t program every moment. allow room for God to show up.
– sometimes unplanned interruptions make an eternal impact
*** when is the last time you made room for and experienced a Holy Spirit interruption?

20 – humility goes a long way
– you don’t have to pretend to have all the answers. some people just want you to listen.
– if you can’t clean a toilet with no one watching, are you really ready to serve?
– get beyond yourself, so people remember Jesus and not you.

[box type=”warning”] dWELL copyright © danielle bell and dWELL, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to danielle bell and dWELL with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.[/box]

20 lessons learned in 20 years

some of the most effective ministry lessons are learned from mistakes and in-the-trenches ministry experiences. if you are new in ministry, here are some tips from someone with 20 full-time years of kids ministry experience to help you avoid pitfalls and burnout in ministry. 

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-11-32-34-am1 – the Gospel is the goal
– you are not a cruise director.
– it is not about you.
– the Gospel changes lives for eternity, you don’t.
– families can get moral lessons from books or the side of a fast food container. morals aren’t what we are after, the Gospel is.

2 – know where you are going
– figure out where you are going before you begin.
– make sure everything you put on the calendar and in the budget has the end in mind.
– keeping the end in mind helps you avoid detours and stick to an eternal itinerary.
– a finish line filter helps you say no.
     * do you have a ministry vision statement that can serve as a guide and filter for where you are going?

3 – quality vs quantity
– “you can’t do a million things to the glory of God.” beth moore
– a few well-planned, successful events are better than many half hearted, poorly planned events.
– families are busy. when you ask for their time be prepared — make it Gospel-centered and make it count.
colossians 3:23 – “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human

4 – realize you haven’t arrived
– you don’t know all there is to know about ministry
– you aren’t the greatest thing to hit the ministry world. people have been in the trenches long before you.
– make sure you always have a teachable spirit.
– listen more than you talk.
     * when is the last time you really listened to what God is doing in someone else’s life and ministry?

5 – strategically surround yourself
– make sure your staff/leadership team are strong in the areas where you are weak.
– a well thought out team makes a more successful team.
– allow your team to make you better. (can you take corrective criticism?)
* what type of person is your ministry team missing?

6 – partner with parents
– parent champions – the first thing i did in a transition was create a parent champion team to evaluate and make a plan
to move forward. read more about that here.
– make sure these parents will be prayerfully honest with you and are not just “yes” men and women.
– parents help share your heart and vision with their peers, thus having a greater impact.

7 – target the family (there are 168 hours in a week. you may have the kids for one or two hours. target
the family for maximum kingdom growth.)
– what are you doing to reach the family as a whole?
– family worship (teaching like Jesus taught)
learn more about that here.
– make sure to build a bridge from church to home.
* what takeaways are you giving families to talk through at home?

screen8 – ministry to children and families with special needs
– educate yourself and your team.
– be prepared before the first family arrives. (policies, space, intake forms, volunteers, etc.)
– provide quality, Christ-centered care

– communicate often through various channels. (constant contact, mail chimp, remind, facebook, instagram, twitter, ifttt, blog, snail mail, etc.)
– just when you think you are bugging people, they are just getting the message. they need to see the message seven
different times.
– if you are getting questions or have to have a FAQ section, have you really effectively communicated?sabbath

10 – sabbath
Luke 5:16 – “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
– Jesus made time alone a priority, do you?
– an empty vessel has nothing to give


[box type=”warning”] dWELL copyright © danielle bell and dWELL, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to danielle bell and dWELL with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.[/box]

click here to read the first post in this series.

read part two in this blog series here.
click here to learn more about and purchase “the Gospel God’s plan for me”

God provided
experience it:
supplies: big bag of candy for the winner
impossible task – get a child volunteer and tell them you have a reward (candy) for them if they complete the task you have for them. make sure to pick a task you know the child cannot do, but an adult can do. (i.e. move a big stack of chairs.) give the child the opportunity to complete the task. after they cannot complete it, select an adult to complete the task. when the adult completes the task, still reward the child with the candy.

discuss it:
kids discuss these questions with their parent/guardian:
– does the child deserve this reward?
– how is this like what God did for us?

teach it:
explain what grace is – getting something we do not deserve.

John 3:16
Ephesians 2:8-9
how did God’s word help you understand that God provided?


Jesus gives
experience it:
supplies: backpack with a sign on it that says “sin”. collect many heavy items (books) to add to the backpack several at a time. other signs that read “death”, “Jesus”, “life”.
select a child to be a volunteer. put the backpack on their back and have them hold the “death” sign in front of them. put several books in the backpack and have them walk in a circle around the room. ask them how that feels. then add more books to the backpack. have them walk around the circle again. continue this until the child can no longer hold up the backpack and asks for help.
select an adult in the class to be Jesus. they will wear the “Jesus” sign. after the child admits that they need help, have Jesus come over and take the heavy backpack of sin from them. he will give them the “life” sign in exchange for the sin backpack and the “death” sign.

discuss it:
kids discuss these questions with their parent/guardian:
how did the backpack activity show us how great a gift Jesus gave us?
read and discuss Romans 5:8 as a family.

teach it:
explain what mercy is to the children – no getting something we do deserve.
our punishment for sin was death, but Jesus gave His life and through His sacrifice we can exchange sin/death for life.

discuss it:
kids discuss these questions with their parent/guardian:
did we do anything to deserve such a gift?
review Ephesians 2:8-9 as a family.
what does the gift of Jesus mean to you?

Romans 5:8
2 Corinthians 5:21
1 Peter 3:18
Ephesians 2:8-9
how did God’s Word help you understand that Jesus gives?


werespondWe respond
teach it:
Jesus alone is our way to salvation.

experience it:Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 10.28.43 AM
supplies: a wrapped gift
tell the children to pretend that in this gift is the greatest present they could ever receive. (for boys i usually
say a new video gaming system with a gift card for every game made for that system. for girls i usually say the brand new american doll with a gift certificate for all the clothes they could want for that doll.) walk around the room holding out the gift and say, here, i have this gift for you, what do you have to do to make it your’s? (wait for a child to simply say, “take it”, “receive it”)
share that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save and rescue us from our sins. this is truly the greatest gift we will ever receive, but we must respond to the gift of salvation.

discuss it:
kids discuss these questions with their parent/guardian:
why do you think some people don’t respond to this gift?

John 14:6
Romans 10:9-10, 13
how did God’s word help you understand that we have to respond?

discuss it:
in your own words, explain the Gospel to the adult that came with you.


*** i would love to hear any other idea you have for sharing the Gospel with children. i love the creativity of kid ministry leaders. 🙂

click here to read the first post in this series.
click here to learn more about and purchase “the Gospel God’s plan for me”



God rules
experience it:
supplies: play dough
each child and adult are given some play dough. they are told to talk about what they would like to create with their play dough. they share their idea with the class and then are instructed to start modeling their creation. after about a minute, i pretend the play dough is speaking to me and i inform the class that the play dough does not like what they have decided toplay-doh-4-pack(1) create. i then share what the play dough said it would like to be. (i make up something and instruct the class to begin creating again.) again, after about a minute or two, i tell them the play dough decided it wanted to be something else and give them a new assignment. i do this several times, much to their frustration, and they think i have lost my mind talking to the play dough. 🙂  when they complete their last assigned creation, i have them turn and talk with their parent/guardian.

discuss it:
kids discuss these questions with their parent/guardian:
– should the play dough decide what the creation should be or the one modeling the playdough?
– how is this like us trying to tell our Creator what to do?

teach it:
God created everything. God is in charge. He is Holy and the boss of us.
Genesis 1:1
Revelation 4:11
Colossians 1:16-17

discuss it:
how did God’s Word help you understand that God rules?

wesinnedwe sinned
teach it:
Romans 3:23
Romans 6:23

discuss it:
how did God’s Word help you understand that we sin?

teach it:
Sin is:
-going our way instead of God’s way.
-rebellion against God.
Because God is Holy, He must punish sin.

discuss it:
let’s pretend you go home today and discover your brother/sister/friend destroyed your favorite toy.
how would you feel if your parents didn’t punish the sin of your brother/sister/friend?

experience it:
we can’t fix or ignore our sin.
supplies: very burnt popcorn (i usually cook a pack of popcorn for five or six minutes. watch closely, because it can catch burned_popcorn_mediumfire. yes, it messes up my microwave. you should smell my house!!! to preserve the smell, i put it immediately in a rubbermaid container.) 
     get two volunteers who are hungry for a snack. have them come sit up front and give them paper plates and napkins. tell them you are super excited about the snack you made them. after they are seated, pull out your burnt popcorn. i usually walk around the room with it so that everyone gets a good look and smell of the popcorn. pour some on each of your volunteer’s plates. they usually look at you like you are crazy. i tell them to go ahead and eat. when they pause or turn up their nose at the popcorn, i ask them what is  wrong? they usually say “well it is burnt.” or “i can’t eat this.” i tell them “sure you can. you said you were hungry, maybe if you pretend it isn’t burnt you can eat it.” then, after they still will not eat it, i usually pick some of it up and tell them to just try to fix it so it will not be burnt. after a couple more interactions, i let them off the hook and tell them to return to their seats. (yes, i have had a child eat the popcorn before.)
     i end this experience sharing with them that just like it is crazy for us to try to pretend the popcorn isn’t burnt, it is even crazier for us to pretend we do not sin. also trying to fix popcorn, is as crazy as us thinking we can fix our sin. because i have handled the popcorn, i usually smell my hands and talk about how sin stinks and gets all over us. we can’t get rid of it ourselves. the smell in the room is also a great teaching tool for the rest of the class. 🙂

discuss it:
kids discuss these questions with their parent/guardian:
– how is this bag of popcorn like our sin?
i share again, that our sin separates us from God and we are lost without Him.
– do you understand that you are a sinner?
– how does your sin make you feel?
– can you fix your sin?

closing experience
Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 4.14.59 PM      we end the night with a stairwell experience. all the kids and the adults in the class go to the stairwell. the adults stay upstairs and the kids all go to the landing. i have a dad volunteer to be Jesus for me.
i explain to the kids that their goal is to get to the top of the stairs to be with God and Jesus, but the steps, railing, and walls are all very hot lava and they will melt if they touch them. i explain that the stairs are separating them from God and they need to see what they can do to fix the separation. i also inform them that their world ends at the landing of the stairwell, so they can’t run down and come up another way.
i then ask kids for ideas on how to get up. (i have heard it all.) i allow each of them to try their suggestions. (i.e. fly? run up stairs real quick? build a jet pack? this is always fun to watch them try to build this with no supplies. jump to the top of the stairs?)
after they exhaust their suggestions, usually one child will say can “dad Jesus” help us? the answer is that they need to individually ask “dad Jesus” to come down and pick them up and carry them up the stairs. after a couple of children have been carried up, i have a parent ask “dad Jesus” to go rescue their child. “dad Jesus” answers them with a “no.” i use this illustration to drive home the point that it is an individual decision to receive help and their parents/guardians cannot do it for them.
we end this activity with some children still on the landing. we talk about how some people think they can fix their separation on their own and never ask for help.
after this activity, we go back to the room. kids and parent/guardians turn again to romans 3:23 and romans 6:23. they discuss how the activity in the stairwell paints a picture of what it looks like for us to be separated by sin and only Jesus can save us.

stay tuned for part 3 where the second week of classes is explained. 

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