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Recently we were given the challenge to create, launch, and weely produce a guide that would engage kids grades 1st-5th in corporate worship each week. Thankfully, I work with the most amazing dawson kids team that loves rising to a challenge and delivering an excellent product. We are thrilled to be launching the dk Guide this Sunday, September 12.

I thought I would share some key elements in launching this new resource that will partner with parents to help families be confident in Christ.

THE WHY – Our team is passionate about and believes the Bible supports kids worshipping alongside their families in corporate worship. We have spent the last 18 months (since Covid began) equipping parents to be the primary disciple of their kids. Here is a copy of the letter to parents to way emailed out a week before launch.


dk Guide

THE GUIDE – This is a weekly resource that will be available to all 1st-5th graders in all worship services. The first half will be updated weekly and the second half will be updated months. You can see we used pages from our Children’s Bulletin subscription as well as other free resources on the internet. My favorite part is where we introduce the kids to staff and church members and kids can win a prize by meeting that person and getting their signature.


THE PROMOTION (see below) – We had a very short runway to launch this new resource and a ton of information to communicate to families, so communication was essential. (I get really geeky about this stuff.) Below you can see a copy of our September communication schedule for the dk Guide.


WEEK ONE – For the first week we wanted to give kids all the tools they needed to be engaged in corporate worship, so we made special bags. (These bags are just for week one.) Each bag contains a dk Guide, a parent information sheet (with another copy of that parent letter), crayons, a pen, and a fidget toy. After this week guides, pens, and crayons will be available each week and kids can win other fidget toys by getting staff and member signatures.

What did we miss? What more does the guide need? What do you provide for your kids to help them engage in corporate worship? I would love to hear your thoughts. Comment below and share. I am always thankful for the kidmin community.

Recently I was trying to check out and reschedule appointments at the pediatrician’s office with my two littles. We had to have a bit of discussion about the shot record and rescheduling due to court dates, so it was apparent I was not your average parent. One little was crying, wanting another sucker because the color I had chosen wasn’t good enough. The other one, the highly contagious one, kept walking off and touching everything as I continued to reign them back in. Obviously, we were holding up the line. Finally, I glanced at the patient lady behind me and said, I am so sorry. she kindly said, “it’s okay, I am just impressed you are a foster mom.” she smiled and moved to another window. I was grateful for her flexibility, but as the day went on, the word impressed kept nagging at my soul.

Impressed, no, please don’t be impressed. I realize the woman was trying to be comforting or encouraging, but the last thing I wanted her to be was impressed. The very thought of people being impressed by my simple, obedient act of being a foster parent is what has kept me relatively quiet on social media and this blog (until now) about my new normal. The last thing I want is a spotlight on me when the children and their stories and struggles deserve all the attention. So, I began to think about what I wish non-foster parents were instead of impressed.

Instead of being impressed – be informed.

Before I entered this faith journey, I was clueless about the staggering statistics involved in foster care. As I looked at the needs of Alabama, I was reminded that these are not kids halfway around the world; these are children within a day’s driving distance of me. Want to learn about the numbers involving foster care in your state? Check out this interactive map at the Christian Alliance for orphans websiteinteractive map.

This graphic that has impacted me most is another powerful one (below) from the Christian alliance for orphans. The top number is the number of foster children in each state. The bottom number is the number of churches, not people in churches, churches in each state.

Knowledge leads to power, conviction, and action. What will you do now that you have come face to face with the staggering statistics of children right in your backyard?

Instead of being impressed, be involved.
i love the quote that not everyone can be a foster parents, but everyone can do something to help a foster child/child. this couldn’t be more true. maybe you weren’t called to be a foster parents or maybe you can only foster a limited number of children. that doesn’t mean you have to stop being involved with helping them. did you know most foster children move to their foster home with all of their belonging in a garbage bag?

Instead of being impressed, be an encouragement.
There is no way I would have made it without the many encouragers God has put in my life. Now that I am not actively fostering, I try to do what I can for those who are. So maybe you aren’t called to foster kids in your home, but you can do something. First, you can pick a foster family to encourage and support with meals, supplies, and babysitting. Second, you can pray for and encourage overworked and underpaid social workers. You can volunteer to be a CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocate. You can go through training to be a respite home for fostering families. Finally, you can buy Christmas and birthday gifts for children in foster care. You, we, can do something.

I am so thankful that not one of these children is a surprise to God. He has equipped His body of believers. The question is, will we just be impressed by those that serve as foster parents, or will we roll up our pants and jump in the trenches with them?

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I wrote a blog post dedicated to lessons learned in my 20 years in full-time ministry five years ago. As I begin my 25th year, I thought I would update the list with five more lessons I have learned and things I wish I had known when I started 25 years ago. I tend to learn the hard way, so I am sure there are many lessons to come.

The old post is below, so I will begin here with lessons 21-25.

21 – sharpen your leadership skills
– one of the best things i began this year was a “women in leadership” certification course.
– how you lead matters and there is always a chance to grow in your leadership skills.

22 – people before programs
– this one is simple, make it a priority to keep people first. it sounds easy but the constant pull and planning of programming can be time consuming.
– making that call, taking time for that conversation or visit is more important than than a program.

23 – parents before programs
– this may seem like #23, but it has a different twist.
– if i have learned anything from a pandemic when we couldn’t meet as we had traditionally, it was that i should have spent more time over the years equipping parents instead of planning programming.
– we know that deuteronomy 6 states that home is the primary place of faith training, but does your ministry vision and purpose reflect that?
– parents want to disciple their children, oftentimes they just might not know how to do it effectively. make it a priority to encourage, resource, and challenge families to make faith first in the home.

24 – ministering in a pandemic/tragedy is a marathon, not a sprint
– the pandemic left us in a place to have to rethink ministry. while i missed being with the kids, i thrived in having to constantly rethink how we had been doing ministry. we had many ideas, maybe too many!
– less is sometimes much more when days turn into weeks, then into months.

25 – deal with confrontation head-on
– this comes from a girl who avoided conflict like the plague early on in ministry. now i would rather have a tough conversation and move one instead of dread it for weeks.
– unresolved issues are a distraction.
– don’t have a “meeting” after the meeting. if you aren’t bold enough to say it to those that matter, don’t say it to those it doesn’t involve.



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. 

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1 – 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
masters,”

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?

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8 – 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

sabbath

9communicate
– 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?

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

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