Teaching Tips: What is Your Focus?

As it is in all churches problems arise. You don’t have to even believe for them, problems just show up. You might ask why. The answer is churches are made of people and people have problems. The presence of problems doesn’t indicate a lack of faith. Paul had multiple problems; however he was a man of faith. Paul had to deal with everything from attacks on his life to disagreements with coworkers, yet he stayed focus on making disciples.

Our purpose is to make disciples of children.  Our objective is to cause them to believe the Bible, act on their beliefs, and share their faith. There are opportunities to lose the focus of discipling. We are to meet the physical needs but we can’t become babysitters. We have to get their attention but were not in the entertainment business. We have to have order and discipline in the class but we are not here to do parenting. We need to minister the Word but children’s ministry is not a stepping stone to “higher” ministry, nor is it a soap box to say and do what we want.

Here is a natural situation in which focusing on the problem can be disastrous. The main purpose of a cattle ranch is to produce calves to sell and make a profit. Weeds can be a problem because cattle eat grass and weeds in the pasture take up the space you would want grass to be in. To kill all the weeds could cost $40 to $50 per acre.  If it takes 17 acres each year for a cow to raise a calf then it would cost $680 in weed killer for that one cow and calf. If your profit in the calf is $400, you would lose $280 per cow. With a cow heard of 50 cows your bottom line would be minus $14,000. If you focus on the removal of weeds you will lose big time. A weed prevention plan is needed, but the cow producing a calf needs to be the center of attention. We can’t afford to focus on problems.

Think about the “weeds” you have in your ministry to children. Be aware of them, but don’t allow them absorb the majority of your efforts. After your class is over reflect and ask your self, “What was done to make disciples of the children?” Are these things the focus of your time and energy? If not, changes are in order to be successful.


Teaching Tips: What's for Dinner?

On Wednesday night the 11th of Feb. Rev Greg Fritz ministered on Feeding on the Word. Church is a place to get a spiritual meal. We are serving kids meals while Pastors Mark and Janet are serving regular meals. A kids meal is the same food as adult’s just a smaller portion that is packaged to appeal to a child, but it is the same food. The meat in a happy meal is the same meat in a big Mac. We don’t need to “water down” the Gospel. It is the same Gospel just prepared in a way that children can receive it. The key word is prepared. You can produce a thanksgiving meal, a bag lunch, a sit down dinner, cold cereal, or order out pizza. All of these meals have there proper use and time.  These all require some type of planning and preparation. Granted pizza has very little planning and preparation. If you’re not planning and preparing then you’re serving fast food. I would rather service pizza than to have no food for my children to eat. No matter know how much kids like pizza, could they stand it 3 times a day 7days a week? Pizza has little nutritional value. A child’s nutritional needs are high than that of an adults. They have maintenance needs as well as growth needs. A baby needs very little variety and could choke or be up set by the wrong food. By the age 4 or 5 you better have a selection of different foods. A good meal takes time to prepare and is worth the effort. Remember, if the teacher is bored teaching the material then the students will be bored too. Try serving different kinds of meals. Ask yourself, do I cook the same meal over and over? Do I serve nutritional meals? Do I serve adult food to my children?  Now, here is a deeper thought, am I teaching the children to feed themselves.  Get the children to be able to feed themselves and you’re really cookin! Please get Rev. Fritz’s message and think about your class as you listen to it.

Teaching Tips: Ministry is Spelled W-O-R-K.

Ministry is spelled w-o-r-k. Ministry is doing God’s business. We can work in or work on the business. Both are important, but there is a big difference between the two. We need to be able to realize the difference to be sure we are doing both. In every ministry, including children’s ministry there are at least 2 kinds of jobs: $10/hour jobs and $100/hour jobs.  The $10/hour jobs include scheduling, copying, keeping up with supplies, and maintenance type work.  The $10/hour jobs are working in the ministry. These are the hands on, nuts and bolts parts of ministry. The $100/hour work includes: establishing long range goals and making plans to reach them, creating a management succession plan, establishing an emergency plan (what to do when things go wrong). The $100/hour jobs are working on the ministry, they are the vision, expanding, and leadership part of ministry. With is this approach lets look at a few connected thoughts.
Each person needs to do $10/hour jobs and $100/hour jobs. Your position may dictate the amount of time you appropriate to each job. A person in charge should spend most of their time working on the ministry but also working in the ministry will help them to lead those that mostly work in the ministry. An assistant would spend most of their time working in the ministry, but they need to do $100/hour jobs by working on the ministry as well.  This it will help them to mature and be grateful of to those leading. Caution: leading and assisting are not classes of people but types of positions. The Holy Ghost is a helper but is not lesser than the Father or Jesus.   
There are so many $10/hour jobs that need to be done in every ministry, that it isn't surprising that most of our time is spent working in the ministry. Working in the ministry jobs are usually very pressing but are not always needful. Working on the ministry is always needful but not pressing. Sometimes we neglect the working on the ministry.
The classroom should be time for working on the ministry. In the class room, as a teacher, make this job a $100/hour job by reaching into the lives of the children and creating positive change that can only accomplished by fellowship with the Father through  the Word and by the Holy Ghost. Make teaching a $100/ hour job by instilling a passion and vision for the children in other workers/teachers. Never allow your class to be $10/hour work by having a just get it done attitude.
Just as there are two kinds of work in ministry, there are two kinds of time.  We have time when we are worth $100/hour and time when we are only worth $10/hour.  For most of us the $100 hour time comes first thing in the morning.  What do most of us do in our $100/hour time?  We do our $10/hour work.  If we ever get to the $100/hour jobs, it is usually after we are worn out from a day of working in the ministry and we are only worth $10/hour, if that.
Evaluate yourself. Am I doing both working in and on the ministry? Am I dong $100/hour work at $100/hour time? Is my class $100/hour work?

Teaching Tips: Your Goal Must Be Obtainable

We all have sat through a service where the minister went on what seemed like forever. When a guest minister starts out with, “If I don’t teach you everything I know tonight the church might have me back,” there is a sigh of relief from the church. We know the minster has learned to refine his message to a reasonable time frame. Likewise, regardless of the length of time, your students will think your class goes on forever if you fail to make your goals obtainable.

To be effective teachers, we need to learn to refine the goal for our class. If you set the goal of  my students will know faith as the primary learning out come, your students had better be your own personal children because that would take a life time to teach that goal.  If your lesson aim or out come is my class will be able to use their faith to get healed then you should have had several classes about faith and healing prior to this one. This goal, too, would be too large to obtain in one class period.  Successful ministers have seminars before ever planning to release faith for healing. Of course, the Holy Ghost can move and heal anytime He wants, and we want to be open to that, more about that later. This article is directed toward teaching. If your goal is my students will know that faith is now would be reasonably obtainable for elementary age children but a tough goal for preschoolers. So again it is the lead teacher’s responsibility to design and write a goal that is obtainable for their students; then communicate that goal to the other teachers and helpers and ultimately to the students in the class. 

We have great curriculum compared to what was being offered in the 1980’s and I am very thankful for it. I have used Mark Harper’s material and love it. I want to take an example of his Prayer curriculum. There are 13 lessons to cover the kinds of prayer. I had a similar course on prayer in Bible School that lasted 13 weeks with classes 2 or 3 times a week. So there are a lot of spiritual truths to be taught on each kind of prayer. Some of Mark’s lessons may cover 2-3 points on a certain kind of prayer. As a teacher, you must make a determination as to what you can convey to your students. The curriculum doesn’t know your students, it doesn’t know your teaching abilities, and it doesn’t know the resources you have or don’t have. The curriculum is for guidance and must be refined by you as the teacher.

Take heed of your expectations for each class. Be sure your primary out come / goal is obtainable. As we said earlier, the Holy Ghost wants to move in your class. He confirms the Word. He is only able to move to the extent your students receive the Word. By setting good goals, we empower our class to receive the Word which makes room the Holy Ghost to move.  

Teaching Tips: Recognition

Do people come up to you and ask, "How did you get started in children's ministry?"  "That is such a great and important ministry, how in the world did you ever get started?"  No, very rarely does anyone ask you those kinds of questions.  Now maybe if you were a famous singer, they would come up and ask you those questions.  Or if you were a television evangelist, you would have people calling you on the telephone, and coming to you in person, saying, "How did you get started?”

I am sure there are some well known children’s ministers that do get asked how they became so successful. When people see great accomplishments, they think “I want to be like that and I want others to see me as successful too.” We all want to be noticed. But in the children's ministry you're not usually seen.  The children come in, you have class and they leave.  They're gone and some times a parent gives you a “thank you.” All the hard work you just put into the class is gone as they leave your room. Where did all the hard work go?  What was the impact? You don’t know and truthfully you may never know.  This is just the way it is in the children’s ministry. It truly is a faith ministry.

What really blesses me is when the children acknowledge me outside of the classroom. Sometimes as adults we say “hello” and greet people out of courtesy, but children seldom do that. When children say “hi” to you there is a genuine concern/value for you and what you mean to them. A student acknowledging me out of class is the best praise I can think of. I think Jesus feels the same way about us as his children.

We need to be careful about receiving praise though. I can recall a minister that when praised by people would only respond by, “Glory to God, praise God.” He wouldn’t even say “thank you.” He wanted to be sure to not take God’s glory. We can receive praise but it is like receiving an offering; we need to be mindful of whose money/praise it truly is. Be assured there is a heavenly reward that is gained. Getting attention from the King of Kings is so much more meaningful than getting the attention of others.