08.30.16

Discipline Tips for Pushovers, Control Freaks, Scaredy-Cats and Clueless by Adam Day

childrensministry.com/articles/discipline-with-your-style/?utm_source=internal_cm&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=

Whether you’re a pushover, a control freak, a scaredy-cat, or just plain clueless about discipline — you can become a better classroom manager.

Classroom management can be the toughest part of a teacher’s job. It’s a constant struggle for some, and even those who seem to have figured out how to best manage their kids see that doing so is a continual process rather than one easy fix. Teachers everywhere seem to struggle with discipline in some way — usually because they fall into one of four categories: The Pushover, The Control Freak, The Scaredy Cat, or Just Plain Clueless. So before you get out your knuckle-snapping ruler or let the kids run over you on their way out the door, read on. Discover which discipline style is your default — and how you can strengthen your classroom management skills.

You may be a Pushover if you…

• Can’t say no — even when you know you need to.

• Grin and bear bad behavior because you don’t see other options.

• Can’t (or won’t) set or enforce limits.

• Notice the kids are taking over and you’re not sure you should regain control.

• Must repeat yourself constantly to be heard over the general roar in your classroom.

Rules are healthy. Saying no is a foundational development stage in all children. In fact, no is one of the first words most children learn to say. And if a child is old enough to tell you no, then the child is old enough to hear it in return for inappropriate behavior. Ministry to children isn’t only about spir-itual principles; we’re here to help give them a productive, healthy approach to life.

When kids take over, no one wins. If kids are calling the shots, everyone will walk away feeling unfulfilled. If you allow children to write the rules, you give them a false impression of what real life is all about.

Testing is normal; your job is to define the boundaries. You can rest assured that your kids will test the limits. It’s a normal aspect of childhood. But it’s important to understand that while this testing is natural, children feel comfort and security when they know where the boundaries are. They want to know you love them enough to tell them no.

Post a few simple rules. Then — and this is key — hold kids to them. At first it’ll seem like you’re mean if you haven’t been enforcing rules up until now. You may get some initial push back from your kids, but this is normal. Keep steady and hold your ground.

Help kids self-regulate. A marble jar is a great way to encourage collective self-monitoring from your kids, and it produces positive peer pressure. Put the jar of marbles in front of your class, and add marbles when kids are attentive and on-task. You’ll find kids self-regulating if they know that marbles could get taken away. You’ll be surprised the first time you hear someone say, “Zach, stop! We’ll get a marble taken away!”

Help yourself. If you still need an extra push to establish and enforce rules, consider asking someone you know who has great classroom management skills to join you in your classroom for a few weeks to help you build your discipline muscles.

You may be a Control Freak if you…

• Can’t say yes — even when doing so would have absolutely no negative impact in your classroom.

• Tightly control every aspect of kids’ interactions and behavior.

• Are terrified of what might happen if kids “take over.”

• Hear kids tell their parents, “Church has too many rules.”

• Constantly use no, don’t, can’t, and stop when you talk to kids.

Rules are good, but too many rules cast a shadow. When keeping control is your number one goal, that emphasis paints church and Christianity as a stuffy, staunch, and stressful lifestyle. For kids to feel ownership of their class and to build relationships with one another, they must have a level of freedom. That means you must relinquish a corresponding level of control.

Church is fun. If your classroom’s fun factor has waned along with kids’ enthusiasm, you’re probably exerting too much control. Make an honest assessment — is it time to loosen up and remember what it was like to be a child? Trade in those long lectures and constant corrections for hands-on manipulatives and laugh-inducing experiences.

Micromanagement isn’t effective. Especially when it comes to helping kids sprout wings and grow. If your default is control, reign yourself in and remember that children don’t need to be managed; they need to be nurtured.

First control yourself. Make an intentional effort to get kids excited and interested in your lesson and activities rather than depending on your tone or mannerisms for classroom control. If you feel yourself reverting to Control Freak status, keep a handle on that tendency and instead put your energy into breathing life into the lesson. If you can pull kids into the content of the lesson, you won’t have to spend your time on discipline.

Study kids. Go to a children’s venue — a museum, zoo, playground, or recreation center, and watch kids as they learn. Most kids enjoy quickly moving from one concept to another and getting their hands on what they’re learning. Notice, too, that they tend to be noisy and boisterous when truly engaged in learning. This is typical of the species.

Take a relational break. Take a leap and intentionally schedule time for your kids to interact with one another every week. Ten minutes of free play or talk time is a great way to let kids connect. Prayer time is also important to help children relate in a group setting.

You may be a Scaredy Cat if you…

• Are terrified of what’ll happen if you dare to discipline.

• Are scared of parents.

• Are scared of kids (though you may be unlikely to admit it).

• Prefer to endure classroom chaos rather than ruffle feathers.

• Feel ill-equipped to go toe-to-toe with a misbehaving child.

You have a purpose. God placed you in kids’ lives for a reason. You’re ministering to these specific children not by fate, but by God’s providence. It’s your place-and your right-to make the most of every opportunity.

It’s not a popularity contest. Don’t be scared that kids won’t like you if you discipline and hold high standards. Frankly, children today don’t need a big brother or big sister or best friend; they need leaders in their lives who’ll guide them with loving boundaries.

Kids will respond. Kids will respect authority, but like any new responsibility they need you to teach them how. Your responsibility as a spiritual influencer goes beyond passing on biblical knowledge to kids. They see your actions and will model their lives after what you say and do. If you’re too scared to confront conflict, they’ll view that as a normal response to conflict. But if they see you boldly — yet lovingly — address issues, they’ll see that as normal and healthy.

Don’t be afraid. God’s Word tells us we don’t have a spirit of fear in our lives, but a spirit of power and wisdom. (Check out Romans 8:15 and 1 Peter 3:14.) Strengthen your prayer time. Ask God for courage in your classroom.

Focus on your kids. First John 4:18 says, “Perfect love drives out fear.” So set aside time to pray for your kids by name every day. A consistent pattern of prayer helps you focus on the kids and the issues that most need your attention.

Find out what’s at the root of your fear — and then do some weeding. If you’re concerned that people might not like a bold new you, take small steps to let kids and parents know you’re ready for a change. Focus on the positive aspects of a better-managed classroom: more learning, respect, and fulfillment for all. If, however, your fear is still crippling your classroom management, it’s time to ask for honest coaching from your leader.

Set the stake. A great starting point for a former Scaredy Cat is to establish and post a few simple ground rules. Introduce the rules at the start of your next class — and return to them whenever you need to. This will help you and your kids stay on track.

You may be clueless if you…

• Find yourself asking, “What boundaries? What rules?”

• Don’t have the foggiest notion why kids need parameters.

• Question why kids don’t come with the rules programmed in.

• Believe that rules are too cool for Sunday school.

Kids aren’t little adults. They can’t balance checkbooks, don’t know what FICA is, and are still learning self-control. For the most part, they don’t see abstract consequences as reality. So it really is all fun and games until somebody puts an eye out.

Kids need rules. Plain and simple. Kids actually thrive most when they know the rules and are expected to follow them. Boundaries offer a safe environment where kids can focus on learning. Classroom guidelines are critical to the success of your ministry.

Your job isn’t Director of Chaos Management. You have the huge task of molding and developing kids to follow God. This is no small task, so don’t take it lightly. It requires that you have a healthy, functioning class where kids feel emotionally and physically safe. Fun should still be a key ingredient, but there’s a line between total chaos and controlled chaos.

Get a grip on reality. Letting kids run wild isn’t doing them a favor and won’t please their parents — or your leader. If you don’t see a need for classroom order or can’t imagine requiring kids to follow rules, take stock of your current classroom situation. What’s actually happening? How much more might kids learn in a more controlled environment? Settle down with some popcorn and watch a few episodes of “Super Nanny.” Take notes on the before and after. Imagine how your classroom is now and how it could be. Which environment is more honoring to kids?

Get a mentor. Set up a time to observe a more seasoned teacher. Notice how the person guides kids’ focus and transitions from activity to activity. How are rules enforced? What does a class session look like when guidelines are in place? Kids respond positively to structure and stability.

Challenge yourself. Create a plan and timetable to implement structure and guidelines. Include rule-setting, plans for consequences, and transition ideas between class segments.

Your individual discipline style will show through in your teaching, and that’s the way it should be. God picked you because you bring something special to the kids you’re working with. But keep your balance-somewhere near the middle of the discipline continuum. Too far in any one direction could spell discipline disaster. Strengthen your style, and you’ll be a more effective teacher.

08.30.16

Why We Should Change the Way We Talk to Teenagers about Reading Their Bible by Andy Blanks

youthministry360.com

Like most of you reading this, a large percentage of the time I spend discipling teenagers is devoted to encouraging them to develop the spiritual practices that form the foundation of a Christ-centered life. Chief among these practices is spending daily time with God in His is Word. And like you, I imagine, I’ve found this to be one of the more challenging areas to see fruit in. And it’s always been this way. You see, I’ve long challenged my teenagers to find set-aside time to meet with God each day through Bible reading and prayer. I’ve challenged them to do this at night before they go to bed, if they had to, but most often I’ve challenged them to find a half hour or so before school to start their day with prayer and Bible reading. I’ve done this for years. I bet you have too.

It occurred to me recently that I don’t speak to teenagers about this in the same way I used to. I have adapted my message.

Nowadays, I find myself encouraging my teenagers not to think about their daily time with God as something that they do for 20 or 30 minutes in the morning or evening, but more like something they do in short bursts throughout their day. I encourage them to listen to a devotion or passage of Scripture on an app on the way to school. I encourage them to pray as their walking between classes, or to simply reflect on some aspect of God as they encounter His creation around them. I encourage them to grab snatches of Scripture using a Bible app as they wait for practice to start. Ultimately, I find myself encouraging them to see their time spent daily with God as much more organic and not so structured.

Here’s why I do this, and a few more thoughts on this whole progression.

FIRST, I REALIZED WITH THE STUDENTS I DISCIPLE, THE IDEA OF 20 OR 30 MINUTES OF SET-ASIDE TIME TO BE WITH GOD IN THE MORNING BEFORE SCHOOL IS COMPLETELY COUNTER-CULTURAL TO WHERE THEY FIND THEMSELVES.

The guys I disciple are up and heading to school by 6AM for practice or study hall or choir, and so on. These same guys have had practice after school the night before until 6PM or so. Once you factor in dinner, shower, and the ton of homework they have, they fall into beds exhausted at 10:30 or 11:00. For these guys, the idea that they would get up 30 minutes early is a big deal. I like the idea of freeing them from the burden of this expectation. I like helping them reframe their relationship with God in a less legalistic way.

SECOND, WHO THE HECK SAID THAT COMMUNING WITH GOD HAS TO LOOK A CERTAIN WAY ANYWAY?

Well, I guess I did. And I guess the reason why I did is because that’s the way it was taught to me. But culturally, it’s just not a relevant practice to my teenagers. And I would rather adapt to set them up for success than make them feel burdened by a practice that is admittedly difficult for them.

THIRD, AND THIS IS IMPORTANT, I ABSOLUTELY, 100% STILL THINK THAT MEETING GOD IN HIS WORD IN SILENCE AND SOLITUDE IS THE BEST WAY TO COMMUNE WITH GOD.

It’s the way Jesus modeled for us. It’s been practiced for thousands of years by everyone from cloistered monks to your Grandmamma. Heck, I did it this morning, alone, at 4:45 AM while everyone else was asleep. And maybe that’s the secret to why I have adapted my message.

The goal is to get my teenagers meeting with God through His Word and through prayer. I couldn’t care less how they do it.

Why? Because I know this: when they begin to understand the value in this relational connection to God, it will birth in them a desire to meet with Him more. At that point their habits will catch up with their hearts. I believe they’ll ADD a daily time of quiet reflection with God to their organic, meeting with God in the day’s margins way of interacting with Him. And if they do, they will own a wonderfully holistic approach to engaging with their Creator on a daily basis.

My goal is simply this: I long for my teenagers to know God in a way that is dynamic and transformative. I want them to have practices that enable this. And I am open to any model that precipitates their spiritual growth.

08.30.16

The Secret to Student Development by Tim Elmore

growing leaders.org

An AP high school teacher recently said to me: “I’ve been asked to teach history, science and math over my career, but I don’t get the chance to teach the most important subject that will enable my students to succeed in life!”

“What’s that?” I inquired.

He frowned, and sighed, “Social emotional learning.”

What Is Social Emotional Learning?

It’s become a buzzword today, as we discover that test scores are not enough to prepare our students for a career. According to CASEL (Collaborative for Academic and Social Emotional Learning), social emotional learning is “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”

It sounds so elementary, but it’s as profound as a school course can get. Am I serious? You bet I am. It’s one of the reasons I founded Growing Leaders in 2003. Life skills and leadership are absolutely necessary in both K-12 and higher education, but we’ve treated it as if it were a luxury or an elective. Consider these realities:

  • Students participating in Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs scored an average of 11 percent more on achievement tests. That’s measurable. SEL programs improved students’ academic performance by 11 to 17 percentile points.
  • Participants of SEL programs were more likely to complete high school (91% to be exact) and have lower rates of depression, PTSD, anxiety, and social phobia.
  • Participants of SEL programs had significantly lower rate of violence and heavy alcohol use. In short, the habits and disciplines were healthier.
  • Psychologists believe that if schools taught students to work well with others, regulate emotions and constructively solve problems, students would be better equipped to deal with life’s challenges, including academic ones.
  • In a survey, 93% of teachers said that they want more focus on social emotional learning in schools. They recognize how important it is.

Aren’t Teachers Doing This Already in High School and College?

To be sure, some faculty naturally weave this into their subject in the classroom. However, due to the pressure to raise test scores, many teachers feel the necessity to neglect the very “life skills” they know will prepare a student for life and leadership in order to “teach for the test.” They don’t like it, but it’s part of today’s educational landscape. Unfortunately, here are the results of this lack of SEL:

  • Only 29% of 6-12th graders say that their school provides a caring and encouraging environment.
  • 30% of high school students say they engage in high risk behaviors (sex, substance use, violence, suicidal thoughts).
  • 10% of students suffer from a mental illness that prevents them from functioning at home, school, or in their community.
  • 70-80% of students don’t receive the mental health care they need. This is due to a school failing to value SEL for students.
  • Compared to control groups, students who participate in SEL programs have significantly better school attendance records, less disruptive classroom behavior, like school more, and perform better in school. They also reduced anti-social, violent, and drug-using behaviors.

I believe teachers in every generation recognize the need for social emotional learning and cultivating emotional intelligence in their students. Today, however, our teachers often don’t feel they have a chance to have this conversation with students.

Teaching Social and Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence can be developed, and it must start with us, the adults. We must model for our students the essence of EQ:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship management

Envision for a moment what your students could look like if you took time to build these qualities in them. What if you added “soft skills” to all the “hard skills” you attempt to build in them? What if your interaction in class taught them not only “what to say” but “how to say it?” What if before you taught the “what” of your lesson plan, you affirmed “why” you believe in your students’ future? What if you got beyond merely what to remember and taught them how to think? What if your classroom went from looking like a factory assembly line (rows of desks) to a Starbucks (various tables and chairs) scattered around? What if your focus went past “knowing the answer,” and taught “how to deliver the answer?” What if your class covered not only how to get results but how to build relationships?

08.30.16

FAMILY PRESSURE: What Kids Wish Their Parents Knew by Pat Verbal

childrensministry.com/articles/articlesthe-stress-test/

Ask today’s kids what stresses them, and you may expect answers such as taking tests, being picked last for a team, or making new friends. But when I posed the question to 3rd- and 4th-graders, here’s what they said:

“My parents are always on me about making good grades.”

“I don’t really want to play baseball, but it’s so important to my dad.”

“My stepbrother criticizes everything I do, and I can’t be myself at home.”

“My parents think they’re the Internet cops. They lecture me too much.”

Tension at home is high on these kids’ list. “Every generation has a generation gap,” says Mary Manz Simon, author of Trend-Savvy Parenting. “However, because of the accelerating pace of change, it’s possible that more than a mere gap will emerge between parents and children. We’re poised on the edge of a societal rift.”

This growing chasm may shadow the joys of parenthood with a sense of dread. Parents, sensing the disconnect, constantly ask, “Am I a good parent?” And the answer depends on who they ask-Madison Avenue, school, or the church.

Shine, Baby, Shine!

Madison Avenue equates good parenting with good marketing. If a girl’s bedroom resembles a high-gloss page in a Pottery Barn catalog and her clothes have designer labels, she’ll be an A student. If a boy played soccer at age 3 and has a wall of ribbons and gold cups, he’ll get a sports scholarship. If a preschooler’s birthday party is a hit at the country club, she’ll make the right friends. Unfortunately, these Madison-Avenue myths create competitive parents, who put pressure-cooker expectations on their kids.

“No matter how hard I try, my dad is never happy,” says Ryan. “If I get a B in math or miss a high fly ball, I hear about it all week. Sometimes I think he’d like to trade me in for a different kid.” Ryan wishes his parents would accept him for himself. He may even be questioning whether he’s good enough for his heavenly father.

Multitasking Woes

Parenting takes time and energy, especially in stepfamilies or in homes where children have special needs.

“I know when my mom’s had a bad day at the office,” says 10-year-old Jacob. “She doesn’t smile when she picks me up.”

Adults spend 10 hours more per week at the office than they did 30 years ago, according to the Families and Work Institute in New York.

“Jobs have become much more hectic and demanding,” says president Ellen Galinsky. “People feel like they don’t have enough time to get everything done.” Schools respond to this problem by linking parents to classroom Web sites, but this has had an unexpected result-now many parents opt for email instead of attending parent conferences, further deepening the divide between parents and their children’s educational development.

When Jacob feels like one more thing on his mom’s to-do list, he retreats into video games or cyberspace. He may also reason that since God has a whole universe to run, he probably doesn’t have much time for Jacob either.

10 Is the New 16

We’re not imagining it — childhood is getting shorter. Experts say typical teen behaviors are becoming common among kids ages 8 to 12. Girls wear makeup, listen to hip-pop, and chat on Facebook. Boys drop toys for iPods, get highlights in their hair, and think parents are annoying. While parents want their children to be popular with their peers, many are fuzzy about where to draw the line.

“I believe there’s power in numbers,” says Cindy, a MOPS leader and single mom. “When my daughter says all her friends do ‘it,’ I call other parents at church, and together we set boundaries that protect our children.”

Parents are wise to worry about the dangers that come with age compression — which is society’s tendency to inundate kids with more grown-up products, expectations, and roles — due to the availability of alcohol and drugs. And deep down, children don’t want their grown-up attitudes to fool their parents. They instinctively know they need safety nets, standards, and a warm lap to curl up in now and then. Children wish their parents knew that the best place for them to experience faith is in the arms of a loving family. Absent that, churches must exemplify the true attributes of God to today’s children and offer asylum to their parents as well.

08.22.16

Internet Safety for Teens by Mark Gregston

heartlightministries.org

In the 60’s, Christian parents were outraged over the “shocking” youth culture.  However, parents today may wish for the “good old 60’s and 70’s,” because on all levels, kids today are into far worse stuff, thanks mostly to the Internet.

Who would have ever thought that the Internet would beat out television and movies as the most time-consuming form of entertainment for teens?  It has! 96% of all teens in the U.S. daily access the Internet, averaging more than four hours online every day.  It now affects every family in some way, since it can be accessed in many more ways than it once could, and it is being used by teens in ways that may shock some less Internet-savvy parents.  So, it is especially important for parents to know how their kids are interacting via digital media today, while also understanding that completely removing it isn’t always the best move.

The Breadth of the Problem

A lot of good can be gleaned from the Internet and from use of today’s digital tools like cell phones.  The Internet is a powerful research and teaching tool.  It has become the main source for news, new music and it will eventually become the main source for books and movies.  Through cell phones, parents are able to keep in touch with their kids wherever they are, and kids can text each other.  And through video tools like Skype and social networking sites, teens and extended families can connect with each other in important and extraordinary ways.

But along with all the good, comes the bad…

Pornography (4.3 million porn sites) and suggestive invitations to participate in pornography are prevalent on the Internet and not easy to miss. Web surfers see inappropriate pictures or videos even if they aren’t necessarily looking for them and there is no cost barrier, since millions of photos are provided free.  While the porn industry has been around since the beginning of painting and photography, the Internet and digital cameras on cell phones are making it so that just about anyone can become involved in uploading their own sexualized photos as well.  As a result, no age group is more involved in digital pornography than teenagers. It has become so widespread and accepted in their culture, kids no longer see anything wrong with it.

What gets the most attention on the Internet are the images with the greatest shock value.  In other words, the most shockingly immoral or dangerous videos or photos are the most sought for and passed around.  Kids surf the Internet seeking titillating images to pass on to their friends. And many are making and uploading their own photos and videos.  As a result, every form of experimentation, from drugs to sex are openly discussed, taught, demonstrated and encouraged on the Internet today.

When kids get online and participate in what they would never think of doing in person I call it “digital courage.”  As a result, guys are getting a warped image of girls, what girls want from boys, and what boys should expect from girls. Girls are given messages that if you don’t present yourself in a sexualized way, then you won’t get noticed.  And both sexes are getting warped ideas about same-sex relationships. It’s a culture fueled by permissive messages that make it okay to be blatant about sex and silly to care about modesty.  And what’s happening online, in a fantasy world, is making its way into the real world for these kids when they spend hours engulfed in it daily.

I don’t think parents quite understand the tremendous amount of pressure that this emphasis on seduction places especially on impressionable teen and pre-teen girls. They are forced to choose between doing what is socially acceptable in their own circles and what is acceptable among their family and church.  More often than not, the social pressure to fit in outweighs their desire to be modest and follow what they’ve been taught.  Girls who’ve grown up in church may therefore begin to present themselves in ways that are not in line with the values they have learned.

Beyond the moral influences, kids fail to understand the potential practical consequences for what they carelessly post online.  For instance, the United States government announced years ago that every word “tweeted” on the largest social networking site, Twitter, is being recorded for permanent public storage by the Library of Congress.  It means that messages and images can be recalled many years from now.  Why is that an issue? For one thing, many employers and some colleges now research what applicants have been saying or posting online, since what they find there is a good indicator of the motivations and attitudes of the applicant. Educational and career choices may be hindered by the careless words or pictures your teen is posting.

Solutions No More

It used to be that filters on your home computer could be used to block inappropriate sites, but that’s an incomplete solution today.  Parents have a bigger issue on their hands now, with the advent of wireless and handheld computers, iPads, iPhones, PDA’s and smart cell phones. Kids can get online just about anywhere, not just at home where it can be monitored. Not only are there more wireless ways to connect, 77% of kids access the Internet at school or the library, where there may be no filters at all.

According to Pew Research, 40% of all teens use the digital cameras on their own cell phones or computers to send sexual photos or “send sexual texts — a practice called “sexting.” Even if your teenager isn’t “sexting” themselves, photos and sexualized comments from other kids are being passed to them.

What’s a Parent to Do?

Parents need to realize that it is becoming nearly impossible to keep kids away from the bad stuff on the Internet. That’s why they should begin talking to their children in the tween years (by age 9) about the inappropriateness of pornography. Talk in age-appropriate terms, being careful not to spark interest in it or to make it appear that all kids are involved in it.  Revisit the topic periodically, since your teen’s thoughts and motivations will change over time. Regularly ask questions in your one-on-one weekly meeting, like, “What so you think is appropriate and inappropriate to see or talk about on the Internet or in texts.”  Be very wise in the way that you approach it so that you don’t push your child away.  Listen more than you speak and never embarrass them.

Your child is likely on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook (now for old folks), and SnapChat, so you better make sure you are on there as well.  There’s nothing like knowing that your parent may see what you say or the photos you post.  It keeps them in line.  Tell them that they must “friend” you, so you can monitor what they and their other friends are posting.  But don’t respond to their posts online or otherwise bring embarrassment to them in front of their friends. Just use it for monitoring and discuss what you find there with them personally.

Getting It Under Control

It is important to keep in mind that all rules for use of the Internet in your home must be adapted to the age of your child and his or her responsibility level. With that being said, here are some tips for parents to get the Internet under control:

  1. PASSWORD POLICY:  Make it a home policy that parents must know all electronic passwords. This gives access if needed. Have access to their social networking account for your monthly monitoring (or don’t allow them on any network site if they can’t be responsible).   Add yourself to their “friend” list to be able to roam around on their site. Make sure their profile is “private,” so that only their approved “friends” can communicate with them.  A little monitoring goes a long way. If they refuse, disconnect their Internet access and texting on their cell phone.
  1. TRACKING:   Take advantage of parental controls offered by wireless communication companies, but also install silent tracking software and let it do its work to help you know what sites they are visiting.  Most kids learn to quickly get around blocking software and the so-called “parental controls,” but they cannot usually defy software that tracks their every keystroke.
  1. ACCESS:  Keep Internet accessible devices out of your teen’s bedroom. Keep them out in an open area with the monitor visible from various angles.  Don’t allow access unless you are in the room, and put a limit on the amount of time they may spend on the Internet.  If you have wireless in your home, shut it down after hours and when your teen is alone at home.  If your teen has a smart phone that can access Internet sites or receive photos, then have them turn it over to you before going to bed.
  1. REVIEW:  On their computer, periodically view their Internet “browser history” and follow the trail. You will be amazed; software is available to secretly record their every move if needed, especially if you think they are accessing the Internet overnight or when you are not home.
  1. READ:  Tell your teen that for the privilege of texting on their cell phone, you will periodically ask to see that they’ve been texting.  Tell them that they mustn’t erase text messages, or that will be an assumed admission of guilt. Then, do unannounced spot checks several times per month. Don’t use it as an opportunity to seek proof of other offences, but simply spot check for inappropriate messages or photos. Then, talk to your teen about what you find.

Find out who they are chatting with online. Many times, the people on the other end aren’t who they portray themselves to be, so keep your teen out of the open chat rooms.  Be especially careful if you think your teen may be interacting with an Internet stalker.  If you find anyone you don’t know asking to meet your teen boy or girl alone somewhere, immediately report it to the police.

  1. LOGIN:  Get on their social networking home page and look around.  Look at their friends.  See what they’re saying.  Look at what is being said to them.  Go visit their friend’s pages.  You might just find out something about your child that would be a perfect intro into some great conversations.
  1. TALK, AND THEN TALK SOME MORE:  If you find something inappropriate on a cell phone or computer, privately talk to your child.  Make it something you agree to both get together to talk about periodically.  Don’t accuse them and assume the worst.  All teens — especially boys — are curious about adult things and they want to see what their friends are suggesting they see.  So, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.  You’ll be amazed how your child will respond when you speak with a gentle spirit, not one of condemnation and guilt.  You’ll be glad you found the issue before it got too big in the child’s life. Catching it early will often prevent it from becoming a life-long addiction.

I believe in privacy. I believe in trust. But I also believe in “being there” to be the parent God has called me to be. If I see anything that concerns me, then it must be brought into the open with the teen, shared, and discussed. I tell kids that I sleep with one eye open. I’m always looking for something that has the potential to destroy a relationship with them and with God.  I tell them that I’m looking out for them because I don’t want any unwelcome thing to intrude into their life.

It’s Up to You

Monitoring your teen’s Internet use can be a lot of added work, but I believe that parents should go to no end to find out what their teen is into and who they are connecting with online, especially if it begins affecting their attitudes and behaviors.  That portal to the outside world needs monitoring. After all, would you let just anyone, even a registered sex offender or pornographer, into your house to befriend your teen?  Of course not.  The hold that an outsider may have on your teenage girl, or the hold that pornography may have on a teenage boy, may ultimately harm both them and your family. Your teen will be too embarrassed to reveal it, so it’s up to you to find out and take action.

Helping your teen become more discerning in how they surf or text on the Internet is now more important than older tactics of simply blocking teens from it. They’ll find other ways to access the Internet, whether at school or in their friend’s homes or using their friend’s cell phone or laptop computer. So, teaching them to be discerning will give kids the skills they need in a culture where it is nearly impossible for a parent to completely block them from accessing it.

Moms and dads all over the country express great frustration to me with how to positively encounter their teen living in a seductive, visually oriented, and digitally bombarded world.  The answer to their questions is always that they have to do something, rather than doing nothing.  Online and texting parameters must be set, communicated, and adhered to.  And it must be a set of parameters that are monitored, revisited and discussed often.  Remember this… rules without monitoring aren’t rules at all, just blind suggestions.

08.22.16

4 Powerful Ways That Mindfulness Will Improve Your Life and Ministry by Ron Powell
 
youthministryunleashed.com/4-powerful-ways-that-mindfulness-will-improve-your-life-and-ministry/
Being all there makes a huge difference…

But recent studies show that most of us aren’t “all there” most of the time! In fact one study by Microsoft shows that most people have a shorter attention span (8 seconds) than a gold fish! Here are 5 powerful ways that practicing mindfulness will improve your life and ministry!

But first the research…

Researchers in Canada surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). Microsoft found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds.

Can you see how this might hamper your ability to read, counsel, or remember what your spouse just said?

Amy Morin, author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do describes powerful benefits of mindfulness. I will highlight how these will boost your life and ministry!

1. Insightful Focus

Lord, help me to hear what they are really saying. That is my prayer as I see a student’s lips moving. As I am actively practicing attentiveness I hear more than just the words; I observe the body language and feel the feeling.

As I am entirely mindful of the person in front of me I engage in the moment at a completely different level than when I am watching TV with a phone in my hand.

This strategy improves problem solving because as I give my mind completely over to the situation and refuse to allow it to ramble down rabbit trails I can generate a number of workable solutions and evaluate the merits of each.

2. Improved Relationships

Why don’t you listen to me? This is a common complaint in relationships. According to Morin, “Researchers have found that mindfulness could be the key to relationship satisfaction. –Couples who practice mindfulness report less conflict, improved communication, and a healthier relationship overall.”

Attentiveness is destroyed by inattention. This isn’t just a disadvantage brought on by the digital age, newspapers, televised sports, and day dreaming have long been with us.

Mindfulness in relationships makes us more able to devote our heart and attention to those we love.

3. Enhanced Mental Health

It’s easy to think that practicing mindfulness is Eastern Mysticism or some new age nonsense! Did you know that Christian believers have practiced this for centuries?! (-See Richard Foster Celebration of Discipline!) Mindfulness will make you more aware of God and others.

Studies have linked mindfulness to improved psychological health. Practicing mindfulness can reduce your overall stress level and lower your risk of mental health problems. As you are more in the moment you are less prone to worry, develop anxiety, and stress over things that you can’t deal with. There is nothing helpful coming from a scattered mind flitting from one concern to another, all while trying to participate in a meeting, church service, or prepare a talk. Clear undistracted focus is helpful in all circumstances.

4. Wise Responses not Emotional Reactions

The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry Study shows that “mindfulness decreases the intensity of painful feelings. Even when you’re going through tough times, you won’t experience negative emotions as intensely when you’re able to focus on the here-and-now.” Mindfulness can also reduce harsh self-criticism and help you develop a more self-compassionate inner dialogue.

As you work with others this is hugely important. If we are slaves to our initial emotional experience we are likely to make terrible choices and give very bad advice! As we gain a more objective Biblical approach our responses will be tempered by God’s wisdom.

How to Be More Mindful 

As you are hearing from many sources, people can train their brains to be mindful. Similar to other skills, it will take practice to improve.

I like to start by being mindful of God. I recognize that the Holy Spirit is in and all around me. I concentrate on his involvement in my interaction with others. I ask him to provide insight into my problems and my daily activities.

Taking time to still your mind at the start of the day and allowing Christ to carry all of your concerns will free you up to focus on others and the tasks at hand. Learning to turn off notifications on your phone and plan times to deal with email and messages will also help to discipline you to deal with distractions in an orderly manner. At bedtime clear your mind of anxious thoughts reviewing the day and working on tomorrow. Instead begin to thank God for all who he is and what he has done in your life. Go to sleep with thanks and praise on your lips.

08.22.16

9 Challenges to Shape My Leadership by Tony Morgan

tonymorganlive.com/2016/08/15/9-challenges-shape-leadership/?utm_source=The+Unstuck+Group+Updates&utm_campaign=cf9a3ad321-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a8f3d67876-cf9a3ad321-432428929

1) “It’s cruel and unusual punishment to employ a person and not tell them how they’re doing.” (Bill Hybels)

This was a great reminder for me to give more specific feedback to my team. My natural tendency is to stay silent until there’s a problem. That’s not fair to the people I’m leading.

>> More from Bill Hybels’ talk on The Four Lenses of Leadership

2) “We need to live out our values in the world.” (Melinda Gates)

In other words, it’s not enough to have a list of values. I have to be intentional about engaging those values in everything I do. In fact, the better job I can do of establishing measurements to track each value, the more likely it is that my actions will reflect those values.

>> More from Melinda Gates’ talk on Living Out Your Values in the World

3) “Leadership is about taking wise chances and giving people opportunities.” (Jossy Chacko)

I’m entrepreneurial, so I’m not afraid to take risks. I need to remain wise about the risks I take. If I wait for everything to be perfectly aligned, I’ll never be able to take that wise chance. By the way, giving the right people the right opportunities may be the best risk I can take.

>> More from Jossy Chacko’s talk on Unquestionable Ways to Expand Your Leadership Reach

4) “If you are a leader, you have to be vulnerable first.” (Patrick Lencioni)

This was a passing comment Lencioni made describing a specific exercise he uses with consulting clients, but it jumped out to me. My team will not be vulnerable about the challenges they are facing unless I am vulnerable first.

>> More from Patrick Lencioni’s talk on The Ideal Team Player

5) “Execution doesn’t like complexity.” (Chris McChesney)

I wanted to jump through the video screen and high-five McChesney after he said this. Execution is so hard for churches, and one of the key reasons is because of the complexity that exists. It’s one of my personal missions to help churches remove that complexity so they can have a bigger impact.

>> More from Chris McChesney’s talk on The Four Disciplines of Execution

6) “People have uphill hopes and downhill habits.” (John Maxwell)

That’s a reminder that hope is not a strategy. If I want to go someplace I’ve never been in my leadership or personal life, I’ll need to establish a new plan with new disciplines to see it happen. My current habits won’t produce new results.

>> More from John Maxwell’s talk on The One Thing to Get Right

7) “If I have to hold it to keep it going, I have the wrong people in place.” (T.D. Jakes)

I’ve made this mistake in the past. Because someone failed or I didn’t trust them with a responsibility, I held on to it for too long. I have to be willing to coach and empower others to take on key roles. I also have to be willing to make the tough calls on personnel if it’s not working.

>> More from Bishop TD Jakes’ talk on Going Into Your World

8) “True humility is agreeing with God about who you are… True dependency is agreeing with God about who He is.” (Danielle Strickland)

This may not mean anything to you, but this principle is really the key for people like me who struggle with anxiety. When I try to take control rather than embracing true humility and dependency, I can get in a very unhealthy place.

>> More from Danielle Strickland’s talk on Essential Leadership Shifts

9) “Customers want a perfect product, served timely, and to know you care.” (Horst Schulze)

I’ll just be honest, the part about letting them “know you care” is the biggest challenge of those three for me. My natural wiring is all about producing great results in a timely fashion. I have to work to manage the third part. And that’s also where I need the complement of my teammates.

>> More from Horst Schulze’ talk on Creating an Organization of Excellence and Efficiency

08.22.16

The Fine Line Between Friendship & Mentoring by Doug Franklin

leadertreks.org

There is a fine line for youth ministry volunteers between being a friend or a mentor. Often times adult volunteers want to be liked by students, so they cross the line between friend and mentor. They tell students what they want to hear instead of hard truth they need to hear. We must consistently remember we are here for students, giving them what they need to grow.

Mentors want a lopsided relationship with their students. Knowing that students will never build into them, they pursue students at a deep level. Discover their hopes, fears and struggles. This is why mentors need solid relationships with other adults so they can get their emotional tanks filled through appropriate relationships.

Below is a list of a few of the finer qualities taken from a mentoring relationship. Think about what the student gains from having this kind of relationship with a leader.

        1. The Hard Truth 

Students get plenty of honesty from their friends, but they need a leader who tells them the truth out of love. They need someone who sees God’s best for them and will work with them to bring it out.

  1. Unconditional Love 

Love is one of the most confusing and often misunderstood words to students. Leaders need to model what it looks like to love unconditionally. Start by telling students that you love them and that you won’t leave them. I often tell them that I am not like other adults; I will not let them stay the same, I will push them to grow.

  1. Humble Honesty

Students will be blessed by having a leader who shares their life story with them, not someone who only preaches at them. Tell them the redemption story of your life. Allow them to see and understand your mistakes and let them know the peace you have from forgiveness.

  1. Challenge 

Paint a picture for students of what they can do for God. Let them see how God has used students to accomplish His goals. Help them understand what God wants to do in them and through them.

  1. Selflessness 

Students have one great love: themselves. It is a vital responsibility of the leaders to work at teaching their students the act of selflessness. By putting others’ needs first, leaders have the opportunity to consistently show students that life is about more than just themselves.

  1. Value

Students are bombarded daily from every direction about who they should be in the eyes of the world: smart, attractive, wealthy, funny, etc. A leader building intentional relationships challenges them in areas that reach deeper. Remind students of their potential in Christ, and show them what is important by how you spend your money and how you give your time.

  1. Consistent 

Empty promises are hard to forget. What if our students had a relationship with someone they knew they could always count on? Leaders who are consistent do what they say and they keep their promises.

Building Intentional Relationships Discussion Questions

  • How do you think it would impact small groups to have leaders that were too much like one or the other of the relationships we discussed?
  • How can you tell if you have become too of an authoritarian with your students and not compassionate?
  • How can you tell if you have become too much of a friend to your students and not enough of a mentor?
  • What is the one of the seven things we discussed earlier that you feel you need the most work on? What areas do you feel you are already doing well in?

08.16.16

Preteen Ministry: How to Nurture Preteens’ Faith Development by Stephanie Martin

childrensministry.com/articles/bridge-ministry-preteens/

At ages 10, 11, and 12, preteens are still technically in the children’s ministry category-but they consider themselves too old for elementary activities. They want to be treated like grown-ups, and they have unique spiritual needs.

While this is an exciting, change-filled age, it’s also a crucial time to nurture kids’ faith development, to make a difference in their lives, and to incorporate them into the larger church body.

Children’s Ministry Magazine talked to preteen ministry experts about sure-fire ways to help these kids grow spiritually before they’re out of your ministry’s reach.

Crossing Into New Terrain

What makes preteens noticeably different from even 8- and 9-year-olds? The key is their growing desire for freedom.

“Preteens yearn for independence and desire to es­cape being smothered by parents, especially if parents tend to be overprotective,” says Rebecca Peterson, children’s pastor at Community Bible Church in San Antonio, Texas.

“Typical 10- to 12-year-olds are beginning the process of separating their identities from their parents, which continues on through adolescence,” says Sarah Killelea, preteen ministry director at San Clemente Presbyterian Church in San Clemente, California. “At the start of this journey, they need a place where they can connect with adults other than Mom or Dad or teachers.”

This need to slowly cut the apron strings translates into opportunities for children’s ministers to be caring adult mentors.

Entering a Spiritual Expanse

To grow in their relationship with Christ, preteens need special attention, customized programming, and opportunities to question and be challenged. They also need:

• Strong Adult Mentors-Preteen ministry staff and volunteers must “be there consistently” for kids, Peterson says. “Kids’ lives are changed by that dedicated individual who’s there every week when the kids arrive, asking them how their week went, spending time listening to them, and joking around with them. These are the heroes who make a difference in children’s lives and lead them to spiritual maturity.”

• Personalized Faith-Most preteens who’ve grown up in children’s ministry have been exposed to the basic facts about the Bible and Christian faith. But once they reach fifth and sixth grades, kids are ready to own their beliefs.

“Preteens are just starting to understand that God is very real and the Bible actually relates to them,” says Katie Gerber, preteen ministry associate at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis. “The Bible isn’t just some old book full of stories they’ve heard since preschool. It’s a living, active book that relates to their problems or situations.”

Preteens “need to know this isn’t just their parents’ church,” adds Peterson. “What we have to offer them each week is the spiritual air and food they need to survive in today’s culture.”

• Positive Experiences-In addition to consistent relationships and foundational knowledge, Killelea says, preteens need plenty of fun moments with spiritual significance.

“Most students fail to remember the details of a 10-minute message or the exact content of small-group discussions,” she says. “However, my students constantly recall funny skits we’ve performed, songs from months back, and life-changing experiences from camps. Kids remember what was fun for them.”

• Leadership Challenges-Alan Root, a “kid musicianary” to the preteen set, says these kids “need to lead.” They’re “ready to be seriously challenged: challenged to memorize Scripture, challenged to worship in spirit and truth, challenged to make a difference at church, at home, at school, and in their community,” he says.

By fifth grade, Root adds, kids are ready to switch “from being under the ministry of a children’s pastor to being ready to assist the ministry of the children’s pastor.”

• Spiritual Development-Preteens’ emerging ability to think abstractly plays a big role in their spiritual development. “They’re able to question and challenge things they ‘firmly’ believed only months before,” says Killelea. “Their minds are eager to question their faith…and the validity and content of Scripture.”

The big spiritual challenge for preteens, Killelea adds, is defining for themselves exactly what “relationship with Christ” means. Kids regularly ask Killelea questions such as “Is God with me right now?” and “Does God care about me personally?” So it’s essential, she says, for preteens to have “a place where they’re free to ask questions” and receive “solid, age-appropriate” answers.

• Social Development-Because preteens are curious and are venturing out into the world more, Root says, they need to know the dangers and consequences of certain behaviors. “Many of them know that what pop culture calls ‘freedom’ is a dead end,” he says, “but they need a real answer to [resist]an invitation to plunge into the kingdom of darkness.”

A big dilemma for preteens and people who work with them is that “they want more freedom, yet can handle only so much,” says Gerber. “Preteens want to feel older, yet they’re still kids. They don’t want to be in elementary anymore; they want something special, just for them.”

Building Strong Support

Incorporating this knowledge of preteens’ spiritual needs into your ministry leads to powerful results.

• Express genuine interest. When working with pre­­teens, you can’t just show up and serve your time, Peterson says. Instead, you must “show you care about what they’re facing.”

If you fail to get on preteens’ level, earn their trust, and show real interest in their lives, kids are “going to tune you out,” says Gerber. It’s also important to think outside the classroom. “Go to their cheerleading competitions or basketball games,” she adds. “That’s when they’ll come up to you and say, ‘I really need to talk to you about something.’ ”

• Make lessons applicable. Preteen ministers have to be a little more creative with lessons so they relate to kids’ lives, Gerber says, adding that lessons require more preparation because preteens “know when you’re winging it.”

Programming must remain on the cutting edge and be constantly revised to meet kids’ needs, Peterson says.

Root, whose new book for preteens is Disciplification (self-published; www.alanroot.com), says preteen curriculum must be real and must explore kids’ leadership gifts. “There’s nothing more real than the transition from being a kid in children’s church to being a minister in children’s church,” he says.

• Provide lots of welcoming activities. Gerber’s BLAST program (Belonging, Laughing, And Studying the Truth) features at least nine special events per year. All these get-togethers, retreats, and trips are tailored to preteens. “Kids know when they get into fifth and sixth grade that programming is going to be totally different from elementary,” she says.

Because friendships are so important to this age group, activities are open and attractive to kids’ friends. Gerber recommends assigning one regular attendee to each visitor because “most likely, if visitors feel like they made a new friend, they’ll be back.”

• Assign responsibilities gradually. The best way to meet preteens’ spiritual needs, Root says, is to “give them real responsibility and follow up on how they’re doing.” He says preteens can lead worship, teach part of a class, participate in prayer, and even help with the sound system.

“Find their gifts and turn them loose under your watchful eye,” Root says, adding that when preteens are given responsibilities a little bit at a time, they’ll prove their faithfulness and their age won’t be an issue.

• Facilitate spiritual growth. Being honest and real is essential because preteens “can see right through you,” Gerber says. “They’re more aware of you than you think.”

She adds that preteens “need to see that you struggle with things, too-that they’re not alone. Never, ever be afraid to be honest with them about your flaws.”

• Offer identity and freedom. Providing preteens with their own identity makes them feel special, Peterson says. At her church, everything preteens do-from Sunday events to VBS to summer camp-carries the Club 56 label. The group has its own worship band, a separate game room, and separate snacks and crafts.

Just calling fifth- and sixth-graders preteens makes them feel more grown up, says Gerber. And expanded activities such as rock climbing, laser tag, and movie outings provide kids with the freedom and growth opportunities they crave.

Making the Connections

Preteen specialists keep kids’ needs in mind with all aspects of their programming. They agree that lots of interaction, messy games, good food, and a friendly atmosphere are all essential.

• Focus on discussion groups. Small groups are “key to life change, which is what we’re really all about,” Peter­son says. “Discussion questions connect the Scrip­tures kids hear to their everyday lives and make God’s Word relevant to them.”

When using a discussion format, Killelea advises, remember that it’s okay to go off-topic with kids’ questions and concerns. “I’ve found that it’s most effective for preteens to experience the freedom to question,” she says.

• Help them bond with adults. Look for extra opportunities to build relationships between preteens and min­istry leaders. In her LightForce program, Killelea offers parties, girls sleepovers, and boys bowling nights to encourage student-leader bonding.

Peterson recounts an 11-year-old girl who made major life changes with the help of an accountability partner assigned to her at a retreat. Through commitment and support, the girl reached her goals to quit bullying, change her circle of friends, and stop smoking.

• Offer challenge and expect results. Effective preteen programs challenge kids in their deepening relationship with Christ. Members of Club 56 attend Wednesday night discipleship classes and just completed their first missions trip. “This group of 22 kids is so on-fire for the Lord,” Peterson says. “I’m expecting mighty and powerful things to come from them.”

• Maintain a separate identity. Attach the name of your church’s preteen ministry to everything the group does. And, whenever possible, keep preteen activities separate from younger children’s activities. The only time Club 56 meets with younger kids, Peterson says, is during an opening session for drama, offering, and announcements.

• Encourage outreach. Because Killelea’s church is the only one in San Clemente with a program specifically targeted to fifth- and sixth-graders, LightForce serves as an important outreach. She tells about a girl who was having a tough time making friends at school. During fifth grade, this girl got involved with LightForce and “immediately clicked with the leaders.” She made new friends and even started bringing her parents to church on Sundays.

Last November, when the senior pastor invited the congregation to share expressions of gratitude, this young girl was “the first person under age 40 to share, and she stood up to say she was very thankful for LightForce because it brought Jesus into her life and the life of her family,” Killelea says.

“That moment was the most encouraging experience in ministry for my team and me,” says Killelea. “The Lord clearly used the program, curriculum, and staff of LightForce to reach this young girl and her family.”

08.16.16

Top 30 Articles for Leading Volunteers by Christine Yount Jones

childrensministry.com/articles/top-30-articles-for-leading-volunteers/?utm_source=internal_cm&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=

From Children’s Ministry Magazine… here are our top 30 articles for leading volunteers, ranked by the millions of people who come to our site annually!

1. 10 Great Ways to Thank Volunteers Check out what children’s ministers are doing to tangibly thank their volunteers. And discover creative ways you can give your volunteers a positive thank you note.

2. 4 Easy Children’s Ministry Teacher Training Meetings Looking for teacher training meetings your teachers will enjoy and come back to? Use these 4 easy-to-prepare training meetings!

3. 3 Devotions to Encourage Your Volunteers Use these 3 devotions to encourage your volunteers in a brief team meeting or full training.

4. 11 Things NOT to Do With a New Volunteer Okay, so you’ve got a new children’s ministry volunteer, what do you do now? Here are 11 things NOT to do with a new volunteer.

5. Sunday School Teacher’s Survival Kit Let your Sunday school teachers know how much you value them with this easy Sunday School Teacher’s Survival Kit (with heart!).

6. Tried & True Recruiting Secrets for Children’s Ministry Veteran children’s ministers share what really works when it comes to recruiting a great volunteer team.

7. How to Be an Effective Volunteer Recruiter In a volunteer recruiting rut? Join our conversation with veteran recruiters to discover their secrets for effective recruiting that stands the test of time!

8. Volunteer Problems: Solved! As a leader, you’ve no doubt had your share of issues related to volunteer management. We tossed a few common issues to volunteer management experts and asked for help. They delivered! Read on for expert, practical advice.

9. 14 Ways to Affirm Volunteers on the Cheap Children’s Ministry Magazine decided to find fantastic ways to affirm volunteers–that don’t break the bank. We went on a special quest to find budget-friendly, unique affirmation gifts and then create ways to say a very special “Thanks!”

10. 10 Best Ways to Ask a Volunteer to Serve You can dramatically increase your chances of hearing the golden words: “Why yes, I’d be honored to serve in the children’s ministry!” — if you implement these “deal-closing” ideas drawn from the world of advertising sales.

11. The Three P’s of Volunteer Affirmation Ministry is a team effort. We’re called to affirm and encourage the volunteers we lead. So how do we make sure this happens? These three P’s can shape your volunteer appreciation efforts.

12. What You Need to Know About Casting Your Recruiting Net Recruitment can be the most difficult and discouraging area of volunteer management—if we try to do it in our time and by our plans. But in God’s time and by God’s plan, it will be done.

13. How to Build an Unstoppable Volunteer Team Almost every role in ministry involves working and interacting with others. Jesus is a great example; he spoke to his disciples through his actions: building connections, partners, success, and balance — and ultimately, value. You can do it yourself, too.

14. 9 Reasons to Fire a Volunteer–and How to Do It Ready! Aim! You’re Fired! Here are 9 reasons you must fire a volunteer—and how to do it.

15. 5 Reasons the Best VBS Teams Come Back Every Year You worked hard to recruit an amazing team of VBS volunteers! How can you ensure they’ll want to join your VBS team again next year (and even throughout the year)?

16. Mugs ‘n’ Muffins Volunteer Appreciation Instead of having one big year-end appreciation luncheon for our volunteers, we have several Mugs ‘n’ Muffins appreciation open houses during the school year. We schedule each Mugs ‘n’ Muffins on a Sunday morning.

17. The Powerful Solution to Your Biggest Volunteer Training Challenge When was the last time you had 100 percent turnout to your volunteer training? 50 percent? 25 percent?

18. How to Elevate Volunteers From “Helping” to Leading Want your volunteers to stay for the long-term? Stop acting like they’re your helpers.

19.  Good, Better, Best: 6 Creative Ways to Affirm Volunteers Use these 6 creative ways to affirm volunteers. You’ll find a good, better, and best option for all six!

20. 61 Ways to Say Thanks to Volunteers  Here are oodles of quick ideas that will help you celebrate and thank your volunteers—from Children’s Ministry Magazine.

21. Training? Are Your Volunteers Ill-Equipped? Are you missing the boat when it comes to volunteer training? Leadership expert Sue Mallory says probably so.

22. 6 Ways to Get More Men Serving in Children’s Ministry Historically, children’s ministry has been predominantly staffed by women. According to George Barna, “Women are almost twice as likely as men” to teach Sunday school. But in our church, we’re evening the odds. Currently, 45 percent of our children’s Sunday school staff is male.

23. Jesus-Style Volunteer Training and Leadership As we focus on relationships, as Christ did, we live out the discipleship approach to volunteer management. This focus on relationships has had long-lasting results in the lives of children, parents, and staff members at the author’s church.

24. The 6 Mistakes That’ll Cost You Volunteers Can’t recruit volunteers or keep the ones you have? You’re not alone. Here’s how to avoid 6 common mistakes that cost you volunteers.

25. Volunteer Training Events No Volunteer Can Resist Getting volunteers to attend volunteer training can be a challenge, but one you can overcome. Your volunteers will love attending training when you follow these tips!

26. 6 Secrets to Olympic-Style Volunteer Training Imagine how strong a children’s ministry volunteer team you could have if you prepared volunteers with an Olympic-style workout program.

27. Recruiting Volunteers as Jesus Did The best method is to look to the Master Recruiter. Jesus recruited a cadre of committed volunteers who in turn recruited others who recruited others-and, well, here we are. Not to belittle God’s grace or the miracle of his work in each of our callings, but there are seven steps we can look at that Jesus used to recruit. Christ’s approach can work for your ministry, too.

28. 6 Steps to Confront and Uncooperative Teacher Sometimes you’d rather put your head behind a pew and hide. But as a children’s minister your responsibility is to serve the needs of your kids…which just might involve rocking that pew a bit.

29. 98 Thank Yous for Volunteers Gracias! Dankeschon! In any language, these ideas will help you say thank you and express your gratitude to volunteers’ hearts!

30.Get Your FREE Complete Volunteer Training Plan: Connect the Dots Looking for a fantastic volunteer training and affirmation event people will actually attend? Why not do it with a Dynamic Outstanding Training event—DOT! Help your volunteers make connections with one another and hone their ministry skills with this DOT event.

And a Bonus Article! Why Do Your Volunteers Quit? Children’s ministry volunteers are loving, caring people who are…leaving? As much as we strive to recruit and keep them, volunteers all too often make the decision to leave their positions.