Friday, June 12, 2009


By Debi Nixon


Remember how your heart raced when a teacher blurted out those words? Pop quiz! Ugh! You'd rather do anything than take a test. Right?

As painful as tests were at times, they provided our teachers with a helpful way of assessing how we were growing as students. In the same way, giving your ministry periodic tests can also help you assess the growth of your children, staff, ministry programs, and procedures.

When was the last time your ministry had a checkup? Assessing the details of your ministry will help guide your ministry as you seek to live out God's calling to change children's lives for Christ. A ministry of excellence is clear on its ministry progress and is continually adapting, changing, and growing to meet the spiritual, emotional, and social needs of its children and families. Where is your ministry? To find out, take out a piece of paper and a pencil...


Evaluation is only effective if you have a clearly defined purpose or mission statement. If not, do that first. How can you know if you've hit the target if you don't know what the target is? Evaluation helps you know if you're achieving what you've set out to accomplish.

Evaluation helps your planning process; helps assess the progress of your children and families in fulfilling your ministry's purpose statement; and also helps you know what to communicate to children, parents, volunteers, and your church family. Evaluation examines the difference between your vision and what you're currently providing to help create new ministry goals and plans.


Evaluating or measuring your ministry results against your purpose may seem rudimentary, but many churches make little or no effort to assess results, either in terms of ministry program objectives, ministry procedures, or children's and families satisfaction. To decide what to evaluate, begin with clear, defined values, goals, and objectives that are consistent in fulfilling your minstry's purpose. From your clearly defined goals or vision, evaluate all that you offer. For example, does your curriculum meet all the objectives as defined in the values you've established for your ministry? Is your facility child-friendly, inviting, and representative of your ministry? Do the programs you offer meet the spiritual, emotional, and social needs of children? What is your parents' satisfaction level with the ministry you offer to children?

It's easy to place our primary focus of importance on the big picture. However, it's in the details that the big picture is clearly brought into focus. A great architect once said, "God is in the details." Evaluating and paying atttention to all the details and aspects of your ministry turns it into a ministry of excellence.


To improve your ministry with children and families, evaluate the details of your ministry daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually - carefully examining what you're doing and accomplishing.

For example, you may assess your facility and what it communicates about your ministry by doing a weekly walkthrough, taking note of the physical condition of the rooms and equipment. From this evaluation, develop and implement goals and plans to help with maintenance and improvement. At the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, we complete a weekly facility maintenance report for each room, hallway, entranceway, and restroom in the children's ministry area. Details of this evaluation tool include equipment and facility repair needs, room cleanliness, and needed supplies. From this report, we develop a weekly action plan with the church facility ministry and the children's ministry team.

You, also, could implement an evaluation tool after each weekend for your Sunday school. What went well? What could be improved upon? Other evaluations may be quarterly or yearly, based on the time and length of the minstry. Of primary importance is that the details of your ministry are evaluated on an ongoing basis throughout the year.


When deciding how to evaluate, it's important to choose a variety of methods. By using different tools, you'll have a more comprehensive review of your ministry. The results of your evaluation should also be put in writing for future review and use. The following are examples of evaluation tools.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Why Bible Clubs?

God loves his children. He commanded parents to "train up a child in the way he should go" (Proverbs 22:6).

All-Stars for Jesus Bible Clubs are designed to help churches and parents teach children to know God, to believe in Jesus as their Savior, and to live for Him. Researchers say that 43% of people who are Christians accepted Christ as Savior before the age of 13! We want to help you reach that 43%...and more!

Bible clubs also offer a non-threatening place for children who might never attend a regular church service or Sunday school class to learn about Jesus in a fun, casual atmosphere. In a whole where children are exposed to a variety of bad influences coming from all directions, All-Stars for Jesus Bible Clubs are places of love and encouragement, where kids can safely learn how to say no to those bad influences and learn how to live a victorious life in Christ!

So...what exactly IS All-Stars for Jesus?

All-Stars for Jesus provides everything you need for an exciting ministry to children!

All-Stars for Jesus is:
  • A multi-use Bible curriculum in a fun club environment for age 2 through grade 6, with an optional awards program.
  • A program that provides solid Bible teaching in a fun and interesting way for kids—one that directs them to know and follow Jesus.
  • Curriculum that is easy to teach and includes helpful options for teachers, giving you maximum flexibility.
  • Bible- and curriculum-based, rather than activity-based.
  • Age appropriate and fun for kids of all ages.
  • Bible-centered—every activity helps kids focus on God's Word.
  • A way to help churches reach the children and families in their communities for Christ.
The All-Stars for Jesus Bible Club program is designed to lead children from age 2 through sixth grade to a personal faith in Jesus, to teach them about God's love and care, to encourage them to grow spiritually, and to give them a solid biblical foundation for their lives.
We want each child to know that he or she is a star in Jesus' eyes, no matter what the child's skills and abilities are. Jesus loves children just as they are. All-Stars for Jesus Bible Clubs help children to feel loved and accepted.
All-Stars for Jesus partners with churches to extend their outreach from just Sunday school to mid-week, Sunday evening, or other times children can gather to learn about Jesus. All-Stars meetings are fun, less formal time with a variety of interesting and fun activities to direct the child's attention to God's Word. The optional awards program offers a further way to extend the Bible learning into the home.
What unique features does All-Stars for Jesus have?
Each All-Stars for Jesus age-level Flex-lesson Leader's Guide has everything you need for two meetings a week—to use for Sunday morning and mid-week, Sunday evening and after-school Bible club, or whenever great Bible lessons are needed. Or, you have extra options for one meeting a week!
  • Easy-Trac meeting plans direct the leader step-by-step through each weekly program, and let you see at a glance which activities and materials to use.
  • The optional awards program provides more opportunities for kids to learn about Jesus by completing Bible learning activities in their award books at home. When each activity is completed, children earn colorful awards to place on a cap or pennant. Plus, each child could have ALL first-year awards for as low as 82 cents per week!
  • All-Stars for Jeus offers not only five age-level programs for children age 2 through grade 6, but also the All-Stars Explorers program for grades 1 through 6 in one classroom for smaller Bible clubs.
  • There are no membership fees, dues, or doctrinal requirements—just fun, Bible-based, solid Christian learning.
  • The All-Stars Promo Kits (included with your Starter Kits) offer great resources to promote your clubs: promotional posters, clip art, fundraising ideas, and club kickoff plans!
  • All-Stars for Jesus offers lots of colorful "fun stuff" as gifts, awards, and promotions.
  • All-Stars for Jesus is an affordable program. The Flex-Lesson Leader's Guide provides two lessons a week!
  • Christian Ed Warehouse offers Standing Orders on All-Stars for Jesus quarterly curriculum so you don't even have to remember to order! Plus, Standing Orders over $100 receive free shipping.
  • There is no requirement that you use all available materials—just choose the options that will work with your group and your finances.
Does all this sound like something you would like for your church? Visit and order your Starter Kits for a 60-day risk-free review! Or order a FREE Lesson Sampler to review with your church.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Roller Coaster Emotions

by Sharyn Spradlin and Cyndie Steenis

Working with preteens can be a roller coaster ride of emotions.

One minute you’re engaged in a great discussion focusing on faith. You’re impressed with kids’ spiritual and intellectual growth. Then out of nowhere one of your preteens falls apart when he feels everyone looking at him. The emotional outburst escalates until he runs out of the room screaming that no one likes him. Only minutes ago impressed, you’re suddenly depressed by the emotional state of your preteens.

Preteens’ intellects and emotions are developing on two different timetables, with the emotions falling behind. The emotional life of preteens is at the core of their beings. They’re focused on their own feelings, ideas, and behavior. They also believe that these feelings, thoughts, and actions are on the minds of everyone else, so they often feel as though there’s an audience always watching, judging, accepting, or rejecting them.

If a preteen’s words or actions seem aimed at you, your first response may be to take it personally, perhaps with tears and anger. Don’t!

Don’t personalize the outburst. Remember—these tantrums are a part of the normal pushing away and pulling close that every preteen works through as he or she moves toward independence.

“Nobody Likes Me!”—Affirm preteens’ feelings. Don’t dismiss their emotions or deny their sense of reality. Let them vent and explain why they feel disliked. Empathize with what they believe to be true, and help them talk through their feelings. You may even share how you felt as a preteen—not how everything worked out. Offering solutions is not the goal here.

Once you’ve identified the traumatic event that caused the preteen’s world to crumble, stay calm and offer encouragement. Look for the positives that’ll help him or her regain balance and control.

“I Don’t Like Myself.”—Plagued by unachievable standards of perfection, beauty, and popularity, preteens have been set up for failure. Their self-esteem and emotional cores are under attack, so take their words seriously.

Ask questions about how they feel, and watch for feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Encourage them with everything you know to be positive about them.

“Just Go Away.”—This is a Jekyll/Hyde statement. What this preteen is really saying is: “Please stay and get to know who I am, what my interests are, what my likes and dislikes are, the names of my friends, and who I hang out with. Please stay and communicate with me, not at me. Please, someone help me put words to the feelings I have.”

The preteen years are often turbulent. They demand more than a few fun activities or free time with friends. In a sense, preteens are on that roller coaster ride emotionally. They need your willingness to strap in next to them—so they can be confident you care and that you’ll be there when they need you. They want to know you’ll be sitting right next to them, buckled in and holding tight, when they open up to you. They want to know that when the ride is fast and unpredictable, you’ll see the difference between needing to be heard and needing advice. They need to know that even around those tight curves, you’ll be listening, and actually hearing what they say.

Sharyn Spradlin and Cyndie Steenis co-founded New Re-sors-es, a Seattle, Washington, consulting and training company.

© 2003 Children's Ministry Magazine. Used by permission.