Oct 212015
 

_DSH0539What if I told you that what you do on Sunday mornings can make an impact in a kid’s future? During the month of October the Crossing Kids team wants to equip you do just that. According to Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy, “A phase is a timeframe in a kid’s life when you can leverage distinctive opportunities to influence their future.” Throughout each phase we want to identify what makes a child tick, so today we are going to focus on students in the 2nd/3rd grade phase. Did you know that students in the 2nd/3rd grade phase have an average of 572 weeks left until High School Graduation? That’s 572 weeks that we have to engage them and make an impact.

 

 

 

_DSH0506

Before we can start to engage kids on Sunday mornings, it might be best to simply identify some things that make kids in the 2nd/3rd grade phase special. The reThink Group describes this phase like this, “the phase when everything is an adventure, nothing is impossible, and your enthusiastic kid thinks anything sounds like fun!”

  • They start to become funny
  • They are quick and eager learners
  • They are creative
  • They ask great questions
  • They wonder about the world around them

 

 

_DSH0516

By the time kids are in 2nd and 3rd grade, the excitement of school starts to lessen, the amount of homework increases, and the pressures to be the best start to form… so here are some ways to engage these young learners on Sunday mornings.

  • Get excited: Kids in this phase get excited when they see their leaders do the same. Show your enthusiasm for a game or activity and they will be more likely to join.
  • Give them space: 2nd/3rd graders are becoming more independent. Ask them if they want to teach a group of kids a game they are playing, or have one of them tell the others about what the lesson topic was the week before.
  • Let them explore: The best way to engage kids at this age is to let them be involved in hands on learning, to explore the world around them. Let them look up the Bible verses you plan to read use, or give them the chance to ask questions that they have about the current lesson topic.
  • Encourage them to be deeper thinkers: 2nd/3rd graders really begin to think deeper, and this is one of the things that Sherrill, one of our workshop teachers loves. Something that amazes Sherrill about this phase is, “how their belief can apply to their world and behaviors – keeping promises, obeying parents, praying, dealing with siblings and friends.”
  • Help them feel loved: One of our 3rd grade team leaders has learned “that a lot of times a hug or a pat on the back goes a lot further than reprimanding them during class.”

I had the opportunity to teach 2nd grade for two years, and 3rd grade for three. Working with kids in this phase was a joy, and it’s amazing how much I learned from them. I can only hope the same is true for those of you who work with kids in this phase. Thank you for making an impact on this group of young learners.  It’s just a phase…so don’t miss it!

 

Oct 292014
 

Chances are that if you’ve volunteered for any length of time in one of our classroom, you’ve encountered some less than desirable behavior.  Our immediate response can sometimes be shock.  We’re at church after all.  Why are all these sinful children here?  Where are the perfect ones?  This response is often followed with panic.  What do I do?  Even seasoned parents and veteran teachers often find themselves unsure of how to handle situations with someone else’s child.  When should I ignore?  When should I intervene?  How do I have a conversations with a child that targets the heart rather than the behavior when there are 29 other kids here as well?  Trust me, I’ve been there too.

While there is no list I can give you that will magically prepare you for each situation with each child, there are a list of guiding principles we’d like to remind you of when faced  with some of these challenging situations.  Let’s take a closer look not just at the “what” and the “how,” but also the “why.”

ck2

What Our Goal is Not
In his book Christless Christianity, Michael Horton writes,

“What would things look like if Satan really took control of a city?  Over half a century ago, Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse offered his own scenario in his weekly sermon that was also broadcast nationwide on CBS radio.  Barnhouse speculated that if Satan took over Philadelphia (the city where Barnhouse pastured), all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other.  There would be no swearing.  The children would say, “Yes, sir” and “No ma’am,” and the churches would be full every Sunday…where Christ was not preached.”

Our goal on Sunday morning is not a group of perfectly behaved children.  Our goal on Sunday morning is for children to hear, believe, and understand the Gospel.  Part of this is seeing our sin, recognizing our need for a Savior, and realizing that no amount of righteousness on the outside can make us right before a holy God.  We intentionally try to make our lessons Christ-centered rather than man or behavior centered on purpose each week.  As Donald Grey Barnhouse shared so many years ago, there is a real danger to  making our end goal behavior in and of itself.

Tedd Trip reminds us of this as well in his book Shepherding a Child’s Heart:

“God is concerned about the heart—the well-spring of life (Proverbs 4:23).  Parents (*teachers) tend to focus on the externals of behavior rather than the internal overflow of the heart.  We tend to worry more about the “what” of behavior than the “why”.  Accordingly, most of us spend an enormous amount of energy in controlling and constraining behavior.  To the degree and extent to which our focus is on behavior, we miss the heart.” 

“The church borrowed the old “you listen to me, kid, or I’ll cuff you” method of raising children.  It seemed to work.  children seemed to obey.  They were externally submissive.  This method fails us now because our culture no longer responds to authority as it did a generation ago.  We lament the passing of this way of rearing children because we miss its simplicity.  I fear, however, we have overlooked its unbiblical methods and goals…Let me overview a biblical vision…it involves being a kind of authority, shepherding your children to understand themselves in God’s world, and keeping the Gospel in clear view so children can internalize the good news and someday live in mutuality with you as people under God.”

When we miss the heart, we miss subtle idols, the Gospel, and the Glory of God.  Yet, we also know that a completely chaotic and unsafe environment  will often cause us to miss these things as well.  How do we address the heart and do our part to create classrooms where children feel safe and are able to hear, participate, and engage with the lesson?

Again, Tedd Tripp reminds us that we have the ultimate example of what our roles should be as someone in authority:

“Jesus is an example of this.  The One who commands you, the One who possesses all authority, came as a servant.  He is a ruler who serves; he is also a servant who rules…You must exercise authority, not as a cruel taskmaster, but as one who truly loves.”

One of the best things we can do is to exercise our authority as a ruler who serves and a servant who rules.  That means not making a child’s behavior about us (something I struggle with consistently.)  That means that we don’t handle it through manipulation or other practices that seem easier or as a “quick fix” on the surface.  That means we don’t handle things cruelly, but we also don’t roll over either.  We set healthy boundaries.  We say no.  We pull kids aside to have conversations when necessary.  We communicate with parents and get their input (partnering with parents is one of our core values, after all.)  We target the heart rather than the external behavior as much as possible.  Here are just a few practical tips that may help you in the trenches on Sunday mornings.

teach1

The “What” and “How”

  • One way to “love” and to “serve” the children we shepherd is to be proactive, thoughtful, and intentional about the environment we create.
  • Sometimes we can anticipate hindrances for them, but also hindrances for us.
  • We are all sinners serving sinners and out of an overflow of our hearts, our mouths speak.  Take time to prepare yourself to serve on Sunday morning.  Pray for individual children who may have trouble on Sundays.  Ask God to soften your heart toward them and give you wisdom as you interact with them.

Practical Proactive Tips

Getting their Attention

  • Clapping
  • Turning off Lights
  • Show me your listening eyes, ears etc…
  • “If you can hear my voice say ________,” etc…

Transitions

  • Not Everybody All At Once—“If your birthday is in ___________,” “If you’re      wearing _________________,” etc… 
  • Agenda/ Sequence of Events—Let children know what you’re planning to do,     if/when you’re having snack, order of events, etc…  This is especially helpful for students with Autism or other special needs.
  • Time Frame—“In a minute, but not yet.,” Counting Backward, Song, Giving a Time Constraint with Reminders (In 3 minutes, in 1 minute, etc…)

Developmental Appropriateness

  • Kindergartners and 5th Graders are both alike and different.  Consider adapting your strategy based on your audience.

Proximity

  • Sit near child, move closer, etc…

Movement

  • Recognize and honor need for movement
  • Change things up
  • Limit Pocket Time

Transitioning/Distributing Materials

  • Centralized Location?
  • Pass Out Ahead of Time?
  • “Leading into temptation…”  (If I sit this in front of them, are they going to play with it instead of listening to directions, and will that drive me nuts?)

Multi-step Directions

  • Break into smaller chunks
  • Have children repeat
  • Model/Show Example

Take the Time to Listen, Laugh, and Have Fun

  • Individual conversations/relationships
  • Morning Meeting

What happens when “proactive” doesn’t work?

  • Check our hearts first.
  • Go back to the why: Go back to the heart.
  • Remember that when we miss the heart, we miss subtle idols, the Gospel, and God’s glory.
  • Have an individual conversation.
  • Ask Questions (See Wise Words chart in the Elementary Cabinets.)
  • Pray for/with child.
  • Communicate with families.

And sometimes we’ll then need to recognize that even after doing all those things, we still won’t have perfectly behaved children or classrooms and that as we talked about earlier, that’s o.k. because that’s not the end goal.  Moments like this are opportunities for us to remember our limitations.  Moments like this are opportunities for us to remember who is really in charge, who really changes hearts.  They’re moments for us to pray and preach the Gospel to ourselves.  They’re moments to remind us of what Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson say in their book, Give them Grace:

“We are always to do our best, striving to be obedient and to love, nurture, and discipline them.  But we are to do it with faith in the Lord’s ability to transform hearts, not in our ability to be consistent or faithful.  Seeking to be faithfully obedient parents (*teachers) is our responsibility; granting faith to our children is his.  Freedom to love and enjoy our children flows out of the knowledge that God saves them in spite of our best efforts, not because of them.  Salvation is of the Lord.”

Know that we pray for you and your time with children each week.  Also know that we’re here to support you when these situations arise, and pray for us as well.  We are all still in process with all of these things.  More than anyone else I know, I need God’s grace and wisdom in this arena of life on Sunday mornings.

Oct 082014
 

A mission statement is a brief description of our fundamental purpose. It answers the question, “Why do we exist?” So in Crossing Kids our mission is “to partner with families to help kids develop a lifetime relationship with Jesus.”

It is important for our leaders and every volunteer that serves in Crossing Kids to understand and know what we value. These values shape every Sunday, Tuesday morning and Wednesday night. They drive the decisions we make about curriculum, activities, music and family events. They help us accomplish our mission.

blog (families in hallway)Our values are:

Partnering with Families

  • The church must partner with families, because God intends kids to learn in context of family relationships.
  • Two combined influences make a greater impact than two separate influences.

blog (teaching)Targeting the Heart

  • God’s Word teaches that behavior is rooted in the heart.  Therefore, we want children to have a heart to follow God, not just go through outward motions.
  • Teaching must focus on cultivating a heart that loves God and trusts His promises above all else, rather than just seeking to change behavior.

_MG_8793

God-Centered, Grace-Centered Teaching

  • Teaching must be centered on God’s Word.
  • Teaching must focus on the gospel of God’s grace as the primary motivation for obeying Christ.
  • Teaching must be application-oriented, rather than just imparting knowledge.

blog (relationships)Relationships with Others

  • Relationships with others in the church are an essential component for spiritual growth.
  • Learning and relationships should always be in a safe, caring and comfortable environment for children.

blog (serving)Serving

  • We must teach children that everything we have is given to us from God and should be used to bring Him glory.
  • We must provide opportunities for children to express their faith through serving, giving, and reaching out to others both inside and outside the church.

blog (kid friendly)Kid-Relevant Teaching and Programs

  • Teaching must be appropriate to a child’s physical, social, cognitive, and spiritual development.
  • Different children have different learning styles, so we must teach in a variety of creative ways.
  • We must seek to understand a child’s cultural influences and relate to that culture, while never compromising biblical truth.
  • Our standards must meet the level of quality and excellence expected by those outside the church.

Sometimes it is easier to see what a value means when we share a personal story. Some of our volunteers shared a few ways they have seen our values on Sunday morning so I wanted to share them with you.

God-centered, grace-centered teaching:

Recently in my Women’s group study they were discussing the Bible as one big story about God that included the creation, fall, redemption and restoration.  Someone asked if we had ever heard the Bible described in that way and I couldn’t help but say yes, we spent an entire year focusing on creation, fall, redemption and restoration in Crossing Kids last year.  What an amazing gift to the children of our church that they are able to learn deep theological ideas at such a young age so they study the Bible and learn about God through the correct lens.

My husband and I being retired educators are constantly amazed at the wonderful, brain-based lessons that the children are exposed to at the Crossing.  Comparing these lessons to the worksheets our now-grown children had growing up, we just marvel at what these children at the Crossing are being exposed to.  And it’s clear that the children are learning and remembering.  The bible stories along with the concepts about them that these  children retain amaze us each week! Surely the parents of these children are taking the take-home sheets seriously, but the lessons themselves are so memorable!  What a great combination!

Targeting the heart:

The approach that Crossing kids has taken has targeted the heart, but more importantly the souls of the children and kept them interested. Sure we go through motions.  Songs with motions, prayers, and routines.  But all of these, from what I have witnessed, are done with the purpose of praising God.

Relationships with others:

Recently witnessed a volunteer that was with us in 2nd grade and is now in other half of 3rd grade class sought out a girl to give her card that included a note and picture of them together during our slumber party with the 2nd graders last year.  I thought it was such a thoughtful yet simple way to show this young girl that she is loved, thought of and being prayed for.

This is my favorite one.  Every week, we see the same kids, and week after week and we get to know them get to know their parents too, but largely the kids.  We know their strengths and struggles.  We know their moods and quirks.   Most importantly we know their hearts.  Children are so open and trusting, and even more honest.  They allow themselves to be just that when they are with us…themselves.  Even more sometimes I think than they are with Mom and Dad.

Whether you are a new volunteer or have been serving in our ministry for years, it is always good to remind ourselves of why we do what we do. I shared more about this topic here.

Please join us in praying that God would help us accomplish our mission and values and be honored in the process.

Nov 072013
 

I attended the father and daughters seminar on Sunday. I walked out being pretty glad I’m not a parent let alone a father!!

I have the book, ‘Strong Father, Strong Daughters’ sat next to me, asking to be read. What’s holding me back? I pick it up, flick through it, and put it down… several times.

I’m scared. Maybe you are too…

“The toxicity of our culture – and we’re to keep them pure?

She needs a hero – and I’m supposed to be one?

Protect and defend her – I feel so inadequate, at a loss.

Be the man you want her to marry – eek no thanks.

I don’t really want to sacrifice myself for anybody… let alone have daddy and daughter dates talking about clothes and body image *shudder*.

And above all this I’m supposed to gently lead her into a relationship with God?!

… boys are so much easier!!”

Maybe.

How can we be strong fathers and mothers to our daughters?! By doing what it says in this book? I can try. It has some really helpful advice and wisdom. But I’ll fail, feel guilty, a lost case.

However if we take a look at the ‘hero’ parents from the Bible… they didn’t do too great a job either….

Adam brought sin into the world, and his firstborn killed his brother. Noah’s kids sexually abused him. Abraham got so desperate for a kid he slept with his wife’s slave, he was then an old man Dad. Isaac blessed the wrong son, giving away his inheritance. Jacob married a woman who had ‘weak eyes’ and another whose name means ‘female sheep’ – they had 12 sons (must have been tough at bath time!). Moses married a foreigner. Shepherd boy King David slept with another man’s wife, killed the man, and proclaimed that his new son the King. That son, Solomon had over 700 wives and 300 concubines…! Isaiah named his son ‘Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz’ (!). The prophet Hosea was told to marry a prostitute, their daughter was called ‘not loved’. Jesus’ Father Joseph wasn’t even his real Dad.

Well this has been a depressing read so far… sorry!

The good news is that we have been given a wonderful example of a father’s love… in God the Father himself. The disciple John says,

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1

Throughout the whole of humanity’s story here on earth, God has lavished his love on his undeserving children. He’s the hero, the perfect provider and protector. He even sacrificed HIMSELF for his sons and daughters. It is God we can lean on. God we can trust and rely on. God who’ll give us the strength when we can no longer carry on… because it’s God’s power that ‘is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Cor 12:9).

This Sunday reminded me once more of the blessing my own father is, and has been to me. From making us m&m sandwiches whenever mum was away… not often (!), burping loudly down the phone – which descended us all into fits of giggles (!), to sitting us on his knee when we’d be in floods on tears (a practice I still do to this day)! My dad is a rock in my family, through times of joy and sorrow he is there, gently leading and showing us Christ. It’s actually in the times of sorrow that I learn most from my dad… to know he’s not perfect, but to see him and my mum, in their weakness lean upon God’s sustaining strength and grace.

20131107_095444     photo

So fathers – let’s step it up and take the lead, in his grace – be the fathers God planned for you to be. Mothers – let’s gracefully give them the space in which to do it, be their helper not their guilt tripper.

We are, and will be, weak fathers and mothers, but we have a strong God ‘whose power is made perfect in weakness’! We can be strong in his strength, with his courage and wisdom that is at work in us.

Finally, a song I love back home in England…

 

How deep the Father’s love for us,

How vast beyond all measure

That He should give His only Son

To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,

The Father turns His face away

As wounds which mar the chosen One,

Bring many sons to glory

 

Behold the Man upon a cross,

My sin upon His shoulders

Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,

Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there

Until it was accomplished

His dying breath has brought me life

I know that it is finished

 

I will not boast in anything

No gifts, no power, no wisdom

But I will boast in Jesus Christ

His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?

I cannot give an answer

But this I know with all my heart

His wounds have paid my ransom

Oct 242013
 

Why do we do Night Crossing for Kids?

Why do we seemingly feed kids with sugar, pump them up, and then send them home?

Why are we trying to teach tired kids who just want to play? Is it worth it?

Are we just providing child care?

And what’s with all the shoes boxes?!

 

You may start the evening like this…

sugar-and-hyperactivity-in-your-child-300x198HyperKid-771548

candy-and-kids.-It-makes-them-hyper

… but go home like this?

temper-tantrum-girl Child covering his ears with his hands.

jill_greenberg_kid

Sorry if this is your experience – whether as a volunteer or parent! Night Crossing for Kids has developed over time. It does provide child care, enabling many adults to take the various classes. But it does so much more.

 

Our Mission:

To partner with families to help kids develop a lifetime relationship with Jesus.

Our hope is that kids will grow in their faith and have a blast at the same time on Wednesday nights while their parents are attending Night Crossing.

 

Our Goals:

Quality Bible Lessons: Kids will learn about God through a fun, age-appropriate large group lesson, high-energy songs, and hands-on games and crafts each week.

Consistency with the Sunday Morning Routine: We will maintain a routine that is similar to what kids experience at Crossing Kids on Sundays.  Kids can expect free play, circle time, a lesson, snack, and playground time.

Safety in the Classroom:  All of our sitters must go through an extensive, nation-wide background check, an application process, and attend our training session.  In addition, we will continue to enforce our registration system for dropping off and picking up children.

 

Sitters – have a look back at your training packet. Read it through again (I find its amazing how quickly I forget things!). Absorb the helpful discipline and classroom management ideas, preventing behaviour problems and managing those that arise. Remember we want to be prayerfully loving and modelling Christ to the children in our classrooms.

This semester we’re using the memory verse from Mark 10:45 to teach children to serve – following Jesus’ perfect example.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” Mark 10:45.

Jesus, creator and ruler of the heavens and earth, high King and judge… didn’t come to be served but to serve. He ultimately served his people, by giving up his life for them. Rejected by people, and by his heavenly Father. Not just suffering physically, but spiritually taking upon himself the sins of the whole world. The prophet Isaiah foretells that the promised rescuing Messiah would be ‘a man of sorrows’, ‘despised and rejected by men’…

“Surely he took up our infirmities

and carried our sorrows,

yet we considered him stricken by God,

smitten by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us

peace was upon him,

and by his wounds we are healed.

We all like sheep have gone astray,

each of us turned to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:4-6.

Wow. I know I too easily forget this, or simply pass it by with a ‘I know this’ attitude. As we teach truths to children, our hearts also can remember, be thankful, warmed and overwhelmed once more with the grace of the Gospel.

Finally, the ‘what’s with all the boxes?’ question…

Operation Christmas Child sends boxes of gifts to children in over 150 countires and territories who would otherwise receive nothing.

occ

Samariten’s Purse lies behind this wonderful service project. They aim to teach children the great news that Christmas reminds us of. To teach them about the Son of Man, who did not come to be served, but serve, and give his life and a random for many. The Crossing is partnering with Operation Christmas Child. Below is the list of suggested gifts. Please bring them by next Wednesday (Oct 30) as we’ll be filling the boxes the following week (Nov 6). Join us in following Jesus’ example of service.

Click here: Operation Christmas Child Promo Video

Items Needed: 

  • Old Shoe Boxes 
  • New School Supplies : Pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons or markers, stamps and ink pad sets, notebooks, coloring and picture books, etc…
  • Toys : Small cars, balls, dolls, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, small Etch A Sketch, slinky, etc…
  • Hygiene Items : Toothbrush, toothpaste, mild bar soap (in a plastic bag), comb, washcloth, etc…
  • Other : T-Shirts, socks, ball, caps, sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries), etc…
  • Do Not Include: Used or damaged items, war-related items such as toy guns, knives, or military figures, chocolate or food, out of date candy, liquids or lotions, medications or vitamins, or breakable items.

 

Oct 182013
 

In my last post on preparing to teach a lesson, I addressed the teachers of Crossing Kids – the faithful people who communicate the Bible in God-honoring and creative ways. Equally important to preparing to teach a lesson is the exercise of evaluation after teaching. How easy it is to finish teaching in Crossing Kids and move on without ever taking to time to look back and evaluate your teaching. But without stepping back to evaluate, we miss an incredible opportunity to grow our teaching in the future.

It is often said in the educational world, “If you don’t know where you’ve been, you won’t know where you’re going,” This is so true for teachers. Without reflecting how a lesson was received, what worked well, and what would’ve worked better, a teacher cannot effectively plan lessons for the future.

Evaluating your lesson doesn’t have to be a time consuming or cumbersome project. In fact, it could just be thinking through some of the following questions as you drive home from church. In my years of teaching, I have found the best method of evaluation to be journaling in a notebook or even directly on the lesson plan. Use the following questions as a guide.

* What was the highlight of the lesson? What did kids respond best to? Think of specific examples.

* Which part of lesson was least effective? How did you notice kids responding?

* If you noticed your lesson getting off course, what did you do to correct it? Did this method work? Would you do this again?

* What did the students learn? How do you know they learned what you taught them? Think of some specific examples.

After thinking though your lesson, use this thinking as you prepare the next time. Consider how you might stretch yourself. Perhaps you need to leave more time for wrapping up the lesson or you need to do a better job at communicating expectations to volunteers. Whatever it is for you, use your evaluation to make changes in the future.

Why go through all this effort? Colassians 3:23-24 tells us,

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

We put in an incredible amount of work in to teaching in Crossing Kids to the best of our ability – not for ourselves, or the ministry, or the staff team, or The Crossing. No, we are to work at this with all our hearts for the Lord. He sees the effort you put into the lesson, not just or Sunday morning, but the hours you spend preparing and evaluating your lesson during the week.

Let us strive to serve Christ in all we do.

Oct 102013
 

How was your day? Fine.

Did you go to school? Yup.

What did you learn? Nothing.

Do you want me to play that game with you? Nope.

Can I do anything to help you? No.

The situation turns into something like this…

979bda68f62d637c9baefa8fb44d4e4b

Sound/look familiar? Is this the limit of conversation with children? Do we end up just managing behavior? They just don’t care! How can we go deeper? How do we help them see and learn about God throughout the day?

God says that intentionally talking to children about Him, is part of his training plan:

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts…

b1e6a0e7d3e7dceaf0ac551650b6b898 

Jesus used this intentional, everyday talk as his primary method of teaching. Whilst living, eating and travelling with his disciples, Jesus was intentionally talking, and training them to live God’s way – which brings life.

BEFORE

  • Pray

Ask God to give opportunities to talk, share life and apply God’s word.

  • Be prepared

Are we walking closely with God ourselves? Our talk will reveal where our treasure is, and therefore where our heart is (Prov 5:3?).

If in a lesson, do we know and understand the big idea?

  • Remember

children..

 

 

 

DURING

  • Chit chat

Talk through the Bible story again together: What did you learn about God today? What did you learn about people/yourself? What makes you go ‘WOW’? How can we thank God? What do we need help with?

Talk about your days together. Maybe they’re excited about Fall, you can praise God for making the beautiful colors. Maybe they’ve seen a funny/weird commercial.

  • Play with purpose

If the story was about a King, pretend to be a King. Repeat the main idea: Jesus is our King.

  • Sing

Singing helps children and adults (!) to remember what they’ve learnt. It’s also a great way for memorizing scripture.

  • You’re on display.

Children are watching. They see how you respond to each situation, frustration, screaming child, worried parents, and hyper kids. Have a look at the ‘Wise Words for Moms’ up in the elementary classrooms, a great resource in being intentional (especially in a heated moment!).

  • Listening

We can learn a lot about where a child is coming from, where their heart is, by listening. Listen and then apply God’s word to their hearts and the specific situations of their lives.

AFTER

  • Pray

Thank God for any conversations. Remember that He can still work, even if we made a complete mess!

  • Follow up

Remember the conversations had with children and try to follow them up the following weeks. E.g. how’s your Grandma doing? How have you lived for God this week? Thank God that he forgives us when we don’t live for Him (including us as adults!).

  • Keep trying

It takes courage and perseverance. Dying to self and the wounds we may receive. Yet, as John A. Younts concludes his book ‘everyday talk’ we see:

“The challenge is great. The power of God is even greater. His power can make your everyday talk what He wants it to be … loving God means many things, but perhaps most profoundly it means loving Him so much that you speak of Him when you walk along the road, when you sit at home, when you lie down and when you get up.”

 

9736_586874854676680_991114405_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oct 042013
 

As Christine talked about in her post earlier this week, we are aiming for something of eternal significance in Crossing Kids: for kids to develop a lifetime relationship with Christ. This post is written for all the teachers in Crossing Kids who commit themselves to teaching the gospel of grace in order to help children follow Jesus all their days.

As teachers in Crossing Kids, we know implementing a lesson successfully can be challenging. There are countless variables that impact how a lesson might go: the kids, the materials, the space, the time, the other leaders, the technology. However, no other variable has as much impact on the success of your lesson as the variable of teacher preparation.

How do we prepare to teach a lesson in Crossing Kids? Is it just reading the lesson through a couple of times on Saturday night? I admit, some weeks, this has been my level of preparation and I see the effects of it on Sunday morning. I feel under-prepared and because kids are so smart, they pick up on this. I come away from these lessons feeling I didn’t hit the mark I’d hoped to.

Below are 8 steps for preparing to teach a lesson in Crossing Kids. I’ve learned that all 8 steps are critical for setting myself and the kids for a successful morning of learning together. The weeks I prepare to this level, I am better equipped to sit back and see God working in the kids’ hearts to know Him better. Truly, as teachers, this is what we are called to: to put everything we can into teaching this next generation so that these kids would develop a lifetime relationship with Christ. It’s worth it.

8 Steps for Preparing to Teach a Lesson

1. Put in the time. Early in the week (ideally Monday or Tuesday), sit down for an hour with your lesson, Bible, pen, highlighter, and post-it notes – and a cup of coffee. Set aside some time Saturday afternoon/evening to go over your lesson again so it is fresh in your mind on Sunday morning.

2. Pray for God to teach you and the children through His life-giving word. Pray for the Holy Spirit to work through you to draw the kids in your group closer to Christ. Humbly ask God to use you for His glory and to build His kingdom.

3. Read the scripture your lesson is about. It’s great to read from a Study Bible, so you can read the notes covering the scripture you will be teaching on. You want to have a solid and deep understanding of what God is saying in His word before you teach.

4. Examine the objectives – Define the “win.” See what it is the kids are supposed to know and/or be able to do at the end of lesson. Clarify these in your mind and see how you can help kids achieve these objectives in the time you have with them. Pray for God’s help.

5. Consider your audience – Think about the age of the kids, the class size, the other leaders in the room (and how to utilize them!), the kids’ developmental and cognitive abilities, cultures, backgrounds, and interests. This will help you tailor your lesson to the group you are working with.

6. Consider the environment – How much space will you have for your lesson? Will you start the lesson sitting on the carpet or at the tables? Will you sit on the floor with the kids or stand while you talk? Will you move the tables around the make room for the game? Think about the physical space and make and notes or diagrams to help you prepare what you will do.

7. Do the activities ahead of time – any crafts, experiments, or games need to be done by the teacher prior to teaching. Make sure you understand the materials and directions so well that you will not need to refer to your notes on Sunday morning.

8. Memorize the lesson. Seriously. Teachers are most effective when they are not reading and referring to their notes. When you memorize what you will say and do during the lesson, your mind is freed up to engage with the children. You also will have much more credibility with the children when they see you talking to them, not reading a piece of paper.

Father God, we pray that you would help us, the teachers in Crossing Kids, to put in the time and effort necessary to prepare for our lessons. We pray you would use us to plant seeds of faith into the children of The Crossing. May they hear the truth, love Your Word, and cherish Christ above all else in their lives. It is a joy to be in your service, God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Oct 012013
 

Three of my children play sports competitively. I spend a lot of my weekends running from soccer to football. When I’m not at one of my boy’s games, I’m watching my daughter swim.  This reminds me of playing several sports when I was a kid. I wasn’t great in any of them but I really enjoyed being a part of a team. The sport that I stayed with the longest was gymnastics.

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 7.35.43 PM

Here’s a picture of me on the balance beam at Belton High School. I remember realizing that I wasn’t going to the Olympics when my coach insisted I compete on the vault.  I really liked the beam and the floor routines but dreaded the vault and the uneven bars.  When you compete on the vault you run really fast down a mat, jump on the spring board and up and over the vault in some crazy position I could never do now.  During this one particular home meet, I ran as fast as I could down the mat, jumped on the spring board – only to hit it on the least springy part and go slamming into the vault with my legs.  Not only was I bruised on the outside, but I was very embarrassed to have missed the mark to make my vault.

Just like I missed the mark that day, I think that it is easy for us to miss the mark in our ministry with Crossing Kids. It’s easy to get confused about what we are doing. I ran hard that day. My mistake wasn’t due to lack of effort but lack of planning. My steps got off and it didn’t turn out so well. If we miss the mark in Crossing Kids it won’t be due to lack of effort either. There are a lot of people who work hard on Sunday mornings and throughout the week. But it’s easy to be very busy in ministry but not accomplish our goal.

So I thought that it might be wise to take a few minutes to remind ourselves what we are and are not aiming for. It is easy to think that we are just trying to keep the kids entertained and safe. Or that we are aiming to get kids to pray a prayer or simply be a childcare service. But when those things become our goal, we’ve missed the mark and the consequences are serious.

Crossing Kids is aiming to help kids develop a lifetime relationship with Jesus. That’s the mark that we are trying to hit. We want to see God develop in kids a heart that loves God above everything else in life.  A relationship that lasts when they are in high school, college, and as an adult living for the glory of God.

Now if that’s really our goal then one thing becomes very obvious – that the church can’t do it alone. If our goal really is to see God establish in kids a lifetime faith, that’s just not something that can happen only on Sunday morning.

Several years ago I went to a conference where I was challenged to think about the importance of the family in the spiritual development of a child.  And of course, that theme is everywhere in the Bible.  

Deuteronomy 6:4-7 (NIV)

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [a] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

According to the Bible, parents have a vital role in passing on their faith to their children.   They pass on their faith every day, all day, and in all situations.

At the same time though, it’s interesting that Jesus says in Matthew, “He will build his church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it”. You might also recall that in Revelation 1 Jesus uses the image of a “lampstand” to refer to the church. His point is that His church is “the light of the world”.

Matthew 5:14 (NIV)

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”

The church is uniquely and strategically placed on earth to display God’s glory to the world.  The role of the church is to simply turn on a light in kids’ lives.

God has established the family and the church to nurture kids’ faith together. It takes both. So what could happen if we could work WITH families instead of independent from them? Our aim in Crossing Kids is that we would partner with parents to make the greatest impact possible on kids.

If you are a parent, here are a few of the things you can take advantage of to partner with us in Crossing Kids:

Use the Sunday morning communication to continue the conversation at home (weekly parent emails, parent take home sheets and our blog)

Attend our Family Events to participate with your kids in their faith and with their friends (Fall Fest, Christmas, Family Easter, Kids Club, Family Dinner Exchange)

Use our Family Devotionals at home (Christmas, Easter, Summer)

Read the bible with your kids and pray for them every day.

If you are a Crossing Kids volunteer, these are some of the ways you can partner with parents:

Know our MISSION STATEMENT.

Encourage parents by telling them what you see and hear from their kids.

Email or call parents…communicate often.

Pray for parents and kids to connect over the bible during the week.

Remind kids to share what they are learning with their parents.

Ask parents, “How can I be praying for your son/daughter?”

Make a point to talk to parents when they drop off their child – often this time is less busy than pick-up and you can talk longer.

Jot a quick encouraging note to parents during the morning (on a small note card) and send home with child for them to read with parents.

Ask a parent questions that help you get to know and minister to their child better so you are working alongside what the parent is also working on at home.  (i.e. What are you working on with your child at home?)

Remind parents to pick up the take home sheet.

Send parents home with a question to ask their kids on the car ride home.  (i.e. What do you feel like you need God’s help with right now?)

Invite parents to bring their kids to our family events.

 

 

 

Oct 262012
 

In my last post, I outlined an overview of the theory of multiple intelligences and how it should inform our view of children. In this post, I’d like the share how this theory can be implemented in Crossing Kids so that we are reaching all of God’s diverse children and engaging them in learning about Him.

There are eight different intelligence areas. Each child embodies all of them to some degree, but most children have a strength in two or three specific areas. These areas are their “sweet spot” for learning and assimilating information. This means as leaders and teachers in Crossing Kids, we should strive to engage children in all eight areas on Sunday mornings. Certainly, we can’t teach within all eight areas every single week, but we strive to vary our curriculum and activities to incorporate the full spectrum of learning styles.

The chart below comes from The Gardner School, named after Howard Gardner who outlined the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Perhaps as you look over the chart, you can think of kids in your group who fall within some of the areas.

Intelligence Area:

Is Strong In:

Likes to:

Learns Best Through:

Famous Examples:

Verbal-Linguistic

(Word Smart)

reading, writing, telling stories, memorizing dates, thinking words

read, write, tell stories, talk, memorize, work at puzzles

reading, hearing and seeing words, speaking, writing, discussing and debating

Maya Angelou, Abraham Lincoln

Math-Logic (Number Smart)

math, reasoning, logic, problem-solving, patterns

solve problems, question, work with numbers, experiment

working with patterns and relationships, classifying, categorizing, working with the abstract

Albert Einstein,

John Dewey

Spatial (Picture Smart)

reading, maps, charts, drawing, mazes, puzzles, making images, visualization

design, draw, build, create, daydream, look at pictures

working with pictures and colors, visualizing, using the minds eye, drawing

Pablo Picasso,

Georgia OKeeffe

Bodily-Kinesthetic (Body Smart)

athletics, dancing, acting, crafts, using tools

move around, touch and talk, use body language

touching, moving, processing knowledge through bodily sensations

Charlie Chaplin,

Magic Johnson

Musical (Music Smart)

singing, picking up sounds, remembering melodies, rhythms

sing, hum, play an instrument, listen to music

rhythm, melody, singing, listening to music and melodies

 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,

Ella Fitzgerald

Interpersonal (People Smart)

understanding people, leading, organizing, communicating, resolving conflicts, selling

have friends, talk to people, join groups

sharing, comparing, relating, interviewing, cooperating

Ronald Reagan, Mother Theresa

Intrapersonal (Self Smart)

understanding self, recognizing strengths and weaknesses, setting goals

work alone, reflect, pursue interests

working alone, doing self-paced projects, having space, reflecting

Eleanor Roosevelt

Naturalist (Nature Smart)

understanding nature, making distinctions, identifying flora and fauna

be involved with nature, make distinctions

working in nature, exploring living things, learning about plants and natural events

John Muir

The column most helpful in this chart is the “Learns Best Through” column. This column outlines how we can help children learn in Crossing Kids. After all, don’t all these ways of learning teach us more about our gracious and glorious God and all the aspects of His character.

Our curriculum in Crossing Kids is specifically written to engage kids through these methods. Some lessons have drawing, acting, and singing, while others include a nature walk around the lake or a group project. I am on the curriculum writing team for K – 5th grade which uses a curriculum model called the “Workshop Rotation Model.” In the workshops, children will participate in workshops including: science, art, drama, history, cinema, puppetry, missions, bookmaking, and games. Throughout these various workshops, children learn about God and His Word in a rich and engaging manner.

As you continue to teach and lead in Crossing Kids, perhaps you can think about how to engage children in various ways. Ask a child to draw pictures with you, play Twister with you, build something with Legos, or just tell a story about their week. Children can all be drawn out in various ways. It’s helpful to consider God made all kids different with a variety of strengths. When we strive to implement Multiple Intelligences in our ministry, we have a greater opportunity to reach children for Christ.