Tag Archives: ministry

20 ways to engage adult learners – key principles for children’s ministry training


Here’s an interesting article from the Aim Lower Journal:

If you have listed your key content points for a training session you might be tempted to just talk. But your material will be more effective if you engage the learners and take note of the different learning styles they will have. Use the some of the 20 methods below to bring your training to life.

This article is from our friends within the Aim Lower Community – the 1 for 50 training project. You can find this article and many more at their informative web site.

Experiential Learning Games – Create a learning game to help participants discover key ideas/concepts.

Drama & Role Playing – Invite students to act out a Bible story or role-play a situation.

Practicum – Give time for participants to practice what they have learned.

Partner Share – Turn to a partner to answer a question or share an experience.

Problem Solve – Divide participants into groups. Give them a problem they need to solve together. Then share together as a whole group.

Brainstorm – Introduce a topic and have participants brainstorm ideas.

Corner Questions – Place a different question in each corner of the room. Divide participants into small groups and have them move from corner to corner, answering each question together.

Read and Discuss Scripture – Divide into small groups for Scripture reading and discussion.

Summarize – Pause and ask participants to summarize the most important thing they heard.

Hand Motions – Add hand motions or actions to a key teaching point; better yet, invite participants to create their own hand motions.

Speed Sharing – Form two lines facing each other. Each pair has 30-60 seconds to answer a given question. After time is up, one of the lines moves down one person and the activity is repeated.

Objects – Place several different random objects on the floor. Ask participants to pick an object which reminds them of an experience or story. Share those stories together.

Scenarios – Give groups a different scenario and have them discuss how they would respond.

Ice-breakers – Play games that require quick responses and which allow participants to move around and get to know one another.

Art – Give participants time to draw pictures/ symbols to answer questions and communicate ideas.

Video Clips – Show a video clip. Prepare follow-up questions for group discussion.

Agree/Disagree – Invite participants to form a circle or a line. Say a statement. If they agree with your statement, they turn to their right. If they disagree, they turn to the left. If at any point they are facing someone, give them a few moments to discuss.

Answer Questions – Leave time and space for participants to ask questions. Allow participants to answer each other’s questions.

Stories – Tell a story. Invite participants to interact with you in the story. Or have participants tell a story.

Prayer – Spend time praying together.

11 stats highlighting the importance of children’s, youth and family ministry

TheResource_Logo_Col_Transparent-e1412953305620Ali Campbell of The Resource says this: I have often been asked about stats related to children’s, youth and family ministry – sometimes they are hard to find or ambiguous, or just er, made up!  So, I have pulled together what I consider to be the most reliable stuff (and these are all based on UK research).

Some of these are self explanatory, some would naturally go with others – use them, mention them, shout them from the rooftops etc.

Click here to access the information.

Stretching Your Thinking About Ministry With Families – 7 Must Read Articles

family with house

Dave Roberts of the Aim Lower Journal gathers 7 key articles into this guide to recent thinking on ministry with families:

  • Three Models for Intergenerational Faith Formation
  • The Family Matters Series
  • What is the Context of Biblical Discipleship?
  • Grandparents and Faith Formation
  • Intergenerational – It needs to be more than a program, it needs to be a culture
  • Adoption Doesn’t Fix Kids
  • Snowballing Culture – Creating a church with an intergenerational culture

You can access the articles here.

Get them talking – how to encourage the generations to talk to each other

conversation starters

An article from the Aim Lower Journal, which originated on the Building Faith website (thanks, Matthew!):

Conversation starters for mixed age groups ? Regardless of the intergenerational program you have planned (activity, meal, study) it helps to start things off with a good question. Finding a good question is harder than we thought – the question must be interesting and answerable for ALL ages. Here are 12 questions to get you started; they can be answered by participants of almost any age.

Planning Intergenerational Ministry

Intergenerational ministry. The concept is simple: get people of multiple ages and life stages together for formation. To learn more about the theory and developments around intergenerational ministry, check out intergenerationalfaith.com.

Intergenerational ministry takes careful planning. That’s because it is often a new experience for people, and folks don’t always know what to do. As leaders, we can help “grease the wheels” with clear instructions. For example, we posted a way to split people up to have multiple ages sitting together at tables: How to Create Mixed Seating at Intergenerational Formation Events.

But what about conversation starters? Regardless of the program you have planned (activity, meal, study) it helps to start things off with a good question. Finding a good question harder than we thought – the question must be interesting and answerable for ALL ages. Here are 12 questions to get you started; they can be answered by participants of almost any age.

Think like a child, grow your children’s ministry

think like a child

Dale Hudson gives us the following timely reminders on Relevant Children’s Ministry:
When Walt Disney was designing Disneyland, he had the engineers get down on their knees to ensure they built Main Street on the eye level of a child.  He wanted to make sure Disneyland was built with kids in mind.

One of the keys to growing a children’s ministry is the ability to think like a child.  But how do you think like a child when you’re an adult?  Here’s five ways to think like a child and grow your children’s ministry.

Think like a child when you decorate.  Think about what colors kids like.  Consider what themes are popular with kids.  Take cues from companies like Disney and Nickelodeon who are leaders in decorating for kids.  Ask kids for their input when you are planning your children’s ministry areas.

Think like a child when you plan lessons.  What are their learning styles?  How long is their attention span?  What do they find engaging?

Think like a child when you pick music.  What style of music they like?  What’s coming through their ear buds during the week?

Think like a child when you talk.  Keep your words simple.  Justification, regeneration, atonement and other words are not in a child’s vocabulary.  When you use illustrations, use illustrations that kids can relate to.  And when you are talking to kids individually, think about their interests.  Talk to them about video games, movies, sports, school, etc.

Think like a child when you advertise.  This goes along with the first point.  Use kid-friendly colors, images and wording on your flyers, posters, invite cards, etc.

One final tip.  Want to know if you’re thinking like a child?  Ask them.  A kids’ focus group is a great way to evaluate how well you’re connecting and get new ideas for thinking like a child.  You can read more about how to host a kids’ focus group here.

Valuing Messy Leaders

messy churchHere’s a big thank you to Messy Church leaders, written by Martyn Payne on the Messy Church website explaining exactly what you all do and the challenges you overcome:

We mustn’t underestimate the challenge of running a Messy Church. This isn’t just about putting on an event every now and then, which in itself would be demanding enough, but it’s about leading a pioneering form of church for which there is little precedent!

Messy church leaders are courageous people, often working in the dark, one step at a time, and juggling a variety of important pressures that include:

  • pulling together a team of volunteers who have had little or no training
  • planning a programme month by month that is within the skill set of those volunteers
  • connecting with the local community beyond the fringes of normal church and negotiating with local schools and perhaps Children Centres on behalf of the Christian church
  • welcoming and befriending adults and children for whom ‘church’ has never really been part of their experience before coming to Messy Church
  • adapting the Bible storytelling and celebration so that it is appropriate for an audience who are mostly only very vaguely aware of Christian stories
  • handling the often suspicious and sometimes even critical comments from a traditional Sunday congregation about the purpose of Messy Church
  • experimenting with sensitivity new avenues of Christian discipleship both within and parallel to the monthly meetings but with few useful workable models to draw upon
  • balancing the demands on their time from Sunday church and the growing opportunities within Messy Church

and alongside all this – as if that wasn’t enough! – coming to terms with the growing realisation that they are in effect unacknowledged, unordained and untrained church leaders within a national and international family of missionary congregations that is one of the fastest growing expressions of church of our day.

No, we definitely mustn’t underestimate the challenge that our messy leaders face and how hungry they are to hear encouragement and affirmation. However on my visits I often wonder just how much genuine support they are receiving within the whole body of Christ at their ‘sending church’. Their ministry needs to be clearly recognised and in fact they may also need to be ‘released’ from many of the things they’re also being asked to do on a Sunday in order to fulfil their messy calling. They would never themselves ask to be set free from those tasks – their loyalty and commitment to the church is too great – so that release needs to come ‘from the top’ and that is one of the biggest challenges for many Messy Churches.

In my experience Messy Church leaders are a remarkable group of lay people who are mission-minded, reflective, thoughtful and committed. Maybe we have spent far too much time, particularly in the established churches, training specialized leaders ‘for the pulpit or the communion table’ when really our focus should have been on encouraging and equipping the women and men who on the whole sit passively in the pews for most of our traditional church services, but who can most assuredly be God’s Spirit-filled movers and shakers in any church.

8 ideas to help you connect with families


Ideas for connecting the children’s ministry at church with the children’s families and supporting parents in their role.

Children are part of families and while friends grow in their influence as children reach their teens, families are still the biggest influence on the life of a child. How do we support families as they develop the spiritual life of their children? How do we connect our children’s ministry with their families?

Click here some ideas from the Aim Lower Journal to help you connect with and involve families in the fantastic ministry you do with their children.

5 Activities to Get Your Group Praying

5 prayer activitiesPrayer can be a real struggle for many young people (and their leaders) so it’s useful to have some activities that help you and your group slow down and focus. These are all tried and tested…

1. Centring Prayer

The centring prayer is a very simple way of helping your group to set aside the thoughts and the worries of the day and to focus in on God and on spending some time with each other and with Him.

Encourage your group to close their eyes, and to sit quietly for a short while (for some this may be 5 seconds, others may manage 30 or more!) Then quietly read these words:

Imagine that you are walking down a staircase that begins in your mind and winds, slowly down to your heart. Take a few moments to imagine walking this staircase, leaving all the many worries and thoughts behind, slowly descending into a secret room or chapel within your heart, where God waits to pray with you.

(From Contemplative Youth Ministry by Mark Yaconelli)

2. Relax

Just getting your group to stop and be still for a few moments may be some kind of small miracle. Encourage your group to sit quietly and relax and to become aware of their breathing. Read them this exercise by Jenny Baker.

Sit comfortably and be still.
Enjoy the peace of this place.
As you relax your body, gently become aware of your building…
Breathe a little more deeply, a little more slowly.

Breathe in the spirit of God; breathe out worry.
Breathe in the love of God; breathe out loneliness.
Breathe in the acceptance of God; breathe out the need to impress.
Breathe in the presence of God; breathe out all that troubles you.
Breathe in peace; breathe out tension.
Breathe in love; breathe out hate.
Breathe in acceptance; breathe out rejection.
Breathe in forgiveness; breathe out blame.
Breathe in life; breathe out death.
Breathe in trust; breathe out fear.

Breathe in; breathe out;
Breathe in; breathe out.

(From Heart Soul Mind Strength by Jenny Baker)

3.  Jesus is Here

This is an activity that I have used at the start of youth sessions for years, to mark the fact that Christ is with is. By starting with it, and by leaving the candle burning throughout, you make it clear that everything you do together is with God  rather than giving the idea that there are fun bits, food bits and ‘God’ bits.

Invite the group to be quiet for a moment, and then as you read these words from John 20:19:

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’

After another moment of quiet continue with your session.

4. Praying for the impossible

I’m not sure where this activity was first published – let me know if you do and I’ll reference it! I last used this at Easter – inviting a group to reflect on the idea that a man coming back from the dead was impossible and wondering what we might dare ask God to do with that miracle in mind.

Hand out small squares of paper, and then invite your group to write or draw something that reflects something of the impossible where they would like God to intervene; it may be a broken relationship, a poorly friend or relative, or something from the news; a conflict or a natural disaster.

Once you’ve all finished writing, carefully fold the four corners of the piece of paper in the centre, to make a second smaller square.


Finally, in a large bowl or tray of water, float all of your prayers and watch as they slowly (miraculously?!) open up. Invite the young people to reflect on what God might be saying to you all.

5. Praise

Go for a walk… easy to say as the sun pours through the window! Take your group out for a quiet wander and invite them to find something that talks to them about God. Remember if you leave your usual premises you will need permission from parents. If your church has a yard of some kind you’ll find all sorts of stuff without ever leaving the site.

After a while (stop before they get bored) invite everyone to gather and simply ask them to show what they found and reflect on what they discovered about God.

Why we should be prepared for the multi-screen world of children

screens kids-and-technology
You’ve probably noticed that kids (and adults) are engaged with screens…a lot. Studies show that 90% of our daily media interactions are screen based. Kids watch videos, search the web, take notes and save information at the same time using multiple devices. Instead of being distracted by the multiple devices, they are multi-tasking with them! Bottom line…we live in a multi-screen world. Are you prepared to connect with the next generation that is immersed in this screen saturated world?

Read more on the Relevant Children’s Ministry website here.