For as long as I can remember, back-to-school sales have always excited me. As a student, I loved school so shopping for new supplies was something I always looked forward to. As a mom, ordering new backpacks and shopping with my children for their supplies thrilled me. (We kind of made a big deal out of back-to-school shopping!)
In this season of my life, shopping back-to-school sales look different. Now it means snagging great bargains for our kidmin!
Ministry budgets can be tight, so shopping sales is a great way to steward your resources. Take advantage of these phenomenal deals and save your ministry dollars. Stock up now on:
Bibles are one of those staple items for ministry to children. (If it’s not, it should be!) Choosing an age-appropriate Bible for children is sometimes a bit of a challenge because there are so many great options out there. Here’s one I’d like to share with you that children will love.
The International Children’s Bible, the first Bible translation created specifically for children, has been updated and newly typeset in a large readable layout. The Bible text is set in large type, with bold in-text subject heads that help kids easily find the passages they are looking for. Also included are boldface words that correspond with a dictionary and concordance entry to explain word definitions.
A great new feature in this updated setting is a key verse index with more than 300 verses that are highlighted throughout the Bible for kids to read and learn. The beautifully illustrated Bible story insert pages are in a style that children love and will delight their imaginations as they read and “see” popular Bible stories.
WHAT I LIKE
The Bible is easy-to-read and easy for younger readers to read on their own. The size of the Bible is perfect for smaller hands to hold and navigate. The colors used in the illustrations are brilliant and the drawings are not too young to turn off older elementary-aged children.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE
I would have loved to have seen a brief synopsis for each book, such as the author and an overview. Giving children this background information could help them see the big picture of God’s story. I also would love to have seen the highlighted verses in a bold color instead of the dull gray; this would help the verses stand out a bit more. Lastly, I would have loved if the illustrations were in close proximity to the story it related to as well as a scripture reference provided under the illustration’s title. I could see how this might cause some confusion for children.
All in all, I think the Bible is a great resource for children to develop a love for God’s Word.
There are so many things that kidmin leaders want said about the ministries they lead. We want ministries that are safe, age-appropriate, growing, engaging, fun, innovative, all-inclusive, reaching families, healthy, dynamic, just to name a few.
Each week, we spend hours in the details – writing/editing curriculum, gathering supplies, emailing lessons, making sure volunteers are in place, and meeting with our teams to ensure we’re all on the same page. This can become second nature to us, almost something we could do with our eyes closed.
But what about the most important stuff? You know, like what we’re teaching the kids? Are we teaching them a list of ‘right things to do’ or are we teaching them how God wants them to live and the why behind it? Are we watering down the Gospel because we think kids aren’t ready for it?
Are kids encouraged to dig deep into Scripture on their own or do they just take our word for it because they aren’t opening up their bibles? Are we encouraging kids to memorize scripture and spend time with God each day? Are we teaching them that God’s Word is one big story vs just a collection of stories?
By teaching kids and showing them how the whole Bible is one entire story, we’re getting them to understand and love Jesus, coming to that place where they’re making decisions to be a Christ follower.
A few weeks ago, I was honored to be part of a round-table discussion with Ed Stetzer, Jeffrey Reed and five other kidmin leaders around the country to talk about this very important topic. Our conversation was converted into a transcript to be made available for Christianity Today readers. I’ve listed the links below for your convenience:
Today, I’m excited to share excerpts from a conversation I had recently with Ken Neff, Children’s Pastor at Christ Central in Lake City, Florida. I ‘met’ Ken through a Facebook group for kidmin leaders. He posted this picture of a set he designed for his kidmin and I wanted to talk to him and see why and how he does this.
Ken has been featured on churchstagedesignideas.com and is highly sought-after to help design sets for kidmin environments. What I found fascinating is that Ken has NO construction background. Prior to becoming a Children’s Pastor, he was in retail for 12 1/2 years – where he picked up marketing and art skills – and was a deputy sheriff for 10 years.
Kathie Phillips (KP): Why do you do what you do [take time to design and build sets]?
Ken Neff: (KN): “To me, it’s more than stage design. It’s the whole atmosphere. Not only are kids visually stimulated, but there is usually something else going on.” For example, Ken’s church ties music into the monthly theme. When they did a baseball theme, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was played. Costumes are also integrated along with the set design. For the baseball theme, volunteers wore baseball uniforms and hats. Ken also mentioned that prayer and God-given ideas inspire his creativity.
KP: What set design ideas do you have for churches on a budget?
KN: “I often hear, ‘I want to do something but I don’t have a budget for it.’ However, if you plan ahead, you can do something. Planning ahead makes preparing a lot easier. An added benefit of that is you can purchase items for a good price or get them donated for free. You can’t do that if you wait until the last-minute.” Ken’s ministry has a different teaching series each month but he plans out the year in advance. In fact, he’s already working on ideas for 2016!
KP: I’m curious about what curriculum you use that inspires these great sets. Do you write your own curriculum?
KN: “Yes. We write it all. It’s God-inspired but even if you use published curriculum, there’s no reason you can’t still build a stage and have props that engage the kids.”
KP: Are you the only one constructing these fabulous sets? Do you have any help?
KN: “I am the primarily one responsible, but there’s a lady in our church who comes in about a week before I change the set to help paint things. She’s an artist, so that’s helped a great deal.” Ken mentioned that he has picked up artistic skills from this sweet lady.
KP: Changing out your set every month must mean that you need a great deal of storage space. What kind of storage do you have?
KN: “We have a 30 x 50 ft storage space at our church.” Ken also recycles and repurposes quite a bit, so this helps to keep clutter to a minimum.
KP: What storage options would you suggest for those in portable churches?
KN: “You have to get creative if you’re in a portable church, but it can be done.” Some suggestions might include renting a storage space, storing items in someone’s garage, or asking your portable church location if you could store things there.
KP: What advice would you give to churches who share space with another group or ministry?
KN: “If you can make just three (3) props that go along with your theme, I would make them out of something like styrofoam. That would help it to be lightweight and make transporting to a storage area manageable. You could also get with other ministry leaders who share your space to see if they could incorporate the same theme so that props could be left up during the week.” It should be noted that Ken’s ministry shares space with their church’s weekday preschool, run by his wife, Andrea. That makes leaving his set in place a lot easier!
Quotables from our conversation:
“It’s a good feeling that we, the church, can have a huge impact on kids like Disney does and not have to spend millions of dollars to do it.”
“We need to make Jesus exciting!”
Here are a few other tips Ken suggested:
Build/group things in odd numbers. It’s easier on the eyes.
Look for resources all around you. Things like paint, wood pieces, and empty carpet tubes can be donated by people in your church. You can also find inexpensive pieces from flea markets or second-hand stores.
Check out more of Ken’s work here. If you’d like to contact Ken, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ken & Andrea Neff are the Families & Children’s Pastors at Christ Central located in Lake City,Florida. They minister on a weekly bases to 300 children. Through the creative anointing that God has placed on Ken’s life, he brings the Bible stories alive for the children by creating a monthly stage design that goes with the curriculum that he and Andrea and write. They believe in equipping other leaders and pastors to advance the Kingdom of God.