Morgan Family Session20131004_20

Dana:

Happy Birthday to my best friend. You are such an amazing woman and wife. You’ve made me a much better man, and you are far more than I ever deserve.

I’m so thankful for the way you love and lead our daughters. They are blessed to have you as their mom. I can’t wait to see them grow and become more like you.

It seems that each birthday brings a little bit more “crazy” into our lives, but I’m thankful that I get to experience those years with you. I love you…even if you are an older woman.

The Bible App for Kids

October 31, 2013 — Leave a comment

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 10.46.48 AM

The YouVersion Bible is one of the most downloaded smartphone applications in the world, and now YouVersion & LifeChurch.tv are designing The Bible App for Kids.The app is scheduled to be released by the end of this year. I’m not for sure, but I’m guessing that it will be a free download like all the other YouVersion and LifeChurch.tv resources.

The first thing I noticed about the app is that it’s interactive and engaging for young children. The app features kid-friendly navigation to let little fingers easily experience all that it has to offer. The graphics are bright and include touch animations. I have a 3-year-old that will love getting to touch the characters and hear their story. As a parent, I’m going to love the idea of her soaking up the Bible so that we can have many more faith conversations.

The YouVersion Bible app has evolved over time to include reading plans and commentary notes, so I’m really interested to see how the kid’s app evolves to reach older children and preteens. Check out this commercial for The Bible App for Kids. Then, go sign up to receive a text when it’s available for download.

So many kids have access to their parent’s or their own smartphones and iPods. This is going to be a huge win for sharing the Gospel and engaging kids with God’s Word. I’m not saying it will replace the good ol’ leather bound Bible that your kids got from Grandma and Grandpa, but this is a great tool for kids to have the Bible with them wherever they go.

Start-line-1170x500

When I talk with student and children’s ministry leaders, I’m hearing more and more interest in preteen ministry. If you polled the churches in your area, most of them probably have a preteen event on their calendar and some may be thinking about launching a preteen ministry. We officially launched our preteen ministry, Fifty6, in 2012, and it has been so amazing to see God work in and through those 5th and 6th graders.

I get so excited when I hear a church move toward starting a ministry that is specific for preteens. Starting a preteen ministry is exciting, but it can also be a little daunting. If you’ve gotten the go-ahead to start at preteen ministry at your church or if you’re putting together ideas to present to your pastor, here are five areas that should be considered when starting a preteen ministry:

1. Identity

What ages will be in the preteen ministry? Preteens are typically children ages 9-12, and could be anywhere from 4th grade to middle school. You’ll need to decide what grades or ages you will include in the preteen ministry. Be sure to consult with parents, review how the local schools divide these grades, and think about what will be the best transition between your children’s ministry and student ministry. After you’ve identified the ages, be creative with a name (logo) for the ministry that uniquely identifies those students.

2. Space

If you’re going to start a preteen ministry, you’re going to need designated space. Find some space in your church that is available and let preteens own that space as their own. If the church does not have space to spare, consider designating an entrance as the “preteen entrance.” Even this will help to be intentional in reaching preteens. Remember, the space determines what you can and can’t do in your services. Try to find a space large enough for large group and small groups.

3. Curriculum

As preteen ministries continue to sprout up across the country, more and more curriculum options are available. Search for a curriculum that works best for your church and your environment. Always plan to edit the curriculum to make it work best for you. Whether you buy a curriculum or write your own, the key here is that you choose something different from your children’s and student ministry curriculum. If you’re stumped about what’s available or what topics could be covered, feel free to contact me for a copy of our scope and sequence for Fifty6.

4. Leaders

Once you’ve determined the identity, space, and curriculum for preteen ministry, begin to recruit leaders to serve alongside you in the new ministry. When looking for leaders, don’t focus on their age or “cool-factor.” Instead, search for leaders who have strong conversation skills and relationship building skills. This is also the area where you might choose to focus your volunteer training. Leaders who can build trust with preteens and get them talking are invaluable when starting a preteen ministry.

5. Events

Before and after you launch a new preteen ministry, focus on a few key events to promote the ministry and build relationships. Fun events like game nights, lock-ins, or trips make great on-ramps for preteens to engage in this new ministry. They might not engage in your weekly service, but events can help them to connect with leaders. Service-oriented events like painting the preteen space, community clean-up, or item collection for a partner ministry also help to build relationships with preteens and their parents. Other events that could be helpful to the new ministry might be a parent & small group leader breakfast, summer camp, or leadership training for preteens.

If you’ve recently started a preteen ministry, what would you add to this list?

If you’re wanting to start a preteen ministry, which of these areas has proven to be the most challenging?

Why I stopped writing

October 22, 2013 — Leave a comment

old_typewriter

As this past summer started to wind down, I got ready to ramp up my activity on the blog. I had all kinds of ideas about what I wanted to share and questions I wanted to pose to those that were following along.

I started with a few posts about the Preteen Leaders Conference, and then I felt a strong urge to stop writing. I thought it was just because I was too busy to write, but I can see that there were more reasons than that.

As I look back over the last two months, here are a few reasons why I stopped writing:

Confusion of Purpose

I have always loved to write, and I originally started blogging to share ideas and experiences in preteen ministry. After a while, I felt my focus drifting into other areas that might attract other readers or more interest in my writing. Pretty soon, I felt way out of my element and felt like I was only writing to gain an audience. I just didn’t feel motivated to keep doing it.

Life was Out-of-Whack

Have you ever reached a point in life when you just felt out of control? I’m not talking about the times when you get angry or excited and do something crazy. I mean the feeling like everything else is dictating your life and you have no control. You’re just along for the ride. That is how I was feeling. I don’t know that I would call it depression, but I certainly felt like I was sinking in really big ocean.

This feeling paralyzed me to some degree. I was late on work deadlines—and still not where I need to be. I was procrastinating—even more than is typical of me. I just felt overwhelmed, and the thought of trying to write helpful words for others seemed ridiculous. Life was just out-of-whack!

Insecurity

Without a clear purpose for writing and without a set of priorities in life, I felt overwhelmingly insecure.  I felt like a pubescent preteen boy trying to sing in the children’s choir. Everyone else is singing high notes and his voice is screeching and cracking off-key. It’s embarrassing and it’s really hard to listen to!

I felt like anything I wrote would be in the same category—embarrassing and hard to listen to. I felt like I was too far out of my range to really be effective and even bearable. This may or may not have been true, but I chose to stop writing because I felt very insecure about what I had to say.

So, why share this now?

Well, being honest about the past few months felt like the best way to get back on the bike and ride again. I want to post things that are helpful to others in ministry, specifically with preteens. I also want to provide a place for others to share their experiences and be a hub of creative ideas on reaching preteens/middle schoolers with the Gospel.

So, what would you like to read about?