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Music is something we often take for granted. Our society is so media saturated, especially with songs and jingles, that we don’t realize the impact that it is having on our brains.

The truth is that our memories and experiences are closely tied to music. You’ve probably been in a situation before when a familiar song comes on and brings back a flood of memories. It’s amazing to see how music can help us recall experiences, facts, and memories.

This video, from upcoming documentary Alive Inside, is a powerful example of music’s influence. Even in the midst of dementia, music can bring life and joy to the soul. As someone who has seen a family member suffer with Alzheimer’s, this video is such a great reminder that the joyful memories and experiences are never erased or truly forgotten.

For those that work in ministry:
How do you use music to add layers to your teaching experiences?
How can music help children/preteens/students/adults recall Biblical teaching at later dates?

This post is a discussion on pornography that was originally posted last May. You can also see Part 2 of this post for tips on protecting your preteens
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The pornography industry is a $14 billion business. It is estimated that 42.7% of internet users view pornography. It is literally ripping apart marriages and families every second.

Here are some of the facts about preteens and pornography…

• Average age of first Internet exposure to pornography: 11 years old

• 15-17 year olds having multiple hard-core exposures: 80%

• 8-16 year olds having viewed porn online: 90%

• Nine out of 10 children aged between eight and 16 have viewed pornography on the Internet.

• In most cases, the sex sites were accessed unintentionally when a child, often in the process of doing homework, used a seemingly innocent sounding word to search for information or pictures.
(Data from London School of Economics January 2002)

• The fourth most-searched word on the Internet for kids ages 7 and under in 2009 was “porn.”

• For all kids up to age 18, sex was No. 4, porn No. 5.

• A recent survey found that 30% of girls ages 9 to 15 years old had sent or received sexual messages or photos of themselves.

• 1 of every 3 that reported to receive “sext” messages said that they accidentally received the message that was intended for someone else.
(Data from OnlineFamily.Norton.com and research from AK Tweens)

Be sure to check out Protecting Your Preteen from Pornography for strategies on keeping porn out of your home.

Whether you’re in ministry 100 years or 1 year, it’s bound to happen. You get stopped in the hall, or you get a phone call to let you know that a volunteer is leaving your team. In that moment, your first thought is, “Who can I get to fill that spot and how quickly can I get them?” However, there are a couple other steps to consider before you plug a new person in.

1. Do an Exit Interview
It doesn’t matter why their leaving your team, those volunteers have valuable insight and a freedom to share it. As the volunteer is leaving the team, it is a great opportunity to ask them about their experiences—good and bad. They will most likely share honest impressions that can be greatly beneficial you as a leader. An exit interview also shows value to that volunteer by allowing them to give input and evaluation to the ministry team.

2. Evaluate the Rest of the Team
Is there someone already on the team that can do this job? If so, would it be a good move for the team? There have been several times that a small group leader has left the team and a replacement was right under my nose. There are substitutes and assistant leaders in your ministry that may be ready to take the plunge into a full time role. Before you put it in the bulletin or stand on stage to announce the opening, consider those that are already on your team.

3. Take the Opportunity to Fill In
If you are able to find a replacement for a departing volunteer before the following Sunday, let me know how you do it! Most times, the process takes a little while longer. In that waiting period, take the opportunity, if possible, to substitute for that position. I have found that putting myself “in the trenches” can really help me to better understand what my team members need.

4. Celebrate the Volunteer that is Leaving (and do it publicly)
I am guilty of not doing this one enough. When a volunteer leaves, we focus on replacement, not celebration. The few times that I have paused to celebrate the volunteer have been great experiences. Celebrating the volunteer shows them and the other volunteers that their service is invaluable. Praising and celebrating a volunteer in front of their peers, especially those that are leaving on a sour note, gives them a lasting memory that is positive and encouraging.

5. Prayerfully Seek the Person to Fill the Position
Ministry is a beast that must be fed. As you read this, you’re thinking, “This is all nice, but Sunday’s coming!” I know that feeling very well. You need someone to plug the hole, and you need them now. Let me encourage you to spend more time seeking God and who He has for the position than you do actually searching for that person. You can run out and find the first willing body that feels sorry for your predicament, but it’s much healthier for you and your team to find a replacement that has been called and ordained by God for that position.

Last week, I entered a time of rest. My family and I rented a cabin in the Ozark Mountains, and we just got away for a few days. It was an awesome time spent with my wife and daughter, but it was also a sweet time of peace for me.

I decided before leaving for the trip that I would not be taking my computer or anything work related. I limited the use of my phone to a few minutes in the morning and a few minutes at night. Our daughter is 1 ½ and needs naps, so we worked naptime into the schedule for everyone each day.  I spent the days resting, connecting with my family, and just having a good time.

I’ve been guilty of stuffing vacations so full of activities that you need a day to recover from the vacation! This time was different. We shared some great family time, but it was much more about taking a moment to catch up and breathe. I’m so thankful that my wife got to have that time, and I feel blessed and refreshed after our trip.

I hope that you can take a moment in this season to get away and rest.

5 Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
   my hope comes from him.
6 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
   he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God;
   he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, you people;
   pour out your hearts to him,
   for God is our refuge.  

Psalm 62