Archives For small groups

Is it ok to use your smartphone’s Bible app in church?

This may or may not be a hot button issue with others.  It seems to really ruffle the feathers of some who believe that cell phones and other “gadgets” have no place in church.  I can remember a time in the 90s when electronic Bibles were released and had mixed reviews, and it seems to be the same today with smarthphones.  So my question is this:

Should preteens be allowed to use their cell phones in your ministry or should they have to check them at the door?

I’m not sure if my stance is majority or minority, but here it is.  For our ministry, we’ve decided to stop trying to fight against technology and use it to our advantage.  I realize that there must be boundaries and guidelines setup to prevent this from becoming a social media hotspot, but these tools and the appropriate apps can be very beneficial for Bible study.  Here are some reasons why I’ve taken this stance:

1. Children mimic the behaviors of their parents
Look around you at church, at small group, or at work–you’ll see adults (parents) using their mobile devices as their Bible.  Kids also see this behavior and they mimic it.  A Bible app is convenient and always nearby, so why not encourage them to use it.  I think there is something amazing about reading and studying a physical copy of God’s Word.  And it’s even more awesome for a parent to model that behavior for their children.  But why are we trying to fight for one over the other?  Why can’t both exist?

2. Bible apps are easy to use and encourage further reading
The Youversion mobile app is said to be on over 20 million devices.  20 MILLION!!!  That means most of your students have the app on their devices.  That particular app offers various reading plans, keyword searches, related passage searches, and other study tools.  This techno version of Bible study is attracting younger students to go deeper in the Word.  Instead of making preteens throw their cell phones in a box when they get to church, maybe we should teach a whole lesson on who to use them for our daily devotionals.

3. Mobile devices as “Bibles” can encourage preteens to more actively share their faith
Learning to interact with God’s Word on their cell phones can be a perfect avenue for preteens to share their faith with friends.  They can quickly navigate from passage to passage in the Bible app, and share the Gospel with a friend.  I encourage preteens to bookmark passages like the Romans Road in the app, so that they can easily share the Gospel at any point in their daily schedule.

What is your policy on using mobile devices in your ministry?

Considering the prevalence of mobile devices amongst preteens, what are some other ways that we can infuse God’s Word into their daily use of these devices?

Unclesamwantyou

Most of our churches follow the school calendar, which means a new year is right around the corner. The first part of that process is recruiting volunteers–hopefully we’re all done with that part.  We had great success this year with recruiting new volunteers and getting recommitments from existing volunteers.  Don’t get me wrong, we still have spots to fill but we are very thankful for the number of great leaders that we have.  If you’re struggling with recruiting or would just like to hear what we did, I’d love to share details.  You can email me or tweet me @Pastor_MattMo

The second part of the process is much more fun.  This is the time of year when we get to lead, inspire, and train our volunteers.  We are gearing up for a huge volunteer training event next week.  For those that joined the FellowShip Kids “TEAM”, they will get to take part in a huge pep rally style training event.  We will meet for a general session with all volunteers from nursery up to 6th grade.  This will give us the chance to introduce some across-the-board policies and also to cast a vision for the entire FellowShip Kids ministry. 

Following this session, we will break out into volunteer assignments by age group–preschool, 1st thru 4th Grade, 5th & 6th Grade, Surf Shack, Greeters.  Each staff member will get the chance to cast a vision for their specific area to those that have commited to serve in that area.  I have 80-90 volunteers who have committed to serving 1 year or 2 years with preteens.  I have a lot that I want to say, but I’m working to narrow it down to the “irreducible minimum.”  So, I need your help.  Here are a few questions:

If you were volunteering to work with preteens for 1 year, what would be the most helpful thing to hear/know/have?

or

If you’re a leader, what is the most important thing that you tell your volunteers that work with upper elementary or middle school students?

or

If you grew up attending church, who was the most significant teacher/mentor that you ever had and what made them significant? 

Comment below with your responses or send me a tweet with your ideas.

It’s the time of year for every children’s ministry worker…you know, right?  It’s Volunteer Recruitment Time! Our church did an amazing job of educating the entire church body on service and calling them to commit to an area of service inside or outside the church.  It’s been amazing to watch people, young and old, step up to serve all across the church.

As I talked with those who have committed to serving in the preteen ministry, I’m trying a new approach.  Normally when we find a great volunteer with high leadership capacity, we hold onto that person for dear life and never let them graduate out of our ministry area.  I know that my tactic in the past was to push people into the holes that I thought needed to be filled rather than really listening to their heart and providing an opportunity to serve in the place that God is leading them.  This year is different.

My approach involves three things: vision, celebration, and a question.

I begin by casting the vision for what we want our preteen small groups to be.  And a HUGE part of that is calling the leaders to commit to spending two years with the same group.  We want them to at least spend the 5th and 6th grade years walking alongside the same group of boys or girls.  And instead of desperately trying to hold on to them, we encourage them to move into student ministry with their group.  We just believe that this will be the best setup for life-change in the lives of students.  But this takes a big decision and big commitment.  That leads perfectly to the next part.

To help them see why this is so important and why we are asking them to make such a big commitment, we celebrate leaders who have done so already.  We have leaders that have been with the same group of kids for several years and it is evident that their commitment has led to great fruit.  We talk about those leaders and the effectiveness of their service.  We share story after story of how leaders were able to be a part of a students decision to trust Christ, their baptism, and their spiritual growth.  We talk about how leaders have guided students through tough times because they were trusted mentors by the child and the parents.   Just hearing these stories helps a person to see how their investment can lead to life-change.

Finally, I just ask them if they are able and willing to make that commitment.  If they can’t make that commitment, it doesn’t mean we don’t want them to serve.  There are places for them to serve, but leading a small group may not be the best fit.  

We want to provide the most optimum environment for life change, and that means we must set the bar high for our leaders.  We’re not 100% there yet, but my prayer is that over the next few years we reach a point where we no longer have to ask them to make such a commitment because it is just the norm.

 

Today has been a great Sunday.  I’m amazed every Sunday at the dedication of our volunteers.  It’s a holiday weekend, but we have probably 95% or more of our leaders here this morning.  Some that had to miss sent messages to their students to let them know!  How amazing is that!  They love their students and it shows in their commitment to their role.  I’m definitely celebrating them today but there is really something that is even more awesome.

I was handed this envelope this morning with no explanation or words.  A 5th grade girl just handed it to me and said “no one needs to know who it’s from.” Then she walked off.

Dadiya_money

 

In it was almost $125 raised by this small group of girls.  We have a partnership with The Seed Company to put the Bible into the language of the Dadiya people of Nigeria.  This money will help these people to read the Gospel in their own language.  It was a huge contribution.

I’d love to know which group gave this offering, but there was no names, no note, nothing!  They obviously had worked hard to raise this much money, but they wanted no credit for it. They didn’t present it during large group or even as a whole small group.  Instead, it was just one group member dropping it off and saying no one needs to know who or how.  They gave out of love and obedience, and they didn’t want recognition. One girl…no words…$125!   

I’m humbled by their gift. And I am encouraged by their love and service.  It’s been a great day for me, our church, and the Dadiya People of Nigeria!