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KIDS MINISTRY101 Tips and Techniques for Kids Ministry Leaders


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Devotionals Summer 19



MUSIC CITY CENTER O C TO B E R 7 - 9 , 2 0 1 9


MAKE YOUR WAY TO MUSIC CITY. What does it look like to focus on the things that can help us thrive in our ministry? What does it look like for us as ministry leaders to help others thrive? Join us this October for the ETCH Family Ministry Conference where we will unpack what it looks like to help parents, volunteers, and even ourselves thrive in family ministry.






Event dates and rates subject to change.


KIDS MINISTRY101 Kids Ministry 101 Magazine exists to provide leaders in kids ministry with activities, ideas, and encouragement that will aid in their day-to-day ministry efforts.

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Issue 17 Summer 2019 Jana Magruder Director, LifeWay Kids Chuck Peters Director of Operations, LifeWay Kids Roberta Lehman Strategist, LifeWay Kids

Applying the Bible to Life

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4 Tips for Focusing on Both People and Results

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Stacey Means Graphic Designer, Kids Ministry 101 Magazine Marketing Designer, LifeWay Kids Bill Emeott Kids Ministry Specialist Delanee Williams Kids Ministry Specialist

5 Ways to Avoid Burnout


5 Ps for Planning


Contact Us: Facebook: LifeWay Kids Twitter: @LifeWayKids Instagram: @LifeWay_Kids Pinterest: LifeWayKids

Summer Sundae Party


Refreshing Breaks for Teachers

Dear Reader, Summer. I can’t say the word without craving a big slice of watermelon.

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10 Ideas for Fun Family Devotions


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What’s In Your Hand?



No-to-Low-Cost Ways to Appreciate Your Volunteers


Tips for Teaching Gen Z


When I lived in Texas, summers brought unbearable heat and loads of sweat. Even so, my family and I couldn’t help but look forward to these sweltering days. While there are perks to the other seasons—springtime blooms, fall festivals, and winter wonderlands—nothing quite compares to summer fun. For kids ministry leaders, this season can feel like a paradox. On one hand, it feels like freedom and possibilities and dreams. On the other, it feels like a heavy and urgent burden to turn fleeting days into an impactful season for preschoolers, kids, and families in your neighborhood. Over the next few weeks, you’ll work hard to execute several discipleship events and programs, and we want to help you do effective ministry. In this issue, my team and I have put together articles to help keep you from burnout, show appreciation to volunteers, and celebrate moments of summer. I pray these pages bring an extra ounce of fun in your time with kids and families. I hope you’ll keep checking for more creative ideas and kidmin trends. We are constantly developing new ways to serve you in your mission to make disciples.

With joy! Jana Magruder @jana_magruder Director of LifeWay Kids

How VBS Led One Woman From Salvation to Serving

Let’s Talk Follow-Up




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he ultimate goal in kids ministry is to see hearts transformed through the gospel. However, heart transformation does not happen through the work we do ourselves; it happens through the work Christ did on the cross. The Holy Spirit reveals Himself faithfully through the Word and therefore, we should see our primary role as one who leads kids to love their Bibles. It is here, through the Scriptures, that spiritual light bulbs turn on and deep doctrine takes root. Kids begin grasping what Jesus has done and how He desires a relationship with them. It all begins through His Word. As practitioners in children’s ministry, we all want kids to understand how to apply the Bible to their daily lives, but many skip biblical transformation and go straight to life application. We caution this approach. This tendency can lead to teaching morals and values to help kids make good choices, all while falling short of teaching biblical doctrine to help kids understand the gospel. However, if we reverse the order and focus on heart transformation through Jesus, kids can apply the Bible to their lives out of an overflow of love and obedience for the Redeemer Who saved them. Getting the order correct is essential for two reasons: first, for kids to truly become Christ followers and secondly, for kids to be able to apply the Bible to their lives. This important distinction is a matter of spiritual life and death. It should inform our training of volunteers and parents, the content we choose to teach, and the call to action for our church family. The goal is to get kids in the Word. The end game is that kids will have the Holy Spirit to guide them through the twists and turns in life through God’s Word. Once kids take the step to make Jesus their Lord and Savior, applying the Bible to life becomes part of their daily world. Memorized verses take on new meaning as they cling to the truth that will carry them through difficult times at school and home. Learning how to share their faith equips them to share with friends and classmates who don’t know Jesus. Reading the Bible becomes something they begin craving instead of dreading. Applying the Bible becomes second nature as opposed to forced rules and regulations.


Teachers, leaders, and parents all have a role in helping kids apply the Bible to their lives. This begins with modeling how to use their Bibles. Anytime you gather kids, help them get to know their Bibles better. This begins with encouraging a regular cadence of bringing their Bibles to church and ensuring they understand the Bible is 66 books, two testaments, and one story pointing to Jesus as the Rescuer. Each story that is studied should help kids understand who Jesus is and that He has a plan for their lives. Stories should not be told with the sole purpose of having a “moral” and behavior modification takeaway at the end. The Bible is not about us—it’s about God and His plan for people. Scripture memory is an important way that God can help kids apply His Word to their lives. When we hide verses in our hearts and minds, the Holy Spirit brings those words to mind right when we need them. The best kinds of verses for kids to memorize are those that help them remember who God says they are—not who the world says they are. For example, when kids question their appearance or feel left out at school, they can recall a verse like Psalm 139:14 and remember that God made them in His image. Another example might include the verse, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). Even younger children can begin memorizing verses to help them with fear. This is how the Bible is applied to life. It begins with faith, which comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Once faith in Jesus has begun, the Holy Spirit will continue to blossom in a child’s life, bringing forth His words. His perfect Word is what will help them grow in wisdom and stature, just as Jesus did (Luke 2:52).

Jana Magruder serves as the Director of LifeWay Kids. She is a Baylor graduate and offers a wealth of experience and passion for kids ministry, education, and publishing. She is the author of Nothing Less, Kids Ministry that Nourishes, and Life Verse Creative Journal, which she co-authored with her teenage daughter. She and her husband, Michael, along with their three children, reside in Nashville.


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DISCIPLE KIDS FROM THE GROUND UP. Bible Studies for Life: Kids provides trustworthy biblical content built on LifeWay’s Levels of Biblical Learning®, a guide that shows the 10 spiritual concept areas kids should understand as they grow. Each session engages your preschoolers and kids in discipleship through age-appropriate activities, lessons, videos, and music. Kids love it, and your leaders will, too! BIBLESTUDIESFORLIFE.COM/KIDS





By Landry Holmes

Lately I have been posing the question, “Should kidmin leaders focus on people or results?” Here is what I have concluded: Jesus’ love for us and others drives us to serve Him to the glory of God. When we do that, God will use us to accomplish His results.

In other words, when we as kidmin leaders follow Jesus, God will direct us to focus on both people and ministry results. So, what are some practical ways to achieve that balance? Here are some suggestions:


Okay, I know that sounds like the church answer, but I believe it’s true. One way we focus on Jesus is by staying in God’s Word. By doing so, we “trust in the Lord with all” our “heart, and do not rely” on our “own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Prayer is another way we focus on Jesus. The Bible is clear that we are to “pray constantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). How can we expect God to work through us for His glory if we’re not in communication with Him through His Son Jesus? Moreover, when we pray for others, God often guides us to minister to them. When we focus on Jesus, God will certainly accomplish His will through us, including ministering to people and achieving ministry results.


What is God calling you to do in the context of your church and community? Not sure? Start with what Jesus has already told us to do: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). Out of that should come all our goals and plans. Otherwise, our plans are just that: our plans.


Paul reminds us to “not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9). Sometimes we may not achieve the results we think we should; however, ultimately, God is responsible for the outcome. Our job is to be faithful.


Jethro helped Moses see the value of working through others, using common sense and organizational skills. When we do so, we empower and equip people to accomplish the work God has called them to do. (See Ephesians 4:12.)

The ideas above are not exhaustive, nor are they four easy steps to guaranteed success. However, I do believe that these tips represent biblical principles. And I think that obedience to God’s Word, through a personal relationship with Jesus, is how we achieve a balance of focusing on both God’s people and God’s results. Landry Holmes is the Manager of LifeWay Kids Ministry Publishing. A graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Landry served on church staffs before coming to LifeWay. He is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. Landry also teaches children at his church in Middle Tennessee. He and his wife Janetta are grandparents to four precious grandchildren.


SHOW KIDS THE BIG PICTURE. We can’t teach the gospel without teaching Jesus. The Gospel Project for Kids points kids to Jesus as they realize every moment, from Genesis to Revelation, works together to form one big story of redemption. This three-year chronological study includes creative teaching elements like Activity Pages, Bible story videos, worship songs, in-class activities, and take-home resources to help kids and preschoolers see and understand the big picture. Weekly content is supported by LifeWay’s Big Picture Questions and Answers®, a guide that helps leaders answer 76 questions kids and preschoolers ask about theology. Learn more and download a free preview at


Load up a kiddie pool with pillows and blankets. Then instruct the whole family to pile in for the day’s Bible story.

Write a memory verse on paper and cut it into parts. Place each part in a different balloon. Take turns popping balloons and put the pieces of paper in the right order as you work on memorizing the verse.

Read a Bible story. Then soak a large sponge in water. Stand in a circle outside and take turns tossing the sponge to one another. Whoever catches the sponge must tell a part of the Bible story before passing to the next person. Download an audiobook or podcast that tells a Bible story. Before pressing play, assign each family member a Bible character. As you listen to the story, each character should act out their part.

Pretend you’re camping. Build a real or fake campfire and take turns reading or telling your favorite Bible stories.


After reading Scripture, assign each person a scene to paint or color. When you put your scenes together, you’ll have a full comic strip.

Go to your local library or bookstore and let your kids select their own books about faith.

Sing worship music as a family. Stream a popular Christian song or make up your own tune based on a verse you’re memorizing together. No musical ability necessary.

Find a LifeWay Kids Bible story video on YouTube or Vimeo and watch the video together. Then talk about the impact it has on your daily lives.

Let your kids plan the family devotion time. Give them time to prepare and provide any supplies they need, but make sure you let them lead the whole time together.

Cristy Wicks is passionate about using creative ways to welcome nonbelievers into believing communities. She lives with her husband, Jon, in Nashville, Tennessee.


WHAT’S IN YOUR HAND? By Chuck Peters


QUIT WORRYING ABOUT WHATEVER IT IS THAT YOU THINK YOU LACK. There’s something about human nature that causes us to want things that we don’t have and to devalue or disregard all of the things that we do have. Ecclesiastes 1:8 reminds us “the eye is not satisfied by seeing or the ear filled with hearing.” There is always something new to be desired or something next to be sought after. It can be easy for us as ministry leaders to be discouraged by what we don’t have and to pine for things that we wish we had. This can turn into “if only” longings that can sound something like this: “We could have such an amazing kids ministry and reach so many kids in the community if only. . .” We each fill in the “if only” in our own ways. If only we had a gym. If only we had a better playground. If only we had a cooler kids space. If only we had more volunteers. If only we had more budget. Living in the depths of your “if only” can be paralyzing. It can sap your strength and crush your spirit. Aren’t we blessed to serve a great God Who heals paralytics and casts out false spirits? We need to remember that we belong to a God Whose strength is made perfect in our weakness and Who lifts up the downcast. All things are possible through Him. He is above and beyond our circumstances, and He has promised to complete the good works that He has begun in us.

Do you remember how Moses responded to this miraculous commissioning? He disqualified himself. Moses told God that He had the wrong guy. “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent” and “my mouth and my tongue are sluggish.” Moses wanted God to pick somebody else. Anyone else. Maybe you’ve heard yourself making similar excuses. “I can’t do that.” “I don’t have what I need.” “I don’t have what it takes.” But God reminded Moses of a bigger truth: “Who placed a mouth on humans? Who makes a person mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say” (Exodus 4:11–12). I love the question that God asks Moses in Exodus 4:2. “The Lord asked him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ ‘A staff,’ he replied.” I can picture Moses looking at the stick he was holding and thinking, “This thing? It’s just a stick.” Here’s Moses. He was raised in a royal palace as the adoptive son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He had every advantage. He was lavished with luxury. Now he is living in the hot, dusty desert, and all he has is a stick. But, wait! Don’t miss what happens next! God instructs Moses to take the one thing that he has—his staff—and throw it on the ground. When he does, it becomes a snake! Then God tells him to pick it up (by the tail), and it becomes his stick again. The point is not that this was a miraculous or magical stick. The point is that even an ordinary, broken-off branch can be used for wondrous things when it is in the hands of one who is called and equipped by God. God used that very same stick all throughout Exodus. God used it as a lesson for Moses in the desert. God used it to display His power to Pharaoh. God used it when He parted the Red Sea.


For all of my fellow “if only” leaders out there, let me remind you of the account of one of our own kind. In Exodus 3 and 4, we find Moses tending flocks in the desert. He made mistakes. He fled to the desert after killing an Egyptian who was harsh to one of his Hebrew brothers. You remember what happened next. One day he looked up and saw a bush that was burning. But this was a weird bush. While it burned, it wasn’t consumed. The Lord spoke to Moses from the bush. God told him to take off his shoes, told him His name, and called him to a mission: to go to Pharaoh and tell the king to let God’s people go.

God is not limited by what we do not have!!! While Moses was focused on the ability that he lacked, God demonstrated that He already provided everything Moses needed. All Moses had to do was give it to God and follow His instructions. So, quit worrying about whatever it is that you think you lack, whether ability, support, or resources. Offer to God whatever it is that you already have in your hand, and watch Him do incredible things.

Chuck Peters is Director of Operations for LifeWay Kids. A graduate of Columbia Bible College, Chuck has served vocationally & voluntarily in student and kids ministry for many years.





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Pricing and availability subject to change without notice.


5 WAYS TO AVOID BURNOUT By Logan Meek Burnout. Just hearing the word “burnout” can bring up feelings of exhaustion and hopelessness at work. Chances are good that if you’ve been involved in ministry in any capacity, you’ve faced feelings of burnout at some point. Whether you started out the year feeling like you’re on track to avoid burnout, or whether you started off the year in a rut, every day provides a chance for a fresh start. Here are five practical suggestions to help avoid burnout in your life:


Admit that you can’t do it all. A lot of times this is something we really do have to admit. We convince ourselves that working harder will solve all our problems. Work hard, but remember that there will always be more on the to-do list.


Refuse to live in comparison. Sometimes we don’t know we want something until we see what other people have. Comparison steals away contentment that can be found in following God where He leads us. Without contentment, burnout comes quickly, so don’t spend your energy trying to live up to comparisons.


Turn off the screens. Because of how accessible technology makes us, we can work in flexible ways that weren’t really possible even five years ago. We never have to be in the office to get things done. But the accessibility of work can take over our lives if we let it. Give yourself permission to stop working when the day is over. Your emails will still be there tomorrow.


Say “no” more. It’s difficult for most people in ministry to say “no” to things because we know that our work has an eternal impact. But saying no to others sometimes gives you the freedom to say yes to your family and yourself. We can’t keep giving of ourselves if we never take the time to take care of ourselves.


Take a personal retreat. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could take a weekend and go to a cabin (with a rocking chair, hot tub, and lots of coffee!) to spend restful time with the Lord? Maybe you can . . . and if you can, do it! But a personal retreat can be as simple as blocking out a few hours one morning or afternoon to spend time reading the Bible and praying.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). As you serve God in your ministry, remember that Jesus is the only One Who can offer true rest!

Logan Meek leads the Student Life for Kids team. Logan joined this team in 2014 after spending two years as a sixth grade teacher with Teach For America. He believes in the importance of strong kids ministry to help kids build strong spiritual foundations.


5 PS FOR PLANNING By Jeremy Carroll

Does putting together a Bible Study lesson seem intimidating? Does it ever feel like your Leader Guide isn’t exactly what you need, but you don’t know how to modify it? How can you break down this overwhelming task to manageable bite-size chunks? Many of us serve in kidmin because we love to teach kids the gospel and biblical truths. But if you are like me, preparation time for teaching sessions can be the first and easiest thing on which I compromise. Below are “5 Ps” for breaking down your planning strategy into easy-to-handle phases.


The apostle Paul says, “pray constantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We need to remind ourselves that prayer must not be neglected. Doing so may undercut the spiritual impact of our teaching. After all, this is spiritual work. In James 1:5, we are instructed to ask for wisdom if we lack it. I can’t speak for you, but there are many times, and often while I’m preparing to teach, I find I am lacking the wisdom I need. And therefore, I need to pray and ask God for wisdom. He has promised to give it generously. In Psalm 25:4-5, David asks God: “Make your ways known to me, Lord; teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me.” Praying this prayer while you are preparing to teach leads to a posture of humility, strategically positioning yourself to hear from God’s Word. Here are a few specific prayers that might be helpful as you begin to prepare: • Pray for your own heart to receive God’s Word. • Pray to rightly understand and handle God’s Word. • Pray that you would be able to prepare well and be able to clearly communicate the truth from God’s Word. • Pray that the Holy Spirit would prepare the hearts of the children who will be in your group. • Pray that you would be sensitive to the movement of the Holy Spirit for when to follow your plan and when to adjust your course, if needed (more on this later).


As noted before, the Holy Spirit stands ready to help us understand God’s Word and apply it to our lives. Before you begin thinking through the logistics of planning your session, begin with personal reflection on the passage you will be teaching. Read the Bible story early. If you are preparing for a Sunday session, start this phase of preparation at the beginning of the week, maybe Monday morning during your personal devotion time. Note that this is not the time to start considering “how to teach.” Here, all you want is to let God’s Word speak to your heart. After you’ve spent time with God and have context for what you’ll be teaching during the session, start working through your Leader Guide, familiarizing yourself with the main points of your upcoming session. (Note: This is still not the time for planning specific activities or logistics. Let the key ideas resonate in your heart.) Many curricula begin with a summary section containing the big ideas to be covered. Familiarize yourself with these big ideas so you’ll know where you’re going throughout the session. Skim through activity choices, noting which ones stand out to you, but don’t get bogged down in the details yet. I like to put a star by any activity I want to explore further. Remember: This phase is mostly about preparing your heart and letting God teach you. By allowing the Word of God to speak first to your own heart, you will have a deeper understanding of the biblical truths and will lead from the overflow of what God has already taught you.



After you’ve become familiar with the Bible story and key ideas and skimmed through the activities, move on to choosing which activities to use and which order to do them. If you’ve starred any activities, go back to those first. Curriculum will often have a suggested order for activities and flow, but don’t feel obligated to follow that flow if it doesn’t fit your church schedule or if you believe another flow of activities will work better for your group. During this phase, take an evaluative look as to whether you have the right type of activities that balance active and less-active options. Do you have enough activities for the allotted time frame, with at least one extra (just in case you need it)? Try to avoid “busy work.” Each activity, whether a coloring sheet or creativity stations, should be part of the strategy for engaging kids with the gospel. Don’t forget early arrival activities, if applicable to your context. Teaching begins when the first child enters the room. Prepare meaningful ways for kids to be engaged as soon as they arrive. Carefully consider transitions from activity to activity. Also, consider the timing of each activity within the session. Don’t leave this to chance. If possible, use this phase of preparation to gather and organize any needed supplies, or at least make a plan for when you will gather them. This plan may be to gather supplies later in the week or arrive early to your session to gather supplies. The point is, go ahead and think about it early so it doesn’t sneak up on you later. During this phase, practice telling the Bible story out loud. Telling the Bible story is one of, if not THE, most important parts of each session. By spending time practicing telling the Bible story aloud, you will have greater confidence during the session to communicate the truth of Scripture. Practice while looking in a mirror. Practice while sitting in your car on a lunch break. Practice telling the Bible story to your spouse, your grandkids, or maybe even your cat. Just verbalize it. You will be more comfortable, and your passion for God’s Word will be more clearly heard through the clarity of your storytelling. Finally, make a plan for follow-up with attendees, parents, visitors, and absentees. The relationships you build through activities and reading the Bible together will be the best avenue for meaningful gospel conversations. Kids find deeper appreciation, even if they don’t know how to communicate it yet, when teachers take ownership of followup instead of leaving it to paid church staff.


Arrive early. Many kidmin leaders ask teachers to be ready to receive kids 15 minutes before the scheduled start time. This is a great habit to build. Being prepped and ready when the first child arrives communicates that you are excited he or she is there, and you are ready to share this important time. Use this time wisely to get to know kids and allow them to get to know each other. This is a great time for building relationships. Everything to this point demonstrates that having a plan is strategically important, but be flexible and sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s movement. As you’ve been praying for God to move in the lives of your kids, don’t miss an opportunity for the Spirit of God to work as He sees fit.


Finally, just as the session begins before the scheduled start time, follow-up continues beyond the time the last child is picked up. In our Plan the Session phase, we made a plan for follow-up. Now is the time to implement that plan. Even in our digital age, kids love to get cards in the mail. If you are able, mail cards to your class regularly. This may not be every week, but build a strategy to follow. Here are some suggestions to consider: • First-time visitors receive cards early during the week following their first visit. • Regular attendees receive cards once a month and on their birthdays. (Don’t wait for a faithful attendee to be absent before he or she receives mail.) • Absentees receive cards. • Parents receive cards once a quarter. Follow-up includes the parents of the kids in your group. Many parents are longing for family discipleship resources to continue their kids’ learning at home.


Hopefully your whole planning process has been saturated with prayer. As a bookend, remember to whisper a prayer of thanksgiving after your session ends and to thank God for working in you and through you to reach the kids in your church and community. What a privilege we have of serving the next generation of God’s Kingdom. Jeremy Carroll is the team leader for the LifeWay Kids Discipleship team. Before coming to LifeWay, he has been active in local church ministry for nearly 20 years in TN, TX, and AL. Jeremy, his wife, and 6 children live in middle Tennessee.




When it comes to ministry, you are uniquely gifted to choose a curriculum that magnifies the Word of God in the hearts of your kids. You know what makes them cry, what sends them into a pile of giggles, and what activities bore them and engage them. Most importantly, you know what grows their faith. Every LifeWay Kids curriculum equips you to lead your kids with trustworthy content that is rooted in Scripture. Whatever teaching style fits your ministry, we have a resource to match your needs.

Find the study that fits your ministry at


No-to-Low-Cost Ways to Appreciate Your Volunteers By Klista Storts

We all know that we couldn’t do ministry without dedicated volunteers! Let your volunteers know how much they’re appreciated, needed, and loved with these low-cost ideas! Added bonus! Teacher appreciation doubles as an excellent promotional tool for your ministry. People like to be a part of something important, and you’re letting them know just how valuable kids ministry truly is!

Display pictures of your teachers on a bulletin board. Title your board “What’s Your Why?” Ask each teacher to briefly tell you why they love teaching. Share each teacher’s “why” next to his or her picture.

Choose a weekend to celebrate your volunteers. Gather some help from parents and others, and decorate the doors of each of the classrooms prior to Sunday morning. Cover the doors with colorful butcher paper, gift wrap, or even newspaper! Be sure to include the names and pictures of the leaders who serve in each room.


Decorate a bulletin board with colorful paper. Cut out or print out large letters that say: “We Love Our Teachers!” Provide tags or sticky notes and markers for parents, kids, and others to write reasons they love teachers. Stick the notes on the bulletin board for all to see.

We Love Our

Teachers BECaUSE:

Cut out the tags and make copies, or download and print out tags from Klista Storts serves as a Content Editor for LifeWay Kids. Before coming to LifeWay, she served as the Weekday and Preschool Specialist at the Tennessee Baptist Convention and as Director of Preschool Ministries at churches in Oklahoma and Tennessee. Klista has a passion for equipping leaders to share the love of Christ and lay foundations for conversion in the lives of kids.


Tips for Teaching Gen Z By Bill Emeott

Recently I was asked to teach a breakout session titled “Understanding and Teaching Gen Z.” Gen Z represents recent college grads (born after 1995) to older preschoolers (born before 2015ish). I use “ish” because there seems to be a debate regarding the exact years. That’s a new topic for me, so I began to do the research on this youngest identified generation with hopes of educating myself and finding ways to share with others how to be successful with this new generation. I searched for, ordered, and read several books by authors I trust. Then I searched the internet and read many, many articles and blogs (some I trust and some I’m not so sure about). What I found was a lot of information about trends, practices, and characteristics of the older side of Gen Z but not so much on the younger kids: the ones we teach. The implications were there, but I was looking for some practical tips. Tim Elmore has always caught my attention. He not only shares statistics about the youngest generations; he genuinely loves and desires to help them be successful. His books and lectures offer hope and encouragement for those of us who lead and teach. Tim will soon release a new book on Gen Z, but his last book, Marching off the Map: Inspire Students to Navigate a Brand New World, was very helpful as I learned and prepared. In chapter 3, “Who are Today’s New Natives?”, Dr. Elmore shares tips for connecting with and leading Gen Z. I want to share six of his tips and expand on the implications for teaching in the older preschool and elementary classroom. The seventh tip wasn’t listed in this chapter but certainly is implied (and stated) throughout the book.

1. 2. 3.


Today’s kids have short attention spans. That doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t able to concentrate. However, within seconds, kids decide if what you’ve got to say is worth their attention. If you miss that window, you’ll have to work hard to regain their trust. Engage quickly and deliberately. Be ready the moment a child enters the room. This requires preparation and intentionality. Be early. Be prepared. Be engaging.

MAKE IT VISUAL. We know that kids are visual learners. They learn best when there are images that support the content you’re teaching. Use pictures, maps, and other visuals (even screens) to engage and maintain their interest.

FEED THEIR CURIOSITY. We also know that kids are naturally curious, so as teachers, we should use that to our advantage. Whet their appetite; then lead them to discover more as your session progresses.

GIVE THEM OWNERSHIP. I’ve talked about this for years when I help teachers understand guiding

4. 5. 6.

behavior. It’s been my experience that when kids choose what they’re going to do, they tend to work harder to see success. What choices do the kids in your class get to make, or is the entire session prescribed to them? Once choices are made, allow them to have ownership. It can be our tendency to do it for them, but we’d be better off to help them do it.

MAKE IT INTERACTIVE. This generation is more connected than any other generation in

history, yet statistics tell us that loneliness is at epidemic proportions. The kids I know desperately need more face-to-face socialization, but in our classrooms we often tell them to sit down, listen, and to not talk or interrupt. Allow groups to work together. Allow time for discussion and interaction. If you want retention, foster interaction.

GAMIFY YOUR CONTENT. It’s no secret that kids love gaming. Boys and girls alike are spending hours each day playing on their favorite gaming stations and online phone/tablet game apps. So, if you can’t beat ‘em (and we can’t) then join ‘em (at least at some level). I’m not talking about filling our classrooms with gaming stations and iPads. I’m talking about positioning kids in their natural habitat and using the familiar concepts of points, competition (in moderation), badges, and levels to engage them in learning. Talk to a responsible kid about his/her favorite games and then see if application could be made to your Bible teaching sessions.


BUILD RELATIONSHIPS. Nothing can, or should, replace healthy, loving

relationships with kids and their teachers. It’s an old adage, but it’s still true today and maybe even more so with this generation than any before: “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Everything we do should be umbrellaed by love: a genuine love for them and our desire for them to know the genuine love of Jesus, Who gave Himself so that they might have a right relationship with the Father and spend an eternity with Him in heaven. There is no greater love. There is no greater relationship. Model that for your students. So, there you go. As we learn more, we’ll share more. We hope you’ll share your thoughts, your experiences, and your discoveries on teaching the youngest members of Gen Z on KIDSMINISTRY101.COM.


Bill Emeott serves as Lead Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Kids. He is a graduate of Mercer University and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Bill has served in kids ministry for almost 30 years and currently teaches third grade Bible study at his home church in Nashville, Tennessee.

A N O S D I K R U O INVITE Y . N O I T A R O L P X E BIBLE Here it is–the moment your kids and preschoolers have been waiting for: this is their invitation to experience the text–from cover to cover–and to encounter Scripture in a way that sticks. Explore the Bible: Kids wants to help your kids dig deep into God's Word! Using a book-by-book format, every session brings the Bible to life through rich study and engaging objects, equips kids with foundational Bible knowledge and skills, and encourages them to live what they learn everywhere they go.


Kids 23


Chill out this summer with an ice cold sundae party! Simply scoop ice cream into bowls for kids, then place all the toppings on large serving boards and let kids add whatever they want.

Note: Make sure you check on allergies, and warn parents about the sugar rush.



Vanilla Ice Cream Chocolate Ice Cream Strawberry Ice Cream Chocolate Syrup Caramel Sauce Sprinkles Popcorn

• • • • • • •

Gummy Bears Coconut Cereal Fruit Chocolate Chips Graham Crackers Whipped Cream


Explore the Bible: Kids pulls truth from the text. This book-by-book Bible study for groups of all ages takes kids on a journey into Scripture where they will see the Bible in a way that will make them want to dig deep—building a foundation for life transformation. Check out these products to supplement Explore the Bible: Kids.


Access The Gospel Project for Kids: Volume 1: In the Beginning Family app inside the LifeWay Kids App, available on the iOS App Store or Google Play.



The Bible Timeline for Kids gives kids a fun, creative way to visualize when events in biblical books occurred and aids them in placing biblical events into historical context. The Timeline displays book titles in bright, colorful bands to give kids an instant understan ding of where that book fits in history. The Timeline also includes engaging facts about some of those books and major historical events. Each set includes 12, 11x17 posters, plus one page of instructio ns.






· Five sessions of Bible content · Leader Guides for preschool and kids · Printable visual aids and activities


· Family resources · “On Location” videos for Younger and Older Kids

The Bible Timeline for Kids is your tool for helping kids place the world of the Bible in real time alongside major historical events and discoverie s.

In Explorations in Acts, your preschoolers and kids will discover God’s plan for the church through Jesus’ ascension and commissioning of His disciples, Saul’s conversion, and Paul’s life of evangelism. In Explorations in Genesis, your preschoolers and kids will dig deep in the creation story, the flood, God’s promise to Abraham, God’s plan for Jacob, and Joseph forgiving his brothers.


Prices and availability subject to change without notice.


Refreshing Breaks for Teachers By Shelly Harris

One of the highlights at VBS each summer is Mrs. Cindy’s fruit-infused water in the teacher break room. It’s a fantastic and refreshing treat for every volunteer, and the best part is that it requires very little preparation.

Here is how to create your own refreshing break for your volunteers.

1. Gather several drink dispensers. 2. Mix water, ice, and your choice of flavors in each container. Most mixtures can sit overnight if you need to prep ahead of time. 3. Set out cups and cute paper straws, and you are ready!

Optional: Cut out the sign below and stick in a 4”x6” frame, or download and print out this encouraging sign from

Invite your volunteers to stop by after their kids are picked up and enjoy a refreshing drink.

Possible Flavor Combinations:

• Strawberries and Pineapple • Blackberries and Fresh Sage • Blueberries and Fresh Mint

• Orange and Lemon Slices • Strawberries and Lime Slices • Watermelon and Cucumber Slices


refreshing PART OF OUR TEAM!

Shelly Harris serves as a Content Editor for LifeWay Kids. She is a graduate of Murray State University and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. As a former kids minister, Shelly is passionate about equipping the church to share the gospel and disciple kids. She currently serves as the First Kids Associate at The First Family in Columbia, TN.


TEAMKID ALL IN ACTIVITY PAGE Make copies of the activity page below for each kid in your class.


Help the girl get through the maze so she can worship God!

at Home Over the next few weeks, your child will be learning about worship. Today, TeamKIDs heard the story of the Israelites building a golden calf to worship instead of God. They learned that there is one true God who alone deserves worship. This week, help reinforce that God is worthy of worship by listening to a worship song together, then discussing why God should be worshiped.



» Bible Story: The Golden Calf (Exodus 32)

» Bible Truth: There is one true God who alone deserves worship.

» Bible Verse: Exodus 20:3 » Bonus Verse: Isaiah 40:28

TeamKID All In











AlL In


AlL In




TK_All-In_Leader Guide1.indd 1

Preschool Leader Kit 005816330 $69.99











Kids Leader Kit 005816328 $69.99





5/10/19 4:20 PM TK_All-In_psch_ldrgd 1.indd 1 5/10/19 4:14 PM

Lead kids in discipleship with TeamKID! TeamKID is a 36-session study featuring Bible memory games and application of Bible truths, engaging missions videos and activities, and fun activity-based learning that helps your kids grow to be more like Jesus. In TeamKID: All In, kids and preschoolers will learn we are called to be “All In” as we love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind (Luke 10:27). Weekly sessions will take kids through a biblical study of key spiritual disciplines such as prayer, worship, and service.


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800.458.2772 •

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Ashley Virto was a teenager 10 years ago who knew about Jesus Christ, but didn’t know Jesus Christ. Thanks to a bus ministry and a Vacation Bible School, Virto, now 24, is a Christian serving Jesus Christ in her church and the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board and is now helping to train Spanishlanguage VBS leaders.

Her mother felt welcomed by the church and, before long, Virto’s little brother and aunt and her family began attending as well.

For the past three years Virto has taught various aspects of VBS, from recreation to arts and crafts, during training for VBS leaders who speak Spanish.

Her grandmother also has been introduced to Christ. “My mom’s main goal when she became a Christian was for my grandmother to know who Christ was,” Virto said. Her grandmother has been open to the gospel and attended a Christian concert. Virto said her grandmother has not publicly made a decision, but “we see something different in her.”

Her passion for VBS is fueled by the love and care she received during Vacation Bible School a decade ago at The Way, The Truth and The Life Baptist Church, a Hispanic congregation in Ripley, Mississippi. Virto said she probably never would have attended that VBS had it not been for the church’s bus ministry. She was raised in a Catholic family and had no connection to the Baptist church that ministered to her. Her mother allowed her to go. “So, I just went. It looked like a lot of fun.” Not only was it fun, it proved to be life-changing. Following a Bible story, Virto gave her life to Christ and prayed to receive Him in her heart. She recalled that “I didn’t know what I was doing at the time, but I did it. I told Him in my prayer, ‘I don’t know who You are, but I want You to show me who You are.’” Fortunately, that Hispanic congregation did what is vitally important in Vacation Bible School—they followed up on Virto’s decision. “Follow-up is an essential part of VBS,” said Vicki Hulsey, Childhood Specialist for the Tennessee Mission Board. “Especially when decisions have been made to accept Christ.” Hulsey, who plans VBS training sessions across the state, noted that many children and youth who make decisions at VBS go home to unchurched parents. “Follow-up is key to helping them take next steps of baptism and understanding what it means to grow as a Christian,” Hulsey said. “Follow-up with children and youth can also open the door for unchurched family members to hear the gospel for the very first time.”

range to bottom edge

Virto’s story does not end after VBS. She began attending the youth group and other ministries of the rural Mississippi church. At first her mother was upset with her because she thought her daughter was abandoning her Catholic background and culture.

“It became like this ripple effect of everyone just wanting to know why we were going to this church,” Virto recounted. All have since accepted Christ as their Savior.

Recalling the impact that one VBS had on not only her, but her entire family, Virto noted, “You don’t know the impact that you are making when you talk to children about Jesus.” “When you teach them music, when you show them a piece of artwork that reminds them of who He is, or read a Scripture verse from the Bible—you don’t realize what that’s doing to you until you are older or when you start to build your relationship with God,” she said. Virto eventually married and moved to Tennessee and became involved at Judson Baptist Church in Nashville where she has participated in children’s ministries and gone on a mission trip. Three years ago she was introduced to the VBS training sessions and has been involved ever since. Hulsey said Spanish VBS training clinics were added to VBS training over a decade ago. “As the number of Hispanic churches has increased across Tennessee, the number of clinics to train leaders in Spanish VBS has also increased.” Total Spanish VBS attendance across the state usually averages between 200-300. For 2019, a team of four leaders provided VBS training in Spanish in Memphis, Nashville, and Cookeville. “Ashley and the other leaders on the Spanish VBS team are committed to doing whatever it takes to see children and their families come to know Jesus and to grow in relationship with Him,” Hulsey said. Virto, voicing her passion for children, said, “I feel that I have been called to be in children’s ministry. I still don’t know what aspect, but I know that I belong in it.” And it all began at a Vacation Bible School in rural Mississippi.

One day her mother saw Virto reading her Bible and asked where she had gotten it. Virto responded that the church had given it to her, and to her surprise, her mother asked if she could attend with her the following Sunday. Lonnie Wilkey (@lonniewilkey) is editor of the Baptist and Reflector (, news journal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Used with permission from Baptist Press (, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.

range to

VBS is worth it because the salvation of kids and families in your neighborhood is worth it. What’s your “It’s Worth It” story? Submit your story to


Let’ s’ Talk Follow -Up By Melita Thomas

We all know that the days and weeks immediately following VBS are the most crucial for outreach. So then why does this critical element so often seem to fall through the cracks? We have good intentions for connecting with children and families after VBS, but then the aftermath of VBS kicks in. The excitement is over, people are tired, life returns to normal, it’s time to go on vacation ... there are tons of excuses and most all of them are valid. But here’s the thing: follow-up will NOT magically happen on its own. You must have an intentional strategy in place BEFORE VBS, and a follow-up plan ready to spring into action as soon as VBS is over. Follow-up is no easy task, but it’s absolutely vital for evangelism and discipleship!

Here are 5 tried and true ideas to connect with children and families: 1. ENLIST A “FOLLOW-UP DIRECTOR” JUST LIKE YOU ENLIST A VBS DIRECTOR.

Make this your point person for coming up with a strategy for follow-up that is effective and easy for everyone to participate in. The Follow-Up Director should enlist a follow-up team to work with VBS teachers to make sure every child is remembered after the week of VBS is over. This is especially important for children who are not already a part of the church family! Those first few weeks immediately after VBS may be the only time a church member is welcome in the home of an unchurched family. So don’t lose the momentum of VBS by putting it off. Activate follow-up teams immediately after VBS. People will never be more receptive to follow-up than they are immediately after the event. This is a great time to showcase what your church has to offer the entire family. And while we’re on the subject, send or deliver information about the church directly to the home. Don’t trust that fliers or handouts will make it home with kids from VBS!


Train every VBS worker to intentionally connect with parents during VBS. Talk to them when they drop off or pick up their kids. Try to find things you have in common, find out where they normally attend church, and tell them how happy you are that they are here and how well their kids are connecting with other kids in their group. Outdo one another in being welcoming and inviting so when it comes to following up after VBS, parents have positive impressions of your church. Follow-up has to be more than a single postcard or phone call—it must be about building a relationship with children and their families. Relationships take time to develop and will require an ongoing strategy to move unchurched families into the life of the church, but a relationship is what earns you the right to share the gospel. So it’s something we must take seriously!


For example, ask children’s Sunday School teachers to participate in follow-up alongside children’s VBS teachers. That way, visitors will already know a familiar face when they visit again. This is huge in helping kids feel connected when they return to church the next time. Kids need to feel a sense of ownership—this is MY church, MY classroom, MY teacher, MY friends—and giving them that sense of ownership is one way to help them feel loved and accepted and that they belong.


Conduct a family movie night, a cookout in a local park, or some other activity for the whole family within two weeks of VBS to give unchurched families an opportunity to reconnect with the church. This year, why not partner with a local minor league ball team to host a Faith Night? Offer discounted tickets in a reserved seating block and encourage VBS families to attend. Plan for a picnic on the grounds or tailgating before the game begins. Encourage families to get to know a family they haven’t met yet.

5. TAKE A SMALL GIFT TO THE HOME OF EACH CHILD WHO VISITED YOUR CHURCH DURING VBS. It can be something as simple as the Music for Preschoolers CD, Music for Kids CD, a Field Guide, the Parent Guide, or Devotional Bible for Kids. Any of these would make an excellent gift! Plus, each of these allows a parent to hear the good news of God’s Word that their kids heard during VBS. Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Melita Thomas serves as a Ministry Specialist with LifeWay Kids. Melita holds a master’s degree in Christian Education/Childhood Ministry and a passion for kids ministry that infuses both her work at LifeWay Kids and her leadership in the local church. Melita is a member of First Baptist Nashville, where she enjoys teaching kindergartners and preteens.


Concrete and Cranes Cut-out

Get ready for VBS 2020 with this fun cut-out! Build the construction truck to set on your desk as a reminder to pray for VBS 2020.

Preview next year’s theme at

Motto: Jesus! Our strong foundation! Theme Verse:

–Philippians 1:6 (CSB)

“I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”



LifeWay Christian Resources One LifeWay Plaza Nashville, TN 37234 439348

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Your go-teo resourc for all things kidmin!

CONTENT INCLUDES: • Volunteer appreciation downloads • Coloring pages and Activity Pages • Preschool Bible learning activities • Ministry philosophies and theological articles • Leader training videos • Bible skills games

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Profile for LifeWay Kids

Kids Ministry 101 Magazine – Summer 2019  

Kids Ministry 101 Magazine – Summer 2019