Each week for my ministry, I write a short devotional thought that hopefully will encourage and inspire those who have made a choice to work with kids. We call the time when we share this VIP (Vision, Information, Prayer).

These devotions are a part of casting vision to our leaders. I want to do everything I can to help them remember that they are making a difference for the kingdom of God and spreading the love of Jesus effectively. All the while challenging them to stretch in their own walk with Christ.

 March 15, 2015
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6
Have you ever wondered about this verse? I have what does it mean to have your paths made straight? The more I thought about this I started to think about all the choices I have had to make over the course of my life.
Some were great and some were well… unwise choices. Thinking about the unwise choices if I would have had more wisdom in my life, more guidance, perhaps I could have made the wise choice. Therefor my paths would have been made straight.
Looking at this verse, if I want to make wise choices I need to go to the one who holds everything, God.
This starts by acknowledging Him in everything. Sometimes what that means is yielding my will for His will. Stepping aside and letting God mold me into the person, He sees me becoming.
This is hard. Especially with all the things of the world asking for my attention and luring me away from living a life that honors Him.
Friends, this is what we’re teaching through the love we share with the kids, week in and week out. When we have the chance to display or communicate how to make choices that honor God, it will be second nature to us, if we have yielded our will to God on a daily basis. The kids will catch this. I heard it said more is caught than taught and that is true.

Hudson Taylor said this: “God always gives His very best to those who leave the choice with Him.”

Importance of worship teams

The other day, I had a parent come up to me to share what had happened at their house last Sunday after church.
You see, we’re in the middle of a 40 Days In The Word campaign. To help the kids have a little more encouragement to dig into the word of God, we decided to offer some incentives. If they brought back their take-home page with a parent’s signature showing they completed the activity, they could choose from some of our prizes.
The parent went on to tell me that her son choose Bible tabs and he spent most of the afternoon strategically placing the Bible tabs in his Bible. When he was finished, he sat there and slowly paged through his Bible. He then asked if his mom would do sword drills with him.
This is a game of looking up Bible verses as fast as you can when some one calls out the address. (Book, chapter and verse.)
She also wanted let me know that because of this encouraging incentive we have used along with new changes we have made to our worship time, her son loves coming to church!
As I was listening to her tell me all this, I was thinking of 2 things: one is that the strategic planning of the incentives was a success, and the second thing I was thinking was that the new structure of our worship teams is working.
When the load of leading worship is shared, it makes it easier for everyone. People don’t get burnt out and the kids are exposed to a many different believers who have fresh perspective on what God is doing. This helps kids see how God can work in others’ lives in different ways.
We have one leader for each service, and each leader is responsible for recruiting a team of 2-3 members. They are also responsible for scheduling and holding rehearsals with their teams. The goal of each worship leader is to find a member of their team to take over as leader so that member can move on and start a team of their own. This is working for us and is making a difference in lives.
So BIG thanks! To my ministry teams, you’re doing a great job!

Equip 2012 Notes "Connecting Kids to God"

Connecting Kids to God
Pray
Intro of self
Intro to topic: “Connecting Kids to God”
How can I Connect Kids to God?
By yourself it’s hard, but if we use the resources that God has provided us with it can be done.
So, lets start by naming some the common resources that God has given us.
1.    The Bible
2.    Books
3.    Web sites/blogs
4.    TV shows
5.    Games
6.    Parents
7.    Email
8.    Text messaging
9.    CD’s
10. DVD’s
11. Take-home sheets
Out of all of these, one of the biggest resources we have is parents.
Time leverage with parents.
Average of 40 hours of ministry to kids a year
Parents have 3000 hours
(Wind bags. Illustration)
So, if we can equip parents, we can have bigger impact on a kid’s life. Not to mention the impact you may have on the parent and the rest of the family.
How do we help parents and kids love spending time with God?
How about devotions or God moments with parents?
Sometimes these times with parents can look like this:
       
We provide them with tools they need to be successful.
         Parent page/take home page
         Websites
         All the things we would use to teach a lesson, provide for the parents.
Offer classes to teach parents how to have a devotion with their families.
 This may not seem like a big deal to us as pastors, directors and teachers, but it’s huge for parents. They need to:
1.    Understand the value of spending time with God and their children.
Deut 6:4-9
2.    Have permission to not be perfect.
3.    Understand how to use the tools you have provided.
(Rocket Balloon illustration)
1 Corinthians 9:24- 27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Encourage the kids and parents.
         Use incentives for both parents and kids
         Write notes to families that you know that are using your devotional tools.
Help parents and kids overcome obstacles that hinder them from connecting with God.
         Use the holidays as a time to help families start a God time.
         Advent book
         Schedule/reading plan
Okay now… how about you, what else can you do to help make kids love connecting with God?
         Teach them the importance of having an appointment with God.
What is devotion?
 My definition: A time set for growing closer to God. (God’s appointment)
         Give them tools to use on their own.
         Help them see God moving in their lives.
Practical applications / Resources:
Assign a book to read with questions to answer.
Too much like school?
What’s more important the education of this world or the success in our spiritual lives for the next life to come?
 Prayer pals (take home prayer request pet).
On your take home sheet provide suggestions for parents to get scripture into the kids hands in creative fun ways.
Write a freaky fact that can tie to memory verse for the week. Suggest parents stick it in their kids’ lunches.
Send home illustrations for parents to get ideas for getting kids to focus on a Bible verse. ie: Fun size Milky Way with God created the heavens and the earth. Gen 1:1 The milky way is a part of the heavens above the earth that God created!
Send an extra sock in their backpack with: Romans 10:15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” the good news is Jesus took all our sins away. Or stick it in their shoes.
Think beyond your students. Try to think about what will help your student make what I call the “unexpected bonus”. This is when the kids connect others to God without doing it on purpose. Take the two examples I just gave. If others see one or other of the two examples I just gave, it can start a life changing conversation. This not only encourages the student but they can experience God using them first hand. 
Have parents or you e-mail or text a fun message or perhaps a clue to a secret message with a Bible address.
Mail a puzzle that needs solved with Bible verses to the kids and have them bring it in for a prize.
Send a You Tube link to have the kids go to and watch with their parents. Give a few questions to be answered and some verses to look up and have them e-mail the answers back to you.
Text or email Bible trivia questions to them.
When kids are looking to becoming a Christian help them establish a devotion time with a reading plan and journal customized for them.
Hopefully with all this info you will be able to leverage you time and talents and help kids and parent love devotions. Watch this last clip of what a parent with right tools and coaching can do.

Pray
Q and A

Equip 2012 Notes "Teaching Kids The Way They Learn Best"

Teaching Kids The Way They Learn Best
By Butch Hunter
Learning Styles
There are four main learning styles we will be looking at.
Auditory – listening
Visual – seeing 
Tactile – touching
Kinesthetic – doing
Auditory: These learners grasp information best through hearing, but will completely understand it when they can explain it or repeat it back. Putting things to music will enhance the retention of information also.
Characteristics:
Learn 50% by listening, the other 50% is by repeating or talking things through.
Love tons of auditory stimulation
Love to talk- most times describing things in detail.
Likes to talk or sing even if no one is listening
Example of Auditory learning:
Echo back memory verse.
Wonderful Books Of The Bible song (worshipforkids.com)
Visual: These learners process information through visual experiences. They are always looking for something new or trying to discover something they haven’t seen before.
Characteristics:
Need to see something to understand it.
Most times they will look up as they start to talk. They are visualizing what they are talking about.
They like to take notes.
They need quiet times to concentrate.
Can digest a large amounts of information when presented in graphs, pictures, charts, ect.
Example of visual learning:
            Bible lesson with video
We use iMove and royalty free music from iMove in the background– our effects we apply are ken burns. (pictures used are available at Eikonbibleart.com)
The awesome part of doing lessons this way is that you are teaching to primarily the visual learner, but you also are adding a touch of auditory to it too. The added bonus is that you will keep the kinesthetic learner engaged with all that is going on at once.
Posters are great tool to use, and in our Heart Shapers curriculum you have a wide variety of choices of preprinted posters to use. Most time you have a new one for each month.
 
Draw the story on a white board. Draw even if you don’t have talent. Stick figures work just fine.
Tactile: these learners need to feel or touch to bring home concepts. They are the ones playing with something in their hands while you are teaching the lesson. Try Fidget Buddies or stress balls, even Play-do will keep them engaged
Characteristics:
Loves hands-on learning.
Touching and feeling will them process information.
Hands are always moving.
Manipulative are a great tool.
Doodling or highlighting can help with concentration on material that is being presented.
Example of Tactile learning:
Play-Doh
Have kids mold or sculpt parts of the lessons. For these learners, it’s just enough to have something in their hands as the lesson is being presented.
Water
Use a water table if you have one to use, if not a dish basin will work just as well. Tell the story and let the kids use action figures to act out the story. With water, Jonah and the fish will work or Jesus walking on water.
Confetti
You could use this for a lesson on baptism or the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus. These learners will grab the confetti and hold it through the lesson and crumple it in their hands. They need to be touching and feeling and this provides that opportunity to connect them to the lesson.
           
Kinesthetic:  These learners need to be experiencing what is being presented in a hands- on environment. Acting and doing actions help solidify the concepts presented. Hands-on games will be a home run with these learners.
Characteristics:
Need to move to learn.
Learn best by touching or interacting with something.
May seem hyperactive when they are not engaged or involved in hands on learning.
They need to experience first-hand what is being taught.
Example of Kinesthetic learning:
Act out the story.
Drama. Keep it simple. Use the resources you have in the class or at home. If you want to be adventurous, go to places you can get free stuff. Like Burger King crowns. Use your imagination and think where you can gather stuff to enhance your lesson inexpensively or even FREE!
Use key word actions.
This is always fun whatever the story is being used. All you do in pick a key word that will be repeated in your story and assign an action to it. So if you were telling the story of the talents, every time you say the word master or talent have the kids raise their hands in the air and bring them down to their waist and say Cha-Ching! This is fun, and you can use this technique on the fly. So, if kids are not connecting try this.  
Use games to illustrate lesson.
We use a variety of games to help kids understand a lesson. One that we have used on “Focusing” involves trashcans and Nerf footballs.
Kids have to get into teams and stand in line. The object is to accurately toss the ball into the trash can. If they make it in, they will receive an envelope with a puzzle piece that they will have to put together with their group leader after attaining all the pieces. The puzzle is the verse for the day, i.e. Proverbs 4:25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.
Then the leader will facilitate them in a discussion on what we need to focus on.
What kind of learner are you?
I have an evaluation on what kind of learner you may be. I found this online at  http://www.wright.edu/~carole.endres/learnstyles.htm
Follow the instructions and total up your responses to see what your highest learning style is.
If we look through God’s word, we can see Him using these learning styles    through-out the entire Bible to reveal Himself to His people. Let’s see if you can pick out what style is being used to teach in these passages.
(Form teams and use A, B, C, D, cards to display styles on screen. Review- have them say it. Have one person from each group read verse of passage of scripture.)
           
Auditory – listening
Mathew 5:1-2
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
Visual – seeing 
Luke 6:6-11 
On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath.8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there. 9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”
 10 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored.
Tactile – touching
            John 20:24-28
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
   But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Kinesthetic – doing
                        Luke 10:1-24
                        Jesus sends the 72 out to do what he has equipped them to do.
So how do we teach with all this in our classes or large group lessons?
This is where structuring an order of worship or class lesson plan is so important. You can strategically place different elements in you lesson to reach each learning styles. I want to take a moment and look at how we can structure this, or use a curriculum to achieve this. Most of classroom-based curriculums now take this into consideration. 
Let’s look at a lesson from Standard Publishing’s Heart Shapers Curriculum.
With Heart Shaper, it divides up your lesson into easy manageable steps that keeps your planning simple. Each step gives you choices of what type of activity you would like to do. You can do one or all of them. This curriculum is extremely flexible without a bulk of extra material to wade through. Each point you can clearly define what learning style it will reach in your class. Not only is it helpful to the learning style, it’s fun and engaging for the kids we’re trying to reach for Christ.
Let’s look at simple sample large group/small group outline.
This is an order of worship that I use. This outline is just a template that I plug into what I want to do for that service. Having a template helps volunteers and kids know what to expect in your service. People like things to be predictable and constant and this will help with that. With minor adjustments, you can also use this template for a Jr. worship service too.
You can see from the template that you can carefully structure your service to incorporate all of the learning styles in a easy format.
We all like to have our service point back to the main point or scripture were using, so you build around that and incorporate the learning styles that will reach all of your students.
Worship songs:         Choose songs that have to do with the aspect of the main point. In addition, use some songs that have motions and some that don’t.
Memory verse:          Use with motions or catchy visuals to display the text.
Message:                    Use a variety use keywords, drama, visuals, video, music, ect.
Small Groups:           Use hands-on object lessons or low-key games that don’t require major movement.
Hopefully, now you can recognize the different learning styles and customize your ministry to better reach your students God has entrusted you with.

Equip 2012 and More

Wow, I didn’t realize it’s been so long since I had written in my blog. Changing ministries and everything that goes with that have kept me from blogging.

With that said I wanted to give a shout out to all my new friends I made at Equip 2012!

I Had a great time this past weekend! All you who attended my workshops I want to thank you  for attending and all the intrest in the workshops. I promise that I will have workshop notes up soon.

So make sure to check back or start to follow my blog and you will get some great resources for your ministry and life or you can see what I’m going through a be able to help me too.

Blessing

Kidzpastorb “Butch”

Bubbles and the Cross

Yesterday is one of those days that I love, well I mean most of it at least. I had the privilege of speaking at our schools chapel service. (Deer Creek Christian School Go Lions!) Now the service I usually speak at is in the morning in my opinion too early. At this service I will talk to the kids that are in preschool all the way up to 5th grade. Now if you know anything about teaching kids this is a huge span to keep everyone’s attention and interest. I was told that the focus for the month was gentleness.
Right now I can’t tell you the memory verse they were using for it because each grade had it’s own memory verse in addition to the verse of the month. So there was a lot of scripture. I know excesses.
Any way I had planned to use gentleness from the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
I wanted to tell the kids that when they were gentle to others in all situations Jesus would be edified, because those around them would see that they were different. This in turn may provide an opportunity to share their testimony of what God has done in their lives. yes even Pre schoolers can have a testimony. 
This was all fine and dandy I had illustration set as well as an object lesson. I thought my object lesson would be killer and the kids would love it. I was going to show them that we use not just one of the Fruit of the Spirit but we use all of them to accomplish gentleness then reiterate all the Fruit work together.
 I also wanted to let them know we can display these qualities on our own (with out Gods power and strength) but they would in no way be close to what it would be like if we would allow God to work through us. I would do this by blowing small bubbles then demonstrate how to make huge bubbles. The kind that are huger than Godzilla’s head!
So, great plan I thought but then God had to come along and ask me to take it another step further I felt God’s nudging and had to choose whether to obey or not. I believed God wanted me to explain how He works as the Trinity in this too. I said “oh yeah sure and how can I do that?”( there is sarcasm there) If there is one thing you don’t want to do is challenge God because He will have His way one way or another.
With that I realized that to make the God size bubbles it took three things. Water, Dish soap, and magic bubble powder (glycerin this helps hold the bubble together so it can be huge).  Okay so I have the Father – water, the Son – Soap,  and the Holy Spirit – magic helper powder. I said that would be great but I can’t do it because the soap was green not red. Looking back this is just so stupid to say but I said it. Everyone knows that symbols for Jesus have to be red for the blood of Christ. Duh! So I nixed it and thought next time God I will get the red soap. Thanks for the idea well do this one another time.
Well I started my sermon and told the kids that when were young blowing bubbles can be a real talent because when we would try and blow we wouldn’t use gentleness or self control. We would just blow. And nothing would come out. After much practice we would skillfully blow gently and produce a bubble.
Then I showed them that we could not only blow one but several and, if we could catch one of the bubbles and use it to make more with out going back to the bottle. I compared this to how God can use us if we let Him have control and work in our lives by being teachable.  Others would then see our fruit. The result would be many would be touched by the love of God through you and then you can take one of those changed lives and help it to do what you are doing. Sharing God’s great plan with others and teaching them how to live an honoring life for God. This is doubling your efforts. This is what we would call discipleship.
I then changed focus. I still had everyones attention so, I said the little bubbles are like having good values and doing nice things on our own. what we want is something better than we can do on our own. With God this could be so much better and have a bigger impact.  I asked do you want to see what God can do if we let Him have control? Of course they cheered yes!
 So I brought out the God sized bubbles. This is when God stepped in. I said: You see God is made up of three parts God the Father God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Then I related each one to the mixture elements:
Water – God is the living water. John 4:13-14 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The Dish Soap (Still Green) – Jesus Hebrews 9:14
How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God,
 cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God
The Magic Powder (this is the helper) – the Holy Spirit
John 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
I stood there amazed at what God gave me to say and the kids really understood and got it. I grabbed the wands and made a huge bubble that was as big round as a semi truck tire if not bigger. The kids gasped and Oooed and ahhhed at the floating spectacle as I said this is a God size bubble. This is what God can do through you if you let His Fruit grow in your life then I explained that He would be the one helping us all the way.
 I had volunteers for this next part and asked them to make huge bubble on there own with out my help. They failed. (Part of the master plan) But when I instructed them step by step and they were teachable they had success. I pointed out this is the way God is with us He gives us His word (the Bible) to help us grow in ways that honor Him. Other Christians can help here too with support and prayer.
This was a good day! I just need some help from God.
If you continue on in the passage about the Fruit of the Spirit you will see that we must nail our ambitions, our wants, our selfish desires, to the cross daily.
Galatians 5:24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
This day I needed to be guided by God and walk by the spirit but first I had to crucify my desires. I believe this is what it means to daily take up your cross and follow Christ. How about you? 

Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
 

Letting Go

I’m in the middle of a transition in my ministry and at times it can be hard. Last year around May, I was talking to my coaching team about retooling our ministry giving it a new look. So we came up with some ideas that would enhance our present ministry. We tweaked a few things in our service and started to plan out some cool, exciting improvements for our first impressions area.  We wanted a fun “wow” factor to kids but more to parents.
You may be saying WHAT? It’s all about the kids well that is only partially true. You see if we don’t have parents saying hey that looks like fun and you just might learn something. The truth is that the kids won’t be dropped off. Especially on the days they need it most. On the flip side parents might look at your first impression area and say yea this church has nothing for our family. They don’t value the most precious gift given to me.  My kids.
You see your first impression is very important and the stats say you have 7 minuets to make an impact to determine whether a family will return or not and that is from the arrival in your parking lot. That’s enough to make your head spin. That’s not a lot of time to show people what your ministry is all about.
I see kids ministry first impressions like this. It’s kind of like this a box of cereal. The kids look at the box and see if it looks fun, and exciting but really they are interested in how it tastes and what the prize is inside.
For parents they want to see that the kids will be excited about it and want what is inside. Then you have the list of ingredients on the back. They want to know what this is made of, but most people look at that part last. It’s not that it’s lacking importance, because you and I both know that this is where the real part is. In our case the teaching about life change and living a life honoring God.
 So you should see this is an important part of our ministry these days not that it should be but it is. You and I know it’s really not the “wow” factor but that kids feel the love of God in a real tangible way.
So, we need to consider the way our ministries look. For us we needed an update and through a transition in our church, our ministry had to speed up the facelift. So one of the areas that needed a change was our welcome center. My team had not discussed the changes that needed to be made at length before but when they headr that the changes needed to be made they were on board. The truth was that I had what some would say high ownership of the way it looked. I say that I was emotionally attached to the way this thing looked it represented the start of a series of changes that would make our healthy ministry into what it is today.
So I approved some changes and entrusted the work to be done by someone else. This was scary but I was ensured I would be consulted every step of the way. As things are progressing I tried to cast a vision for what I saw this to be and we made some choices and compromises.
Today the rubber hit the road. I was approached by one of the people who was going to be working on the project they showed me the materials they would work off of and I agreed that they would do. But deep inside I was not sure this was the best direction for this to go.
So I helped clear a work area and walked away and left it in God’s hands. I returned to see the progress a few hours later and to my surprise it was exactly what I envisioned. This was great but the bad part was that in that moment the vision changed. The materials that we had purchased now would not work. I stood there and communicated the big vision for this to the person who was working on it. After hearing my vision they were able to understand what believed that we needed. They asked if there could be more changes than I had originally said they could do. And I heard a quit voice say… “yes”. (It was my wife) Then I spoke up and said yea we could go for it.
 In that moment I realized I had a sacred cow in my ministry and I needed to have a steak dinner. So now I’m very excited about the new impressions we will be making to everyone who comes through the doors.
Though I have good intentions I need to put my trust in God and He has all the plans worked out. I just needed to seek him. This may seem trivial to some but a big life lesson is this. If we commit ourselves to praying and seeking God we will see His plans for us and we will be encouraged beyond our wildest dreams. He has some of the greatest things in store for us, but we are not the focus here. We will be amazed at the things He can do to bring Himself all glory and fame though our efforts. It’s for God we labor.
I’m reminded of a few passages of scripture that I will wrap up with you figure out how they fit. 

Jeremiah 29:11-14

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.[b] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Colossians 3:23  whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,