Tag Archive: Leadership

  1. IGNITE Conference 2018

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    What a great weekend it was at IGNITE!

    Over 200 Baptist children’s and family ministry leaders gathered together with nearly 900 other like-minded leaders on Friday and Saturday.

    We heard from engaging keynote speakers, Chelsea Follet and Cath Tallack, as well as joined in on over 60 electives on how to welcome, disciple and serve kids and families in our churches and communities.

    It was great to meet so many of you for the first time, so thanks for stopping by the QB Kids booth! If you took a ‘free coffee’ card, and would like a visit this year, we are keen to come to you. We will be planning our trips and trainings over the next few weeks, so keep an eye on your emails!

    We can’t wait to see you all again at Ignite & Ignite Summit next year, but until then, stay tuned for more opportunities to hang out together. We are busy planning our next event – on how we can partner with & serve foster kids in our communities- for April 19th. Save the date!

    If you are chasing resources you saw and loved at Ignite, remember to check out our resources tab in the top corner of our website, or email qbkids@qb.org.au.

    Looking forward to 2018 with you!

  2. Faith In the Home – Taking Everyday Opportunities to Pray

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    Taking Everyday Opportunities to Pray

    We, as families, are busy. In addition to working long hours, our schedules can be full of homework, sports, arts, and music. Many parents are exhausted!! The very last thing we want to do is to make them feel guilty about yet another thing to have to fit into their busy family life. The solution is to equip parents to take opportunities that they already have in the time they spend with their children to teach them the importance of prayer and how to pray. As we get them up in the morning, drive them to school or other activities, as we sit around the table for dinner and as we tuck them into bed, we can be praying for and with our children, all the while building and strengthening their faith.

    Praying with our kids about things that really matter to them shows them that the great big God of the universe cares for them. When kids get in the car after a full day of school, they often have a story about something. Sometimes, it’s a fight with another child, a hard project they need to complete or news of a sick classmate. Praying about these things before bed at night, or better still, then and there, not only sends a message that the parents care about what is going on in their child’s life but that God cares. When a child understands that God in heaven cares about their “little” (big to them) problem at 6, they also learn that he will certainly care about the bigger life issues at 18 and beyond.

    Recognising and celebrating when God answers prayer is also an important way parents can be intentionally pointing to God. Sometimes when God answers a prayer, we ring a friend, and make sure we tell the Pastor on Sunday, but do we celebrate it with our children? Do our kids witness Him at work in our everyday lives? Sometimes God comes through with an answer for a family in a really BIG way and this creates a rich opportunity for families to not only celebrate it when it happens, but to mark the anniversary in years to come. When miracles happen to parents, children in the family also own that faith story. Just as the people in the Old Testament remembered God’s faithfulness, celebrating His faithfulness reveals His relevance for our children today. Noticing the big and the little answers to prayer teaches our kids to trust our faithful God.

    Being intentional about looking for opportunities to pray with our children, and encouraging them to pray themselves, empowers them to develop their own deep relationship with God. It gives them confidence in being able to open their heart to God at any time, day or night – not just on Sundays. When we habitually pray for and with our kids, it is only natural that they will want to pray for us. Allowing them to do this and telling them our prayer needs (being age appropriate), we are sending a valuable and strong message to our kids that we not only trust them, but we affirm their faith is real and God hears their prayers as much as He hears ours. Developing the confidence to pray for others empowers our kids to have faith and equips them for a lifetime of relying on God. Prayer in the home is central to building families with strong enduring faith.

    Ps Tracy Valentine, Generations Pastor, Gateway Baptist

     

  3. Worship for Kids: more than a song?

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    An excerpt from one of my favourite KidMin blogs :

    “In today’s culture, worship has once again become associated to “music at church.” As we see the progression of worship in scripture we see it attached to the tabernacle and then later, to the temple. Very often, we see that when someone worshiped, they fell down. We see Jesus change the game a little bit in the conversation with the woman at the well in the gospel of John, chapter 4. He simply points out that people will begin to worship God differently. We see this emphasized in Romans 12 when Paul equates the sacrifice or offering of self as the act of worship. Have we gone back to attaching worship to a place…a style…a certain sound?

    In other words, the act of worshiping God should not be limited to style, tempo, location, volume, and so on. Do we force our own style or tastes on kids in the area of worship? I’m not talking about doctrine here. By all means, kid leaders must ensure that the lyrics are truthful and God-centered. I’m talking about the other things that we often equate with what is appropriate worship for children.

    Are we allowing children to make worship a regular part of their lives by allowing them to worship Him in spirit and in truth? Are we teaching them that worship and the music associated with it should extend into their everyday lives? Are you using music that is similar in style to what they might listen to at home or with their parents? (Again, this is not about lyrics.) If you don’t make an effort to connect with kids on a cultural level, you may limit their ability to extend what happens at church into their everyday lives. We want them to be ambassadors for Jesus, not defenders of a culturally disconnected church.” –Jeffrey Reed, Lifeway Kids (check out the link for more).

    An interesting point of view! Michelle Anthony puts it another way: are we giving out kids time to “be with Jesus“? Time for them to “hear from Jesus”? Are we giving them a chance to hear from the Holy Spirit, or just keeping them entertained with funny lyrics and entertaining actions? Our time of worship in our kids church services is not restricted to the music we play, but are we giving kids a chance to truly worship God when we play our music? If you would like some helpful resources and information on worship for kids – particularly worship music, then check out these links:

    Worship For Life

    Elements Kids Worship

    Hillsong Kids Worship

    Worship KidStyle

    There are tonnes more! Email qbkids@qb.com.au for more information on helping your kids and families worship God together 🙂

  4. Playing For Keeps

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    Recently I was in the USA, specifically Louisville, Kentucky, and Nashville, Tennesee for a children’s ministry conference called CM CONNECT conference. (Check out CM Connect here: cmconnect.org). It became abundantly clear to me that God was calling us to prioritise reaching families, specifically parents, to help them disciple their children.

    Sunday school teachers (or kids church ministry leaders) have on average, 1-2 hours a week with our kids. Families have the rest. A lot can happen in a week. Here’s a quote from my favourite book at the moment, Playing for Keeps by Reggie Joiner & Kristen Ivy.

    Several years ago, we handed out jars of marbles to parents and to leaders who work with kids and teenagers. There were 936 marbles in each jar. 936 is the estimated number of weeks between birth and high school graduation. Parents and leaders were challenged to reduce the number of marbles in the jar to match the actual number of weeks they had left with each child. Then they were given a simple assignment: Remove one marble each week. Over time, the practice of losing marbles had a strange effect. It reminded them to value their time. It made each week matter a little more. It reinforced a simple principle: When you see how much time you have left, you tend to do more with the time you have now.

    “What are we doing with the time we have now? The reality is, children have a ‘best before’ date.”

    There comes a time when a child is no longer a child. And research indicates that once a child hits that date, they are no longer as open to the Gospel. 43% of all Americans who are Christians made decision to become a Christian before the age of 13, and 64% made the decision before the age of 18. Nine out of ten church leaders became Christians before they were 18. Evangelism is most effective amongst kids. (Check out the article here: https://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/5-barna-update/196-evangelism-is-most-effective-among-kids#.VUmdsFwRrVp) It is true that whatever we learn as a child affects us into adulthood. The good and the bad. Things we are intentional about teaching children, and things we aren’t. Our time is precious, and short. So are we really going to relinquish all the time we have to teach them about the Gospel to the one hour a week that their Sunday School teachers have? (Note: Sunday school teachers totally rock for dedicating their time and energy into this one hour, and if you see a Sunday school teacher, you should definitely hug them, or high-five them, or whatever is appropriate according to your child safety policy. Just appreciate them!)

    “The point is, if you are investing in a kid or teenager, you are already making history every week. The problem is, when you’re making history, you usually don’t know it…Let’s think about it another way. Most kids don’t know what you’re doing this week is going to be a formative part of their history. They are just kids. They only see “now”. To them you just… built a sandcastle. Took them to swim lessons. Played basketball in the driveway. Saw a movie. Ate some pizza… But you are an adult. You see yesterday, today and tomorrow. So you should know better. You should realise by being present in their life week after week in a variety of different ways, you are actually making HISTORY.”

    The QB Kids and their Families team is passionate about awakening parents and church leaders to their calling to impact children for the Gospel. We are passionate about not just running ‘Sunday School’ programs (seriously, who wants to be at school on a Sunday?!) but reaching our young people, who are the most receptive to the Gospel, for the Gospel. To raise a generation who know the importance of life-long faith, not just church attendance.

    So we need to equip families to disciple their kids. And we want to help you do that. Here is a really great list of places you can start to learn more about equipping families to be Gospel-centered in their homes. To be investing time into making history. To disciple their kids in the short time they have, so that ‘when they are old they will not depart from it.’ (Proverbs 22:6).

    Start here. Start now. And if you want to know more, email qbkids@qb.com.au.

    Two books you can read:

    • Playing For Keeps by Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy: orangebooks.com/books/playing-for-keeps-losing-your-marbles
    • Parenting Beyond Your Capacity: www.koorong.com/search/product/parenting-beyond-your-capacity-reggie-joiner-carey-nieuwhof/9781434764812.jhtml

     

    Or read access helpful resources here:

  5. Easter Resouces – The Best of the Best (And they’re FREE)

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     Easter is just around the corner, so I have rounded up my FAVOURITE FREE Easter resources, and posted links to them HERE IN THIS POST…

    It’s that WONDERFUL time of year we get to reflect on the cross, talk about the gospel, and how great Jesus is – on a national holiday! WOO!

    So here are some GREAT & FREE downloadable resources, I have researched my favourites, so HERE YOU GO! Take and use! And focus on what’s important this year at Easter!

    From LifeWay Kids (lifeway.com/kidsministry)

    • 3 Free LESSON PLANS, find them HERE: http://blog.lifeway.com/biblestudiesforlife/spring-2014-kids-grades-1-6-extra-helps-and-bonus-easter-sessions/

    o Jesus Triumphal Entry (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5atuxzpf5U)
    o Crucifixion and Resurrection (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKLoOm83pTg)
    o Jesus Gave Hope (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZfjiLK_17w)

    Find the Bible Story Videos for these weeks on Youtube^^

    • Additional colouring sheets here: http://www.lifeway.com/kidsministry/2014/04/11/free-easter-coloring-pages-2/
    • Additional activity sheets: http://www.lifeway.com/kidsministry/2014/03/28/free-easter-activity-pages/
    • Easy Easter Craft “Lamb Of God” http://www.lifeway.com/kidsministry/2014/04/14/easy-easter-craft-the-lamb-of-god-2/

    From What’s In the Bible (whatsinthebible.com)

    • “What is the Gospel?” video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uppjUEzOwOg
    • “Were You There?” Hymn video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tCMW5Fxtmo
    • What Is Easter? Colouring Page: http://whatsinthebible.com/activity-library/what-is-easter-cover-coloring-page/
    • Jesus is Risen Colouring Page: http://whatsinthebible.com/activity-library/jesus-risen-coloring-page/

    All resources are FREE to download, but check out both these websites for more resources to buy and use ALL YEAR round!
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    Footnotes: • http://www.lifeway.com/kidsministry/ AND http://whatsinthebible.com

    Post date: 18/03/2015Post Author: Sally Contessi

  6. IGNITE CONFERENCE 2015: HOW TO INNOVATE (in case you missed it)

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    What a day! IGNITE Children’s Ministry Conference and Expo is the annual training event for our leaders of children’s ministries, or for anyone who wants to be empowered to disciple kids…

    Ignite gathers children’s ministry workers of all denominations across our state, and brings them together to hear inspiring key note speakers, empowering electives, as well as encourage attendees and leaders alike that we really are working together to make disciples of children in our homes, churches, schools and communities.

    Over 700 people attended Ignite this year– each year us Baptists take up the greatest cohort of these delegates, and it is such a great time to connect with each other, encourage each other and learn from each other.

    The theme of Ignite this year was INNOVATE. The dictionary defines it like this:

    “to introduce something new; make changes in anything established.”

    Change is hard! New ideas don’t always come easily! But in today’s ever-changing culture, we were reminded that it is important to stay relevant. Our key note speaker, David Wakerley, Kids Pastor at Hillsong church innovator-extraordinaire said, “Being relevant to kids means being where the kids are. If the kids are into video games, or whatever it is, that’s where we’ve got to be, because if we aren’t there, someone else will be.” It was a great challenge to our leaders and kids’ workers – are we meeting the kids where they are? Are we being innovative?

    I’ve talked before about the greatness of Generation Z. They are ‘doers’. They don’t just want to sit on the sidelines of life and learn by observation, they want to be involved, giving it a go, and getting their hands dirty. Research states, “Typical training style preferred by Gen Z is interactive and multi-modal, while their key communication tools involve hands on learning and participation. Their leadership style is through consensus and feelers, their influences and values are global and short-term wants, while their management approach is involving and revolving around the statement ‘here’s what I think’.”(generationz.com.au) So to keep up with this active, involved, ‘here’s what I think’ generation, we need to be constantly innovating new and engaging ways to involve kids in our ministries. Jesus literally placed a child ‘in their midst’ when He was teaching His disciples (Matthew 18:2). This was astounding in Jesus’ time! No one looked to children as ‘the greatest in the Kingdom’ – they were the ‘least’ ! Surely Jesus is the greatest example we have for being innovative – His teachings turned things upside down! So how can we be ‘innovative’ and ‘challenging’ in our own culture, as Jesus was, to be engaging this generation of movers and shakers?

    To be innovative like Jesus, we need to see kids in the light that Jesus did. Literally, “in our midst.” There are kids in our homes, kids in our streets, kids in our schools, kids in our churches, kids in our communities, kids everywhere. They are in our midst. And they all want to be involved. If we are going to be making any kind of difference, if we are going to try and innovate a way to reach kids for the gospel, we need to find a way to get them involved. Moving their faith from head-knowledge, to heart-felt faith and then seeing their hands move into action. If we are going to be relevant and reach kids of Generation Z, we need to involve them!

    We need to focus on making disciples who are making disciples. We need to communicate to kids that we don’t just ‘cater’ for them at church, but that they are vital members of our church and that they can be involved in the church’s mission. Michelle Anthony, author of “Dreaming of More for the Next Generation” says we can teach kids… “how to look like a Christian in 10 easy steps…because good behavior looks so much like faith on the outside. The children look well-mannered, they go to church, they bring their Bibles, they memorize their verses, they say they’re sorry when they’ve hurt someone, they may go on mission trips, they may give some money as an offering, and they participate in selfless acts of kindness. When we’ve taught them these things, it’s tempting for us to say to ourselves, “Good job! Look how spiritual my child is!””. But Jesus doesn’t kids to look like Christians. He wants us to make disciples, who make disciples.

    When we are discipling kids, we want to give them opportunities to put their faith into action – to do great things! To see them leading each other in worship, talking to their friends about the gospel, welcoming people to church, serving other kids and adults in the church and community- this is the goal of discipleship! To see heartfelt, passionate faith in action, to see disciples of Jesus make disciples! Kids today are asking for the opportunity, so let’s give them the chance to be involved. Let’s be innovative enough to foster a culture that not only teaches children to serve others, but also gives them a chance to do that. When Jesus was speaking to His disciples about going on to make disciples of all nations, He told them they would go on to do greater things than He! Jesus gave opportunities for His disciples to not just serve others, but set them up to do them greatly! (John 14:12.) This means giving kids opportunities to serve, the responsibility to lead, and the authority to have influence for the work of the gospel. It’s time for us to step up and be innovative. To “introduce something new; make changes in anything established.” If we truly want to see children as disciples of Jesus, let’s make disciples who are equipped and empowered to make disciples. They are ready. Are we?

    “Many things can wait. Children cannot. Right now their bones are being formed, their blood is being made, and their senses are being developed. To them we cannot answer “Tomorrow.” Their name is Today.” Gabriela Mistral, – Their name is Today

  7. Kidshaper Conference – Retrospect #2

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    Ps Wayne Alcorn preached on leadership. He’s the national leader of ACC churches, and he spoke on how leaders can build something of worth. We take a look at Nehemiah here, a guy who did a lot of building, and a lot of leading. Nehemiah was moved to lead out of the passion He had for God and His people. In Ps Wayne’s words, Nehemiah prayed, got a team together and got building. What a great way to start!

    Ps Wayne was clear: when we are used by Jesus to start building something great for God’s Kingdom, the devil will hate it. He will want to attack and to interrupt and break down what is giving Glory to God. You can bet if what you are building is pointing to Jesus, that the devil wants to tear it down. And we see this in Nehemiah. His enemies come in at chapter 2, verse 19 specifically. Have a read of what they say. Throughout the book Nehemiah is interrupted by his enemies, trying to break down what Nehemiah is trying to build, because they know it will be great. Here are some of the ways we as leaders can be broken down, when we start to honour God.

    We start to believe our enemy’s lies:
    1. 2:19 “…’what is it you are doing?’ they asked, “Are you rebelling against the king?’” We can be broken down by this lie from our enemy: We are doing the wrong thing. The objective of this lie is to confuse us. Have you ever stopped and thought maybe what you’re doing is a horrible idea? Filled with doubt, confusion, the voices in your head tell you that what you’re doing is a bad idea, and that it won’t work. Don’t listen! If your vision is from God- go for it, and be faithful! Remember- every time the enemy tells you a lie – Holy Spirit has an answer! The best way to fight confusion is conviction. Hold tight to what God has convicted you of, and keep building! Look to Nehemiah’s conviction: “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding…” If it is God’s will for your ministry to spread His gospel and bring Him glory – you can bet that it will!

    2. 4:3 “… ’What they are building- even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!” The second lie leaders who are building for God hear is, “You aren’t good enough, and you will fail.” The objective of this lie is to belittle you. But Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Christ Jesus created us, and God prepared our works. We don’t need to worry about being good enough- our God is more than good, and it on Him who we rely! Don’t listen to this lie- you are never asked to be ‘good enough’ –only to surrender to Jesus! It is a relief to be reminded that it is God’s ministry, God’s church, and God’s people – and He will see it built to HIS desires – despite how ‘good’ we are at building. How often do we see God use very, very ordinary, underqualified people to do His work throughout the Bible!

    3. 6:11 “Wherever you turn, they will attack us,” The Jews began to fear their enemies; they started to believe that their enemies were stronger than their God. Lie number 3 is “you’re going to suffer and God won’t look after you”, and the objective here is to discourage you. How many times in ministry have we thought God was calling us to something, but the thought of failure, or the idea of having to sacrifice for it was too much? When God calls you to something, you can be sure He will carry you through it. He carries us through trials and storms daily, and He wants us to fully rely on Him, not to fear our enemies, or things that could hurt us along the way. Nehemiah encouraged the Israelites to “walk in the fear of our God…” not our enemies! What we focus on really does affect us – so don’t focus on the fear, focus on Jesus. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

    4. The fourth and final lie leaders believe: “we should make a deal.” The objective here is to make you COMPROMISE. I put this in capitals because SO many great leaders have fallen down and believed this lie. Do not be tempted to compromise your integrity! Jesus was told this lie by the devil in the desert, and Nehemiah was asked to compromise his vision too. 6:2 “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plains of Ono.” But Nehemiah knew that it was a scam from his enemies. Look at his reply, “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down…” Nehemiah was assured that God had given him a task, and would not compromise and consult with his enemies. Sometimes we are offered a choice to compromise what we are doing. The compromise can be attractive; it can make our task look easier, more appealing and even more efficient. But when leaders compromise, it helps no one. When we compromise on our own standards, and fall into sin, we are serving ourselves. And a leader who is seeking to serve themself cannot point others to Jesus. When we are faced with compromise, we can respond like Nehemiah. “I am carrying on a great project and I cannot go down…” We can look to Jesus, and how He responded; “For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord and serve Him only.’” Like Jesus, and Nehemiah, we are to serve the Lord, not ourselves, and when we don’t give into this lie, and focus on Jesus and not on how to build something that glorifies ourselves, we can be used by God to reach many people for Him.

    The lies that leaders believe that Ps Wayne outlined are, I’m sure, familiar to all of us. But as Barry Newton, aka Squirt the Clown, told us at the conference: “the most effective lie the devil uses to bring us down, is that you are all on your own.” This lie makes us all feel as if we are the only ones who have self-doubts, gets discouraged, is tempted, and gets confused. But it’s not true! We are serving Jesus in a family, as a team, with Christ as the head. And we were never intended to feel isolated! And Jesus has equipped those he calls to serve, with weapons to fight these lies. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” This passage says ‘we’. That means we should never feel as if we are fighting these lies alone. We have unity in Christ to work together to spread His gospel, and extend His kingdom. Don’t believe the lies of the enemy. You have been called into leadership to make a difference for the kingdom, and Jesus will equip you with people, and with whatever you need. Have courage to build something of worth, for the kingdom, not just a ministry that looks good from the outside.
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    Footnotes: http://acckids.org.auFor more information on Kidshaper conference, or ACC Kids, have a look at their fantastic website full of training and resources!!

    Post date: 01/09/2014Post Author: Sally Contessi

  8. Kidshaper Conference – Retrospect #1

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    After being away at Kidshaper Conference, I feel God has given me a fresh vision and zeal for serving the churches and families that I work with. I have taken some time to write what I have learnt at Kidshaper, and hopefully encourage you too!

    August is my favourite month for 3 reasons. It’s cold – I love winter, it’s my birthday month (hooray!) and Kidshaper conference. It’s an amazing conference by the ACC Kids ministry, and it leaves me refreshed, encouraged and inspired to run this race of reaching kids for Jesus with zeal!

    As a result of my time away at the conference, I feel like God has refreshed and renewed my vision for reaching these kids and families, and so I thought I would share why, and a little bit of what I have learnt in the last week after spending time with great leaders and other like-minded, fiery, passionate advocates for the littlest members of our society.

    Lesson 1 – Andy Kirk: Matthew 7:24-27
    First of all, the conference was themed around “Building something of Worth.” I was challenged to go beyond just building a great children’s ministry that looks great on the outside- fun, colourful, attractive- with all the bits and bobs we so know and love about kids ministry (You know what I mean; the team t-shirts, the state of the art audio-visual gear, the colourful banners and upbeat music), and to build something that truly meets children where they are and teaches them the gospel. God’s crazy love for the ones He sent His son. I was encouraged by Andy Kirk, national leader of Acc Kids, to start by building a good foundation. He challenged me to assess first my own walk with Christ, and ensure it was truly my foundation for ministry. If I try to achieve anything in ministry asides from what is built firmly on the rock of Christ, in troubled times and the storms of life- what I have built will wash away. He spoke of 2 signs that show us our foundation is not on Christ but on ourselves:

    1. You are hearing what you want to hear, not what you need to hear. How many times in ministry have “we really felt” that God was calling us to something, and gone ahead with it based on our own desires. We build a foundation based on what we desire instead of waiting on God’s direction. We may even ask ten people for wise advice, and instead of listening to the 8 wise people who told us to wait on God and not go that direction, we take the 2 peoples’ advice we like and move ahead anyway. We find Bible verses that back up what we want to do rather than wait on God to speak. Certainly God calls us for action and faith despite our circumstances sometimes, but more often He guides us through His Word and our Godly peers what direction we should take. But when we are so set on building our own empire, we base our foundation on whatever suits us best! Building on the rock of Christ will always be a solid foundation, rather than on our sandy foolishness. When we make decisions for the direction of our ministry to children, do we make them based on what Christ has asked? Or do we base them on what we want to do for ourselves? It’s a hard question, but it’s worth asking!

    2. You are focusing on the storm. When you have a firm foundation under your feet, you don’t fear the storm. In a large house, with a strong foundation, you may hear the storm, hear the wind rattle the windows, and even see the lightning, but you don’t fear the storm because you know you are safe in your home. If you pitch a tent in the sand, a storm is sure to scare you, and you will listen for every wave of wind and crack of thunder. We start to ‘fix’ things ourselves: a poorly constructed tarpaulin here, a few extra pegs there. It’s a haphazard job, and given a big enough storm, no matter how great the ‘fixits’ are, the tent will wash away. When we are firmly and definitely founded on Christ, no matter what comes our way, we don’t fear the storm, we can weather it. We are not moved because we are assured that God has called us to where we are in that moment. If you are focusing on the storm, on the trouble around you, it may be worth asking, am I worried because my foundation isn’t strong enough? You are not strong enough to base your whole ministry on, only Christ can be the foundation for our ministry, all other attempts to build something of worth are futile.

    Don’t wait for your house to crumble around you before you assess your foundation! Take time to inspect the direction you are heading in, and maybe realign your vision with what Jesus has actually asked of you! What a relief to know that the weight doesn’t need to rest on us, but that Jesus asks us to cast everything onto Him. There is freedom in that!
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    Footnotes: http://acckids.org.auFor more information on Kidshaper conference, or ACC Kids, have a look at their fantastic website full of training and resources!!

    Post date: 01/09/2014Post Author: Sally Contessi

  9. Generation Z: The Movers and the Shakers

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    “the most connected, educated and sophisticated generation ever…They are the up-agers, with influence beyond their years. They are the tweens, the teens, the youth and young adults of our global society. They are the early adopters, the brand influencers, the social media drivers, the pop-culture leaders. They comprise nearly 2 billion people globally, and they don’t just represent the future, they represent they’re creating it.”

    Sunday mornings are the highlight of my week. Particularly the chunk of time between 930 and 1130am. Like all good times, it flies by, but I do my best to let myself really take it all in, because this chunk of time contains some of my most precious memories. Not only is it the culmination of a whole week’s hard work coming together in one great, big, loud, messy, crazy mash-up of bible teaching and worship (and craft sometimes)– but it is also the time I get to spend listening to the kids and hang out with them –hearing about their weeks and what they got up to.

    My absolute favourite thing to do with the kids is to ask them to tell me the biggest thing that happened to them over the last week. Sometimes the answers are tough, like, “We had to throw dirt on Poppy’s ‘coffum’ and Daddy cried,” or “I got left at school because mummy forgot me,” , and sometimes its something great like, “I got to ride in Nana’s car and eat fish and chips,” or “I stayed up until ten o’clock last night,” and “Dad only fast-forwarded one scene in the whole Star Wars movie and I watched all the rest and wasn’t scared.” I love hearing these stories because it reminds me that children’s worlds are made up of entirely different moments than mine. I hardly ever stop to appreciate riding in my nana’s car as the pivotal moment in my week, and if my dad fast-forwarded a scene in my movie I’d kindly ask him to stop sitting on the remote. But kids see things in an incredibly different way to adults- things that we adults so often don’t even notice can be incredible learning moments in children’s lives, and if we don’t stop to ask them what they are or how they feel, we can miss a chance to discuss their biggest hopes, fears, dreams and thoughts. My favourite thing to do with kids is simply listen to them, because they aren’t limited in what they will tell you by what they think you might want to hear. They simply tell you what’s on their mind and it’s beautiful.

    The current generation aged 4-18 right now is known as ‘Generation Z’. According to research, globally there are 2 billion of them, and they are known as

    the most connected, educated and sophisticated generation ever…They are the up-agers, with influence beyond their years. They are the tweens, the teens, the youth and young adults of our global society. They are the early adopters, the brand influencers, the social media drivers, the pop-culture leaders. They comprise nearly 2 billion people globally, and they don’t just represent the future, they’re creating it.”

    This generation is consistently being told by society, media, their families and each other that they can take on the world. That it is just waiting for them to step up and change it, and that they have the power to do so. And they believe it. Children of today don’t just watch things happen, they make things happen. Take ‘planking’, for example. One person, one time, decided it was funny to lie on something precarious, and before we knew it, planking was a fad, and every young person was trying to find something more precarious than the last to lie on and upload it to Youtube/Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat. Say what you want about the ‘bubble wrapped’ generation – the kids of today know how to make things happen. They are the ‘movers and the shakers’ of culture today.

    Consider the impact of that fact. A lot of people will look at Generation Z and write them off as ‘reckless’ young people (YOLO) who have ‘no regard for authority’ and are ‘entitled’ and ‘spend all their time looking at screens’. But they are so much more than this. These kids, on average, actually do use technology up to 10 hours a day. They average over 5 billion searches on google 4 billion on youtube each day. These kids are connected, and aware, and involved. It is estimated that 1 in 2 Generation Z kids will have a university education in their life time, work 17 jobs and live in 15 homes. They are a generation of ‘try and see for ourselves’ and have emphasis on the ‘why and how’ of processes in their world, rather than the ‘what’. They are a generation ready to take on any cause they are passionate about, and WE are the ones called to help them see what is worthy of that passion.

    The leaders and influencers of Generation Z have a big job. God calls those who lead to ‘train up’ and ‘instruct’ the children in our lives. If this generation is truly going to rise up and change the world – if they really are the most connected, educated and sophisticated of all generations so far- then we need to be equipping them for what lies ahead. And the best way to do that is with the Gospel. The children of our world are showing us they are ready to stand for what they believe in – so what are we teaching them to believe?

    We need to be intentional about equipping the young people of this world about the Gospel. About it’s power, God’s grace, Jesus radical ways and His passionate love and grace. These are the things that Generation Z can hold on to and use their connections to share. If we are intentional about equipping children with the Gospel of Christ now – then the influence they have on this world will be for Jesus. Imagine the impact they could have on the world if they knew that this world is not about them – but about Jesus, and that their cause is to spread His gospel, and His grace. The time to start showing them is now. We need to show children that the only cause truly worth ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ about is Jesus Christ. If the children of this world truly do have the power to change it – then lets see it changed so that it is truly ‘on Earth as it is in Heaven’. Jesus taught radical changes when He came to earth, and equipping the generation of children today with these lessons can have an incredible impact on our world.

    Next time you have the chance to listen to a child tell you about the biggest thing in their week – take the time to invest in them by listening to what they have to say. When we show our interest in their lives and in their big moments, they will begin to trust us enough to listen to what we have to teach them. And when we teach them the Gospel and equip them with the gripping truth of the Gospel, we will really see the ‘movers and the shakers’ make their mark on this world for the better.All research and statistics courtesy of mccrindle.com.au and generationz.com.au
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    Footnotes: http://generationz.com.auGenerationZ.com.au is an initiative of McCrindle. Here at McCrindle we have a passion for making research and data accessible and user-friendly.

    Post date: 23/06/2014Post Author: Sally Contessi

  10. KidsHope Australia: Strength and Flex

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    Wendy Jarrott-Smith’s role with the KIDS HOPE AUS Mentoring Program, is to assist churches in building a quality partnership with their local school, in the provision of Mentors for vulnerable children. At the present time, there are nearly 400 school-church partnerships, under the umbrella of KIDS HOPE AUS, across Australia, with approximately 4000 children being mentored each week

    Anyone who has lived in a ‘pole house’, as our family did for five years, will tell you about ‘the flex’. ‘The flex’ can be quite disconcerting when you first experience it. You know in your head, that the long poles, which are so prominent in this type of architecture, are driven down into bedrock (often to a depth of three metres or so), providing not only a unique appearance, but a high degree of strength. However, while the poles’ fixture in the bedrock provides the ‘hidden’ strength to support the structure, the towering poles above the ground, also have another quality – ‘flex’. This is what provides the experience of ‘sway’ and what makes pole houses so perfect for withstanding cyclonic winds. Cyclone-rated houses need to have just the right balance of strength and flexibility. If their construction is too rigid, they will fall heavily; and if too flimsy, they will literally be blown apart.

    How like life this is.
    How do we prepare for the storms of life which are thrown at us? More than that, how do we help the children, whom we minister to in our communities, to be ready to face all that life throws at them? For many of these precious children in our children’s clubs and Boy’s Brigades; Sunday Schools and R. E. classes; Children’s camps and KIDS HOPE AUS Programs…….everyday life may be like living inside a cyclone. Some have been forced to grow up too quickly, to witness violence and anger. Some may have been bullied, or have had to face circumstances which have left them feeling helpless and alone. Some may have become bitter and hardened by experiencing abuse or knowing what it feels like to be unwanted. Life has truly buffeted them.
    So how do we help these precious young people in our communities and churches, to be resilient in the face of all of this?

    We can build their ‘strength’ by:

    • Being a trustworthy adult in their lives
    • Listening attentively to them, and praying for their specific needs
    • Explicitly describing to them the strength and qualities we see in them
    • Taking care to remember facts about their lives that are important to them
    • Giving them the opportunity to have choices

    We can build their ‘flexibility’ by:

    • Reminding children they have options in how they respond to negative situations
    • Helping them see how YOU may handle difficulties or failure
    • Providing opportunities to take risks or to be courageous
    • Developing humour and positivity in our relationship with them
    • Giving them opportunities to make ‘real’ contributions to someone else

    One of my favourite quotes about parenting, which equally applies to our ministry with children, says,
    “The most precious gift we can give to our children is roots and wings”.
    No matter the ‘what’ or the ‘where’ of our ministry to children, those of us called to walk a little of life’s journey with them, can also give children roots and wings………and strength and flex……. as week to week we pray for them; be Jesus’ hands and feet to them; and spend time with them, helping them to stand strong through the storms of their world.
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    Footnotes: http://www.worldvision.com.au/kidshopeWendy Jarrott-Smith’s role with the KIDS HOPE AUS Mentoring Program, is to assist churches in building a quality partnership with their local school, in the provision of Mentors for vulnerable children. At the present time, there are nearly 400 school-church partnerships, under the umbrella of KIDS HOPE AUS, across Australia, with approximately 4000 children being mentored each week.
    For more information about this vital work please contact Wendy on:
    0428 566 638 or wendy.jarrott-smith@worldvision.com.au or go to

    Post date: 16/06/2014Post Author: Sally Contessi

  11. What is “fruit that will last” ?

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    A question I am often asked about children’s ministry is “what program do you use for your ministry?”. 

    As the end of the year comes up quickly I am already looking at what programs are available for 2014. There is a smorgasbord of children’s ministry programs available, all fun, vibrant and informative. The choice is tough, because I want to choose one that is equally as fun as it is engaging with the Bible. I want kids who attend our church to know that Jesus is King and Saviour- but I also want them to have fun while they learn. There are so many programs available, I find myself asking what makes one program better than the rest; which would “grow more fruit” than the others.

    But what does it mean to have children ‘grow fruit’? How do you measure the spiritual ‘fruit’ of a child? How do you know when the lesson you’ve taught them has sunk from head to heart? James 2:17 tells us that faith without works is dead. When children start to use their hands to demonstrate what they know in their heart, then we can see real ‘fruit’. But what is this ‘fruit’? Is it love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, as in Galatians chapter 5? Is it telling others about Jesus like He says in John 15? How do we know that what we are teaching will last?

    Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Yet statistics in Australia are telling us that once a child becomes an adolescent, they are much less likely to stay at church, and more often than not, leave church altogether. So what is this ‘fruit’ that will last and what do we teach that they ‘will not depart from it,’?

    While many children’s programs and lessons are vibrant, fun and informative, we often unintentionally measure their ‘fruit’ or effectiveness by how much Bible knowledge or moral conscience children have. But knowledge of how many colours in the rainbow in the story of Noah is not enough. Knowing the difference between a ‘whale’ and a ‘big fish’ in the story of Jonah is helpful, but not life-changing. Even memorizing Bible verses each week is ineffective if children have no idea why they are learning them. In a world where children know that there are ten commandments, but don’t know why God’s people were given them, and when children know that Zaccheus was short but not that Jesus forgave his sins, faith becomes little more than head knowledge. In that world, blessings become ‘gold stars’ that God ‘gives’ to ‘good people’ and sin is something that only ‘bad people’ do. There is no need for Jesus in that world – and that is not what we desire. In fact, we desire the opposite.

    We want children to know God. We want them to know that he made the rainbow as a promise to Noah, because God is good and His glory is magnificent. We want children to know that Jonah was swallowed by a ‘big fish’ in an act of undeserved grace by our loving heavenly Father. We want them to know the Bible. But more than that, we want them to know Jesus. Personally and authentically, for themselves. We want to see kids bringing their friends to church because they want them to hear about God’s love. We want to see kids praying for their world because they see the need for Jesus around them. We want to see them worshipping God in song because they are overwhelmed with the grace He has shown them. This is the fruit we strive for. Whether we talk about the ‘fruit’ of the Spirit in Galatians or the ‘fruit’ that is telling people about Jesus, children will only move from head-knowledge to heart-felt action when they are moved by God’s Holy Spirit.

    We are blessed to be able to partner with Him in this ministry. We get to see the Holy Spirit grow ‘fruit’ in children when we cease to try to do it ourselves with only programs. The best way we can make a real difference in the lives of children is to be like Him ourselves. Our love for Jesus should be so obvious in our ministry to children that they want it for themselves. If we want to see children grow ‘fruit’ and have faith that will last – it needs to start in our own lives.

    -If we want to see children passionate for Jesus Christ, we need to be passionate for Jesus Christ. (Be an example)
    -If we want to see children telling others about God’s love, we must tell others about God’s love. (Be an example)
    -If we want to see children praying to their Heavenly Father in all circumstances, first, guess what? We must pray often and with them! (Be an example)

    Fruit that will last stems from a heartfelt passion for Jesus – and that overflows into others’ lives. Children will want to tell their friends about Jesus love when they experience it for themselves. They won’t want to memorise bible verses to win prizes, they’ll be doing it so they can tell their friends at school. Our programs and intentions can be wonderful, but if they aren’t pointing kids directly to the source of the wonder, they aren’t worth the time it takes to photocopy. We need children transformed by Jesus’ love, and they will see this love when we show them what it looks like.
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    Post date: 16/04/2014Post Author: Sally Contessi