Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Missions Q & A (part 3)

Q.  What is the hardest thing that you face as a family?
A.  The schooling issue has been ugly for us since the beginning. We finally feel we're in a good place (educationally). The cultural adjustment was tough as well.

Let me finish by saying, if you feel like God will allow you to do anything else... do it. Missions work isn't easy... at times your family pays a very high price. Also, see our “Thoughts for Beginning Missionaries” articles on our website Free Materials / Missions section for more advice.

Missions Q & A (part 2)

Q. When is it the hardest to not be home?
A.  Right now...Robin's dad's not doing well and her mom needs help with some things. When Grandparents die, family and friends have problems, etc... it's pretty tough being so far away.

Q.  When you left for the field did you have a plan of when you might return home?
A.  Well... that's up in the air. We don't really have a re-entry plan. We know a lot of people that have come and gone. But we feel it's better to follow what you feel God is calling you to do than to live a safe life. Besides, our thinking was that if it didn't work out, we would just move back to the USA and start over. Making a mistake isn't the end of the world, although it really stinks.

Q.  Did you keep your house here for awhile?
A.  Nope... God told us to sell everything.

Q.  What made you feel like that you and your family really had something to give?
A.  We had years of experience at that point... we've always felt as if God called us to something, He knew what He was doing.

Missions Q & A (part 1)

We just received a list of questions on our Facebook page from a friend of ours.  This person is considering going into full-time missionary work.  I thought our answers could be a benefit to others considering missions or those that wonder what life on the mission field is like.  Enjoy! - JP

Q.  So how long have you been on the field?
A.  We've been here about 7 1/2 yrs now.

Q. What was the "call" that made it a final decision? In other words what made you say ok now is the time?
A.  We had been invited to speak at RHEMA Germany and were praying for our trip when God interrupted my prayer time with a booming "voice that isn't a voice" in my heart. He said, "Don't just prepare to go for a week... prepare to move your family there." After a week or so, Robin knew it too. We felt as if Oct, 2001 was the right time to go. We left three weeks after 9/11.

Q.  What made you choose Germany?
A.  Our call was specific. We knew we were to go to Bonn and help RHEMA Germany to start out.

Q.  Were there attacks to keep you home?
A.  Not any major ones that we can think of... there were some financial issues, but God really came through for us.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Thoughts on Children’s Ministry (part 13)


When the parents of each child come to pick them up, have something positive to say about what their child did in the service that day. It’s a good idea to have the main leaders to be the contact person with the parents. It’s also a good idea to keep the parents informed of what the kids are learning…either in a small newsletter every month, a blackboard at the door that states the theme or main story or maybe a small slip of paper every week. Invite the child – by name – to come back next week, and remind them of something fun they did this week.

Thoughts on Children’s Ministry (part 12)

Also, touch the children every chance you get. It’s so sad that I feel the need to clarify this statement. Because of some sick people out there in the world, we have to clarify good and bad touches. Give the children hugs….a lot! The older the children are, the more careful you need to be about giving hugs to the other sex. Let the women hug the girls and the men hug the boys.

This is another one of the reasons that you are to always have at least two people in each of the children’s church rooms. In they eyes of the public, there is no difference between an accused child molester and a real child molester. Churches never recover from accusations, whether they are true or not. So never let there even be a question…never be alone with a child. Adults should not go into the bathroom with any child. If a child isn’t fully potty trained, he/she needs to be in the nursery.

Thoughts on Children’s Ministry (part 11)

If you are a helper, actively look for ways to help the children’s pastor. If you see that his/her attention is being taken by a child that needs ministry, you take some initiative and get a snack ready or begin a game. Always come to the service with a game in mind… preferably one that doesn’t need props. If you see a child that is misbehaving, you go sit right next to them and lovingly put your arm around them.

Always, always, always listen to a child that is telling you something. You may have 20 things that need to be done, but please remember that this child is your ministry! Don’t overlook the ones to whom you are sent, in the name of doing “ministry.” What they are saying may be something completely trivial to you, but to them it is important and sacred enough to share with the leader. Pray for the children every chance you get. If they ask you to pray for something, do it right then.

Thoughts on Children’s Ministry (part 10)


Many of us are overcommitted, overworked and just plain worn out on Sunday mornings. On a “free” day, sometimes ministry is the last thing we want to do. But, that’s when we have to make a choice.
Many of the Psalms say, “I will rejoice and be glad in Him”. We have to decide: will we just “go with the flow”, just getting by… or will we “be present”, ministering to the kids on purpose? We need to come to church having already prayed for the children and the service. We need to come early. There is nothing worse than a leadership team that shows up just in time for the service to start. The whole team needs to be there far enough in advance to be adequately prepared and “on the same page.”

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thoughts on Children’s Ministry (part 9)

I remember a little boy in one of the churches that where we worked. He was basically uncontrollable. He was called out in front of the other children many times each Sunday morning. He was “talked to,” held back, put in time out and everything else that the workers could think of. But I came in and decided to make him my special buddy. Each week I would let him know how excited I was to see him. I sat next to him during every activity possible. I constantly told him how glad I was that he was in children’s church.

I made up things for him to do and called them my “special tasks” that only he was qualified to do. I made up a special nickname for him. I didn’t do any of this to where it was very obvious to the other children (because I didn’t want them to feel that they weren’t getting the “special” treatment). Remember that people normally like people who like them. It was so simple, but he responded just as I thought he would. He would sit still for me when he wouldn’t do it for any of the other leaders. And he ended up giving his heart to Christ!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thoughts on Children’s Ministry (part 8)


All children, and all people for that matter, have the same basic desires, one of which is to feel wanted and loved. Some children experience very little security and encouragement at home. Their everyday environment is critical and discouraging, both in their schools and in their homes. Having served as both substitute and guest teachers in different classrooms in over a dozen different schools here in Germany, we’ve found that often the students are emotionally bullied and belittled by their teachers so that the teacher can maintain order.

Every child deserves to have at least one adult in their life that adores them unconditionally… one person that lights up when they walk into the room (every time they walk in the room). Since we don’t know if they get this acceptance at home, and they probably don’t get it at school, we have an opportunity to show the love of Jesus in a very simple yet profound way. When a child walks into the children’s church room, make sure that the look on your face is one of delight. They need to hear that you are so glad to see them. They need to hear their name spoken in a loving manner.
For those two hours, they are the star (not you)! Believe me, when you make them the star, you will be amazed at how much they will love you and do anything you ask. They want to feel needed.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thoughts on Children’s Ministry (part 7)

If redirecting doesn’t work, try taking the child aside later and honestly asking him/her what is going on in his/her life. Make sure that you really “hear” what the child is saying.

If you try everything positive in your arsenal and nothing works, take them to sit next to their parent in the main service (at an appropriate time during your service). Tell the parent that you would like for their child to have the opportunity to experience church with the parent for the next two weeks. Make this as positive of an experience as you can. (If you have to talk with the parents… but ONLY the main children’s pastor or leader should do the talking. Let the parents know the situation in the most positive way that you can. If necessary, wait until after the service to speak with the parents.)

*This may be the only opportunity that these children have to experience Jesus. You don’t know if you’ll ever see the child in one of your services again. There are so many bad experiences that children have to deal with…make sure that you and your team are providing good experiences. You represent Jesus to them. No matter how difficult a child is, you can put up with anything for a couple of hours!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thoughts on Children’s Ministry (part 6)

So what should you do when you have a disobedient or distracting child? First, distract (redirect) them with something interesting that you are doing. You should have other leaders in the room with you for many reasons. One is that they can refocus the student on the task at hand so you won’t have to stop ministering to the group to correct them. We have also seen teachers that ask questions (pertaining to the teaching) of the student that is causing the distraction as a way of recapturing their attention.

Thoughts on Children’s Ministry (part 5)


Some children’s ministers and leaders (I don’t like the word “workers” here because they are so much more than that) are overly concerned about discipline. Because children are… well… children, there will be times that they need to be corrected. But there are quite a few constructive ways of accomplishing this.

You should always avoid calling out a child in front of the other children for discipline reasons. This is extremely embarrassing for them. To me, it seems strange to even have to mention this, but we’ve seen this disturbing scene played out over and over again in children’s ministries.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Thoughts on Children’s Ministry (part 4)


The more you keep the attention of the children, the less you will have to correct them. Please remember this important rule: children only have the attention span of their age plus one. That means if you are working with 8 year olds, you only have their attention for 9 minutes, then you should go on to something else. This means you need to teach toward the attention span of the youngest ones in the class.

For example: If you usually have 20 minutes of music and you are ministering to 10 year olds, you should break up the music into two different times of 10 minutes each. You could possibly teach in between for 10 minutes and then go back into the music. It is not necessary or advantageous to make children sit there and listen to a teaching time for 30 minutes. You usually lose them after the first 10 minutes. If you are very creative (using props, songs, drama, puppets) then you may be able to extend the attention span time by a minute or two. But as a rule, 20 minutes is the most that you should do any segment of a children’s service.

Thoughts on Children’s Ministry (part 3)


This is one of the most important parts of children’s ministry. When a child comes in the door, whether they are new or already established there, he/she needs to be greeted and walked over to the first activity/activities. The facilitator’s job is to ensure that all the kids are engaged and involved. If they see a child standing by his- or herself and only watching, they should encourage him/her to get involved (if necessary, taking him/her to one of the activities and helping him/her integrate into the group).

The child will determine whether they enjoy your ministry in the first minute or so of walking in that door! If you make a bad first impression, it may take the entire service to win them back…if they can be won back at all at that point. And if they don’t want to return, their parents probably won’t either.

Thoughts on Children’s Ministry (part 2)


The first person that you will meet at any children’s ministry is the one standing at the door. Hence, if you don’t have a children’s “greeter”, get one! Maybe more importantly, the one who greets at the main entrance of the church should physically walk the newcomers to the children’s ministry greeter. Then, the children’s ministry greeter must “actively” engage the child and the parent (with a conversation, handshake, smile, etc.).

A simple example is, “Hello my name is Robin, what’s your name?” Once you hear the child’s name, say it back to him/her at least twice. “Hi, Amanda, I’m glad to meet you. Amanda, do you go to school near here?” Then, introduce Amanda to at least two other people while you tell them something about her. “This is Amanda, she goes to Roberts School”. This helps you and the others to learn his/her name, and it allows them to hear their name spoken in a loving manner. You can never go wrong asking questions (people generally love to talk about themselves).

Thoughts on Children’s Ministry (part 1)

(This series of blogs was written by Robin…)
This is the first time that our family has had the choice of which church that we want to attend. We have been on staff at churches since my husband and I were married 16 years ago. So, it was kind of fun looking for a new “home” church. We wanted one that the whole family was happy with. This was more of a challenge than we first thought. We would find a church that Jon and I liked, but the kids were bored. Then we found one with great Praise and Worship but the preaching was dull. Then we found one that the kids liked, but they wouldn’t be taught correct doctrine and the worship was …well, not our style.

This is the reason that I wanted to write this article. When people are looking for a church, most of the time they are looking for something that their children like.

Some of the following ideas seem very simple to me, but as we were church hunting, you would be amazed at what we experienced…

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What do we stand for?

God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them! - John 3:17

I came across this a couple of days ago in my daily reading time. It reminded me of a quote from Eric Bryant. He said, “The Church is known for what it stands against rather than what it stands for.”

Think about that… the Church has the greatest message this world has ever known: God loves people and has done everything possible to bring people into a relationship with Him. And yet we have the reputation for being anti-this and anti-that. In our zeal for God’s holiness, we have held the world around us accountable to the same standard as we have for those inside the Church.

I think it’s time that, through our attitudes and actions, we reclaim God’s reputation as a loving, forgiving God. Yes, He’s a holy God. Yes, sin separates us from God. And yes, there will come a day when He judges the world.

But the Jesus I read about in the Gospels was welcomed by “sinners.” They seemed to enjoy His company. And He didn’t seem in the slightest put off by them or their “sinfulness.” It was the religious elite that didn’t like Him. He didn’t care for their “holier-than-thou” attitude either!

We need to remember that it’s His kindness that draws people into a relationship with Him…

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? – Romans 2:4

Let’s represent, or re-present Him to a world in desperate need of His love!