• Heartprints

    Reassuring Parents: What You Can Do

    “Linda” (not her real name) came to pick up her eighteen month old daughter from the church nursery one Sunday. She saw her daughter sitting in a swing watching Barney. The other children in the room were playing or looking at toys on their own while the workers sat in rocking chairs. Linda felt uncomfortable with the situation. Shouldn’t the workers be engaging the children more often?  What were they doing in the toddler room? Were they learning anything? She wondered if she should even expect a church’s nursery to have higher standards. How can you as a children’s minister or nursery director help alleviate Linda’s concerns? Encourage Linda to…

  • Heartprints

    To Pay or Not to Pay, That is the Question

    Whether or not to pay nursery workers to work on Sunday mornings is a minor controversy in children’s ministry. Many children’s ministries have volunteers working on Sunday mornings (and many of them struggle with having consistent volunteers). I have worked as both a paid nursery worker and an unpaid volunteer, so I believe I have some perspective from both ends. I’ll briefly review the pros and cons to each approach. The Church Nursery is Staffed by Volunteers Pros One less expense for the church, many are struggling. Gives believers in a local congregation an opportunity to serve in ministry Parents are more likely to know the workers, especially in a…

  • Heartprints

    Separation Anxiety and VBS

    Separation anxiety can appear in infants as early as six months and may continue through the child’s first year. This is a difficult time for parents, children and caregivers! But with patience, love and understanding, it too will pass. Remember, your VBS program is five days in length for one week (assuming you are following the traditional schedule). The infant or toddler’s enrollment in this program represents a deviation from the child’s normal schedule and routine. Couple this with the absence of his parent (or parents) and small wonder the infant or toddler cries in fear and frustration! How should VBS workers treat separation anxiety? I have a few suggestions.…

  • Heartprints

    VBS in the Nursery? Seriously?

    Some find the notion radical. Teach infants? Surely they would understand so little, if anything. Teach one year olds? Their attention span is so short that you couldn’t possibly teach a lesson. Teach wiggly, antsy, two year olds? It’s easier to herd cats.  Vacation Bible School (VBS) has a history of being radical. Eliza Hawes (who arguably pioneered the idea of VBS) begin a six-week summer program which included Bible stories, games, verse memorization, nature study, cooking, and sewing for underprivileged children in New York City. Unlike most Vacation Bible Schools held today, Hawes held her program in an unusual location–not in a church, not in a school, not in…

  • Heartprints

    Volunteers: The Next Generation

    A group of teenage girls from the youth group want to serve in your church nursery. “We love babies.” One of them assures you “and we babysit all the time!” You want to honor their desire to serve, but how can you best implement it wisely? You need to establish (if they are not in place already) a policy and procedure with regards to teenage volunteers. Sit down with your church’s youth pastor and ask for his or her input on which teenagers are most gifted with children. You can then establish limits on how often they volunteer (to encourage them to attend the church service and to have balanced…

  • Heartprints

    G.R.O.W.ing Volunteers

    Now you have volunteers. Great! So how do you keep and maintain them? How do you keep their passion for serving your children’s ministry burning? Make sure you are providing for the four inner needs of volunteers. Feed the volunteers’ needs. Most children’s pastors and nursery directors are incredibly attuned to the needs of their children and the needs of the children’s ministry staff; they may not always take time to consider the needs of the volunteers: Grace, Relationships, Ownership, and Worth or “GROW”. Grace: just as grace has been given to you and to the children in your ministry, grace has also been given to your volunteers.  One way…

  • Heartprints

    How Do You Solve a Problem Like Volunteerism?

    Many children’s ministries desire to improve on how they work with their volunteers—how to recruit them, how to retain them, how to train them, how to deal with discipline or personality issues as they arise. Recruitment is probably one of the most common dilemmas. Many churches struggle with having enough volunteers. Some have enticed adults from the church service, begging them to help out in this room or that, others have engaged in accepting more lax screening practices in their desperation, and others may choose to downplay or fail to address common problems in an effort to keep their volunteer numbers up. It can be hard to hear “get someone…

  • Books
    Impact

    Five of the Greatest Christian Books of All-Time? (What Are Your Picks?)

    “The discerning person acquires knowledge, and the wise person seeks knowledge” (Proverbs 18:15). “I would like you to give me five of the greatest Christian books of all time.” This was what I told my dad in response to his asking me to provide Christmas gift suggestions for him and Mom about fifteen years ago. Of course, in this case I meant books other than the Bible, as I understood that the Bible contained 66 of the greatest and most influential books from throughout Christendom’s history. Now for my dad, this request may have been one of the best challenges or gift suggestions of all time since he’s a person…

  • Bible back page
    Engage

    The Blank Pages in Our Bibles

    Have you noticed how many blank pages you can find at the back of your Bible? I don’t know why Bible publishers put them there, but I think we can put them to good use as a place to record milestones and aspects of our journey to maturity. Record the results of a “treasure hunt.” Over several years, as I read through the Bible, I drew a box around every name and title of God I found, and then wrote them in the back of my Bible. What a great way to worship Him now, to just read through His names to tell Him how wonderful and magnificent He is!…