A New Resource Is Available for Children’s Ministries

The room is decorated with Compact Discs. They are spread all over the floor, hanging from the ceiling, and there is a special stack marked "for the kids."

"I couldn’t help it," says Barbara Allen pointing to all the decorations. "The idea was so good! I read the article and I just had to decorate it for the kids."

A middle school teacher during the week, Allen teaches English to more than 100 children a day. But during the weekend she does a different kind of teaching.

"This is my teaching from the heart," says Allen. "This is where I get to share more than just a textbook lecture. This is where I get to share my faith."

She pauses as the sound of a child’s running footsteps approaches her Sabbath School door. A breathless 5-year-old carrying a small teddy-bear purse and a small white Bible runs into the room and hugs Allen. "My ministry to children is the most important part of my teaching ... it’s what really makes me a teacher."

Children’s Ministries. An idea whose time has come. An idea that has not only taken to the Sabbath School classrooms, but has also branched out and embraced communities in an effort to ‘save the world, one child at a time.’

"Children’s ministries embraces all ministries to children. Anything in the line of education for a child is something children’s ministries can help with," says Noelene Johnsson, director of children’s ministries for the Adventist Church in North American Division. "One of the goals is to help people understand and reach the children."

One way of reaching the children is to provide innovative, creative programs that will provide children ministries leaders with the tools necessary to teach.

"This type of ministry is usually on a volunteer basis," says Allen, who has been volunteering as a Sabbath School teacher for six years. "It’s difficult to find material that hasn’t been recycled over and over. New ideas are hard to come by, but the children notice and appreciate new activities."

In the efforts to provide Sabbath School teachers, parents and teachers with new ideas to rekindle the enthusiasm of working with children’s ministries, the Review and Herald Publishing Association (R&H), has unveiled a new magazine: Kids’ Ministry Ideas. Formerly known as Kids’ Stuff, the magazine is tailored to offer children’s leaders the most innovative, useful ministry resources. Kids’ Ministry Ideas articles come directly from the front lines of children’s ministry.

"Children’s ministries specialists, book authors, conference and union directors, Sabbath School and Vacation Bible School leaders are just a few of our contributors," says Dwain Esmond, assistant editor for Kids’ Ministry Ideas. "We also have individuals who simply share ideas that have worked for them and offer tips on how to adapt these programs to meet the needs of children."

Headed by an enthusiastic team, the staff for Kids’ Ministry Ideas has taken up a serious cause: "to support those leading children to Jesus by providing affirmation, pertinent and informative articles, program ideas, resource suggestions, and answers to questions from a Seventh-day Adventist Christian perspective."

"It used to be that children’s ministries was thought of only as Sabbath School," says Judi Rogers, marketing representative for Kids’ Ministry Ideas. "Now, we are going further with evangelism, outreach, Sabbath School, Adventurers, Pathfinders ... we are truly branching out and there is a need."

In the last decade, children’s ministries has become a larger focus for the Seventh-day Adventist Church and community. There are some, like Allen, who make this volunteer ministry a lifetime job. These types of individuals are usually lacking necessary affirmation on a job well-done.

"Working for the church people sometimes find they have to give a lot and often their contributions are overlooked," says Johnsson. "Kids’ Ministry Ideas helps to provide new ideas for those involved in children’s ministries bringing their own ministry alive. It helps them to see what they are doing is truly a ministry."

Aside from providing a list of available resources for all areas of children’s ministries, Kids’ Ministry Ideas also gives ideas and leads as to where to go for new ideas, for example, Allen’s CD activity.

"I was reading through the magazine and I saw this section called ‘Me? A CD?’," says Allen. "It was basically a neat story idea for children’s story time." She admits to getting totally involved in story time now, and who wouldn’t? "When the kids get involved, participate and are eager to contribute — I know I am doing my job as a leader."

Although Kids’ Ministry Ideas is part of the Sabbath School package that is released by R&H every quarter, the community plays an important role in shaping the articles for every issue. Editor, Patricia Fritz, says that because of this, Kids’ Ministry Ideas is not only for children’s ministries workers, but could serve as a tool for parents as well.

"In our feature articles we cover issues that are currently taking place in society," says Fritz. "We find people who have been working in that specific area and ask them to help us tell the story in a new perspective that will help inform and teach people."

The result? Stories that hit home, featuring current issues like children in on-line chat rooms, learning behaviors and more.

"Part of our mission is serving the immediate needs of the Adventist community," says Fritz. "This also means dealing with issues that come up at home."

One of the upcoming projects for Kids’ Ministry Ideas is a web site. Willie Duke, design director for the magazine, is working on a web site where children’s ministries leaders can find new information and ideas on a regular basis.

"Anybody who teaches children about God will be interested in this magazine," says Johnsson. And the vote seems to be pretty unanimous.

"I am definitely using this magazine as a tool to enhance my ministry," says Allen. She looks toward the classroom door at more kids coming in, most of them bundled up for winter, still wearing their little boots and mittens. She smiles. "What was that scripture? ... ‘let the little ones come to me, for their is the Kingdom of Heaven ...’ yes, this truly is an important ministry, one that bridges gaps among denominations."*

To subscribe to Kids’ Ministry Ideas call 1-800-456-3991; to write for Kids’ Ministry Ideas call 301-791-7000. [Dixil Rodriguez]

* (Barbara Allen is a Seventh-day Baptist)