You are not called to do it all!

Watch for the very profound, simple little verse in the middle of 1 Corinthians 12:14-31.
I’ve repeated it in several translations so you’ll get the bigger picture.

14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.

19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

19 But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. (Message)

19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! (NLT)

20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty,24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it,25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

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When you take on more than what God has designed you to accomplish, you create a lopsided ugly monster that is apart from the body of Christ. You need to prayerfully consider, what part of the body, what gifts he has given to you, and become grounded in that knowledge. It is impossible for an ear to see, and a nose to walk, so take comfort in knowing that if others in the body of Christ are not contributing their part, God does not expect you to morph into the entire body, he didn’t design it that way, he doesn’t want you to do it all.

Salinas Mission Trip – Monday

Monday we got up and met everyone for Breakfast at Denny’s at 9am. Pastor Shankula shared a really good devotional that reminded us that we don’t need much in order to share Jesus with others. We don’t need money, we don’t need fancy technology, we don’t even need to be a great speaker.

He shared a few passages that reminded us as long as we are present, have our testimony, obey his prompting, and allow his spirit to work through us, we have enough.

When we got to the church in Watsonville it was great reunion to see the Peña family and Alma again. After lot’s of hugs and smiles we all got to work setting up for the day.

3:30pm rolled around and the only kids we had were the Pastor’s. So we decided to wait a little while and by 4:15, twenty-three kiddo’s had arrived.

Our first day’s lessons got off to a rough start. We hadn’t planned to have a translator but added one at the last minute and that takes some getting used to, so it threw the flow of the lesson off a bit. Still, two girls had accepted Christ before the end of the program that day. What an exclamation mark to the message Pastor Shankula had delivered in the morning.

On a personal note, the craft I had agonized over, went really well. We had the kids decorate pillow cases with fabric paint brushed onto large sea shaped stamps. The kids got super creative and they all turned out really cute.

My favorite part of this trip is watching the older boys come and participate. There are six of them between the ages of 14 and 22. They are wearing name tags, listening to the lessons, playing games and yes, working on the crafts. The oldest told one of our team, he doesn’t believe in God. So Luis and Ben chatted with him a while and explained the gospel and who God is. We could tell that he still left uncertain, but curious.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring??

Salinas Mission Trip

This week my family and I are off on a mission trip to Salinas, California to work with local churches who serve many of the migrant workers in the area. Our team will split into three groups and will help host a Vacation Bible School at three local churches serving Salinas, Watsonville, and Hollister.

We left our house this morning at 5:45am. Met the rest of the team at Shadow and got on the road at 7:30am. Robert drove a van full of women, and Hector. And I followed with our boys in the Toyota Tacoma. I think we stopped for potty breaks and stretching at least 5 times.

I have to say, I’m glad we’re finally here, in the hotel, where I can put my feet up and relax a little. All day Saturday, I kept thinking I must be crazy. I just finished Summer Blast and and have put in 60+ hours for the last 3 weeks and now, my first day off, I’m busy packing for a mission trip that leaves tomorrow? What was I thinking when I said yes? Not only did I need to pack myself, but I organized 3 face painting kits and finished getting the rest of the craft supplies ready and samples made.

Today’s drive was tough. I didn’t sleep much last night, and kept getting drowsy, but I pushed through and got here safe and sound.

Tomorrow, I get to leave the hustle and bustle of my everyday life behind and jump into the world of Pastor Fillipe and his congregation. They are loving, relaxed and grateful people. I’ll get work with a small group of 30-50 kids, teaching them crafts and sharing God’s word. It will do my soul good.

A Nervous Choreographer

I feel like one of the choreographers on “So You Think You Can Dance.”

As the Designer of Children’s Outreach and Special Events I just finished the week spearheading our largest outreach event of year. This past week we hosted 1300 kids on campus and 450 volunteers for our annual Summer Blast (VBS) week of fun.

It was an amazing week, but like any event had it’s ups and downs, some brilliant moments and yes, many glitches.

I just finished sending an e-mail to all the parents and all the volunteers asking for their feedback. What they liked, disliked, their ideas and suggestions. It’s almost like getting voted on. Do you love it, or do you not.

Crazy thing is, I really want to know what they think. I want the specifics. I can only improve our event when I have an opportunity to see it through other’s peoples eyes and experiences.

I’m sure some of the feedback will bring much joy, and some much frustration, but each piece is important and I’m ready for honesty.

Bring it all on, I’m ready to hit the ground running for next year.

Save Money – Buy in Bulk

Money Saving Tips for Ministry Purchases

As the Designer of Children’s Outreach, my role involves finding and purchasing most of the items for our special events and programs. Sometimes I’m purchasing supplies for 100 or so kids, and other times, closer to 1,500. I’ve compiled a list of great places to buy in bulk (or smaller quantities at great prices) and also offer up some other money saving tips that you’ll find useful.

Here are few helpful tips as you search for the best deals:

  • Compare prices – I usually check at least 3 places before buying.
  • Shipping Costs – Don’t forget to check shipping costs when comparing. Sometimes it’s a deal breaker.
  • Varied Keywords – Try using different keywords to locate different brands or widen product options.
  • Order Early – You won’t feel the urge to pay extra for quick shipping if you order early.
  • Piece Out Crafts – Find a craft kit you like? Try piecing out the cost and see if you can save by doing some of the prep work with volunteers.
  • Use coupon codes – Do a google search for coupon codes. You can save up to 20% by finding current codes online. 
  • Call the Company – If you’re placing large orders, call the company and negotiate free shipping or bigger discounts. 

 

Craft & General Hobby Supplies

Oriental Trading
Lots of craft kits, novelty toys, and even some imprinted promotional items.

S & S Worldwide
Some craft kits, lots of miscellaneous class supplies and playground/game equipment.

Guildcraft
A good variety of unique crafts and a special section with Christian themes.

Blick Art Materials
Anything specialty can be found here from glues, to paper to markers to paint.

Discount School Supply
Lots and lots of general classroom supply items. 

 

Candy

Candy Warehouse
I think they sell just about any kind of candy you can imagine at rock bottom prices. 

Sandy Candy
This is the original maker of Sandy Candy. A Christian company run by fun people. 

 

Random Items

(I’ve ordered flip flops, UV face paint, blankets, socks, ornaments, dolls, invisible ink pens, secret compartment boxes) 

Deal Extreme
Order from 1 to 1000+ of anything. It’s shipped directly from China, so give yourself 2-3 week shipping time. 

Dollar Days
You have order in set quantities, like 12, 24, 96, depending on the item, but you can’t beat the prices. 

eBay
You can’t find it on eBay, it probably doesn’t exist. 

Silly Farm
Face paint, balloons & clown supplies.

Creative Arts Store
Lots of fun magic tricks, face paint supplies, chalk talk books and more. All with a Christian spin. 

Windy City Novelties
Every kind of glow stick and novelty imaginable. They also have great selection of fun hats and novelty toys.

Shindigz
Lots of fun decorating supplies and ideas. If you haven’t used gossamer before, you’ve got to try it. 

Bulk Balloons
We like to buy the mylar balloons and reuse them. You can get great prices here. 

Paper Mart
Boxes, bags and random gift supplies 

ID Supply
Where we get our badge clips and name tag holders.

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If you need this information 3 months from now and forget to bookmark this page, you can find all these links in my sidebar under Favorite Places to Buy in Bulk.

If you have some favorites, send them my way and I’ll add them to my sidebar links.

You can’t beat Zuma with a broken mouse.

Zuma Screen Shot
Zuma Screen Shot

I’m stuck on level 12. I’ve been trying to beat it for months now. I had no problems flying through the first 9 levels. Level 10 took me a week or so. Level 11, I aced the first try, but level 12, well that’s another story.

After wasting hours trying to beat this level, I’ve finally figured out that my mouse is just worn out. I doesn’t respond like it used to, it’s lost it’s precision and sometimes, it just causes the cursor to just run away. 

My mouse is usable for most of my applications, it gives me just a few problems now and then, but nothing that can’t be quickly corrected.

I could get by with keeping my mouse until it just completely gives on me, but if I want to get to the next level on Zuma, I’m going to have to buy a new mouse.

* * * * * * * * * * *

So what does this have to do with Kids Ministry or any ministry for that matter?

Well, I could have titled this blog:

  • You can’t cut paper with a dull or crooked paper cutter.
  • You can’t laminate posters with a broken laminator.
  • You can’t communicate with the rest of the world using MS Office 95.

You get the point. As important as it is to be frugal, especially in our current economy, sometimes you need invest in new or current tools to get to the next level. Delaying those purchases or upgrades will usually cost you more money in the long run. Let me show you what I mean:

  • New Mouse: $60
    Time spent trying to beat level 12 @ $10 per hour: $300
  • New Paper Cutter: $100
    Reprints from poor cutting: $35   Medical bills from sliced finger: $3500
  • New Laminator: $800
     Wasted film from botched laminating projects: $250   Reprints of botched projects $500
  • New Office 2007: $450
    Time spent for all parties trying to be compatible 5 hrs a week @ $15 per hour x 52 weeks: $3900

I’m going to upgrade my mouse this week. What’s your next upgrade?

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Hey, and if you want try Zuma too, you can get a free trial here.

A Different Way to Rotate

Conquer and Divide is a theory I practice often when hosting children’s events. I believe kids learn better in smaller more intimate environments than they do sitting in large groups of 100+ kids.

We group them as they arrive and include a traditional rotation schedule in the programming. In the past we’ve planned 3-4 lessons for kids to experience and recruited one teacher for each lesson. That teacher then repeats the same lesson for each group in the rotation.

In the past it has worked well and some of the benefits include:

  • Teachers only learn one lesson, repeating it for each group
  • All the kids get exactly the same teaching from the same teacher at each learning station.

The downside to this system is:

  • All lessons must be equal in length to keep all the groups on schedule.
  • All the kids (no matter the grade) get exactly the same teaching from the same teacher at each learning station.

 

This year, we mixed it up a bit. Instead of having the kids rotate to the teachers, the teachers rotated with the kids. Each teacher traveled with the same group, from station to station, as their personal Expedition Guide, teaching them as they went.

What I love about this method:

  • The kids met the teachers as soon as they arrived and developed an immediate connection with them.
  • The lessons were adapted to fit each age group.
  • Each lessons timing was independent of the others. (ie: The first two were longer and the last one shorter.)
  • If a teacher needed to spend more time on one lesson they had the freedom to make that call because another group was not waiting on them to finish.
  • The teachers had the same assistants all evening and thus were able to utilize their help better.

 

What this looked like for our Stewardship Program:

 GROUPS

  • We broke our kids into groups based on grade
  • Each group had 4 adult Expedition Assistants and 1 Expedition Teacher
  • The Expedition Assistants and Teacher greeted welcomed each of the children in their group as they arrived.
  • It was great to see how the groups bonded so quickly at the beginning and maintained this sort of “hoorah!! Spirit” throughout the night.

LESSONS & ROTATIONS

  • Each of the five grade groups rotated to different rooms on the campus
  • No groups used the same room back-to-back.
  • This made each groups travel plans unique and non-dependant on other groups progress. They could move more quickly or slowly through each lesson as the kids learning dictated.
  • Each lesson was tweaked to be age appropriate for the group
  • We provided simple fill-in journals for the 1st & 2nd grades with easier puzzles and games to work on.
  • The 3rd -5th grade journal required more fill-in work and the puzzles were more challenging.

Our team of volunteers embraced the changes we made to this year’s Stewardship program wholeheartedly. Even though the teachers were required to learn 3 lessons, they loved being with the same kids throughout the night and felt that they were much more effective this way.

 

In a nutshell . . .

The teaching was dictated by learning pace of the kids and not by the ticking of the clock.

 ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

What can you change about the way you do your big group events this year? Think about what matters most and move to make that happen.