Archive | August, 2013

Monday Mornings: Ten Things I Learned From Our Intern

26 Aug

This summer one of our River’s Edge team members interned at our church. His responsibilities were wide: kid’s ministry, urban missions experience, student ministry, lawn care team, mini camp director.

Ten things I learned from our intern:

1. If you believe it is an adventure, everyone around you will believe it too.

2. Someone with a lot of energy exponentially adds to any program.

3. Placing a baby pool full of sand with buried treasure in it in the middle of the kid’s worship area really is a great idea. Yeah, the mess. So worth it.

4. Being positive goes a long way motivating a group of tired, hungry and sleep deprived teenagers.

5. If an extreme extrovert can survive the first week of an internship in a near empty church due to schedules and mission trips, they are good to go.

6. Bacon always makes a sandwich better.

7. You can get interns to believe that they have lice rather easily. Even when they don’t.

8. Four year old girls need a little extra attention. Especially when they believe the intern is their best friend.

9. Love what you do. Even going to the gas station to purchase gas for the lawn care team and mowing when some of the members don’t show up. Nothing is beneath you. Nothing.

10. Being the greatest in the kingdom of God is about thinking less of yourself and living dependent on God. Thank you intern for living this message out before you preached it.

Sometimes we need to see ministry through new eyes. Through nineteen year old eyes. And when we do. . . we often find its time to make some adjustments here and there. Take some time in the next weeks to look at your ministry through fresh eyes.

zach the intern

Zach, the intern, returned to Bethel University in St. Paul where he is majoring in missional ministry. This week we’ll share on the blog creative ideas he used while teaching Dr. Jones and the Secret of the Lost Keys this summer.

10 Ideas for Are You My Mother?

22 Aug

 are you my mother

My kids loved reading Dr. Seuss’ book, Are You My Mother?, when they were growing up. The silliness of the bird thinking that a cat or a machine could be his mother appeals to preschoolers. The book also evokes compassion for the little bird as most preschoolers know what it is like to lose sight of their mom even for a moment and the panic of trying to find her.


Ten ideas you can do in a classroom or in your home with preschoolers:

 1. Show a plastic (or real) egg. Crack it open. Ask what kind of animals come from eggs.

2. Collect stuffed animals and place them in a bag. Go through the animals asking each time if that animal could be a bird’s mother. (Make sure to add a stuffed bird to the mix.)

3. Talk about how a mother bird and a baby bird make a family. Name other families you know and name the members of that family. (In a classroom situation, have each child tell about his/her family.)

4. Read this poem and do the motions together:

          Some families are large. (Spread arms out wide.)

          Some families are small. (Bring arms close together.)

          But I love my family (cross arms over chest) best of all!

5. Pray thanking God for family. Name each family member and ask God to bless that family member.

6. Collect stuffed animals or action figures to represent each family member. Have the child say each family member and the relationship they have. Example: This is Kailie. She is my sister.

7. Act out the story. Have your child be a bird hopping from one thing in your house to another asking, “Are you my mother?” Finally, have the child ask you that question.

8. Eat gummy worms for a snack. Talk about how a mother bird feeds her baby bird.

9. God made each family special. Ask your child what is special about his/her family.

10. Make a bird’s nest using blankets, pillows and other cushy materials. Have fun snuggling in the nest and reading more books together.


Interested in more ideas how to use books to teach biblical concepts?

 Learn how to run a story time for preschoolers complete with 10 lessons. Coffee Shop Storytime.

 Indepth lessons plus a free parent resource e-book. Dr. Seuss and the Bible.

 Spend some time looking over our Coffeeshop Storytime  and Dr. Seuss and the Bible pinterest boards.

Starbucks for Preschoolers

20 Aug


As a children’s pastor, I realized that I was becoming insulated from the community. All of my work was taking place within the church. How was I to be the salt of the earth and light to the world if I lived in a cocoon built inside the walls of the church? How could I be Jesus to my community in a way that relationships could be built and sustained? The answers to my questions came inside a coffee shop surrounded by preschoolers and their moms.

Each Thursday morning at ten o’clock do not look for me lurking around my church office. Instead, you can find me drinking a medium one shot, skim mocha while reading about hungry caterpillars, lonely fireflies and mad llamas. You will find new little friends of mine named Alex and Daniel and Olivia sitting around me with their moms hovering not too far away. You will probably feel the sense of community and energy that fills the coffee shop for half an hour. And you will find lots of smiling people as they witness the enthralled looks on each child’s face.

Story time consists of more than just reading a few random stories to whatever children happen to show up. Instead, it is an intentional time of character building activities. Each story time contains two classic read aloud books based on a theme such as “I can help my family” or “I can share with my friends.” Finger plays, puppets and child friendly props are also integrated into the sessions. God moments naturally happen as a child will mention that he belongs to God or that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. While the goal is not a spiritual lesson, the character building books naturally lead to short conversations that plant seeds with the children and their families. Each session, the children walk away with a fun activity page and a tangible object such as floppy dog ears or a candy cane. Parents walk away with a much needed break and a take home page with a list of books read and suggestions for extension activities to do at home.

To start a story time, first pray about the location. Look for a coffee shop that is child-friendly. Talk to management, pointing out the advantages a story time would bring to their shop. Advertise in the paper, on community bulletin boards and with mom’s groups. Create a mobile story area using a rolling cart for supplies and blankets for children to sit on. Carefully choose books that have large, colorful pictures. Rhyming books are especially popular and keep children’s attention. Use simple, short books that tell stories that have unspoken morals or lessons. The desired outcome of the coffee shop story time has been to build relationships that would lead to real conversations about life. I know which child’s mom is struggling with having to go back to work to make ends meet. I know which child’s grandma loves to come after story time for a cup of coffee and to hear her grandson tell her about a dirty dog named Harry or a boy that remembered to say thank you. I know which child’s mom quit teaching to stay home with her kids and is exhausted. I know that these moms cannot help but feel loved by the church as they know that someone is dedicating a portion of time to provide a quality experience for their child and a much needed break for them.

The outcome that I was not expecting was how surprised by joy I would be each Thursday. I love the excitement, the wide eyed wonder, and even the spills of hot chocolate and other unscripted interruptions. Imagine ministering outside the walls of your church, planting seeds of God’s love and anticipating how He will make those seeds grow. Imagine breaking out of your usual routine, going outside the church walls and being Jesus to your community. Take a step out of your comfort zone and head to your local coffee shop with an armful of books and a heart full of God’s love.

Learn how to start a Coffee Shop Storytime in your neighborhood.  Includes 10 sessions, advertising, parent take home pages and detailed instructions.

For more detailed curriculum based on kid’s books to use in a church or classroom try Dr. Seuss and the Bible.