Children's Leaders

Preparing for the New Year

Ready or not, 2017 is right around the corner. A new year can be a fresh start and a chance to begin again, to try new things, and to dream about what a new year might bring.

As you prepare for 2017, what are you looking forward to? What would you like to see left behind, and what would you like to bring with you?

There’s never been a better time to get involved in children’s ministry with WMU. The curriculum is on-point, the mission is unwavering, the support is phenomenal, and the need for discipleship has never been greater. We receive calls all the time from folks looking to make a difference in the lives of the children in their local community.

As we begin a new year together, we urge you to check a few things off your New Year’s Resolution list . . .

Get connected. The resources we have to offer are top notch, but if you’re like me, you’ve still got to read the directions before you tear open the box. Connect with the national WMU office to get information about training and tips as you start down the road of missions discipleship.

Over the Hills and Everywhere

With much anticipation—for the whole month of December—you have been preparing for Christmas day. You have trimmed trees, strung colorful lights, and hung stockings with care. You have baked delicious treats, mailed Christmas cards, wrestled crowded shopping malls to find the perfect presents, and attended multiple Christmas parties with coworkers, friends, and family. Perhaps you’ve even had some quiet moments to watch a favorite Christmas movie, wrapped up in front of a crackling fire and sipping a cup of hot cocoa!

Hopefully, you’ve had other opportunities as well to inwardly prepare for the real reason of the season—the coming of the Christ child into the world. Perhaps you have spent time reading Scripture, participating in Advent devotions, or turning to our Father in prayer.

Where, Oh Where Did It Go?

“I know I put those keys right here! Where did they go?”

“I’ve got to go to the bank today and sign some papers—if I can ever find the papers!”

All of us know the frustration of trying to find misplaced items, whether it’s keys, important papers, or the assignment that is due today!

How is it that those things go missing? How can we not remember to store those things in a more secure location, one that we will not quickly forget?

That same frustration can be found as we try to locate valuable information online. We know we saw a video or an important extra activity for the month, or even more information about a missionary being studied this month. But, for the life of us, we can’t find it now. Sound familiar?

Thanks and Giving

This November, the RAs and GAs at my church played very important roles in a churchwide missions effort centered on Thanksgiving. For weeks, our church collected specific Thanksgiving-type grocery items for our neighbors in one of our state’s poorest counties. Then, last week, deserving families received grocery bags filled with canned sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, cranberry sauce, boxed stuffing mix, pie filling, pie crust mix, and even a gift certificate for a turkey—all the essentials for an entire Thanksgiving meal!

RAs contributed to the cause each week by collecting the food items from various drop-off locations around the church and then organizing them in the central distribution area. GAs decorated brown grocery bags with beautiful pictures, stickers, fall-shaped die-cuts, Scripture verses, and words of encouragement. Everyone helped with packing the bags and loading them into the church vans for delivery.

"Be Careful Little Eyes What You See"

As the parent of a soon-to-be nine-year-old boy, I carefully monitor what he does, sees, and eats. I monitor how he sleeps and how he talks. I keep an eye on just about every aspect of his life. I am his father. I am responsible for how he is raised—not our church, not his school, not his peers, not a village. As his parent, I am responsible.

So, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that I carefully monitor what my son does online. I supervise his online usage, whether he’s on a search engine, a music site, a gaming site, or even an educational site. I also limit his time on the Internet. If my son had his way, he’d be online 24/7—well, other than the time he’d spend eating everything in the fridge!

Please don’t misunderstand me. I know that my son will use the computer and Internet far more than I ever will. He’ll create things, learn things, and watch his world unfold online. I know that. And, in time, those things will happen. But for now, it’s my responsibility to train him correctly.

In Honor of Our Veterans

Recently, a co-worker was honored for her service to our country as a veteran of the United States Navy. Windy Perez served for seven years in the navy before becoming part of our accounting team at national WMU. Because of her service to our country and her constant prayer support for all of our country’s armed forces, Windy was nominated to receive a Quilt of Valor by another co-worker.

Quilts of Valor are a symbol of love and thankfulness that guilds create to honor veterans. The presentation of this beautiful quilt had me in tears, of course, because of the honor bestowed on such a special person. But it also had the GA leader in me thinking about ways you and I can help children honor our country’s veterans this month as we remember our veterans on Veterans Day.

With that thought in mind, I’ve assembled a list of projects your children’s missions organization can use to minister to veterans in your community:

Fall Festival Fun: Make it Missional

Inflatables, fat pumpkins, face painting, hayrides, tasty treats, games galore! What’s not to love about a fall festival, right?

On my way to work this morning, I passed at least a dozen signs advertising upcoming festivals at local schools, parks, and churches. And my own church is no exception—we are all gearing up for our largest community outreach event of the year next Sunday afternoon.

Did you get that? Our largest community outreach event of the year! Yes, a fall festival is a fun-filled, no-pressure event that draws people of all ages from the entire community, especially those who may never step foot into our church otherwise.

A fall festival can be the perfect missions opportunity for your church, too. Consider one of these ideas to jump-start your own event:

When Pastors Don't See a Need for Missions Discipleship

Susan Bryant, Kentucky WMU president, was recently asked how she responds to pastors who might not understand the benefits of children’s missions discipleship. Read Susan’s thoughts below:

I should have seen the warning signs—a pastor who had not grown up in Royal Ambassadors, Wednesday evening programming that was being rearranged, and other ideas for our children that were being promoted. I had been a GA leader at my church for more than 30 years, and I couldn’t fathom anything but spending Wednesday evenings traveling around the world in the basement of our church.

Then came the day when my pastor scheduled a meeting to discuss alternatives to Girls in Action and Royal Ambassadors. I knew I needed to present a clear vision for missions education for our children. We both wanted the same thing—the best atmosphere for our children to learn that God loves them and loves the world.

Back in the Day

“Back when I was a child . . . ”

Didn’t we always hate hearing those words from our parents? We knew what would follow: they had walked to school uphill, in the snow, with no shoes or socks, etc.

Did your parents say things like that? Mine did.

The other day, I was talking to Evan, my 8-year-old son. I was talking about finding some information that I needed. I said, “Back when I was your age, we had to go to the library and look in the encyclopedia to find information like that.”

Evan looked at me and said, “Dad, today we’d just Google it.”

He’s right. “Back in the day” won’t solve all of the questions of today. I do know that.

Over the last few months, there have been many changes in our missions education materials for children. You’ve probably noticed many of those changes. Maybe some you’ve missed. Or, maybe you are trying to find some information that will help you teach better this week. Whatever the case, let me answer a few questions about the changes you may have noticed.

I’m a CA leader and I can’t find the “Family Missions Focus” and “Extras” information in my magazine. Where can I find it?

Developing into Great Leaders: Online Learning

Have you ever attended a seminar or training session and thought, “This would have been so much better if I could have stayed in my pajamas”?

The Children’s Resource Team is assembling online training sessions that will allow you to learn more about being a leader from the comfort of your own home. And yes, you have our permission to stay in your pj’s!

Here’s an overview of what’s out there so far:

Leading Girls in Action: Participants will look at the very basics of the Girls in Action organization, including the curriculum and the pledge. You will also be challenged to teach a lesson to a small group of children to experience what it’s like to plan and deliver missions discipleship.

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