leadership

Connecting the Dots: Help Start a New Missions Organization

Do you remember doing connect the dot puzzles when you were a kid? As you traced your pen from dot to dot, a picture was slowly revealed. It was fun and exciting without being labor intensive.

Did you know that helping other churches set up missions groups is much the same? Each new program is a dot that helps reveal the picture of God’s work in your area. By working together in our own special ministry locations, we add more dimension to the picture—opportunities to reach more people with the gospel.

Just like the childhood puzzle, it is fun and exciting without being labor intensive. You don’t have to worry about where to place the dots, because churches already exist in the communities of your association. You don’t have to fret over who will participate—churches know their members and their communities. Your joy is in sharing missions organizations for children. Share your loves, passions, and thrills. Excitement is contagious, and the gospel is the most exciting news ever!

Catching Up with Donna Shelenhamer

WMU is honored to interview Donna Shelenhamer, a longtime Girls in Action leader. Donna has taught Girls in Action for 52 years and counting. She felt a calling to missions when she was young and wanted to share her passion, so she began teaching first- and second-grade GA groups and fifth-grade boys in Sunday School. Her most vivid memory from teaching GA is something that occurs at every recognition service: she always says, “This is the best group I’ve ever had!” and genuinely means it every year.

Time for Appreciation

October is recognized as Pastor Appreciation Month in many churches.

It’s not too late to recognize your pastor and church staff, whether you choose to do it corporately as a church or as an individual. Here are some quick thoughts on how to recognize the leaders God has placed in your church.

Recruiting Millennial Leaders

If you visit our blog regularly for advice about leading kids, you might be wondering why I'm talking about millennials today. You might be thinking this isn't the age you lead, so this particular blog isn't for you. You might even be tempted to click away to another topic. But I hope you'll stick with me, because millennials are a very crucial age group to get involved with leading GA, RA, and CA.

As a millennial myself, I've developed an awareness of the disdain and bewilderment people often direct at my generation. And I wonder to myself, "Why are people pushing us away instead of embracing the opportunity?" That's what I want to help you do today: embrace the opportunity to recruit millennials to become a new generation of GA, RA, and CA leaders.

If you're at a total loss of how to connect with millennials and bring them into the leadership fold or you need a few pointers, it's okay. I want to help you with my firsthand knowledge of my generation, which is sometimes described as elusive, but is in actuality ready to embrace the mantle of leadership, if only we could be given the chance.

What WMU Taught Me

For the past 8 weeks, I have been a summer intern at national WMU on the Children's Resource Team. I was never a GA or an Acteen, so my exposure to and knowledge about WMU has always been limited. I have learned so much about missions and the importance of missional living in these past 8 weeks.

As I look back on my time here, I cannot help but to smile when I think of all the wonderful people I have met and all the incredible opportunities I have had here. All across WMU's publications, the importance of missional living and investing in others is reiterated time after time, and let me tell you—that is being lived out every day in these offices. On a daily basis, most everyone in this building is constantly praying for the churches, leaders, students, kids, and adults who are being reached by WMU. The people here are so passionate about what WMU stands for and the work that it does.

In With the New

It won’t be long and the familiar sound of a ringing school bell will be heard in classrooms. The wheels on the big yellow school bus will be going round and round. And, kids will be dragging themselves out of bed and back to school for another year of learning.

So, what does the new school year and going back to school mean for missions education in your church? For some churches, the new school year will mean restarting their missions education programs after taking a few months off. For those who continued with GA, RA, and CA during the summer, it will mean more stable meetings as fewer leaders and kids will be out on vacation.

As you prepare for the beginning of another new school year and another year in missions education, now is a great time to evaluate your organization and material needs. Now is also a great time to order the Mission: Hit the Road Promotion Pack. This annual pack provides an overview of the year ahead. You’ll find great decorating tips, ideas, and learning activities that’ll help you have a successful new year.

Incorporating Learning Styles in Missions Education

Every child is different. All children have different likes and dislikes, different levels of ability and education, and different learning preferences. The kids we teach may be visual learners, auditory learners, or kinesthetic learners. While it would be difficult to fully accommodate each learner in the short period of time they participate in missions education each week, there are definite steps leaders can take to facilitate optimal learning. When planning activities for a lesson, leaders should incorporate as many different senses into the lesson as are feasible.

Multisensory instruction is one of the best ways for children to learn. When a child only hears or reads, he or she may retain a small amount of the material. But when tactile activities are combined with auditory and visual components, comprehension increases dramatically. And, of course, we want missions education to be fun and enjoyable! Kids go to school many hours each week, and we never want them to feel like missions education is just another hour of school. Listed below are some ways you can incorporate multisensory activities into your lessons.

When the Church Gets It Right

Wheels of the World

Have you ever felt burdened by the woes of the church? I know I have. It seems like every morning there’s some new scandal or financial indiscretion plastered all over the daily news. Sometimes the weight of it all gets a little hard to handle. That’s why stories of encouragement, like the one I’m about to share with you, are so important to tell!

Seven Trends That Affect Your Church

church pews

Do you long for the “good old days”? I often hear friends talk about “the way it was when we were kids.” And, those were good days—playing outside after dark, riding my bike (without a helmet or pads) to the nearby store, standing up on the front seat of my daddy’s pickup, playing with a friend who had contracted polio as an infant, worrying about a nuclear bomb attack from the Russians . . . Well, maybe not all of the days were so good.

For my parents, my “good, old days” were their “scary future”. My scary future is the world inhabited by nieces and nephews who do not know a world where polio and small pox vaccines were necessary. Yet, they also live with the pressure of a future that is changing more rapidly than any of us can fathom.

The church is no different. Is your church living in the “good, old days” or trying to make sense out of the “scary future”? Perhaps it is trying to do both, struggling to let go of old ways and yet, not quite ready to embrace the new. The new is exciting, but it is also frightening when we do understand what is happening around us.

Are We Spending Too Much?

Imagine this conversation between a pastor and a WMU director:

Pastor: “You know, I’ve been thinking about our missions education program. I’m concerned that we spend too much money on curriculum and missions products.”

WMU Director: “Pastor, I’m with you! We all want to protect God’s money that is given to the church. And, as the WMU director, I constantly watch how much we much spend and why we spend it. Our leadership team regularly evaluates our missions education budget and we try to squeeze as much out of it as possible.”

Pastor: “Have you considered dropping WMU materials and going with another missions education program? There must be a lot of them out there.”

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