Apr 16

Faith Foundations

PreschooStrong_Foundationslers building in the block area quickly learn that it takes a sturdy foundation to support a tall, strong structure. They soon notice that they can make a tall building from lightweight cardboard blocks, but that building won’t be very strong. To create structures that are both tall and strong, solid wooden blocks work best.

Jesus is our sure foundation. We say it. We sing it. We believe it!

We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:20

Yes, Jesus is “the true God and eternal life.” This is the main message we want to teach all the students in every one of our classes at church. Sunday school. Bible clubs. Midweek classes. Confirmation. Whatever the venue, whatever the students’ ages, Jesus is the foundation.

If I were able to pick just three more lessons to emphasize, I would choose three that keep me strong as I face the daily challenges of life. These three faith lessons are:

1. Ask the Holy Spirit to work in you a heart filled with gratitude and joy. This comes when we realize more and more fully all that Jesus has done for us. Even in times when we face overwhelming challenges, we can look back to see how Jesus has cared for us in the past. That gives us the confidence we need to trust his care for us in the present. Our hearts fill again with gratitude.

2. Enjoy the moment. The now is all that God gives us. In the cross of our Savior, we can let go of past mistakes. We can place the future in the nail-scarred hands of Christ. We can celebrate this moment.

3. Remember that God is with us always. He is here to help, to heal, to support, to strengthen. This means we can let go of worry, anger, and fear. We need not let ourselves be overwhelmed. God is with us in Christ! He is our Immanuel – not just at Christmas, but all year long!

As we interact with the children in our classes grow in their faith, we want to be intentional about helping them apply these faith lessons for themselves.

For your reflection:

  • If you could pick only three foundational faith lessons for life to share with your students, what would they be?
  • How have you helped your students learn and apply these faith lessons?
  • When have you noticed your students demonstrating faith in Jesus, their firm foundation?

Blessings to you as you keep building your faith on Jesus, the sure foundation and as you help others do the same!

Editor’s note: For more ideas, see CTA’s newest theme for kids, Faith Under Construction. As you plan summer Sunday school, VBS, and special events, these colorful, Christ-centered products will help you encourage the kids in your church to grow in grace!

Scriptures quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 © 2014 CTA, Inc.

 

 

Apr 15

Countdown to Easter Message 6: King — A free devotion for your children’s ministry

Editor’s Note: This is the last in a series of six devotions intended to help children prepare for Easter. It’s slightly adapted from CTA’s theme for spring, Jesus Lives! Let’s Celebrate!  

Getting Ready

Familiarize yourself with the devotion. Place a bookmark in your Bible at John 11:25.

Place all of the magnet pieces of your Jesus Lives! Let’s Celebrate activity magnet individually on one side of a metal cookie sheet or pizza pan. Plan to assemble them on the other side of the pan during the introduction. Place the metal pan and your Bible inside a bag.

Have extra Jesus Lives! Let’s Celebrate magnet pieces on hand and plan to distribute them to children who didn’t receive one to take home last time.

Introduction

Warmly greet the children and invite everyone to sit down around you. Nearby, place the bag of items you prepared ahead of time. Remind your listeners that you have been counting down the weeks until Resurrection Sunday—the day when Jesus defeated death by rising from the dead.

It’s time! Today is the great day on which Christians from all around the world celebrate Jesus, our risen Savior-King, and his Resurrection victory. We will talk more about that in a moment, but first let’s review our countdown so far.

(Briefly review as you show each corresponding puzzle piece, assembling the pieces as you go.)

(Red piece: hearts) Jesus is the friend of sinful people. We talked about six friends of Jesus—including us! Jesus is our friend, just as he befriended so many people when he lived here on earth. Jesus loves us so much that he took our punishment, dying for us on the cross. Just think! Jesus loved us so much, that he even died for us!

(Orange piece: lightning bolt) Jesus is powerful. We talked about five of the many miracles Jesus did—powerful miracles. Jesus calmed terrible storms, fed many people, healed a blind man, and much, much more. This same, powerful Jesus loves us. He wants to help us when we have troubles and problems. He can help us with our troubles and problems. No problem is too big or too hard for Jesus!

(White piece: no sin) Jesus died on the cross for us. He died in our place, taking the punishment we had deserved. Now we are forgiven! Jesus crossed out all of our sins. And he helps us live as God’s loving, obedient children. Jesus is our wonderful friend and Savior.

(Green piece: three crosses) The cross on which Jesus died didn’t belong to him. He never did anything wrong. He never sinned. That cross really belonged to us. But Jesus hung on that cross, dying in our place. Jesus loves us that much! Amazing!

• (Blue piece: Jesus’ hand) Jesus blessed, healed, and helped the people who came to him for help when he lived here on earth. Jesus still blesses, heals, and helps us today. Jesus knows when we feel hopeless, lonely, and sad. Jesus is always ready to comfort us, to hold us close to help us feel better.

Getting to the Heart

There is one last piece for our puzzle. I told you last time that it has a special shape.

(Show listeners the crown on the yellow puzzle piece and the words “Jesus, the King!” Invite the children to listen as you retell the story of Christ’s resurrection. Each time your listeners hear the word “one,” they should raise one index finger and point upward.)

One very large stone stood in front of Jesus’ tomb. Jesus’ friends had buried him in that tomb when they took his lifeless body down from the cross. Jesus was dead, and all his friends felt very sad and very, very lonely. Meanwhile, Jesus’ enemies insisted that Governor Pilate secure the tomb, so Pilate sent one group of soldiers to guard Jesus’ tomb. They stood there, guarding Jesus tomb for three days.

Early on Sunday morning—Resurrection Sunday morning—one great earthquake shook the ground. The soldiers fell over, then ran away in fear. They had seen an angel came down from heaven! That one angel had rolled the one huge stone away from the door of Jesus’ tomb.

But there were zero dead bodies inside! Jesus’ body was no longer there. Jesus was no longer in his tomb. Jesus was no longer dead! Our one and only Savior Jesus was alive! Jesus had defeated our greatest enemy—death! Jesus is the one, true king. Jesus rules! He is our one, living, forgiving, loving Savior!

Each year, God’s people remember and celebrate Resurrection Day. It is the one greatest day of all—the day of the one greatest victory of all. Jesus, our Savior, lives! Jesus’ victory over death is also our victory! Listen to what Jesus promises us. (Read John 11:25 from your Bible.) Cheer together: Jesus lives! Let’s celebrate!

Taking It Home

Have the children listen and watch as you sing the words of the following song, using the tune for Frère Jacques. As you sing, point to each of the six pieces of the now complete Jesus Lives! Let’s Celebrate! magnet puzzle to cue the group. Then ask them to sing along with you. Practice several times.

Jesus loves me! (red piece: hearts)

He has power (orange piece: lightning bolt)

Over sin, (white piece: no sin)

Over death. (green piece: crosses)

Jesus is my Savior! (blue piece: Jesus’ hands)

Jesus is my Savior!

Jesus lives!

Jesus lives! (yellow piece: crown)

Pray together: Thank you, King Jesus, for everything you have done for us. Thank you for making us your forgiven children. Help us praise and honor you every day until we live with you forever. Amen.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

© 2014 CTA, Inc.

Apr 14

Defeated — a free devotion for Holy Week

Read Colossians 2:15.

As enemy forces advanced, Baker Company was cut off from the rest of the regiment. For several hours, headquarters tried again and again to contact the missing unit. Finally, a faint signal crackled on the radio.

Straining to hear each word, a corpsman asked, “Baker Company, do you read me?”

“This is Baker Company,” came the reply.

The corpsman asked, “What is your situation?”

“The enemy is to the east of us. The enemy is to the north and south of us.” Then after, a brief pause, “The enemy is on the west, too. They won’t get away from us now!”

As Jesus hung on the cross of Calvary, Satan’s forces moved in, certain of victory. But like some gullible fish in a murky river, the enemy did not see the steel barb of Christ’s divinity hidden beneath the flesh of his human nature. The enemy would not get away. His defeat was sealed.

It certainly did not appear that way on Good Friday afternoon. Jesus’ friends must have felt disgraced and shameful, defeated and hopeless. There was shame, of course, but none of it belonged to our Lord. All the angels of heaven and every demon in hell would soon discover that the only ones disgraced and defeated on Calvary that day were Satan and his cohorts.

Jesus had used death to defeat death. Like some divine martial arts expert, our Lord overpowered the rulers and authorities that had held the human race in bondage. And he had used weakness to do it! He not only disarmed them, he humiliated them.

How sweet is the cross of Jesus. How powerful is the cross of our Lord, too! May it always be that Paul’s boast will be ours as well. (Read Galatians 6:13.)

Prayer starter: Jesus, you are my pride and joy. I boast in you and in your cross! The power of the cross has brought me freedom from sin’s slavery and death’s domination. Nothing else in my life comes close to the joy and pride of belonging to you . . .

Editor’s note: This devotion is adapted slightly from one that appeared in The Power of the Cross, a book of devotions intended to help God’s people prepare for Easter in 2009. While this title is no longer available, CTA offers many helpful value-priced devotion books for use year round. May our Savior richly bless your celebration of his Resurrection victory this week and eternally!

© 2014 CTA, Inc.

Apr 09

Faith Under Construction: Are we giving kids the tools they need?

Faith_Under_ConstructionThe block area in any early childhood classroom is usually abuzz with activity. Children love to build, creating strong, stable structures. Usually, the children collaborate with one another, testing various strategies. Adults can play an important role, too, providing ideas and suggesting additional tools to support the children as they learn. No doubt about it: the kids’ brains are under construction.

If you teach Sunday school or a midweek class, you get to watch faith under construction! No matter how young or old they are, as our students learn more about Jesus, faith grows. But this doesn’t just happen. Adults need to provide the experiences and the materials that make it possible for strong, stable faith to develop.

These three tools are foundational for faith formation:

1. Teach the Bible stories. Young children love stories. These early years are a wonderful time to teach them the stories of Jesus. As we teach the stories, children learn that Jesus cared for people who were hungry and sick. They see his love, compassion, and forgiveness in action. They also learn that Jesus is with them to help, comfort, and deliver them in every time of fear and need. He is now and forever our kind, good Friend!

Younger children will focus on the basic facts of the story. As the students grow, they can begin to understand the deeper faith lessons these profound stories teach.

2. Practice faith habits. Our young students watch and learn as we model the habits of faith. As we worship regularly, pray before meals (even snacks!), and talk about our Savior, our students learn to sing about Jesus, pray to him, talk about him, and think of him as their best Friend.

3. Connect with others who know Jesus as their Savior. Together, we form a community of faith, a faith family, helping one another grow closer to Jesus and to each other. We need each other – kids and grownups alike. We want our students to know how important it is for them to spend time with other Christians, encouraging one other in the faith and being supportive in other, tangible ways, too. We both model this and talk about it with our students.

Blessings to you as you help children learn about Jesus through these fundamental faith tools!

Editor’s note: For more ideas, see CTA’s newest theme for kids, Faith Under Construction. As you plan summer Sunday school, VBS, and special events, these colorful, Christ-centered products will help you encourage the kids in your church to grow in grace!

© 2014 CTA, Inc.

 

Apr 08

Countdown to Easter Message 5: Care — A free devotion for your children’s ministry

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of six devotions intended to help children prepare for Easter. It’s slightly adapted from CTA’s theme for spring, Jesus Lives! Let’s Celebrate!  

Getting Ready

Familiarize yourself with today’s devotion. Place a bookmark in your Bible at John 14:27.

Place the blue magnet piece of your Jesus Lives! Let’s Celebrate activity magnet on a metal cookie sheet or pizza pan. Put the assembled previous pieces on the other side of the pan.

Place the metal pan and your Bible inside a bag.

Have extra Jesus Lives! Let’s Celebrate magnet pieces on hand and plan to distribute them to children who didn’t receive one to take home last time.

Introduction

Warmly greet the children and invite everyone to sit down around you. Nearby, place the bag of items you prepared ahead of time. Remind your listeners that you are counting down the weeks until Resurrection Day—the day when Jesus rose from the dead. In just two weeks, we will celebrate Christ’s resurrection. Invite everyone to join in as you count down together: 2, 1—Jesus lives! Let’s celebrate!

Last time we talked about the three’s that were important when Jesus died on the cross. Today, let’s think about the ‘twos’ we see in the story of Jesus’ dying and rising again for us.

Getting to the Heart

On the day Jesus died, most of his disciples, his followers, and his friends ran away to hide. They were afraid—very afraid. Maybe Jesus’ enemies would capture and kill them, too! So as Jesus hung on the cross, he was almost alone.

Still, some people were brave enough to stay with him. Today, I want to tell you about two special people who stood at the foot of Jesus’ cross while he died: Mary and John.

Mary was Jesus’ mother. She gave birth to Jesus on the very first Christmas. When Jesus was a little boy, Mary helped him learn about our heavenly Father. She helped him learn Bible verses by heart. She told Jesus stories from the Bible—some of the stories you have learned. Adam and Eve. Noah and the Great Flood. David and Goliath. All those stories and many more.

When Jesus grew up, Mary no doubt listened to Jesus teach. She heard about all the many miracles he was doing, and she probably witnessed some of them, too. How proud and happy she must have felt.

But now Mary stood on the hill called Calvary, watching her son Jesus die on a cross. It must have broken her heart!

Mary wasn’t there by herself. Jesus’ disciple John stood near Mary beneath Jesus’ cross. John was one of our Savior’s closest friends. Like Mary, John had seen Jesus heal, forgive, and teach. John had seen crippled people walk. He had seen hungry people fed. He had seen guilty people forgiven. Now, John watched as his Lord and Teacher suffered and died on the cross. John, too, must have felt as if his heart was breaking.

Jesus saw how sad Mary and John felt. Jesus wanted to comfort them. He wanted them to help and befriend each other. So Jesus told Mary, “John will be your son.” To John, Jesus said, “Here is your mother.” Jesus was asking John to take care of Mary and love her just as if she were his own mother. Jesus was asking Mary to encourage John and to rely on John just as if he were her own son. The Bible tells us that John and Mary did what Jesus asked. John took Mary into his home and cared for her.

Jesus knew how confused and frightened his friends felt. He knew both Mary and John were worried and so, so sad. So Jesus comforted them.

Jesus comforts and cares for us, too. Listen! (Read John 14:27 from your Bible.) Jesus knows that sometimes we feel afraid. Sometimes we worry or feel sad. Jesus wants us to know that he cares—really cares—for us! His love comforts us, and his strength protects us.

(Show the children the blue Jesus Lives! Let’s Celebrate magnet puzzle piece and call attention to the picture and the word “Care” on the piece.) This is like Jesus’ hand. While he lived here on earth, Jesus used his hands to touch and heal. He used his hands to give food to hungry people. He used his hands to bless. Then he stretched out his hands on the cross—and died. The nails didn’t hold him to his cross. His love for us held him there. Knowing Jesus did that for us, we also know we can trust him to help with all our other troubles, too.

Taking It Home

Invite the children to repeat these words after you as you pray together:

Dear Jesus,/ thank you for loving us./ Thank you for taking care of us./ Help us trust you always./ Amen./

(Distribute the Jesus Lives! Let’s Celebrate activity magnet pieces to any children who didn’t get one last time as you hand out blue pieces to everyone. Encourage them to put the five pieces together at home, and tell them that the piece for next time is a very special shape.)

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

© 2014 CTA, Inc.

Apr 07

A Step Down – a free devotion for National Volunteer Appreciation Week


Read John 13:1–17. As you read, emphasize verses 4-5

He had to kneel. There’s no other way to wash someone’s feet. Bending over won’t do at all. So Jesus knelt.

It was a step down. A giant step down, when we consider the rainbow-encircled throne from which he had descended three short decades earlier. God became man. The Creator took on skin and hair and blood vessels. Embryo to fetus to newborn lying in his peasant mother’s lap, snuggling close against the cold.

A step down. It was that all right, and more—much more! Just think of it! Jesus kneels so we can stand, right with God, blameless, unashamed, and filled with joy in his presence. Now, by faith, we are the children of God, heirs of heaven, forever.

The gentle Jesus, crucified and risen in love for each one of us personally, has by his death made us great. We have incredible value in God’s eyes, not because of what we have done or can do, but because of what Christ did for us.

What an amazing difference it would make if we could begin to grasp even a small bit of that truth! We would no longer agonize in guilt over sins long since forgiven. We would no longer need to toot our own horn or defend our own record. We would no longer wonder if we’ve done enough or if our best service has been good enough.

Jesus stooped down, stepped down from heaven itself into our reality. Now, he takes our hand to lift us up. What grace! Truly amazing grace!

Are you looking for a simple way to say thanks to all those volunteers that invest so much time and effort for your church, school, or Christian group? CTA has many thoughtful, value-priced gifts you might want to consider using, plus many related FREE resources. Check them out!

 © 2014 CTA, Inc. 

 

Apr 02

April 6-12 Is National Volunteer Appreciation Week

Thank_You_Are you looking for a simple way to say thanks? Here’s a note you can include in this week’s bulletin or newsletter. Or post it on your church’s website. CTA has many thoughtful, value-priced gifts you might want to consider using, too. Check them out!

  

To All Our Volunteers: Thank You!

 We thank our Lord for all the

many things we see in you:

The kindness, joy, and servant heart

in everything you do!

 

You’d rather not be noticed.

Still, God knows what you have done.

Each selfless act, each thoughtful deed,

Reflects his loving Son.

 

If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. John 12:26 ESV

 

© 2014 CTA, Inc. 

 

Apr 01

Countdown to Easter Message 4: You — A free devotion for your children’s ministry

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of six devotions intended to help children prepare for Easter. It’s slightly adapted from CTA’s theme for spring, Jesus Lives! Let’s Celebrate!

Getting Ready

Familiarize yourself with today’s devotion. Place a bookmark in your Bible at 2 Corinthians 5:15.

Place today’s green magnet piece of your Jesus Lives! Let’s Celebrate activity magnet on a metal cookie sheet or pizza pan. Put the assembled three previous pieces on the other side of the pan. Place the metal pan and your Bible inside a bag.

Have extra Jesus Lives! Let’s Celebrate magnet pieces with you to give to children who have not yet received them.

Introduction

Warmly greet the children and invite everyone to sit near you. Nearby, place the items you prepared ahead of time. Remind your listeners that you are counting down the weeks until Resurrection Sunday—the day on which Jesus rose from the dead. Invite everyone to join in as you count down together: 3, 2, 1—Jesus lives! Let’s celebrate!

Last time we talked about the number four. Today, I want us to think about the number three. That number comes up several times in the account of Jesus’ dying and rising again.

Getting to the Heart

Three powerful men were Jesus’ judges. One of these men was named Caiaphas. He was the High Priest and Jesus’ first judge. Caiaphas hated Jesus. He was jealous because so many people came to hear Jesus teach about God’s love and forgiveness. The second judge was named Herod. He was the ruler in a territory called Galilee. He didn’t believe in Jesus either, but he had heard rumors about Jesus’ miracles. He wanted to see Jesus do a miracle—kind of like a magic show. When Jesus wouldn’t do that, Herod sent Jesus away. Jesus’ third judge was Pilate, the Roman ruler in the region. He knew Jesus had done nothing wrong, but he was afraid the people would riot. He sentenced Jesus to die on a cross.

Jesus had done only good, kind things for people, but his enemies were determined to destroy him. They got false witnesses to lie about Jesus. After the Temple Guard had Jesus in custody, they made fun of him. When Jesus was turned over to the Roman soldiers, they beat him and put a crown of thorns on his head. Then they made him carry his cross to the hill outside the city where he was to die.

Three crosses stood on the hill where Jesus died. (Call attention to the three crosses on the green magnet piece.) On a hill called Calvary, the Roman soldiers nailed Jesus to a cross. Two criminals were crucified that day with Jesus. These two men deserved to die for their crimes, but Jesus never thought, said, or did anything wrong. He did not deserve to die. He could have told God’s angel army to destroy all his enemies. He could have come down from the cross any time he wanted to. But he didn’t. He stayed on the cross, because he loved us. He was dying in our place.

Three letters tell why Jesus died. Those letters are Y-O-U! Two crosses on Calvary belonged to criminals. The third cross—the middle cross, Jesus’ cross—belonged to me. It belonged to you. (Point to the YOU on the green magnet piece.) You and I sin every day. We disobey our teachers and parents. We fail to show love to friends and family members. We say mean, hurtful things to other people. We curse. We think selfish thoughts and act in selfish ways. The Bible calls this, sin. All of us sin.

But here is what the Bible says. (Read 2 Corinthians 5:15.) Jesus loved you and me so very much that he took the punishment we deserved. Jesus died on our cross so that we wouldn’t have to be punished for our sins. Jesus died in our place.

But Jesus didn’t stay dead. Jesus conquered death! In just three short days, Jesus came alive again! Now Jesus lives forever. Jesus loves us forever. Jesus forgives us, and he gives us new life now and forever.

Taking It Home

Teach the following echo song using the tune, Frère Jacques. Sing the first few words and encourage your listeners to echo them, singing your words back to you:

Jesus died. (Jesus died.)

On the cross. (On the cross.)

Now we are forgiven (Now we are forgiven)

And we’re saved! (And we’re saved!)

Can you fold your hands and pray in your hearts as I pray aloud?

Dear Jesus, you must really love us a lot! Thank you for suffering and dying for us. We praise you for your power over sin and death. Please help us share the good news of your Resurrection with others. Amen.

Distribute the Jesus Lives! Let’s Celebrate! Activity Magnet pieces to the children who have not previously received them as you hand everyone today’s green magnet piece.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

© 2014 CTA, Inc.

 

Mar 31

Christ, Our Loving Shepherd – a free devotion for this week’s meetings

Editor’s note: These devotional thoughts are excerpted from the sermon series that accompanies CTA’s new theme for Easter preparation, The Shepherd, the Lamb. The sermon series includes six sermons and six sets of discussion questions based on them – all free! They are designed for use with our new product line, The Shepherd, the Lamb. We think you will find much of value here as you help members prepare to observe Good Friday and celebrate our Savior’s Resurrection! 

Read Matthew 27:45-46 as you begin.

The shelves of Christian bookstores in recent years have been filled with books written by people who believe they have visited heaven (or hell) and have returned to tell about it. Regardless of what we think about those reports, we have one report that is totally reliable.

While Jesus Christ hung on the cross, his experience was anything but heavenly. He cried out in anguish, “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani.” You know what those words mean; “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (See Matthew 27:46.) Christ was quoting words from Psalm 22.

These ancient words from the Psalter are ones that Jesus knew well even as a child; yet now, on the cross, the words of Psalm 22 took on a vividness, a harsh reality that our Savior had never before experienced. On the cross, Jesus became the one utterly forsaken.

That word, forsaken, hits like a ton of bricks. Christ has been utterly forsaken on the cross! This is a mystery no human being will ever fully comprehend. Jesus, burdened by your sins and mine on the cross, has been forsaken – forsaken by God. He is in hell.

This is not a metaphorical hell. This is not a state of mind or anything of that sort. This abandonment is far worse than any of the beatings he endured. It is far worse than having his body supported solely by nails. Jesus is utterly alone. Although people stand around him, gawking or spitting, he is alone. In anguish, he asks his heavenly Father, “Why? Why have you forsaken me?”

Although Jesus asks the question, we can provide an answer. We are the answer! Our sins are the reason God sent his Son to earth in the first place – to die as our substitute. Our Loving Shepherd is the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world. We are the reason God abandoned Christ there on the cross. Our sins nailed Christ to his cross.

Our sin is part of the answer to Jesus’ question. Really, we could say that it is the answer that lies on the surface. But if we dig a little deeper, we find a deeper answer. Jesus asks, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Again, we are the answer! God loves us so much! That love led Christ to his cross. That love led him to stay on that cross and to die there. Your Loving Shepherd willingly offered himself up for you!

Jesus is pinned up there on the cross. He hangs between two criminals. His arms, spread out from side to side, support the entire weight of his body – all because God loves his creation. All because God loves you! Our Loving Shepherd went to wondrous lengths to bring us back into a right relationship with himself. Love held our Lord Jesus to his cross.

Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

© 2014 CTA, Inc.

Mar 28

Three A’s for Celebrating the Gifts of Volunteers

A_to_Celebrate_VolunteersVolunteers are a critical part of our ministry. Sometimes volunteers serve in a more long-term capacity, for example those serving as Bible class teachers, members of the praise team, or in leadership positions. Other volunteers work behind the scenes and perhaps for a shorter period of time. No matter how they serve, we want volunteers to feel that we celebrate the gifts they bring to our ministry. We also want to retain them from year to year. Here are three A’s to help you do that.

Assess – This step is key. Help your volunteers evaluate their potential before they begin volunteering, while they are serving, and also when they complete their service.

Before volunteers begin serving, have them complete a spiritual gifts inventory. While few of these inventories are very scientific, they can help volunteers ask the right questions as they explore the areas of service in which they are interested. On the flip side, these inventories can help you identify people who might fit volunteer positions you hope to fill.

While volunteers are serving, especially in long-term positions, meet with them at least once each year. This will help them assess how they are using their spiritual gifts in their current role. Celebrate their continued service. Invite them, as that might be appropriate, to serve in other ways. For example, one of my spiritual gifts is teaching. My current volunteer positions allow me to teach both young children and adults. I am thankful to be using my gifts in this way. However, since another one of my gifts is shepherding, I may want to consider serving in ways that allow me to develop this gift further.

Finally, when volunteers complete their service, it is appropriate, respectful, and affirming to sit down together to assess how they have used and developed their giftedness during their time of service.

Align – When we consider alignment in ministry, we want not only to align people with their spiritual gifts, but with the mission and ministry of the organization and with the tools required for their position. When the volunteers’ spiritual gifts and involvement are aligned, they will likely find greater joy and satisfaction as they serve. When volunteers have a clear understanding of the mission and ministry of your church, school, or agency, the work in which they are involved will more likely reflect that mission and ministry. When volunteers are trained and given the resources they need for service, they will more likely feel successful and empowered. Alignment creates a powerful climate for volunteer retention.

Affirm – Another important “A” for retaining volunteers is consistent, ongoing affirmation. Say thanks. Write a note. Send a text or E-mail message. Acknowledge individuals in your monthly newsletter and in other public ways. This, too, will affirm them for their service. Never take your volunteers for granted! Give affirmation priority and volunteers will keep coming back.

Blessings to you as you assess, align, and affirm in these ways, helping your volunteers know that they are making a difference for God’s kingdom!

Editor’s note: CTA makes helpful tools and many appropriate thank-you gifts available to help you express appreciation to volunteers. Several of these are free and downloadable. Check them out on our website. 

 

Scripture quotations marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

© 2014 CTA, Inc.

 

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