Monday, December 7, 2009

BayKids Christmas Going Global!

This year we are going global with our Kids' Christmas focus. We are encouraging them to spend their BayBucks to help needy kids by purchasing things like blankets, baby chicks to raise for eggs, Bibles, clothing, etc., through Samaritan's Purse. They can also bring in their gently worn shoes or sneakers to be distributed through Soles4Souls to kids who have no footwear.

We all know Christmas is about giving, not getting, and we really want to instill that in our kids in very practical ways. Get your kids involved and lead by example. Together we can make a difference and impact people who really need our help. Let's lead kids to experience the joy of giving!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Schedule

I love the flexibility and "whatever it takes" attitude of our BayKids volunteer team. You guys have adjusted to a lot of changes and you consistently step up to handle whatever challenges we face. Now with our new service schedule, we want to be sure you get to enjoy the services with Pastor Hal every week, even the weekends when you serve.

Beginning this Sunday, you will be able to watch the entire service, music and all, right here. You will be given a card with the password on it and you can sit back, relax with a cup of coffee, and enjoy the complete experience. We're doing this to ensure that one of our core values holds up- we want every volunteer experiencing the weekend so you will be encouraged and challenged to grow in your faith. You will be better equipped to serve in your classes when you are on the right path toward God.

The video will post at approximately 5PM each Sunday afternoon and you can check it out anytime after that, even throughout the week as your schedule permits. So thanks for all you do to help our kids learn about God. Let's keep growing together!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wisdom for Parents and Kidmin Volunteers

Follow this link to a blog post by Michael Hyatt outlining a talk given by Reggie Joiner, a pioneer in kidmin and parenting philosophy. There is a foundational principle here about the role of parents and the church in the spiritual development of a child. If you understand this, it will help you as a parent and kidmin volunteer.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Why We Do What We Do

Just wanted to share some feedback for you volunteers who give it your best every weekend. You don't always see the immediate impact of your work but here are a few examples to fire you up!

Two comments left on Facebook recently:

David Spencer wrote: I am so proud of William (my 5 yr. old son). He announced that Darth Vader does not scare him because God is on his side. Wow!

Crystal Greene wrote: It's amazing the impact CATB has had on my family. Just yesterday Kaylee and Hannah had a 20 minute conversation about a song we have heard 1,000 times before on the radio but now the song has a whole new meaning for me I never realized before...Long Black Train by Josh Turner...Hannah said the devil drives the train and Jesus saves people so they don't get on and ride with the devil...I'm so proud. Thx CATB!

When Brian Heckman saw this last one, he sent an email to some of the volunteers in those classes:
I hope Crystal’s comment keeps your personal passion going for what YOU do by serving other people’s kids at church. Personally, my naturally-selfish 1st choice for Sunday mornings is FAR from waking up/leaving home early to serve at church. But I get WILDLY ENCOURAGED through comments like Crystal’s, when God shows up SO CLEARLY around us, and literally plucks people off one path and sets them down on His path...using ordinary people like you guys to do it. Its times like these that I’m glad I get out of bed early on Sundays, and ask God to use me however/wherever.

So don’t miss God moving here…what you, personally, do on Sundays is obviously a huge part of changing this family in massive ways. And, our kids are watching/learning from us making such a huge difference for Christ.

Hope this encourages you to keep doing what you're doing. All of you are making an impact and here's the proof!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

This weekend we launched our new "BayKids Rock It" theme, complete with outer space designs everywhere. I don't have enough pictures of the new areas yet to redo our slide show but that will come soon. The coolest part of the weekend was seeing all our volunteers serving, (including some astronauts) especially some of our older kids.

For me, one of the evaluation markers I watch is kids serving. I know it primarily applies to the older classes but it represents the culmination of our ministry philosophy. If we can see kids getting plugged into service before they move up to middle school, I feel like we have succeeded in instilling some of the core values of our faith.

Adults modeling this with enthusiasm and excitement make it a natural step for a kid who is developing a relationship with God. They grow up expecting service to be a normal outcome of their belief system and early in life they begin to discover how God has gifted them. Ultimately that should produce a generation of men and women to whom service is an instinctive part of their faith.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Steinbrenner Pictures

Hey BayKids Volunteers,
Here are some pi
cs of our new digs. Check it out and start dreaming of rooms full of kids!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Backpack Bonanza

Last year we partnered with one of the church plants we support in a drive to connect with their local neighborhood. We provided over 300 backpacks filled with supplies to Common Ground Church in Tampa and they lit up the neighborhood!

They set up inflatables and games for the kids, provided hot dogs and sno cones for everybody, and then distributed the backpacks to these needy kids. They heard back later from schools in the area that teachers were thrilled to see so many kids coming to school with the necessary supplies. It made a huge impact on many of the homes right around the church.

So it's time to do it again. For the whole month of July, CATB people will be purchasing backpacks and filling them with stuff for school. Here is a supply list of what you will need:

1. Backpack (none with wheels)
2. 2 pkgs. of notebook paper (wide ruled)
3. 2 boxes of tissues
4. 2 8oz. bottles of hand sanitizer
5. 2 pkgs. of standard number 2 pencils
6. 1 box of crayons (24 count) or colored pencils
7. 1 canister of wet wipes
8. 1 rain poncho (optional)

You should be able to buy a backpack and the supplies for $20. We will also place a Bible in each backpack because this is about more than providing a sack of supplies; it's about connecting people to a place where they can find God- who can supply all their needs!

This year Common Ground has set a goal to provide 2,009 backpacks to distribute in Sulpher Springs Park on August 1st. If you'd like to help during the July collection or for the delivery, email Tina and she'll get you plugged in. Bring as many filled packs as you can any Sunday in July and let's help them make a huge difference in their neighborhood.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Baby Dedication

Baby Dedication is such a cool time to see families celebrate the wonder of new birth. The framed certificates we give out provide a lasting reminder of the commitment of the parents to raise their kids in a godly environment. Love the idea of celebrating new births.

That got me to thinking- I wonder if we should be doing more to celebrate the new birth of salvation when a child chooses to follow Christ? I wonder if our volunteers think of themselves as spiritual parents when they help a kid cross the line of faith? Do they see their role as providing a nurturing environment for that faith to grow and mature?

I don't want to manipulate kids into following Christ by using some extravagant celebration to appeal to their desire for attention but I don't think it would hurt if we applauded that choice in a big way. Baptism certainly accomplishes some of that and maybe that's enough. What do you think?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Graduating Kids!

School's out and that means my fifth graders are moving up to Middle School! Love the way they grow up and change into mature Christ followers. It's especially cool when I know they are moving into a jacked up Middle School program at CATB. They're gonna' love it!

Last weekend our Middle School kids did a 30 hour fast and raised over $1000 for World Vision. They go on mission trips during the summer to help with church planting and lots of other cool stuff. Makes my job so much more rewarding to know that I can send our 5th graders into an environment where I know they will continue to grow under the leadership of Hal 4 and his team.

Having an intentional strategy of spiritual maturity keeps kids engaged and transitioning through their developmental years. If we can steer them onto the right track during these impressionable years, they have a better chance of making it successfully into adulthood. Way to go CATB BayKids Team!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Ministry of Bowling

Children's Ministry is all about relationships- connecting kids to kids, kids to leaders, and kids to Christ. Everything else we do, from environment design to curriculum choices is all about facilitating relationships that ultimately lead to Christ.
Yesterday's bowling party was just that, a time to build relationships in a fun environment that will create lasting memories- memories of happy times with other kids who are following Christ. Not a very spiritual environment if you're a Pharisee, but I can tell you that parents and kids connected with each other at a deeper level than they normally do when passing in the crowd on a weekend.

I got a kick out of watching some little guys try bowling for the first time. You could see the excitement on their faces. And to rephrase a verse, if I smiled at their happiness- and they aren't even my kids- I know God was laughing at their joy as He watched His kids playing and having fun.

And that makes the point of my ministry mantra- Kids learn best when they're having fun!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

It Really Works!

If you've ever driven in a whiteout or a torrential rain storm, you know how stressful it can be to be unable to see where you are going. Under normal circumstances you can see the lane markers and know you are making progress toward your destination. That makes the journey much more fulfilling but not knowing where you are or if you are making any headway is very frustrating.

Anybody that has worked with children for any length of time knows that there are times when you wonder if what you are doing is getting through. Even as parent, you will have those moments when you ask yourself, "Are we even speaking the same language?"

Rather than waste the money on an ENT to see if the audio channels are actually open, just know that kids catch a whole lot more of what you do and say than you think. The absorption factor is very subtle and so you may rarely get any tangible feedback that validates what you are doing. Since life change is a key measurable for ministry effectiveness, any observable feedback is very helpful and reassuring.

This past weekend a parent who has been attending CATB for 2 months commented that her 2 year old son prayed at dinner this past week, apparently something new for that family. She was sending kudos to the teachers in his class for the evident impact they were having on her boy. I'm not sure she actually told the teachers in person but I wanted to make sure they knew that they were making a difference.

And that's what it's all about. Who knows- discovering the value of prayer at 2 may shape the spiritual path of that young boy for life. That's life change and that's why we do this. So even if you don't see the evidence of your influence as much as you would like, keep moving forward, knowing that God is honoring your faithfulness. And I'd bet that some day you will be amazed at what God was able to do through you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Books For Your Family

I am not in the habit of promoting products or websites but this has value for families in lots of ways. For very little money, you can publish a full-color book using your own pictures and text. The possibilities are unlimited- make a personalized book about your kid or your family, a vacation journal, a holiday compilation, a very special gift for another family member, etc. Let your imagination run with ways to make your family or someone special with their own book.

I got one for my birthday, a story written by my daughter about an adventure with my grandkids, filled with pictures they had drawn. It was amazing!

My grandkids love to have books read to them. Imagine how much fun it would be for your child to have their very own book about them or your family. Check it out at Blurb.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Lot's of fun at the Easter Egg Hunt this weekend. Gave out over 2400 eggs and some Golden Egg prizes! Kids loved the bubbles almost as much as the eggs. Best part of the weekend was baptizing three of our kids. Makes the resurrection come alive again when you see kids taking next steps with God.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spring Break Parenting Ideas

Last year someone suggested that we provide some ideas for parents about what to do with kids home from school during Spring Break. Apparently boredom is rampant in Florida! Anyway, here are some possibilities.

Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine has some suggestions like a Picnic in the Park, fishing, fossil hunting, sand castle building, etc.

Wiregrass Shops in Wesley Chapel has a Spring Break Carnival on Wednesday, April 8th.

Thursday April 9th from 9:30 - 1:30, Jennifer Allinder is hosting a CATB Mom's Day at the Park. She says, "We will have different folks bring sidewalk chalk, balls, bubbles, etc. Please let me know if you can make it ( Everyone will be responsible for bringing your own lunch, snacks, and drink. It will be at Safety Harbor City Park, 940 7th Street S. in Safety Harbor."

Other possibilities include many of the local attractions like MOSI, Florida Aquarium, Lowery Park Zoo, Rolly Pollies, Pump It Up Party, and the Oldsmar Spray Park. Also, Florida has many good State Parks within reasonable driving distance and are a very inexpensive day out.

Good luck and have a ball!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Day She Met Her Prince

It was a magical day for my granddaughter Kristen. A huge fan of the Chronicles of Narnia movie, she visited the Narnia exhibit at Disney's Hollywood Studios last week and as only Disney can do, she was transported into that enchanted land. She stepped into the forest and there, to her utter amazement, waiting to greet her was Prince Caspian himself. It was a little girl's dream come true.

I can only imagine the emotion she felt as he knelt before her and took her hand and talked to her. Everything she had loved about the story was coming true right before her very eyes. It was a dream come to life.The picture says it all.

I got to thinking about what it will be like when I step through the portal of time into heaven. Suddenly the world behind me will be replaced by a magical kingdom I have read about all my life. And there waiting to greet me will be Jesus. Only I'll be the one kneeling before Him. I bet I'll be as captivated by Him as Kristen was of her Prince. Maybe more.

I love children's ministry because I get to create those kind of opportunities for kids who will someday get to meet the Prince of Peace face to face. And I bet that Jesus will take them by the hand and guide them through the wonders of the kingdom He has created just for them. Only this time it will be forever.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Just a Typical Sunday at the Bay!

When Jesus said, "Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit," is this what He meant- a baptism of slime?

No wait- this is a "pouring" baptism. Since we believe in baptism by immersion, we would have to immerse a kid in slime. Think about how cool that would be.

I love children's ministry!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Children's Bibles

Last night on our church's live Internet chat, a question came in about where a child should start to read in the Bible and what version. So I promised some recommendations about that today.

Before I give you some specific Bibles to use, let me address the whole issue of what kids should read in the Bible. Obviously we believe the whole Bible is inspired by God but certainly there are areas that are not age-appropriate for children. I'm even appalled by some "Sunday School" curriculum that goes over some pretty gruesome stories that I wouldn't recommend for young kids, unless you want to give them nightmares about being swallowed by the family goldfish or having to spe
nd a night in the lion's cage at the zoo for spilling their milk. And the story of Abraham sacrificing his son Issac on the altar is not exactly bedtime reading either.

The key is to understand the developmental stage of the child and target their reading to stories they can understand and grasp the life lesson. With that in mind, here are some age-appropriate Bible books I would recommend. You can probably find any of these at

The Beginner's Bible
This is targeted at ages 4-8

The Adventure Bible
This is targeted at ages 6-10 and uses the NIV for Kids version.

The Comic Book Bible
This is targeted at ages 9-12 and really has a comic book feel.

So be wise in your selections and your kids can learn to love the Bible and benefit from memories that will guide their choices for a lifetime.