Jeff: Hello everybody, and welcome to the first PromiselandOnline chat of 2000. This is a moderated chat, so while you cannot chat freely, you can submit a question by clicking the "Ask Question" button
Jeff: Please welcome Sue Miller, Executive Director of Promiseland!
Sue Miller: Hi fun people! Greetings from the Promiseland Team. We miss you! We had such a great time together at the Promiseland conference didn't we? Our team has been busily preparing for Easter weekend here - writing curriculum, practicing dramas, teaches, and songs- making sure our rooms are staffed properly with volunteers for all 6 Easter services. You are probably doing the same. Since I last saw you, I've been to Atlanta for a 2 day Promiseland Regional Workshop and met many volunteers and leaders there who were committed to building prevailing children's ministries. We had a great time together. This weekend I fly to San Francisco for a workshop there - if you think of it, please pray for that workshop and for the leaders on the West Coast. So... now it's your turn to let me know how you're doing. What's new?
Rita from Tijuana, Mexico asks: Is there any way that we can get a copy of the Passover drama used at the conference?
Sue Miller: It will only be available in the Promiseland Subscription Curriculum. You will find it in one of the kits for Grade 4/5.
Jane from Michigan asks: How do I receive a Promiseland Curriculum Lesson Sampler?
Sue Miller: The Promiseland Lesson Sampler is available as a free download from PromiselandOnline.com.
Carol asks: Could you please put the job descriptions for the different curriculum positions online?
Sue Miller: Great suggestion! We do have a brief description of the responsibilities and spiritual gifts needed for the key volunteer positions in the Director's Notebooks of the curriculum, and we'd be happy to make them available online.
Renee asks: When will the Promiseland Band be issuing new music?
Sue Miller: In the summer of 2000, we will be releasing 3 new CD's These CD's will coincide with the new curriculum and support the lessons for 2000/2001
Sallybond: Will the 3 new CDs in summer 2000 have the Wiggle Song and Jesus is the Best on them?
Sue Miller: The Wiggle Song will be on the K/1 (Kindergarten & 1st Grade) CD. Jesus is the Best is a song that we use in the Preschool area of our ministry and although we’d like to be able to release a new Early Childhood CD, we need to develop some new songs before we’ll be able to do that.
Linda asks: Mentoring was mentioned in Pat's breakout session. Any suggestions for how to hook up with someone?
Sue Miller: There are a couple of different options: As you discover the areas of leadership that you need to grow in, it might be helpful for you to find another leader in your church that might be able to mentor you in those areas. Your second option would be to "hook up" with another children's ministry leader. If you are a WCA member, you can try this through our message board at PromiselandOnline.com.
Is the "Reader's Theater" of Nehemiah that was used during the conference available for purchase?
Sue Miller: Not at this time, however, we are looking into how we can make it available as a downloadable resource.
Matt from Michigan asks: Nobody on our team remembers what the letters RTF on our lanyards from the conference stand for. Could you remind us of the meaning?
Sue Miller: Remember the Fun! As a value of Promiseland, keep fun in your ministry... for the kids as well as the adults. As you teach the Bible creatively and relevantly, fun will make your ministry THE place to be week in and week out.
Jayne from Jordan, Ontario asks: How can I get my hands on The Wiggle Song?
Sue Miller: The Wiggle Song will be available on the K/1 music CD that will be available in July 2000.
Danise asks: When do you foresee publishing preschool curriculum?
Sue Miller: We do not currently know IF we will be publishing preschool curriculum, so it is hard to tell when we will make it available.
sallybond - Sue, do you teach the children about gifts of the Spirit?
Sue Miller: Yes, we do teach on gifts of the Spirit in a very introductory manner in preschool. As they get older, they get more info and more chances to try out their gifts. We try not to label kids too early in their spiritual journey when it comes to spiritual gifts.
Sallybond: Do you offer any training on using drama to teach/reach kids?
Sue Miller: We offer training at the Promiseland conference through our breakout sessions...for adult leaders. You can order the tape from the WCA if interested...The sessions were led by Deanna Armentrout.
Is the Old Testament rewind available?
Sue Miller: It will be in the Fall curriculum for Grades 4/5.
DarbyC Will there be another summer curriculum published for next year?
Sue Miller: There will not be a new kit for 2000, however, Live the Adventure is still available. We will be working on a new summer event for 2001.
Are there some tools to help us make wise decisions on who we should hire?
Sue Miller: When hiring, look for people with Godly character first- interview carefully to discover their walk with God. Look at their spiritual gifts... match their spiritual gift with the position you seek to hire. Try them out in the ministry position if you can. That gives them a chance to see if they like it... and it gives you a chance to see what kind of work they are doing.
Start by determining who is the ministry leader. Find the person that will cast vision to volunteers. Find the leader who can lead the team and represent your ministry to the rest of the church. Decide which of the 3 eyes you need first: Leadership, Programming, Operations. You will probably implement ministry differently in upper childhood versus early childhood...but please make sure that both areas operate under the same mission, vision, and values. Does that help?
DarbyC: What kind of follow-up do your small group leaders do when a child gets saved?
Sue Miller: Small group leaders send a note home the first week or make a phone call to the child to encourage them in their spiritual journey...Small group leaders also try to make contact with parents of each child to discuss with them the decision their child made while in Promiseland.
DarbyC: Do your older kids ever lead worship for their classes and if so how do you go about that?
Sue Miller: Older kids do lead worship for kids in classes. In order to do that, they audition and become part of our vocal team where they receive coaching, discipling, training and care...as they use their spiritual gift in the classroom.
Starspuds: With large/small group programming, what does your meeting space for small groups look like?
Sue Miller: We use hallways, classrooms, big spaces and small spaces - whatever is available in order to make our program work with the number of kids that come to Promiseland every week.
DarbyC: How and when do you teach the kids some of the spiritual basics, i.e. quiet times, baptism, etc
Sue Miller: Those spiritual disciplines are taught through our curriculum lessons each week.
KrisS: With parents changing services so often, how do you keep small groups from becoming a revolving door and little continuity?
Sue Miller: Our small group leaders stay in contact with the parents of the kids in their group. Sometimes children hop around at services because their parents never understood how detrimental that would be to their kids' small group experience. When small group leaders phone home and inform parents of the effects of their decision to change services often parents understand that it's important for them to regularly attend the same service time each week. When parents understand the benefits, then they want to cooperate with us.
DarbyC: Do the kids ever have an opportunity to be involved in some kind of ministry projects in their small groups?
Sue Miller: Yes, the kids have opportunities to put bag lunches together for the homeless people who seek shelter at our church one night per week...They also have the opportunity to bring bags of food for the less fortunate who are served through our food pantry ministry.
DarbyC: We are a small church and only have one service. Our children's classes are during that time. Any ideas on how to implement small groups without people missing service every week?
Sue Miller: Try a rotation with leaders sharing the responsibility for a small group of kids. That gives each person a chance to still attend the weekend service and still make a contribution in the lives of kids.
Lori from Minnesota asks: Do you have guidelines or criteria that would prevent you from having someone work or volunteer in childrens ministry? We are about to set up our own policies.
Sue Miller: We do have very exact policies and procedures about having someone volunteer in our ministry... We have a lawyer that we consult with frequently in order to keep us up to date on our policies and information... It would probably be helpful for you to do the same.
andreaj36 asks: Will next year's Promiseland Conference have any focus on preschool ministry during the large group sessions?
Sue Miller: Next year's conference hasn't been made up yet, but I will take your suggestion to heart and see how God leads.
DarbyC: Do kids in 6th grade on up have an entirely different format than Promiseland?
Sue Miller: The Junior High program meets on Saturday morning, separate from the weekend services, however, their format is quite similar to Promiseland...They have competition instead of activity stations. They have large group teaching with drama, a band, and a bible lesson. They also have small groups for discipleship. They are just edgier and much louder than we are. :-)
andreaj36: How young do you begin the small group ministry with children? Do you use it in the preschool age group?
Sue Miller: We start our small group ministry with our children at age 3.
Gina: How do the nursery volunteers and program fit into Promiseland?
Sue Miller: The nursery volunteers play a very important role in the Promiseland ministry as they are the first impression that the parents receive when they enter Promiseland.
Marilynmcd: Is it possible to adapt the new curriculum for a larger age span eg Grades 1-6?
Sue Miller: Yes, but it will take a little creativity on your part. You could take the grade 2-3 lessons and use them along with grade 4-5 lessons in order to teach your kids in a relevant fashion.
Sallybond: Does Promiseland ever offer parenting education for Willow Creek parents?
Sue Miller: Other ministries in the church offer parenting classes. The Mom's ministry and the Dad's ministry offer classes during the year as they have time.
Rhondagayle: Greetings from Texas! Sue, do you guys have job descriptions available for what you earlier called the "three eyes" - Leadership, Operations, and Programming?
Sue Miller: In simple terms, the leadership or shepherding set of eyes is there to help love and develop other adult leaders so that those leaders will shepherd the kids appropriately. The programming set of eyes looks at what the kids are doing and learning. They ask questions like: Is our curriculum reaching kids? Do the kids like our program? Are kids learning? The operation set of eyes are the people who are gifted in administration. They uphold the value of safety, security, and customer service in the ministry.
jeff_wca: Time for a few more questions before Sue has to go.
DarbyC: Do you have a suggestion on finding a mentor?
Sue Miller: I look for people in my church who are better at a certain skill set than I am. I try to organize a lunch with them and ask them to help me develop that skill in my area of leadership. It is also possible to check the message board on PromiselandOnline.com and network with other children's ministry leaders who might be able to brainstorm answers to your questions. I also find it helpful to read as much as I can in both secular books and Christian books on leadership so that I can learn and keep growing.
Polarkev: How do "break up" the ages from infants through pre-K?
Sue Miller: Infants until they start to walk Toddlers until they reach age 2 & 2, 3, and 4 year olds are each in separate rooms.
jeff_wca: Last question
DarbyC: How do you try to get your volunteers into their area of giftedness? I know we have volunteers in the wrong place, but they are serving out of the goodness of their heart?
Sue Miller: Have a one-on-one conversation with those volunteers and ask them some key questions like: If you could do anything at all in our children's ministry, what would give you the most joy? How much joy are you receiving right now from where you are currently serving. Would you be open to exploring some new opportunities in areas where I believe you would have even more expertise. Having heart to heart conversations with volunteers opens the door to moving them into a place where there is a better fit for their spiritual gifts.
jeff_wca: Thanks everybody for coming to the chat. If your questions have not been answered in this chat, keep checking PromiselandOnline.com. We will be having a chat next month, date TBA.
Sue Miller: In the meantime, remember TOGETHER WE’LL PREVAIL. See you soon.