Children’s Ministry People You Should Know – Tina Houser
MY FIVE FAVORITE “RECENT” ARTICLES FROM TINA
MY PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS
I’ve only met Tina in person once, and then only for a very brief encounter. I could tell from that meeting though that she was full of life and passionate about reaching kids for Christ. I have dealt with her by e-mail on several occasions for K! Magazine, and I have been consistently impressed with how friendly and approachable she is. Tina’s work in putting together K! Magazine every month is a blessing to the Kidmin community. She also writes The Kitchen Curriculum which includes all kinds of great stuff. Some of the creativity included there prompted my question for her.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
I asked Tina to answer the following question in “just a few sentences”:
What is the most creative thing you have ever done to teach children about Christ?
Here is how Tina answered that question:
My answer might not sound extremely creative, because you probably think I’m going to say that I did a crazy science experiment where I foamed over the church baptistry … or carved a pumpkin to look like the Israelites walking through the Red Sea … or created a game using toilet plungers and flyswatters. Yep, those sound like loads of fun and I could definitely find a way to connect them with some spiritual truth, but that’s not what comes to mind first.
Intentionality. That’s probably the most creative thing I’ve done. Think about it. We teach kids a Bible story, connect them to the application, lead them to pray, help them memorize scripture, worship, and encourage them to serve others … and we do it all in one hour. None of those elements gets very much time. But, we know that when we focus on something for a longer amount of time, there’s more likelihood that it will sink in and stay. Because of that, I experimented with 6-week intentional programming where we concentrated on one area. I guess you could say it was creative, because no one was doing anything like it.
One such program was around scripture memorization and the participants committed themselves to a 90-minute session every week for 6 weeks. The kids chose a passage of scripture they wanted to memorize. I’m not talking a verse or two, but more like 12 verses and many times it was a full chapter! I presented them with a menu of scripture memorization techniques. And, they explored their passage through word studies, art, music, games, and building relationships with others. They lived with one specific passage for 6 weeks. At the end of the time they had an opportunity to share it in a worship service if they so chose. Years later, those kids can still recite those full passages, because we approached memorization very intentionally.
Another program that I developed around intentionality was "Unwrapping the Servant" where all we dealt with was servanthood. For this 6-week program, the kids committed to 2 1/2 hours every Saturday so we could learn about serving others. (A little aside … out of all the years I did this, only once did a child miss and that was for his 6th grade science trip to Huntsville.) The kids themselves designed, planned, and carried out a way to serve in each of 4 areas: family, church, community, and world. Kids don’t recognize the needs around them, so the first order of business for the 6 weeks was to open their eyes to the people they encounter every day who need help. Sometimes it’s not possible, but in every case that we could, the kids actually met the people they were serving in order to put a real live face to what they were doing. I conducted a pre-test of 10 questions before starting the first day. Then, at the end I did a post-test of the same 10 questions. The answers were very revealing. The mindset change was remarkable! As these kids have grown up, they continue to willingly serve others unlike other Christian kids their age, and I truly believe it’s because we took time to intentionally teach them how God wants us to serve others.
That’s it. Intentionality. (Now, I think I’ll go put some yeast in hydrogen peroxide and see what happens.)