All posts written by Jared Kennedy

6 More Children’s Music Resources

In 2009, I posted about 5 great children’s music resources. Here are a few more that I’ve come across since that time:

Big Stories for Little Ones by Rain for Roots is my favorite album of this bunch. It combines the writing talents of Sally Lloyd-Jones with the music of Sandra McCracken, Ellie Holcomb, Flo Paris, and Katy Bowser. The result is a record of God-centered folksy lullabies that you’ll love. The album is only available for download at their website.

Since 2009, Sovereign Grace Ministries has added two albums to their collection. Walking with the Wise is the their latest. It joins  To Be Like Jesus (June 2009) and Awesome God (Aug. 2004). The latest CD unpacks truths from the book of Proverbs. It teaches us that being wise is more than just knowing a lot and being smart. It involves fearing the Lord and believing that Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins and rose from the dead so that we could be forgiven and follow Him. That kind of wisdom is more important than anything in the world. The CD contains lead sheets, guitar charts, and accompaniment tracks to all the songs. You can buy it from the Sovereign Grace online store, or download the MP3 album.

I’m a big fan of the Ask Me Whooo catechism CDs from Diana Beach Batarseh. Catechism is simply using a question and answer format to teach basic Bible truth. One of the most famous catechisms is the Westminster Shorter Catechism, written in the 1600s by English and Scottish Divines. In the late 1800s, Joseph Engels adapted this body of work into what we call the Children’s First Catechism. More recently, Great Commission Publications adapted Engel’s work to make it more accessible to moderns, and Diana has used GCP’s wording in 74 catechism songs.

Jesus Saves Sinners by Village Kids. In 2010, the Village Church released their  a Kids EP containing 5 original songs that teach children about the character and nature of God and His plan to save sinners through Jesus Christ.  These songs correspond with the five foundational truths taught as a part of Village’s preschool ministry, The Little Village–(1) Jesus Came to Save Sinners, (2) God is Good, (3) God is in Charge of Everything, (4) God Wants to Talk with Us, (5) God Made Everything. It’s a great little gospel-centered Texas/Country/Rock album for kids. Here is the link on iTunes.

The Rizers is a group of musicians from Mars Hill Church in Seattle who have created a bunch of scripture memory songs from the NIV, set to synth-heavy, punk dance sounds. The “band” is Gracie, Matty C., Ayo, Mei Mei, and Johnny Danger. Like Gorillaz, The Rizers are a made-up cartoon band with invented personalities for each member. They have two albums currently: Meet the Rizers and Rise Up!  Check out Tyler Ratliff’s review of the second album.

Finally, Jesus Wants My Heart by Daniel Renstrom is a CD written for the Treasuring Christ children’s ministry curriculum. The music is contemporary and gospel-centered. It is also available on iTunes.

Worship God ’11: Leading Children to Worship Christ

A year ago, I had the opportunity of leading a workshop at the Worship God ’11 entitled “Leading Children to Worship Christ.” I’ve been reflecting on the truths that I learned in preparation for that talk as we get ready to study worship during VBS. If you are interested in thinking more about children’s worship, here is the workshop audio and notes:

Mark Your Calendar for These VBS Training Dates!

Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness!
Enter his courts with joyful songs! 

There are lots of opportunities to serve before VBS by praying, donating, building sets, shopping, planning, and assisting with training.  There are also opporunities to serve during VBS by teaching, or leading in drama, crafts, recreation, snacks, music, or Bible teaching.

Sign Up To Serve!

And if you plan to serve, RSVP to attend one of four servant training events. They are on 6/2, 6/6, 6/13, and 6/16!

RSVP To Attend Servant Training!


Mother’s Day Links + More!

Be sure to join us this Sunday for Mother’s Day at one of our Sojourn campuses! In light of Mother’s Day, I was reflecting a bit this morning about parenting. My friend Doug Wolter recently posted about the difference between Over-Parenting and Missional-Parenting. Here are a few of his thoughts:

Much of our parenting is motivated by fear. Consequently, we’re more concerned with protecting our children from the world than preparing them to make a difference in this world. Gospel-centered, missional parenting is much different. It pictures parents as courageous warriors getting ready to release their children into battle.
Read More! 

Also, here are some great Mother’s Day craft ideas from SojournKids’ J-town Campus Director, Danielle West:


6 Steps for Leading Change

Several weeks ago 
I posted twice about how the recent release of new children’s ministry curriculums has sparked controversy in the children’s ministry community. In my posts, I suggested that major philosophical shifts are impacting the way ministry leaders think and talk about curriculum. It’s not surprising that such major shifts have lead to conflict, because change is hard. But how can we lead through these changes with Christian wisdom and love? Here are a few thoughts on leading change (or leading through changes) with grace.

  1. Know what is worth fighting for… In other words, lead with the kind of vision that gives your people a clear direction. Sojourn’s lead pastor, Daniel Montgomery, has defined vision this way: “Vision is a picture of what could be, matched with a conviction that it must be.”  This kind of vision begins with revelation. God’s word inspires our vision, and the Spirit convicts us that we must act upon God’s word because it is necessary. Connecting kids with Jesus and the life he gives (John 5:39; Matthew 19:13-15) is the main thing for our ministry. And we believe that partnering with parents to capture the hearts of the next generation (Psalm 78:1-5) is an essential part of this mission.
  2. …and know what’s not worth fighting for. I love this Andy Stanley quote that I first heard from Jonathan Cliff: “We are married to the vision, but we just date the models.”  Knowing the difference between the vision and the different models that contextualize that vision is essential. Keeping Jesus first and partnering with families are both deal-breakers for me. I’ll die for that vision. But we must be flexible when it comes to models. We use a chronological bible storying curriculum, but we’re open to using a virtue-based curriculum so long as we see the virtues as God’s grace gifts to us through Jesus. Attractional large group worship gatherings, small groups with games, a classical educational approach for preschoolers, a particular Bible memory program, etc. Those are all models. Don’t marry them. Get married to Jesus and the families that he’s called you to love.
  3. Know who your enemy is.  When we’re passionate about a new ministry initiative (a new curriculum, new program, or just a new idea about how to make ministry better), it’s easy to think that anyone who stands in the way of implementing that change is our enemy. If you haven’t met opposition yet in ministry, know that it is coming. When you do, keep in mind that fellow staff members, the church board, the finance committee, and ruffled bloggers are not your enemies. “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood,but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). Even if you feel like  someone is speaking against the gospel itself, remember that you were once an enemy of God. And while we were enemies of God, we were reconciled to him through the death of his son (Romans 5:10). The way to win an “enemy” is to be like Jesus, a friend to his enemies.
  4. Lead with humility. As a Reformed guy, it’s sad to me that our movement is known more for the doctrines of grace than for leading with grace. I saw Scotty Smith tweet recently: “The Calvinist’s doctrine of grace is completely antithetical to leading with arrogance.” He followed it up by saying: “Calvinism is a dangerous tool when employed by those who are arrogant in spite of the humility and grace the doctrine teaches.” Paul said it more simply, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). This isn’t just a problem for Calvinists. When we’re leading change, there is a temptation for all of us to act or speak first before listening and considering.. The way of humility listens and asks questions before passing judgment on the church board’s motives or  firing off a complaint letter (or worse e-mail). When we speak first before listening, we take a position of self-righteous superiority. Don’t get me wrong. It is good to take pride in what the Lord has done in us–including the truth he has shown us–but we should never self-righteously compare ourselves to others (Galatians 6:10). After all, what do you have that you have not received?
  5. Pray. Paul follows up his instructions on spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6 with a section on prayer. He says, “Be alert and always keep praying for the Lord’s people” (6:18). My wife, Megan. recently wrote a great series of posts on lies that keep us from praying for our kids. Lie #6 is the lie of self-reliance. While we might not say it, deep down we often think “I don’t need to pray, because I can handle it.” When we do pray, often we are essentially praying, ”Lord, please bless my efforts.” Paul Miller writes, “If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life.” What are we saying we fail to pray about change? What are we saying when we fail to pray in the midst of conflict?  How much time do you spend interceding on behalf of your “enemies”? Have you prayed that they will come to a knowledge of the truth? Do you think that your efforts and arguments have a better chance of winning them over than the Spirit of God? Many of us are ready to stand in defense of our ideas or ready to pounce when someone else fails to “get it right.” But do we give thanks to God and celebrate when we see evidence of change in our enemies–however small? If not, we are failing to trust that God is at work. And  we’ve forgotten that he doesn’t really need us at all, but we desperately need him.
  6. Do the hard work of putting change into practice. If you’ve been convinced that your ministry needs to do more to partner with parents… or that Jesus and his grace needs to be more central in your teaching, stop talking about it and DO something. You might begin with a practical conversation with your lead pastor. You may just want to begin by making regular adjustments to the curriculum that you are already using. No curriculum is perfect, and “tweaking” usually doesn’t require a board meeting. If you make the decision that you do need to change your curriculum, check out the process we went through a few years back.

Change is hard–particularly when your church is in the midst of wrestling with a major philosophical shift–but the results and the process can be rewarding when we approach changes with prayer and humility. I pray that these few thoughts help you to navigate whatever changes may be coming your way.