Mentoring Teens in a Puppet Ministry by Karen Whiting

Today’s guest post is by a fellow AWSA author, Karen Whiting. The ideas Karen gives here for mentoring the next generation in the puppet ministry could be applied to any ministry. Our church has a puppet ministry, and just as Karen describes below, the youth are being trained early to participate in the ministry and the seasoned puppeteers are training them.

PuppetTeamThe Puppet Team

My high school daughter started a puppet ministry for teens with my husband and me as the advisers. Over time, it also became a mentoring ministry where the experienced members and adults trained new recruits. A few activities developed leadership qualities:

1. We held a week training camp each summer. We divided the campers into three or four small groups or pairs and they rotated through four areas each day. In one, the less experienced team members showed videos and led a devotional they had enjoyed during the year. In another, the next level of puppeteers taught how to use props. The third group of the most proficient puppeteers taught the new members how to hold and move the puppets. The last group met with a few of the artistic members and myself to make a puppet or some props. Each group of leaders felt important and started at a comfortable level to mentor newcomers. They also looked forward to moving up to the next level and that inspired them to work hard during the year.

2. We held quarterly meetings to plan shows. We had the most experienced members lead the meetings. They brainstormed ideas and listened to songs and read skits they might want to use. The other adults and I added thoughts to encourage some of the ideas put forth or to point out the challenges they might face. They also discussed parts and worked to give puppeteers roles that would develop their skill and reward members who had worked hard. This kept the experienced ones from hogging parts and helped them continue to train less experienced members.

3. We competed at Christian puppet festivals. To help everything go smoothly practices included how to set up the puppets and props backstage for easy access in the order needed. The teen leaders chose a few prop masters and stage directors to take charge behind the scenes. After the competition we read the judges comments and celebrated the outcome. Within a year or two we generally won gold medals and sometimes took the people’s choice award.

4. We chose spiritually mature teens to lead devotions before each practice. The leaders sometimes led the devotions. This helped keep unity and a focus on serving God.

5. We held a lock-in at least once a year. We enjoyed icebreakers and games, and spent some of the time practicing a show. It gave us time to bond and just be ourselves.

Puppet Training

Puppet Training

The adults always made themselves available for anyone who wanted counseling or advise. We also met before practice with the teen leaders to provide feedback, encourage them, and listen to their ideas. It amazed us to watch how the teens matured and developed leadership qualities and a heart for the members.

Now I write for tweens and teens and hopefully the books help them develop skills, confidence, and leadership qualities.

 

Bio: Karen Whiting is the author of eighteen books, including Nature Girl: A Guide for Caring for God’s Creation. She’s a former television host and served as the adult director of the teen puppet ministry for thirteen years. Currently she helps with Officer’s Christian Fellowship (OCF) for the midshipmen at the US Naval Academy.

Is Your Soul At Rest?

McCall Retreat

Our “Cabin” for Crouch Community Church Women’s Retreat

This past weekend our church had its annual women’s retreat in the beautiful setting of McCall, Idaho. We stayed in a retreat cabin on the lake and the weather was spectacular! We enjoyed early morning walks, kayaking, amazing meals out on the deck overlooking the lake, skits, karaoke, making new friends, and all the “slumber party” things we girls love to do.

But mostly we fellowshipped together, enjoyed worship time, the teaching of our speaker Phyllis Cook, and a Sunday morning devotional led by new friend, Athena Crowley. What a treat it was for me to just “be” and not have any specific role except to enjoy and refresh. I prayed that God would give me divine appointments and something to share with you today.

God is so faithful!

Divine Appointments

Have you ever prayed for divine appointments? I think God loves it when we do because He can really show up big time and He gets all the glory. I’ve written before about praying for divine appointments and how God has answered them for me in amazing ways and He didn’t disappoint this weekend:

1. The retreat speaker, Phyllis Cook, and I had never met so when we started talking she asked my name. When I said “Janet Thompson,” her face lit up in recognition, “I have one of your books.” She went on to explain that while a friend of hers from Israel was visiting, she wanted to buy Phyllis a book for her ministry at Meridian First Baptist Church where Phyllis’ husband pastors. Phyllis and her friend went to the local Christian bookstore and the friend chose my book The Team That Jesus Built and bought it for Phyllis. Phyllis and I marveled that God brought us together and we took this picture for Phyllis to send to her friend in Israel.

Phyllis Cook and me

Retreat speaker Phyllis Cook and me looking straight into the bright beautiful morning sun!

2. I felt God impressing on me to speak to a woman at the retreat, but I couldn’t find the appropriate time. The last morning, I said, God if You want me to do this You’re going to have to intervene. He did!

3. Our last meal, I sat next to a woman I had not met. We started chatting and I learned that she and her husband had just moved to Garden Valley in the summer. She heard about the retreat when they visited our church and decided to come. I invited her to our couples Bible study group and she was excited for them to join us.

4. I loved the gluten-free, honey, organic, pumpkin muffins that were on the snack table. Someone said that “Athena” made them. I had not met Athena, but as we started talking, she said, “Oh, you’re the author I was told to meet. Could I talk to you over dinner and discuss the book I’m writing?” We enjoyed a dinner of great food and “author” conversation.

Athena Crowley and me

Athena Crowley and me

 

Finding Rest for Your Soul

When I called home Friday night, hubby prayed that I would have a time of rest and refueling as I prepare for a very busy fall of speaking and writing.

In God’s perfect providence, Phyllis Cook, our retreat speaker, chose Matthew 11:28-30 as her topic for the weekend:

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The first night she talked about verse 28 as God’s invitation to rest, refreshment, and peace. Ahhh just what my husband had been praying for me.

The next morning, she helped us focus on verse 29 to find inner peace from Jesus’ example of gentleness, humbleness, forgiveness, and a servant attitude.

Her last session explored the paradox of taking on a yoke to find rest! Phyllis pointed out that Jesus’ yoke of humility is far lighter than trying to bear the yoke of pride and all of its manifestations.

Phyllis had us look at the yoke of pride. Are any of these weighing you down?

  • Complaining against God
  • Lack of gratitude
  • Anger, moodiness, impatience, rudeness
  • Perfectionism
  • Talking too much about yourself
  • Seeking independence or control—my way
  • Devastated by criticism
  • Defensiveness or blame-shifting
  • Not having close relationships
  • Competitiveness that always has to win or be first (I added to this to the her list)
  • Can you think of more?

Here’s how Phyllis explained Jesus’ yoke of humility. Do you see why it’s light?

  • Trusting God’s character
  • Not questioning God
  • Focus on Christ
  • Lots of prayer
  • Thankfulness
  • Willing to wait, long suffering
  • Good listener
  • Serving
  • Teachable spirit
  • Repentance, asking forgiveness
  • Close-relationships
  • Letting others win or go first (I added this to her list)
  • Can you think of more?

I was at peace all weekend and felt an incredible sense of rest in my soul and my spirit. Even when my mind wandered to all I had to do when I returned home . . . including writing this blog . . . I couldn’t conjure up a single moment of anxiety!

Arise and Go About His Work

My soul being at rest does not mean it’s time to stop speaking and writing. Contraire! It means I continue on About His Work with renewed energy and focus. Our Sunday morning devotional by Athena Crowley, the sweet woman I mentioned above who made the delicious pumpkin muffins, confirmed God’s call on my life . . . but this was not just a call to me. This was a call to every Christian!

Athena read Song of Solomon 2:10-13

My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
11 See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.”

From this passage, Athena shared that we are to arise from our “winters” of:

  • Apathy
  • Depression
  • Our Own Interests

Because it’s springtime in our souls! God is calling His people into into a closer relationship with Him so that we can go out and share the light of His glory to others who need more of Him in their life . . . or don’t yet know Him.

The world is full of so many who are stumbling in darkness. God calls every Christian to be His flashlight to help the lost find their way into the light of His glory. If our light is going to shine brightly, we need to refresh, renew, and refuel!

Is your soul at rest?

Can you choose humility over pride?

Are you ready to arise and be God’s flashlight?

If yes, then start praying now for those divine appointments where God will use you in a lost and lonely world.

 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Beating Burnout

Listen to podcast interview on the importance of developing an Apprentice!

The Team That Jesus Built Press Release

Former Saddleback Leader Offers Practical Steps to Building a Successful Women’s Ministry

(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.)—April 19, 2011—Former Saddleback Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry leader Janet Thompson, in her new release The Team That Jesus Built: How to Develop, Equip, and Commission a Women’s Ministry Team (ISBN 978-1-59669-300-5, $16.99), offers practical tips to women’s ministry leaders. Drawing on years of experience and lay-ministerial success, Thompson passionately encourages women’s ministry teams to continuously and systematically groom others.

“Most churches have a list of ministries that started with a bang and then fizzled—not for lack of people needing the benefits of the ministry, but often because the leader left without having an equipped team in place,” writes Thompson.

When God called her to start the mentoring ministry at Saddleback Church, she looked for resources to assist her, but found none. Instead, through years of experience she has now written her own. Using sound biblical principles, also incorporated by large international Bible studies, Thompson uses the training relationship of Jesus with the disciples as the basic outline for the book.

Chris Adams, senior lead women’s ministry specialist, LifeWay Christian Resources, recognizes the tools this book contains for effective team-building and offers positive words about the authors’ credibility.

“Janet Thompson has a heart for the Lord and a heart for raising up women who have a heart for Him,” endorses Adams. “She has given us many tools to mentor women and to grow together as women. As a leader herself, she has developed effective and multiplying teams.”

What distinguishes this book from so many others is that she takes the principles of Jesus and puts them in practical terms for women’s ministry. The book addresses getting started and organized, recruitment, informal interviews, key communication elements, conflict resolution, and a host of other topics that arise in ministry regardless of church size or denomination.

“In The Team That Jesus Built, Janet Thompson offers practical, step-by-step advice for building, remodeling, or rejuvenating a ministry team,” endorses Kathy Howard, minister of adult education at Fannin Terrace Baptist Church and author of Before His Throne, God’s Truth Revealed, and Unshakeable Faith.

About the Author
Janet Thompson, founder and director of About His Work Ministries, is an author and speaker on topics relevant to today’s Christian woman. She developed the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church, where she and her husband, Dave, were members. Janet served as a lay minister for 12 years, leading Saddleback’s Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry. Passionate about mentoring others, she is also the author of the “Face-to-Face” Bible study series. A new resident to Idaho, she continues to share the blessings of mentoring by training churches around the world.

About New Hope Publishers
Representing more than 50 authors and more than 100 individual works, the mission of New Hope Publishers is to provide books that challenge readers to understand and be radically involved in the mission of God. New Hope Publishers is the general trade publishing imprint for WMU, a missions auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention. New Hope Publishers is a member of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).

For more information about New Hope Publishers, visit www.newhopepublishers.com.