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Written by

Shelli Haynes

Shelli serves as assistant youth and family minister at Red Hill Lutheran in Tustin, California. She has been a DCE in Southern California churches for 21 years! Shelli holds a BA from Concordia University in Irvine and a MA in Family Ministry from Concordia University in Seward. Shelli is wife to Travis and mama to two daughters, Megan and Mandy. She and her family love the beach, backyard badminton, and Giants baseball.

Recent Posts by Shelli Haynes

A “Happy Birthday, Jesus” Party for Fourth and Fifth Graders

This Advent season is a good time to engage your upper elementary students. Here is a fun idea for them to go on an adventure exploring the Scriptures to discover more about the newborn King!

Family-Centered Outreach through Christmas Eve Service

Over the past two decades, I have been on the hunt for a special Christmas gift to give! I happen to be a “gifts” person, and I love to receive incredible gifts just as much as I love to give them to others. I have also been blessed to serve God within a congregation as a paid vocation, and I have been the recipient of God’s incredible grace given to all of us through the gift of Jesus. 

The blog title gives away the object of my quest, so I will cut to the chase. I have been on the hunt for a beautiful expression of the Gospel within a Christmas Eve service that proclaims the saving Gospel message clearly to congregation members and first-time church attenders alike. I have been searching for a meaningful way to incorporate children into the service without the disruption a normal children’s message can sometimes cause. One option would be a formal Christmas program, but in the communities where I have served, there isn’t space in the family calendar for the practices and memorizing. Such a quandary!

VBS Volunteers Who Make a Lifelong Impact

Mr. Vedder was my VBS crew leader when I was eleven. He seemed super old—except when he smiled. He had a smile that seemed to break his whole face open, and light shone through! He had a loud, hearty laugh, and his laugh made me laugh too.

Effective Youth Ministry Is Personal

When I was a seventh grade student, a friend from middle school brought me to church for the first time. My family had an adversarial relationship with God, and church was really far down on their list of preferred Sunday activities. I walked onto the campus of a small Lutheran church and into a family I was not expecting.

Summer Sunday School Evangelism Opportunities

As the summer gears up, my mind is drifting toward how I can make the most of the opportunities I will have to interact with children and their parents this summer! My calendar likely looks very similar to yours—Sunday School will look different in some ways from the normal school year programming, and we will have VBS starting in a few weeks. Many families are heading out on vacations here and there, and in years past I have done less at church in a sort of one-way “non-compete clause.” Last fall, I heard from many families that they missed chances to be with other families outside of Sunday worship, and I got to thinking that perhaps summer is a unique time in a family’s year where outreach and evangelism can happen in fun, different ways than could be done in other seasons.

Find and Keep the Right Volunteers for VBS

As spring begins to thaw much of our great nation, church leaders and volunteers everywhere are turning their attention to the most wonderful time of the year: VBS! Vacation Bible School is a hugely energetic, impactful, and FUN week when our churches shine brightly with the Gospel directly and on purpose to kids and their parents. Is this week the same as our weekly ministry? Yes, but on a giant scale. In order to reach intentionally into the communities in which we find ourselves, we need partners who will help with this wonderful week.

Free Easter Children’s Message: The Empty Egg

This Easter, celebrate the best event in our history—the empty tomb! Perhaps your congregation does a special event for your children and the kids in your community. As part of that event, consider tying in a special children’s message that will bring Easter into sharp focus for those in your congregation.