A HollandsKids “Did You Know” Moment

One of the best ways to follow the happening’s in and around HollandsKids is through our social media accounts (see the links at the bottom of the page).  We have four…

download (5)Our Facebook is a private page and requires approval before you can enter.  Facebook is the place to find photos, Sunday School bible verses/LifeApps, and other information about our ministry.  Since it is private and we can screen the creepy people from entering, it has become the place to show ALL of HollandsKids.

You can also follow us on Twitter, YouTube and Instagram for schedules, LifeApps, bible verses, videos, conversation starters, relevant blog and podcast links, as well as other children’s ministry nuggets.  Remember, your child’s Christian education remains largely irrelevant without intentional continuing education at home.  I only see your children about 40 hours per year.  So, tapping into these social media outlets provides the tools to be successful at home.




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Nope, not a Civil War reenactment, but a time for our kiddos to make God-loving memories with their peers.  This June 3 – 5, HollandsKids is super excited for our 4th an 5th graders to enjoy their first retreat experience.  We are an #AuthenticFaith construction zone so creating opportunities of fellowship and learning in a safe and fun environment reigns paramount to that charge.

For all of the information, CLICK HERE!

Jesus on the Cross…with My Kids

So, here’s my struggle.  How up_passion-of-the-christ-flipper-580x285v1in the world do I share Holy Week and Jesus dying on the cross with my kids?  How do I balance their sensitivity of the horrific imagery created by text and Hollywood with the necessary truths that I feel compelled and called to share?  What to do?

Today during a home school session with my 8 year old son, Gabe, we tackled consecutive passages that required some reflection, explanation, and, surprisingly, deep discussion.  Now, I will preface what’s next by sharing that the Bible we use is called The Adventure Bible.  Written on a 3rd-5th grade level, this text, chock-full of age appropriate foot notes and other texts, delivers scripture in a down-to-Earth (pardon the pun) for early to middle readers.  That said, we tackled the betrayal of Jesus, followed by the suicide of Judas (this challenged us and provoked a ton of good convo), and the crucifixion and death of Jesus.  In the middle of our reading and out of the blue with no prompting from me, Gabe started singing “Were You There when They Crucified My Lord.”  I let him go and finish the whole song.  I was stunned and touched by his passion (and cute out-of-tune voice), but, most importantly, it prompted me to show him something I had not planned to share.  I played him a music video (see below) that is not intended for a child his age.  It contains graphic scenes from The Passion of the Christ starring Jim Caviezel set to Selah’s version of the song he just sang for me.

He thought the images were gross, but he watched them and we talked about it.  I felt like, in the moment, it was the right thing to do.  Understanding the depth and breadth of Jesus’ sacrifice with a visual learner like Gabe proved righteous and important for his spiritual growth.  I don’t believe his little mind is broken nor has he mentioned it again since the lesson ended.  Tomorrow’s lesson springs into the happy ending we all love.

Every child is different, so always trust your instincts.  However, don’t be afraid to push the Christian boundaries with your child.  You may be surprised how much they can handle and understand about Jesus.  Use your best judgment, but do not be afraid.

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. ” – 1 Corinthians 16:13

Of course Grayson, our three year old, while we all talked about a Disney episode of PJ Masks, randomly exclaimed at dinner tonight, “Jesus died on the cross!”  I think we will leave it right there for the little one.

Jim Ellis


Our Village Needs More Villagers

download (3)The etymology of this phrase is likely derived from an old Nigerian proverb.  The historical communal nature of African tribes lends itself to a village mentality for, not only raising children, but also foraging, hunting, building, farming, or any activity a community would need to survive.

As a society, we have outsourced every activity on this communal list; even raising children.  We send them to daycares and schools.  Some who can afford, hire nannies or babysitters on a regular basis.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate for date nights and maintaining a strong bond with your spouse (I’ve even written about it…read here) and I’m not being critical of this outsourcing mentality.  We do it at my house, too.  The point?  If we spend our time and money on outsourcing the care and education of our own children, we certainly aren’t focused on other people’s children.


Especially in a Christian environment where, statistically, half of the children we see in Sunday school won’t continue their faith passed 12th grade.  We need MORE adults in our kids’ lives, not less.  My goal for each child is, through the years, they come to know and trust 4-8 adults to be mentors and stand-in parents.  These relationships foster a watchdog and nurturing mentality that every parent should want for their kids.  If you think you should parent by yourselves, then you are missing an amazing opportunity for your child to know love from a multitude of different people.  Jesus did say, “…and most importantly, love.”

The next time you see one of our Sunday School volunteers, thank them.  They are the boots on the ground, soldiers for Jesus adults with whom they have begun to create these critical early faith journey relationships.  Continue to encourage and foster these relationships because without them, your child may end up on the dark side of the 50%!

Jim Ellis

Vacation Bible School 2016 – Announced

Our children’s ministry is super excited to announce our dates and theme for Vacation Bible School 2016.  Mark you calendars now!  No vacations that week, people!!  :)

WalkThisWay_Box_1_NEWWe’ll hit the road with Paul and ask the same questions he asked and make some incredible discoveries along the way. Grab your gear, check your GPS and get ready to WALK THIS WAY!

June 26 – 29, 2016

Holland’s United Methodist Church

Registration opens April 2016

Where Should Your Child be on Sunday Morning?

imagesThe answer is simple…where the rest of the kids their age are going.  It is easy to give in and allow your child to go to worship with you or talk you out of going to church all together.  At my church, Holland’s United Methodist Church, our children’s Sunday School is during the contemporary, 9:45 AM service.  Some kids like the cool music and the laid back format of that style of worship, but being cool doesn’t equate to fostering an #AuthenticFaith.  The messages delivered during that service are intended for adults.  Children, especially those who are elementary aged and younger, have not achieved a level of maturity to where the sermons, songs, and fellowship will progress their journey.

We know that more than 50% of high school grads abandon their faith after high school.  The absolutely, no-doubt-about-it method to improving those odds with your child is to make sure they are in the right room with the right people on Sunday mornings.  At Holland’s that is our flagship children’s Sunday school programs during the 9:45 service.  Three to five years old children should be with our loving pre-school ambassadors and our K – 5 grade kiddos are with Mr. Jim and the amazingly cool and fun children’s ministry ambassadors (I like to call them education ninjas…cuz they are that good).

Does this mean they should never attend worship?  Of course they should.  We certainly don’t want a church full of college aged kids who have never worshiped before.  However, their Christian education and basic worship practices will be taught in Sunday School as well.  Maybe go to an earlier or later service from time to time so they can experience a pastor led worship.  Maybe encourage your Sunday School leader to take the kiddos to “Big People” church once a quarter or so.

Now go #NJS the heck out of the day.  :)



How to Go to Disney World without Everyone Hating You

A bit of a tongue in cheek title, I know.  This post is what I call serious sarcasm.  Nobody is perfect; that is for sure!  But, it is important to remember that manners and self-awareness are largely controlled by the individual.  My new podcast begins in July and this will be a frequent topic of conversation.  Teaching kids manners early is so very important.  Enjoy…


Photo by the very talented Caleb Ruckel (see his Flickr link below)


My family and I have been visiting Disney World about 1.5 times per year since 2004.  One of the best decisions we ever made was purchasing the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) with a chunk of the gift money we received from our wedding in 2005.  Tons of great memories.  I have become a (self-proclaimed) Disney nerd.

We’ve visited The World during the busiest and slowest times of the year.  Regardless of the crowd size, the same problems seem to creep up each time we go.  So, I’ve decided to share our invented vocabulary that will help keep you in the good graces of the polite police while visiting Disney (or any other crowded place on the planet, for that matter).


Wangling is the most annoying “art” of walking at an angle.  While the flow of traffic around you is heading in a common direction refrain from dissecting that flow by arbitrarily walking at an angle.  This act cuts off everyone beside you and behind you.  Anti-polite!  Use the old driving technique of looking over your shoulder before merging and saying words like “excuse me” or “pardon me.”  A more advanced version is the zig-zag wangler…aye, aye, aye.


Like wangling, this is a combination of words (middle and stopping), and is perhaps the most annoying and disruptive behavior of all.  Don’t ever, ever stop inTweedle the middle of the walk way.  We get it, you need to find the Rockin’ Roller Coaster or the next start time of Flights of Wonder.  Or maybe Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are signing autographs in New Fantasyland and you want to take a peek.  We don’t want you to miss these great attractions, but mopping can cause a rear-end pile up or force others around you to wangle.  Check your blind spot, don’t wangle and pull over.  By the way, this also applies in the grocery store, at work, or any other place where other people exist. 

The Familycade

Or family barricade…This occurs when your party of 14 is on Main Street walking side by side at .2 miles per hour.  Please, enjoy the experience, the weather, and the magic.  Just don’t enjoy it by blocking the entire walk way.  Stagger your party so others aren’t forced to walk into oncoming traffic or wangle.  You never know!  Someone may be trying to make their FastPass time at Space Mountain.  Familycade wangling or mopping are most egregious.


Like texting and driving, this is a most dangerous activity.  We appreciate that you aren’t mopping.  Thank you.  But the readwalker will only cause one to wangle and, inevitably walk into oncoming traffic, a flower bed, or The Beast trying to get to his next autograph session in France at the World Showcase.  For pure entertainment purposes, when a readwalker approaches, I simply stop until they run into me.  The entertaining part is when the offender is surprised and startled that they walked into someone. 

These are the four biggies.  Honorable mentions go to 1) Walking on the wrong side of the “road” 2) Making out in line 3) Picking your nose  4)Leaving dirty diapers on the bus 5)  Wiping snot off your nose with your hand and then touching the queue rails 6) Running into someone’s Achilles tendon with your moterized buggy and 7) Farting while on the Tower of Terror.  All of which have happened to me.

UPDATE:  A newer version of readwalking is PHALKING.  Yes, phalking.  Phoning/texting while walking.  Seriously, people, if you have to text pull over and do it and stop running into people.  I tell my son all of the time, saying you’re sorry 100 times for doing the same thing doesn’t count as being polite.  That goes for you, too…phalkers (smh).

The bottom line?  All of this is solved if adults learn and teach their children to always be aware of their surroundings and remain polite and cognizant of that awareness.  Just a little life lesson from the desk of Jim Ellis.

For more great photos by Caleb Ruckel click here!

What is Orange?

Orange is the robust, #AuthenticFaith building, mega-awesome curriculum from the reThink Group in Atlanta.  They developed a program that revolves around a partnership with parents.  Your church leaders will see your child about 40 hours per year, while you see them about 3,000 hours.  Soooooo, it’s pretty obvious, right?  In order to be effective in our leadership,  parents MUST be plugged into our teachings…every week.  Starting in preschool all the way through high school, Orange provides the information, tools, and fun to make that happen.  Our job is to lead them and you through that.

indexThe First Look curriculum works to incite wonder by helping preschoolers embrace a God who is bigger than their imagination.  Here we introduce Bible stories, ask key questions and work to memorize a new verse every month.  Before they leave First Look, the kiddos will know that God Made Me, God Loves Me, and Jesus Wants to be My Friend Forever.

indexStarting in kindergarten and ending in 5th grade, 252 Basics aims to provoke discovery and invites kids to a new understanding of how to grow in a relationship with Jesus.  It is here that we believe the story of God reveals the character of God.  Bible stories and principles anchor this curriculum to help kids discover Jesus and reflect his character to the world around them.  Each month we feature a Life App where our lessons show children that what they are learning applies to their everyday lives.  Before they leave, 252 Basics, the kiddos will know that I Need to Make Wise Choices, I Can Trust God No Matter What, and I Should Treat Others the Way I want to be Treated.

indexAs they enter middle school, their world changes very rapidly.  XP3 attempts to maintain a consistent message through those tough years by fueling a passion for Christ in the heart of a teenager.  This is the time to lead our young people from spectators to participants.  The content and conversations elevate to a deeper sense of purpose while helping youth leaders grow their influence with students, leaders and parents.  Upon graduation, we expect our kiddos to know they are Created to Pursue an Authentic Relationship with Their Creator, Belong to Jesus Christ and Define Who They are by What He Says, and Exist Every Day to Demonstrate God’s Love to a Broken World.

Our effort isn’t about one person, or about you…it’s about what we can do together.  Each phase of Orange encourages communication and tools for parents called a Parent Cue.  You can currently find them by hard copy, e-mail, social media, and SOON text.  We are still developing that process so much more to come!

Thanks for your interest in our children’s and youth ministries.  If you have further questions about 5th grade and below, e-mail Jim Ellis at jim@hollandsumc.org.  For questions about middle and high school programs, e-mail Susan Wright at susan@hollandsumc.org.

Orange also provides a curriculum for Marriedpeople.  Coming soon to a Holland’s United Methodist Church near you!

My Kids Don’t Come First


FunnyAs we approach Mother’s and Father’s Days, I thought about my role in my children’s lives.  This post has been festering in me for quite some time.  Today seemed like the right day.

Here’s the thing…I love my kids dearly and would literally take a bullet for them; most of us would.  However, as a society, I think we have our priorities garbled.

The bond with our children is only as strong as the bond we share with our spouses.  Primarily focusing on that realtionship teaches and nurtures the next generation (Say YES!) to do the same when it’s their turn to teach and nurture.  Let’s face it, it’s often not the smartest person in the room who earns the greatest rewards.  A person who learns compromise, team work, compassion, flexibility, creativity, and love often possesses the gifts to lead and enjoy tremendous success in their personal and professional lives.  As a husband and father, what is best for my kids is not for me to put them first, but put their mom (my wife) at the head of my priority list.

Hey Gabe and Grayson, watch mom and dad.  Learn to be.  Learn to love.  I’ll put mom first so you guys will have the best chance of teaching your future munchkins the ways of the world.  In reality, by putting mom first, I’m really putting you first…

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:12

Jim Ellis is the Children’s Ministry Leader at Holland’s United Methodist Church and host of the upcoming podcast Holland’s Thunder.