As many of my readers know, I write the Kid’s Church curriculum for DiscipleLand and it is called DiscipleTown. It’s focus is on “Disciple Skills” – 24 units that cover twenty-four skills every fully developed disciple of Jesus needs to master. I am currently writing the 22nd unit. The series is designed for larger group with small group option and to be teacher led with many creative options (more than you can fit in a single week!) with several multimedia options.
I was very encouraged to get the following note this week from Marion Tims, a volunteer minister who describes herself as a 10 year veteran professional educator and home school mom and “to be honest, hard to impress.” She writes about DiscipleTown…
Karl, I just want you to know how much I have enjoyed finding the DiscipleTown curriculum. As the Children’s Director of a 300+ church, we started a Children’s Church in 2011. With my background in education, I knew I wanted a curriculum that would teach clearly and concisely Biblical principles in a creative, multi-media format. Having attended a mega church in the Atlanta area where they had a vibrant, active children’s ministry, I knew I wanted to duplicate that kind of ministry in our smaller church but with our much smaller budget.
I did, also, believe that we could teach Biblical truths at a deeper level. I feel like I have found it all with DiscipleTown.
I do not have the time, energy or gifts to plan on my own what I can purchase with DiscipleTown. I praise God that you have chosen to use your God given gifts to help those of us who are convicted to share the Gospel with kids in a fun, creative way.
The curriculum has also been a blessing to our youth ministry team who helps in our Children’s Church. They frequently tell me how much they learn and I have seen them grow as they come alongside their younger brothers and sisters in Christ as they help lead the different aspects of our worship. I look forward to teaching your future units. Keep pressing forward and looking up! It is exciting to see God using your gifts in our ministry!
Grace and peace, Marion Tims
I appreciated this note because she hit so many of the strengths of DiscipleTown. My goal as a curriculum author is to balance making your job as easy as possible, but at the same time to provide a curriculum that stands out from the crowd providing a tool that teaches clearly and concisely solid biblical truths. I often like to toss out a friendly challenge for folks to find any other children’s church curriculum that uses as much Scripture or that does as much biblical teaching as DiscipleTown. And yet, it doesn’t get too heady and is never boring! It does enable small churches to feel like they can offer the same multimedia like service that big churches do. As an added bonus, it’s super affordable! The statement, “I feel like I have found it all with DiscipleTown,” has always been my goal – lots of options, while keeping it creative, deep, solid, while staying user-friendly. It’s a tall order and countless hours go into every unit.
If you’ve never tried DiscipleTown, I encourage you to give a unit a try – there are currently 21 topics to choose from:
Worship is not a new concept to children, but it is often misunderstood. Too often, kids do not realize the significance of worshiping the one, true God. Children assume that “worship” is synonymous with “singing.” This unit provides an understanding of what true worship is — and it offers some very practical ways that children can incorporate worship into their lives. The first lesson explains the core meaning of worship “to show worth.” This second lesson imparts practical instruction on how to have daily quiet-times with God. The remaining two lessons will demonstrate how kids can worship through giving and by serving others.
For children, the Bible can be a very intimidating book simply due to its size. This unit will erase kids’ impressions of the Bible as a giant, overwhelming volume that will take years to wade through. Instead, they will view the Scriptures as a collection of smaller books written personally for them. You will introduce children to exciting tools that will help them delve more deeply into the Bible. Watch their confidence grow as kids gain a broader understanding of how the Bible is organized and how to navigate its pages! Students will be motivated to practice applying biblical principles to their daily lives. The Bible is not just a book to be studied —- but God’s Book that can change their world!
The Fruit of the Spirit may be a familiar topic to children, but the concept of how to grow spiritual fruit is one that is often misunderstood by adults, not just by kids. Unlike many curriculums on the fruits of the Spirit for children, this unit is not an overview of the nine fruits. Rather, it is a 4-week series that will walk children through the process of how to nurture the soil of their soul so that the Spirit of God might produce genuine spiritual fruit in them. Starting with the seed of salvation and being watered with the Living Water, children will discover that their spiritual life is like a plant and God is like a loving gardener. They will learn that it is only by being pruned through loving discipline and abiding in Jesus that spiritual fruit will blossom in their lives. This unit will guide them, not into working harder to be good, but to draw closer to God so that he can make them more like Jesus.
One of the more important skills we can impart to children is the wise ability to choose good friends. Few things will have greater influence on the rest of their life. The friends children choose will have significant influence on their character, their choices and therefore the direction of their life. Helping children to be intentional and thoughtful about their choices in friends is a skill that if gained as a child can have life-long benefits. This unit will help children understand that friendships are not only a gift from God, but something that we are to be intentional about.
Many people, including Christians, settle for a very self-focused life goal — to arrive at death safely, with as much comfort as possible along the way. This is hardly God’s best! Though the world offers fun and excitement, only the Lord’s plan promises deep, rich fulfillment. We can help kids elevate their perspective to see that life can be thrilling when they follow God’s plan. This unit will help your kids discover God’s will for their lives! They will learn that growing in Biblical knowledge, in Christlike character, and in godly conduct are key to fulfilling God’s wonderful plan.
Many parents pray long and hard that their children will make good choices. It is essential that we equip children while they are young with decision-making skills that will enable them to weigh and evaluate alternatives. This unit will help your children understand the power they have to choose between right and wrong. They will learn how to win the spiritual battle that rages inside, as well as what to do after they make a bad choice — as we all do far too many times. You will encourage your kids to listen to the positive influences that help guide them toward sound choices along the way.
The topic of work may not immediately appeal to children (or adults for that matter), but God invented the whole idea! Beginning with the first chapters of the Bible and throughout Scripture, God presents work not as a chore but as a gift from Him. Work allows us to engage in God’s plan for His wonderful creation. In this unit, you will introduce children to the gift of work, and they will learn how to be faithful workers — as they use their attitudes, their abilities, and their actions. Teach children that when we accept the gift of work, have a good attitude, learn new abilities, and get into action, God can provide for our needs!
Prayer is a familiar topic to children — but do we truly teach children how to pray? For too many Christians (of any age), prayer is reserved for times of trouble or cursory meal blessings, but prayer is so much more. It connects us with our Creator and deepens our walk with God. Teach prayer as a skill so that children can discover firsthand how it enriches their lives. Teach children to pray, and there become many things you will not have to teach them — the Holy Spirit will do it for you! In order to give children a simple mental framework, break down the many aspects of prayer into four areas, each starting with a letter of the word “PRAY” — Praising, Repenting, Asking, and Yielding. While there is certainly more to prayer than can be captured in four simple words, each lesson will expand on the broader aspects to show kids that they will enjoy a lifetime exploring the power and the joy of connecting with God!
Children grow up being told what to do and what not to do, learning behaviors that keep them out of trouble and earn them rewards. In this short-sighted approach, their walk with Christ becomes limited to seeking to please the adults in their lives. Remove those adults, and the kids’ pursuit of Jesus evaporates as well. Teach children to build solid Christian character, however, and you have disciples who can live victoriously, independent of adult supervision yet dependent on God. Isn’t that our ultimate goal? This unit trains children to evaluate and take ownership of their spiritual growth, following the model of Jesus’ growth in the short but powerful verse, Luke 2:52. In this verse we discover a comprehensive formula for Christian character in young people — wisdom, character, integrity, and reputation. Children can intentionally develop in these same areas, if we are willing to guide them!
Jesus’ final command before leaving earth was to “Go and Make Disciples!” For kids to be disciplemakers, they need to know how to explain their faith to their friends. During this unit, your students will discover the joy of sharing their faith with others. As they learn a simple Gospel message, “Good News for Kids,” they will explore each element that Jesus told His followers to take to people everywhere (Matthew 28:18-20). During each lesson, children will unpack Biblical principles that explain how to communicate their faith to others. They will discover how to prepare to share, how to be wise with words and actions, and how to develop the courage to share their faith with people who desperately need the Gospel.
One of the most exciting things about being a Christian is that God gives His children special gifts in order to help them serve Him. While all of His creatures are born with talents that are a part of what makes them unique, when we become a part of God’s family, the Bible tells us that we receive special abilities — spiritual gifts — that help us serve God and advance His kingdom. In this unit, children will be encouraged to learn about both their talents and spiritual gifts and will be guided through a process of exploring what their spiritual gifts might be.
The purpose of the Christian life is to have a relationship with God. Too often people in the church place an emphasis on “getting saved” — but then what? While our ultimate destination with our Creator is to be cherished and celebrated, Jesus also died to welcome us into a relationship with Him during this life on earth! In this unit, your kids will learn tried-and-true techniques for enjoying a personal “quiet time” with God so they can deepen their friendship with Him. They will also discover how to enjoy the Lord’s presence throughout the day and how to call on Him in times of need. Meeting with God is something we can do in a focused “quiet time,” but God is also available anytime we want to experience His presence and power.
For many kids, the Bible seems so big and complex that they feel overwhelmed. They don’t know how to start mining the riches in the New Testament. In this unit, you will take children on a tour that will unlock the mysteries of God’s Word and give them confidence to navigate through the New Testament. Your kids will learn how the New Testament fits together. You will show that the 27 New Testament books fall into three groups: History, Living Letters, and Prophecy. In addition, they will “meet” some key authors of the New Testament. Finally, you will guide children to apply Bible truths to their lives.
For 4,000 years, the Old Testament has molded Jewish civil, religious, social, and economic life. Never has one book so greatly influenced the way of life of an entire nation! Few children today, however, can relate to OT customs that appear to be outdated and irrelevant. This is your opportunity to open their eyes to the enduring significance of God’s Word. During this unit, your kids will learn how the Old Testament fits together. You will show that all thirty-nine Old Testament books belong to these three groups: History, Poetry, and Prophecy; seventeen History books illumine the past, five Poetry books imprint the present, and seventeen Prophecy books inspire the future. The Old Testament may be an “old” book, but it has a new message for kids today! Bring this ancient manuscript to life for your students.
People often say: “Kids today have no respect.” But what is respect and where does it come from? In this unit, your children will learn basic skills to help them show respect to God, themselves, their families, and others. They will realize that respect begins as an attitude. If we develop a respectful attitude, respectful behavior will soon follow. We can help children become more respectful by helping them accept who God made them to be and by encouraging them to improve their attitudes toward other people.
This DiscipleTown unit introduces kids to basic questions and answers related to understanding and defending the Christian faith — the study of apologetics. While apologetics is often used as a witnessing tool, its proper place is to strengthen the faith of believers. This unit will help prepare children to answer questions about their faith, while teaching them that having questions is okay. Children need the confidence that when they think logically and search God’s Word, He will provide His answers!
Christians must expand their horizons and embrace God’s heart for people all over the world. By broadening kids’ perspectives to see beyond their local church and community, this unit will enable your children to grasp God’s great plan and to participate in His Great Commission. First, children need to see that God has a plan for every person to know His Son, Jesus. Next, they need to understand the good news that Jesus came to bring salvation to every person — everywhere — so they will be able to share it. Then, they must understand that God uses His Church to spread His Good News around the world. Finally, they need to be challenged to have “beautiful feet” by sharing God’s wonderful message.
You and your students are about to begin a wonderful journey together — the joy of personal Bible study. The Bible is a powerful book! It has the potential to change kids’ lives! However, too many children view this amazing book as one that adults study and then tell them about. God gave His Word to all believers to read and study, and that includes children. When we equip our children to read and study the Bible, they experience its power for themselves! In these lessons, you will introduce children to four inductive Bible study steps. First, they will learn how to survey a Bible passage (Zoom!); next, how to carefully observe a passage (Look!); then, after learning how to correctly interpret a passage (Think!), they will discover how to apply biblical principles (Live!). Soon your students will be exploring their Bibles in a whole new way!
God declares that His Word is authoritative and effective, and when “hidden in the heart,” it has the power to keep us from sin. But the idea of memorizing Scripture can intimidate children and adults alike. In this unit, children will appreciate the incredible mind that God has given them, the importance of memorizing God’s Word, and the benefits of doing so. Furthermore, kids will learn to meditate on Scripture in order to allow it to sink into their very characters and wills, resulting in deeper, richer insights. Using fun science, they’ll know that God has wired them to learn and to apply what they learn.
When Jesus was asked to identify God’s greatest commandment, He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). But what does this truly mean? What does it look like? Too often we give children “pie-in-the-sky” platitudes but without supplying practical steps they can apply in everyday life. This unit will help your children know what it means to love God with actions — not just words. Your kids will discover how to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. They will also learn that loving God involves loving other people, too.
We spend a great deal of time in ministry doing a great many wonderful things—reaching, teaching, and training kids for Jesus. However, Jesus gave just one primary command when He returned to heaven: “Go and make disciples.” What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? Can young followers of Jesus experience victory in their Christian walk? This unit introduces children to five basic principles for having P-O-W-E-R to follow Christ in their faith: Praying from the heart, Obeying the Holy Spirit, Worshiping with the Church, Explaining their faith to others, and Reading their Bibles daily. Yes, children can experience profound P-O-W-E-R in their walk with God when they begin to apply these life-changing disciplines.
Did you know that YOU are a Bible character? It’s true! Consider this. An upcoming lesson in DiscipleTown has the theme “Pray and Obey,” and this is the “Connect with Your Kids” element. I wanted to share it with you early, because I think it is relevant to your lesson every week, no matter what you may be teaching this Sunday. It’s all about sharing when you have done what you are asking your students to do. It’s all about BEING what you are TEACHING. That makes YOU a “Bible Character.”
Used with permission from DiscipleLand.com
It is one thing to tell kids they need to pray and obey. It is entirely another to give them a real world example from someone they know who has done it. Prayerfully reflect on a time in your life when you have needed to “pray and obey,” and then God gave you the power to do the right thing. Share your story. It can have a powerful impact on your students. Don’t underestimate the power of your story on your students. We often tell Bible stories and forget that these Bible “characters” were just ordinary people like us. They didn’t know their stories would end up in the Bible, they just made choices like you and I have. So, in a sense, your story is as much a Bible story as Joseph or Esther or Ruth or Daniel. And your story will mean as much to your students as theirs. Perhaps more, because your kids actually know you!
(Excerpt from an upcoming “Connect with Your Kids in DT21“)
Writing the Kid’s Church Cookbook was one of the biggest undertakings I’ve ever done. It was bigger than the Order of the Ancient novel, since it required design work and layout involvement that was much more intense, and bigger than the Kidology Handbook since not only is it over 100 pages longer, but it involved me filming seven complete training videos in a custom kitchen studio all while it was closed over a Christmas break… it was an insane time. I won’t even bother typing all that involved, crazy story best saved for telling in person. While it took over two years to get the editing done, the filming was all done in just 3-4 days almost non-stop without sleep!
This post was inspired by some encouraging words I just got from a Kidology member named Martin Maynard, which I thought I’d share, in case you’ve been considering picking it up: (I edited to shorten and leave some stuff out.)
Karl, the reason I am writing is your Kids Church Cookbook is the best training I have ever come across in my years of reading and studying. I appreciate what you are doing through Kidology, what an amazing site. I wish more folks would grab a hold of what you are doing. I sincerely think your material is just awesome and it is just what we need.
I just read your chapter on Object Lessons and how you describe how to take an object and just start describing it slowly, giving time for the connection to be made between the abstract and the concrete. Truly amazing. I truly have read tons of books and there are some great leadership books out there, but none really touch on creativeness. Man you tackle creativeness head on and make it not so intimidating. I just think this material is just that good. I feel so blessed to have stumbled on your site and to have come across the material. I feel God lead me to it. Thanks for your work at raising up youth to be disciples.
- Martin Maynard
The Cookbook took several years to write and to produce the training videos that go along with it – and it is so encouraging when people take the time to send a note of encouragement. I have never seen an exhaustive work on Kids Church, and during this season of life when I’m not in weekly church ministry, I felt God telling me to use this time to write “everything I know about children’s church” from having written and led over 1000 kids church services for over fifteen years of ministry. It was hard work, but oh so fun to do it in such a creative manner. (With the Chef theme that really played out nicely as it unfolded.) I tried to cover a wide spectrum of topics from lesson preparation to recruiting to room decorating to advance planning and so much more. It’s kinda the definitive work on Kid’s Church! Like I said, no one else has ever even tackled the topic on this scope or breath before. And with the addition of seven training videos, it really became a hefty project!
But in the end, I think it’s quite a helpful tool that should serve those who teach kids and lead Kids Church for years to come.
Thanks Martin for your encouragement! I’m glad it is helping your kids church team, and I hope it will help many others to cook up lessons that kids are gonna love and provide the tools to assist in preparing more spiritually nourishing lessons wherever the Cookbook is used!
How could my dad give MAGNIFIERS to my sisters?!?!
(Close to what my gift looked like)
It is one thing to talk about something in the abstract. Kids need real stories from real people they know. Have you ever had a bad attitude that cost you something? Too often we give the impression that we have always done everything right and it is only the children we teach who make mistakes. Telling our students real stories of times we have blown it can help encourage them in profound ways.
I remember a time when my dad came home with a gift for all three of his children. To each of my sisters he gave a gift of a different type of magnifying lens. I was in shock! Didn’t my dad know, it was I who collected magnifying glasses?!?!
My older sister got a magnifying sheet the size of a full page of paper! Then my younger sister was given a magnifying ruler. You could place it over what you were reading and as you moved it down the page the words would magically grow as it passed over them.
I was so jealous! How could my father DO this to me? Again, didn’t he understand that it was ME who collected magnifying lens, not my sisters?! They were girls, after all. They needed dolls or something of the sort. I was so caught up in my anger and jealousy and wanting what they had been given that when he handed me an old two inch long cylinder object that I didn’t recognize instead of asking what it was, I just threw it on the ground, breaking it, and yelling, “I don’t want this dumb thing, I want a magnifier!”
My dad simply left the room obviously disappointed in me. Later, after I calmed down enough to ask about the object I had cracked, he explained that what I had thrown down and broken in my anger was actually a very valuable and high powered magnifier he had found at an antique store. In his desire to bring a little treat for my sisters as well, he had stopped at the five and dime store bought them cheap magnifiers so he could have a gift for each of his children.
My impatience and disrespect cost me that precious treasure.
I have kept that broken lens to this day as a reminder that my Father knows me best and delights in giving me what my heart desires if I will just be patience and wait to hear His explanation.
This is from the Connect with Your Kids component of the next DiscipleTown unit I am current writing, How to Show Respect, due out October 20th. I always include a section helping teachers connect their real lives to the lessons they teach, which I believe is critical to being an effective teacher. I enjoyed writing this, and thought you might enjoy this story too.
I’m always on the look out for ministry tools in the most unusal of places… as I explain in the Kids Church Cookbook, you can’t wait until you NEED a ministry tool to looking for it, you must already have it when you think, “I wish I had a… oh! I do!” Because you are a collector of odd ball #kidmin things!
Well, on vacation I went to an antique outlet mall and saw this action figure from the semi-recent Disney release Prince of Persia (which was a pretty cool movie, by the way, if you didn’t see it.)
Now, if you’ve been a fan of ToyBoxTales.com you know I’m a collector of action figures and have a wall of them labeled by their usefulness in teaching videos. (The site now features Object Talks on the home page, the videos featured in DiscipleTown, the kids church curriculum I write, so search the archives for nearly 100 videos with action figures!)
I picked up this dude because I think he looks like he could be a Bible Character!
MY QUESTION TO YOU: Which Bible Character do YOU think Prince Dastan could play in a ToyBox Tale? And why? Who does he look like, biblically speaking?
Each one has presented it’s own unique challenged and each one has had things go wrong in the process as though someone or something is resisting this process! At times I wonder if I just have really bad luck – or if it is indeed spiritual warfare as I push forward to create these units that help kids become better Disciples of Jesus.
On this latest one – it got CRAZY as I tried to finish the videos that will help children to understand the overview of the New Testament. While sometimes I’ll be hit with technical issues, like sound only coming out of one channel or a lighting issue, or hard drive crash or the mic wasn’t recording, etc. this time, it was almost funny – except that it was frustrating. I’m just sharing to give you a glimpse into the hidden “battles” behind the scenes as Christian resources are created to help Children battle the Enemy.
As you’ll see in the video below, I filmed in my car in the garage – and after hours of set up (there is a lot of technical set up with lights, camera, tripod, mic, monitor, rigging a cue sheet, etc.) I was started shoot when a cricket started chirping! I began searching my garage for the culprit and when I found and squished a cricket, two more began chirping as though to mourn their friends death! After hours of searching, I had to surrender and go to bed in defeat, no filming that night, despite the pending deadline.
The next day, deadline approaching, I set to film during the day – when the neighbor pulls out a table saw and starts cutting away. Then when he is done, kids start playing outside, then it rains. When I can finally film, and get started, the filming lights (specialty bulbs) go out! I drive to where I can buy them and return. Back to work. I finally am done when I realize that I can’t get the videos off the DV tapes because the cable from the camera to the computer is 4 to 6 pin fire wire cable and my new Mac has a 9 pin fire wire cabe, since I issued my old Mac to an employee when I upgraded. Off to not one, not two, not three but four store… they don’t see a 4 to 9 pin fire wire cable, while all telling me “it’s common.” Not even the Apple Store carries it. I finally ended up at Micro Center in Denver, who had ONE.
Crickets. Burned out Bulbs. Missing Cables. And I didn’t even get into title slides that didn’t line up so I had to recreate from scratch as that is too hard to explain to you. Just more time and frustration during the editing process.
In the end, I love the videos! Kids will watch them and enjoy them and gain a better understanding of the overarching structure of the New Testament, how it all fits together, who wrote the books, their themes and how they are organized into sections.
Is it all worth it? Of course! Some may think “Unit 13″ is just unlucky, but I tend to think that there is a force working against me at times because I am working to help kids know their Bibles so they can be equipped to be Different in this world and live victorious Christ-like lives in this nutty Cricket-infested world, ooops, I mean, sin-infested world.
So the next time you feel unlucky and like nothing is going your way. Just know, you are not alone. You may look at a resource on a website and assume everything went hunky-dory in putting it together. It never does. But I pray it will impact kids lives once it is out there, and once it is live, I sit back finally and sigh a huge relief that I’m done, and it can now begin it’s work of equipping kids to Navigate the New Testament.
But I can’t chill for long. Pretty soon I start to work on How to Navigate the Old Testament, and the crickets are still in my garage.
Here is a sneak peek of the videos from How to Navigate the New Testament:
THIS OFFER HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED. Well over 1000 Churches responded to this free offer and are now teaching How to Use the Bible. It is our best selling unit that equips kids to USE their Bibles for life. It’s only $44.95 for 4-5 weeks and is PACKED with creative tools and resources. It is well worth a closer look. (Only $39.95 for members of Kidology.org) Order Today!
Yes! I’m excited to let you know that DiscipleLand.com is giving away 100% free full copies of my How to Use the Biblechildren’s church curriculum this month to subscribers of their free newsletter.
THIS IS NOT A SAMPLE!
This is the full and complete 4-5 week curriculum that you can use in your children’s church.
This is your opportunity to find out why churches all over the world are using DiscipleTown – even if they don’t use DiscipleLand’s Sunday School materials. It is a strong stand alone children’s church curriculum that is highly creative, scripturally rich, incredibly flexible, engages the family and makes you look sharp!
AND THIS MONTH ITS FREE!
Why would a publisher give one of their BEST SELLING units away?
Because they are a mission driven publisher with only one line of curriculum that flows out of a philosophy of making disciples.
They share my passion for getting children into the Word of God. I’ve written before about the crisis of kids not using the Bible.
One of the distinctives of DiscipleLand is the absence of printed scripture and the abundance of Bible references – so kids actually need their Bibles.
I remember when my church switched to DiscipleLand and we had to buy new furniture, because the kids needed room on their desks for Bibles!
The #1 compliment I get for DiscipleTown is how much Scripture there is in each and every lesson.
That is why HOW TO USE THE BIBLE is the unit that is being given away for FREE. Both DiscipleLand and I believe passionately that there is a great need today for our children to be equipped to use the Bible!
Too much of what is out there today in churches has become entertainment-rich but Bible-poor and children don’t know how to USE their own Bibles, IF they even bring them to church. This needs to change if they are going to STAND FIRM for God in this changing culture.
For children, the Bible can be a very intimidating book simply due to its size. These lessons will erase kids’ impressions of the Bible as a giant, overwhelming volume. Instead, they will discover that the Scriptures are a collection of smaller books written personally for them. You will introduce children to exciting tools that will help them dig into the Bible. Watch their confidence grow as kids gain a broader understanding of how the Bible is organized and how to navigate its pages! Your students will be motivated to practice applying Biblical principles to their daily lives and learn how to have a daily Quiet Time. The Bible is not just a book to be studied–it is God’s Book that can change their world!
SO HOW DO YOU GET THIS UNIT FOR FREE?!?
Simply visit the DiscipleLand.com website. Click on the “Free Curriculum” banner on the right hand side of the web page and follow the prompts. This is a limited time offer, so don’t delay!
I’ve been working on writing DiscipleTown Table Talkers all day, for the fifth unit due to come out soon, and one of my favorite parts of this curriculum is the Table Talker family devotional component.
So I thought I’d put a sample on my blog to give my blog readers a “taste” of a family devotional that will be part of the next DiscipleTown unit. Each devotional has an easy “Let’s Play” component that gets families playing together with no complicated preparation – just something they can do with stuff usually right at the table, tho this one uniquely has them using the whole house due to the lesson point. Then there is a “Let’s Talk” discussion question to get every member of the family talking – but it is a targeted question that is setting them up for the topic. Next they are in the Word with “Let’s Read” followed by a short devotional “Let’s Think” that helps guide a parent on a spiritual discussion. But it doesn’t stop there. I always end with a “Let’s Do” practical application. Most are just a verbal application, but one of the three will be an assignment that can impact the family in a practical way, but I’m careful to balance them so that they don’t get overwhelmed. I want them coming back for more.
Well, with no further a-do, here is a sample – pre-edited by DiscipleLand, soon to be a part of DiscipleTown: How To Follow God’s Plan
Choose someone to start as the “seeker.” Give every person five pennies. Everyone else will go hide somewhere else in the house. When the seeker finds someone, they have to give the seeker a penny. The person they find becomes the new seeker and goes to find someone else. The old seeker now hides. Every time a person is found they have to give the seeker a penny and they become the new seeker and the old seeker gets to hide again once the new seeker is out of sight. If a player runs out of pennies, they become a seeker in order to get more pennies! The object of the game is get as many pennies as possible. A parent determines when time is up.
What is the best reward or prize you have ever received?
Read Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Which did you like better? Hiding or seeking? Are you a better hider or seeker? Do you think God is a hider or seeker? (Take some time to discuss this!) It may depend on whether you are seeking Him or not. But this verse tells us that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him. What do you think it means to earnestly seek God? What does that look like? How do you think He rewards people who seek Him? Would you say that you have earnestly sought Him? If not, what would it take for you to do so? What would need to change? What is holding you back? What do you think would need to change in your life? What can you image God might do in your life as a result if you did? It is kind of exciting to image what it might look like if you truly did earnest seek God. Go for it, I dare you!
Think of one thing you could do to earnestly seek God this next week as family or as an individual. Share it with each other and then check up on each other!
I was reading a discussion over on the Kidology.org forums about how to teach to a wide age range and there were some comments suggesting different age ranges to aim for. Some were suggesting “aiming for the middle” or “targeting the older kids” so as not to bore them, whereas others thought it better to teach to the younger ones so as not to lose them.
I’d like to suggest a different approach after having taught over 1,000 children’s church services to first through sixth graders for over fifteen years. It’s a rather simple suggestion: AIM FOR EVERYONE!
The key in a large group with a large age range is to shift your focus constantly. The secret is to be highly visual and to be physically moving and animated to keep the younger ones tracking with you (don’t stand still and never sit, meaning you the teacher) and use humor constantly to keep a connection with your audience.
Think about it: Senior pastors preach to a wide audience range of age and intelligence and education and world view and learning styles and they can do it! They don’t break their audience into groups! How do they do it? It isn’t through the content or aiming for a specific part of the congregation! They don’t decide, “well, I’ll just aim for the intellectuals.” or “I’ll just target the simpletons.” No!
It is through THEM and their delivery. YOU can do the same! When you work on your delivery and becoming a vibrant communicator you can communicate effectively to young and old kids at the same time! When you speak loudly and enthusiastically and creatively you can capture the attention of a group of kids no matter what the age. I’m telling you, you CAN capture the eyes, minds and hearts of kindergarten through sixth grade all in one room! No, it isn’t the ideal educational model, but when it is all you can do, it CAN be done very well. Sometimes it is the only model available to you during the service time. So don’t fret, work on your delivery and style, and be upbeat and confident and animated and funny and sincere and visual and pacing and creative and use big gestures and props and humor and stories and jokes and LOVE what you do, and the kids will be on the edge of their seats, and learning, at any age!
All that to say – I don’t target one age – I target EVERY AGE in the room constantly! I’ll even say, “for you little guys, that means…” if I need to. And I won’t hesitate yo define a word in the original Hebrew for the big kids! But the key is YOU and your delivery – be animated, creative, visual, funny when you can, serious when it matters, walk out among the kids for emphasis and keep it moving.
And do check out DiscipleTown, you will find it packed with creative and fun ideas and a visual PowerPoint to back you up. You can do it!
It seems like just yesterday I was blogging about how I hoped 2009 would be better. And here it is 2010! Aren’t we supposed to riding around on hover boards and beaming from place to place by now? I read that post, and instead of writing a post about my New Year’s Resolutions, I think I can just say “ditto” to that post!
But I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that an entire year has passed by when I reflect on all that I accomplished in 2009 – it’s actually quite an astonishing list – no wonder I am so exhausted!
And I wonder why I’m feeling exhausted?! No wonder I wasn’t ready for 2010 to arrive! I usually spend the last week of the year doing evaluation of the year just past and planning for the year to come, but I had some projects culminating and family visiting and am writing at CPC in Nashville (which I really don’t like being right after the new year) so I missed out on my week of margin for reflection and I can really feel it. Just reviewing my blog and making that list above has been very encouraging and eye-opening. For now – I need to survive this week at CPC – finish a few deadlines that still loom over me, and then do the planning and reflecting I wanted to do last week.
I’m excited that 2009 is behind me, and have NO desire to see 2010 “top” last year. In fact, you know what I am MOST excited about in 2010? Starting a guys hiking group here in Colorado for children’s pastors! Yup, I’m calling it “The Fellowship of the King.” (I know it’s corny, but I do like to hike to LOTR music.) I’ve been collecting a list of guys in Colorado, friends and soon-to-be friends via facebook ad twitter, and I’m going to be inviting them to join me hiking around this beautiful state to spend time away from ministry and with God. One thing I learned from Yosemite Summit was that once a year just isn’t often enough to disconnect from normal life and connect with God out in nature with others who share your passions in life. Most of them already know about this and are just waiting for info on the first hike – if you live in Colorado and are a guy – let me know, and I will add you to the list! (No, you do not have to be a children’s pastor or even in ministry to be included. But you may have to endure some worship music, prayer and spiritual conversation if you are not a Christian.)
I am personally convinced that one person can be a change catalyst, a “transformer” in any situation, any organization. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a transforming leader.
~ Stephen R. Covey