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Archive for kids church
I was invited to be a special guest again at Cherry Hill Community Church, where they have a wonderful children’s ministry. Whenever you are given the opportunity to teach at Christmas time, it presents a unique challenge. You are, of course, teaching the greatest story in HIS-Story – but it is also a very familar one. So how do you tell it in a new and creative way that will still engage children who can easily “check out” when they start to hear the familiar parts of the story. I searched my computer for countless ways I have addressed Christmas in over twenty years as a children’s pastor – and then walked into my vast kidmin prop warehouse and started seeing things that could be used to tell the story! At the same time, as I prayed about it, I was wanted to elevate the story above the mere facts of the traditional story to WHY did God sent Jesus? The story is truly epic and transcends the birth of Christ from the origins of time all the way to Christ’s Resurrection all the way to today!
Then it hit me! Why don’t I tell the ENTIRE STORY OF CHRISTMAS FROM CREATION TO TODAY!
I know, sounds crazy. But I’m known for crazy ideas. So I sought out to bombard the children with an onslaught of props to capture their eyes and engage their imaginations and begin with eternity past, creation, the problem of sin (yes, you can get philosophical with kids!) carry it through to Christmas, explain several of the rarely taught truths of Christmas such as why did the wise men know about the star (from missing writings of Daniel in Babyon) to the fact that they were not even at the stable as is often depicted! And then carry the story through Easter and then through to it’s conclusion today by presenting a child from the audience with the same choice Adam and Eve had – only a forbidden gumball from a gumball machine instead of a forbidden fruit from a tree!
I ended up with four trunks of propped, a few tables and a lit up star up on a pole!
Click to view larger
The kids enjoyed it and leaders even told me they learned some things they didn’t know! By the end, included were God, Adam, Eve, Satan (Snake), Cain and Abel, Noah, Moses, Prophets, Mary, Joseph, Caesar, George Bush, King Herod, Wiseman (just one), David, Solomon, Daniel, Shepherds*, Angels, Simeon, Jesus (baby and grown), Mary Magdalene and Mother of Jesus, Disciples, Roman Soldiers Angel and… and a boy from audience to represent today. (My son!) I think that’s everyone I covered!!
(And yes, my son was the boy who helped at the end. He did a great job!)
Note: I included a bit of the Cherry Hills opening to show how they do it, since they do such a great job and model how to start with a bang and lead into the teaching time with songs that start out upbeat and fun and gradually get more slow paced. It is a model of how it should be done. (I edited out their welcome time, it is extremely well done, but didn’t want to put visiting kids on YouTube without permission.)
There was A LOT to put away at the end! I didn’t even USE all the stuff I brought, later I kept seeing objects and agonizing, “Oh, I forgot that!”
This is a panorama, so click to view full size.
What have YOU done to bring the Christmas Story ALIVE for your kids?
*Note: I think during this second service recording I left out the shepherds… oops!
This is a guest post, re-posted from itsyourbooknow.blogspot.com with permission.
This week I had a Sunday School training with Karl Bastian, the Kidologist. The topic was discipline, and I was eager to learn. That’s one of the hardest things for me as a Sunday School teacher.
I walked out with a lot of great tips. Grace based tips. Which I love, because I’m a big fan of grace. All new ideas I’d never thought of, heard of, or tried before. I’m eager to try this out.
But the thing that struck me the most wasn’t so much a tip as it was a perspective. Which was pretty much the perspective that framed all the tips.
You know those “good” kids? You know, the ones who bring you Christmas gifts and say please and thank you and never disrupt class? You probably aren’t going to make a difference in their life. Why? Because their lives are already on a good trajectory. They usually come from good homes, homes where parents are doing a wonderful job teaching them about faith and how to live like Jesus. If you weren’t in their lives, they’d probably still turn out to be wonderful Christians.
You know those “bad” kids? The ones who interrupt your class with fart noises and start chanting “no more rules!” (The latter actually happened to me last week.) The ones who make you want to use duct tape as a disciplinary measure or pull your hair out because you can’t? This is your greatest opportunity to make a difference in a kids’ life. Not by punishing them or yelling at them – not by striving to change their behavior. But by partnering with them and being their friend and helping them understand what it means to be a Christian. By helping shape their heart and showing them that Jesus loves them—when they probably feel like no adult loves them.
Karl accomplished his goal (at least for me): to make us want those kinds of kids more than we want the “good” kids. Because if I want to make a difference in a kid’s life, it’s not going to be in the angelic kid’s life. It’s going to be in the life of an unloveable 5th grade boy that I loved anyway.
By Ali Thompson
I asked Ali if I could re-post her blog post because she got it. If you want to hear the presentation I gave at LifeBridge Church last Sunday, you can listen to a similar presentation I did at a conference by downloading this MP3: Making Your Discipline Problems Disappear! (79 MB)
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…
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,
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:
1. How to Worship God – Now Available!
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.
2. How to Use Your Bible – Now Available!
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!
3. How to Grow Spiritual Fruit – Now Available!
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.
4. How to Make Good Friends – Now Available
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.
5. How to Follow God’s Plan – Now Available
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.
6. How to Make Good Choices – Now Available
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.
7. How to Be Faithful Workers – Now Available
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!
8. How to Pray – Now Available
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!
9. How to Build Character – Now Available
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!
10. How to Explain My Faith – Now Available
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.
11. How to Discover Gifts & Talents – Now Available
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.
12. How to Meet with God – Now Available
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.
13. How to Navigate the New Testament – Now Available
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.
14. How to Navigate the Old Testament – Now Available
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.
15. How to Show Respect – Now Available
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.
16. How to Know the Truth – Now Available
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!
17. How to Be a Global Christian – Now Available
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.
18. How to Study My Bible – Now Available
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!
19. How to Memorize God’s Word – Now Available
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.
20. How to Love God – Now Available
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.
21. How to Be Jesus’ Disciple – Now Available
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.
If you use DiscipleTown, I’d love to hear your feedback either in comments below, or in the forum discussion on Kidology provided for DiscipleTown Feedback. Have a question about DiscipleTown, visit the DiscipleTown Q and A Forum Thread.
I look forward to hearing your comments or questions!
I recently got a wonderful e-mail from a Kidology member a friend that illustrates not only the incredible power of equipping kids to service on younger children, but it’s potential to impact the direction of a young people’s future!
After our service today a fifth grade girl asked who came up with the idea of KIDS Krew. I told her about the CPC in San Diego where Pam Dunnevant and I met you, learned about KIDS Krew, then came home and implemented it. She told me to tell you thanks, then proceeded to tell me how the Krew was shaping her life. This young girl has started and will be finishing the year as a “special friend.” We have a down syndrome child and assigned her (along with another) to sit with him. She kept signing up for that job and has gone above and beyond talking to his parents and finding out his needs. She now believes that this has made her want to study Special Education. She wanted you to know this. She said, “My life has been changed by KIDS Krew.”
Just wanted you to be encouraged by the one who came back to say thanks!
I’ve taught countless workshops over the years at the Children’s Pastors Conference and other events, but my ‘KC Krew Workshop’ is the one that consistently over the years I hear most often, even over a decade later at times, I hear has made the most significant impact on leader’s ministries and on their kids.
If you want to learn more about how I have used KIDS to completely run my children’s church services, you need to get The Kid’s Church Cookbook, Part 6: The Kitchen Krew, which goes into great detail about how I’ve done this for decades – with pictures, forms and explanations & tips!
BREAKING NEWS: Just got word this morning, after posting this, that I’ll be teaching my KC Krew Workshop CPC 2013 in Orlando in February!
Mutiny! The Kids Are Running Kids Church!
Karl began his children’s ministry “career” at the
age of ten, when he received his Call to kids
ministry and his mom responded with “you start
next Wednesday” in their church’s kids club,
“why wait until you grow up?” And he’s been
training kids to do ministry and having them
practically run his children’s ministry ever
since! Learn how to recruit, train, and lead
a “K.C. Kew” of kids who can BE the Church of
Today and help you lead your ministry with Zeal!
Train kids to serve, and you change their life!
I got into cooking shows while researching for the Kids Church Cookbook, and I was amazed at the wide variety of shows on the Food Network. One I discovered was called Dinner: Impossible! Loosely hinting at the 1960’s show Mission: Impossible, the host is given a challenge that includes some kind of meal he needs to prepare, some obstacles he has to overcome, and a time limit. He doesn’t know what the challenge will be until he arrives, and then the clock starts counting down. If I were put in that situation, I’m sure everyone would either starve or be forced to eat terrible food.
I would love to be the host of a show called Kid’s Church: Impossible! I think it would be a wonderful challenge to be given a Bible story or Biblical topic, some limited props or supplies, and a time limit and have to come up with a complete lesson and then teach it. Perhaps that sounds like a nightmare situation to you, but the reality is, it happens all the time in children’s ministry. Maybe it doesn’t happen on Sunday mornings, because you ought to be planning your lessons weeks in advance.
But you don’t have to be in children’s ministry long to learn that there are many situations in which you find yourself suddenly needing a lesson. Perhaps your senior pastor comes up with a special program and asks you to provide “child care” at the last minute and even says he’d like you to teach on the same topic as he will be teaching to the adults. Or maybe one of your volunteers calls in sick the night before and can’t send you the lesson plan but says, “we are learning about Joseph and are right up to the point when he becomes second in command and his brothers show up.” You’ll need to pick up right where last week’s lesson left off. You may even be out of town on vacation and visiting your family’s church when the children’s pastor gets ill, and they say, “Aren’t you a children’s pastor? Can you do Kid’s Church? It’s Missions Sunday, can you take over?” No sweat! You can jog your mind through the C.R.E.A.T.E. mental triggers or whip out your CREATIVE IDEA THING-A-MA-JIGGER*, and you will be good to go!
I hope that you have been encouraged to start flexing your creativity muscle. The more you create, the better and faster you will become. Soon you will be amazing yourself and your students with your creative ideas. And don’t forget, you can share your ideas on Kidology.org so that other teachers all over the world can use your them too! Imagine…children in classrooms all over America, literally in classrooms thousands of miles away, laughing and learning because of YOUR idea!
Because Jesus Loves Children,
Chef Karl D. Bastian aka The Kidologist
[Reprinted from the FINAL TOUCHES conclusion to Chapter 5 of The Kids Church Cookbook: Getting Creative]
*The CREATIVE IDEA THING-A-MA-JIGGER is a device that comes with the Kids Church Cookbook Part 5 that I invented that helps you trigger creative ideas… Here are some quotes about my little invention and how it has helped people who didn’t think they were creative: