Friday, June 5, 2020

8 Ways to Engage Children in "Big Church"


Location, location, location. These are three most important words in real estate.

Connect, connect, connect. What are these the three most important words in? Intergenerational services. You could say, "Engage, engage, engage." too, but I like the connotations of what connecting means. So even though I entitled this "engage," I want the purpose of the engagement to be to connect children to the big picture of church. This entails realizing that they are a part of something bigger than their children's church or Sunday School classes. It means realizing that there is a body of believers that they are a part of. The more you can connect them to that body, the more they will feel a part of it. And the more they feel a part, the better the chances that they will maintain a life long connection with a local body of believers. Even beyond that though, children should be a part of our churches NOW, not when they are grown up. So I will give you ideas in this post, but more important than doing these things, is developing a church body that values the collective body, which includes children, the disabled, ethnicities, and, well you get it, all that are a part of the body of Christ.

Today with the event of Covid-19, as churches are facing re-opening, they are also facing incorporating children into the worship services. I did write a similar post a few years ago about alternatives to children's church, but I have included more ideas in this post. So here are 8 ideas for connecting and engaging children in "Big Church."

Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Butterfly Project



My regular readers may be aware that we retired from full time ministry in September. This entailed finding a new church and then getting involved. Hence, not many new posts...until now. Our new church had a genius idea I want to share with you during this COVID-19 crisis. This will still be great after the pandemic too, but it is particularly useful now.

This project was a mailing, but not just any mailing. The church purchased magic flying butterflies. If you aren't familiar with these babies, they are paper butterflies with wind up wings. The sender "winds the wings" up and places the butterfly in a card. When the receiver opens the card, the butterfly comes "flying" out.

You can order these butterflyers all over the internet, but we got ours at this website.
Cards were purchased at the Dollar Tree where you can get them 2 for $1.00. You could also make your own.

To make this project really special, parents were notified ahead of time that the card would be coming in the mail. You could email or text the parents, but they simply posted it in the Facebook group for their children's ministry. The children's director announced that something would be coming in the mail for the children and asked parents to film them as they opened their cards and then send the video to the church. Someone at church put the footage together and made one video which was shown during the online church service. It was a delightful surprise, and we got to "see" some of the children we hadn't seen for quite awhile. Below is the video that was shown in church.



This is a win-win project. It sends joy into the home where it is captured on film and then sent back to the church where it is shared with all. It benefited the congregation, the children's ministry, the children themselves and families.
  • The congregation benefits by getting to see the children's ministry (it created an inter-generational moment during the church service). 
  • The children see themselves shown during the "big peoples" church and thus feel a part of it. 
  • The ministry is kept before the church (they often do not see what goes on in kidmin). 
  • Finally the children & their families receive joy when they get the cards in the first place.
Have you done any mailing projects? Let us know in the comments below.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Tube People Starring in Isaac & the King


When I was in college my roommate gave me a note that said, "Procrastination is the thief of all time." Yes, I am a procrastinator. I kept thinking that I would redo the video for this post, but I realize that is not going to happen so, without further ado, here is part 2 of my tube people special.

I must admit, when I rolled these babies out I wasn't sure if they were going to go over or not. After all, "tube people," really? I like them, but I am a bit of a nerd. Not cool. Not a hipster. So I have been thrilled to see that this post has actually been more popular than my green screen post, which is, uh, more for the techy generation. And that encouraged me to do part 2 of this post.

I videoed myself acting the story of Isaac and the Wells (Genesis 26) to give you non-thespians an idea of how to use these tube people for story telling. Basically, you get the narrative down in your mind, and then you can even add lib a little. Like Rebecca telling Isaac that if they have to move one more time she's not coming. Maybe I took a little too much liberty there, no woman would have ever said that in those days, but it does sort of bring Rebecca to life for the kids. Once kids understand a story, you can let them act it out themselves. The key is to be uninhibited.



As I wrote in the original tube people post, you could use peg dolls, Lego people, or many other things to be "people" to act out Bible stories. Below are a few pictures of other ways I have made characters for story telling.

These "tube people" are made with Ian and Sue Coate's images. They are free on the websites listed below.

You can download the Coate's Bible images on Free Bible Images or on their own website, Free Christian Illustrations . Both of these sites are worth exploring for a multitude of good illustrations and Bible figures. You can find them for almost every character and event in the Bible.


The images I used for these are no longer available, but you can use images from the sites listed above
As I became more advanced in making the paper action figures above, I would make a copy of the image and then "flip" it in Word or Publisher. I ran off both copies and pasted them front and back so you could see the figures from both sides. These were a lot of work, but I saved them in a tote to reuse. You could also flatten the paper clip for storage in file folders.

Here I made flannel-graph figures with free printable Bible people.
Same printable people made into "tube people."
You can find the free download for the Bible people printable at The Activity Mom.

If you would like to see another demonstration of dramatizing a Bible event with paper figures, check out my Elijah and the Prophets of Baal post.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Tube People for Acting Out Bible Stories


Make these tube people from things you already have around your house.

I coined the term "tube people," because that's what these are. People made from tubes. Complete instructions are in the video.

As parents or teachers, you can use these people to act out Bible stories. Kids can use them for the same, or just for imaginary play. In this day of tech, playing with hands on, kinesthetic items is so important. Tech is great, but I still don't think there is any substitute for good old fashioned creative play to develop the imagination. So during this time of staying at home, here's a great activity for the whole family.

Supplies:
  • empty paper tubes (toilet paper, paper towel, gift wrap) AND/OR empty chip board boxes. You can also use card stock, manila file folders or anything stiff that can be rolled into a tube.
  • stapler or tape
  • pieces of cloth (can be old rags, sheets, t-shirts...you can even use tissues)
  • Sharpie (black)
  • rubber bands, yarn, twine, strips of cloth for tying on the "head dress"
Directions:
  1. Roll your cardboard into a tube shape and staple it
  2.  Cut the size head dress you want
  3. Cut a length of twine, yarn or cloth for tying on the head dress
  4. Put the cloth over the top of the tube person, and tie it on as pictured
  5. Draw a face on with the Sharpie and you are done
  6. If you want to get fancy you can draw on clothes
Here is the instructable in video form:
These people can be used in any number of Bible story re-tellings. Sometime in May 2020 I will post some links below to scripts I have that could be acted out with tube people. I will also have a link to a video where I actually use tube people to re-enact a Bible story so you can see how to do it (for anyone who feels inhibited, or thinks they are not creative enough to do this.) Keep checking back.



Friday, April 10, 2020

Social Distancing and Green Screen Ministries



Years ago our youth entered a video contest to try and win money to attend a conference. We wrote a script that included all kinds of crazy scenes. The girl that was going to film it took one look at the script and said, “I can’t do this.”

“Why not?” I asked.
“Can’t you just cut out the background and make it look like we are on a boat?”

“You need a green screen for that.” was her reply.

A green screen? I had never heard of it. Apparently every kid from here to Timbuktu knows what a green screen is, but I didn’t. 

Today, with social distancing being practiced, and churches doing everything online, I noticed that my old "Green Screen" post was getting more traffic. So I am going to add a little to it in light of the present situation the coronavirus has imposed upon us.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Stay at Home Palm Sunday

https://www.jesus-without-language.net/kids-ministry-at-home/?fbclid=IwAR2RwpqMePYIcFIheyb1ljxgEyqZDPqAzAXtO2hjwZvo5QiIlJxPzRp6ULA

I met a great kidmin worker who lives overseas through doing this blog. Her work is really professional. With the current COVID-19 pandemic going on, this gal, named Kate, has been making wonderful home packs for families with children. So what's in a home pack? A simple Bible lesson you can teach, some game ideas, coloring pages and always at least one craft. If you have a printer these are great. She even gives age appropriate choices in the packs, so they range from preschool through elementary. I hope you can take advantage of these and pass the word along.

Kate collaborated with a couple of other bloggers to create these. Here is the link for the one for Palm Sunday. If you go to her site, Jesus Without Language, you will find some more home packs. These are all being offered free of charge, but you can always make a donation to Kate's ministry if you want.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Letting God Open the Well - Isaac


Genesis 26 is about stopping and unstopping wells among other things. This is a fairly simple story with some good applications. I include a drama and flash cards at the end. In the post, "Tube People for Acting Out Bible Stories," there are instructions for making the wells for the drama and also some other visuals you can make with your children. I show you how to tell the story using "tube people" in the post, "Tube People Starring in Isaac & the King." You can teach this lesson yourself at home using the flash cards I prepared and linked at the end of this post.

Wells supplied water, an essential resource to life.
In Genesis 26, Isaac confronts stopped up and stolen wells with patience and gentleness. Wells were the source of water, an essential resource to life. Stopping up a well usually meant war. According to the notes on Genesis 26:17,18 in the Life Application Bible, filling in someone's well with dirt was one of the most serious crimes in the land. Isaac had every right to fight back when the Philistines stopped up his wells (vs. 15). But he chose not to.

Stopped up wells.
First the Philistines stopped up all of Isaac's wells that his father had dug, because they were jealous that God was blessing Isaac. He moves (actually he is "kicked out" of where he is by King Abimelech) to the Gerar Valley and his servants dig and discover a well of fresh water. The Philistines from Gerar come and claim the spring for their own after Isaac's servants did all the work.
Isaac, his sheep and shepherds move to the Gerar Valley

No problem, Isaac's men just dig another well, but again the other shepherds come and dispute over it. Isaac abandons that well too and his servants dig a third time. They strike water again, and this time there is no dispute. Isaac breaths a sigh of relief and names the place Rehoboth which means "room." The idea was that God had made room for him in the land.
Digging new wells.

Things get even better though. God appears again to Isaac reaffirming his promise to bless him and increase his offspring. Finally, the King himself seeks out Isaac, and wonder of wonders, he apologizes to him and makes a covenant with him that they will not harm each other.

Lessons to be learned from this story?
  1. When Isaac encountered trouble, he did not "run" and go to Egypt where he could have lived because God commanded him not to (vs. 2). He stayed in the land and trusted God.
  2. Isaac did not demand his rights to the wells. He simply moved on and found more water. He was leaving matters in God's hands. God had told him to live in that land and he would give it to his descendants.
  3. Isaac was gentle rather than demanding. He simply moved on and dug another well.
  4. Isaac was patient. He had to dig wells three times until the disputes stopped.
  5. Isaac persevered. He did not give up, but kept digging new wells.
We need to:
  1. Obey God (do as he instructs us)
  2. Obey God even when it is difficult
  3. Trust God instead of demanding things. Be gentle, not demanding. Proverbs says that a "soft answer" turns away, or diffuses someone's anger.
  4. Don't give up. Isaac kept digging wells until God made room for him in the land. Galatians 6:9 teaches this principle, "Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don't give up." Likewise, 1 Corinthians 15:58 encapsulates this principle.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-PQRnCPJ-cxc-atPRi46aPvaVD1ZZ5To/view?usp=sharing
Flashcards

I made some flashcards for telling this story that you can download here.

The DRAMA can be downloaded here.

If you want to print the signs for the wells, you can access them here.