I wish I had pictures of the kids making these to go along with the Pumpkin Prayer! They had more fun than I expected.
This month has been all about taking Halloween and turning our focus towards God. Yesterday the kids sat in a circle while they listened to the Pumpkin Prayer and watched as the Jack-O-Lantern was carved. I cheated. Before getting with the kids, I had already cut the top off and cleaned out the inside leaving just enough to pull out for that part of the prayer. If I had thought about it, I would have roasted the seeds and let the kids eat them while listening and watching. I cut the eyes as we talked about “opening our eyes” to see God’s love and cut the mouth as we talked about “sharing” God’s word. You get the idea. And at the end, I placed a flashing LED light inside for the kids to see our lights shining for God in all we say and do!
Then it was their turn. No, I was not too comfortable with the idea of handing a bunch of elementary kids sharp objects… so I passed out miniature pumpkins and these awesome acrylic paint markers so the kids could draw their Jack-O-Lanterns to take home with the Pumpkin Prayer. (And down the road they can use the markers to make prayer rocks or story stones.) Then I emailed the Pumpkin Prayerto the parents suggesting that as a family they carve pumpkins as they go through the prayer. We will see how many give it a shot!
Halloween brings about some pretty interesting debates among churches. Regardless of whether or not you believe Halloween should be celebrated as a Christian, we can all agree that kids come out in slews for this popular holiday. These kids are the churched and the unchurched. The way I see it, Halloween is another opportunity to share God with those who otherwise would not be available for you to share otherwise.
Parents look for safe venues to take their kids for Halloween and churches often times make their way to the top of the list! How can we as a church make this an amazing outreach opportunity? What can we do to motivate our children to bring their friends to learn about God? How can we open the eyes of the unchurched to see God while enlightening our churched children? Here are just a few ideas!
Trunk-or-Treat: Have a number of members, or ministries within the congregation, decorate a trunk that goes along with a bible story or message. Some great examples The Witch of Endor, Ezekiel and the Valley of Dry Bones, All 10 Plagues, Noah’s Ark, or F.R.O.G. (Fully Rely on God). The ideas are endless! Kids can simply travel from trunk to trunk for treats or better yet, have an activity at each one along with a treat. Each year, I have a FROG trunk and the kids hit a mallet on wood to make flies leap into the frogs mouth. Another trunk we have is Fishers of Men where the kids “fish” for their treat. And another I plan on trying soon is The Witch of Endor where kids “pick” the witches nose to pull out snot (just slime). Be creative! (By the way, we do not compete with Halloween. Ours is always prior to the holiday itself.)
Fall Festival: This may be combined with Trunk-or-Treat or stand alone. Rent a bounce house, perhaps a train ride or a simple hay ride. Offer hot dogs and chips. Then have games spread out for kids. They can toss glow necklaces around pumpkin stems, bob for apples, and more. Pinterest is full of great activities for a festival!
Jack-O-Lantern Carving:Invite families to come carve a Jack-O-Lantern followed by a short devotional about the Pumpkin Prayer while having snacks. Have several start times on a Saturday and have fun!
Midweek “Scary Bible Stories” Classes throughout the month of October: Post signs and send out Facebook advertisements to the community. Bring your flashlight to class, turn out all the lights, let kids gather in a circle under a sheet while you tell a scary bible story by flashlight. They love this! After story time, review the story and remind them that they do not need to be afraid because they have God! Then, wrap up with a fun group game.
Whatever exciting method you choose to reach the community this Halloween, don’t forget one of the most important parts- get contact information so you can follow up! One year we held a drawing for a $50 grocery card. This year we are handing out a book, “Scary Bible Stories to Tell in the Dark,” with a cute little flashlight from Oriental Trading. To qualify, they must be provide their name, kids name(s) and grade levels along with an email address. This way, I can send an email once a month (not much more so we do not annoy) with a message of encouragement and information on upcoming events as well as Bible Class Topics for kids and parents.
Print your own copy of “Scary Bible Stories to Tell in the Dark” and make as many copies as you’d like. (Subscribe here to download. Members received a link in their email recently, but email me if you don’t see it.)
Did you know that memorials are not a human concept. Nope! God started this and we have many memorials we learn about in the bible. Do our children understand what a memorial is? Do they know that they have biblical memorials still today? Are they being taught in a manner so they don’t fall on the same path as the Israelite’s who so many times were found worshiping the memorial instead of using it only as a reminder to worship God?
Teaching kids about God’s memorials
Downloadable Memorial Day Lesson & Activity is available for you to use as it is or modify to best fit your kiddo’s. It teaches kids what a memorial is and the most important memorial Christians have today. Then, there’s a suggestion for an activity allowing kids to think about what reminds them of God and then mold their very own memorial out of clay. (You can use Play-Doh for the younger kids.)
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Need modeling clay? Here are a few options to make it easy on you, but look around. There are a ton of choices! I am purchasing a colorful one today for my class. Remember, clay is hard so kids will need to use their muscles and soften if to mold something amazing.
YIKES! School’s out, the kids are home and parents need ideas! Lot’s of ideas!
Summer is a time when the kids are home, they quickly get bored and plant themselves in front of the television. Parents need fresh ideas. They want to be good parents. They want to spend time with their kids (well, at least some of the time), but they don’t know what to do without breaking the bank or without fighting their kids by acting as the T.V. police. So it has to be fun, something kids get excited about.
Be a hero with parents, the kids and with God! You have the solution right here, 25 fun activities for the summer. There are many activities kids can do by themselves or with each other to have fun outside of television, but the idea is for parents to spend quality time with their kids. Time together builds up a child’s self-esteem and makes them more comfortable going to parents with problems as they get older. None of these are very expensive, and many are free! So, print off “25 Summer God-Approved Family Activities” and send home with your bible class kiddo’s. (If you are tech savvy, download it and send as an email attachment.)
Encourage parents to try a few of these ideas and most importantly, have fun with their kids. They do grow up fast and they remember the time spent together. Encourage parents to consistently remind their kids that God gave them each other, loves each of them and will be the focus of the family.
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Is Easter really the Super Bowl for churches? Does attendance increase enough to make a noticeable difference? You bet it does! So what are you going to do about it? How are you going to encourage those annual visitors to return more frequently? Do you need a creative give away, a bribe?
Well let me tell you, God doesn’t need gimmicks. He needs His church to act like a church. People need people. They desire friendships. Just go back to the garden to see this, “It is not good for man to be alone.” When you see a visitor, go to them. Talk to them. Ask them about them. Invite them to an Easter egg hunt or lunch during the week. Get their contact information and follow up! You do not need a gimmick to be a friend and this is what most people really seek!
According to a study by Barna Group, only 38% of Americans say they go to church weekly. Compare that to the many other studies showing over half the population of Americans attends church services on Easter. This tell me that Americans fell some sense of spiritual obligation, but they are not finding the piece that brings them back on any given Sunday, the piece that lets them know God’s church is a family they want to be a part of.
Many churches have tried creative ways to entice the non-church goers to return. They send home welcome packs, drop off a gift at their door or mail a postcard. These are great works and I think we should keep doing them, but I have yet to come across an outreach idea like these that consistently and effectively turned visitors into regular church goers. I will be providing all kids in attendance with crayons and a color sheet focused on Easter. We will have an Easter egg hunt following services full of candy and goodies! But I do not expect these ideas to be what draws families back week after week.
So what’s missing? Connections! Easter provides and incredible opportunity to put this theory to the test. Try it this Sunday! Talk to a visitor. Get their information and have coffee or send a note. Invite them to your small group bible study. If they have kids, send some stickers during the week showing you noticed them too. You are establishing a relationship. When people have friends they are more likely to participate. We love talking to and being with our friends. No, God does not need gimmicks. He needs us to show we are Christians by our love.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner everyone’s asking for some unique Valentine’s Day card or gift ideas for their children’s ministry. I have a couple of ideas for you that the kids are going to love. What kid doesn’t love a bouncy ball or a flashing light at their fingertip? Even better, these ideas are extremely inexpensive. Watch the video on DIY Valentine’s Day Cards for Children’s Ministry to see how it’s done. Then simply print the PDF version of the card you’d like to use. And to make things super easy for you, I included links to the products I used on Amazon.com. (I do receive a small commission if you use this affiliate link. These are the products I ordered and used for my kiddos.) It includes free two day shipping for Prime members which I absolutely love!! If you stick around you will notice I use Amazon for just about everything! If you use one of these, I would love to hear how it turns out for you in your ministry.
You can easily use this Valentine as a community outreach give away. Add information about your bible classes to the other side and hand out in area neighborhoods or host a community children’s valentine party with activities and refreshments. It would be memorable.