Creative Storytelling of The Witch of Endor to engage kids in God’s word and etching His lessons into their minds to pull from when they need it most in life.
This October I have been sharing scary bible stories with my kindergarten through fifth grade bible class on Wednesday nights. The goal is always to get kids excited about God! When they are excited about this, they learn who God is, they develop a love for God and they have a natural desire to share God with friends. One week they learned about “The Witch of Endor.” Real live witches in the bible? Yes! The bible really does have it all! Of course, I make sure to remind them that God said to stay away from witchcraft! It was not and is not acceptable to our God!
You will have children’s full attention as you make a crystal ball to tell the story. You can use ANY size container you want. In fact, when doing this activity for a large group, I had a large bowl. After telling the story ask questions to make sure they were paying attention. We want them going away with God’s word more so than the crystal ball. Then watch the excitement on their little faces when you let them try this activity on their own. I bought some small containers from the grocery story (like you see in the picture). They come with lids so you can even put the water in the bowls before class. I put the dry ice in each cup though and told any child that touched the dry ice they would lose theirs. Every child got their own string and groups shared the soapy suds. (Dry ice can usually be purchased at large grocery stores. You have to ask for it though.)
For the rest of their lives, when they see this activity, I bet they think of the “Witch of Endor.” And what lesson can they learn from this? King Saul had turned his back on God. He only called on God when he was afraid, so God was not there this time. King Saul was so afraid that he chose to sin even more by seeking out a witch to conjure up Samuel from the dead. King Saul did not get the answer he wanted either. He learned that he and his sons would die, and that’s just what happened. We need to be obedient to God, always. The bible tells us that sin leads to death. Sure, we will all mess up from time to time and God will forgive us, but we should not call on God only in times of trouble. That’s not a good relationship. And when we are afraid, do not make matters worse by adding sin into the mix. That’s just asking for more trouble. Trust and obey God. Grow a real relationship with your Heavenly Father who loves you. It’s an awesome lesson to learn any time of the year, but it is especially fun at Halloween.
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If you enjoyed this article, check out the Pumpkin Prayer.
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 Prayer to 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.)
Download a copy of the Pumpkin Prayer.
Purchase mini flashlights from Oriental Trading Co (Note: You will need to add an AA battery to each one. I did not realize this when I ordered but once I put it in, I love them!)
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.