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Teacher Gifts

Wow! I cannot believe how fast Christmas is coming this year and gifts are on top of my mind!  I made pumpkin bread for all of our church leaders, but wanted something for my teachers that wasn’t edible.  Several of my teachers are on strict diets… so I figured food might not be a good gift in this case. Trying to find something affordable, but nice, was not easy.  I did it though.  (Well, I’m guessing God had a hand in it.)  I thought I’d share in case you found yourself in the same predicament.

If you haven’t bought your teachers a Christmas gift yet, here are a couple of ideas:

This Christmas, I’m giving all of my teachers a Kindle book, Pocket of Prayers by Max Lucado.  It’s only $2.99 on Kindle!  At the holidays everyone gets so much “stuff”  so I think a Kindle book is perfect!  Give them a nice Christmas card but really, all you need is their email address.  Amazon let’s you send it as a gift making it so easy!  Then, they can read it from their smart phone, tablet or computer.  It’s perfect!

Another suggestion, one I’m saving for mid-year as a teacher appreciation gift, is a potted succulent plant with a message, “Thank you for helping our kids grow in God’s love!”  It costs a little more per teacher, about $5 each for 5 teachers or order another set of plants and it ends up being $3.50 per teacher.  The plants come in sets of 5 while the pots come in 10.  You can order what you need from Amazon and it’s super simple!  I can manage to kill just about any plant, so I like these low maintenance plants.  Plus, they are great for the teacher with allergies.

I hope you find this helpful. I would love to hear your ideas, things that have worked well for you at the holidays!

    

 

Say a Prayer Entering Into 2018

As a kid in bible class each week, did you ever wish God would talk to you like He did with Adam in the garden? Or like Moses from a burning bush? Or perhaps like Jesus did with the 12 apostles? These people got to talk to God and God worked through them.  I admit, I also wished I could be an angel at one point and wondered if there was a way.  My point is, God did great things through these people!  As I got older I remember learning how God used normal people, people with fears and deficiencies ti love out His plan.  Why couldn’t that be me?  Then, as I was working with kids at church, I realized He was working through me.  This was empowering and an answer to my prayer. There is a point to my ramblings.

Christmas is around the corner and then it’s time for those New Years resolutions. Will we go into 2018 with big dreams for the spiritual welfare of our children and their families? As children’s ministry leaders we can’t help ourselves.  We want great things for our children.  Like the great leaders of the Bible, hopefully like them, we begin with God. This is His church after all and we are merely allowing our amazing God to work through us to shape His children, the future of His church. What an awesome thought! Think over scripture and remember the men of the Old Testament, how they went to God before tackling problems.  When they did, God gave them success.  When they didn’t start with God, they often failed.  Let’s learn from them.  Let’s begin with prayer and let’s remain humble.  God is using us and it’s not to the reverse.

I will leave you with this thought from 2 Kings 6:17 – Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.  Can you imagine Gods church, its unshakable faith, when God answers our prayers to open the eyes of our children to see and know Him, to know the love He has for us and what that means for them?  We serve an amazing God and I believe He will guide us in our endeavors as children’s ministry leaders.

I love these wall decals!

 

Santa vs. God at Home

Tonight as I was watching The Santa Clause with my family, my mind wandered off to children’s ministry again.  I started thinking about how hard so many parents work to keep their children believing in Santa. We even go to elaborate lengths with the mischievous Elf on a Shelf. I remember one year when my kids were really little.  We stayed at my parents house on Christmas Eve.  My mom went outside the window of the room they were sleeping in, rang a jingle bell and guided a red light past the window so they’d think they saw Rudolph.  My kids were so excited! They closed their eyes tightly pretending to sleep so Santa would come with presents.  I am sad to say I cannot remember a time my kids got that excited about God, and He is real.

Do we, as parents, go to these same lengths to ensure our children believe in their Creator, their Heavenly Father?  I venture to say that sadly, in most cases the answer is no.  This is disturbing.  What is even more disturbing is knowing I have children in our church who believe in Santa, but are questioning God’s existence.  What do we do about it?

Let’s look at what we do special at Christmas time.  We read holiday stories, watch holiday movies, build up gifts and Santa, spend more time in fellowship with family and friends, attend special events and more.  We need to take a page out of our holiday life and start applying it year round to our spiritual life and raising our kids for Christ.  Spend time each week reading and bringing God’s word to life.  Take that same enthusiasm you have when reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and read about Daniel or Jonah.  Instead of sharing what great things Santa is doing, share what amazing things God did and does even today.  For family movie night, watch a movie with a spiritual message.  I haven’t tried Pureflix yet, but thinking I may give it a shot.  Fellowship with your church family.  Enjoy a meal or outing together building Christian friendships.

There are so many ways we can build up God in our homes year round.  Talk about God year round in your home, just as often as you talk about Santa in December.  We remind our children that Santa is watching; now remind them that God is watching.  Remind them that God sees them and hears them.  Instead of writing letters to Santa, pray to God.  Instead of baking Santa and reindeer cookies, bake Angels, lions for Daniel, animals for creation or Noah’s ark.  Wow! With a little effort we can show our kids that God is important and loves them.  As you are setting your goals for the new year, I challenge you to write a plan that includes making God more important than Santa in December!

Share things you’ve done to keep God alive in your home throughout the year.  I would love to hear your ideas.

 

A Gingerbread Christmas

Kids love parties. They enjoy having fun with friends. So give the children in your church a place to have fun with friends. Throw a holiday party with a message. We always look for teachable moments, don’t we?  And we strive to offer something our kids beg to come to and bring their friends. They all look forward to the Christmas party!!

This year, I am throwing A Gingerbread Christmas party for our elementary kids. I searched and searched for a lesson using the Gingerbread man, but could not seem to find what I was looking for. Since I was set on my theme, not sure why because I don’t even eat Gingerbread, I set out to create my own story that brought Jesus to our children using a simple Gingerbread man. I had an idea!  The Gingerbread man was going to be our creation. Each child gets a Gingerbread man cookie to decorate. Then, we will gather around in a circle where I will have a large, plain, undecorated poster board gingerbread man. Now for the lesson, that teachable moment.  I will decorate him as we go.

First, this a man. I created this man with the finest ingredients and careful attention. I wanted him to be perfect… like God when he created Adam and Eve. He created them perfectly. Let’s give our Gingerbread man eyes, eyes to see when those around us are in need. Then we will give him a smile to share the good news of our Savior. Each hand will get a mitten for serving others. And he will get boots to take him wherever the Lord sends him. And finally the buttons, three, for the Father in heaven who hears our prayers, the Son who came to earth to save us all and the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, guiding our ways.

You see, I will share with our kids the amazing gift from God. We are a gift from God, the Bible calls children blessings. And He has given us a gift. The Bible says we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And God didn’t stop there! He gave us His Son to die on the cross, to be our Savior offering us the gift of grace. What an amazing God we love and serve!  Each time they see a Gingerbread man, I want them to think of the parts that make up this cookie. The finest ingredients, eyes, a mouth, hands and feet and our God living in us.

For a detailed outline of this holiday party, games and all, email raisekidsforchrist@gmail.com and put “Gingerbread Man” in the subject line.

If you download the party plan, here’s a link to the sticky hands it refers to.  (KIDS LOVE THESE!)

 

Holiday Focus for Kids

Let the hustle and bustle begin!  Thanksgiving week kicks off the holiday season.  As our calendars quickly fill up, we strive to keep ourselves from over stressing and remembering the spirit of the season.  This week we begin by focusing on all the things we are thankful for, all the ways God has blessed us.  Kids are great this!  They are thankful for everything from their toys and bed to their great-great-grandma and every cousin too!  I’m sure you’ve tucked your kids in and listened to a few prayers like this.

This year, I am trying something a little different.  Instead of starting with turkeys this week and then moving into presents, trees and nativity scenes next week, I’m leaping head on into Christmas with a tree.  In our foyer I am hanging a large Christmas tree (made from those big rolls of paper tucked away in the workroom).  The star on top reads, “Blessed” and the ornaments are pre-cut for all of the kids to use.  Parents are encouraged to bring pictures of their kids to hang on the tree together and talk about what a blessing they are.  The other ornaments are for the kids to write down blessings and hang on the tree each week so we can look visually at all of the ways God has blessed us.  Under the tree are gifts labeled, “Teaching, Singing, Hospitality.”  You get the idea.  Then, at our elementary holiday party, we will gather around the tree and talk about our blessings from God, making sure to add Christ and grace as we talk more deeply about that.  (Our party theme this year is “A Gingerbread Christmas” which ties in perfectly.  More on this later.)

By doing this, we direct our children’s focus on goodness and spiritual thoughts.  Especially for smaller churches, this is a great way to show your church members and holiday guests that children are a priority at your congregation.  Everyone, well almost everyone, wants to know their church is growing, not stagnant.  What better way of doing this than by putting children, the future of the church, right at the front of the building so they all see the tree of children every time they enter the building.  If you want more children at your church, parents looking for a church home want to know their kids are not going to be the only ones.  Make yours appealing with friends for their kids.

What are some ways you keep children thinking about spiritual things throughout the season?  And what are ways you showcase your children?

 

Trunk-or-Treat Community Outreach

Last night was Trunk-or-Treat at my local congregation.  What an amazing outreach!  Every year we decorate our trunks with bible themes and hundreds of kids participate.  Mine has been a F.R.O.G. (Fully Rely on God) with a wooden “fly” launcher my husband built.  The kids eat it up!  They stomp on one end and send the fly (a Badminton birdie) into the frogs mouth (or bucket in our case).  We have a bounce house, train rides and serve corn dogs.  Kids from our church and the community come out for fun and treats.

You don’t have to travel across the globe to minister.  There’s an opportunity in your own backyard.  Take our community, for instance.  We have a congregation of about 250.  There are thousands more people in our community that don’t worship God.  We don’t preach to them at Trunk-or-Treat, but we bring people in and serve them.  We show them love and hospitality.  We open the doors for an opportunity to visit about the gospel at a later time.  Last year we held a raffle for a $20 gift card. This allowed us to get many names and email addresses of people in our community.  Now, we can send something to them each month to set their focus, even if for a moment, on God.  Plus, we get to tell them about all kinds of children’s events coming up that we’d love to have their child at.

Look for opportunities to be hospitable to your community.  Make the community aware that you are there.  When the time comes, when they realize they need God, they will remember you and know they have someone to turn to.  Trunk-or-Treat may not be for your and that’s okay. Look for what works for your congregation.  It may be a movie night where you play a movie and serve popcorn.  How about an Easter egg hunt?  Breakfast with Santa?  Share some things you have tried and let us know how they worked.  I love new ideas!

This is what the Lord has commanded us to do. He said,“I have made you a light for the Gentiles.  You will bring salvation to the whole earth.” -Acts 13:47