I walked down the hallways and into the classrooms as an overwhelming feeling came over me. It all needs so much attention! The artwork down the hallway is pictures of students, which I like except that the pictures are of students that moved on to middle school a few years ago! The bulletin boards are falling down. The supplies on the shelves are in disarray. One classroom has a broken lamp while another has a vacuum in a corner. This isn’t good for anyone; not the kids that come every week or the visitors here for the first time. We need a classroom clean up and organization overhaul soon.
Yep! It is definitely time for a thorough cleaning and some updating! Being back to school season works out great since everything’s on sale. I may not be able to paint the rooms right this second and do a major complete overhaul, but I can certainly clean up, get organized and give the rooms a fresh look with some simple decorating. I made a checklist for myself that you may find helpful too. Click here to download and print for free.
Start downloading and cutting coupons, find the sales and go shopping! Your classrooms probably need fresh crayons (use the old ones in a melting project down the road to make shaped multi-color crayons), pencils, glue and more. For mine, we do hands on lessons every week so I noticed my Play-Doh drying out and Play Foam was not sticking together so well anymore. Add some colorful organizers for take home papers, folder games and more. This is a FUN part of the job; it’s just a matter of making the time (which I find myself running out of these days). When you do this, please send me pictures! I want to see the before and after’s!!
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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!)