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Teaching Little Ones about: Pastor’s Vestments

Church services can sometimes be confusing for little ones. Why is it so quiet? Why does pastor wear that funny robe? Why do we say the same thing every week? Teaching young children about the individual parts of the church service can seem daunting. And it starts with learning yourself what it all means! This is the first of a series of posts on teaching our youngest churchgoers about the parts of service.

Teaching Children How to Pray

I will always remember the surprise and joy of listening to my brother’s first spontaneous prayer. In our family of six, my parents strove to lead nightly devotions and prayers. Though we didn’t get to it every night, it was enough that my brother, the youngest, was able to catch on to what we were doing. After a group prayer, the rest of us would take turns saying prayers out loud. In the middle of someone else’s petition, he suddenly burst out, “Thank You for the sandbox!” Then we knew it was time for Dalen to have a turn in our nightly prayers.

Leading a Classroom Devotion

Leading a classroom devotion—for any grade level—not only starts the school day on a positive note but also creates a sense of family and community within the classroom. Classroom devotions don’t need to take up much time, but being intentional about leading them begins the day in the best way: with Jesus.

Teaching the Twelve Apostles: Peter

Beginning this month, I am pleased to share a few thoughts regarding our Lord’s twelve apostles and to suggest some ideas on how to present these important biblical figures to Sunday School students. Each blog will include an introduction to an apostle, as well as one or two key points and some teaching suggestions. Given that this is the first blog, I will also include here a couple of ideas on how to help students remember all twelve disciples over the course of the year.

The Courage to Forgive

Have you ever wronged somebody? I mean truly wronged somebody. Maybe you yelled at co-workers, gossiped behind a friend’s back (who then found out), or even told blatant lies about someone you had never met. All of these are bad, sinful, but forgiveness is something that God gives us, both in His forgiveness of our sins and in our ability to forgive others.

The Christmas Season as Outreach for Your VBS

As a child, the sounds of bells and Christmas carols, the smells of pine and cookies, and the love of Christ in the air are all things I loved about the holidays. My top three memories of growing up at church were the Christmas service, the Easter service, and Vacation Bible School. Why were these events more impactful to me than any other church service or lesson? It could be that they were all held are during a school vacation, during which I had extra time to spend with family and friends. It could be that these are all times when families in the church come together to celebrate our Savior. Or it could be because all of these events are filled with stories and lessons of who Jesus is and what He did for us. So what does Christmas and the nativity have to do with Vacation Bible School? EVERYTHING! The lessons and stories that are taught during VBS, Easter, Advent, and Christmas will follow children throughout their lives.

A “Happy Birthday, Jesus” Party for Fourth and Fifth Graders

This Advent season is a good time to engage your upper elementary students. Here is a fun idea for them to go on an adventure exploring the Scriptures to discover more about the newborn King!

Teaching Moments and Retelling Scripture

Have you ever tried to explain Jesus’ family to a preschooler? It’s pretty fun. You get out a picture of Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus. You have this perfect little picture of Jesus with His mom and … hold on. You’re about to say dad, but you realize that’s kind of true and kind of … not true? And voilà. You’ve just taught the children about blended families without having any intention of doing so. Or at least, that wasn’t my own original intention as I stumbled upon this discussion my first year of teaching.  

Some might call that a rookie mistake, but I like to think of it as a great example of why it’s valuable to read stories of Scripture over and over again. Here’s why.

Family-Centered Outreach through Christmas Eve Service

Over the past two decades, I have been on the hunt for a special Christmas gift to give! I happen to be a “gifts” person, and I love to receive incredible gifts just as much as I love to give them to others. I have also been blessed to serve God within a congregation as a paid vocation, and I have been the recipient of God’s incredible grace given to all of us through the gift of Jesus. 

The blog title gives away the object of my quest, so I will cut to the chase. I have been on the hunt for a beautiful expression of the Gospel within a Christmas Eve service that proclaims the saving Gospel message clearly to congregation members and first-time church attenders alike. I have been searching for a meaningful way to incorporate children into the service without the disruption a normal children’s message can sometimes cause. One option would be a formal Christmas program, but in the communities where I have served, there isn’t space in the family calendar for the practices and memorizing. Such a quandary!

Teaching Parables: A House Divided

Jesus frequently performed miracles in the course of His earthly ministry. Mark 3 contains a couple examples of note. Jesus was near the synagogue on the Sabbath. Our Lord’s detractors were keeping a close vigil in hopes of catching Jesus in sin. Jesus taught with authority in the synagogue, yet He was often rejected by the Jewish religious authorities. Jesus healed many, including the man with the withered hand, and when evil spirits encountered Him, they cowered in fear. The scribes claimed He was possessed by a demon. Even our Lord’s family believed He was deranged.

In this context, accused of devilry, our Savior cleverly presents the parable of the house divided.