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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.

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.

Spiritual Meals: Passing On the Faith

’Tis the season of pumpkin spice and apple pie. As the epitome of this cozy and delightfully smelling season approaches, some of you may be looking forward to a day of glorious eating. Of course, others of you may stress about the preparation of the meal. Or you may find yourself in a different place this year, not able to enjoy the traditional American festivities of turkey, potatoes, and pie. For this moment, however, see if you can push aside any stress or hard feelings toward this holiday and let your imagination dwell in the comfort of a delicious meal enjoyed with someone you love. It’s on days like this that our eyes often seem too big for our stomachs as we are overwhelmed with the number of options on the table available to fill our tummies. How can we possibly give all of the foods proper justice?

Engaging Your Congregation in Sunday School

You see members of your congregation regularly attending worship and being active within their small groups and social circles, but are they thinking of or active with the children growing in Jesus’ love during Sunday School? Does it even matter? Shouldn’t the parents be involved with their children and not have to “bother” the congregation members? Of course, parents should be involved with their child’s faith, but it is also important to have your congregation members engaged as well.  It can help parents feel connected to the church community, strengthen relationships across generations, and, most important, help students grow in their faith (and many times, the members as well!).

So now what? How do you start engaging your members with your Sunday School? The following are a few ideas to help involve your congregation with Sunday School.

Teaching Parables: The Faithful Servant

This parable is both Law and Gospel. It’s an admonition to be ready for Jesus’ return at the end of human history, but it is also the Gospel message that Jesus makes us ready for His triumphant return—the day He will make us whole in heaven.

How to Engage Parents with Your Sunday School

As you say goodbye to your students and watch them walk down the hall, hand in hand with their parents, do you ever wonder: Are they discussing the Bible with their kids? Are the lessons I am teaching being reinforced at home? Am I engaging my students’ parents enough?

Discussing Scary Things with Young Children

As a student at Concordia University, Nebraska, I enjoyed attending chapel services on campus. Nearly ten years later, I still remember some significant messages I heard there. In particular, I remember when a professor shared that he had been in a car accident. Thankfully, no one involved had been hurt. As he would tell people about the close call, many responded by saying, “God is good,” which is, of course, true. This professor wanted to make it clear, however, that even if he had gotten hurt in the accident, that statement would still be true. God is always good, not just when we are blessed to avoid hurt or injury.

Teaching Parables: The Wedding Feast and the Great Banquet

In polite society, we are raised with table manners: don’t hum or sing, keep your elbows off the table, place your napkin in your lap, don’t burp aloud (although this is allowed in some cultures as a compliment to the chef), don’t reach over another person’s plate. There are rules for seating at a dinner party as well, and Jesus makes reference to these in this month’s parables of the wedding feast and the great banquet.

Teaching Preschoolers God’s Truth about Hard Issues

Preschoolers often have big questions. To them, their questions aren’t so big. As they encounter new experiences that range from scraping a knee to a death in the family, they are simply trying to make sense of the world around them. However, to the adult of whom the question is asked, who has more life experience and understanding, the answer may seem very complicated. So, we wonder: How in the world am I going to explain this?