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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.

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.