Remembrances and resolutions
For the blog and for your Sunday Schools too
It’s nearly 2018 – in case you hadn’t noticed. And everybody is in that ‘fresh start’ mode whether it’s buying gym memberships, taking up veganuary or resolving to read their Bible more often. We’re also looking back at 2017 and evaluating the good and bad in ourselves and in the world. If you’re keen to do some of that with your young people and children here are three options:
This brand new session plan for children to get them counting their blessings.
This Bible study for teens on what it means to be a new creation
This easy to adapt weekend away plan, inspired by Joshua, focusing on looking back in thanksgiving and looking forward in dependence.
For this blog: I’m thankful that I get to reuse and rethink children’s work I’ve created in the past and that it can be useful for others out there. And I’m resolving to plan what I’m going to post in advance: It’s definitely not my strength but his grace is sufficient for me, for his power is made perfect in weakness.
The non-turkey variety
It’s about to be my first thanksgiving and we’ve been invited round to some friends to experience this very American tradition in all it’s glory. What I’ve written is not at all related to the history of America – I’m not remotely qualified to do justice to that – but is all about giving thanks to God for his gifts. There are a few activities on the internet related to gratitude rather than a seasonal holiday but a lot of these focus on what you’re thankful for without really considering who you’re giving thanks to – there is a lot of good in simply counting our blessings (which is why I’ve included a few links to games of this kind); it’s far to easy to take things for granted, but it’s important to know who to thank – what we have, our very lives, are given to us by God and he deserves the credit.
There’s also Looking Back in Thanksgiving which I wrote for children’s work at a church weekend a while back. It focus first on Joshua about to enter the Promised Land and all that he has to thank God for before moving on to consider what we can thank God for on top of that. Designed to be paired with Looking Forward in Dependence; you could pic-n-mix the best of each to end up with a session that best suits your group.
Is the subject of this session
but fortunately using the ideas definitely isn’t stealing
I’ve never found it so easy to think of games/songs/activities etc and so hard to write a talk! I know tonnes of burglary related games (as well as heaps of synonyms for theft – what does this say about me?!) and as easy as that made it to plan the session for the eighth commandment I struggled to apply this in a way that didn’t use all my material for do not covet before I’d got to that one. Sneak preview for commandment number 10 though: God cares about our actions and our attitudes.
is not a lucky number
but it is where we’re up to in the ten commandments
Check out the session for commandment number seven here. Those of you who are much more clued up than I am will have realised that the seventh commandment is ‘Do not commit adultery’ which is not the most straightforward to apply to children who are way too young to get married.
We talk about it as a picture of Christ and the Church; and you could do just that section at the same time as you do ‘Honour your mother and your father’ (fifth commandment) since they share similar ‘it’s important because it’s a picture of God’s relationship with us’ applications. In which case just check out the talk and the activity – that’s the joy of a pic’n’mix system. I’ve taken the faithfulness aspect of that command and drawn a parallel with keeping our promises, which is very relevant when you’re 5-11.
In Dark Places
An alternative to Halloween
Halloween started as a chance to mock evil and let it have its last moment before the inevitable defeat of the forces of darkness by the King of Light. Therefore, I don’t think there has to be a problem with celebrating Halloween. That said there is a tendency these days to ‘celebrate the dark side’ and ‘let your inner demon out.’
If you want to put on an alternative celebration, and enjoy everything light and right and good with the world then try these ideas for a Bright Lights Party.
Come back for more of our ten commandments series on Tuesday and trick or treat tips on Friday.
The ten commandments
even if you don’t count the bonus session
Yep, that’s right: commandments 5 and 6 are now up! You can find the whole selection here. Including that bonus intro session I keep talking about. I’ve also added a very thoughtful set of truths about the ten commandments which Steve P wrote for our Sunday School teachers when we were about to commence this series.
Just going to leave you with this poster from the 1956 Cecile B. DeMille’s film version. It’s where a whole heap of imagery we associate with this even comes from including I believe the tombstone shape of the stone tablets (which would be more historically accurate if square) that I have cunningly used for a memory verse craft in session 6.
The 10 commandments are here
Find an introduction to the ten commandments, plus commandments one and two right here. Obviously there’s more to come.
I really enjoyed both planning and teaching these: it is hard to get that balance between obeying God yet not being legalistic about it and our personalities probably draw us to one side of the line or the other – at times I swing wildly between ‘meh, God will forgive me so it doesn’t matter’ and ‘I must try harder to be more obedient’. It’s not about finding the acceptable middle ground either but about the work of the Holy Spirit in me.
By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.
How fantastic is that! The same power that raised Jesus from the grave is changing my sinful self. And that same Spirit is the one who teaches with us and helps us communicate these powerful difficult truths to the children in our churches.
…is an accurate description of what I’m supposed to be doing…
…and what’s in this blog post.
Apologies for not posting earlier this week: we’re moving house (to a different continent!) and are spending the summer holidays packing, organising, getting rid of things, visiting friends and family, having visitors, throwing parties, throwing away junk and researching our new city/country/culture.
What this means is…
I will be posting erratically (more so than usual!) this summer. But once we’ve arrived and settled (October-ish) I’m not able to work so will have more time to write material for this blog. I’m also looking forward to seeing church and children’s work in a different – albeit still western – culture and will have lots to learn from how things are done differently. You’ll get my thoughts on that when I have some.
In the future…
- Writing up thoughts on children and youth engagement in church with a particular eye on those tricky beasts known as all age or family services.
- Partially written a series on the 10 commandments for children which I’ll finish and post.
- Checking this site to make sure that all my currently posted content is up to date and easily accessible – Spelling and grammar check on!
- Games young people love to play – for all group sizes and situations!
- Linking to other fantastic websites and blogs with great resources for teaching kids and young people in a Christian context. Any you use regularly or think are brilliant (especially your own) let me know!
Something for today…
The BBC posted this info on Makaton today. I often turn to Makaton or BSL when looking for actions for song words or to help teach memory verses. There are some great reasons why parents will find it a useful tool and I see no reason why Sunday School teachers wouldn’t find it helpful too!
Dealing with Exam Stress
and more on Parables
So exam stress first: GCSEs started this week which means plenty of stressed out teenagers. Here‘s a study that aims to put exams in their proper place with a bit of Biblical perspective.
I’ve also updated the parables I posted last week. They now have a full complement of games, talk, prayer and songs to go with the dramas I put up already.
Subscribe if you like them as there will be more parables in the coming weeks; and more studies for youth looking at living as a disciple of Jesus in a fallen world.
A Gospel Outline
and a session outline too!
I wrote this one-off session plan based on the Who will be King? booklets. Their stuff is amazing as it’s so simple and the kids can connect the pictures to what is being taught really well. Gospel outlines are great as a way of teaching non-believing kids the whole gospel and getting them to look at where they stand as well as equipping young believers with an easy way to share what they believe with their friends.
I’m working on writing four first person accounts of Christmassy events that link to the four advent Sundays (yes, I had to look them up) so look out for them next week!