Don’t pass over Passover

Celebrate it!

How to link Passover to Easter at home or in Sunday School

It’s not a coincidence that Jesus was crucified at passover time – God loves a real life metaphor and the death of a lamb to rescue a son perfectly foreshadows the death of the Lamb to rescue us and make us his sons. It’s his modus operandi.

This page has a few ideas for how to teach and celebrate Passover. Great to add it to your Easter festivities or, of course, when you’re teaching through Exodus.

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High days and Holy Days

Holy Week Celebrations

Worksheets and colouring and videos; oh my!

For Palm Sunday
Worksheet on Luke 19v28-44 Jesus Enters Jerusalem for 8-12’s but could be adapted
Jesus’ Triumphal Entry colouring page for up to 7 years old
This video for 4-11’s God’s Story: Palm Sunday
And A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Jerusalem is a great bit of stand up poetry for teens and grown ups.

For Good Friday
Worksheet on Luke 23v18-56 The Cross for 8-12’s
Jesus carrying the Cross and the Crucifixion colouring pages for 7 year olds or younger
This God’s Story: Easter video for 4-11’s
Either of the Funny Thing videos would work well on Good Friday

For Easter Sunday
Worksheet for 8-12’s on Luke 24v1-12 The Resurrection
Two great empty tomb colouring sheets or puzzle versions of them can be found on Crafting the Word of God
The Easter God’s story video above also covers the resurrection.
And would you know it A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Tomb: If the title sounds unpromising – don’t worry – these poems are both reverential and clever as well as amusing.

Easter Gifts

There’s more to Easter than eggs
And here are some gifts to help show it

 Kids, in my experience, ask a lot of questions. If you know a child between two and 10 you’re undoubtably answering a lot of questions – and as frustrating as that can be; it’s a fantastic thing! If you find yourself answering a lot of questions about God try  Rob Willoughby’s So, Who Is God? Answers to Real Questions About God.

As the subtitle of Rob’s book suggests this book aims to cover the specific and the theologically challenging from “Does God live in the sky?” to “What is God’s real name?” I really appreciated how the answers include Bible passages, often one OT and one NT, a relevant anecdote from Church history and an application.

You can pull the book of the shelf when a child asks a stumper or you can read your way through; one question a day, and it works equally well. It could be useful at home or for a Sunday School teacher who knows a question is going to come up with this weeks passage and it’d make a great Easter gift for a curious kid.

This book I gave to my 7 year old nephew and would do again. It’s a similar style to the popular Tom Gates series (think an easier to read and more creative Diary of a Wimpy Kid) well-loved by my secondary school reluctant readers as well as primary aged keen beans. Instead of being a fictionalised version of a school kid – it’s the diary of Dr Luke as he investigates the life of Jesus. Luke’s gospel rewritten in a fun, engaging and appropriate manner – what more could you want.

There’s also a £1 snippet of Diary of a Disciple which would make great gifts/prizes for a Sunday School class of 6-10 year olds.

For teens try The Action Bible it’s a comic book style retelling of the Bible, compelling, visually stunning and historically accurate in terms of costume and architecture. Great for full-of-energy-can’t-sit-still-and-read types. There’s also a collaboration with the NIV Study Bible for those who want an actual Bible but one that highlights the awesome and exiting rather than looking serious and stuffy. I’d recommend for girls who want a teen appropriate study Bible without the pink, handbags and ‘hanging out at the mall’ feel.

There’s an Easter Story version that is downloadable as an ebook, at 17 pages long and 99p it would be great for teens that can’t stop looking at their phone/tablet.

Want to give a non-egg but know a book won’t be appreciated? Try some music!
For kids – or church leaders looking for Biblical children’s music – I love Colin Buchanan (you may have noticed) and he’s conveniently compiled his most Easter-y songs into one album Boss of the Cross.

 

Or for an older teen how about the ever hip and enthusiastic Rend Collective. Their latest, Good News, is celebratory and sad, thoughtful and foot-stomping, moving and carries the message.

 

Just so you know; I don’t make money of recommending these to you – I do it ‘cos I love them. Click on the title of each product to be taken to a webpage where you can buy – where I can I’ve used the original publisher’s site or a Christian company to make sure that these people can keep producing excellent products which can help us share the gospel.

Black History Celebrations

An American Idol

and a great role model

So no, I’m not suggesting you idolise this weeks inspirational Black Christian – she just happens to have come to fame through the American Idol TV show.

I can’t think of a better introduction for her than one of her most recent songs:

So here’s our latest Bible study looking at questions raised by the life of Mandisa.

Onesimus’ story

Wonderful Worksheets

and all the drama of a situation

The last of our first person dramas captures Onesimus’ side of the story Paul tells in his letter to Philemon. I find having a story told in this way, whether it’s read off the page or acted out, is a great addition to reading from the Bible; helping kids connect the historical events to real people who are a lot like them.

I like the worksheets too – obviously or I wouldn’t have written them – as a way of engaging your mind on a different level. I nannied a couple of children who loved to take their dolls to the park then pretend to be Mary and Joseph hiding from Herod. Games, dramas and activities grounded in real truths can help to young children to work out their feelings and responses in a way that being asked a question in a study cannot.

That said I’m a firm believer that even young children can participate in a ‘proper’ Bible study too. Like these youth orientated studies on Philemon.

Let me know what kind of activities you do with the kids to open up their responses. I bet you have some fantastic ideas.

 

More from Paul

Looking at letters

Helping kids access non-narrative texts

They’re one of the things we spend most of our time on in Church and Bible studies, they’re where most of our theology comes from and they’re crucial to how we interpret the Bible. Yet the New Testament letters (19 out of 27 books) are infrequently covered in a way that’s appropriate for children.

The next three first person story and worksheet help to bridge that gap. While it’s not comprehensive; it provides age appropriate context and application for the theology Paul (in this case) teaches. It’s a start! I particularly love the character of Philippa I created to help kids get to grip with … wait for it … Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

If you want more on Philippians check out this Sunday School series covering the book in more detail.

Brand New Miniseries

All about Paul

Although Paul would probably like me to point out it’s actually all about Jesus

We’re starting the year as we mean to go on: overlong blog post subtitles and excellent new material to help you prep for your Sunday School classes.

This first in the new series features A Scary Day for Ananias – subscribe below to catch the rest of the series inspired by Paul’s letters!

Each lesson in our four-part series includes a first person description, great to read or to act out as a monologue, and a worksheet that covers story elements; has an engaging activity to complete & allows children to consider how they figure in this story: what more could you want.

And, yes, Paul would be happy: through him and his interactions we get to see Jesus.

Happy New Year!

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.

Another parable

The Power of Stories

to change people’s lives

I was a visitor in a small village church this Sunday and something said in the sermon struck me: about the terrorist attack in Manchester last week the vicar asked, ‘What was this young man’s story that lead him to this point?’ That was not something I had considered before, but how did he become radicalised? At what point had he decided that this was to be his path?

What difference does the gospel make to people’s stories? We never know the ‘what ifs’ but what if someone had shared the gospel with him? What if he had met the risen Lord Jesus? What if I hadn’t become a Christian – what might my life look like?

We make massive changes in people’s lives when we share God’s good news with them. Whether it is our friends and family, the children and youth that we teach, or a stranger who we took the opportunity to talk to. Jesus had among his twelve closest disciples Simon the Zealot who fought against the Roman government: his chosen messenger to the gentiles was Saul, a man whose religious beliefs led him to persecute others. We know Jesus changed their stories and the stories of countless others. Let’s pray for him to continue to do so.

I’ve added another parable: The Rich Fool. Someone who did not let God change his story and never even considered the possibility. I don’t want that to be anyone I know so hard as it is, Lord, would I be courageous enough to give everyone I know the chance to hear of you and to make their decision. Amen

More Parables

Things that are lost and found

And heavenly parties: lots of them!

I really love planning a party! Usually more than I enjoy actually being at said party. However, celebrating with Jesus when someone else comes and joins the family is one set of parties I’m really looking forward too (assuming that Jesus doesn’t come back first and we skip straight to the wedding feast – aka BEST PARTY EVER!)

Here’s the Lost Coin and the Lost Sheep – an explanation of how helpless we are in our lostness and just how much we’re loved! I’m praying that the children we teach might soon be the cause of another heavenly party as they put their trust in Jesus!