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.
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!
The Promised Land at last
and a promised rest as well.
The second day of our kids material for our church weekend away is here at last! If you missed last weeks you can find it here.
Unfortunately, I forgot to put the video we used up with the rest of the stuff last time – I’ve added it now and there’s another in this week’s so it seems a great opportunity to recommend yet another fantastic resource to you.
Check out the God’s Story videos from Crossroads Kids Club. They’re beautifully produced with a nice clear simple explanation that’s neither just facts or just application but the right amount of both. The animation styles differ but they all look great (they’ve also produced a few in Chinese and Spanish) and they cover a broad range of stories not only narrative. We used ‘Joshua Becomes Leader’ and ‘God’s Reminders’ for our weekend away but there are so many I’m sure we’ll come back to them later. They’ve also got a whole load of songs, verses and something called ‘the kitchen’ which I haven’t had a chance to check out yet but I’m looking forward to seeing more of what they’ve got!
and so are his friends…
…and so we never get past chapter six!
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are fantastic examples of godly living, of standing up for what you believe in, of faithfulness, bravery, putting your relationship with God first, speaking the truth and it doesn’t hurt that they are young and handsome either! I’m as guilty of it as anyone here (in fact I’ve ignored Rach, Shach and Benny) but I have dreams of writing children’s materials on chapters 7 through 12 explaining the various beasts and introducing the Son of Man and the Ancient of Days! Maybe one day – not soon but one day…
Ruler over everything
Jesus is the One. Promised One. The Son of God.
Now try getting that tune out of your head (and if you don’t know it check out the song section of Jesus is the New and Better David for a link).
The Timeline activity this week makes use of a fun but slightly bizarre resource: The Brick Bible. The makers of this website have devoted a lot of time to creating and photographing stories from the Bible out of Lego. They are often pleasingly accurate although I have found that I have to choose pictures carefully because a few red bricks on the floor looks surprisingly brutal and because they are just Lego they don’t skimp on nudity and sex. If you are in the US you can buy child friendly books in the same style (I don’t live there so I can’t comment on what they’re like – if anyone knows please comment below). They have also added speech where appropriate – it’s an amalgamation of different English-language translations and uses Yahweh frequently which I find a bit annoying. It’s not always sympathetic in its portrayal of events which sometimes works well at removing any soppiness but also removes reason and context. However with a wise selection of pictures it’s very handy – I definitely recommend you check it out.