Updating 20%…

8 Great Rescue Stories

for playgroups and crèches

Last week I posted 8 rescue stories written for, and tried out on, 0-4 year olds and their caregivers. This week I thought I’d add the song powerpoints and the toys we used to fit in with the theme…

Then I realised it’d be the looooooooooooongest page in the world.

So you can now click here for the list of Bible stories in that series and then click on the name for all the details. Currently I’ve only got as far as God’s Big Boat (Noah) and God’s Way Out (The Red Sea). More to come soon…

:Edit: Update on the update; they’re all updated to the same pre-craft and powerpoint stage now!

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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.

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.

Get ready for

Thanksgiving

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.

Daylight robbery

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.

Seven

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.

Bright Lights

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.

More than halfway through

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.

Toddler groups

Let the little children come to me

and also mums, dads, grandparents, nannies, care-givers …

I have way more experience of toddler groups than is probably normal for a thirty-year old non-parent. I’ve helped run two different ones and regularly gone to two more as well as helping out with some ‘spin-off’ ministries. They are fun! And really important for sharing the gospel and helping the community we live in. Whether you run it for free or take a nominal charge to cover drinks and biscuits it’s a great witness to the love God has for is people and an accessible way to share his word. Also these groups really need people who aren’t bringing their children along because, unlike a parent, they have all their hands available to them!

Here’s an article giving one (fairly typical) example the workings and opportunities of a toddler group.

If you’re starting a new group one of the easiest ways to get the gospel across is to read from a really good children’s Bible as your group story time. Sit all the toddlers and parents down with a drink and a biscuit and read your way through a chapter of either:

Jesus Storybook Bible
The Jesus Storybook Bible

Or

Big Picture Storybook BibleThe Big Picture Story Bible

Songs suitable for little ones aren’t that hard to find; why not start with

I reach up high

Jesus is my friend (album)

or

10-9-8 God is Great

or adapt a familiar nursery rhyme to fit your theme for the day. Ally who ran a toddler group I attended every Wednesday for a year was brilliant at this and I probably sing ‘Old man Noah had a boat’ as frequently as ‘Old MacDonald had a farm’.

Songs and stories are easiest if you have a projector and a big screen that you can gather in front of but during a building project we spread ourselves over two rooms and sang all the songs while holding up a card and read stories and showed the pictures round. It worked just as well, and even felt little cosier and more intimate.

This was meant to be a short post to show you the article and tide you over until I’ve completed the next set of Ten Commandments; but I enjoyed toddler groups so much that I couldn’t help but give you all the info!

New Series!

As promised

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.