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.

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Easter plays

Teens and Drama

Go together like eggs and chocolate

So the thing about eggs and chocolate is you need the right combination. Chocolate shaped like eggs – great! Boiled chocolate – not-so-great.

Here are a couple of Easter plays that work great when combined with teenagers. There’s comedy, they’re short enough to learn, you can pick and choose characters depending on whether you want a big or a small part. What’s not to love?

Have an Indiana Jones style Easter with The Adventures of Dr Luke

Or take a look at the bigger picture with God’s Big Rescue Story (which I can’t believe I’ve never told you about before!)

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.

Hang around:

There will be new stuff coming soon

and there’s plenty of good stuff already here

I’m not posting anything new this week – my parents are coming to visit, I’ve recently started a mid-week preschool playgroup that requires a lot of planning, I’ve not been super organised and I’ve got some filling in the gaps to do that’s beginning to weigh on me.
Edit: Turns out International Womans Day is the 8th not the 13th as my brain told me. Not super organised is at least organised enough to have prepped a post a week in advance although not organised enough to have checked the calendar.

Next week: the Disorganised Sunday School Blog will be celebrating International Womans Day.
Edit: Because of the aforementioned error there may or may not be anything next week. However the IWD post is up.

Sometime in the future: I’ll post the material for the playgoup and a ‘how to …’ on getting one started. I’ll also post the first of a long series of sermon accompanying worksheets for the entirety of Acts. I’ll reorganise the blog and make sure all the series are complete. I’ll make a list of youth group games for any situation. And I really, really want to write some sunday school stuff for the second half of Daniel (it’s just always at the bottom of my wish list).

Right now: Check out our pic-n-mix style plans for children’s work on John, the Ten Commandments, Parables and Philippians or have a look at our studies for youth groups; Philemon, The Armor of God, Narnia and Pilgrim’s Progress.

Happy Lunar New Year

Thoughts on a Worldwide Christianity

and how to open our eyes to it

This weekend there will be celebrations all over the world – predominantly in Asian populations – because it is the Lunar New Year. Except here in Chicago we’re celebrating next weekend; ‘cos the cool kids show up late to the party?!

I might have completely forgotten that it was the lunar new year except for a Chinese Friend and a Vietnamese friend posting on facebook this morning. I’m very grateful that Jesus brought us together for a time in our life and that I could learn so much from them. Also for the internet and – although it can be tricky to navigate in a way that honours God – all the blessings that come with it: the ability to communicate with others from across the world, the ease of sharing and reading the thoughts of others and the possibility of searching across the world for information about one specific thing.

I’m introducing you to Conrad Mbewe this week for Black History Month or maybe you already know of him as the influential blogger, writer and speaker he is. Reading blogs from Christians of different cultures and backgrounds is a fantastically easy way to open our eyes to the implications of Christianity in different circumstances and to open our hearts to glorify God for his barrier demolishing love, goodness and sacrifice!

I can highly recommend his blog – A letter from Kabwata – scroll down to the labels section and see what piques your interest.

Black History Month

Rosa Parks

The faith of the woman who helped change America

February is Black History Month and the Disorganised Sunday School is celebrating by posting some info on excellent Black Christians; both historical and modern day. Too often the face of Christianity is ‘some white guy’ and we’re viewed by many parts of the world as a white western religion – which couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s very early in church history that Peter makes this declaration:

I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”

God doesn’t limit his welcome to white westerners: he welcomes all! And so should we.  Highlighting Black believers this month is to help me (a white western Christian) expand my horizons a bit. Too often I default to CS Lewis and Tim Keller (old white men) when looking for quotations and I’ve seen it in sermons too; outside of the Bible the people who get quoted are old white men.

So here’s my pledge: I’m not abandoning the old white men but I’m expanding beyond just them to women, people of colour, young people and children when I quote. I’m going to pay special attention to those I’m normally biased against (unintentionally) because I believe that you don’t have to be an old white man to have something worthwhile to say about Jesus. This month’s info sheets and youth group sessions are here to help me, and hopefully others, counter that bias in ourselves and inspire the girls and minority cultures in our youth groups by showing examples of faithful Christians they can more easily relate to.

We’re kicking off with Rosa Parks. If you just want her biography and quotes click here. If you’re looking for a youth group session you can run around this remarkable woman click here.
And if you want a good short read her book Quiet Strength is available on Amazon. It’s more reflections than biography and I certainly found it thought provoking.

A Certain Brightness

Depression and Hope

and discussion starters

According to the BBC 1-in-4 girls and 1-in-10 boys aged 14 show signs of depression. That means there’s probably someone in your youth groups who is suffering.

The good news is Jesus is Good News for all your young people. If you want to start the discussion off can I suggest my friend Philippa’s blog – A Certain Brightness – as a great place to look for the interplay of hope in times of depression. She’s very real and very excellent. Worth checking out.

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.

Christmas crafts

For Sunday Schools

and for teens

I’ve hunted out crafts that use what most Sunday schools have on hand or can get easily:

Paper Plate Nativity
Good for anyone who can fingerpaint – if you’ve got a team or the time to cut and outline them before hand. Great for those who can be trusted with scissors; and prep free at that point!

Cardboard Roll Nativity
Printable characters you can wrap around toilet rolls or the tubes from inside your wrapping paper. Good for all those who can colour and glue under supervision.
Here’s a much craftier version – you could always steal some ideas to add to the printouts.

Nativity Story Stones
(I grew up near a beach and not the sandy kind – you may have less access to stones than I did) Good for small groups; older kids; and when you have time for creative play. A thin permanent pen sounds good for outlines but acrylic paint is fine for colours.
Did you know you can make acrylic paint by adding PVA to poster paint?!

Shadow Puppet Nativity
Great for teens. Maybe they’re too cool to get out and act but they can make these and perform to children or for the kids to perform this. You could even video it for use in a carol service.

Use your nativity crafts to retell the story or talk about the historical events. Here are some good questions to get that conversation started:

Where do we get our ideas of what these people look like from? How accurate do you think they are?
What mistakes/assumptions do you often get in a nativity set?
What’s the evidence that this actually happened? Can we believe in something with angels and a virgin birth?
How can we make our angels look like a person who has to start every conversation with ‘Do not be afraid’? What was scary about them?
When you hear this story every year what can you do to make it have an impact on your life?

Here’s a bonus nativity True or False Quiz to start break down assumptions your sunday schooler or youth may have. And I’ve written the answers for you too.

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.