Tuesday, December 28, 2010

from the lectionery:

Numbers 6:22-27: Not sure how old I was when I learned this benediction. There's God's shining face again...When did God bless them? Before He was totally annoyed with them or after?

Psalm 8: Verse 2 mentions infants & babies. The contrast between "what is man...?" and the fact that He's given man "dominion" is seems mind-boggling to me ...

Galatians 4:6
(still looking for kids) "And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God." I think one of the books I reviewed explored this in depth. Not sure which one.

Philippians 2:5-11
Someone made the comment that "every" would include children. When you visualize what vs 10-11 might look like, include children of all ages.

Luke 2:15-21 I've been pondering this passage a lot this season. The shepherds looked after animals all day. They were outside all day most days? everyday? And the angels came and sang to them. They were the first to hear this amazing life shattering announcement. They left their sheep to go and check it out. You don't just leave a field full of sheep untended. Maybe they left someone behind. Maybe they took the sheep. We don't really know...Apparently they verbal, they were credible. They exclaimed to people and people listened. More importantly, they exclaimed to God! You think God has a special place in his heart for sheep & shepherds? :-)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

You may find some new ones on this list...ministry-to-children.com

Friday, December 17, 2010

Here's the readings from this week's lectionery

...Looking for kids...

Isaiah 7:10-16 We think about the miracle of the virgin birth, the promise of God fullfilled. I think about an unwed teen mother and the range of emotion she must have experienced. Mary called her son Immanuel "God with us."

At what age are kids old enough to refuse evil and choose good?An interesting point of reference... Is it cultural?

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
How long will you be angry O Lord? Let your face shine. I don't really think about God that way, the God with the shining face. What does that look like to kids? People with shining faces? What makes somebody's face shine? Do you have kids who know about eating the bread and drinking the drink of tears? How about laughing enemies? Here is a picture of God: the Good Shepherd enthroned on cherubim shining forth. People calling to their shepherd, "Stir up your might! Come and save us! Make your face shine on us." A call to the Shepherd, not the soldier...never noticed that before.

Romans 1:1-7 The season of advent is full of Old Testament prophecy. The Christmas story, the Easter Story- full of Old Testament prophecy. What is prophecy? Have you or your kids ever watched God bring His Word to pass? What was that like? What was it like for people around Jesus? The passage starts about Paul & prophecy. It ends up being about Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25 Here is more of Mary's story and that of a very gracious man, apparently sensitive to the spirit of God as Mary was. It seems God sovereignly chose them. Imagine. Mary & Joseph believed God. How did they know it was Him? I don't know. We all assume they just knew. If I remember right the scriptures say that every word of the Lord - if it is the Word of the Lord -comes to pass...a season of odd happenings, prophecy fullfilled, answered prayer & God's face shining.

Monday, December 13, 2010

An image for you. My daughter recently had opportunity to introduce my sister at a Women's Christmas Tea. My sister is a nurse, single. She finds ways to give to people. She's done a lot of misssionary work over the years. Now she's looking out for & caring for my parents. My sister A was in the Phillipines when my daughter M was born. I was disappointed because I really wanted them to know each other. A moved back and a couple of years ago M had opportunity to live with A for a season. One of the things she said in her introduction was that when she thought of A, she thought of Jesus. When she thought of Jesus, she thought of A. After they finished we told her, there's no higher complement than that. M was surprised but pleased.

People will tell you there's something about holding a real book in your hands. M's a craftsman. She's always been a very tactile, kinesthetic kid. Now, in her free time, she works with fabric and searches out very soft yarns. M said, "When I pick up Aunt A's Bible, the pages are so soft..." Just an image for you before you and your children all go virtual on us...

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Pondering lectionary passages

So I pulled some scriptures out of the lectionary and posted them below only because those particular verses jumped out at me for whatever reason or I saw something I hadn't noticed before...

If you use the lectionary in your church or want the fun of using it for devotions. . . This is The Revised Common Lectionary at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library. You'll see the year and the link on the left when you click.

Go looking for kids. You can use Bible stories that tie to the season. You can look for children in the text (reading it in context) or ask where were they? How did these words affect their parents, them, their community?  Look for promises to multi-generations. Look for imagery that is particularly appealing to kids or imagery that children can relate to. If children can't relate to the imagery and the ideas are age appropriate, (branches growing from a stump for instance) what can you do to add that experience to your kids so they have a point of reference? Do you see the passages about peace and being teachable? Don't you love the imagery of beating swords into plows and farm tools? Do you know a soldier turned farmer? A tree specialist? Do you know a metal worker?

I'm not talking long and complicated. Think snapshots in a big album, depending on the ages of your kids. Sure it's good to know the family and the stories and back stories that go with the snap shots but as kids grow you share a little more and a little more. And some day the whole picture of their Loved One makes sense.

Enjoy the season!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Toddlers Again...

I need to seriously revise something in this post. In case anyone misunderstood, it wasn't my intention to reference the devil tempting Jesus in the wilderness following Jesus' baptism as a story about baptism for toddlers. My intention was to reference the part about the Spirit descending on Jesus like a dove. Even that may be realistically out of the reach of toddlers. Watching a baptism in church. That's concrete. Water is concrete. Being in the water, going under and coming back up is concrete. The Holy Spirit healing you when you're sick is concrete. You could tell the story using a paper dove with wings that flap or tell a simplified version of the baptism story with puppets or dolls. You might even be able to come up with a finger play if there isn't one already. Remember that each story or church activity is an opportunity to introduce new vocabulary (words) to toddlers & preschoolers especially if you have older toddlers who can talk: Jesus, water, baptism, dove. The Holy Spirit isn't neccessarily concrete to toddlers & preschoolers. The devil isn't concrete. Which brings us to why I even went back to that post.

Someone searched "explaining devil to toddlers". The works of God are concrete. The works of the Holy Spirit (healing) is concrete but I don't know that toddlers make that association. The dove is a concrete God- given symbol for the Holy Spirit. Do you see a God-given concrete symbol for the devil? The serpent? Good angels, bad angels, maybe but I still think even that may be confusing or completely off the radar for a toddler.

I would rather spend the first 6 years of a child's life teaching them to be responsible and accountable for their own actions and about making choices, making good choices. "Keeping the commandments," if you will.

Love God. What do we do that says we love God? What does that look like to a toddler or preschooler?
Love your neighbor as yourself. What do we do to love our neighbor as ourself. What does that look like to a toddler or preschooler? Go through all 10 commandments. Make them toddler/preschool simple and ask yourself what does doing this right look like to a toddler or preschooler?

Have no other gods before Me.

Don't make an image or bow down and worship anything in heaven, on earth, or in the waters below.

Don't misuse God's name.

Remember the Sabbath & keep it holy. Six days we work. On the 7th day we rest from our work.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you." (My kids used to hear that a lot for the promise attached.)

Don't murder.

Don't take someone else's husband or wife.

Don't take anything that isn't yours.

Don't lie about someone.

Don't want something that belongs to your neighbor, (to your friend).

Those are the 10 rules God gave his people. Jesus summed them up into two.  Take responsibility for your actions.

Search the scriptures for references to the devil. Look for the stories attached. Who were those stories for? Is there a God-given biblical picture or image attached?  Did it strike fear into the hearts of men? Children?

My mother-in-law was an art teacher. She loved kids. She was also very involved in her Episcopal church. She'd grown up Russian orthodox so she was familiar with iconography. Much of her artwork for her church was simple, clear, clean line & color. When she died we found ourselves with a library of art books, among them a book of art depicting the life of Christ. Another was a book full of artistic and cultural renditions of the devil. I'm only bringing this up because children need concrete association and we often draw on visual images but they aren't all biblical. So before you go scaring little children needlessly, go back to scripture. Scripture talks about a healthy fear of the Lord. It also talks about cowardice not getting us into the kingdom of heaven.

Someday, if I understand scripture correctly, we will all face our Maker and give account. For Christ's sake and for the sake of the children in your care, prayrefully ponder and search the scriptures before you conjure up scary images that will be hard for kids to put aside when they grow up and into greater understanding. Consider what's age appropriate. Consider those words and understanding that are concrete for the very young. What's in the scriptures for them? Look before you leap. Go search the scriptures like the Bereans and "see if these things be so."

Christmas is a wonderful time to pull very young children into the scriptures. A mom & dad, a Baby, animals, angels, kings, a donkey, camels, sheep, shepherds, stars, songs, treasure, smells, things to touch...keep going!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

from the lectionary 12-7-2010

Isaiah 35:8 NRSV

"A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God's people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray." (In context)

Luke 1:49-50  NRSV

"...for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation." (In context)

Matthew 11:4-6 NRSV

"Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me." (In context)

Saturday, December 04, 2010

This isn't for kids, this is for you. I haven't read A.W. Tozer in 25-30 years. He wrote The Pursuit of God. Most of you are probably too young, but apparently someone is re-publishing the old and publishing some of his work that has never been published before. If you've never read his work, here's the amazon link. Here are some quotes. You can google to find more.

"When faith becomes obedience then it is true faith indeed." - A.W. Tozer, The Divine Conquest

",,,I wonder whether there is on earth anything as exquisitely lovely as a brilliant mind aglow with the love of God. Such a mind sheds a mild and healing ray that can actually be felt by those who come near it. Virtue goes forth from it and blesses those who merely touch the hem of its garment.”
- A.W. Tozer, The Divine Conquest

Friday, December 03, 2010

If you're doing kids' ministry in a small church check out Smalltownkidmin blog.

10 things that'll ruin your childrens ministry at Childrens Ministry.com

New e book "What Matters Now in Children's Ministry". A review here at Dan Scott's blog

Jamie Doyle blogged a series "These Kids are Bored" back in August if you didn't see it.

A list of lists & this.

and the CM blog patrol. There are actually a couple of blogs doing what Kidology was doing...anyway...

Now that you're totally overwhelmed...consider it a Christmas present - more resources ...

Thursday, December 02, 2010

I seem to keep seeing orange, ha ha. I don't know anything about it but here's a little info if you're interested. People breaking out of their boxes & learning to hear one another and love one another despite their differences is a good thing...
Doctors' orders! Enjoy the outside world God created ...even if it's currently hiding under a white blanket...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I was looking for a good Psalm to post for Thanksgiving, using the NAS, looking at the titles of the Psalms and I came to Psalm 133. See how easily distracted I am?

I got to the last verse. Remember how I posted the passages about eternal life? Not sure whether Psalm 133 was in there. Remember how Jesus prayed that we would be one? So interesting...I never put the two together before now. Go back and look...no...I'm not even going to tell you what to look for. Read the Psalm. Read the passage from John. What do you see? What did Jesus ask the Father for? For us? Christ praying for us. A teacher praying for His students. . .And a tie in between unity and eternal life. More bits and pieces of knowing Christ Jesus and all He's done for us. More to ponder than I can post about. Pretty amazing. Very humbling.

Jesus prayed this for us. 2000 years later,we can look and ask, has God answered that prayer? Looking at all the division and pondering what could be we might say no. We might say we have a lot to look forward to. But the fact that His church still exists at all is probably a "yes" and God keeps answering...but think what could be...talk about a challenge for teachers...

Here. Psalm 106:1-2  For Thanksgiving....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Do you want a New Testament reference to go with the scriptures at the end of the last post?

John 17:3. In context, John 17:2-4. Or better yet, look at the whole chapter or take another look at the whole book of John, especially from John 14 on.

Do a word search for "eternal" - Old Testament all the way through the New Testament. Read the verses in context to see what they say about "eternal". Then look at the passages about "eternal life". It might reinforce what you already know, what you've already heard. Or you might see things you never noticed before...not because they're new or were somehow hidden, just because you never noticed before or maybe you understand a little differently because you've lived a little more life and now God can help you see & understand something you couldn't see or understand before. However old we get, we're still His children, after all...

. . . after Thanksgiving, of course. :-)

Monday, November 22, 2010

I originally posted No Mediogre Kids because I agree with her that often things that drive us crazy are strengths in disguise. As caregivers and teachers we need to take the time to figure out how to channel and use a child's strengths in ways that are constructive and train in a way that gives the child opportunity to grow and use his strengths to the glory of God and the benefit of others and to compensate for weaknesses. I'm a firm believer in taking the time to figure out the gift side of a problem. Sometimes you can use that gift side of a problem as motivation for a child because you can find something he/she enjoys doing and turn behaviors around.

It's also important for kids to learn to do what they don't want to do with a good attitude (with the heart of a servant), to communicate respectfully and count other people as more important than yourself. Love covers a multitude of sins.

I also found it a rather scary site to explore. I got scared when they started talking about the use of "Socratic" questions. Not because of something heretical but because I live with a man (we're married) who thinks and asks critical "Socratic" questions at work (or so I'm told). He explained all that to me one day when I was particularly frustrated with him. I realized that frankly, that process will always drive me crazy but we're very different and I knew that. He also accomplishes things with his teams at work (glory to God) that I never will - work that few people accomplish. The thought of young people that sharp (that brilliant) with that kind of leadership capability is just scary...These kids are the God-given diamonds set in gold that require diamond-cutting and gold refining but who will probably have the courage and natural abilities to go and do what other people never will.

Kids with leadership strengths need stronger leaders than most kids, like a dog from strong working lines isn't a dog for the average owner. He needs a highly skilled, experienced, benevolent handler. Kids with strong leadership aptitudes & attitude need stronger leaders with keen people skills, the ability to make split second decisions and enforce them (with a dash of benevolence as needed). The ability to channel those God-given aptitudes to the glory of God, to the benefit of many without breaking their spirit (good luck with that :-) isn't easy. It isn't easy to train these kids to do what they don't want to do with a good attitude. It isn't easy to find ways for them to just be kids.

I've only skimmed some of the articles on the site but it's worth a read and worth sifting her thoughts & experience through the scriptures... Scripture is full of strong leaders. Some chose to walk with God. Some didn't - imperfect men, all, but God used them.

For leaders, there's a time to drive forward because it's the right thing to do and it will ultimately benefit many in the end (soldiers, people on a deadline). There's also a time to journey in such a way that pregnant women and young children can keep up and rest when they need to. Refugees - the people of Israel crossing the desert. A time to be hard-nosed & unwavering and a time to extend mercy. A good leader will know how to balance all of that. That's wisdom.  A huge responsibility. I think the more of a conscience you have, the more sides of the problem you see, the harder the job. Learning to serve is always a good thing - for some, leading. For some doing dishes. God and His people need both.

Which reminds me, I was thinking about the difference between equity and equality this morning. Allowing kids to do different things - things they enjoy, things they're good at - praising/rewarding each for a job well-done (even if it's not what everyone else is doing) is equitable. Making everyone take turns doing the same thing for the same limited results - that's equality. I think God is more into equity than equality...different roles and different jobs for different people. He also asks us to do what we don't want to do. He also judges each of us impartially. He's not a respecter of persons... which takes us back to sifting life through scripture  and wrestling with God through the contradictions ...on our quest to know Christ Jesus and to learn wisdom. That's the greater challenge.

Phil. 3:12-14

Hosea 6:3 (I like the NAS translation for this passage.)

Go back to Isaiah 55:9-11, Psalm 119, Proverbs, Psalm 90 . . . Lord, teach us wisdom. Lead us and guide us so we can share what You give us with those you give us for whatever time You leave them in our care...May they leave our care more connected to You than when they started...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

No Mediogre Kids

Interesting, interesting, interesting! Check it out!

Ideas Unlimited. Very simple, potentially interactive ways to tell Bible stories to your youngest audiences...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


We've talked a little about literacy and early readers  Church World Direct sent an email advertising a literacy packet for kids with graded Bible story readers. I'm finding the product but not the same images that came in the email but that's ok. You'd have to read the text first or talk to someone who's used it before you buy but the link is to the American Bible Society. "60 Literacy Readers adapted from the Contemporary English Version of the Bible." It looks like a Bible story package  for an after school tutoring program(tutor training materials included) - phonics based. Check it out! You may also find it useful for adults who are learning English as a 2nd language, too - a tool for service or just as lending materials without a tutoring program. If the money's not in the budget you may have a small group of people in your church willing to sponsor the program or at least make donations to purchase the materials to have for kids to use.

The mission to teach children and adults to read for themselves is an old one. If my memory serves me correctly, it was so that everyone could read the scriptures for themselves...

Concordia and some of the other denominational or Christian publishers might also have graded readers. I haven't checked that out.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

deep at the heart of our Wresting with Cultural Shifts...

A furthering of the discussion David Wakerly started.....thoughts from Bishop Paul Butler (UK) .

It may look long to some of you but please read it through to the end, you'll be glad.

(Thanks, Mary!!! This is great!)

If you guys want to go back to the original post at kidinspiration, there are more comments you might find interesting.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Thought I'd take you through a person study, a character study if you will. Phillip, one of Jesus' disciples.

Here's the full list of references pulled up on Bible Gateway. Read the passages in context (I almost linked to the entire chapter each time so you'd have to read it in context but you can do that, right?), make observations, take notes. Then put the pieces together and see what you can discover about this Christ-follower.

Here are some of my notes without any real digging:

Matt. 10:2-4, Mark 3:7-19, Luke 6:12-16, John 1:42-48,
Phillip was one of the 12 original disciple/apostles that Jesus called to follow him. He was with Jesus alot! Are there other implications? How did He choose His disciples? Through the stories of Jesus, when was Phillip there? What was he involved in? How was he involved? How did he interact with Jesus? How did he interact with the other disciples? How did he interact with people?

John 6:1-14, John 12:20-35, Acts 1:12-14 Make some observations about Phillip from these stories.I'm seeing Philip as a people-person. Did the gospels say anything about what work he was in?

John 14:6-14 It was Philip who said to Jesus, "Show us the Father" and what did Jesus say? (Come back and read this again after you look at what Phillip accomplished in Acts 8.) Phillip in Acts 8 Wow!

Acts 6:4-6 Was this the same Phillip who was one of the 12? A deacon, not an elder, and not even the first one on the list.

Acts 21:7-9 Paul stays at Philip's house while he's traveling.  He is a man who extends hospitality. Phillip has 4 unmarried daughters who prophesy...he has a family - 4 spiritually sensitive girls.

I'm not looking for speculation or even conclusions. So why do this? Why explore the characters of scripture? And this is without historical/cultural/social context or implications. This is just looking at the passages without digging very deep. Maybe a child, a teen, or even a grown-up can identify with one of these Christ-followers or "heroes" from the Old Testament. Maybe they can find something in common with a man or a woman of God.

Philip noticed people. He found Nathaniel. He was familiar with the Word. He didn't argue w/Nathanial. He said, "Come & see!!" He was quick to share a new friend with an old friend and visa versa.

Jesus asks Philip where to find food for them. Jesus also challenges what Philip thought he knew.

After Jesus was gone, deacons were ordained to work with people to free up the 12 for prayer & study of the Word. It seems that Phillip may have gone the people route if he is the same Philip listed with the deacons.

Philip performed miracles and people payed close attention to what he said. Philip is the disciple in the story of Simon the Sorcerer. Philip was the one who shared the gospel with the Ethiopian in his chariot.

It seems he was very much a people finder, a people winner, a people lover. God entrusted him with the Samaritans the way he entrusted Paul with the Gentiles. Oh, and by the way, Philip was preaching the gospel when Paul was persecuting the church.

Phillip had a home in Bethsaida/Caesarea. You can go back through and see what Jesus, and later Paul, did there. Philip opened his home to Paul when Paul was traveling with the word of God .Phillip had a family: 4 unmarried daughters who prophesyed...You and your kids can dig deeper if you want but this is just to get you started...Do you know anyone like Philip?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pondering Psalm 78. A long Psalm. The focus is on God and all that He's done, all that we have to praise Him for - but there are also references to children and future generations worth pondering. The American Standard version has cross-references, if you're interested.

Monday, November 08, 2010

1 Tim. 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. [Paul said this... I can say this...we can all say this...] 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Free-Range Kids. Interesting! Really really interesting.
Here is an interesting Canadian Survey published in April 2009....actually, I guess it's a book check out Kids These Days. My respect for statistics and science is limited but it's worth a look.
Some of you may blast me for this link's association with the Mormon Church but this is a link for LikentheBible Productions. I'm not opposed to an occassional Bible story in the form of accurate, age appropriate, G rated, multi-media, family entertainment. Are you?

You always have to preview something before you present it to an audience. I'm guessing that if you dig hard enough you'll find something wrong with everything. Know where you draw your lines. Know where your adult audience draws their lines. Know where they draw the line for their kids.

Ask open-ended questions so you can find out what your kids took away with them from the presentation. Whatever resources you use, consider it food for conversation and a spring board to shape young thoughts and feelings and faith. Age appropriately, of course.

Hey, the Israelites left Egypt with their spoils . . . and someone will say, "And look what happened to them..." Ok...just something to think about. Go back and see if God told them to.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm not a big fan of Halloween but one of our city schools is doing something pretty cool for Halloween to raise money for their drama dept. They've been chosen to perform in Edinburgh.

It's for young kids. The high school students are going to dress up like different storybook/fairy tale characters and the families will go from room to room trick or treating. They have a costume parade, face painting, pumpkin decorating and I guess they have a spooky house room, too. Admission is $5/child, no cost to accompanying adults. Includes candy & all activities.

So...What if? ...What if you think of a worthy cause that families would want to support and do Bible story people (or you could do any storybook characters you want) and as they did in Houston, a fear conquoring as opposed to a fear evoking haunted house (I linked to it somewhere, probably October, many years back). As I say, I'm not a big fan, but it did get me thinking. If it's a way to love on people and reach out to your neighbors, consider it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Lending Library

There are timeless books that people like to buy and use over and over. There are other books that are useful at a given period in a person's life or for a specific task and then end up in a garage sale.There are books you can find in the public library, and other books you can't.

If you don't already have one, consider creating a lending library at your church for books that kids (or adults) won't find in their public library, especially books that are age specific and discarded when a child outgrows them. (Bible story board books and very short easy reader Bible stories.) If you buy them new you're feeding the author and illustrator who created them. That's a good thing. If you recycle them (collect books from families who no longer want them) it's good stewardship and the project becomes very affordable and benefits many. Also a good thing.

Examples: Books with Bible stories or Christian themes or world view. Especially books that are destined to go out of print or books that kids won't find in their school or public library. Board books, picture books, pop-up books, seasonal books, emerging or early readers - particularly the very short, very easy Bible story books that parents don't buy because kids may read them 3-4 times and they move on to harder books. Arch books are nice by they are too hard for beginning readers. Fiction for all ages. Bible, church history and traditions, Christian heroes. History through the eyes of praying people who were there. Leveled readers that might be used in a Christian school. Books that people (particularly children) won't find in public school or public libraries that will reinforce or kindle a love for learning and for scripture and for God.  Faith-inspiring books. Hi-Low books and graphic novels (comic book format)  for older reluctant readers (particularly boys).Stay away from the boring, colorless books for boys and your youngest readers. Colorless, pictureless read aloud books.

Think voracious readers but also think reluctant readers, especially boys. Building a library like this might be a fun project for pre-teens, teens, parents, or young adults. I'd say grandparents but as far as choosing books that entice today's kids to read, make it a project for younger groups. As far as timeless books, much loved by many generations, age won't matter. Retired adults or empty nesters might enjoy buying books or donating money to buy books or replace well-loved, worn out books.

The goal: to collect books that people might not buy or can't find in a library that might serve a particular age group, particularly emerging readers - tools to grow a child's reading skills and faith.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Discipline & Class Management Strategies

I just read an article about discipline in Children's Church. Most places set up Children's Church differently from Sunday School. I'm in my 50's and things were definately done differently at home, school and church when I was a child but I'm not a fan of corporal punishment. Here are some thoughts that apply in any number of situations.

A good teacher focuses on what they need to cover and how to cover it in the alloted time in a way that enables as many children as possible to succeed. I did well with preschool but otherwise I wasn't the best classroom teacher because I got distracted from my goals looking for ways to draw in individual children. We didn't always get from point A to point B. We tended to take side trips.

When we think of controlling a classroom we think "Discipline" but here are some strategies you may not have thought of:

Know every child's name and something about them. Remember something they told you about the week before and when they walk in or sometime during the class ask them (not publically, just one on one) how it's going.

A 5:1 average child:adult ratio is great if you can get it. These tips apply to every adult in the room.

Praise every child you see doing something right. Again, not publically, just one on one. You have to be watching. For some kids you might have to be keenly observant. You might even have to change what you consider "right, good, kind,"  Find something legitimate and positive to say. 'You have an amazing amount of energy!" But it's not that hard. 

Encourage your kids to catch each other doing something right or kind, to say thank you, to encourage one another. Engage their problem-solving capabilities. Respect the fact that some kids are group people and social butterflies and some aren't. Some are pencil and paper/sit & listen politely kids. Some not so much. Not that they can't learn these skills but mix them up with more desireable activites.

Anticipate trouble and design your time, your room, your groups and activities accordingly.At least in the beginning. Let the kids draw while your read to them. Let them build with sponge blocks that don't make any noise while your read to them.  When kids earn privileges, add them. When they act up take them away. Painting, clay, legos, markers, field trips... Add them the following week or at the end of class when you've had a really good week. I'm not talking about something like exercise, food, water. Timing is important. Don't wait too long. You may have items or activities that most of the class doesn't care about but someone who is hard to handle or keep focused might do anything for it.

And what about those kids? Why don't they care? What would they rather be doing instead? Why are they acting up? If they want attention and act inappropriately until they get it, then yes, withdraw attention or isolate them. But have super rewards when they're good. If they act up because they feel inadequate, without humiliating them, find tasks for them that will make them feel adequate. If they have energy to burn have parents send them in play clothes and play run around games or an active thinking game before class. If they need motivation , what motivates them? How can you weave something they care about into their class experience? Yes, we're commanded to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, strength, but we're also commanded to love our neighbor (the kids in our class) as ourselves.

It may be that you can wait until the end of class to introduce your motivators or you may need one every 15 minutes. You can also divide your room into stations and start your groups in such a way that the kids who are hardest to motivate get the stations they care most about begining, halfway, and last through the cycle and at the end. For kids who don't even want to walk through your door you might want those activities available to them first thing. Figure out what you can use to distract a child from an inappropriate behavior to something more appropriate.

I'm not saying that there aren't times when a child just has to do what she has to do without rewards but there are ways to lay a foundation for a relationship that can handle that. I'm not talking expensive hype consumerism or multi-media but appropriate individual care & attention in a group setting and attention to individual differences. God made these kids. We might mess them up but God made them.

Don't threaten if you're not going to follow through everytime and immediately. Don't make rules you can't or won't enforce. Your kids just learn that your words don't mean anything and you don't want to teach them in a Sunday School class that words have no power. But that's a discussion for another time.

Monday, October 18, 2010

. . . an odd movie, perhaps, to post about . . .

Blogger ate random part of my last try. Let's try again...

Someone is bound to be upset about my posting this but there was a conversation about violence earlier. Last night we watched the The Secret of Kells. Apparently it found a wider audience in Europe than here, understandably so. Some Americans look for God's divine direction and intervention in our history. Many other cultures can do that as well. I would use this movie more to stimulate discussion and conversation than for use as a teaching tool but understand that the Book of Kells contains the four gospels, hand-written during the dark ages with extravagantly illuminated (illustrated) handwork combining the best of Irish handwork and iconography.

I found it rather fascinating from an artistic point of view. It is also an interesting interpretation of events.

Do your research first. I'd read "How the Irish Saved Civilization," one of my favorite books, maybe because I learned alot about the church that I'd never heard before. I also played with drawing Celtic knot patterns for a while after we celebrated St.Pat's Day at Artisan a few years back, looking for activities for the kids. As with any creative endeavor they tend to take on a life of their own. It would probably also help to know the legends of Kells & Iona and the saints featured in the story and the background on the fairy which I didn't read ahead. Try picture books from your local library.

You can look at it as a story about the Christian and Pagan cultures of one people/one place joining forces to face an enemy from the outside but there are many many layers. The main character is a child. The adults in the story, the child, the fairy, the community, all have their own individual battles to win. There's also the intergenerational differences about what's important. If you focus your children on unconditional obediance don't waste your time watching this although Brendan's gentle "no" is obviously for a higher cause. The Irish monks were known for being softer than those from the Roman church which comes across in their voices and dialogue but not neccessarily the face of the abbot. All in all, a fascinating movie about faith and culture, internal and external foes, generational differences, fear, literacy, nature, art and spirit . . . lots, lots, lots! Though the movie doesn't focus on this, if you do your research, you can focus your audience on what God did.

*if my link to the movie doesn't work it's easy to find.

Friday, October 15, 2010

creating a faith-filled child counter culture

Here's a topic to ponder. Found this short article at Kidmo! Grl!
What can we provide that parents can't? Just to get you thinking.

Why have a Sunday School? Why not just let kids learn and practice their faith at home and then it practice out in the world? What's the same in your faith community as in every other environment your children experience during the week? What's different? What are they learning? What are they practicing?  What purpose does age appropriate or age segregated social grouping serve? How about non-age segregated social grouping? What purpose does a faith community serve to a single child? to children as a group, a generation?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wrestling with Cultural Shifts 2

Who would ever have dreamed that a culture would discredit God's word for the violence there? It's always been there. The Old Testament is full of slaughter and often at God's own hands and generations of children sat around the fire listening to war stories, stories about heroes and victories won. We use our imaginations and (depending on our experiences) we controll the intensity of the image we create when we listen, when we read. If we watch TV and movies, those who produce the show create those images for us.

Fortunately, war isn't all we find in the scriptures. Was God just responding to a culture in ways that particular culture could understand? Are we really such a kind, gentle, peace-loving people who have no point of reference for such things? God knew there would be generations who would respond like this. And if we were truly a kind gentle peace-loving people. Would God use different images to teach us or respond differently?

We're uncomfortable with scripture that seems to contradict our cultural sensitivities. We're uncomfortable with scripture that seems to contradict itself, let alone talking about these things with our children. We're afraid. Afraid of being right. Afraid of being wrong. Afraid of misrepresenting God, afraid that scripture will leave our kids unequipped to face the real world. But scripture was set in the real world - a violent world. We're a cowardly fearful people. But we can't be or we won't inherit the kingdom of God. God didn't hesitate to wage war but God is Love. We're forced to wrestle with that.

The church accuses the world of violence, inappropriate sexual excess, materialism, consumerism....etc etc. The world looks at us and sees the same stuff... What do we do with this? We don't live to please people but to please God. But Christians, even Bible-believing Christians, disagree among ourselves. But the questions and issues we wrestle with really aren't new because "there is nothing new under the sun". How do we handle the scriptures as God's holy Word in a culture that clashes with it, when the lines aren't so clean as they used to be in "Christian-Judeo society". What does reconciliation with God look like in our culture? In any culture? Is it always the same? Man is the same. Jesus is the same. God is the same. His Word is the same. But I bet a soldier knows the Warrior God differently than I do. God the judge, God the shepherd, God the king...a judge, shepherd, king all know different sides of God than I do.

Where is God while these cultural tectonic plates are shifting? Somewhere in that place that doesn't shift and shake. The quake is inevitable, but I'd rather not be standing on a crack. My husband will call it a "paradigm shift"...I'm thinking paradigm quake...How do we walk with our children there? We tell them the stories of scripture and wrestle with them in the context of our world.

We keep coming back to God generation after generation to wrestle with Him and His Word... what matters to God? How do we know? What do we hold on to? What's cultural? Is that just someone's interpretation? Is interpretation even an option? What is the Kingdom that will never be shaken? The two greatest commandments sum up the ten...

I decided to do a quick word search for "violent" (first NIV, then NAS) recalling something in scripture about the Kingdom being taken by violent men... I found it. I don't understand it but I found it. While I was looking for that, I ran over the passage from Acts 2. I should say it ran over me - maybe because I was looking and thinking about expressions of cultural violence (war and killing) and natural disasters and ... gosh...I looked at the word "violent" in the context of Acts 2 and . . . well? The spirit showing up like a violent wind . . . God's Spirit? God! What does that mean?...

I want to think that I fear God...Men, women, and children who experience war or natural disaster - something destructive and totally beyond their control will have very different feelings attached to "violence" or even the "fear of the Lord" than those of us who don't. We are a culture used to being "in control" - not face to face with the earth and it's seasons - day after day dependent on a field for food, hoping for rain when our food plants start to shrivel and the water's running out, hoping for sun when it won't stop raining so the potatoes don't rot. Hoping that grasshoppers won't destroy next season's food as they fly through. Faced with the floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, oil spills, terrorists we're forced to face things we can't control and quite frankly...are you surprised for God to feel compelled to continually remind a generation that has so much control over its environment that we aren't the ones in control?

Jacob was a shrewd deceptive controlling man but he wrestled with God and won. That wrestling to win resulted in a (probably painful) permanent injury. He ended up with a dislocated hip which would have seriously impeded his day to day ability to move for the rest of his life in an agricultural, pastoral, nomadic time. They didn't have wheel chairs or hip replacement. He wrestled with God because he wanted God's blessing. He fought with God. He argued with God if you will. It wasn't enough to have his father's blessing - he wanted God's blessing. It came at a cost and the end result blessed not just a man but a nation, both far from perfect, at that... 

So? Welcome! You've been "birthed" into an imperfect faith-filled group of people who wrestle with God generation after generation and remain faithful to the God of the scriptures despite the contradictions they find everywhere. God is God. Look at the wars of the Old Testament. Did God condone them or was it man being man. And what role did God play? Were they superstitious (non-scientific) to ask these questions? Did Jesus need an anger management seminar when he was throwing things around in the temple? Look at what He said to Peter when Peter took out his sword and cut off someone's ear. If it's in the scriptures, it's there for a reason - all of it, "useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."(2 Tim 3:16-17 NIV) despite the contractions. Because of the contradictions, I'm left to wrestle: how is it all true? Solomon in his wisdom...for everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.

So, how do we prepare and equip our children to make our God their God the way every generation's had to? How do we prepare them to walk faithfully in changing cultures the way every generation's had to? How do we train them to faithfully wrestle with God and all that seems to contradict itself and end up with God's blessing and the ability to bless others . . .

One step at a time . . .I start by giving myself and those around me permission to wrestle with God. Maybe God's people succeeded because they started learning to wrestle as parent and child walking, talking every day when they rose up, when they lay down, when they walked along the way together. Maybe that's the place they learned to wrestle with God's word and life as they knew it age appropriately. Everything in it's time, everything in its season. There was a time and a season for the people of God to await a Messiah, a time and a season for Jesus to come to this earth, a time and a season for subsequent generations to remain until He comes again - a very long season of watching and waiting and wrestling and continuing to work at whatever He's given us to do ... always...until He comes. God help us as we wrestle with Him! God bless you!

Wrestling with Cultural Shifts 1

I have crazy too much to do right now - the cutting party for the activity room for the book festival is tomorrow. I'm subbing at a doggie day care part time for a couple of weeks but I have to finish this. It's long but done for now. If you've been reading this for 5 years, you may find this a bit hackneyed - great word- but let me back track a little. More than five years ago we became part of a post-modern church plant. Terms like "emergent," or "postmodern" were new to us. When it was time for childrens' ministry nobody wanted to do it so I volunteered. The only resource I could find about this "new" culturally conscious approach to faith community was Ivy Beckwith's Postmodern Children's Ministry.

I found Dr. Beckwith's book prophetic: keenly observing the very early stages of what was about to become a monumental cultural shift, calling us to pay attention, change, and respond appropriately as God's ambassadors. In every generation God looks for people willing to wrestle with Him to understand the times and lead His people through.

Having grown up with great-grandparents, grandparents and parents all of whom were faith-filled, devoted church people, having raised our own kids (21 to 29 years old) in the church, I'm thinking that these progressive cultural differences are perhaps the most dramatic differences of any generation gaps in the history of man. My children are bridges between past and future. Maybe children always are. Their attitudes towards God, life, the outdoors, technology, consumerism are rooted in my generation and those past, but churned and sifted through the secular and sacred cultures they pass through and hopefully God's Word. I don't envy them the job they'll have as parents to amalgamate past, present, future and scripture for their children. I don't envy them at all, coward that I am...

So kidinspiration.com posed a question here. The word "ultra-violent" probably doesn't even exist in cultures familiar with war. Someone mentioned that in cultures who depend on hunting for food and raising livestock for food there exists a different attitude towards living things - a more respectful attitude, perhaps. But, having grown up on a farm, I want to say when it comes to animals, farm people have a different respect for animals they depend on but they also think business. They aren't raising companion animals to be kept and fed and sit on a lap. An animal has to earn its keep - not unlike creatures of the wild and not in itself inhumane but rather a different culture. If hunting is the only way you eat, you think differently than someone who can buy their food in a grocery store. I want to think that when those who recognize their dependency on other living things for survival are more apt to care for them in a way that will benefit both in the long haul or he won't live very long.

Violence: If someone is holding a knife to your throat or your daughter's, or violently trying to take away your freedom or your home you may think differently about the ethics of killing than you will as an observer. I'd like to think I would be able to make godly choices but the reality is that I don't know. And what if I turn the other cheek and let someone rape or kill my child.  Doesn't that mean I don't care enough to fight for what I love. . .? Is that the lukewarmness that Christ condemns in Revelation?

I was going to explore what "humane" means in the cultures of animal species but that word as a concept doesn't exist there. Respect does, doing what has to be done for survival does. In my opinion that is not the same as one creature inflicting unwarranted, inappropriate physical, emotional trauma on another like we find among men. Respect and mutual dependency exist but it's not always "humane" but hey, animals aren't human. For man, most of our choices today aren't life or death spontaneous decisions. Well, they probably are life or death but we don't see the effects of those choices like a rabbit who hesitates. Non-human creatures learn to survive by whatever means are in their best interest at the time but most of us are far removed from that immediate cause and effect. We don't live on the edge.

So man, responds to what we deem unwarranted and inappropriate physical and emotional trauma and rebounds, erring on the side of permissive. We don't have to respond like a creature in the wild. We're not fighting for our lives. We're not protecting our loved ones from imminent danger. We live safe, non-confrontational lives and we judge the rest of the world accordingly. We don't know how to correct appropriately and effectively so we don't do it. Life consequences aren't severe so we don't simulate any level of severity on our young.

Historically, and in the natural world, there is a place for correction and a place for appropriate reward. Appropriate effective correction (not violent) needn't displace appropriate praise and reward. Children need both. Both inappropriate praise and inappropriate correction can cause irreparable damage. We need the wisdom and skills to respond appropriately to individual differences in the context of the larger community but that assumes that we live in a cultural environment where everyone thinks the same way about what's acceptable behavior and what isn't. We don't. On top of that, if you look at where children spend most of their time, who's job is it to train children for life?

I'm not a fan of harshness, violence, war, killing. I don't know what I would be willing to fight for. I would rather live peacefully and compromise than fight. . . I would... but all this is cultural. Scripturally, it appears that there are things God was willing to fight for and argue about and punish for severely. There are things God expected His people to be willing to fight for, or was it just cultural? There are times when even Jesus came on hard and things He was willing to get violent about.

So what's happening? The cultural shift we're experiencing, from my perspective, is monumental. People are reacting to the fact that the scriptures are full of war and violence. They are. It's probably not bad to hate war and violence but scripture tells us there's a time to fight. Other generations seemed to be able to handle that. We can't. Why? There are aggressors, defenders, and victims of war...always...unfortunately. The age old question - "when is it justified?" For those who sift their culture through the scriptures they can look back and say, "God said..." For those who sift the scripture through their culture, "How can this possibly be God if God is Love?". Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time and a season for everything - even things we'd rather not do. So my faith says, "For everything there is a season..." Not just peace and love but war, too. Even violence - but I don't like it.

Sifting my faith through my culture or my culture through my faith, requires me to wrestle with God. Generation after generation, the clash of culture with faith forces us to wrestle with God. Jacob wrestled with God. He wrestled to make the God of his father his own God and he wrestled for God's blessing.

So we wrestle with God about all these cultural elements. "What do the scriptures say?" "What was cultural?" "Why did this happen?" I don't think it was an accident that the scriptures were set in the context of many centuries worth of cultural settings, though they don't seem dramatically different to us culturally and socially. They're full of all the same issues that every generation faces, yet God remains the same yesterday, today and forever looking for faithful men and women. As grandparents, parents, teachers, we can sift the scriptures through the winds of our culture or sift our culture through the winds of scripture and catch the grain that remains and let the wind blow the chaff away and I bet most of you can't even relate to that metaphor. A cultural shift. We need grain for bread and bread for life but even that analogy probably doesn't mean what it used to...at my house we're on a no-carb diet for pete's sake...imagine sharing the scriptures with a culture that doesn't eat bread...

Friday, October 08, 2010

Bravo for reading and I'm all for chapter book read-alouds but very very sad, at the same time. Article from the NY Times this morning

Thursday, September 30, 2010

communion crafts revisted

Ok...communion crafts. . .

Make bread, break bread, eat it, share it...
Find out all you can about bread. Once, it was a staple.

Age appropriately, talk about the role bread played in the culture of the people in the scriptures from gathering the seed to planting to harvesting to storing to grinding to baking and eating ...talking about the market would be another topic for another story.

Visit a vineyard. Learn about grapes & find out how wine is made. Again, age appropriately explore the process that the people of the scriptures were familiar with from planting to tending to harvesting to making and drinking the wine. Invite a vinedresser or take a field trip. Where did they get the plants to start with? Wine represents the blood of Christ...

We live in a culture vastly separated from the process and hands-on interaction with the foods that nourish our bodies. People in ancient cultures (even my culture 50 years ago) were on more intimate terms, if you will, with the life of the things they ate and drank. Why did Jesus choose bread and wine? Why not fish and water? Herbs, salt? Or lamb? I don't know...

Learn about blood...

Learn about blood in the scriptures or as part of Jewish tradition...Learn about the role of wine & bread in the scriptures.

Make a clay challis and a clay plate.

Act out the story... talk about how all the characters are related - the experiences they shared over the three years they spent together. . .How much did they see each other? What did they do together? How long is three years to your audience? Is there someone you've known for 3 years? Is there someone you've known for 3 years who has had as dramatic an affect on your life as Jesus did?

The men with Jesus celebrated Passover every year of their lives. What was that like? How was this time different? What did Jesus say to them?

If a friend asks to use a room in your house what do you do to get ready?

Any of these possibilities with give you more material than you were looking for. You can either explore it on your own first and think about what you might want to focus on with the particular group you have. Or go in cold with your kids and offer open-ended questions for your kids so they can ponder and share their experience with one another and see what God shows you that you didn't see before.

In it's simplest form? God is Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Jesus is God. God the Father made man and grain and grapes. He gives us food to eat. He gave Jesus, His own Son to us. Jesus said, This is my body, this is my blood. Eat it and remember me. He said Unless you eat my body and drink my blood you have no part in me...wait...that wasn't the communion story. I'm paraphrasing. Go back to the text...

...but you get the idea...if you want to catch a grain harvest or grain planting or  grape pruning or grape harvest you have to plan ahead and time your field trips or speakers to catch the process in season...like now...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

from Brian Maddux: Children's Ministry Live. Podcast interviews with experts in the area of Children's Ministry. I believe he has finished two interviews and has 3 more scheduled so far. He's just starting out - interviewing experts in the area of Children's Ministry.

Actually, I think the link you want is his sitemap

Check it out!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Another blog for you. Tainted Canvas. I'm a lousy business person (not into marketing. music, worship, yes...) but I found this post worth reading as an expression of "emergent" thinking...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

If you don't follow David Wakerley at kidinspiration (Hillsong) check it out and add your comments. He recently posed a question that started an interesting discussion: "Should we be teaching/telling our kids the ultra-violent stories found in the Old Testament?" You'll find some good comments & diverse points of view.

I find that very much a cultural question but a pivotal question, if you will. I'd venture to say that our answers reflect the role scripture plays in our lives, in our world views, and how we wrestle with them when culture as we know it clashes with our faith. I'm not condoning violence nor am I condoning picking and choosing what we take from the scriptures and what we ignore. How we share those stories with kids reflects how we perceive children...but the wrestling is an on-going process if you're willing to wrestle with God.

Having those particular questions to wrestle with is indicative of something much much bigger that I'm trying very hard to get my head around and maybe when I do I'll try to put it into words and post more...

...go check it out...he also has a great list of resources...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Not the best lighting but here is a picture of all 3 variations on the last post:

yellow tissue paper
white printer paper
green wrapping paper

Hopefully, they don't look like they're hanging...I mean they are...but. . . you can also tie the string around their waist & behind their arms and knot it well above the hat then it looks like someone is hoisting them up up up ...

If the wind doesn't cooperate you can take something big and flat and make your own...or blOw...or use a hair dryer... you get the idea...or do it during your windiest season . . .

Too much wind and they get pretty worked up...if it weren't for the tape and the screen they'd probably just blow away like Elijah did ...

You can also make kites and use kites during kite-flying season to talk about the wind and the Holy Spirit...

craft to teach about the Holy Spirit

Here's a craft for kids about the wind & the Holy Spirit.

You can use white paper, colored paper, thin tracing paper, wrapping paper, tissue paper . . . .

Cut 1 square head (or round if you want 3 different shapes). Cut 1 triangle hat. Fold the bottom edge of the hat up if you like. Cut a larger square for the body. Cut 2 arms as long as the width of a piece of construction or white paper. Cut 2 legs as long as the length of a piece of paper. Everything can be 1/2 to an inch wide.

Glue hat to head and head to body. Make a face with googly eyes or pencil or thin markers.

Fold each arm & leg accordian-like.

Glue arms & legs to the body or punch holes & use brads to attach them.

Securely attach a string or piece of yarn to the head. (glue, tape, or tie it to the brad)

Take the paper person outside in the wind or hang him in an open window and wait for the wind to blow.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

We Made the Top 100 Children's Ministry Blogs! Ok. The only reason I know is because when lots of people on my site meter come from the same site I go and see what they're saying about us. This was a neat surprise! The badge is cool but I guess they recalculate each year. If I don't put it up, I don't have to take it down again... :-)

The big reason to click on the above link, out of 100 sites, there's bound to be one you haven't seen yet - lots I haven't seen . . . Enjoy!

If you regularly frequent my site, thanks for coming! :-)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

After you read the post before this one...Here's a project for you...sit down alone or with other* parents, teachers, & volunteers and ask yourselves,

"What do I remember from the years before I started kindergarten?"

"What are the things (good & bad) that make me who I am that have roots in my early childhood years?"

"What are the things I did as a child that I still do today, a way of thinking, a passion?" What lingered through the years? If you'd grown up in a different location, with people around you who loved or worked at different things, with different social opportunities or playthings would you be different? We don't really know but I bet you can find connections. I'm not talking about making excuses for ourselves. I'm talking about climbing into the skin of a preschooler. You can specifically apply this to faith and the faith community, if you like but don't limit yourself...

Sure, you could sit and read a lot of scientific journals on the subject but you might find this approach much more fun ... plus these are your kids and you're the ones given opportunity to influence them...

*Not sure if it's best to have a variety of adult personalities, gifts, skills & interests for this or whether it doesn't matter. I'm not focusing on nature vs nurture here, I'm asking what lingered over the years and what would have been happening between 3-5 yrs old to make those roots run so deep? Something I remember from early sunday school when my grandmother was teaching: the finger game "here's the church, here's the steeple, open the doors, see all the people" and a book that's still a Mennonite children's book God's World and Johnny. Gosh! I remember this one too! I remember being in choir of older kids and trying to sing louder than all the other kids. I remember lots but maybe another time...have fun with this...

Ahab & Elijah

"King Ahab for preschoolers"...

My first response when I saw this search on my site meter was..."King Ahab isn't somebody I really want my preschoolers to know" but then there are lots of Bible characters like that...so what's in the story of Ahab for preschoolers? How much of Ahab's story is appropriate for this age? If they're in scripture, at some point in time they are people God wants us to know...

He was a king. Lots of visual images for kings and dress up and play and puppet potential.

How about we tell Elijah's story & his interaction w/Ahab. We have the little cloud, the ravens, and the hide & seek/chase part of the story. Both Ahab & Elijah are very stubborn characters. Preschoolers know about being stubborn although they may not be able to label it as such or understand it the same way we do. But these are some elements in the story that a preschool audience might relate to and enjoy.

God is speaking to Elijah. Always a potential "wow" factor to use with kids. God said....and Elijah responded...

The ravens come and feed Elijah. That image is right up there with Disney. Ok...don't laugh, I still believe the literal of these stories.

With preschoolers, I wouldn't take all the side journeys through all the stories that you'll find in Kings on the way to the ending. I think I'd treat them as separate stories once you've introduced the character Elijah (or Ahab). Stick to the rain story for now. If you're an exceptional storyteller, you have a rapt audience and the time, you might be able to tell a side story & go back and a side story & go back - leave them hanging, tell a side story, then return to continue the story. With older kids you might be able to start a story and tell it over a couple weeks but only if you can leave them hanging each week.

Three years! What's 3 years to a preschooler? A lifetime. That means that the 3 year old kids who were around when this story was happening had never seen rain. Someday I will tell you my water story.

Do you want to explore the interaction between Obadiah & Elijah? Obabiah found Elijah. But instead of going back and "telling on him," Obadiah was afraid to go back. What if Elijah & Obadiah were kids - preschoolers? What would this interaction look like? If preschoolers wouldn't do it or understand it, skip it, for now but I think you can use this scene.

The ending is dramatic. You have Elijah facing off with priests who worshiped and served other gods. What does God do? In our present culture it's easy to skip over controversial parts of scripture that seem less than "politically correct" but don't be afraid of God's stories. Look and ponder. Look carefully. If you tell the stories & you're true to God's stories you can let them do the talking and be a listener just like your audience. I don't mean didactic moralizing story-telling either... Learning to fear God, whatever your denomination, is the beginning of wisdom...handled appropriately, kids are ripe for this...

Anyway...have fun with this...I'm just scratching the surface, here. I think you will find definite possibilities here for preschoolers.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

This is a very very very full childrens' book site: Embracing the Child. You can check them out at a library or peruse them in a bookstore but it's very nice!

Monday, August 23, 2010

I was googling "sacred story" (Christian or Jewish). This article is about 6 years old so you may have already seen it. It's about God's stories, the stories of scripture.

This is from the Jewish Center for Sacred Story. Read it to the end. I happen to like the leadership model she describes, that of helping a group of people realize their potential to make things happen. The focus here is more on individual stories.

This is from Storah storytelling. This may include personal journeys but it's also about making our "corporate" (stories of a people stories) meaningful to new generations. Ok. I lost the link I started with but this will take you to the organization and some interesting stuff.

This is about George MacDonald, one of my most favorite storytellers - his stories, expressions of his faith though marketed to the secular world, but not didactic per se. Madeline L'Engle (I especially liked the book, Madeline L'Engle: Herself and Walking on Water) and Katherine Patterson , also faith-filled authors, are also known for their stories beyond church walls.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

This article is about 5 years old but it's a very thoughtful article about choosing a Children's Bible.

Friday, August 20, 2010

An interesting looking book at Concordia publishing:
3 in 1

Just to show you how out-of-the-loop I am, I noticed leveled readers on this site. If you have the money, what a great tool! Leveled readers would probably make great gifts or special rewards for some kids, too.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Child in Church and Culture from the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada: introduction to a project. You'll like the quote at the beginning.

Summary of the project: "Come To The Table: Landing the Missional Church in Canada", a research project by Shelley Campagnola.

This one is about VBS

Here, at the Children's Spirituality site you will find enough reading material to keep you reading for years!! Enjoy!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Kingdom of God & Toddlers

"What is in God's Kingdom stories for toddlers?" - a google search that brought someone here.

How often does Jesus say, "The kingdom of God is like..."? Whether you are old or whether you are young, this question and it's answer requires first hand concrete experience which take us back the the very early days of this blog and talking about "concrete," hands-on, 5 senses type life experiences for children.

Look at all the agricultural images in the gospel. Kids were around when parents or servants planted and weeded and harvested. Goats, sheep, donkeys were a common even in urban environments. Kids were probably learning to help around the house (or tent) at a very early age. Kids were there watching & tasting & smelling bread dough and the making of bread. Moms or servants made bread EVERY day but the Sabbath. These experiences and the foundations for the understanding of Jesus' parables didn't take place for only one hour on the Sabbath. These experiences were foundational daily experiences. Even if parents didn't talk about these things (and parents were commanded to talk about God's word coming and going and lying down every day) kids were still experiencing these things and these experience were points of reference and association as their understanding and communication skills matured.

Here are some places where you will hear, "The kingdom of God is like..."

Matthew 13

Mark 4

Luke 13

Luke 19

John 3

If you must think in terms of classroom activities for toddlers , think in terms of growing their experiences & and perhaps their vocabulary.

The Pearl Hidden in the Field - Hide one item for each child to find. "When you find it, sit down and wait."

The Fish Net full of fish - Gather a bunch of good & bad "fish," grapes, or something else and throw the bad away. It doesn't have to be fish.

Matt 16: Keys. What do keys do?

John 3 - Babies being born. As important as spaying & neutering is to keep pet population down because there aren't enough homes, animals giving birth does gives children real life experience with birthing and mothering. (I volunteer at a humane society. so you never heard that from me.) But visit a responsible breeder raising working animals or a farmer or foster a pregnant momma cat or dog for a shelter.

The Wedding Banquet-taking your place at God's banquet table with lots of people, different kinds of people. When you have a big gathering & special food, let the little ones eat at the table with you. Weddings are a wonderful time for that. Weddings are all about family but kids aren't invited to weddings anymore. I understand why but I have a hard time with that.

When Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God He often healed those who needed healing... play doctor with band aids & slings & making hurts better.

The camel through the eye of the needle - being too big to go through a small space. Trying to carry lots of stuff through a small space...playing with an obstacle course that specializes in squeezing through small spaces. Give each of the kids a bag or a stuffed animal or something that won't fit through the space and let them problem solve. That might be a little counter productive but they'll have fun.

Being stuck in the dark with a lamp that runs out of oil or a flashlight without batteries.

Greatest & Least? Treating children like the greatest in the kingdom of God...

You get the idea. At this age, I think it's more about the experiences and simple naming words than it is about concepts and understanding...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

This is an article by Jay Gamelin, campus pastor of Jacob's Porch, an ELCA ministry at Ohio State University. It appeared in Lutheran Partner's Magazine March/April 2010:

"The Emerging Church: Reclaiming the Awe and Wonder of Faith". He shares his thoughts.

I think it's interesting to be a culture that is on the one hand engulfed in technology and on the other hungry to explore the mysteries of God, the traditions of His people, living community and in a sense be ok with the unanswered, the unexplained, the unexplored and let God be the Living God that He is.

... "Reclaiming the Awe and Wonder of Faith" ...that's what caught my eye. Don't you love it?

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."

(Lamentations 3:22-24 NIV)

Awesome & Wonderful is the Lord God of Hosts: Father, Son & Holy Spirit, Creator of all that was, is, and will be - seen & unseen!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

eternal life

Someone was looking for "Jesus gives eternal life." He does.

The passage that totally changed my understanding of eternal life (and I will spend the rest of my breathing years pondering it) is John 17:1-4. Read it in context. I think the passage following (and I'd not seen it this way before today...I think the passage following is probably a really good picture of what it means to be a disciple and to disciple others. That's what children's ministers do, right? Disciple others?

We have the story of the rich young man in Matthew 19*. You can revisit the places where Jesus' disciples specifically asked Him about eternal life like Luke 10**. Here are references from the gospels. John's gospel is particularly full of references to explore. Which of these passages are part of stories? Then there's Paul's letters even though he wasn't actually walking with Jesus like John was...

*This is in the NAS so you get the cross references if you want to compare the story details in the different gospels. You can switch from NIV to NAS on any of these studies for cross references. You can also look at the stories in the NIRV.

** Remember to read all of these passages in context...Put yourself there listening to all that God did when Jesus sent these 70 people out in His name. Notice the reference to "infants". Notice Jesus full of blessing.

Then it says, a lawyer stood up & asked him a question to "test" Him. Who was this guy? Why was he there? Was he one of the 70? Had he just returned with the others? Imagine going off on an amazingly successful evangelism/deliverance project like the one Luke describes and coming back to the debrief and the celebration (Jesus seems ecstatic, too, by the way) and someone stands up saying. . .

"This was amazing, it was, but what do I do to inherit eternal life?"

Notice that Jesus responds to the lawyer's question with a question. Notice where he sends the man. (He sends this lawyer back to God's law) Notice how the man even answers Jesus' question correctly . . . "But..." the scriptures say the man tries to justify himself and Jesus tells them a story...

What if the man had just left it at that and hadn't tried to "justify himself"? What if he had just reveled in the success and he hadn't asked the question? What do all these passages show us about Jesus? About God? About His Holy Spirit? About us?

What were we talking about? Eternal life...What do these stories about Jesus, and the stories Jesus told, have to say about "eternal life?"

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

This is about a year old by way of Elemental Childrens Ministry. I especially found the comments interesting.

Which brings us to the question, "What do tactile, environmentally sensitive, non-verbal babies & toddlers learn about God and His people through their experiences in our faith communities?"

"What do we want them to learn?"

Thursday, August 05, 2010

This is The Quiet Book. Such an interesting book idea.

Here's a related idea.

Take a very short passage from scripture that includes "quiet" or "be still."

Ask your kids (any child old enough to be familiar with the word & fairly articulate), "What is 'quiet'?" or "What is 'be still'?" Then as a teacher or parent, think about how that understanding affects how the child understands the passage and how that affects how that child understands or knows God.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Acts 14b

Acts 14 (NIRV) No whys. No hows. We're just scratching the surface here. What do you see? And maybe you need to tell your kids..."I'm not looking for right or wrong answers here. What do you see?"

Through most of the chapter Paul & Barnabus are taking a journey. They've been commissioned - sent out on a mission - they have a purpose, a job to do. Sometimes the people they spoke to believed them. Sometimes they didn't. They faced definite challenges.

They spoke with "great power" and won over lots of people. Jews who didn't believe tried to "poison the minds" of those new believers against Paul & Barnabus (vs. 1-3) so Paul & Barnabus "spent a lot of time there". They didn't seem to be in a hurry or on a set schedule. God performed miracles "to confirm the message of His grace".

There's more conflict & disagreement (vs 4-7). Then the leaders and members from both groups threaten Paul & Barnabus. When the apostles find out their lives are in danger they flee. But they continue their work in other cities & surrounding areas.

When they heal the man with the crooked legs (vs 8-10) things sort of backfire. Or maybe we could say the apostles face the opposite of opposition. (vs 11-18). The people want to worship them as gods. See how upset Paul & Barnabus are about this? They don't even seem to wrestle with the possibility of deserving this "honor". They tear their robes. In verses 14-18 look at the grace-filled picture of God they paint for these people. Look at their references to elements solely under God's control that these people would be intimately acquainted with.

The opposition shows up again (the Jews from Antioch & Iconium) and they win over the crowd. They stone Paul & drag him out of the city & leave him for dead.(vs 19-20) Where was Barnabus? We don't know. The disciples gather around him. Turns out Paul didn't die. The scriptures don't tell us that the disciples pray for healing for Paul but we do know Paul is left for dead but he doesn't die. One minute he's almost dead but the next minute he gets up and goes back into the city. The next day Paul & Barnabus are off again.

The next place they go they win lots of people. Then they return to Antioch (home of the competition and I think their starting point, the place they were commissioned) (vs 21-23) They help the believers gain strength. They tell them to remain true to what they've been taught. 'We must go through many hard times to enter God's kingdom,' they said, knowing first hand. Paul and Barnabas appointed elders, leaders, in each church for the people they influenced but it looks like they did that when they came back, not right away. The elders had trusted in the Lord. Paul and Barnabas prayed and fasted. They placed the elders "in the Lord's care."

They continue to travel & share the good news & God's Word. (vs 20-24) Do you have any idea how much exercise these guys are getting, lol?

They go back to Antioch where they had been originally committed to the Grace of God to do the work He gave them to do. I wonder if it meant committed as in dedicated or committed the way you commit your child to the care of a stewardess when they need to take a flight without you ...

How old do your kids need to be to read the stories of scriptures and make observations about grown ups doing God's work? There are various levels of observation. The wonder of God's Word is that every time you read it He'll show you things you didn't see before. We keep growing and changing always experiencing more of life, and hopefully more of God. Our perspectives and understandings grow & change. Then, you can read scripture with a child a half a century younger than you are and he/she can point out something you've never seen before. He is an awesome God.

I think older kids can listen to this chapter, one part/one scene at time and make observations. Giving kids age appropriate but sometimes challenging opportunities to see, hear, and interact with the Word and ask questions (even if you don't have answers) is a good thing. Maybe it can help them grow "eyes to see" and "ears to hear"... and us, too...

Acts 14 a

Oh...right...I was going to post these wasn't I...

Someone was looking for activities for Acts 14 (NIRV). There's the very short story in the middle of the chapter that's often told in Sunday School about Paul (God - no Paul is not God. No, God is not Paul...God, through Paul) healing the man. (vs 8-10). I think there's even a song for that story. I like songs for remembering the words & stories of scripture. Paul was talking, the man was listening. His legs were crooked. He'd never walked. For me the striking thing about this story is that, for whatever reason, Paul looked right at the man and saw faith. Faith to be healed. What does faith look like? What did Paul see? If asked the questions, adults will tell you one thing but what will children say? What does faith look like? Paul said the word and the man was healed.

What changes when you've spent your entire childhood and adulthood lying down, sitting, or being carried and suddenly you can walk? I say "suddenly" but I'd guess it takes times for muscles to begin to work strong all the time. But what changes for you - things that are good, thing that are easier and things that aren't. Individually, socially . . . Scripture doesn't really say. Just that God did what He did.

The rest of that chapter might be worth exploring with older kids. When you start reading Acts keep a list of the strengths & weaknesses of recurring characters ie. Paul & Barnabus. By the time you get to Acts 14 you'll have a more multi-dimensional view. You could do that with places & people groups too or find out more in reference resources. What do you know about Jews & Non- Jews (Gentiles) that might affect your understanding of this story?

When you finish a story ask your kids, "What can we do or make to remember this story?" Maybe they go home and think about it and come in the next week with their materials & a plan. When they finish, let them share what they've made or the activity they've thought of. Some teachers & children will it very hard to do this - to break out of that very directive classroom mode to more of a discovery- self-directed approach. I say "self" but you will probably be surprised to see what God can do. You'll learn more about the kids and how they interact with God and the scriptures. The kids will learn more about each other and their God-given uniqueness.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

so much for "good bye"

My sister sends me Charles Swindoll's Insight for Today. The Insight (July 17, 2010) this particular quote comes from is about helping. Here is the quote I like :

"I wholeheartedly agree with Philip Yancey, a man who models his own advice: 'C. S. Lewis once likened his role as a Christian writer to an adjective humbly striving to point others to the Noun of truth. For people to believe that Noun, we Christian writers must improve our adjectives.'"

writer or not .....what if each of our lives is an adjective pointing to the One Living Noun of Truth . . . I live with some people who are very very sensitive to the nuances of language. Lord help us improve our adjectives...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

If you've been praying for this to end, thank you for that. I've tried & kept finding more to say but I'm slowing way down. Haven't had any comments or feedback for a very very very long time. Intentionally didn't start any new books this year because I'd be tied to this for another year (or more). Over the Easter season, I tried looking at and listening for kids in the lectionary but that's something you can do yourself if you're interested. Five years ago, I think this blog helped some people connect. Now there are lots of bloggers networking about "postmodern" ministry to children.

Although there are some inexpensive activity ideas woven in here and there but it's more pondering than activity ideas. I hope you'll find some new thinking tools here. If you're reading a book, if you're looking at the scriptures, consider doing it with a couple of coworkers or parents or both.

What do we want to do? We want our kids to love Jesus, to love God - Father, Son, Holy Spirit. We want them to learn to love people. We want to give kids life long faith tools and teach them how to use them. We want to teach them how to learn from God's words & actions & stories. We want to teach them how to see God working in their day to day lives and how to interact with Him and stay faithful (because God is faithful) through the good, the bad, and the ugly. We want to kindle and feed the desire to press on to know God for who He is. We want to constantly affirm to them that no matter how old they are they play an integral part in their faith community and the greater world - in God's world. We want them to do what God says and we want to be examples to them - God's representatives, God's ambassadors, the way Jesus was to His world.

There's no end to books & blogs & thoughts & opinions. If you have Father/Son/Holy Spirit, His Word, a faith community and you're able to use/give all that God's given you as an individual you've got it all. If I find something interesting I'll post it but otherwise, I have nothing more to say.