In our family, on my husband’s side, a love for Alabama football has been passed down through four generations. The crazy thing is no one has ever attended the University of Alabama and no one has lived in Alabama. My husband grew up next door to his grandmother. She liked Coach Bear Bryant. My husband and his brother grew up watching Alabama football with their grandmother and became Alabama football fans. His brother has had season tickets to the Alabama home games for years. Our kids grew up going to Alabama football games. Great planning went into what they would do when they were going to a game: when they would meet, where they would eat (Dreamland of course!), how their time in Alabama before the game would be spent, etc. Fast forward several years and our oldest sons are married and each have a child. They are being intentional in passing this love of Alabama football along to their children even at a young age by dressing them in Alabama sports gear, etc. My son is even trying to coach our cute grandson to say ROLL TIDE! (My daughter-in-law and I both grew up in households that are huge Georgia fans. Life gets interesting during football season!)
In a recent baby dedication class for parents at church, I shared this story to reinforce a point about intentionality in creating a spiritual legacy with our kids.
Judges 2:10 says “After them another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works he had done for Israel” (CSB).
In a Priscilla Shirer’s Bible Study, Gideon, she made these key points:
“The Israelites didn’t know the Lord. Maybe their parents were not intentional in teaching them about the Lord. We need to be strategic – They had gotten comfortable in the blessing and did not impress the next generation about the Lord and the blessor.”
“We have to be deliberate – make it our job to teach the next generation.”
“It took just one generation for it to collapse of those who knew God.”
Wow! What an incredible reminder for us as parents and grandparents. If we want our kids to come to know Christ and for Him to be the most important relationship in their lives, we have to be intentional and to let our kids see us living this out and modeling it from what we say, the way we respond to life, our involvement in regularly attending and serving in our church, etc. As parents and grandparents, Christ should be the most important relationship in our lives. At an early age, our kids will observe our lives and see what we treasure and prioritize. Let it not be said that our kids and grandkids are a generation that rise up and do not know the Lord or the works He has done. My prayer for us as parents and grandparents is for us to be intentional and to teach the next generation at home and church to pass along our spiritual legacy.
Whether you have preschool children, grandchildren, or teach preschoolers at church, there are some simple ways we can teach them Bible Skills.
1. Begin as soon as possible letting them see, feel, and hold the Bible. I have a 16-month-old grandson and one thing I enjoy doing with him is reading Bible Stories from our Read to Me Bible. This is a Bible for Preschoolers that is a complete Bible with the Old and New Testament, rather than a Bible Story Book. As we read our Bible Story, I allow him to help hold the Bible and turn pages. Even at this young age, he learns that the Bible is a special book, it is God’s Word, and how to take care of our Bible by learning how to gently turn the pages.
2. Use Bible Markers. Bible Markers inserted in your Bible, marking the correct verse or passage, are a visible reminder that the Bible or verse thought you are sharing from the pre-printed verse marker is in the Bible. You can make your own Bible markers with colored cardstock, a permanent marker, and an optional sticker or use pre-printed ones included in your curriculum. (The Bible markers included in this picture are from LifeWay’s Explore the Bible: Preschool Summer and Fall material.) Preschoolers practice locating scripture by pointing to the Bible Marker and helping you open the Bible to the correct verse or passage. When you open your Bible, use Bible conversation teaching your child where the verse is found (Ex: In the picture above, share with your child that your verse is located in John, chaper 13, verse 34. The book of John is in the New Testament.) Read the verse or Bible thought aloud. Have older preschoolers repeat the verse and reference as you say it aloud. It is also a great idea to use Bible Markers when you are telling a Bible Story in your preschool class at church.
3. Use a Bible Cube to review Bible Stories and help reinforce Bible Skills. I found this Bible Cube in our LifeWay Explore the Bible: Preschool Fall curriculum. I love this idea! It’s a fun activity for older preschoolers. This cube is pre-printed with review questions. After the preschooler rolls the cube, a teacher will read aloud the question or the fill in the blank statement on the top of the cube that the preschooler is to respond to. The statement on the top of the cube in the picture reinforces where the day’s Bible Story is located (The Old or the New Testament). Another side of the cube asks preschoolers to recall which book of the Bible the day’s Bible Story can be found. You can use our template below to make your own review cube for use at home or in your class at church. Simply print on white cardstock, write a review question on each side, fold along the lines and tape into a cube. Remember to insert some paper or stuffing to help the cube hold its shape.
This week I had the blessing of talking with one of our sweet 3rd graders at church. Her mom had made an appointment for them to visit with me since she had accepted Christ at home. Like many of us, during our conversation, I made the comment that becoming a Christian was the most important decision she could make.
However, while we believe this, sometimes our actions often don’t match our words. Our children see us get so much more excited about our favorite sports team winning a National Championship, our child winning honors at school, or having a perfectly themed Birthday party.
For most Christians, the day they accept Christ publicly and are baptized are pretty much like any other day. They get up, go to church, are baptized, congratulated and hugged by the church family and hear phrases like the above first phrase over and over again. Yet, they leave with their baptism certificate in hand and go home to another ordinary day or at least not one filled with as much anticipation and excitement as a birthday party or being a part of an exciting sports event.
I want to encourage us as parents and Kids Ministers to find ways to celebrate spiritual milestones in the lives of Children.
Listed below are a few ideas to celebrate your child’s Baptism:
Send out invitations to friends and family for this special event just like you would for any other party
Take pictures during the day and put in a special album or scrapbook
Go out to eat or fix a special meal your child enjoys
Have a celebration cake
If gifts are given – encourage gifts to help your child’s spiritual growth – a new Bible, a devotional book, etc. (Need help choosing a child’s Bible? Check out my previous blog article.)
Have friends and family share their favorite scripture and/or words of encouragement by writing it on index cards to later place in a special box or scrapbook.
Create a video of the day. Be sure to include the baptism and words of encouragement from Sunday School teachers, church members, family, and/or friends.
Here are some Ideas for celebrating spiritual birthdays each year (or 5 years):
Collect pictures from the previous year(s) of your child involved in spiritual growth activities such as mission projects and/or trips, Bible Drills, prayer, etc. Place these in a small album or scrapbook. Spend some time on their spiritual birthday going back over the pictures and sharing the memories and/or what God taught them.
Have a celebration day – complete with special meal and cake! Recall the time when they accepted Christ and were baptized. Share about what God has taught them or how they have grown spiritually in the last year
Create a special “Spiritual Birthday page” – Maybe include a picture of your child, a brief description of age, interests, etc. Here are a few ideas to include:
Favorite Bible Verse (or new verse learned) this year
Mission projects/trips they have participated in the past year
Teachers at church along with something they have learned in class
Something God has taught them in the past year
Schedule a special mission project with your child or spiritual growth challenge (to read a book of the Bible together or learn several new scripture verses together.)
Becoming a Christian IS the most important life decision our child can make. Let’s celebrate this awesome milestone with our children just like we do when they have a Birthday or get married later in life. I would love to hear how you celebrate spiritual milestones at your church or in your family.
Last week, I had the opportunity to spend the day with my grandson, Rhett. Like most grandparents, I look forward to these special days. In the midst of giggles, a walk through the neighborhood, smiles, blowing bubbles, reading books and having fun playing, I was reminded of 3 gifts we experienced that day.
The gift of prayer – Rhett has begun eating different kinds of foods. On this particular morning, he was eating baby food that was a mixture of different types of fruit. We took the time to sing a short blessing my boys had learned in preschool, the Johnny Appleseed Blessing. Just taking a few moments to sing or say a blessing can help lay foundations for teaching our kids and grandkids to pray. In addition to praying with your grandkids, use this great resource from LifeWay to pray for your grandkids each day of the month 31 Biblical Prayers for our grandchildren.
The Gift of God’s Word – I enjoy reading a Bible Story or two whenever Rhett and I are together. We look at the picture together as I read the story in his Bible. One day my hope and prayer is that he will enjoy reading his own Bible. LifeWay Research tells us that the number #1 predictor of spiritual maturity as young adults is that they regularly read their Bible as kids.* It’s never too late for us as grandparents and parents to help kids develop a love for God’s Word. My favorite Bible for preschoolers is LifeWay’s CSB Read to Me Bible.
The Gift of Scripture Memory – While Rhett is a little young to begin quoting scripture verses right now, it’s never too early for us to expose our grandkids to hearing scripture verses. Last week when we spent the day together, we enjoyed listening to Lullabies for Babies to Scripture by Seeds Family Worship. Another way to lay foundations for scripture memory is to make the most of moments in everyday life. A friend of mine once shared that he and his wife kept scripture verses posted above the diaper changing table and would read or quote these verses as they changed their child’s diaper.
These are three simple gifts that I can give Rhett when we are together. Sometimes in the hectic pace of life, the impact of these gifts can be overlooked. Intentionally taking time to give these gifts not only helps lay spiritual foundations in his life, but the blessings and memories are priceless for me.
*Nothing Less, Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith, Jana Magruder.
Christmas time is a great time of the year to make Christ Connections at home.
1. Advent Wreaths – We have an Advent wreath that sits on our dining table each Christmas. Over the years, our family has enjoyed lighting the candles each Sunday of the Advent season. Advent wreaths can be purchased at a Christian bookstore or you can click the link to see instructions from the Focus on the Family website on How to make an advent wreath.
2. Advent Devotions – There are many resources available for families to use for Advent devotions during this special time of the year. You can download some for free or purchase one at the Christian bookstore. Over the years, our family has used a variety of resources. One of my favorite ones is Jeff and Abbey Land’s book, The Way to the Manger.
3. Focus on the Family has Free downloadable Advent Calendars. Another option is that during the Advent season, many churches produce a set of Advent Family Devotional readings. We have several of these that we have collected over the years.
4. Share the love of Christ by giving to others this Christmas. Click on the link to see ideas and printables for acts of kindness from Courtney Defoe’s Light em up project.
5. Pray for others – Designate a special night or take a brief time each night during December to pray for those who have lost a family member in the last year. Another idea is to pray for families as you receive their Christmas cards and letters.
6. Read the Christmas story from a family Bible. Take time during the season to sit down together as a family and read the Christmas story from Luke 2. If you have a special family Bible, you might want to use it. (One year in our family, as we got ready to read the Christmas story, my son volunteered to read it using a Bible app on his new iPad. My husband preferred to read it from his grandmother’s Bible. So . . . we read part of the Christmas story from the iPad and part from Grandmother’s Bible.)
7. Attend a Christmas Eve service together as a family.
These are just a few ideas to make Christ Connections at home in the midst of a busy season. I’d love to hear what you do.
“O Give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.” Psalm 118:1
During the month of November, especially, I look for ways to create an atmosphere of thankfulness in our home. One of my favorite things I have done over the years is to create a Thanksgiving Tree. I purchased a small tree on sale from a craft store. Leaves were created by using a die cut and punching a hole in each so that we could hang them on the tree using an ornament hook. Then for several evenings, each of us would write something we were thankful for. (Each night we would have a different category: friends, people who had made a difference, possessions, food, etc.) After writing on our leaf, we shared what we had written with our family, and then hung it on the tree.
This could be done the week before Thanksgiving, the month of November, or whatever works for your family. If you don’t have a tree, you could spread the leaves out across your table or place them in a bowl in the center of the table.
Another way to focus on the season of Thanksgiving is to take an evening to write a note as an individual or family to someone in your life that you are thankful for.
How do you create an atmosphere of thankfulness in your home?
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 (ESV)
One of my favorite children’s sermon times was when our pastor’s sermon title was “Directions to Athens, Atlanta, and Eternal Life.” The text was John 3:16. I was extra excited to see the text for the week since John 3:16 is one of the verses our Children’s Bible Drillers learn. As I thought about the verse and the sermon topic, I decided to do a Bible verse activity related to John 3:16.
Using the idea of travel and directions from the sermon title, I grabbed a couple of older highway maps that were lying around at the house. (My husband loves to travel, so we are not lacking for maps at our house!) They were cut to fit some 8 ½ x 11 card stock that I had. Using adhesive, I attached them to the cardstock. Taking a black permanent marker, I wrote 2-3 words from the verse per sheet. I saved the reference (John 3:16) for the portion of the GA map that had Hwy. 316. I highlighted 3:16, circled Athens, and then put a circle around Monroe where our church is located. I then laminated them for durability. We had a great time using the John 3:16 memory verse activity during our Children’s Sermon time as we involved children and adults in our congregation.
Our Christian life is a journey as we come to know Christ and grow in him. In my opinion, John 3:16 is a great verse to use in illustrating the idea of directions for a trip or a journey in relation to our Christian life. Many of us use it as a key verse when we share with others the directions to eternal life – how to become a Christian.
With many churches at various phases of reopening and currently having an intergenerational worship time, include a fun Bible Skill activity if you have a Children’s Sermon time. This John 3:16 activity is a great Bible Skill resource to have on hand in your Kids Ministry files. I would love to hear about any creative Bible Verse Games that you have used with your kids!
On April 29th, I became “Mimi,” as we welcomed Rhett to our family as our first grandchild. As a new grandparent and a Kids Minister, my thoughts have turned to newborns and first time parents in our Kids Ministry. In our video, three kids ministers share their ideas of how to welcome these bundles of joy:
Send expectant parents a letter letting them know that they are prayed for. Susan Allen includes a prayer calendar that the parents can use in praying for their unborn child.
Have a drive-thru baby shower if you can’t have an in-person shower.
Present the new parents a onesie with your Preschool/Kids Ministry logo on it. Josh Wilson shares that he orders the onesies in blue and pink to have on hand to welcome the baby boy or girl to their church.
Send a card from the Kids Ministry and another one created by one of the older kids in your ministry. This is a great project for a GA/RA group or a Kids Sunday School class to do.
Visit the newborn and parents at the hospital/their home and bring a gift.
Drop-off a gift on the front porch (especially during Covid-19) welcoming the new baby and parents.
Create a bib and/or diaper tag with your Church/Kids Ministry Logo to give to the new parents.
Provide dinner for the new parents. The first meal can be from your preschool ministry. Create a meal train. Enlist their adult Sunday School class members, friends, and church members to help provide several meals. Thank you Jennifer for this great reminder!
Don’t forget the siblings. Bring a gift for the big brother and/or sister when you visit or drop-off a gift for the baby and parents. Susan Allen shares that she often has a stuffed bear with a big brother/big sister button that she brings.
A special Thank You to Susan Allen (FBC Statesboro), Josh Wilson (Shirley Hills, Warner Robins), and Jennifer Zeager (FBC Barnesville) for sharing these great ideas for welcoming babies into our ministries. Watch our video for these and extra tips on related to welcoming newborns!
As we have increased family time, it’s a great time to work on Bible Skills. This week’s Bible Skill Activities will focus on using arts and crafts!
Create a Memory Verse Frame – Items needed: Inexpensive picture frame, scrapbook or colored paper, dry erase marker and Bible. To create: Cut the paper to fit the size of the glass. Assemble the frame so that the colored paper shows through the glass. Have kids write the Bible Verse they are memorizing on the glass with a dry erase marker. (Hint: Use a paper towel to erase the verse and write next week’s verse.)
2. Scripture Light Switch Plate – Items Needed: Light switch plate, permanent marker and Bible. To create: Have kids write a scripture verse on the light switch plate. Parents – Install the light switch plate in your kids room and challenge them to say the verse each time they turn off/on their light.
3. Verse Rocks – Items Needed: Rocks, craft paint, permanent markers, and Bible. (Use ultra fine tip markers for writing the verse.) To create: Paint rocks and allow time for rocks to dry. After rocks have dried, write a verse on the rocks and decorate.
Note: I received this rock as a gift from Shoal Creek Baptist Church during my son’s Move In Weekend at Truett McConnell University.
What are some ways you use arts and crafts to help you memorize scripture?