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?
Looking for fun activities for your kids and families? Here are three fun Bible Skill activities that could also serve as PE time for your kids.
Enjoy a books of the Bible Relay Race. Download my printables of Old and New Testament books at the end of this blog article. Make two copies. Cut apart and put each set in a bucket or bowl. Have your kids enjoy a relay race in the backyard as they put the books of the Bible in order.
Bible Verse toss. – Use a beachball or basket ball for kids to toss back and forth to each other as they are saying a Bible Verse. If using a beach ball, you can use a sharpie to write the verse on the beachball to help your kids as they are learning the verse.
Books and Hoops – Have kids dribble and shoot hoops while saying the books of the Bible.
Recently, a friend shared with me about how he liked having his children join him during the worship time at church. As a huge fan of intergenerational worship, I love to hear parents and grandparents share about worshiping with kids. Research by Parr and Crites emphasizes the importance of intergenerational worship. In their book, Why they Stay, it shares that “Young adults who attended worship services that separated them from their parents when they were children were 38% more likely to have strayed as a young adult than those who were not in separate services.”
Families and churches that are intentional in their approach to intergenerational worship can help kids engage in worship. Below are 3 tips that can assist:
Tip 1:Provide resources for parents to assist in the transition to intergenerational worship. Parenting in the Pew by Robby Castleman is a great resource to assist parents in the journey of helping their kids learn to worship. “Baseball and ballet are taught through participation, practice, and patience. Children learn best by doing . . .Children learn to worship by worshiping – through participation, practice, and patience.” (Castleman). Another resource that is helpful for parents is a bookmark or booklet providing helpful tips for engaging kids in worship. It can be a simple resource created by your church. I love the bookmark above that my friend Jennifer provides for families at FBC Barnesville.
Tip 2: Provide a Bible and worship notes or a church bag for Kids. Make sure each kid in your church has a Bible with the Old and New Testament. Many churches make a special presentation to 1st graders as they begin the school year. Two Bibles I like to recommend are the CSB Kids Bible and the ESV Following Jesus Bible. Worship Notes are also a great resource to provide for the families at your church. You can download free printables from various websites or create your own. I had fun creating one and you can download it for free below. Many churches also provide a worship bag that families can pick up in the foyer at the beginning of the worship service and return at the end. If your church does not provide one, you can create your own. Several great things to include are: your child’s Bible, a clipboard, a journal or worship note sheets, blank paper, chenille stems (pipe cleaners), and crayons/pencils/gel pens (depending on the age of your child).
Tip 3: Encourage parents to intentionally teach their kids how to participate and worship during services. “Children learn that prayer is important when they see their parents make it a priority. Children learn to give generously when their parents do.” (Castleman, Parenting in the Pew) Parents and grandparents can also help kids locate Bible verses/passages and follow along as the scripture is read, using a finger for early readers. Kids can be encouraged to stand, sing, and be involved in worship.
What are some of your tips for Engaging Kids in Intergenerational Worship?
Last week a friend texted me and asked for some recommendations for a family devotional book. With the beginning of a new year, you may also be looking for a new resource to use in your family devotional time with your kids or grandkids. Below are the ones that I shared with her:
The Way to the Savior is a new book releasing in February from Jeff and Abbey Land. I am looking forward to this new release as a great way to prepare our kids for Easter. If you haven’t seen their Christmas one – The Way to the Manger, you’ll want to check it out also.
Foundations for Kids: A 260-day Reading Plan for Kids by Robby Gallaty is a great resource for Kids to use in reading through the Bible and contains activities to reinforce the Bible reading for the day. There is also a resource for your teens – Foundations for Students.
Once-A-Day At the Table Family Devotional is a resource that we used with our boys several years ago. Our oldest son was a teen and our youngest son was a tween/early teenager. It contains 365 daily readings and conversation starters for your family.
What are your favorite family devotional resources?