Children’s Talk: The Power of Believing

Children’s Talk: The Power of Believing

This was the script I used for a recent children’s talk. I’ve been keen for quite a while to incorporate simple magic tricks. Feel free to use/adapt/make your own. When I was younger I was fascinated by a TV magician called The Great Suprendo. Thinking back now he only really seemed to do the same trick…he’d tear a sheet of newspaper into lots and lots of pieces and then magically put it back together again. As the excited 8 year old that I was…I truly believed in magic. I’d even go around the house using the Great Suprendo magic words PIFF PUFF POOF in the hope that I’d be able to do magic too. There was something special in not knowing how the trick was done. It creates excitement and intrigue and leaves open the opportunity that anything is possible. It leaves a lot of unanswered questions. I guess nowadays if we want to find something out we just search on the internet… ‘What Does Google Say?’ Seconds later we find the answer. We are surrounded by smart devices…phones, smart watches and even smart kettles. Maybe not having all the answers is okay Maybe the key is to be open minded and accept that anything is possible… So the next time you see a magic trick maybe the person really is magic Or the next time you see a beautiful sunset maybe that the universe does have a grand designer Or the next time you look in the mirror realising that you are special and loved by God So only one question remains…did I ever manage to master the...
The Story of the Shoes

The Story of the Shoes

Sometimes the delivering the children blessing can be quite tricky. It can be a difficult task to pitch it at the youngsters while keeping the rest of the congregation engaged. I recently used this poem by Leanne Freiberg called ‘The Shoes” and found that it connected well. So I thought I’d share. I showered and shaved, I adjusted my tie. I got there and sat in a pew just in time. Bowing my head in prayer, as I closed my eyes, I saw the shoe of the man next to me touching my own. I sighed. ‘With plenty of room on either side,’ I thought, ‘Why must our soles touch?’ It bothered me, his shoe touching mine. But it didn’t bother him much. A prayer began: ‘Our Father.’ I thought, ‘This man with the shoes, has no pride. ‘They’re dusty, worn, and scratched. ‘Even worse, there are holes on the side!’ ‘Thank You for blessings,’ the prayer went on. The shoe man said a quiet ‘Amen.’ I tried to focus on the prayer but my thoughts were on his shoes again. Aren’t we supposed to look our best when walking through that door? ‘Well, this certainly isn’t it,’ I thought, glancing toward the floor. Then the prayer was ended and the songs of praise began. The shoe man was certainly loud, sounding proud as he sang. His voice lifted the rafters. His hands were raised high. The Lord could surely hear the shoe man’s voice from the sky. It was time for the offering and what I threw in was steep. I watched as the shoe man reached into...
Animation: The Story of Joseph

Animation: The Story of Joseph

http://www.childrenandyouth.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Gods-Story-Joseph.mp4 A beautifully animated video from kids’ club showing the story of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers and his rise within Egypt. It’s ideal for children’s groups or sunday...
Story: The Giving Tree

Story: The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein Once there was a tree… and she loved a little boy. And everyday the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest. He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches and eat apples. And they would play hide-and-go-seek. And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade. And the boy loved the tree… very much. And the tree was happy. But time went by. And the boy grew older. And the tree was often alone. Then one day the boy came to the tree and the tree said, “Come, Boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy.” “I am too big to climb and play” said the boy. “I want to buy things and have fun. I want some money?” “I’m sorry,” said the tree, “but I have no money. I have only leaves and apples. Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in the city. Then you will have money and you will be happy.” And so the boy climbed up the tree and gathered her apples and carried them away. And the tree was happy. But the boy stayed away for a long time… and the tree was sad. And then one day the boy came back and the tree shook with joy and she said, “Come, Boy, climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and be happy.” “I am too busy to climb trees,” said the...
Reflection: Fear

Reflection: Fear

When was the last time you did something really scary? The kind of scary that knots your stomach and weakens your knees? The kind of scary that makes you feel like everything is out of control? I was reading an article this week that listed some of the things parents said their kids were really terrified of… One mum wrote, “I have three-year-old twins who both have a fear of leaves. If there is a leaf on the ground they will do everything possible to walk the opposite direction. My daughter won’t even come close to it. She will stand there and cry until I pick her up.” Ellie Griffis wrote, “My four-year-old has reoccurring nightmares that he is being beat up by Winnie The Pooh. He wakes up crying, ‘Winnie the Pooh hit me and kicked me and bit me!’” Heather Crammond said, “My daughter is afraid of sandwiches. She will eat a piece of bread, but put two pieces together with anything in between and she starts screaming and backing away like it’s a spider.” Brain Marcus said,  “This will sound crazy but my son has a deep fear of bagpipes. We have no idea how this happened but you cannot even say the word without tears flowing.” Fear is an interesting emotion. It protects us from doing the really dumb stuff but it also keeps us from taking important risks and doing what we know we should. It cause some people to run in the oppose it direction Fear stops some people dead in their tracks… Some people don’t pay attention to their fears at all...
Training: Recipe for Success

Training: Recipe for Success

Children’s Work Training Session A recipe for success Learn a new song After our summer break we plan on introducing Fischy Music to our Sunday morning programme. We took the opportunity to learn one of the new songs as a team. Lyrics: someone-is-with-you-lyrics Ingredients Challenge Depending on numbers split your team into 2 or 3 groups. Give each team a list of ingredients which they then need to decide what dish or meal they might make with them.  It may be interesting to note and reflect on which members of the your team stick to tried and tested dishes and who in your team thinks outside of the box and puts ingredients together that don’t normally go with each other. Group 1: Smoked Haddock, Frozen Garden Peas, Bacon, Potatoes, Plums, Rice, Onions Group 2: Chicken, Polenta, Butternut Squash, Kale, Salad, Peppers, Onions Master Chef Video http://www.childrenandyouth.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/yt-wmv-break-the-rules.mp4 Do we stick with the safe, the known, and the traditional? Or do we change the rules? Like us you might have stuck to a formula that works – but in the training session give permission to think outside the box and be creative when it  comes to planning and building sessions. It’s interesting that Heston was self-taught having received no formal training. Often churches think that hiring in a professional youth worker is the answer to growing their groups which isn’t necessarily true. A little self-belief can go a long way. Faith Development and Spiritual Development Take the opportunity to introduce some theory to the  session by exploring faith development and spiritual development in children. These terms have different meanings but are often used interchangeably. The Desmos website have this article which you might find helpful Childrens_Spiritual_Development Faith Development In his book,...
Object Lesson Heavy Weights

Object Lesson Heavy Weights

Object Lesson: Heavy Weights Ask for some volunteers to help with a challenge – they need to be super strong! Challenge: How long can you hold two 2 liter bottles filled with water. While holding the bottles the volunteers have to keep their arms straight. Each day we carry burdens , worries, past hurts, doubts and struggles – and like the bottles they can start to weigh us down. Raise a glass of water and ask how heavy the children think the glass of water is? It really depends on how long you hold it for… If I hold it for a minute, it is OK If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have a sore arm If I hold it all day, I’ll probably need an ambulance It’s the exact same weight but the longer I hold it the heavier it becomes. It’s the same with our burdens and worries. So what do you need to put down this week? I like the Message translation of Matthew 11: 28-30 where Jesus says… “Are you tired? Worm out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me; watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and...
Stress Free Nativity Script

Stress Free Nativity Script

Every year around this time, congregations struggle to find a fresh way to retell the familiar story of the birth of Jesus. When I first started at St James’ this task fell to the Sunday School team and from the beginning of December the volunteers would rehearse a full script with written parts with each of the children. Every year the same thing would happen – rehearsals would take place with a different set of children than were present on the day of the actual Nativity. So after a chaotic and stressful few years we decided to change our approach and adopt a much simpler Nativity service. What’s great about this approach is that it takes no rehearsal and the only planning involved is acquiring the costumes. The only speaking part is the narrator and usually one of the older young people is chosen for that role. Also, everyone, adults and children, can participate at their comfort level – whether it is wearing a costume or singing in the pews. Below is a sample script that could be used. Welcome Introduce the nativity and give instructions to the congregation. At the beginning of each part within the script, children and adults are invited to come forward to the chancel to assume the character they want to be.  This means that in our nativity we might have only a few or many animals, angels, and shepherds, or several Marys and Josephs.  That’s okay!  (Volunteer helpers secure to each child’s head the tie-on mask of his or her choice, or give them the other appropriate props.  They also guide the children to the places...
Sunday School Training Day Ideas and Discussion Starters

Sunday School Training Day Ideas and Discussion Starters

Today I led a training session with some of our Sunday School Volunteers. I thought it might be worth sharing some of the resources we used to stimulate discussion. Session 1 A to Z As a group write down words that you would associate with ‘Sunday School’. Then select the three most important words by circling. Video: History of Sunday School Questions When people were talking about attending Sunday School in the past what were some of the things they enjoyed? Why do you think they enjoyed these parts of Sunday School? What can we learn from the Sunday School that met in the cinema? When Sunday School first started children worked in factories and didn’t know how to read – what challenges do children and young people face today? Words/phrases that come out video: Belonging, Friendship, Fun, Community, Recognition, Dignity, Special Events, Positive experiences Questionnaire: What young people want from church? Over the past few months I visited each of the youth organisations at church to speak with the children and young people and get a sense of what they enjoy about the groups. If you are planning a team day similar to ours I’d strongly encourage you to do a similar questionnaire. It could be helpful to tease out the differences in how children and adults view Sunday School. Some of questions we asked included: What are some of the things you enjoy about the groups you attend? What are some of the things you dislike? What new groups would you be interested in going to? (We gave them a list to choose from including groups like...
What Children Want at Church

What Children Want at Church

A leader who knows their name.  Kids want to be known personally. If they get lost in the crowd, you’ll lose them. It’s vital you get them out of the row and into a small circle.  They want to have fun. They want to laugh … play games … be kids. When parents pick up their children, there’s a reason they ask them, “Did you have fun today?” A lesson that will hold their attention. They want you to connect with their learning style. They want you to teach on a level they can understand. If they are saying the lesson is “boring,” guess what … it is.They want to talk and share their thoughts. Instead of a one-sided lecture, they want to learn by being part of a conversation. Rooms decorated with them in mind. They want environments with bright, kid-friendly colors and decorating themes connected to kid culture.   An opportunity to serve. They don’t want to be referred to as the church of tomorrow … they want to be the church of today. They are eager to be involved and make a difference.A friend their age. They want to build a friendship with someone in their class. They want to be listened to. They want someone who will listen … really listen as they share about their week … their favorite video game … their fears … their dreams … their family. They want to be affirmed. They want someone to believe in them. Someone to see potential in them. Someone to not just encourage them to believe in God but to show them that God believes in them.Provide these things for kids at your church and your groups will soon...