“We can connect kids to the Creator when they’re 8, we don’t have to rescue the when they’re 18”. As children’s ministry leaders, this is something we all know, but often struggle to get others to do more than pay lip service to this truth.
Tuesday night’s main session at CMConnect Conference gave us all the encouragement to “rise up” and keep going in the power of the Holy Spirit to reach all His children.
Gregg Johnson spoke passionately about the importance of reaching pretend, those kids on the cusp of moving into a grownup world.
Pastor Alex shared with us some of the moving stories of the many thousands of orphaned children in the Ukraine. He is trying to mobilize churches to simply pray for these children who have no one to care for them.
Heidi M. Hensley gave a great message, partly about preschoolers, but more than that, about the families of our children. She asked the question “are we just sending parents down the road, or are we walking with them?” She described how in times past, there might be 5 generations living together, so if one thread snaps there’s still a net to hold the child. She encouraged us to “rise up, connect and tighten that tapestry.”
I was struck by the fact that each of our speakers had a ministry that focused mostly on type of kids, but what I came away with was the understanding of the urgency to reach them all, every little one.
Variety is the spice of life, they say, and this is never more evident anywhere than in children’s ministry. Although children crave routine and boundaries, they love exploring the new.
Every year as we begin thinking and planning for Easter, we are faced with the challenge of presenting the Gospel in a way that is fresh and winsome for the kids. Same glorious message, many different methods.
I think all of us are happy to share our ideas with each other, that’s one of the greatest things about the kidmin community, so I’d like to share my most recent Easter event.
We called it “Easter in Living Color”, and it is basically a giant version of the Wordless Book. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with that term, the Wordless Book is a way of sharing the Gospel using colors, rather than words. This is used on mission fields where there is a language barrier.
Our facility is a gym with some classrooms upstairs. We set up a room for each of the five colors – gold, black, red, white and green. Each room was fully decorated in its color and for the idea that it represents.
The Gold Room – represents heaven, where our God and King reigns. This room is decorated in shiny gold streamers. We taste candy wrapped in gold and talk about the sweetness of heaven and being in the presence of God.
The Black Room – represents our sin. Luckily for me, our Youth room has no windows and is black as pitch with the lights off, so we didn’t have to decorate. Our tour guide brings the kids into the room and talks about how our sin separates us from God. They are led to a large tray of black rocks, where they pick one up in each hand and carry them upstairs with them to the next room.
The Red Room – represents Jesus’ blood and our salvation. This room is decorated in red, and has a large wooden cross in the middle of it. They lay their black rock “sins” down at the foot of the cross, then they write their names on heart-shaped stickers to place on the cross. This is a reflective moment.
The White Room – represents having our sins washed away by Jesus’ sacrifice. We wash our hands in here to symbolize that cleansing.
The Green Room – represents growing in our faith after we become a Jesus-follower. We used a hallway decorated with fake foliage and fruit.
At the end of our tour, kids can choose a variety of activities using the five colors. We offered face painting and painting their nails in the five colors, also loom bracelets, legos and playdough.
The last half hour of the event was the (inevitable!) Easter egg hunt. But having the rest of the activities made me feel that the Gospel was presented to each child that day.
I hope you enjoyed our event, and I hope you are inspired to create some fun, fresh ways to reach kids with the good news of the God who loves them!