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Deb’s Ministry Blog shares articles of interest to people in a small church, missions, or writing ministry. These are practical and encouraging articles that may be shared freely.

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Children’s Ministry Resources You May Not Have Heard Of

Recently I asked on my Facebook author page for favorite resources of Christian ministry teachers of children. I’m excited to share these great resources I found that I never knew about. Check these out to see if they might work in your ministry.

Devotional Books

Parents in our churches need help finding books that give them easy and meaningful devotions for their families. Since my children are grown, devotional books aren’t automatically on my radar. Here are three recommendations from my readers:

Shannyn Mitchell recommends Worshipful Families by Howard Bean.

Hannah King has been using Tales from Cherry Lane in her family devotions this year. Last year they used My Big Book of 5-Minute Devotionals. Her kids have enjoyed them. They are in Kindergarten and 2nd Grade.

Church Children’s Club Resources

This is what Rebekah Schrepfer uses for her kids’ club at Pioneer Peak Baptist Church in Palmer, Alaska.

Here’s an overview of the club that I have sent around as a Starter Kit. I still have no helpers and no budget.  In the overview I explain how I’ve put together our Wednesday Bible Club and I talk about the free resources that I’ve found.    I’ve used the free lessons from this website.  It is a good walk-through-the-Bible format, and it can be easily supplemented with visual aids and such.  I skip their suggested memory verse because the kids are already learning verses with their Summit Club Books.  And I don’t always use the crafts they suggest, but sometimes they’re nice to use.  I’ve also used this website and printed off their Bible Trading Cards.

Over the years, I’ve learned to use Photoshop and Microsoft Publisher, and I’ve learned how to use WordPress.  While these resources are not always free and can be a long road to travel, it has been a blessing to draw on these skills and apply them to a children’s ministry to make it look professional….when in reality, it’s just little ol’ me.

Original Bible stories and songs and a method for organization of materials

Marilyn Alexander has put all these materials on her website. They come from her long-term ministry at Calvary Baptist Church in Lamar, Colorado.

My friend, Marilyn Alexander has recently launched a website with teaching resources. She specializes in lessons for Bible stories that are used less often. She offers free, original songs about Bible characters. Many of these are about Bible characters that you never find songs about. She also explains a way to organize all your teaching materials in a way that helps you to find all the bits and pieces instantly. You can find all this on her website, Teaching the Bible to Kids.  

Junior Church material

Ruth Grosse recommends these after using them to teach junior church at First Baptist Church, Dillon, Montana. (The oldest Baptist church in Montana.)

AiG has these Sunday School materials. Ruth uses these to teach her Junior Church. She says, “I love Answers in Genesis for Junior Church!  I use the Pre-K – First material, though I have kids who are older – it still works great – and they learn lots of good Bible principles that give them a good foundation for life.  There is a wonderful flipchart and lots of illustrations during the lesson time that keep the kids’ attention, plus game ideas, songs, hands-on activity ideas, and a handwork sheet to take home.  There are 10 lessons per unit (you order a unit at a time), and I’m on the third one.  There is one memory passage per unit – and the kids learn that passage really well – because it is illustrated in the flip chart with words and pictures, plus we review it every Sunday during that unit.  They say it up front in church at the end of the unit, along with singing a song or two.  There are also 4 Bible Truth Questions for each unit that they learn the answers to – and that is fun for them because they all answer together in unison.”

Deb Brammer: Here are some fave resources that I’ve used teaching at Tay Street Baptist Church in Invercargill, New Zealand.

Free Bible Story Pictures

My favorite source for free pictures to use to teach Bible stories is Free Bible Images found here:  . I have printed these images on card and used them. Sometimes I get a Bible story in curriculum which just doesn’t have enough pictures of the story to suit me. I can print these out the day before I use them and not have to wait or pay postage. I’ve also used them for PowerPoint stories for our Discovery Club. Though they are free, if you’re using them a lot it’s nice to send in a contribution. These have really helped me because I like to make up my own Bible themes and use stories in different ways, but I always need Bible story pictures to show what I want to say.

Training for Puppet Ministry

My favorite DVD for training puppeteers is this one  from Creative Ministry Solutions.

My own free resources

If you haven’t checked out my website recently, you’ve missed some new resources I’ve added. Under “Church Programs” You not only find Christmas Programs and Mum-Daughter Nite themes. I’ve also added these original resources.

  • The Road Sign Song. Music and printable visuals for fun new kids’ song.
  • Old Testament Books Song. Used to memorize the Old Testament books. Printed music with demonstration video.
  • Old Testament timeline motions to help kids memorize an overview of the Old Testament.
  • 7-color Jesus poem and object lesson. Printable poem made to fit in a bag with jelly beans in each color. How to make an object lesson to go with it.

Puppet resources:

Under my Puppet Scripts and Tips you’ll find 20 original puppet scripts and 5 helpful articles about puppets.

 

Summit Bible Club Overview

A Ministry of Pioneer Peak Baptist Church

Dear Fellow-laborers in the Gospel,
I hope this overview of our Summit Bible Club ministry will be helpful for you as you work on your own Wednesday night program for children.

Summit Club was born out of pure necessity and a desire not to waste the precious time given to me on Wednesday nights at our church. There was a time when our church had no class, much less a program, for children or teens on Wednesday nights. My own four children would just come to the Adult Prayer Meeting and Bible Study with us, and any other children that might come were not regular attenders. I knew my children needed a time and some goals to work toward. I had fond memories of AWANA and other Bible Clubs, and really any verses I know by memory mainly come from those years of hiding God’s Word in my heart. So with the pastor’s blessing I began a simple class-time on Wednesday nights. I had no budget and no helpers. It was just me and what resources I could find for free. It grew into Summit Bible Club simply by adding a little here and a little there to help the kids be motivated and enjoy the class. Now I have up to 25 children each week, and I’ve long passed the point of needing a little extra help and budget.

But we continue forward and I believe it has been a good endeavor.
Here is what our typical Summit Bible Club evening looks like:

1. Opening Song Time (5-10 mins)
a. In the summer, while it’s still light outside and good weather, we sometimes begin with game time. In the winter when it’s too dark or cold, we just start with songs.
b. We sing at least 4 children’s songs. Most are simple songs that we all learned as children. There really was no other extended time of children’s music on Sundays, so this was our chance!
c. We also work on special music as a group. Call it Kids’ Choir if you like. But I strive to find a really nice song that works for a Sunday morning special or for the Christmas Program or Easter Program. This is a time when I have the most church kids there with me at one time, so I take advantage of it!

2. Prayer Time (5-10 mins)
a. A little ministry philosophy here: Pastor has taught that children are really church members in training. It is wrong to make a class completely different from what normal church life is. Then there’s nothing at all that resembles what church life is for the rest of their lives as adults. And a huge part of that is focused prayer time.
b. I ask for prayer requests and they must follow some simple rules:
i. It’s not story time, so requests need to be that. What can we ask God to help with?
ii. If someone already mentioned a prayer requests, we can’t repeat it. (This is just a time saver.)
iii. Praise God in our prayers, too! What are you thankful for? How has God answered our prayers from last week? What part about God do you remember and can praise Him for? (Sometimes our whole prayer time is just this, without any prayer requests.)
iv. Pay attention and remember the requests, because you might be asked to pray aloud.
c. Then I ask for 2 volunteers to pray aloud. I am the last one to pray.

3. Walk Through The Bible (10-15 mins)
a. It took us several weeks to learn the Books of the Bible Song (https://vimeo.com/149679206) sung to the tune of “Ten Little Indians”. We begin with that now, so the youngest kids can learn it.
b. I have taught them basic statements about how the Bible is put together. There are many ways to do this, so you’ll have to come up with what works best for you.
c. I have a list of facts and questions I use in a separate document, but mostly it is based on my own Bible Study over my lifetime. I just thought about all of the basics of what is in the Bible, the accounts, the major themes, etc. And I simplified it for children to remember.

4. Sword Drills (5 mins)
a. This fun game has been great to teach the kids how to look up verses in their own Bibles by themselves.
b. At first the kids were nervous and complained that they couldn’t do it. But after practice with some super easy references, they got better at it. They know that Psalms is the middle of the Bible and that the Old Testament is bigger than the New Testament, and those sign-posts help them find other references. At this elementary age, I stick with pretty easy verses and throw in a curve ball for the older kids for a challenge from time to time.
c. Encourage the kids to bring their own Bibles every week.

5. Summit Verses Time (10-15 mins)
a. Next we take time to recite and work on their Summit Club verses from their books. The books can be made with a comb binder, or they are thin enough to just staple the middles into a booklet.
b. I encourage the older kids to come prepared to say their verses without help from mom or dad since they can read and do it themselves. The younger kids can use help with the how-to’s of memorizing verses. Hopefully parents have worked with their kids and they are prepared.
c. (At our house, at about 4:30 on Wednesdays, I have the kids turn off the TV and tablets. I work with the younger kids to memorize their verses by rote while I’m making dinner. The older kids go to their rooms to learn their verses and then they come practice on me. By the time dinner is ready, they know their verses.)
d. This is the time when extra help is needed. If kids are ready with their verses, they line up in the hallway to say their verses to the Nursery Worker, who signs their books. Then they show me their book and I write it down in my Record Book. Several kids usually do not come prepared to say verses, and it would be great to have someone ready to help them just for those few minutes of class time. (But then again, they are learning really well to be prepared ahead of time.)
e. If they finish a “trail”, then their Hiker dude gets to move up the mountain. We all clap for each other as someone gets to move their guy up. As they finish books, they get bigger prizes.

6. Lesson Time (10 mins.)
a. With the class time getting short, the lesson time has been a good time, and yet it has not been the main thrust of Summit Club. Hence, only 10 minutes allotted. Remember, my main goal has been to give them the bones of Bible Knowledge.
b. I’ve used the free lessons from this website: http://freesundayschoolcurriculum.weebly.com/oldtestament- lessons.html It is a good walk-through-the-Bible format, and it can be easily supplemented with visual aids and such. I skip their suggested memory verse because the kids are already learning verses with their Summit Club Books. And I don’t always use the crafts they suggest, but sometimes they’re nice to use. I’ve also used this website: https://sundayschoolsources.com/ottoc.htm and printed off their Bible Trading cards.

7. Game / Craft Time (10 mins)
a. Sometimes we run out of time for this, but I try to include it. It’s also motivation for the kids to stay with my lead through the evening. “Let’s follow the teacher so we have time to do games later!”
b. We do crafts that pertain to the lesson during the winter months when we can’t go outside. c. This is another area where a helper would be great. Just to be able to hand off the kids to the games or crafts coordinator would be awesome for me.
d. If we all seem to be run down and tired, I’ll sometimes just send the kids outside with their snacks to the playground.

8. Snacks
a. The moms get together and coordinate sending snacks for the Summit Club kids. It’s not a big deal, but it helps me tremendously not to have to think about that.
b. Sometimes we do snacks at the same time as craft time, but mostly we just grab our snacks at the very end of class.
c. On Easter week, I will make Resurrection Rolls. And sometimes there are fun theme ideas that I incorporate into the snack time.

9. Special Dress-Up Nights
a. I added this to help encourage kids to attend and not miss out. It’s minimal preparation for me and parents, and it’s lots of fun for the kids.
b. Once a month we do a fun theme like Crazy Hair night, or Neon night, or Twin Day. I plan to use those themes in the lesson time. So Super Hero Night will be a lesson on how God is our Almighty and Amazing, Incredible God. Neon Night will be an emphasis on how we can be a shining light in a dark world. Twin Day can be about imitating Christ, etc.

10. Gospel Presentations
a. Because many of the kids are young, about half of them have never accepted Christ as their Savior. Especially the preschoolers and kindergartners are still putting the pieces of the puzzle together in their minds.
b. Because of that I share the plan of salvation OFTEN. Whenever it comes up, whether it’s the song time, the game time, the verses they memorize or the lesson time…I add the Gospel in there.
c. I’ve had good talks with parents over the last few years. They tell me what their kids know from Summit Club and often they tell their parents, not me, about their understanding of the gospel. Praise the Lord!

11. Awards Night
a. At the end of the school year, we have an Awards Night on a Sunday night. Kids who have finished their books get a medal that I make for them. All kids get a goodie bag.
b. I try to have the kids recite some of their verses that they learned, and maybe sing one of the new songs I’ve taught them, a slide show of some pictures I’ve taken along the way is fun too.
c. This is a great way to recognize their hard work, and it is a testimony to the church, a report on their ministry.
d. This is also a good “advertising time” to those who have not been to Summit Club, that they are missing out on something good.

12. Summit Club Fair
a. A new thing this year, since we are not doing VBS at this time, is to have a day of games and prizes for the kids.
b. We have it at the end of summer, just before Summit Club starts as a kick-off day.
c. It’s a big deal, and I usually need help. The games are very simple and each one needs an adult to run the game, so preparation and communication ahead of time is needed.

This Summit Club Program has been a blessing, I believe, from the Lord. He has given me a heart for it even though it is hard work and sometimes exhausting. But I love to see the kids learning and able to navigate their Bibles and remember His Words to them. We’ve seen little ones come to know the Lord as their Savior, and we’ve seen  friendships among them grow and visitors invited as well. Praise God!

I hope this overview helps you understand the other materials I’ve included in this Start-Up Packet. Please contact me if you have any questions or need more ideas.

Rebekah Schrepfer

The Secret of Failure

Nobody likes to fail. Failure makes you feel rotten. If you want to reduce your risk of failure, try following these three rules. They will almost guarantee that you will never fail again.

 

  1. Never try anything new. When you try new things you lack the experience to pull them off perfectly. You’ll probably make mistakes and embarrass yourself. And your chances for failure are quite high. Stick with things you already know how to do well.
  2. Never try anything hard. Attempt only those tasks which you know to be well within your range of capabilities. That way you know that, with a minimum of effort, you can do the job well.
  3. Never try anything risky. Don’t do anything until you’re quite sure it will work. Otherwise you just set yourself up for failure. And never try anything of which people might disapprove. If you do, you may work hard and only receive criticism in return. Criticism is never fun. It makes you feel you’ve failed even if you haven’t. So stay away from risky jobs. Just be content with who you are now. Quit trying to change. Then your chances of failure will be next to nil. Aim at nothing, and you’ll hit it every time.

 

Of course, as you avoid failure, you will probably also eliminate the chances of any kind of significant success. Easy success carries its own high price tag.  Before you give up on failure you may want to see if you have underestimated its merits.

Picture the great artist painting in her studio. With seemingly little effort she splashes a new masterpiece onto plain canvas. Empty walls surround her, for her works sell as fast as she can paint them. They bear no resemblance to her first work when, at age one, she scrawled a few colors onto a page. Only a mother could love that drawing. In second grade her best horse picture drew great praise from her teacher. But however well her picture compared to the works of other second graders, the art world would have refused the slightest glance at it. As she grew she improved, but for each picture she displayed, she hid a notebook of drawings she wouldn’t let anyone see. As she reached adulthood her work showed evidence of real genius. Yet even then the critics belittled her work, criticizing her technique, magnifying each supposed flaw. Now we see the artist’s great success. Yet her effortless strokes of paint hide each failure that she evaluated and learned from. Without the failures, the success would have been impossible.

Unseen failures are the raw material of almost all success.

A great photographer snaps lots of pictures and only displays the good ones.

A great writer has lots of ideas and knows how to sort the good ones from the bad.

A great musician’s performance is possible only after the many failures during practice.

A great gymnast owes a debt of gratitude to the healing process.

You see, failure also goes by other names such as “learning” and “growth.”  The first attempt at anything new, hard, or risky, is bound to be far from perfect. Yet as we evaluate our failures, learn from them, and do better the next time, we improve our abilities.

Some people, however, stop with their first awkward attempt, assuming that they are not “called” or “gifted” for such a task. In such a case failure can go by no other name.

Is God asking you to do some new thing today? Are your afraid to try because you are afraid to fail? Then you have proven true the adage that says, “Fear of failure is the father of failure.”

On the other hand, if you grab onto that difficult task as a precious opportunity for growth, you may not do well on your first attempt. So ask God to help you learn from your failures and try again. Then you’ll probably find that you won’t do too well your second time either. Yet as you continue to try, evaluate, and change, you’ll soon find yourself learning and growing. You’ll experience the joy of learning to trust God and serve Him better. People may criticize you, but you can know the joy of the Heavenly Father’s smile on you.

You say you’ve tried that before and you can’t feel His smile? Then perhaps you’ve forgotten that God isn’t only pleased with perfection.

Remember the time your toddler gave you the birthday card he made himself?  The drawing was so far from perfect, you couldn’t even tell what kind of animal it was. But you accepted it with pride because he had given you his best work, done with a loving heart. By the time he was ten, however, you expected to see improvement.

In the same way our Heavenly Father accepts our imperfect gifts when we give them out of hearts of love. He does expect our best, however, and He does expect us to improve, to learn, to grow.

If you’re not failing at anything, you’re probably not trying to do anything very significant. If, on the other hand, you’re turning failure into learning and growth, you’ve learned a secret. Sometimes failure isn’t so bad after all.

 

Fun Bible Activities for Kids in Lockdown/Quarantine

Whether you’re in New Zealand and call it “Lockdown” or in America and call it “Shelter-in-Place,” April 2020 can be a long month if you’ve got bored kids at home. This quarantine can be a huge inconvenience or an unprecedented opportunity, depending on how you look at it. For me, it means at least four weeks when I can spend more time writing.

If you’re a parent with kids at home it can be a great time to connect in a better way. You can also help your kids to connect to God in a greater way. For the rest of April I’m adding daily Bible activities for Kids on my Facebook author page. Why not start now and do the whole thing? This first week involves reading the Easter story in the Bible for themselves and doing fun Easter activities. You can find these daily activities here.