To access reproducible Zacchaeus Game Board click here
To access reproducible Zacchaeus Game Board click here
There were about nine of us huddled in the kitchen when the mother of the home began sobbing. At first quietly. Then no one could ignore it. Looking at my husband, Joe, I nearly panicked, managing a whispered question, “What have we done?”
It had all begun when Joe hung the phone up from a business call and turned to me, saying, “We are going to Cuba.”
“Cuba?” I responded in a shaky voice.
(Have you ever read a book and thought as you read, “God will never ask me to do that?” That had been my thought when I first read God’s Smuggler, by Brother Andrew. Little did I know that one day God would call Joe to join the staff of Open Doors.)
“We will be taking Bibles and other Christian materials to believers in Havana,” Joe explained.
“What about the kids?” I asked.
“We will have to find someone to stay with them,” Joe responded with confidence. Our closest family lived over 1,000 miles away – who would take three high energy kids for 10 days?
Now, a few months later, we were standing in this kitchen in Havana trying to be quiet so that the neighbors, or someone on the street, wouldn’t hear us. I looked at our translator for help, what was happening?
The translator spoke to the wife in Spanish – suddenly he began to cry too. I looked at Joe his face showed he was as troubled as I was.
Then the translator explained – making Joe and me break down and cry.
The mother explained, “Last week I was so depressed, things were so bad I felt we must be wrong that there is a God. I cried to Him saying that if He truly existed would He send someone to tell me. I never expected that He loved me so much He would send someone from the United States to tell me.”
Never in my life had I KNOWN that I was where God wanted me to be in a precise time and in an exact location.
It had all begun with a step of faith. I will never forget the feeling of trepidation as I looked out the window of the airplane at the ocean below and wondered what was going to happen in the days ahead.
It didn’t take just OUR faith. When we got home we learned that the couple who had stayed with our children had been chastised by Christian “friends,” “If Joe and Wanda don’t come home it will be your fault. If you hadn’t agreed to stay with their kids they couldn’t have gone.”
Now we know it wasn’t all that dangerous of a thing to do for us – it was more dangerous for the Cubans with whom we visited. However, at the time we didn’t know that so fear and trepidation was involved, requiring a step of faith, even for our children who were 10, 9 and 7 years old at the time.
What is God asking you to do to model a walk of faith for your children? God may not be calling you to go to a restricted country to bring support to the Christians, however I do believe He calls each of us to step out of our comfort zone to serve Him.
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead ” (James 2:14-17 ESV)
Kids need to experience the power of God in their lives. That happens when Mom and Dad walk a life of faith – when they are continually walking out of their comfort zone to serve God.
For this to be truly effective it must be done out of a love relationship with Jesus Christ, trusting him to give you the faith you need to follow him (Ephesians 2:8-10, Mark 9:24). It can’t be driven by a check-off list. Don’t try to look like someone else. Do what God shows YOU to do, not what someone else is doing.
Look with expectation toward the walk of faith God the Father has planned for you.
Sunday the story was Jesus walking on water; we had laid a two-by-four on bricks and told a child to walk across the wobbly two-by-four. While the child walked across the other kids were yelling at the child and we had hair dryers blowing on him.
At the opposite end of the two-by-four a child stood holding a picture of Jesus. Amazingly every child who stayed focused on Jesus made it across without falling off. Every child who took his/her eyes off of Jesus fell off the boards.
Then, immediately after this experience the kids gathered their Bibles, and they sat down in their two teams to play a game of Pictionary. One child on each team was secretively told something to draw; as they drew their teammates searched Matthew 14:22-33 for the answer. As soon as they told their Discipler the correct answer a second kid ran with the answer to the Story Specialist who then gave her the second clue.
Chat ‘n Chew follows the scripture presentation – it is a time when they sit with their Discipler and critically discuss how the scripture applies to them today. Remember – they have just experienced the importance of staying focused on Jesus, they intuitively know what this means.
RESULT – that next week a Mom was aware her son was having a rough time at school and was amazed when he came home with, “Mom I’ve gotten through this week because I’ve stayed focused on Jesus like when I walked on water.”
Each Sunday the kids experience something different – however, they always dig into the Word.
Here are some of the different ways the children experience Scripture.
The list could go on – you get the idea.
Make every Sunday Creative and Fun.
Make the kids participants in the story not just observers.
One sixth grader told her mom she could hardly wait until Sunday because she didn’t know what was going to happen, “I wonder what crazy thing they will have us do this Sunday?”
If you don’t want to create your own take a look at Sunday Plus Curriculum.
Free PDF downloads of Preschool Palm Sunday Lesson and the Preschool Resurrection Sunday Lesson.
These preschool lessons correspond with the elementary lessons for Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday.
Easter, also known as Resurrection Sunday, is the greatest celebration of the Christian Church.
Without Resurrection Sunday there would be no Christianity. Everything we believe rests on this historical fact…
The Son of God came to earth, He walked amongst humans, He died on the cross taking man’s punishment for sin and God raised him from the grave.
Jesus Christ conquered death.
This day of celebration can become ho-hum as we “celebrate” year after year. There can be a tendency to trivialize it as we find ourselves just going through the motions of something we did the year before, and the year before that, etc.
The creator of the universe died an AGONIZING death
for YOUR sake!
Take a moment to ponder that truth. Your eternity is dependent on this truth.
Resurrection Sunday is significant because it is personal. If it isn’t personal it has no meaning.
If you don’t stand back in awe of what Jesus has done for you how will you ever lead the children to that place of awe?
Do you dare to experience His power this week? Do you dare to give Him complete control of your life?
It was Sunday morning between services, I walked down the hall and heard a child screaming so I quickened my pace, a mom was saying to her 4 year old, “But we are going to a birthday party- there will be games and ice cream and cake.”
“I don’t care,” he cried, “I might miss something here.”
I stood behind the mom going, “Yes, yes!”
A macho sixth grade boy, I was never sure what he thought of church, approached me one Sunday, “Wanda, I have some friends I want you to meet.” I looked beyond him and saw several boys following after him.
“I wanted my friends to experience Prime Time because I told them this was the best most fun place to be on Sunday morning.”
This was a kid who came from a “fringe” family. They were moving out of town and he wanted his friends to know what they were missing out on before he left.
It happened that this family moved back to our community in a year. The sixth grader’s brother who was now a fifth grader came to me the first Sunday they were back and said, “It is so good to be back here. This is a much better church to be at.”
I was shocked. In their new community they had gone to a large church with all the latest children’s ministry glitz – I couldn’t believe what he had just said, “Why is our church better than that church?”
He looked me in the eye and said, “Because you love us.”
Wow! Do the kids you work with know you love them?
How did the kids know I loved them? How did the kids know that their Disciplers loved them?
Because they had fun? Sure there was a lot of fun on Sunday mornings, but he had way more fun at the other church.
Was it about using glitz and the latest high tech curriculum – nope, we didn’t, but the other church did.
We were intentional in meeting the real needs rather than just felt needs of kids —— kids need to know they are loved, that they are valued
We were intentional in making sure each child had an adult who connected with him according to his unique needs.
Below are some links which build on the vision of training Disciplers to walk with children through life so they know they are loved.
Sunday Plus Curriculum is written with the intention of guiding a church in purposeful discipleship of children. For more information on Sunday Plus Curriculum go here.
One year ago this month I was diagnosed with cancer – I was terrified. Little did I know how my cancer would be the least traumatic portion of the walk God had in store for me through 2013.
In the midst of those scary months I couldn’t believe that it was possible to still be used by God. A quick, simplified overview of my 2013…
Perhaps you are wondering what this has to do with children’s ministry.
I recently sat on my 14 year old granddaughter’s bed sharing with her some of the difficult walk God has taken me through. As I talked she welled up in tears.
Me, “You’ve had a very easy, very good life. I know that all of your life will not be as easy as it has been.”
She, “I know. It scares me to think what I might have to look forward to.”
What can we do to prepare children
for what they might have to live through?
Kids need adults in their lives, other than mom and dad, who know them well enough to talk about not just the joys of their lives but also the difficulties.
Do you challenge your Children’s Ministry staff to such a walk?
We have just moved into a small apartment that meets our every need. In the need to down size I went through the files I’ve kept over 40 some years of ministry and found oh so many treasures.
I opened a file and a letter slipped out. I began to read the 4 page, 8 1/2 by 11 handwritten epistle. The more I read the harder I cried. 40 years ago God had a dear friend write a letter He knew I would need in 2013. My friend was telling me of her encounter with God, she ended her letter with this, “I Praise God for your boldness and perseverance which finally got these dry bones filled with marrow. Jesus isn’t finished with us yet! Let us continue to take giant steps with Jesus so that our spiritual growth will never stop.”
God had gone before me and prepared this letter for such a time as this. It meant oh so much more than if it had just been written yesterday.
I’ve reconnected with my friend and am thrilled to hear her story of her past 40 year walk with God.
God isn’t finished with me yet – He can still use me. Perhaps even more so because of the difficult walk He has taken me on through out my life.
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord: Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And some of your own sons, who shall be born to you, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?”
2 Kings 20: 16-19
If you are a parent do you live your life so you will have peace and prosperity irregardless of what it might mean for your children? Do We Over Protect Our Children?
If you are a Children’s Pastor/Director do you run your children’s ministry so the kids want to be there today but you haven’t given serious consideration to what they really need today to walk with God into eternity?
Kids love it! Today they love it and have fun. However, there is no lasting change, the church isn’t essential to them, it is fun while it lasts. Sadly it is too much like going to Chucky Cheese and the day will come when they grow out of it. Children are entertained they aren’t discipled.
One day we will stand before the Lord of lords and the King of kings and He will judge us -
If Jesus became angry with His disciples because they minimized the children’s need to know Him how does he judge us?
Each person in the Family of God is called to play a role in the discipleship of children. O Israel – a call to all who walk with the Triune God.
Can you imagine what would happen if The Family of God took seriously Jesus’ challenges and warnings in regard to the discipleship of children? A sleeping giant would be awakened.