Worship Service Booklet for Kids

Having kids in the service is great, but it’s easy to lose their interest fast because the service was not designed for them.

Sermons are usually 20-30 minutes long (some a lot longer!!) The songs we sing contain a lot of symbolic and abstract language. Baptism and communion are symbolic acts that kids have a hard time understanding.

But these are only reasons for us to try harder to include children in our worship services!

I have created a worship service booklet for kids to help them focus and become active participants.

I have created it as a booklet. Page one is focused on singing, offering, etc. and page four is focused on the sermon. The inside pages are for drawing pictures.

Here are a couple of things I kept in mind when designing this resource:

  • This resource is for kids from Grades 1-6 so I kept reading to a minimum and left it open to each child to choose how much they wanted to write.
  • I tried to include as many aspects of the service as possible so the kids are encouraged to actively participate during the whole service.

MyWorshipBooklet_WellEquippedVolunteerHandout

Page 1

On page one, kids are encouraged to sing as well as listen carefully to the words of the songs. Singing is a form of worship so the kids are asked to circle which attributes of God were highlighted in the singing. Also on page one, active listening during the whole service is encouraged as kids are to mark down whenever they hear these four words – God, Jesus (or Christ), Holy Spirit, and Bible (or Scripture).

Pages 2 and 3

On pages two and three, kids are invited to draw pictures of the Bible story they heard during the Scripture reading and to draw a picture of their favorite part of the service.

Page 4

On page four, the focus turns to Scripture and the sermon. Kids are asked to make a note of the Bible passage that was read and are encouraged listen for keywords from that passage. Again this encourages actively listening as well as following along in their Bibles (it’s easier to pick out the keyword(s) when reading along. As kids listen to the sermon, they are encouraged to write down words they hear that they don’t know. Then they are told to look up those words when they get home. This encourages investigation during the week as well as family conversations. Finally, kids are asked to record what they though was the most important thing they learned from the sermon. Again, this encourages active listening, but it also provides great opportunity for parents to have conversations with their children at home.

Download your copy of “My Worship Service Booklet” and start using it this weekend!

Encourage kids to be actively involved in the worship service with these worship service booklets for kids! Having a resource like this available shows kids and parents that kids are welcome in the worship service!

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13 Tips to Become a Fantastic Bible Storyteller!

 

Teacher Reading to Students

1. Be Bold

As a Sunday School teacher telling a Bible story, you are telling a story that matters! You are telling a story about God! You are telling a story that has the potential to be life changing!

Be confident. Always remember why you are telling this story to this group of kids.

2. Know your story well

Know your story well enough that you are telling it, not reading it. When you know the story you are going to tell well you are free to make eye contact with the kids listening, to add details without getting lost, and to handle questions and interruptions without losing your place.

This doesn’t mean you have to memorize the story. Just be familiar with the characters and the plot and the key theme.

3. Focus Your Story

Know your one main theme. When you know what the key theme or point of the story is it will help you focus.

You will need to make the point of the story very clear for your students. Let kids know what it is and then repeat it often as you tell the story.

The longer a story becomes, the harder it is to keep it focused. Keep it short, simple, and focused on your main point. This will help you get rid of detail that isn’t important. Focusing on one key theme helps you decide what to keep in and what to leave out.

Focusing your story is also key for kids to be able to recall information in the story. When the kids know what the key theme is and can easily follow the short, simple story, they will be able to recall information more easily afterward.

Focusing your story will also help you from wandering off track. When you know the point of the story and the story itself well, you will be less likely to get distracted by tangents.

4. Set the Scene

“The desert of Egypt was hot and dusty…”

These descriptive words help kids imagine where a story takes place. These kinds of words also help draw children in.

Use words that describe the setting to help the children imagine the scene. This is especially important when the story is set in a location that is unfamiliar to children. The stories in the Bible are set in a time and place that is unknown for most kids in our Sunday School classes. So help the kids get a picture of what is happening by describing the setting.

This will also help children understand that the story is real and not a fairy tale.

Be careful in your use of descriptive words to set the scene. Children need to understand that this story is real. It happened to real people in a real place. Words like, “once upon a time in a castle far away…” set the scene and draw kids in, but may also cause confusion as kids relate these words to fairy tales.

When a teacher is telling a Bible story it’s important that they let the kids know that this story is true not pretend.

4. Introduce the Characters

Like the setting of a story, kids need to understand that the character were real people. Talk about the characters in such a way that children understand that they were real people living in a real place.

Help kids by putting the characters into categories kids understand – Mom, Dad, son, daughter, grandparent, friend, good guy, bad guy, etc.

Don’t ascribe feelings, thoughts, or actions to people that are not clear from the Biblical text. You may feel it will add more tension or help a child relate to a character, but you will also be adding to or changing Scripture and that is not right.

Tell the story in an engaging manner, but be careful to stay true to the Biblical text.

5. Grab Attention with a Hook

The beginning of your story is really important. Start with a hook; something that will draw your audience in. Start with something familiar to a child’s experience.

For example, you are going to tell the story of Jonah. One way to grab kids attention would be to show a picture of a fish (or use a toy, or a stuffed animal.) Say,

“This is a fish. What do people do with fish? [cook it and eat it.] There are lots of different kinds of fish that people eat. But I’m going to tell you a Bible story about a fish who ate a man!”

6. Build Tension with Pacing

Once you have their attention, move straight into the heart of the story. Describe the conflict or problem and the actions of the characters.

When considering how to tell a Bible story, look at pacing.

Pacing is how you move your story forward. It’s all about movement – taking your listener from the beginning to the end of the story.

You can speed up or slow down as you tell the story. Speed up a bit if it’s an action sequence for example. You are telling a story, so make it interesting.

If you have some action or want to speed up the story a bit, stay away from too much detail. Too much extraneous detail slows down the story, losing any of the tension that has been building.

7. Know How You’re Going to End

The end is the climax and denouement. You will reveal the resolution to the problem or event. It’s important to have an ending. Provide closure.

Sometimes people have a hard time finishing a story. They kind of ramble on, not sure how to get to the end. Kids will quickly lose interest if a story is finished this way.

Finish your story confidently. How do the characters resolve the problem? What happens to them as a result? Use your main point to help you finish your story.

8. Practice

When I was younger I took piano lessons. I enjoyed playing the piano, but I hated practicing!! Sometimes it felt so tedious. However, I only got better at playing the piano because I practiced.

The same is true here. Teachers will become better, more confident storytellers as they practice.

Practice the story out loud. Practicing out loud helps give you an idea of the length of the story and the pacing of the story. It also helps you work through words you may stumble over.

If you are using visuals get them ready beforehand. Practice telling the story using the visuals. Practice the order you will use them and where to put them so they are easily accessible as you tell the story. This is important because you don’t want to be fumbling with visuals when you are in the middle of the story.

Practice, practice, practice.

9. Be Creative in Use of Props and Visuals

When I was interning, I worked with a Children’s Ministry Pastor who had a unique skill (well, at least it wasn’t one I had!) She could tell and draw a story at the same time. She would stand in front of a whiteboard and start telling the story. As she spoke she drew. She kept drawing until the story and her picture were complete. She would use the entire whiteboard. The most amazing thing was that she could maintain interest and attention without actually looking at her class.

This was a unique skill that she possessed and she made good use of it. If you have a particular skill when it comes to storytelling, use it!

Props and/or visuals add another element to your story. They should enhance the experience for kids. If the story is set in an unfamiliar place or uses unfamiliar items a picture will help the kids understand without you having to take time to explain a lot of detail that may distract from your story. For example, if you are telling the story of Philip and the Ethiopian from the books of Acts, have a picture of a chariot. That way the kids can see it and you don’t have to take a lot of time explaining what a chariot is.
But don’t let the props or visuals you use be a distraction. Make sure they don’t take over your story. They need to be an enhancement, not a distraction.

Props and visuals are an important part of the storytelling process. They add interest, help to maintain attention, and engage another of the child’s senses.

When you tell a story, kids hear it. When you use props and visuals, the kids hear it and see it. When you get them actively involved, they hear it, see it, and do it.

Actively involving kids in your story is the next tip.

10. Involving Kids

There are a number of ways to involve the kids in your story.

Involve the children in the story by having your kids use their Bibles.

Look up the story together before you begin – this can be done from age 4 up. For the younger kids, encourage them to find the book of the Bible, giving lots of hints and encouraging them to look for the first letter of the book. Give them bookmarks so they can keep their place. Encourage older kids to be on the lookout for a certain word or phrase in their Bibles as you tell the story. Choose a word or phrase that highlights the main theme of the morning. You are helping kids focus on the main thing and be involved in the story.

Have the kids read something from the Bible.

Ask the kids to find a specific piece of information in the verse. This gets them engaged. They may be surprised by what they find, even kids who claim to be familiar with the story.

Involve kids vocally and physically in a story.

Encourage your class to listen for certain words and respond in specific ways. For example, when they hear the word sea they are to make wave motions with their hands or when they hear the word storm they are to make thunder noises.

Be careful of how much involvement you use. In some curricula the lessons include Bible stories that involve kids vocally and physically in a story. This can be a good way to involve kids in the story, but too much of it will end being a distraction. Kids will focus too much on what they are supposed to be doing instead of listening to the story. I previewed one lesson that included 6 different things for kids to say or do during one story. It was too much. Involve kids when you tell the story, but don’t let it become a distraction. However you choose to have the kids involved, make sure it helps them follow the storyline and focus on the main point.

Encourage kids to act out the story.

You tell the story and the kids act it out. Give simple instructions. Tell the story and let them know when they need to do their part. For example, give them each a part and tell them to mimic the action of that character when you tell that part of the story.

Involve kids by having them hold or be props.

For example, you may need one child to be a tree or another to be a throne and a child to be the king. Have fun with it, but don’t let it take over your story. Having kids hold props is also a good way to involve them. And it leaves your hands free to hold your Bible.

11. Inflections and expression

Two of the best tools a storyteller has are their voice and their face. Have you ever heard anyone telling a story in a flat, monotone voice with no expression on their face? Were you interested, engaged, or invested in finding out what happens in the story?

A good storyteller will use inflections and expression to enhance the story.

An inflection is a change in the pitch or tone of your voice. Ways to use inflection include whispering, building in pitch, lowering the tone of your voice, and raising the tone of your voice. If it’s an exciting part of the story, reflect that in your voice. Let your voice reflect the emotion in the story.

Along with your voice, use expression. Use your face and your hands. Facial expression includes your eyes and your mouth. If something confusing is happening in the story, show it on your face. If the character is sad, use a sad expression.

Use your hands as you tell a story. Add gestures that help kids understand the action of the story or the reaction of a character.

12. Teach from the Bible, Not your Curriculum

When you are telling a Bible story, use your Bible. Tuck your notes inside if you need them, but teach from your Bible. Kids need to see that you are teaching God’s Word.

Open your Bible to the story you are going to teach and show the kids where it is found in the Bible. Have the kids look it up and follow along with you. Clearly state that the story is true. It really happened to real people.

13. Vocabulary

Sometimes a Bible story will include an unfamiliar concept for your students. It’s important to explain it so kids understand its significance without distracting from the story.

Be prepared ahead of time to explain the concept in a simple, clear manner. Once the story is over you can spend more time discussing the concept if necessary. During the story, keep it simple.

Kids can be easily distracted if a story is interrupted too many times for questions, explanations, etc. A well-placed question in the middle of a story can involve the kids and keep them interested, but in general questions should be asked at the beginning and at the end of a story.

Also, keep in mind that children are literal, concrete thinkers. Be careful of the vocabulary you use. Be a literal as you can and try and stay away from symbolic language.

For example, if you are telling the story of the 10 Commandments, rather than saying, “Don’t take God’s name in vain,” you could say, “Use God’s name with respect. God says we shouldn’t misuse His name.”

 

Put these 13 tips into practice and you will be well on your way to becoming a fantastic Bible storyteller!

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Worship & Kids – Calls to Worship

Worship God SignDo you lead worship times with kids? I used to lead kids in a time of worship before Sunday School. I always read a verse or two of Scripture at the beginning to help us focus our hearts and minds on God.

That’s what a call to worship is. It is a verse or two of Scripture that highlights God’s character and invites us to gather together to worship God.

“Come; let us sing to the Lord!  Let us give a joyous shout to the rock of our salvation!  Let us come before Him with thanksgiving.  Let us sing him psalms of praise.  For the Lord is a great God, the great King above all gods.  Come, let us worship and bow down.  Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God.” Psalm 95: 1-3,6

Here are some verses I used regularly as calls to worship. I hope you find them helpful!

 

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My Week at Bible Camp

childrens-ministry-bible-camp
I recently returned from a week at Bible camp. I was the speaker for a group of 80 9-11 year olds. I haven’t been to camp in over 20 years, but my church is a huge supporter of this camp and they needed a speaker, so I agreed to help. I had never been to this camp before but I have spent lots of time at camp as a camper and as a cabin leader. I think Bible camp is a hugely important ministry.

I arrived on a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon. The camp is situated deep in the heart of a provincial park. There are lots of trees, huge rocks, and a gorgeous lake.
First up was staff meeting. I met those I would be serving with and we were given instructions and a job for while parents and kids were arriving. I was sent to the main gate to direct traffic (interesting job considering I had never been to this camp before!! But no one got lost!)

The kids started to arrive and the week kicked off.

I spoke every morning in chapel and three times in the evening at campfire. During my free time I read, napped, and wandered around the camp and hung out with the kids.

One afternoon I discovered the path to the archery range. The path wove through the woods and it was lined with lampposts. For a minute, I imagined I was in Narnia!

Chapels and campfires were my favorite times at camp. The kids were attentive, engaged, interested, and curious. I loved the questions they were asking!

One day at lunch a girl came to me and said, “You answered all of my questions and I hadn’t even asked them yet!”

After chapel the kids sat on the grass in cabin groups and talked about chapel and what they learned. They were able to ask questions; the leaders were given a chance to see what the kids heard and understood. It was a great opportunity for small group interaction.

One thing that amazed me as the week progressed was the things that hadn’t changed since I was a camper. The prayers prayed before meals; the early morning staff meetings; the skills offered like archery and canoeing; the songs sung in chapel and at campfire; the fact that God uses camp as a significant growing experience in the lives of the kids who attend.

One cabin leader reported at staff meeting that a boy in his cabin admitted that this was the first time he had ever heard that God loved him. Other cabin leaders reported kids choosing to give their lives to Jesus.

I love camp! I believe that it is a valuable ministry that should be supported and encouraged.

Here are 5 reasons why camp is a valuable ministry:

1. It is an amazing opportunity to get to know kids and build a relationship with them.

24 hours a day for a week – that’s a long time!

At camp you have time to talk. There is no rush. There are moments throughout the day to really talk with kids – in the cabin during quiet time or bedtime; at meals in the dining hall; walking to and from activities; during free time in the afternoons.

At camp you have time to pay attention to kids – to give them your full attention. There are some kids who are just waiting for someone to pay attention to them; someone who is interested in the stories they have to tell; the fears they experience; the bulls eye they got in archery.

At camp you have fun together. This is so important when building a relationship with kids. There are many opportunities to have fun. As a leader, you have to choose to get in there and participate. Don’t be afraid to let the kids see you enjoying yourself or even be a little silly!

2. At camp you have lots of opportunities to talk about God.

Chapels and campfires are great opportunities to talk about God, but they aren’t the only ones. Devotionals in the cabins; meals in the dining hall; walks to and from activities; hanging out on a flotation device. This is a chance to show that talking about God can be natural. You don’t need to wait until chapel or devotionals. Make “God talk” a normal part of camp life – a natural event. God is real and involved in every part of our lives. So, talk about Him in chapel, at campfire, during devotionals, walking to archery, while you are canoeing, while you are eating, anytime!

It’s also a great opportunity to share the gospel with kids and to take your time doing it. Kids have time to think through each part of the gospel message and to realize that it is personal.

3. At camp kids have the chance to think about the things they are learning and ask questions.

Sometimes at Sunday School or children’s church, things are a little rushed and kids don’t get the chance to ask their question or even to think about what their question might be. There is so much time at camp. Kids have the chance to think about God and what a life with Him looks like. They have a chance to formulate and ask their questions. They have the chance to really hear the answers and to follow-up. I like the pace of camp and the opportunity it affords kids to think and to express their curiosity.

4. It’s an Amazing Opportunity to Provide Training for Volunteers.

Some camps use this opportunity and make every use of it and others don’t. I was a counselor at a camp that gave its leaders very little training. You applied, were accepted, showed up for your week or 2 of camp, had one short staff meeting before the campers arrived and that was it. The camp that I recently spoke at provides 5 weeks of training for its Cabin Leaders. Training includes leadership skills, first aid, certification in skills, and spiritual training.

I was really impressed with the training offered to staff at this camp. Cabin leaders are primarily teenagers and with the training provided they are given skills that they will use in church ministry and can put on their resume.

5. Time Away

I came back from camp exhausted! It was early mornings and late nights. And yet, I was refreshed. It was time away from my regular schedule. There was no wi-fi at this camp, so I was cut off. I couldn’t check facebook or twitter. It was, instead, an opportunity to rest; to enjoy God’s glorious creation; to re-charge.

Camp is time away whether you are a camper or a staff member. And it is valuable whether you are a camper or a staff member. Rest is underrated in our society, but I believe it is hugely important. I may not have gotten enough sleep while I was at camp, but I did get rest.

Why Do I Take Time to Go to Camp?

The last day at camp I was down at the lakeside watching the kids swim. A girl came running to me, gave me a huge hug, and said, “Thank you for telling us about Jesus!”

That’s why I go to camp!

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Top 10 Go Fish Songs

childrens-ministry-musicIt can be hard to find good music for kids – especially when you are looking for music to use on Sunday morning. A lot of songs are just silly or are too vague and symbolic for kids.

But there is good music out there – songs that kids can understand; songs that teach kids something about God; songs that lead kids to worship.

One of the places to find great music for kids is www.gofishguys.com . As it says on their website, the Go Fish Guys offer “great music for kids that won’t drive parents bonkers.” The Go Fish Guys are a talented band that love kids and write solid, Biblical, fun songs. You can preview their songs by clicking on the music tab on their homepage.

I picked 10 songs that are great for Sunday morning. I will list the songs and why I picked them.

Here are my top 10 picks from Go Fish:

10. Lord, I Life Your Name on High
This is from the Superstar album. Go Fish did not write this song. (I remember singing this song when I was a teenager!) But they have updated it in a fresh, fun way. I like how they have incorporated “Praise Him, Praise Him” into the song. This is a great song to sing with kids! It is a song of worship for who Jesus is and what He has done. It includes the gospel and it is full of joy! This is a good bridge song for use between active songs and slower worship songs.

9. Jesus Loves Me
This is a classic Sunday School song – but the truth it proclaims is the same for each generation. The Go Fish Guys have taken this well-known song and made it new and fresh. This song is found on their Superstar album. Although Jesus Loves Me has classically been a preschool song, I wouldn’t hesitate to sing this with kids up to grade 6. They have added a bridge and some other fun elements. This is a good bridge song for use between active songs and slower worship songs.

8. I’ll Do My Best
This is a good commitment song. It is from their first album Splash. It speaks of giving our best to God. There are four verses: I will love, serve, and praise God. It is easy for kids to learn. There is a lot of repetition. It’s sung as a prayer.

7. Glory
This is an active song from the Kids Music album. It is a song about giving all the glory to God. This song reminds us of God’s love, grace, glory! Talk with your kids about what it means to give glory to God.

6. My God
This is an active song that kids will love! It’s an updated version of “My God is so Big.” Again, the Go Fish Guys have taken a classically preschool song and made it a song that all kids will love singing. The chorus is the words to the original song and the verses talk about the things that God has done. The second verse is a clear gospel focus. This is a fun song of praise highlighting our big God who can do anything!

5. Joy to the World
There are a couple Christmas songs on this list and this is the first. Joy to the World is a favorite Christmas carol and this version will quickly become a favorite with your kids! It is upbeat and full of joy! Because it is a hymn, some of the lyrics will require explanation. A new verse [or bridge] has been added.

4. It’s About the Cross
This is the second Christmas song on this list. I absolutely love this song! This song talks about all the things we love about Christmas, including celebrating the birth of Jesus. But it reminds us that it doesn’t end there. It’s about the cross. “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)  This is a slower song that calls us to worship Jesus as our mighty Savior!

3. My Father’s World
This is an upbeat, active version of the hymn, “My Father’s World.” There is a definite rock and roll sound. It might not suit everyone. As a hymn it will have words and phrases that need explanation [ex. All nature sings and round me rings the music of the spheres.] But don’t let that stop you from using this song with kids. The truth is important for kids to know – God made this world and it belongs to Him. “The Lord is King. Let the heavens ring. God reigns. Let the earth be glad!” There is a chorus added that highlights the fact that everything has been created by Him and for Him.

2. Sweet Song of Salvation/I Love to Tell the Story
This fun upbeat song is a combination of the hymn “I Love to Tell the Story,” and the song “Sweet Song of Salvation.” It is a definite favorite during kids’ worship at our church! There are words and phrases that will require explanation. This song is about telling others the story of Jesus and His death and resurrection. Everyone needs to hear about Jesus and the salvation He offers.

1. Praise Your Name
I think this is my new favorite Go Fish song. It is a bridge song to use between active songs and slower worship songs. It is sung directly to God. It is a clear, simple song of praise. The chorus says, “All I want to do is praise your name.” The verses talk about what God is like: You are holy, righteous, faithful, and sovereign. Every good thing comes from God. “No one can compare to You. You are my God. And I will ever praise You.”

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