Add Excitement to Your Stories with a Bible Box!

Children's Ministry Bible BoxI’m always on the lookout for simple, inexpensive ideas that will enhance the learner’s experience and enrich the teachers’ abilities.

That’s why I as pretty excited when I came across this idea.

It’s a resource for preschool teachers called “The Bible Box.”

Teachers of toddlers, preschoolers, pre-k, and kindergarten will love this easy teaching tool.

1. Put together your own Bible Box.

I love this idea because you can put together a Bible box with little to no budget. Begin by gathering items from around your house that you can use. Next, ask the congregation to contribute. It’s amazing what people have lying around the house. If you have crafty people in your church, then it’s likely someone will have scraps of fabric that you can use.

Check out the supply shelves or resource room at the church. You can find all kinds of treasures!

Next, visit garage sales, thrift stores, and Dollar stores to fill in any blanks. There’s a Bibles for Missions Thrift Store near my house. Between the toy section, household section, and craft section, I can nearly fill my Bible box! And I won’t spend a lot of money to do it.

2. Use it as a visual aid in telling Bible stories.

Instead of pictures or flannel graphs, use your Bible box to help you tell your Bible story. One year when I was teaching preschool Sunday School, I found a nativity set from Tales of Glory. It was a super kid-friendly nativity set. I was going to tell the class the Christmas story and I decided to use the nativity set. I started the story from when the angel appeared to Mary and kept going. Those 4 and 5 year olds were engaged! So, I kept going. I told the story all the way through to the visit of the wise men. I checked the clock when I finished and realized that the story took 20 minutes!! But I had the kid’s attention and interest the whole time. They loved it!
Don’t use the Bible Box every time, it will lose its appeal. But when you do use it, the kids will love it!

3. Let the kids play with the items and interact with the Bible story.

Sunday School classes when you do use the Bible Box, leave the particular pieces you used out and let the kids interact with them. Let them re-tell the story. It’s a great way for the kids to review Bible stories and Bible truth and to interact with the story through play.

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Jesus is…

Jesus invitingThe Scripture is full of truth about who Jesus is and what He has done. One verse of Scripture that I love is chock full of big truths about Jesus.

As believers, we need to study these truths and let them deepen our relationship with Jesus and call us to worship Him.

As teachers, we need to study these truths so that we gain a deeper understanding and so that we can teach them effectively to our students.

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3)

This verse tells us a lot about Jesus, so let’s dig into it.

1. Jesus, the Son

Jesus is the Son of God. The writer of Hebrews starts his book with a passage about who Jesus is and what He has done.

He writes that God has spoken to us through His Son (vs. 1) whom He has appointed heir of all things and through whom He has created the universe (vs.2).

His choice of words reminds me of John chapter 1:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-4)

Jesus is God, the Son.

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.”  (Hebrews 1:3a)

This may seem like basic theology. But this is a huge, glorious truth that we need to put our faith in. When put our faith in Jesus we are trusting that He is the Son of God who saved us from our sin.

“In his very nature he was God. But he did not think that being equal with God was something he should hold on to. Instead, he made himself nothing. He took on the very nature of a servant. He was made in human form. He appeared as a man. He came down to the lowest level. He obeyed God completely, even though it led to his death. In fact, he died on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6)

2. Jesus Shows Off God’s Glory

He is the radiance or gleaming brightness of God’s glory. Again, these words make me think of John chapter 1:

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Glory means honor or excellent reputation. But the concept of God’s glory is bigger than that. Jesus came to this world and gave us a glimpse of the glory of God. Jesus lived a life that showed off how great God is!

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.”  (Hebrews 1:3a)

3. Jesus Uses His Powerful Word to Hold all Things Together

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (Hebrews 1:3a)

The word ‘sustain’ means to hold things together, to keep them going, or to continually carry along all things. It’s not a one-time act; it’s an ongoing action. There’s the idea of bearing the weight of something or supporting it.

Jesus created all things and keeps them going by His powerful word. In Genesis we are told that God created the world by speaking it into existence. That word is powerful! In Hebrews we are told that not only did Jesus create all things, but He sustains all things.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-4)

4. Jesus Provided the Way for People to be Made Pure from Sin

After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3b)

Jesus, through His death on the cross, took away the sins of the entire world.

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

Purification means to make pure or to free from guilt. The amazing truth is the Jesus, the Son of God, made a way for us to be forgiven of our sin and have a relationship with God!

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1Peter 1:18-19)

5. When He Finished That He Went Back To Heaven To Sit Down Beside God, The Father, The King.

“After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3b)

Being seated at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven means that the work of redemption is complete. Jesus is our living, mighty Savior! And He is in heaven interceding for us.

“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” (Hebrews 7:25-27)

Jesus is the perfect Son of God, Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Jesus, through His death and resurrection, provided purification for sin. Now, He is seated at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

That’s who Jesus is!

“In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Revelation 5:12-13)

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Is Your Sunday School Balanced?

Children's Ministry Balanced Sunday SchoolWhen I was a kid I loved playing at the park! If I could find a friend I loved to play a particular game – trying to balance on the teeter totter. It was hard work to find that sweet spot! But it was worth it when you were balanced up in the air.

There is a sweet spot in Sunday School too. It is when you find the right balance between the Bible lesson and the application.
Start with Scripture. Use every minute you have to teach your class the truth about our great God!

In Larry Fowler’s book, “Rock-Solid Kids,” he spent a chapter talking about the content of our children’s ministries. He said that the content of what we teach needs to be God’s Word. “That’s the foundation for application. The Word of God has to come first. Why do we start there? Because the word themselves are truth. Because they are from God…Start with Scripture. We must not only teach children about the Bible and how to apply the Bible, but we must also as first priority teach them the Bible.”

So, make sure your lessons are based on Scripture. Are you teaching kids the Bible? Kids need a solid foundation of Biblical teaching.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Next, we go to application. When you start with Scripture, you have something to talk about during application. During the lesson, the focus was on God’s Word. The application time is when the kids make the connection between God’s Word and their own lives. Your job is to connect Bible truth to a child’s life. Application time is for helping children to bridge the gap between Biblical knowledge and heart transformation. The goal is change. By the end you want the kids to respond to what they have learned by applying biblical truth to their everyday life.

How can a young person keep his way pure? By living according to Your word. I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands. I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You. Psalm 119:9-11

Here is why balance is so important. If a Sunday School class is just the Bible lesson, there is a chance that it may become a purely intellectual exercise; all about knowledge. If a Sunday School class is just application, then it may become good advice for living but no authority behind the suggestions.During Sunday School, we have the opportunity to dig deep into the Bible and learn about God and ourselves and living life as followers of Jesus.

Tony Kumner (of ministry-to-children.com) recently said, “Thinking about the REAL JESUS in the Gospels this morning and worried that we spend too little time walking with him in the Scriptures. Let’s pray and encourage one another in this essential calling – to know Jesus Christ in truth, rather than forming him to our own imagination.”
In children’s ministry we want to introduce kids to Jesus and help them to grow up in their faith.

So, start with Scripture. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself. A relationship with Him needs to be rooted in His Word. A relationship is current and active. To keep it that way we keep reading and studying the Word of God.

Strive for the right balance in your classroom of Scripture and application.

When Your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear Your name, LORD God Almighty. Jeremiah 15:16

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4 Things To Do In Your Own Spiritual Life To Be A Better Children’s Ministry Volunteer

1. Read your Bible

This sounds obvious, I know. All believers need to be spending time in the Word. Why?

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Scripture is inspired by God; it is God’s Word to us. If we want to get to know God and build our relationship with Him, we read the Bible.

All Scripture is useful for teaching us, rebuking us, correcting us, and training us in righteousness. When we read the Bible, we need to read it as God speaking to us. It can be tempting to be thinking of our children’s ministry kids or even our volunteers when we read Scripture. But God’s Word says that Scripture is useful for training us in righteousness. Take the time to read God’s Word and consider what God is saying to you.

Finally, Scripture is useful so the believer may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Do you wish you had more training as a children’s ministry volunteer? Your training starts in the Word of God. Scripture will equip you for the work God has gifted you to do. As you read your Bible, you will grow and become equipped to teach and influence the children in your care.

2. Study your Bible

Reading the Bible and studying the Bible are 2 different things. I have read the Bible in the past and at the end of the day realized that I don’t really remember much of what I read. Studying your Bible is about digging deeper, seeking to gain a better understanding.

Learning to study your Bible means that you don’t need to depend on what other people say the passage means. Learning to study your Bible means that you become a better children’s ministry volunteer because you will recognize wrong thinking, wrong application of a Bible passage, and you can pass on the habit of Bible study to the kids in your care.

Bible study sounds daunting. There are some great resources to help you. I highly recommend Kay Arthur’s How to Study Your Bible and Discover the Bible for Yourself.

3. Pray

This also sounds obvious. But it is much more difficult in practice. Prayer is talking with God. Prayer is such a vital part of building our relationship with God. Prayer is talking and listening. The amazing thing is that the God of the universe hears us, cares for us, and speaks to us!

It’s not wrong to practice praying. Praying is not easy and it takes determination and perseverance. Read about prayer in the Bible; look at how people prayed in the Bible; pray Scripture as worship.

As you practice prayer, it will start to affect your life and your ministry. Kids will see you and learn from you.

4. Learn theology

Don’t be scared! You don’t need to be a scholar. I will give you some easy tips to help you study theology.

Theology is the study of God.  So when I say learn theology, what I mean is study God’s attributes and characteristics. Take time to learn about God’s holiness, goodness, all-powerfulness, omniscience, omnipresence.

This is important in the life of a believer. It’s important to be able to discern truth and not be swayed by incorrect thinking.

There are many books and resources available, but be discerning. Ask your pastor for a recommendation, or choose recommendations from already trusted authors.

There are a lot of theology texts out there and most of them are huge! If you want to jump right in, then go for it! If you want to start with something a little less daunting, I recommend Bruce Ware’s Big Truths for Young Hearts. Dr. Ware is a theology professor who wrote the book because he wanted to teach his children what he was teaching his students. This is theology for kids, but it is still theology. This is a great place to start. It is easy to read and yet still challenging.

Learning theology will help you to be a better children’s ministry volunteer. It will help you teach children big truths about God and show them how to discern truth and lies.

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Teaching Bible Skills – Finding books in the Bible

I believe that Bible skills are important. I believe that it is part of our job as children’s ministry volunteers, as Sunday School teachers to teach our kids Bible skills. This is the first in a series on teaching Bible skills. I hope you find it helpful.

Finding Books in the Bible

Our goal is to make disciples. Disciples of Jesus know their Bibles, love their Bibles, and read their Bibles. Becoming familiar with the layout of the Bible is an important part of this process. Knowing the books of the Bible and where they are to be found in the Bible is a skill our kids need to be taught.

Preschool

Preschool children either can’t read or are learning to read. Children of this age are eager to learn and we should not miss out on the opportunity to begin teaching them Bible skills.

In Sunday School, there are a number of different ways to begin to teach the skills of finding books in the Bible.

1. Encourage your class to bring their Bibles to Sunday School

This is the first step if you want to teach your class how to find books in the Bible. Preschool children may have an actual children’s Bible, or they may have a children’s storybook Bible. Either way, encourage them to bring it to Sunday School and then have them use it.

2. Look up the Bible passage for the story you will be teaching

Take a few moments at the beginning of story time and help the children find the story in their Bibles. First, tell the children what book of the Bible the story is in. In order to help them put it in context, also mention if it is the Old Testament or the New Testament. (“The Old Testament has the books at the front of the Bible. The New Testament has the books near the back of the Bible.”)

Children this age are learning their alphabet, learning to print their names, and learning to read. Once you have told them the book the story is in, encourage them to figure what letter of the alphabet the book starts with. Use that to help them find the book.  For example, the lesson is on Jesus feeding the 5000. Tell the children, “Our Bible story today is found in the book of Matthew. Matthew is the first book in the New Testament, so it is going to be found near the back of the Bible. What letter of the alphabet does Matthew start with? M. Look for the letter M at the top of the page.”

Most Bibles have the name of the book at the top of the page. Encourage children to look for their letter of the alphabet here. This exercise does take a few minutes, but I have noticed children are eager to use their emerging reading skills and show great pride when they have found the book. Once they have found it, point to the name of the book. Ask them to show you the first letter of the word. Then tell them, as in our example, “M is for Matthew.”

For children with storybook Bibles, help them find the story and then remind them what book of the Bible this story is found in. Some Bible storybooks have the reference for each story at the beginning. Show them the reference and make the connection to the book of the Bible.

Elementary

1. Encourage your kids to bring their Bibles to Sunday School

Tthis is so important. You may want to use incentives to encourage your kids to bring their Bibles. We want it to become a habit. A huge incentive for kids to bring their Bibles is when they actually use them. So, encourage your kids to bring their Bibles, and then make sure you have the kids use them in class.

2. Have extra Bibles available

Have a few age-appropriate Bibles ready for visitors or kids who don’t have a Bible or who forgot to bring theirs.

3. Plan to have the class look up at least one Bible verse or passage during Sunday School

Having the class look up a Bible passage takes time – usually more time than you expected! So, always plan out what you are going to have the kids look up. For younger kids, it is best to have the class look up the same passage. As the kids get older and more familiar with their Bibles and better at reading, you can have the kids look up different passages. Give the reference and then encourage the kids to help each other and to share discoveries. As the kids are looking up the reference, talk about whether it is in the Old Testament or the New Testament; whether it is before or after particular books. These questions help the kids to consider context.

4. Make use of the table of contents

Teach your kids how to use the table of contents in the front of their Bibles. The table of contents is a great tool. It shows how books are divided into old and new testaments. Show the kids how to find a book in the table of contents and then to use the page number given to find the book in the Bible. Help the children to understand that different Bibles will have different page numbers.

5. Plan games or activities that will give the kids a chance to develop their skills in finding books in the Bible.

Bible drills – Bible drills are a great activity. They are a fun way for kids to get to know their Bibles and to become familiar with how the books are ordered in the Bible. The rules of a Bible drill are simple. Children will hold their Bibles up above their heads. You will say a Bible reference. Ask the children to repeat it and then say, “go.” The children will lower their Bibles and look up the reference. Once they have found it, they should stand up.

Books of the bible games – There are many different game ideas that will help the children become familiar with the books of the Bible. In an upcoming post, I will give you some ideas for activities that kids will find fun and engaging and that will ultimately help them develop Bible skills.

6. Older Elementary children who have the Bible on their phones or tablets

You may have children in your classes, especially older children, who carry cell phones or other devices. They may choose to use these instead of a hard copy Bible. There is nothing wrong with looking up Bible references on these devices. Children may actually tell you that it is easier, because they just have to enter the search information. As teacher, you will have to institute some class rules for use of these devices in class. Although it is great that they have access to the Bible on these devices, they also have access to other programs as well that could cause a distraction or loss of attention in class. When you make rules about using devices in your classroom, include your class in the discussion.

 

Learning to find books in the Bible and becoming familiar with our Bibles is not an end in itself. It is part of the discipling process. Our goal is to make disciples. Disciples love Jesus! We get to know Jesus and how to follow Him through our Bibles. Teaching children to know and love their Bibles, then, is an important part of the disciple-making process. Teaching Bible skills will help our children get to know their Bibles and more importantly, get them reading their Bibles and getting to know God, who is the main character in the Bible.

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