1. Be intentional about weaving the gospel into the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection
When you tell the story of Jesus death and resurrection to the children in your ministry, include the gospel. Children will not understand why Jesus had to die if we don’t tell them about God’s holiness and people’s sinfulness and Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. When we share the truth of the gospel, we give the kids something to really celebrate Easter morning.
2. Redeem crafts and games
I recently did a craft with my class of preschoolers. The original instructions were to color and glue two popsicle sticks together to make a cross. Stand it in some modeling clay and add a swath of red felt and some flowers at the base. I realized that I wouldn’t be able to tell the kids what the red felt was supposed to be, so I decided not to add it at all. Instead, I printed off small rectangles of card stock that read, “Jesus is our Mighty Savior!” As we were making the craft, we focused on what it means that Jesus is our Savior. Now, when the kids look at their cross crafts, they will hopefully be reminded that Jesus is a mighty Savior.
As you are planning crafts and games to play, take time to think about what the game or craft focuses on. Don’t be afraid to change or refine them to highlight a gospel theme. Redeem the craft or game you are playing by using the opportunity to share the gospel.
3. Use the symbols of Easter
It’s important not to make assumptions about what children understand. Especially when it comes to symbols, it’s important to explain what they mean to children. The cross is probably the biggest symbol of Easter. Children will recognize a cross having seen it in churches, on necklaces, etc, but it is unlikely that children will understand what it symbolizes. Explain simply that a cross helps us to remember that Jesus is our Savior. When you explain what it means that Jesus is our Savior, you are sharing the gospel. Tell children that when we see a cross, it helps us remember that Jesus died to take away our sins. Jesus saved us from our sin. Jesus is our Savior.
I played a game with my preschool class called Hide the Cross. It was a hide and seek game where one child hid the cross and the rest of the class found it. If I had just played the game with the kids without talking about why we were using a cross, we would have had fun, but I would have missed an opportunity to share the gospel with my class. Instead, I told them that we were using a cross because a cross helps us to remember that Jesus is our mighty Savior. Jesus is mighty; that means He is strong! Jesus is our Savior; that means that He died to save us from our sin. Jesus is our Mighty Savior!
4. Gospel-centered activities
There are many activities connected with Easter. Many of these activities do not focus on Jesus or the life-changing message of the gospel. Turn those activities into gospel-centered activities.
At Christmas, it is quite common to see Nativity sets in homes and at churches. Nativity Sets highlight the true meaning of Christmas and if they are child-friendly, allow children to interact with the story. Something similar can be done for Easter.
Make a diorama of the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. There is a great deal to be learned by making the key characters with your children and using them to tell the story over Easter weekend. You may choose how many characters are necessary for your ministry based on your children’s ages and how detailed you want your re-enactment to be. You can create your characters and set with play dough, clay dough, cardboard, etc. A basic set would include Jesus, a cross, a couple of guards, a tomb with stone, and an angel. As you re-enact the story over the actual time frame of the weekend it makes children (and adults) more aware of the hours Jesus suffered and the days his followers waited in fear and confusion. It also highlights the wonderful surprise of the empty tomb.
If you are looking for a snack idea, try Resurrection Buns. Form some dough around a marshmallow. When baked, the marshmallow melts so there is a hollow space in the middle. As you enjoy these snacks with your children, talk about how they remind us of the empty tomb. The empty tomb shows that Jesus is a Mighty Savior! Follow this link for a recipe for Resurrection Buns.
If you choose to have an egg hunt, you could hide plastic eggs with verses or symbols of Easter within them and after they have been found, gather together to read or talk about the significance of each. A few of them could be left empty as well, as a reminder of the empty tomb. A few treats mixed in will also be appreciated.
There are many activities to offer children over Easter. Take the time to plan gospel-centered activities that will provide children with more than just a fun time.
Don’t miss the opportunity to share the gospel with kids this Easter! Give them something to celebrate! By being deliberate about sharing the gospel with kid this Easter you are making it all about Jesus, our Mighty Savior.
Christ died for sins once and for all time. The One who did what is right died for those who don’t do right. He died to bring you to God. His body was put to death. But the Holy Spirit brought Him back to life. (1 Peter 3:18 NIrV)
Here is a saying that you can trust. It should be accepted completely. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. (1 Timothy 1:15 NIrV)