Flame: Esther’s Strengthened Heart

Esther showed great love for her people and for her uncle Mordecai, but she also showed that she had a great deal of courage in her heart. Ask the children to think about times when they have needed to show love to others or needed to be brave so they could help others.

Flame: Creation Story Circles

I get really excited by visual ways of telling stories, so I thought I’d make some for us to use. I chose to use cork and paper as we are trying to get away from plastic, if possible!

The Helper’s Paradox

Ministering from a stance of personal deprivation is both foolish and ineffective. That is why the Helper’s Paradox is important to remember: The best way to take care of others is to take care of yourself.

Formations 05.14.2017: Philip’s Samaritan Ministry

This week’s text begins when Philip, scattered from Jerusalem with most of the other followers, goes down into Samaria. Immediately he starts preaching and healing. There’s great rejoicing and unity. Even Simon, who had been practicing magic and confusing the citizens, believed Philip and was baptized.

Flame: Pipe Cleaner Intercessions

I love the versatility of pipe cleaners and children seem to feel the same! They are great for playing with and they are also great for praying with.

Flame: Sharing God’s Love

The rainbow is a great symbol for Christians of God’s love and promise to us. It’s also the symbol of new beginnings, a key message of Christianity. This activity helps children to think about their own ability to share God’s love with others and to pray for those who don’t yet know that love.

DIY Nativity Advent Calendar

If you’ve ever thought of making your own Advent calendar but wondered if it would be too tricky, this is the post for you! Here you can make your own Nativity-themed calendar that can hold candy, small toys, or personalized daily Advent activities.

Flame: Playdough Prayers for Peace

Talk with your children about situations where two sides are fighting with each other. They could be taking place anywhere in the world, involving wars or elections, or they could be much closer to home, involving people your children know.

Flame: Sensory Prayer Path

I was inspired by a photo I saw on Pinterest recently of a sensory pathway and it got me thinking about how we could use the idea to help children to connect with God.

She has Blue Hair. She is Not Your Grandma.

Getting to the auditorium late was bad enough. Then I had to find a seat. After several “oh, it’s saved” interactions I finally found seating next to a 14-year-old girl with electric blue hair.

Flame: Memory Verses with Duplo Blocks

As part of our lesson looking at endurance (a link to athletes preparing for the Olympics), we used Duplo blocks and labels to put together the memory verse we were looking at.

Of Spirit and Mind: A Pentecostal’s Battle Against Depression

She stopped eating and looked at me. “Are you serious?” She was more commenting than questioning. “Why would you go see a counselor? They don’t have any wisdom. They can’t help you. Are you depressed?”

Flame: God Is Close to Us Safety Pins

Here’s an idea to help emphasize God’s closeness to us, wherever we are, and whatever we’re doing. It works for adults or children, individuals or groups, so be prepared.

Flame: Children Teach the Story of the Lost Sheep

One of the new ideas we’ve tried out this year is to encourage the children to take a more active part in the teaching on a Sunday morning. This was our first attempt.

Flame: Boxes Prayer Game

Children love this game and may well be familiar with it, but here’s a twist that adds prayer to the mix. Draw some dots in lines and columns on the paper (see below). I used 10 rows of 7 dots.

Uniform 11.08.2015: A Fence around the Kingdom

Women deacons weren’t widespread at the time, but the church my mother attended had made the change to their constitution, ruling that the office of deacon was open to qualified “people” rather than just “men.”

Flame: Strength in Christ Yarn Craft

This craft is very messy, requires some patience and is very effective for exploring the idea of Jesus giving us the strength we need (e.g when looking at verses such as Philippians 4:13).

Flame: LEGO Prayers

This prayer activity is suitable for groups of children or even a whole congregation as long as you have enough bricks. Have an adult or child to lead the prayers for each group, however big.

Flame: Joshua and the Walls of Jericho

The walls of Jericho were closed to God’s people. No one could get in or get out. The walls were tall so no one could climb them, either!

Flame: Light of the World Lantern

Lanterns and lamps appear in many Bible stories and they’re so easy to make, but I’ve always been disappointed that it’s difficult to put a light in a lantern without risking the whole thing going up in flames.

Flame: The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

This week I’m going to be talking about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. When I’ve taught this before, I’ve focused on how we come to God in prayer, but this time I’m looking at the idea of grace.

Flame: Oil and Paper Suncatchers

This is an activity that can be done by children of all ages and is a great illustration of Christ’s light shining through us. Gather the necessary materials and wait for a sunny day.

Flame: Doubting Thomas, Recognizing Jesus

This Sunday we’re telling the story of Thomas. A lot of the time when we cover this story with children, we focus of the idea of faith and being able to believe even though we don’t see.

Flame: Easter Cards

We made Easter cards last year and, when I got the Easter box down this week, I found we had loads of materials left so we did it again.

Flame: Jesus Calms the Storm – Sensory Bottles

I’ve been doing a little bit of experimenting with sensory bottles this week as I wanted to make some to help the children under 5 years old to explore the story of Jesus calming the storm.

Christmas Card Boxes and Advent Calendar

I always keep my Nativity themed Christmas cards because the children, especially at our school, love to look at them and talk about the Nativity story.

Thrive: Words of Promise – Amy Shorner-Johnson

As you look forward toward a new year, what are your hopes and dreams? While I am not a person who typically makes resolutions, I am always grateful for some time to reflect on the year.

Formations 01.04.2015: An Unlikely Benefactor

January 6 and the Feast of Epiphany marks the end of the Christmas season. Does this mean, however, the end of our annual heightened consciousness of needs in our community?

Pass the Parcel Nativity Story

I wanted a simple, interactive way of telling the Nativity story, as my Sunday group can be a bit lively, so I decided that we would use some of our leftover Christmas cards.

Thrive: The Depths and Mysteries of Life – Amy Shorner-Johnson

I am always grateful for the testimony of the women who came to the tomb. This story is a powerful witness and an affirmation of the women’s part in the sharing of the good news that God gives us.

Thrive: The Gift of Acknowledgement – Amy Shorner-Johnson

During the Christmas season, we often talk about loneliness and remembering those who are marginalized, those who might also feel abandoned as they get lost or overlooked.

Flame: Loom Band Advent Stars

Here’s a way to use up some loom bands in a reflective Advent activity. After sharing the story of the WIse Men, make 5 popsicle sticks into a star shape and secure each point of the star with a loom band.

A View from the Pew: Counting the Choir

I have a confession: for reasons I’m about to explore, each week during worship, I silently count the members of the church choir. Bizarre, I know.

Thrive: Vulnerability and Risk – Amy Shorner-Johnson

Who among us hasn’t tried to push the attention away from ourselves when we are afraid? When the teacher starts calling names and the answer seems evasive? When the boss looks for someone to hold accountable?

Thrive: Love is Stronger – Amy Shorner-Johnson

Cyber Monday. Some of us have already spent some time trying to get the best deal online. Whether or not you participated in the last few days of shopping, it can be hard to avoid the hype that begins as we countdown toward what is supposed to be one of the most “wonderful times of the year.”

Thrive: Couldn’t You Stay Awake with Me? – Cynthia Insko

I love the beach. I don’t go often, but when I do, I pay close attention. Engaging my senses, I take it all in. I smell the musty, fishy breeze, taste the salty air, feel the sand between my toes.

Thrive: When Did We See You? – Cynthia Insko

Back in 1994, I received an invitation that changed my life. I was serving as campus minister in a city that housed a cutting-edge research clinic for the treatment of AIDS.

Thrive: Is it Fair? – Cynthia Insko

I have three children. It’s very important to me to avoid favoritism and treat each fairly. For example, when the last brownie is left in the pan, I meticulously cut it in three equal parts.

Thrive: Are You Ready? – Cynthia Insko

Each Sunday at the threshold of our Godly Play children’s worship classroom our doorkeeper bends down, looks each child in the eye, calls her by name and asks, “Are you ready?” Answering “Yes,” one by one the children enter our sacred space.

Thrive: Insisting on Titles – Katie McKown

Most of us understand it’s impolite to blatantly brag. We might want to do it, but we know culture frowns upon it; however if we’re keen enough we’ll find a way.

Thrive: We Work – Katie McKown

It is a famed pastime to predict when Jesus will return. Who knows when Jesus will return? Scripture tells us “only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36) Perhaps then we should shift attention from when Jesus will return to how to live while we wait “for [we] do not know on what day [our] Lord is coming.”

Thrive: A Gathering God – Katie McKown

I pastor a congregation of farmers and gardeners, and as a result, I have corralled cows on a four-wheeler. A calf has borne my name. I have learned about turkeys, chickens, goats, horses, and cows.

Thrive: KEEP OUT – Katie McKown

As a girl I posted a friendly little sign on my door: “This is Katie’s Room. KEEP OUT!” On occasion I deigned to let my brother in to play with me, but whenever we had a spat, I would lock the door to underline the point: KEEP OUT.

Thrive: Loving – Allison Kentle

Love God with all that you are and love others as you love yourself. Having this kind of love takes courage. Living out this kind of love means that I am no longer the center.

Thrive: Questions – Allison Kentle

The tension could be cut with a knife, questions flying all over the place. Matthew 21-22 make it pretty clear that Jesus and the religious leaders are not BFFs, for these chapters are filled with questions.

Thrive: The Temple – Allison Kentle

Lately, my heart has been aching. I have walked through life in the brokenness of the inner city. I have seen the way poverty, pain, and lack of equal opportunities shatter the dreams of teens.

Thrive: Jesus Curses – Allison Kentle

When I try to imagine Jesus, I typically think of words like strong, humble, confident, devoted, brave, and loving. It seems strange to think of Jesus with four letter words dripping from his lips.

Thrive: Two Sons – Allison Kentle

Can you just picture the scene one Saturday morning? Everyone is in the kitchen. One teen is sitting on the counter, pop tart in one hand, texting with the other hand. The other sits at the kitchen counter eating a bowl of cereal, headphones on.