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.

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: Cardboard Tube Cross

Last week my children’s ministry team and I visited our church’s preschool to run a prayer workshop for each class in celebration of the church’s 10 Days of Prayer initiative. This was one of their favorite activities.

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.

A View from the Pew: A New Kind of Bus Ministry

Bus ministries are few and far between in today’s church culture, but they were once seen as an innovative approach to reaching the community.

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.

The Decision Paradox

People seldom have to choose between right and wrong. Once upon a time, not long ago it seems, I embarked on a journey to be a pastor. I felt call to do battle with the forces of evil in the name of God.

Flame: Advent Prayer Bags

Lately, I’ve seen a variety of lovely ideas online for helping children and families to get involved with the Advent season. Drawing on some of the ideas I’ve seen, I’ve come up with a little bag of items that will take children through some of the main Advent themes.

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!

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: 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.

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.

A View from the Pew: Maybe Our Neighbors Would Rather Serve than be Served

In recent weeks I have begun to wrap my head around the possibility that my approach to church outreach has been backward.

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.

A View from the Pew: Senior Adult Ministries by Any Other Name are Just as Sweet

What a church calls its senior adult ministry says a lot about who they are as a church. The names can be playful, serious, spiritual, frivolous or just plain corny.

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.

Connections 01.22.2023: Jesus’s Ministry Begins

It must be a sobering moment for Jesus. He has just spent time on his own in the wilderness, enduring and overcoming the devil’s temptations. Now he comes back to civilization to learn that his cousin John has been arrested.

If Baptists Could Have Saints

When my parents died, I kept the treasures of their beloved testaments. I also kept the German Bible that my dad was given while stationed in Germany during WWII. The book of Esther was ripped out.

Holy Whispers

I love hearing whispers—secrets for my ears only, messages so extraordinary they cannot be spoken out loud. I love the whispers I have heard in my life that I could not explain.

This Labyrinthine Calling

In 1982, six months after my college graduation, with no idea where it would lead and without any clear sense of being “called” to a particular ministry, I boarded a Delta jet in Orlando, bound for San Francisco.

And Your Daughters Shall “Prophesy”

There’s just something about the word “prophesy” that reminds church women that men prophesy, but prophesying women might encounter some pushback.

Making a Statement

Although I had claimed my professional vocation, I had never questioned biblical interpretations that prescribed the subordination of women at home and at church.

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: 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.

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.

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: 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: Praying for Sad Situations

Children can really identify with a sense of sadness, and, as a fact of life, sad things happen. They occur in our lives, in the lives of people we know, and in the world as a whole. Here is a prayer station to help children (especially younger ones) pray that God will bring joy and happiness to those experiencing times of sadness.

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.

Moses in the Bulrushes: Prayers for Safety

When telling the story of baby Moses being left in a basket in the river by his mother, I like to focus on the theme of safety. Here is the prayer activity we ended with. It was so easy but felt so significant!

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!

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.

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: 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.

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: 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: 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.

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?

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.