Parenting Relationships Through Healthy Communication

Parenting Relationships and Friendships is a class offered through a Parenting with a Purpose initiative which has been in my heart and mind for several years. The goal is to offer a 90-minute class filled with stories, laughter, sacred conversations, and tools to grow in our relationships within our families, our community, and with Jesus. Information about prior classes can be found here.

Healthy and effective communication skills was the focus of Parenting Relationships and Friendships. We have a counseling center on campus led by an associate pastor and several counselors. They are the first responders of our local church when life happens that would leave a family in grief, chaos, uncertainty, and needing next steps. I wanted my parents to meet these gifted and trained folks before all that, ‘before-before.’ I wanted my parents to know they have access to resources provided by their church family to walk through whatever comes and before whatever comes, comes.

Class agenda – opening/greeting of the purpose and goal of the class
• Associate Pastor spoke of the intentionality of dialogue rather than lecture with small group scenarios and tending to a restored relationship over perfect behavior.
• Transitioned that the next 10 minutes would be really uncomfortable, but we’d be better after which led to the Counseling Center Counselor sharing about suicide: differences between mood swings and depression, warning signs, domain, length of season, etc.
• Last thirty minutes I led them through a Holy Listening Stone exercise with a small set of stones prepared ahead of time by my amazing assistant.
• Closed with my personal testimony of prayer for my children using Stormie Omartian’s Power Of A Praying Parent. This book has thirty short chapters with fabulous prayers to be claimed for your child(ren) for each day of the month. The prayer vocabulary and the systematic way to pray through your child’s seasons is made so much easier with a tool like this book. There are things that won’t happen unless we pray for them. There are things that may happen unless we pray against them. I don’t know any Christian who feels they have adequate prayer vocabulary. This is a must-have-parenting-resource.

Each participant was able to take away multiple handouts from the speakers, a pre-made set of Holy Listening Stones, and their own copy of Power of a Praying Parent. This I know: each Christian parent wants their child to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength AND love their neighbor as themselves. Let’s give them the tools to do it!

What are the tools and resources your local church can offer your families to battle the war for the hearts and minds of their children AND the children you influence in your world?

“Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.” Proverbs 12:15

Holy Conferencing at 4AM

Over the last two months the Lord has been waking me between 3:50am and 4:10am most mornings. I’m an early riser, but this is EARLY. I don’t wake rested nor slowly. I wrestle my brain in holy conferencing with the Lord. If I kept minutes of our holy conferencing, these are just a few items I’d record…

• It was only a year ago that Baby Girl and her family moved to Oregon to help a new church start. They sold or gave away everything they had to ‘follow Him.’ They are living their best lives, dad-gum-it! I miss them terribly, but she’s doing what we raised her for, and living her life for whom we raised her for.
• Rehashing conversations in my head from the previous day that He knows I need to re-record over. The Enneagram 3 in me has been raging, so I’ve had to ask the Lord to wrestle that thing to the ground just to keep me from crawling in a corner and crying. Climbing into the Savior’s lap at 4am has been the perfect place to leave yesterday behind and be reminded that today is a new day.
• Honor the boundaries of Sabbath no matter what comes through email or text on Friday and Saturday so that I can be fully present with my family. We’ve got a new baby coming in December and I need to be a good help by being a good noticer of what I can do, be, say, cook, laugh to be a blessing.
• Intentionally plan for creative outlets. Schedule that art class with a BFF and find a wooden dollhouse to jack up for Christmas… for the grands… for the memories.
• Many of my United Methodist friends and colleagues are anticipating….well, we don’t know what we’re anticipating. HOW we do ministry may be different this time next year. Following Jesus is not for the faint of heart, and trouble will come. No matter what, I and my other kidmin colleagues will continue to share with our little people that God made them and Jesus loves them. We will also continue to share with our little people’s big people that we are in this life together to learn to love the Lord our God with all our heart soul, mind, and strength AND love our neighbor as ourselves.
• Stay in my lane. Don’t be distracted by that which is not for me. It totally affects me, but unless I’m invited to those tables to engage in those conversations, keep my head down and do my best work as unto the Lord. Go with what I know and not with how I feel.
• It’s Thanksgiving and a reminder that there are some amazing people who are no longer here. My cousin, Sonny Johnson wrote this last year:
Empty Chair
The empty chair I speak of, is not an empty seat.
It’s space at the table, where we use to meet.
It’s not a place setting, or even an empty chair,
But memories of someone missing, you know who’s not there.
Thankful for all who join us, friends and family.
We talk of new beginnings, and how it use to be.
God bless food on this table, and bless the people there,
Bless those who couldn’t make it, God bless the empty chair.

What does holy conferencing with the Lord at 4am look like for you?

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:19-20

The Senses of Christmas: Messy Family Christmas

I’ve been part of the North Georgia United Methodist Church’s Children’s Ministry Institute this fall. One of the exercises is for everyone to bring an item to share (program, event, activity, children’s sermon, etc.) With 32 in attendance, the stack of shared goodness was almost two inches thick. Around our tables, we had almost an hour to give more details and logistics about the item brought by each member of our table.

After we excitedly began sharing around my table, we started putting some of the items together that would work for a Messy Family Christmas event. My table colleagues asked me to share, so these are the stations we’ll be enjoying for our 2019 Messy Family Christmas coming up this December:

#1 – Decorating gift bags (inside each bag is a list of upcoming Kids events)
Need: gift bags; Christmas stickers; Markers; Crayons
Plan: Write name on the bag to hold their goodies from the evening
Talk about: Jesus is the sweetest name I know. Be sure to add kid’s names to bags before leaving the station.
#2 – Stove Top Potpourri (the smells of Christmas)
Need: Whole oranges (1 per child); Cinnamon sticks (2-3 per child); Whole cloves (1 Tablespoon per child); Clear cellophane bag (1 per child); Direction card (1 per child); String to tie directions to bag
Plan: Set up an assembly line with each item available for the children to make a potpourri bag for their family. Remind them to continue to use it over the Holidays and keep adding water.
Talk about: Start with talking about the smells of Christmas. Smells remind us of certain things (let the kids talk about smells and what they associate with that smell.)
The apostle Paul uses our sensitivity to smell in describing the effect that Christians have on others.
“God considers us to be the sweet smell that Christ Jesus is spreading among people who are being saved and people who are dying.” 2 Corinthians 2:15 Paul is reminding us that our behavior gives off an aroma that creates an impression on other people for Christ. (Thank you Melanie Adams of Carrollton First UMC for sharing the idea!)
#3 – Christmas Kabob (the tastes of Christmas)
Need: Wooden skewer; marshmallows; gumdrops; ribbon; Ziploc bag
Plan: Skewer a kabob of gumdrop, marshmallow, gumdrop, marshmallow. Wrap in Ziploc bag and tie with a ribbon.
Talk about: Jesus is the sweetest name I know! What are some sweet things you like to taste at Christmas?
#4 – Roasted marshmallows (the taste and smell of Christmas)
Need: Large marshmallows; Wooden sticks; Sterno cans; Lighter
Plan: Roast a marshmallow on a stick and eat.
Talk about: Talk about the foods of Christmas. What would Baby Jesus eat? What Christmas foods are their favorites? (Every Messy Family event should have an opportunity for a sense of danger! Thank you Kate Morris of Acworth UMC for sharing the entire set-up!)
#5 – Christmas Cards (the touch of Christmas)
Need: Unused Christmas cards; ink pens
Plan: Make a Christmas card to send to a church shut-in (church family); family member
Talk about: Talk about the way Christmas is a good time to remember how special friends and family are, because Jesus didn’t just appear by magic – he was born into a family.
#6 – Darlene with Barnyard Friends (the sights of Christmas) She has a large plastic Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. Then surrounds it with all kinds of REAL ANIMALS that can be touched and pet from a stable like sheep, chickens, etc. (Darlene and I have known each other for years from weekday Preschool world.)
#7 – Rhythm Ribbons for Christmas carols (the sounds of Christmas)
Need: Dancing ribbon sticks
Plan: Dance to the music you hear
Talk about: Talk about the songs of Christmas and ask the kids what are their favorites.
#8 – Gingerbread Nativity (the taste of Christmas)
Need: Graham crackers; Meringue Powder (adds stiffness); Animal crackers; Shallow plates with sides; Holy family cookies (Pepperidge Farm); Candies; Chocolate chips; Shredded wheat bars
Plan: Invite children to decorate their stables
Talk about: Talk about how God created the animals in the stable. Ask the children if they have animals and pets. How does God take care of the animals and how does God ask them to take care of their animals and creation.

With only thirty minutes of stations, we limit the number to eight. Thirty minutes of worship put together with an emcee and mostly video segments including the story told by children will make for a multi-sensory experience in song with the dancing ribbons, story, and games. Thirty minutes of a simple soup supper with bread and water brings us all to a place of fellowship and relationship-building. Closing out with an all-hands together benediction.
Anything you would add?

“And David danced before the Lord with all his might.” 2 Samuel 6:14

Good News! Read-Alouds

Reading aloud books to our Kindergartners and First graders each week in Children’s Church is a highlight of my week. I choose a book that goes along with our Sunday school lesson or theme for the day or season and the kids just love it. It’s a great way to close out our time together just before parent pickup.

When I discovered my children’s ministry colleague, Glenys Nellist, wrote two new board books, I was thrilled! Glenys makes a rhyme jump off the page with joy, whimsy, and delight as she points each story to our great God as our Creator and the good news of Jesus. With a toddler grandson making frequent visits, board books are where it’s at. The new board books are the newest in the Good News series which started with Good News: It’s Easter.

In last week’s Children’s Church we read Good News: God Made Me! The illustrations by the fabulous Lizzie Walkley show colorful spaces full of fabulous items to point to as a toddler learns vocabulary. On the first page is a book, ball, fruit bowl, wagon, bear, bunny, dog, doll, pillow, stools, and a cheerful grandmother. I know it’s a grandmother since it says so on her mug. (smile) I’m partial to children who are barefoot and have different hair types and hair colors and these are delightful. “The good news is that God made me”… finishes every other page. The rhyming is so simple, the children finished almost every line which kept them totally engaged.

The second book couldn’t be more timely entitled, Good News! It’s Christmas! Each page begins, “Good News!” then ‘whispered Mary,’ ‘hee-haws Donkey,’ ‘coos the pigeons,’ and even ‘sing the angels.’ But my very favorite page is the one with the wise men. I struggle when children’s books show the wise men arriving at the stable. This book instead reads, “Good News! shout the wise men, trekking mile by mile. ‘We’re off to see the new king, but it might take a while!’” According to the scriptures, it does indeed. I’m saving this one for the first Sunday in Advent.

The board books are super thick, delightfully illustrated, and the stories are simply rhymed. I am honored to have them on my shelf. No doubt I’ll be purchasing another set for that special grandson’s home because he LOVES them! Thanks, Glenys!

“Good News! Says God to us, smiling from above. ‘This baby in the manger will fill your world with love!’” – Glenys Nellist

God and Me; God and Family

Scouting has been part of the United Methodist Church since forever. My experience with scouting has been limited to sharing space, asking an Eagle Scout to set fires for me to roast marshmallows, writing Eagle Scout recommendation letters for our neighbors, leading a Family Badge Clinic at the invite of another Children’s Ministry Director, and an argument in a past church with a scout leader over his “borrowing” 20 plastic tables from the fellowship hall for a camping trip without notifying the church when I had an event scheduled in that space with those very tables at the same time.

A parent approached me after last February’s Scout Sunday wondering if I could help provide a badge opportunity for their then-4th grader for God and Family. They agreed to partner with me in prayer and serve in a future leadership role because this was out of my wheelhouse. I did some research and heard the heart of a colleague for scouts and the P.R.A.Y. Program. We, too, made it a matter of prayer over the spring and summer. By fall, God provided an outstanding scout leader who ranks high and well in our regional scout council and his son, an Eagle Scout who is in his early 20s with energy and a heart for kids. Both are members of our church. I have the honor of serving as the program coordinator and the spiritual mentor for both groups and my colleague with the heart for scouts is walking alongside me. My wheelhouse just got bigger.

We set up an informational meeting followed by four meetings for the God and Me program for first through third graders and six meetings for the God and Family program for fourth through sixth graders. I ordered books, set up online registration, and we were blown away with the response. Requiring each student to attend with a parent/adult aligned with our vision for partnering with parents in the faith formation of their children and we started last Sunday afternoon. These adults are taking the Adult Mentor program alongside their student.

Word was shared among our community’s troops and packs. Nineteen students started the program last Sunday afternoon realizing their Duty-to-God component of Scouting making up sixteen families. Of the sixteen families, one is not a scout, and only six are regulars in our children’s ministry program. I have now been invited into the lives of sixteen families for a season with a special recognition come the next Scout Sunday in February when we will recognize these students and their families in Sunday services along with a brunch celebration. I’m downright giddy!

Statistics indicate that of all the youth who join Scouting through the church, 25% are United Methodists, 25% are members of other denominations or faiths, and 50% come from unchurched families. (Voice of Scouting) Coordinating and offering these badge clinics invites me to connect with these families in a way that is all Jesus of the Bible and all kids for a season I would not otherwise get to do. When I approached my senior pastor about this last winter, I asked if I could take just-this-part of our scouting ministry. We have a huge scout program, but I needed to stay in my lane. He agreed and gave his blessing. This is an open door and I’m taking it!

How are you helping your scouting community realize their Duty-to-God component of Scouting and building relationships in the process?

“(My word) will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11

Parenting Technology and Cell Phone Safety Class

With the goal of building tribes among our children’s families with shared values and intentionality, we’ve begun offering Parenting with a Purpose classes this school year. The 90-minute classes include a parenting hot-topic, some dessert, discussion time, and no judgment.  The first was Sharing Your Faith With Your Family where we shared practical ideas for holding sacred conversations, spiritual traditions, and sticky faith-formation memories for parents to initiate at home to live out Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

The second class entitled, Parenting Technology and Cell Phone Safety, invited parents, grandparents, and caregivers of children to a discussion of practical ideas to navigate parenting in a digital and electronic world as we lead families to live out Mark 12:30-31. Two hours before the event, I received a text. Our planned special guest was at Urgent Care diagnosed with strep throat. I had two hours to pull something together.

Once I caught my breath, I called on a prayer warrior to pray for me and with me. I had been reading several books on the very subject over the last several months and had just gotten one in the mail a couple of days before. I prepared a handout with a few of the items I’d underlined in each one. We opened with “What was your first experience with a cell phone?” and our discussions took over from there. These were the resources we spoke through:

  • Collin Kartchner – TEDxTalk a social media activist, TEDx talk presenter, husband and dad who travels around the country speaking to parents and kids through the organization Save The Kids.
  • The Screens and Teens by Dr.Kathy Koch
  • Glow Kids by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras
  • Viral Parenting by Mindy McKnight 
  • Kirk Cameron – Right Now Media “Engage”; Netflix “Connect”
  • Smart Phone Sanity by The Axis Team (newest book with practical exercises)

A few questions to ask to find out if your child is mature enough to figure out the best habits for themselves when it comes to Smartphone usage:

  • Does my child proactively let me know where they are going and when they’ll be home?
    This is a great way to gauge their sense of responsibility and the respect they have for open communication.
  • Does my child have a tendency to lose things?
    Phones are an expensive investment and showing a sense of care for their personal belongings means they’ll also show care for their phone.
  • Does my child respect other rules like when to turn off the TV or computer?
    Knowing your child understands why boundaries are necessary can help quiet the fear of phone addiction and over exposure to radiation/blue light.
  • Does my child show signs of empathy towards their siblings, animals and friends?
    While we all love our little darlings, it’s important to observe the way they treat others in real life. The hope is that they will carry empathy and kindness with them with their online activities.
  • Does my child know that while most people are awesome, there are people with bad intentions that prey on the young online? 
    While this is a super scary and complicated topic, having open and honest conversation about these risks and how to spot red flags is the best way to prepare any child from online predators.
  • Does my child know they can come talk to me about anything? 
    While there are years when teens and parents can feel the strain of communication we must let our children know and show them that we can be a safe space for them when they need us, to help or just to listen—even with the tricky and scary stuff.

Though not what I had planned, the event was fine. The goal of tribe-building without judgement was met. In complete transparency, this is the second time a special guest committed to me in the last six months, but was not able to follow through at the last minute. From this point on, I’ll prepare a backup program every time because my parents who have registered see these opportunities as a priority over all the other things they could choose. They deserve the best I have to offer and my job is to make sure they get it.

“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” Proverbs 19:21

Church Stewardship Season and Children

Each fall every church I’ve ever served has presented a teaching campaign for stewardship for the congregation. The campaign would have a theme, a date of commitment, mailings, emails, sometimes a book to read, perhaps testimonies to encourage folks to consider their obedience of regular giving to the local church according to the scriptures. I’ve learned that if we can teach the holy habit of generosity to children as part of their discipleship it follows the scripture, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) Teaching our children God’s way of handling money is a life skill taught best by the family, so let’s give our families the promptings and tools to do so.

This year the children K5-5th grade received an offering folder with the following teaching attached:
“For God so loved the world that HE GAVE…” John 3:16
GOD GAVE his son Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. JESUS GAVE his life so that when we believe and choose to follow him so closely we become more like him, we are better at life. It is wise to teach our children to be wise and generous. Teaching is best learned when practiced and shared with our families.
As the McEachern Memorial UMC family is asked to make a commitment (promise) financially to support the church each year, children are included. In its most simple form, stewardship is taking care of the world and the church on behalf of God.
Invite your kids to serve the family and their neighbors to earn dollar bills toward a $20 goal and return the folders by Sunday, November 10 or when your family is able.
Generosity Conversation Starters:
• How do you think God wants us to take care of the church?
• How are we ministers to others for Jesus?
• What are some ways the church can help take care of the world?
• What are some things you can do to help the church in its ministry?
• What can you do to help take care of God’s world?
• How can I be generous with my family?

The sense of belonging to a community is an important aspect of faith development for children (and all ages). This can be an asset in exploring how we use what God has given us to include creation, abilities & talents and resources (financial and relational).

Children need approval of family, friends and teachers and hands-on exploration of concepts, being able to relate Bible stories to their lives and the issues of today. It is important that we encourage questioning and exploration, while sharing our own faith and understanding of stewardship in an honest, open way.

One’s understanding of personal stewardship is a continuing journey that should begin in childhood. Most children already have a sense of wonder of how to respond with thanksgiving to God who created them and the world in which they live.

Generosity, charity, sharing, Thanksgiving and abundance are reinforced in many of the themes found in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Be encouraged to think about how to use your gifts and how to be more generous as an example to our children. Because we serve a generous God, we should grow in our generosity.

How are the children involved in your local church’s stewardship campaign?

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

Better Together

Yesterday was our monthly children’s ministry networking lunch. Two weeks ago, I and another kidmin champion drove an hour and a half to another district’s children’s ministry networking lunch. I learned and discovered several things that will be game-changing for me. I always do!

Two weeks ago… I learned how a QR code might be the answer to offering free registration links to VBS and other special events for our families who receive assistance through Backpack Blessings, Food Pantry, and other outreaches from our local church; Nerf Wars; planning scheduled 18 months out; low birth years; upcoming Children’s Ministry Institute dates for 2020.

Yesterday… We talked Christmas Eve family programs with silhouettes, cowbells, bags, headbands, musical dramas, and themes; Safe Sanctuary and updating staff policies for staff hired under the age of 21; fall festivals in October; Hoedowns in November; nursery staff; organizational science; job descriptions; recreation ministry; fall retreat registration hard deadlines; 2020 Wonderfully Made events where we can share the event with smaller churches and diverse locations; profiles for volunteers (in response to a speaker from Catalyst Conference); and so much more.

I can’t imagine having to come up with every new idea, re-inventing the wheel for every event, or doing ministry well without the input of other voices and experiences. These folks are the most creative people I know and I need face-time with them. Table life with them. We are better together! Just this last weekend, three of our churches gathered for the first annual Family Campout sharing kayaks, meal duties, tents, cabins, water, s’mores, communion on Sunday morning (clergy camped, too!), hikes, games, lingering beside a campfire or the lake.

There are several of us who share events like the Family Campout on a regular basis. What’s next? The Friday before Christmas is an early-release day from school so we’ve planned a Christmas Faith Field Trip. Five of us will take our 3rd-5th graders to meet up at Red Top Mountain for putt-putt golf, play, and some caroling practice. Then on to one church to prepare food boxes. We’ll all deliver food boxes to families in an area which receives summer lunches in a flash mob of Christmas carols. Then we’re off to pick up hot-dog or pizza-slice dinner at the local Costco to break out in song again. Really! Costco on the Friday night before Christmas! Next stop? Festival of lights in a town nearby. Afterwards we’ll all finish the night at another church for hot chocolate and reindeer games before each church heads home. We’ll basically be covering our entire district from 2-10pm. One of the kidmin leaders was even able to secure a grant to provide for the food items for the food boxes. Yeah, we’re better together.

Who are you sharing life and ministry with?

“One of the factors of the most resilient is meaningful relationships.” David Kinnaman, President of Barna Group, from a 2019 Catalyst talk, “Faith for Exiles”

Postcard Hospitality

Each quarter, I check to see who’s missing from recent Sunday mornings because Sunday morning is game day. Sunday morning is when the Body of Christ is the fullest it’s going to be all week in one place. Kids see people of all ages and all stages best on Sunday morning. They enjoy the rituals and regular practices from the Lord’s Prayer in the worship service to the greeters who hold the door open with a smile at their regular entrance after parent’s/caregiver’s park in their regular space. Sunday morning matters. If kids are missing on consecutive Sundays, it’s the perfect time to write post cards.

Kids can’t get the online newsletter. Kids can’t scroll through Facebook to see what’s going on. Kids typically don’t listen to church podcasts or sermons online. Kids can’t drive themselves to church and frankly, most don’t know what’s going on from day to day unless they’re told ahead of time. So I send postcards. Handwritten postcards. Handwritten addresses and notes saying, “I miss you! Mrs. G is your Sunday school teacher this month and I know how much you really like her. Small groups start at 9:30am, but you can come early. I hope to see your awesome smile soon.” Then I print my name. Many kids are not taught cursive writing today, so I hand print everything.

Ordering the postcards from or, I make the postcard a solid color and our ministry logo in white. I change the solid color each year just for fun. I send postcards for a whole host of reasons, but quarterly, especially to those who’re missing.

Last week I mailed 20 postcards. On Sunday, I saw the awesome smiles of ten who received last week’s postcards. I only mentioned it to one parent, but I made a big deal out of them coming as I do for everyone else. Greeting matters.

One of the five pillars of our ministry is that kids know they belong. Letting them know they were missed tells them they belong. It’s an easily-accomplished level of extravagant hospitality. And kids love mail!

“And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:5

Messy Family Event with Confidence

Glee Club and Cherub Choir are invited to sing in the last service on the fifth Sunday of a month. This opens an opportunity to engage in a family event to follow where new and connected families bump elbows and build relationships.

Using an abbreviated Messy Church model, we move to engaging station experiences in the gym after the first part of the general worship service in the sanctuary. We close the event with a simple meal at round tables sharing table life and great conversation. The Glee Club had been practicing two songs (a song must have the name of Jesus said at least three times to qualify to be sung in the sanctuary) and chose the one they wanted to present: Confidence by Sanctus Real. The Bible stories of Daniel, Moses, and David were the basis for our station experiences. Here’s what we did:

Schedule 11am Sanctuary service
11:15am Cherubs sing on front of stage
11:25am Glee Club sings CONFIDENCE by Sanctus Real
11:30am Instructions of stations
12:00noon Repeat after me prayer for lunch
12:30pm Family blessing
Dismiss & Cleanup

Stations set up on long tables along the 3 walls of the gym. (8 Stations below)

Round tables set up in the center for dining and setting down of family stuff. Tables assigned up to 8 members.
Repeat after me prayer……(DeDe)
Lunch…2 serving tables with 4 serving lines along long, narrow tables
Signups for: Spaghetti in crock pots, Rolls, Shake cheese, Iced water
Children’s Ministry provides: Paper products (forks, cups, plates, napkins)

Station #1 – Decorate bag to carry goodies home
Supplies: White paper bags, twistable crayons
Discussion: Tell me what you know about Daniel? About David? About Moses?
Try to get to all 8 stations, but take your time.

Station #2 – Decorate an altar cloth for the altar table in the Treehouse
Supplies: Table runner, Sharpies
Activity: Trace your feet with a sharpie and write “Hope” inside each foot.
Discussion: In Exodus 3, Moses faces the burning bush and the voice of God tells Moses to take off his sandals because Moses is on holy ground.” Take off your shoes and have a family member trace your foot on the cloth and write HOPE inside your tracing.
Just as God told Moses to GO and lead His people out of the Egypt to worship God in the desert, God tells us to GO and tell others about Jesus.
What do you know about Jesus?

Station #3 – Put together an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox
Supplies: Scotch tape
Activity: Put together two shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child
Discussion: Have you started even thinking about Christmas?
Sharing with others takes planning and time to get ready especially at Christmas.
What three things can you plan to get for your Christmas Child?

Station #4 – Prayer Rocks
Supplies: Rocks, Sharpies
Activity: Write the names of your family on your prayer rock to prayer for each one.
Discussion: Daniel has a great FAITH because he learned to pray 3 times a day, every day, even when it was against the law. He even opened the windows and didn’t hide his prayer time. He was even thrown into a lions den for breaking the law, but GOD took care of him by closing the mouth of the lions. Do you pray 3 times a day, every day? Prayer rocks are a great reminder to pray for your family who loves you so. Where is your favorite place to pray? When do you like to pray? Where can you put your prayer rock to remind you to talk to Jesus in prayer for your family who loves you so?

Station #5 – Family of God Photo Station
Supplies: Backdrop for a photo station (frame, fall decorations, etc.), Insta Camera, Film
Activity: Take a picture with your family.
Discussion: Moses, Daniel, and David were prepared as kids to lead others to know our great God. God is preparing YOU to lead others to know our great God. God first gave us the family we live with, and then gave us a church family who loves us, leads us to remember Jesus, and teach us how to love and live with others. Tell me about how you first came to church? What is your favorite thing about church? Who are some of your church friends?

Station #6 – I Can Face My Giants with Confidence
Supplies: Giant in boxes, Catapults with balls (borrowed from another church…the blessings of being part of a regular networking group!)
Activity: Knock down the giant
Discussion: We all have to face hard stuff every day: fear, anxiety, getting in trouble, unkindness, grades, teachers, coaches, games. We can call these giants because they can take up giant spaces in our minds and hearts=worry. God is with us and He ‘turns all things GOOD for those who love Him.’ What are ways God gives us to deal with our giants so we don’t worry? (read your Bible, talk with your parents, talk with someone who can help (not just anybody), pray…)

Station #7 – Heart Like David
Supplies: Wooden heart shapes, Magnets on sticky tape, Glue dots
Activity: Decorate heart and stick on magnet
Discussion: In the Bible God calls David ‘a man after God’s own heart’. Even as a kid, David trusted God to make the best decisions for David and to ‘work all things for GOOD’ for David. We can get so overwhelmed and anxious that we forget to have a heart like David to trust God. We just stay overwhelmed and anxious. Even as a kid David faced a bear, a lion, and even the giant, Goliath and God showed up and showed off. Put this heart somewhere at your house to remind you to have a heart like David and let the Lord be your defense. What do you think about that?

Station #8 – Prayer Station
Supplies: Paper heart shapes, Clothes pins, ink pens, Prayer frame
Activity: Write a prayer and clip it to the frame
Discussion: God hears the prayers of His children! Sometimes God answers, “Yes.” Sometimes God answers, “No”. Sometimes God answers “Not now.” Do you have something really big you’d like to ask God in prayer? Something you pray about over and over and often? Write it on the paper heart (fold it over if you want) and clip it to the frame and we will pray it with you. Did you know your church loves you so much we want to pray with you, too? David prayed. Moses prayed. Daniel prayed. And they started as kids. What is your biggest, hairiest, most audacious, most outrageous prayer?

“Give me faith like Daniel in the lion’s den. Give me hope like Moses in the wilderness. Give me a heart like David. Lord be my defense, so I can face my giants with confidence.” Sanctus Real