Real Children’s Ministry

Here’s a story about something that happened once when I was teaching Sunday School that reveals how mean I am, and how good God is.

Let me set the stage for this story. We had a small class, only about 5 kids in lower elementary school. We started out with prayer and a snack, and after about 10 minutes, I would “get down to business” and start teaching.

Like anyone who teaches, I think that the whole point of this class is the lesson. I mean, the snack, the game, the craft- they’re just things to get through so we can do this important thing- to communicate this BIG TRUTH that is in the lesson!

Photo by Felipe Cardoso on Pexels.com

Okay, so this particular week I made microwave popcorn. Nothing fancy. two bags for seven people. My husband was there, too, I should mention that we were in this together. I had also brought some juice. So I pass out this popcorn on napkins to each of the kids, and there is this one child- (I’m making some of this generic so I don’t embarrass anyone) there is is this one girl- I’ll call her Gracie- Gracie, okay, so, she asks me for a big pile. So I’m like, whatever, I don’t mind being generous, it’s popcorn, I pour the popcorn. I pour the juice, and by the time I’ve poured it all and passed it out to the other four, she has downed hers and asks for more.

I am, I admit it, irritated. Suddenly I’m facing these questions: Is it too sugary? Is one glass enough? Should she go get some water? I want to get to my lesson, do we have enough time? But I decide, again, to err on the side of generosity, and I pour her some more juice. We sit down to eat and talk.

As we have snack, I usually review our memory verses. When we are halfway through the second one, she finishes her popcorn, and asks for more. With a sigh, I pour her a little more.

Snack is slowing down, so I stand up to the board to start The Lesson.

The lesson this week is on the miracles of Jesus. The point of the lesson is that Jesus performed miracles because he loves us.

I know that all of these kids have been in church awhile, and they’ve heard all the stories of the miracles, and so one of the things I’m doing in the intro is trying to get them to list and tell me as many miracles as they can. They are doing well, raising their hands and joining in, and I’m making a list on the board.

The ones who are slower eaters are finishing, and mostly participating, and then there is Gracie.

She has already finished her second helping, and I see that she is giving her cup and napkin to my husband for thirds. He’s already poured the popcorn, but I intervene before she has more juice. (She’s had enough, I’m thinking. That’s enough sugary juice. She needs to pay attention, the lesson is more important than the snack. The snack is distracting her.)

I finish up the list exercise, and return to the table to do the next part of the lesson. Gracie asks to fill her cup with water in the bathroom, and I let her go. She comes back in a minute and still figits. I am almost boiling. Why can’t she just focus!?

We start the crafty part of the lesson, and I’m passing out papers, but she’s not interested in coloring. She’s quiet and not disturbing anyone, but she’s still packing in the popcorn. After a minute, as I’m listening to another child answer a question, she asks my husband for more. He starts to give it to her, but I put my hand on the bag.

I am full on irritated, so irritated. I mean, all I want her to do is HEAR the LESSON. JESUS LOVES HER, HE DID MIRACLES BECAUSE HE LOVES US.

“Snack time is over,” I say, as gently as I am physically able, which is not very gentle. “It’s time to pay attention.” And then I ask her the next question in the lesson, and to her credit, she answers it.

But as I move on to the next part of the lesson, I notice she just keeps staring at the popcorn. She is restless. Asks for more water, swings in her chair. figits, asks to use the bathroom. Whispers a question to my husband- can they have more popcorn after game time?

I am just a miserable wreck inside. Want to know my thoughts?

Why doesn’t this child know how to listen to a teacher? Why is she acting so entitled, rather than grateful that she already recieved? Why do I have to put up with this? I prepared a LESSON, an IMPORTANT LESSON, and she should be respectful to me and sit and listen! How dare she be uninterested, how dare she NOT CARE about what I have to say. Yep, I think all these things. I told you I’m not naturally nice. I don’t really NOTICE how nasty I am. I feel entirely justified and… well, righteous. After all, I’m there to teach them THAT JESUS LOVES THEM.

And then I am completely, one hundred percent rocked by the Holy Spirit.

You see, earlier that week, I felt really strongly that the Lord was leading me to read in James. I got to this part-

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

James 2:1-16

I had read this earlier in the week, and tried to search my heart- was I playing favorites in any way? I noticed a few things and situations that I could think of that might apply and tried to repent of them… Situations where I had favored someone I honored or respected or… envied.

But suddenly, this whole passage just SLAMS into my heart, and I realize something about Gracie.

I think she’s hungry.

“Hey,” I say impulsively, as she is eyeing the popcorn bag that I put away on the shelf. “What did you have for breakfast today?”

“Nothing,” she says, with her eyes glued to that bag. “We don’t get to eat on Sundays because my grandma picks us up early.”

My heart drops. It is almost eleven o clock. I, in my luxury, had made my family bagels and scrambled eggs that morning, had a mini-donut with my coffee in the foyer besides, and I’m already thinking about lunch.

I look back at the popcorn, and I feel like a total heel. Suddenly my whole lesson about Jesus and his miracles- feeding the 5,000, healing the lame and the lepers- raising the dead- Jesus doing miracles because he loves us- suddenly I realize that in these stories- I am the pharisee. I’m so hyper focused on my own goals, my own agenda- my own righteous LESSON- that I just about missed the miracle, the love, the thing that my Lord was walking around doing for 33 years.

I look at my husband and he nods. We are both very, very aware of what Jesus would do. We know what He wants here.

Feed my lambs.

All I have is popcorn, but I pick up the bag and pour the rest of it on to her napkin, let it spill over onto her blank coloring page, and her face lights up in surprise. I reach for her cup and fill it to the brim with the juice. Next week I’ll come prepared with milk and apples and raisins and peanut butter for crackers.

I think about this a lot when I’m with people at church. You never know who’s hungry. We come as teachers with an agenda- and a good one! We’re supposed to teach the Truth, preach the Gospel, disciple the nations.

But if a boy or girl is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

Thanks for listening to my confession- both of my own sin and of how good God is. I’m so thankful that he led me to read James, I’m so thankful that the Spirit opened my eyes to let me be a part of what He was doing with his children. I’m so thankful that he loves Gracie enough to feed her, and he loves me enough to put up with my “help.”


Photo by Felipe Cardoso on Pexels.com

I write fiction, you guys! My newest release is called CinderLouise. It’s a Sunday-Afternoon read for people who would like a little fairy tale, a little romance, and a little encouragement in their lives. It’s available on Kindle and in paperback, and soon on Audible! I’d love if you’d leave a review for me on Amazon or Goodreads! <3<3<3

Curriculum

Why is it so hard to use curriculum? Does anyone else have this problem? I mean, I love teaching. I love teaching kids, I love teaching adults, I love teaching art and bible and writing and music- basically I love to teach everything I love, because sharing what I’m passionate about it is SO MUCH FUN.

But for the last, well, for a long time now, I’ve noticed that whenever I’m given a curriculum, I feel like most of my time is spent struggling with making the curriculum work for my class- the curriculum feels like an unnecessary burden that I’m saddled with.

I feel as if curriculum is like Saul’s armor that got piled on David before he went to fight Goliath, and I do the best when I’m allowed to shrug it off and use my own tools.

The thing is- I think that if we are teaching, it should be out of our own abundance. If I’m teaching guitar, it should be because I KNOW guitar! If I’m teaching ballet, I should be an excellent dancer!

And honestly, if I’m teaching about the Lord- it should be because I know the Lord. What He fills me up with should overflow to my students.

The greatest classes that I have taught, the ones that have felt to me had the most fruit and life in them, were the ones where we didn’t use a book or video series. They were the ones where I prayed for my students beforehand, studied the scriptures on my own, and pressed in for what I truly believed the Spirit wanted the students to learn that week. I would go to class and feel just FULL UP of good for them- the good news.

And part of it is that I wonder how much is just that I like to teach, and write, and create things like lessons- and other people maybe aren’t gifted that way- or how much of it is that there are lots of people who are lassoed into teaching, when they aren’t, well, supposed to be teaching? I don’t know if I’m making any sense.

I have a lot of thoughts about this subject, but some of it touches on some big subjects that feel taboo. Things like control in the church, and putting our trust in men and their opinion.

Things like- insecurity about our own faith, our own experience and belief- and also things like- Why we are so scared to let church experiences be spiritual? Why are they so cerebral?

I want to begin to have this conversation- but I don’t know who else wants to have it. Maybe I feel this way, but I am a total weirdo!

So I guess I’ll just start with this question:

How do you feel about curriculum in church? Have you ever used any that you just love? What makes a good curriculum to you?

10 things I’ve learned about How to Teach Kids about the Lord

Sooo you’re going to teach a Sunday school class, but you feel a little overwhelmed? It’s okay, I’ve got your back. I’ve been teaching kids in church settings and non-church settings about Bible things for over 20 years, and I’m going to give you my 10 best tips. I hope they help! Let’s jump right in.

The first, number one, most important thing to do- is pray. Seriously. I know this sounds elementary, but before I teach any kids, I take time to talk to the Lord myself, and ask him to speak through me, and to give me just the right words. I invite the Holy Spirit to open the ears the child’s heart so that they can know how much the Lord loves them and is calling to them. I sometimes also ask for any lying spirits or strongholds to be shut up so that the child won’t be hindered from hearing the truth! It helps most if you are praying for the lesson while you study or write it, and praying for the child regularly, but I also pray while driving to the meeting, and I pray over the room before the kids get there! Prayer is the MOST IMPORTANT PART. Remember, you are the vessel of the Spirit- but it is the Spirit who does the work! And then… Pray with them! Don’t be shy. Talk to God like you talk to a friend. Show them by example that they can talk to God in imperfect, normal language just like you do.

2. Trust God to use you, just as you are. Don’t beat yourself up about not being smart enough, learned enough, mature enough, or especially- good enough. Most of us were not brought to Christ by perfect, seminary educated theologians. We were won to Christ by the love shown through an ordinary human being! Take a deep breath and give freely, as you have been given. And don’t try to be someone you aren’t! It’s easy to try to emulate someone else’s teaching or speaking style. But you are YOU. Your flavor of speech and manor of dress are okay, and your story and your witness is more powerful than trying to put on a “perfect show.” Be real. You don’t have to reveal every little struggle and doubt you are having, but being honest about your relationship and walk with God helps the kids to see that THEY don’t have to be perfect, either. It helps them to realize, “Hey, if she can follow God, I can too!” And on the contrary- if you seem too perfect, when that child can’t live up to the “perfect” they think you are, they will tend to believe a lie that says that they can never be a Christian like you are. So be yourself.

3. Memory! Okay, here’s the thing. No matter what the occasion you have to minister to kids, use the opportunity to teach them words from Scripture. Even if they forget you, forget the bible story, even if they forget the main point of your lesson and that they ever even came to your class, someday in the future, the Holy Spirit will absolutely pull those memory verses out of their deep memory for them in the future. (Isaiah 55:11) But please, please, please, make it fun, and not a drudgery. Some kids will find it really easy, and some kids will struggle with it a little. Competition and drilling doesn’t work for a lot of kids, but music and teamwork works for almost all of them!

4. Kids can understand more than you think. They think about things like death and heaven and fear and the devil. Don’t try too much to “clean up” bible stories or even your own testimony. We never want to glamorize sin, but honestly? Many children these days have seen murder, adultery, and worse on their TV’s, ipods, and in their own homes. They don’t come to church to hear sweet little stories that sound like nursery rhymes. They want to know if the Bible talks about the important things in life. And it does. So tell them.

5. That being said, kids need words they can understand. A ten cent word that works is better than a ten dollar word they would have to look up in a dictionary. Use simple language as much as possible, even for kids who are “older.” Unchurched kids have no idea what words like “Holy,” “Righteous,” “Sanctified,” “baptized,” and even “sin” mean. You can use them, but ONLY if you explain them clearly in clear language every class period you use them. I assume that if their public school teacher would never say it, they don’t know what it is. Also something to note? Most kids these days are Bible illiterate. You can’t refer Moses, Joshua, the Israelites, or David, and have them know what you’re talking about. You have to start from scratch if you want to tell a narrative from the Bible. ( For instance, to talk about the battle of Jericho, I would say, “Today I’m going to tell you about a group of people who lived a long time ago. God promised them that if they followed him, he would give them a home in a new land. One day, their leader, a man named Joshua…” and then I go on. )

6. Kids understand more than you think when it comes to unspoken communication, too. If you are irritated with them, frustrated with a fellow teacher, or just plain in a bad mood, they know it. The best thing to do is take a deep breath and be honest. Say something like, “Hey guys, I just wanted you to know that I have a headache today. Please bear with me, I am trying my best.” They are usually understanding, and it’s better than having them wonder if it’s them you don’t like.

7. Because… this is probably the biggest part: Kids want to be loved. Honestly? You can be the coolest, funniest, most entertaining, educated, and prepared teacher out there- but if you don’t love them, they will. not. care. They won’t care! Kids can tell the difference between being loved and being endured. Being tolerated or being celebrated. Kids can see it, and maybe for a little while they might continue to come for the pizza or games, but if they aren’t loved, they will never open up to you- or let you speak into their lives. You can only influence them for the Lord if they feel the love.

8. Relax. Have fun. The curriculum is only a tool. The lesson is only a guideline. Every class you teach is an opportunity, a short window that you have, to look at a child, to ask the Holy Spirit to let you be the Lord Jesus’ hands, heart, and maybe voice to that child. Remember that Jesus blessed the children. So you do the same! If that’s all you do, sometimes that’s all you were called to do that day. Sometimes the most productive teaching sessions are just sitting sessions, where you sit on the rug with them and let them talk, and talk, and talk, and talk… Because you’re teaching them, “You are seen, and loved, and cared about.” You are doing to them what the Lord does for us. And maybe, like we should, they will someday learn to listen to the one who listens to them.

9. The only eternal things are people. A million years from now, those children will still exist, and your building will be only a memory. Remember that when the kids break something or run in the hallway. Rules are great for keeping order, and kids do thrive better in order than chaos. But the rules are for the people’s good. When we value the building over the children, we communicate to the kids that the stones and the carpet are worth more than them. We can always get more stones and carpet. But a lost soul is lost forever.

10. When the Lord calls you to do something, the best feeling you can have is to feel unqualified. Use that feeling to press in to the Lord and ask him to do the work through you. If you feel confident and skilled, you’re likely to lean on your own confidence and skills! The Lord says He lives with the humble and answers the cry of the low. And honestly, I think if you ask him for help with ministering to a young person, that’s one of his favorite prayers to answer. So go ahead- volunteer to teach Sunday School or VBS. Prepare your lessons as diligently as you can- and then the Lord use you- just who you are. I bet he surprises you. I bet you learn more than you end up teaching! I sure have.

Well, that’s my top 10. It’s not exhaustive, but I hope it encouraged you. If you’re reading this, and you have kids in your life that you want to reach for the Lord, I believe the Lord will give you the words and the wisdom you need to do it. Just ask him.

See ya!

Brianna

4 Free Sermon Notes Printables

sermon notes1Hi! I made up a few printables to use on the back of our church bulletin and I wonder if anyone else would like to use it! 🙂

There are 4 different designs, and they’re all in 8.5×11″ form. We usually use them on the back of the bulletin, printed at 4.25×5.5″

Here they are as small jpgs to get an idea but if you click here they are in pdf form on google drive.

. 🙂

 

k byeee

Brianna

 

 

Free Christmas Nativity Play Script

Looking for a Christmas program?

Do you want something easily adaptable to any size church?

Do you want it to be Scripture-based and tell the REAL story, not majoring on elaborate extra-biblical stories and narratives?

Do you want it to be flexible, and use the talents and abilities that you HAVE and not require resources and talents you DON’T have?

Maybe this script will work for you!

nativityThis play tells the Christmas story, the WHOLE story, from the Fall of Man to the Good News of the Savior, in a traditional Nativity format, with simple language that relies heavily on Scripture. It can be done as a reader’s theater with minimal costumes and sets or completely memorized and acted out as elaborately as you need.

Interspersed with the dialogue are suggested traditional carols. These can be done as background music, congregational sing-along hymns, or divided up among the different musically talented people in your group! Feature soloists, dance groups, children’s choirs, or your worship team. The songs can also be omitted for time’s sake.

Just click here to go to the Google Doc! 

You can print, download, or make a copy to edit.

It’s free because Merry Christmas. 😉

 


img_9861

If you’re looking for additional resources, check out our book,

Christmas! The Whole Story of the God who Loves! 

It’s an advent storybook that tells the WHOLE story of Christmas in one-minute bites.

 


And I also have a 5 day, complete VBS curriculum that’s completely free, no strings attached! Just click here. 

Untitled (2) (2)
Free Vacation Bible School Curriculum!

Christmas!

#advent #christmas

For the past few months, whenever I get a free moment, I’ve been working on the biggest illustration project I’ve ever done- and I’m so excited to say that as of yesterday, I’ve got it done!

I’m so pleased to tell you that the project I hinted about is finally on the road to being released!

It’s simply titled, Christmas!, and it’s a 25 day journey for children and families from Creation to the Cross, and beyond. In beautiful but simple words, the author Natasha Metzler lays out the wonderful story of Christmas- the whole story.

#advent #christmas #devotions

I firmly believe that the whole story of redemption begins, not with a baby born in a stable, but with the first words of Genesis. And while generations past may have been steeped in that narrative, modern children often know the history of My Little Pony or Star Wars before they can put the Biblical history together with any accuracy.

The story of the cross, of the Savior, of the Hope we have, can seem strange and mythical to a young mind that doesn’t understand sin or creation- has no context of a fallen creation to put a Redeemer in… But this story is an answer to that.

Instead of haphazardly present the major bible characters, it travels through the Old Testament towards the Christ deliberately stopping along the way to focus on stories that foretell the coming One.

I’m looking forward to it’s release, in time for Christmas, and I hope you enjoy it with your family this year- mostly I hope it will be a bit of unveiling of the Truth for you and your children, and hopefully many more to come.

To read more about the project on the author’s page, just click on this image.#advent #christmas

And you can also read this lovely introduction and background from her, as well. She is originally the author of a book for women facing infertility, titled Pain Redeemed. 

#pain
Natashametzler.com

The book will be available in hard cover, more details to come.

Brianna Siegrist

Free Vacation Bible School Curriculum

Free Vacation Bible School Curriculum!
Free Vacation Bible School Curriculum!

If you’re in the position to minister to children, I’d love to give you something. 

This 5 day VBS curriculum teaches children from all backgrounds the story of creation, sin, and redemption, bringing the good news of the Cross into focus in a simple allegory that they can all understand.

I believe there is a gap in learning in so many of our children, primarily because our nation has moved to being largely un-churched. Where in years past, most everyone had spent their Sundays learning the story of the bible and our good God, and understood sin and Christ’s work through years of teaching, many young people today don’t have that learning or knowledge. They don’t have the background narrative. They hear the words “cross,” and “Christ,” and “salvation,” and “sin,” but they don’t have a reference. It doesn’t make sense.

They don’t understand where we come from- they don’t understand the sovereignty of God, they don’t understand the gravity of their sin and so the wonderful work of salvation that Christ did is not recognized as the amazing gift that it is. 

That’s where this story comes in. 

In five days, with joyful, welcoming, and yet solemn words, the story of the Gospel -from the beginning-  is laid out clearly for children and all listeners.

Drawing on the five colors of the wordless book, the allegory of the King and the Kingdom illustrates simply Creation, The Fall, the Ministry of Christ, the Crucifiction, the Message of Salvation, and the call to grow in Christ.

With games, crafts, decorations, and even snacks to cement the message, and the Word of God proclaimed through memory verses and songs, I pray that this curriculum will be a catalyst for revival in your church.

The curriculum is organized in sections. Feel free to use the drama alone for ministry.

This is a free resource.

I am especially honored to release it for small groups, as I’ve seen first hand the struggle it is to lead groups on a tight budget. But if your group is in the position to donate in return for my labor, I would be very grateful.

Here’s the link:

CLICK HERE TO GET THE COLOR KINGDOM VBS CURRICULUM

You may print on demand any of the curriculum you need.

I hope that this is a useful resource for you and that it blesses the children that you minister to with your program. I’d love messages or photos of your group using it!

If you know of any groups who might like this curriculum, please pin the image below or share the link. God bless you!

Sincerely,

Brianna Siegrist

Free Vacation  Bible School Curriculum!
Free Vacation Bible School Curriculum!