Category Archives: Children

Lessons Learned from Ten Years of Giving Children’s Messages

Lessons Learned from Ten Years of Giving Children’s Messages

1. Know your material, but don’t memorize all of it. Internalize it. It’s good to memorize your opening, the rest will fall into place if you’ve truly internalized it. Know more than you need to share because you will forget pieces, but no one has to know. Memorize a pertinent scripture passage or two but not your portion.

2. Don’t strive to be perfect because you aren’t. Christ is. You are a sinner.

3. Don’t dwell on the bad things that can happen; like nerves, dry throat, shaking hands, etc. Focus on doing the job well.

4. Pray before the worship service. This will calm your nerves and the Lord will be with you.

5. Don’t make your talk too complicated. You are dealing with children. One central theme or idea is enough. Use stories to build on the main theme.

6. Practice. Practice. Practice. I go over my children’s messages silently in my mind as I fall asleep. I also practice while driving alone in the car. Practice from conceptual ideas and not memorized phrases. Practice your opening and closing. These are important. The opening needs to peak the children’s interest and invite them into your story. The closing will be remembered most.

7. Look at the children’s faces. Make eye contact. Know when you are loosing their attention and change things up to turn their attention around. Never ever read from a script. Never. Your story needs to come from your heart.

8. Be friends with your audience. Talk to the children outside of the messages. Bond with them.

9. Stand tall with good posture. Smile.

10. Be passionate. Be yourself. Be real. Have a great story to tell. Use personal stories whenever possible to support your topic. People relate to personal stories. We think in stories. Stories captivate us and touch our emotions. Don’t forget using your body, facial expressions and hand gestures in telling the story. The kids will relate better.

11. Completely believe in every item of your story.

12. If you ask the children questions, know which children answer in ways that can throw you off, and avoid them. Questions are often helpful. Sometimes I like to open with a question. It invites them in and causes them to think. It lets them know that they are more than passive listeners.

13. Talk to one child at a time for a sentence or two then move to someone else. This will really keep them connected.

14. If you write down your speech, figure about 140 words per minute for the delivery. So if you plan a five minute talk, you need about 700 words. As a reference, this article has about 550 words.

15. Have a title and a main sentence in mind. Everything you say should be related to these thoughts.

16. Use pictures. Children love these and relate to them. I save the paper and use my IPAD to show pictures.

17. Enjoy your message to the children and what you are doing. They are the future of the church.

If you do this well, the adults in your congregation will also get something out of your talk.

Doubting Thomas

Doubting Thomas

Children’s Message for May 1, 2011 – Easter 2
Ref: John 20:19-31

Children, can any of you identify our five senses?  Listen for their answers; point to your eyes when they say sight, your ears for hearing, fingers for touch, nose for smell and mouth for taste.  God has given us these five senses to experience life and the world around us.  Each of these senses are a blessing to us and are wonderful in their own way.

But as we grow older, we sometimes get skeptical.  This means that we need more proof of things before we can believe them and that we need to experience things with more of our senses.  You might hear people say that I cannot believe everything that I hear, in fact, I sometimes don’t even believe everything that I see.

One of Jesus’ apostles, named Thomas, was skeptical.  He was not there when Jesus appeared to the other Apostles after his resurrection and so he did not believe that Jesus really came back to life after being dead for three days.  Thomas wanted more proof.  Hearing the story from the other Apostles was not enough for him.  He asked for at least two more forms of proof including sight and touch.  He wanted to see Jesus with his wounds and he wanted to touch him.

About a week later, Jesus appeared again before his disciples and invited Thomas to see and to touch his wounds.  Thomas felt the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and the wound in his side from the Roman soldier’s spear.  Then Jesus said “Stop doubting and believe.”

Immediately, Thomas believed and began to worship Jesus.

But the best part of this story comes next because it involves each one of us.  Jesus said “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Ask each of the children:

Children – do you believe that Jesus is God’s only Son?
Do you believe that He was born of the virgin Mary?
Do you believe that He suffered under Pontius Pilate?
Do you believe that He was crucified, died and was buried?
Do you believe that He rose from the dead?
Do you believe that He ascended into heaven?
Do you believe that he sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty?

The answer to all these questions, we firmly know to be “yes.”  We believe this through faith and none of us have any proof from sight, taste, smell or touch.  We have only heard about it and read about it.  We are all blessed according to Jesus because we believe without having seen.

Children’s Message for April 3 – Zebedee’s Request (ref Mt 20:20-28)

Children, wouldn’t it be great to sit next to the President of the United States? Or maybe your favorite singer or entertainer; or maybe even a famous sports legend. These are special seats because you can hear every word they say, you can look them in the eyes and you are so close that you can actually touch them.

Our story this morning is about a special request from a Mother named Zebedee who asks Jesus if her two sons can sit on either side of Jesus, one on his right, and the other on his left; when Jesus enters his kingdom. Children, this is a bold request. But Jesus’ response is beautiful. He actually says that it is not up to him to decide, but up to his Father – God the Father. This is an amazing response because Jesus is God’s own Son and He himself has the authority to decide who sits next to him. At one point in the bible it says that God the Father has given Jesus all power and authority on earth and in heaven. I’d like to remind you just how powerful Jesus really is.

He is above all powers. He is above all kings. He is above all nature and all created things. He is above all wisdom and all the ways of man. He was here before the world began. He is above all kingdoms. He is above all thrones. He is above all wonders the world has ever known. He is above all wealth and treasures of the earth. No one can measure what He is worth.

You know these things don’t you children? You know the stories, how Jesus converted water into wine, walked on the Sea of Galilee, healed blind and deaf people, calmed storms and stopped the wind, brought three people back from the dead and how he himself conquered death on the cross after rotting three days in a tomb carved from stone.

But Jesus gave up this power in his answer to Zebedee. Why? I have two reasons for you this morning. First, because Jesus is humble. Do you know what it means to be humble? I’ll give you a simple way of remembering what this word means. It means to point to someone else. To give someone else the credit. To think of someone else above yourself. That’s what Jesus is doing here.

Second, Jesus is showing respect for his Father. Do you recognize this as something? Jesus is obeying the fourth commandment. He is showing respect for his Father.

Do you know who God the Father has chosen to sit alongside Jesus in heaven? It’s himself.  Jesus will sit at the right hand of God the Father.  This, we also know from scripture.

Here’s my closing thought for you this morning. I don’t know who will be sitting on the other side of Jesus, but I believe this, when we get to heaven, we will see Jesus face-to-face. We will be able to touch him, and talk to him. We won’t have to sit next to him because his glory will be all around us. This is so much better than sitting next to anyone else that you can imagine. And the best news is that this will be forever, for eternity.

Editorial note – some of you astute readers will recognize some song lyrics buried into this message. This is really neat because we will be singing this song on 4/10 and I know that the children’s faces will light up when they recognize the wording and recall their message from a week ago.

Children’s Message for March 6, 2011

The Transfiguration

Based on Mt 17:1-9

At our church we use a rotation of four men (3 Laity and our Pastor) to deliver the weekly children’s message during worship. My turn is always on the first Sunday of the month. I usually don’t share my messages on this BLOG because I don’t always write them down. But this month I am trying something different. Perhaps you can use it, or portions of it. The message is designed to take about 5 minutes to deliver.

Good morning children. Can anyone think of something in this world that changes appearance, right before your very eyes? (Wait for any answers; and discuss any ideas that they come up with) I thought about this myself and I came up with how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. But the thing is that this takes a while to happen, maybe a few days. Or how about a chameleon changing his skin color? That’s pretty cool and this does happen rather quickly. But here’s the thing, both the caterpillar and the chameleon are just doing what God designed them to do. They are actually praising God by doing this.

The upper part of The Transfiguration (1520) b...
The upper part of The Transfiguration (1520) by Raphael, depicting Christ miraculously discoursing with Moses and Elijah. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today we are talking about how Jesus changed his appearance, instantly, before three witnesses – John, James and Peter. The bible tells us that Jesus’ clothes turned to a brilliant white and his face was shining like the sun. To these three disciples, Jesus was their Savior – the Messiah, but He was also a man and a friend to them, and men aren’t supposed to do these things. Our clothes don’t turn brilliant white and our faces don’t shine like the sun. Let me tell you why Jesus did this. Jesus did this to show his disciples his glory, and to show them that He really is God and also a man. This is also good for us to read about because it gives us some reassurance.

Jesus wasn’t alone in his glory on that mountain top. Also with him were Moses and Elijah. Moses died centuries before this happened, but there he was, in his own glory, talking with Jesus. And Elijah was swept up to heaven before he actually died, but there he was as well.

In Moses and Elijah we have representatives of both the Law and the Prophets. Their presence is important for another reason. They are proof that there is life after death. They are with their creator, talking to him, seeing him face-to-face, and more than that, they are also glorified. They are still recognizable to John, James and Peter. This is how it will be with all of us some day as well. Jesus tells us that we will all one day be with him for eternity and that we will have new glorified bodies. This means that we will no longer age, or need eye glasses, or have aches and pains; and, we will see Jesus face-to-face and we will be able to speak with him. You know that Jesus died to make this happen don’t you? We call this the Gospel or the good news. Jesus died for all of our sins so that we might spend forever (eternity) with Him. That’s how much He loves us.

You can go back to your seats now.

— + —

Our set list for blended worship on Lent 1 (March 13) is as follows:

Pre-Service: “Beautiful the Blood” by Steve Fee (FEE)

Opening Song: “The Power of the Cross” by Keith Getty

Absolution Response: Te Deum by Mary Haugen (GIA)

Psalm of the Day: Psalm 130 with “Then I Will Praise You” by Robin Mann (BOB 216)

Hymn of the Day: “The Tree of Life” by Stephen Starke (CWS 754)

Offertory: “On My Cross” by Jeromy Deibler (FFH)

Closing Song: “Peace be Yours” by Blair A’Hearn (BOB 183)

Thank God from A to Z

Thank God from A to Z

The following is a responsive thanksgiving prayer that children can relate to.

P: For apples, aardvarks and Alaska
C: We thank you, Ancient of Days

 P: For blueberries, blue skies and birds of every color
C: We thank you, Beautiful Savior
P: For cranberries, cousins and cats
C: We thank you, chief capstone

P: For dads, dark chocolate and the book of Deuteronomy
C: We thank you, deliverer

P: For elephants, Europe and eggs
C: We thank you, Everlasting God

P: For figs, Fridays and fruits of all kinds,
C: We thank you, Firstborn over all Creation

P: For grapes, gorillas and the great lakes,
C: We thank you, Good Shepherd

P: For hollies, hummingbirds and the Holy Spirit,
C: We thank you, High Priest

P: For ice cream, igloos and iguanas
C: We thank you, Immanuel

P: For juice, jellies and jams
C: We thank you, Jesus

P: For kangaroos, kites and Kansas
C: We thank you, King of Kings

P: For love, laughter and light
C: We thank you, Lord of Lords

P: For mice, Montana and me
C: We thank you, Morning Star

P: For sweet little nothings, noses and nebulas
C: We thank you, New Covenant

P: For ostriches, ospreys and owls
C: We thank you, Our Great God

P: For the color purple, police, and people
C: We thank you, Prince of Peace

P: For, quiet streams, quick foxes and quiescent worship
C: We thank you, Jesus

P: For rest, reassurance and relaxation
C: We thank you, Righteous One

P: For the seasons, strawberries and symphonies,
C: We thank you, Savior

P: For toddlers, tea and turkeys,
C: We thank you, True Vine

P: For Uganda, unction and the universe,
C: We thank you, Jesus

P: For violets, violas and vacations,
C: We thank you, Jesus

P: For wallabies, walruses and wolves
C: We thank you, Jesus

P: For xylophones, x-rays and the letter X
C: We thank you, Jesus

P: For yaks, yogurt, and you
C: We thank you, Jesus

P: For zebras, zoos and zeniths
C: We thank you, Jesus

A blessed Thanksgiving to all.

1 Corinthians 13:8

1 Corinthians 13:8

Love never fails. (NIV)
Love never dies.  (MSG)
Love will last forever.  (NLT)
Love never ends.  (ESV)
Love never failith.  (ASV)
The love doth never fall. (YLT)
It doesn’t matter how you say it; God is love and love does not fail.

“Love” is a difficult word to define and you will get a different definition from anyone that you ask.  I once did a children’s message on 1 Cor 13:1-8 which is Paul’s definition of what love is, and what it is not; and it’s actually God’s definition as well since it’s His inspired word that Paul is writing.  The approach that I employed required two paper bags, one labeled “Love is” and the other labeled “Love is not”.  I then gave each child a piece of paper with the scriptural definitions printed on them and their job was to place them in the appropriate bags as I read the text.

In the bag labeled “Love is”, they placed the following:

Keeps no record of wrongs
Does not delight in evil
Rejoices with truth
Always protects
Always trusts
Always hopes
Always perseveres

In the bag labeled “Love is not”, they placed the following:
Easily angered

Fishers of Men

Fishers of Men

A children’s message based on Luke 5:1-11.

Feel free to put this into your own words if you give children’s messages and use the same lectionary readings as we do.  This is based on the gospel lesson for 2/7/2010.

In today’s bible story, Jesus; a carpenter’s son who may have never fished a day in his life, approaches some seasoned fishermen, who have been fishing all their lives; they make a living at it, and probably know those waters better than anyone else.  They had been fishing all night and had caught nothing.  Jesus tells one of the men, Simon, were to lower his nets to find fish and to Simon’s surprise the net overflows with so many fish that he needs help to bring it in.

How did Jesus know where the fish would be when the knowledgeable fishermen did not?  The answer is that Jesus, although being a man is also God, and it’s quite possible that he miraculously controlled those fish and caused them to jump right into the fishermen’s nets.  Remember, this is the same person who also walked on water, changed water into wine and stopped the winds by just saying a word!

Jesus went on to invite these men to be “fishers of men.”  He actually wants these guys to follow him, and to help him to spread the word about the coming Messiah and to tell the people that they need to repent of their sins, be baptized, and believe that Jesus is the Messiah who has come to save people from their sins.  Jesus saw a quality in these men; perhaps a quality that is characteristic of most fisherman.  They are patient, sometimes going for days without even a bite, but they keep at it, and they hone their skills to become better and better at what they do.  So we are to be patient as we also set out to be “fishers of men.”

Isn’t it amazing how Jesus could control those fish?  It seems that nature sometimes follows his command.  In fact, God created all those fish so why shouldn’t they obey him. You know God could have made just one type of fish, but in his endless creativity he made over 25,000 species.

He made Clown fish that are colored like an undersea flower;
and sharks that can swim at one and half miles per hour.
He made fish out of jelly; and fish that are smelly,
He even made fish that have more than one belly.
He made fish with wings that can fly;
And others that have but one eye.
He made fish with five arms and shaped like a star;
He even created a fish that we call a gar.
He made spinney venomous fish that if you step on one, you might die;
And He created the rainbow trout, whose favorite food is a fly.
Fish with swords and saws, blowholes and built-in lights, a fish shaped like a horse covered with body armor and having a curly tale; He even designed a fish that has a fishing pole on his head to catch other fish!

This is an amazing God who has created us and everything around us.  We all need to be fishers of men, young and old; we have an important job to get out into the world and spread the great news that Jesus came to save us from our sins and that it is only through Him that we can be saved and have eternal life.

Christmas Children’s Program

Pastor Johnold Strey has written a new Children’s Christmas Worship program that is available at NPH.  You might want to check this out if you are looking for Christmas materials as his writings and worship pieces are always nicely done.  You can view samples of the service and listen to sound clips here: