The Armor of God for Kids, Part One

I’m always excited when it’s time to teach my class at Calvary Temple about the Armor of God.  When I was a senior in high school (not that long ago, I swear!), it was the topic of our senior class trip to Kenya.  We made the decision to write several short puppet skits that could illustrate the different pieces of armor, and then worked on a simple song to tie it all together.  When we returned from our trip, we were asked to use the same song and skits for the Children’s Church, and the puppet team (as we know it today) was born.

That was almost ten years ago (!!), and we are still going strong.  (I did the math the other day.  Since the puppet team began, we have performed almost 500 times!  And I’d estimate about 150 unique puppet skits with at least 7 different songs.)

The Armor of God, in addition to being nostalgic to me, is always fun to teach the kids.  (I almost feel like God was thinking about them when he inspired Paul to write Ephesians.)  They’re so easy to remember because they each have a very specific piece of armor associated with it.

So far in our series, we’ve covered the first three pieces of armor:

The Belt of Truth.  The Breastplate of Righteousness.  The Feet Shod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace (phew!)

Here are some of the ways we helped the kids remember why each piece of armor was important.

With the Belt of Truth, Andy was sent on a special mission for Sir Joe, the Knight.  On his way there, the enemy lures him away from his mission with sweet, yummy donut lies.  In fact, Andy eats so many donuts that he gets too fat to keep wearing his Belt of Truth, and so he is forced to take it off.  But, when it’s time for him to stand up to the enemy, he is unable to figure out what is true and what is a lie.  He nearly fails his mission if not for his mentor, Sir Joe, saving the day.

Just like Andy, sometimes we can fall for the lies of the devil.  Maybe he is telling us that our parents don’t love us, or that they love our sibling more, or that we got unfair treatment at school, or that our friends don’t like us anymore.  Without the Belt of Truth, or our knowledge of God and who He is, we will fall for those lies every time!  One great practical way (that might be easier for some of the older kids) is to speak the truth out loud when you start to feel like you are believing the devil’s lies.  (We have a great example of that when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness–every time the devil tried to lie to Him, Jesus responded with a truth straight from the Word of God.)

Next up is the Breastplate of Righteousness.  In this story, Suzie makes her own breastplate from some macaroni she found.  The macaroni represented Suzie’s good works–all the Bible verses she memorized and good things that she had done.  She thought because she had created so many layers of macaroni on her armor that she’d be safe from whatever the enemy could throw at her.  But…she never prepared for the water balloons.  Once she’d been hit by all the water balloons, the macaroni armor she’d been so proud of had grown soggy, and she nearly got hit by the enemy’s arrows.

Trusting in our own righteousness is something that many kids raised in church will fall for.  (And I’m speaking about myself here!)  Many times, because we remained “good kids” most of our lives, we start to trust that all the good things we have done are enough to help us stand against the enemy.  But, the Bible tells us that “none are righteous–no, not one!”  We are saved through faith, and that faith enables us to do all those wonderful things for God.  The only thing we can trust in is that God’s power (through us!) enables us to do great things for Him.  When we put on our Breastplate of Righteousness, we are saying that we are righteous and saved through Jesus’ blood alone!

Last, we have the Feet shod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace.  I’ve heard some people call these just the “Gospel Shoes”, but I think that the entire name is important–especially the part about preparation.  Unless we have a good relationship with God (or are prepared ahead of time), we won’t be able to share the gospel with others.

The puppet skit for that week focused on the aspect of peace. Suzie had gotten a new pair of beautiful sparkly shoes, and decided that she would wear those instead of her “Gospel Shoes”.  But, when it came time to tell people about the Good News, she was too afraid to say anything and ran away.

Many times for kids, telling others about Jesus can be a little scary. (I admit it’s even still scary for me sometimes!)  They worry they’ll get laughed at or made fun of or maybe their friends won’t like them anymore.  But, when we are fully prepared, we will be at peace because we have the power of God working through us.


If you’d like to know more about our Sunday School and Children’s Chapel, head over to Pastor Jon’s blog.  And if you live in the Northern Virginia area, feel free to come check us out here!

Car & Motorcycle Show this Saturday!

Finish the Race Ministries will be hosting its Spring Car Show on Saturday, April 11 at 12 PM.

Held twice a year on the grounds of Calvary Temple Church in Sterling, VA, last year, this free event had over 200 cars, 75 motorcycles, and over 750 spectators.

New awards this year will include Top 5 for Trucks, Imports, and Late Models (1990 and newer), as well as Top 10, Top 25, Best of Show, Best Paint, Best Interior, and Best Engine.

Besides featuring a stunning array of beautiful classic and new cars, there will also be a children’s section featuring free moon bounces, games, and activities. Sterling’s award-winning brick oven pizzeria, The Don’s Wood-fired Pizza, will be catering the event, along with several other local vendors.

All registration and spectator tickets are free, and more information can be found at http://www.FinishtheRace.org


 

This event is tons of fun for families with children. We do free admission (which is rare in this area), and we have a great playground as well as little carnival style games for when kids need to take a break from looking at the cars.

You can check out photos from our past events at our Flickr here.

car show 3 car show 1 car show 2

Life at Calvary Temple

I loved reading Pastor Jon’s post about growing up at Calvary Temple (in Sterling, VA), and I thought I should do one myself!  If you are someone who is looking for a new church and you have children, then you probably want to know about one of (the many) teachers who will be with your children in our Sunday School.

I was born and raised in Northern Virginia, and I attended Calvary Temple with my parents since I was a baby!  (I actually remember being in our Toddler Room so vividly–one of the teachers would lean over this little half door and give us pieces of bubblegum. In my mind, we must have all looked like little puppies jumping up and down, waiting for treats.)

In addition to having church three times a week, Calvary Temple also has a private school (what we call “Discipleship Training”, because really, it’s all about training up disciples for Jesus)!  I attended Calvary DT from Kindergarten until I graduated high school.  (I moved through Calvary Temple Kids Chapel, taught in elementary, through Calvary Temple Youth Group, taught in high school.)

You can actually read some of my personal testimony (and memories about Youth Group) over at Pastor Jeff’s blog.  Some of my other good friends (and fellow Sunday School teachers) are also found over there!

Seniors in High School at Calvary Temple

With our Girls Varsity Basketball team while playing at NACA Tournament!

While I consider my upbringing such a privilege, there were definitely times where I took my sheltered existence for granted.  Going from a tiny Christian school to one of largest colleges in Virginia was nearly mind-blowing.  (There were more kids in one lecture hall than there had been in our entire school.)  I’m so thankful for the friends and family that helped hold me accountable–even when I didn’t think I wanted them to.

That’s one reason I really love my church–my strong friendships.  Many times, churches are filled with young children and older people, and there’s not a lot of young adults in the middle.  Calvary Temple is filled with people my age–people who love the Lord and aren’t ashamed to serve Him with all their hearts.

Another cool thing about our ministry is how we uphold our mission statement–2 Timothy 2:2…committing to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.  While we were once little toddlers begging for bubble gum in our Sunday School class, now my friends and I are teaching some of the same classes we used to attend!  (My co-teacher on Sunday night is the same woman who taught me when I was four years old.  That’s nuts!  Mrs. Nantier, I swear you haven’t changed at all!)

Posing with friends at Calvary’s 1950’s night!

 

Working with children is something that I feel the Lord has called me to do, and I’m so thankful for all the opportunities I have at Calvary.  I’ve had so many great examples throughout my life, and I come to church each week so excited to see the kids and teach them something new.

If you’re interested in coming out to a service at Calvary Temple in Sterling, please leave me a comment.  I’d love to meet you and show you around!  I promise you’ll find a great community of people who love God and truly love each other.

Calvary Temple Puppets – King Josiah

This week in Sunday School, we taught the kids about King Josiah.  King Josiah was a man who served God with his whole heart.  Many times, kids are allowed to get by with just the bare minimum–as long as they tried, then they’ll get the prize.  (Don’t get me started on participation awards!)

It’s important to always encourage children to do their very best.  (Even if their best is not the highest grade!  As long as they tried their very hardest, that’s all that God wants!)

In God’s kingdom, doing your best means serving Him with your whole heart.  When we do things only halfway–we sometimes pray or go to church–that’s not the kind of relationship that God wants with us.

I think another cool thing about Josiah is that he was only eight years old when he made the decision to serve the Lord.  Kids are capable of more than we realize.

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I thought it’d be cool to share what our scripts look like (that we read off of behind the stage).  Here’s the transcript of this week’s skit:

The Chapel:  King Josiah

Characters:

Andy

Andy’s Mom

Rodney

Denzel

Mrs. Humperdinkel

 

Mom’s Voice:  Andy!!  Andy!!

Andy:  Yes mom!

Mom’s Voice:  Andy, your clothes are all over the floor in your room!  I need you to go and clean them up RIGHT NOW.

Andy:  Ok Mom!!

Andy walks across stage…clothes are hanging off of the side of the stage.

Andy:  Man, how did my mom notice allthese clothes here…man!!!  Oh well, I guess I better start cleaning.

Andy starts cleaning. 

Andy:  UGGHHHHHHH, this is so hard……..WAIT!!!  Why am I doing this?  I can make it look neat by just putting these clothes under my bed!!  My mom will think my room is clean, and I don’t have to spend all afternoon cleaning it!!  BRILLIANT.…if I do say so myself.

TEN MINUTES LATER

(All action behind the stage)

Andy’s mom:  ANDYYYYY!!!!!

Andy – Yes mom?!?!?

Andy’s mom: You are in big trouble, young man!!!!!!! I found the clothes under your bed and that IS NOT WHERE THEY BELONG…. You are in big trouble, mister!

Andy: OH NO!

AT SCHOOL

Denzel – Hey Andy, what’s up?

Andy – Denzel, I just got in trouble for not cleaning my room like my mom told me too. I threw all my clothes under the bed, but I guess that wasn’t what she meant by “CLEAN your room”

Mrs. Humperdinkel:  Okay kids quiet down, I’ve graded your Arithmetic Tests and I have to say that I’m very proud…of SOME of you!!  But some of you need to work a lot harder.  I’m gonna pass out the papers and take a look at your grades.

Denzel:  Hey Andy, what’d you get?

Andy:  Aw, I got a D.  It’s not bad.

Denzel:  A D?  But that test wasn’t even hard.  I mean, I even got a B+ and I’m not as smart you are.

Andy:  Yeah, well, I didn’t really study…Arithmetic is pretty easy anyway.

Denzel:  But don’t you care that you didn’t do your best!?

Andy:  Denzel, it’s just a test, chill out.  It’s not that bad.

Denzel:  But doesn’t God want us to give our best?

Andy:  Yeah, but every once in a while it’s ok to take a break and.. not give our best.  God doesn’t really care about arithmetic tests anyways

Denzel:  UHH I don’t think so.

Andy:  Nah, it’s ok. Don’t worry your little head about it

Mrs. Humperdinkel:  Now class, if you’ll quiet down, I’m going to go over the answers.

AFTER CLASS

Rodney comes out weeping

Rodney:  NOOO.  This is the worst day of the week.  The worst of the year….worst day of my life!!!

Denzel:  What is it Rodney?

Rodney:  It’s that test…I can’t believe it!  I don’t know where I went wrong…I don’t know how I’m going to show my face in public.  And after all that time studying!!  How could I have done that!!

Denzel:  You FAILED!!!!????

Rodney:  I might as well have failed!!

Denzel:  It can’t be that bad.  Let me take a look at your paper….RODNEY, you got an A-

Rodney:  I know!!  My life is over!!!

Denzel:  Um…ok, Rodney, I think we have bigger issues.  At least you gave everything you had.  I think we need to talk to Andy.

Andy comes up

Andy:  Talk to me about what?

Denzel:  Andy, I don’t think it was right that you only studied halfway.

Andy:  Denzel, why do you keep on talking about this…it’s not that big of a deal.  I told you that you don’t need to be concerned.

Rodney:  But Andy, didn’t you tell me earlier today that you got in trouble for only partially cleaning your room? And now you’re only partially studying?   It seems like a bigger issue to me.

Andy:  Rodney, I already got in trouble with my parents.   Why do you have to make a big deal about it?

Denzel:  Andy, we need to give Jesus our all!

Rodney:  Andy, it’s kinda like King Josiah.  Josiah was made king when he was only 8 years old, and he had to make a decision whether to just keep serving false gods, or to do everything as unto the Lord in every way.

Denzel:  Oh yeah, didn’t Josiah tear down all of the idols that the people were serving?

Rodney:  Yeah!  Josiah was so concerned about glorifying God, that he didn’t just serve God halfway.  He gave God everything and God honored him.

Andy:  But guys, I’m not serving any idols!!

Rodney:  But Andy, you’re doing something even worse.  You’re being lukewarm.

Denzel:  Whoa, Rodney, don’t be using words that I don’t understand.

Rodney:  Well, it’s kinda like a glass of water when it’s been sitting out a long time.  It’s not really hot and it’s not really cold.  It’s called lukewarm.

Andy:  What does that have to do with me?

Rodney:  Andy, God’s calling us to be hot after Him.  But He also said that He’d rather you be totally against Him, or cold, than to try to just serve God halfway and not give Him everything.  Lukewarm is only serving God with part of your strength.

Denzel:  Josiah was hot after God wasn’t he?

Rodney:  Yeah.  But Andy, you’re not giving God your all, and you’re not just saying that you’re a heathen.  You’re been being lukewarm.

Denzel:  God says that he hates that even more than someone who says that they don’t love God.

Andy:  Guys, I know you’re right.  I don’t want to give God my halfway.  I need to give my all to God in everyway.  In fact, I’m going to make it right before God.

Denzel:  And then you’ll be hot just like Josiah!!

Calvary Temple Puppets – King Saul

I’ve been attending Calvary Temple Church in Sterling, VA since I was a baby!  Now I’m a Sunday School teacher in the same classes I used to attend!  I hope you guys enjoy some of the lessons and adventures we have in the Sunday School classes at CT!  If you like this blog, you can check out some of our other blogs, including Calvary Temple Kids Chapel, Calvary Temple Youth Group, and Calvary Temple Outreach!


I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year!  It was nice to take a little hiatus and spend lots of time with my friends and family.  Our church does an annual Christmas play with all the kids, and my class were all little elves and bakers!

class

Pretty cute, huh?

We actually take a break from puppets and regular lessons during the Christmas season to give the kids time to practice all their songs and dances, and any class time we do have, we go over the Christmas story with them.

One story we read every year that is a big hit with the class is called What God Wants for Christmas.  It’s an interactive Christmas nativity story that teaches children what present God wants to get from us.  (Spoiler Alert:  It’s our hearts.)  We’ll read this through several times over the month, and by the end, the kids can recite along a lot of the lines with us.


Starting the new year means we are done with the Parables of Jesus and are moving on to our next unit, the Kings of Israel.  During the next through months, each week we will cover one of the Kings from the Old Testament.  (Even some of the more obscure ones like Rehaboam or Jotham.)

This week, we learned about King Saul.

(This is actually one of my favorite puppet skits we do–there’s a pretty funny surprise near the end.)

King Saul started out pretty well–remember the whole “hiding in the stuff” bit near the start of his reign?

Well, he didn’t end so well.  The main focus of King Saul’s life that we brought out to teach the kids was the story where he had been commanded to totally destroy the Amalekites.  However, King Saul decided to let both the King and some animals live.  When the prophet Samuel arrived and saw what had been done, Saul was quick to defend himself, saying the only reason he kept the animals alive was so that he could give a sacrifice to God.

Samuel’s response was that “obedience is better than sacrifice”.

One of the ways I tried to explain this to the kids was to call up Pastor Jon’s kids, Max and Allie.  The example I used was that Pastor Jon and his wife decide to go out to dinner and leave Max and Allie at home.  Before they leave, Pastor Jon tells the kids to clean up the living room and make it look really nice.

Allie takes a lot of time and does all her chores–sweeping and dusting and picking up her toys.  Max, on the other hand, takes a long look at his Mom’s white couch.  It looks very plain, and he did just get a bunch of new paints for Christmas.  He decides to take all his time to paint his Mom’s couch to be Spider-Man themed.  He figures she’ll really enjoy the pop of color in the living room.

So, Max paints and paints.  After his paints run out, he switches to Sharpies.  And then adds some glitter and silly string for good measure.

When his parents finally get home, Max’s mom sees the couch.  Her jaw drops.  When she turns to Max to ask what happened, he explains.  “I know you said to clean the living room, but I thought I’d make your couch look really good!  Look, I even used all my paints and took the entire three hours you were gone to do it!”

At this point of the story, all the kids in the room are giggling and ooohing.  Everybody agrees that Max has done something wrong.

Even though he worked really hard and gave up all his new paints, it wasn’t the same as obedience to what his parents said.


Many times in our own lives, God tells us to do something.  We might think we know a better way to do what God told us, but true obedience means doing exactly what we’re told.  Using excuses like “We meant well!” or “We thought we did what you wanted!” won’t cut it before the Lord.  He wants our whole hearts and our quick obedience.

Calvary Temple Puppets – The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins

I remember when I was a kid, this parable was really confusing to me.  Things I didn’t understand included:  why did they need lanterns for a wedding?  Why didn’t the wise bridesmaids share with the other ones?  Why couldn’t the bridegroom just recognize their voices and let them come to the wedding?

Recently, I did a little research trying to frame my understanding of this parable so that I could explain it to the kids more easily.

Back in Bible times, weddings didn’t have a concrete start time.  Instead, the bride would get ready at her home (along with all her bridesmaids), and they would all wait together for the groom to come and pick her up for the ceremony.  They didn’t know exactly when he’d come–only that they needed to be ready.

Because the wedding procession might take place after dark, it was important to have their lanterns ready to go–no matter how long it took.  That’s why the wise bridemaids planned ahead–making sure they had extra oil in case the groom took longer than expected.

When the groom finally came, the foolish bridesmaids had to go run out and buy more oil for their lamps, while the rest of the wedding party went along to the wedding.  By the time they arrived, it was too late.  (Kind of like they’d missed the ceremony!  As a bridesmaid, your whole job is to stand beside your friend as you all attend the ceremony.)


The most vital thing to learn about this lesson is not the importance of always having extra batteries for your flashlight.

Instead, what Jesus was trying to teach the disciples was that they needed to be ready for His return one day.

Like bridesmaids waiting for the wedding to start, as Christians, we are waiting for Jesus to come back one day.  We don’t know when it’s going to happen–we just know it will be soon!  God has called us to live lives that are ready for Jesus’ return.

The kind of “oil” that we need in our lives is the power of the Holy Spirit and the born again life that only Jesus can provide.

About Calvary Temple

Calvary Temple is an independent church which holds to all Assemblies of God tenets of faith. Calvary Temple ministries include Discipleship Training, adult Bible college, media ministry, and an aggressive missions program.

Pastor Star R. Scott is Senior Pastor of Calvary Temple in Sterling, Virginia, where he has ministered since 1973. In addition to the pastoral gift, Pastor Scott functions in the five-fold offices of apostle and prophet. He has planted churches, and currently oversees the pastors and ministries of numerous satellite churches.

Visit Calvary Temple online on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram

Calvary Temple Puppets – The Faithful Servants

When I was in school, I used to think I was so busy all the time.  I had homework and chores and sports practices–not to mention all the activities we had up at our church.  (Now, as an adult, I look back on those days wistfully.  I had it so good!)

Many times as Christian adults, we can find our time packed full of good things.  I remember times in my life where I would wake up early to go to work so that I could leave early to help volunteer at a Calvary Temple sports camp and then go to prayer and then wrap up with a skit team practice.  In my mind, I’d spent the entire day doing things for the Lord.

In this week’s puppet skit, Denzel has a similar experience.  He has homework, extra credit book reports, Scriptures to memorize, and chores to finish.  Each of his friends ask him for help, but he’s just too busy to give them any more of his time.

It’s only after hearing the parable of the faithful servants that Denzel realizes that he needs to make sure that he is putting Jesus first in all he does.

GL: Well actually, Denzel, you also need to work on this.

Denzel: What?! I’m doing all good things!

GL: You are, but the Bible warns us to not be weary in well-doing. Sometimes, we can get SO busy doing SO much, that we lose sight of doing what glorifies God! I heard that you couldn’t come to the Africa prayer meeting because you were too busy…

Denzel: Yeah, but…

GL: And you couldn’t help Wendy find her dog, George…

Denzel: But, I had to—

GL: And you didn’t have time to praise Jesus with Suzie. Denzel, you do such a good job with your homework and helping others, but you need to make sure that you’re not so busy with the things in life, that you miss out on things like personal devotions and being available to help others! We don’t want you to be so tired that you aren’t able to glorify Jesus in everything you do! We all need to be careful that we’re not just doing good works for others, but that we’re doing it for God!

Denzel: (sighs) I guess you’re right. I didn’t even realize how busy and stressed I was. I’m really going to try to live by that verse from the parable, “Let us not become weary in doing good…”

GL: There’s the spirit, Denzel! When we have Jesus in our hearts, we should never be stressed about everything we have to do, either! If we’re doing everything as unto the Lord, then He will help us to have peace in our hearts!

 

The last line that Grandpa Louie says is so important for me personally.  I can get so caught up in all the things I think I need to do for God that I don’t take the time to just be with God.

I’ll leave you with an example that I remember a Sunday School teacher showing us when I was in elementary school (or possibly even younger!)

In this video, the rocks represent our time with the Lord.  The rice represents all the things we have to get done.  When you put the rocks first, you’re able to fit in the rice as well.  But, when you pour the rice in first, you’ll never be able to fit the rocks as well.

It’s so important to not just teach our children this principle, but to live it out in front of them.  Let them see that you take time to seek God or to read your Bible–even if you have errands or cooking to finish for the day.  Show them that your priority is your relationship with the Lord, and help them understand that while it’s important to be productive for the Kingdom, it’s more important to get quiet with God.

Calvary Temple Puppets – The Good Samaritan

I’m a pretty easy going person.  I get along with most people I meet, and I would rate myself a 9/10 on the nice scale.

But, I once nearly threw my Bible at someone while a Wednesday midweek service at Calvary Temple.  Pastor Scott was teaching about something that was undoubtedly very important for my spiritual growth, but I was too busy seething at the person behind me.

I’m sure you’re trying to imagine what they were doing.  Sneezing on my hair?  Kicking my chair?  Doing that weird whistle thing when you breathe out of your nose?

Nope.

They were coughing.

But it wasn’t a real cough.  I can understand if someone legitimately has a cough and can’t help it.  Instead, it was a “black lung, pop!” kind of cough.

And it never stopped.  The entire service, it was these little “keff keff” kind of coughs, right in my ear.  By the time Pastor Scott had finished his sermon, I had pictured seventeen different ways to muffle this person with a scarf/coat/tissues/Bible/stray alpacas.

Looking back, it was so stupid.  But I guarantee, if after service, that person had tapped me on the shoulder and asked me for any kind of help, I probably would have asked how their “black lungs” were doing and then have pretended to need to pee.  (Pastor Jon, are you really sure you want me writing a Calvary Temple blog?  These are not pretty confessions.)

I was not being a good neighbor.


One day, a man asked Jesus what he needed to do in order to obtain eternal life.  Jesus asked the man what the Bible said the answer was, and he said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.”  Then, the man took it a step further–asking Jesus who was considered to be his neighbor.

In response, Jesus told a (drumroll) parable.  A man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, and along the way, he was robbed, beaten, and left for dead.  We all know how the rest of the story goes–three different people passed this beaten man, The first two were even religious–the kind of people you’d think be jumping to help someone in need.  But, they both passed him by.

It wasn’t until a third man–the Samaritan (and someone that most Jews hated)–passed by that help came.

Jesus then asked the man who he thought was a neighbor to that beaten traveler.  The man responded correctly–the good neighbor was the Samaritan–the one who stopped to help.


All this talk about neighbors made me think of one of my childhood heroes–Fred Rogers (better known as Mister Rogers!)  Of course, I don’t know for sure, but Fred Rogers left a legacy of a man who appeared to have a very close relationship with God.  (My writing concentration in college was Creative Non-Fiction, and this piece on Mister Rogers’ life is one of my favorite essays of all time.  There’s some not-nice language, but I think it paints a really lovely picture of his life, his faith, and his impact on children.)

I also liked this little anecdote I read in a Christianity Today article:

[Fred Rogers speaking] “I studied Greek with him [Dr. Orr, a teacher of theology] and then I studied New Testament with him. Every Sunday, my wife and I used to go to the nursing home to visit him. One Sunday we had just sung ‘A Mighty Fortress Is Our God’ and I was full of this one verse. I said, ‘Dr. Orr, we just sang this hymn and I’ve got to ask you about part of it.”

“‘You know where it says—The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him. For, lo, his doom is sure. … one little word will fell him? Dr. Orr, what is that one thing that would wipe out evil?’

“He answered, ‘Evil simply disintegrates in the presence of forgiveness. When you look with accusing eyes at your neighbor, that is what evil would want, because the more the accuser’—which, of course, is the word Satan in Hebrew—’can spread the accusing spirit, the greater evil spreads.’ Dr. Orr said, ‘On the other hand, if you can look with the eyes of the Advocate on your neighbor, those are the eyes of Jesus.’

“I’ve never forgotten that.”


We can sometimes be a little legalistic–thinking that the only neighbors we have are those we live next door to or those friends we are around every day.  But according to Jesus, our neighbors can be anyone we come into contact with who need our help.  It’s not up to us to judge who is worthy of our help–we’ve just been instructed to love as Jesus has loved us.

In the puppet skit this week, Wendy and Suzie are hiding from a little girl they both find annoying.  They don’t want to be her friend, and they certainly don’t want to be her neighbor either.

Just like me and my little cough incident described above, we can sometimes find petty, inane reasons to dislike people.  How shameful that Jesus has commissioned us to go out and love everyone, and we’re too busy being annoyed at the little things.

I’ve had the chance to talk to some of the kids in my Sunday School class about this.  I teach preschoolers (so three and four year olds), and we sometimes have incidents where kids aren’t very nice.  One situation that happens a lot is one of the younger kids will start following one of the older kids around–trying to sit near them or copy whatever they do.  And, of course, the older kid inevitably gets frustrated and comes to tell me all about it.

It’s always a great opportunity to remind them how kind and loving Jesus is.  Even if someone is annoying to you, consider it a great opportunity to be a friend to someone who needs it.

I think of that Bible verse from John 13:35:

“Everyone will know that you are my disciples because of your love for each other.”

What better way is there to be a witness of Jesus than to show love for your neighbors?

Rounding Out Sunday School, Part Two

I received so many great suggestions on last week’s post about working with children that I wanted to include some of them here.

(Please feel free to continue to add your own comments on either this post or the original!)

My very own co-teacher, Mrs. Nantier, added the following:

If there is one encouragement I can offer to any children’s church worker it is not to allow the enemy to discourage you with the thought that what you do doesn’t matter, especially if you teach young children. Often you may feel that the children don’t remember what you taught them. But remember you are just laying “a line” down, because the Lord teaches all of us line upon line, precept upon precept. And sometimes, as happened to me this past year, after many years of teaching, a young adult will come up and tell you about something you taught them when they were very young and how it impacted them and by that the Lord reminds you, what you do is important in the kingdom and it is not a light thing.

She actually said something similar to me a few months ago, and it’s something I should have included in my original post.  Our church had been experience some pretty cool moves of the Holy Spirit, where there’d be long periods of praise and prayer, and you could really feel the tangible presence of God.  They were awesome, special times, but they always seemed to happen during our Sunday PM service.  (We have three different church services during the week at Calvary Temple.)

I remember feeling a little bummed out that I always missed it, and I expressed that thought to Mrs. Nantier.  She encouraged me about how important our job was–that God had us exactly where He wanted us.  Caring for all the children in our class enabled the parents to be a part of such a special time.

 Jay, who manages all the social media for Calvary Temple, is also one of our children’s worship leaders.  I always used to love subbing on Sunday AM because it was like watching a variety show–he had so many characters and dances and fun songs.  He gave the following advice:

For me connecting with kids is about getting on their level, not talking down to them. It’s about noticing what motivates or excites you and translating that to them. It’s about paying attention to what they respond to and doing more of that. Be enthusiastic about what you teach or lead them in. That doesn’t mean you have to be over-the-top. Tierney used the word “engaged” which is one of my favorite words. If you’re not engaged with the subject matter- if you’re not curious about the lesson, then neither will they be engaged. If you’re bored, they will be too. Your attitude and perspective is what will be conveyed to the students. Look for the nuances and freshness in a lesson or story you’ve read a hundred times.

One of my good friends, Donna, is one of the fifth/sixth grade teachers on Wednesday PM, and she had this tip:

Reading the lesson straight from the binder does not work for 3&4 year olds but it also does not really work with 10 year olds either. They need to be engaged, as other commenters have said.

When we teach our 5th/6th grade class on Wednesday nights, the kids get the opportunity to read the scripture verses out loud directly from the Bible. They see it and read it for themselves. Then we stop every few verses and discuss any difficult words they don’t know and we ask the kids to tell us in their own words what it is we just read. My husband teaches the lesson and he likes to be silly and fun with the kids but he’s very clear on where the boundaries are to keep them reigned in.

I get to facilitate the after-lesson-activity. I try to come up with games that engage them and also review the lesson. Our favorites are Wheel of Fortune and Basketball Trivia. And I always have a second activity ready to pull out of my pocket in case the service goes long.

I loved reading everyone’s tips and suggestions.  Please keep them coming!

Rounding Out Sunday School

Here on this blog, we talk a lot about the different Biblical principles that we teach our children here at Calvary Temple.  But, we’re taking a break from parables this week to talk about something that is very important for any Sunday School teacher.

How do you keep kids from tying you to a chair interested in their lessons?

We have three different church services during the week, and sometimes the Children’s Church schedules can vary based off what class you have.

I have about fifteen 3/4 year olds on Sunday nights, and usually the night services are the hardest.  Some kids didn’t have naps or some kids are hungry or some are just way too hyper.  If you’re not careful, most of the kids can degenerate into little balls of emotion.

I WANT MY MOMMMYYYYYY

As a teacher, I”ve found I have to strike a careful balance between not boring or confusing the kids….

wait, so we’re only sanctified by faith? I thought this was snack time.

And not making the lesson so fun and exciting that they forget what they’re being taught.

I hope to get a good discussion going in the comments section with tips from teachers of other age groups, but here are some things I’ve learned myself (and from other teachers) over the years.

Have a Schedule.  There are times when it’s fun to improvise, but kids like structure.  Even the three year olds in our class know the order of activities every week.  (Although, sometimes they forget and ask about Playdough every six seconds.)

We spend under ten minutes reviewing…much less if the kids are nuts that night.

Once they get too restless, we stand up to sing songs and do our exercises.  (This is where it’s fun to improvise–we do anything from “climb Gummi Bear mountain” to “swim to Disney World” to roar like tigers.)

Once the ants are out of their pants, we have the actual lesson, which again, should be under ten minutes.

Then, they all say their memory verse to get a sticker, and we spend the rest of the class watching Miss Tierney make them Playdough shapes.  (She is very good at snakes, worms, slugs, and eels.)

Use Visual Aids.  We have a bulletin board in the classroom that we use for each unit we teach.  (This month, it’s the Parables of Jesus.)  Whenever we learn a new lesson, we hang up a picture that reminds us of that lesson on the board.  When review time comes around, the kids all look at the board and use the pictures to remember what they learned.  (I became 100% sold on this when I saw three year olds successfully remember every single one of the Twelve Disciples.  Granted, they remember that Peter wears green and Thaddeus always stands next to John, but they still remembered!)

Manage Your Expectations.  Before I became a permanent teacher, I had the opportunity to sub in a lot of different classes and age groups.  While it’s not my place to disagree with teaching methodologies, I saw some teachers that would sit and read the lesson out of the binders to the kids.  That might work for ten year olds, but the four year olds about lost their mind.  Much of it was over their head, and they could hardly stay in their seat.

But…really…can you be upset?  Getting a four year old to stay in their seat and not fall on the ground/lick the table/lick their neighbor/pick their nose is a huge deal by itself.  Add in getting them to pay attention to someone reading out of a book?

Seriously.  Manage your expectations here.  I know it’s easy to read your lesson, but I’ve learned that kids love to be engaged.  Eye contact, hand motions, volume, pictures–think about how an actor or a comedian roams around the stage while performing.  Audiences don’t want to watch someone sit on a stool and read from their binder.

One of my favorite teachers to work with, Mrs. Nantier, has taught me so much about interacting with children.  I’m amazed at how she can break down complicated Biblical principles to kids who can barely tell me what they had for lunch.  (“Uh…uh…when I grow up, I want to be a bear!”  No, that was not the question I asked, but nice try.)

That little anecdote leads me into my next point…

Be Prepared.  You should already be bathing your teaching time in prayer, and seeking the heart of God as to what He wants you to share with these kids.  But, go above and beyond that.  Can you incorporate an object lesson?  Can you draw a picture?  Is there a song that fits?  Can you act it out?  Is there a way you can turn this into a story?

I remember when we were teaching the kids about the Fruit of the Spirit, Mrs. Nantier brought in a different kind of fruit to teach about each kind of attribute.  All the kids remembered that the coconut was about patience…mostly because it took me forever to get that thing open!

Ask for Help.  One thing I’m so thankful for at my church is the abundance of people who have been teaching children for a very long time.  (That wasn’t an old joke! I promise!)  Sometimes if I’m not sure how to communicate something to the kids, I’ll ask another one of the teachers for help.  It’s nice to get a fresh perspective on lessons, and sometimes peoples’ minds work in amazingly different ways.

When we write the puppet skits every week, for instance, we have a team of about five people that contribute to each skit.  Different writers take turns creating the content, and then everyone else will lend help as needed.  It results in clear, concise, entertaining (we hope!) ways to teach children.

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To kick our comments discussion off, I asked Mrs. Carr, who works with the toddlers at our church, to give me some advice for 1-2 year olds.  Her answer?

(in regards to singing songs) Toddlers love motions and VOLUME. ;)

(My note:  YES.  Sometimes, when I don’t know what else to do to reign in the rampaging toddlers, I will just stand there and sing them songs.

It’s like soothing wild beasts.  They’ll just stand there with big eyes and watch while, in the background, the teachers try to pick all the Goldfish crumbs out of the carpet in peace.

Those are some of the tricks that help me!  What about you?  What age group do you teach?  Are there any practical things that work for you specifically?