Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Celebrate Jesus' Birth

For many of us, the Christmas season is a hectic time with too much to do and not enough time to do it all. But the Christmas season is really a time of preparation for Jesus’ birth. Beginning the fourth Sunday before Christmas and continuing through Christmas Eve is a time often called the advent season. The word advent is derived from the Latin word “adventus,” which means “coming” or “arrival.” The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem is recognized as the first advent. The advent season is a time to prepare spiritually for the birth of Christ.

To help get your classroom ready for advent and Christmas, use coupon code DECO to save 20% on classroom decorations (minimum $100 order) in our Classroom Decorations Store. But hurry! This offer expires December 1, 2010.

You can also save on candlelight service sets in our Candlelight Store. 

Set aside family and/or Sunday school or children’s church time to read about the preparation for Jesus and His birth in Luke 1:1-80 through 2:20. Read a few verses at a time, letting some of your good child readers alternate with adults to take turns reading the verses. Talk about how the people of so long ago must have felt as they prepared for the birth of Jesus.

You may also want to read Matthew 1:18-24. Explain that when the angel appeared to Joseph, he told him to name the Baby Jesus, “because He will save His people from their sins.” Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means the LORD saves. (You may  need to explain that "sins" are the wrong things we say and do.) This took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet Isaiah: “The virgin will … give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel —which  means, 'God with us.'” This Scripture is taken from Isaiah 7:14.

Let each person describe how he feels as Christmas approaches. Take time together to remember all of the reasons you have to be joyful. Sing a favorite Christmas carol or two. Close with a prayer of thanks to God for sending His Son, Jesus, to earth.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fundraising Ideas for Your Bible Club

Don't let a lack of funds keep you from  having an exciting and dynamic All-Stars for Jesus program. Here are some ideas for funding your Bible clubs. For even more ideas plus a kick-off party with reproducible invitations and patterns, download the FREE report: How to Pay for Your All-Stars for Jesus Bible Club.

Registration Fee
Have an annual registration fee of $20.00 to $25.00 per child. Just as sports teams have a sign-up fee for equipment and supply costs, your All-Stars for Jesus Bible clubs can, too. Let your students' parents know that the registration fee will help to cover the costs of shirt, caps, pennants, and awards. Provide scholarships for needy families and "family packages" so no family has to pay more than $75.00 (or whatever amount you set). Have church members sponsor children whose families can't afford to pay the entire amount.

Special Offerings
Have a special Bible Club offering over five weeks, and challenge your congregation to reach a certain goal. Give an update following each week, letting everyone know how much was raised. Have an artistic church member draw a thermometer with some benchmarks indicated at the quarter, half, and three-quarter points, with the goal at the top. Color the "mercury" in the thermometer red each week to show how the offering is progressing. Collect a different coin each week for the first four weeks (of course other coins and bills are welcome, too!): Week 1 pennies, Week 2 nickels, Week 3 dimes, Week 4 quarters, Week 5 bills.

All-Stars Sponsors
Have your church members sponsor children for All-Stars for Jesus Bible Clubs. Read the free report for bulletin board ideas. Most people will jump at the chance to support children in a positive, Bible-teaching program. Have sponsors purchase stars for the entire Bible club registration amount or an amount of their choosing. Cut out two stars for each of of your donors—one to add to your "Hall of Fame" bulletin board. Write a note of thanks on the other star and give it to the donor (or have the child receiving the scholarship write the note).

Yard or Rummage Sale
Encourage your congregation to clean out their closets and garages and bring the unneeded items (in good condition) to the church for a giant rummage sale. Be sure to advertise that all the proceeds will be used to fund the All-Stars for Jesus Bible Club programs at your church. Have children and teens from your church set up a bake sale at the rummage sale to sell donuts, coffee, muffins, cookies, and juice donated (and baked) by members of your congregation.

Business Sponsors
Ask several local businesses to sponsor your All-stars for Jesus Bible Clubs. Include the business names on all promotional materials and encourage your congregation members to frequent those businesses. Create a donor star for each business and add them to your "Hall of Fame" bulletin board.

Stuck on All-Stars for Jesus
Make a list of items needed for your Bible clubs and the cost of each item. Print each item needed and its price on a sticky note (notes shaped like stars would be great). Post the notes on a bulletin board or wall and have your congregation members go "shopping." Each member can choose a sticky note and then pay for the items at the All-Stars Sponsor Table or your church office. Give each "shopper" a donor star on which to print his name and then add to your "Hall of Fame."

For more fundraising ideas, download the FREE report: How to Pay for Your All-Stars for Jesus Bible Club.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

God's Message to Us

Children's Bibles
Hold an open Bible. Explain that the Bible is God's Word and it is true. Have a child read II Peter 1:21 aloud from the Bible. Say it together in unison. Then lead your students in saying the following poem together.

Where did this Book
    (hold hands like an open book) come from
That tells us (point to other children)
   Of God’s love (point to your heart)?
Why, it came from God Himself
   (hold both hands high),
My Father (point to self) up above (point up).

This Book (hold hands like an open book)
   Is God’s own precious Word (hug self):
True things spoken (point to mouth) by Him
   (point up).
It tells me (point to self) I am His own child
   (point up)
When I (point to self) ask Jesus in
   (form cross with fingers, then point to heart).

This Book (hold hands like an open book)
   Is a light, a map, a guide 
(shade eyes with hand, look left to right)
   That shows the way to walk (walk fingers up arm).
Each day I read (point to self)
   From God’s own Word (hold hands like an open book)
Each day with Him (point up) I talk
   (fold hands to pray, and bow head).

Say, The Bible tells us that God loves us. He has always loved us, and He has always wanted to tell us so. A long, long time ago God spoke in many ways to tell about His love for us. Sometimes He spoke through men called prophets. They and others (such as King David) wrote down what God wanted everyone to know. And sometimes God talked to people directly, telling them little by little about His plans.

Then when Jesus came down from heaven to be born on earth, God spoke to us through Him. God’s Son, Jesus, brought us the message of God’s love.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Party in a Box

Prepare for this party several weeks in advance by collecting boxes of all sizes. Look over the game rules to get an idea of the kind of boxes you'll need. Save them as you empty them, ask the children's parents to save them, and ask store managers to save them for you. Prepare six bean bags (six socks full of dried beans or corn kernels or pebbles). Ask church members to donate shoe boxes and small toys and toiletries to fill the boxes. Choose an organization where you will donate the boxes when they are assembled. Decorate your room with wrapped boxes and ribbon streamers. Visit eChurchDepot.com for additional decoration ideas.

Up And Over
Divide into two teams. Place bean bags in two shoe boxes and put lids on the boxes. The members of each team stand in a line facing the front of your play area. The leader gives the first person on each team a shoe box with a bean bag inside. At the starting signal, the first player on each team person passes the box back over his head. The second person passes it back through his legs. Continue to pass the box back in this fashion (over head, through legs, over head, etc.) to the end of the line. When the box gets to the last player in line, he runs to the front of the line and starts the passing process over again, passing it over his head. If anyone in line drops the bean bag or box, he must pick it up and give it to the first person in line again. If anyone in line passes over his head when he should have passed through his legs, etc., the box goes back to the first person in line. The winning team is the first team to have all their players back in their starting positions. Sing OH, HOW I LOVE JESUS.

Bag In The Box
Place an open box about ten feet from the first person on each team. Have the children each toss three bean bags into the box. After the bean bags are tossed, retrieve them and give them to the next person in line. A leader keeps score for each team. See which team can toss the most bags into the box. Sing I AM A “C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N.”

Prepare boxes of refreshments for the children. Each box will hold a cookie, a napkin, and a juice box. Have volunteers say a prayer of thanks before the snacks are served. Recycle the snack boxes to use for the next activity.

Pack The Box
Fill the empty shoe boxes you've collected with a number of small gift items, school supplies, and toiletries to be donated to a local mission or to an organization such as Samaritan’s Purse (samaritanspurse.org). Set up an assembly line so each child picks up a box and then fills it with assorted items (one item from each section of the table).

Before the party, fill one box with trash. Fill the other with enough candy for each child to have one. Wrap both packages. Show the children two wrapped boxes. Talk about boxes being used to wrap packages. Ask the children if they can always tell what is in the wrapped presents. Read I Samuel 16:7, explaining that God makes it clear that He doesn't look at what people are on the outside, but at what they are on the inside. He sees each child exactly as he or she is. Let the children guess what’s in the wrapped boxes. Then show them the boxes. Let them look inside. Say, “Sometimes we look nice on the outside with the clothes we wear, but what comes out of our mouths can be like this stinky trash.” Challenge the children to be kind and loving to others on the outside so people will be able to tell that they love Jesus. Encourage them to do and say things Jesus would do and say. Explain the purpose of the gift boxes they packed for charity. Let them know that the toys and gifts they provided will help others to have a special Christmas. 

Close in prayer.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Preteen Spiritual Fitness

Your preteens are learning about physical well-being in school so this is a great time to teach them about spiritual health and fitness—relate it to their physical health. Around your classroom, put up posters and other information about physical health. Include material about nutritious food groups, good exercise principles, friendship principles, and developing individual talents. Some of your students may be able to make posters encouraging good physical health. If you know elementary school teachers, they may be willing to let you borrow posters from their classrooms.

Help your students relate these areas of physical health and fitness to their spiritual health. Emphasize a different area each week.

Bring a nutritious snack of whole-grain muffins, veggies and dip, or fruit. As your students eat, talk about the things our bodies need to stay healthy (vitamins and minerals, food, water, sun, exercise, etc.) Explain that just as our physical bodies need many vitamins and minerals to keep healthy, the body of Christ needs each member to stay healthy. Have your students describe what happens when a body is missing a vitamin or other essential element. Explain that when one member is absent, the body of Christ suffers. Hand out construction paper or poster board and markers. Let your students make posters that show how necessary each person is to the body of Christ, the church.

Have your students do a few jumping jacks together. Then have them relax and sit on the floor. Explain that just as our bodies need exercise to keep them strong, we need to exercise our spiritual muscles to keep our spiritual life strong. Talk about responsibilities we have to serve and help others in the church. Let your students brainstorm ways they can help others. Give each child a large piece of felt, scissors, glue, fabric paint, fabric markers, and felt pieces. Let your students make banners that show ways they can help and serve others.

Have your students name some of the important people in their lives. Explain that no one can be truly healthy unless he or she develops strong bonds with other people. This includes parents, siblings, friends, and adults such as teachers, pastors, neighbors, and parents of friends. The body of Christ can't be truly healthy without developing friendships either. Believers are part of an eternal family and must therefore treat each other with respect and care. Make up a class list of 3-4 rules to ensure each person in your group is treated with respect. Then brainstorm ways your students can make visitors feel welcome to your class.

Gifts and Talents
Invite a couple of your students to share their talents with the class (playing an instrument, jumping rope, telling jokes, displaying a work of art, etc.) Explain that just as each person has talents that allow him to excel in different areas, God gives us spiritual gifts. God expects us to use these spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ. Read I Corinthians 12:4-6 and 11 aloud. Tell your students that even though they may not yet know which spiritual gift(s) they have, all Christians have at least one spiritual gift, and some have more than one. Whatever your spiritual gift, it is beneficial to the body of Christ.