I Don’t Need My Name in Lights: Teaching Kids How to Shine for God

This month in our Sunday night children’s program called KidVenture, we are studying how to “Shine for God.”  We are looking at different stories in the Bible where God has called people to serve Him:  Gideon, Samuel, the Disciples, and Us.  We are learning how God used them to do some pretty cool things.  These are just a few of the MANY people in the Bible where God has called people to serve Him, to do great things in His name.  I’m excited about the month and all that the children will learn about shining for God!

But how do we teach children to shine for God without being in the spotlight?  What are we (as parents and as Kidmin leaders) doing to help kids see that serving God is important, but to make sure we don’t do it for our glory?   I think a simple way is by OUR actions.  Kids learn by example.  How are you reacting to situations?  How do you handle praise from someone?  Are you always wanting to be front and center?  Do you crave attention?  Do you always expect someone to thank you for what you did?  Do you complain in front of your kids about how no one in the church thanked you for what you did?  The way we handle or react to situations speaks a lot, especially to children.

My goal for this month is for our teachers to communicate to the children that they are EACH called to shine for God.  To do great things for Him.  To not ignore that feeling they are getting about doing something that they know is right.  To step out in faith and do what God wants them to do.  To SHINE for God, but to always remember that we don’t do it for our glory, but we do it for the glory of the Lord.

I think the same applies for those of us who serve as leaders of children in the church.  Don’t plan an event,name_in_lights_banner lead a Bible study, invent a cool new game, get tons of kids to come to your VBS, make some awesome decorations for your space, or take kids on a retreat and expect to be thanked for it.  Don’t expect your name to “be in lights” at your church.  Don’t be upset when no one recognizes all the hard work you put in.  Be humble.   When we serve God we should never expect praise for ourselves.  If you are thanked, remember to give the praise and glory to God who gave you the ability to do these things.

Today as I was driving in the car I heard a new song from Francesca Battistelli called “He Knows My Name.”  The chorus of the song says:

“I don’t need my name in lights.  I’m famous in my Father’s eyes.  Make no mistake.  He knows my name.  I’m not living for applause.  I’m already so adored.  It’s all His stage.  He knows my name.”

When you are teaching children to shine for God, help them to know that God knows their name.  They don’t have to be on the stage front and center to do amazing things for God.  No need to be in the spotlight.  They can do some pretty awesome things right where they are. They are adored and loved by God already.  When we do what God wants us to do, we are serving on HIS stage.  Not ours.  Teach kids that Jesus is our light and we should always follow him.  John 8:12 says, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  

Shining for God means doing what God wants you to do.  You can still shine for God and stay out of the spotlight.  You just got to be humble and remember to give all the prise and shineraise to God.  In doing so, the kids in your ministry and your own kids will learn how to serve God and truly shine for Him.

Now get out there and…..”Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory”!



God’s Bucket

God's Bucket (It’s finally here….summer!!!  Last week of school for the kids and they are all so excited!  I remember the happiness I felt as a child as summer approached.  No more school for a couple of months.  Summer was filled with church camp, cheerleading camps, basketball camps, beach trips, weeks spent at my grandparents house in Tennessee, swimming, and just some fun outdoor play time at home. Good summer memories.

The summer bucket list each child was given. They wrote down things they wanted to do this summer and then colored their buckets.

Yesterday at Kidz Church we had our End of School lesson.  I wanted to focus on the kids and their dreams and fears.  In the beginning in their small groups, we had kids create their own summer bucket list.  They listed things they wanted to do this summer (whether it was a reality or not).  Just a little fun activity to get started.

During our Large Group worship time, we had kids share what their dream was in life; what they wanted to be when they grow up.  It was cool to hear the different things they aspire to be: archeaologist, teacher, scientist, rock star, military, architect, etc.  Each child that shared had this sparkle in their eye and excitement in their voice as they shared these dreams.  Then I asked them to share their fears about doing these things in life.  I was amazed as I listened to them share these fears.  Their looks changed and you could tell they doubted their abilities to do these things.

I then shared with them Isaiah 41:10:  “Do not fear for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”   There is no need to fear, children, because God is with you!  Whatever you dream and hope for, believe in the abilities that God has given you and always pray and ask God to help you do what He wants you to do.

Our next activity was to place our fears in “God’s Bucket”.  Each class had piece of butcher paper with a drawing of a bucket.  I asked them to fill God’s Bucket with their fears and to ask God to help them do something they might be afraid to do.  Again, I was amazed at the fears that these children wrote down:  help me not to quit, help me to listen and obey, help me to follow my dreams, help me do the right things, help someone find the Japanese girls and bring them home safely, keep my brother safe in the army, help find the lost plane, help me not to fight with my siblings, etc.  So many things they wrote down where they were asking God for help.  They were giving their fears over to God and asking God to help them.

God’s Bucket. This was the bucket our 4th & 5th Graders filled with their fears and needs for God’s help

As they were doing this activity, I noticed a boy standing off from his class.  He said he didn’t want to do this activity.  He didn’t need God’s help with anything.  He could do everything by himself.  As a Children’s Minister, my heart just broke.  How could a child who has been coming to church almost every Sunday for the past school year, feel like he doesn’t need God?  The questions just started flooding my mind that maybe it was my fault:  What have I done wrong in my teaching?  Have I not shown God’s love enough to this child?  What have I not done to reach out to this child?  All I could tell him was that yes, you need God.  God created you, God has given you so many gifts to use, God loves you with all his heart, Jesus died for you on the cross so that you could one day live in heaven with him.  You need God.   We all need God.  We can’t do anything WITHOUT God.  So now, my prayers are filled with cries of help for this young boy.  I want him to realize that yes, he needs God.  I want him to seek God in everything he does.  I want him to pray to God every day.  I want him to love God with all his heart.  I will be praying for God to change his heart and for him to realize his need for God.

All of this reminded me that as a Children’s Minister, my work is NEVER finished.  There are so many children in this world that do not know God and don’t know the sacrifice that Jesus made for them.  God has placed me here to serve him at Dahlonega UMC and also to serve the children of Lumpkin County.  My work is not over and never will be.  I must continue to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to every child.  Thank you God for calling me to teach and show love to your children here in GA.  I must Press On…

The Last Supper Lesson for Kids

I love telling the Bible stories in ways that the kids at church will see the story come to life.  When I am preparing to teach the kids I think, “How will they remember this story?  What is the best way for this story to stick?”   The best way I know how to do that is by having them be “inside” the story.  Bringing the story to life using props or better yet, creating your environment  so they are actually inside the story.

This past Sunday I did the lesson on The Last Supper for our elementary kids who come to Kidz Church on Sunday mornings.  Our Kidz Church is set up so that they do small groups first, then a large group worship time in our Fellowship Hall, then they go back to their small groups.  I lead the large group worship time.  For this lesson, I wanted them to really feel like they were at the Last Supper.  I decided that I would turn our Fellowship Hall into the Upper Room.  We would share a meal together that morning.  Our meal would consist of bread (packaged rolls that I bought), grape juice, and cheese cubes (no, they didn’t have cheese at the Last Supper, but I thought it would be a good addition to our meal),   Beforehand I sat up all the tables and chairs in long rows.  I decorated the tables with white tablecloths and laid palm branches in the middle for decoration.  I also set each table with plates, cups, and napkins.

One of the tables I used for our Last Supper meal.

I had a main table set up in the front of the room that I covered in a white tablecloth and palm branches, too.  On it I had a really big basket draped in purple cloth with the rolls in it.  I had 2 clear glass pitchers with grape juice and 4 chalices (used just as a prop and decoration).   I also had the instrumental music from the Passion of the Christ playing in the background.

In Bible times when guests entered someone’s home they removed their sandals and had their feet washed by the servants.  Before the kids could enter our Fellowship Hall, I made them take off their shoes. Then they took a place at one of our tables.  They were all so excited because the room was set up different than normal and when they saw the plates and cups they knew they were getting some food to eat!  Nothing excites kids more than food and candy!

I began by explaining to them why they took their shoes off.  I also explained how Jesus wanted to show and teach us about humility by washing his disciples feet before they ate.  Prior to this, I picked out 3 of our adult leaders whose feet I would wash.  Those 3 adults came to the front as I washed their feet, all the while, explaining to the kids what I was doing and why.  Some kids wanted their feet washed and some did not, but due to the large number of kids and time constraints, we just let them watch as I washed the adults feet.

After this I began telling the story of the Last Supper.  How Jesus wanted his disciples to remember him with the bread and wine.  How Jesus broke the bread (I actually broke bread) and how he poured the wine into the cup (I poured some grape juice into one of our chalices).  I also told them how Jesus said that the one who dips his hand into the bowl with him would be the one to betray him (that being Judas).  Then I told them that we were going to share a meal, just like Jesus did with his disciples.  Our small group leaders helped pass out the bread, cheese and juice to the kids.  Once all the kids were served, I had one of our kids (who happened to be my youngest daughter) lead us in saying a blessing.  She chose for us to say the “God is Great” blessing.  All the kids joined in with her to say this prayer.  After that, they dug in to their simple meal.    I think each child had at least 2 servings of everything!  They LOVED it!

I really enjoyed this lesson with our kids.  I think it really helped bring the story to life for them.  They got to pretend like they were one of the disciples eating in the Upper Room for one more meal with Jesus.  I pray that every time they hear this story, they will remember the time that we all shared a meal together.

Any time you can bring the story to life for the children at your church, I pray that you do that.  I understand that not everyone can due to lack of space, budget money, or time constraints.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but the simplest thing can be the one thing that the children in your ministry remember.  Have fun with the stories, use your creativity, and help the Bible stories stick to your kids!