Sunday, November 4, 2012

Under the Tree: Large Group/Small Group Christmas Program Solution

Did you know that "large group/ small group" is the fastest growing format for Sunday school? Living Inside Out gives you the energy and impact of a top-notch large-group experience with the intimate, dig-deep exploration of small groups. It's the best of both worlds.

Under the Tree $109.99 Only $93.49

Under The Tree Module: Living Inside Out

Module Focus: Jesus’ Birth
Key Verse: “The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” (Luke2: 11)

In this 5-week module, kids explore Jesus' birth through these well-crafted Bible lessons: Prophets Foretell Jesus' Birth (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; Micah 5:2), An Angel Appears to Mary and Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38), Jesus is Born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-7), Shepherds Learn That Jesus Is Born (Luke 2:8-20) and Wise Men Visit Jesus (Matthew 2:1-23). Whether you use this around Christmas or anytime throughout the year, you’ll help kids to see the impact Jesus’ birth had on the world—and how his ministry gives hope and a promise of eternal life to those who believe.

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(Bible Memory Maker 5-packs sold separately.)

What is Group's Living Inside Out®? 
Living Inside Out is the cure for Sunday school boredom, immersing kids in fun, memorable experiences every week. Through life application challenges, kids learn to live out their faith in real ways. Multimedia is a key element for Living Inside Out, setting the stage for great lessons while small group interaction cements Bible learning.

Living Inside Out shares Bible truths in a large group setting (just one leader required!) with five easy-to-present activities to connect with your kids. Use one...two...or all the activities! In Living Inside Out's small groups, children learn how to practice their faith 24/7—while the relationships formed in small groups make your Sunday school a warm, welcoming place week after week. With Living Inside Out, kids move beyond applying faith to actually living it out. By providing Daily Challenges™, kids have the chance to practice faithful living before they leave class. Each week you'll check in on how God used each challenge to shape your kids...and their world!

Did you know that finding and keeping volunteers is the number one challenge for church leaders? With Living Inside Out, all you need is one "up-front" personality for large group and a handful of friendly, kid-loving adults for small groups. It’s the most volunteer-friendly Sunday school ever.

Did you know that kids remember up to 90% more of what they experience than what they merely hear or read? Living Inside Out is as experiential as it gets. With interactive worship, memorable games, instant skits, innovative experiments and more, your kids will spend their time doing the Bible lesson—not just listening to it.

Did you know that Living Inside Out costs only 46 cents per child (when you have at least 50 kids)? That's afforable Sunday School.


If this sounds like it could be the solution for you, then check out the Living Inside Out Planning Pak (PDF) and Music Sample.

Also be sure to check out all of the Living Inside Out options on our website, including the Quarterly Set and the Under the Tree module, available separately for you to use at Christmas or anytime throughout the year.

Winter Quarterly Set $299.99 $254.99

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hints & Tips for Teaching Children

Here are some helpful tips for those of you teaching age 2 through grade 6. For more teaching tips, visit the Teaching Tips section of our website.

Ages 2 & 3

"Me. Mine."
Twos and threes do not understand sharing. This is evident in the frequent use of the words "me" and "mine." This is not all bad. It is a necessary stage before sharing can take place. Before a child can learn to share something, he must learn to possess it. Sharing is voluntarily giving up what we possess.

Ages 4 & 5

Language Explosion
At ages four and five, a preschooler's vocabulary increases tenfold, from 150 words to 1500 words! You can help them manage this explosion of words by doing two things. First, teach preschoolers how to use their new words correctly by speaking to them in complete, literal sentences. Second, let them practice using their new words by asking them to retell a story.

Grades 1 & 2

Keep it concrete
Primaries are making tremendous intellectual progress. By this age they can manipulate data mentally, come to some logical conclusions, and define, compare, and contrast things. But they still do not understand symbolism. After touring the defense plant where her daddy worked, one first grader resisted when told it was time to go home. She cried, "But I haven't seen where Daddy makes the money yet!"
When teaching primaries, say what you mean and mean what you say. Always teach them in literal concrete terms. 

Grades 3 & 4

Bounce this idea around
Think of your words as tennis balls. Every idea or lesson point is one ball. When you teach using the lecture method, you are tossing several balls to the children and expecting them to catch and hold on to all of them. (How many balls do you think the children can handle before they start dropping some of them?) When you teach using a question/answer method, you toss out a ball (your question) and ask a child to hold it and then toss back a ball of his own (a stab at an answer). Is your teaching a singles match between you and one other child or do you see that everyone gets a chance to handle the ball? When you use group discussion, you toss out a ball and ask a child to toss it to another child, then to another and to another. How many balls can your children juggle at one time? By thinking of your words as tennis balls, you can visualize what you are expecting the children to do with the concepts you toss their way.

Grades 5 & 6

A Record of Faith
Even though God's work is incredible, we often forget about experiences not long after they happen. Keep spiral notebooks on hand and let your preteens write their names on the outside. Encourage them each week to keep journals of their faith journey. They might write prayers or record answered prayers, describe how they saw God at work in the previous week, jot down thanksgivings, or write what this week's Bible memory verse means in their life. Keep the journals in a special place and allow the children to write in them once they have finished any class projects.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

5 Tiny Training Tips

by Donna Lucas
Publishing Director
Gospel Light /Children’s Ministry Resources

It’s never easy to get all of your Children’s Ministry volunteers together in one place! You can advertise the most fabulous training event and party, and yet it’s nearly impossible to get every teacher to come.

If you’re passionate about Children’s Ministry, you know that these questions always haunt the back of your mind:

How can I help my volunteer teachers see the importance of what they are doing? 

How can I help my volunteer teachers grow in their abilities?

For imparting vision and helping them see the importance of what they are doing, here are five tiny training tips for any teacher!

1.    KNOW the Bible content. No matter how well you think you know it, read the story again from the Bible. (You’ll be surprised at what you’ve forgotten!) Read it again from the teachers’ guide. Mark your Bible ahead of time with sticky notes and a highlighter. Now you’re free to act out the story, tell it in “first person” mode or do whatever works in that class, that day—because you never know if what you planned to do will result in kids getting that “blank” look. With the content “in” you, you’re free to switch up your method to make the “lights go on” in their eyes!

2.    Write the Big Idea or main point somewhere where YOU can see it. This helps you repeat it whenever you need to—and it keeps you on track!

3.    Highlight the activities and ideas you want to use for this class. Then be sure you have all of the materials. With so little time, you don’t want to waste time rifling through the pages or looking for missing materials!

4.    Prepare them socially. We can all remember those horrifying discoveries we made as preteens—feet too big, nose the wrong shape, hair too curly, too straight, too many freckles, too dark, too pale—you name it, preteens are suddenly and deeply aware of themselves and can feel overwhelmed by their worries. Create an accepting environment in your class, liberally sprinkled with humor that is not judgmental or sarcastic. Your preteens will learn from your model of kindness and humor that it is possible to “accept one another…as Christ accepted you.” They’ll feel safe and learn that these kids are truly their friends. This kind of environment will support the bond with the other kids who follow Jesus—because in the chaos of middle school, they’ll need people who accept them and remind them it’s valuable to follow Him.

5.    Practically memorize the conclusion, so that you can say those two or three sentences looking kids in the eye. You want to be able to see by their faces if they understand!

6.    Have two methods of memorizing the Bible verse “in the bag”—again, if one way doesn’t seem to work or you have extra time, you’ve got something fun and meaningful to do!

Even though it can be hard to reach each and every volunteer with encouragement and training resources, the process of building up the skills of your volunteers is a significant part of an effective children’s ministry. Training is a process whereby your volunteers improve and gain confidence in the skills they use. Training allows for growth and development of additional new skills. Training ensures vitality and freshness of the entire staff. And training helps your volunteers most effectively reach kids for Jesus!
Serving Christ through you,

Donna Lucas
Publishing Director
Gospel Light /Children’s Ministry Resources

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Basketball and The Church. Did You Know?

The Americans defended their title in the gold-medal match that went down to the wire...what an exciting game! But here’s something you may not have know about the game. Basketball was invented more than 100 years ago by a Christian theologian as an evangelical outreach tool!

USA Basketball Wins Gold. Source.

As Breakpoint mentioned in a recent article, John Murray of The Wall Street Journal recalled the story of the game's founding. The inventor of basketball, James Naismith, became convinced that he stood a better chance of exemplifying the Christian life through sports rather than through preaching. So he took a job as a physical education instructor at the YMCA's International Training School for Christian Workers in Springfield, Massachusetts. Naismith's vision was "to win men for the Master through the gym."

In 1891, Naismith set out to invent a new indoor game that students could play during winter. He spent weeks testing various games, including versions of soccer, football, and lacrosse, to no avail. "Finally," Murray writes, "Naismith decided to draw from all of these sports: with a ball that could be easily handled, play that involved running and passing with no tackling, and a goal at each end of the floor." In short, he came up with basketball.

From the beginning, Naismith and his athletic director, Luther Gulick, held the players to a high standard. As Gulick wrote in 1897, "The game must be kept clean." A Christian college cannot tolerate "not merely ungentlemanly treatment of guests, but slugging and that which violates the elementary principles of morals."

He recommended that a coach should "excuse for the rest of the year any player who is not clean in his play."

Basketball served as an important evangelical tool during the next 50 years, Murray noted. In 1941, Naismith wrote that "whenever I witness games in a church league, I feel that my vision, almost half a century ago, of the time when the Christian people would recognize the true value of athletics, has become a reality."

In the last 100 years, we've seen no shortage of Christian athletes who use their skill, self-discipline, and sportsmanship as a witness to Christ-from Olympic runner Eric Liddel in the 1920s, to football player Tim Tebow in our own generation.

In fact, so many athletes give the glory to God after a game that sportswriters sometimes get irritated with them. To which I respond: Which would you prefer -- players known for their faith and good sportsmanship, or players who are arrested for assault or drug use?

If you have a young basketball fan in your family, tell him or her the story of how basketball was invented. And pray for Christian players who can use the public's love of sports the way Naismith envisioned when he invented basketball-as a witnessing tool to "win men for the Master through the gym."

Monday, August 6, 2012

Save 45% on Adventure Bibles for Kids

Now through the end of August, you'll save up to 45% on Adventure Bibles from Zondervan! This is America's best-selling Bible for kids!

The recently revised Adventure Bible is all about going on a safari exploration through God's Word with fun and interesting activities and study helps that kids are sure to love.

It's available in the NIV or NIrV for early readers, and in hardcover or an affordable softcover. Stock up now for the upcoming year at the lowest prices! Shop now >

Don’t miss this special opportunity to save big. These prices are only good through August 31, 2012!