Lessons for life: teaching kids about money

This post is an excerpt from an article by Becky D’Angelo-Veitch in the Presbyterians Today magazine April 2015 Issue – MONEY AND FAITH.

Connecting money and ministry

Zeta Lamberson, president of the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators,  suggests talking to children at every step about the practical uses of stewardship dollars. By the age of 10, she says, children should be able to name things that their money supports at church. She also notes that stewardship education for this age group should emphasize not only giving but also involvement in mission and service. Zeta  created a faith-formation curriculum titled Stepping Stones on the Journey of Faith that lays out milestones for different age groups (for more information about this resource, email Lamberson at  billzeta@bellsouth.net).

Christian educator, Kathryn McGregor, recalls a particularly meaningful project at the congregation she serves, Unity Presbyterian Church in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Last spring, second to fifth graders embarked on the Clean Water for All God’s Children project to help raise funds for Living Waters for the World, a ministry of the Synod of Living Waters. Children solicited pledges for their participation in a “Walk for Water” to benefit the ministry, which teaches people how to build and operate systems that provide clean water for communities in developing countries. “It ended up being an opportunity for the children to lead the adults,” McGregor says. “We walked half a mile, then picked up gallon jugs of water and carried them back to our starting point. We had great conversation on the way back about what it would be like to be barefooted, carrying an open jug that might splash out, and having to watch out for dangers along the way. It was a great real-life lesson for our children about something we all take for granted.”

To read the entire article, click here.


Good Friday All-Age Prayer Stations

Are you ready for Good Friday?

Posted from Engage Worship – http://engageworship.org/ideas/Good_Friday_All-Age_Prayer_Stations 

Written By: Sam Hargreaves

Themes: confession, the cross, Jesus, good friday, easter, intercession

Bible Refs: Eph 2:9-10, Phil 2:7-8, Col 1:20, 1 Cor 10:16-17, Heb 10:20

The Good Friday prayer station instruction sheets can be downloaded from the Engage Worship web site  (see above) or contact kayebledsoe@presbycc.org

  • You will need:
  • Printed instruction sheets (downloadable below – sign in)
  • Bags or boxes to put sheets and materials in
  • Other materials listed below

These prayer stations have been designed for an all-age Good Friday service at Spring Harvest 2015.  We are planning to do about 25 minutes opening ‘up-front’ input with singing and interactive teaching.  Then we will hand out these prayer stations in bags.  We want people to get into groups – families, or just groups with the people around them – and engage with these ‘modular’ prayer stations for as long as they like.  Once they are done they can pack the bits back into the bag, and go and swap it for a different one.  We think we’ll do this for about 20 minutes and then bring people back together for a final act of gathered worship.

This ‘modular’ way of doing the activities should encourage discussion between the families/groups, and remove the need to have people move around the room.  However, if you prefer you could set these up in a more regular format, or use fewer of the activities all together.

The instructions below list enough resources for one of each bag – multiply by the number of bags/groups you predict will attend.


You will need:

  • A hand mirror
  • A white-board pen
  • A sponge cut into a cross shape
  • Instruction sheet


  1. Take it in turns to look at your faces in the mirror.  Remind each other – ‘You are God’s masterpiece!’ (Eph 2:10).
  2. Talk about the things which you do wrong – sins, selfish things, attitudes which are not God’s best.  Write them on the mirror in pen.
  3. Pray to say sorry for these things.
  4. Use the cross shaped sponge to wipe the mirror clean again.
  5. Pray and thank Jesus for dying to clean our sins away.


Eph 2:9-10 (NLT) Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.


You will need:

  • Balls of play-dough (bought or home-made)
  • Instruction sheet


  1. Each take a piece of play-dough, and make an image of yourself.  It could be literally what you look like, or an image of how you feel.
  2. One person make a ‘Jesus’ model out of the same play-dough. Read the verses below, and talk about how Jesus knows what it is like to be one of us – made of the same stuff.
  3. Pray – thank Jesus that he knows what it is like to be you, and that he died as ‘one of us’.


Phil 2:7-8 (MSG) When the time came, [Jesus]… became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.


You will need:

  • Printouts of globes or world maps (on A3, colour)
  • A4 card
  • Pens
  • Glue stick
  • Large plain cross at front of church, which groups can add their collages to
  • Instruction sheet


  1. Talk about the problems that there are in the world, and write them on the world picture.
  2. Tear up the picture to show the brokenness of our planet.
  3. Read the passage below. Pray that we would see some of the putting-back-together of all things, as God works through his people in the world.
  4. Make a new picture by sticking your ‘world’ pieces onto the card, then take it and add it to the big cross shape at the front.


Col 1:20 (MSG) all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.


You will need:

  • Bread roll
  • Carton of grape juice, with straws or cups
  • Instruction sheet


  1. Take out the bread, and talk about what this means to you. How do you think Jesus is ‘the bread of life’?
  2. Take out the grape juice, a symbol of the wine that Jesus compared to his blood. How does his blood make us right with God?
  3. Eating and drinking bread and wine together makes us one in Jesus.  Share the food and drink, with prayers of thanks.


1 Cor 10:16-17 (MSG) When we drink the cup of blessing, aren’t we taking into ourselves the blood, the very life, of Christ? And isn’t it the same with the loaf of bread we break and eat? Don’t we take into ourselves the body, the very life, of Christ? Because there is one loaf, our many-ness becomes one-ness – Christ doesn’t become fragmented in us. Rather, we become unified in him.


You will need:

  • Paper and pens
  • Instruction sheet


  1. Talk about what Good Friday means to you. What do you think is Good about Jesus’ death on the cross?  Write down words or phrases people use.
  2. Turn your phrases into a poem, prayer, rap or other creative writing. Work on it together.
  3. When you’ve finished, take the poem to one of the leaders – it might get used at the end of the worship time.


You will need:

  • Pens
  • Instruction sheet


  1. Jesus died to open the door to heaven for us.  Heaven is where God is completely present, and his ways are followed perfectly.  Follow the paths below to see which leads to life with God.
  2. The Bible says: ‘By his death, Jesus opened a new life-giving way’ into God’s presence (Heb 10:20).

Do you want to go through the door to life with God?  All you need to do is put your trust in Jesus.  As a sign of this, you can write your name on this door, or draw a picture of yourself.

Pray and thank Jesus for opening the way to heaven for you, and anyone who asks him.

Sam co-leads engageworship.org with his wife Sara. He completed the LST degree in Theology, Music and Worship, and is now Programme Leader for the Theology and Worship course, three days per week. He also co-leads RESOUNDworship.org, the free worship song website, and has led musical and creative worship at events like Spring Harvest, New Wine North and the Greenbelt. Their book ‘How would Jesus lead worship‘ was published by BRF in 2009.

No Perfect Age, No Secret Formulas in Youth Ministry

Columbia Connections

By Michelle Thomas-Bush and John Turnbull

On Sunday nights at Myers Park Presbyterian in Charlotte, NC, youth and advisors gather for dinner before youth group, while younger children assemble for age-group programming.

Imagine this scene unfolding. Then listen in on a conversation between youth leadership team staff members Michelle Thomas-Bush and John Turnbull as they discuss the value of intergenerational relationships.

At one table, recent college graduate Hannah offers study tips to a few youth who are stressed out and worried about their grades. At another table, Tom, a parent, is talking about equal pay for women and the youth are getting passionate in their responses to the issues he is raising.

View original post 780 more words

Holy Week Children’s Service with Visiual Props

Carolyn Brown offers a Holy Week Children’s Service

holy week props throrns

“As each reader begins, an older child acolyte picks up the prop for that story, holds it high and solemnly walks a prescribed path among the worshippers so that all can see the prop.”

Building Faith note:
The service of Tenebrae is celebrated on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, or Holy Saturday. While patterns may differ, the basic components are a series of readings on Christ’s passion, along with lit candles that are extinguished, one at a time, following each reading. For a standard set of Tenebrae readings, try this one at Calvin Institute.

Carolyn C. Brown offers a version of this service that works especially well for children and intergenerational groups. We think that it could also be effective for a school chapel service, or even adapted into a Sunday school lesson. The following is reprinted with permission from Sharing the Easter Faith with Children (Abington: 2006).

A Holy Week Service
Rather than snuff a candle after each reading, present a prop related to each reading as it is read. Readers are seated at a table at the front of the room as in a Tenebrae service. In front of each reader there is a prop related to that story and a folded black napkin. Readers are seated in story sequence from left to right. As usual, include readers of many different ages. As each reader begins, an older child acolyte picks up the prop for that story, holds it high and solemnly walks a prescribed path among the worshippers so that all can see the prop.

Holy week props

If the reader has not finished when the acolyte gets back to the front of the room, the acolyte stands to one side of the table until the reader finishes. If the reader finishes before the acolyte returns, the acolyte slowly continues the full circuit in silence.

The acolyte then returns the prop to its place on the table and covers it with the black napkin. If the napkin is arranged so a corner hangs over the front of the table, a pattern of black grows across the table as the readings continue. A deep toned bell (perhaps a handbell) is tolled once as the acolyte steps back into place following each reading.  A rehearsal is essential.

Holy Week Props covered in black

The Visual Props
Props can be determined by what is available in church closets. The following list is used in one congregation with an annual children’s Tenebrae. The readings are in parentheses.

Communion chalice (The Last Supper)

Picture of Jesus praying (Jesus prays in the garden)
Display the picture on a table easel.

Length of rope (Jesus is arrested)
The rope ends are tied in loops; the acolyte slips the loops over her wrists leaving them hooked over her thumbs so they will not slip all the way down her arms.

Crown of thorns (Jesus is sentenced to death)
Use whatever thorny vines grow in your area.

Red cardboard broken heart (Peter’s denials)
The acolyte carries one half of the broken heart in each hand holding the halves close to each other to show the heart shape.

Freestanding cross (Jesus is killed)

Length of white fabric (Jesus is buried)
The fabric is carried, draped across the acolyte’s arms.

Cross and cloth

Carolyn C. Brown is a Certified Christian Educator in the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA). Her book, Sharing the Easter Faith with Children, is published by Abingdon Press. Carolyn blogs the lectionary at Worshiping With Children.

Photos by Matthew Kozlowski

Childhood and Religion Journal

Childhood and Religion Journal

  reposted from HOPE4CE – March 19, 2015

Launched in 2010, the Journal of Childhood and Religion is a peer-reviewed, free, online journal that provides an interdisciplinary forum for scholars representing a wide range of research fields, interests, and perspectives that relate to children and religion. Such fields include religious studies, biblical studies, the range of human sciences, pastoral psychology, practical theology, pastoral theology, religious education, psychology of religion, sociology of religion, counseling psychology, social work, and cultural studies. JCR publishes articles dealing with childhood, youth, adolescence, and young adulthood, recognizing that these terms operate differently in a variety of cultural contexts. The journal welcomes original scholarship by recognized experts in their respective fields, but also seeks submissions from junior scholars as well as practitioners in work that supports children.

The journal’s editor is Allan Hugh Cole Jr., Ph.D., who serves as Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin. Previously, he was on the faculty at Austin Seminary for eleven years, the last four of which he served as Academic Dean.

In addition to what Dr. Cole has mentioned here, there are also book reviews of practical books on children’s ministry and the opportunity to either review books or suggest books to be reviewed to the Journal’s editorial board. 

Although the Journal for Childhood and Religion has been around since 2010, this is a brand new website, so I’m sure they’d be interested in any feedback from readers of this site, as you explore it.

Steps for Creating or Revitalizing Ministry with Children

Eleven steps for creating or revitalizing ministry with children posted from the PC(USA) web site. http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/today/0315-children/

1. Nurture the spiritual journeys of expectant, adoptive, and foster parents before and after children arrive.

2. Be as attentive to spaces where children spend their time as you are to the sanctuary. Consider issues of accessibility, cleanliness, art and decor, and safety.

3. Adopt or strengthen child-protection policies with clear guidelines for all youth and adults who work with children.

4. Encourage adults and children to get to know each other by name and learn one unique thing about the other person.

5. Celebrate children’s milestones as an act of worship (birth, baptism, entering school, Bible presentations, commissioning, graduations).

6. Identify ministry roles for children (greeters, junior ushers, Scripture readers, banner carriers, acolytes, offering attendants, Communion cup collectors, pencil sharpeners).

7. Encourage adults to apprentice children when they do the ministry of the church (visiting the elderly, preparing Communion trays, delivering meals, groundskeeping, sending cards, creating care packages).

8. Build relationships across generations by inviting children to participate in spiritual practices with adults (as prayer partners or in conversation groups).

9. Allow children to take the lead with child-centered stewardship education by researching needs, selecting giving options, creating publicity, and planning and collecting pledges of time, talent, and money.

10. Offer children feedback that will help them identify their God-given gifts and recognize God’s call and claim on their life.

11. Engage children in mission, such as collecting food for food pantries, packing disaster cleanup kits, or compiling toiletry kits for homeless shelters.

Get Help

• Contact—Candace Hill, coordinator of educational ministries, at candace.hill@pcusa.org or 800-728-7228 x5166

• Curriculum—Find biblically based Presbyterian and Reformed curricula for children, including the new Growing in Grace & Gratitude: pcusa.org/curriculum

• Resources—for links to relevant websites as well as information about choosing educational resources and developing lifelong learning goals: pcusa.org/education

• Discipleship—Help children develop their gifts of service and generosity through the Compassion, Peace, and Justice mission area: pcusa.org/cpj

• Training—Equip parents and adults to nurture children of all developmental abilities through PC(USA)-sponsored Opening Doors to Discipleship: odtd.net

• Blogs—Explore thoughts on child development and children’s ministries from a variety of online sources, including seminary professors and pastor parents:






Could You Reinvent Your Easter Egg Hunt…For Good?

What’s new with our Easter Egg Hunt?

reposted from Building Faith by Rebecca Nelson Edwards on April 4th, 2014

Plastic Easter Eggs

“As children empty their eggs, they drop their Good Sam Bucks into three jars representing local non-profit charities that help children. The paper money is later replaced with real money by our outreach committee and donated to those charities.”

Our Easter Message
Like many churches, Good Samaritan offers a traditional egg hunt for children on Easter Sunday. It’s one of those things that we just always do, though no one knows exactly when it started. Also like most churches, our attendance doubles on Easter morning, and we have many folks who are joining us for the first time. Despite this blessing, for some reason we cancel Sunday School, and all we show visitors about our church is an egg hunt, which does nothing to tell the Christian story. Last year, that all changed when a few of us began wondering aloud how we could send a better message on Easter.

A New Plan
The first change was the return of Sunday school to Easter. Thanks to our brilliant and dedicated volunteers, we are offering Godly Play as usual, which meets during the first part of our church service.

Next, we revamped that egg hunt to focus on outreach. (Don’t worry, there’s still candy – keep reading.) Instead of filling plastic eggs with sweets (which gets messy when chocolate-filled eggs sit outside in the San Diego sun), we stuffed the eggs with paper “Good Sam Bucks” in several denominations.

As children empty their eggs, they drop their Good Sam Bucks into three jars representing local non-profit charities that help children. The paper money is later replaced with real money by our outreach committee and donated to those charities. The children take home a piece of candy for every Good Sam Buck they donate. The three charities are all local, and they all focus on helping children: a school for homeless children, a reading program in San Diego schools called Rolling Readers, and a Tijuana orphanage operated by our Episcopal diocese for children whose parents are incarcerated.

Good Sam Bucks
The $10 bills have a picture of Jesus and are redeemable for a special prize; the $5 bills have pictures of our clergy and are also redeemable for prizes; and the $1 bills have an assortment of photos of our Godly Play storytellers. We printed the bucks in different colors for each denomination and made sure we had an equal number of prize eggs for each age group.

Good Samaritan Easter Bucks

Going Forward
This year, our only change will be inviting other members of the congregation to contribute real dollars to these wonderful organizations. We had a great deal of positive feedback from visitors and parishioners alike who were glad to see the egg hunt as a way of caring for our community.

Good sam Easter egg hunt

Children choose which charity to support by dropping their bucks in one of three jars

Good Sam Easter egg hunt 2

The Rev. Rebecca Nelson Edwards is the Associate Rector at Good Samaritan Episcopal Church in San Diego, California.