Archive - November, 2016

Supporting Missionary Kids from the Classroom: Practical Tips for Connecting

Supporting Missionary Kids from the Classroom: Practical Tips for Connecting

Read Part 1 – Brothers, Pray for Us

Has your Sunday school class decided to support missionary kids from your church who are in the same grade? Here are some practical tips for connecting with and supporting your church’s missionaries.

Build Relationships

Whether you break out pens and paper, or become virtual pen pals, help the students in you class build relationships with the missionary kids through writing notes.

  • If you have extra time in class, write a note to or color pictures for your missionary kids. Ask them questions about what life is like where they live and let the students in your class introduce themselves. You can always scan or take a picture of their notes and email them for quick delivery.
  • Recognize special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas, Easter or the end of the school year. If you are mailing a card, remember to send it early because mail can often take a long time to reach some countries.
  • Send a care package. Mail can be a challenge to get to some countries, but it is so fun for missionary kids to get a care package with a fun gift or things they miss from home. If there is a short term missions trip going to visit your missionary family, see if they have space to take a small package. Talk to the missionary kids’ parents, family or support team to find out what they like and would appreciate such as a games, crafts, school supplies, books or candy.
    If sending items is not an option, missionary kids can have fun getting an iTunes or Amazon gift card for new worship music or to watch a movie.
  • Share a photo of your class or small group and ask if your missionary kids can share photos of where they live and their everyday life.
  • Have your class record a video greeting for your missionary kids.

When given a blank piece of paper and asked to write (or color) to someone they do not know, children often do not know what to do. But, if you give them some simple prompts, they will have a lot of fun.

  • Coloring Pictures: For young children, provide pictures they can color or complete together as a small group.
    A fun option for missionary kids in sensitive countries who can not get a picture of a manger scene for Christmas, is to provide a snow scene with the basic outline of a snowman and trees. Then encourage children to work together to add like a face, scarf, buttons and snowflake stickers in the sky.
  • Get to Know You Questions: What is your name? Do you have brothers and sisters? Do you have any pets? Do you play a sport or musical instrument? What is the weather like where you live? What do you enjoy doing for fun? What is your favorite food? Where do you go to school? What are you thankful for? Have you visited any other countries? What countries would you like to visit? What makes you happy? What do you want to be when you grow up.
  • Faith Questions: What is your favorite verse? What is your favorite Bible story and why? What evidences of God’s grace have you seen in your life? How have you seen God’s glory in nature this week? What have your learned in Sunday school (favorite attribute of God, promise of God, name of God, etc.). What has God been teaching you in your devotions? 

Learn About Their Country

To help you better understand what life is like for your missionary kids as well as who they are ministering to, it can be very helpful to spend some time learning about the country they live in. You can ask a small group to research and put together a short report on the country; read short missionary stories or biographies; invite someone who has visited or lived in the country to come and talk; or ask your missionary kids questions about their life.
Read this post for some recommended books and resources.

Support Their Ministry

Another important aspect of supporting missionary families is financially. Help teach children about the importance of being cheerful givers and help them experience the joy of partnering with a ministry. Set a goal of how much money you want to raise depending on the age of your children and the size of your class. You may want to encourage kids to do some extra odd jobs at home so you can raise 10 dollars as a class. Or, you class may want to host a fundraiser to buy items that will help the the missionary family’s ministry such as Bibles, school supplies, clean water or goats.

Welcome Missionaries Home on Furlough

It is so exciting when our missionary families return on furlough and our church has the chance to bless and encourage them in person as well as hear about their ministry in person.

  • Welcome your missionary kid to your class!
  • Help host a welcome home party or open house to welcome them and help your missionary kid get to know your class.
  • Ask the missionary family to visit your class and give a short presentation about their ministry.
  • Put together a care package for your missionary kid with some toys or activities they can do while they are stateside.
  • Continue to pray for them as they travel and adjust to life in a temporary place.

 

Please remember to be sensitive to the political situation of each country your missionary families are in as you write or talk about them. To protect the safety of many missionaries, you may need to be very careful with certain terminology, names and locations. Please double check your missionary’s specific guidelines by talking with your church’s missions department or the missionary’s sending agency.

 

 

Supporting Missionary Kids from the Classroom: Brothers, Pray for Us

Supporting Missionary Kids from the Classroom: Brothers, Pray for Us

What is a missionary? Where do they live? What are they doing in a different country? Are their kids like me? Why do we need to pray for missionaries?

Can the children in your Sunday school classes answer these questions?

For many children, it is hard to understand the world outside their city, let alone in a different country. As teachers and parents, we have the opportunity to instill a passion in our children to spread the Gospel to others in their everyday life and to over 1200 unreached people groups around the world. As the church, we have the honor of sending and supporting missionaries along with their children.

One way to combine these goals of educating the children in our church and supporting our missionary families is to adopt missionary kids into the classroom to get to know them, learn more about their family’s ministry and consistently support them in prayer.

To start with, find out which missionary families your church supports and what grades their children are in.

  • If you are in a larger church with multiple missionary kids in each grade, assign one or two to each small group. This helps the students in your class build deeper relationships with the missionary kids and focus their prayers.
  • If you only have a few missionary kids, you could pray for each child as a class.
  • If there are no missionary kids in your grade, consider adopting a missionary without children who could use some extra encouragement. Or, choose an unreached people group or country to focus learning about and praying for.

It can be helpful to choose a team member in your class to champion this project and be the main communicator with the missionary families. Have them contact the missionaries to welcome the missionary kids into your class and begin getting to know the families. Be sure to sign up for their regular prayer letters or email updates so you have the latest information on how to support the families.

Supporting Missionary Kids from the Classroom: Brothers, Pray for UsPrayer is one of the easiest and most important ways to support missionary families. Some general prayers that all missionaries need include: for the Gospel to be spread through their ministry, that they will be protected from the attacks of Satan, for protection in travels and everyday life in a different country, peace within their family, a good school and friends for their children, guidance in countless decisions, and unwavering faith.

Here are a few ways for your class remember to pray for your missionary kids:

  • Hang up a map or bulletin board in your classroom with pictures of each of the missionary families in your classroom and show the country or general area they live in.
  • Put a picture of the missionary kid each small group is praying for on the lid of their small group supply box to help remind them to pray each week during small group time.
  • Set aside time as a whole class once a month to spend a few minutes in prayer for all of the missionary kids.
  • Make bookmarks or cards with the missionary kid’s photo and specific prayer requests for children in your class to take home and put in their Bible or on their refrigerator so they can pray for the missionaries with their family during the week and over the summer.

Read Part 2 of this post for some practical tips on how you can teach your class more about missions and simple ideas for connecting with your missionary kids.

Please remember to be sensitive to the political situation of each country your missionary families are in as you write or talk about them. To protect the safety of many missionaries, you may need to be very careful with certain terminology, names and locations. Please double check your missionary’s specific guidelines by talking with your church’s missions department or the missionary’s sending agency.

 

 

Teach the Bible and Pray for Faith

Teach the Bible and Pray for Faith

Charles Spurgeon shared these words for Sunday school teachers and parents:

The Holy Scriptures must be made the means of your salvation through faith. Know the Bible, read the Bible, search the Bible, and yet that alone will not save you. What did our Lord Himself say? “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and they are they which testify of Me; and you will not come unto Me that you might have life.” If you come not to Jesus, you will miss eternal life. Searching the Scriptures is able to make you wise unto salvation “through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” but not without that faith. Pray, you Sunday school teachers, that you may see this faith worked in the children whom you teach. What a blessed groundwork for faith your teaching of the Holy Scriptures will be, but never mistake it for the building itself, which is of faith alone.

(From a sermon titled, “The Sunday School and the Scriptures, No.1866.”
Found at www.spurgeongems.org)

Teach the Scriptures and pray for faith. This is a great call for parents and teachers. Teach, yes, but bathe that teaching in God-dependent prayer, pleading with our heavenly Father to bring about faith in Christ alone for our children and students.

Here are two encouraging and practical resources to consider:

Utter Dependency on God, Through PrayerUtter Dependency on God, Through Prayer

The first part of Utter Dependency on God, Through Prayer is primarily directed to adults for their growth in the faith. The second part provides practical guidance to those who lead children in prayer—primarily in the classroom, but also in the living room. Eleven strategies for integrating prayer into your interactions with children serve as a springboard for creative and visionary thought as you meditate upon Scripture, seeking God with all of your heart, through prayer.

Praying for the Next GenerationPraying for the Next Generation

What kind of legacy do you want to leave for your children? Sally Michael encourages you to consider the spiritual inheritance you can give to the next generation through your faithful prayers. In this booklet, she equips you with a method for using Scripture to pray for your child, grandchild, or the children in your church.

 

Teach the Bible and Pray for Faith

 

 

The World’s Largest Puzzle and Its Infinitely Wise Creator

The World’s Largest Puzzle and Its Infinitely Wise Creator

This summer, my family and I stopped by America’s biggest puzzle store during a family adventure. Inside, puzzles covered tables and shelves, were fitted in special cases that lined the entire ceiling and were tucked in every nook and cranny. There were beginner toddler puzzles with two pieces, kids puzzles with firetrucks and princesses, 1000 piece puzzles of historical events, and 3000 pieces puzzles of beautiful nature scenes. Then we saw the big puzzle…32,356 pieces. The finished puzzle measured 17 feet by 6 feet and weighed more than 40 pounds. Many people have said a puzzle this size takes six months to a year to complete.

To me, attempting a puzzle that size is, well, puzzling. But, what if the the whole world—dirt, mountains, oceans, trees, flowers, sky, animals, birds, insects—was a puzzle you had to put together? Oh, and it is not a normal puzzle. It is one of those 3-D puzzles with moving pieces. You have to add layer upon layer to your puzzle to piece together each person along with every circumstance they will ever face. That is unimaginable.

O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
—Psalm 104:24a

In The ABCs of God curriculum, Jill Nelson asks children:

What does it mean that God is wise? It means that He causes everything to work out perfectly. It is as if the world is like a giant puzzle with millions of pieces. God made each piece, and all the pieces fit together in order to make the world just as God planned it. God doesn’t make any mistakes. Because He is wise, EVERYTHING turns out exactly as He has planned it.

When we look at our lives, often all we can see is a mountain of puzzle pieces that do not seem to fit together. It is not our job to determine how each the piece of our life fits together or why we were given certain pieces. We need to trust that God is infinitely wise in each detail of our lives, especially when bad things happen or circumstances do not make sense.

In his sermon, “The Great Work of the Only Wise God,” Pastor John Piper defines wisdom this way:

Wisdom DefinitionWisdom is knowing what the greatest goal is in any situation, and what the best way is to achieve it. It’s different from knowledge, but it assumes knowledge. They overlap. You can’t exercise wisdom without knowledge; because in order to figure out the best way to achieve a goal, you have to have knowledge of many factors. On the other hand, you can have a lot of knowledge and not have wisdom. There are many brilliant fools. And many less-educated sages.

But we are talking about God’s wisdom, not ours. The difference is that he always knows the best goal in every situation, and he always has total and perfect knowledge of billions and billions of relevant factors in every situation that enable him to know the best way to achieve the goal.

Next time you sit down with your child to work on a puzzle, take time to discuss who is the master puzzle-maker who creates and fits together diverse pieces to reveal His perfect plan in creation and achieve his goals. You may also want to teach your children this song to remind them who alone is wise.

God Alone Is Wise

by John Piper
Sung to the tune of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”

God alone is full of wisdom,
God alone knows every end,
God alone plans every pathway,
More than we can comprehend
Infinite! His wisdom soars,
High above our peace and wars,
Grasping all the mysteries,
Governing the galaxies.
Infinite! Our God is wise!
Let our boast in him arise!

Wise! He saves the lowly sinner.
Wise! He keeps his covenant.
Wise! His ways at Calvary
Silence ev’ry argument.
By his blood and righteousness
Jew and gentile he will bless.
None shall boast in any man,
All shall marvel at his plan.
Infinite! Our God is wise!
Let our boast in him arise.

 

 

 

So Many Lessons, So Little Time

So Many Lessons, So Little Time

Here is an often-voiced dilemma from those who are using our Sunday morning elementary and youth curriculum:

This study has 40 lessons, but we have only 35 available weeks in our Sunday school year. What should we do?

Unfortunately, there is not “one-size-fits-all” answer to this question because every class situation is different. The most beneficial solution needs to take into account not only the intentional structure and flow of the curriculum, but also your individual class structure and student needs. However, we can offer some help. Here are some general things to look for and consider:

  1. Read the curriculum Introduction very carefully.
    Some of our curricula offer suggestions about which lessons can be omitted or readily combined without losing the overall flow of the curriculum. Or, absent of this, some general principles are outlined to guide you in making decisions that will best serve your students.
  2. On our website, click on and read through the expanded scope and sequence that is available for your particular curriculum. Doing so can help you to decide which lessons are more crucial for the study as a whole.
  3. Take into account which lessons emphasize concepts that your students may already be more familiar with, as compared to newer, less familiar concepts. “Weigh in” more heavily on lessons addressing these newer topics and consider combining or omitting lessons with the more familiar concepts.
  4. Consider doing a one-lesson “missed lessons round-up” by providing the students with the main ideas and a key verse for each missing lesson. Be creative as possible. This is the method I have used most often when I have had to omit five or more lessons in a year.
  5. Make sure to keep explicit Gospel lessons front and center—Don’t simply assume that the Gospel is one of those familiar concepts that can be omitted.
  6. Ask: Is there a way that you can encourage parents to cover these missing lessons in the home? The best and most appropriate way to do this is to send home the corresponding Growing in Faith Together (GIFT) page for any lessons missed. Also, making sure that each student has his or her own workbook will ensure that they all finish the year with the main ideas and Scripture for all 40 lessons in their possession.

Yes, we know that for many of you there are so many lessons and so little time! We hope these suggestions will help resolve that dilemma more readily. And, as always, our cheerful customer service team is available to help you with any further questions. You can call us at 877.400.1414 or email info@childrendesiringGod.org.

So Many Lessons, So Little Time

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