There are natural times of transition in Sunday school when one period comes to an end and another starts. Sometimes this happens at the beginning or end of the school year and may be marked by a kind of promotion to the next age-level. At North Church Indianapolis, we move from age-level classes to a one-room Sunday school during the summer for elementary age children. It’s a great opportunity to bring together all children to build relationships across grade levels and to offer something unique (like learning with LEGO bricks or Dr. Seuss!) for a set period. To mark this transition, I wanted to do something creative and fun so I went to my best resource for ideas: A Facebook group for United Methodist in Ministry with Children. Another member gave me the idea for a sundae school party and I ran with it!
Of course the foundation for the idea of a “Sundae” school party is ice cream sundaes. I decided on a make your own sundae bar with a variety of toppings (all peanut allergy friendly!). We also played games — never underestimate the joy of a parachute and beach ball. And, we celebrated our teachers who serve for the whole year with a class with a theme related gift card to a local ice cream store.
The hallmark of the event, though, was the activity “Get the SCOOP.” After eating their sundaes, children wrote questions for the pastors to answer about God, the Bible, and church as well as “get to know you” type questions. Keeping with the theme, the questions were written on ice cream scoops, which were printed onto colored paper and cut out in advance. The questions were taken back to the pastors who answered each one. Some questions were trickier than others, a few were funny (like “How old is God?” answer: Infinity plus one), but most were really thoughtful and a great way to connect children and pastors. The finished project created a really amazing bulletin board under the heading “Get the SCOOP on God, the Bible, Church, and More!” with all the Q&A scoops piled on top of ice cream cones.
He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.” Mark 9:36-37, The Message
Serve: new parents and babies
Connect: it’s a dirty job to change diapers but it is one way parents care for babies who aren’t able to use the toilet; help children see that even the dirtiest job (no one likes poop!) can be an act of love
size 1 diapers
sharpie markers (NO washable markers)
give each child several diapers and sharpie markers
encourage children to think about happy or funny images to draw on the diapers
allow children to write include “clean” with the punchline on the back
Go Further: have children host a diaper and wipes drive to supply a local food pantry or shelter with these needed supplies
Keep loving each other like family.Don’t neglect to open up your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:1-2
Serve: first time guests to church
Connect: children are often shy or uneasy when visiting a new place and meeting new people; through this mission project they are reaching out to warmly welcome church guests who may also feel anxious or uneasy about coming to a new place
markers, crayons, etc.
pictures of kids
give each child a piece of construction paper to make a paper card
on the front have children write “Welcome” or “Join Us”
on the inside right panel, ask kids to write one thing they enjoy about church
have kids sign the card with their first name only and age
on the opposite side, glue a picture of the child
distribute cards to first time guests as part of an overall welcome to the church
I was overjoyed to find some of your children living in the truth, just as we had been commanded by the Father. – 2 John 1:4
Every child has the power to change the world through serving others. By offering fun, exciting, service opportunities, churches can help kids understand they are on a mission too. And involving children in missions has a direct impact on their future. By training children up in doing the work of the church, we instill in them the importance of serving and prepare them to accept even greater opportunities to serve as adults.
Missions: Kids Style is new series dedicated to offering church leaders in ministry with children a mission plan to engage children in hands-on service projects. Each project takes about 15 minutes to complete and can be easily incorporated into an existing discipleship programs, like Sunday school or children’s church. The first project will post on January 21.
Many of the materials are readily available craft supplies, or may be purchased at a local dollar or grocery store. If a project calls for items in bulk or more specialty supplies, links are provided as a suggestion.
Each mission project is selected for it’s ability to serve a specific group in the church, community, or around the world. Some mission projects will offer opportunities to partner with other organizations to get the completed materials to the people in need. And others take on a holiday theme as way of celebrating the festivities while still emphasizing the Biblical model of serving others. Many of the ideas started with something on Pinterest and have been adapted for the local church to serve as a service project.
Have fun serving in ministry with children and help them to fully live into their place as participants in the work and mission of the church!