YouNot all of us pastors have the luxury of having a full worship band, pianist and an ear for music. Let’s face it, some of us reading this article right now can’t carry a tune in a bucket…and that’s okay. We don’t all have to have the gift of music. Scripture even points out the various gifts that we are all given and appointed with (Eph 4:11, 1 Peter 4:10-11), and just as the focus on speaking in tongues can become an issue, so too then use of music. Don’t get me wrong, music in worship can be most beneficial to the body of Christ, but it should be viewed as a conduit to deeper worship, not the desired end result.
Today, let us focus on this element of worship with the non-musical pastors in mind. If you fit this mold, then take note. My wife is very, very talented in other areas of ministry, but she will openly admit that music is not one of those talents.
There are many, many pastors in small churches or corps that do not have a musical bone in their bodies, and that’s okay. I want to help you find some tools to use within worship that will assist you and your congregation within and even around the conduit of music on Sunday.
1) YouTube Videos/YouTube Video Downloaders.
If you are not musical at all, you might utilize a plethora of Christian worship music on YouTube. There are even Youtube downloaders that you can use to have the videos accessible in places of worship where WiFi and the internet are sketchy or nonexistent. Using a video on YouTube could include modern top 40 Christian songs, a movie clip, or numerous other topics other than just music.
Don’t neglect the power of videos and or worship songs in your Sunday services. Feel free to be creative and intentional in the planning of your service theme too. Caution: This will take time, so don’t just throw everything together on Saturday night and expect amazing results…intentional planning takes time and hours. We are all busy people, but not taking the time to find the appropriate videos and/or music, is noticeable in our services (I’ve been guilty of this too).
2) iSing Worship (app)
This is a great app that does cost a little bit, but is a tremendous tool if you have a portable device like an iPad or iPhone. The app is free, but the songs will you about $3 a piece, which is only a dollar more than what you would pay for songs you currently buy on Google Music store or the apple iTunes Store. When you buy these songs, you then have the ability to include all of the elements of the song (i.e lead vocals, guitar, drums etc.). So, for instance, if you wanted to lead the song you could turn the vocals down and sing with the music like it was Christian Karaoke hour. Or iSing worship could become your worship band in a box by simply hitting play. Be sure, however that you plan the songs you are going to sing ahead of time and have the words either printed or displayed on the screen for the congregation to sing along.
So we did a weekend of Messy Church recently, that consisted of 2 hour segments on the topic of the “I Am’s” of Jesus. I would recommend along with leaders at the stations, you have a time keeper to keep the stations and children moving. These Messy Church plans can be adapted and adjusted to meet your church’s needs and the demographics of your congregation. I will also add that you invite your older members and adults to participate and perhaps even become a child in a way to help the children stay engaged. (This can be a challenge, but it is very effective when done correctly)
Theme: “I am the vine”
Scripture Verse – John 15:1-11
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
The Fruit of the Spirit Song 5 Minutes
Instruct Kids and Teachers
1) Bobbing for apples 20 minutes Items Needed: 1 Large basin or feeding trough
4-10 bags of apples depending on the size.
Lots of water
This station is pretty self-explanatory, tell the kids this is a timed activity.
Kids are to put their hands behind their backs and, using only their teeth, pick an apple out of the basin. Use your phone/stop watch to time the kids to determine who has the fastest time in retrieving an apple. Have the kids try this a few times (of course replace “used” or gross apples with new ones), make sure everyone gets a chance to try this activity.
After everyone has taken a turn ask these questions:
What was the object of this game?
Did you think bobbing for apples was hard or easy?
Who here likes apples?
What kind of apple is your favorite? (types of apples include: Granny Smiths, Gala, Fuji, Honey Crisp, McIntosh, Golden Delicious…just to name a few)
Say: Apples are an amazing fruit that grows on trees.
Each apple grows from a tiny seed that can be found inside of these apples.
Apple trees grow from these seeds and can take up to 3 years to grow and produce new apples.
Apple Trees needs pruning from time to time in order for better fruit to develop.
Ask: What would happen on an apple farm if an apple tree didn’t produce apples?
(answer: it would be cut down and a new tree would be planted in its place)
Matthew 15 verse 4 says, “. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
God wants us to love Him and always keep His word in our hearts. If we do this, we will be able to witness to others through the way that we live our lives. And this is what it means to bear fruit!
Ask: What are ways that we can show God’s love towards others?
-At this time send the kids to the next station-
2) Vine Bracelet Craft 20 Minutes
the trick is using something called a braiding disc, or braiding loom. It’s just a round piece of cardboard with some slots in it, but it makes bracelet-weaving a lot easier compared to the bracelet-making method described in most books .
Ready? First up, you’ll need to gather your materials.
Friendship Bracelet (The whole kits are available at Michaels and other craft stores)
All you need is:
7 strands of yarn, each 2 feet long
1 piece of cardboard, e.g. breakfast cereal box
pair of scissors
Step 2: Make the Starting Knot
Line up the ends of your 7 strands of yarn, then tie a simple overhand knot like this. Make it so that there’s about 1″ (2cm) of loose ends poking out of the knot.
Step 3: Put the Yarn on the Braiding Disc
Poke the knotted end of the yarn bundle through the hole in the center of the braiding disc, like this:
Then clip one piece of yarn into each slot, except the top slot. Your braiding disc should look like this:
Step 4: Braid Your Friendship Bracelet
Braiding your bracelet with the disc is really easy. There are just two steps to learn and repeat.
Hold the disc so that the empty slot is at the top. Un-clip whichever yarn is in the bottom-right slot and clip it in to the top slot, like this:
Now the bottom right slot will be empty. So, rotate the whole disc so that the empty slot is at the top again, like this:
Now, just keep repeating Step A, Step B, Step A, Step B etc, and your bracelet will grow. It seems a bit like magic the first time but it really works!
As you continue, you’ll see your bracelet growing down through the hole in the center of your braiding disc, like this:
Step 5: Un-clip from Braiding Disc
Once the bracelet is long enough to go around your wrist, in-clip it from the braiding disc. It should look something like this:
(I used a bit too much yarn on this one, so the loose ends are quite long.)
Step 6: Tie Finishing Knots
Tie an overhand knot (just like in step 2) right at the point where the braiding ends. Then tie another overhand knot about 2/3″ (1.5cm) away. Trim the loose ends. The end of your bracelet should now look like this:
After the craft, or during SAY:
What would happen if one of these threads were taken out?
What would happen if one of these threads wasn’t included in the braid?
Would you notice? (Of course you would!)
Each thread is just as important as the next, without each piece doing its part in this bracelet, it cannot become what we want it to be.
Think about how God sees us.
He loves each and every one of us.
We are all different, with many different gifts and abilities.
A part from one another, we are all unique and beautiful…but what happens when we put all of us together like these threads? What happens when we all agree, and we have this thing called “Unity”? Is that a good thing?
Say: Just like these threads, when put together, we are so much stronger than when we are a part. Today in our scripture verse, God tells us that He is the vine and we are the branches. This means that with God all things are possible, and when we are connected to Him, we are so much stronger! He wants for us to be connected to Him.
Ask: How can we stay connected with God?
(Praying, Reading the Bible, going to Church, hanging out with other Christians…)
So today, as a reminder of how we are to be connected with God, think about this every time you look at this bracelet or as you wear it. Remember that God loves you and has connect us together in an amazing way!
3) Vine Stomping Painting: 20 Minutes
Items Needed: Large Basin – enough for 1 or 2 kids to stand in.
Large Bottles of Paint – Purple, Green, Blue…etc
1 -2 large water basins for washing feet afterwards
Long roll of butcher block paper or construction sheet paper
Instructions: *this will get messy!**
One or two at a time (depending on the size of the basins of paint) have the kids take off their shoes and socks and place them to the side neat and tidy so they don’t lose them afterwards.
Roll out the butcher block paper ahead of time onto the floor – long enough so that every child can get their feet onto the long paper. Once the kids get into the paint basin, have them stomp down (but not so hard that they splatter paint out the basin, just enough for them to feel the paint between their toes). Once their feet are adequately covered in paint, have the kids carefully (CAREFULLY!!) Step out of the basin and right onto the Butcher block paper. Have them create grapes on the vine by only using their feet as the paint brush.
Ensure every child gets a chance to do this creative activity, once they have completed the painting, have each child wash their feet off in the other water basin and dry them with paper towels, perhaps have an extra adult help them in and out of the basins (both the paint and water basins)…to avoid anyone from slipping and falling.
Following the painting activity, have the kids sit down for just a few moments and ask these questions:
Ask: So what was your favorite part of this painting activity?
What was your least favorite part?
Who likes getting messy here?
Who can’t stand getting messy?
Say: So let me ask you about grapes, does anyone like to eat grapes or drink grape juice?
Did you know that a long time ago in order to make grape juice and wine people had to get into large basins like these and stomp the grapes with their feet until they made the grape juice? It must have been a sticky job, but in Jesus’ day grapes were used a lot.
The bible verse that we are learning about today is all about the vine and grapes…Jesus used this idea with those he spoke to in order for them to understand how important a life with God should be. Jesus said “I am the vine and you are the branches”
Ask: does that sound like they are connected?
How are the grapes connected to the vine?
(Branches from the vine connect the grapes, without these branches there will not be any fruit)
How do we stay connected to Jesus?
What do we do to stay close to Him?
4) Outdoor activity20 Minutes
Outdoor or Indoor. This game is a normal game of tag with an added twist. When “it” tags someone, the person becomes part of “it.” Then the two of them must run hand in hand and catch their next victim who will join them. Last one caught by the “Blob” is the winner! The purpose of this game is to get everyone connected. We are the branches and Jesus is the Vine. If we stay in Him, we’ll bear much fruit! Even though the winner is the last one standing, the intentions behind this game is to show that God wants us to be connected to His son always.
5) Devotional & Music 5-10 Minutes
(If time permits) Song: Fruit of the Spirit Video Item Needed: Lamp and extension cord
Ask: So what did you learn tonight?
Who is the Vine?
Who is the Branches?
What was your favorite Messy Church activity tonight?
I am sure that you all know the song, “This Little Light of Mine.” I want you to help me sing that song this evening. While we sing it, I’m going to hold this light up and let it shine all around. (Start to sing the song, but stop when you notice that the light isn’t shining.) I wonder what is wrong, my light isn’t shining. (Someone will probably notice that it isn’t plugged in.) Oh, here’s the problem, my light isn’t plugged in.
Now that we are plugged in, let’s try it again. (Sing) Oh, that was much better. The lamp was shining brightly, wasn’t it? It’s pretty hard for a light to shine when it isn’t connected to the power source, isn’t it? Well, actually, it isn’t just hard — it’s impossible!
In our Messy Church lesson today, Jesus told his disciples a story to teach them the importance of staying connected to him. Of course Jesus didn’t use a lamp to tell his story, because electricity hadn’t even been invented yet. Instead, Jesus used an example that his disciples would understand. He used the example of a vine. You know what a vine is, don’t you? It is a plant with a lot of branches growing out from it. The branches have fruit on them. If it is a grapevine, the branches should have grapes on them.
Have you ever seen a branch that has been broken off of a tree or a vine? What happens to it? That’s right, it withers up and dies. Can it ever have any fruit on it again? No, it isn’t any good for anything — except fire wood.
Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me, you will have much fruit, but apart from me, you can do nothing.” Jesus wants us to produce a lot of fruit. Good fruit like being kind, generous, and faithful. Most of all, he wants us to love others as he has loved us.
Can we do that on our own? No way. Just as the lamp must be plugged in before its light can shine, and just as the branches must be connected to the vine before they can produce fruit, you and I must stay connected to Jesus to produce the good fruit that God expects of us.
Close in Prayer
Theme: “I am the Good Shepherd”
Scripture Verse – John 10:7-11
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Introduction and Instruction:5minutes
Read the scripture with the children. Say: Today we are going to learn about Jesus the Good Shepherd and how we are to be His sheep who listen to Him and follow Him.
Dismiss to the first station together:
1) Sheep Collage craft20 minutes
Lead the kids through this simple of craft of creating sheep.
Help kids to cut out the sheep body outline, place cotton balls on the body, attach popsickle sticks to legs for support, and ensure all of the kids complete this project.
As you are creating the craft (or after)
Say: What kind of sound does a sheep make?
What kind of food do sheep eat?
Are sheep very smart animals? (The answer is no, they will often eat grass and wander around and often get lost if they aren’t watched closely).
What sort of things do sheep produce? (Wool – clothing, coats, socks…, and meat).
Say: Our scripture today tells us that the sheep hear Jesus’ voice and they will follow him, but they will not listen to the thief or the robber…why do you think that is?
Jesus can be trusted to lead us, because he loves us…just like the shepherd loves his sheep, to the point that he will lay down his life for them…Jesus did just that for us didn’t he? He died on the cross to save us from sin. As we go to the next station, I want you to think about Jesus who is the good shepherd who leads us.
2) Sheep cookies to frost & decorate20minutes Bring kids to the cookie table but encourage them not to eat or grab anything yet.
In this station we ended up using squares of graham crackers, cookie frosting, edible fondant eyes, and marshmallows to complete the ‘Sheep’ cookie creations. The other option is to make sugar cookies and create their designs with frosting, icing and other food decorating items.
Say: We just finished creating our own sheep by putting wool on it and you talked about Jesus being the good shepherd. What makes Jesus the good shepherd and not just the “okayist” shepherd? (He loves us, he died for us, He’s God’s one and only Son)…
Ask: What is your favorite flavored cookie? (Chocolate Chip, Sugar cookie, Gingerbread, shortbread, oatmeal raisin etc.)
What makes that cookie flavor your favorite?
Read:2 Corinthians 2:15 says; “For we are to God a sweet smell of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish…”
This world needs more of the sweetness of Christ! Ask: Do you know who can share this sweetness of Christ with others? Answer: You can! We all can! Say: When we share our things with others – the sweetness of Christ. When we tell others about Jesus – it is the sweetness of Christ. When we love other people even if they don’t love us back – that is the sweetness of Christ.
So as a reminder of how we are to be this sweetness of Christ for other people, we are going to decorate these sheep cookies with frosting and sprinkles…let’s get messy and creative!
3) Pin the wool tail on the sheep game20Minutes
Directions: Just like pin the tail on the donkey, we are going to pin the wool on the sheep.
Say: We need help to put the wool on the sheep, but of course, we have to do it blindfolded.
This can be a tricky game to play, but let’s give it a shot. (make sure you blindfold the kids tight enough so they cannot see, then spin them around a few times before allowing them to seek out the sheep with the wool in hand.
4) Outdoor activity
Barbarian Capture the flag:25 Minutes
Teams of 4 are competing against each other to get the other teams’ gold and to capture other team’s’ players, and put them in your jail.
Using two ropes, or red surveyor’s tape, divide the field into 4 sections. Each section has one prison area, which is marked off with either ducttape or surveyor’s tape. Each section also has a “gold depot” which is marked using hula-hoops or tape. Each team has their own color, which is a flag strip tucked into the front of each player’s pants. Every team gets an equal amount of “gold” to start the game, which is white socks, gold socks, and 1 gray work sock.
Start of Game:
When whistle blows, teams begin the attack. Another team can only catch you if you are in their section; likewise, you can only catch others in your own section (if you are “green” and you run into the “red” section, then you run across to the “yellow section, red can no longer capture you, but yellow now can). When you capture another team member, take their flag and report to the middle of the field to the scorekeeper, then return flag to the person in your prison.
In addition to capturing opposing team players, you are also trying to get their “gold”, without getting caught. You can only take 1 gold piece at a time, and if you are caught inside an opposition section, you must return gold to that team (no throwing gold into your own section).
What Happens When Caught:
Having your flag removed by another team player inside their section gets you caught. When this happens, you report to their prison area and can only get out of prison if a teammate tags you out, without getting caught themselves. If your teammate gets caught trying to free you, they must join you in the jail area. Once you successfully get tagged out, you and your teammate get a free passage back to your section. NOTE (the game coordinator may call “jailbreak” and free everyone in jail in all the sections at any given time, usually when there is a lop-sided number of players in prison).
How the Game is Won:
The game is won by accumulating points for every prisoner your teammates catch, and for each piece of “gold” left at the end of the game. You can run out of gold during the course of the game, but still get points by capturing prisoners and trying to grab other gold from enemy sections. The team with the most accumulated total points at the end is the winner.
White Socks- 3000 points each
Gold Socks- 5000 points each
Gray Socks- 10,000 points each
Prisoners- 1000 each player
Large, open playing area
2 Ropes (100+ feet each is ideal)
4 different colored flags, one for each section
White, yellow, gray socks
Bean bag fill for each sock
Scorers pad and pen
Duct tape and/or hula-hoops
Red surveyors or caution tape
The purpose of this game is to reveal the intentions behind the thief’s motives – all he wants is to steal what belongs to God. This is a great way to show that. I think the youth will enjoy this a lot.
5) Build a sheep pen10 Minutes Minute to win it block game – build the tallest “sheep pen” as quickly as possible within the 60 second time constraint. The person with the fastest time and tallest sheep pen wins a prize.
6) Devotional / Music10-15 Minutes
Ask: So what did we learn today?
Who is the good shepherd?
Who are the sheep?
Why is it important to listen to Jesus and follow Him?
BIBLE VERSE: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11 NIV
Talk about shepherds and sheep. Explain to the children how sheep are not very bright, and they need a shepherd to take care of them, to bring them to green grass and pure water to drink. A good shepherd makes sure the sheep are happy and safe.
1. What will a good shepherd do for his or her sheep?
Jesus tells us that He is our Good Shepherd. What does this mean to you?
Today our Bible story is from the book of John. Jesus is talking about Heaven with the Pharisees and how He is the only way to get to Heaven. Jesus decided to use an example to help them understand. He compared Himself to a good shepherd and all of us to sheep. However, the Pharisees probably still didn’t understand. Let’s read the story, and find out what Jesus is saying to us.
Read John 10:11-15 (The Good Shepherd and His Sheep)
What does a shepherd take care of? (Sheep.)
Does a good shepherd lay down (or give) his life for the sheep? (Yes.)
What do you think this means? (The good shepherd would risk his or her own life to protect the sheep.)
What does a hired hand do when he or she sees the wolf coming? (Runs the other way leaving the sheep behind.)
What happens to a flock of sheep if there is no shepherd? (They may be attacked by a wolf and get scattered.)
In our Bible story, does the good shepherd know his sheep? (Yes.)
Do the sheep know the good shepherd? (Yes.)
How are we like sheep? (Allow for answers.)
Do we have a good shepherd? (Yes.) Who is our Good Shepherd? (Jesus.)Close in a song (optional) and a word of prayer.
If we end early, a video will be put on for the kids to enjoy, or we will play the above outdoor game again.
Saturday Evening PM
Theme: “I Am the Light of the world”
Scripture Verse – John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Introduction & Instruction time: 5 Min
Reiterate the weekend theme again, ask what the children have learned by recapping the sessions.
Then introduce today’s theme and sing a song or two (optional).
1) Stained glass mosaic craft 20 Min
Using a card stock frame, kids are to layer the bright tissue paper across the middle of the frame using glue or tape in order to make the faux stained glass. Encourage the children to use as many colors as possible or if there are some really creative/artistic students, have them design a dove, cross or other symbol within their stained glass frame.
As the craft is taking place engage the students in this conversation piece: Ask: What is your favorite color in this stained glass craft and why?
Which would you rather experience, complete darkness or a sunny day?
Is anyone scared of the dark?
What scares you about the darkness?
Why does having a night light or flashlight help?
(See where you are going, safety at night…)
Say: When stained glass was first put into churches, it was during a time when most people couldn’t read and only rich people owned books because they were very expensive. So people would come to church and look up at these amazing stained glass windows, and it wasn’t only that they were beautiful to look at, but each window told a story. There were shapes and colors that made up the image of Jesus on the cross…and then next to it would be another window with Jesus standing at the open tomb…and all of these windows could be seen because the light was shining through them.
In our scripture verse today, Jesus tells the listeners, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Jesus was telling the listener and even us today that the true light of Heaven comes only through Him…when we choose to follow Jesus, and when we choose to let His light shine in our lives, we have His eternal light in us that will never be extinguished. His light will guide us each step of the way. So as you look at your stained glass creation, may it remind you of the Light of Jesus, and may it help you to walk in His light!
2) Star creation craft 20 Min
Kids will glue/tape popsicle sticks together to make a star:
After securely gluing or taping the sticks into a star shape, kids will paint, bedazzle and design their stars. Glow in the dark tape will also be available, but use this sparingly. Ask the kids to name different stars and constellations.
(Star example: Northern Star, Sirius, Vega… Constellation Names: Milky Way, Andromeda, Aries, Aquarius…etc.)
Ask: Can somebody tell me how many stars are in the sky? Answer: In the Milky Way alone there are over 250 Billion Stars… Say: That’s like saying how many grains of sand is on a sandy beach or on the ocean floor. That is a really, really HUGE number!
It is amazing to think that God created the Heavens and the Earth and He created all of the stars including the 250 Billion Stars just in the Milky Way Galaxy!! And even with so many amazing things in our universe, God shines His light on us because we are extremely special to Him! Out in space there are places that are very, very dark, but we are in a place in the Universe that is just right for creation and for all kinds of life. We have a great big fire ball in the sky called what? (Answer: the Sun) that is out in the day time, and a moon at night.
Also the stars in the sky have been used for thousands of years to give travelers and explorers direction on this earth. Isn’t this an amazing thing that God has created? May this star that you just created remind you of the light of God and the fact that He guides us with His light. Also may we recognize just how big our universe is and how much God comes to our tiny corner of the world and shines for us. Because He loves us!
3) Game: The Light of the World 25 Min
Scripture : Matthew 5:14
YOU WILL NEED: A bag with slips of paper that tell something to do. Samples are on the last
Choose a volunteer—This volunteer will reach in the bag and pull out a slip of paper. The slip of
paper will instruct the student what to do. This student will be the “Light,” showing everyone else what to do. The “Light” may not speak (unless the instructions say so) but should lead everyone in accomplishing what is written. Once you, as the station leader, sees that the instructions have been followed, tell everyone to give him a hand, then point to someone else and say, “Be the Light.” They’ll come forward and thus the game continues. If a student doesn’t want to lead, don’t make them, but let everyone who wants to go have that opportunity.
After the game: Ask:
What was hard about being the Light?
What was fun about being the Light?
Did anyone feel embarrassed about being the Light?
Was anyone concerned about looking silly or foolish?
Read Matthew 5:14 – “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”
How does this verse remind you of our game? (Both of them talk about the light; everyone
can see a city on a mountain, and everyone could see us doing the instructions.)
What does Jesus mean when He says, “You are the light”? (That we should live in such a
way that our lives are like a light that guides other people to God; and shine, or show them, His
life and love.
When you’re at school, why is it sometimes hard to be a light? (I don’t always want to do the
right thing; some people think you’re weird if you’re a Christian; I might be embarrassed? I’m
afraid I would look silly; my friends want to do wrong things.)
SAY: It can be hard to be a light. But when we shine Jesus’ love to our friends, we’re doing the
best thing we can, which is showing someone about Jesus. By being a light Jesus isn’t asking
you to do silly things, like what we did in our game. Jesus wants you to bring hope, courage,
and joy to people. He wants you to follow God’s Word and tell everyone that Jesus saves us. SAY: It’s both easy and fun to tell other people about Jesus. It’s as simple as saying, “Jesus
loves you,” or “Jesus will take care of you.” You can shine Jesus’ light to anyone you know
by your words and by how you live.
How can you shine your light so others can see Jesus in you?
What do you think would be some things people do on a playground or in sports
that show they are following the light? What are things people might do when
they are living in darkness?
What would happen if you stood up for someone being picked on in the
playground? How would that person feel? How would the bully feel? How would
you feel? How would Jesus feel?
What would stop you from telling a friend, “Jesus will take care of you,” the next
time they are afraid or upset? How do you think they might respond?
When you see someone at school get hurt, do you ever think about praying for
them? When you hear someone at school say a cuss word, do you ever think
about asking them not to use that kind of language around you?
Is there anything in your life that you do that Jesus wouldn’t like? Does that feel
like darkness? Who can tell more about how it feels when you feel guilty for
something? How can Jesus’ light that guides you help?
5) Camp Fire and S’Mores time. 15 – 25 Min
6) Devotional/ Music 10 -15 Min
Around the camp fire have the kids sit around the pavilion tables. Ask: What was your favorite part of the tonight’s Messy Church?
Theme: Reflecting the light of Christ
Song: This little light of mine..
Object: A mirror and a flashlight
Read Scripture: There was a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light: he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. John 1: 6-9 (NIV)
Say: Have you ever sat outside on a bright sunny day and used a mirror to reflect the sun’s light? If one of you will take this flashlight and shine it on me I will show you what I mean. You see, as the light shines on me, I hold up my mirror and I can reflect the light to shine on you. I am not the light, I am just letting my mirror reflect the light to shine on you.
Say: If I am going to reflect the light on you, there are a couple of things that are very important: I must keep my mirror facing toward the light. If I turn away from the light, I cannot reflect the light. I must make sure that nothing comes between the light and me. If that happens, I cannot reflect the light. The Bible tells us that “There was a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light: he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” Who do you think the true light is that the Bible said was coming into the world? That is right! It was Jesus. Jesus is the light of the world. In our focus verse today, Jesus even declared to the listeners “I am the Light of the world…”
So, if we accept Jesus as our light then you and I need to be like John. The Bible says that we are to let our light shine, but we need to remember that “Our Light” is Jesus. We are not the light, we are just mirrors that reflect His light. If we are going to reflect the light of Jesus, we must remember a couple of things:
We must keep our faces turned toward Jesus.
We must not let anything come between us and Jesus.
When we remember those two things, we will reflect His light to the entire world.
Pray: (something to this effect) Dear Jesus, we want to reflect your light in the world. Help us to keep our faces turned toward you and help us to keep anything from coming between us and you. Amen.
Theme: “I Am the way”
Scripture Verse – John 14:6
Intro to today’s Messy Church (DYS or Assigned Officers will lead this) 5 Min
Today we are going to begin our Messy Church with a scripture verse of John 14:6
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Suggested Themed Music Videos you could play at the beginning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueMQV2Ax-MM
So in just a few minutes we are going to begin by heading to our first station, but first I want us to say our scripture verse together out loud, let’s read it together:
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Are you ready for Messy Church today?
Let’s open with a word of prayer and then we will go off to our first station.
Pray and Dismiss
Pitcher of Water
Directions: Pour the water into the bowl.
Then rub the needle on the magnet about 10 -15 times
Place the small cork piece into the water, then place the needle on top of the floating cork.
As you do this, explain to the children that the needle, having picked up some of the magnetic attraction from the magnet is now starting to face magnetic north. So it spins until it points north and south. Tell the kids: Now, the Bible is a lot like this in our lives too. When we read about Jesus and what He did while on earth we begin to know more about God, and when we begin to know more about God, we begin to live for Him and we start to point others toward Him through our Godly examples.
Ask: What does it looks to live for God?
(get some of the kids to answer).
Why does it matter if we live for God or we don’t live for God?
Read: Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? (Matthew 16:24-26 Message Version)
Jesus wants us to point others to God while we follow Him.
If we don’t listen and we don’t care about other people, they may not see God through our lives. So today, I pray that God will give you a love for others in your heart. Let God lead you, and may your words and your actions point others to God.
Let the kids take turns in re-trying this experiment while comparing it to the compass to make sure it is pointing to magnetic North.
2)outdoor game 25 Min
Blind fold obstacle course:
Create an obstacle course (a playground works GREAT) and get your students or leaders to go in pairs. One from each pair is blindfolded, and the other will lead him or her through the obstacle course by using only their voice.
The purpose of this game is to help the person who’s blindfolded navigate the course by only hearing the voice that’s directing them
We’ll need two large trash cans, two long tables, and four chairs at the field near Ramsdale
Circle up the kids and ask them about the game – Ask:
How did you feel when you were blindfolded?
Did you trust the person who was leading you through the obstacle course?
How many things did you run into?
Does it help to have someone there who is looking out for you and helping you?
How confident are you that you could have made it through the obstacle course on your own?
Sometimes life is a lot like this obstacle course.
We often do not know how things are going to go in the future, or even in the next hour. We have to trust that God knows what He is doing. Trusting God can seem like a scary thing at times, especially when we have some big decisions to make in life. But do you know what? God promises to never leave us or forsake us. So sometimes, during this obstacle course we may have doubted the person who was leading us, and maybe we even tripped or ran into something because they didn’t lead us very well…But God isn’t like that. He loves us very much and He will lead us through the good and the bad times. So as we think about Jesus being the way, truth and life today, remember the God leads us and wants what is best for our lives.
3) Devotional / Music (20 Minutes) 20 Min
What was your favorite station today?
Which station did you not like and why?
Can anyone tell me what our theme for today has been?
Recap Scripture Verse (or if time allows, have one or a few of the kids stand and read it for the group)
John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
(Suggested Text or can be adapted)
A map and a portable GPS (Even a phone with a map app on the screen)
There was a time when a person going on a trip wouldn’t think of beginning their journey without a road map. (Hold up the map for the children to see.) The map was very helpful to the traveler in finding the way to where they were going. Today we seldom ever use a road map. Do you know why? Most of us who own a car also have a GPS in our car. (Hold up the GPS.) How does the GPS work? When you are ready to go somewhere, you type in the address where you want to go and the GPS connects to a satellite up above the earth and computes the path to your destination. As soon as you start driving, a map appears on the screen and a voice from the GPS gives you turn by turn directions. “Turn right on Main Street in one mile, turn right in one half mile, turn right in 150 feet, turn right.” What happens if you miss your turn? The GPS says, “Recalculating” and immediately computes a new route to get you back on the right path to your destination.
When we are trying to follow Jesus in our daily life, it would be nice to have a GPS to lead us in the right direction, wouldn’t it? It would be nice to have something to keep us on the right path and keep us from getting lost…something that would help us get back on the right track when we made a wrong decision.
That is the way Jesus’ disciples must have felt when Jesus told them that he was going to leave them. Jesus said to them, “I am going to prepare a place for you and when everything is ready, I will come and get you so that you will always be with me. You know the way to where I am going.”
One of the disciples whose name was Thomas answered Jesus, “No, we don’t, Lord. We don’t even know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
Another disciple named Philip joined in, “Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied.”
“Philip,” Jesus answered, “Have you been with me all this time and you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show you the Father? Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Anyone who believes in me will do the same things I have done.”
That was all the disciples needed to know to get them on the right path to the Father.
So, how do you and I find our way to the place where Jesus has gone to be with the Father? We have not seen Jesus as Thomas and Philip had, but we can follow the teachings that he has given to us in the Bible — God’s Holy Word. That is our GPS and it will keep us on the right path!
Heavenly Father, we thank you for sending your Son to provide the way to eternal life. Thank you for your Holy Word which will keep us on the right path in our journey through life. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Success coaches make a big deal about the importance of having a personal mission statement. It’s a good thing to know (and write down) your purpose and the calling on your life.
However, there is another statement that is far more important — a statement that clears the air of self-deception and denial — an admission statement. So, what do we need to admit?
The season of Lent focuses on that. It is a time for humility, for self-examination, for acknowledging our sin (and sins), and for genuine repentance. Lent reminds us of an unpopular truth, that we human beings are all sinners before the perfect and holy God.
The mass of humanity (including Christians) objects to that fact. People say and believe things like: “I’m a good person,” or “I’m not a sinner.” But are those statements accurate about you and me and the rest of humanity? They aren’t according to the Bible.
Jesus said: “There is none good but the Father.” Romans states, “There is none righteous, no not one,” and “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Numerous Bible characters agreed with God’s assessment of their sinful nature and evil thoughts, words, and actions; by making bold admission statements. The prophet Isaiah said this about himself; “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” And Apostle Paul, wrote: “I am the chief of sinners,” and “I know that within me, that is within my flesh, dwells no good thing,” and “O wretched man that I am!”
The tax collector in the temple made a bold admission statement, “God, have mercy on me a sinner.” Meanwhile, the very religious Pharisee, trying very hard to be a good person, refused to make a sin admission statement. Instead the Pharisee prayed this self-congratulatory prayer; “God, I thank you that I am not like other people — robbers, evildoers, adulterers — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”
As long as we, like the Pharisee, believe that we are good people, we’ll never fully know the incredible depths of God’s grace toward us. Jesus put it this way, “Whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” If we think that we only needed a little bit of forgiveness, we will only have a little bit of love. However, when we realize that because of our personal sin, we need infinite forgiveness (that cost God the death of His Son), we’ll follow and obey the living God with glorious gratitude, passionate praise, and lavish love!
So how can we ever know the depths of our sin and the incredible cost to the Father to give us His grace? We can sincerely pray this prayer of King David. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me.” As we do we can allow God to show us our sin nature and the sins we have committed.
As we behold our wicked ways and see what an incredible degree of forgiveness that God lavishes on us, we will be undone like Isaiah. We will be overcome with thankfulness for Gods awesome mercy and forgiveness — grace greater than all our sin! Then, like the tax collector, we’ll began to make admission statements: “God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
Lent is a wonderful time to write your own, personal admission statement. 1 John 1:8-10 can help you with that. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”
Steve Simms is a Soldier in The Salvation Army in Nashville TN, a Speaker and Author of the Book:
This time our corps (church) did a messy church on the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. The major theme was God providing and taking what was meant for evil and turning it into something good. The following stations were used to illustration and reinforce the story as the station leader asked questions and prodded the participants to discuss and think about particular segments of Joseph’s life.
Station 1: Dream Pictures (10 Minutes)
(Need: cotton swabs, card paper, markers, colored film paper.)
Create a dream on paper with the materials at the table. Talk about: Talk about dreams, how God can speak to people through dreams, and how most of us have a dream for our lives. We might find that as we follow our dream, God has very different plans for us that are even better than our dreams.
Questions: Do you like to sleep in complete darkness or do you sleep with a night light or lamp? What kind of dreams do you have?
Do you think that God can still speak to us in our dreams or is it just last night’s pizza?
Scripture – Genesis 37:5-8 5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
Ask: Does it sound like Joseph’s brothers appreciated his dream?
Why do you think they were upset with Joseph?
Do you get along with you family and brother/sister(s)? Close:
As we finish this station today remember that it is good to dream big dreams in life and that God wants to help you along the way. God also wants to be there with you each step of the way!
Station 2: Big Colored Coat (10 Minutes)
(Need: outline of coat, colored crepe/tissue paper paper, glue)
prepare in advance strips of colored paper for the participants to organize onto their coat. Emphasize the need to make it as beautiful as possible.
Talk about the beautiful coat that Jacob gave to Joseph as a present. Ask everyone what their favorite piece of clothing is at the moment: favorite shoes, shirt, jeans, jacket and why.
Scripture Genesis 37:3 – “Now Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors.”
Why did Jacob give Joseph the colorful coat?
Who are the people in your life that love you? Name them.
How can we show love to others like Jacob showed love to his son Joseph?
Station 3 Gift Box Decoration (10 Minutes) (Need: Small gift boxes, scraps of colorful material or wrapping paper, wrapped candies/chocolates)
Directions: decorate small gift boxes using the colorful materials and wrapping paper. Use a heart or cross design while using the materials as a symbol of love. Select and place a wrapped candy/chocolate inside the decorated box. The idea behind the box is to give the box and the candy away to someone to show how much you care for them.
Talk about presents from friends or members of your family and how you might want to give them a present just because you love them so much. Ask: What’s the best present you’ve ever been given?
What made it the best present?
Who gave you that present?
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 9:15 “Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!”
What do you think is the writer meant when he said “this gift”? Who do you think this gift is about? Do you know that God loves you so very much that He sent Jesus to die for your sins? We are going to close our time at this station with a quick word of prayer thanking God for giving us this wonderful gift of Salvation through Jesus. (Pray)
Lastly say, “After Church today, or during this week, pray about who you should give this gift to. Perhaps it will help cheer someone up, or used as a way to help heal a relationship or friendship that you have. Pray about it and then give this little gift to someone who you feel needs it.
Station 4 Thumbprint People (10 Minutes) (Need: Poster paint in different colors, sheets of paper, markers)
Directions: Make 12 thumbprints with poster paint. When they’re dry, decorate them with markers, drawing eyes, mouths, beards, and clothes to be Joseph and his 11 brothers.
Talk about the way very different people make up a family and how hard it can be to live together when you feel very different from each other. Talk about ways of getting along that you have found helpful.
Read Scripture as participants are decorating: Genesis 37:18-2818 When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him. 19 “Here comes the dreamer!” they said. 20 “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”
21 But when Reuben heard of their scheme, he came to Joseph’s rescue. “Let’s not kill him,” he said. 22 “Why should we shed any blood? Let’s just throw him into this empty cistern here in the wilderness. Then he’ll die without our laying a hand on him.” Reuben was secretly planning to rescue Joseph and return him to his father.
23 So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing. 24 Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. 25 Then, just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt.
26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime.[c]27 Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed. 28 So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces[d] of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.
Ask: Why do you think his brothers hated Joseph so much?
What was the name of the brother who stopped the other brothers from killing Joseph?
How do you get along with your siblings? What are some ways that you can make peace when a fight breaks out?
Station 5: False Beards (10 Minutes)
(Need: Scraps of dark brown, black fabric, scissors, dark wool and a darning needle –if needed- and thread)
Using your selection of fabric cut out a triangle big enough to fit on the chin as a beard. Cut a mouth hole so that it comprises a moustache and beard. Using the threat poke a hole on either side of the beard in order to tie it around the back of your head. Wear your beard with pride!
Talk about the “hairy Ishmaelites” who took Joseph off to Egypt and sold him as a slave: Scripture: Genesis 37:25-28
25 Then, just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt.
26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime. 27 Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed. 28 So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces[d] of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.
What do you think it was like for Joseph being sold into slavery?
What do you think those hairy Ishmaelites were like?
Do you think Joseph was afraid to be away from home?
Do you think God was with Joseph even when we was a prisoner and slave?
Celebration: (back to Chapel or Fellowship Room)
Need: Artwork and colorful mosaics, Egypt pics…all decorations and songs link to the activities of the stations.
We sang these songs for the celebration/closing:
Just a closer walk with Thee, Jehovah Jireh.
Joseph had 11 brothers. Maybe you sometimes quarrel with your brother or sister. Well, Joseph and his brothers often quarreled, partly because Joseph’s brothers were jealous of the beautiful coat that their Dad, Jacob had given to Joseph.
Bring a bright coat or robe out of a box
Also, Joseph had dreams they didn’t like. For example, he dreamed the sun and moon and 11 stars were bowing down to him. His brothers thought he was showing off. So the brothers plotted to kill Joseph. They threw him down a dry well, but then instead of killing him, they decided to sell him into slavery when a caravan of slavers traveled by. To cover up their crime, they killed an animal and poured its blood onto Joseph’s beautiful colored coat and told their father Jacob that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal.
Bring out a small knife from the box…
In Egypt, Joseph was sold as a slave and, although he was very hardworking, he was thrown in jail for something he didn’t do. While he was in prison, he told some prisoners what their dreams meant, and later he told the Pharaoh what his dreams meant: that the harvest would fail and there was going to be a famine, so Egypt would have to stock up on food.
Bring a small loaf of bread out of the box…
The famine came to the whole area – and Egypt was the only place with food, thanks to Joseph. Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to buy food, but they didn’t recognize joseph. What would Joseph do? Should he get his revenge on them for being so mean all those years ago?
No! He told them who he was and forgave them. “Even though you meant to harm me, God made it all turn out well so that everyone would be saved, “ he said. So they brought Jacob their father, to Egypt and God reunited them all.
Bring a picture of a smiling face out of the box…or a family photo…
God can take things that go wrong and mend them and turn them to good. He wants to bring us together as his Christian family. Think of someone you’ve quarreled with recently. Let’s say sorry to God and ask him to help us forgive them and to make up.
Closing Prayer: Lord, thank you that we are one big family of your people throughout the world and throughout history. Help us to live as one family, loving each other through thick and thin. Amen.
Benediction: May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ *Hold out your hands expecting a present.*
And the love of God
*Put your hands on your heart*
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
Be with us all now and forever. Amen! *Raise hands together on the word ‘Amen’*
“Without careful attention, faith-based organizations will inevitably drift from their founding mission.”
― Peter Greer, Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches
In a previous pondering: “Dear Salvation Army, Is this mission drift“, we explored the topic of mission drift and the question – “are we as an Organization/Movement experiencing mission drift right now?” I received numerous comments via social media as well as this blog’s comment section. There were many who felt that there is a current drift or a very present danger of drift taking place. We as an Army and a movement are at a crossroads…this crossroads will determine if our mission and vision for this global army remains intact as our founders intended it to be or if we will realign, readjust or even throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater and start in a whole new direction of mission and purpose.
It should be duly noted that not all mission drift is bad, sometimes the drift occurs out of necessity for change. Organizations have rebranded themselves or sought out strategic planners to help them shift or reinvent themselves to better suit the needs of the consumer or market.
But what happens when mission drift takes us into waters that we, as an Army should never have gone? Are there places like that? What are those places?
William Booth worked with lawmakers of his day to change policies and laws in order to help the common person, but have we at times dabbled too far into politics and government? Have we assumed leadership roles within communities that have compromised or limited our ability to be Christ’s ambassadors?
Have we shifted this holistic ministry approach and only provided the soup and soap while leaving salvation in our corps chapels? Where has mission drift occurred?
I am sure you know the differences between managers and leaders, but let me refresh your memories: Here are 9 differences between managers and leaders found in the Forbes article: 9 Differences Between Being A Leader And A Manager by William Arruda. (I recommend you reading it yourself) 1. Leaders create a vision, managers create goals. 2. Leaders are change agents, managers maintain the status quo.
3. Leaders are unique, managers copy.
4. Leaders take risks, managers control risk .
5. Leaders are in it for the long haul, managers think short-term.
6. Leaders grow personally, managers rely on existing, proven skills.
7. Leaders build relationships, managers build systems and processes.
8. Leaders coach, managers direct.
9. Leaders create fans, managers have employees.
If any of those “manager” qualities resonate with you or you see evidence of management in the army you aren’t alone. We cannot be maintainers of the status quo nor can we afford to insulate, direct people and think in the short term because appointments aren’t forever…unfortunately I believe some of our mission drift stems from this misconception and lack of vision for the future.
2 Prescriptions for Correcting Mission Drift:
Let me first say that although we are a top down Army (in terms of our leadership model), that does not mean that a lowly lieutenant, captain or major (or even a soldier) are powerless and unable to change this environment of mission drift. We all can do our part to course correct when drift is leading us mercilessly away from Holiness, helping the marginalized and poor. Substandard mission drift must be addressed in order to stave off organizational death. So how do we course correct? How to we change the flow of direction in order to get back to the basics of our true Salvation Army purpose?
1. Live our Mission, our Vision and our values!
We cannot change the world if we are not willing to allow the Holy Spirit to first change our lives. We cannot preach this gospel of hope and grace unless we first live it…so too our Mission as an Army has to be practiced in every facet of our lives. We cannot expect this drift to be course-corrected if we aren’t willing to live Holiness in our lives. The best sermon ever preached wasn’t from the pulpit, it’s from living it out-loud in our lifestyle. If we want this mission of the Army to remain strong and true, we have to embrace, live and be the mission of the Army! Most importantly – We must have a consistency of faith in Christ, from this, all other things will fall into place. We cannot recognize mission drift when it occurs if we aren’t first fully invested in the current mission of this Army.
2. Teach our Mission, our vision and our values!
The second prescription sounds a lot like discipleship…that’s because it truly is! I firmly believe that if we are to live out the core foundations of the Army, we will find that at our base is Christ…He is (or should be) our Cornerstone! Without Christ this Army of Salvation would only be a social organization dedicated to doing good things. We must neverbecome this especially if Christ is at our center. If we live it, then it only becomes natural to teach it and share it with others. Discipleship is more than book work and chapters to finish in a class room; it is living side by side other believers and helping each other along in this journey.
Do we know what The Salvation Army mission and vision statements are?
Can we clearly articulate these to others?
How does this translate into living?
What obstacles prevent us currently from living missionally?
Are there tools that we need in order to help other people understand our mission as an Army?
Let me conclude this second entry on the topic of ‘mission drift’ but reiterating the point that everyone within this army has a role to play in course-correcting mission drift! This is not just the General’s job…or the Commissioner’s job, or the Divisional Commander’s job…this is the life blood of a forward moving Army! So what are you waiting for? Get on with it! Do not allow mission drift to become the vice of Satan that breaks us apart!
Something more for our Salvation Army world to ponder. God Bless you!
*Disclaimer: the thoughts and opinions express here are the thoughts and opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Salvation Army. Reader discretion is advised.*
You know that last minute rush to find just the right video to drive home your point, and no matter what you do it seems that video is illusive and hard to find? Today, let me help you with some videos I have found and have used in my sermons. Please note that the use of videos should be a tool and not main focus of your sermon preparation. Video illustrations can help bring the visual learner along with you and keep your audience attentive.
Sermon Nuggets (Video Illustrations):
1> Cristiano Ronaldo In Disguise:
Scripture: 1 Samuel 3:1-10, John 10:27 Main Idea: Ronaldo is one of the best soccer (football) players in the world. He went undercover in the streets of Spain and no one recognized him wearing the beard and sunglasses. Similarly, in the midst of the noise of the world around us and all of life’s distractions, I wonder if we would recognize God? Would we recognize His voice in the middle of our noisy day? What distractions get in the way that prevent us from hearing or seeing evidence of God in our lives and in the world around us?
2> Hearing for the first time:
Scripture: John 10:27, Romans 10:17, John 8:47, Luke 11:28 Main Idea: Some in our world have never heard about or from God. As ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor 5:20) we are called to proclaim His name. Sometimes the truth of the gospel is like this little boy who finally hears his mother’s voice for the first time. God can do miracles in the lives of people and when His voice is heard, lives are changed!
3> Seeing God’s Glory and our response:
Scripture: Isaiah 6:1:8 Main Idea: These special glasses allow colorblind people to see in the full spectrum of color. Can you imagine the Theophany that Isaiah experienced in heaven? How his eyes must have been opened and it was like seeing everything for the first time. God wants to do that with all of us. He is calling us to go into various places of the world, but first we need to truly see for the first time!
4> Sin & Redemption:
Scripture: John 3:16, Romans 3:23, Romans 5:8, Galatians 2:20 Main Idea: Nothing we do in and of ourselves will save us from sin. It is within us, God’s saving love can and will rescue us if we accept Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and His blood covers our sin and restores us.
5> Prayer & Praying
Scripture: Philippians 4:6-7, Mark 11:24, Matthew 6:6, Matthew 6:9-13 Main Idea: We have these ideas about God and how he answers prayers or how WE think He should answer prayer, but does He really work like that? Prayer doesn’t always produce the answers we are looking and how we come before Him in prayer matters.
These are just 5 Sermon nugget illustrations.
I know that there are much more, and I will post more later…how about you? What are some video illustrations that you have used that you seem to resonate with your audience? Please share them with us in the comment section below.
Last year (2016), General Cox set forth an initiative called Journey of Renewal.
This initiative has been created to encourage, grow, and tackle many of the struggles our Army faces today. In some countries in recent years there have been horrific criminal events that have taken place, and in some regards this is the Army’s response as a preventative measure for the present and future.
I am greatly encouraged by this initiative, and see the possibilities of being truly transparent…but please afford me a small measure of cynicism too. I am hopeful, yet I am unsure if this can, or will actually work. (I really, really hope it does!)
I want transparency and accountability for all leadership.
I believe that this is not only biblical, it is also ethical.
Yet, I am unsure how this will be done from every level, when the accountability of all leadership is not currently in place yet. Sure, there are the yearly reviews and the audits and so on, but how does one thoroughly weigh the performance of Army personnel from afar?
We must tread carefully as we throw the word accountability around, because, as this initiative states, we must have proof with facts and not just rumors. Accusations and rumors can destroy leaders from every level if wrongfully accused, this we must be mindful of. On the same token, our accountability of leadership MUST encompass every level of authority from the top down. We cannot have true accountability until every rank, position and appointment are held to the same level. We cannot sweep things under the rug for one and enforce disciplinary measures for another.
We also should recognize that every level of leadership is fallible and is sometimes subject to making mistakes. A level of grace must be given while these measures of accountability are kept. Without grace, all of us fall short of the glory of God!
Please allow me to quote a portion of this initiative from General Cox:
“Being open and transparent. The Accountability Movement encourages people to be more open and transparent. Leaders should not ask ‘why do they need to know?’ but rather enable an open, transparent culture of ‘why shouldn’t people be told?’
Salvation Army leaders at all levels should encourage people to think, discuss and debate how the Army can be more effective, efficient and faithful in doing God’s will in our communities.
Mutual respect and truth. There must be a culture of mutual respect and truth-telling between Army leaders and those under their command. Developing this culture means that if leaders or followers behave badly there must be consequences. The General has made it clear that everyone needs to be held to account – but fairly.
The practice of complaining secretly or writing anonymous letters has to end. A new accountability culture will require effective processes to address the concerns of whistle-blowers – but allegations must be backed up with facts, not rumours.” http://accountability.salvationarmy.org/
I must tell you the portion that I am most wary of: “complaining of secretly or writing anonymous letters has to end…” I understand that there have been many forms of accusation in various places around the Army world, some legitimate while others slanderous and maliciously false. One of the causes of such a practice in our army (letter writing and secretly complaining) is that there is a very real fear of reprisals or punishment for those who would cry foul, and the fear is this punishment will be handed out by leaders in authority. Perhaps an officer has complained about leadership, and so without any investigation, that officer is either directly dealt with or sent to a punishment appointment in the hopes that they will then resign and then the “problem” officer is gone. Our Army is very good at holding our cards tightly to our chest. We are not very good at transparency, although at times we talk a good game…much improvement needs to take place in order to actually be transparent, and I think General Cox is right in talking about this and starting this initiative.
With that being said though, if transparency is to be fully realized there must be a level playing field for all Officers and soldiers (which I really hope this initiative produces). Some people in our Army do not have any way in which they can safely respond to improper use of authority and maltreatment. Where does a soldier go to report the misuse of authority by their Corps Officer? Where does a Corps Officer go to report the misuse of authority by their Divisional Officer? The list goes on. Who will really listen to them and actually take them seriously and look into it? And if something is found, will anything really be done unless it becomes a legal issue?
Please do not misunderstand me, I am not advocating any kind of witch-hunt in our Army by any means, all I am inferring is that everyone who holds a shred of authority from the General on down to the local officer in a corps should be held accountable in the same way. Yes, the level of responsibility is different, but everyone should be striving for the same goal: Christ-likeness and Kingdom building. If another ambition or goal has been improperly submitted, then hold that person accountable and measure the fruit that each produces.
“ new accountability culture will require effective processes to address the concerns of whistle-blowers”
I am very curious to know what “effective processes” actually means?
Dear Salvation Army, if you want to be truly transparent, then these effective processes will be explained in greater detail in the near future. I am encouraged by this initiative “Journey of Renewal”! I see great things taking place if this is followed through with. If we want to see real change and renewal in our Army, we must make the hard decisions; we must confront sin issues and deal with them, but we must also do it with grace and love. We have to take responsibility for our actions from the top down and the bottom up! No one is more important than the next, and if we are leaders, we must be servants first.
Please pray for your leaders, the greater the responsibility of leadership one assumes the more temptation there is, and they face a lot more pressure as well.
May we hold each other accountable for no other purpose than to see lives transformed by the renewing power of the Holy Spirit and to witness the lost being found by a mighty, mighty God!
Something more for the Army world to ponder today!
Tell us what you think! Do you think this new initiative will work? How can we make it work in our community/ministry? How are you already doing “accountability” in your appointment, corps, ministry?
Leave your comments, questions and thoughts below.
Disclaimer: “The thoughts and opinions written here are the writer’s and not necessarily that of The Salvation Army’s, reader discretion is advised.”
As with many of these articles, hear me out before you tell me how outraged you are that I would say such a thing.
Let me start by asking you four questions: 1. What is your Sunday service called? Is it called a Holiness Meeting or “Worship Service” (or perhaps even Church Service)? 2. Is Holiness lived and taught in your corps? 3. Is Holiness a focal point of your corps and it’s ministries?
4. What is the thrust of your local mission in your corps/appointment? Is Holiness a portion of this?
If you can’t honestly say “Yes” to these questions, then perhaps we ought to see where the grave of holiness is located in your building. The Salvation Army was a large part of the Holiness Movement. I do not believe that our numeric and spiritual growth stemmed from obedient officers or because we had a “tighter” core group of leaders in our Army world, instead I believe we as an Army, recognized and believed in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives. I think the crux of our present age is that fewer and fewer soldiers have this realization any longer. Dare I say this is true for Officer and Soldiers in the corps. I am not questioning our salvation, for I think this remains intact, but I am questioning whether or not we believe in an Almighty God who still performs miracles in the worst of sinners?
Brother and Sisters in Christ, we cannot live and die by our seeker’s registry. This is a tremendous indication of changed lives, but it MUST not stop there. We ought not to simply celebrate the statistical measure of our seekers at the mercy seat. We ought to be discipling those newly saved souls. This is where I believe the Army has fallen short and is in dire need of changing. There has to be more than just converting people to Christ…once they get up from the mercy seat what do we do with them? Do we have measures of accountability? Do we have saints who can mentor and disciple them? Salvation at the altar is only the beginning!!
(Let me also interject for a moment that statistics can become a poor surrogate for a disengaged style of leadership. What I mean by this is, statistics by themselves can be a helpful tool when used correctly, but a harmful tool when context is not considered).
The Holiness Movement is dead because we have worshiped at the church of numbers and figures instead of at the altar of transformation and grace. We have lost our movement and exchanged it for a growing organization dependent upon successful programming and business operations. Some of this cannot be helped. A growing Army requires more guidelines and policies to govern its structure, but at the same time I fear we have sacrificed our very soul in an effort to remain our country’s top charity or top nonprofit…but perhaps we have lost something much more vital within our DNA as an Army of Salvation.
The Holiness Movement is dead because we have exchanged The Holy Spirit’s leading at times for ambition, power and dollar signs. Many of our sacred spaces have been relegated to tiny chapels with no vision for growing souls and more vision for feeding stomachs. Please don’t misunderstand me, we do indeed reach lives for Christ by first feeding and clothing people, but what if we have become so focused on the feeding and clothing people that we have neglected the salvation? What if we have, in essence, told Jesus to wait in the vacant chapel while we filled the box of food for families? What if we have forgotten our hearts to God while we have been reaching out to man?
I pray that we can bring the dead back to life!
I pray that we would wake up and recognize the deep need of a Holiness Army once more. I pray that we would wake up and recognize that in all of our strength and power and might we are nothing apart from the Holy Spirit’s leading. In my American slang, perhaps we have “grown too big for our britches” and in our pride and even arrogance we have begun to lead ourselves instead of allow the Holy Spirit to lead us.
Make no mistake, the enemy, The Father of lies is perfectly content in watching us self-destruct in our polarizing visions and missions and efforts. Satan would celebrate in our death as a movement in exchange for another social service organization or social club. But with God all things are possible! With His power we can come to life again in the places of dormant holiness and floundering mission. We do not need more meetings to do this. We do not need more programs to institute this. What we need are soldiers willing to commit to prayer and discipleship. We need soldiers committed to living lives of holiness, which is very contrary to the society around us today! We need an Army mobilizing on Holiness and not just a march in uniforms. There has to be an inward change before we can externally represent His presence in the streets!!
Lord resurrect our Army!
Resurrect this passion in me!
I want to be Your reflection
Resurrect your presence in me!
Something more for our Army world to ponder today!
Now, tell us what YOU think, leave your comments, questions and snide remarks below.
**Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed here are that of the writer’s and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of The Salvation Army. Reader discretion is advised.**
The primary purpose for our founders in creating The Salvation Army was to be a Lighthouse, a beacon to the lost. We were founded to help the lost, the drowning the marginalized in society…those who were not welcome in Church. We are a holiness movement, and our origin story is all about gap ministry. We go to places that the Church has forgotten or, in some cases, refused to go.
Why then do we make it such a focus to emulate or replicate the Church?
I do not wish to disparage any church but as a practice, many times Church (big C) gets it wrong. The Salvation Army was created to be a “door-opener” – a ministry in which people felt comfortable with, where lives were being touched because the physical needs were met first. But over time, I feel that we started looking around at the explosive growth of churches and mega churches and longed to be like them…when our mission and vision is nothing like them. It’s like this: We are all a member of the Body of Christ, some are the hands, some are the feet…but what happens when the hands look over and see the feet and they begin to try and act like feet? What happens is we have a polarizing body that is not functioning as it was intended to function. This is what I believe has become our downfall as an Army. We were called to be the hands of Christ to the unchurched, to the depraved, to the marginalized of society…but we are trying to act and look like another ministry.
Getting Rid of “Church”… 1. Stop labeling “Worship” only what we do with music… We need to rid ourselves of the Church of the worship of music!
Worship is so much more than music on Sunday mornings. Worship is not just your praise band or your brass band and special music. Worship IS holistic and it encompasses every aspect of who we are as Soldiers of this Army, just as Holiness is our aim in every facet of life! Worship is the response to God’s wondrous love for us. We worship in the van as we pick up people for Holiness meeting. We worship as we go to midweek bible study or other such programs. We worship as we clean the corps bathrooms (this might sound funny, but we once had a blind janitor who could be heard singing hymns of praise while he clean the toilets and washed walls – he taught me a lot about worship).
2. Stop thinking Church as only what we do on Sunday… This notion of “Church” really should be eliminated so that we can get on with going for souls and going for the worst! Church is NOT what we do on Sundays! We worship the Lord on our Sunday Sabbath day. We collectively get together on this day and sing, pray, encourage one another and hear a message…but Church is not only a Sunday thing. We we have this mindset that Sunday is separate from the rest of the week, and that “Church” should only occur on Sunday then we have lost our mission as an Army. Getting rid of this notion of “Church” will open up the possibilities that our Soup Kitchen days, and our Food Pantry days, and our youth program days…IS ALL MINISTRY!! Every facet of these vital “soup, soap, salvation” elements is another opportunity to share Christ, disciple lives and encourage the downtrodden. This is what Church should’ve been…and what we ought to strive to BE. Your congregation is NOT Sunday, but everyday – everyone who comes to your corps, who receives services, who asks for help, They are your congregation!
3. Create Community Not Programs!
We as an Army are so good at creating programs.
We have programs for everything – we even have programs for programs.
It is not the Army’s mission to create more programs, it is our mission to create community and save souls in Jesus’ name! When we aren’t engaging our community with the elements we are using, perhaps it’s time to rid ourselves of the Church of Programs!!
Programs can become our Church and we are so caught up in our program bubbles that we cannot see what families and individuals are truly in need of. We think, we’ll just start a new program to reach them, when in reality what every person craves is a place to belong and to find encouragement and feel that they are a member of the community.
4. Create an Environment of Ownership!
Lieutenants, Captains, Majors & perhaps a few Colonels & Commissioners – We must stop trying to run everything ourselves. Stop micromanaging. The Army, at times, worships at the Church of the Micromanagers and we must rid ourselves of this Church!! What we do by micromanaging is create a corps of dependency. By this I mean is the attitude or belief becomes “since the Officer runs everything, we can sit back and watch since they don’t need me anyway.” If you have doers in your corps, they will quickly become frustrated and perhaps seek somewhere else that they will be used. Stop micromanaging and start delegating leadership and other duties to others in your corps! Begin to create the environment of ownership.
Do you remember what Jesus did when they were facing a mass feeding problem of about 5,000+ people? He didn’t immediately take charge, instead he went to his disciples and said, “feed these people”. Of course the disciples were in shock and did not know how to proceed, the cost was too high and they only had five loaves and two fish. But do you remember what Jesus did with their effort? He multiplied it.
In a very real sense, the Holy Spirit will do that in our corps too when there is an investment and ownership by others. We as officers and leaders have to relinquish our drive for perfection and our grip on authority and allow others to be discipled and in turn they will own their shared portions of responsibility.
I know there is much more to cover on this topic.
What other Churches do we worship at that we should rid ourselves of?
We are a gap ministry, a safe harbor for hurting people to come and find a home.
The Salvation Army needs to rid itself of Church so that it can fully embrace its Holiness as a Movement of Christ.
Something more for our Army world to ponder today.
What do you think? Tell us by commenting, offering your thoughts and opinions.
*Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed here are the thoughts and opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect that of The Salvation Army. Reader discretion is advised.*