“But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” John 4:14
I was cleaning our kitchen yesterday. With four children this is almost an everyday occurrence. If not, dishes tend to pile up and creates a chaotic leaning tower of Pisa sort of mess. Anyway, I digress…As I was washing off dishes and putting them into our dishwasher, I looked up at the windowsill and noticed our non-thriving plants. They were all dead. We might make excuses about these dead plants. Perhaps we might say that they are simply dormant in the winter. Or maybe they just needed to be pruned back for the season. A few more excuses come to mind, but in reality these plants are simply dead. They were once promising green, thriving plants in pots and sun lamps. Many on the cusp of producing some sort of fruit or vegetable. Yet, due to our travel schedule and our lack of green thumbs, they have shriveled up and were husks of their former living selves.
I am reminded that this is a living parable (pun intended)…for myself. I feel as if the Lord teaches us through the world around us – like my plant pots holding dead things in them. Caskets containing death instead of nourished soil of growth. I am drawn to this life lesson. It is something simplistic and yet stark in its reminder to me. For I am sometimes this casket containing death, when I should be a vessel containing life.
In my prayer life… My un-uttered words.
my parched lips and forgotten promises to God. My prayer life can look like husks of its former self. Dried up. Dehydrated out of lack of spiritual water and nourishment. Neglected and empty.
How many times have I forgotten to go back to the Living Water?
How many times have I gotten so busy in the concerns, fears, transitions and schedules of life that I have simply left my conversations to God to go fallow life I harvested fields? And before I know it, the once rich, dark vibrant soil is now cracked and as dry as bones in a desert. From this neglect enters apathy, harsh words spoken out of frustration and shallow roots.
Have you stood on this fallow ground? Is this you? I know that I have found my shamed identity here. what are the conversations that you have neglected with God? He desires to nourish your life again. He longs to shine on the soul-soil and help you grow once more.
For me? I am convicted here. I find myself licking my parched, cracked lips in longing for that Living Water once more. I feel the guilt and shame of leaving Him out of my life…and I must seek Him out again. I must return to His living water and replenish my mind, body, soul.
Prayer: Dear Lord, create in me a clean heart once more. Renew in my a right spirit again. Re-hydrate my broken, crumble soil. I long to find rest and rejuvenation in you anew. Re-ignite your passion and compassion in me. Take away the casket of death and flood my heart with life and love. Here I am, spark in me the joy of your salvation once again. Lord, bring your Living Waters once more.
Something more to ponder today. Be Blessed and thrive not just survive!
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.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
I have another confession to make – I am restless…like pit of my stomach-aching restlessness. Some days I can put my finger on it, while other days it is as elusive as an honest thief. I am usually successful at pushing it back down, repacking that box that it lives in and stowing it away in that shadowy corner that I seldom travel to. Still, I know it’s there…and it weighs on me as if an elephant had decided to perch its rotund bottom on my chest.
I wonder if you feel this way sometimes?
Do you have to push it back down as well?
Do you have to re-tape that worn-out box and pretend that dark corner doesn’t even exist? Does it keep you up at night – blinking at the ceiling fan, counting the rotation of its blades as shadows dance off reflections of streetlights lit only for 3rd shift workers and insomniacs out for a stroll? I repress the urge to join them, to open the front door and walk barefooted down the now cooled, uneven sidewalks as I imagine myself trying to avoid the spiny round pods that fall haphazardly from the large gum tree in our front yard. I have stepped on these awful spiky seeds a time or two while walking barefoot down our path and even in the cool darkness of the night thoughts of the surprise pain causes me to recoil my feet from the lower spaces of my bed.
I wonder if David ever felt this way? The pre-murder and adulterous David…the one that tended sheep and slew predators to the flock. I wonder if he ever felt restless in his heart? I am sure he did when, later he was being pursued by jealous King Saul and his men. As David hid from cave to cave and village to village, I imagine him laying down on an uncomfortable uneven floor hoping to rest his weary head. I can picture his deep sadness as he yearned for his best friend Jonathan. Yet David trusted in God…but I would venture a guess that there were moments in which he was restless and he too had to push it back down and re-tape his box.
It is said that there is a season for everything…and yet Jesus told the people of his day not to worry about anything, yet I can’t help but find myself in the season of worry from time to time. Doe that mean that I am not heeding His words? That, despite my best efforts, I am not trusting in Him? Perhaps you have thought this also> I worry, but Jesus said not to, and here I am still worrying.< What do we do with these seasons? How do we find the glimmers and glints of hope in the mess of our minds? Sometimes we do believe the lie. What lie you ask? The lie that Jesus wasn’t really talking to us when He said those things, that it was just for the disciples and people around Him right then and there… The lie that we are broken people beyond fixing, and that the restlessness that we feel in the pits of our stomachs and the weight of our hearts is what we deserve for being fallen, sinful people.
Don’t live there.
Don’t wallow in that muck and believe that damning lie.
The son who turned his back on his father and spent his entire inheritance on partying, prostitutes and comfort found himself feeding muddy, fetid pigs. Day in and day out he was covered in mud and pig excrement. He definitely smelled as bad as they did. He had lost everything – squandered a small fortune on foolish, regrettable things, and the stink of his life went much deeper than clothes and skin. He lived there. He wallowed there. That pen of stench became his home for a period of time, until he came to senses. As Jesus told this story of prodigal son, I imagine some who were listening felt that he was telling their story. The prodigal son came to his senses, got up and devised a plan to return to his father. He formulated a plan in his mind, he believed he would be unwelcome to return as a son, but maybe, just maybe his father would let him return as a servant. Can you imagine that restless journey home; The endless loop of things he would finally say to his father in order to stave off the reprisals and chastisements? As each dusty step led him closer and closer to the home he once knew, thoughts of doubt and fear must have crept in. “Master, just let me work for you.” (For surely he would never be worthy to call him father after what he did).
And when this beaten-by-life man, who had squandered everything and had hit absolute rock-bottom crested that last hill, and his home was in view…he saw someone running towards him. Perhaps it was a servant instructed to chase him off. Perhaps it was a warning not to come any closer…he would have deserved such a welcome. Instead, it wasn’t any of those things…it was his father that he had wished were dead, running to embrace the son he thought he had lost.
Don’t live in the home of restlessness.
Don’t believe the lie of shame and guilt.
Be forgiven, let your Father embrace you and welcome you home…and when you are finally hope, re-tape that box and then throw it away.
The prodigal son is me.
The prodigal son is you.
But once we have been embraced,
once we have witness our Father running to us,
Once we have been forgiven and returned to our home (where we belong)
don’t even entertain the lie or the box any longer.
But sometimes…we still walk at midnight, say hello, I’ll be waving.
“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” -Michelangelo
This is more of a collective pondering today. We need your comments, thoughts and opinions in order to carefully and thoughtful answer the above question: Where Are We Going?
What is our vision?
What should our vision be?
How do we make that vision a reality?
What are some of the obstacles in our way of fully realizing that reality?
Who will it take (e.g. soldiers, officers, volunteers, donors)?
How important is accountability in such a large movement/organization?
How can we become more accountable to Christ within this Army? Where does Holiness belong in such a conversation?
I have disclosed numerous questions to ponder today…are you willing to take a chance at answering any or all of these questions? The larger scope question: Where Are We Going? In other words, if you were to envision where the Army SHOULD BE in 20 years, what would it look like? What would you want to see different, the same, the growth?
-If we have no plan or vision, then we will flounder and waver.
We look forward to your responses!
Something more for the Army to ponder today!
Vision without execution is hallucination.” – Thomas Edison
*Disclaimer: the thoughts and opinions represented here do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of The Salvation Army and are that of the writer of this blog, reader discretion is advised.*
“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.*
It has happened in numerous conversations.
There has been the lament of decisions made, and the ripples that flow from those decisions moving outward growing ever larger and larger.
Could it be that in some places in our Army world that we are experiencing a floundering of our mission? How can we recognize this mission drift in our ministries and in the larger army?
Perhaps the first question we should ask ourselves is this: What is our mission as an Army? Have we strayed from that mission? And if the answer is ‘yes’, then perhaps we have indeed become castaways on mission drift.
Through our research we confirmed that mission drift is a pressing challenge for every faith-based organization. The zeal and beliefs of the founders are insufficient safeguards. There is no immunity, no matter how concrete your mission statement is. Or how passionate your leaders are. Or how much you believe it could never happen to you.
Relatively minor decisions, when compounded by time, lead organizations to an entirely different purpose and identity.
Did you catch that?
Mission Drift is a challenge for EVERY faith-based organization…and I believe we are facing this imminent threat every day within our Army. We are not immune. We are not above this danger. As a matter of fact, I believe that the chief danger in our Salvation Army today is mission drift within social programs, recreational programs and all other would be programs that are become increasingly devoid of any spiritual emphasis or initiative. We have become professional outsourcers and imagined “the lost” would come banging down our doors on Sunday…yet they aren’t and our corps are dying…and we are riding wave after wave of mission drift.
When asked about money, Greer and Horst had this to say:
Q: How does money tend to factor into the mission drift equation?
“Through hundreds of hours of interviews with Christian leaders of organizations of all varieties, donor influence was identified time and again as a leading cause of drift. With almost any donation there are “strings attached.” In some instances donors—often corporate donors or government funders—will place prohibitions about how overtly Christian an organization’s work can be. Historically this restriction was perhaps most evidenced in Andrew Carnegie’s university funding, which disallowed “sectarian institutions” from receiving funding. Many colleges—including Brown and Dartmouth—cut ties with their founding Christian denominations to be eligible to receive Carnegie’s millions.”
Has money played a part of our possible mission drift in the Salvation Army?
I would say if it hasn’t, then the temptation has surely been there…and some may even rationalize “well, we will figure out a ‘work-around’ for our mission to continue as we accept these monies…” and yet the funds come and the implementation of missional, intentional Christ-centered programming gets tossed or put on the back-burner because regulations and guidelines must be followed. Is this danger truly happening to our Army? Is it subtle and sometimes unnoticeable? All it takes are small, seemingly innocuous decision to take place in order for the drift to start. Could it be happening in your corps? Your Division? Your Territory?
I certainly do not want to paint a doom and gloom, “let’s second guess every decision being made” – type of conversation. But I am pondering whether we have already begun to drift away from our primary purpose for being an Army? Later on in the interview, Greer and Horst said this, and I believe this describes my fear of mission drift in our army:
We chose the word drift intentionally. It has the image of slowly, silently, and with little fanfare carrying you away to a new destination. It’s not dramatic, and yet anyone who’s spent time on a boat of any size knows it happens.
It’s clichéd, but the moments of greatest temptation occur when you least expect it. We’ve felt the tug of secularization most when we’ve been enjoying seasons of growth. It’s so easy for success to cloud drift. But it’s always there. As Christian leaders, we must daily commit ourselves to protecting and celebrating what matters most in the institutions God has entrusted to us.
So here is my pondering to you, Dear Army: How do we even notice mission drift when it happens in our big Army? And secondly, how do we course correct if our Army is Titanic and it takes all of us to turn the ship around? Can this be done? What are some of the indicators of mission drift that you see? Would loss of constituents be an indicator? Would leadership disconnect be another? Would program not missionally based also sound alarms? What kinds of safe-guards can we put into place to help us avoid this trap? How might we course correct?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts, comments and concerns.
Something more for our Army to ponder today.
Smethurst, M. (2014, March 10). The subtle danger of mission drift. The gospel coalition.
Retrieved from https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-subtle-danger-of-mission-drift
*Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions written here are not necessarily the thoughts and opinions of The Salvation Army. Reader discretion is advised.*
Our Messy Church – World Services/Self-Denial Experience:
Quite a few of you have asked me how our corps (church) went about doing “Messy Church” after we posted photos and a video of our event. Let me just first say that Messy Church was something new to us. We hadn’t done it before in our corps and so it was quite a departure and risk to do. Perhaps sometimes we worry too much about upsetting the “Norm” or the flow of the traditional service.
Our Messy Church event focused on World Services.
You know the old adage “you won’t understand until you walk a mile in my shoes”? Well, with messy church, we were trying to help our corps people walk a mile in the shoes of other Christians in specific parts of the world in the hopes that it will spur on more of a concern and care for World Services – and the necessity of it.
We set up in our gym with 8 tables which represented these countries (printed flags were also taped to the tables):
The Curriculum is Messy Church “Christian Aid” which is from the UK and another denomination – this can be easily modified to fit our World Services through The Salvation Army and our specific territory and its Partners In Mission. So as you click the link above, please note that we did modify it a bit to help us focus our corps members on World Services as we changed some of the verbiage within the guide. We also used the stories linked here: Case Studies to help our corps members understand the specific struggles of children and families in these regions of the world. The case studies will help to put the objective of each table into proper perspective for the participant.
Because there are 8 tables/countries to visit, we kept this portion moving rather rapidly by only giving the groups 5 minutes at each table. Each table’s task varied, from grinding coffee, smelling it and brewing it (Nicaragua); to building a shelter and roof then checking to see if it was waterproof (Sierra Leon). All of these activities fully engaged the groups and helped them visualize the struggles of each country they were in.
Here’s how we organized our time: The Welcome: (5 minutes)
I wanted to help some of our traditional attendees feel less uncomfortable by starting out in the chapel with our Welcome & Announcements which was followed by our offering (We sang “He’s Got the whole world in his hands”).
The Instruction Time: (5 minutes)
After our offering we explained our World Services emphasis and what Messy Church was all about. I wanted to assure some corps members that these activities were not specifically for children, but for the whole corps and all ages. I also wanted to emphasize that we all needed to stop “adulting” for a bit and just absorb our discovery. This will help some to feel more comfortable as you step out of traditional worship and what some have come to expect from a Sunday morning service.
After assuring and instructing we prayed for our service and I invited everyone to grab a “Passport” at the back of the sanctuary as they made their way out to the gym. Note: the passport sample is on page 6 of this link: Session Guide. If you wanted to incorporate another method or passport book that’s entirely up to you. We simply had stickers at each table, so after completing that country’s activity, the participant placed a sticker or “stamp” in their passport for that country.
The World Traveling Experience: (40 minutes)
Once in the gym, the participants were asked to find a country as a starting point. We encouraged the groups to go in different directions and to take 6-8 people with them. Each location had elements for their activity which coincided with the Case Studies (again these studies can be modified and adjusted). Also, since each corps/ministry is unique, you should adjust the activities for each table that arr suggested in the Guide to match your demographic and audience.
From there, have a time keeper and assure that each group has both adults and kids involved in the “travels”. Keep them traveling from country to country at or near your designated timeline!
The Celebration: (10 minutes)
Following the last country’s destination and completion of activity, depart back for “Home”. In our case we all traveled back to our sanctuary to debrief. What happens in the celebration is a reinforcement of what everyone just experienced through hands-on activities and the case study stories.
In the Guide, towards page 5 is a suggested plot for the celebration/worship component.
Our corps discussed the experience in sort of an open forum, with feedback, then we read Micah 6:8 and discussed justice, love and mercy. Following this scripture reinforcement, we watched The Salvation Army Central Territory’s World Services/Self-Denial video: ITW Self-denial Transforms
We presented a brief synopsis of Self-denial, talked about the change boxes/piggy banks and pledged to come back in a month (with weekly focus videos and announcements as reminders) and have a Self-denial offering celebration together (this would entail, our corps members bringing back their change boxes or piggy banks to give collectively in a World Services offering).
Following this we sang “Open the Eyes of my heart”
and concluded with a benediction.
A Fellowship Meal Followed: (30 minutes – 1 hour)
The last component is often what we do best isn’t it?
But it does help corps members and possible new comers to further discuss and fellowship together. We had a simple meal, but in the study Guide it even suggests having an international meal prepared for the participants.
My Thoughts on Messy Church:
This type of hand-on, full sensory worship has potential for new comers and regulars a like. This wouldn’t be something that we would do every Sunday (honestly, it took a lot more effort than your traditional service). BUT, I believe Messy Church will help bring in new corps members who are unchurched or do not understand what church is about in the first place. This is really a non-threatening type of ministry approach which, I believe, eases families and individuals into a new church setting.
There are all sorts of ways to do a Messy Church themed event in your corps, I have linked some videos below for you to check out for yourself. The sky really is the limit in how you and your team organizes one. Also, these type of events can of course be done on any day of the week, originally the Anglican church conducted theirs on Wednesday evenings.
Messy Church can help break our monotony and also open up worship to some of those “Creatives” out there and those who are already in your congregation. Don’t be intimidated by Messy Church either, it can be a real tool to use for evangelism and even discipleship. Give it a go, perhaps it’s not for every demographic or congregation…but you won’t know unless you first try it for yourself.
Something more to ponder today!
As promised, here are some videos on Messy Church for further review:
“Hardship, unbelief, suffering and poverty have not stopped our soldiery from rendering their service to God and man. The Salvation Army is a great empire, an empire without a frontier made up of a tangle of races, tongues and colors such as never before in all history gathered together under one flag.” -General Evangeline Booth
I do not wish to pat ourselves on the back today, this is not my purpose.
The purpose for this pondering is to explore the structure and foundation of our Army today.
This week we have talked about our identity and that we are more than simply a “church”…this calling that we are answering is to the front lines, to places where the church often shies away from. It is my intention to judge the church, but rather to paint the necessity of our Army to remain in the front lines.
We cannot boast that this uniform or this mission is glamorous, because it is more often than not, a tiring, thankless duty. We must get our hands dirty in order to grasp the hand of the one needing rescue from the pit. We must be available to listen to the lonely soul who feels as if they are all alone. Yes, it is often a most unglamourous (If I may make up a word) duty we are called to perform.
A Stalwart Soldier:
Storms will come.
Doubt will occur.
Leaders will come that you might not see eye to eye with.
Clouds of disillusionment might appear on your horizon.
But we MUST remain firm. We cannot retreat, despite these imperfections within our ranks.
We are all imperfect people being cleansed by a Holy God. We must allot for grace and forgiveness so that we can continue to serve Christ in the many capacities that He has placed us in.
I too struggle with “the system” from time to time.
I too question certain policies and decision from time to time, BUT this will not deter me from serving Christ first and attempting to continue this mission to the world around me.
Your community needs you.
Your town, city, neighbor – they need you!
They need a functioning, loving, graceful Salvation Army to go where no one else dares to go.
We don’t have time to become divided upon anything.
The moment we become a divided Army, is the moment that we lose ground and lose our place within our communities and most importantly God’s mission for us. When we relinquish our prejudices and societal divisions and allow the grace of God and the love of Christ to permeate us entirely, we tear down all divisions and become united again. This road that we are on is not easy, it was never supposed to be easy. Christ’s path to the cross was not easy, and we are called to pick up our crosses and follow Him – no matter where that leads us.
Are you prepared to carry that cross?
There will be person sacrifices to be made.
It is not always glamorous.
There will be bumps and bruises along the way…but we need you!
This Army of Salvation needs viable, faithful, loving, holy, Salvationists to lead the way.
Now more than ever, we must remain united as one Army throughout our World.
One mission…One purpose. Yes, we will lose comrades along the way. Attrition is real.
-If we are more concerned with being like Christ instead of looking the part of a soldier…
-If we are focused on Kingdom building instead of personal, selfish agendas…
-If we have a deep compassion for people and are grieved by the sickness of sin instead of settling for a compromised faith…
-If we careless about attaining certain positions and ranks and care more for others…
-If we spend more time on our knees before the throne of heaven intently listening instead of jabbering away and complaining about our gripes and wants…
-If we studied more about what Jesus said and did and why He did those things instead of studying what our founders did (I’m sorry, I deeply respect our founders, but they surrendered to Christ too)…
If we do these things, and strive for holiness in everything that we are and do…these borders and divisions that we face will decrease and Christ will increase in our vision and heart. We can’t allow our minds to become consumed with these impossible, insurmountable boarders any longer – because we serve a God who does the impossible and STILL performs miracles in our communities.
Dear Army, we are an Army of Salvation that is spurred on by the resurrection power of Christ Jesus! Each of us are a standing testimony to this power. He still longs to transform lives in your corps, in your communities. Despite the darkness, Christ can and will shine His light and expose sin and deliver souls from these chains. We, dear soldiers, have the deep privilege of bearing that light into those places…if we will only commit to it and stop wavering between our old lives and our new.
“I seemed to hear a voice sounding in my ears, ‘Where can you go and find such heathen as these, and where is there so great a need for your labors?…God shall have all there is of William Booth” -William Booth
Does He have all of you yet?
Something more for our Army world to ponder today, To God be the glory! Disclaimer:The views and opinions expressed in these ponderings on pastorspondrings.org are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Salvation Army.
Acts 151,2,7-11 “Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers:“Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question…7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
I am not sure who these “certain people” were…but today I wonder if our “certain people” wear uniforms and act the part of the pharisee from time to time. I don’t wish to sound judgmental…truth be told, we have all played this role a time or two…and we’re not proud of it (I hope).
The Early Church
There were certain fundamentalists within the early church; rule abiders, standard bearers, orders and regulation holders. When new comers (Gentiles) came to the faith proclaiming to be Christ-followers, these traditionalists demanded they be made practicing Jews in every way including circumcisions (yowza!). You see, in order for these new comers to be accepted as members of the faith in the eyes of these traditionalists, they had to change everything about themselves. The law had to be upheld, and these stiff regulations followed to the letter. It was practically impossible for these Gentile followers to obey the law completely. In essence these “certain people” were setting them up for failure.
Grace & Law 8 “God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:8-9)
Peter tells it like it is to those gathered in Jerusalem.
We are given the Holy Spirit…He purifies our hearts. We do not need additional ritualistic practices or outward performances to meet regulations of salvation. We have been saved through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. We have been purified through and through.
Do Orders And Regulations Get In The Way?
Yes. At times.
Sometimes, even in The Salvation Army, we can get so caught up in the law and the ritualistic practice of the law that we can lose sight of a grace that purifies and transcends common practice. Are new comers joining our Army? Do they understand this Army? Are we helping them to understand our forms of worship? Do we lose them because of lack of grace, compassion, judgement, appropriateness?
I am not advocating anarchy, in fact just the opposite.
Could it be that the grace of the Holy Spirit is all the law we need? I am not saying that we throw out our orders and regulations…but do we hold far too tightly to these? Have they become our “Jewish law”? In order for visitors to truly believe and worship as Salvationists, do they have to meet our requirements of dress and practice?
Sound Doctrine?…yes…Rigid Rules?…no. Again we should be mindful, as Peter, Paul, Barnabas and James were in Acts 15 of the trappings of ridged Law abiding practices that strangles growth. The Apostles didn’t say that they were throwing out sound doctrines, but they did loosen the stiff regulations for Gentiles coming to the faith.
Can new people & visitors truly come to your corps “as they are”?
Do we judge new comers based on their appearance and practice?
Have we lost potential soldiers and even officers because we rigidly follow our orders and regulations and “accepted” practices in worship (excluding foundational doctrinal beliefs)?
Do we really mean for new Christians or would be Christians to “come as they are” into our Holiness meetings and Salvation Meetings?
Are we exhibiting grace, love and compassion to the “whosoever”?
Have we ever discriminated (consciously or subconsciously) people because they didn’t fit OUR Salvationist mold?
Warning: Don’t Get In The Way!
Don’t be the “certain people” found in Acts 15.
Our world already contains enough judgement, condemnation and discrimination. If the Church The Salvation Army cannot be a beacon of hope, grace and holiness, then a I fear we will have lost our way and God help us if we turn away individuals because they aren’t “our kind of people“.
If you have been a part of the “certain people“…I pray you can reconcile yourself once more to His grace and love. Ask Him once again to soften your heart. Ask the Lord to make you holy. True growth of our Army begins upon our knees in penitence as we seek to be inclusive of the whosoever regardless if they wear a uniform or look just like you and me.
Prayer: Lord make us holy. Set us apart for your missions here on earth. May we seek to love and to serve everyone regardless of their differences. Give us your eyes so that we may see others the way you see them. May we exude your grace, peace, love and acceptance of those who are so desperately in need of these qualities here on earth. May we be your people who will help usher in your kingdom here on earth today through our faith in action. In your name we pray. Amen.
-Something more for our Army world to ponder today.