9 Tips for a Successful Skype with Missionaries

missionary_holding_handWhat is it really like to be a Christian missionary in a faraway country?  My 5th grade Sunday school students had watched video clips of international missionaries but I wanted something even more personal for my students — thus the idea to videoconference via Skype (www.skype.com) with missionaries in Madagascar.

Questions such as “Is it safe?”, “What kind of food do you eat?”, “How do you go about telling others about Jesus?”, “What kind of house do you live in?”, and “Do you have running water and electricity?” were not answered in traditional videos yet were easily answered via our Skype sessions.

Our first Skype session was a wonderful learning experience.  It was such a success that our middle and high school VBS students Skyped with missionaries in Guatemala a few weeks later. Check out pics from both sessions at my Techie Church Kids Facebook page.

Listed below are some helpful tips. (more…)

BYOD 101: Lessons from my Sunday School Class

BYOD imageJust a few weeks ago one of my fifth grade Sunday school students proclaimed to the entire class, “I don’t want to leave this class when the new year starts!”  I knew then that my BYOD (bring your own device) initiative was working.

In February I began encouraging my fourth and fifth grade students to bring their own mobile devices (iPods, iPads, iPhones, and Kindles) for use in Sunday school. Below are some of the lessons I learned. (more…)

Engaging Kids with Puppets

puppetJust hearing the names “Homer and Henry” brings a big smile and fond memories to the school children and teachers (old and young alike) of southeastern Kentucky. Homer and Henry are the puppets of Bill Holeman, a Christian missionary and ventriloquist from California, who has dedicated over fifty years of his life to spreading the good news of Jesus Christ in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. “Preacher Bill”, as Bill is known to all, visits schools and churches, using his beloved puppets to tell children about Jesus Christ. Children eagerly listen as Homer, Henry and Preacher Bill tell about how sin separates us from God and how God sent His Son to save us from our sins. Through laughter and the work of the Holy Spirit, thousands of children have heard the gospel message. Preacher Bill figured out early in his missionary work that children love puppets and it is no different today. Puppets engage kids! (more…)

Teaching Kids to Honor God by Giving

childwithdollarAs a young child, one of my daughter’s favorite books was The Bernstain Bears Get the Gimmes. Brother and Sister Bear want everything they see and throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want. Mama and Papa Bear teach their cubs about budgeting and appreciating what they already have. Twenty years later our family still asks each other,  “Do you have the gimmes?” when referring to wanting something we don’t need.

Even though secular books such as these teach valuable lessons about money, the Bible should be every Christian’s authority on how to spend, save, and give.  Did you know the Bible has over 2,000 verses on money? Teaching kids to tithe by giving God ten percent of their earnings demonstrates to God that He is first in their lives. Tithing to the church shows God we love Him and are eager to give him back a portion of what He has blessed us with.

Malachi 3:10 says “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so that there will be food enough in my Temple; if you do, I will open up the windows of heaven for you and pour out a blessing so great you won’t have room enough to take it in!”. In this verse, God promises to bless us immeasurably if we will honor Him with our tithe.

So how do we teach young children about the concept of tithing? As a parent or children’s ministry teacher we should model tithing. We can’t teach something we are not doing ourselves.

Apps and websites such Oink, Countmybeanz, and Tykoon teach money management such as spending, saving, and giving yet are not suitable for teaching tithing. With these apps, kids may only give to charities approved by the software vendor and purchase items only from selected sites.  You may be surprised to hear this from me but in this case technology is not necessarily the best choice for teaching kids to tithe. The tried and true tips below are just as effective.

  • Teach kids the meaning of the word tithe (one tenth of our personal income set apart for God). This is easily taught visually by using ten (10) one dollar bills. One of the ten one dollar bills (or one/tenth) is a tithe. This can also be taught with a bag of M & M’s as suggested by Kaylana.
  • Teach kids what the Bible says about tithing and why it is important.
  • Parents should give children a weekly allowance based on the child’s completion of chores. Kids need money to be able to tithe.
  • Play fun games such as the soda explosion gimmick.
  • Allow kids to create a tangible money management system by decorating three mason jars labeled Give to God, Save, and Spend. My Giving Bank with three banks in one is also a good system. My daughter used it years ago.
  • Encourage kids to give their tithe to God each Sunday during the regular church offering.

Kids Can Be Missionaries, Too!

lottiemoonA former pastor of mine made a statement that I often remember during the Christmas season. Brother Roger said that his Lottie Moon Christmas offering for International Missions was his Christmas present to Jesus. He always gave as much or more to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering as he spent on the most expensive Christmas present he bought that year. What an inspiration to give Jesus only the best of our offerings!

This is the Week of Prayer for International Missions, a time when Southern Baptists pray and give to support the 5,000+ Southern Baptist missionaries serving throughout the world. This is also a time to give thanks for the hundreds of thousands of souls saved, the thousands of churches planted, and the over one million gospel presentations made during the previous year.

Yet Christmas time isn’t the only time of year to be made aware of the importance of missions. Mission education throughout the year is fundamental to the spread of the gospel and the growth of the church. And who is the future church? Our kids are the future church, of course. (more…)

Kids, Comic Strips, and the Gospel

kidgraphicsThe boy who sat next to me in fourth grade was one of them. You know, the kid who could take a pencil and piece of notebook paper and sketch the coolest drawings. John’s specialty was race cars but he also drew cartoons, self-portraits and images of his teachers, which were sometimes not the most flattering.

John, like many artsy kids today, was not interested in traditional homework assignments but excelled if the assignment included drawing. Bible teachers know that keeping the attention of children like John in a traditional children’s ministry classroom can be challenging. I have found that allowing these kids (who are often boys) to become digital artists instills interest in the content being taught–the wonderful gospel of Jesus Christ. (more…)

Four Non-Technology Tips for Becoming Tech Savvy

never_stop_learningTechnology doubles about every three years, an astounding fact that  compounds the guilt many of us feel when it comes to staying current with technology. We all know how important keeping up with technology is to our careers and to life in general yet most of us know only the basics. We believe we don’t have time to learn anything new. Others just feel too overwhelmed with technology and don’t know where to start. Whatever your reason (or excuse), don’t throw in the towel. (more…)

Counting Time God’s Way

calendarDid the Prophet Isaiah live in the time frame of BC or AD? What year was Jesus born? If you had to think more than a few seconds before answering these questions, you are not alone. Kids and adults alike often struggle to correctly place Bible events on a historical timeline yet understanding how our calendar works is important for a thorough knowledge of the Bible.

I fondly recall my days as a child in Sunday School when I was allowed to write graffiti on my classroom wall. Well, it actually wasn’t graffiti but was a chronological timeline of Old Testament Bible events. I don’t know if my Sunday School teacher got permission from the church leaders before allowing us to write on all four walls, but I know I can clearly recall many of those Bible stories today. (more…)

Want to Teach Kids to be Like Jesus? Try this Simple Technology Lesson.

word_cloud_traits_of_Jesus2Most Bible teachers would agree that the main purpose of children’s ministry is to teach kids to be like Jesus. This simple word cloud activity is a fun way to teach kids the character traits of Jesus while allowing them to be creative and use technology.

A word cloud is a graphical representation of word frequency. The picture located at the top left of this blog post is a sample word cloud I created based on the character traits of Jesus. There are many free online word cloud generators but I recommend http://www.abcya.com/word_clouds.htm  for elementary kids. It has a kid- friendly interface that allows kids to change fonts, colors, print, and save. (more…)

Take the Initiative to Keep Our Children Safe Online

thinklogoLast week (October 21st – 25th) was Digital Citizenship Week– a reminder to everyone including teachers, parents, and kids of the importance of digital citizenship education.  Many public schools teach basic digital citizenship concepts to kids as young as kindergarten. It doesn’t seem to be enough. We often hear of tragic news stories such as the one about 12 year old Rebecca Sedwick , who was cyber bullied into committing suicide last month.  Stories such as these drive home the critical need for even more digital citizenship education. (more…)