Download, print, and cut out the tag below and attach it to a fun Christmas gift as a volunteer appreciation.
Jamie Ivey joins the podcast to discuss kids and finding their identity in Christ.
Check out the “The Happy Hour” podcast with Jamie Ivey.
By Kayla Stevens
Have you ever wondered what color crayons really are? Are green crayons really green? Can you trust that the P-U-R-P-L-E written on the label correctly identifies a purple crayon? What if someone takes the green crayon label and puts it on a purple crayon. Is it still green? Why or why not?
My guess is you probably have not sat for hours at your favorite coffee shop contemplating questions about the color of crayons, but then again we are in kidmin, so it is entirely possible! As leaders, we want to pay attention to little questions like these that kids are being asked regularly. And while they look simple on the outside, they are actually very complex and feed into a cultural worldview known as expressive individualism.
Expressive individualism is a term that describes the belief that identity comes through self-expression. In this belief system, the pathway to true identity is through discovering your most authentic desires by looking within yourself and then being free to display those desires to the world. This is the current mantra of the culture: “be true to yourself, speak your truth, follow your heart, you be you.”
So, what does expressive individualism have to do with the color of crayons? Everything. The adversary of our children has learned to begin simple and start early. If the belief system of the church is to be compromised, start with children and propagate a simple deception.
“Are green crayons really green?” is not only a question about colors, but about who determines identity. Who gets to say what the color green is or is not? Do I get to determine what is green? What if I want to call the color of carrots green? Is that okay? Can that be my truth? Why or why not?
Our kids are being inundated with messages and myths that question identity, authority, and who gets to say what is true and what isn’t. And it is important that we listen to the messages kids hear and learn to engage in conversations with them that point back to the gospel and Biblical truths.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- Read a children’s story. Ask kids to share what values the writer is lifting up? For older kids, consider talking about what the message behind the message really is and why it matters. Do they see a conflict with Biblical truth in the story?
- Watch an age-appropriate ad. Talk about what qualities or characteristics are presented in an attractive way. Identify the message being presented and determine if this message lines up with the Bible.
- Listen to a popular song that kids in your ministry know. Read the lyrics and engage kids in a conversation about what ideas are being presented as truth. Discern what parts of this message are true, what parts are not, and why these ideas seem good or attractive.
Accurately identifying the message is the first step towards exercising discernment and helping kids interpret the messages they hear. There is a calculated attempt to deceive kids from the truth, it is sophisticated and subtle. As we lead kids, let us also listen to the messages kids are hearing from the culture, and then guide them to a better way of discerning what is true, what isn’t, and why green crayons really are green.
Kayla Stevens is a Content Editor for Lifeway Kids and a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She has contributed to several books and Bible studies including What about Kids Ministry? Practical Answers to Questions about Kids Ministry (2018), What is a Christian? Answers for Kids (2018), and Behold Your King (2020). She has been serving in Kids Ministry for over 14 years and has a deep passion for empowering children to own their faith and grow deeper in the joy of Jesus.
John Paul Basham joins the podcast to discuss how to start developing a rhythm of gospel conversations.
By Sarah Humphrey
The holidays are upon us in all their splendid, colorful, and beautiful glory. What occurs in the next few months can be settled into a child’s mind for many years to come. Memories are made during this season that will turn into traditions, and those traditions may be handed down for generations to come.
How we spend our holiday season with the children around us will undoubtedly be one of the best investments we make. With a pull toward consumption and over-spending, culture can easily encourage us to go in the direction opposite of Christ. We can be pushed into a hurry mentality, with high emotion, a lot of sugar, and a loss of order, but what kids love most about the holidays is the presence, joy, comfort, and connection that Jesus offers through the celebrations of gratitude and His life.
Here is a list of small, intentional activities that foster connection, joy, and the life of Jesus. You can share these with your child or the children you serve through the holiday season:
- Create a simple, holiday bucket list with your children. What are a few activities or traditions they would like to see fulfilled during this season? Hearing where they want to connect will give you keys to helping them develop their faith walk!
- Think presence over presents! Try reading a story together that celebrates the season, playing a board game that teaches something valuable, or engaging in a form of service that helps kids express the spirit of generosity.
- Get in the kitchen together! Bake bread, cookies, or a sweet treat that can nourish the soul and the body. Give a few to your neighbors or friends!
- Sing a song. The holidays are the perfect time for learning new songs, Christmas carols, and even karaoke!
- Celebrate giving! Choose a day to have your kids do several chores around the house or classroom. Allow them to earn a “star” for each chore. After they’ve helped clean up, have them count all the stars, and then proceed to “buy” a gift for someone else using their earnings.
- Go see the lights! Take an evening to make some hot chocolate, hop in the car, and drive around town looking at holiday lights and decorations.
- Write a few handwritten notes, or color a few pictures for those in nursing homes in your area. During the holidays, it can brighten the day of the residents to find a thoughtful note from a young one!
- Pray more out loud. Allow the time around the table to enhance your prayers, gratitude, and offerings to God during this time of year (and throughout it!).
- Exercise in the cold weather! Go for a crisp walk together with a hat, coat, and scarf and breathe in the frosty air. It not only enhances your mood, but it also increases energy and helps make the inside days run smoother.
- Slow down. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but less is always more. Enjoy the nearness of Jesus, be compassionate with those around you, give to others from the peace in your heart, and celebrate the gift of God in every memory made.
Sarah is a wife and homeschool mom to three kids while also working as an artist, author, life coach, and voice actor. Her writing and doodling can be found in her devotional, “40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood” and her voice in several commercials, children’s books, and audiobooks. Her education and love for holistic science also leads her to teach small workshops on health, wellness, and creativity. She loves encouraging women and kids to embrace self-care, utilize their gifts, and become leaders in the community around them. Her latest devotional for tweens, “Solomon Says” releases this November. Until then, you can follow her Instagram @the.table.and.bath!
Kevin Jones joins the podcast to discuss the importance of keeping God’s word at the center of your kids ministry.
Kayla Stevens joins the podcast to discuss how to help kids deal with doubting their faith.
By Alyssa Jones
Recently, my husband and I took our kids trick-or-treating. Our 7-year-old skeleton, 5-year-old princess-fairy, and 1-year-old cow dashed from neighbor to neighbor to collect their favorite sweets (Snickers, Skittles, and suckers—respectively). And house after house, I found myself shouting toward them as they descended from each porch: “Say thank you!”
Why is “thank you” so hard to remember? Whether it’s a sense of entitlement or general forgetfulness, we aren’t nearly as thankful as we ought to be. Teaching our kids to be thankful isn’t a lesson given at one point in time. Thankfulness is an attitude, a right posture toward God and others, recognizing that every good thing is ultimately a gift from the Lord.
We practice giving thanks as a family because without practice, we’d forget. We’d start believing we deserve what we worked hard for or that the world exists to serve us. We can encourage our kids to practice thanks in daily exchanges (“Thanks for putting your shoes away, buddy,” “Thank you for the hug,” “Thanks for spending time with me today”) or in prayer—before meals and at bedtime.
As Thanksgiving approaches, find time to practice thankfulness in explicitly intentional ways. Try this simple craft.
Supplies: construction paper (brown, red, orange, yellow), scissors, glue stick, markers
- Provide a brown piece of construction paper to each family member. Guide each person to lay his hand flat on the paper with fingers spread. Trace the hand to make a tree. Extend the outline past the wrist as a tree trunk.
- Family members may choose to cut out their tree outline. Distribute red, orange, and yellow paper for children to cut out leaf shapes. Leaves can be simple ovals or ornamental like maple leaves.
- Let each family member choose several leaves of various colors. For each leaf, encourage them to write or draw something they are thankful for. Instruct them to use glue sticks to attach the leaves to their trees.
- Invite family members to take turns sharing what is on their thankfulness tree.
Open your Bible to Psalm 107:1. Read the verse aloud or, if your child can read, encourage him or her to read the verse aloud.
Lead your family in a time of prayer:
Father God, we come to You with thankful hearts. Year after year, You are faithful to us. You give us good gifts—far more than we deserve. Most of all, Lord, we are thankful for You. You love us so much that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to save us from our sins. Thank You for welcoming us into Your family. We give ourselves to You. We pray all this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Alyssa Jones worships and serves with her husband at Refuge Franklin, a church plant outside of Nashville, Tennessee. They have three children.