Camp is a great time to connect relationally with kids in your ministry in a distraction-free environment. There are no cell phones, no video games, no homework assignments, no sports team practices. CentriKid is an overnight camp for 2nd–6th graders to experience the time of their lives and learn more about the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Camps are staffed by college and seminary students who are eager to lead Bible Study, Recreation, Activity Tracks, and Worship sessions. Kids are grouped together by grade for Bible Study, by their choices for Track Times, and you all meet as a church group at the end of each day.
The environment of camp is a safe place to do new things.. This could be a new activity they are learning at track time or spiritual milestones or spiritual questions a child is wrestling with. CentriKid is where it is safe to be a kid!
What does “safe to be a kid” really mean?
A child’s spiritual life can be greatly impacted by their home environment, church involvement, and unique experiences like camp. CentriKid is committed to providing a place for kids to get away—even for a little while—to hear loud and clear that God loves them and has a plan for their lives. Safety in our programming, within relationships, and on campus are top priorities. We believe powerful things can happen when campers feel safe to be a kid!
At CentriKid, we promise to be:
We firmly believe that God’s Word transforms hearts. Our primary focus is ensuring that kids walk away from their time at camp with greater comprehension of who God is and what that means for their lives. Every year, every element of camp is centered around a central biblical theme throughout each day for the purpose of age-appropriate comprehension.
Trusting relationships are the foundation for vulnerability and growth. This is true for kids of all ages. Camp gives your leaders and kids a place to interact and bond for more than just an hour or two—meals, free time, and worship are all opportunities for spiritual conversations! Kids leave with lifelong friendships with believers their age. Every part of the CentriKid schedule is designed with a focus on relationship building.
Kids learn best through play. CentriKid provides an age-appropriate place for kids to be themselves, have fun, and encounter the love of Jesus. There are lots of fun summer options for kids, but CentriKid ensures that God’s Word is the focus of every part of our camp, including the fun stuff.
The 2021 Theme is “The Discovery”
This summer at CentriKid Camps, campers will discover what it means to be imitators of Christ. Jesus is the ultimate example that we should follow as Christians, and we will be taking a look at scripture (1 John 2:6) that helps us know Jesus and walk as Jesus walked.
What about COVID-19 safety?
The CentriKid team continues to monitor COVID-19 and has created a plan to help keep campers healthy and safe. Download the “2021 CentriKid COVID-19 Guide” and catch all our updates, at centrikid.com/covid-19-updates.
Jeremy is a husband and father. At work, Jeremy leads the CentriKid Camps team at Lifeway, and at home he loves to grill burgers, read, and coach his daughter’s basketball team.
By Kayla Stevens
I remember it like it was yesterday. Sitting on a wooden pew with the morning sun streaming through the stained-glass windows, I listened to my pastor and some friends of mine engaging in a panel discussion about what it means to love your neighbor. I wiggled uncomfortably (as you often do on wooden pews) and heard two questions that continue to echo in my mind over a year later.
- Do you love your neighbor?
My first answer comes to my mind on autopilot. Yes! Of course I love my neighbor. Jesus said this is the second most important command in all of the Bible. What kind of Christian would I be if I said I didn’t love my neighbor? Next!
- Does your neighbor know that you love him?
My actual neighbors—the people I live next to with the political bumper sticker, the moms I pass as I walk around the block. Do those people know I love them? My answer did not come as easily as I wanted.
Love in secret is not really love at all.
Our children are growing up in a culture that is polarizing, difficult to navigate, confusing, and has more hardship and suffering than we care to acknowledge. And yet, God has called us in exactly this time and in this culture, to love people. Even more, He has called us to teach our children to love: to love people who disagree with them, to love people others overlook or ignore.
At the end of the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus asked, “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” “The one who showed mercy to him,” he said. “Then Jesus told him, “Go and do the same.” (Luke 10:36-37 CSB)
As disciple-makers within our homes, we are called to “go and do the same”—to teach our children how to love as Jesus loves. This month, consider ways you can leverage opportunities to teach your children to identify and love people as Jesus calls us to love.
Love with humility. Oftentimes when we consider how to love people who believe differently than we do, we approach conversations as if we are standing on opposite sides of a fence. But the picture of the gospel is not people opposing and arguing with one another. That’s what the Pharisees did. The reality is we are all on the same side; we are all people in desperate need of Jesus. We need Jesus to save us, and we need Jesus to sanctify us. Recognizing our sin and our need for Jesus leads us to a posture of humility. And humility is a beautiful place for love to grow.
As you go:
- Lead your kids to look for opportunities to love others. Challenge them to identify people they know who seem difficult to love and encourage them to explain why they think this is.
- Invite them to talk about what it means to recognize their own need for Jesus. How does this help us stand on the same side of the fence?
- Discuss how we can approach other people with gentleness, remembering our own need for forgiveness and asking for God’s help to love others with the same love He has for us.
Distinguish between people and ideas. We are called to love and respect all people because they are made in the image of God. As we love people around us, help your child recognize the difference between loving a person and embracing his or her ideas. The two are not equal. We are commanded to love people and show compassion, care, and respect to everyone. At the same time, we can help our children recognize differences in what God says is true in His Word from other ideologies in our culture.
As you go:
- Watch an ad that is age-appropriate with your child and discuss the main point the advertisers want you to believe.
- Consider if the idea is true (and can be verified in Scripture) or false. What is attractive about what they want you to believe? Why?
- Guide conversations about how we can disagree with ideas that don’t align with God’s Word and still show love to people who hold those ideas.
Love with authenticity. Let your neighbors know that you love them in appropriate ways (aka: don’t be weird). No one likes to be thought of as a project, but everyone wants to be seen, known, loved, and respected. As you look for opportunities to demonstrate genuine and authentic love to others, model these moments for your children. Identify ways your family could show love and care to someone in a way that he or she would feel seen, known, and authentically loved.
As you go:
- Read the parable of the Good Samaritan as a family. Talk about what it looks like to show mercy. Invite your kids to share who they think your family can show love and mercy to this month. Identify one or two people your family can take greater steps in demonstrating love toward in the coming weeks.
- Begin praying for that person on a regular basis and asking God to give you opportunities to love him or her with humility, respect, and authenticity.
- Brainstorm different ideas with your family of how you can demonstrate love in ways that person will feel seen, known, and loved. Make a plan to show love to that person in tangible ways as a family.
Patterning God’s love is the greatest lesson we teach. We do this with authenticity and with no expectations. If we are to teach our children to love, let us be bold in our faith, gentle with our words, and kind in our actions toward others. May it be said of our families that we will “go and do the same.”
Kayla Stevens is a Content Editor for LifeWay Kids. She is a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and William Carey University. Kayla lives in Nashville, Tennessee and has served in Kids ministry for over 10 years.
Recently, I took two road trips spanning 5 states and traveling a combined 3,000 miles. One trip was over familiar roads, and the other route required smartphone navigation. Both journeys necessitated planning (you can’t take a road trip without snacks) and preparation. I needed to know my departure time and my estimated time of arrival.
I also had a purpose for both trips. One was to visit extended family and the other was to provide transportation for my immediate family. I didn’t wake up one morning and think, “I need to drive over 1,000 miles to another state today,” and then jump in the car and head out.
However, that’s often how we make curriculum decisions. We think, “I need to find something to teach the kids at my church this week.” And we ask ourselves, “I wonder what other kidmin leaders are doing?” But, is that the best route to take?
Here are three reasons why we need to know where we’re going when we teach kids, even in the midst of a global pandemic when churches are not meeting consistently and families are quarantining:
- Kids haven’t stopped learning. A mentor taught me a long time ago that children are always learning. Much of what they learn is up to us. Therefore, we need to keep teaching preschoolers and kids the whole Bible, and part of teaching is knowing the destination and the purpose of the journey.
- Satan hasn’t stopped tempting. The battle is real and sometimes feels as if it is intensifying. Kids need to be equipped for spiritual warfare with solid biblical truth that builds on previous truths they have learned, not with cute churchy sound bites.
- Jesus hasn’t stopped rescuing. This is the hope we must convey to children. They live in a topsy-turvy world. However, we still have a responsibility to introduce preschoolers and kids to the One who saves–Jesus. We can do this by engaging kids with an intentional Bible study plan that points to God’s redemptive work throughout biblical history.
The temptation to forgo following a Bible study plan is especially attractive during a global pandemic. Afterall, we’ve never been down this road before. For that precise reason, preschool and kids ministries need a logical curriculum plan to provide us the necessary navigation.
Landry Holmes is the Manager of Lifeway Kids Ongoing Bible Studies and Network Partnerships, Nashville, TN, and is a graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The author of It’s Worth It: Uncovering How One Week Can Transform Your Church and a general editor of the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids, Landry is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. He teaches kids at his church in Middle Tennessee, where his wife Janetta is the Preschool Minister. They enjoy spending time with their two adult sons and their wives, and spoiling their five grandchildren.
Make copies of the bookmarks below on cardstock. Use the bookmarks to help you memorize these Scriptures and hold your place in your favorite book or Bible.
By Ravin McKelvy
For many of us, we have found ourselves having to get creative with our Christmas traditions. With COVID numbers rising and the weather getting cooler, it can be difficult to find new ways to connect with our kids. While there are many things that may not happen, we can still make this a special time filled with good memories. One way your ministry can do this is by having a front porch Secret Santa.
You may not be able to do an in-person Secret Santa, so this is the perfect way to let your kids know you’re thinking of them. Here’s how you do it:
Pull together some fun, small gifts. These can be stuffed animals, fidget spinners, etc. You could also include a pocket Bible or meaningful book.
Wrap your gifts and include a note that says something like, “Merry Christmas from your Secret Santa at [insert church/ministry name].” It may be fun to also add a memory verse or the verse from that week’s sunday school lesson.
Drop the gifts on the front porch of the kids in your class. Be sure not to be seen when you’re dropping them off. You can ring the doorbell or simply leave the gift on the porch to be found.
Although this season may not look like what we’re used to, we can still create special memories for our kids ministries. Have fun with this front porch Secret Santa and reminding kids about the true gift of this season.
by Alyssa Jones
As I worked from the table in the formal-dining-room-turned-pandemic-home-office, I spied my daughter tiptoe into the kitchen. She had paper, glue sticks, and safety scissors we picked up from her preschool teacher in a drive-through procession, and the 2020 Walmart toy catalog. Nearly an hour later, she came to me.
“Mommy, I want these. All of them,” she said, presenting three pages of pictures she cut out from products related to animals, the color pink, and/or baby dolls.
As the weather cools and leaves change, my 4- and 6-year-olds have both had Christmas on their minds. They frequently tell me what they want on their wish lists.
“Hey, you guys,” I stopped them one day. “Christmas isn’t all about presents. Do you remember why we celebrate Christmas?”
My first-grade son stared at me blankly. My daughter shouted, “No! It is about PRESENTS!”
OK, this is not looking good for someone who has spent the last decade writing resources for teaching children about Jesus. In my defense, they are not ignorant to the story of the nativity. Every year since they were born, we’ve talked about the true meaning of Christmas. But this important message is easily lost in a materialistic world. Here’s how I’m planning to help reorient my own kids this year. Maybe these ideas will help you too.
- Use repetition.
Kids learn best from repetition. If my kids see a commercial for a toy, they decide they want it—even more so if they see it multiple times. The world is sending them messages about what is most important, so I want to guide and point them to the most important message of all: Jesus saves sinners. God came into the world as a baby. He is the reason we celebrate. We will talk about this as we make dinner, as we pick up toys, as we get ready for bed. I want them to know that Jesus is my greatest treasure, and I hope they will come to know Him as theirs as well.
- Observe Advent.
Waiting is hard for kids, but we use Lifeway Kids’ Advent Guide leading up to Christmas as a daily reminder of why we celebrate. We prepare our home and our hearts to remember Jesus’ birth and its glorious implications for our lives. We have a small paper Advent tree for hanging ornaments and set aside a special time after dinner for reading the Bible, answering our kids’ questions, and anticipating Christmas.
When my daughter finished her three-page wish list, my husband gently suggested, “Wow, those are some neat toys. Do you see any on there we could buy to give to someone else? What gifts do you think your cousins would like?” We talk a lot in our house about thinking of others. “Why are you fighting with your sister? Are you thinking of her or yourself right now?” Every person’s natural bent as a sinner is an inward one, and selflessness must be practiced and learned. We readily see it in our children, but it’s a struggle for us as adults too. Make generosity a family priority and remind kids of our generous God who sent His Son for us.
We give good gifts to our children, remembering that God has given us the greatest gift in Jesus. We will intentionally talk with our kids about the meaning of Christmas in a materialistic world that tells them Christmas is all about family, presents, food, or decorations. At just the right time, God sent His Son into the world. (See Galatians 4:4.) This is good news of peace and joy for a world that so desperately needs it. I’m praying for your kids—and my own—to hear about, remember, and treasure Jesus above all else. He is God with us.
Alyssa Jones worships and serves with her husband at Refuge Franklin, a church plant outside of Nashville, Tennessee. They have three children.
Looking for downloads from the Fall 2020 issues of Kids Ministry 101. You’re in the right place. Click on an image below to download the file.
Here is a fun activity to do with your kids over this holiday weekend.
Have a safe and happy 4th of July!
Here’s an easy and fun activity for kids and parents. Download this free coloring sheet and create your own masterpiece. Share it on social media and tag Lifeway Kids!
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