It’s Fun Friday! Today’s free download is an Activity Page from The Gospel Project for Kids.
You can learn more about The Gospel Project for Kids by reading the latest Kids Ministry 101 magazine.
My oldest daughter is a high-achiever who’s SUPER serious about WINNING and is fully dressed and groomed before I even get out of bed every morning. She is also homeschooled.
Ever Grace is so driven and it has been a joy teaching her to read and write and identify the different parts of the axial skeleton (I don’t actually know much about the axial skeleton). But, the coolest part of homeschooling has been the opportunity to teach her about the real-life, everyday power of the gospel.
Let me tell you about what happened the other day.
I was being a very subpar mom. The frustration of tantrums from my younger daughters and scheduling and laundry had me snappy and impatient. But, it was a Tuesday, so I knew that no matter how I felt, I still had to educate my child.
So, with a too-loud exhale, I rattled off the bolded question I was supposed to read for the day in our Gospel Project Home Edition curriculum. The question read, “In the Bible, there are stories of people who God used to do great things for His glory. Can you think of any?”
The examples the book gave were David, Samson, Daniel, Moses and Elijah.
Half listening, I looked away from the book and pulled a few plates out of the dishwasher.
Ever said, “The woman at the well.”
I didn’t say anything at first, because I was genuinely confused by her answer. I, a professional gospel-centered writer and an unprofessional gospel-centered homeschool educator, basically forgot the gospel and didn’t understand her answer.
“The woman at the well?”
She said, “Yeah. Because Jesus forgave her and then she went and told people about what Jesus did for her.”
Crazy. How breathtaking, right? And how mind-boggling, that eight-year-olds can understand the beautiful mystery of the gospel even better than the adult, “mature” Christians who teach them.
Ever Grace didn’t answer the way I would have answered. She didn’t pick the Bible characters who “accomplished great things.” She picked an unfaithful woman who was recorded in the Bible for doing nothing more than meeting Jesus and telling people she was forgiven.
That’s the whole gospel. We can’t accomplish anything on our own. We’ve got nothing to offer and everything to gain. The greatest thing we’ve ever done is needing what Christ has done for us. We are all “the woman at the well.” And we are all loved.
I’m thankful for a curriculum that’s questions don’t just point my young daughters to the true and beautiful gospel and how it is the centerpiece of every Bible story and every life moment. It also teaches me. It reminds me. It corrects me and comforts me out of my homeschool huffs.
While I was unloading the dishwasher, steeped in selfishness, God used my eight-year-old to remind me that nothing I have failed at today and nothing I might win at tomorrow has any bearing on Christ’s love for me.
At our worst and at our best, we are to-the-cross-and-back loved. We can have to-the-skies joy. And we can embrace and extend the out-of-this-world forgiveness that is ours now and ours forever.
Learn more about The Gospel Project: Home Edition here.
Scarlet Hiltibidal is a very professional wife and mother. She is the author of Afraid of All the Things and He Numbered the Pores on My Face. She also writes a regular column for ParentLife Magazine. Scarlet loves sign language with her daughters, nachos by herself, writing for her friends, and learning how to be a pretend-farmer with her husband in Middle Tennessee.
Comparing Lifeway Kids curriculum resources is easier than ever thanks to a brand new collection of easy-access resource guides available online now at teachkids.lifeway.com. The new TeachKids webpage lets you quickly and easily see, show, share, and compare leader guide samples, scope-and-sequence study plans, and the underlying philosophy-of-ministry frameworks for Bible Studies for Life: Kids, Explore the Bible Kids and The Gospel Project for Kids. These fast and simple samples are formatted as digital flipbooks that you can instantly review, reference, compare, and share using your smartphone or computer without filling out a form or downloading files.
Each resource includes a digital flipbook that lets you instantly flip through curriculum samples for Kids and Preschool versions, including teacher guides, activity pages, family resources, and worship options so you can examine and evaluate each resource on-demand. Pages inside each flipbook contain embedded links that connect you directly to product pages on lifeway.com where you can see product details and prices.
Quick access to Study Plan flipbooks allows you to quickly assess the scope and sequence of each resource so you can know exactly what kids and preschoolers will study throughout each three-year study cycle. Here you’ll find suggested use dates, the key Scripture passages for each session, and volume, unit and Bible story titles.
Each Lifeway Kids curriculum resource is informed by an underlying philosophical framework that influences the writing and editing of every session. These frameworks are not curriculum; they are foundational approaches to teaching biblical truth to kids that are designed to inform teachers and parents of the learning strategies upon which each resource is built. Once you determine which of these three distinct approaches to teaching you prefer, you will have an easy time choosing the curriculum resource that aligns with your preferred philosophy. Details on each of these frameworks as well as printables, apps, and training videos are available free from Lifeway Kids.
Bible Studies for Life: Kids is based on the Levels of Biblical Learning®; a scholarly guide based on the idea that kids learn and comprehend concepts differently as they grow in maturity, therefore, we must teach biblical truths in well informed age-appropriate ways. The Levels of Biblical Learning outlines how children can best understand 10 different biblical concepts at different age levels.
Bible Skills for Kids is all about the promotion of biblical literacy and Bible familiarity and informs the Explore the Bible Kids resource. Bible Skills for Kids identifies various Bible skills that children can grasp and master at various stages of development, such as identifying Old and New Testament books, memorizing the books of the Bible, matching people in the Bible to the book in which they appear, and memorizing a wide range of scripture verses.
Big Picture Questions and Answers for Kids undergirds the Gospel Project for Kids. It outlines 76 theological concepts in six overarching categories formatted using a systematic easy-to-understand question-and-answer approach and includes a “Seeing Jesus in the Bible” section that explains how the whole Bible is one big story that’s all about Jesus and the Gospel. Check out the Big Picture Questions and Answers for Kids flipbook now at http://teachkids.lifeway.com/tgp-framework/ or view the Big Picture Questions and Answers details page at http://LifeWay.com/BPQA
If you want help determining which resource best matches your personal study style you can take the What Kind of Kids Minister Are You? quiz. This 5-question quiz helps direct you to the resource that teaches the way you like to teach.
The new TeachKids webpage was designed with you in mind, making it easier than ever to compare curriculum samples, study plans and foundational frameworks for Bible Studies for Life: Kids, Explore the Bible Kids, and The Gospel Project for Kids. Now you can see, show, share and compare these trustworthy resources from one easy-to-find place: TeachKids.LifeWay.com. Check it out today and share the link with your teachers, volunteers and partners in ministry as you evaluate which Lifeway Kids curriculum you’ll choose to use.
If you are like most people, you love the idea of getting a little extra for your money. That principle is true whether you are shopping for groceries or Bible Study materials. You have the Lifeway Bible Study resources, but do you know about our extra online helps, supporting content, and interactive communities we provide? These are all extras worth knowing about. Check out the following links and share them with fellow teachers, directors, ministers, and other leaders in your ministry and church.
Product Page: http://biblestudiesforlife.com/kids
Facebook Group: http://facebook.com/biblestudiesforlifekids
Facebook Community: https://www.facebook.com/groups/560190337752194/
Ministry Grid Training Videos: http://ministrygrid.com/biblestudiesforlife
One Conversation: http://biblestudiesforlife.com/oneconversation
Levels of Biblical Learning: http://www.lifeway.com/LOBL
Product Page: https://www.lifeway.com/en/shop/explore-the-bible/kids/
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ExploreTheBibleKids/
Ministry Grid Training Videos: www.ministrygrid.com/web/explorethebible
Bible Skills for Kids: https://www.lifeway.com/en/product-family/bible-skills-for-kids
Product Page: https://www.lifeway.com/en/shop/the-gospel-project/kids
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/thegospelprojectforkids/
Ministry Grid Training Videos: minstrygrid.com/gospelproject
Big Picture Questions and Answers: https://www.lifeway.com/en/special-emphasis/big-picture-questions-and-answers
Please let us know other ways we can support your ministry through our resources or the extras that we offer!
William Summey is the Publishing Team Leader for Bible Studies for Life: Kids. He is a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Vanderbilt University. William lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Christy, and their two sons.
Few would argue that storytelling is a highly useful tool when working with or teaching kids. The availability of hundreds of thousands of children’s books gives testimony to the commonly understood reality that kids connect with stories. In fact, it’s not just kids. Storytelling is a powerful means of communicating with just about everyone. Whether you are 9 months old, 9 years old, 39 years old, or 90 years old, nearly everyone loves a good story.
Of course, there are stories, and then there is The Story—that is, God’s one big story. While we should be very careful not to place the stories of the Bible next to fictional stories of many children’s books, we can redeem the craft of storytelling for helping children begin to see and understand the most important story of all. It is to the next generation’s advantage that we lead children to begin understanding the Bible as one story with Jesus as its central figure. We must see the Bible as God’s story with a beginning, middle, and end. There is one focus throughout the narrative. His name is Jesus.
In Gospel Centered Kids Ministry, Brian Dembowczyk notes, “Jesus interpreted Scripture, not as a collection of random stories but as one big story about Him.” (p. 34) And just as Jesus began “with Moses and all the Prophets … [interpreting] … the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures,” we should too. (Luke 24:27) Jesus was communicating to the disciples of Luke 24 that it is only by understanding the whole story that we can truly understand His work on our behalf. In his article “4 Reasons to teach the Bible’s Storyline,” Trevin Wax put it this way: “The story of the Bible gives context to the gospel message about Jesus.”(1) To begin to grasp the fullness of our salvation, we must understand—and help the kids and families we serve to understand—that every story points to the One, making the Bible one big story about Jesus.
When we see the Bible as Jesus’ story, we are freed from implying (or outright expressing) kids carry an unrealistic, unhealthy, and impossible burden of being more courageous or more faithful or even more obedient on their own. We will begin to see God’s immeasurable grace radiate off every page as we look to His Son who loves us, took the punishment we deserve, and now empowers us to live holy lives for His glory. We will see that God is faithful to carry on what He began in the garden to its completion in the new heavens and the new earth—creation’s final restoration.
Toward this goal, we want to help kids ministry leaders and parents have a framework by which to read the Bible this way, as one big story. We have included a section in our new resource Big Picture Questions and Answers for Kids called “Seeing Jesus in the Bible.” In this resource, we have included six “lenses” that can help us when studying individual stories of the Bible. Each lens gives readers a way to understand both Old Testament and New Testament stories in light of the gospel. We pray this resource will be another tool your ministry toolbox as you point your kids to Jesus.
Jeremy Carroll is the team leader for Lifeway Kids Discipleship Resources. Before coming to Lifeway, he has been active in local church ministry for nearly 20 years in TN, TX, and AL. Jeremy earned a Master of Arts in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. A Middle Tennessee native, he and his family live in Murfreesboro, TN.
Other helpful posts:
If you haven’t read William Summey’s part 1 of this post, you can find it HERE.
Having great visuals seems to be critical to effective teaching today. Some kids may be more prone to be engaged visually than others, but well-designed visuals, as William describes, can be an incredible way to engage kids of all ages as they consider the people, places, and events of the story each picture represents. In addition to using teaching picture visuals to help connect kids with Bible stories, many resources also include larger visuals. Sometimes these are large posters to place in a foyer or hallway, or maybe they are smaller posters that can be placed side-by-side almost like puzzle pieces. Whatever format these larger visuals take, they can be a major asset in helping kids connect to Bible stories.
Large visuals can provide a larger-scale wow factor. When space permits, using large versions of curriculum visuals can really make a space pop. Because of their size and bright colors, large-scale visuals will draw the attention of both kids and parents. They can be great discussion starters for parents to connect with their kids. If you don’t have space for the largest versions of available visuals, you can often use a piece of a poster set in your space to give extra cohesiveness between your space and what your kids are learning.
Large visuals often attempt to give a broader understanding of the content being studied. Like connecting pieces of a puzzle, large-scale visuals often try to tell a bigger story than what their classroom-size counterpart is able to do. Large visuals can tie together sessions into a bigger picture.
With the Fall 2018 release of The Gospel Project for Kids Volume 1, we are excited to include two brand new large visuals: (1) Giant Timeline and Genealogy of Christ and (2) our Small Group Timeline and Map Set. Each of these resources is beautifully colored, graphical poster sets to help remind kids (and adults) that the stories we are learning are about real people who lived in real places at a real time in history.
With The Gospel Project for Kids’ Giant Timeline, children can begin to see God’s one big story as it unfolds from session to session and volume to volume. Children can track the progress from Genesis to Exodus and all the way to Revelation. Each volume is on its own poster so if space does not permit displaying all 12 posters, a single volume’s poster can be used in a common space. Our new Genealogy of Christ four-poster set is included with the purchase of our Giant Timeline. This poster set graphically depicts Jesus’ family line from Adam and Eve down to Joseph and Mary. It’s a large four-poster set that shows both Matthew and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ family line.
With The Gospel Project for Kids’ Small Group Timeline and Map Set churches can equip classrooms with 36 11-by-17-inch posters to display in classrooms. With each unit on a page, leaders could use one page at a time if space is limited or display all the posters side-by-side for large-scale impact. Our brand new oversized Map Set comes with four different maps: two for the Old Testament and two for the New Testament. In addition, a sheet of pin drop icons is provided to be able to place on a map and track the real places events occurred.
Most people, and it seems kids in particular, are drawn in by things they see, and there is so much information fighting for their attention. When we can make use of large-scale visuals to bring focus and cohesiveness to our teaching sessions and kids ministry space, we are able to help drown out the noise with a more singular focus, even if only for an hour or two.
Jeremy Carroll is the team leader for The Gospel Project for Kids. Before coming to Lifeway, he has been active in local church ministry for nearly 20 years in Tennessee, Texas, and Alabama. Jeremy earned a Master of Arts in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. A Middle Tennessee native, he and his family live in Murfreesboro, TN.
The Gospel Project is a Christ-centered chronological Bible study for babies-adults. On today’s podcast, Brian Dembowczyk, managing editor of The Gospel Project, shares the vision of The Gospel Project and why sharing the gospel with children is of the utmost importance.
Brian Dembowczyk is the Managing Editor of The Gospel Project, a Bible study curriculum used by over one million people each week, and the author of Gospel-Centered Kids Ministry: How the Gospel Will Transform Your Kids, Your Church, Your Community, and the World and Cornerstones: 200 Questions and Answers to Learn Truth. Prior to being the managing editor, he served as the Publishing Team Leader for The Gospel Project for Kids. Before coming to Lifeway Christian Resources, Brian served in local church ministry for seventeen years, primarily in family ministry and discipleship ministry. Brian earned a D.Min. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He, his wife Tara, and their three children live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Many KidMin leaders agree that it is critical for us (adults) to begin now helping lay a solid theological foundation in the kids we serve. We want kids to have a right understanding of who God is, what He has done, and what He is doing according to solid biblical truths. But how?
One approach to systematically teaching theology that has seen renewed interest over the last several years is a return to a question-answer format. In this approach, kids are taught to respond to a specific question with a formulated, concise answer. For example, when prompted with the question “Who is God?” Kids would respond with “God is our Creator and King of everything.”
Is a question-answer format the right approach for you? Here are three reasons a question-answer format encourages theological learning.
Bonus: Employing a Q&A approach can be fun for kids. With just a little bit of effort, a Q&A format can quickly:
To equip church leaders and parents who want to implement a question-answer format for teaching theological truths, the team behind The Gospel Project for Kids has developed Big Picture Questions and Answers for Kids. This resource contains over 70 big picture questions and answers organized into six categories: God, People, Jesus, The Bible, The Church, and The Christian Life. Click here to learn more about Big Picture Questions and Answers for Kids.
Jeremy Carroll is the team leader for The Gospel Project for Kids. Before coming to Lifeway, he has been active in local church ministry for nearly 20 years in TN, TX, and AL. Jeremy earned a Master of Arts in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. A Middle Tennessee native, he and his family live in Murfreesboro, TN.
As ministers to kids, we have one job: to tell the story of Jesus again and again until He returns.
I confess I may have zoned out (just a little) during one recent Sunday evening sermon that I sat in on at church. As I flipped through an old hymnal I ran across a familiar song that people don’t sing much anymore. It’s words caught my attention as I thought about the new cycle of The Gospel Project for Kids that kicks off this coming Fall.
Tell me the old, old story of unseen things above, Of Jesus and His glory, Of Jesus and His love; Tell me the story simply, As to a little child, For I am weak and weary, And helpless and defiled.
Tell me the story slowly, That I may take it in—That wonderful redemption, God’s remedy for sin; Tell me the story often, For I forget so soon, The “early dew” of morning Has passed away at noon.
Tell me the story softly, With earnest tones and grave; Remember I’m the sinner Whom Jesus came to save; Tell me the story always, if you would really be, in any time of trouble, A comforter to me.
Tell me the old, old story, Tell me the old, old story, Tell me the old, old story, Of Jesus and His love.
This wonderful old hymn captures the purpose of God’s Word and of what our mission is all about as ministers of the gospel: knowing and telling the story of Jesus, again and again and again. As the hymn says, we must tell it simply, slowly, earnestly, often … and always!
Every Story Points to the One
The continual telling of the gospel story is the heartbeat behind The Gospel Project for Kids. The Gospel Project for Kids unpacks the full narrative of Scripture using a chronological three-year study plan, and every story, every week—from cover to cover, from Genesis to Revelation—points to the ONE. As kids ministry leaders the story of Jesus is one that we are compelled to tell—not just once; not just once a year; but continually.
As kids experience the big story of the Bible through the lens of Jesus, they gain a deeper understanding of the nature of God, of their need for a Savior, and of our great God’s provision for their sin. When we rightfully see the Bible as one big story of God’s redemptive plan to bring salvation to a lost and fallen world It changes how we study Scripture. It changes how we teach kids to read their Bibles. It changes the way we apply God’s Word to kids’ lives. It changes how we see ourselves, how we see others, and how we see God. It changes everything. But it’s not enough to tell this story one time. We must tell it again and again and again.
We Cannot Stop Telling the Story
Because of the chronological format of The Gospel Project for Kids, some leaders may initially view it as a one-time, three-year experience. As they approach the end of the scope and sequence, some wonder what to do next after they “finish” The Gospel Project for Kids. When one looks at The Gospel Project for Kids as a one-and-done resource, they are merely seeing a two-dimensional picture of its purpose and potential. The full beauty of The Gospel Project is seen when kids go through the full story of the Bible, not one time, but three times during their children’s ministry experience from preschool through sixth grade.
Kids learn differently at different ages and stages of development. Preschoolers are able to understand simple, foundational ideas and are ‘concrete’ in their comprehension. They are literal in regard to their interpretation of information. Middle kids begin to connect biblical accounts with their lives, communities, and world. Older kids are able to understand more complex and abstract concepts and applications. When children go through The Gospel Project for Kids just once, they experience the big story of the Bible one time with the developmental abilities and understanding that they happen to have during that one three-year window.
The full potential of The Gospel Project is seen when kids go through the full story of the Bible, not one time, but two or three full times during their kids ministry experience. Repetition cultivates a child’s faith to grow both deep and wide. Each time a child repeats the chronology, his ability to understand abstract ideas and truths about God expands wider as he is able to delve deeper into the full narrative of Scripture. Imagine if a child who entered your ministry as a preschooler went through the entire Bible three times before she was promoted into middle school ministry; each time anchoring her more firmly in a Bible-centered, gospel-oriented worldview.
In his sermon, The Centrality of the Gospel, Tim Keller has famously said, “We never get beyond the gospel in our Christian life to something more ‘advanced.’ The gospel is not the first step in a stairway of truths, rather, it is more like the hub in a wheel of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s but the A–Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make progress in the kingdom.”
As ministers to kids, we have one job: to tell the story of Jesus again and again and again until He returns. Everything we do must point kids to Christ. It’s all about Jesus.
You can preview four free sessions of the Gospel Project for Preschool and/or Kids at gospelproject.com/preview
Chuck Peters is Director of Operations for Lifeway Kids. A graduate of Columbia Bible College, Chuck has served vocationally & voluntarily in Student and Children’s Ministry for many years.
Perhaps you have come in contact with The Gospel Project for Kids and seen value in its approach of teaching Jesus’ story throughout Scripture. Even though you see its value, you are not in a position to make a change from your primary children’s ministry curriculum. If you fall into this group, our new Big Picture Worship Hour resource may be for you!
The writing and creative team behind The Gospel Project for Preschool and The Gospel Project for Kids is excited to announce two brand new worship resources: The Big Picture Worship Hour for Preschool and The Big Picture Worship Hour for Kids. The Big Picture Worship Hour products are designed for churches who are looking to introduce The Gospel Project for Kids strategy without replacing their primary curriculum or whose weekly Kids Ministry schedule only allows for a “large group” format.
Each Big Picture Worship Hour is a Christ-centered worship resource that walks kids through the big picture of God’s story—the story of redemption through Jesus Christ. Each week, kids will follow a chronological timeline of Bible events through the Old and New Testaments, while learning how each story points to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each product provides an age-appropriate hour of content ideal for preschoolers/kids worship, mid-week gatherings, or other “large group” settings. For elementary age kids, each worship hour session features a worship guide, Bible story video, music videos, missions video, group game, group demonstration, and more. Our Preschool Hour features a worship guide, Bible story video, music videos, missions video, and activities using a variety of learning styles.
Current customers of The Gospel Project for Kids: If you are already part of The Gospel Project family and use our curriculum in your ministry, The Big Picture Worship Hour is available as the Worship Hour Add-On to our Leader Kit.
If you are looking for a worship resource to integrate into your ministry, we invite you consider The Big Picture Worship Hour from The Gospel Project for Kids team.