Something in Common: Youth Worship and The Runaway Bunny

This weekend we’ll get to watch our Youth lead us in worship. Youth Worship is a spring tradition! It’s alway lively! How can it not be, when worship is led by gobs of 7th-12th graders!

photos from Youth Worship in 2012

Youth Worship always has a theme to it. This year’s subject is Grace.

Help your kids to get more out of this worship by talking about the concept of grace ahead of time. (And debriefing about it afterwards.) What is grace?

Grace is someone saying: “I love you anyway.”

Ask your child(ren) if they could say “I love you anyway” in response to some of these situations:

  • When someone doesn’t want to play with me.
  • When someone uses something of mine without asking, and then breaks it.
  • When people laugh at me when I make a mistake.
  • When someone gets me in trouble for something I didn’t do.

It is hard isn’t it!

This is what God’s grace is; God saying, “Even though you messed up, I love you anyway. It is a gift from me to you. There is nothing you can do to pay me back.”

Want another way to teach about grace? Use a popular storybook.

Cover of the book The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

This story starts off…

Open quote markOnce there was a little bunny who wanted to run away.
So he said to his mother, “I am running away.”
“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.”

This bunny invents all kinds of scenarios where he runs away from his mother. But, no matter what, his mother assures him that she will run right after him.

It’s just like that with us and God.
How have you noticed God loving you no matter what?

a blue line

Photo credits:
Book shot from Amazon.
Youth group photo collage used with permission.

Are you seeing ads? They are not from me! They are placed by WordPress, who otherwise offers a free platform from which to share lots of good-ness. If you see an inappropriate ad, please report it to Include the URL, the date/time the ad appeared, and a screenshot of the ad.

Preparing your kids for worship

New here? Easily read future posts by subscribing over on the right. Enter your e-mail address to have posts sent directly to your inbox. Or click on the orange RSS icon to subscribe in a reader. Thanks for visiting.

Want to help your child to enjoy attending worship with you?
Think of how you got to be good at doing something. Practice right?
To prepare your child for worship do a little bit of preparation and practice.

a four year old plays the piano

What better way to help your child feel comfortable in worship than to learn one of the hymns that will be used on Sunday morning. The recognition of hearing a familar tune will help your child to feel as though they are participating. The hymn Children of the Heavenly Father will be sung after the sermon. (Thus it is called the “Hymn of Response.” Since the sermon on Sunday is entitled “All God’s Children,” this is an appropriate song to sing in response!)

Preparation: Listen to the tune of this hymn: here. It is simple and short and easily learned. Here are the words to the first verse:

Children of the Heavenly Father
safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.

Practice: Gather together the family, at the family dinner table. (Or wherever your family is gathered together.) Learn this song! Explain new words.

  • Describe a bosom as the part of a clothing that covers the chest. Picture Jesus hugging you!
  • “E’er” is a fancy way of saying “ever.”
  • A refuge is a safe, secure place. Neither a little bird nor a shiny star was ever given such a place to rest! Doesn’t that make you feel like a child of God?

What hints do you have for helping your kids prepare for worship?

Photo credits: Click here for info on banner photo (not visible in readers or email).
Piano player by woodleywonderworks, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.
Lyrics to this hymn copyright to the Board of Publication of the American Lutheran Church; administered by Augsburg/Fortress. (I requested permission to reproduced but never heard back. Leaving it up unless I hear otherwise.)

Time, talent or treasures

It’s a familiar part of the worship service.

collection plate

The Giving of Our Tithes and Gifts to God

Also known as “the Offering” or “the Collection.” At FUMC there is beautiful music to accompany this portion of worship. In the summer time it’s usually a soloist (or two or three) contributing their symphonious instrumental sounds. And hey! They are giving a gift to God!

That’s the point of our Rotation this month about the Widow’s Offering – to define an “offering” as gifts given to God and to discover that offerings can be time, talents, or money.

Ready for some family discussion about our story?

Gather kids around the computer and scroll down only far enough to expose a speech bubble and its question…

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubbleWhat happens in this story?

Read together Mark 12:41-44.
Did you catch all of the details? It’s a short story isn’t it!

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubbleWhat was Jesus doing?

Jesus was sitting in the Temple, the place where Jewish people came to worship. He was watching people give their offerings.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubbleWhat is an offering?

Offerings are gifts to God. Right off the bat we think of an offering as money; it’s what we put into the plate that gets passed around at church. Money is an important part of what we give in our offerings but our gifts can be more than just money!

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubbleWhat are other examples of giving gifts to God?

There are many ways that people give gifts to God! An offering can be our time and our talents as well as our money. In church when we receive the offering, there are musicians or singers who share their gifts with us. The ushers are giving their time and leadership to collect the money we raise for God’s use. Other people oversee the use of the money that is collected. People who are teaching Sunday Cool classes, people singing in the choir, those who take turns in the nursery – all of these people are making a gift of themselves to God!

Of course this is just the start of the list; then there are people who give of themselves outside of the worship service.

kids at work on Appalachia mission trip Youth on Kenya trip Fish Fri

Kids on a Mission trip to Appalachia. Youth on a Kenya Mission trip assisting with the school’s feeding program. Kids & adults in the kitchen during a Fish Fri event.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubbleBrainstorm ways that kids can give gifts to God.

For a list of activities where kids can get involved in offering their time see this list for summer 2011. (Updated: sorry, this list is no longer available.)

Photo credits:
Collection plate by rubber bullets, who licensed his/her photos under: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic.
Mission trip photos by various FUMC church members, used by permission.

Are you seeing ads? They are not from me! They are placed by WordPress, who otherwise offers a free platform from which to share lots of good-ness. If you see an inappropriate ad, please report it to Include the URL, the date/time the ad appeared, and a screenshot of the ad.

Making prayer a part of every-day life

I don’t know about you but dinner doesn’t feel right unless we’ve said grace.

A family says grace before a meal
But how about the rest of your day, does prayer receive much focus?

God wants to build a relationship with us; prayer is a way that we can build that relationship. Teach your children that prayer can happen anywhere, any place, any time, and in lots of different forms.

In the month of August, our Cool Disciples at FUMC will be studying about prayer. This coming Sunday they will be learning about “popcorn prayer” and about a way to pray that involves the acronym “ACTS.”

In the meantime, here are some different ways to enrich your family’s prayer life…
  • Sing your prayers. Create a simple tune or “piggyback” on an existing tune such as this one: This is Our Prayer for You by Cathy’s Music. (To Piggyback on a tune means that you use a melody but make up your own words.)
  • The cover of the book "Praying in Color: Kids' Edition"

  • Do something with your hands while praying: knit or crochet (each stitch is a prayer), work with clay or PlayDoh, draw symbols to represent who you are praying for. Here’s a neat book that guides your kids on drawing their prayers… (Click on the picture of the book will take you to Amazon – a non-affliate link).
  • Take your prayer cues from the Bible. Here are a few verses to try: ; Matthew 7:7-8; 1 Timothy 2:1; Philippians 4:4-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
  • Attend worship together. (A worship service can be thought of as one big prayer because we have set aside this special time to be in relationship with God!)
  • an interesting found object by a child
  • Carry around something that reminds you to pray: pick out a stone or a shell and carry it in your pocket. When you touch it, say a prayer.
  • Act on your prayer concerns. If someone needs help what can your family do?
  • Try out different positions to be in prayer: Palms pointing upward, or hands in the air, or lying on your back, or… follow the example of Jesus: he literally fell on his face to pray (Matthew 26:39); he knelt (Luke 22:41); and he stood ( Mark 11:25).
What are other ways to get prayer happening in your family?

Photo credits:
Western Grace by Ken Bosma; and Interesting find by Sophie ffrench-Constant, who both licensed these photos on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

Are you seeing ads? They are not from me! They are placed by WordPress, who otherwise offers a free platform from which to share lots of good-ness. If you see an inappropriate ad, please report it to Include the URL, the date/time the ad appeared, and a screenshot of the ad.

Remember when…

a family sharing a laugh

  • Remember when we went to the corn palace?
  • Remember when Jorge “left part of his car behind?”
  • Remember when mom got so frustrated she threw the apple peels at the wall?

All memories that bring smiles in our household! (Yes, even that last one!)

How often does your family tell “remember-when” stories?

On the first Sunday of every month at FUMC in Ann Arbor, MI, we tell a remember-when story. Celebrating Communion together is a remember-when story! We are remembering Jesus.

Jesus gave us instructions about remembering him at the Last Supper. This Last Supper was actually a Jewish Passover seder. A seder is a way that Jewish people remember when God saved his people from slavery in Egypt.

At this special seder Jesus gave new meaning to the bread and cup of the meal. They no longer are just reminders of what God did to save the Hebrews in Egypt, but are what God did for the entire world when Jesus died on the cross! Jesus wants us to remember him when we break the bread, and eat with one another. When we take part in Communion in church we remember how Jesus loves us.

Take time to talk about the remember-when stories of Jesus.

Photo credit: From my personal collection.

Gathering at the Table

A family gathers around the table for a meal
Do you have 4th of July plans that include a gathering of family and/or friends around the table?

How about plans to join a different kind of family table?

a communion table

This “gathering at the table” is another way of saying… “sharing Communion”… at the table of God’s family.

What does your child know about Communion?

How do you explain Communion?

A way to start is to relate Communion to things that your child already understands.

Children understand the concept of special meals. Describe Communion as a special meal. Relate your discussion about Communion to a recent special family banquet

At your family feast… At Communion…
Everyone was gathered together. Communion is also like a family meal. Christians participating in Communion are all members of Christ’s family
We told “remember when” stories. Jesus told his followers at their last meal together to “Do this to remember me.” Communion is a way to remember how Jesus died for us. In his death our sins (anything that separates us from God) are forgiven!
Because everyone was there, we felt thankful. Communion fills us with thanksgiving, Jesus’ death – and his resurrection – offer us to chance to be God’s friends forever!
Yum, yum. We filled up on good grub. By participating in Communion we are nourished in a different way – we can feel empowered to do God’s work in the world.

It’s a way to start the discussion!

In July (starting on July 11th) our Cool Disciples, our rising 1st through 6th graders, at FUMC in Ann Arbor, MI, will be studying about the Sacrament of Communion. Do you have questions about Communion that your kids have asked? (Or maybe that you’ve wanted to ask.) Submit them here and lets ponder together!

Join me at the family table this Sunday.

Photo credits:Robotpolisher and United Church of Canada (licensed under: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic) and from my personal collection.

Cheerful giving?

A cut out heart with words

That would be giving cheerfully!

Those words were written by a Cool Disciple, one of our rising 1st through 6th graders, at FUMC in Ann Arbor. This child had just heard the story of the “Widow’s Offering” in Mark 12:41-44. The class had discussed how people in the temple in the time of Jesus were giving gifts of coins just like people today give money to the church. They had also learned why we give an offering in worship: as a response to God’s love.   (This summer we are learning about  various aspects of worship.  In June the topic is Offering.)

But kids don’t typically have any income so how can they respond to God’s love? Delving deeper into the Widow’s Offering story teaches us that the size of an offering doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even matter what the offering is because sometimes our offering doesn’t fit into the offering plate! It’s the attitude that counts!

Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NRSV)

How do we teach giving cheerfully?

Well, we can always say: “we do it because Jesus taught us to.”  Which I suppose is one way to approach the topic… though probably not very convincing (if we are being realistic!)

Let’s face it, the only way to teach a behavior is to live the behavior. We need to be cheerful in our giving whether it’s while writing a check or making a meal for someone.

A bulletin board of hearts & hands made by the kids

Lots of hearts and hands were created by kids sharing ways that they can give cheerfully

Some ways to model giving (hopefully cheerfully!):

  • Join the FUMC Prayer Chain. Share the emails received and pray together.
  • Involve your children in preparing a meal to be given to a family in need. Even if it is just to ask them to help wash lettuce, stir brownie mix or fold napkins!
  • Donate toys they no longer play with or clothes that no longer fit. Investigate this link of organizations in our area that accept various types of donations.
  • Have any flowers in your yard or veggies in your garden? Deliver some to your neighbors (with the kids along).
  • What ways do you model cheerful giving?

Photos by Carol H.

But it doesn’t fit into an Offering plate

What do all of these various activities have in common?

  • Singing in the choir
  • Bringing in a box of cereal for the FiSH project
  • Greeting people and handing out worship bulletins
  • Leading a Sunday’s Cool workshop
  • Helping to set up Lemonade on the lawn

Answer: All of them are people making a gift to God’s church; a gift that doesn’t quite fit into an Offering plate but it is still an Offering.

A wrapped gift

Wait a minute. The Offering collected during worship is just money!

Well, yes, but an Offering can be more than money. And this is what we hope to teach kids as we start our summer Sunday’s Cool Rotations on portions of the worship service, with our June focus on Offering.

An Offering can be time, or talents, or treasures (money).

The Offering is the portion of the worship service that gives us an opportunity to respond to God and to be grateful for all we have been given.  (And God gives us lots!)  We acknowledge that everything we are and everything we have are really gifts of God. Such a heartfelt response is indeed, an act of worship!

Did you know that there is a “Children’s Offering?”

It is collected when kids go up front for the Children’s Moment. (Look for the older kids holding a basket.)

Prior to Sunday, help your child prepare a slip of paper to drop into the children’s Offering. (Though monetary offerings are also accepted. They go towards FiSH projects.) Discuss ways that they have given blessings from God. Talk about how they can respond to God’s gifts and God’s very generous love.

What will you add to the list above?

Photo credit: mrjoro
Licensed under: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic