Children in Action

Spring Break Is Right Around the Corner!

It's winter now, but spring break is on its way! Got plans yet? I would think many of the families in your church already have plans for spring break and maybe even have trips planned. That makes this month the perfect time to go ahead and put missions projects into families' hands for them to do while on vacation.

Consider sharing these ideas with the families of your church. (Tip: You can post these individual suggestions in social media or share a link to this blog in your church or children's ministry newsletter.)

Ideas for family spring break missions:

Doing a Lot with a Little

I recently had the opportunity to re-read the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000.

To recap, over 5,000 people came to hear Jesus and even be healed by Him. Gathered out in the middle of nowhere, people started getting hungry as the day wore on. Jesus perceived the need at hand and asked His disciples where they could find food for the people there. His disciples were not very optimistic. Even if they could find something for everyone, it would cost as much money as a single man could earn after 200 days of work just to give 1 person a tiny piece of bread to eat. What they did find was a small boy who offered to share what he had: 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.

Spoiler alert: with those 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish, Jesus was able to abundantly meet the needs of the people. Not only was He able to meet their stomachs, but there were also 12 baskets of food left over! It was a miracle! Something only God could do.

Beat the Wintertime Blues: Plan a Cool Missions Event

Here in the Deep South, we have been experiencing some unusually frigid days this past week. For this Goldilocks-type girl—you know, not too hot, not too cold—the sub-freezing temperatures make me want to stay indoors, all bundled up in my sweats and furry socks in front of a warm, crackling fire. It's even been too cold for my "It's-not-cold-I-wear-shorts-all-year-long" 12-year-old son. Needless to say, he has a bad case of cabin fever and can't wait to get outside to ride that new bike he got for Christmas.

More than Resolutions

I've never been very good at making—much less keeping—New Year's resolutions. Oh, I'll give it a passing thought as I hear others talk about their resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, spend more time with their kids, etc. However, I've learned over the years that many, if not most, of those people who made those resolutions never kept them for more than a few weeks. Don't believe me? Visit a local gym on January 2 and then again on February 16. See if you notice the difference!

What it comes down to for me is not so much about making yearly resolutions I won't keep as it is about digging in and doing the hard work to accomplish what needs to be accomplished—in other words, setting goals and accomplishing them.

Mangerside Reflections

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas season, let's take time to consider some of the people who saw this story unfold firsthand.

Mary was intimately connected with this event. Jesus was born to her in a humble stable. Her willingness to let God work wonders through her life was truly inspiring.

Joseph may have been a little confused by the whole thing! Engaged to be married, he was shocked to find Mary was pregnant before their wedding day. Faced with a difficult decision, Joseph stepped up to the plate to help raise this child after a little heavenly intervention.

The shepherds were nothing special. These dirty, flea-bitten dregs of society found themselves in the presence of a mighty host of angels. Imagine their surprise when they discovered they would be the first among men to bear witness to the coming of the Messiah.

Wise men from the east saw a star in the sky that signified a spectacular event had taken place. Traveling from far away, they set out seeking the one true King. They brought their best gifts to give to a Savior they had not yet encountered.

Family Traditions

Country music fans are probably familiar with the song titled “Family Traditions.” It plays quite frequently on the radio.

This weekend, that song went through my mind as I remembered my family's tradition of putting up Christmas decorations during Thanksgiving weekend. Back in my childhood days, my father, brother, and I would head out to the woods to look (for what seemed like hours) for the perfect Christmas tree. Finally, once we had found the perfect tree, my dad would take the axe and cut it down. Then, we’d head home and get the tree ready to be decorated. For the next few hours, we’d pull out old decorations, lights, and even that long, stringy, silver tinsel that wound up everywhere but on the tree.

Raising Thankful Children

Growing up, most of us were taught to be thankful for what we had. For many of us, saying “thank you” was just as important as saying “excuse me” or “yes, ma’am.” If you grew up in the South, that was especially true for you! But beyond saying the words themselves, how do we teach our children to be truly thankful people? It starts by modeling real thankfulness.

Giving thanks before a meal is a great place to begin. After your prayer, explain everything that had to come together to make that meal happen. Talk about the plants and animals grown and harvested, the packing and shipping processes that delivered these goods to the store, the store clerks and workers who received it and put it out on display, the resources you needed to purchase the food, and all the time and effort to make the meal and set it out for them to enjoy. Maybe you could say something like, “When we thank God for our food, we remember all that had to happen to bring it to our table.”

Tips for Keeping Older Kids Engaged in Missions Education

As you have probably noticed, kids have short attention spans. Often, a large dose of creativity is required to keep their attention for even a few minutes at a time.

A practical way to keep older kids engaged in missions education is by varying presentation methods. This takes time and preparation. As the missions leader, you must plan ahead to provide an assortment of informational items.

You can use the Internet to show videos about the focus country or people group. This is a great way to find a wealth of information, but be sure to preview any search results beforehand to avoid inappropriate material. Some older kids may be interested in becoming pen pals with a group of children or MKs in another country. As the leader, you can use social media to facilitate these interactions!

Don’t be afraid of trying foods from the area you are focusing on. Recipes are readily available and sometimes include suggestions for substitutions if something unusual is not accessible at your local grocery store. Kids will be delighted to try different dishes, especially if you eat it first!

Encouraging the "Thanks" in Thanksgiving

I love this time of year. The leaves turn many shades of beautiful, people wrap themselves in comfortable sweaters, and something about the air feels different as it turns crisp and cool. The fall season sets itself apart in beauty and the promise of something new. It’s a time to think about the past year and what God has done in our lives.

November is my favorite month—and not just because it’s my birthday month (shout out to my fellow November birthdays!). This month is the time when we give thanks for the many provisions, blessings, lessons, and growing moments God has given us. With Thanksgiving in our line of sight, why not start counting our blessings a little early?

Put the beauty of November to good use as you spend this month focusing on thankfulness. Teach your GAs, RAs, and CAs about the meaning of thankfulness and why we give praise and glory to God for everything from joys to hardships. Try these ideas to get your kids into a spirit of thankfulness as November kicks off:

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