Think Tank: Santa Claus & Children’s Ministry


It happens almost every year. One kid comes to children’s church with a personal mission to prove Santa is not real. Besides the disruption, it creates a situation where one child is calling someone’s mom a liar. That’s why my friend Tony Kummer called to order a special Christmas edition of our Think Tank. santa-claus-is-not-Jesus

How do you handle the whole issue of Santa Claus in your ministry? How would you redirect a group of children at church who are debating his existence? What advice would you give Christan parents & grandparents about Santa?

This was the question for the December edition of the Children’s Ministry Think Tank. Here is the response that Fletcher Lang and I put together for the discussion.  You can follow the responses of other Children’s Ministry leaders here.

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The Jesse Tree: An Advent Celebration, Part 5

Jesse Tree Outlines for December 19th-25th
(adapted for our toddlers from the RCA website and The Glorious Coming. The symbols and patterns used below are copyrighted by Reformed Church Press)

December 19th: The Watch Tower

Habakkuk 2:1a (NIV)  I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me and what answer I am to give.

Christmas is less than a week away! Waiting is so hard! These are the days of counting calendars and numbering the shopping days left.  But we know that Christmas will eventually come, and our waiting will be over. We wait for so many things, some of them happy and some of them not so happy. Waiting means we are looking ahead to the future.  Before Jesus was born, the people were waiting for a savior. They had faith that God would keep his promise. They waited a long time; some of them forgot to keep looking for God’s promised son. They no longer cared about God or God’s promise, and when Jesus arrived they didn’t recognize him.  But those who remembered and trusted God recognized Jesus and their waiting was finally over.  We are not only waiting for Christmas.  We are waiting for Jesus to come again as well.  Do we wait anxiously… on the edge of our seats… for Jesus to come again?  Or are we distracted?  Have we forgotten to keep on looking for his coming?  Father, help us to wait patiently and persistently.

December 20th: Zecharaiah and Elizabeth

Luke 1:17 (NIV) And he will go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous-to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Zechariah and Elizabeth honored God, and God loved them, but they did not have a child.  One day while Zechariah was working in the temple, an angel brought him a message from God.  The angel told Zechariah that he and Elizabeth were going to have a very special son and his name was going to be John. Zechariah didn’t believe the angel’s good news.  So, God took away Zechariah’s voice as a sign of God’s power. Imagine if you had seen an angel who had told you wonderful, happy news, and you weren’t able to tell anyone what had happened!  Sometimes it is difficult to believe God’s good news.  Zechariah and Elizabeth were happy to know that they would have a son chosen by God to do important work.  They were blessed by God even though the blessing was difficult to believe at first.  Father, prepare our hearts to believe the good news about your Son.

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New Illustrated Edition of Pilgrim’s Progress – Justin Taylor

This looks like a great resource for family story time:

Steve Nichols: “This new Crossway book is excellent in every way. It is truly a beautiful book. Buy it for the whole family and read it together. Your kids will always remember it.”

From the publisher’s website: “This deluxe edition of Pilgrim’s Progress, brought to life in forty all-new, full-page, color illustrations by award-winning illustrator Mike Wimmer, takes readers on a visually stunning journey with protagonist Christian as he seeks the Celestial City.”

You can read chapter 3 online for free.

HT: Justin Taylor

Learning Centers: Puppet Center

Puppet Center

This center can also be called the “Story Re-telling” center.  Here children will re-tell today’s Bible story or perform their own skits using puppets. Sometimes the lesson will call for creating puppets, which can be used at the puppet stage.

Use the Center: Ask a group of students to create a puppet show about today’s lesson theme or story then perform it for you. 

  • What puppets will you use?  Who should be part of the story?  Who will have each puppet?
  • What happened first in the story?  What happened next?  How did the story end?
  • What did you learn about God in the story?  What did you learn about people?

Clean Up: Have the children put the puppets away in the basket after each playtime.

What we ask our Children’s Ministry workers to commit.

At today’s Germantown campus luncheon, I’ll be asking our children’s ministry servants to sign the following covenant.  This is what we ask our SojournKids workers to commit.

Children’s Ministry Servant Covenant, December 2009:

This covenant is an agreement of faithfulness between the children’s ministry of Sojourn Community Church (SojournKids) and the children’s ministry servant.  SojournKids does not consider the children’s servant to be a volunteer or lay-person.  SojournKids is seeking men and women who have a driving ambition and a confirmed gifting to nurture and teach children—nursery, toddlers, preschool, and elementary—to trust in and whole-heartedly follow Jesus Christ.

SojournKids recognizes that God has built his church community as a covenant Family with Christ as its foundation (1 Peter 2:4-12).  Children’s ministry occurs within the context of a larger covenant community where God has commanded parents to teach their children about God’s words and works (Psalm 78: 5-7).  Our children’s ministry is a catalyst for Christian families having gospel conversations together, and it provides the community context for nurturing and teaching children no matter their individual family background.  If you believe it is God’s desire for you to serve children, it is our desire that you pursue this ambition by using your gifts in SojournKids (1 Peter 4:10).  Upon signing this covenant the children’s servant agrees to the following items for accountability:

1.  As a Servant, I will give my time, talent, and ability sacrificially.

  • I will faithfully serve at every SojournKids ministry class where I am scheduled, and I will send an equipped Sojourn member when I must be away. (Weekly and monthly commitments run for a six-month time period–currently through February 2010).
  • I will arrive 45 minutes before my ministry begins.
  • I will not be alone with a child.  I will always stay in public areas of the Sojourn building with children and only enter the restroom with a child when another ministry servant is present.
  • I will leave the classroom in which I serve better than I found it—recognizing that other ministry servants will be using this classroom after I leave.

2.  As a Learner, I will seek discover and develop my gifts and abilities as a children’s servant.

  • I will attend at least 2 training sessions during each commitment cycle.  The sessions will usually be Sunday afternoon luncheons or one-day events in the local Louisville area.
  • I will study any and all assigned lessons before I arrive for my ministry assignment.

3.  As a Worshiper, I will remember that Jesus is present when I serve.

  • I will meet to pray with other servants at the beginning of each service, and I will serve with an attitude of prayer.
  • I will talk about Jesus while at play, because gospel life is more than just the lessons.

4.  As a Missionary, I will plainly demonstrate the gospel to children and families at every opportunity.

  • I will teach children God’s promises and plainly speak about their need to repent from sin and trust Christ (Acts 2:38-39).
  • I will greet Sojourn families and visiting families with biblical hospitality, and I will celebrate when families come back

By signing this form you agree to the above requirements so that SojournKids can fulfill its calling to nurture and teach the children whom God has given us.

Name_____________________________________ Date__________________