Bring Me Game Ideas

What do you do when you have a room full of children causing havoc (or could potentially do so) and need to engage them in a way that is both fun and simple to execute? Well, education is a good idea. But perhaps you’ve taught and they’ve learned all day and it’s time to kick back and play a good old-fashioned group game.

Play the “Bring Me” Game!

The Bring Me Game concept is simple and the variations are endless. You, the game leader, should stand up front with a microphone (or not if your group is small enough) and ask for random objects/items. I’ve got a list to get you going below.

The first person or group or team to produce the requested item and bring it to you gets a point for their team. WARNING: Kids tend to RUN a lot in this game. So make sure you remind them to not trample one another or trip over anything in their effort to bring the items up to you. You can decide how long to play (such as “first team to ten points wins”).

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One major thing to keep in mind when playing the game and coming up with ideas is the fact that nearly everyone has a device these days (even youth). If you’re at an event where most everyone has a device on them or at least some representatives of each team (such as adults in mostly-kid events) have devices, then make the most of technology in your requests. The internet is an endless supply of “scavenger-hunt” challenges. Just ask for a picture of BB-8 from Star Wars or a map of the country of Malaysia or any other fun idea they can search for.

The types of things you call up will vary depending on the size and the average age of your group. For example, not many kids will have a credit card on them if you ask for one. So be creative with ideas that fit what you think is out there in everyone’s pockets, purses, and accessories.

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Here is a list of ideas to get you going. You can come up with your own ideas by thinking of other things similar to or related to items on this list.

  • two different shoelaces tied together
  • five different socks bundled up in a ball
  • a selfie on a device
  • a photograph of exactly ten people on a device
  • something edible
  • chocolate
  • something that has a picture of a rainbow on it
  • a double-A battery and a triple-A battery
  • something that is completely blue
  • two people wearing glasses doing jumping jacks next to one another
  • two unrelated people with red hair
  • a human hair
  • a non-human living thing (this will usually be a bug or insect found on the floor)
  • lipstick
  • chapstick
  • nail clippers
  • six people forming a human pyramid
  • a red pen or marker
  • something with a disney symbol or character on it
  • two unrelated people with braces
  • a nail file
  • a one dollar bill, a five dollar bill, and a ten dollar bill (exactly)
  • a penny, a nickel, a dime, and a quarter (exactly)
  • a liquid
  • something that feels cold
  • something that feels warm
  • something that lights up (that is not a phone or tablet device)
  • ten people in a line that goes from tallest person to shortest person
  • a pencil
  • a tissue
  • a crumpled up piece of paper
  • something silver
  • something gold
  • a person wearing two different kinds of shoes
  • a rock
  • a visible piece of dust/dustball
  • something sharp (and if it is a dangerous/forbidden object, you can confiscate it 🙂
  • something conical
  • something circular
  • something in the shape of a cube
  • a ball of some sort
  • something chewable
  • five breath mints
  • three different kinds of breath mints
  • a picture on a device of the White House in Washington D.C.
  • a picture on a device of a mother and a son
  • someone who can say the alphabet backwards (for real, not someone saying, “alphabet backwards”)
  • pocket fuzz/lint
  • a device playing the United States’ National Anthem
  • a device playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata
  • a paper towel
  • a circle of exactly twelve people holding hands

I posted about this back in 2012 with more ideas you can use as well!

Please share your lists and ideas in the comments below and we can have a trove of items for people to say “Bring me……!”

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Overcoming Stage Fright

I performed at a company holiday banquet on Sunday night in Pennsylvania. As I was eating dinner with the owner and his family, one of his children asked me, “Do you ever get nervous before your shows?” My answer was a quick and simple, “Yes.” Then I explained a little more.

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Looking out at my audience before going on stage for my show at the Weaver Markets banquet in Pennsylvania.

Yes, I still get nervous before my performances even after nearly years of on-stage experience (which is most of my life) and over eight years of full-time one-man show performances.

Why do I get nervous? Frankly, I’m afraid the audience won’t like me. I’m afraid I’ll let down their expectations. I’m afraid I’ll mess up. I’m afraid I’ll injure someone. I’m afraid that it will be the last performance of my career for whatever reason.

And then I do the show…and they love it. I love it. Everybody has a great time. I realize that it was all in my head. And here’s a key thing to consider: Is that really a bad thing?

I would suggest, “No.”

Call it nervousness, call it stage fright, call it butterflies. We all know the feeling. And I believe it is a very normal and human thing. It is the desire to pursue excellence and to deliver something that is beneficial to others. And there will always be the risk of failure. I believe that if we don’t feel at least a little fear or nervousness in the things we strive for in life, then we might not be challenging ourselves enough.

But the fright is still there. Knowing that it is a very common feeling does not make it go away. How do we overcome stage fright?

I think that’s the wrong question.

The question should be, “How can we use stage fright to our advantage?”

So here are some things that I do in order to work through stage fright and use it to my advantage…..

  1. Just do it – Nike was right. When I just get up and do my show, all the jitters go away. The jitters are usually the worst right before I go out on stage. But within a few seconds of starting my rehearsed routine, I’m all good. Speaking of rehearsed….
  2. Practice – It sounds trite, but the more you practice, the less you need to worry about them not liking you. If you practice a ton for your presentation, you’ll do great. And even if you mess up, the audience will easily forgive you because they have a sixth sense that knows whether you’re practiced up or not. They can tell when you’ve worked hard on something and that they probably couldn’t do it themselves anyway, so they will appreciate you. Believe me, audiences are a lot nicer than we as performers usually think they will be.
  3. Look out at the audience before your performance – This may not be the right ritual for everyone, but it helps me. If possible, peek through the curtain to see who you’re about to perform for. Or at least get as good a look as you can at people as they come into the event. The more I see who I’m playing to and the more I gaze into their eyes and expressions, the more at ease I become because I realize that these are normal human beings who just want to enjoy a performance. They’re not out to get me. They’re not out to boo the performer off the stage. They’re on my side. And that helps me tremendously.
  4. Transfer the nervousness into energy – This is easier said than done. But it really it a mental exercise. Tell yourself that the nervous jitters are going to help you do great because you can go out there with excitement and anticipation for a great show.
  5. Pray – I am a person of faith who prays. I am part of a larger community of faith that supports me and prays for what I do. I can say from experience that prayer does amazing things – especially when it comes to stage fright and gearing up for presentations. Knowing that God made me and has called me to this vocation helps me focus my thoughts and energy on Him rather than myself. I believe that life is not about me anyway – it’s about bringing glory to God. If you have any inkling in you that there is a God (or even if you don’t believe in God), give prayer a chance and see what happens….
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Having fun up close with my audience at the New Year’s Eve masquerade in Williamsburg, VA.

Teaching Kids About Money

Thanks to Dave Ramsey and other financial teachers, we were inspired to use clear labeled jars to show our daughter how much money she has and how to categorize it. I know that she will grow up in an even more digital world than we did, which means money will become more and more “invisible” as she grows up in the twenty first century. When money is simply an unseen number out there in the cloud of the internet, it is very easy to lose track of how much is there and where it is all going.

So that’s where clear jars come in! It is tangible, real, and visible. She has acquired money through gifts from others as well as through some age-appropriate work. We will let her use the money as she sees fit – and then she will tangibly watch how fast it goes (as well as how it adds up when you save it). She is very much the crafty kid, so we let her take ownership of the process, from the cutting and taping of the labels to the counting out and categorizing of her own money.

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Sarah and I agreed not to dictate to her how much she should put in each jar. We want her to have autonomy and responsibility over those decisions. Of course we will constantly have conversations with her about how we categorize our money and offer suggestions on percentages. In fact, when I let her fill her own jars, she just liked plopping coins wherever she wanted, and her “giving” jar was looking nearly equal to the other three categories. I don’t want to tell her to give 10% when she wants to give 25%! God wants a generous and cheerful giver – and it looks like our daughter is off to a good start. Maybe we should learn something from her!

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As for the categories – we have her doing the obvious saving, giving, and spending. I decided to add “business” because we are encouraging her to explore entrepreneurial ventures as a way to earn money if she so desires. I have a hunch her desire will suddenly manifest itself when she sees the “spend” jar empty! She could purchase art supplies to make crafts to sell on Etsy, for example. When I was a young child, my mother made me buy the lemonade powder for my lemonade stand. If I was making my own profit, I needed to purchase my own expenses. I’m so glad she made me do that.
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What are some tips and tricks you use to teach your kids about money?

Downton Abbey Premiere RVA

Tonight, Sarah and I joined a bunch of friends for the USA premiere of Downton Abbey. I used to make fun of Sarah for watching her “soap opera,” until I started paying attention to the plots more and got into the series along with her. We also happen to live in the city that has the largest premiere showing in the nation apparently: Richmond, VA.

What I would guess was a couple of thousand people packed out the Altria Theater (designed by the same architect who did our house back in 1919, Charles M. Robinson, I’m happy to say) for the showing. We were delighted by a surprise celebrity visit by Phyllis Logan, the Downton actress who portrays the beloved Mrs. Hughes. She was joined by her husband, Kevin McNally, who appeared in some earlier episodes of Downton. The event was put on by WCVE, our local PBS affiliate.

Everyone had a lot of fun dressing up in their vintage style clothing. We did our best to match the feel of the roaring twenties. Sarah cut up one of my balancing peacock feathers and gracefully pinned it to her hair. I grabbed my Dube derby from my juggling supplies and that seemed to work well in my attempt to look like Mr. Bates. We’re looking forward to a fun final season.

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Phyllis Logan (aka Mrs. Hughes) paid us a surprise celebrity visit!
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Mrs. Hughes!

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First Baptist Church of Woodbridge Show

A few weeks ago, I got to share my show with First Baptist Church in Woodbridge, VA. It was a cold Saturday in early Spring but over a thousand people still showed up! I did two shows – one in the large sanctuary before the egg hunt and a second in a small cafe-like setting for a smaller lunch crowd. It was a lot of fun. I got to share about the real meaning of Easter while having fun with audience volunteers and juggling a variety of objects. One of my favorite parts was calling up a young lady and juggling while I read from her address book on her smart phone (she gave me permission to do so). It’s amazing what you learn about people from their list of contacts! Thanks to Bill Bennett for the pics….

It was a fun show!
It was a fun show!
Reading her smart phone contacts.
Reading her smart phone contacts.
Balancing a water cooler!
Balancing a water cooler!
Some work with cigar boxes.
Some work with cigar boxes.

Socioeconomic Diversity in the Christmas Story

There are two primary nativity narratives in the Gospels – the Matthew version and the Luke version. Have you ever noticed that Matthew talks about the Magi (but not the shepherds) and Luke talks about the shepherds (but not the Magi)? Matthew was writing to a mostly Jewish audience while Luke was writing with Gentiles primarily in mind. Perhaps Matthew thought the detail about the Magi would strike the Jewish hearers in a certain way while Luke found it important to write about the shepherds instead.

I love the socioeconomic diversity in that contrast. The Magi were probably wealthy, royal, intellectual, and/or all the above. They traveled “from the East” just to see a little baby. On the other hand, a group of simple, common shepherds found their way to same little baby after hearing about the baby from angels. Royalty and commoners are both transformed by the power of this gift from God. Why? Because deep down inside we are all the same. Rich and poor – we all share the same human condition: depravity.

And this baby would someday ride into Jerusalem on a donkey – a beautiful irony that mixes both triumphant victory and humble lowliness at the same time. He is the humble King – come to save princes and paupers.

Pictures below are of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. One is of the sanctuary area and the other is the small crypt where it is traditionally believed that Jesus was born. They probably don’t know the exact spot, but it gives you and idea of the small stone spaces in which people lived back then and at least you know you’re in the general vicinity of where it happened!

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Creativity is Closer Than You Think!

color-91059_640A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking and juggling at “Junior Jam” at Cedarville University. There were about 1,000 elementary-aged kids and all of their adult chaperones. It was a lot of fun. But one of my favorite parts was teaching a workshop to the adults about creativity. We started with Scripture: how God created everything and how we are made in His image (Genesis 1). That means that we are creative too! Our creativity is built into our very nature and is meant to be a way to reflect God’s glory back to Him.

So we broke up into groups and everybody worked on something creative (it could be anything: a poem, a sculpture, a drawing, a song, a skit, etc.). We then held an adult “show and tell” time where we shared our creations with one another. It was very encouraging and we were reminded that creativity is right there inside all of us – a gift from God.

Here is a poem from one of the participants (with her permission, of course):

Creativity

by Leanne Kniffen

The day dawned early – 5 A.M.

We loaded the cars for Junior Jam

“It’s for the kids to become wise”

But lo and behold to our surprise –

We learned

Through ‘Jesse the Juggler’s’ creative tricks

And Heartsong blessing us with their lips

The message of Christ came to us all

In different forms, down different halls

It’s not just for the kids we began to see

God’s creativity lives in me.

Bright Ideas You Can Use This Sunday

brightideas_collage1I’m happy to announce a new book to which I contributed. It is a collection of practical creative ministry ideas that you can use in your Sunday School, Children’s Church, camp, youth group, or other ministry setting with kids. The book categorizes the ideas so that you can find a quick and easy idea whether it is a game, an object lesson, or some other type of activity. It is called Bright Ideas for Children’s Ministry – Volume 1

I’d love for you to purchase your own copy. If you do, please let me know what you think!

Here is the link to the book at Kidology: http://www.kidology.org/store/catalog.asp?item=5422&category=0

And here is the list of chapters and contributors (source: the Kidology.org site):

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Object Lessons

1.    Are You Content?
2.    Chocolate Chip Worship
3.    Fire Within
4.    Little People in the Land of Giants
5.    Pistachio Nut
6.    Rat Trap
7.    Shine Your Light Bright
8.    Strength from God
9.    Sweet Words, Sour Words
10.     Temptation
11.     The Only One Who Can Stop You
12.     Watch Those Eggs!

Crafts

1.    Cornucopia of Blessings
2.    God Looks at the Heart
3.    Popsicle Stick Bible Story
4.    The Bathroom Mirror Bible

Games

1.    Paper, Rock, Scissors Mob Style
2.    Giant Jenga Game
3.    PICK-tionary
4.    The Good or Bad King Game Show
5.    The Most Important Part

Leadership

1.    Beachball FAQ Final
2.    Being Salt and Light
3.    IM K4K RU?
4.    Kid Connector
5.    Murder Mystery Night
6.    The Primacy of Parents
7.    Transform Your Nursery from Babysitting into Ministry

Missions

1.    Chocolate Missionaries
2.    International Flag Prayers
3.    Missions Airplane Experience
4.    Raising Money for Family Missions Trips

Teaching Activity

1.    Be Ready for Christ’s Return
2.    Look Up!
3.    “Palm” Sunday
4.    Prayer Wall
5.    Really Bad Pictures of the Bible
6.    Story Told in Pictures
7.    The Best Choice
8.    The Bug Buffet
9.    The Human Table
10.    The Tabernacle: God With Us

Technology

1.    Identity Texting
2.    Skyping Bible Characters
3.    Texting Announcements to Parents
4.    Texting Kids in Church

Worship

1.    Generational Worship
2.    God’s Character Dossier
3.    Kids Build Their Own Props
4.    Planning Meaningful Children’s Worship

General Editors: Steven Knight and Karl Bastian

Contributing Authors: Karl Bastian, Andrew Belcher, Ron Brooks, Kaye Chalwell, Rebecca Crews, Jamie Doyle, Keith Ferrin, Josh Goscombe, Bill Gunter, Janelle Hoos, Jesse Joyner, Barney Kinard, Patti Kirkland, Katie Knight, Steven Knight, Tamera Kraft, Joe Mally, Todd McKeever, Kathie Phillips, Megan Rayment, Aaron Strawn, Nicki Straza, and Lindsey Whitney.

 

Worship Response Stations

I recently returned from Pine Creek Camp in Gore, VA. I was the camp pastor for two weeks with several hundred preteen kids and their chaperones from Assembly of God churches around Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, D.C., and West Virginia.

I speak at many camps each summer, but this one stuck out because of the format they asked me to follow. First of all, there were two chapel services each day for the kids – one in the morning and one in the evening. The morning service was designed to be the “main” service of the day (in terms of worship music and teaching time) with the evening service being more of a “review and respond” service.

So in the evenings, I taught for about 10 minutes, just reviewing the points we learned about in the morning. Then, for the remainder of the service (another 45 minutes to an hour), we spent responding to God’s Word through the format of worship stations.

The camp told me this ahead of time. So I wrote up some station ideas that went along with my lessons each day. The leadership at the camp then took all my ideas and turned them into reality by getting the supplies, setting up the stations, and manning them each night.

The results were amazing. We realized that kids learn and respond in a variety of ways, depending on their learning languages. Some kids respond well with hands-on and interactive activities while others are fine being still or reading. Most kids have a variety of learning styles inside of them anyway, so it’s good to have the different stations so they can move around freely as they like. I’d like to take a few posts to share the ideas and pictures from the worship response stations.

Here is a quick rundown of the stations. I will go into more details with each one in subsequent posts.

  1. Prayer Counseling – This is the traditional idea of having prayer counselors on hand if a kid or adult needs prayer for anything. This is usually the only “station” people offer as a way of response at camp or in church. We still used it, but it was only one of many ways to respond. 10525923_10201690183931064_2541282716695704447_n
  2. Question Cards – If the kids had a question about God or the Bible, they wrote them down on a 3×5 card and handed it to an adult. The adult would then attempt to find the answer in the Bible and answer the question. If they couldn’t find it, then they would say “I don’t know” or “I’ll look it up later and get back it you.” This was a surprisingly popular station for the kids. God Questions 1 (1)
  3. World Prayer Map – There was a map on the wall and the kids would go up and place a sticker star on a country, city, or location of a people group and pray for them.
  4. Slime Buckets – One night, we taught about Jonah. In order to explore the idea of what it may have felt like to be inside the belly of a great fish, the kids put their hands in slime. This was obviously very popular. 1919619_10201689924364575_7350194639987657628_n
  5. Blindfolded Prayer – Also along the story of Jonah (who prayed in pitch darkness inside the belly of the fish), we had the kids put on a blindfold and then sit or kneel and pray. One leader said this station was the first time he had seen one of his boys pray. Sometimes it takes some creative way that really connects with a particular kid to open them up to things like prayer and worship. 1800191_10201689925044592_1813544821034699680_n
  6. Kids Pray for Adults – I will devote an entire post to this station, as it was my favorite of all the stations. Kids were on hand to pray for adults who wanted prayer. It was humbling for adults and exciting for kids. More on this one later.
  7. The Wooden Cross – This is another traditional station that many groups have used for years. I believe it is still very powerful in form and function. The large wooden cross reminds us of what Jesus did for us and we have the chance to lay prayers and confessions at the cross by writing them on a piece of paper and nailing them to the cross. 10339573_10201689918724434_8519116368611174061_n
  8. Prayer Journaling/Drawing – This was also a very popular one. We had stacks of paper and boxes of crayons, markers, and pencils on hand. The kids would simply grab some paper and something to write/draw with and freely journal or draw pictures as prayers, thanksgivings to God, and other worship thoughts on their minds. 10553423_10201689925124594_4728291633501802324_n10569008_10201690182851037_8364184396806928724_n
  9. Finger Painting – On the day when we learned about Creation, the kids got to draw pictures of things that God made on a large white poster using finger paints. This was extremely popular and looked very pretty when it was all done. 10409409_10201689918484428_3276895270255792122_n
  10. Other Stations – There were also stations with bead bracelets, mouse traps, clay and play-do, bowls of fruit, a white board with a dry erase marker, and Scripture reading. I will discuss each one in subsequent posts.

Let me know if you have done worship response stations and what they looked like. Thanks for reading!

All photos are credited to Kelly Gibbs. Thanks Kelly!

Palm Sunday Lesson

Palm Sundae
Make a “Palm Sundae” in someone’s palms to open up your Palm Sunday. The kids love it and its a fun way to transition into teaching about the real meaning of Palm Sunday.

Here is a brief activity you can use on Palm Sunday in your Children’s Church service. It is designed to be humorous and then lead into teaching the kids the real meaning of Palm Sunday.

Title: “Palm Sunday”

Scripture:  John 12:12-15 NIV

“The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”

Supplies:  

  • Ingredients for an ice cream sundae and a serving spoon. No bowl necessary!

  • A large trash bag or tarp (a large trash can will work too).

  • (optional) a palm branch.

Summary: You will energetically create an ice cream sundae in the open palms of another person (either another teacher/volunteer or a brave kid with clean hands). You are so thrilled that today is Palm Sunday and you tell the kids that Palm Sunday is the day you get to make an ice cream sundae in your friend’s palms and then eat it. Finally, a “wise person” (another teacher) interrupts you after your shenanigans and advises that Palm Sunday is not about ice cream in palms; it’s about worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ as King. You then proceed to teach the kids about the real story and meaning of Palm Sunday.

Preparation: Gather ingredients for an ice cream sundae. You can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. At least get the ice cream, some chocolate syrup, and some whipped cream. But if you want to go all out, get cherries, sprinkles, a banana, and anything else you like on sundaes. Avoid any nuts or peanut butter products since there may be a child with a nut allergy.

If you can get your hands on a palm branch, whether real or fake, that will help when you get to the real meaning of the story. Have the palm branch hidden from view.

Call up a volunteer (either an adult or a brave child) and tell them to hold out their palms over your trash bag/tarp/trash can (just something to catch dripping ingredients). Tell them to hold together their palms facing up…..

Presentation: With all your energy, tell the kids that you can’t wait for Palm Sunday every year because you get to make an ice cream sundae in your friend’s palms. “That’s what it’s all about kids, right?!” Some will try to interrupt you and correct you, but just keep talking and start making that ice cream sundae. Have fun with it and describe each step as you go. Use your spoon to scoop out some ice cream, then add some syrup, then all your other ingredients. If your friend starts complaining about cold hands, tell them it’s time to eat the sundae! They have to eat the sundae right out of their open palms. The kids will love it!

Finally, a wiser person interrupts you after you’ve milked the moment for all its worth. This other teacher will open up the Bible and read John 12:12-15 to you and explain that Palm Sunday has nothing to do with ice cream. It has everything to do with Jesus as King.*

Proceed to teach a lesson about the real meaning of Palm Sunday, using your Palm Branch as a visual aid. Back then, palms symbolized victory and the fact that Jesus came in on a donkey showed that he was a humble King. Now, we can celebrate Jesus as the one who conquered death and as the King who reigns forever.

*Sources for historical background:

Pat Alexander and David Alexander, Zondervan Handbook to the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 634.

L.A. Losie, “Triumphal Entry,” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, eds Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, I. Howard Marshall (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1992), 859.

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