I recently stumbled upon a fast and free way to make Scripture slides for Children’s Ministry (or any other ministry, for that matter) with an array of free and attractive backgrounds.
And it may already be in your phone/device.
It’s built into one of the popular apps out there – the free YouVersion app of the Bible (they’re not paying me to post this, btw 🙂 I just really like this feature and want to share about it).
I was using the app recently and saw a button I had never seen before. So I clicked on it. What I found was amazing. It was an option to make an image of any selected Bible verse over any background of your choice (your own or from their library). The settings make it easy to change the font, the font size, the colors, etc. Below are some steps and pics to show you how to do it.
- First, download the app. Search “youversion” on your app store.
- Once you familiarize yourself with how to find a certain verse (which is intuitive), select a verse by tapping it. It will underline the verse with a dotted line and then give you a selection of options on the right.
- Then tap on the orange button (of a photograph), which will lead you through the step-by-step editing process.
- Once you have your slide, share it as you like! See the images below for a more detailed look at how it works.
Then you can share the image by email, message, or social media. You can also save the image to your device and hence drop it into any slide show you are making (such as Keynote or ProPresenter).
I love to use it to share a quick verse on social media or as a slide when I’m speaking or teaching about the Bible. It’s super easy to use and best of all, it’s free!
Bonus: Many of the most popular Bible verses (John 3:16, for example) have special pre-made images with artsy fonts and backgrounds. Those are fun to discover and you just have to stumble upon them when you go to those verses and then go to this “edit image” process.
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Here are some slides I’ve made since I found out about this……
If you have no idea what that title means, that’s OK. It is actually fairly simple to explain those weird words, which I will attempt to do. The “hypostatic union” is an important theological concept to understand about the person and work of Jesus Christ. It basically says that Jesus Christ is one person, two natures (divine and human). The interrobang is a punctuation symbol that I believe is a helpful metaphor to understand the hypostatic union.
The interrobang is a lesser known punctuation mark. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a punctuation mark ‽ designed for use especially at the end of an exclamatory rhetorical question” (“Interrobang,” Merriam-Webster). This means that it unites both the symbol and function of the exclamation point and the question mark into one character. For example, instead of “You lost the dog?!” it is also acceptable (and more economical) to write, “You lost the dog‽” In fact, you can still see the shape of both the exclamation point and the question mark in the interrobang as the two characters are superimposed on one another. Here is a larger look at how they merge:
! + ? = ‽
This is a visual metaphor for the hypostatic union. This is the theological doctrine that Jesus Christ is simultaneously fully God and fully man. In Christ, the two natures (divine and human) are united into one person (hypostasis) (McGrath, 1998, 56; Oden, 1992/2001, 165). This can be a potentially difficult point to explain to children (and adults as well). But when a simple visual metaphor such as the interrobang is used, the ability to grasp the concept is increased. Not only that, but it also helps learners experience and understand what for them may be a new spiritual reality in their hearts and minds, which ideally helps them draw closer to God. This is the generative nature of metaphors in spiritual formation.
Note that in the interrobang neither the exclamation point nor the question mark are absorbed or lost into the other. The reader can still clearly make out the fullness of each punctuation mark – and they are artfully merged to co-exist in one typographical character. So also is the character/person of Jesus Christ. He is one person who embodies the union of total divine nature and total human nature. Just as you can make out the entire exclamation point and entire question mark in the interrobang at the same time, so also does Jesus have the entirety of divinity and the entirety of human nature at the same time (John 1:14; Phil 2:6-11; Col 2:9, 3:15-20). The author of Hebrews adds that though he was like us in every way (human nature), he had no sin (Heb 4:15). That is because he was also fully God and it is impossible for God to sin (James 1:13; Heb 6:18; Psalm 92:15).
Why is the hypostatic union such an important concept? It has to do with the very foundations of Christianity – salvation by grace through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. If Jesus was merely a man and not God, then he would be less than perfect and his sacrifice would not be sufficient to atone for sins against a perfect and holy God. If Jesus was God and not also human, then he would not be able to offer himself on behalf of humans (human sin against God demands that the atonement must also come from a human – see Anselm’s argument at The Christian History Institute).
What do you think about the interrobang‽ Is it a helpful metaphor? What are some other metaphors that may help us better understand the hypostatic union?
“Interrobang.” Merriam-Webster. online article. http://beta.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/interrobang (accessed December 17, 2015).
McGrath, Alister E. Historical theology: An introduction to the history of Christian thought. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998.
Oden, Thomas C. The word of life: systematic theology: volume two. Peabody, MA: Prince, 2001.
Starting tomorrow, I get to share at the “Not Your Ordinary VBS” at the First United Methodist Church in Monroe, LA. My family is able to join me for this trip as well! Please come if you’re anywhere near central Louisiana. Programs are in the evenings for the next few nights and start at 6:30pm. Thanks for all your prayers and have a great rest of your summer.
So I’m taking a PhD course called Adult Learning Foundations. We’re reading authors such as John Dewey, Paulo Freire, Sharan Merriam, Malcolm Knowles, and David Kolb (as well as stuff about Mezirow’s Transformative Learning).
One of the overall themes I’m getting from the content is that the idea of lifelong learning and continuing education (not necessarily formal CE, by the way) is way more important than most of us adults think.
Our brains, our souls, our bodies, everything about us is built like a learning machine. Our brains have neuroplasticity, which means our brains physically change as we learn new things, like working muscles in a gym and physically changing our bodies (Merriam, Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice, 2014, p. 171).
We as adults tend to view education as something that starts and stops. We matriculate in a school at one point in our lives and then graduate with a degree or certificate at a later point. Something about that system communicates to us that we have somehow arrived at a destination and have officially “banked” (to use Freire’s term) a wealth of knowledge that we then use and distribute throughout life.
But that view does not take into account that we are dynamic, not static, beings. I believe God made us as lifelong sponges – with tremendous ability to continually grow in knowledge and wisdom, always learning and questioning things.
And those kinds of learners make the best teachers. The best teachers are always learning – from both their students and from the world around them. We are, after all, expecting our students to LEARN something. So effective teachers lead by example and show their students how to learn. What is the best way to do that? Be a learner yourself.
I’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
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
11. The Only One Who Can Stop You
12. Watch Those Eggs!
1. Cornucopia of Blessings
2. God Looks at the Heart
3. Popsicle Stick Bible Story
4. The Bathroom Mirror Bible
1. Paper, Rock, Scissors Mob Style
2. Giant Jenga Game
4. The Good or Bad King Game Show
5. The Most Important Part
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
1. Chocolate Missionaries
2. International Flag Prayers
3. Missions Airplane Experience
4. Raising Money for Family Missions Trips
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
1. Identity Texting
2. Skyping Bible Characters
3. Texting Announcements to Parents
4. Texting Kids in Church
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.
In a previous post, I explained the idea of worship response stations and their use in ministry to children. I am going to unpack each station in a series of posts, starting with the prayer station.
The Bible teaches us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), so I believe prayer is essential to Children’s Ministry – before, during, and after worship services. I’d like to look at ways to use prayer during worship services with kids – specifically when used as a response to the hearing and teaching of God’s Word.
Most of us are familiar with the traditional “altar call” prayer station. This is where the teacher/preacher speaks and then calls people forward for prayer, either en masse to pray with the preacher or to receive individual prayer from pre-selected prayer counselors. The focus of the prayer is usually related to the points of the message, whether a call to follow Jesus or for healing or for God’s strength to overcome a challenge in life, etc.
There is also the method of having people pray in their seats after the message with no call to get up and receive prayer. And some pastors simply tell people to seek out a leader after the service if they have questions or a request for prayer (sometimes with prayer counselors waiting in a particular location, like the front of the sanctuary or in a prayer room somewhere else in the church).
There are many other ways to incorporate prayer as a way of response to the message. But here is the way we did it at camp a few weeks ago:
I preached the message and then closed by inviting the kids to come forward for prayer if they wanted to respond to the message. I had about half a dozen prayer counselors ready and they came forward before the kids so the kids could find one of them. I encouraged all the kids that if they saw a friend come forward for prayer that they were welcome to join that friend and stand beside them in prayer. I also mentioned to the many adults in the room that if they saw their own child (whether in their own family or in their cabin group) and wanted to stand beside them in prayer that they were also welcome to do so.
The worship band came on stage and began leading everyone else in some slower paced worship songs. After about one song, I opened up the entire room to all of the many worship response stations, sometimes having a large group prayer to ask God to prepare us and speak to us during the worship response stations.
The prayer counseling station then stayed open as one of many response station options. Kids took advantage of it at various points throughout the entire response time. Even adults (including myself) took advantage of it.
And that leads me to the next thing we tried with the prayer station – the “kids pray for adults” station. I think it was one of the kids that suggested it to me and I thought it was brilliant. I had led something similar before when I was a Children’s Pastor at a Tuesday night prayer meeting that was led by kids. The idea is so simple and incredibly life-changing.
So on the second night of these worship response stations, I opened up the “kids pray for adults” station. It was separate from the “adults pray for kids” station, which was still there. I told the kids about it and said that any kid who wanted to pray for adults could come work the station and be available to pray for any adult that came forward for such prayer.
We had a few dozen kids come to the station and they stood there ready to pray throughout the worship response time. I even encouraged some of the girls who were there for a long time to go try some of the other stations. They said they wanted to keep working the prayer station. Of course I let them, since all the stations were optional and had no time limits.
I then encouraged adults to come receive prayer from a child. One man told me it was the highlight of his week – as he came back to the station for prayer five times in one night. Here is why I think this station is so powerful:
1. It humbles us adults to hear the prayers of a child.
2. Children pray very sincere, concise, heartfelt prayers. They are not like us adults who pray like the Pharisees with prayers to sound super-spiritual that go on and on.
3. Children pray with childlike faith, which is the model of faith Jesus teaches us to have (Luke 18:17; Mark 10:13-16). Don’t you want prayer from someone with strong faith? Then have a child pray for you.
4. It empowers children and it is our way of telling them that they are as much a part of God’s family as adults and have just as much (if not, more) to contribute to the Kingdom of God and ministry to others.
It is this last point – about empowering children by letting them use their spiritual gifts – that I think we most often get wrong in Children’s Ministry. We usually view Children’s Ministry as the time for us adults to download information into the brains and hearts of kids. But Jesus told us to be like children in our faith. So why don’t we more often let kids teach us and give them opportunities to use their gifts and bless both adults and other children? It goes against our intuition, but so also does the Gospel of grace.
Let the children come to Jesus – and let them pray!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
God is love (1 John 4:8,16). So anything that is of God is lovely. And all things lovely are of God. This includes, but is not limited to, the love we share between one another in various relationships such as friends and family. In fact, all people are God’s creation and we are called to love them. So other people are lovely. And we should think about other people – how they are all beautifully made in God’s image. We should think about them before ourselves (Phil 2:3-4).
What else is lovely? God’s creation. The nature around us. Anything that reflects the image and glory of God. For example, it is a lovely thing to attend a wedding and celebrate the coming together of a husband and wife. On the other hand, it is not lovely to watch a husband and wife hurling insults and hurtful things towards one another. When we think about the wedding and ponder what is going on, our minds and hearts are pointed towards God and His glory. When we ponder hate and hurtfulness, our hearts and minds are pointed away from God.
According to the Gospel of John, Jesus died before the other two men crucified next to him (John 19:33). John explains that the Jews did not want Jesus’ body hanging on the cross during the special Sabbath, which was the day following the crucifixion. So Pilate gave special permission for the bodies of the three men to be removed before the Sabbath.
It is important to note the difference between “crucifixion” and “death” here. Crucifixion is being hung on a cross, which more often than not leads to death. One could conceivably survive a crucifixion (some naysayers of the resurrection suggest Jesus survived it). One way the executioners could speed up the death on a cross (and virtually guarantee it) was to break the legs of the crucified. Without good legs, one cannot hold themselves up on the cross to breath whatever good breaths they can get in while hanging there.
And that is exactly what the Roman soldiers did to finish the job of killing the crucified men next to Jesus. But when they got to Jesus to break his legs, they noticed something remarkable – Jesus was already dead. Instead of breaking his legs, they jabbed his side with a spear – resulting in a spilling of blood and water (John 19:34).
I say remarkable because we could imagine Jesus, who worked many impressive miracles (including raising the dead) outliving the two mortals on either side of him. But they actually outlived Jesus on the cross. There is an old saying (not directly Biblical) that Jesus died of a broken heart. One could make an argument that he did – both physically and spiritually. His physical heart would have burst by the sheer trauma of crucifixion. His spiritual heart was bearing the sin of the world, crying out to His Father, “Forgive them, for they know not what they are doing!” (Luke 23:34).
This weekend, before the glorious Resurrection Day (which is tomorrow), we remember the death of Jesus and what He went through on our behalf. His suffering was so great and violent that he died before men like you and me in the same situation. He emptied Himself. He lowered Himself (Phil 2). That is the extent of His love for us. And He did it all in obedience to and for the glory of the Father.
I think Jesus dying without having his legs broken speaks to His amazing love for us. Instead of trying so hard to live on the cross – he gave Himself up for us. It also fulfills the prophecy (as reported by John) found in the Old Testament about his bones not being broken (Ex 12:46; Num 9:12; 34:20).
Have a Happy Resurrection Day tomorrow! Picture below is The Entombment of Christ by Caravaggio (1602-3)