we were giving the word that it was time to figure out a way to bring families safely back on campus. what would we do? 40% of our investors (volunteers) are 65 and up, several other teachers weren’t comfortable coming back yet, and we didn’t have enough space or volunteers to social distance kids in classrooms.

researching what other churches were doing and having a heart for family discipleship, our team decided a family life group model was best. what a great way to transition back to church with families seeking God’s truth together.

our family life group takes place in our gym and each family has an eight foot table that is socially distanced six feet from any other table. we take temperatures before families enter, have volunteers to check families in on ipads, and ask all attendees to wear masks. (we provide k95 masks and shields to volunteers.)

before we began we wanted to outline the elements of family life group and use those as a filter to plan each week. while these elements may happen in a different order each week, we make sure they are all included. (see below)

using our Gospel project curriculum, we now have four family worships under our belt and are learning ways to tweak and improve our time each week. below are some ideas/activities we have used for family life group.

early arrival activities – we have three. because the sanctuary has to be cleaned thoroughly between each service, we have families arriving 20-25 minutes before family life group begins. the early, early arrival activities have included making cards for our adult students at the learning center where they are working on completely their GED, writing notes of encouragement to church staff, play-doh creations, and decorating family place mats. for the early arrival time, one of our amazing interns leads the kids in socially distance minute-to-win-it types of games or competitions. we hope this time helps get some energy out before we begin life group. the warm up we begins right at start time (because you know people are still coming in) and it has included stand up/sit down questions for families, a play-doh creation contest, and more.

hear truth – each week we share God’s truth straight from our Gospel project curriculum. my associate and i found out early on it was too much for us to teach every other week and lead all the other activities, so we each teach only once a month. to carry the load with excellence we have enlisted other ministers and church members to teach. this provides various teaching styles, gender diversity, and a chance for families to hear some of the best teachers in the church.

discuss truth – have you ever sat in church and heard the pastor say something and wanted to call a time-out to discuss what they said? that is what this time is for families. we give them two to three questions (with scripture references) to discuss around their table.

experience truth – our goal here is to create activities that help experience something together that will possibly lead to more discussion at home during the week. each week is different as we try to keep in mind all different learning styles. for the lazarus was raised from the dead week – families got to wrap a member in toilet paper and then they busted out as we called out “lazarus come out.” families have studied various scriptures together and picked which one they wanted to remind each other of during the week. kids have also washed their parents feet as we studied the last supper.

memorize truth – we are working with families to memorize the Lord’s prayer. each week, our intern gets up and teachers a phrase of the passage with motions for the families. after we finish the Lord’s prayer we will be on to another passage.

understand truth – using the cornerstones resources from lifeway, our associate minister to children introduces a question and answer and then we upload a video explanation to the padlet page for families to watch together during the week.

pray truth – we are blessed with some amazing leaders for our children’s prayer ministry. we now have groups of children praying before and after the life group. the children are leading the way in prayer.

at this moment we aren’t sure how long our family life group model will last, but it has been a privilege to serve families during this unique time. of all the pictures i have taken over the last month, the one below is still my favorite. there is just something about multigenerational Bible study that will always be a passion of mine. to God be the glory!

repost for cpc friends

twice a year i teach a two week Gospel class for children that are seeking answers to what it means to be a Christian. at recent workshops i have taught several people have asked for the outline of this class. i thought it would be easiest to share the information here. this will be a three part series. here is what will be covered in each post:

part 1 – the what, how, and guidelines for the class
part 2 – what is covered the first week of class
part 3 – what is covered the second week of class.

005567177the entire class is based on the amazing resource from the Gospel project kids curriculum, “the Gospel God’s plan for me.” you can learn more and purchase “the Gospel God’s Plan for me” booklets here. each participant receives this booklet week one to take home and read with an adult.

here is the heart behind the class –
i believe that parents want to be an active part in leading their children to Christ. i also find it incredibly rewarding when a child prays to receive Christ with their parent/guardian/grandparent instead of me. so i began to wonder, how can i partner with parents/guardians to help them talk about the Gospel with their children and begin to understand if their child is ready to make this commitment of faith? i want authentic interaction between parent/guardian and child, because we often know that as kidmin leaders, we get sunday school answers. parents/guardians know their kids best, so i wanted to give them a chance to grapple with the Gospel truths. this is the very reason why i require an adult to attend each class with their child.

the model of the class –
during the class we study the five truths outlined in “the Gospel God’s plan for me.” i teach each truth straight from God’s Word. (i even have them turn to the scriptures in the Bible and mark them.) children and adults then experience each truth through engaging, hands-on activities. lastly, the children and their adult discuss each truth. i provide several questions and while i have their captivated attention, i have them turn to one another and discuss these truths just taught and experienced in a safe setting.

when the class is offered – 
i have traditionally offered the class on sunday evenings at five, but due to busy schedules i have moved the class our early service time on sunday mornings. parents seem to like the class in the mornings. they can attend my class and still attend small group and one of our other two worship services.


here are the links to part 2 and 3 in this series.
part 2 – what is covered the first week of class
part 3 – what is covered the second week of class.

click here to read the first post in this series.

read part two in this blog series here.
click here to learn more about and purchase “the Gospel God’s plan for me”

God provided
experience it:
supplies: big bag of candy for the winner
impossible task – get a child volunteer and tell them you have a reward (candy) for them if they complete the task you have for them. make sure to pick a task you know the child cannot do, but an adult can do. (i.e. move a big stack of chairs.) give the child the opportunity to complete the task. after they cannot complete it, select an adult to complete the task. when the adult completes the task, still reward the child with the candy.

discuss it:
kids discuss these questions with their parent/guardian:
– does the child deserve this reward?
– how is this like what God did for us?

teach it:
explain what grace is – getting something we do not deserve.

John 3:16
Ephesians 2:8-9
how did God’s word help you understand that God provided?


Jesus gives
experience it:
supplies: backpack with a sign on it that says “sin”. collect many heavy items (books) to add to the backpack several at a time. other signs that read “death”, “Jesus”, “life”.
select a child to be a volunteer. put the backpack on their back and have them hold the “death” sign in front of them. put several books in the backpack and have them walk in a circle around the room. ask them how that feels. then add more books to the backpack. have them walk around the circle again. continue this until the child can no longer hold up the backpack and asks for help.
select an adult in the class to be Jesus. they will wear the “Jesus” sign. after the child admits that they need help, have Jesus come over and take the heavy backpack of sin from them. he will give them the “life” sign in exchange for the sin backpack and the “death” sign.

discuss it:
kids discuss these questions with their parent/guardian:
how did the backpack activity show us how great a gift Jesus gave us?
read and discuss Romans 5:8 as a family.

teach it:
explain what mercy is to the children – no getting something we do deserve.
our punishment for sin was death, but Jesus gave His life and through His sacrifice we can exchange sin/death for life.

discuss it:
kids discuss these questions with their parent/guardian:
did we do anything to deserve such a gift?
review Ephesians 2:8-9 as a family.
what does the gift of Jesus mean to you?

Romans 5:8
2 Corinthians 5:21
1 Peter 3:18
Ephesians 2:8-9
how did God’s Word help you understand that Jesus gives?


werespondWe respond
teach it:
Jesus alone is our way to salvation.

experience it:Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 10.28.43 AM
supplies: a wrapped gift
tell the children to pretend that in this gift is the greatest present they could ever receive. (for boys i usually
say a new video gaming system with a gift card for every game made for that system. for girls i usually say the brand new american doll with a gift certificate for all the clothes they could want for that doll.) walk around the room holding out the gift and say, here, i have this gift for you, what do you have to do to make it your’s? (wait for a child to simply say, “take it”, “receive it”)
share that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save and rescue us from our sins. this is truly the greatest gift we will ever receive, but we must respond to the gift of salvation.

discuss it:
kids discuss these questions with their parent/guardian:
why do you think some people don’t respond to this gift?

John 14:6
Romans 10:9-10, 13
how did God’s word help you understand that we have to respond?

discuss it:
in your own words, explain the Gospel to the adult that came with you.


*** i would love to hear any other idea you have for sharing the Gospel with children. i love the creativity of kid ministry leaders. 🙂

click here to read the first post in this series.
click here to learn more about and purchase “the Gospel God’s plan for me”



God rules
experience it:
supplies: play dough
each child and adult are given some play dough. they are told to talk about what they would like to create with their play dough. they share their idea with the class and then are instructed to start modeling their creation. after about a minute, i pretend the play dough is speaking to me and i inform the class that the play dough does not like what they have decided toplay-doh-4-pack(1) create. i then share what the play dough said it would like to be. (i make up something and instruct the class to begin creating again.) again, after about a minute or two, i tell them the play dough decided it wanted to be something else and give them a new assignment. i do this several times, much to their frustration, and they think i have lost my mind talking to the play dough. 🙂  when they complete their last assigned creation, i have them turn and talk with their parent/guardian.

discuss it:
kids discuss these questions with their parent/guardian:
– should the play dough decide what the creation should be or the one modeling the playdough?
– how is this like us trying to tell our Creator what to do?

teach it:
God created everything. God is in charge. He is Holy and the boss of us.
Genesis 1:1
Revelation 4:11
Colossians 1:16-17

discuss it:
how did God’s Word help you understand that God rules?

wesinnedwe sinned
teach it:
Romans 3:23
Romans 6:23

discuss it:
how did God’s Word help you understand that we sin?

teach it:
Sin is:
-going our way instead of God’s way.
-rebellion against God.
Because God is Holy, He must punish sin.

discuss it:
let’s pretend you go home today and discover your brother/sister/friend destroyed your favorite toy.
how would you feel if your parents didn’t punish the sin of your brother/sister/friend?

experience it:
we can’t fix or ignore our sin.
supplies: very burnt popcorn (i usually cook a pack of popcorn for five or six minutes. watch closely, because it can catch burned_popcorn_mediumfire. yes, it messes up my microwave. you should smell my house!!! to preserve the smell, i put it immediately in a rubbermaid container.) 
     get two volunteers who are hungry for a snack. have them come sit up front and give them paper plates and napkins. tell them you are super excited about the snack you made them. after they are seated, pull out your burnt popcorn. i usually walk around the room with it so that everyone gets a good look and smell of the popcorn. pour some on each of your volunteer’s plates. they usually look at you like you are crazy. i tell them to go ahead and eat. when they pause or turn up their nose at the popcorn, i ask them what is  wrong? they usually say “well it is burnt.” or “i can’t eat this.” i tell them “sure you can. you said you were hungry, maybe if you pretend it isn’t burnt you can eat it.” then, after they still will not eat it, i usually pick some of it up and tell them to just try to fix it so it will not be burnt. after a couple more interactions, i let them off the hook and tell them to return to their seats. (yes, i have had a child eat the popcorn before.)
     i end this experience sharing with them that just like it is crazy for us to try to pretend the popcorn isn’t burnt, it is even crazier for us to pretend we do not sin. also trying to fix popcorn, is as crazy as us thinking we can fix our sin. because i have handled the popcorn, i usually smell my hands and talk about how sin stinks and gets all over us. we can’t get rid of it ourselves. the smell in the room is also a great teaching tool for the rest of the class. 🙂

discuss it:
kids discuss these questions with their parent/guardian:
– how is this bag of popcorn like our sin?
i share again, that our sin separates us from God and we are lost without Him.
– do you understand that you are a sinner?
– how does your sin make you feel?
– can you fix your sin?

closing experience
Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 4.14.59 PM      we end the night with a stairwell experience. all the kids and the adults in the class go to the stairwell. the adults stay upstairs and the kids all go to the landing. i have a dad volunteer to be Jesus for me.
i explain to the kids that their goal is to get to the top of the stairs to be with God and Jesus, but the steps, railing, and walls are all very hot lava and they will melt if they touch them. i explain that the stairs are separating them from God and they need to see what they can do to fix the separation. i also inform them that their world ends at the landing of the stairwell, so they can’t run down and come up another way.
i then ask kids for ideas on how to get up. (i have heard it all.) i allow each of them to try their suggestions. (i.e. fly? run up stairs real quick? build a jet pack? this is always fun to watch them try to build this with no supplies. jump to the top of the stairs?)
after they exhaust their suggestions, usually one child will say can “dad Jesus” help us? the answer is that they need to individually ask “dad Jesus” to come down and pick them up and carry them up the stairs. after a couple of children have been carried up, i have a parent ask “dad Jesus” to go rescue their child. “dad Jesus” answers them with a “no.” i use this illustration to drive home the point that it is an individual decision to receive help and their parents/guardians cannot do it for them.
we end this activity with some children still on the landing. we talk about how some people think they can fix their separation on their own and never ask for help.
after this activity, we go back to the room. kids and parent/guardians turn again to romans 3:23 and romans 6:23. they discuss how the activity in the stairwell paints a picture of what it looks like for us to be separated by sin and only Jesus can save us.

stay tuned for part 3 where the second week of classes is explained. 

10672280_1499499846959104_2651752240705181044_napples and oranges are not the same. that’s what i kept trying to say when we were working on a way to bring two ministries together on one night. (two ministries that had always been on separate nights at my previous church) maybe you can never make apples and oranges be the same, but it can be quite exciting when you allow them to collide. that is what my friend and co-worker, john woods – music and worship pastor, and i did when we brought dawson kids midweek discipleship and children’s choirs together for a whole new look at wednesday nights.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 6.51.38 PMteamwork, creative dreaming, collaboration, and compromise were all part of our dawson collide process. john’s heart is for children to be life long worshippers of Christ. mine is for children to become authentic disciples through God’s Word. i am also burdened to create a place where those that may never enter through the “white columns” of a sanctuary on sunday morning can have a place to get plugged into our family of faith. oh what joy it brings me when i have to make it a point to learn the names of children because there are new faces at collide each week.  it is amazing what happens when you dare to dream and see ministry lived out in a new way.

IMG_0107-1024x768has then process been perfect? absolutely not, but through the struggles i believe we have become even more intent on making sure this ministry hits the mark. we tweak and work on collide weekly to make sure we are doing all we can to help our collide investors (leaders), kids, and parents experience Jesus and become lifelong worshippers and authentic disciples of Jesus Christ.

as we are still seeking to understand all the many ways God would want us to use collide, i thought i would share some of the basics below. i would also love to hear what you have done to bring two ministries together. comment below with you thoughts and ideas.


collide themes

fall 2014 – grace, God’s love collides with forgiveness to create grace.

spring 2015 – worshipSpirit and Truth collide to create worship.


collide elements

here’s a brief description of the collide elements that all grades will participle in collide.

collide blue collide orange collide green

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 7.23.29 PMopening rally: think kidlife worship rally colliding with wednesday night church.  we will begin the rally right at 5:45 in the lore lobby of the FRC.  we will have worship music, high energy activities, creative prayer time, a missions moment, exciting time in God’s Word and more. all kinds of elements will collide 

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 7.22.31 PMcollide choir: after the opening rally, it’s time to head to collide choir. here colliders will sing the very best music, no matter the style. with the goal of nurturing well-rounded worshippers, able to worship through any style or genre, collide choir is the place where a soundtrack for life begins. 

collide missions: God’s Word commands us to go and make disciples of all nations.  in this track children will collide with what missions is, learn about missionaries, discover how they can be involved in missions at their age, and develop a desire to sure the Good News of Jesus through hands-on activities.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 7.21.59 PMart studio: when things collide, there’s usually a mess. and each week the art studio will be full of students learning through hands-on activities. sculpture? sure! oil paints? of course! pottery? why not! god made us to be creative, so let’s get busy!

music lab: there more to worshipping through music than just singing. in music lab, colliders might find themselves playing drums, writing a song, planning a worship service, or playing instruments used in worship. anything could happen in music lab

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 7.22.46 PMrec lab: kids can learn in a creative way when Bible truths collide with movement.  this track will include games with a purpose and will end with a time of debriefing on image1-1024x768how to apply what they learned in the game to their everyday life. 

collide discipleship: here kids will collide with the powerful word of God.  kids will dig in and learn about the Bible, how to use the Bible, how to study God’s Word, how to apply God’s Word to their daily lives and much more.


collide schedule 

collide blue collide orange collide green

5:45p.m. – 6:05p.m. – collide opening rally 
6:05p.m. – 6:40p.m. – collide choir
6:40p.m. – 7:15p.m. – collide tracks

** all children will participate in each of the elements of collide.  each grade will spend three weeks in each of the five tracks offered: music lab, missions, art, recreation, and discipleship.

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 1.08.52 PM

collide dress-up nights

collide will have dress up nights this fall the first wednesday of september, october, november and december.


collide dress-up night schedule

september 3 – collide hat night

october 1 – collide superhero night

november 5 – collide jersey night

december 3 – collide Christmas night


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