Read an Excerpt
Children's Sermons To Go
52 Take-Home Lessons About God
By Vicky Miller, Deborah Raney
Abingdon PressCopyright © 1998 Vicky Miller and Deborah Raney
All rights reserved.
1. That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles
You will need: Premeasured ingredients for chocolate chip cookies
Small plastic spoons (optional)
Scripture:1 Corinthians 3:6, 9a / planted the seed of the teaching in you, and Apollos watered it. But God is the One who made the seed grow. We are workers together for God.
Today I've brought several things from my kitchen to share with you. Here's a cup of flour. Would anyone like a spoonful? No? Well, how about baking soda? Would you like a bite of that? No? Well, then maybe you'd like to taste some of this shortening. Or a raw egg. Or some salt. [Be sure not to ask if they want to taste the sugar or chocolate chips! It might be best to keep those two items hidden until it's time to mix them in.]
Hmm. Nobody seems interested in the things I brought for you to eat today. I wonder—if I mix some of these ingredients together, maybe you might like them a bit better. I brought a bowl and spoon with me; so let's see what we can come up with. [Add all the ingredients to the bowl and mix. If you omit the eggs and bring along small plastic spoons, the children may taste the cookie dough at this point.]
It's interesting that not one of you wanted to taste the flour or the baking soda or the shortening by itself. But when we mixed those things together, we ended up with something that tastes delicious!
This reminds me of God's people. God has given each one of us special talents that we can use to serve him, but we aren't all good at everything. Sometimes the best things happen when God's people come together, with all of us providing the things we do best. Just think how our choir would sound if only one person showed up on Sunday morning. Or if everyone sang exactly the same way. Who would sing the high parts? Who would sing the low parts? Who would play the piano or the organ? All the parts are important, aren't they? And they sound their very best when they are all blended together. Just like our cookie dough!
To take home: Give each child one or two wrapped, baked cookies.CHAPTER 2
2. Like a Rock
You will need: A backpack filled with heavy rocks
Scripture:1 John 1:9 But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins. We can trust God. He does what is right. He will make us clean from all the wrongs we have done.
[Ask for a volunteer, or choose a child who will stand and wear the backpack during the children's sermon. A couple of times throughout the sermon ask the child if the bag is getting too heavy.]
I have a backpack here that is full of very heavy rocks. [Unzip the bag and show the children what is inside.] I would like for you to put this pack of rocks on your back and wear it during our children's sermon this morning. Is it heavy? What do you think it would be like to carry these rocks on your back all day?
Did you know that sin in our lives is much like carrying these heavy rocks? When you have done something wrong and haven't told anyone about it, how does it make you feel inside? That's right. We feel very unhappy. We might feel sad or worried, or sometimes it might even make us feel sick.
What do we need to do to get rid of those yucky feelings we have inside when we've done something wrong? The Bible says that we need to confess our sins. Confess is a word that simply means that we need to tell God about what we have done wrong. Now, when we tell God, it won't be any big news to him, will it? God knows and sees everything we do, so he already knows what we've done even before we tell him. But still, God wants us to tell him. And when we do, we are going to feel a huge load lifted from us. [Remove the backpack from the child's back.] Isn't it a relief to get that heavy load off of your back? Just as we took this heavy load off of your back, God can take the load of sin off of us. God has promised to forgive us and to make us clean inside, just as though we had never done that wrong thing. All we have to do is ask! Isn't that good news?
To take home: Paint colorful designs on smooth rocks (or give children pretty polished rocks) to be used as paperweights. "You can take this rock home and use it as a paperweight to remind you that we don't have to carry the weight of our sin. Jesus wants to forgive us—and that's great news!"CHAPTER 3
3. Do as I Say, Not as I Do
You will need: A stick of chewing gum
Scripture:Matthew 23:2-3 "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees have the authority to tell you what the law of Moses says. So you should obey and follow whatever they tell you. But their lives are not good examples for you to follow. They tell you to do things, but they don't do the things themselves."
[As you begin the children's sermon, have a piece of gum in your mouth. Chew, crackle, and pop and blow bubbles with it as you talk.] There's something I want to talk to you kids about this morning. When you are speaking in front of people, you should not be chewing gum. For example, if you have a book report to give at school, it would be very distracting if you were chewing gum and talking at the same time. It doesn't look nice, and it makes it hard to understand what you are saying. Now do you understand what I'm trying to tell you?
[Take the gum out of your mouth and put it in a tissue.] Have you ever heard the saying "Practice what you preach"? What does that mean? [Read scripture.]
The church leaders in Jesus' day were experts at telling the people what God's Word said, but they didn't do what this Word said. But Jesus said that the people should still go ahead and obey God's laws. Sometimes people who teach us about God, such as our parents, grandparents, pastor, or Sunday school teachers, don't always do what they are trying to teach us to do. For example, maybe your dad or your Sunday school teacher has shown you the verse in the Bible that says "Be kind to one another," and then you heard them saying unkind things about another person. But that does not give you an excuse to be unkind. Adults who teach us God's word should do their best to practice what they preach, but they are human and often make mistakes. You should remember that the message comes from God, and it is God that we should obey.
To take home: Give each child a stick of chewing gum.CHAPTER 4
4. Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover
You A blank book with a colorful, interesting cover
will A colorful children's book with a plain brown or
need: grey cover
(You might be able to remove an illustrated jacket from a children's book to reveal a plain cover.)
Scripture:1 Samuel 16:7b "God does not see the same way people see. People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart."
I brought two books with me today. If you saw each of these books in a bookstore or at the library, which one do you think you would choose to bring home to read? So you think you'd like this one with the bright, colorful cover? Well, let's take a look at it and see what it's about. Are you surprised to find that this book is empty? It wouldn't be very interesting reading, would it? What about this one? Let's see what's inside it. Oh, it's full of pictures and it looks like a really exciting story. You know, people are just like these two books. Our outside appearance doesn't always show what is inside. Sometimes people who are beautiful on the outside are not so nice on the inside; and sometimes people who don't look very interesting or nice on the outside might be some of the nicest people you could ever meet. Have you ever heard the expression "You can't judge a book by its cover"? It means that you just can't tell what someone is like on the inside by looking at their outside. God cares about the way we are on the inside— if we're kind and truthful and full of love. God isn't so worried about the kind of clothes we wear or the way we fix our hair. What matters to him is that we are beautiful on the inside—that we treat others with kindness and that the thoughts we have are loving and good. And we should be just like that—not worrying so much about how people look, but getting to know how they really are on the inside.
To take home: Staple several pieces of construction paper together to make small blank books for each child to take home and create their own exciting story.CHAPTER 5
5. Count the Cost
You will Colorful interlocking building blocks
need: Instructions for building a house from these blocks
Scripture:Luke 14:28-30 "If you wanted to build a tower, you would first sit down and decide how much it would cost. You must see if you have enough money to finish the job. If you don't do that, you might begin the work, but you would not be able to finish. And if you could not finish it, then all who would see it would laugh at you. They would say, 'This man began to build but was not able to finish!'"
I brought something this morning that is going to be so much fun. How many of you have building blocks something like these at home? Have any of you ever built this little house before? I thought this house looked like it would be fun to make, and the instructions tell you exactly how to do it. [Begin building the structure following the directions. You should have only enough building blocks to build part of the house.] Wow! Look how much we've done so far. Now comes the fun part. We get to start putting in the windows and doors. [Reach into the empty box.] Oh no! I don't seem to have any more pieces left. I feel so embarrassed! I got all excited about building this house and look what I ended up with.
Well, maybe we can learn a lesson from this. Let me read you a story from the Bible. [Read scripture.] In this story, Jesus really meant that when we say we want to follow him, we must first carefully think about what that means. It is a wonderful thing to follow Jesus, but it's not always easy. The Bible says that if we want to be his follower, we must love him more than anything else. We must love Jesus more than our toys, our favorite TV show, or any of our pets. We must love him even more than we love our father or mother or brothers or sisters. If we get all excited about Jesus and say we want to follow him, but then decide we love other things more than we love him, we'll be like I was with this house. We will be embarrassed and ashamed that we didn't think before we started about what it would take. But deciding to follow Jesus and sticking to that decision will bring us the best life we could possibly have.
To take home: You can give each child a small package of interlocking building blocks. These are sold separately, or you may divide a larger set into individual bags.CHAPTER 6
6. Making Beautiful Music Together
You will A piano with space for the children to gather
Scripture:1 Corinthians 12:14,17-19 And a person's body has more than one part. It has many parts. If the whole body were an eye, the body would not be able to hear. If the whole body were an ear, the body would not be able to smell anything. If each part of the body were the same part, there would be no body. But truly God put the parts in the body as he wanted them. He made a place for each one of them.
[Sit at the piano and play slowly up and down the scale to show how every note is different.] Did you notice that not one of the keys on this piano is exactly like another? They are all special and important. You all know the song "Jesus Loves Me," don't you? I'm going to show you what that song would sound like if all the keys on this piano were exactly the same. [Play the rhythm of the song using only one note on the piano.] That sounds pretty dull, doesn't it? It doesn't even really sound like a song, does it? But when we add all the notes—black and white, high and low, major and minor—like this: [play the song in full harmony] now the song sounds full and beautiful. God's Word tells us that people are all different, just like the notes on this piano. It says "the body is not made up of one part but of many." Just like the notes on the piano, the world needs all kinds of people working and playing together to make life interesting. When we think we don't like someone because they are different than we are—maybe they have skin of a different color, or maybe their clothes are a little bit unusual, or maybe they are a lot older or younger than we are—we should remember that it takes all kinds of people doing all different kinds of work and play to make our world such a wonderful place to live in.
To take home: Cut musical notes out of paper for the children to take home as a reminder that we each play a special part in our family, our church, and our world.CHAPTER 7
7. Disappearing Act
You will need: A melted ice cube in a container
Scripture:Mark 8:34-35 Then Jesus called the crowd to him, along with his followers. He said, "If anyone wants to follow me, he must say 'no' to the things he wants. He must be willing to die on a cross, and he must follow me. Whoever wants to save his life will give up true life. But whoever gives up his life for me and for the Good News will have true life forever."
I have a riddle for you. What do a butterfly, cotton candy, and an ice cube have in common? [Give children a chance to guess.] Give up? They are all things that you will lose if you try to save them. If you put a butterfly in a jar to keep for yourself, it will soon die. If you lay a stick of cotton candy on the table to save for later, what will happen when you come back to eat it? Right. Cotton candy is mostly air, so you'll come back to a little clump of sugar on a stick. And look here. I put an ice cube in this container this morning to save for the children's time, but look at it now. It's just water. I lost the cube by trying to save it, didn't I?
Our scripture verse talks about losing something when we try to save it. Listen to what Jesus says: [Read scripture.] What do you think Jesus means in this verse?
Let me try to help you understand. Did you know that when you were born into this world, you were born wanting your own way? Have you noticed how babies cry when they want something or when they're not happy with something? How many of you like to have your own way? Sometimes even grown-ups are like that. One way we can lose our lives for Jesus is by not always having to have our own way—by letting others have their way at times.
Another way we lose our lives for Jesus is by being willing to be made fun of because we love Jesus. People made fun of Jesus, and he said that they will make fun of us too. But that is also one way we lose our lives for Jesus—by still sticking with him, even when we're made fun of. Do you know what? By losing your life, you are really saving it.
To take home: Give each child a small cube of ice in a paper cup to take back to their seats with them.
Excerpted from Children's Sermons To Go by Vicky Miller, Deborah Raney. Copyright © 1998 Vicky Miller and Deborah Raney. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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