Our church has a focus on family ministry. We want to encourage parents to be spiritual leaders for their children and equip moms and dads to teach their children Biblical truths.
So, when we do our annual Easter and Christmas devotionals, we try to do a family-friendly version as well. (You can check out our Christmas 2016 devotional here.) The theme for our latest Advent devotional was “God’s Greatest Gift.” We looked at God’s greatest gift, Jesus, and how He exemplified the spiritual gifts God bestows on us.
For our family edition, we wanted to give families a chance to do interactive object lessons that corresponded to each week’s gift. To keep with the theme, we wrapped each week’s objects as if they were presents. Each family received two of the gifts each week. One to take home and use, and the other to give to a friend. (We made the lessons to be self-contained, so visiting families wouldn’t be stuck with a partial lesson.)
Each Sunday, after church, we had families taking two gifts each and some other members taking gifts to give to neighbors/friends/relatives. But I know not everyone got a chance to look into the gifts and see what families got to experience! So in this post, I wanted to share what was inside each gift! If you missed out on the fun, consider grabbing a few of these items and trying them out yourself!
Week 1- Mercy
Seen here, is the Budda Board sold by Vat19. Using water you can draw on the canvas and the marks will fade over a few minutes. We were able to give families some special paper that reacts to water in the same way, as well as a few paintbrushes.
We explained what mercy and sin were, then asked families to write or draw an example of sin on the special paper using water. We reviewed Romans 6:23 and explained how Jesus was a gift of God’s mercy. Looking back at the paper, the sin marks would be gone by this point. Parents could then connect the activity to the included gospel presentation.
We also included these mega-sized jelly balls. These things grow just by putting them in water and waiting(you may remember us using their smaller-sized forms at the Neighborhood Block Parties). After reading Matthew 5:44, we used these to illustrate how we can grow spiritually when we show mercy. As a bonus, you can roll these jelly balls on the water paper and they leave a trail. It was a fun way to end, thinking about what kind of trail are we leaving behind? As Christians, what sort of mark should we leave behind?
Week 2 – Service
We started our second week with a look at Matthew 20:28 as we explained how Jesus was the ultimate example of service with love. We explained to families how Jesus even gave his life for us and even included a section where families could go deeper into the gospel and explain it in a child-friendly way for those who’ve never heard it presented.
We also looked at Romans 12:11, “Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive. Serve the Lord.” (NIRV). We explained how God wants His followers to serve together, and how we we’re all made with different skills and talents to serve in different ways.
Each family got a pair of mini-hands to take turns using them. They challenged each other to do simple things like lift a salt shaker, change the tv channel, or…(if they were really brave) take a sip of water from a cup. Later they tried working together (two people each with one tiny hand). We asked families to talk about how easy or hard it was to work together with your tiny hands? What are the benefits and challenges of working together with others to serve? And why do you think God made us all with different skills, gifts, and talents?
Families also received a ribbon wand to play with. These ribbons, when twirled, make really cool designs. It can look like a bubble if spun around, or a flower if flipped upside-down. But, if the wand only had one ribbon, it couldn’t make those cool images. We asked families to think about ways they could work together to help others see God’s love. We wended the experience with prayer and a look at Galatians 5:14 and 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.
Next post, we’ll go over the other gifts we presented to families!