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Christine has over 20 years of children's ministry experience. She's the author of 10 books and hundreds of articles related to children's ministry. It's no wonder she enjoys an almost-daily latte to keep her going! She is also the executive editor of Children's Ministry Magazine and serves as Group's children's ministry champion, responsible for research, development, and innovation in children's ministry resources. 

Top-5 Easter Faves from CMMag: #4 Palm Branch Crosses

This is so cool and a great way to use palm branches. We even have a video for it here: childrensministry.com/article.asp?ID=2392

Palm Crosses

Recycle the palm branches you wave at services on Palm Sunday to create these beautifully woven crosses.

The Stuff: Palm branches and scissors

Create It: Follow these steps to create your palm cross. Go to Web Exclusives at childrensministry.com to view a step-by-step video.

1. Tear a thin strip off a palm branch. Form a loop at the top of the strip. Form a loop at the long end.

2. With the long end, bend and crease the palm (at an angle), diagonally.

3. Bend the creased strip around to form a cross.

4. Wrap the palm around the vertical portion of the cross, bringing down the strand.

5. Weave the strand around the middle—under and up, over and down, under and up.

6. When the palm strand is near the end, tuck the end in the middle of the weave to finish.

Posted at 04:36

Top-5 Easter Faves From CMMag: #3

This is a most amazing drama that communicates the truth of the gospel.

THE BOX OF STONES
An impactful drama that’ll turn kids’ hearts toward Jesus

Child Characters
•Main Character (female)
•Friends #1 (male), #2 (female), and #3 (male)
(The above four characters wear regular "kid" clothes.)

Adult Characters
•Therapist (female; wears a suit)
•Jesus (wears a white robe and a crown of thorns)
•Person dressed in dark clothing
•Narrator

Props
•Each character (except Jesus) carries a large cardboard box filled with stones. The Main Character has stones that are labeled "lying," "disobedient to parents," "cussing," "cheating on a math test," "shoplifting," "cheating," "making fun of people," "telling a big lie," "hatred," "complaining," and "lying."
•Set a card table and two chairs stage left for the therapist’s office.
•Position a large cross stage right.
•Give each child in the audience a small stone to hold before this drama.
•For the song segments, you’ll need a CD player and the "Surrender" CD by Joe Strock. (Available for $12 by calling [303] 979-7948.) You’ll also need the song "Arise My Love" from Newsong’s People Get Ready CD.

Optional: This drama can also be pretaped and performed as a pantomime.

Monologue Script
(Main Character enters from stage right, slowly moving toward center stage during the first paragraph. Main Character struggles underneath a heavy load—a large, heavy cardboard box filled with stones.)

I’m not exactly sure where it came from...this box of stones. It seems like I’ve been carrying it around all my life. It didn’t used to be this heavy. It’s sort of strange, but the older I get, the heavier it becomes. (Looks tired; droops shoulders.) And as each day goes by, more and more stones get in my box. (Sets box on the floor and sits beside it.)

I can barely remember finding the first stone. I think I was around 4 years old. I lied to my parents about breaking a vase. It was no big deal...but after I lied, that’s when I noticed this box with a single stone inside. I pulled out the stone (Reaches in the box and searches through different stones, not finding it.) Yeah, here it is. The first stone. I pulled it out of the box...It was filthy. (Wipes stone on jeans.) It had the word "lying" on it. I just tossed it back in the box. (Puts it back in the box.) No big deal...after all, it was just a little lie.

Yeah, right. It was no big deal...so why did I feel so bad? Why did I feel that no one could ever love me?

But now I have so many of these stones. (Reaches in and pulls out a stone.) This one: "disobedient to parents"...so what? All they ever do is gripe at me anyway. (Puts the stone in the box and pulls out another.) "Cussing"...It’s really tough to keep from letting a bad word slip out every now and then. (Pulls stones out faster and reads them.) Cheating on a math test, shoplifting, cheating again, making fun of people, telling a big lie, hatred, complaining, lying again. (Hangs head in desperation, then puts the stones back in the box.)

Before I knew it, I was carrying around this heavy box of stones. (Slowly struggles to lift the box again.) Each stone is a reminder of filth in my life...each pound...the heaviness of sin in my life.

I feel so bad. Why have I done all these things? Could anyone ever love me enough to forgive me? (Bows head.)

(Play "He Is All You Need.")

I’m afraid to talk to my parents about all my stones. I know they’d really be disappointed in me.

I tried talking to a friend about it. (Friend #1 enters from stage right.) He took a stone out of the box. (Friend #1 sets down his box and takes a stone from the Main Character’s box. Friend #1 smiles as he looks at it.) He said, "What are you worried about? It’s just a little sin!" And he put the stone back in the box. (Friend #1 exits with his box stage left.)

(Friend #2 enters from stage right.) Another friend was so shocked by what she read on the stones that she put them back in the box...looked at me with disgust...and walked away. (Friend #2 sets down her box, peeks into the Main Character’s box, looks shocked, picks up her own box, walks away, and exits stage left.)

(Friend #3 enters from stage right.) A close friend even helped me carry the box of stones around...but over time, it got too heavy and wore him down too. (Friend #3 tries to carry the Main Character’s box and his own box...eventually stumbles and lets go. Looks apologetic as he exits stage left with his box.) It’s okay; he had his own box of stones to carry. It was nice of him to help...but it was just too much weight to carry.

Somebody told me I should see a counselor. (Counselor enters from stage left and sets her box on the table. Main Character carries her box and joins the Counselor at the table.) That was okay...for a while. I would go into her office and empty the box of stones onto the table. (Empties box of stones onto the table.) We talked about the stones...and believe me, that wasn’t easy. (Both look at the stones as though analyzing them.) After analyzing my stones, she told me it wasn’t my fault. I was a victim. It was everyone else’s fault.

It felt good to talk about it, but after every session I’d pack the stones back in my box and drag them home. (Places box on floor and drags it to center stage. Counselor exits left with her box.) I wish someone could help me. I’m so tired of stumbling under this load. I want some help! I want some relief! I want someone to love me and forgive me. (Bows head with shoulders drooped and hand to forehead.)

(Song segment: Play "How Could You Say No?" as Jesus enters from stage left and slowly walks to the Main Character. He places his hand on her shoulder, takes the box of stones, and slowly walks to the cross. Jesus empties the stones one by one at the foot of the cross, takes his place on the cross, and dies. Main character and the person dressed in dark clothing take Jesus off the cross and slowly carry him as they exit stage right.)

Narrator: Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. God made Jesus—who knew no sin—to become sin that we might be made right with God. Jesus was wounded for all our sins. He was bruised for all the things we’ve done wrong. And by his punishment, we are healed.

You’ve been holding a stone that represents sin in your life. In a moment, you’ll have time to give it to Jesus and lay it at the foot of the cross. You’ll take nothing away. The weight of your sin can be taken away by Jesus only. Because of our Savior’s death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, you are free!

(As children lay their stones at the cross and return to their seats, play "The Cross.")

After the last person is seated, darken the room.

(Play "Arise My Love" by Newsong.)

(Main Character slowly enters and kneels at the cross. On the third chorus, turn on the stage lights as Jesus enters in a white robe. He walks over to the character by the cross, places his hand on her shoulder, and whispers in her ear. The Main Character is startled as she stands up and steps back from Jesus. Jesus opens his arms to her. They embrace and exit arm in arm.)

This drama was written by Rick Clark and originally presented in Group Publishing’s 1998 Summer Workcamp program.

Posted at 03:05

Top-5 Easter Faves From CMMag: #2

Before I was a Christian, there was a wonderful Christian girl in my school who honored Jesus at every turn. She gave me a tin of these amazing buns that later I made for my kids and called "Resurrection Buns." My family loves them! Thank you, Jamie McElvaney!

So these rolls...yum!...are doughy and round (like a tomb). You wrap the dough around a marshmallow, dip it in melted butter, roll it in cinnamon/sugar, and then bake. The marshmallow becomes a sweet syrup on the inside, but the roll stays round. When you serve them to your kids, they bite into the roll and discover that it's empty--just like Jesus' tomb was on Easter morning.

So, there are two ways to make them. If you really like the whole process of making yeast dough, use the "Resurrection Buns" recipe here: http://tinyurl.com/yclydh2

If you prefer an easier approach, look for "Empty Tombs" here: http://tinyurl.com/ybu2sgb

By the way, you'll see a lot of other great Easter week ideas at these links, too.

Posted at 17:47

Top-5 Easter Faves From CMMag: #1

Easter's coming! I love Easter! And so does our magazine!

So I thought it would be fitting to share with you my top-5 favorite Easter ideas that we've published in the 20 years we've been making Children's Ministry Magazine.

"An Easter Journey" by Jennifer Hooks.

http://bit.ly/hcHTJI

I'm starting with this one first because it takes some time to pull it off, but it's amazing! Just imagine your families traveling through a step-by-step journey with Jesus.

From the article, here's the promised result: "Go far beyond Easter egg hunts and chocolate bunnies—send families on this sojourn to Christ that’ll give them deeper understanding about his crucifixion and resurrection, and the powerful, everlasting truths of his teachings."

Posted at 18:42

Ain't She a Beauty!?

You know how when you have a baby and you can't stop talking about her or showing off pictures? Of course, you do!

Well, after our team "gave birth" to Buzz Sunday School Curriculum (if it's in the lesson, it's in the box), I just can't stop showing snapshots of what people are saying about it.

Look at what Amanda Zaengle from First Presbyterian Church in Bonita Springs, Florida, said when asked "What do you like best about Buzz?"

"The complete package. I love that everything is so well thought out and put together. Each box has a theme and everything is seamlessly connected to that theme. The graphics are kid-friendly and fun (even I get excited to open everything up when the curriculum arrives!). Everything needed is truly in the box, and teachers love teaching it. I haven't had any curriculum complaints in months. To summarize, I guess what I like best is that I no longer have to worry about finding a good curriculum, that works (or changing the curriculum to suit our needs). I used to spend so much time looking for a curriculum that would be more appealing to our kids and teachers, and that wouldn't require a ton of editing on my part to make it work. Thanks to Buzz, worrying about Sunday School curriculum is one less thing on my very long to-do list. Buzz is the perfect fit for our church. Thank you so much for this wonderful resource!"

Ain't she a beauty! We're excited about what God is going to do through Buzz to transform your volunteers' and kids' experience with the Word of God!

Check it out at group.com/buzz

 

 

 

Posted at 22:02

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