New Preteen Curriculum from SparkHouse

Have you seen this new curriculum from SparkHouse called Connect? Jim Kast-Keat, one of the contributors to the FourFiveSix blog, is involved developing this curriculum.

If you’ve seen this, are you planning on using it? Why? If not, what do you use with your preteen kids?


The King Jesus Story for Kids

This past Fall, Scot McKnight‘s book The King Jesus Gospel came out. In a nutshell, the premise of the book is to reframe “The Gospel” as something more than just personal salvation. It’s a story about Jesus and his mission to establish his kingdom here. I haven’t read the book yet, but Ben Irwin did. After reading the book, he decided to reframe the gospel story that Scot tells in The King Jesus Gospel in a way that kids would understand.

What follows is what Ben came up with. I think it’s pretty good and needs to be edited, illustrated and put into a picture book for kids to read.

The King Jesus story

It all began with God.

God made everything you can see.
(And even some things you can’t see!)

God made the world to be his home.
Then God made the very first people
so he could share his home with them.

God gave them a beautiful garden to live in.
He gave them a job to do:
take care of God’s good world;
rule it well on his behalf.
But they didn’t.

They didn’t like doing things God’s way
and not theirs.
So they took what wasn’t theirs,
and tried to rule the world their own way.
They tried to be God.

So the very first people
had to leave the garden.
They had to leave God’s presence.

Without God,
they began to die.
But God never gave up on his people.
He still loved them.
He promised to fix the world
so he could share it with them again.

But it wouldn’t be easy.
Everyone who’s ever lived,
from the very first people
all the way to you and me,
have gone the same way.

We’ve all taken what isn’t ours.
We’ve all tried to do things our way.
We’ve all tried to be little gods.
Things kept getting worse.
But God had a plan.

God chose a man named Abraham.
He gave Abraham children,
and grandchildren,
and great-grandchildren.
God turned Abraham into a great nation
and called it “Israel.”

God made Israel his chosen people.
They would help him fix the world.

God went with Israel
everywhere they went.
When they were slaves in another country,
God remembered them.
When they were treated badly,
God rescued them.

God gave Israel a home.
He gave them a job to do:
show the world what it’s like
to be God’s people.

God gave Israel priests
to teach them how to love God.
He gave them laws
to teach them how to love each other.

God told his people,
“If you follow me,
you’ll have a good life.
You’ll get to help me fix the world.”
But Israel didn’t listen.

God’s people didn’t want God
telling them how to live.
They wanted to do things their way,
just like the very first people — just like all of us.

God’s people didn’t want God
to be their king.
They wanted a king of their own,
a person just like them.

So God gave Israel a king.
Then another king.
And another.
Some were good. Some were bad.

Mostly, the kings did whatever they wanted.
They took what wasn’t theirs.
They ruled Israel for themselves, not God.
They tried to be little gods.

So God sent prophets
to tell the kings and their people
that there is only one true King;
there is only one true God.

But the kings and their people wouldn’t listen.
So they had to leave their home.
Other nations came and conquered Israel
and carried God’s people off by force.

Israel lost everything.
Then there was silence.
Years went by.
No one heard from God anymore.

Until . . .
something new happened.
God sent someone:
a person just like us, yet different.
Someone who could rule the world
the way God wanted.

God sent Jesus,
his chosen one,
to rescue Israel
and fix the world.

Jesus did good wherever he went.
He healed the sick.
He fed the hungry.
He rescued people from all sorts of problems.

Jesus did everything God wanted,
but it wasn’t what God’s people wanted.

They didn’t want Jesus to be their king.
They didn’t want the kind of kingdom he would bring.

So one day, some powerful people decided
they’d better put a stop to Jesus
before he took their power away.

So they arrested Jesus.
They stripped him naked.
They nailed him to a cross
and watched him die.

Jesus didn’t fight back.
He didn’t raise a sword;
he didn’t even raise a finger.

And so the powerful people
thought they had won.
They thought they had beaten
God’s chosen one.

But there was something they didn’t understand.
They didn’t know that Jesus died
not because he had to,
but because he chose to.

They didn’t know that they,
like all of us, deserved to die
for all the times we’ve gone our way
and ruined God’s good world.

They didn’t know a servant’s death
was the only way to live.
They didn’t know a servant’s cross
was the only crown worth having.

The one true King had come
and given his life for the world.
But they didn’t even know.
No one did.

But then God —
the one who made the world,
rescued Israel,
and sent Jesus —
raised him from the dead.

Lots of people saw him alive
before he went back to God.

But Jesus didn’t just rise from the dead.
He defeated death,
so it wouldn’t have power over us any longer.

God gave us the King we needed,
a King who loves, forgives,
and changes everyone who comes to him.

This King gave us a job to do:
love each other with all we’ve got.
Because that’s how we show others
what it’s like to be loved by God.

That’s how we show others
what kind of King we serve.
For now, the world is still broken,
still waiting to be fixed.
But someday, our King is coming back
to rescue us and share his home with us again.

Never again
will anyone take what isn’t theirs.
Never again
will anyone ruin God’s good world.

God will live with us,
and we will rule the world for him.

Walk 4 Water

This past Saturday, Menlo Park Presbyterian Children’s Ministry held an even called Walk 4 Water. For the summer, we wanted the children to raise money towards a specific missions project. We chose to partner with World Vision to build a well in Ethiopia, which would amount to $2,600 over June and July. In addition to Sunday mornings, we had those kids who were a part of our Zapped Day Camp and Creative Kids Camp also give towards the well project.

The Walk 4 Water event was meant to help kids and families experience a little of what it might be like to walk some distance to retrieve water and bring it back. We also wanted to create some intentional conversation around the issue of those who don’t have access to clean water in the world. Families walked half a mile to a home of someone from the church carrying buckets. They filled up their buckets and returned to the church where they weighed their buckets comparing their weights to the 44 pounds most women carry on average.

We weren’t sure how many people would participate. At the end of the day, there were 190 parents and kids who walked! There were even some people from the neighborhood who saw what we were doing and joined in! We raised over $1400 that day!

Take a look at the video of some highlights from Walk 4 Water. (Just FYI, as of our final count we’ve collected just over $4800 from the kids! That’s almost 2 wells!)

Open Kidmin and Stumin Positions at Menlo Park Presbyterian!

(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by ***Karen)

Menlo Park Presbyterian (where I am currently working!) is expanding and restructuring in the areas of children’s ministry and student ministry, which means we are looking for some great people to join our team!

Here are the open positions:

If you or someone you know is interested in applying for any of these postions, check out the listings on the MPPC website. has Landed!

I am so excited to let you know about a new project a friend of mine, Randy Triplett has been working on, that has gone live today! Check out CHILDREN’S MINISTRY BRAIN TRUST the newest Children’s Ministry Website. CMBT provides a singular location for all knowledge and wisdom relating to Children’s Ministry. Everything they do within the Children’s Ministry Brain Trust is created with the specific purpose of assisting you in being the best Children’s Ministry Professional you can be.

CMBT can be defined as follows:

“A collective of children’s ministry experts sharing insights and best practices to assist in the wisdom and knowledge of all who are called to Children’s Ministry.”

Knowledge: this refers to all practical information that relates to Children’s Ministry. Sources of information include but are not limited to products, services, administration, leadership, teaching, recruiting, policies and procedures, resources, etc relating to Children’s Ministry.

Wisdom: this refers to wisdom gained by Children’s Ministry professionals who have been in the field for many years and are willing to share it freely, with those who could benefit from it.

CMBT’s Mission is to assist those who have dedicated themselves to seeing children accept Jesus as their personal savior and nurture their spiritual growth as outlined in the Holy Bible by creating the largest, daily useful and relevant, information database of knowledge and wisdom in the world.

 Plus this month all who register with CMBT are automatically entered in the Laptop giveaway.

Orange 12: 5th and 6th Grade Transitions


This past August, I became the 4th/5th Grade Director at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. Prior to that I had overseen everything in children’s ministry at my previous churches. It was an amazing thing to be able to spend time on a more focused age span. One of the biggest things that sprang up working with the 4th and 5th grade was how to transition kids from 5th grade (children’s ministry) to 6th grade (middle school ministry). If we don’t successfully hand off the kids and their parents, we run the inevitability of losing those kids in a few short months.

I was excited to sit in on Dan Scott’s breakout on transitions for 5th and 6th grades. Dan shared about the demographics, sociology, and development of pre-teen kids. It was great because there is a lot of misinformation and missed information regarding the tween age group. We make assumptions of these kids based on our memories of when we were their age. We can’t do that! Today’s tweens grew up and developed in a world that is galaxies apart from the world we were a part of when we were their age.

Click on the link below to download the notes from Dan’s breakout.

5th-6th Grade Transitions

Orange 12: Jon Acuff

Reggie: Why do you think social media is important?

Jon: If you care about people then it matters. The church is behind.

Reggie: What can we do to catch up?

Jon: Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” Go where your community is. You don’t have to be everywhere in social media. Just go where your people are. Don’t establish an “online personality.” Be one person. Then ask, “What kinds of problems can you solve?”

Hope is infectious. Hope goes viral.

Reggie: How did social media change your life?

Jon: started as a way to critique Christians copying stuff (ripping stuff off). It became something like the mustard seed. You don’t need to know where it’s going. God knows.

Reggie: How do you lean into leaders to stop beating each other online.

Jon: I wish Christian hate mail was an oxymoron. When we wound other Christians online, you lose ability to speak love and hope later.

Rejecting social media is like saying, “I don’t like hills, so I won’t go hear Jesus speak.”

Fear fears community.

Orange 12: Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley shared about the one thing that drives healthy staff culture.

Mark 10:34-45


Healthy and productive staff cultures are characterized by mutual submission.

The purpose of the leader is to lift everyone else up.

Everyone is essential in an organization. There are no non-essential people.

The question mutual submission asks: “How can I help you?”

The problem: A view of the “Old Testament” priest of someone with a “special” anointing. It’s just not true! We all are anointed. Until everyone understands that, you won’t have a staff culture of mutual submission.

If you are anointed then you should be the best server.

1. Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone. Don’t buy into the myth that you have to do it for everyone. Do not be fair. Be engaged!

2. Systematize top-down service.

3. Create and maintain a sustainable pace. If not, ministry becomes ME-nistry.

4. Celebrate and reward mutual submission when you see it. What’s rewarded is repeated. What’s punished is avoided. What’s neither rewarded or punished gets neglected.

5. Confront your ego. If you have a big ego, then let your staff know.

6. Drop the term loyalty from your vocabulary. It didn’t make it into the fruit of the spirit. If you need to demand loyalty, you’ve got a loyalty issues.

Where to start: How can I help?

‘Tis the Season to Be Orange!

Orange kicked off on Wednesday night with a bang! The evening began with a challenge on stage of who at church was famous. What followed was a series of great parodies!

Ever wondered what it would be like if Steve Tyler of Aerosmith worked in the church nursery?

How about Lionel Ritchie as a greeter?

One of my personal favorites… Emminem as a Middle School Pastor

Adele as a Children’s Pastor was priceless.

Not to be outdone, Lanny Donoho shared his rendition of The Righteous Brothers as Senior Pastors

We, then, were treated to Bonnie Tyler as a church parking attendant

Finally, here’s what it might look like if Bon Jovi were a church volunteer 🙂

Orange 12: My GameChanging Story

(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by I, Timmy)

Reggie probably doesn’t remember this, but 10 years ago my wife and I had lunch with him at a conference put on by Kidz Blitz called Fresh Air. I was in my second year as a full time children’s pastor. That conference was the first time I heard Reggie share his passion for what it might look like to actively partner with parents. Reggie asked me tough questions about ministry, my church, and my calling. He challenged me to not settle for the easy answer or the status quo. That was a gamechanger for me. I remember going back to my room with my wife that night and bawling because his challenge awakened boxed up dreams and desires to help families become fully devoted to Christ and his Kingdom mission in this world. That moment shaped my approach to all that I’ve done. 

Ever since then, I’ve had the deepest respect for Reggie. Over the past 10 years I’ve seen him continually grow and learn and practice the advice he gave me: not to settle for the easy answer or the status quo.

At the opening session of Orange 12, Reggie did it again! He didn’t back away from what he knew needed to be shared. He challenged each of us to admit to the messiness of the Gospel and live in the tension of that mess. (I’ll blog more about that in another post.)

Thank you, Reggie, for unknowingly being a mentor and gamechanger from afar.

There’s one more day of the Orange Conference left. It’s my hope to gather some other Gamechanger stories from people here and share them with you.

Have you had a gamechanger moment in your life? What was it? How did it change you?

GIVEAWAY FOR BLOGGER WEEK FEBRUARY 4-8, 2013!!! I am giving away a free registration for Orange 13! (This is just for your ticket to Orange. You’ll have to still come up with a way to get there and you hotel stay.) You have three ways to enter:

  • Leave a comment with your gamechanging story;
  • Share this post on your Facebook wall (be sure to tag me so I know); or
  • Tweet about this post (be sure to include @henryjz in your tweet so I know)

All entries must be done by 11:59 p.m. (PST) on February 8, 2013. I will randomly choose a winner.

Check out the other Orange Blogger Week bloggers!