One of the things I do at my church is give a children’s message in the Sunday morning worship service. In all the churches I’ve pastored, I have given children’s sermons. I do it because I believe children ought to love worshiping God with their church family. If Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,” then we ought to make the worship service meaningful to kids. A short five-minute message geared to kids not only communicates that we value them as Jesus did, but it turns out to be a great way to get the gospel into the hearts of adults as well.
If you look online you’ll find lots of children’s sermon resources (here’s one that I’ve found helpful). But many of them are no different from what you might read in Berenstain Bears books–moralistic lessons about being obedient, polite, environmentally sensitive, forgiving, healthy, and safe. What would the apostle Paul call that kind of preaching to kids? “Another gospel, which is really no gospel at all” (Galatians 1:6-7). A children’s sermon should do the same thing a regular sermon should do, namely, point people to Christ. So if you’re giving a children’s sermon, be sure to talk about things that help children see Jesus and their need of him. Ground it in a short text of Scripture. Bring along an object in a sack (I call mine my “Bag of Wonders”). Call the children up to the front of the church. Get on their level and look them in the eye. Talk in a normal adult voice. From time to time, give them something to take back to their seats: a piece of candy, a cheap gift, etc. Whatever it is, they’ll love it.
After the service yesterday a friend suggested that I record my children’s sermons in my blog. I thought, “Why didn’t I think of that years ago?” I’ve been blogging for a long time, but lately I’ve let it slide. So I took her suggestion as a kick in the butt to start a new blog dedicated to “what I’ve learned and what I want to be sure I’ve said.” Besides children’s sermons I’ll include thoughts on church and pastoral ministry, theological reflections, lessons learned, and the like. Hopefully they’ll help someone somewhere.
So here’s a description of this week’s children’s message:
Title: “What Did Jesus Look Like?”
Main point: Jesus suffered. So when we suffer we know our Savior understands and gives us strength to endure.
Preparation: In your “Bag of Wonders” hide a picture frame containing not a photo but the words of Isaiah 53:2b-3a.
Opening question: “What do you think Jesus looked like?” (interact with the children’s answers)
Message: Well, I know what Jesus looked like, and I have his picture in my Bag of Wonders. (Pull out picture frame and show the verse to the kids.) No one really knows what Jesus looked like. Probably he looked like all the other Jewish men his age. But in Isaiah 53, God gives us a really good “picture” of Jesus. It says, “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” How about that! Jesus did not really look all that great. He was not handsome. He didn’t look like all those paintings you’ve seen of a long-haired, blue-eyed, tanned Jesus. He looked very…ordinary. In fact, he was despised. What does that mean? (let children define “despised”) He was “rejected.” What does that mean? (let children define “rejected”) Lots of people didn’t want Jesus around. Jesus suffered–that’s what “acquainted with grief” means. How did Jesus suffer? (Jesus suffered throughout his life, but especially on the cross) So you know what that means, boys and girls? When you’re going through a hard time, Jesus knows all about it. You’ve suffered too, haven’t you? You’ve fallen down, you’ve broken a bone or skinned a knee. Maybe your family has been through a hard time. Maybe your mom or dad didn’t have a job. Maybe you feel like nobody likes you. That’s suffering. And Jesus understands. He loves you very much. So next time you’re lonely, or scared, or hurt, remember this: Jesus is with you. You can cry out to him and he will help you get through it.