children’s sermons

Sin bubbles

Here’s an object lesson for kids that may help them understand “the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25).

Title: “Sin Bubbles”

Scripture text: Hebrews 11:24-26

Materials you need: Bubbles

Opening question: “Does sin make you happy?”Bubbles

Message: Sin may make you happy for just a few seconds. It might feel good to get away with a lie, or to hit your little brother because he did something mean to you, or to dump your dinner plate on the floor because you don’t like broccoli.

But after a while, does sin make you happy? (No!) How does sin make you feel later on? (It makes me feel bad, guilty, and sad.)

The Bible says that sin’s pleasures are fleeting. Do you know what fleeting means? It means short-lived. I brought along some bubbles. Let me blow a few bubbles. Look! It’s fun to blow bubbles, isn’t it? It’s fun to pop them too. But then they’re gone, aren’t they? And then all the fun comes to an end.

That’s like sin. Sin’s pleasures last just a few seconds, then you have to sin again and again and again to feel the same way. That’s not how God wants us to live. He loves us and wants us to be happy because he loves us. His kind of happiness lasts forever.

Jesus came to live a perfect life. He never sinned. He only did what made God happy, and he was always happy in the love of his Father. When we sin, we should trust in his death on the cross and ask God to help us obey. Then we will find true joy.

The key of faith

I gave the following children’s sermon one Sunday during our church’s series on Hebrews 11.

Title: “Faith Is the Key”

Scripture text: Matthew 8:5-13

Materials you need: A lock (I used my bike lock) and a set of keys, one of which opens the lock

Opening question: Do you think I could make a sick person well just by saying a few words? Of course not!

Message: One day an important Roman soldier came up to Jesus i
n Capernaum. One of his servants was very sick. The soldier loved this servant and wanted him
to get well. So when he heard that Jesus was nearby, the soldier went to Jesus and told him about his sick servant. Jesus was about to go with the soldier to heal the servant when the soldier said, “No Lord, just say the word and my servant will be healed.” He had faith that Jesus could make someone well just by saying the

What is faith? (Listen to the children’s answers.) That’s right, faith means putting your trust in God. Faith is the key that unlocks the power and love of God.

Look at what I have here. I brought along my bike lock. As hard as Ilock try, I cannot open this lock. Here is a set of keys. One of them opens the lock. (Demonstrate)
That key is like faith. You and I are weak. We face many situations in which we need God’s help. Maybe you’re sick like that soldier’s servant. Maybe you’re lonely, or afraid, or sad, or upset about something. Maybe you’re being bullied or lied about or rejected. You don’t know what to do. Just like this lock, you’re too weak to fix the situation on your own.

What do you need? You need the key of faith. You need faith in God’s power. The power of God that made the sick servant well can help you with your fear, your loneliness, your anger, or whatever you’re struggling with. Faith is the key that unlocks God’s power and love.



What Does Jesus Smell Like?

I recently needed a children’s message on peacemaking, so this is what I came up with…

Title: “What Does Jesus Smell Like?”

Scripture text: 2 Corinthians 2:15

Materials you need: a spray bottle of air freshener; a spray bottle of Deer-Off (or something else that smells terrible!)

Opening question: Are you a peacemaker or a peace-breaker?

Message: God tells us to make peace whereverimage and whenever we can. But sometimes we get into fights, don’t we? Sometimes we complain, and whine, and fuss, and demand we get our way. In James 4:1 God says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?”

When we lose control and let our passions take over, we become peace-breakers. It’s like we spread an awful smell. Take a whiff of this, boys and girls. (Spray some Deer-Off into a bowl and let the children smell it. Careful! Don’t spill it on the floor or let anyone put their fingers in the bowl! If you’ve never smelled Deer-Off, it’s horrible!)

But when we try to make peace with others, it’s like we spread a nice, sweet smell, like this (spray some good air freshener around the children). 

What are some ways you can spread peace? (Help the kids think of being a peacemaker at home with their siblings, or at school with friends, or in the neighborhood with people they may not like). 

Every time you’re a peacemaker, you spread the aroma of Jesus. It says in 2 Corinthians 2:15, “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”

Jesus died on the cross so that we could be at peace with God. He calls you to make peace with people around you. When you fail, confess your sin to God. The blood of Jesus will cleanse you from sin and help you spread the pleasing aroma of Jesus wherever you go.

Listen to Jesus!

Need a children’s sermon on the Transfiguration? Try this one…

Title: “Listen to Jesus!”

Scripture text: Mark 9:2-13

Materials you need: A soccer ball and, if possible, a photo of a famous soccer player like Tim Howard

Opening question: How many of you like to play soccer? (interact with the children’s answers)

download (1)Message: Let’s pretend for a few minutes. Let’s pretend we’re at soccer camp. Soccer camp helps you become a better soccer player. And let’s pretend it’s the last day of soccer camp, and the coach says, “Today, boys and girls, a special guest will be joining us. He happens to be one of the best goalkeepers in the world. In fact, in the 2014 World Cup game against Belgium, he made 16 saves–a World Cup record! His name is Tim Howard!” (show photo) 

What would you do if Tim Howard were to show up at soccer camp? How would you behave? Do you think it would be OK to cut up and joke around with your friends while Tim Howard was telling you about playing soccer? (No, of course not!) What if you got scared and nervous and started saying all kinds of bizarre things. Suppose you said, “WOW! Tim Howard! This is amazing! I’m going to run to Wal-Mart right now and buy a tent, and I want to put you in the tent!!”–would that be a good way to react to Tim Howard? (No!)

Well, let me tell you a story that happened in Jesus’ ministry. One day he took Peter, James, and John up a high mountain. The Bible says that there Jesus was transfigured before them. That means his whole body was suddenly lit up like the sun. Mark 2:3 says “his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them.” Two men from Old Testament times–Moses and Elijah–suddenly appeared with Jesus and talked with him. And Peter got so afraid and nervous about what was going on that he started saying the craziest things. He said, “Rabbi, it’s good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” The Bible says Peter did not know what to say, he was so terrified. I suppose he was scared and nervous and puzzled and amazed, all at the same time.

All of a sudden, a cloud came down and overshadowed Jesus, Elijah, Moses, and the three disciples. God the Father spoke from the cloud and said, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him!” And with that, the cloud disappeared, along with Moses and Elijah.

That’s a really wild story, isn’t it, boys and girls? But it shows how important it is to listen to Jesus. He is much, much greater than a sports hero like Tim Howard. He’s greater than Moses and Elijah. And guess what–he’s here with us this morning. He’s right here in our church. Of course, his body is not with us, but he is here in the person of the Holy Spirit. He’s also here in his Word, the Bible. We’re about to hear from him in the sermon. So I hope each of you will listen carefully to the reading and preaching of the Word of God. God loves us so much that he sent Jesus to earth 2,000 years ago, and he’s still speaking to us today through the Bible. Jesus is God’s beloved Son. Listen to him!

Great Children’s Sermon Idea

Here’s a creative idea for reaching the children of your church. My son-in-law is a pastor on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. He gives a children’s sermon every Sunday. During the summer months he does something the kids (and adults!) of his church love. He calls it the “mystery box.” Here’s how it works.

The mystery box is just a shoebox covered in bright wrapping paper. Each Sunday my son-in-law gives the empty box to a randomly selected child. The child takes the mystery box home and brings it back the following Sunday with something inside. The rule is that the child can put anything s/he wishes inside the box, but obviously it must be able to fit in the box and it can’t be anything alive or at one time alive. Also the child cannot get the help of an adult, and s/he must not tell anyone what’s inside the box.

The next Sunday, the child brings the mystery box to church. When it’s time for the children’s sermon, the child hands the box to the pastor who must open the box, show the congregation what’s inside, and come up with a short children’s object lesson on the spot. Some of the objects in the box pose quite a challenge but it’s a fun way for my son-in-law to show the kids how the Bible speaks to anything.

What did Jesus look like?

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.