All posts by 215Kids

Control Tools

A control tool is a powerful re-focusing tool. It is a way of drawing children back into a small or large group discussion without having to say, “Listen up,” Hush,” or “Eyes up here,” and it is a great transition between activities. The most common and most effective control tool is any question you ask the kids to which they give a response. They might yell some responses, whisper others, and might even use an accent or a funny voice. Control tools re-focus the kids on the leader, teaches them an important point, and is a thousand times better and more effective than shushing your kids.

Listen to the following audio session and keep reading below:

Sample Control Tools

SAY: When I say, “Who should be number one in your life?” I want everybody to say, “Jesus!”Other Samples

  • Leader–“God’s got a gift…” / Students–“For me and it’s free!”
  • Leader–“The truth is…” / Students–“Jesus lives!”
  • Leader–“What are you?” / Students–“I’m Special!”
  • Leader–“Who does Jesus love?” / Students–“Meeeeeeeee!”
  • Leader–“God’s got a call…” / Students–“For us all!”
  • Leader–“What’s life all about?” / Students–“It’s all about Jesus!”
  • Leader–“Big or small” / Students–“God cares about it all.”
  • Leader–“God loves who?” / Students–“You!”
  • Leader–“Keep your eyes on…” / Students–“Jesus!”
  • Leader–“Have no fear…” / Students–“Jesus is near!”
  • Leader–“Listen…” / Students–“And obey!”
  • Leader–“Who is Jesus?” / Students–“Jesus is the way!”
  • Leader–“Heyyyyy!” (“Hey,” just lengthened) / Students–“Hoooo!” (“Ho,” just lengthened) / Both–“Jesus is in my soul. Huh!” (with a kick on the “Huh!”)

Almost any key point can be turned into a control tool. Have fun with them. Include accents in them. have some that are slow, some that are fast, some that are whispered, and some that are yelled. Have kids compete to see which side can be the loudest. Remember, an effective children’s ministry isn’t always a quiet children’s ministry. Or, have the boys verse the girls in a loudness competition. And you can also tell the kids that anytime you see them for the next month you might ask them the question of the month–i.e, “Who should be number one in your life?”

“You might be walking down the hall and suddenly I might be right there in front of you and I might ask you this question…You might be picking your nose and suddenly I might be right there in front of you and ask you this really important question…Or, you might be crawling out of the bathroom and suddenly I might be right there in front of you. I might even kneel down (kneel down in front of a girl and put my hands together and ask you this very, very important question…and no, it’s not, ‘Will you marry me?’ I’m going to say,  ‘Who should be number one in your life? Jesus! Now, let’s have a boy verses girl competition to see who can say it louder. Are you ready, boys? Who should be number one in your life…”

Week 1—No, Ma’am. I won’t–Ever


I saw him in the church building for the first time on Wednesday. He was in his mid- 70’s with thinning silver hair and a neat brown suit. 

Many times in the past I had invited him to come. Several other Christian friends had talked to him about the Lord and had tried to share the Good News with him. He was a well-respected, honest man with so many characteristics a Christian should have, but he never “put on Christ,” nor entered the doors of the church. 

“Have you ever been to a church service in your life?” I had asked him a few years ago. We had just finished a pleasant day of visiting and talking. He hesitated. Then with a bitter smile he told me of his childhood experience some fifty years ago. He was one of the many children in a large, impoverished family. His parents had struggled to provide food, with little left for housing and clothing. 

When he was about ten, some neighbors invited him to worship with them. The Sunday School class had been very exciting. He had never heard such songs and stories before. He had never heard anyone read from the Bible. After class was over, the teacher took him aside and said, “Son, please don’t come again dressed as you are now. We want to look our best when we come into God’s house.” 

He stood in his ragged, unpatched overalls. Then looking at his dirty bare feet, he answered softly, “No Ma’am, I won’t—ever.” And I never did,” he said, abruptly ending our conversation. 

There must have been other factors that hardened him, but this experience formed a significant part of the bitterness in his heart. 

I’m sure that Sunday school teacher meant well. But did she really understand the love of Christ? Had she studied and accepted the teaching found in the second chapter of James? What if she had put her arms around that dirty, ragged little boy and said, “Son, I am so glad you are here, and I hope you will come every chance you get to hear more about Jesus.” 

Yes, I saw him in the church house for the first time on Wednesday. As I looked at that immaculately dressed old gentleman lying in his casket, I thought of a little boy of long ago. I could almost hear him say, “No Ma’am, I won’t—ever.” 

And I wept. 

Oh God, help us all—pastors, teachers, parents, to remember the lowliness of the Babe in the manger and help us show forth His love to the lowly, unlovely, and unloved! In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.1


“So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like STARS in the universe.” Philippians 2:15 


What do you think would have happened if the teacher in the story above had put her arms around that little boy and said, “We love you so much and we are so glad you came to church today”? What kind of difference do you think it would have made? As a children’s ministry leader God has given you the privilege of making a positive difference in the lives of kids. In what ways do you desire for God to grow and use you this year? How do you want to “shine”? Are there areas in which you desire to do better as compared to last year (i.e., build stronger relationships with students and parents, do better remembering and recognizing birthdays, do better in attending a ball game or other events that your students participate in outside of church to show how special they are to you, etc.)? 

Your thoughts?


A reflection is only as clear as the mirror is clean. Let Jesus shine in you this week. 

1Shirley Ward, “No Ma’am, I Won’t—Ever,” A. A. Baker, ed. The Christian School Parent (Taylors, SC: Honeycomb Publishing, August 1997), p. 1. 

Build a Fort

You Will Need: 


Have your family “ransack” the house to get pillows, blankets, chairs, and whatever else they can find to build a fort. Take your time making it and let your kids be creative with it. (For example, they might want to make a tunnel entrance.) Build it big enough for everyone to fit inside. 

From inside the fort use your flashlight to read Psalm 56:3.

ASK—What is something you’re scared of? 

SHARE—Share something you were scared of when you were a child.

ASK—What should we do when we’re scared? (Trust God.)

ASK—Why can we trust God? (He’s faithful. He’ll never let you down. He’ll always keep His Word, etc.)

Read Psalm 18:1-2 from your Bible.

ASK—How is God like a fort (fortress, stronghold) for you? (In old days people went inside a fortress to be safe. Its walls protected them from harm. God is a shield for those who follow Him and like a fort, you are safe in Him.)

ASK—Does this mean that bad things will never happen to someone who is living for Jesus? Why or why not? (Bad things still happen to good people, but there’s nothing so bad that God can’t turn it to your good.)

If they want a further answer, explain that sometimes we do wrong things and these bad choices bring “bad” things into our lives. But sometimes we do everything right and someone else does something wrong and we get hurt because of it. Even so, there’s nothing your children will ever do that is so bad that God can’t forgive them and there’s nothing so bad that can happen to them that God can’t turn it around to their good if they love Him and are walking with Him. (See Romans 8:28 for a great promise.)

PRAY—List prayer requests and thank God that He will always take care of you. 

CLEAN UP—After you’re done playing in the fort, feel free to have a pillow fight or time your family to see how fast they can tear the fort down and put everything away. Have fun and enjoy!

A Really Rotten Day

“It’s a happy, shiny, bright, new day.”

The mom said to Jonathan Gray.

“Get up. Get up.” She patted his head.

It’s time for you to get out of bed.

He closed his eyes,

Then jumped up in a dash,

Grabbed hold of his clothes,

And was dressed in a flash.

But after that,

The good was gone.

Everything that happened,

From there went wrong.

He tripped when he walked.

He fell down the stairs.

His toast was burnt,

And he grew nose hairs.

His fingernails turned blue.

“Oh what will kids think.”

Then he smelled a bad odor.

He was starting to stink.

His socks didn’t like him,

So they jumped off his feet.

His shoes just laughed,

And ran up the street.

Then it started raining spaghetti,

Which he thought was quite weird.

Then he had an odd feeling.

He’d grown a pink beard.

Suddenly a hurricane arrived,

And blew his house away,

And there he stood alone.

Poor Jonathan Gray.

Spaghetti covered him,

From his head to his toes.

Then a monkey came from nowhere,

And pinched him on his nose.

Without warning the moon fell down,

And hit him in the knee,

“Ouch!” he screamed,

“Why me? Why me?”

“Its a happy, shiny, bright, new day,”

Jonathan heard his mother say.

“Get up. Get up.” She patted his head.

It had all been a dream,

And he was glad to get out of bed.


The next time you have a really rotten day, remember what the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.” It is God’s will for us to give thanks in everything—not just good things or happy things but in everything, even bad things—not because we like what happened but because not matter what happens we can always trust God. Remember, you can always give thanks in the middle of hard times because Jesus is right there with you and He is bigger than any bad situation you will ever face.

D.I.V.E. Devotions – Mark 1:1-3:6

Dig In
–Dig in and enjoy God’s Word. What should I read in the Bible today?

Answer these questions each day…

–What did you see? What did you hear?

–What did you learn? What should you do?

–Examine yourself as you pray. What will you pray?

Dino Game

Did you know that Dinosaurs are in the Bible?

Yes, there are dinosaurs in the Bible! God created dinosaurs at the same time that he created everything else. That means there were dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden. There were even dinosaurs on Noah’s ark. How do we know? Because the Bible describes two dinosaurs. Check back next week to learn about them. We’ll also explain why so many people believe that dinosaurs existed long before man and how the Bible gives us information that shows that dinosaurs and man lived at the same time.

God’s Word is true and it has the answers we need.

Each week check back to learn more about Dinosaurs in the Bible…

How to play

  • Use the space bar or up key on your keyboard to jump over the obstacles.
  • The down key lets you crouch under the overhead obstacles.
  • When viewing from mobile tap on the game area to jump.
  • Each week the speed will increase…Have fun!

Family Bible Challenge

Race against the clock with others in your family to find words from this week’s key verse. Watch the timer and see who in your family can find them all the fastest. Then scroll down to learn more…

I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11

Think it Over

Who is your family champion? Was anyone tempted to push the “reveal” button?

The “reveal” button would have shown you all the secrets. Aren’t you glad that God hasn’t kept His Word a secret. And He hasn’t kept His love a secret. God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. In the Bible God has told us everything we need to know to know Him, follow Him, and know that we have eternal life when we die.

Isn’t God good?!

Psalm 119:11 is a great verse to “hide in your heart.” Take some time and memorize it with your family.