001: PUTTING JESUS FIRST

A key component of our philosophy and practice at WEAREKIDMIN is giving children the opportunity to experience the life-changing power of God’s presence by intentionally crafted “Lab Experiences”. These are moments where children are given opportunity to share openly about their lives and then guided through a process of inviting God’s presence and truth into those places. We want to see children encouraged, empowered, challenged and ultimately transformed by a living interaction with God and His Word. To read more about the foundational thinking behind this, check out GIVING KIDS THE OTHER HALF OF JESUS.

 

 

LEADER INSIGHT

 

We are commanded to love God with ALL our heart, ALL our soul, ALL our strength and with ALL our mind. However, with so many distractions fighting for our attention and affection, it’s very easy to lose sight of Jesus and offer Him leftovers instead of our everything. The following experience is designed to help children honestly look at their lives and decide just how much Jesus means to them.

 

DISCUSSION STARTER: GIVE ME SEVEN

 

Ask the children to complete “Give Me Seven” templates. At the bottom of the template there is a seven-inch-long ruler. Ask the students to write or draw above each number on the ruler (1 through 7) something and/or someone important to them.

 

The numbers on the ruler will help them rate what’s important to them. 1 would represent something or someone less important and 7—something or someone extremely important.

 

Some children may struggle formulating their thoughts. It would help them if you write some suggestions on a whiteboard. For example: nice house, fast car, cool toys, great health, awesome grades, fun vacations, tons of money, extraordinary talents, latest electronics, good friends, and happy family. Notice, I purposefully didn’t include Jesus on that list. I find it interesting to see if He makes it to anyone’s list without being suggested.

 

Give children 5-8 minutes to work on their lists, then invite several of them to share what and who is very important to them. Be attentive to what they say. This is your time to enter their inner world and learn from them and about them, so be careful not to offer too many commentaries.

 

Say: Take a look at your ruler. As you look at it, think about how you would answer the question, How much does Jesus mean to you? Think about where on the ruler your answer would fall. If you feel like Jesus doesn’t mean very much, maybe you’d say “2” or “3,” but if you think Jesus means quite a bit to you, you might say “5” or “6”—or even “7.”

 

Give the students several seconds to think and then welcome their answers. Make sure they understand that they don’t have to ascribe Jesus the highest number because it’s the “right” thing to do. Help them know that you’re really looking for honest answers which reflect what position Jesus takes in their lives today.

 

Think of this segment as a confession time, where everyone is encouraged to be vulnerable. Invite children to speak honestly about what position Jesus takes in their life, and what things or activities fight for His place.

 

Be sure to make it clear that there is nothing wrong in wanting to be healthy, rich or beautiful; however, all these things become wrong and even dangerous if we place them above our relationship with God.

 

 

REAL LIFE EXAMPLE: PERSONAL TESTIMONY

 

Show your students a trophy (ribbon, medal) and tell a little bit how you won it. Talk about how trophies go to the fastest, strongest, smartest people to emphasize their accomplishment in certain areas (sports, art, science, etc.) Basically, trophies are a way to say YOU ARE THE VERY BEST!!

 

Ask the class to think about this question: If you were a trophy, who would deserve to have you—your every moment, your every penny, your every heartbeat and ounce of energy? (Some of the literal thinkers will need you to either briefly explain this question or paraphrase it.)

 

After everyone agrees that Jesus is the one who deserves our everything because He created us and loves us more than anyone else, ask the children to list some of the rivals who fight for Jesus’ place in our lives. Write their answers on the whiteboard (money, clothes, friends, video games, sports, popularity, TV, etc.)

 

Say: Let’s look at the list of things that tend to distract us from giving our full attention to Jesus. Point to the whiteboard list. Listen to this Bible verse which helps us understand how we can make Jesus the most important part of our lives.

Read Philippians 3:7-8, and then emphasize this part, “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Let’s say that together. Have children repeat the Bible verse after you. Ask what they think it means.

 

Some of their answers might be: knowing Jesus is better than anything else; Jesus is a priceless treasure; other things in life are worthless when we compare them to Jesus.

 

Take a trash can and place it where everyone can see it. This visual will further illustrate that all other things are like garbage compared to the treasure of knowing Christ and having a close relationship with Him.

 

Lead children is saying: I consider __________ (an item from the whiteboard) garbage, that I may gain Christ. Do it for each item on the list, having kids doing actions to represent turning away from things that distract us from Jesus and focusing our attention on knowing Jesus and listening to Him. When we say, “I consider SPORTS garbage,” pretend that you’re throwing it into a garbage can. When we say, “that I may gain Christ,” let’s put our hands over our hearts as a sign that knowing Jesus is our ultimate treasure. Erase each distraction after you “throw” it into the trashcan.

 

Pass around pipe cleaners (one per student).

Say: Now we’re going to listen to the song that’s going to help us tell God that we want Him to be everything in our life and we want to live for Him ONLY. As you listen, shape your pipe cleaner into something that represents what’s been consuming you lately (taking a lot of your time, energy and attention). When the song finishes, we will lift these things representing our distractions, to God. We will pray together, asking Him to forgive us for allowing these things to take the first place in our lives and we will invite Him to be the one we seek most of all.

 

Make sure that everyone understands what they’re supposed to do and then play one of the following tracks: “My Heart Is Yours” by Kristian Stanfill or “Open Arms” by Laura Story.

 

 Say: So many things in life are fighting for the first place in our heart. That’s why we need to fight back to keep Jesus in the center of our lives. So if you are ready to lift your pipe cleaner shape up as a sign of offering your distractions to God, let’s do it right now. Let’s repent for being too busy, for giving God leftovers of our time or strength and let’s dedicate ourselves to loving Him above everything and everyone else. If this is something that you want to do today, raise your hands like this (give an example) and pray this prayer with me. I’ll say a line and you can say it after me. Lead children in the prayer of repentance and dedication to God.

 

After the prayer, invite them to throw their pipe cleaner creations into the trashcan as a sign that Jesus is their ultimate treasure.

 

LIFE APPLICATION: TIME FOR JESUS

 

With this closing activity you will make sure that the children leave the classroom not only with the knowledge and excitement about keeping Jesus first but also with a clear game plan that will help them put into practice what they just learned.

 

They will fill in calendars and take them home as a reminder of the appointments with Jesus that they scheduled. Hopefully, these calendars will trigger good conversations with parents giving them a chance to further encourage their children and even keep them accountable about putting Jesus first.

 

Say: One of the best ways to maintain close friendship with Jesus is to regularly take time to enjoy His presence and get to know Him better. When we set aside time in our busy schedules to read the Bible, pray and be with other believers, we show that Jesus is a priceless treasure to us. I’ve given each of you a handout with a calendar for next week. On your calendar, write at least three things you already know you have to do next week. Maybe you have a test at school and you need to get ready for it, a music lesson, or certain chores you have to do at home.

 

Then ask them to write in a few realistic things that they’d like to do the following week (like watching a TV show, reading a book, playing a video game, etc.). Give kids time to write those activities and then invite several of them to share with the class what they wrote. After the kids have finished sharing,

 

Say: Take a look at your calendars. Do you see just how quickly our lives fill up with so many different activities which often leave no room for Jesus. There are so many things we might worry about, or chase after, or get caught up in that it is easy to forget what really matters in life. Let’s take another look at our calendars and this time schedule a date with Jesus, a time when you can get connected to Him through praying and reading your Bible.

 

Give the children opportunity to schedule time to spend with Jesus. They can choose as many days of the weeks as they want to and indicate what portion of the day they’ll give to Jesus. Encourage them to be specific. You can give them suggestions of what their time at the feet of Jesus may look like. Maybe you’ll set aside time to pray, read your Bible, go to church, or ask questions to learn more about Jesus. Give kids a chance to report.

 

NOTE: By giving the children opportunity to schedule time for Jesus, you’re teaching them that spiritual growth doesn’t just happen and that we need to be intentional about growing closer to Jesus. Be careful not to suggest that they should designate time for Jesus in the beginning of each and every day. It’s important that whatever children put on the calendar comes from them and not from you.

 

Now that you’ve scheduled to have touch points with Jesus throughout your week, make sure to follow through! Take your calendars home to remind you that knowing Jesus is better than anything else in the world.


Close by having kids pray for each other, asking God to help them give Jesus their time and attention.

If you like this resoure so much that you want to send my wife and me on a coffee date, that would be lovely. (Coffee Date launchpad is HERE.)

Thank you so much!

Dema Kohen

Founder of WeAreKidMIN. Having spent 25+ years in children's ministry, Dema is an expert in making children laugh, creating engaging content and sounding just like Gru (putting that Ukrainian accent to good use).