Through over 50 summers of teaching the Bible to campers age 5-18 we have found that one key is to make it active. By including games, skits and crafts into the lesson the Bible story becomes attainable. They are able to point to something concrete and say that is how it relates to the God of the universe. At camp all of our Bible studies, worships, horse rides, and games show the love of God in a tangible way. These lessons are not limited to camp, because God's word is not limited to camp. Here are a couple interactive and fun activities you could do with your child to help learn about God.
Stretching for God
This activity is a great way to illustrate that we cannot both follow God and our own desires. It focuses on Matthew 6:24:
"No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."
The activity is pretty simple, it involves a minimum of 3 people and enough room to move around in. To begin tell your child that you have a challenge for them, one that you think they will never be able to do in a million years. This will help them be engaged in the activity, and as a side bonus should be entertaining for you as a parent.
Assign you and one other person to be stretchers. You will simply perform different stretches for 1-2 minutes, changing your stretch around every 10 seconds. You do not have to coordinate with the second person stretching, it is okay if you do the same stretch and even better if you do different ones!
The goal and challenge for your child is to imitate both people who are leading the stretches at the same time. They should do their best to imitate every stretch for the full 1-2 minutes. After the time is up rotate roles so that each one of the three people gets to try and imitate the other two. When each person has experienced trying to follow both stretches, read the verse and follow up with some questions:
- What was it like to try and imitate both people at once? Why did you feel that way?
- What was challenging about trying to follow both people at the same time?
- Is what you want to do always the same thing as what God wants you to do? Explain.
- We cannot follow both God and money, just like we cannot follow two people doing different stretches. So if we can only follow one, what are some ways we can practice following God at school or at home?
This activity is a great way to illustrate the difference between trying to have a faith based on your own work and faith based on God's grace. The passage for this activity is Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9:
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved... For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
This is a minimum two person activity but everyone must have a partner. This activity requires a water balloon, a ball that can be easily thrown, an outdoor space, and a way to mark two lines. The goal of the activity will be to throw the ball from one line to another. These lines can be marked by trees, cones, shoes, or whatever else you can find. The lines should be far enough apart that it is possible, but difficult, for your child to throw the ball that distance. Your one goal is to throw both the water balloon and the ball from one line to the other.
Begin the activity with all participants in pairs. The first person of the pair stands on one line with the second person facing them around 5 feet away. Begin tossing the water balloon back and forth with the second person taking a step backwards, toward the second line, with each catch. When the balloon breaks the round is over and if you have not made it to the second line you have failed.
Then try with the ball, moving backwards with each catch as before. This time if the ball drops or rolls away there are infinite do-overs. Simply pick the ball up and keep trying. End this round once you have reached the second line. Then read the verses from Ephesians and ask some questions:
- Was anything frustrating about this activity? Why was that?
- Was it easier to reach the goal with the balloon or the ball?
- If you had to toss the balloon back and forth 30 minutes each the rest of your life could you do it? What about for the ball?
The ball is life with grace, the balloon is a life with works, and the second line is eternal life with God. If we try and earn our way to God we have one chance. Any break of the balloon whether it is lying, stealing, or not loving someone means you have failed. With faith in Jesus we have as many chances as we want. The only way to not reach the second line with the ball is to give up. It is the same with grace, you can never lose it no matter how many times you drop the ball. Simply ask God for forgiveness and do your best to follow him, he will not let you down.