Jesus for Kids – 5 Top tips for Teaching Flags and ribbons for Children’s Worship

One thing I am passionate about is passing on the joy of moving and dancing with flags and ribbons to children. However, I am keen that they understand scriptural references and know that they are choosing to pick up a vehicle that can be used to talk to God, to communicate, worship and share their heart. In this blog post you’ll find 5 top tips for teaching flags and ribbons as part of Children’s worship.

Indoor group during children's worship using flags.
Moving Rainbows | Guildford

How does using dance and movement with children encourage them on their walk with God?

From a wide-angle perspective dance encourages growth of self-esteem, beliefs, accomplishments and other skills. It also releases children to live their life in a way that they want too and will be of value to them. However, if you zoom in, dance and movement provide a safe space for children to learn to channel their emotions and communicate to God when words maybe difficult. Additionally, it also provides opportunity for children to learn the Bible, resulting in the ability to put movement and actions to words, helping with memory verse remembrance and themes and topics in the Bible.

Children outdoor dancing with flags.
St Albans Holiday Club

Please recognise that you will have your own unique way of teaching – because God made you that way! So, what I put forward are simply suggestions, they are things that I have learnt along the way and have found helpful when teaching children’s worship in particular.

There is too much to say all in this post, so make sure you check out my post about What the Bible says about Flags and Banners to help with any background information you may want to know.

Here are my top 5 tips for teaching flags and ribbons for children’s worship specifically:

1. Have clear intentions and boundaries

Boundaries – However well you know the children you will need clear boundaries in place. These include things like, the flag stays rolled whilst you’re teaching or talking. You put your hand up and count back from 5 when you want the children to be still. They sit down or put their flag down when you’re talking. You make it clear what happens if they continually don’t listen. They understand their dance space and where they can go when they move.

Intentions – This is about letting parents and children know what they are going to be doing during the session. Depending on the context of your workshop or class, this is important. Although it might seem obvious, you will need to say they will be worshipping, praying, reading the Bible and dancing for Jesus. If it’s not a ‘normal’ event i.e. church, Sunday school etc. But more like a youth club, holiday club, you may have some unchurched children there (awesome), we just need to still be respectful of their back ground.

2. The more help you have the better

No brainer with children! When ever you think you have enough you don’t! Regardless of how well behaved you think your children are, they will use a flag as a sword or poke someone on purpose. It’s new and exciting. So it’s best to accept it will happen rather than consider it won’t!

Due to this, extra hands are your best friend as they can help police what the children are doing with the resources. Helpers are also useful when you are teaching, they can dot them selves amongst the children. So, even if the children can’t see you, they can watch a helper (provided you’ve primed the helpers with what you are doing!). Should you split into group work, helpers can assist those groups and children that might be finding the task hard.

Children's worship with flags.
Mothering Sunday | Emmanuel Church Guildford

3. Restrict numbers for some children’s worship workshops

It sounds quite harsh doesn’t it? But honestly, when you are teaching flags and ribbons you don’t want a packed hall. Not only will you have to fight above the noise to capture attention and teach safely. But the children won’t be able to enjoy the full effect of moving and dancing with a flag or ribbon if they don’t have the space within which to do it.

If you do have to do a big group, my suggestion would be to split the group in two when ever it comes to actively moving as a smaller group can access the space more effectively.

Therefore, when planning your numbers think in realistic terms about how many bodies you can get in your space to effectively delivery an excellent children’s worship workshop.

4. Demonstrate, teach, practise, repeat in chunks

Chunking is something that I will talk about in another post. But essentially break down what ever you want to teach them into small sections and then do this:

Demonstrate – the children WATCH you do the movements

Teach – you TALK through and DO the movements with them

Practise – you go over what you have just done – with a partner or another helper

Repeat – constantly go back and re do what you have just done.

All children learn differently, all children learn at different paces. Doing it as above, will allow children who learn differently to still be able to access what you are doing.

5. Pick one song and memory verse they know.

With children, less is more. Don’t over plan. Pick something simple, that will allow them to be TAUGHT something and then allow them to CREATE something. That’s primarily why children love to dance and move with flags and ribbons. There is a freedom they don’t get in other activities.

Children also love to realise that they know the answers already. So, whatever song or scripture you pick try to ensure that it’s already used as part of the children’s worship in the groups or at school. Familiarity encourages children to bloom and will help breed confidence. If you’re asking questions about topics or themes they may already know this will do just that.

Children's sitting down listening to teacher explain scripture.
Family Advent Fun

Let me know how you get on with any children’s worship workshops.

There will be more hints and tips on teaching children and why we should invest in them. So, make sure you check back regularly.

If you’ve got a heart to teach children but don’t feel you have the skills and confidence to move with flags and ribbons yourself, why not get in touch about running a training day at your church. You can get in touch with me here.

These blog posts might also be useful for you –

If you want to be the first to heat about any teaching children’s worship resources I create. Head here and sign up.

Children's worship pictures, holding flags and ribbons in different workshops.

Intercessory Prayer – When prayer becomes a habit

As I was thinking through how to share about today’s topic, I was aware that we all come from varying backgrounds. We have all learnt or been taught in different ways, and various aspects about prayer will speak differently to each person. We all love Jesus, which in turn means we love His word. In His word it tells us simply how we should pray. It is our human nature that stops us from doing it so simply! During this blog post I want to encourage you with how you are already experiencing prayer. But if you feel like you are stuck in a rut hopefully these thoughts will help you to realise how prayer becomes a habit in a way that’s unique to you!

A quiet prayer space.

Let’s begin by looking straight at Gods word –

“This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,’”

Matthew 6.9

One very restless night this week when my mind wouldn’t settle and I just couldn’t get to sleep I started to think about this verse. Particularly the phrase ‘Our Father’.  What a clear statement it makes before leading into the Lords prayer, about how we should be ready. It’s doesn’t say that for prayer to become a habit you need to gather this, do this, say this etc. It simply says ‘Our Father’. Or, come Father come. This was the bit that sat in my head that night I wasn’t sleeping. When I was asking God, how do I share about when prayer becomes a habit. Is prayer a habit of mine? The answer was ‘yes, because you welcome me.’

Heart shape on floor with ribbons. Person praying.

Say His Name

Think about those times when you’ve needed your mother, father, or someone else close to you. What have you done to speak to them? You’ve called them by name and then shared with them what you wanted to.

Prayer isn’t some fancy thing that has to be done in a specific way. It’s a normal way of creating a conversation with someone, that someone just happens to be God. You don’t have to put a wall in between, remember the veil was torn down so now we can just talk to God. Our conversations allow us the opportunity for us to give our time to him. But often we have this preconceived idea that prayer has to be set up in a specific way for us to access it.

The reality is just about saying.

Our father.

Our father we welcome you into what’s happening right now.

Our father please help me right now.

Our father I give you praise for everything that has happened today, thank you.

Whilst it might seem a dramatic thing and a really hard thing to say that you can create habit from prayer. But if think of all the things that you do without thinking they are habits. Think about when you recall lyrics from worship songs, when you recall scripture, when you recall conversations with friends. They’re all things that have imprinted on your memory. Then just remember how you go about your life and you share your faith. That is a habit, it might not be a habit like we think habits are. But actually when prayer becomes a habit, it’s the ability for it to be a natural part of your day to day life. It’s the natural conversation between you and God it’s the chance just to say hello and welcome God into what’s happening.

The River of Peace. Blue material along floor inviting you to rest and pray.

So my biggest thing that I wanted to share with you about when prayer becomes a habit is…

When prayer becomes a habit you feel at peace. Peace because it isn’t something that you’re striving to do that’s unnatural, it’s something that’s natural to you so it doesn’t have to be set aside at specific times in the day. There’s a place for that don’t get me wrong, but actually the ability for prayer to become a habit involves us having the openness to allow God into every part of our lives. To share that throughout the day acknowledging him in those things as we go.

Not convinced that prayer is a habit for you? Try saying ‘Our Father’, or ‘Come, Father Come’, as you go about your day-to-day activities. Or when you hit those hard points in the day. You don’t have to say anything more. Just those two or three words!

These other posts might prove useful exploring prayer and everyday life:

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when prayer becomes a habit pinterest picture.

Fear of the Unknown

These verses are packed with so much stuff, recently I heard Cathy Madavan speak about the fear of the unknown in relation to these set of verses. Several things she spoke of really resonated with how life can be for so many of us.

What are you like when you are in a physical waiting room, such as at the doctors surgery or hospital, or outside an interview room? We often find ourselves pacing, twiddling our thumbs, taking lots of deep breaths and other things to keep ourselves distracted whilst waiting for the answer, some news or the next step.

Moments in our life will seem like God has put us in a waiting room, but what are we doing in that waiting room?

Are you wishing for answers, thinking of what you could do, where you could go, what you could be? Does it get you anywhere? Why do you not progress forward?

Lauren and Helen waiting.

Cathy spoke about, how, when we are in those times of waiting, we can be fearful of what is to come, fearful of the outcome and how God may answer the situation. Fearful of the unknown. To work through this, we need to be able to live with God in the present season, and not wish for seasons to come. After a waiting season always comes a fruitful season.

Our ability to work through this fear lies in how our patience is and whether we need to grow in the spiritual discipline of patience.

My husband often tells me that I have good patience, which is true when it comes to the children, dealing with lots of people and events. But when it comes to waiting for an answer or a step forward from God, my patience for that isn’t quite as well tuned! I most definitely pace, get grumpy and question the decisions that I have taken so far.

The spiritual discipline of patience is about being active in your patience. YOU decide what to do with your feelings. You can make the choice to keep emotions such as anger away from you, it doesn’t need to come near you. God has the big picture, in our waiting to see that, we need to accept that there will be waiting, that God has given us enough to last through that waiting.

Persistence in the patience and waiting is really important in our desire to focus on living with God in the present season. Look at those that have done it well, Esther, Paul, Abraham, Daniel, David, Mary and Martha and many more.

Think about when you are in that waiting place. Do you worship God or do you worship your circumstances?

I hope this has provided some thoughts about how you can deal with those periods of waiting. We can so easily slip into the mindset of grumbling in our waiting. Lets switch up our mindset and seek to serve, worship and LIVE during those waiting times.

Want to be kept up to date with all things UC Grace? Head here.

Worship Flags – 4 Good Things to Know about Worship Flags in the Bible.

Psalm 20.4-5 scripture.

Throughout history flags and ribbons have been used in many significant ways – declaration and proclamation, worship, battle and celebration. Flags have become increasingly popular in churches to demonstrate freedom of expression and encourage other people to experience and try out dance and moving with their faith. Today I want to share 4 good things to know about worship flags in the Bible.

Know this before you start

Flags and banners themselves have no power. The significance is in Scripture and what they symbolize, God ‘inhabits the praises of His people’ and brings the kingdom in when we choose to take them up in faith.

However, I feel strongly, that flags and banners should not be picked up lightly. There is a lot more power in them, than people realise. They are vehicle to talk to God, to communicate, worship and share your heart. Be aware of this, as you choose to move with them.

Let’s try and understand them a bit more…

How are worship flags used in the Bible?

Historically in the Bible there were 4 different ways worship flags and banners were used. Let’s look at an overview.

  1. Israel’s banner of God being with them demonstrated how they were a people who belonged to God. They housed the Ark of the Covenant, with them morning and evening. It was a symbol of God saying I am with you, just like we have the Holy Spirit.
  2. Each tribe had one rallying point for the fighting men of the tribes. This brought together a demonstration of military and fighting force. They could look to the horizon and know the banner they needed to get back to.
  3. The next level was tribal unit identity. There were 3 tribes on each side NESW, so they knew exactly where they belonged – their identity.
  4. Finally there were family clan units – these were based on the location of other banners, families always knew where to camp. The banners acted as reference points, therefore giving individuals purpose and vision.

What can banners do?

  1. Tell people who you represent, but like a signal pole always high on a hill.
  2. Signal of intent about what is to come – Jeremiah 51.12
  3. Indicate past victories they’d come through – different ribbons are attached to their pole under their banner depending on the battle won. Psalm 20.5 and 7
  4. Indication of Gods presence – Moses and Aaron’s staff are banners that have been lifted and a response occurred. Exodus – 25
  5. Put enemies to flight. Isaiah 31.9
Jeremiah 51.12 scripture

Remember this going forward about worship flags in the Bible.

This is very quick overview of the use of worship flags in the Bible. But hopefully offers you a small insight into what the Bible says, and areas to think about when you choose to dance with flags.

I like to remember it as a visual demonstration of a spiritual truth. Just like moving normally, you never know the impact moving with flags and banners can have on you and others who may witness it. The colour you use can create just as much impact.

If you’d like to know more about ways that you adapt choreography to use flags head here. There are also some tips on using ribbons in worship here.

Finally, want to come try using resources during your worship? Then get in touch with me here to chat about me coming to your church, where you can try out ways of moving with flags, ribbons and material. No prior experience necessary!

You can also head to Shop where there is a selection of flags, ribbons and streamers that you purchase to get you going.

Want to keep up with UC Grace journey? We’d love to keep you in the loop. Head here to get your name down!

Using flags and banners in worship.
Pinterest. Dancers in blue dresses with orange flags.

Make a Splash and see the Delight

 

‘Pictures say a thousand words’ I love this picture for so many reasons, but there as two main ones I want to chat about today.

  • Embracing the mud
  • Being child like

Are you a mud lover? Do you mind the mess it makes? I’ve mostly embraced mud in my life, but when my daughter came along, I really had to learn what embracing mud, mess and chaos meant, as they are 3 things she loves!

In our faith we can have an expectation that it will all fit into neat boxes and not be messy, but the reality is that it is rarely like that! Lots will splash up at us, getting us dirty along the way. Allowing our selves to live a ‘messy faith’ opens the doors to possibilities of connecting with family, friends and non-Christians in an unrestrictive way. God doesn’t want our faith put into a box, he made us to share it – the delight, mess, pain and laughter that can all come from it.

Children have much less inhibitions than adults, which makes them much better at ‘just getting on with it’. They embrace things with their whole body, mess and all. So, when I talk about a ‘messy faith’ I’m referring to embracing God through those messy moments, when life might be hard and you don’t understand why life is like that at the moment. It’s seeing the joy in all circumstances, jumping in and getting messy too.

When my daughter discovered this puddle with her friend Theo, to start with they just walked through it backwards and forwards, and then did a little tap on the water here and there. When they realised the mess it made the look of shear delight on their faces was incredible. They both went a bit crazy and finished completely covered in mud (sadly no picture to show you the full extent!).

This reaction can be what we experience in our faith. We go backwards and forwards over something checking it out, maybe testing the ground but never quite going all the way. We hold back. But, when you do make the decision to stop tapping and go in fully, what God gives you, is beyond what we can imagine. There is delight, there is comfort, there can be tears, but God carries us through it all.

So, what things now do you need to embrace the mud in? What things do you need to be more childlike and push your inhibitions to the side?

How important is advent to your family?

How often does Advent arrive and you feel like you weren’t ready for it, or you groan because that means that Christmas is going to sneak up really quickly and you still need to get x amount of things done first?

In an effort to be a bit more organised I started thinking about Advent in October! Yes October! But mainly because my daughter is nearly 4 and really clued in to what is going on and already talking about Christmas! I felt this year would provide a great opportunity to develop further some of the activities that I already do during the Advent season.

I really struggle with how secular advent has become, I feel you can get blind sided with all the ‘extras’ that seem to go with that time of year, particularly in the run up. God wants us to remember him in all we do and put him first, and that includes in amongst all the ‘extras’ that get thrown. So my questions to you, with December under 2 weeks away, how have you prepared for Advent? What is going to be your most important thing during the advent season? How will you celebrate it as a family?

For me, I identify that advent can be such an exciting time and an awesome chance to explore not only the Christmas story but also ways we can pray, interact and move on our journey with God. This year to help, I have identified 3 areas to form the basis of our Advent time – Celebrate, Create and Explore.

Celebrate – take a moment to find something specific to celebrate within our family, or something that Jesus did.

Create – make something that will enable us to learn more about an aspect of Advent, the Bible and the Christmas Story.

Explore – read a bit of the Christmas story and chat, move and go deeper with the themes from it.

I’m looking forward to writing some ‘kindness elves’ activities (there’ll be more on this in another post), making HOPE jars, dove mobiles, and prayer bunting! All to help inspire imagination and generate conversation in our family.

You can read some more ideas about how to explore advent as family from one of our free downloads, just fill in the form here. There will be a series of 4 available throughout the course of December.

Don’t forget that there is also our Family Advent Fun event on the 1st December.

 

Jesus – bring new wine out of me

You can’t see God sometimes in the situation you’re in.

On Saturday I had the chance to join Jubilee Church Flourish ladies weekend. A fantastic opportunity to receive and get some refueling for myself. Their theme for the weekend was ‘new wine’, how do you get new wine, wines have different labels depending on what they’re made up of, where they have grown and the soil they are in. To go alongside the theme was the Hillsong Worship song New Wine. This was just one of the things that spoke to me when I joined them for the day.

Have a listen to it –

Powerful hey! What speaks to you first?

For me it’s the chorus. There is such a pull on my heart strings, that I completely want to immerse myself into the words and the music. Let’s break it down into the different sections.

Make me a vessel

God has given us an amazing gift, that can be shared, we are simply a vessel within which this can be done. Say to God that you want to give your whole self over to share His word and His story.

Make me an offering

Ask God to let you know what it is that He wants you to do. How can you use your passion to share with others, how can you build someone up in the work place, how can you use you whole self to share His word and story.

Make me whatever you want me to be

It’s your opportunity to step out 100% and choose to trust God amongst all that is going on. He knows not only what you are capable of but also what your limits are. He won’t give you more than you can handle. Choose to offer your whole self to share His word and story.

I came here with nothing

Jesus took it all away, we are drawn to our knees. All that we have we give. Share His word and story from your knees!

But all you have given me

God gives us more than we can fathom, more than we know. All the little things that go on, God knows about them and He puts them in place. Use your whole self, all your passions, dreams, gifts and life to share His word and story.

Jesus, bring new wine out of me

Wow!! What could God do with you, if you’ve really been pulled down to your knees, you’re offering your whole self, acknowledging that God will give you all that you need to fulfill what He puts before you. What will come out of you?? More than you can imagine!!

This song is definitely a keeper for me, and I am looking forward to finding an opportunity to dance my whole heart out to it!

Essentials of faith

… rock solid dependency on God’s word…

When you choose to stand up and teach in front of others you need to know that you’re teaching from a point of authority with a firm foundation in what you hold true. These couple of verse provide a fantastic opportunity to remember how and why you choose to teach and share God’s word. Whether that’s through dance and movement or another avenue.

Let’s begin by breaking the verse down into 4 sections.

1.) ‘Pattern of sound teaching’ – rely on the word

God gives His word as a basis to build life from. It’s sound, sturdy and full of amazing values. If we choose to teach his truth it needs to come from a sound basis.

2.) ‘faith and love’ – love doing it through faith and love

Faith is relying on what you don’t see. Rely and trust that God loves you, carries and equips you to share with love.

3.) ‘Guard the good deposit entrusted’ – guard his word

Gods word is the best. He deposits in us a desire to share, and to do so knowing the full assurance of his word.

4.) ‘Help of the holy spirit’ – let the spirit help

There is always someone there to help and guide you. Let his spirit in and let it guide you.

It is such an amazing privilege to share Gods word with others. Enjoy doing it, and let God lead!

Dance Weekend 2019 announcement

It is with much excitement that I can share with you the news that there will be a 2019 dance weekend!! This has been something I have been mulling over for a while, and this week took the plunge.

So save the date! We are doing to a new location, with a different format and will challenge you to go deeper and explore further. This won’t replace our ‘normal’ dance weekend that has been happening every other year, but is in addition.

Keep an eye for further information as super early bird booking will open this side of Christmas.