This past Sunday we had Olympic Night at Pioneer Club (our Sunday night program for kids). What a blast! This was one of my favorite events (well….this and Duck Dynasty Night). When we planned the year for Pioneer Club, we added fun events once a month. Some bigger than others and Sunday night’s Olympic Night was one of our bigger events. I was so glad that I actually remembered that 2014 was the year for Olympics when we planned this back in August!
When I have a themed event, I like to decorate. Some say I do a little much, but I just like to make the experience for the kids be something they’ll always remember! Just ask any of my volunteers who help me with decorations, they’ll back me up when I say that I like to go all out!
For Olympic Night I decided to decorate just one end of the hallway. My first task was getting 5 hula hoops and spray painting them to be the color of the Olympic rings: blue, black, red, yellow, green. Took a little longer than I expected, as I had to do several coats, but they turned out well. I hung them from the ceiling using paper clips. I attached the bottom 2 hoops to the other hoops using fishing line. It turned out pretty good I think. Underneath the Olympic rings I put a medal stand. My awesome friend, Billy Luesing, built 3 boxes for me and painted them black (and these are something I can use for other events too).
I then found an American flag in the church and hung it from the ceiling. On either side, I hung red, white, and blue streamers (twisting them down and attaching to bottom of wall). Below the flag I decorated a table with red, white, and blue tablecloths. Underneath I put different size boxes to create a mini-medal stand and put the 3 meals on each stand (gold, silver, bronze). We also cut out big letters in red, white, and blue that said “Team USA” and hung them above a door. I like suspending things overhead from the ceiling, so I ordered banner of country flags from Party City and hung these. All of these decorations were very easy and simple to create.
For the lesson we titled it “Go for the Gold with God”. All kids (3-years-5th Grade) created their own team flags using pillowcases and fabric markers. Some of the team names included: Awesome Americans, Alpha & Omega, Team Voyagers, Olympic Cheetahs, and God’s Waffle Warriors. Each team also created Olympic torches (using tissue paper and cardstock) as well as their own gold medals (which they decorated and wrote “Keep Jesus First” and then strung with red ribbon).
The older kids (1st-5th) made bobsleds out of paper towel rolls and used a little car to race down their bobsleds. Each class also participated in a few Olympic games, which included Cross Country Skiing (kids used shoe boxes to ski across our Fellowship Hall), Speed skating (they skated down the room, moving their arms like the skaters do, and raced to make a marshmallow snowman then raced back to their team), and Bobsledding (we used coolers as the bobsled. One person jumped in while 2 others pushed them down and back). They all enjoyed these games!
Our Bible lesson for the little ones used Philippians 3: 13-14: “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” The teachers talked with them about Paul and how he kept telling others about Christ no matter what happened to him. We talked about things that were hard for us to do (like sharing toys, not listening to parents, fighting with our siblings, etc). We talked about how ways we could “keep Jesus first”, which included going to church, reading our Bibles or having parents read to us, praying, obeying parents, etc. If we keep Jesus first in our lives we will always win.
For the elementary kids, we came up with 4 ways to “Go for the Gold with God”: honor & respect God, spend time in prayer & read our Bible, listen & obey God, and persevere or never give up. We used Isaiah 58:6-11, where Isaiah is speaking to the people of Judah and telling them things to do and not do. We said that in order to be a true Christian we need to stop hurting each other (just as Isaiah said). For kids that may include hurtful words, bullying, making fun of others, not listening to our parents, judging others, etc. We got kids to also talk about ways they can help make our world a better place and how they can be better Christians.
We topped off the night with each class and kid getting their pictures made on the medal stand. And of course we had to have a yummy Olympic snack! On Pinterest I found Olympic torches (we used waffle cones and orange sherbert). It was an awesome snack!
I had someone ask me the next day, “What is worth it?” YES IT WAS!!!! When a child smiles, laughs, tells others about Jesus and how much fun they had at church, it is definitely worth it!! Everything I do as a Children’s Minister is for the kids, creating fun and exciting ways of teaching them about God, Jesus, and the stories of the Bible. I want these things to stick and for them to remember the things we teach them about God and his love for them. Everything I do as a Children’s Minister is worth it! And everything you do as a Children’s Minister is worth it too!!