Help preschoolers see that the church isn’t bricks and wood–it’s people.
- You Are the Church Have the children sit in a circle. Walk around the circle holding an unbreakable mirror. Stop in front of each child. As children each look at their reflection in the mirror sing this song to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”:
You are the church.
You are the church.
You sing and pray to Jesus.
You are the church.Say: Some people call this building where we sing songs about Jesus and hear Bible stories the church. This place is just a building. The church is really people, like you and me, who love Jesus. Wherever we go, we’re the church. When we go home, we’re still the church. When we go to the park to play, we’re still the church.
Have the children name places where they go. Confirm that they’re the church wherever they go.
- The Church Prays Tell a very simple version of the story of Peter in prison from Acts 12:1-17. Emphasize that the church was at Mary’s house praying for Peter when God sent an angel to free him from prison. The church was very surprised and happy to see Peter standing at the door of the house. God had heard and answered the prayers of the church for Peter.Then have the children act out the story.
- I Am the Church Make mirrors from paper plates. Around the edge of the paper plate write “(Child’s name) the church. ” Glue a piece of aluminum foil in the center of the paper plate. Add a craft stick for a handle.
Say: When you look in your mirror, who do you see? Yes, you see the church.
As children look into their mirrors, encourage them to sing “You Are the Church,” only this time change the words to “I am the church.”
- Say Cheese Help children toast and butter bread. Use gingerbread people cookie cutters to cut out “people” from the slices of toast. Use cheese to add facial features, hair and clothing. As kids eat their snack, say: God’s church is not made of bricks or wood; God’s church is made of people like you and me.
- We Are the Church Gather the children in a circle. Have the children take turns standing in the center of the circle. Repeat the song “You Are the Church.” Have the children point to the child in the center as they sing “(Name of child) is the church.” Repeat this with each child. Then sing “We Are the Church.”
- Body Parts Distribute cookie dough, prepared ahead of time, to each child. Allow kids to each create their own “person” out of the dough and place it on a cookie sheet. Have an adult volunteer take the cookies to the kitchen to bake.While the cookies are baking, form groups of three. Give each group a variety of craft materials. Have group members nominate each other for different body parts; for example, “You’re the hands because you’re helpful” or “You’re the eyes because you see people’s needs.” Have children make awards for each other in their groups to reflect their places in the body of Christ.
- Pray: Dear God, we’re glad we’re your church. In Jesus’ name, amen. Then eat the cookies!
Kathy Downs is a 25-year veteran of children’s ministry in Arizona. Dan Wiard is a children’s ministry consultant in Pennsylvania.