We’ve compiled these super-smart ideas for you to help kids show Jesus’ love throughout the school year.
Crisp paper fills shiny new notebooks. Erasers are still bright pink, and pencils are sharp and ready for action. With backpacks in tow, kids shuffle into new grades and classrooms, ready to embark on a new year of academic learning.
Just weeks ago, kids in your ministry learned lifelong lessons at vacation Bible school, or maybe they made a commitment to Jesus at a campfire by the lake. The lessons kids learn at church over the summer have a lasting impact on their faith—now it’s time for kids’ faith to have an impact at school.
1. My Hope Chest
Kids can create boxes to store their school year hopes and dreams.
Study Guide: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
- a box for each child,
- a roll of butcher paper,
- and various decorating supplies.
Project Plan: Have kids each cover a box with butcher paper, then let them decorate and label the box, “[Child’s name]’s School Year Hopes.” Tell kids to write about their hopes for the school year in the following categories: school, friends, family, and faith. Then have them place their hope sheets in their boxes.
Extra Credit: Have kids keep their hope boxes in your classroom. Each week, pray for their hopes for the school year. Just before school’s out for the summer, have kids open their boxes and talk about their hopes and how God helped them over the course of the school year.
2. Prayer Mark
These bookmarks are great reminders for church members to pray for kids throughout the school year.
Study Guide: Every time I think of you, I give thanks to God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy (Philippians 1:3-4).
- One 2×6-inch strip of cardstock per child,
- a small photo of each child,
- and a laminating machine.
Project Plan: Have kids glue their pictures on one side of their cardstock strips. Let kids decorate the borders with markers. On the opposite side, have kids print their first name, school, grade, and the Scripture. Collect the bookmarks and laminate them before the following week’s worship service.
Extra Credit: During your worship service, ask people to pick up a bookmark after the service. Ask them to commit to pray for the child on the bookmark during the school year. Encourage people throughout the year to send the children encouraging notes via your ministry. Thank the adults of your church for partnering with your children’s ministry through prayer.
3. The Driver’s Seat
This magnetic school bus helps kids remember to invite friends to church during the school year.
Study Guide: For I am not ashamed of this good news about Christ (Romans 1:16).
- colored pencils,
- magnetic strips,
- and copies of a school bus template.
Project Plan: Have kids each draw a picture of themselves in the driver’s seat of the school bus. Then have them draw a picture of each friend they’d like to invite to church during the school year and write their friend’s name under the picture. Kids can cut out the bus and place magnetic strips on the back.
Extra Credit: Encourage kids to take their school bus magnets home and place them on their refrigerators or in their school lockers as a reminder of friends they’d like to invite to church. Tell kids to pray daily for these friends and to ask God for the courage to share the good news about their best friend, Jesus.
4. Backpack Message Pulls
These zipper pulls provide a guide for kids to share the gospel with their classmates.
Study Guide: Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations…(Matthew 28:19).
- Gray, red, white, green, and yellow pony beads;
- plastic lacing,
- and lanyard hooks.
Project Plan: Have kids each tie an 8-inch piece of plastic lacing to the end of a lanyard hook. Then kids can string one of each color bead onto the lacing in the following order: gray, red, white, green, and yellow. Tell kids to tie a knot after they attach the yellow bead to secure all the beads.
Extra Credit: Encourage kids to attach the lanyard to their backpacks. Give kids a paper with each bead’s meaning, and let them practice in class how to share the gospel with someone else. Then, when a peer asks about the lanyard, kids will have a wonderful message to share.
Red=Blood of Jesus
5. We Lift You Up
Lead your congregation in praying for all the children in your ministry before the start of the school year.
Study Guide: For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago (Ephesians 2:10).
- Posters with the names of elementary schools in your area.
Project Plan: Meet with your church leadership team to designate a weekend when you can bring children into the worship service for a time of prayer. Prior to the service, hang posters with the names of area schools.
During the service have your kids stand in front while your pastor gives a brief talk about the importance of praying for the children to share their faith as they go to school this year.
Extra Credit: Create a bulletin board that’s accessible to the entire church and post articles from newspapers or school newsletters with news about kids in your ministry. Everyone in your congregation can celebrate the good things kids are doing, and the board will serve as a reminder to lift up kids in prayer throughout the year.
6. Marked Strength
Kids can make this special bookmark to remind them that God gives us strength in every situation.
Study Guide: For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).
- and magnetic strips.
Project Plan: Have kids each cut out a 14×31/2-inch piece of card stock and fold it in half lengthwise. Kids can decorate the front with their name, their school’s name, or their favorite subject or sport. Then have kids place two 2-inch magnetic strips on the inside of the bookmarks—one strip at the top and one at the bottom. Have kids write Philippians 4:13 on the inside of the bookmark.
Extra Credit: Remind kids that they can always rely on God’s strength in difficult situations. Have kids discuss difficulties they may face in the upcoming school year, then form groups to pray for God to give them strength in every situation this year.
7. Back-to-School Night
Families and senior citizens in your church can be a light for local schools by helping with busy Back-to-School nights.
Study Guide: When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality (Romans 12:13).
- Store-bought, prepackaged baked goods;
- and large beverage dispensers.
Project Plan: Ask local schools if your church can provide refreshments for Back-to-School night attendees—no strings attached. Then ask families and senior citizens in your church to donate baked goods for people to enjoy and volunteer their time for the evening of the event. Have volunteers meet early at the building to set up refreshments and for a time of prayer. Pray for the school, staff, students, and families.
Extra Credit: At the end of the evening, have your volunteers clean up their area, and then thank the administrators for the opportunity to serve at the school. This generous gesture will bless schools in your community and will unobtrusively highlight your ministry.
8. Classroom Angels
Kids can reach out to community schools with this service project.
Study Guide: You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35).
- Large collection bins
Project Plan: Contact local elementary schools and ask what supplies they need in classrooms at the start of the year. Teachers often purchase items such as crayons, rulers, or notebook paper using their own money. And most classrooms are constantly in need of items such as boxes of tissue. Create a list of items and ask kids in your ministry to donate supplies for local schools.
Extra Credit: Ask kids and parents to help distribute the collected items several days before school starts. For extra impact, have your ministry provide sack lunches for school personnel as they prepare classrooms for students. Include a note of appreciation from your church for the positive role these people play in children’s education.
The following creative children’s ministers contributed their ideas to this article: Rose Goble of Winamac, Indiana; Carmen Kamrath of Loveland, Colorado; Michelle Richards of Irmo, South Carolina; Emily Snider of Roseville, Michigan; Lisa Stadler of San Diego, California; Diane Thom of Maple Valley, Washington; Sandi Underwood of Greeneville, Tennessee; and Deb Vos of Schererville, Indiana.
For more great ideas like this in every issue, subscribe today to Children’s Ministry Magazine!