How Do You Teach Kids About Missions?

How do you teach your children in your ministry about missions? It seems that with the current “drop-out” rate of youth in the church, it is now more important than ever to cultivate a love for the gospel with our children. I try to discuss a significant missionary every now and then when discussion allows, but must confess that right now I am not intentionally teaching about missions work.

I know that there are quality missions curriculums available. Truth be told, I have found that simply reading a biography of a missionary is best for me as I will have more information to disperse at various times than if I were to “go by the book.” What do you think? How have you, if you have at all, been intentionally teaching about missions? What works best for you? Who do you highlight?


Comments

  1. Hua says

    Great to read. I am glad to find such good recommendations.
    Thanks everyone. May God bless all His work!

  2. says

    We have had an event we call Mission Adventure. I was concerned that we were not reaching the 4 and 5 year olds. So I had our creative person make a prop that looked like the inside of a plane. We put little chairs inside and set it up in the hall of our children’s area at church. We would simulate a plane ride. They would get out into a different country set up in that room. They would take the rest of the journey through the countries pretending to drive, fly, take trains or walk. Each room would have missionaries we supported there. They would decorate the room to look like things from that country. They would tell the children about how the kids in that country lived and what the missionaries were doing to reach them. Each room would have a different experiential activity for them to do. They smelled smells, tasted thing, did things. It was a huge success. At the beginning in the plane we would tell them about local outreach options before we took off. The flight attendant was our local outreach director. The first room the came into before they boarded the plane was made to look like a gate at the airport. They had passports with interesting facts and prayer needs from each country. As they went to each country they got stamps on their passports. It was alot of work but sooooo worth it.

  3. says

    I was wondering if anyone did missions education that not only told the stories of missionaries but actively involved children in local Missions. I think the stories and penny raisers are great but are short on teaching children the importance of being the church and going into the world and being missionaries. As a homeschooled child raised in traditional conservative Baptist church missionaries became almost fictional story book characters and when we would have a missionary come in they took over a service and took more time than they were given, had poor speaking skills and were uninteresting. I want my kids to be excited about what God is doing around the world locally and abroad.

    • M Wickham says

      February is Socks for Homeless month in some states. Our children in our church tuck notes of love in a new pair of socks and our youth deliver them to our local mission. We do this during our Children’s “All about Love” party.

  4. says

    With young kids, I put a large cloth world map on the floor. The kids and I march around the world singing (to the tune of the Farmer in the Dell).. Go round and round the world. Go round and round the world. Telling people about Jesus round and round the world… then I have one of the kids choose a country and we put that countries name in the song- telling people about Jesus in (name of country)…and then we pray for that country and missionaries there

    With older kids I use the prayer cards from Joshua project and play games…(1) hand out a card to each kid and have them find someone with something in common on their card and pray as pairs, (2) use the cards for a bingo like game and everytime you get 3 in a row you pray for one of the peopl groups on your board, (3) divide cards into major religions and pray for one religion at a time, etc.

  5. Jackie Smith says

    I teach an age range of K-5th grade and it is sometimes hard to teach about missions on a wide level but I have been reading a personal devotional book called Extreme Devotion and it talks about people all over the world who were martyered for Chirst. It is amazing and I have decided to use some of these stories to reach the kids and make them think of how they can reach out to others. We are working on several outreach projects such as writing letters to service men and women, nursing home cards, and sending donations to missions every month. I have a real passion for outreach and I want to inspire these young people to do the same. The book I was talking about is from the Voice of the Martyrs. It has really made me stop and think, and to be thankful for what I am able to do.

    • Sember says

      Amazing I read the same book in March and it opened my eyes to alot of things and has set my heart on missions. I want to learn how to actively involve my kids right now, right here in our community. Thanks for the wonderful tips and how do I find out where to send letters for service men and women. I’m really new at this but I totally trust God.

  6. Nancy says

    We have done a few of the Torchlighter series movies on missionaries in our beginning of a missions emphasis. The kids really enjoy them but they can get a little scary for kids. The kids really loved the one about Eric Liddell. We are going to invite a few current missionaries in this summer and also put pictures up of current in the field and past missionaries that are well known. We are also going to do the Rice Bowls campaign which you can learn more about at ricebowls.com, I believe.

  7. says

    I homeschool and use Sonlight Curriculum which includes lots of wonderful missionary biographies. My kids have loved all the biographies written by Geoff and Janet Benge as well as the Rani series by Ron Snell.
    In our church I run a children’s reading program in conjunction with the church library directly before our annual mission conference. I pick a theme each year: one year we did Time Travel and they had to read stories about missionaries from the time of the apostles through the centuries to the 21st century. They get prizes for their achievements and this helps keep them motivated and reading.

  8. Dotty Green says

    Something I have done with 2 to 5 year olds is purchase very cheap knapsacks. Each child is given one and together as a group we pack the knapsack with things that missionaries need, such as: water bottles, small tubes of toothpaste, fishy crackers, clothing, dishes (Dollar store) and of course, a Bible. I purchased a small Bible for under $2.00 from our local Christian bookstore.

  9. Kimberly says

    I am the Missions/Multicultural Ministries Coordinator in our church and teach our children about a different aspect of missions work on the 1st SUnday of every month. I’ve used a lot of different ideas–some for other people, some directly from God, some from emails. Here are a couple of ideas:
    1. M&M Praying. I got this idea from Kids World Network of Prayer. I use a cloth world map (you can buy it at Wal-Mart, Joanne’s Fabric, etc.). It just so happens that M&Ms colors and the country colors on the map are the same! Is that God or what???! Anyway, I have all the kids gather around the map on the floor, then give them 3-5 M&Ms AFTER I explain what we’re going to do. They’re told to match their candies to any countries on the map and to remember where they place their candies b/c they’re going to pray for those countries. Sometimes, we pray for specific needs relating to children, families, missionaries, persecution, spreading the Gospel, etc. They are give the specific need to pray for. We pray aloud together. After prayer, they get to eat the candies. Kids love this activity!
    2. I bring in a world globe and talk about a certain country and missions topic for a couple of minutes. Then all the kids gather around and we place our hands on the globe and pray together.
    3. I bought a bouncy ball at Wal-Mart and wrote a variety of things on it: We’re happy you came today!; Smiley faces (we call our Sunday school SMILE–Sunday Morning Interactive Learning Experience); Pastor So-and-so’s orphanage in Country; AIDS orphans in Zimbabwe; etc., then draw shapes around each topic. The kids stand in a circle and toss the ball back and forth. Whenever I say stop, we pray for whatever need is under the child’s right hand. If it’s a SMILE, we praise the Lord; if it’s a need, we pray for the need together; etc.
    I’ve been doing things with our kids for 3-4 years so it’s hard to recall all I’ve done. I’ve repeated the activities that went over the best, of course! I use a lot of world maps, pictures from National Geographic (every missions director should subscribe to this!!!), I search the web, I pray for ideas. I’ve used candy and objects I’ve purchased from missionaries as prizes when kids can recall what we talked about a month ago. Many times they’ll bring up things we talked about 6 months ago. And I thought they were daydreaming! Talking about missions and praying for missionaries, other countries, etc., works. Several kids in our church have already felt the call to be missionaries when they grow up. I really push the concept that they are already missionaries; they just have to go out and act like one–invite their friends, family, neighbors to SMILE; offer to pray for people’s needs, tell someone about Jesus, etc.
    I know this is lengthy, but maybe it will help someone.

  10. says

    Here are a few missionary biographies I’ve either read and liked or know of and think would be good: “Through Gates of Splendor” by Elisabeth Elliot; “Jim Elliot: He is No Fool” by Irene Howat; two books by John Piper, “The Hidden Smile of God” (with its section on the life of David Brainerd) and “Filling up the Afflictions of Christ: The Cost of Bringing the Gospel to the Nations in the Lives of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton”; “On His Majesty’s Service: Helen Roseveare” by Irene Howat; “Gladys Alward, the Little Woman” by Gladys Alward and “The Small Woman” by Alan Burgess. Some of these books can be paraphrased for younger children. There is also a good animated video series called Torchlighters featuring the stories of Jim Elliot, Gladys Alward, and others that we have enjoyed (http://tinyurl.com/mdfd66) A comprehensive list of missionary histories/biographies would be just the thing, I think!

  11. says

    I’m also particularly interested in missionary resources- if anyone knows any aimed at young children (picture books or rhyming books.) YWAM puts out some chapter books aimed at (I think) upper elementary/middle school kids. They also put out at least a few aimed at the younger children, but I haven’t used them with my kids. Besides that, I don’t know any really good missionary stuff for kids.

    • Sarah says

      The Trailblazer series by Dave and Neta Jackson is pretty good for kids age 8-12. They’re fictional stories about kids that interact with real missionaries. For example, Amy Carmichael’s story was told from the point of view of the son of a British official in India.
      A good website is worldteam.org. Click on resources and you can print off their Great Commission Kids newsletter. It’s printed quarterly, and has both missionary stories and activities.

  12. Jordan says

    Do you know of any missionary biographies/testimonies that you have used to read to your kids? Ones that the kids really loved?

  13. Sarah says

    We do a missions project in our childrens church once a quarter. Usually, we alternate between “small” projects, those that can be done on one Sunday, and “big” projects, which take longer. A typical small project would be making cards to send to missionaries we have already learned about.
    One of my favorite projects was when a Christian group in Sudan was taking up blankest to give to the war refugees, each of our kids used fabric markers and a flannel square to make a patch for a quilt that we sent. Another time we went through samartianspurse.org to adopt an orphan in East Europe for Christmas. We had the name and photo of our eight year old, along with a list of items we could send – toothbrush, crayons, socks – each kid signed up for one, and everyone contributed a couple of dollars to go toward buying a coat.
    These are all small things that the kids can do, but they serve as both an encouragement to the missionaries, as well as making kids aware of missions by getting them actively involved.

    • Sarah says

      correcton: the website was littlesamaritan.org, not samaritanspurse.org, although that one is pretty good too :)

  14. says

    Hello eveyone. I have a GREAT program that gets kids really excited about missions. It’s free and can involve the whole congregation or just children’s church. It does not require any budget funds and has had a profound effect on not only the children in a congregation, but the adults as well. The name of the program is Change 4 Children. Check it out on our web site. http://www.childreneverywhere.org or write me at holly@childreneverywhere.org.
    Directing our children hearts towards God is what we are all trying to do, let’s share ideas.
    For the children,
    holly

  15. says

    Terry,

    I’ve also found good biographies to be most inspiring and instructive, and suspect many if not most kids would, too (my daughter has). Interestingly, missions has been our children’s ministry focus over the summer months; we’ve had teaching from our children’s pastor as well as a few missionary/conversion testimonies.

    Kristin, those programs have been around in Baptist churches for a long time, though they may be seen more rarely these days. Royal Ambassadors and Girls in Action are missions education organizations.

  16. says

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot this summer. For those of us who are not going to do the traditional Baptist classes, especially urban church plants, we need to rethink building missions (especially international missions) into the lifeblood of our families.

    I’m thinking about developing a program that runs like a Library Hour done at the local public libraries but instead have the focus be missions: a 10 minute missions video clip, read a book aloud to the kids, sometimes have missionaries tell stories, use beach-ball type globes to play games and pray for the world. Intended audience would be preschool-aged kids and their stay-at-home parents.

    Anyone seen this done? Any other ideas?

  17. says

    Terry,

    How have you, if you have at all, been intentionally teaching about missions? What works best for you? Who do you highlight?

    We intentionally teach our kids about missions by still doing RAs, GAs, and Mission Friends (for preschoolers) on Wednesday nights. We also do AWANA on Sunday nights. Wednesday nights work for us because I have an RA, Ga, and MF director who are very committed and do a great job at enlisting their workers and helpers.

    In addition to teaching the kids about missions, we do a lot of same sex bonding. Our RAs have father/son campouts twice a year that are very well attended. Plus, they go see a NASCAR race as well. The GAs have Mother/Daughter tea banquets and both attempt to teach their respective genders how young Christian men and women should behave.

    It’s also beneficial to get as many real life missionaries in to speak to them as possible.

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