Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Christianity Cove

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As a Children's and Middle School Minister, I am always on the lookout for quality Bible study material that is not only relevant to what the kids in my ministry are dealing with but also contains lessons that are easy to use and keep their attention.  Christianity Cove is a ministry of Mary-Kate Warner that offers a multitude of resources that are high quality, relevant, and user-friendly for Sunday School, Bible Study, Small Group Lessons, Crafts, Snacks, and more.  Mary-Kate has a heart to see children come to know JESUS personally and shares her many years of tried-and-true "in the classroom" experience with us.  I have recently used both Bullying & the Bible and Freedom Ride and found them to be both excellent and praise-worthy.

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Available as a downloadable PDF, Bullying & the Bible is a 6-week study written for either children ages 5 -9 or for tweens and teens ages 10 - 16.  The kids book contains 76-pages of Bible study, crafts, and games to reinforce the lesson taught.  The tweens/teens book contains 48-pages of Bible study and follow-up work (called This Week in Prayer that gives a brief homework assignment including Scripture to study and a prayer activity) to reinforce the lesson taught.  Each PDF costs $27 or you can purchase them bundled together for $39.

The 12-week Bible study, Freedom Ride, is also available as a downloadable PDF.  The 83-page study costs $29 and provides ample material to teach students how to build a real relationship with JESUS, how to keep that relationship vibrant and how to avoid the pitfalls of peer pressure, and how to discover your spiritual gifts and keep your focus on loving one another through CHRIST.

Perfect resources for my home and ministry, I have used both of these studies with a group of middle school students (6th - 8th grades) at church.  I printed the PDF files in their entirety and 3-hole punched them for my teaching notebook.  I find that printing Bible studies works best for me to prepare for teaching (including LOTS of highlighter marks and personal study notes in the margins).  We've been studying Bullying & the Bible in our small group Bible study on Sunday evenings and we've been working through Freedom Ride on Wednesday nights in our large group Bible study.

Bullying & the Bible arrived at just the right time for us.  There seems to be so much drama going on around us all the time as we strive to live in the world but not be of the world.   Beginning with the definition of what bullying really is and walking us through 6 people who were targets of bullies in the Bible, Bullying & the Bible offers a great opportunity to teach students how to stand in the gap for one another.  It has proven to be a great resource for me to show the students exactly what GOD has to say about how we treat each other.  Each of the lessons is laid out in a clear, easy-to-understand format and can easily be taught with little preparation.  By simply reading through the lesson, you are ready to begin.  The bullied target is introduced in such a way as to gain the attention of the class, their story is read from the Bible, questions are included to jumpstart discussion, and Scripture is included to remind students what GOD's Word teaches.  It has been eye-opening to some of my students to see that some of their behaviors are what GOD deems bullying -- and they have made heart changes to reflect the character of GOD.

I have been using Freedom Ride during my large group teaching time on Wednesday nights.  The small group format option is perfect as I teach for 30 -45 minutes in a large group setting (50-60 kids), then send all of the middle schoolers into smaller core groups (10 kids and an adult) to discuss thoughts, to pray and to study the lesson even deeper.  Each of the lessons begin with a Class Activity (tongue twisters, games, Scripture activities) to get everyone excited and interested about what is about to take place.  These activities whet the appetites of the students and give them a glimpse into the night's study.  They are designed to get students involved and thinking -- a hands-on approach to learning how to strengthen their relationship with JESUS.  You can get a glimpse of this from the picture below -- we were studying the LORD's Prayer as an outline to teach us how to pray:

Understanding the LORD's Prayer 
Following the Class Activity, the lessons are laid out for me to teach easily.  Beginning with notes for Preparation that explain what I need to do to make each lesson most successful (like print out signs or posters to use as visual aids) and including a list of supplies to gather, each lesson is ready to go.  I print out copies of the Small Group Discussion questions for each of my core group leaders and they have everything they need to make their core groups run smoothly.  Students are challenged to think and to learn and to pray with and for one another and to get their hands inside their copy of GOD's WORD.   At the conclusion of their core group time, they are given a take-home sheet that aims to help them think and study all week about the concepts we've just discussed.  It is super relevant for kids to own their faith and I am pleased to be using this study to help my students KNOW what they KNOW.   We are helping students OWN their faith and praying against them becoming statistics like those above.

Mary-Kate shares her heart and passion for teaching children about JESUS.  Please take some time to check out her website and make sure you sign up for her email list.  She shares quite a bit through that list and is full of some really great ministry ideas.  You'll want to get to know her heart and want to share in her vision for reaching children and teens with a LOVE like no other.  Whether you teach Sunday School, volunteer in Vacation Bible School, or need something to energize your daily Bible study at home, Christianity Cove has something to offer to make your Christian walk a little easier.

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 I was given the opportunity to use and review Bullying & the Bible and Freedom Ride by Christianity Cove as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)

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