September-Elementary-Opportunity Knocks (Responsibility)

Have you ever walked through your local grocery store and noticed the potential just sitting on the shelves?

You can head down one aisle and discover spices from around the world.

Over in the produce stands, you can find the ripest apples, cartons of blueberries, maybe even some obscure Dragon Fruit.

Not to mention all of the staples on another aisle: flour, sugar, eggs, and milk.

Incredible ingredients that will sit there and go bad unless someone takes them home and creates something delicious.

You can speculate all day about the potential in that grocery store, but until there is some type of response to what you believe can really happen, it’s just potential. In other words, with the right kind of response, faith in a process I can’t fully understand, and a big mess of dishes, those ingredients could turn into warm, sticky-sweet, apple cobbler goodness. But if those ingredients just sit there, even though they have incredible potential, the flour will just stay powdery and tasteless. The butter will soften. And those apples will turn brown. In fact, if you do nothing, they will lose their potential and turn into something that just makes your trash smell bad.

Think about someone’s life, with all of the God-given, God-created ingredients. You have time, talents, opportunities, words, and resources. The point is, we can choose to either respond to what God has given us or we can ignore it. One of the most powerful things leaders and parents can do is to inspire their children to trust that God can do amazing things through the abilities He’s given them. Kids should grow up knowing that their faith in God’s ability to do that, can profoundly affect how they view and respond to their unique potential.

That’s why we’re taking September to look more closely at what the Bible has to say about responsibility. We define responsibility as: Showing you can be trusted by what you say and do.

In Week 1, we head back to the garden of Eden where God created Adam and Eve and gave them their First Job. Through passages in Genesis 1 and 2, we’ll see how they were put in charge of the entire world. They took responsibility and began to cultivate the earth.

Our Bottom Line is: Show you can be trusted by taking care of what God has made. The first job God gave to Adam and Eve was a task that we can continue today.

In Week 2, we’ll look at 1 Kings 19:16-21 and 2 Kings 2:1-15. Elijah was nearing the end of his work as God’s prophet. God chose Elisha to carry on the work. But first, Elisha had some things to learn.

Our Bottom Line is: Show you can be trusted to lead by learning how to follow. We all want to lead, but we need to learn from our leaders before we can be in charge.

In Week 3, we’ll hear from one of Jesus’ parables in Matthew 21:28-32. In the Parable of the Two Sons, a father asked his sons to do some work. One said “yes” but didn’t follow through with his actions. The other said “no” at first, but ended up completing the job anyway. We’ll discover that it’s important to do what you say you will.

Our Bottom Line is: Show you can be trusted by what you do. You can’t just say you’ll do something; you actually have to do it.

In Week 4, we’ll look at another of Jesus’ parables found in Matthew 25:14-29a. In the Parable of the Talents, a business owner went on a trip and put three guys in charge of some money. Each one did something different, but only two of them were found faithful and given more responsibility.

Our Bottom Line is: Show you can be trusted with more by taking care of what you have. If you want more responsibility, show that you can be responsible with what you already have.

Our memory verse this month is Luke 16:10a, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.” (NIV) When we show responsibility with the little things, there’s a good chance we’ll have opportunity for greater responsibility in the future.

God has created everyone with potential: talents, time, resources, opportunities. And we can either respond to God with our abilities in a way that honors Him, or we can waste what He has given. Think about the word responsibility. It really breaks down into how you respond with your abilities. And we want children to not only understand how to respond to the ability that God’s given them, but also how to respond to God’s ability to work through them to change the world around them.

By Dan Scott ©2014 The reThink Group. All rights reserved. http://www.ThinkOrange.com *Used by permission.

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September-PreSchool-God’s Got It!

Hello, First Look Friends!

How often do we throw out the words, “I’ve got it”? More often than we’ve actually got it, I would think. You know who’s actually “got it”? God. God’s got it. He is everywhere and has power over everything. That’s what we want our preschoolers to learn this month. No matter what’s going on, God’s got it.

They’ll learn God has the power to answer prayer through the story of Elijah and the fire. They’ll hear the story of Moses and the burning bush and learn that God has the power to speak to them. We’ll continue with Moses and tell the story of the pillars of clouds and fire to show our preschoolers that God has the power to show us the right way to go. And finally, we’ll close the month with the super amazing story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego where preschoolers will learn that God is so powerful that He can always be with them. Always. And, because He’s always there, He’s always got it!

Our team will be praying for you to have moments filled with wonder as you give preschoolers a “first look” at the God who loves them, made them, and wants to be their friend forever.

Kathy Hill
Editor in Chief, First Look
The reThink Group

August-PreSchool-On Your Mark…Get Set…Go!!

Hello, First Look Friends!

It’s the beginning of another year, First Look friends. It’s time to promote kids and to get excited about the year to come!

There’s no better way to start a year than to recalibrate and refocus, so that’s what we’re doing for August. We are spending the entire month introducing the three basic truths to our preschoolers and their parents. We want all three of them to be front and center so everyone (you included) can be reminded what the goal is. Do you remember the goal? We want every child to know God made me, God loves me, and Jesus wants to be my friend forever. And, we want them to embrace it firmly in their little hearts.

We’ll start the month off by reminding preschoolers that God made them. He made each little eyelash and each little freckle, and that makes them so very special. Then they’ll hear how much God loves them and that He has a plan for each and every one of them just as He had a plan for Abraham. In fact, God loves them so much He will always seek them out just as the shepherd looks to find the lost sheep. Finally, they’ll hear the story of Zacchaeus and how Jesus loved Him no matter what. He wanted to be Zacchaeus’ friend forever, and He wants to be our friend forever too. Our preschoolers will finish up the month with a fun day of review of all three basic truths to make sure they’re ready for the year ahead.

Our team will be praying for you to have moments filled with wonder as you give preschoolers a “first look” at the God who loves them, made them, and wants to be their friend forever.

Kathy Hill
Editor in Chief, First Look
The reThink Group

August-Elementary-Respect

If you’re a parent, a teacher, an aunt or uncle, or even just a person who works with kids a lot, chances are that you have some drawings or coloring pages tacked up on the walls of your cubicle or on the side of your fridge. These may not be framed in a museum anytime soon but they are there because you know who made them. You value the kids who made them. You have a relationship with the people who made them.

To put it another way, you respect the art because you know the artist.

During August, we’re talking about respect—showing others they are important by what you say and do. Honestly, it’s easy to respect a flawed painting when you value the person who made it. But when it comes to respecting people, it gets a bit messier.

This month our memory verse comes from 1 Peter 2:17. It just says, “Show proper respect to everyone.” (NIrV) Pretty simple.

But really, it’s not simple, is it? I mean … Respect. Everyone?

If a painting has a few flaws, those are pretty easy to overlook. But people will do and say things that frustrate, anger or hurt us. People—especially those who have some level of authority—may ask us to do something we don’t want to do, or even worse, they may tell us not to do something we really want to do.

In fact, if you think about people only in terms of how they cooperate with what you want, it’s pretty much impossible to show respect. But if we stop and look at people with the knowledge that God made them, then we see things very differently. Suddenly, we can realize two incredible ideas.

First, that God made them.

Second, that God put them exactly where He wants them to be.

Unfortunately, knowing those two things doesn’t make respect any easier. It doesn’t mean that we will agree with everything our boss says. It doesn’t even mean that we submit in every situation—especially if it goes against God.

What it does mean is that we can respect those who have temporary authority in this life, because we know the One who has the ultimate authority, and we trust in Him.

Thankfully, the Bible incudes stories and principles that can help encourage us as we seek to show respect to everyone in our lives.

In Week 1, we’ll take a look at Matthew 8:5-13. Here, we meet a centurion whose servant is terribly sick. This powerful centurion goes straight to the one man he knows can help: Jesus! And when Jesus asks, “Shall I come and heal him?” the centurion shows unbelievable respect for God!

Our Bottom Line is: Respect God because He’s in charge of everything. God set the world in motion. Respect is the proper response to the awesome character of God.

In Week 2, we discover what Paul says about respect. He writes to the new believers in Rome. It wasn’t always easy living under Roman leadership, but in Romans 13:1-5, Paul gives them encouragement and reminds them that God put those people in charge for a reason.

Our Bottom Line is: Respect those who are in charge. When you respect those who are in charge, you’re actually showing respect toward God.

In Week 3, we take a look at 1 Samuel 24. We find David running from King Saul. David has the perfect opportunity to take care of King Saul but trusts God’s timing. David respects King Saul and spares His life.

Our Bottom Line is: Respect those who are in charge, even when they don’t deserve it. Not everyone in authority will deserve your respect all of the time. But God wants us to respect their position of authority and treat them with value as one created in God’s image.

In Week 4, we learn more about James 3:9-12. Our words can be used to glorify God one minute and talk badly about our friends the next. When we’re talking about respect, often it’s our words that we really need to watch.

Our Bottom Line is: Respect others with your words. Our words have power. Let’s use them to value others and treat them with respect.

In Week 5, we’ll close out the month by returning to the book of James. In Chapter 2:1-5 we’ll learn that with God it doesn’t matter what people look like on the outside. We should respect all people because they are valuable to God.

Our Bottom Line is: Respect others because they are important to God. Everyone has value because they were created in God’s image.

We hope that as kids discover what the Bible says about respect, they’ll head into their new school year knowing they can respect those in charge because they know the One who’s in charge of everything.

By Dan Scott ©2014 The reThink Group. All rights reserved. http://www.ThinkOrange.com *Used by permission.

July-Elementary-Harmony & Friendship


Over the past school year, we’ve enjoyed taking kids through God’s one big story. We’ve traveled through the Bible covering the familiar stories of Abraham and Joseph, Moses and King David. We made it all the way to Jesus, Paul, and the start of the early church.

As the church started, no longer were there just a handful of disciples. These were growing congregations filled with people from all walks of life. And I think you see where I’m going with this: they were pretty much like that middle school band. They didn’t always get along. Sure, every so often, they got it right and there were glimpses of greatness. But they disagreed and argued. They had a hard time forgiving and accepting each other. At times, they even found it difficult to keep worshiping together.

Several of the apostles began writing to these believers, instructing them how to practice getting along and living in harmony with one another. These writings are not presented in the form of a story. They are letters and sermons, delivered by people and for people. They’re historic, but they’re not really a story. This summer may feel a little different, but it’s amazing to read these letters from real people to real people. 

To help illustrate these important truths, we’ve wrapped them in a summer-long story about friendship. We’re continuing in July looking at what the New Testament letters have to say about friendship.

Friendship is treating others the way you want to be treated. Each week, we continue looking at a “one another” principle that gives us a framework for loving others the way God loved us. Because these are short verses, we suggest that you take this summer to memorize each one.

Our theme verse for July is Proverbs 17:17, NIrV. “A friend loves at all times. He is there to help when trouble comes.” This verse is a great reminder that friends aren’t just there for each other when everything is going well. They also are there to help when life is hard.

In Week 1, we kick off July back in the book of Romans. We know that it’s not always easy for us to get along with each other. This was also true of the believers in Rome. In Romans 12:16, Paul tells them that friends accept each other regardless of their differences. It’s easy to see how different we are from people around us. God accepts us as we are. When we accept others, we get to help them see how much God loves them too. Our Bottom Line is: Friends accept each other.

In Week 2, we’ll take a closer look at how friends forgive each other. In Colossians 3:13, Paul reminds us that God has forgiven us for everything we’ve ever done wrong! At some point, one of our friends will let us down. We should let go of what we’re holding against them and forgive them because God forgave us first. Putting up with each other means we don’t hold on to the things people might have done to hurt us. When we forgive them, we get to show them how much God loves them too. Our Bottom Line is: Friends forgive each other.

In Week 3, kids will discover how they can encourage each other. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Paul tells the believers that they should build each other up with how they speak to one another. Basically, friends encourage each other. We have hope because of Jesus. When we share that hope with others, we can encourage them to keep going even when life is tough. Our Bottom Line is: Friends encourage each other.

Finally, in Week 4, we’ll wrap up our summer in the book of Hebrews. This is another letter full of wisdom from God. We will take a look at how friends worship with each other. The writer of Hebrews talks about this in chapter 10 verses 24 and 25. Life can be hard sometimes. Don’t try to go it alone. When we are connected to a community of friends who can encourage us and remind us of God’s love, it makes those times a little easier. We shouldn’t give up meeting together with our Small Group and friends at church. Encourage each other to live out loving God and loving others in every single thing you do. Our Bottom Line is: Friends worship with each other.

We pray this will be a fun end to the summer for kids to learn more about how they can show friendship to everyone.

 By Dan Scott ©2014 The reThink Group. All rights reserved. www.ThinkOrange.com *Used by permission. 

July-PreSchool-Pirate Clubhouse Adventure Part 2

http://vimeo.com/89185635

Hello, First Look Friends!

How is your awesome Clubhouse Pirate Adventure going? Are your preschoolers having an amazing time learning that the Bible is better than gold?

This month as we continue to find treasures in the Bible, our preschoolers will learn they can talk to God any time, that God wants them to share their stuff, and that Jesus wants to be their friend forever. The final week of our adventure is review week, where they can fill out their own pirate map with all the symbols they’ve discovered along the way.

Our team will be praying for you to have moments filled with wonder as you give preschoolers a “first look” at the God who loves them, made them, and wants to be their friend forever.

Kathy Hill
Editor in Chief, First Look
The reThink Group

May-PreSchool-I Need

Hello, First Look Friends!

“My God will meet all my needs,” (Phillipians 4:19, NIrV). What a powerful thought. God will meet all our needs. Notice the verse says needs and not wants. That’s hard for adults to remember, even more for preschoolers. So this month, we will talk about our basic needs and stories where God provided.

We start the month with one of my favorite stories. Jesus tells us not to worry (something I need to hear often) because if God provides for the birds and the flowers, won’t He do even more for you? I love the simple beauty of His provision.

The preschoolers will then hear about Elijah, both how God provided ravens to feed him in the wilderness and the widow with what she needed to make bread for him and her family. These are great stories to show how God provides for our basic needs.

Finally, we’ll tell the story of Abraham, and how he trusted God to provide for him even when God asked him to move and promised what he couldn’t believe. God will meet all my needs. That’s the truth, friends. You better believe it.

Our team will be praying for you to have moments filled with wonder as you give preschoolers a “first look” at the God who loves them, made them, and wants to be their friend forever.

Kathy Hill
Editor in Chief, First Look
The reThink Group

May-Elementary-Break Through Endurance!

Like most kids in elementary school, you probably studied inventors—those men and women who work tirelessly to bring us technology that changes our lives. From a movable type printing press which made it possible for the Bible to be published for the masses, to the Internet which now allows multiple translations of the Bible to show up in the palm of your hand. From figuring out how to harness electricity to creating a glass bulb which can light up the night. Inventors have spent countless hours on prototypes, mistakes, or even failures on their journey toward a breakthrough—that one moment when everything comes together making a theory into a reality.

Simply put: being an inventor takes a whole lot of endurance. But let’s face it—life in general takes a whole lot of endurance too.

ENDURANCE is sticking with what you started even when it gets tough. When work gets tough, when exhaustion sets in on the soccer field, or when that science project just won’t come together, endurance is what gives us that extra something to keep us going until we finish what we began.

The believers in the early church faced all sorts of trials and suffering that could have easily made them question their faith and abandon the mission Jesus had for them. Yet, they remained strong. They endured through all of it because they had faith that everything they faced was worth it—knowing that more people would know the message of Jesus.

Our memory verse for the month is Galatians 6:9, NIrV: “Let us not become tired of doing good. At the right time we will gather a crop if we don’t give up.” When we have endurance, we can know that it will be worth it. We’ll experience the joy of finishing what we started.

In Week One’s Bible story, before Jesus ascended back into heaven, He left His disciples a huge task of telling the world about His life, death, and resurrection. It’s a big job, but He didn’t leave them without a helper. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and shared God’s story like they never had before! (Acts 1:1-10; Acts 2:1-41) Our Bottom Line is: I can stick with it because God will help me.

In Week Two’s Bible story, we find out that Paul and Silas were thrown in prison after they wouldn’t stop talking about Jesus, even when they were ordered to quit. Paul and Silas started singing, and God showed up for them in big way. (Acts 16:16-40) Our Bottom Line is: I can stick with it even when things don’t go my way.

In Week Three’s Bible story, we take a closer look at our memory verse for the month, Galatians 6:9. This is a great principle reminding us that even when things don’t go our way, if it’s something good, we will see a reward for our hard work and endurance. Our Bottom Line is: I should stick with it because it’s worth it.

In Week Four’s Bible story, we end our month with the special vision that God gives John on the Isle of Patmos. (Revelation 21:1-8, 22-27; 22:1-5) John assured us that God knows how His one big story will end. We get a tiny peek of what that will look like. And it will be amazing. Our Bottom Line is: I can stick with it because God knows the end of the story. We pray kids will find huge comfort in discovering that no matter what they face, God has it already worked out.

By Dan Scott ©2014 The reThink Group. All rights reserved. http://www.ThinkOrange.com *Used by permission.

April-Elementary-Be Our Guest

A 2010 study by the Barna Group found that most active churchgoers see Easter as a good time to invite someone to attend worship service. According to the researcher, “If each of those people brought just one adult as their guest, that’d be the equivalent of adding 115 new people per Christian congregation.” Although it may not be realistic to expect everyone to bring a friend, it is clear that our churches need to be prepared to welcome guests throughout the Easter season. [Source: https://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/13-culture/356-most-americans-consider-easter-a-religious-holiday-but-fewer-correctly-identify-its-meaning#.Utx4vP30BN0%5D

The thing about hosting guests is that sometimes we have to give up some of our own comfort to accommodate their needs. We might need to park further away, sit in a seat that isn’t our norm, wear a certain volunteer shirt, or patiently answer questions. An accumulation of small considerations can make a big difference to a guest. And Easter is a wonderful time to find a new way to put guests first in our churches.

Humility is putting others first by giving up what you think you deserve. Putting others first is not our natural inclination. We live in a world that’s all about putting ourselves first. Jesus lived in a world like that too. He could have looked out for Himself, but He didn’t. Out of His love for us, He chose to put us first.

Putting others first will cost you something: your time or money. Maybe it will cost you some pride. But when we choose to follow Jesus with our lives, believing that His death and resurrection made it possible for us to be right with God, the least we can do is put others first—even if it’s a bit uncomfortable and costs us something.

The monthly memory verse is: “Don’t do anything only to get ahead. Don’t do it because you are proud. Instead, be free of pride. Think of others as better than yourselves,” Philippians 2:3, NIrV. When we put others first, sometimes we’ll have to make sacrifices. We might sacrifice our pride. We might sacrifice our wants. But nothing we sacrifice will compare with the great sacrifice Jesus made for us.

In Week One’s Bible story, Jesus serves His disciples by washing their feet (John 13:1-17). Our Bottom Line is: I can put others first by serving them. Serving others often means taking the dirty jobs that no one else wants to do.

In Week Two’s Bible story, Peter wanted to take action and fight in the garden, but he didn’t wait to consider what Jesus wanted (John 18:1-11). Our Bottom Line is: I can put others first by giving up what I want. We show humility when we allow others to choose what they want before we make a choice.

In Week Three’s Bible story, Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to death on a cross (John 18:12 – 20:23). Our Bottom Line is: I should put others first because Jesus put others first. It cost Jesus everything to put us first. His humility can inspire us to help someone else, even when it costs us something.

In Week Four’s Bible story, Jesus doesn’t have to forgive Peter, but chooses to make things right and restore His relationship with Peter (John 21:1-19). Our Bottom Line is: I can put others first by making things right. Be the first to go to the person and ask for their forgiveness.

By Jessica McKee ©2014 The reThink Group. All rights reserved. http://www.ThinkOrange.com *Used by permission.

April-PreSchool-My Friend! Your Friend!

Hello, First Look Friends!

Jesus wants to be my friend forever. Isn’t that AMAZING? He wants to be MY friend. He wants to be YOUR friend. Jesus wants to be my friend, forever. What a life-changing truth. What a foundational truth. What an awesome thing to put in the hearts of our preschoolers.

Preschoolers will start this month learning about Jesus’ good friends, Mary and Martha. They will then hear the exciting story of the Entry Celebration! Be sure to order your palm fronds as soon as possible if you’re doing a palm parade. Then, preschoolers will hear the Easter story—the amazing, fabulous, wonderful, awesome Easter story. We pray that those who visit your church Easter Sunday will walk away knowing that Jesus really is their good friend.

We will finish the month with the promise that Jesus is building a place for us where we can be with Him forever. What an amazing friend He is! I’m so thankful He wants to be my friend forever.

Our team will be praying for you to have moments filled with wonder as you give preschoolers a “first look” at the God who loves them, made them, and wants to be their friend forever.

Kathy Hill
Editor in Chief, First Look
The reThink Group