The Telephone Game {A Children’s Sermon On Prayer}

A few weeks ago I preached on taking back evangelism and one of the points I was trying to make was that we all have the ability within us to both speak to God and hear God speaking back to us.  I was racking my brain trying to come up with a children’s sermon and my Music Director gave me a great idea – the telephone game!

One of the things that I have focused on lately is how I can better empower my lay people – young and old – to pray.  I want them to see that they are capable of praying the same way that I am, that they do not need me to pray for them, that they can communicate to God directly, that prayer can and WILL change their lives.

I know it starts when they are young.  So I asked the kids if it was important that they pray to God instead of just letting me do it.  Some of them thought they should pray, but some of them thought that I should just do it.  So I had them play a game of telephone!  I gave one of my kids – one of the older kids – a message and he passed it to the person next to him, who passed it to the person next to him and so on and so forth.  It went through all the kids – whose ages ranged from 3 to 14 – and the end result was hysterical.

I started with the message, “We are a church of extravagant welcome,” and by the time we got to the last child, they were just babbling gibberish to each other!  I’m not really sure where the break down happened, but we tried to trace the message back to the last person that heard actual words and what they heard was still was nowhere close to the original message.

After we all had a good laugh, I talked to the kids about why each of them needed to pray to God so that they knew what God wanted them to do and what God was saying to them (and not what someone else thought God was saying to them!).

This was a simple children’s sermon that could be adapted for any season and would work well with a wide range of ages and group sizes.  I take no credit for it and am so grateful Jordan had the idea!

Putting God First {Children’s Sermon}

Children’s sermons are something of a mystery to me.  They are pure chaos, I never feel like I have any semblance of control, and yet my parishioners always tell me it is one of their favorite parts of the service and very often parents text me or post something on Facebook that their kids are talking about something I’ve said.

Soooo yeah.  I don’t claim to be an expert.  In fact, I just bought a book with 26 different children sermon ideas and when I pulled it out of the envelope it was mailed in, my husband laughed hysterically.

I wasn’t quite sure how to take that?

Anyway, I saw this idea floating around on the internet – various blogs, youtube videos and email chains (so I don’t have one post to link it back to).  It’s a cute idea – easy to do – very visual – great message.  It worked well, because this was exactly what I was preaching on that day, so the adults basically got to hear the same message twice. 🙂

Putting God First {A Children’s Sermon}


So start with your supplies …

1 tennis ball
golf balls
small stones
empty jar
funnel (not pictured, but it will be later!)


For the purpose of this demonstration …

The sand represents the unimportant things in your life
The stones represents the quasi-important things in your life
The golf balls represent the important things in your life
The tennis ball represents God


So you probably get where this is going, but here goes.  When you add the sand to the jar first, everything doesn’t fit.  So when you add the sand, you talk about what it means to put the unimportant things in your life first …


Then you put the quasi-important things … and there’s SOME room left …


Then you add the important things.  At this point, the jar – your life – is overloaded …


… and there’s no room for God.


So once you’ve demonstrated that, you take the whole thing apart.


This is where the colander is necessary!  I realized about 45 minutes before church started that I didn’t have a good way to separate the rocks from the sand.


A funnel is also helpful!  When I practiced without one, I got sand all over my desk.


Okay.  Let’s start again.  Put God first in your life!


Then add the important things.


Then add the quasi-important things.

IMG_4706 IMG_4707

And then – guess what!




And you even have room for a little bit more and to put the top on.

Literally, when I finished this, the sanctuary erupted in applause.  I can’t decide if people were so overwhelmed by my bold proclamation that everything fits into your life when you put God first or just relieved that this actually worked the way it was supposed to.

I’m thinking it was the latter.

Go Light Your World

I was at a friend’s church bazaar on Saturday and picked this up for $3.

I need to epoxy or glue the cracks back together, but other than I may just clean it out, give it a nice shine and leave it as is.

I actually was able to use it sooner than I thought!  Our youth took part in their Homeless Awareness Weekend and during Sunday’s service we did a candle lighting while the choir sang “Go Light Your World” (a tradition).  The kids usually blow the candles out after the song is over, but I was thinking yesterday morning that it might be nice to keep them lit.

Lucky for me my husband did not raise his eyebrows or ask too many questions when I said to him on Sunday morning, “Any chance you could bring a big bucket full of sand to church?”

I was also lucky that the kids on the field (and the adults, for that matter) didn’t raise their eyebrows or ask too many questions when I asked them to bring one of their cardboard “homes” back to the church on Sunday morning. It was a great visual and also gave the younger kids a chance to crawl in and out of it during the children’s sermon and see (on a smaller scale) what it is like to “live” in a box.

I’m looking forward to using it in the future. Any ideas on how?