Christmas Bingo [Free Printable]

Christmas BingoIn my experience, everyone loves to play Bingo. It might be because it feels a little bit sinful in a way — sort of like gambling — even though you don’t invest anything. It’s all just random chance, and yet I’ve seen kids, teenagers, and adults all get really excited when they get “4 in a row, two different ways”.

There are websites that generate bingo boards, but they often don’t include images — just words. So, I created Christmas-themed bingo boards for our Wednesday night children’s ministry. I have already re-purposed them in our after school program, and I thought, “I bet other people could use these!”

So here you go, world: Free Christmas-themed bingo cards! I used clip art, so it’s nothing fancy, but at least you don’t have to go through the work of creating them!

Click the link below to download the .pdf. The first 22 pages are the boards, and the last 3 pages are the cards to be cut out.

Download Christmas Bingo Cards (.pdf)


Tags: , ,

Serendipitous Idea: Popsicle Stick Warnings

A little spur-of-the-moment idea that has surprisingly turned out to be halfway effective.

First Serendipitous Idea – Popsicle Stick Warnings

Initial Situation: A rowdy group of K-6 graders who refused to be attentive (or anything resembling it) during story time. We wanted to put a discipline procedure in place but everything was too confusing and ended up being more distracting than the misbehavior in the first place.

Good Idea: Each kid gets two popsicle sticks representing their two warnings before ultimate punishment (i.e. no candy and/or removal from the group). Each time someone is disruptive, the teacher or helper simply takes a stick away. No need to speak to the offender, stop the teaching time, etc. In our situation we gave each kid who had kept at least one of their sticks a piece of candy following story time. Optional: we have also allowed kids to earn sticks back occasionally.

Room for Improvement: As boring as popsicle sticks are, kids still find different ways to amuse themselves in distracting ways. They can hit them together, drop them on the floor, mini-sword fight… I have yet to find an alternative, however, that is as equally boring, inexpensive, and durable.


Some Thoughts on Church Marketing

You can’t fake excitement, interest, or love. At some point people are going to figure out what you really think is important. And usually…your true values are evident immediately.

Clever marketing will never make someone feel loved or cared about. The values have to be there in the first place. That’s all that would really draw someone anyway.

Good marketing is a symptom of a healthy church, not a method for creating one.

That being said…

1. Update your church website regularly. It shows that things are going on, and that you want others to know what’s up. An out of date website is almost worse than none at all.

2. Don’t use stock photography on your church website. Prove that you don’t have to be a model to be welcome. Plus, it looks corporate and impersonal.

3. Guard your brand image. Pick a logo and stick with it. Renaming and redesigning are sometimes needed, but they make you start over from square one. Get started, keep going.

(more to come)

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 11, 2009 in Church Marketing, Websites


Two All Important Steps to Success

This has been rolling around in my head all week.

In order for any ministry (or organization, or business, or church) to be successful, there are two steps that must take place:

1. Get Started
2. Keep Going

They are the two steps every successful organization must have taken, right?

Yet, as obvious as it sounds, it is so easy to overlook the importance of getting started and not stopping. For one thing, they are probably the hardest steps to take.

Get Started

I have been in many situations where an awesome idea has run out of steam because I was paralyzed by the administrative details. I never felt ready enough to take the plunge and start. While preparation is necessary and beneficial, there comes a point in which you just need to start (with the realization that you can always improve along the way). It turns out that actually starting is hard and scary no matter how much preparation you do.

Let me clarify, however, that I am not saying that preparation and planning are not important. It is! (Besides it’s the funnest part, in my opinion). But as you prepare – set a start date, and stick to it.

Keep Going

As for the second part,that it is even harder…for 3 reasons.

1. Poor turn out – it feels like the effort isn’t worth the benefit, and you wonder if there is any hope for improvement. It just seems easier to quit or take breaks. The turn out will never get better unless you prove that you’re consistent. Your audience has to trust you that you’re always going to be there before they will commit.

2. You’re bored – you want to experience the fun planning stage again. This is often manifested in unnecessary name and logo changes (I am guilty of that one). But keep in mind that when you start over, you start everything over. You lose all the value of your previous work.

3. You’re overthinking – the ministry isn’t turning out how you expected, and you feel like the marketing you started with doesn’t fit. You want to change the name or logo because (to you) they aren’t congruent with the actual ministry. Remember that names, logos, and marketing are, in reality, the least important aspect to your target audience once they’ve committed to attending.

Important changes are often necessary as a ministry matures and grows, but let me encourage you that the more you can keep consistent, the stronger your “brand image” will be. Stick to your guns.

Leave a comment

Posted by on February 8, 2009 in Philosophy


Merry Christmas from Preschool Pond


50 Day Promise


As an encouragement to develop new good habits, and in the spirit of New Years resolutions, our church made a 50 Day Promise together. We promised to read our Bibles and pray for 50 days. Participation was voluntary.  We started on the first Sunday of the year and ended on a Sunday six weeks later. Bookmarks were handed out with check boxes for the 50 dates. Two weeks in, we sent out this survey, which asks participants for their level of success for the first 14 days of the 50 Day Promise.  The survey was meant to be a means of accountability, but it also served as an encouragement for others when the survey reported a high percentage of success overall.

It was emphasized that reading the Bible and praying in themselves is not a ritualistic act to win God’s favor, or a magic combination for good religious standing.  Rather, we understand that anything we can do to increase our passion for God and His word will only bring us more joy and more satisfaction in our relationship with Him.

In our case, the 50 Day Promise was a very positive experience.  In one case, a woman returned to reading her Bible after years of resisting.  She shared her touching testimony following the 50 days, and she continues to inspire those around her.

In retrospect, the 50 Day Promise was so beneficial, we wish we would have promoted it more formally.  As it was, we handed the checklist bookmarks quickly during announcements one day, and only mentioned it once or twice throughout the 50 day duration (though reminders were consistently present in the bulletin and on the website). The kick off date could have been more inspirational, and more testimonies could have been encouraged throughout the 50 Day Promise.

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 26, 2009 in Events, New Years Eve


Christmas Program Idea: “A Promise Fulfilled”

Here’s what we did for our Christmas program last year. It was easy — even though we had very few kids.

A readers’ theater I organized for grades K-6, highlighting biblical passages regarding the promise of Jesus’ birth:  God Made a Promise

A kind of funny (well, I meant it to be funny) readers theater for grades 7-12.  To be followed by Relient K’s song, “I Celebrate the Day”: I Celebrate the Day


Ladies’ Make & Take Nights

We started out with bi-monthly craft nights. Women were invited to bring thier craft supplies (scrapbooking, knitting, quilting), a snack to share, and a friend.  The church provided tables, chairs, music, and (sometimes) a few door prizes.

Recently, we have started having “Make & Take” nights. Women bring $5.00 and a friend, and the church provides food, the supplies and instruction for 2-3 craft projects that they can bring home.

Some crafts that we have made at Make & Take nights so far:

  • Various types of cards
  • “Brag Book”-style photo albums
  • Glass plates decoupaged with fabric
  • As a spin-off of Make & Take Night, we have also had a “Make & Bake Night.” The church supplies the ingredients and recipe cards for apple pies. Women bring $4.00 for every pie they wish to make, two bowls, and a cutting board.  The pies were brought home ready to bake or freeze.

Benefits of Make & Take Nights

  • We have had great turn outs at our Make & Take nights – more than double the number of women that came to our regular craft nights. Any woman can come, she doesn’t have to have prior experience or supplies to participate.
  • As often as possible, I like to involve the leadership of as many different individuals as I can. Make & Take nights allow women with a variety of talents and skills to serve.
  • Make & Take Nights can evolve into service projects.  For example, we could make cards to send to our shut ins, or could make blankets for the pastor to take on hospital visits.

Disadvantages of Make & Take Nights

  • Make & Take Nights require more planning than a regular craft night
  • Since the church provides the supplies, the Make & Take nights can be more expensive than regular craft nights.


  • It is especially important to have attendees sign up for Make & Take Nights so that you know about how many to plan on.  Usually, I plan on more people than signed up, and devote extras to be given to someone in the church who was unable to attend (if applicable).
  • I don’t make people pay until the night of the event. It is probably realistic to expect that the church will absorb some of the cost, so check to make sure you have some budget money set aside.
  • We have found that we get a bigger turn out if we have Make & Take Nights early in the evening (6:00p.m.) on Thursday nights, as opposed to Friday nights.
  • For Make & Take nights we provide more substantial snacks. In fitting with the “make your own” theme, we have served “make-your-own” ice cream sundaes and a “make-your-own” nacho bar.

Hope this helps! Happy Crafting!

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 2, 2008 in Events, Women's Ministry


Lesson #8: Foster Momentum

Once you have a ministry on its way, the worst thing you can do is keep the excitement to yourself. Try to report on what’s going on in Children’s Ministry as much as possible. Show pictures, interview workers, make videos. Inform everyone of the “behind the scenes” work that doesn’t usually get the spotlight. Don’t just act like you’re excited – be excited. This is amazing stuff to be a part of! It deserves to be celebrated.


Lesson #7: Keep Going

When we first started our Wednesday night program, we committed to 8 week sessions with month long breaks between. This was fine, we were getting started (see above), but the program didn’t really take off until we committed to providing the program every single Wednesday night, year round. Consistency is key in Children’s Ministry. Kids who come to church without their parents need to know that it’s always going to be at the same place and same time with the same people.

Absolute consistency will be impossible. But if you provide it, they will come (eventually), and if you aren’t consistent, they will never come.

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 2, 2008 in Philosophy