Friday, April 24, 2009

Secret Missions

Last Saturday, I was trying to come up with a good way to teach my Sunday School kids about Matthew 28:19-20, the Great Commission:
So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end.
I wanted a good 'hook' to get their attention, and immediately thought of 'Secret Missions'. I thought it would be perfect. I figured all kids know about Secret Missions. I showed a couple of old Inspector Gadget clips to give an illustration of a Secret Mission (most of the kids had never heard of Inspector Gadget...they loved it).

I then posed the question 'What if God gave you a Secret Mission?' They decided that if God gave them a Secret Mission, they would do their best to follow it. That's when I introduced them to the Great Commission. I pointed out that it's not really a 'secret' mission since it's in the Bible and anyone who has a Bible can read it. But it was still a mission from Jesus to those who believe in Him.

Finally, for a craft, I had them make what appeared to be a standard Sunday School craft (a Cross). It looked like a paper cross made nice and pretty with colored paper glued to it. But in reality, it had a hidden panel with their Secret Mission, Matthew 28:19-20 printed inside. The colored paper served not only as a distraction to outside observers, but also helped camoflauge the hidden compartment. Whether or not they wanted to reveal the hidden contents of their craft was totally up to them. All of the kids had a great time with the craft. They loved that there was a secret compartment with their Secret Mission from God. I thought it was the perfect Sunday School lesson.

Until last night...

I got an email from a parent expressing their concern about the word 'secret'. They found the work to be very negative and don't use it in their house. They work as a therapist and mentioned that 'secret' is a word that sex offenders use with kids. They concluded by encouraging me to not use the term 'secret' anymore.

I had never really thought about this before, and spent a lot of last night trying to figure out what I thought of it. Here's what I've come up with so far:

First of all, a secret is basically another word for privileged information. It creates 2 groups: Group A, which has access to the privileged information, and Group B, which does not.

Why create a secret? Because the creator of the secret believes that if people in Group B had access to the privileged information, it could possibly create an undesired (to the creator of the secret) consequence.

In other words, it becomes an issue of trust: Group A is trusted, Group B is not.

Now I don't really believe that the concept of privileged information is bad. Obviously, you have things like passwords, bank account numbers, etc. that should be privileged information. As far as kids go, the idea of privileged information can be used for their protection. 

I think that where things go wrong, like in the example of the sex offender, is when somone forces a child to choose to put their parents into Group B: the group that can not be trusted. So maybe the concept of privileged information is not bad. Maybe what makes a piece of privileged information bad is when a child is forced to break an absolute rule that is put in place for their protection (in this case, the rule being 'Always trust your parents').

To protect against this, perhaps it would be good to emphasize trust in the parent/kid relationship so that if a situation came up where a kid was asked to place their parents into Group B, their education and upbringing would force them to make a good choice and they would recognize why creating certain forms of privilged information is a bad idea.

Now, I'm not a therapist, and there's probably a lot of things that I'm not considering. But like I said, I've never thought of the idea of 'secrets' being something that should be excluded from the upbringing of our childrent and I'm trying to figure it out. The parent is quite passionate about their opinion on this, and I'd really like to find out if it has merit. I'd hate to teach something to my Sunday School kids that could potentially harm them.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Our family got hit with the flu a couple of weeks ago. It started with LilKat1. Then Mrs. BigKat. Then LilKat2 and PrincessKat. For a long time, I was the only one that was not sick. I was really hoping that it would pass me by.

It didn't.

I got hit with a fever last Wednesday. I missed a business trip down to California. But I thought it was early enough that I would be fine by Easter.

Well, Saturday night rolls around, and I'm still not feeling well. I was preparing my Powerpoint presentation when it suddenly hit me...what if I'm still contagious? If I'm still contagious, then I can't go to Sunday school! I did a little research, and it turns out that I was, in fact, still contagious. So we had to quickly switch gears. I ditched the Powerpoint and had to start working on a new lesson plan that my substitute, Mrs. BigKat, could teach (keep in mind that it was about 10pm by this point). Her Sunday School teaching style is much different than mine, so I had to come up with something that would fit her. First of all, I had her read about Jesus' resurrection from The Jesus Storybook Bible (which I consider to be the BEST storybook Bible out there). I also got some songs for her that the kids were familiar with that she could do with them. We have a video that has Jana Alarya performing her songs with all of the hand motions. I thought this would be a fun way for Mrs. BigKat to lead the singing portion. And I already had the crafts part all worked out. So a good chunk of the class was taken care of without too much difficulty.
But I also wanted the kids to hear about the significance of Easter. I wanted to explain to them about God's Plan of Salvation and about how the whole Bible is centered around Christ's death and resurrection. And I REALLY wanted to this part myself.

That's when I came up with my great idea...

I set up my webcam and made a short 7 minute video of myself that Mrs. BigKat played for the kids on the projector. It took me 4 or 5 takes, but it turned out pretty good! Some of the kids actually thought that I was talking to them from my home. I started out doing the 'Christ is risen!'-'He is risen indeed!' greeting, which they picked up on pretty quickly. I had them do it 4 times, encouraging them to get progressively louder (Mrs. BigKat said that they got pretty loud by the third time). It sounds like they were disappointed that I wasn't there, but they were happy that my wife was taking my place and that they were able to see me on the video.

I was glad that I was kinda-sorta able to be in class on Easter with the kids. I was quite disappointed when I realized that I wouldn't be able to go. We had been looking forward to our Easter class for a while now. I had purchased some special crafts for them and everything. But in the end, I think we did a pretty good job of taking a less-than-ideal situation and still making it special for the kids.

You know, this is really an interesting side effect of when I decided to create my own curriculum this year. I knew that creating all my own stuff was a big decision and would require a lot of extra effort. But I decided to just give it a try and see what happens. The funny thing is that now, when other ideas pop into my head, it's pretty easy to just give those a try as well. We did this for 'Blanket Month' where our our class raised $100 in February to help provide blankets for families in India. We did it when we redesigned how our Discipleship Journals worked (also known as D-Journal v2.0). We did this when we started using YouTube videos as a way to communicate important information to parents. And now, thanks to my webcam we're able to creatively minister to the kids on Easter, even though I was sick. 

It might not be very traditional. It can sometimes take some extra effort. And it may not work out like I envision it. But for a Sunday School Geek like me, finding new, interesting ways to teach the Bible, disciple kids, and solve problems is a lot of fun. And most importantly, when I'm able to implement one of my goofy ideas, I feel like I'm using the gifts that God has given me and really putting them to use for His glory. 

Friday, April 3, 2009

Escalator're kind of going the wrong...

I're not actually supposed to go...

Nevermind...go ahead and do it your way...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Games for Date Night

My wife and I go out on a 'Date Night' every week. It's something that we both look forward to quite a bit. Just some nice time for ourselves with no kids. One of the things that we like to do on Date Night is to go somewhere quiet and play a quick board game together. Here's a video I made that talks about some games that we like to play when we go out:

If you want to find out more about the games I talked about, here are some links for you:

I'm sure that there are tons of other games that would be great for Date Night, or could be easily modified to bring on Date Night. I just wanted to throw this idea out there because it's something that both my wife and I have a lot of fun doing. Yeah, we play board games at home all the time. But for some reason, playing somewhere that's not your house every once in a while is just kind of fun!