How do you teach children about the Reformation?

For those unaware, today is not only Halloween, but it is also Reformation Day.  We decided several years ago that we wanted to have a fun “Halloween alternative” for all the kids in our church.  It was also to push some of our adults to study and learn about the Reformation.  As a result, “Reformation Celebration” at Auburndale Baptist Church began.  We will celebrate our 7th Reformation Celebration this evening.

It is designed to allow kids to enjoy all the fun that comes with Halloween (candy, costumes, etc.), but refocus what we are learning, wearing, and doing around the Reformation.  Adults can come dressed up also, but they must dress up as something that involves the Reformation.  Just to give an example, I have dressed up in previous years as: Martin Luther, the 95 theses, a heretic being burned at the stake, an unknown pastor in prison for preaching the gospel, and last year…I came as the diet of worms (gummy worms and plastic forks glued on a shirt).  I have been impressed with the creativity of our adults through the years.

The evening revolves around 4 events:

1)  Prison Testimony.  We decorate a room in the church like a prison, then we lead all the kids into the room for the “prisoner” to share with them why he is in prison.  We have had “prison talks” throughout the years by Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, John Bunyan, and last year our first woman was Lady Jane Gray (the teenage Queen of England and Christian Martyr).  I am told William Tyndale will make an appearance this year.  Someone in our church dresses up as the character and does an amazing job of sharing their story (with the proper accent), then allows the kids to ask questions.  It is very well done and powerful.

2)  A Reformation Craft.  This is a craft that teaches them something about the reformation and as they make it, someone is telling them a story about why, whatever it is they are making, is significant to the Reformation.

3)  A Reformation Snack. This is a snack that someone in the church makes and they tell a story about it as the kids eat the snack.  For example, one year chocolate indulgences were made and what an indulgence was in the 16th century is explained as they eat one.

4)  The Reformation Games.  The final leg of the activities are games that kids play and are rewarded with candy for participation.  Each game they learn something else about the Reformation.  The games this year are:  Nail the 95 theses to the door (like pin the tail on the donkey with velcro), smash the indulgences, bowl down the heretic, gospel golf, the cross toss, and a favorite of the kids…rescue the drowning martyr, which closely resembles bobbing for apples. Kids leave with more candy than could be collected if given 2 hours to roam through the neighborhoods around the church.

This is how we teach the reformation in our church to our kids and I encourage you to do as well.  The recovery of the gospel, having Bibles to read in our own language, and the blessing now to gather as local churches all points back to the courageous efforts of the reformers and Christian martyrs of the past.

Other related posts on teaching children in the church…

How do you teach a young child God’s Word?

How do you teach a child about the greatness of God?

How do you teach what a pastor is to a child?

How do you teach a child about Christ’s imputed righteousness?

 

 

Posted in Discipleship, Home and Family
3 comments on “How do you teach children about the Reformation?
  1. Josh Ortiz says:

    Hello, Pastor Croft!

    First, I wanted to say that I greatly appreciate your blog and have benefited from your wisdom and thoughts. I also enjoyed your book, “Visiting the Sick.”

    Also, although I’m not one to usually comment on blogs, I was a little surprised to hear about some of the events in your Reformation Celebration. Although I think having a church-wide activity to remember God’s work at that point in history can be helpful, I am concerned that some (not all) of the activities you mentioned would appear to me to actually make light of what took place during the Reformation Period.

    Although I am sure your heart and the hearts of your people are seeking to be in the right place, I am wondering if eating chocolate “indulgences” or playing “bowl down the heretic” is really edifying. Yes, I am sure the kids have a ton of fun, but indulgences were not delightful, nor is the gospel just like a casual round of putt-putt. To me, attaching these Reformation-era names to these casual activities actually trivializes the Reformation, rather than sobering the mind to recognize the fact that courageous Christian men and women put their blood on the line for the sake of God and His Gospel.

    So, I’m all for having creative, informative activities and games for kids to play, but it seems that some of these may be toeing the line of wisdom.

    Any thoughts? I recognize that I could be wrong, but felt compelled to share this with you, brother.

    • briancroft says:

      Josh,

      Thanks for sharing your concern and know I have received it in the way you intended. It is a good caution as we do not want to portray a disrespect to this great moment in history, nor those the Lord used in amazing ways. Alot of the evening is serious and informative. The evening starts with a prison talk and the children hear a testimony from someone in prison for preaching the gospel. The games are meant to give tangible ways for the kids to remember what the reformation was about. We try to find the balance realizing the kids learn in a serious setting, but also a fun one. The intent is never to poke fun, but to make things memorable.

      Caution noted. Thanks for taking the time to write and share your thoughtful perspective.

      • Josh Ortiz says:

        Brian,

        Thanks also for your thoughtful response! It’s good to hear that you’re seeking to carefully shepherd God’s people.

        Although I imagine that my perception would probably change if I had actually attended your Reformation Celebration, I do appreciate you be willing to consider my caution.

        P.S. It’s nice to be able to cordially dialogue about something in the Christian blogosphere!

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