Earth Day is coming up and you need a children’s sermon for the worship service. How can you engage kids to help them grow in their faith and their love of God’s Creation? Here are six quick and easy ideas for a Creation-care children’s moment.
The sanctuary is inside AND outside the church.
Take pictures of living things around the church property – flowers, grass, crickets, trees, weeds, worms, beetles. Or better yet – bring samples of them inside in a container. Ask the kids to identify what they see. Then ask – where do you think I found these creatures and plants? Right here on our church property! You see, our church is more than just the people inside – it extends to all the living creatures and plants on our church grounds. We honor them, because they are part of our congregation too!
Blessing soil, water and seeds.
Bring in a pot of soil and a watering can, along with packets of seeds (enough for each child). Remind the children that God has designed all these things to work together to grow, just like God has designed the church to be a place where they can grow in their faith. Say a prayer of thanksgiving for the soil, water and seeds. Give each child a seed to plant in the pot and keep it in the sanctuary in a window for them to track its growth each Sunday they come to church. You can also have them help give out seeds to everyone in the church on their way back to their seats.
Creation – BEFORE and AFTER.
Print out some pictures of beautiful landscapes – meadows, forests, beaches, mountains, etc. Ask the children to describe what they see. Then show them pictures of these kinds of places polluted, mountain-top removal, littered beaches, etc. Ask them to describe what they see. Ask: which world did God make? What happened to it? How do you feel about it? How do you think God feels about it? What can we do? Then show pictures of people cleaning up polluted areas, taking part in climate marches, testifying at environmental hearings, planting trees, etc. What are these people doing? They’re helping to clean things up, asking leaders to care about our planet, helping to make things better. How do you feel about that? How do you think God feels about that? We can do that too! Then offer a prayer of thanksgiving for Creation, a prayer of forgiveness for our wrongs toward the Earth, and a prayer of blessing for the Earth-Helpers.
Trashing the “sanctuary.”
This is a variation on #3, Creation – Before and After. Have a small bag of (non-wet) trash next to you. Show them just one or two before-and-after pictures of God’s Creation and pollution. You know what it’s like? (Dump the trash in the chancel area.) It’s like dumping trash here in the sanctuary. We would never do this, would we? But you know what – the whole Earth is God’s sanctuary. So when we do things like trash God’s Creation, it’s as bad as trashing the church! What do you think we should do with all this trash? Clean it up! Will you help me? Show the one or two pictures of people cleaning up parks, waterways, etc. This is what they are doing in this picture, too! Because God’s house is in here – and out there. Say a prayer for the church on the inside and God’s sanctuary on the outside.
Green Bible green-verses hunt.
You’ll need a copy of the Green Bible for this one. Just as some Bibles have the words of Jesus in red, the Green Bible has any passages about Creation in green print. Have the children look over your shoulder as you
flip through the Bible and raise their hand every time they see words in green. They’ll see (and the congregation will, too) that Creation-care is woven throughout the scriptures. Pick just one or two to read and let them listen to the way in which nature plays a role in the history of God’s relationship with the people. Offer a prayer of thanks for God’s Word, and the way we see God at work in Creation.
6. Artwork and Hymns.
This one takes a bit more planning. Meet with the kids the week before (or if Sunday School is before the worship service, during that time) and teach them the lyrics of this hymn: Earth and All Kin. Ask them to draw pictures of the things they hear in the words (waves on the ocean, sea horses and whales, worms and beetles, birds, puppies, and people). Then when the congregation sings the song in worship, line them up with their pictures to be held high for all to see.
What ideas do you have for connecting kids to God’s Creation? What creative things have you done for children’s sermons on Earth Day? Share your ideas in the comments section!
- For more ways to help children connect their faith with their love of nature, click here.
- Are you a pastor preaching a sermon for Earth Day? Submit your sermon for the EcoPreacher Sermon Contest!
- For a reflection about preaching on Earth Sunday, click here.
- Wondering how green your church is? Take this short quiz.
- For ideas on incorporating Earth-care into faith practices and preaching, try 17 Ways to be an EcoPreacher.
Leah D. Schade is the Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship at Lexington Theological Seminary (Kentucky) and author of the book Creation-CrisisPreaching: Ecology, Theology, and the Pulpit (Chalice Press, 2015).