The following activities were written to help promote the offering to children and youth of all ages. We would love to hear from you. Share your photos and a short story explaining what you did or design your own activities and share them too! We will post as much as we can on our website.
Children’s Activities (2)
Youth Activities (3)
Intergenerational Activities (2)
Children’s Activity #1: ”Helping Others”
by Shauna Gibby
Shauna Gibby earned a degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Special
Education from Weber State University. She has taught children in Sunday
School and Cub Scout settings for over 20 years.
(Editor’s suggestion: The activity can also be adapted for an
Purpose: This activity will encourage the children to think about some of
the ways they can help others.
Preparation: Prepare ten slips of paper with one of the following acts of
service on them: Raking leaves; setting the table; reading a story to a
younger child; giving a gift to someone; taking dinner to someone sad or in
need; cleaning up litter; visiting an elderly or lonely person; donating money
to a charity or relief fund; giving unneeded clothes or toys; sharing a treat
with a friend.
Obtain a large pad of paper and markers, or chalkboard and chalk.
Presentation: Explain to the children that Jesus often helped others. Tell
them you are going to play a game to help them think of some ways they
can also help others.
Have a child come up and select a slip of paper. Let the child choose to act
out (charades style) or draw (on the pad or chalkboard) clues so the rest of
the children can guess which act of service they have selected.
After the children guess the service, briefly review how the children could
perform this service in their own setting(s).
Talk about the joy they feel when they help others. Tell them that God loves
them very much and has provided many blessings for them. They can share
their blessings with others in many ways, some of which you will have just
Children’s Activity #2: ”Cheerful or Reluctant?“
by Pam Auble
Pam Auble holds a Masters of Christian Education from Garrett-Evangelical
Theological Seminary and has served as a Diaconal Minister in the United
Methodist Church, as well as a Licensed Pastor in the Christian Church,
Disciples of Christ.
Preparation: Prior to your gathering, enlist the help of two youth or adults to
act out gift-giving. One, (“Chuck”) will be an example of a “cheerful” giver.
The other, (“Rita”) will play the part of a reluctant giver.
You will need to provide each actor with small gifts to give away. These can
be a pencil, sticker, a coin box for the offering, or a bookmark with the Bible
verse from 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each of you must give as you have made up
your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful
giver.” (We suggest you do not give out candy.) You may provide simple
costuming if you wish.
Instruct Chuck, the cheerful giver, that he is to happily hand each child a
gift. He will personally give each child his/her gift, looking each in the face,
smiling and offering kind words of welcome (e.g. “I’m so glad to see you
today.” “You look so cute today.” “I love your smile!” etc.).
Likewise, instruct the reluctant giver, Rita, to hurry through her task, not
making eye contact, not smiling and whispering words of discouragement
(e.g. “I can’t believe I have to do this.” “I wonder if these kids really deserve
these gifts.” “I should keep this for myself; I might need it later.” etc.).
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Presentation: Welcome the children as they gather for their time together.
Introduce Chuck as he gives his gifts cheerfully. Then introduce Rita as she
gives out gifts reluctantly. Each child needs to receive only one gift.
The two givers will then take their seats behind the children and you can
begin a conversation with the children, for instance: “It was so nice of Chuck
and Rita to share these gifts with us. Do you think they enjoyed sharing with
us?” Allow the children to respond. “How did you feel receiving your gift from
Chuck? And from Rita?”
The lesson then continues, hopefully building on the children’s responses…
“When we share, we have a chance to give the gift of joy along with
whatever else we are sharing. Chuck gave us a good feeling as well as a nice
gift. Rita gave us the same gift, but it didn’t feel as good to receive it. She
forgot to give us the joy too. She was reluctant. Does anyone know what it
means to be reluctant?” (Allow time for children to respond.) “A reluctant
giver isn’t sure she wants to share and might be afraid she won’t have
enough for herself later.”
How do you think God wants us to share? Cheerfully? Or reluctantly? (Again
allow time for the children to respond.) The Bible tells us that God loves a
cheerful giver. God wants us to recognize all that God has given us and be
thankful for those gifts. Being thankful makes us happy, like Chuck. Being
happy with what we have encourages us to share it, and to choose to share
it with joy.
This week our church will practice being cheerful givers as we participate in
the One Great Hour of Sharing offering. Let’s see if Chuck can show us all
how to cheerfully give again.
(On cue, Chuck stands and starts to share more gifts with the children. He
also shares with Rita, who catches on and starts to smile now too. She also
starts to share with the children, this time with joy and a smile.)
These gifts are ones you can now share with others in the church.
Let’s practice being cheerful so we can go out into the church and be
Have the children think of ways they can give cheerfully. Ask them to choose
a partner and practice how they will give their gifts to people who have not
been in their activity. If necessary, prepare other leaders for an “invasion” of
gift-bearing children in their sessions, or plan a special time (coffee hour?)
for the children to share.
Close with a prayer which the children repeat after you:
“Dear God … Thank you for so many gifts … Thank you for smiles … Help us
to share … our smiles … and our gifts … cheerfully… Amen …”
Youth Activity #1
By Melissa Bennett
Ordained in the Church of the Brethren since 2002, Melissa works with her
husband, Dean Johnson, to create anti-oppression experiences and
workshops. They seek to follow Jesus’ way of non-violence and peace, both
personally and globally especially as they raise their two sons, Jude and
Give each youth a piece of paper and have each draw a big smiley face. On
the eyes, ask the youth to write what kinds of things they have seen that
have brought them joy. On the ears, write what have they heard that brings
joy. On the forehead, write what have they thought about that brings joy. On
the nose or mouth, write what is it that brings joy to their nose or mouth.
(Remember, things come in and go out of the mouth!)
Is there a difference between something that makes us happy and
something that brings us joy? Explore the notion of deeper joy beyond
surface happiness with the youth. For example, sometimes, we think objects
or events will bring happiness or joy. A prank with our friends might make us
laugh in the moment, but if it is harmful to someone else, it is unlikely to
foster any sense of JOY. We might get excited for a new cell phone, but if we
do not feel good about ourselves, then a cell phone will not bring us JOY.
What is it that creates a deep JOY?
Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Have someone in the class draw a great big smiley face for God and then
have everyone brainstorm together what to put on each of the areas of eyes,
ears, forehead and mouth. According to the scripture (or other things they
know about God), what brings joy to God? Again, is there a difference
between God’s happiness and God’s JOY?
Read the scripture again. How is God calling each of us to participate in
bringing JOY to God? Have the class work together to think of something
they could do as a group to bring JOY to God. (Since this is an activity for
the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, be prepared to suggest raising
money for the offering as something they can do together.)
End with prayer.
Youth Activity #2
By Melissa Bennett
Begin by reading 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 and ask the youth to list what they
notice about the scripture on a large sheet of paper. As much as possible, do
not comment. Simply let them talk about the words, phrases, or ideas that
stand out to them. (During this time, if the leader is comfortable, encourage
the youth ask questions about the passage.) This is simply a beginning
exercise to help them know and notice the passage foci for this session.
On a second sheet of paper, have youth develop three lists: the first is of
things that BRING JOY to themselves. The second is of things that BRING
JOY to others. The third is of things that BRING JOY to God. These lists may
be related or unrelated to the passage they just read.
If “God’s joy” doesn’t come up automatically, ask the youth to reflect again
on the passage at the beginning. What does it say about God’s joy?
Are there parts of their JOY lists that overlap? Would it be possible for them
to do something that will simultaneously bring joy to themselves, to others,
AND to God?
End by encouraging each of them to share one thing they could do this week
that would bring joy to all three.
End with prayer.
Youth Activity #3
By Melissa Bennett
Begin by reading the scripture 2 Corinthians 9:6. Then ask the youth if
they’ve ever heard the phrase, “You reap what you sow.” Can any of them
tell you what it means or give an example of a time when someone has
“reaped what they sowed”?
Most of us have experienced the use of this phrase in a negative way, as if
there is some cosmic justice that will get back at us if we make poor choices.
But there is a whole world out there in poverty or war who did not choose
their circumstances and did not do anything to deserve those circumstances.
(This would be a great opportunity to share about situations, people, and
circumstances that receive hope from the One Great Hour of Sharing offerings
in your congregation or denomination. You can find examples on your
denomination’s website.) We are called by God to embrace all people
with our love, our prayers, and our generosity.
Read 2 Corinthians 9:7-9
Is there a way that we can turn the phrase “You reap what you sow” into
something positive? Can any of the youth think of a person or situation who
has planted positive or JOYFUL seeds that has made JOY grow?
Verse 8 says, “God is able to provide [us] with every blessing in abundance,
so that by always having enough of everything, [we] may share abundantly
in every good work.”
God has provided US with every blessing in abundance. How might we give
back to God joyfully – in our own lives, locally or globally, to share that
abundance with others? (In the brainstorming, you can again share about
projects like One Great Hour of Sharing. Tell how and where those projects
provide joy or hope to others.)
Have the youth spend some silent time thinking and writing about a specific
way they could reap JOY by sharing their lives.
Finish by reading 2 Corinthians 9:10-15, focusing on verses 11-12: “You will
be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce
thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only
supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings
If time allows, talk about the “domino effect” of sharing joy, based on this
portion of the passage. (You can play with dominoes as an amusing activity,
or watch videos of dominoes in chain reaction on YouTube.)
End with a prayer.
Intergenerational Activity #1: “The Alphabet Game
By Frank Ramirez
Frank Ramirez is the pastor of the Everett (PA) Church of the Brethren. He
and his wife Jennie share three adult children and three grandchildren.
This is a variation of the Alphabet game. When the group is gathered,
whether before supper or a fellowship-type setting, explain the rules as
This is a memory game. The youngest person present will begin. The players
then go around the circle to the left, each one having a turn that involves
repeating what previous players have said and then adding a new line.
So, for instance, the first person will start with the letter A. The first person
will say the name of their letter, then say “My name is _______“ using a
name that begins with that letter, and then say “and I want to help ______“
using a word or words that employ(s) the letter A. These will reflect what
the money from One Great Hour of Sharing can help do.
For Example, the first person might say “A. My name is Alice, and I want to Aid
the hungry.” Or, “A, my name is Arnold, and I want to send water kits to Africa.”
The next person would repeat, “A. My name is Alice, and I want to Aid the
hungry,” and then add, “B. My name is Beto, and I want to Buy medicine for
Belize.” (This last one uses B twice, but you don’t need to do so.)
The third person would repeat the first two sentences, and then add one for
C, and so on, until someone absolutely cannot remember what was said, and
the group starts over. Keep a gentle spirit in the game and don’t be afraid to
prompt younger players.
You might play this game after viewing your denomination’s video on
One Great Hour of Sharing, or reviewing some of the informational materials
in a Sunday School class, for instance.
Please grant a lot of grace in the playing of this game, as you name different
ways to serve God through One Great Hour of Sharing.
Intergenerational Activity #2: “Sharing Brings Joy”
By Andra Moran
Andra Moran is a singer/songwriter and the Creative Director of Worship,
Arts and Music at The Bridge, Woodmont Christian Church in Nashville,
Editor’s note: The reflections of this activity can be used as an offering
reminder. In this case, prepare the seed packets ahead of time and
distribute them amongst the congregation as a reminder for the following
Supplies needed: 1 large bag of sunflower seeds – opened and in small bowls
(one per small group); one small 4” square of netting or tulle and 6” of
ribbon or string for each participant. Plan to display a variety of seeds, such
as dandelion, beans, lobelia (tiny!), nasturtium, moonflowers, corn, even
Divide into small groups for discussion that will take place after your brief
Presentation: Any elementary school science book will give you basic facts
about seed dispersal: Seeds don’t just magically get to the places they’re
planted; they’re carried! Some seeds are carried by wind, others by water,
and some are even carried in the mouths, the digestive tracks and the fur of
I wonder if the wind feels joy when it carries a sunflower seed and drops it
to the fertile ground where it can grow. Might the wind imagine the
sunflower’s tiny green shoots pushing up through the soil and feel the joy of
Seeds come in all shapes and sizes, with interesting covers and insides.
(Show your samples.)
1. What kind of seed would you like to be? Big? Small? One that floats
through the air? Wrinkly? Tough-skinned? Why do you think you would be
like this seed?
2. Talk about times you might have planted a seed of hope in someone’s life.
Be sure each person has an opportunity to share. If time permits, tell
about the joy you experienced when you planted something (like hope,
joy, or justice) that expands possibility!
We are the carriers of the seeds of hope and well-being for God’s children
everywhere. We can choose to clutch our palms tight, never releasing our
grip on “the seeds” we have to sow. We can also choose to open our hands
wide, to give freely, and to be the change we wish to see in the world!
Please take a few sunflower seeds from the bowl at your table. Help each
other make small packets with the seeds, using the tulle and ribbon. As you
carry the seeds this week, consider all that you have to share, and how you
might use what you have to bring joy and hope, both to the lives of others,
and to your own. God will smile on your sharing!
End with prayer.