What's in Your Bag
What's in Your Bag
God uses kids to make a difference! Two true stories are told in this book. One is about a boy who brought his lunch of fish and bread to hear Jesus teach, and over 5,000 people are fed. The other is about a group of church kids who shared their offerings and bought goats for an entire school in Ethiopia! An inspiring book to encourage kids to explore what God has given them to share.
WHAT'S IN YOUR BAG?: THE BACK STORY (by author Jane Van Antwerp)
In the late 90's, Menlo Church's Children's Ministries had all their children age 3 years old to 5th grade in small groups on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. It was an amazing experience to walk around and see some of the best volunteers in Silicon Valley lead over a hundred small groups. Each small group had a bright color that would be their identifier and each leader had a bin that contained all their small group supplies for the hour. It was a logistics heaven. In each bin was a brightly colored gift bag that was the same color as their group. On Fall kick off weekend, that bag was filled with little visual props for the small group leader. He or she would pull out the items and tell the kids about who they were and what they did and treasured. After they emptied their bag, they asked someone to volunteer to take it home and bring it back the next week and share about their life. It was a great way for small groups to get to know each other and to feel like they were known at church. This went on many years and became known as "Bag O' Me".
Bag O' Me became the kernel of the idea for a Blue Box children's sermon I did for John Ortberg, who was the lead pastor at Menlo Church during my last 5 years on staff. Instead of one person sharing their treasures, volunteers all over the audience popped up and pulled out a lunch bag and shared one thing they had done to serve the Lord.
What's in Your Bag? tells two stories. It starts with the Bible story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 and then tells the story of a summer mission project we did with the kids at Menlo to raise money to give a goat to all the students at a school in Ethiopia. It was our most ambitious summer mission project, but the kids did it with a little help from adult volunteers. The next summer (2007) several of the previous summer interns had an opportunity to spend a month in Ethiopia serving. They got to travel to the village school and the headmaster, realizing what was happening, told the students it was "bring your goat to school" day! During that year some of the goats had had babies and the number was quite impressive. When the interns came back from Ethiopia, they gave a their report to the kids along with sample taste of store-bought goat milk! God took what they had shared and had multiplied it!
Our hope and prayer for the book What's In Your Bag? is that it will create a vision in kids that they too have something to share. When a church does What's In Your Bag? as a children's message, each child is given a grocery bag with a list of things they can fill it with to donate and bring back the next week. You can purchase and download the script, illustrations and small groups activity for the children's sermon by clicking here.