Good Friday: Passover Meal

One of the stations we were most excited about was the Passover Meal. What happened at this important meal was huge. Too often, the topic of the last supper is cut short. Sure, it’s important because that is where Jesus did the first communion and it is where the story gets really interesting when Jesus rats out Judas with his plan to betray him. These are important parts of the overall plot, but there is so much more to this meal than those things and we wanted to capture that in this station. On several occasions, we referred to this station as a seder meal, but there were several who cautioned us against using that term in particular. This meal is very significant to the Jewish faith and we wanted to make sure we didn’t dishonor it. Instead, this station was simply about teaching what happened at the Passover Meal.

With the number of kids coming through this event, we considered many options on how to create a meaningful experience. I wanted to do whatever was possible to get the actual food on the table in front of these kids. I wanted to engage their sight, touch, smell and taste. It was a big hit as both parents and their kids walked out knowing so much.

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We had fun with this breakout. We decorated the room to look like a 1st century dinner. We got 8 foot tables and put two of them side to side so that we could comfortably seat 12 people at each table. We covered with table clothes and burlap accents. We put the LED candles on every table and adjusted the room’s stage lights to light up each table with a soft glow. The room was incredibly inviting. At the front, we set up a cooking station where Chris, our Student Pastor would lead the station. We made it to look and feel like a cooking show. Chris wore what a chef would wear, he had stainless steel tables, food processors and even a cutting board with a “cutting cam.” We literally took one of our video cameras, hung it above the cooking area and displayed the image on the screen to the right of the stage. Chris could show the entire room what he was preparing just by holding it over the cutting board. It was so much fun, everyone LOVED it!

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Good Friday Family Event: Lambs and Donkeys

We held two stations outside and they were huge hits. A donkey riding station and a little lamb petting zoo.

Donkey Walk 

With the Donkey Walk, we wanted to introduce the part of the story where Jesus came into Jerusalem on a donkey. Funny thing, when I wrote the material for the passport, I imagined a wobbly little donkey. The donkey’s we got were beasts. Now they were stubborn and difficult like donkeys can be, but they weren’t little or wobbly.

The passport guided families around this experience  but I’m not going to lie. The only thing kids had on their mind at the Donkey Walk was getting on a donkey. It was fun and highly attractional. The only problem we ran into was that some people parked their cars, saw the line forming and decided to jump in line before getting the passport. Initially, we had some volunteers make an issue of it… and some people were bothered. We had to make sure our volunteers understood that it was best to direct people inside before they got in line if at all possible, but it wasn’t the end of the world if a kid did the Donkey Walk before they got the passport. Some of those kids got their arm or hand stamped instead.

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Spotless Lamb Petting Corral

This was just your typical run of the mill petting zoo, but we only had lambs. We didn’t make a big deal out of it, just let kids into the corral to pet them. We didn’t want to push the envelope telling all the kids that it was lambs like this that were slaughtered for your sins, but we didn’t avoid the subject either. This mostly all came together in the final station, the Meaning of the Mystery. We did try to tell the story of how Jesus came into the temple where there was chaos as all the merchants were trying to sell lambs for the sacrifice.

These two outdoor venues were the most expensive part of the whole experience, costing a little over $1500 for the four hours. Totally worth it though if you can make it happen.

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Good Friday Family Event: Passport and Event Guide

I’ve been writing about our Good Friday Family Event. Below are the documents that were essential to the event. One was the passport that every kid received. It guided them through the whole experience. It was connected to the Good Friday Event Guide which had info on all the stations, both for just adults and families. This guide had descriptions of the family stations, but more importantly, it included a map.

Also, a few hours before the event, we sent an email out to every parent in our database with a final invite to our Good Friday experience along with a link to these documents, so that way they could have a digital copy on them while they were there.

We’ve got some ideas of how to morph this for next year, going more digital, but I’ll wrap up this series with things we’re thinking about for next year. Below are the documents.

passport EventGuide

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Good Friday Family Event: Orientation Video

When people walked on the campus, they were directed to the kid’s building if they had kids. Once they were greeted at the door, they had the opportunity to check in their younger kids (4 and under) into childcare and all others were pointed toward the “Journey through the Passion” orientation. We wanted to make sure that everyone understood what was going to happen this night, how to use the passport and what they needed to make sure they did in case they didn’t have time to do it all.

The orientation video was a four minute video with a 3 minute countdown on the front end. The first orientation began right at 5:00 (when the event started), meaning the orientation video began playing at 5:03. As soon as the video was over, families were escorted out the back of the building where they could access some of the stations while new families came into the orientation room through the front doors. We ran the orientation every 10 minutes from 5:00 until 7:20 (I think) so that even if a family came right near the end, they could at least visit one or two stations before everything shut down at 8:00.

Here’s the video:

KQ Good Friday Experience from Gateway Church on Vimeo.

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Good Friday Family Event

A little over a week ago, we hosted a Good Friday event for families at Gateway. It was amazing and I want to share how and what we did to pull it offer. First though, let me give you some of the background.

I’ve been at Gateway for just under 5 years and this is the third year since I’ve been at Gateway that we’ve done anything on Good Friday. They began with a Programing and Arts Director that came to Gateway just over three years ago. The first year, it was just a service. We offered children’s programing for kids up to 5th grade because the content in the service was too mature for kids. It was a great service and it felt good to be doing something for our people on Good Friday. Last year we made a switch to provide a “come and go” multi sensory experience. People arrived on the campus and were handed a map and a schedule and encouraged to hit as many things as they had time for. There was a service with communion. there was a space that showed short films, there was an art gallery, there was a room with prayer stations and there were displays with diagrams and replicas of the spikes and whips used on Jesus along with several other venues.

Last year, we pulled the trigger a little late for this Good Friday experience and didn’t have the time we would have like to plan a similar venues and events for kids/families. So, we had childcare up to age 4 and two scheduled events for families. It was okay. Because things were planned so late, I wasn’t even able to attend due to a prior engagement. However, the experience planted a seed to do something really significant this year… and that is what we did.

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Holy Weekend! It’s going to be a Great Easter!

I love my church! This weekend we have an INCREDIBLE line up. It starts tomorrow night with “Embrace the Cross,” a Good Friday Experience  This year though, we’ve gone to great lengths to create a Good Friday FAMILY Experience. It’s called “Journey through the Passion.” It’s an interactive, parent guided walk though Holy Week. We just can’t wait.

On Saturday, we’re hosting an “Egg-a-Palooza.” Essentially, we want as many families as possible to attend on Saturday night so we have plenty of room on Sunday… so we’re throwing a fun family party before our Saturday service. It’s going to be epic. I’ll post next week on what we did and how we pulled it off. Stay tuned.

Also, normally in Texas, I say to pray for rain… but on Friday and Saturday, pray it doesn’t rain.

Easter Weekend

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Faith is supposed to be messy

I’m going to jump off from the post I wrote last week about the kind of faith we’re pushing. These are the questions I’m thinking about for my family as well as questions I’m thinking about for the ministry I lead.

I’ve found that the longer I’ve followed Christ, the easier it is to become institutionalized. We surround ourselves with people who think like we do, act like we do and believe like we do. We so easily create a Christian ghetto and consider it a good thing. I remember being a part of a church a long time ago that created a ministry environment where there was something to do at the church practically every night of the week. From athletics, school, swimming pool and even a cemetery, every significant experience in your life could happen right on that 80 acres of property.

Christian parents tend to do the same with their kids. We want to protect, protect, protect. Protecting isn’t a bad thing, but too much protection may have a negative consequence.

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What kind of faith are we pushing

I don’t know how to write this blog post. I read something not too long ago and it really has me processing a lot of stuff. Mostly stuff as it relates to my own faith, the faith of my two children and eventually, the faith of the thousands of kids who are affected by my influence. I love to talk strategy, implementation and methodology, but my wife often warns me those things alone don’t change lives.

I feel like every one of us should constantly re-evaluate our own faith and guard against what faith often tends to drift to. Knowledge. Beliefs. Culture. Routine. Boring. Related to that, what kind of faith are we passing on to our kids?

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