A Guide to a Successful Reformation Celebration
Usually the evening of the event your pastor or guest speaker can engage the audience with choice subject for about 45 minutes (this really depends on the pastor!). This is usually a biography or themes such as grace, the 5 Solas, the history of Protestantism etc.
Afterwards have a meal together. This works even with large churches. Encourage a pot-Providence meal (we don’t like the word pot-luck). A good suggested menu would be A-H bring a casserole or main dish, I-P bring a side dish or appetizer, and Q-Z bring a dessert and the church provide the drinks.
For the table Centerpieces, you can use card stock paper and folded it in half (this way it would stand up by itself) Then we would use quotes, pictures and trivia of different reformers and decorate the paper on both sides “scrapbook” style. Place this in the middle of the table on a paper doily and sprinkle candy corn around it.
Another centerpiece idea would be to use pictures of reformers or things that pertain to them (like Spurgeon’s college, Geneva Academy, 95 Thesis etc), old books (or current would do) that are biographies or works of the reformer. Decorate the tables in a classical style with flowers, quills and candles. These tables can reflect the life of one person or the lives of many by giving each table a different individual.
For a nice ambience use music from whatever era you are studying and decorate donated ficus trees with twinkle lights. This makes for a very nice dinner.
After dinner let the kids go play history related games. Keep in mind to make this a family integrated event. Don’t leave out the teens. They are quite old enough to dress up as Martin Luther and Katerina Von Bora! Let them run the games and give out candy to the children.
The following are some suggestions to make this a great night for the children! They can have fun while learning Reformation history.
We find that most children enjoy and learn from Reformation Celebrations when they are allowed to “dress” with the time. These ideas seem to conflict due to the timing of Halloween. This should be decided by the Elders of your church. If they approve, your older children (teens) can study the era which you are focusing on and walk around the celebration in costume interacting with the children and teaching them.
Vignettes are a HUGE hit in our church and usually acted out by the teens. We try and keep them at 10 minutes. Usually it is the actor telling the biography in first person.
The Art Museum:
The “Art Museum” is a great way to encourage kids to learn about the reformation and use their creativity. We designate a wall and tables for the kids to display their art, crafts and essays. It is pretty amazing what kids can do. I will never forget seeing a Wittenburg Castle made out of Popsicle sticks! You can use a Certificate of Merit for all the participants they are easy to make or download. Placed prizes are up to your coordinator. Sometimes local Christian bookstores will donate “prizes”.
John Newton – Storms of Amazing Grace
This is a fishing game. My husband bought two 8’ x 4’ panels at a local hardware store. He cut one of the boards in half for the sides and connected it to the whole sheet with hinges so it can fold up for storage. We had someone paint a storm scene on it. We made “fishing poles” out of dowel rods, string and a clothes pin. The children would then “fish for candy by casting over the wall. Teenagers were on the other side attaching candy with the clothes pins.
Augustine – Ring the monk
Go down to a local bowling alley. They usually give away “bad” pins. We took off the plastic part and painted them to look like monks. Here the kids would take a ring of some sort (like the swimming pool diving rings) and throw to try and “ring a monk”.
Martin Luther – Nail the theses on the Wittenberg Door
This will take a handy man (all congregations have one!) Buy a 4’ x 8’ panel from Home Depot. We just happen to have a wonderful artist in our church and she turned the panel on the side and she painted a life size replica of the Wittenberg door. My husband added supports so it was very sturdy and couldn’t be tipped. Then we just bought nails and brought our own hammers and let the children nail the theses to the door. The 95 theses can be downloaded from our web site in a PDF.
Spurgeon – Pin the bow tie on Spurgeon
We had a picture “blown up” to a poster size and mounted on a piece of sheet metal (also bought at home-depot) We then made bowties (construction paper would be fine) and had them laminated as well as the poster.. Then glue a magnet on the back of the bowties. The children are then blindfolded and they try to place the bowtie on Spurgeon.
This was actually a craft idea entered by one of the children and we like it so much we used it the next year!
Vilvoorde Castle – William Tyndale
This can be a little messy but the kids love it. We have candlesticks and long candles on a table. Basically there are age appropriate teenagers lighting the candles and filling squirt guns. The little kids then try to shoot out the flame. We have the kids who light the candles wearing large trash bags over their clothes (almost a must!).
Jonathon Edwards – study
This is just a place that I set up for the kids to color their candy sack. I usually have pictures of reformers they can paste to their sack and crayons. Little boys usually grab a bag and fly off to the games ……but oh well!
Reformers Bean Bag toss
For this activity we took a 2’ X 4’ piece of wood and cutting 2-3 different size holes in it. Since, I couldn’t seem to make a reformer fit this activity I took a gathering of pictures of different reformers and made a decoupage on it and then we sealed it with a lacquer.
Spurgeon’s College – golf game
Blown up a picture of Spurgeon’s college and put it on a box. Cut out the door of the college. We put indoor/outdoor carpet as the “green”. And the children would try to put the ball in the door.
Edible Cathedral Stain Glassed Windows
For this we had people donate their toaster ovens and small bread pans for the evening. If I remember correctly this was a little time consuming but the kids loved it. The kids would spray the bread pan with Pam and placed the hard lifesavers or Jolly Ranchers in the pan (some crushed them) and a responsible adult would put it in the toaster oven. When the candy melted they cooled on a rack (a fan would be a good idea) and then put the “window in a sandwich baggie for the child to take home.
Elester Gate – Martin Luther
Throw the papal bull in the fire” when we were studying Luther. This did not seem to interest the kids too much. It was a fake fire though!
Guess the Relics
One thing we do that I hope does not seem heretical!..........we buy the “bones” candy that you can get this time of year and count it and put it in a jar and see who can “guess the number of relics”. The winner gets the jar of candy.
When studying the Puritans we made a hornbook out of construction paper and yarn. It would be nice to make these out of wood if it is affordable. The children then pasted the Lord’s Prayer (the Geneva Bible version) on the Hornbook.
We set up TV/DVD that has a documentary running about whichever reformer you are studying. This is usually a good “down time” activity. You might be able to find a good child friendly video of your favorte reformer from ReformationKidz, Voice of the Martyrs or Nest Videos.
One of my favorite Reformation Celebrations was when we studied John Newton and we turned our activity center (or gym) into Olney England and we had a candle shop, lace shop, craft shop, and we even had some ladies who owned spinning wheels and let the kids try it. If you are able to transform an area into a town from Reformation History it has an incredible impact on the children as they walk back in time!
Budget saver tip
To save on the budget we ask the congregation to bring bags of candy. Sometime we still need to buy more and then there are years that we have too much.
The Wives!!! People will be so surprised what many of the reformers wives did behind the scenes. This is just a table that has pictures and history of the helpmeets that were the faithful helpers of the reformer’s ministry!
If you have your own Reformation Celebration ideas or game, we would love to share it here for others to use and enjoy as part of their celebration.