Do you know anyone who doesn’t like free stuff? I seriously doubt it! Every children’s pastor that I know, in fact, every human being I know, loves anything preceded by this magical and irresistible word—FREE.
Even though I’m blessed to work at a church that highly esteems children’s ministry and provides everything that is needed for us to thrive, it’s always a happy day when I discover a high-quality resource that saves me time, enhances the quality of my work and costs me a sweet nothing.
In this post I’d like to share with you 10 of my all-time favorite free resources that I use on a regular basis. My ministry has greatly benefited from these treasures. This is my way to acknowledge the wonderful people who make them available and also to remind us of the beautiful truth that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
#1: Crossroads Kids Club
Crossroads Kids Club is the children’s ministry of Crossroads church in Cincinnati, OH. They produce their own music, videos, parent resources, and lesson plans (small group/large group format) for four different age groups—two year olds, preschool, K through 2nd grade and 3rd through 5th grade. And the best part—they share it all for free.
To check out their lesson plans, click on THIS link. In the top right corner you will notice a search field. Enter a keyword (for example, Lazarus, Easter, worship, courage, etc.), press ENTER and see the results. From there, download the PDF versions of the lesson plans you’re interested in and use them as you please.
My personal favorites are the many awesome videos that the Croassroads team is producing. I am a big fan of their God's Story video series and their music videos. Their Vimeo channel makes it very easy to go through the videos and download them. Recently they started translating their videos into different languages (French, Chinese and even my native Russian—yay!). Keep this in mind as you prepare for your next international missions trip.
Click HERE to check out Crossroads Kids’ Club Vimeo channel. Be sure to bookmark it or follow their channel, because something tells me you’ll become an instant fan, just as I did. Oh, and don’t forget to check their training videos. They might come in handy as you get ready for your volunteer training.
#2: Jesus Film Project
Do you know the Jesus film? You may not want to answer, because it will likely reveal your age. The Jesus film was created in 1979 with one goal only—to bring a biblically accurate depiction of the life, ministry, and death of Jesus to the big screen. The Jesus film is based on the Gospel of Luke from where most of the film’s dialogues were taken. This is a straightforward Gospel account with minimum special effects and zero deviations from the storyline. Wherever I take our children through the life of Jesus, I often insert short clips from the Jesus film to visually transport them into the times of Jesus.
Short clips from the movie can be found HERE. The full film and several other productions can be found and downloaded HERE. (Be sure to check out My Last Day, a moving anime depiction of Jesus’ last hours on the earth and His life-changing interaction with the thief on the cross.) All of the Jesus Film Project films can be shown to as many people as you like as long as you do not charge admission to view them.
Fun fact #1: It is the only film that has been dubbed into more than 1000 languages of the world. As of now, more than 1560 languages spoken all over the world have the Jesus film, including in all the major languages of the world.
Fun fact #2: Over 490 million people accepted Jesus as their Savior following a film showing.
#3: Free Bible Images
As the old saying goes, A picture is worth a thousand words. I wonder how much 1000+ pictures would be worth? You can find out for yourself by clicking HERE. The all-volunteer team at Free Bible Images is on a mission to create a visually accurate journey through the Bible as a resource for teaching all ages—available for free download by anyone, anywhere, at any time. They have a huge assortment of photo images and illustrations.
Navigation through their website is a breeze. You can search by the Bible book, character, or topic, and also by contributor (wonderful people and organizations that freely share their work). One of my favorite features is that each download is accompanied by a StoryPlanner. The Story Planner file shows what is happening in each scene (so you don’t have to guess). All you’ll need to do is read the account from the Bible and then plan how you will tell the story.
I like to incorporate these images into my storytelling and also use them in review games where I divide children into teams and give each team a picture sequence based on the Bible story we just learned. Their job is to line up the posters in the correct order and later tell part of the story that corresponds to each particular poster.
(By the way, if you could use a little pick-me-up story, click HERE to read about the most unlikely and unpromising beginning of Free Bible Images. You’ll be surprised and encouraged by how God took a handful of unemployed, ill and struggling old men and turned them into a creative force that touches millions of people around the world.)
#4: I Love KidMin Facebook Group
If you plan to be in children’s ministry for the long haul, you will need a community, a band of like-minded people to pour life, clarity, creativity and strength into you. That is what I Love KidMin Facebook group truly is—a community of children’s ministry leaders united by their burning love for Jesus and children. I belong or have belonged to 15+ different children’s ministry Facebook groups and in my experience, I Love KidMin has been the most robust, engaging, enriching and helpful group. It’s made up of more than 13 thousand children’s ministry leaders of all ages and denominations. It’s a place where you can vent, rant, seek advice, offer resources, ask for prayer, share what God is doing in your midst and on, and on, and on.
I personally like that this group is not gathered around a certain product, event or personality (even though Ryan Frank is fantastic). It really feels like a peer group where we cheer each other on and help one another stand strong when the going gets tough. If we tried to add up all the years of combined experience in pastoral and teaching ministry represented in this group, I am sure we would be blown away—truly this is the gold mine of today’s children’s ministry. All the advice, direction, insight or inspiration you need is yours for the taking—all you need to do is just ask.
Click HERE to experience the awesome I Love KidMin community.
#5: Saddleback Kids
Saddleback Kids is the name of the Children’s Ministry at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. They produce their own series for early childhood and elementary age kids and share their fun and creative videos through their YouTube Channel. I like to play their music videos while children are gathering at the beginning of class and their Bible story videos as an introduction to the Bible story of the day.
Go HERE to check out their incredible videos designed to make Bible exploration memorable and meaningful.
#6: Bible Craft Club
Bible Craft Club is a husband and wife team bringing the Bible to a child’s level through their unique design and artwork that engage little hands and fill little hearts with God’s living Word. I recommend this resource to all the parents in my church, encouraging them to incorporate these crafts into their family devotions.
Their crafts are easy to download, print and assemble. This summer my wife and oldest son (3 y.o.) put together all of their crafts based on the life of Jesus. They sat on our dresser for many weeks afterwards and my boy would often reach for one of his creations to play with it.
These crafts give parents a great way to spend time with their children and they naturally spark curiosity and questions, which lead to faith forming conversations.
Go HERE and see how fun it can be for the parents in your church to work with their children building paper creations and most importantly, building faith.
The team at explainED.tv creates media inspired by the wisdom, passion, and expertise within the Body of Christ in order to engage, equip, and inspire people all over the world. They find the experts and then create media resources around their content.
Head over HERE to watch 29 video talks from the 4/14 conferences, 279 expert interviews and 28 animations to reignite your passion and readjust your vision for reaching the next generation with the love of Jesus.
Consider featuring some of these videos on your children’s ministry’s Facebook page or showing them at your next training event. Here are just a few titles to whet your appetite:
Children in Revival Throughout History
Children as Agents of Transformation
The 4/14 Window
The Church’s Hindrances in Equipping Children
Including The Next Generation
The Global Orphan Crisis
Children Are God’s First Priority
Dignity and Children
Children in the Body of Christ
ExplainED.TV also offers high quality Bible videos. All of their videos are available for free download in the following formats: SD, HD, MOBILE. Click HERE to see their growing collection.
LifeKids is the children’s ministry of Life.Church (yes, the one that brought us the beloved Bible App). They create fun, age-appropriate videos, Christ centered activities, small group connections, and family resources to partner with parents to lead children to become fully devoted followers of Christ.
I primarily love their animated videos which I download directly from their YouTube channel HERE. However their short animations are only a small portion of all they offer. For free curriculum to accompany their videos, as well as complete, downloadable message videos, graphics, promotional and marketing materials, and church leadership tools, visit: http://open.church
After you register a free account, you’ll get unlimited access to 35,000 sermons, transcripts, kids’ lessons, worship songs, art and graphics, and the entire two-year Bible App for Kids Curriculum package.
Max7 is a worldwide partnership which freely serves the work of evangelism, helping children and young people live life to the MAX, 7 days a week—the abundant life described in John 10:10.The Max7 website features a variety of Bible resources including curriculum, videos, music, and training materials for use through children’s ministry, sports or creative ministry.
With an easy-to-use multilingual search function, the website allows users to find resources relating to a Bible verse or keyword.
In addition, the Max7 community is able to participate and contribute to resource development through feedback and uploading new resources to the site. This means that you get a chance not only to use and take but also to contribute and give!
Here are just some of the types of resources you can find there: videos and animations, illustrations and photos, presentations, music, puzzles, visual aids, camp programs, small group programs, special events, sports events and many more. Don’t take my word for it. Find out what all they have to offer HERE.
#10: The LUMO Project
LUMO is a visual translation of the four Gospels produced to truly engage people with Scripture! There are four LUMO films. Each of them is based on a specific Gospel account and designed to be utilized by churches, ministries and individuals to create compelling Scripture engagement programs that bring the Gospels to life.
The visual nature of these films resonates strongly with children and youth, inviting them to experience the story of Jesus. Almost every time I am preparing a lesson based on the life of Jesus, I find a LUMO movie clip that I integrate into my storytelling.
If you want to take LUMO for a test drive, start HERE. Click the GET STARTED button on the Home page and enter your name and e-mail address so that you can receive a link in your inbox and gain access to high quality LUMO videos right away!
And there you have it—10 of my favorite free resources for children’s ministry!
I hope you give them a try and discover the difference they can make for you. Someone once said that the best things in life are free and I have certainly discovered this to be true when it comes to children’s ministry resources. These ten are incredible!
As you enjoy these resources, remember that even though they are free to you, someone else has invested a lot of time, energy, talent and money to put them into your hands. May we never forget to be grateful and may we never be too busy to take a moment to say thank you to that artist, composer, writer, musician, blogger or animator who made a positive impact on the work we do. Never underestimate the difference a simple THANK YOU can make in someone’s life!
If you liked this article, be sure to also check out 12 WAYS TO REALLY LOVE YOUR CHILDREN for a comprehensive guide to shepherd the hearts of your students well.
And if you like this article so much that you want to buy me a cup of coffee, I won't say NO. (You can send a cup of my favorite mocha HERE.) Thank you so much!