Pentecost is the English transliteration of the Greek work meaning “fifty”. We celebrate Pentecost as the culmination of the Easter season, 50 days after Easter Sunday as the day the disciples received the Holy Spirit in a powerful way. We read about this in the book of Acts. Many churches celebrate this day as very significant and I think for good reason. Now, I must confess, that in the past as I was beginning to develop a significant celebration for Pentecost I was taken with the idea of a birthday party. After all isn’t Pentecost the birth of the Christian church as we know it? Well, while it does seem like a great illustration and one that, particularly children can really grasp onto and have fun with, I have come to a different position. I would caution against using a birthday party theme for Pentecost and here is why. It is not really theologically accurate and can create confusion in our biblical understanding of church. The truth is God has been at work gathering a community from the beginning of the world. And isn’t that our biblical understanding of church–“community”? Pentecost is really more of a “something new” rather than a “beginning”. Pentecost celebrates a filling and a fulfilling rather than a “birth”. At Pentecost, God did not give the gift of the Holy Spirit for the very first time however he was giving this gift in a new and greater way than had ever been experienced before. I understand Pentecost to be more about equipping the church than creating it. In Acts 1:8 we read,
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
When I am teaching children about Pentecost, I prefer to focus on the theme of mystery. I have discovered most kids love mysteries! And who is more mysterious then the Holy Spirit? I have had a lot of fun developing this theme for teaching kids about the Holy Spirit and it can create just as meaningful, and more theologically correct celebration for Pentecost. For a craft, I have found that making a windsock is very effective for this lesson. The windsock moves because of the wind, even though we cannot see it. It is mysterious but we can see the effects of the wind. This is similar to how the Holy Spirit moves within people. We cannot see the Holy Spirit like “tongues of fire” (Acts 2) as the early disciples did but we can see the effects of the Holy Spirit in people. This could also move into discovering the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5)
What do you think? How do you teach kids about Pentecost?
Here are some ideas to consider for families and/or churches looking to create a meaningful Pentecost celebration.
10 Pentecost Activities for Kids and Families. This is a great post from Traci Smith, authour of Seamless Faith. She has compiled a list of 10 ideas worth checking out.
Pentecost Sunday School Lesson. This lesson outline is a great idea to use in Sunday school on Pentecost Sunday.
Thinking Ahead to Pentecost: 5 Ways to Celebrate. This post has some great ideas for families to meaningfully celebrate Pentecost.