Even before the move into virtual ministry, I struggled to find Bibles or picture books for children to use in my ministry. Some books don’t have enough text while others have so much that it’s hard to believe it’s written for children. Even if the text is good, the illustrations may not be what I am looking for. In the fall of 2018, fed up with my endless search for good resources for bible stories, I decided to create my own.
Shapes of Ministry Nativity Story
The first story that I put together was the nativity story, God’s Son. I simplified the text and used shapes to create images to go along with it. Wanting to share the story with our Wednesday night children’s programs, I set up a TV screen and a computer in the classroom. I pulled up the .pdf on the computer and set it to a two-page view so that both the text and illustration were visible on the screen together. During the lesson, my volunteers simply had to click through the pages and read – or let one of the kids read. The stories are written so that a second grader should be able to read them with minimal help. I have found that kids love to be the readers!
Following that lesson, my volunteers shared how much they enjoyed the simplicity of the story, as well as the images. With that encouragement, I continued to create stories when needed during our various programs. Slowly, I began to share my little project with friends and family.
Ways to Use Shapes of Ministry
When our church shut down at the start of the pandemic, I knew the best move was to offer Children’s Chapel through pre-recorded videos so families could stay connected. After trying a few different styles of storytelling, I realized that the stories I had created were perfect for the digital platform. Overlaying the images on a voice recording allowed the viewer to really see the images as the story was told.
Here is an example of how I’ve used the digital stories in Virtual Children’s Chapel. You will see and hear the story of God’s Son from Advent 4 in 2020.
My church has returned to some in-person programs, most of which are held outdoors. Since we don’t have screens readily available outside, I have been printing the stories double-sided on cardstock. This allows the text to be easily read while sharing the pictures.
Download The Nativity Story, God’s Son
Each story download from the Shapes of Ministry comes with two .pdf files and one .zip or .png file so that they can be used in a variety of ways: printed, shared on Zoom, projected on a screen, or overlaid images onto recordings. I hope to continue to find more ways that these resources can be used. Each story also comes with discussion questions at the end to help guide the conversation. There are two .pdf versions, one with a blank page following the title page and one without. I’ve found both helpful when using different computers and software for display.
Click here to download God’s Son v.1 which includes a blank page after the title page.
Click here to download God’s Son v. 2 which does not have a black page.
As we continue to navigate what it means to do faith formation in both virtual and in-person settings, it is my hope that others will find creative ways to use the digital format of Shapes of Ministry to help share bible stories with their faith communities.
You can find Shapes of Ministry on Etsy, Facebook, and Instagram (@shapesofministry). Currently, there is a small selection of gospel stories, stories about the season of the church, and two printable matching games with saints and the disciples. More will be added as they are created.