Pentecost has the potential to be one of the most ridiculously fun days of the entire liturgical year, in my opinion. It’s not every weekend you get to launch things into the air at church, but if you’re going to do it, by golly this is the time. And fun flying objects are a great way to do intergenerational ministry – the kids bring their apparently limitless energy and enthusiasm, and somehow the adults always seem to catch a little of it too.
A Video Introduction to Pentecost
Consider using a brief video like this one, less than two minutes long, to help introduce the Pentecost story at church or at home. Kids and adults alike will benefit from this explanation.
A Pentecost Children’s Message
In the past I have done a brief children’s message at the front of the church, calling all the children forward to explain what happened at Pentecost and usually angling it towards the Holy Spirit arriving as a Comforter. Then we get to the good part – the flying bits.
- As I tell the story, I tie a red, helium filled balloon to each participating child’s wrist with a long string. Make sure that this is secure, or else the balloons float up to the ceiling, possibly never to return.
- You could also add some kind of flame to the balloons – either draw them on with a marker, or use a bit of orange and/or yellow tissue paper and some tape (not too much or they won’t float).
- Once you have told the story and all the kids have their balloons tied, have the musicians play either the usual Sunday School exit song that everyone will know, or some other denominationally appropriate kid friendly hymn that relates to the Holy Spirit.
- Then send the kids running out into the congregation to pretend to be the Holy Spirit, running up and down and all through the pews, spreading the Holy Spirit far and wide, and as fast as their little legs will carry them. Impress upon them that this is about speed, and watch them fly. If any of the children do want to run, that’s ok! Invite them to frolic about as they see fit. This brings so much liveliness into the church!
Pentecost Balloon Rockets
Pentecost is also a great time to use balloon rockets! All you need for this exciting project is 1) string 2) some long, skinny balloons 3) thick straws 4) tape and 5) a couple of tissue paper “flames.”
- Tie one end of the string to a door handle, and thread it through the thick straw.
- Blow up the balloon and pinch it closed, but do not tie it.
- Tape the balloon onto the straw.
- Attach some flames to the balloon in your manner of choice (construction paper, markers, tissue paper, a drawing).
- Explain about God sending the Holy Spirit down as tongues of flame.
- Then, “unpinch” the balloon and it will fly along the string to the door handle.
One note: Regularly shaped balloons will not work – the propulsion needs to have a certain amount of direction or the force will not be strong enough to move it very far along the string. If you happen to have a science teacher in your congregation, you could enlist them as a special guest instructor for this project.
This activity also works for Ascension – have the kids make a drawing of Jesus and attach this to the balloon instead of flames. Try to send the balloon rocket up some stairs if possible.
Red snacks of some kind will round out this fun and festive day at the church, and you can pretty much guarantee a good, if slightly tiring, time will be had by all.
Editor’s Note: Whether you use balloons inside or outside, please make sure they end up in the trash can. When released into the air outdoors (intentionally or unintentionally) balloons often end up in the natural environment. This contributes to the pollution of creation and is often harmful to wildlife.
Photo by Richard Burlton on Unsplash.