The Story

I’ve been praying for the past few months about what it would look like to help kids understand that the lessons that they learn each week they are at church aren’t stand alone lessons. I want the kids in my ministry to walk away understanding that life with God is an adventure and every part of their faith and life are intertwined. I want the lessons that I teach them to be lessons that build on previous lessons and are a firm foundation for them as they’re learning lessons that are deeper and more complex.

It was an easy thing to want for them, but getting them to understand the ins and outs of what it looked like in a practical sense was something that was going to be something that would require an answer that only God would be able to provide. Between kids that don’t make it to church every week, kids who come every week, rotating volunteers, and knowing that it’s not unusual for God to show up and add a unique twist in each lesson that wasn’t in the cirruclum, I needed God to give me a Kingdom answer that allowed for all of these unique factors to be taken into consideration.

A few years ago, my kids discovered Animo cards and have really enjoyed playing with them. I remember briefly thinking that it would be cool to come up with something like it to use in class. The thought never fully left my mind and every time I would see that someone else was using trading cards in their ministry, I knew that it was similar to what I knew could work for this big dream that I had, but it wasn’t quite what I was after.

I wanted something with points! Something that the kids could collect! Something that would make it exciting to come to church, and something that they could even make up if they missed a week. It seemed like a long shot to truly find what I was looking for, but I’m so thankful that when we are persistent in pursuing God with our man-sized ideas, He’s faithful to breath God-sized potential into them. And wow! God did just that!!

When I first started using these trading cards in 2023 I put some generic cards together for kids to collect as they participted through out the lesson, and the kids were excited to collect their cards and spend them at the end of service. While it was great for one week at a time, it didn’t quite serve the purpose that I was hoping they would as far as getting the kids to have a reason to build what they’ve learned in previous lessons on to the lesson that is currently being presented. However, I’ve found that God is faithful and sometimes it’s easiest for Him to step into my situation when I’m already in motion, so I continued to press in and see what all God would do as I continued to seek Him about this.

I’ll be honest, I was expecting to have to find a graphic designer or make some really flashy cards myself for every weekly lesson. However, it finally dawned on me about a month ago that I really didn’t need to have anything super fancy and that having the kids craete their own trading cards is actually going to best serve them and my budget! I then creaated some blank templates and now the kids can choose what parts of the lesson they want to record as they work towards building their decks.

 

How It Works: Simple Cards

The colored trading cards I used in my ministry first. I used each card for a specific purpose. When we talked about the Bible Adventure, I would award them the Bible Adventure card as they participated. Everytime I would use my catch phrase, I would give them the catch phrase card (called “wait, what?!” because sometimes when God reveals something to you it completely changes things for you and it makes you say, “wait…WHAT?! NO WAY!). When we would talk about the Life Verse, they could earn that card for participating in the activity or disucssion. There are 15 cards total that kids were able to collect through out the lesson. One of the cards was a generaal power up card that they would get 1 point for each of these cards they collected.

Depending on the number of kids that showed up that week, the kids would either work in a group or individuallly to collect the lesson cards (power up cards were always awarded on an individual basis). During the weeks with groups, I would format the lessons to be like a game show and use buzzers for the kids to particpate with. For individual weeks, the kids would still use buzzers during challenges but the trading cards would be awarded based off of participation. 

At the end of each service, I present the kids with 3 questions. The challenge would be to try to answer the questions using as many trading cards as possible. It could mean referrring back to a Bible Adventure, life verse, main point, discipleship activities, the object lesson, etc. The kids are awarded 5 points for each card they used.

At the end each kid would turn in their power up cards to get their individual point awarded to them. These points would be tallied and added to their total points accumulated up to that point. During 5th Sundays, we have what we call “Vision Sunday” and we review our mission and ministry strategies in a format for the kids and the kids are able to redeem their points for prizes.

How It Works: DIY and Discipleship Cards

When I decided to do DIY cards, the trading card game got a serious level up. I print out the lesson specifc cards on a piece of paper and the kids get those papers at the beginning of service. As we work through the lesson they color and decorate the wait what phrase, life verse, life verse visual (a picture with the first letter of each word to help them memorize the verse), picture icons for the lesson title and object lesson. The kids draw in what they consider to be the most important parts of the Bible Adventure. There’s a simple version of each card and a “level up” version where they have to write in their own descriptions.

Each card has an initial face value of so many points. From there, for coloring, or adding their own description they can make their cards worth more points. At the bottom of the cards there’s also room for them to take their trading to the congregation and talk to the congregation about what they’re learning. For every adult that initials their card they get a bonus point. 

Through out the year, the kids are building their decks (the trading cards stay at the church) and while they collect new cards each week, they can also use cards from previous lessons on top the current cards as they apply to get additional points.

Not only are there lesson cards, but there are cards for the kids to collect cards about the main discipleship points, keep track of prayer requests, talk about people they are wanting to minister to and more. As a part of the review lessons, I’ve added a “so what does this mean?” question. During this time, we’ll look at all of these extra cards and talk about how what we’ve just learned changes the way we pray, minister, and set a Godly example in our make believe world.

Now when kids arrive early, I have my student leaders manning some card stations where kids can earn cards that they’ve missed. Now kids have something to do when they arrive to church early!

 

Why Use Trading Cards in Your Ministry

  • Provide kids with a craft that has purpose.
  • Allow kids to see the bigger picture of the importance of church and how God uses everything that they’ve learne about who He is as a whole
  • Help kids to engage in the lesson
  • Give a space for intergenerational relationships to grow and develop
  • Make Bible to life lessons tangible (each card collected represents one way that the Bible applies to our life today)
  • Recruit new volunteers (more on this in the training portion of the trading cards)
  • Trading Cards serve as a memory keeper of everything God has done throughout the year, and are less likely to be thrown away when they’re sent home.

 

How To Make the Trading Cards

I go into this in more detail in the training portion of the trading cards, but you essentially print out the ones you want to use on a heavy duty card stock, or laminate them. I chose to print mine on a premium quality printer paper, and give them to the kids by the sheet. They write their name on their card and during my office hours the next week, I cut them out, glue them on construction paper and laminate them. I then hole punch them with a smaller hole punch and put them on their deck rings.

 

Pick up your copy of the Remnant Kids Trading Cards today! You get 15 simple trading cards, 15 DIY cards (they can be customized to fit your ministry needs or left blank for the kids to decorate), 29 Discipleship cards, a tutorial, and a worksheet to help you create your own Trading Card strategy.