Don’t Eat The Chocolate Ones



Ok, maybe the fake M-80 was not such a good idea illustration for Children’s Ministry.

How could I know the kids would take me so seriously? I thought they might get a little nervous, but how could I anticipate some would run out of the building, terrified, as if being chased by an enraged rhinoceros? Hey, we made a memory, didn’t we? And that was part of what Celebration was all about – making memories as families, singles and churches from all over came together for 3 days of worship, teaching and fun.

The second evening the three hundred 4th through 6th graders came back, excited for another night of games, worship, teaching and skits. The theme of the evening was temptation. My goal: teach that when the devil tempts us, he shows the bait and hides the hook. He doesn’t come prancing in wearing red tights with a pitchfork.

So that’s what we began with – a guy wearing red tights, horns and a cape, gliding around the room, hunched over, saying in an Elizabethan English accent, “May I tempt you? May I interest you in some…evil?”

The kids howled. The guy was brilliant. Snidely Whiplash-like, he’d occasionally let fly a sinister, “Nya-ah-ah-ah-ahhhhhhh!” then slither up to the next person to try to tempt them.

Point made. “The devil doesn’t tempt us like this, does he kids? No, what does he do?”

“He shows the bait and hides the hook.”

“Alright boys and girls, we’re going to have a little snack right now.” Applause. “I have to go do something in the other room, but Mr. H will be in charge of snacks.”

Out came trays laden with mostly golden brown cookies, but on every tray a few chocolate ones.

Mr. H said, “Boys and girls, let me warn you, you shouldn’t eat the chocolate cookies.”

Perfect. I came back in for Temptation Part 2. Mr. H had warned the kids NOT to eat the chocolate cookies – and for good reason. I’d had them baked with laundry detergent in them. I figured when the trays came back to the stage, they’d have only chocolate cookies on them, since the kids would heed Mr. H. Then I’d try to tempt one or two of the boys to eat one, saying, “Look how good it looks. Doesn’t it smell delicious?”

But something wasn’t right. When the trays came back to the stage, there were no chocolate cookies on them. I began to get that vague “lawsuit” feeling again.

“Hey kids!” I yelled. “Did anybody eat the chocolate cookies?” Dozens of hands shot up in the air.

“You ate those? Do you know what was in them?”

“YEAH!” They yelled in chorus. “SOAP!”

The “LAWSUIT” sign was flashing again.

There went my illustration. I couldn’t tempt them to eat the chocolate cookies – they’d snarfed them down quicker than I would be able to say, “You don’t have to fire me, I’ll resign. Why didn’t they listen to Mr. H?

Now I knew what Paul was talking about when he said he never would have coveted till the Law said, “Do not covet.”

Fortunately, there was no harm done, no lawsuits, and only a couple kids got stomach aches later that night. Hopefully it taught them not to neglect grown-ups warnings. All was well. And we still had pickled pigs feet to eat the following night…

photo by wenday :D


  • Matt Blick says:

    Another great post Mark.

    I thought from your previous comment 'Laundry Detergent' contained bleach. Didn't realise it was just soap! Could have told you that wouldn't work. My eldest daughter used to eat soap right off the side of the bath! Every bar had little teeth marks in 'em. (She was 2 yrs).

    Bizarrely she also kept taking my copy of 'Spurgeon on Spiritual Warfare In The Believers Life' off the shelf and chewing the corners. Always that one book, never any other.

    11 years later she's one of the smartest kids in her class.

    Feed 'em soap and Spurgeon. That's my parenting tip.

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Feed 'em soap and Spurgeon – beautiful!

  • JackW says:

    Sounds like a good time to use that kid's praise song that Stephen tweeted about …

  • Petra Hefner says:

    Love your posts. I might try black pepper instead of the soap :)

  • bfpower says:

    …… laundry soap. Better than dishwasher soap. That stuff does some really odd things. Especially if you run out of dish soap for your massive slip and slide, and someone runs to the store for more soap. But they get liquid dishwasher detergent instead of Palmolive. And before you know it, there's freshmen with bleached shirts and green toes. Yeah.

  • Daniel says:

    i was one of those kids who happened to eat the chocolate cookie….felt extremely sick that whole night…

  • Daniel says:

    Source: The New York Times

    Petrochemicals like laundry detergents can be highly toxic and dangerous in the home. Make sure all detergents are kept out of the reach of children. Consuming them can be severely hazardous to their health.
    Detergents may contain strong alkalis, phosphates or damaging (corrosive) acids, including benzalkonium chloride. Swallowing such poisons can have severe effects on many parts of the body. Some symptoms include severe pain, vomiting blood, heart collapse, breathing difficulty and burns or holes in the skin and underlying tissue.

    Swallowing these poisons can have severe effects on many parts of the body. The prognosis depends on the extent of damage done by the poison. Damage continues to occur to the esophagus and stomach for several weeks after the poison was swallowed. The faster you get medical help, the better the chance for recovery.

  • Dave Wilson says:

    As a renowned worship song writer, I'd think you'd be clear about what washes us whiter than snow! Clearly, it's not soap-infused baked goods. :)

    Thanks for sharing your memorable munchies ministry mishap, Mark!


  • Kurt Weaver says:

    Mark, I have enjoyed reading about all the life altering memories we had at Celebration. It was such a great time and we never knew what you would pull off next. Your illustrations were very memorable. I remember one year Batman, Superman and the members of the infamous rock n roll band "Black Rock" got saved. Oh the memories!

  • Megan M. says:

    I didn't eat a chocolate cookie, but some of my friends did. I didn't really believe that you would offer kids something that could seriously hurt them, but I did have to check with my parents. "Are they going to die?" My parents did not believe that you really put laundry detergent in the cookies. I'll have to point this post out to them…. :)

  • Wow, can I just say how hilarious it is to hear people who were actually there talking about this incident. Dad you're never going to live this one down.

  • @gottheology says:

    “He shows the bait and hides the hook.”
    …has someone been reading Thomas Brooks' "Precious remedies against Satan's devices"?

  • Pat says:

    Children's Ministry with you at Celebration was always memorable!! My oldest three children loved Celebration…the youngest two missed out on something great because we stopped meeting.
    May God continue to bless your efforts to educate young believers!

  • Sara Rankin says:

    These are great Mark! I had the pleasure of being part of the crew from Bill H's church and have fond memories of each year and waiting in eager anticipation what the Altrogge's would be up to. My favorite were the skits especially the "my daddy is…" skits and celebrity tic-tac-toe. Thanks for the memories!

  • Sara Rankin says:

    Black Rock! That was the best. I'm chuckling as we speak.

  • Ron Reffett says:

    Hey Mark! Man, I wish I would have had you as my Sunday School teacher!! Great stuff, I think that if you ever do that illustration again you should lace the cookies with Ex-Lax!! (ok, ok..I know, I have a sick and twisted sense of humor) That'll teach em' not to listen to Mr. H!!
    Ron Reffett

  • MarkAltrogge says:


    It would have been a good time to do anything to distract them…

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Thanks Petra!

    Black pepper…why didn't I think of that? I've never been known for thinking things through too well.

  • MarkAltrogge says:


    YIKES! I'd love to see that.

  • MarkAltrogge says:


    I am so sorry that happened to you – though it's been many years, please forgive me for making you sick. I'm glad nothing worse happened to you, as your comments below suggest could happen….

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Good one, Dave! Well, I'm clear now anyway.

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Hey Kurt,

    Those times are great memories for me too. You and Doug and all the Lancaster crew really MADE Celebration – you guys were geniuses. How about the "Praise Be" Brothers? You and Doug were hilarious. Oh yeah, I remember Black Rock – the kids were raising their hands and waving – I thought, "Hmmm, this is not quite the response we were hoping to get from the kids" – but then, you guys got saved. Did all those guys get saved the same year? I remember another year Darth Vader got saved. Yep, those were fun times.

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Hey Megan,

    It might not be the greatest idea to point this post out to your folks….

    And I didn't really "offer" the kids the cookies – I mean Mr. H did try to caution them – even though they were on the trays glistening in all their chocolate goodness…

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Yeah Stephen, it's really funny hearing from people who were actually there. I figure when I'm gone, they'll forgive me. Especially when someone says, "What did he die from?" "I heard he ate a cookie with detergent in it…"

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Hey @gottheology,

    You're exactly right – that's precisely where I got it.

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Thanks Pat! I'm glad your kids loved Celebration. I always had such a great time with the kids – it was the highlight of my year. I'm so privileged to be with the Knoxville Parent/Youth retreat this week to get the opportunity to preach about Jesus and offer kids things to eat like Pickled Pig's Feet – no detergent tho…

  • Kurt Weaver says:

    Yeah, those really were fun times. The "Praise Be Brothers" skit was a ton of fun. To me all the years kinda blur together. The counseling seems to be working – I hope by another year the nightmares will go away!

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Hey Sara,

    I forgot about the "My Daddy" skit…that was hilarious. And Celebrity tic-tac-toe – that was you Lancaster geniuses! Yeah, those were really fun times.

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Hey Ron, If I'd been your Sunday School teacher you might not be alive today…Ex-Lax – Yikes! It's a good thing that hadn't come to my mind. Wow, the cleanup on that one wouldn't be pretty.

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    I hope that by another year the statute of limitations for lawsuits will be past as well.

  • bfpower says:

    I've been working with my two year old to help him understand how sin brings death. Maybe that's a way I could do it??

  • bfpower says:

    You could add a verse: I think I'm gonna toss, I think I'm gonna toss, I think I'm gonna toss sin's cookies on the floor…

  • I remember this, and that class was one of the best at Celebration. Thanks for all the creative thought and effort you put into teaching us. I really enjoyed being in a class with you and my pastor, "Mr. H," although I was sometimes scared.
    Celebrations are some of my best childhood memories, but more importantly they were an integral part of forming my foundation in Christ. Thank you!

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