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 😀

Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.