In this episode, we talk with Mr. Mark Jones who has a fun picture book and several resource books and other resources for families, children’s ministries, and home schoolers.
Our Guest: Mr. Mark Jones
Mr. Mark serves as the Children’s Pastor of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City
where he loves and teaches preschoolers, children, and their parents. Mr. Mark enjoys speaking
all around the nation to train children’s ministry leaders and parents. He is the founder of Mr.
Mark’s Classroom, an online leadership development and teacher-resource company. We help
overwhelmed children’s ministry leaders get clarity, confidence, and the resources they need to
win at reaching kids for Jesus, equipping kids with Bible skills and teaching kids to serve others.
Bachelor of Art in Professional Art from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
Master of Art in Religious Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Mark and his wife Connie have five grown children: Zachary (married to Kodi), Wesley, Tokain
(married to Erin), Kaylie, and Gracie. One granddaughter, Charlie.
Mr. Mark enjoys Diet Dr. Pepper & Mr. Goodbar, keeping a pretty lawn with lots of flowers,
eating out with his wife (Mexican food and ice-cream), weightlifting, and breakfast club on
Little known facts: Mark earned four bronze bars in roller skating, rode a unicycle, taught sign
language at Jane Brooks School for the Deaf, and jumped out of a second-floor window of the
girl’s dorm in college.
Mr. Mark has authored several books (available at mrmarksclassroom.com)
A Dad’s Gotta Do What a Dad’s Gotta Do (children’s book)
31 Days to Finding Your Kid’s Ministry Mojo
Holiday Ideas 365
Learning Centers Beyond Compare
Kid’s Ministry Time Saver Idea Notebook
Bible Skill Boosters (bonus books for Red, Green, & Blue Cycles in Bible Drill)
Vacation Bible School Decorations for multiple years.
Books Discussed in this Episode:
Transcript with Links:
Welcome to “Books That Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that help us with everyday discipleship every day, sparking important conversations with our children. Today we have a very special guest with us, Mr. Mark Jones is with us today, and he has a website with all kinds of resources for homeschoolers, for churches, for VBS, (Vacation Bible School). They’re all wonderful user-friendly crafts, and decorations, and lessons that we can share with our children and I’m very excited for you to get to meet Mark today as he shares with us. Thank you, Mark, for joining us today.
Well, it’s my pleasure to be a part of this. Thank you for inviting me.
Well, I’ve known about your website for years. I used to work at the Baptist Association office in Sacramento, and we always put your vacation Bible school materials and things in our newsletter for people to know about.
Absolutely, great. Wonderful.
But recently I found your picture book, and I bought that and I just love your picture book. So let’s start with that. Can you tell us about your picture book?
Absolutely. It’s a story of when I was taking my two sons to school, my two oldest sons, I have five children and they were second and fourth grade. Routine, every morning, we would go out and get in the pickup and head to the school, and as we were on our way, I noticed the youngest, he was in the front at that point and the oldest was in the backseat, and whenever we were on our way, he was so quiet. I thought maybe he was sleepy or something. But we got over to the school, we joined the dropoff line, a horribly long line that wraps around the city, it feels like. As we were in that line, I just said to him, “Wes, I love you, I hope you have a happy day.” And he didn’t say anything, he didn’t even look at me. So I moved up in line and kept moving along, we were singing with the radio. As I turned the corner, I said, again, “Wes, I love you. I hope you have a happy day.” Nothing. So finally, I turned off the radio and I just said, “Did you hear me? I said, I love you.” And he wouldn’t even give me his attention. We pulled into the drive, you know, you’re kinda locked in, and so it’s all over when you get into the drive making our way up to the drop off point, it’s a covered drive where you let em out. The teachers are all there, and I said, “Did you hear me? I said, I love you.” And he did not give me the time of day, he just took off his seatbelt, put on his backpack, opened the door and got out. So I just rolled that window down and started yelling out the window at him. “I Looooove yooooou!!!” As loud as I could. I’d move up in line and yell it again. “I Looove yooou!!!” Kids on the playground were all stopping what they were doing to look over at what was going on, and then I pulled under the cover and started honking the horn. “I Looooove yoooooou!!!!!” The teachers were laughing, it was just hilarious, and he ran into the building as fast as he could and he looked out the window with a big grin and I thought, “Oh, okay. There, I’m done.” So I rolled up the window, started to drive away, and my oldest son in the backseat kind of came up out of the floorboard, like he didn’t want anybody to see him, came up and he saidUh dadum… Don’t do me.” So we drove over to the fourth grade drop off spot and here’s the title of the book, A Dad’s Gotta Do What a Dad’s Gotta Do, and so I looked at him and said, “Zach, I love you. I hope you-” And he looked at me and he said, “I LOVE YOU TOO,” before anything could get out of hand.
It was so funny. He went inside and I have just loved that story, and they always would tell me “I love you” before they would get out, because they knew I would holler out the window. So when I wrote the book, the last page says “The end, but the dad’s love never ended.”
Yeah, that’s great. I just love it and I think it’s such a great book, especially with the kids that are just getting to that age where they don’t want to hug, they don’t want to say “I love you” and so I think it’s a great one to kind of open those doors again and talk together, so that’s great.
I’ve given it to a lot of kindergarteners as they’ve started school. I’ve donated thousands to schools and to libraries, just because I wanted them to have a good experience on starting school. This is about a dad’s love, so I think that’s special too.
That’s good. Okay, and you have lots of materials and resources available on your website as well. So can you talk a little bit about the things that you offer on your website? Because there’s so many great things to help schools and are they geared all towards church settings or would homeschoolers be able to use some of the items?
Sure. I’ve done training online for homeschool associations and it’s been great to invest in. I’ve also done training in schools to help out teachers with their training as well. It’s been a huge blessing, but the focus is to help teachers and ministry leaders be resourced with things that will help them achieve the things that the Lord is leading in their life and their ministry. So the things you’re going to see there, I do have another book for ministry leaders, 31 Days to Finding Your Kid Min Mojo, just kind of walking through each little short chapter and evaluating what is happening in my ministry? Where do I need to correct and continue to move forward? Because it is about moving forward. And then there are lots of idea books as well from early childhood learning to elementary gaining Bible skills, teaching those Bible skills because Bible skills are taught in childhood, not when they become youth or adolescents, not when they are adults. We have the burden of discipling boys and girls in children’s ministry with Bible skills, so that’s very important that we invest our time in that. You will see lots of downloadable idea books and things, so look through those different options. Lots of different people have contributed to bring their very best ideas forward, and I love that. There are Bible skill games that are there as well. Then of course VBS decorations that I’ve done for years. I worked for LifeWay, a publishing company years ago, and for years I wrote the Decorating Made Easy book and trained across the country. So it was just natural for me to continue to come up with decorating ideas, so that’s why there’s so many VBS decorating ideas, that’s our evangelism. So we wanted to a good job at having that event and that’s what that support is about.
Cool. I did not realize you worked for LifeWay before, that’s cool. Okay, I noticed too, if my listeners go to your website, you have a free idea book they can download right now available on your website too.
It’s true. It’s just a few pages of each of the books, just so you can get a sample of what’s out there. But those idea books are all downloadable, so it’s immediate delivery. They’re very Pinteresty, can I say that? Like a little recipe, like there’s a picture, here’s what you need and how to play it or put it together, so I’m very pleased with all of that. Of course, on social media, I’m constantly posting ideas and stuff from my kindergarten class and from our ministry teacher helps and teacher hats, things that will help a lot. So, pretty great.
Yeah, I love that. And your videos are very short, but they have great instructions. Everything is user-friendly and doable and I love that. Nothing too complicated to where we would be frustrated.
I agree. Every Tuesday I have a little video clip. It comes out about 10 o’clock in the morning. It’s so interesting, we shoot all those videos usually in about December, and then we space them out because of seasons, and different times of year, what the project is. It’s always exciting to me to see what’s being published, cause my team does such a great job at spreading those out, and we have had a lot of new ideas through the years and I think that your listeners will enjoy seeing those, and you just sign up by putting your email in there, and you can leave anytime you want, I won’t know if you came or left, so that way you can get those free ideas weekly.
Yeah, I’ve signed up for those before and they’re great. I’m curious about your Bible Skills Boosters, if you could share a little bit more about what those are about cause I know we’re really trying to get our kids to memorize scripture and to know their Bibles, so tell us about those a little more.
So there are different divisions in that book. There are the Bible books, so we’re working on learning the Bible books and all of the different games, activities, and crafts that are listed in there will support learning the books of the Bible. So I encourage people to teach the books of the Bibles just starting at the very beginning with the five books of law, and then after about a month you can move on to the next division, which is the 12 books of Old Testament History, and just continue to work through their five divisions in the Old Testament, five in the New Testament, and as we work through those divisions, we’re able to talk about what happens in each of these books or what do we learn, who does this focus on? So we’re getting kind of a survey through the Bible as we’re just learning the books. So the goal for me, for my kids here at my church, I’ve been here 10 years and we go to the state Bible drill here in Oklahoma. Most states have a state Bible drill, it’s something for us to reach out for to try to achieve, and one of the things you have to do is be able to find the book in the Bible when it’s called in 10 seconds. If you’re called on, you have to name the book before it, the book, and the book after it. So it’s not just about, “Can I say the books of the Bible and get a check mark?” It’s “Can I find them?” We want kids to have actual Bible skills, to be able to feed themselves spiritually when they get older. So finding those books in the Bible quickly is very important. Then there’s also a section that will support memory verses, and in part of that memory and memorization, is also learning bible names. So we can practice saying Bible names, that’s a good Bible skill as well. Many people don’t want to read in front of a group or something, cause there might be a Bible name in there and it’s hard to know how to pronounce some of them. So we work on even saying those Bible names, but the memory games that we have are very interactive, and I even try to make them as physical as I can so that the games we play, they mean that you’re putting your feet on some wax paper, two pieces of wax paper, and you’re having to ice skate down to the other end and get a word from the verse and bring it back and put it in order, and the next person ice skates down just like in a relay race. Or maybe it’s ping pong balls in a muffin tin, and the words are written on there and you’ve got to put them in the right order and say it. Maybe it’s actually strips of paper with the words on it and you have to vacuum them up with a straw and move them over on the table. But you’re having to get up and move, you’re having to get in the floor and move, and anytime we engage gross motor skills or large muscle groups, kids seem to retain and even achieve better instead of just sitting around a table. We want to get up and move, so you’re going to see a lot of games like that.
Oh, I love it, that’s great. That’s really great.
This is the perfect time to learn it. We also have key passages. There’s only 10 per year, but if I say to a child, where is the Sermon on the Mount? And they open their Bible to Matthew 5-7, so they know where key passages are in the Bible, the Crucifixion of Jesus, the Ten Commandments, all of these things are so important, and the curriculum I use is from LifeWay, it’s Bible skills, drills and thrills. We just use it during the school year. In the Summer we do admissions focus on Wednesday nights, but during the school year we do our Bible skills for one hour.
Okay. Well, that’s great. I just love your supplies the different resources you have. I hope that all my listeners will go and check out your website and it’s MrMarksClassroom.com, right?
That’s right. You know, my hero was Mr. Rogers, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. So it made sense, Mr. Mark’s classroom. So, so many things were just coming, it was just a little newsletter and ideas that were coming out of what I was doing in my classroom. People wanted to know, and it just kind of blew up into this website to resource teachers and ministry leaders. So I’m very, very glad for that.
Well this is great and I know it will bless a lot of people to check it out. So…
Yeah, I want to mention too, if it’s okay, Terrie, there’s a resource tab on the website and it is just full of free stuff that you can download. There are things that everyone needs when we see stuff like that, but maybe it’s hygiene practices with preschoolers. There are many things that are there and your listeners can definitely access the resource tab from the sidebar or in the bottom of the page and see some things there that might help. There are even tutorial videos that I shot with children doing the Bible drill. So if you want to check out, see what that’s about, you can do that on the resource page.
I’ll have a link to that in the show notes too, so they can just link right from the notes to that tab. So that’s great. Okay, wonderful. Anything else you’d like to add?
I think we just need to keep focusing on discipling kids. Of course, we need to be sharing Christ and how to lead a child to Christ. I have videos on how to do that on my YouTube channel that you can see. So if you’re unsure how to lead a child to Christ, how to talk to them about the plan of salvation, please go see that. I’ve had somebody say to me before, “So what is the children’s version of the plan of salvation?” Well, actually there’s not one. Yes, it’s the plan of salvation for everyone, but there are a couple of words that I try to help explain so a child won’t get lost in the big words that they haven’t heard yet in their life or used in their life, like the wages of sin. They don’t say wages, they don’t know what wages is, so we talked through some of those things and use some illustrations that would be good examples of their world, but it’s still the plan of salvation, and I hope you’ll check that out, and then all the Bible skill things as well. So on YouTube, it’s Mr. Mark’s Classroom, on Pinterest, on Facebook, on Instagram, and we’re soon to be on TikTok, we just aren’t quite there yet, but we’re trying. So that’s an easy place to post some of those fun things. Definitely check those out.
Alright, awesome. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today, and I’m so excited to get to share these resources with my listeners. I think it’s fantastic, so thank you.
Thank you for joining us for “Books That Spark,” where we encourage each other to live out everyday discipleship, helping to equip our children to follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you enjoyed this episode, please like and share on social media so people know we’re here, we truly appreciate that. If you would like to connect with me, you can join my mailing list or connect on TerrieHellardBrown.com. We love to hear from you and we respond to every comment in question, and if you would like to connect with Mr. Mark, you can connect with him on MrMarksClassroom.com where all his resources are available. We pray you feel empowered as a parent or caregiver to walk by faith and to embrace everyday discipleship every day with the children in your life.
Your Host: Terrie Hellard-Brown
Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.
Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.
Her blog posts discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.
Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.
Her motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.