This is the second post that was started last week about five foundational pillars on which to nurture each child’s call into ministry. GROW is the first of those pillars.
Our Sunday morning programming is heavy on growing relationships….with God and each other. Most of my kids attend different schools in two different counties. I can provide the best environment to grow their knowledge and love of the Lord, but if they don’t come, I’ve done nothing.
Watching our adults meet and greet over coffee between services has encouraged us to offer time for our kids to meet and greet over games: table top Jenga, Spot it cards, Connect Four, jumbo Checkers, and Legos. We’ve lined the children’s hallway with small $20 foldaway tables (Bed Bath & Beyond) and placed games for interactive play for the sole purpose of making friends at church. Our first ten minutes is playtime to build relationships and give the kids time to hang out with one another because this is the only place many of them see one another.
Larry Fowler (AWANA.org) shares ‘the greatest factor in getting kids to come regularly is friend to friend, kid to kid, relationships at church.’ Our fun time is specifically structured for building relationships.
Sunday morning is also the time when we can give lots of opportunities to experience and grow in the holy habits:
Activity Stations – journals with pens, bibles with challenges, mirrors and dry erase markers asking “What do you know about God?”, a large piece of paper with one word “Justice” and another piece of paper with one word “Mercy” and inviting the kids to add words they think go with the big word, self-directed prayer walk on campus in partnership with parents/grandparents with challenges at each location inside and outside the building.
Praying On the Go Bags – Each month we send home a bag of simple directions and a tool to use to pray at home with the family. We practice the type of prayer a month or so before it goes home in CLUB345 or on Sunday morning (in large group-we all meet together to ensure critical mass, then break up into smaller discussion groups led by amazing adults) so the kids know exactly what to do when they get home to help direct Mom and Dad or big sister or big brother.
Use the Bible – Kids use their bibles every single Sunday and at CLUB345. We look it up, we read it, we talk about it, we wrestle with it. Yes, it’s time consuming, but I want them to know the book. It’s the play book…not on a phone, not as a reference, but a living, breathing, teaching, loving, giving-me-the-best-words-to-hear EVER! I was 26 years old when I realized the wise men did NOT go to the stable in the Christmas story because I let someone else tell me what the bible said and didn’t read it for myself. My kids know this story and I share it to remind them that God meant for them to know the scriptures for themselves so they’d know His truth and not be easily be confused about what it says.
Faith Milestones – I felt I wasn’t teaching enough the vocabulary of our faith to set us apart from other non-Jesus faiths. So we’ve begun hour-long specific events this year for our little people with their families. Our 3 & 4 year olds, along with their parents/grandparents, are invited to learn about Sunday School the Sunday before they join the large group. Our 1st & 2nd graders, along with their parents/grandparents, are invited to “Touch & See My Church” to meet leaders and get a back stage tour of the worship space and ask questions of the people involved. Our 3rd-4th graders, along with their parents/grandparents, are invited to acolyte training and learn with our senior pastor about the sacraments of baptism and communion. Check it out:
Age 3 & 4 year olds – Welcome to Sunday School
What does Sunday School mean? What do we do there? Through story, song, and hands-on activities, learn what a fun place Sunday School is! Learn a special daily blessing for your child and enjoy a special snack.
Age 5 & 1st Grade – I Can Pray
Children and parents/grandparents learn the parts of prayer and when and how to pray through word and song.
1st & 2nd Grades – Touch & See My Church
A chance to explore the sanctuary ‘behind the scenes’ and learn more about worship.
3rd & 4th Grades – Acolyte Training
Learn about being a part of the worship service and the sacraments of Baptism & Holy Communion.
3rd-5th Grades – A Bible of My Own
Student Late Night to learn about the bible and how to use it in daily living.
4th & 5th Grades – Deep & Wide Day Away Retreat
Practicing personal disciplines.
What else do you do on Sunday morning or your age specific programming times to nurture each child’s call into ministry in the area of GROWing a child’s love for our Great God?
Join me next time in the blog when I share how we set the stage for students to TELL in nurturing each child’s call into ministry.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9