Where will our church be in twenty years? What will the state of God’s churches be in the United States…in the world? Will your child or grandchild be an active part of a church as a teenager….as a young adult…and beyond? Will they follow God? Will they believe they are a part of God’s church?
There are many statistics of varying accuracy and study, but they all agree that today’s children are less likely to embrace the religious practices of their parents and grandparents. Many teens and young adults will say they believe in God, but that belief does not translate to participation. Why is that? And what can we do about it? How do we teach our kids that there’s a difference between being at church and being the church?
One thing we do know is that kids who participate in church with their families, and who feel like they are a part of a church community at a young age, have the greatest chance of remaining a part of a church community as adults. This means that each of us has a responsibility to the kids and families in our church community to further God’s church here on earth.
Our pastoral staff and worship leaders are working hard to modify the 11:00 Worship service to be a time the youngest among us to the oldest can be engaged in and empowered by. A portion of this service is also being devoted to a kid’s lesson. Since there are a few groups involved now, you’ll probably hear it collectively referred to as the children’s ministry unless there is group specific information.
Our Sprouts group for children age 4 through 3rd grade will meet weekly. Due to the number of children we have in this range, we ask that you please not send any child older than 3rd grade downstairs. Our leader and helper for the week will escort the kids downstairs after we have them line up in the lobby for safety reasons with our youngest friends. Group time is approximately 30 minutes each week, during which they’ll learn a bible story interactively and do at least one activity (depending on time) related to the points of the story. We are currently using the book God’s 13 Awesome Promises. There are four books in the series that we’ll continue through for this year.
Our Blooms group is for our big kids, who are in that transitional period of being too old, but not yet old enough (4 – 6th grades), we will be doing a big kids’ class twice a month. On the 2nd Sunday of the month, the time will focus on creativity. And, on the 4th Sunday of the month, the time will focus on missions. The other Sunday’s they’ll remain in church to participate there. Dismissal will be at the same time as the weekly group.
For our youth, or Twigs as we’re calling them since our 6th graders straddle two groups and can join whichever fits best with their own individual readiness, we will be introducing a weekly bulletin to help them process the message and also continue with scripture reading throughout the week.
All of the kids will have the opportunity to participate in many elements of worship before dismissal for groups. We’ve also introduced bulletins for the children. Four our youngest and pre-teen kids, these are bible-themed activity pages, and for our teens we’ve customized a bulletin to help engage them in the service with the goal of helping them learn how to listen to and process the all parts of the worship experience. These bulletins are available to all services and can be found in the lobby on the table. Crayons and pens are also provided there.
What do all these changes mean for you? If you don’t have kids or grandkids that attend with you or you’re not a regular attender of this service, you may be thinking, “So what? This doesn’t apply to me.” Oh, but it does. Many of our parents have stepped up to help staff the teaching and preparation needs for these children specific ministries. However, it’s not enough. In order to comply with our safe sanctuary for policy for children, we need adult volunteers, at least one each week to be a presence in the room during Kids’ Time, the duration of which is approximately 30 minutes.
As a volunteer, your responsibilities are minimal (require no preparation) and you give our children a chance to know you and know they’re valued by your presence. Ideally, we’d love to have each volunteer commit to four to five Sunday’s a year, but we don’t need you to sign up all at once. If you want to just try it out, sign up for one Sunday. We’re not creating a rotation list; we’re going to let our volunteers pick the Sunday’s they want. With that in mind, we’ll keep the list available at all times, with the hope that folks will focus on the current and next month’s slots. With a greater pool of volunteers, we can rest assured that the bulk of the responsibility doesn’t rest on a few individuals and that everyone is able to attend worship regularly. Our volunteer sign-up can be located on the Growing Together ministry page of this website.
If you’re not a regular attender of the 11:00 Worship Service, we invite you to check it out some time to see what changes are afoot. And please consider volunteering for our children’s ministry.