At 9:45 on a Sunday morning, our team of volunteers arrives upstairs wearing their freshly printed name tags. This team is made up of tired parents, seasoned saints, older siblings, and others. There is a lot of variety, but they all have something in common — they arrive ready to serve. This
is a real sacrifice. Like David told Araunah in 2 Samuel 24:24, this sacrifice costs something.
After a little while, the stream of parents dropping off their children starts to flow faster. The tide is coming in and it’s a good thing. There is energy. There is anticipation. There is fun. And parents aren’t unaffected. They receive encouragement from the volunteers. The volunteers and parents share a solidarity: we are in this together, we understand each other, we are not alone.
Until 10:20, kids play. This is unstructured, but not unintentional. You might hear, “Nana is coming on Tuesday!” or “I got new shoes!” The team gets to know the kids more and more each week. Kids get noticed. Kids get prayed for. And, as opportunities allow, the team engages them with fun, active discipleship. Maybe a Psalms book that has the kids standing, running, jumping, and kneeling in praise.
Speaking of praise, next, the students transition to a new room for musical worship and Bible teaching. They sing. They learn. They review. This is meaningful teaching. Of course, at this age, lots goes over their heads. The Bible is a complex book written in multiple styles in multiple languages on multiple continents by multiple authors over multiple centuries. Wow! And the gospel message requires engagement with ideas like substitution, guilt, death, freedom, and more. But just because they won’t understand everything doesn’t mean they won’t understand anything. All Scripture is God-breathed. It is useful (2 Tim 3:16). It accomplishes exactly what God desires (Is 55:11).
After worship and the Word: snacktime! Now, our snacks are intentionally chosen to convey five simple, scriptural truths about the Word, the image of God, the gospel, growth, and missions. Each week, kids take in more than just fruit snacks or animal crackers. We call this our SnacKatechism.
Next comes some more fun: either a recess in the game room or coloring and conversation in the art room. In these environments, kids get personalized attention. While the game room is utilized for more of a recess, the art room is meant to be filled with individualized or small group activities centered on that week’s teaching. As kids color or do other art-related activities, the team gets to review with them, ask questions, and explain. This gives kids a chance to refresh the story by looking at the coloring material, thinking more about what it means and why it matters, and considering personal application.
These kids have done a lot in the span of one worship service. They have engaged with more mature believers, heard God speak through the Word, practiced praise, reviewed the SnacKatetchism, colored and considered the teaching, and had a ton of fun.
The last part of the program takes place back in the classrooms. Kids play and may even carry on their spiritual conversations. There is room for all of that until the parents come for pick-up.
Everything we do on Sundays with our kids is relational with the goal of real discipleship. The aim is never that everything would go well, but that everyone would be loved, would learn, and would experience intentional, relational discipleship. And we pray that God would use us to do his work. We are his church. He speaks through his Word. He never fails.