Four Phases - One Goal
Nursery - 9:45
Preschool - 9:45
Elementary - 9:45
Middle School - Th & Su PM
High School - Th & Su PM
Faith Through the Phases
NextGen Blog and Podcast
Kids in Church!?!
Many of us have different thoughts when we picture our younger kids sitting in church with us. For some, it’s a normal weekly experience. If you’re anything like me, though, it can cause some anxiety. My kids aren’t so quiet and they don’t always sit still…
This post is meant to be a quick reminder that all NextGen programming except the nursery is on hold this weekend. If that’s a surprise you can read more about why at this link. We’ll be back to our regular programming next week and excited to get after another month of learning.
If you’re not one of the many who are traveling this week, this post is also meant to give you some ideas on how you can help your kids join you in worship and get the most out of the experience. First are some general thoughts that you can take or leave. Then, we have a few specific things that you can use for preschoolers and elementary aged kids.
Communicate about what the morning will look like with your kids before arriving. Setting expectations and giving them a clear picture of what’s coming and what you expect always helps.
When we have all of our kids, we sit in the back. Sometimes, with our kids, we come to a standoff. Often in that moment, it doesn’t take long to realize that whatever situation led to the standoff will not likely be resolved “peacefully.” In the center of row four is the last place I want to be when that happens. Maybe that’s just me.
Preschool Specific Ideas
-We’ll have a table with coloring sheets and picture books available for kids to borrow in the South hallway.
-Bring a quiet snack, if you’d like you can bring one for me too. 🙂
-Know when to retreat, if it’s just not working you can take your preschooler to the library and watch the service while they look at more books.
-Give them a heads up of what is coming. Tell them what we’ll be doing and why it’s important. Many preschoolers love to do what mom and dad do! We’ll be learning from Philippians 1:12–26. Singing 10,000 Reasons, Throne Room Song, Amazing Grace, It is Well With My Soul and All I Have is Christ. We’ll also be praying. Play a couple of these songs for your kids and see if they can tell you when the song is played in service.
-Practice whispering at home and in the ride to church.
-See church the way they see church. There are things to be learned about God when we look through the eyes of a preschooler.
Elementary Specific Ideas
-Check out the preschool ideas, they work for elementary aged kids too!
-Ask your elementary age kids to listen for three words that they don’t know. Have them write them down and talk about them later. Ask them to listen for specific words of your choosing. Talk about what those words mean. Share a wink and a smile with them when they hear them.
-Ask your kids to come up with two things they like about church and one thing they would like to be different. Talk about them later.
-Plan a fun activity after church. I sometimes make the mistake of holding a fun activity hostage. If you don’t behave, we won’t… What if you plan a “no matter what” fun activity after church. Excitement for what is coming makes the current situation more exciting too.
In the end, you know your kids better than we do. Do what you think will be best. From the bottom of my heart, I look forward to worshipping with them this Sunday as I do every week.
Memorial Weekend NextGen Programming
Memorial Day Weekend is our most predictable low attendance Sunday of the year. Families and volunteers travel in mass. It also falls right at the time we transition from our school year team to our summer team. It’s a hard Sunday to make awesome. As a result, to take some of the pressure off of that day we’re going to suspend all NextGen programming except for the nursery on Sunday May 26th.
There are times when we simply must make ministry happen. We tighten the bootstraps, make sure that kids are safe and adapt as necessary. There is a fine line though of operating safely with a short handed crew and operating in an unsafe manner. Could we get enough people to commit to serving one day to make that Sunday happen? Probably. Yet, it would take a large number of people who have not been fully equipped to fulfill the roles. We can always handle some of that, but on that Sunday it would take too many for us to feel good about running our programs.
We would still LOVE to have your family join us on the 26th. We’ll send an email that week with ideas on how to help your children engage in the regular worship service and we’ll have a table with resources set up in the South hallway.
Class Transition Time Change
Our hope is that our partnership, with parents, would lead all of Faith’s children to meeting Jesus at an early age and being equipped to walk with Him through every stage of life. Over the years, we, as a church, have been committed to making sure our kids have committed consistent leaders investing in their lives every week. We believe these relationships, paired with God’s Word, is the best way to see that hope realized.
Recently, our team was challenged with the idea, “If small groups become the primary answer, then that ultimately changes everything we do.” As we talked and prayed, we started brainstorming how our structures might be preventing our small groups from maximum effectiveness. We talked about how some kids become disconnected from our programs. We asked God how we might do better.
We identified our transition date (traditionally first Sunday in June) as a potential stumbling block for successful small groups for a couple different reasons.
-Our school year teachers typically serve 9 months vs 3 months for summer teachers.
-Child and volunteer attendance becomes sporadic over the summer.
As the NextGen staff team talked about moving kids into their new classes for the upcoming year, we want to start from a position of strength. Because our school year volunteers will invest in students for 9 months and because attendance becomes more consistent in the fall we’ve decided to keep kids in their current classes until mid-August. We believe the consistency that comes in the fall will increase our retention and student satisfaction in all phases.
In addition to overcoming those challenges, we’ll be gaining new space for youth and elementary ministries in the fall (we’re pumped about this!). We’ll also be changing how we structure some of our elementary classes starting this fall.
We know this impacts current 8th graders, 6th graders and upcoming Kindergarteners the most. It may even feel like a loss for some. We believe this will lead to better long term engagement and deeper relationships, especially in the older phases. We’re also still working on some ideas that will let these three grades get a taste of what’s coming this summer.
Ultimately, we believe waiting to transition all of our classes to the fall is going to lead us to more effective programming year around.