For many years our junior church team had been following traditional set programmes, based around different Bible stories. It was a format we were used to, but was no longer meeting our needs. The leaders and children alike were feeling disengaged and in April 2017 we knew we had to change our approach. We sensed God was calling us to something different where children of all ages could learn and grow together.
We prayed for direction and fresh vision, both as individuals and as a team, and God pointed us towards James 2: 14–17, “what good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions ?...”
This Scripture is now the foundation of what we do. We want to show the children what it means to live a Christ-like life and for them to be excited about the Christian faith and coming to church.
After much discussion, prayer and planning, we adopted the concept of Ready, Steady, Go! This fits our normal pattern of meeting three out of four weeks in the month.
Each month we focus on one particular theme and memory verse. During the first week, ‘Ready’, we investigate our chosen Bible story or Scripture, and involve the children in discussions and games about it so we have a good understanding of what it is saying. We talk about how this Scripture is relevant today, and how we can apply it to our lives and to our Go! week activity. What is God saying or asking us to do? What kind of people does he want us to be?
In the next week, ‘Steady’, we build on what we have learnt and start to put it into practice by planning and preparing for the ‘Go!’ week. This might be learning a drama script or making a poster to advertise an event.
The final week of the month is our ‘Go!’ week. This is our opportunity to put our faith into action, and our themes and Go! activities over the last 18 months have included:
• Caring for God’s world – litter picking in the local area
• Sharing the Gospel – leading Christmas and Easter services in the care home across the road
• Loving the poor – collecting goods for our local food bank and packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child
• The importance of prayer – prayer walking around our community
The feedback from the church has been fantastic. People are excited and energised by what we’re doing, and some have told us that Junior Church are leading the way for the rest of Seedfield.
In March we had an opportunity to involve the whole church in our activities, as we explored our theme ‘Stepping out in faith’ with a month of mission. We wanted to reach out to families on the fringes of church and had many opportunities to build relationships during our Pancake Party, Community Litter Pick, Café Church and Morning of Prayer.
We have seen God’s goodness and faithfulness all the way through the journey and we believe he has bigger and greater things planned for us. Our children have openly expressed their enthusiasm for coming to church and engaging with the new programme, and they have welcomed the opportunities to demonstrate their faith.
We hope other churches will be inspired by our experience and would love to hear from anyone interested in finding out more. Visit us at www.seedfieldreadysteadygo.wordpress.com