Jesus said, “Let the little ones come to me.”
Children are some of the most valued members of our community and we strive to show them the same welcome and meaningful experience we offer to grown-ups at church.
Children participate in Sunday service with the entire congregation and join in children’s ministry before the sermon.
Caregivers and children are welcome to enjoy the comfort of the nursery just outside the main doors of the sanctuary.
3 YEARS - 5TH GRADE
We gladly invite children 3 years old (and potty trained) -5th grade to join children’s ministry during the service.
Children attend the worship service with families until dismissal before the sermon, when they will meet with children’s ministry leaders and head downstairs.
At Renew, we’ve crafted a curriculum that is largely inspired by “Godly Play.”
“Children have an innate sense of the presence of God. The Godly Play approach helps them to explore their faith through story, to gain religious language and to enhance their spiritual experience though wonder and play. Based on Montessori principles and developed using a spiral curriculum, the Godly Play method serves children through early, middle and late childhood and beyond!” – Godly Play Foundation
The story pieces are meant to inspire creative thought. Leaving the people as plain wooden figures, each child is able to imagine what the people looked like. Often, the child sees the wooden figure as someone “just like them.” This allows all children to see themselves and their people in the stories.
At first, the questions may seem simple and repetitive, and sometimes dull. The point of the questions is to ask the children to enter into the story rather than remain observers. When we ask, “I wonder what your favorite part was?” We are really giving children space and time to re-tell the story to themselves while trying to find their favorite part. Whether or not they share out loud, they are reinforcing the story internally while they find their favorite part. Now they have “heard” the story twice!
The same goes for the question, “I wonder what part of the story you would take away and still have the whole story?” Not only are they retelling the story while omitting different parts, to see if they still have the whole story; but, they are also trying to determine the critical parts of the story. Often, this is also a time when children will take out the part of the story that they are the least comfortable with. This question also challenges them to think about the critical parts of the story and often times they realize that the challenging parts of the story are also necessary.
By the time the wonder questions are over, each child has had the opportunity to re-tell the story several times, reinforcing it naturally.
The important part about the wonder questions is that your child has a safe space to express him/herself and be heard. This is a time when your child is choosing to be vulnerable and give you an insight into their thoughts. You are welcome to “wonder” as well, so long as it’s truly authentic. This foundation will create a space for future conversations.
This is an open-ended time to create something. It might not necessarily connect to the story and it might. It’s a time to processes. Have you ever been at church or in a meeting and have found your thoughts drifting to other things? You are not alone – it happens to all of us, children included. This space can be a time to process all of the things they have not yet been able to process throughout the week/month/year. It is not a time to create a finished product so much as it is a time to be free to play and create and connect with the story and other moments in their lives.
A great place to begin is to thank them for sharing with you. You can even ask if they could share more about their creation. For example, you could say, “Thanks for sharing your creation with me! Would you like to tell me more about it?” If they share their work with you, they are choosing to be vulnerable. To remain in their safe space of vulnerability, refrain from judging or questioning their work. Instead, try and remain curious and accepting.
Have you even walked out of church and on your way out had the pastor ask you, “So, what did you learn today?” The answer is most likely, “NO!” It is the same with children at church. We all take time to processes the things we have heard and sometimes it takes a while to understand what it was we learned from what was shared. Instead of asking your child, “What did you learn,” you can ask, “Would you be up for sharing the story with me?” or, “I wonder, what was your favorite part of the story?”
Sometimes, children enjoy keeping things to themselves; and sometimes, children aren’t quite sure how to put their experience into words.
Take some time to watch the story with your child or preview it before your child. The stories are quite short and the wondering questions are open ended so anyone can join-in.