I had been searching for a church with a deep community. I have two boys that needed an extended family that would truly see them and welcome them into the fold. I found this in St. Andrew and I joined Easter 2018.
Soon after, Scott invited me to join Aftertalk. My kids were old enough to play or ride their bikes home while I was able engaged more deeply. But the community has a history of engaging the whole community; they wanted a place where my boys could be - intentionally, purposely wanted and welcomed in. The church hired Amber Oakes. She planned fun activities that my kids couldn’t wait to take part in and Afterplay was born. Amber had tried to incorporate some faith formation into Afterplay, but the kids quickly showed her they were more interested in fun and fellowship.
As 2018 progressed, we were blessed with additional families attending our church. They brought more kids. In the fall of 2018, we had parent meetings to discuss what kind of faith formation we could offer our children. I had volunteered to start “Digging into the Word,” a chance for the kids to learn more about our Bibles and participate in the Liturgy. We wanted more and begun to ask how to get there.
In August, I was hired as the Director of Youth and Family Ministries. It was my goal to comb through my resources already purchased by the church, speak with teachers and mentors and explore what would work with our kids.
Here is the overview of the Connections program. I presented it at Aftertalk on October 3, 2019.
We decided to call our new program “Connections.” We want to connect with our kids, we want our kids connected with our community and we hope to connect our kids to God.
I have divided our program into three groups that I serve: The Littles (babies through early elementary school, The Middles (elementary through middle school), and Families (parents and grandparents). Someday, as our kids continue to grow and possibly have new families join, we can have a Youth Group as well.
Worship with The Littles begin in church! We encourage that kids to participate
as much as they’d like (or their parents want). We try to shape worship using all the senses. We have Busy Bags available for kids to color. We also offer a fun environment for the kids to play in the nursery. The Littles will meet right after worship on Sundays for 15-20 minutes in Room 8. We are learning about the Bible through movement, a story and crafts.
The Middles assist in this room and do the crafts with the Littles. We then discuss our “Digging into the Word.” We also watch a video from “The Bible Project.” These videos explain each book of the Bible with wonderful illustrations. I hope the kids enjoy these videos and are open to discussions, if not, I’ll look for more resources to engage the kids.
This leads into their time in Afterplay with Ms. Amber! They continued their learning through service projects, games, play and creativity. This gives the kids’ parents a chance to learn in Aftertalk.
Families, namely parents and grandparents, can join discussion in Aftertalk. Soon, I will be offering a Love and Logic parenting/grandparent class. We are also coordinating a Parent’s Night Out opportunity.
As you can see, we have many ways to engage with our kids and families! I look forward to partnering with St. Andrew to build deep relationships with our kids. There are many, many ways that you as parishioners can join in. We welcome volunteers in the Connections program, as Afterplay guests and as nursery volunteers. How do you want to make Connections with our families?