The Children’s Ministry of St Chad’s
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs”. NRSV
The community of St Chad’s takes these words of Jesus to heart. Our children’s ministry recognizes that children already have a deep relationship with the pulse of creation. It is not the work of the Sunday school to teach children to have faith – but to respect and assist them in their already existing journey. Understanding that each child is a unique creation of Gods, it is through activities such as story telling, impromptu theatre, model making, baking and the building of forts – all taking place in a prayer centered, busy space – that we introduce the children to the wonderful biblical stories that offer support and fortification in a confusing world. St Chads is a place where we believe that Sunday school is another wonderful active expression of worship.
The Sunday School Groupings
We love the practice of all ages together for there is so much to be won when a two-year-old learns from a nine year old, or a thirteen year-old takes time to help a six-year-old. From time to time our Sunday school can operate in this ‘family style’ of learning. On the Sundays when our ages are diverse and the children are many, we separate into three groupings that seek to offer developmentally appropriate biblical engagements.
Each of the three groupings are based upon a liturgical reading of the day. Every six weeks it is proposed that a dedicated team of Church members will meet to consider the upcoming liturgical readings and suitable activities for the age groupings. Whilst this is our goal, it is recognized that life happens, and sometimes all plans fly out of the window. In this circumstance, inevitably something new emerges!
Just Like Jesus (4 and under)
Children under the age of five learn through the art of emulation. They are hungry for examples to follow, as can be found in their need to mirror the world around them. The whole premise of being a Christian is to follow in the path set by Jesus, and to model ourselves upon his teachings. The ‘Just like Jesus’ program seeks to introduce young children to the ways of Jesus in simple, concrete ways. If in the Gospel we hear of Jesus washing feet, we wash feet: “Just like Jesus”. If we hear of Jesus riding on a donkey, we look at pictures of people riding on animals, then put the cushions together and ‘ride on a donkey’: “just like Jesus”. The repetition of the phrase “Just like Jesus” is absorbed by the children and in time becomes a foundational block upon which their lives are shaped.
The Story Keepers (5-8 year olds)
To keep a story, one must first hear it. Then tell it. Then live it. In the Story Keepers Cottage (where the 5-8 year olds gather) we open up the biblical stories so that we can hear them; but rather than put them back on a shelf (or locked away in the back of our mind), we play with them first! If Jesus needed to calm the waters, we make a boat! If the reading of the day tells us to stay focused, we build tracks and become a train. If we hear that God needs all the parts of the church to work together, we make a cake and try to find a way to encourage the egg that refuses to work with the sugar.
There is such richness and diversity nestled within the pages of the bible and it is the work of the story keepers and their elders to find it! A love of the bible from an early age offers an anchor of direction for life.
The Trailblazers (9-13 year olds)
The children in this age gathering are asking facing questions. They are seeking understandings and questioning the world as they know it. They are brave enough to contemplate and seek for relevance. The trailblazers are in a time of realizing that yes, they may know of the stories, but what has this REALLY got to do with them? The children in the Trailblazers grouping need to know what they can DO in order to put actions to their Christian thoughts. It is a time of DOING for God, for this is how they will find themselves. The trailblazers need to see that what they do has impact and is purposeful. It is the trailblazers who would create a labyrinth of contemplation for the congregation to use. It is the trailblazers who would host a bake sale in order to raise funds towards something that they believe in, and it is the trailblazers who would make birdhouses as a sign of their considerate custodianship of Gods beautiful creation.
TCPT: The Curriculum Planning Team
This diverse group of individuals gather together to read and discuss scripture with an agreement to seek practical application suitable for the various age groupings in the Sunday School. As a member of the team there is no commitment to teach the children, however, it does not preclude that as a possibility. The curriculum planners collectively comb through the texts; asking the Holy Spirit to gift them with intelligence and creativity as they seek for relevant application. It is then the work of the teaching team to implement these ideas creatively. It is recognized that the work of the curriculum planners may not be executed directly as planned, but will offer incredible support and information to those on the front lines, not to mention the personal rewards that are reaped from delving into the biblical texts with others.
Front Liners: The Teachers
The Children’s Ministry at St Chads is growing. We currently see expansion in both the numbers of children and in the members of the curriculum planning team. We are excited to watch and see this program develop, and look forward to meeting the new front liners (teachers) who will be guided by the Holy Spirit to join this dynamic and rich expression of Christian Ministry! If you feel yourself moved towards this richly rewarding and challenging ministry please speak with Jenni Feheley. 416 200 8091