September/October COTS Communicator
Ministry of the Word for Children
By: Beth Priest
Church of the Savior Church School is held on Sunday mornings, roughly between 10:30 and 11:15 depending on the length of the worship service in the sanctuary.
Children worship with their parents through the opening prayers, music, and time of waiting on the Lord. They are then prayed for and released to church school, while the adults hear the Scriptures and sermon, and pray. The children return to worship in the sanctuary usually during announcements and participate in weekly Eucharist, the ministry of the table. The primary mission of COTS church school is to help the children engage in their own age-appropriate ministry of the Word. A secondary purpose is to enable parents some time to listen fully to the Word and pray without the distraction of also monitoring their children.
Here are some of the ways we’ve been trying to create and foster an age-appropriate Ministry of the Word for children:
When it’s time to return upstairs, we remind the children that
We attempt to tie what we’re doing into the ongoing worship service the children have just exited and will return to. We often talk briefly about what we just did upstairs. This can take the form of discussing what church season it is (What color are the hangings? Are there special decorations that day? Did we say a special kind of prayer or litany?) or talking about a song that was sung or something that was said.
The focus of our initial time together is the Scriptures. The preschool and elementary aged children are presented with a Scriptural story or passage. Whenever possible, we separate the preschool/kindergarteners for their own special teaching time. The elementary school children often hear the story told with a puppet, while the younger children often hear the story told more simply with small “props” or an interactive activity. Repetition is really key for preschool and early elementary aged kids.
We’ve been moving our way slowly through the entire Bible using a six-year rotation through the Scriptures. We focus on Jesus' birth during Advent, and his passion during Lent. Otherwise we go in chronological order, with the overall goal being to introduce the children to the whole narrative of the Scriptures. This means we are providing at least a glimpse of some books and Biblical figures that are generally never covered in children’s curricula. We’ve been working our way through the prophets in the past year (major and minor) which has lent itself to some interesting stories!
In all our teaching the primary focus is on God’s activity in these stories. How did God call the people in the stories and work in their lives? Because those people are our ancestors in the faith, we also ask: How is God calling us and working in our lives? Like us, sometimes the people in the stories heard and responded well; and sometimes they didn't. We focus on the importance of hearing God’s word, responding to him with our whole hearts, repenting when we fail… all things that appear in the stories of the Scriptures again and again.
In our time with the children we also focus on missions and on prayer. Our missionary prayer focus is a time the kids really enjoy. We use a globe, maps, and various missionary prayer resources to help the kids learn about people in other parts of the world who need an opportunity to hear and respond to this same loving God we’ve met in the Scriptures and know in our lives. After that, we spend some time on intercessory prayer. The kids share their needs, and the needs of friends and family, and we spend time in prayer together and for each other, closing with the Lord’s prayer.
This year we are building a monthly Scripture memory verse into our time together as well. We will be using music and other memory aids to help the children memorize brief Scripture verses.
The final part of our time is the most relaxed, especially since the time we return to service is not always the same. We provide a snack, coloring pages or other crafty activities, and some game time. Sometimes the games are just fun physical activities; occasionally we do some learning review games with a physical component.
we’ve been worshiping together and are now rejoining the grown-ups to continue to worship upstairs.
Ambridge Arts Afterschool (A ministry of Creator's Bridge Kids)
Now through November 21st, Thursday afternoons from 3:45-5:15 at COTS. Please encourage friends, family and neighbors with school-aged children to join the fun, as we explore the works of "Artists of Imagined Landscapes" (from medieval tapestries to Dr. Seuss) and experiment with expressing your own creativity with sketching, sculpture and paint! With questions or for more information, contact Dana Priest at (724) 777-8314 or DanaPriest79@hotmail.com.
Please read here, from COTS-supported missionary Steven Tighe, who joined us in worship on September 15th.
"It was so great to be with COTS last Sunday! it was wonderful to see everyone, and I felt such a sense of being at home! I wanted to tell you a little bit about the work you support at La Frontera.
La Frontera equips churches to reach young people, world-wide. We believe that reaching teenagers is a crucial part of the work of every church. Study after study over the last 50 years have found that about 85% of the adults in our pews today committed themselves to following Jesus before the age of 21. It’s vitally important, but it’s difficult for churches to do well because teenagers fall into the space between the things that churches to do engage children and the kinds of programs that attract adults.
La Frontera does a number of things to try to help churches reach teenagers. We run two different ministry internship programs that prepare young adults to minister to adolescents in the context of the church, out of our base in El Paso, Texas. We offer workshops and classes at both the undergraduate and graduate level. We work with the Young Anglicans Project to promote and resource good youth ministry among Anglican churches in North America. Thanks for your support of this ministry!"