LEGO Masters Tournament for Children and Youth Ministry

Coming up with ways to connect our children and youth with each other and with our church leadership has taken inventive thinking. One of the most successful has been our LEGO Master Tournament.

Based on the television show of the same name, families formed teams. Everyone did their projects at home and we meet weekly on Zoom.

Lego Master Tournament: Children and families form teams to be a part of a six week tournament. Families or children or youth register in advance. Levels are adjusted for ages. Each week the child/team builds a scene that is assigned to them. A video of the build is taken by family. Lego builds are uploaded to a dropbox. The congregation has two days to vote/judge the projects. The projects are voted on for creativity, staying true to the story, use of LEGOs, and originality in telling the story. Builds are based on Bible stories, Liturgy Parts, Church History, and Sacraments.  The whole church got involved. The children, youth and families were creative, spent time researching their project, and went way beyond what was expected. They ended up teaching the whole congregation about the Bible, Liturgy, Church History, the Sacraments and our community.

Each week: the highest score picks first story and then go in order.  Each team choses a different story. We meet on Zoom to remind them of how they are scored, get the scores from the previous week and pick their assignments. We met Sundays. They had until Thursday at noon to complete and video tape their project. We uploaded them to Vimeo and put a link in the newsletter for people to vote.

Week One Challenge-Old Testament

Week Two Challenge-New Testament

Week Three Challenge-Parts of Liturgy

Week Four Challenge-Church History

Week Five Challenge-Sacraments

Week Six Challenge-St. Paul’s Community

Instructions for teams each week:

Team takes a Video:

  1. Tell Assignment
  2. Show Completed Lego from all sides.
  3. Explain how team came up with idea and anything you think we should know.
  4. Email to Dropbox by Nooon on Thursday.

Team takes a picture of team with Lego build for our newsletters, Facebook & Instagram accounts.

Loaded for Congregation and Voting start Monday at 5:00 PM.  Voting Closes Wednesday at 5:00 PM.

 Voting 1-5 with 1 being did not achieve it, 5 being excellent

  1. Overall Creativity
  2. Use of Lego Blocks
  3. Stayed true to story/assignment
  4. Originality in telling/showing story

I averaged the scores for each category above and then added them together.

Week One story ideas (Old Testament):

  • Jacob’s story (especially the wrestling with an angel)-Genesis 32
  • Balaam (and the Talking Donkey) -Numbers 22
  • Ezekiel & visions – Ezekiel 1
  • Deborah & victory – Judges 4 (might be too graphic?)
  • Joshua & wall collapsing-Joshua 6
  • Meshack, Shadrack and Abendigo -Daniel 3
  • King Jehoshaphat- 2Chronicles 19-20
  • The Tower of Babel – Genesis 11
  • Samson – Judges 14-15
  • Elisha and the bears- 2 Kings 2
  • Naaman 2 King 5

Challenge 2: New Testament Stories

  • Story of Zechariah-Luke 1: 5-25
  • Simeon meets Jesus-Luke 2: 25-35
  • Four Friends encounter Jesus-Mark 2:1-12
  • Jesus heals the 10 Lepers- Luke 17:11-19
  • Jesus Quiets the Storm: Mark 4:35-41 & Matthew 8:23-27
  • Parable of the Prodigal Son: Luke 15:11-32
  • Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead: John 11:17-44
  • Jesus appears to Paul-Acts 9:3-19
  • Paul and Silas in Prison-Acts 16:16-40
  • Other ideas-Samaritan woman at well

Challenge 3: Parts of Liturgy (find all in Book of Common Prayer)

  •                Gloria (p 356)
  •               Hymn (any)
  •                Nicene Creed (p 358)
  •                The Confession & Absolution (p 360)
  •                The Lord’s Prayer (p 364)
  •                Morning Prayer-canticle (p 85- 95)
  •                Morning Prayer-General Thanksgiving (p 101)
  •                Psalm (any- starting p 585)
  •                Eucharist-the Great Thanksgiving  (p361-365)

Challenge 4: Church History

  •   Martin Luther and the 95 theses 
  • Queen Elizabeth I
  • Henry VIII
  • Any Reformation References
  • Samuel Seabury (First Episcopal Bishop)
  • Civil Rights Movement 
  • Philadelphia 11
  • Katharine Jefferts Schori (First Female Presiding Bishop)
  • Council of Nicea

Challenge 5: The Sacraments (explained BCP page 858-859 and services in BCP)

  •                 Baptism
  •                Holy Eucharist
  •                Confirmation
  •                Ordination
  •                Holy Matrimony
  •                Reconciliation of a Pentinent
  •                Unction of the Sick
  •                Baptismal Covenant (BCP 304-305)
  •                Baptismal Vows (BCP 305)

Challenge 6: St. Paul’s Community

  •  Church Service at St. Pauls
  • Children’s Ministry at St. Pauls
  • Youth Ministry at St. Pauls
  • Outreach-Serving others at St. Pauls
  • House of Prayer
  • Holy Days at St. Pauls
  • Christian Formation/Sunday School at St. Pauls
  • Favorite service or event at St. Pauls
  • An event at St. Pauls
  • Music Ministry at St. Pauls

I purchased two gold LEGO blocks on key rings. The LEGO Master for children age and for youth age each receive a gold block. They then become the judges for the next LEGO Master Tournament.

Halloween and All Saints Event for Families (Outdoors)

Saints Scavenger Hunt: For a two hour period, families are invited to walk in our open field area and find saints.  The saints are on a stick.  Each saint has a picture or icon on one side and a description of their life on the other side.  When families arrive, they get a sheet with a line about a saint.  They walk the saints and identify the saint on their sheet of paper that matches the one line description on their sheet.  Once they have identified all the saints, the family gets a bag of candy for each child.  The candy is prepackaged a week before.

Then they can walk through our haunted playground. At the playground, spaces were pre-assigned.  Our families decorated their assigned and physically distanced space.  Our younger youth stayed within their family decorated playground space.  Pool noodles were placed for families to walk and stay at least six feet from the haunted playground haunters.  Candy and Halloween toys were tossed by those wearing gloves.

For all events, everyone wears a mask and plenty of hand sanitizer is placed about.

Other ideas for All saints: have adults take on the role of saints and write letters to young children, provide coloring sheets, and/or have a saint a day for a few weeks putting up a saint with information about him or her.

For Saint Scavenger Hunt:

Need:   

  • Pictures of saints (laminated) with information on back
  • Handout with a fact to match & one or two questions
  • Bags of candy
  • Gift bag
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Craft sticks to place Saint in ground
  • Table for candy
  • Start Table
  • Stick name plate that says “I am a Saint” and craft sticks at prize table.

Before Event:

  1. Make the Saints with facts
  2. Purchase prize bags
  3. Put together prize bags
  4. eedevent
  5. Put saints on craft sticks
  6. Decide location
  7. Set up event
  8. Get someone to take pictures

During Event :

  • People pick up Saint handout search at start table (do outside).  People come in costume.  Have camera to take pictures.
  • People look around field, playground and other outside areas for saints.  When they find them, they put the name of the saint to match the search fact.  When they have found all the saints, they bring their sheet to the prize table.  Each child receives a prize bag.  Adults get to a piece of candy.
  • The children put their name on a name plate on a craft stick that says “I am a Saint!”  They can stick them in the ground anywhere along the search area.

After Event:

  • Clean up area
  • Put all Saints away for another year
  • Move “I am a Saint” to a common place for a few weeks
  • Put prizes left over away.
  • Send pictures for publicity.
  • Do a small write up.

Saints being used 2020

  1. Nicholas
  2. David Pendleton Oakhater
  3. Hannah More
  4. Paul
  5. Peter
  6. John
  7. Patrick
  8. Francis
  9. Brigid
  10. Kevin
  11. Martha
  12. Catherine of Siena
  13. Sojourner Truth
  14. Florence Nightingale
  15. Absalom Jones
  16. Mother Teresa
  17. William Wilberforce
  18. Martin
  19. Elizabeth, Princess of Hungary
  20. Lucia

For Haunted Playground:

Need:

  • Way to mark family area for each haunter.
  • Pool Noodles
  • Gloves
  • Candy

Before event:

  • Get families to sign up that they will decorate.  Each family brings their own decorations, their own chairs to sit on, and candy to hand out. 
  • Mark space for each family and assign space.
  • Hand out gloves to those tossing candy.
  • Put pool noodles to act as walk way.

At Event: Ensure families walking event stay socially distant.

After event: Each family cleans up their space.

Celebrating St. Francis & Creation: Online Ideas during COVID (Feast Day is October 4)

Who is St. Francis: Francis was born in Assisi, Italy in 1182. He grew up leading a privileged life as the son of a wealthy cloth merchant. Francis loved to learn and sing songs as a boy. His father wanted him to become a businessman and taught him about the French culture. As Francis grew up, he began to see visions from God that changed his life. The first vision was when he was sick with a high fever. At first, he thought that God had called him to fight in the Crusades. However, he had another vision that told him to help the sick. Finally, when praying in a church, Francis heard God tell him to “repair my church, which is falling in ruins.”
Francis gave all his money to the church. His father became very angry with him. Francis then left his father’s home and took a vow of poverty. As Francis lived his life of poverty and preached to people about the life of Jesus Christ, people began to follow him. By 1209, he had around 11 followers. He had one basic rule which was “To follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in his footsteps”.
Francis was a devoted follower of God. He and his followers were dirty, poor, and smelled bad. However, eventually people understood their vow of poverty and the church blessed the Order. He loved and cared for the sick, especially the lepers.
The Franciscan Order grew as men joined and made vows of poverty. When a woman named Clare of Assisi wanted to take similar vows, Francis helped her start the Order of the Poor Ladies (Order of Saint Clare). He also started another order (later called the Third Order of Saint Francis) that was for men and women who didn’t take vows or leave their jobs, but lived out the principals of the Franciscan Order in their daily lives.
Francis was known for his love of nature and animals. There are many stories about Saint Francis and his preaching to animals. It is said that one day he was talking to some birds when they began to sing together. Then they flew into the sky and formed the sign of a cross.
It was also said that Francis could tame wild animals. One story tells of a vicious wolf in the town of Gubbio that was killing people and sheep. The people of the town were frightened and didn’t know what to do. Francis went to the town to confront the wolf. At first the wolf growled at Francis and prepared to attack him. However, Francis made the sign of the cross and told the wolf not to hurt anyone else. The wolf then became tame and the town was safe.

Why have a festival? The Feast of St. Francis is a great time to honor creation and our animal friends.  The festival can be used to focus on the care and love for creation, animals, and each other.  It, also, helps to build community, fellowship and appreciation of each other and our faith history.

Ways to do it online: It can be totally on line or give it out kits with contents to do the festival. Here are some ideas-  

  1. Pet “Trick” videos– ask people to make a very short video of them and their pet, preferably of the pet doing a trick.  For adults it can be similar to “Stupid Pet Tricks.”  Edit them and combine them into one video.  Show this for the festival or put it up on your website or media.
  2. Story Time: Record reading of and put on Facebook Live or do it as a Zoom:  The Prayer of St. Francis (for all ages.) and Francis: The Poor Man of Assisi (Life of a Saint)by Juliette Levivier.
  3. Coloring pages-https://www.thecatholickid.com/saint-francis-coloring-page/, besides St. Francis, include creation coloring pages and animal coloring pages.
  4.  Children’s Message-video record a short message about care of animals and care of creation.  This goes well with story time.
  5.   Music: All Things Bright and Beautiful is our St. Francis Festival theme.  Record your choir or a soloist singing it .  Put the music in a packet for families.  Or give this video which includes the lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FT_oDqOEGpc
  6. Prayer: The Prayer Attributed to St. Francis is a beautiful prayer of the day.  It can be found in the Book of Common Prayer on page 833.  A link for a copy: https://www.missionstclare.com/english/prayers/62.html. If giving a kit, include a page of prayers for creation.
  7. Crafts: If making kits for all, here is a cute and easy kit to give out: Unfinished wood birdhouses to paint and decorate or Birdseed cookies to put out: Mix together: 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup water, 3 Tablespoons corn syrup, 4 cups birdseed. Use cookie cutters and put mixture inside the cutter.  Put on wax paper to dry.  Once dry, remove cookie cutter and hang with yarn or put out on tree limb. Lastly, “Stain glass “ animals-tear up a bunch of pieces of colored tissue paper then laid them down on a sheet of wax paper. Cover it with another layer of wax paper then very quickly whisked a hot iron over the top. Get images of animals from the internet (coloring page ones work best.) Size them the size for the stain glass then print. Place the animal print on top of a piece of construction paper and cut out both layers with an Exacto knife. Cut the wax paper “stained glass” out to size and glued it to the back. 
  8.  Outreach ideas: Make the birdseed cookies or bird houses for gift so others can enjoy the animals. Give each family a list of ways to take care of creation and ask them to do one or two for a week or more.  Do a collection of supplies for an animal shelter.

Follow with an outside Blessing or drive through blessing of animals.

Start of School/Formation During COVID

Usually or normally, we would….  Doesn’t it seem that we start a lot of things that way these days?  We are faced with developing a new normal.  Once our children head back to school in the Fall, we give them a week (or two depending on the calendar) and then we would have our big “Rally Day/Start of Christian Formation/Christian Formation Kick off.”

Where once we would have a big barbecue after the Blessing of Backpacks (see blog for how we are doing this now) filled with games and talking, we are faced with children starting school online and the inability to safely gather large groups of people.  The following week (if not Labor Day), we would have balloons lining the hallways, gifts waiting for each student, and Christian Formation/Sunday School classrooms filled with excited volunteers and children.  How do we bring that excitement when we cannot gather?  After asking myself, “What is the mission behind these events?  What is it that makes them so valuable?”  The answer for our church is community, relationships, connection (or re-connection) and learning about God.

The challenge becomes how can we create the things that made these days special during COVID-19 spread?  To build community, I am introducing a church-wide game.  We are having a Lego-My-Bible LEGO Master Tournament.  Everyone will participate by either building or helping vote (see previous blog on how I am doing this).  To build relationships, I am creating a prayer and pen pal buddy.  Children sign up (so only those who truly want to do this).  I will match them by age/grade.  Children write letters, schedule facetime talks, and think of little gifts they can make for each other.  Most importantly, they pray for each other, which is formation and relationship building.  I will share prayers to help when they cannot find the words.  I, also, have started a letter writing campaign with the goal of writing a letter to each child by hand (that is over 150).  I am hoping to get some volunteers to write encouraging letters in October to all children if we are still in “Shelter-at-Home” status. Connection is a little bit harder.  It is hard to connect to something bigger when we are alone.  I plan to continue weekly formation and chapel on line each week, but am adding other ways that are not as organized.  Lunch with Deacon Lauren on Zoom is my plan.  With a small age appropriate topic, I plan to spend lunch hour once a week with children by age/grade.  The goal is to connect to each other as we “share” a meal together.  Learning about God will continue in partnership form.  I plan to post live-streams that can be watched throughout the week, Children’s worship twice weekly and the Family Bible/Devotions on my “For Families” page.

Translating this for your church, what is the reason/purpose you do the events for school and start of Christian Formation/Sunday School?  What are your goals?  How can you take those things and translate them to online?  If you are having trouble finding alternatives to your goals, please feel free to contact me and I will help think of ideas.

Have a blessed and safe start of the school/program year!

Fall Christian Formation Planning for Children and Families with Young Children During COVID

Like many Directors of Christian Formation and Children’s Ministry Directors, planning for “Sunday School” or regular Christian Formation is challenging. We want to keep our children safe, but we want to give thtem the tools to continue on their faith journey. Many families are feeling overwhelmed by becoming their child’s teacher in addition to all the other roles being home bound now require. Ideally, this is when the church becomes a support system and a place of comfort, as well as, a place to encounter God and learn.

I wanted to compile a list with lots of different offering so families can pick and choose what they want to do, what they can do, and allow for flexibility to change week to week. I have compiled a list of free online resources that can be shared and used by families inaddition to the online worship service at their normal Sunday Worship.

Here is the list with links:

Children’s Chapels

St. Paul’s Children’s Chapel twice a week: Sundays at 11 AM, Wed 9:30 AM on Facebook Live (can view anytime). Sunday is for all children, while Wednesdays is more for preschool age. www.facebook.com/stpaulswinstonsalem

St. Anne’s Children Message: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZeR42POMr68m5R8rwAIGDA?app=desktop

St. Luke’s Children’s Chapel Sundays at 10:00 AM  https://www.facebook.com/StLukesSalisbury/

Nativity Children’s Message on Sundays: https://www.facebook.com/nativityonline

Summer Sundays at Emmanuel: http://www.emmanuel-parish.org/  

St. Mary’s Chapel: http://www.amyschapelchat.org/chapel-chat-videos.html

Free Resources for Online Ideas/Curriculum/Formation Events Continue Family Formation & Devotion activities to do together (Bible Story, meditation, prayer, discussion questions, craft, music video link, outreach activity, activity to do together, in-reach activity (serving our family), games, watching the story video links, and summer Flat Jesus activity.)  Comes out once a week with up to three saved on the site.  Link: http://www.laurensline.com/family-devotions-formation/ 

Ideas for Children’s Ministry Online events (Online Summer Camp, Lego, Kindergarten events, etc.) http://www.laurensline.com/blog/

http://churchschool.info/  (Virtual Sunday School on line resource)

https://lessonplansthatwork.org/ (Episcopal Church includes home and group activities) *(Also in Spanish)

Do Lego Bible Build once a month for all ages.  http://www.laurensline.com/2020/06/22/virtual-lego-ministry-night/

Forward Movement: Faith at Home: www.dofaithathome.org -sends out weekly readings and activities based on weekly lectionary scripture readings. *(Also in Spanish)

Family Faith and Prayer Booklets https://www.thykingdomcome.global/sites/default/files/2019-03/TKC_Home_Pack_V4.pdf    *(Also in Spanish)

www.spokanediocese.org/worship/worshipathome.html (Also in Spanish)

Parent group do the Living Compass Parenting.  Put in groups of 12.  Meet once a week or month. https://www.livingcompass.org/parents (also have teen program)  *(Also in Spanish)

Using Zoom: Meet by grade/age meetings, lunch with Children’s Minister, EYC for 4th & 5th Graders, Parents After Dark, Taco Tuesdays, Reading to Preschoolers, and discussion of use family home curriculum.

Video Formation: Send out videos to watch on Sundays (Instructed Eucharist, Bible Stories, etc.) and then on an Evening have a Zoom discussion.  Lots of materials, just watch before you send out for appropriateness and beliefs.

Blessing Backpacks & Devices in Times of COVID 19

Our church, like many churches, have been doing virtual services instead of our usual worship schedule.  Schools in our area, have decided to begin online classes for all of its students. 

Normally, we would have a Blessing of Backpacks the Sunday before school starts and over 100 children would participate.  This year is going to be very different.  I wanted to still honor the start of the school year, even if it is going to be unusual, with most children remaining at home.

During the Sunday worship Service, live-stream, we will say a prayer and bless the backpack tags we are giving out.  Then we are inviting families to drive by with their backpacks and devices.  We are asking them to hold them out the window of their car as we bless each one (with water for backpacks) and give them a specially made backpack tag for attaching to their backpack or bag. We, also, made bookmarks with our children and youth online schedule for the fall. We handed these out.

We have scheduled an hour for this and are doing it in a covered area.  For those who cannot drive up, we are blessing the tags, so they can attach them to their bag when we can give them their tag.

For the tags, we try to make them as fun and useful as possible.  This year, instead of designing our own, we are purchasing a stained glass picture, putting our church on the back and using the luggage tag laminator to make them. (See previous backpack for tag instructions).

Celebrating Starting Kindergarten Online

One of the most momentous occasions in a young family’s life is the starting of kindergarten for their child. This marks the moment that the child is moving away from a life centered on family to one of school and friends. As a mother, I joined many mother’s whose eyes were filled with tears after the first day drop off. There is no going back to a baby. Kindergarten signifies a permanent shift in the family.

This year is different. Some will not be able to attend schools, because the schools are closed to in-person learning, some parents are too worried to risk sending their child to school, and some will attend, but an air of worry goes with it.

It is important for the church to acknowledge this momentous step in a family’s life and still keep safety in mind. Honoring and acknowledging this step moves the church out of the Sunday morning “box” and into a family’s life and home.

The invitations to a Zoom on-line breakfast are sent out a month ahead of time, so busy families can make plans. I am doing it the week before school is set tp start. With each RSVP, I create a Kindergarten kit. The kit contains the books mentioned below, a growth chart with spiritual, physical, and emotional milestones, a pencil and a backpack tag that says the church loves them. Kits can be picked up, mailed or delivered if it is a small group.

I decorate the room that I am making the Zoom call from. At the appointed time, we all join in for breakfast. I ask the children if they are worried, excited, what they are looking forward to,

Once all are settled, I talk about the importance of this day. I discuss the growth chart and what is expected in the next year including Faith, Interpersonal, Values, Family and Needs of the Age. I talk about the importance of church and a faith life is to the growing child and their family. I, also, give hints of what to do when roadblocks, such as boredom or not wanting to come, hit. The kit contains a Parent Booklet “Getting School Ready!” (Click on the Link to be taken to the site to get a free PDF.). I have on hand a book: Lessons Learned: The Kindergarten Survival Guide for Parents by Jeannie Podest, who is a teacher and parent. One option is to order enough copies for each parent to take home. Lastly, I give each child a book: Kindergarten, Here I Come by DJ Steinberg. Another really good one is On the First Day of Kindergarten by Trish Rabe. (Click on the books to go to Amazon to see and get the books). I remind parents and children that I am there for them. In each book given, I have a label that says “A Gift from St. Paul’s Children’s Ministry.”

Parents are very grateful for the breakfast and the attention. It reminds them that the church cares about them and what is happening in their lives. It, also, serves as an evangelism tool, as the parents will tell other parents at their school what a great thing their church did for them.

We do not have to let worry and fear take away from this beloved moment in a child’s life.

Clicking on and purchasing any of the items through this site, helps to fund this site. Thank you.

Virtual Summer Camp

Families are looking for something to fill their children’s time. This is a great time for church’s to offer them a chance to grow in faith.

If you are like us in North Carolina, most Vacation Bble Schools were canceled. Virtual VBS is still a possiblity, but many of the things that make a VBS fun and different are lost with the online version.

Offering a unique camp experience done on line, can draw families closer to God and with their church.

Creating the Camp

First, pick a popular movie for families. We chose Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but any movie will do.

Second, pick characters in the movie and come up with their moral tie-in. find Bible stories that deal with this tie-in. For Augustus Goop, I chose gluttony and then picked the Bible story of Esau giving away his inheritance (Genesis 25:29-34), Veronica Salt (self-indulgent) and chose Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke), Violet Beauregarde (rude) and chose Zechariah laughing at the angel, and so forth.

Third, find a craft kit, game, activity pages, musical videos, and on-line sources for each day.

Fourth , get youth and adults to film skits.

Fifth-order supplies, register families, and get ready for a week of fun!

Schedule of Camp

The week before, every family picks up their kit.

On the Sunday, families watch the movie together (we made sure it was on Netflix and Amazon Prime). We also included a chocolate bar with a golden ticket saying they have been chosen to join us for camp.

Monday – Friday: We start off each day with an introduction of the day. “Willy Wonka” tells us about the character, the Bible story, and a short lesson and prayer. There are links to videos to watch our youth telling or acting out the Bible story. There is a scheduled Zoom for a group game. Inside the kit is the days craft kit with instructions, links to music video, Bible cartoon of story, other activities. At 11:30 AM, we have a large group Zoom to review the morning, talk aobut the lesson, and play another game.

Outreach activities and snack activities can be included too. I, also, looked for little toys, pencils and other giveaways for each child for the story or lesson of the day.

For Later

We plan an outdoor get together for all the families that participated and will have an Eucharist when we are able to get back together safely.

Virtual Lego Ministry Night

With the COVID-19 keeping us isolated at home, a fun activity to engage our church members is a Lego Bible Night. This can be done over several nights or days.

Choose one Bible story per family involved. Have a print out of the story or a link to the story. Make each one a different story and make sure it is something that families can use to make come alive. Give or send each family their story. Include with the story or link some information/background material (what was happening, the time, a little history, etc.). Give them some discussion questions to think about. Send a prayer families can say before they start their build.

Working together, the family creates a Lego piece that shares the story. They can video tape themselves talking about the piece and retelling the story or hold a zoom meeting and each family shares with the others involved. Make sure to get pictures of the completed works, so they can be shared witht he whole parish.

After the Zoom call when all are shared, close in prayer and thank the families for sharing in this time. Families might enjoy this so much, that they would like a story a week.

Keep all the pictures and create a story book for the children or video link with all the videos.

Celebrating with Families: Fifth Grade Breakfast

One of the most important things a children’s ministry can do is be a part of a family’s everyday life.  Moving outside of Sunday.  This tells the child and the family, that they are important, they matter, and God is a part of their lives beyond church.

Helping families develop rituals will help them find ways to incorporate their faith into the special moments.  Most families love to find ways to celebrate and include their faith, but are unsure what to do.

It is, also, important for the church to acknowledge and celebrate the milestones in a child’s life.  This says, you are a part of our family.  God loves you.  We love you.  We are here for you.

An important milestone in a child’s life that often gets overlooked is a child’s move from Elementary School to Middle School.  Children have mixed feelings about this move.  Along with excitement, there is fear of the unknown, stress of the what ifs, and grief over what is being left behind.  Parents are feeling these mixed feelings too.  Their child is growing and moving into the teenage part of life.  The obstacles and dangers are real.  The expectations parents place on themselves as they try to include so much in their child’s life can cause stress and anxiety.

One of the things I do to celebrate and help is to hold a Fifth Grade Breakfast.  We invite the parents and their fifth grade child.  Our fourth graders serve and act as hosts.  We do this at the end of fifth grade, usually the weekend before school ends.

We start off with prayer and then enjoy a buffet breakfast.  Once everyone has eaten about ¾ of their plate, we start the program.  After thanking the parents for sharing their child with me, I tell the children how much it has meant to me to be a part of their lives.  I remind them of their spiritual journey and there are many steps left.  I remind them how faith can help them and how much they are loved by their church family.

I give the parents a developmental chart which includes what to expect for the next six years including spiritual, physical, emotional, mental, and other aspects growth.  Similar to the developmental sheet parents got when their child was an infant, this helps parents to know what is coming and how to help or step back while their child moves through this last part of childhood.

Our Youth Leaders, then, talk about youth group and youth formation.  Emphasizing the importance of this in their developmental journey.  We offer support of the parents, as well as, the teen.

After questions and answers, we ask each of the parents to say how their child was a blessing to them.  It is very beautiful to hear and the children are very moved.

We end it with a blessing and a promise that I will always be there for them and this church will always be their home.

Because COVID-19 physical distancing, we could not do our fifth grade breakfast.  We mailed each family a developmental chart and mailed a card to each child telling them how much we love them.  If it is possible, we will hold the fifth grade breakfast at the start of the program year before their sixth grade year starts.  If not, the contact is important.