Little kids are everywhere at Mars Hill Church. We have almost 2,000 kids come through our doors each week, many of whom live in Seattle, which has the second least number of children among any US city—it’s a city with more dogs than children per capita.
As the Bible teaches, we encourage parents to teach their children about Jesus. We also have Community Groups in which children are welcome with people of all ages, and we have children’s ministry for those families wanting to allow their children to participate in age-appropriate teaching during our various services rather than having them sit in the main services, which is also an option for parents.
Big Plans for Little Kids
Like many churches, we have found some good children’s curriculum. But we wanted to try and do something different for our children’s ministry. This started with some big ideas I had and began discussing with our Creative and Communications teams. What we came up with was our new curriculum rolling out this Sunday: Doctrine for Kids.
I had an opportunity to look over the final materials this week, and they are awesome!
The curriculum is based on my book Doctrine and was developed by Mars Hill Kids’ Ministry and Curriculum Director Chrissie Wright. Chrissie’s is a great gift to our church and an awesome addition to our leadership, and I want to publicly thank her for her hard work and dedication to our kids and to this curriculum project.
Chrissie’s education includes a B.A. with honors from Stanford, where she was a Phi Beta Kappa. She was awarded the Harry S. Truman Scholarship for excellence in leadership, academics, and public service, and the 2009 Sue Lehmann Excellence in Teaching Award, a national teaching prize awarded for outstanding leadership toward student achievement and selected from over 4,000 Teach For America corps members nationwide.
In addition to her awards, Chrissie’s gifted teaching was featured in a November 6, 2010 Seattle Times story, “Struggling West Seattle Elementary gets a fresh start,” in a September 27, 2010 KING5 story, “Teacher returns to Seattle after turning around struggling Bronx school,” and in the book Teaching as Leadership: The Highly Effective Teacher’s Guide to Closing the Achievement Gap. Simply, she’s Yoda smart, great with kids, and loves Jesus. When we put out a national search for the director position, we found Chrissie already serving at Mars Hill West Seattle in the children’s Sunday school.
I asked Chrissie to write up an overview of what parents can expect as their kids start this new curriculum on Sunday, and she was kind enough to send over the following.
The new curriculum will include a shift to some new Sunday rhythms for kids ages four and up.
Starting with Focus: When you check your child in to his or her classroom, rather than entering to free play, the kids will start with a focus activity that gears up their brains for what they’re about to learn.
Singing and Learning: After warming up with the focus activity, kids will participate in large group worship (supported by some rocking new music videos from the Rizers) and a lesson taught live by a volunteer teacher. Each lesson will elaborate on a one-sentence “Big Idea” that summarizes the doctrine of the week.
Kids Community Group: Kids will spend the bulk of their time in a Community Group, a small group of 5 to 10 kids led by a Mars Hill member. Just like with adult Community Groups, by meeting weekly, kids and volunteers will build deeper relationships as they discuss the gospel and live in response to the grace they have received from God. Every week, Community Groups will include discussion, an application activity, Scripture exploration, and prayer.
Play: Kids will conclude with some time to play. Playtime is a high-dividend opportunity for volunteers to apply the gospel to real life situations. As challenges emerge, volunteers will help narrate kids’ need for Jesus the Rescuer, and connect that need to the story of Jesus as Hero.
In addition to providing resources for volunteers, every family will receive a copy of the Doctrine for Kids Family Guide. Each week, kids ages four and up will be learning the same part of the same doctrine at varying levels of complexity, so you can look forward to having unified study as a family. The Family Guide will include:
Specific language your child’s teacher used to teach the doctrine during the Sunday lesson
Discussion questions from Community Group as well as additional questions for your family
Recommendations of Scripture passages that the doctrine is rooted in for you to explore together as a family
Ideas of ways you can be praying as a family and recording your prayers to celebrate your witness to God’s work
As he reflected on the upcoming curriculum launch, one volunteer said, “I love that Doctrine for Kids incorporates ideas for keeping the kids engaged, highlights gospel links, and provides clear objectives. It’s well laid out, organized, and rich. Overall, I believe it will be an excellent tool for kids servants on Sundays and families throughout the week in lifting up and applying Jesus’ work on the cross to kids.”
Thanks again to Chrissie for giving us this overview. We’re excited to see this curriculum start this Sunday for Mars Hill kids and families.
Parents, we’d love to hear your stories of what the kids think about the curriculum and what you think, as well. Please send your stories to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.