Since moving north, we have learned so much and every week (or day!) seems to bring with it a fresh challenge to navigate or another learning point to take on board. We feel its important to highlight these, either for future church planters, teams of church plants or for people to hear in a bit more depth the journey we are on right now.
One of the great things about our breakfast drop in launch last October was that we could get up and running quickly, connecting and getting to know folk in the city – now that has shifted dramatically! We are 8 months in since our end of April Sunday service launch and its going brilliantly. One the main joys and successes has been the launch of Vineyard Kids and Vineyard Tots- and alot of that is down to our team being just brilliant! Being able to create a space for our children and little ones to encounter Jesus has been amazing and we have learned the importance of this space as the church has grown. Here are a couple of things it has taught us:
- Understanding and appreciating the impact this adventure has on our own and all other children: Mhairi and I had a wee moment afew months in when we were aware that although the upheaval on us was huge, for our kids it is just as big (if not bigger!) and we must ALL make sure we have spaces to look to Jesus, thank him and cry to him for help. Everything we are going through our brilliant little boys are journeying with us, so it is the family business. At the turn of the year, we were quite conscious that how we were running Sundays wasn’t working in its current format with regards to our children and the planting teams children, and visiting families. We were running our weekly breakfast drop in, but we didn’t have a program for pre-school age kids or primary age kids. (we had some games and a soft-play area) In time this made the morning quite a challenge for us as parents and also the children. We felt although we had some games and activities it wasn’t the same as feeding them spiritually in an intentional environment. We are passionate about our children “being filled and sent out”, to be singing songs of worship in their weeks and recounting stories of Gods love and power but what we were doing wasn’t allowing that to happen.
- Since launching KIDS and TOTS we are seeing more and more visitors: Its no coincidence that when we have started regular spaces for our kids to worship and meet Jesus , we have seen more and more visitors and families join the church. When we place value on our children, and run spaces that are more than babysitting but that teach the Kingdom and have time for them to encounter the Holy Spirit in significant ways, stuff happens. Our children teach us so much, I am in awe of my eldest sons (he’s 4) hunger for praying the sick – we adults have so much to learn!
- Its placing value on our kids I mentioned in a previous blog who my eldest boy who is 4 said a number of Sundays ago at bedtime “I loved church today”. We want our children to love and follow Jesus, and love going to church to meet with him. So we want to pull out all the stops to make the best we can, and to make sure the program we have includes lots of fun, lots of space to be themselves, lots of mess and lots of Jesus. They are not to miss out!! We had a boy who was invited by a friend about 4 months ago, wasn’t dancing or participating in our Kids programme. 10 mins later he was jumping up and down, singing the songs and joining in the games. On one of the games, I heard him shout: “THIS IS THE BEST CHURCH EVER!.” He has been coming since. We want our kids to gossip the gospel, and gather their pals to hear about Jesus. A question I want us to revisit regularly as a church plant is : How do we make Sundays the highlights of our childrens weeks?!
- We continue to learn/adapt/make mistakes. We are always learning and making mistakes. Our services are going great, seeing heaps of kids come along, and that then means they come to RISE. We don’t have a dedicated programme for Kids at RISE yet (Tots still runs weekly for pre-school) and we are relaunching RISE once a month into 2019. Although we can be proactive in planning ahead, we have learned we have to see what God is wanting to do, and be reactive to that quickly to facilitate it and let it flourish – forever adopting a learning posture. We aren’t afraid of making mistakes, its often the mistakes that are rich in learning to push on and try something else.
- Everything is in the room: There are obviously also lots of practical factors in starting up kids work that can’t be ignored (Child protection, PVG, DBS, References etc) that need to be considered and also have a team that are passionate in leading, participating and going “all in”, we have been blessed from the outset with this and we know that is not always the case. Our learning and advice would be the minute you can bring the bare bones of a programme together for children, you sense you have a couple of people that could get behind it – don’t hesitate and get going! It was daunting for us seeing the children coming along and thinking how on earth do we start?!? We remembered something our previous pastors would tell us “everything is in the room” – the people are always there, God has it! That has always been the case. God has used Vineyard Kids and Tots mightily in these first 8 months of Sunday services for us and we can’t wait to see what he is going to do next.
We hope these wee blogs are helpful in providing an insight, any questions we would love to connect,