Family Ministry

advice, thoughts, and discussion

Did your kids understand Easter?

Here’s an article that I read on Focus on the Family’s website, and I thought it was written really well. It’s something I wanted to share with all of you:

Many parents would agree that children should wait until they are older to see the acclaimed movie The Passion of the Christ, which graphically depicts the horrible violence that Jesus Christ endured before giving His life on the cross.

For the most part, children in our culture are privileged enough to be insulated from the reality and “scariness” of death.

Death and life, however, are at the core of the Christian message exemplified by Good Friday and Easter and remembered each Sunday. How much does your child understand that message?

Children need to know that dying was Jesus Christ’s reason for living on earth. They also need to know about Jesus’ resurrection three days later. As a parent, you can have the wonderful privilege of talking with your child about these important truths. The Easter season (which only begins with Easter Sunday) is great time to do this.

The following mini-lessons are designed for you to download, print out, review with a Bible in hand and then read with your child. These lessons will help you give your child a greater appreciation and understanding of the purpose of Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection.

Ultimately, these five mini-lessons will encourage your child to join God’s family.

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He is Risen!

He is risen, He is risen indeed! It’s Easter. Time to celebrate that triumphant morning when our Savior rose victorious from the grave!

According to the New Testament, during the Jewish Passover season, Christ was tried for treason by Pilate, the Roman appointed governor, and then by Herod, King of Judea, and again by Pilate, before being sentenced to death on a cross. Though declared innocent by the authorities, Christ was crucified and laid in a sealed and guarded tomb. But on the third day He rose from the dead, with the power to save mankind from their sins. This event is commemorated every year in the spring as a holy day for Christians around the world.

But, did you know Easter was never intended to be just one day? For most families, including Christians, God gets an hour on Sunday, and we get the rest of the day to hunt eggs, think of cut little bunnies and lambs…and eat lots and lots of chocolate. Now, don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with traditional Easter celebrations; it’s just thatwe can’t focus all of our attention on those things.

“The shame isn’t that we are celebrating Easter Day; it is that we are missing Easter Season. It’s like scraping off the icing without realizing you could have had cake too. That may be hard for most of us to comprehend in our culture that prizes a hurry-up and move-on attitude. But God, who specifically called his people to times of annual celebration and festival, did so because seasons of celebration accomplish significant things in the lives of His followers.” (Kim Wier)

How about your family? Ready for some cake? Try these faith-filled activities that go beyond Sunday morning as you usher in this Easter season.

Ages 0-3

Help your little ones stuff hollow plastic eggs with one chocolate heart, because Jesus came to give us a new heart toward God. Then allow your little one to hand them out to friends, neighbors, or people you meet during the day. You might include a note inside with the passage from John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” – Jesus

Ages 4-7

Hold a neighborhood egg hunt, but award the large basket filled with candy for whoever finds the one empty egg, representing the empty tomb. When the child finds the empty egg he or she must call out, “He is not here he has risen, just as he said.” Be sure to conclude the hunt with an Easter story on the lawn. I’d recommend The Very First Easter, by Paul L. Maier. (If you go to my church, I can lend you a copy 🙂

Ages 8-12

Sometimes the greatest joy is in the giving. Visit a nearby hospital or retirement home and greet one of the residents with a fresh Easter lily. You may want to attach a card with some encouraging words about the hope we have in our risen Lord.

Age 13-18

Children this age might enjoy a surprise field trip for a sunrise service at the park or a nearby lake. Be sure to bring a Bible, hymnbook or maybe even a guitar for a worshipful early morning celebration.

All Ages

Since there are many new visitors attending church for the Easter service, make a point to greet and invite someone to lunch afterwards. Then remember to make plans to sit together next Sunday at church.

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Let’s Get Messy to Make Peace!

I was reading through some KidMin (Children’s Ministry) Blogs the other night, and really liked this one – put out by our Orange Curriculum. It talks about some creative ways to help kids remember what the virtue and the lessons are for each week. Here’s a great idea that I found and thought I would share with everyone. It’s something really easy that a church, or even a parent could organize for kids!

From 252Blog:

Sometimes making peace can be messy, and getting messy can be lots of fun!

As we’ve focused on “Peace – choosing you care more about each other than winning an argument,” we’ve seen monumental growth in our kids!

We talked about how it’s not always easy to make peace. We knew that if our kids were going to understand this difficult concept, we had to do something drastic that would capture their hearts and their imagination. So when our creative team met last month, we planned a “Get Messy to Make Peace” event, as a finale to our month-long study.

We knew three things going into the planning for this day:

We wanted the kids to remember it

We wanted them to get messy,

We wanted them to bring their friends.

With that end in mind, we took our inspiration from the nation-wide phenomenon known as “The Color Run.” This new, relevant 5K running fad was the perfect way for us to show that getting messy to make peace was worth it! We contacted “The Color Run” and found out what we needed to put on a very similar event at our church to wrap up “Peace”. On February 24th we did just that.

We challenged our kids to make peace with those in their lives and asked them to make a commitment to do so. When they stood to show their commitment, the fun began. Their Small Group Leaders “colored” the kids, making each of them not only extremely messy but also brightly colored!

The church that did this is in a downtown, urban setting. We held the event outside and saw people from neighboring hi-rises standing on their balconies watching. It was a moment I won’t soon forget.

All of our kids left in a heap of color, with smiles on their faces. They understood what making peace meant. Not because I told them to, but because God called us to.

Get Messy!

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FUN…a 3 letter word.

I recently attended a new church’s services.  I was very excited about it because I had heard that the church had prepared some great music, musical numbers, and an interactive thing using  phones.

Now, you might be thinking ”interactive thing using phones?”  “Musical numbers?”  Sounds like a show more than a church service.

Well, there was a family sitting right in front of us that was visiting the church I attended that I am pretty sure was thinking the same thing.  In fact, I saw the older son lean over to his father during one of the electric guitar solos and say, “This is ridiculous. This isn’t church. It’s just a show.  They’re just up there having fun!”  Needless to say, they were not happy.

Now, I have to admit, I was a little puzzled about how visibly appalled and angry they were.  Yes, it was fun. Yes, there was a lot of laughter.  But, eventually, there was a very compelling message about the fact that the story that the Son of God came to this earth as a baby. It isn’t JUST a Christmas-time fable, but an actual event. A Fact.

But, the family in front of me didn’t seem to hear that part. They were bent out of shape at some of the “fun” we were having and, I suppose, were upset that the service wasn’t something to “their” liking. Maybe something more–“Reverent”.

Now, cut to the end of the service. We are all filing out of our rows, and as I watched this openly disgruntled family exiting the row, I heard someone else talking over my shoulder.

It was a young couple. They were dressed casually. Didn’t have a Bible in their hands.  But, I over heard them saying something that sent chills down my spine. They were saying, ”That was awesome. Didn’t I tell you we needed to come here?” And then, the next phrase that came out of the guy’s mouth rocked me.  He said, ”Yeah. You know, I think I have always thought about Christmas like it was a fairy tale.  I mean, what if it is all real?”

What if it is all real?

This guy just asked the million-dollar question.  All because he showed up.

So, what’s my point? Here’s the point. When we create environments for our children and for our parents that use a lot of “fun,” we are going to get flack. We are. It’s inevitable.  There are people who will not like how much fun we have. There will be people who will not like how much time we spend laughing.  There will be people who will feel like cracking a smile or doing something silly in church detracts from the message of Christ.  And usually, they are very vocal about it.

But when that happens, remember the family who hasn’t stepped foot in a church in years, the family who doesn’t even own a Bible. Remember that family who has ABSOLUTELY NO KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH within its pages.  Because I believe the “fun” (also referred to as JOY by more scholarly folk) might be what prepares that family to hear something that makes them ask, “What if this is all real?”

If I may go out on a limb, it’s those people whose opinions matter more.   The people who are walking into your church and are expecting, well . . . whatever it was that scared them or made them leave the last time they tried to come to a church. Their opinion matters most. I’m pretty sure that family that was sitting in front of me already have a relationship with Christ. But the other young couple may have just started a journey because they heard the Truth while having a good time.

What are some of the struggles you have overcome when it comes to incorporating “fun” into your environments?  Do you have any helpful ideas on how to talk with detractors?

(credit to orange)

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New Years for Christians?

Christmas is OBVIOUSLY a great time to talk to your kids and start fun traditions about their faith in Jesus Christ. But, what about New Year’s Eve, or New Year’s Day? What can we do to focus on God during the start of a New Year? The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up and get our bearings. For starters, here are 31 questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God as you “Consider your ways.” Think on the entire list at one sitting, or answer one question each day for a month. (Focus on the Family)

  1. What’s one thing you could do this year to become more intimate with God?
  2. What’s something miraculous that you can ask God for this year?
  3. What’s the most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
  4. Which spiritual discipline do you want to develop the most this year, and what will you do about it?
  5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
  6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
  7. Whose salvation will your pray for this year?
  8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
  9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
  10. What one thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in 10 years? In eternity?
  11. What’s the most important decision you need to make this year?
  12. What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what’s one way you could simplify in that area?
  13. What’s the most important need you feel burdened to meet this year?
  14. What habit would you most like to establish this year?
  15. Who do you most want to encourage this year?
  16. What is your most important financial goal this year, and what is the most important step you can take toward achieving it?
  17. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your work life this year?
  18. What’s one new way you could be a blessing to your pastor (or to another who ministers to you) this year?
  19. What’s one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?
  20. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?
  21. What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?
  22. What single blessing from God do you want to seek most earnestly this year?
  23. In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do about it this year?
  24. What’s the most important trip you want to take this year?
  25. What skill do you most want to learn or improve this year?
  26. To what need or ministry will you try to give an unprecedented amount this year?
  27. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your commute this year?
  28. What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year, and what will you do about it?
  29. In what area of your life do you need to change, and what will you do about it this year?
  30. How will you live a more sacrificial life this year?

And we can help our kids with these ideas, too. We can talk about what good achievements they’ve had and what shortcomings they’ve experienced. We can talk about goals to set for the New Year and can help them to make plans in order to achieve these goals.

One great goal to set for this year – Spend 15 minutes reading the Bible everyday, and then pray to God that He’ll show you what you need to change, or do each day to become more like Him.

Have a Great New Year Everybody!

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Thank You!

During the Christmas Season, it’s easy to get busy and all wrapped up in things like gifts, cookies, or decorations. But, we need to remember all of the blessings that we have all throughout the year. This made me think – do I appreciate my volunteer enough? Do I show them how much they really mean to me and how much I really enjoy having them on my team?

So I thought, what are some ways that we can appreciate our volunteers, co-workers, employees, or just someone we are acquainted with? I read a blog from 252 Basics to get some ideas. Here are the top ideas from Orange (now this is volunteer-based, but could work for others as well):

  1. Find some cute portable tissues. Create a label that says “Bless you!” and hand them out after volunteers serve. These are guaranteed to get a grin or laugh, plus they’re actually practical!
  2. Provide your volunteers with a quick pick-me-up. Load up a wheeled cart or a basket with treats; walk around handing out breakfast for morning services and snacks for afternoon/evening shifts. Hint: if you buy in bulk or on sale, look for non-perishables, so they last longer!
  3. Pick a week and ask other parents or adults who aren’t serving regularly to surprise your weekly volunteers with a full-on buffet of goodies. They can send in breakfast foods or snack things. Set it up on a long table off to the side of your gathering area with fall or winter decorations so they can easily “graze” and load up a plate while still keeping an eye on kids.
  4. With Red Box and Blockbuster Express kiosks in so many places, it’s never been easier or cheaper to thank volunteers. Pair a dollar or six quarters with microwavable popcorn or a box of movie candy, providing the entertainment and snack! If it’s too overwhelming to do this for everyone, think about highlighting and celebrating one volunteer a week or month.
  5. Find out if you can have a special sign made to mark one or two parking spots closest to the children’s ministry area. It would be great if it said, “Volunteer of the Week” or “Volunteer of the Month,” and had a place where you could change out the name. They’d get a thrill to see their name and be able to run right in!
  6. Buy a bunch of Pay Day and 100 Grand chocolate bars—write up a little note saying how much you appreciate what they do and this is just a down payment on all you wish you could give for their service! Sign it with a smile.
  7. Ask around to see who in your church takes decent photos and has patience with herding kids. Find a week (or two in case some leaders are absent) for them to stop by and take pictures of each of your leaders with their kids or serving on stage with the kids in the audience. Print these in black and white or sepia tones, then put them in a classy or fun greeting card with a magnet on back. Write a note, even getting their kids to sign it, saying how much they mean to the ministry and to you!
  8. Get everyone on your staff and other key volunteers to show off their favorite dance move. Take videos and photos. Put them all together and upload them to a service like Animoto, pick a fun background and music, add some text and a word of thanks, then email out the link. This will unleash lots of warm fuzzies with not a lot of cost! There are also other options like SmileBox to add photos or JibJab where you’d just add your faces to a funny scene.
  9. Create a Gratitude Card or End of Year Newsletter with a goal of mentioning all your regular volunteers by name in the body of text. Group them up by things they have in common—always arriving with a smile or coffee cup in hand, staying behind to help clean up, going the extra mile with kids, etc. Volunteers love to see their names as part of the team and get a specific, public shout out that shows you notice and appreciate them!
  10. Plan an Appreciation Night where you not only thank the volunteers, but their families and close friends or roommates that share them with you! Host a drive-in movie—turning a wall into a big screen—or watch a big game or even awards ceremony together. Your snacks and other activities can match the theme. This is another time you could ask kids/families not serving right now to bring in something as their way of saying thanks to help offset the cost. Borrow a projector and encourage people to bring lawn chairs and picnic blankets inside the building and spread out. Go over the top—serve in roller skates or set up a photo booth with lots of props to make it a night to remember!
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I’m Thankful

This Thursday is one of the best family days of the year- Thanksgiving! Unfortunately, so many families forget that it’s a day about being Thankful and being with family. More and more stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day and more and more people are choosing to forego dinner in order to get in line at stores and get the latest and greatest thing. Now, I love a good deal as much as the next person, but as they say on ESPN…C’MON MAN!

Let’s continue our family traditions, or start some new ones this year. Cherish your family. And, be Thankful for everything that you have been blessed with! Here’s some ideas:

1- The Turkey Trot: Whether your ‘trotting’ pace is a stroll or a sprint, the ubiquitous Turkey Trot is a fun way to offset that extra slice of pumpkin pie. And on such a day of gratitude and appreciation, you can’t argue with a community-centered event that often raises funds for charitable causes. (my aunt and uncle always have their kids trot with them…ages 6 and 8 – never too young!)

2- Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: Watch the parade! This is a great time for the family to gather in your PJs and experience the joy and excitement of Thanksgiving and the upcoming Christmas Season!

3- Let the kids cook: Bring the kids in the kitchen with you so they can “help” (or you can show/teach them) how to prepare a part of Thanksgiving Dinner. Kids can do something easy, like pouring the cream of mushroom soup in the casserole dish for the green bean casserole, beat the mashed potatoes (with your help of course), or set the table!

4- Play your own game of football: This was always a tradition in my husband’s family and with friends. Go outside and run around! Play catch, tackle each other, and see who’s going to win…boys or girls!

5- Make a wish: This is a tradition in my family. Known as a “lucky break” the tradition of tugging on either end of a fowl’s bone to win the larger piece and its accompanying “wish” dates back to the Etruscans of 322 B.C. The Romans brought the tradition with them when they conquered England and the English colonists carried the tradition on to America. You’ve gotta break the wishbone, and of course…make a wish!

6- Pre-meal prayer and Thankful wishes: Say a family prayer. After doing this, everyone around the table shares one thing that they are thankful for. It really makes you remember how much you really have and how blessed you are!

7- Football: If your family likes sports (as mine does) take some time to snuggle up after eating Turkey and watch one of the big games of the day. If you’re like my family, most of you will end up falling asleep!

8- Serve: There are people in our church this year that are spending their Thanksgiving with those who are less fortunate – by preparing a meal for them and sharing it with them. Take your kids and show them what serving is all about!

9- Show your gratitude to an unsung hero: Get together with your family and decide on a person or a group in your
community who could use an extra pat on the back; firefighters, soldiers, police officers, volunteers. Put
together a special plate of goodies and deliver it (or pack it up for shipping) as a family.

10- The day after Thanksgiving: You may be a family that does black Friday shopping…but after that – put up the Christmas tree. You don’t have to decorate it, or the rest of the house either (unless you want to) but putting up the tree (or the manger) the day after thanksgiving will help your family to remember what the Christmas season really is all about.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving! Spend time with family and friends, and remember all you have to be thankful for this year!



It’s time to give back

We live in a very privileged society. In the United States, kids are blessed with the gift of education, safe building guidelines, clean water, and so much more. Now I know this isn’t the case for all families or kids, but the kids who are lacking in basic needs are the exception. There are many kids all over the world who are unable to find clean water, don’t have parents due to illness or war ravaged societies, and who die from every day illnesses or other cause that are easily preventable and treatable. The exception in countries like Zambia or Burma, the exception is a healthy child who gets and education and who has two parents living.

Helping kids in impoverished countries touches dear to my heart as I’ve traveled to both Africa and Honduras helping families in need. So I got to thinking, how can we inspire our congregations to give to those who have so little when we have so much. After talking to some families in my church, I quickly learned that people are just unaware of the needs of others or how they can truly help people and make a difference in someone’s life!

You might be thinking, I tithe to my church, isn’t that enough? If you feel that it is, that’s your prerogative  But, I feel that God has called us to more than that. Matthew 25:35 – 40 says, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” We need to help the least of these!

First, here’s a great video that I saw 4-5 years ago that might hit home with you. I think once we’re aware of different situations in the world, we are obligated as Christians to do something about it, and to show our kids how to make a difference. See what you think about this: 

So, I have a challenge for you this holiday season. Spend less money on yourself and your family. Give more to people in need. Here’s some awesome ways to give back that I’ve been a part of (and there’s many more organizations).

Samaritan’s Purse: Samaritan’s Purse is a non-denominational evangelical Christian humanitarian organization that works worldwide to meet the spiritual and physical needs of people suffering from war, poverty, disaster, disease, famine, and persecution. At Christmas, they do Operation Christmas Child. We’re doing this with our kids at church this year. It’s an easy, inexpensive way to give. Go to the website for more information.

World Hope International: Faith based relief and development organization alleviating suffering and injustice through education, enterprise and community health. I’ve done Missions work through WHI. Every year, they have a “gifts catalog” where you can select gifts for people overseas in someone else’s name. View the catalog at  and see all the ways you can impact someone!

Compassion International: Compassion International is a Christian child sponsorship organization dedicated to the long-term development of children living in poverty around the world. My husband and I sponsor a child through CI, which you can commit to ($48 per month for kids who need HIV vaccines, $35 for kids who are not at risk) or you can make a one time donation to CI through their Christmas Gift Catalog. You can see all of the ways you can help others by going to the Compassion Gift Page for more information.

Advent Conspiracy: Advent Conspiracy is an international movement restoring the scandal of Christmas by substituting compassion for consumption. You can give water or rescue to people all over the world. Go to their Website for more information.

American Red Cross: You may want to give to disaster relief and because of Hurricane Sandy, the Red Cross has taken up the responsibility of getting donations to help people who have been effected by the hurricane. You can also choose to give a recurring gift so there’s money available for future disasters. Go to the Red Cross Giving Page for information.

Aside from these monetary ways to give back during the holidays, you and your family can serve together locally (or if you feel God’s calling, overseas) as well.

Some ideas for serving:

  • serving at a soup kitchen
  • serving at your local church
  • handing out food to the homeless in your city
  • rake leaves or shovel for a shut-in or the elderly
  • visit a nursing home
  • visit an orphanage
  • if there’s a refugee area near you, go and spend time with the people

There are so many ways that we can give our time, money, and talents to those in need! Let’s think of others this Christmas Season. If you need help contacting different organizations or are still unsure of how to plug-in, contact your local church and they would love to help you! (I can help those in Western New York and Central Indiana, because that’s where I’ve lived and have been heavily involved!)

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Fall…what a great time of year

Today I was driving to work on this beautiful cool and rainy day (I know, most people don’t say a cool and rainy day in September is nice….but I’m a little different). Anyways, I was driving this morning and thinking of all of the things that I love to do during the fall – picking apples, drinking apple cider, baking, decorating, passing out candy on Halloween, raking leaves…and jumping in them. All the good stuff. Then I was thinking, what are some things that our families can do this fall to help them get closer to each other and to God?

So, as always I turned to one of my favorite sources – Focus on the Family. There’s a really great article that you should read with some different ideas. But, here’s a few to start with:

– Take an adventurous bike ride. Most towns have bike trails. Fall is a great time of year to throw on a sweatshirt and see how far you can bike. Maybe you can even stop at a restaurant for dinner!

– Bake cookies, pie, or a cake together. This will help your family to work like a team and will help your kids to follow directions (and the recipe will reward you when you do!)

– Have a movie night. Pick a few of your favorite fall-themed movies and make a night of it! One of my favorites is, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” You could even make some caramel popcorn!

– Have a WII or board game night. Now that nights are cooler and get darker earlier, have the kids stay inside to play after dinner. My husband and I own a Play Station Move, and it can be a lot of fun to play on days where it’s too cool to go outside!

– Have your kids go to grandma’s house or to a friend’s house so you can have alone time with your spouse. Stay home and cook dinner together and play games or just spend time talking. Nurturing your marriage will exponentially nurture your family and relationship with your kids!

– Serve!!! You can teach your kids how to care for others and have fun while doing it by serving at a local Humane Society, Homeless Shelter, or Soup Kitchen!

Remember, Proverbs 22:6; “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Here’s something my dad always used to say to me when I thought I was a know-it-all, “I know you know…show me you know.” If you teach your kids how to be a good spouse, Caring Christian, and family oriented person through actions instead of words, they are ten times more likely to follow through with those practices and ideas. Show them.

What are some special things that your family does to celebrate the season? Have a very Happy Fall!

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September Materials

Here are our Family Ministry resources for the month of September:

All Parents:

Orange Blog

252 Basics (1st grade-6th grade)

Parent Cue

Extra Memory Verses

God Time Week 1

God Time Week 2

God Time Week 3

God Time Week 4

God Time Week 5

First Look (age 3- Kindergarten)

Parent Cue

Parent Cue Cards

We are kicking off our new fall schedule!

Our TrinityKids services:

9:00 Sunday morning eXplore!

  • Group 3s-kindergarten
  • 1st-4th grade groups based off of The Dig Curriculum
  • 5th-6th grade Grapple Group

10:30 Sunday morning eXclaim!

  • Small groups 3s-Kindergarten
  • Large group for 1st-4th grade
  • 5th-6th grade X-Crew

6:30-7:30 Wednesday night  eXplosion!

  • Game Based Lessons 3s-Kindergarten
  • Game Based Lessons 1st-4th Grade
  • eXtreme56! for 5th-6th Grade (Game Based Lessons with a Youth Group Atmosphere)

The Nursery is always up and running when we have programming!

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