By Carl Hill
At Potsdam Church of the Brethren, in rural southern Ohio, we started a program seven years ago to reach out to the kids in our small neighborhood. For some reason that only God knows, the kids come. Most of the young people we are able to attract come from non-churched families. Maybe they were coming for something to do, or maybe our church is a place where they receive love; we can’t say. But they come. Naturally, we don’t have the same kids every year, although some have been coming since the very beginning.
When the Brethren Faith in Action (BFIA) grant became available to us, we applied. The idea for this year was to raise the quality of care that we could offer. The congregation understood that this grant was a matching one and that they would have to chip in with half of the increased expenses we were planning. Our plan was to make a fuss over these kids this year and give them the best we could offer.
We meet every Wednesday night and our numbers have been steady all year. Each week we start the night off with a meal made especially for kids. The ladies of the congregation have chipped in and are preparing “kid-friendly” dinners. We have food like corndogs, walking tacos, chicken nuggets, and macaroni and cheese. To keep things a little nutritious we sneak in some vegetables and tasty dips and the kids like that too. The meals have been a big hit.
Our objective with these children is to expose them to the Bible and let them hear the gospel message. In the last three or four years about 10 of the kids have been baptized at the Potsdam church! Finding curriculum for non-churched kids is not easy. Many children’s ministry ideas are a little too advanced for our kids. We do have them memorizing some scripture and even that is fun for them. One of our volunteers is teaching them the sign language that goes along with the scripture. It’s fun and all the kids have been responding. This year, with the extra funds, we bought all the kids shirts that say “Potsdam Kid’s Club” on the front.
This Winter and Spring we are teaching them about Jesus from the book of Mark. We bought a puppet that is supposed to be Mark and he talks to the kids each week about what’s in the lesson. They love it and are always trying to guess who’s behind the wall making the puppet speak!
We have found short videos that reinforce each lesson. After a half hour of singing, memorizing, and hearing about the lesson from our Mark puppet, the kids are divided up into age-appropriate groups where there are hands-on activities and group learning.
But one of the most satisfying things this year is the fact that we are finally connecting with the parents. Many attended our Christmas Eve service as their kids served as angels and shepherds in our Christmas play. God is working through our Kids’ Club program and there is more hope at Potsdam than has been here in recent years. We are so grateful for the grant from the denomination as we are trying to bring Jesus to the neighborhood. Thank you Church of the Brethren.
–– Carl Hill is pastor of Potsdam (Ohio) Church of the Brethren.
Find more Church of the Brethren news: