As I glanced out the front window and watched Jackson Willms and his care aide make their way up the...
Kids Church at RMCC is special and as Pastor Hugh Morrow describes: “We are not a school … we are a subdivision of the body of Christ. As Pastor Glen says, the Church isn’t an organization; it’s an organism.”
Pastor Hugh continues, “There is learning in Kids Church, like there’s learning in church for adults. There’s teaching, fellowship, worship, and giving. They’re parts of body life, which is our model. I want the children to build friendships and get connected with kids their own age. Hopefully, they’re going to grow.”
Through the Bible for Kids
The curriculum for nurturing and feeding our RMCC ‘lambs’ is unique, and has had a massive impact for decades. It began in the earliest days of the Calvary Chapel movement, with founder Chuck Smith and his Kids Church director, Larry Enterline. This year, the annual Children’s Ministry Conference in California drew 900 servant volunteers from 14 states and four countries while more than 300 watched online.
In the old days, Pastor Hugh remembers, typical Sunday school lessons were topical.
“But that’s not how we do church in Calvary Chapel; pastors teach through the Bible verse-by-verse. That’s one of our distinctives, and it takes years to actually go through the Bible. Chuck and Larry worked out a six-year ‘through-the-Bible’ curriculum for young children. It’s a pretty thorough overview, from Genesis to Revelation. It covers all the books of the Bible and includes lessons that a lot of churches would never touch.”
The emphasis is on Bible literacy, on raising up disciples of Christ who know and love God’s Word. It’s in keeping with RMCC’s focus on “teaching the Word simply, and simply teaching the Word.” The Kids Church servants do far more than “tell Bible stories,” and the kids benefit from far more than “Christian” crafts.
Gradually and over time, they learn the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. It builds confidence, and it’s powerful.
Calvary Chapel kids learn to study the real Bible, not a dumbed-down “Sunday School” edition. When these “lambs” finally leave Kids Church, they take along priceless treasure from the pages of Scripture as well as life-long friendships. They become firmly rooted members of the Shepherd’s flock, equipped by God’s Word for whatever challenges come their way.
From Lamb to Leader
Gabrielle Butterfield entered Kids Church at RMCC in 2008. She was eight years old and beginning a four-year routine of arriving at her classroom shortly before 9:00 am every Sunday morning. She remembers that all the kids worshipped together in the Fellowship Hall for 20 minutes before returning to their classrooms where they chatted about the week, and then turned to an assigned passage of Scripture. With open Bibles, they read together and followed through with discussion and questions. Sessions ended with a general activity.
“The major thing I took away from Kids Church was feeling comfortable with reading the Bible myself, and that’s huge,” Gabrielle reflects. “A lot of kids grew up with parents who said they believed in God but had no idea what the Bible actually says. They would never see it, read it, or have it read to them. But on Sundays in RMCC’s Kids Church, we read it together in the classroom, and everyone was encouraged to do that throughout the week.”
Now it’s been 10 years since she was in Grade 6 — her last year in Kids Church — and Gabrielle’s memories remain strong.
“I had a pretty good understanding of the Old versus New Testament, prophets versus poetic books, that sort of thing.” She adds, “In teenage years, the biggest thing I gained were the friends from Kids Church. We stuck with each other through those hard years of junior high and high school. A lot of us are still best friends. We didn’t all go to the same school, but we stayed connected. I always had those friendships from church to anchor me through the week.”
In public school, discussions often turned to faith and morality.
“A lot of questions come up. You’re starting to talk about evolution, or about social studies, and religion comes up all the time. Those discussions happened pretty often. I had so much foundational knowledge that I felt comfortable in those discussions.”
Faith, fellowship, and friendship continue to mingle and shape Gabrielle today. The influence of Kids Church can’t be overstated.
Now a young married adult, she says, “The best friendships I have began in Kids Church. One of my top priorities now is maintaining those friendships. Christian childhood friends hold you accountable and encourage you. That has stuck with me from day one.”
It’s not a school. It’s Kids Church.
Today, children ages four to 12 at RMCC have their own mini-chapel together on Sunday mornings, then disperse into grade-appropriate classes for the remaining time together. The attendance of children on Sunday mornings is growing. It’s likely to be 130 or more this fall.
Gabrielle says, “I haven’t been in Kids Church in a long time, but the same people are leading it, and I think the principles are all the same. I’d definitely recommend it for anybody with little ones today.”