Our Worship, 1/29

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This week in DIG, 1/29

Be sure to rehearse your child’s memory verse before Sunday, Feb. 5! We’ll have an opportunity to share the verse with our church family in the service.

January’s Memory Verses

Toddlers-4th Grade: Romans 8:28, 31

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…If God is for us, who can be against us?  (“If God Is For Us,” Seeds of Purpose, Track 9)

5th-8th Grade: NT Books of the Bible: Epistles (Romans – Revelation)

7th-8the Grade: Philippians 1:9-10

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.

Toddlers: The Lost Sheep

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During January toddlers hear the parable of the Lost Sheep. Possible activities to do with your toddler:

  • Act out the story with your child, using the shepherds found in a nativity set.
  • Read parts of Psalm 23 and John 10.
  • Ask some wondering questions together:

I wonder what the sheep’s names were?

I wonder how the found sheep feels with the Good Shepherd?

I wonder if you know that the Good Shepherd is with you?

I wonder if the Good Shepherd has ever found you?

Preschool: Follow Me

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In January preschoolers are hearing about the Early Life and Ministry of Christ.

  • I wonder how the poor and sick felt being near Jesus?
  • I wonder why Peter and Andrew would leave their fishing nets and follow Jesus?
  • I wonder why some of the fisherman stayed in the boat and didn’t follow Jesus?
  • I wonder what the kingdom of God is like that Jesus is showing them?
  • I wonder where you see yourself in this story?

K-1st Grade: A Little Girl and a Poor Frail Lady

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This month younger elementary children focus on the Early Life and Ministry of Christ.

  • I wonder how Jairus felt as he watched his daughter get sicker?
  • I wonder how Jesus knew that someone had touched him in such a big crowd?
  • I wonder why Jesus took time with the frail lady?
  • I wonder what it was like when the little girl came back to life?
  • I wonder where you see yourself in this story?

2nd-4th Grade: Fall Review

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This Sunday older elementary children looked back at all their reflections from the year so far. They chose a couple favorite reflections and answered some questions about them.

  • I wonder what your favorite reflection and story were so far this year?
  • What did you like about that reflection?
  • What do you still wonder about that story? Go back and reread it with your family and see if you can answer your question.

This week in DIG, 1/22

We hope you’ve found Saturday’s blog to be helpful while you discuss DIG with your children after the Sunday service!

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January’s Memory Verses

Toddlers-4th Grade: Romans 8:28, 31

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…If God is for us, who can be against us?  (“If God Is For Us,” Seeds of Purpose, Track 9)

5th-8th Grade: NT Books of the Bible: Epistles (Romans – Revelation)

7th-8the Grade: Philippians 1:9-10

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.

Toddlers: Little Lost Sheep

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During January toddlers hear the parable of the Lost Sheep. Possible activities to do with your toddler:

  • Act out the story with your child, using the shepherds found in a nativity set.
  • Read parts of Psalm 23 and John 10.
  • Ask some wondering questions together:

I wonder what the sheep’s names were?

I wonder how the found sheep feels with the Good Shepherd?

I wonder if you know that the Good Shepherd is with you?

I wonder if the Good Shepherd has ever found you?

Preschool: Jesus in the Wilderness

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In January preschoolers are hearing about the Early Life and Ministry of Christ.

  • I wonder what it was like for Jesus to be alone in the desert for so long?
  • I wonder what Jesus and God talked about in the desert?
  • I wonder how Jesus felt when Satan was near him?  
  • I wonder if it was hard for Jesus to say, “No!”?
  • I wonder where you see yourself in this story?

K-1st Grade: Let’s Go (Jesus in the Wilderness/Jesus Calls the Disciples)

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This month younger elementary children focus on the Early Life and Ministry of Christ.

  • I wonder how Jesus felt not eating for forty days?
  • I wonder how Jesus was able to refuse what the snake said?
  • I wonder how Jesus knew who to choose to be his helpers?
  • I wonder why Peter and his friends followed Jesus immediately?
  • I wonder where you see yourself in this story?

2nd-4th Grade: John Baptizes Jesus, Matthew 3:1-6, 13-17

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Older Elementary children will spend this month learning about the Early Life and Ministry of Christ.

  • I wonder why people needed to repent?
  • I wonder why John wore camel’s hair and ate grasshoppers?
  • I wonder what it was like to hear the voice of God calling down from heaven?
  • I wonder why God said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased”?
  • I wonder where you see yourself in this story?

5th – 6th Grade: What is the Greatest Commandment? Part 2 (James 3:9, 1 John 4:20)

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Younger middle schoolers are learning about the Greatest Commandment.

  • Why are others worthy of our love?
  • What does it look like to love others?

7th – 8th Grade: Philippians 1:18b-30 – To Live is Christ

This semester older middle schoolers will do a book study of Philippians.

  • Did God speak to you today as you were studying Philippians?
  • What verses were particularly meaningful to you?

What do children DO in DIG?

Those of us who were raised in the church remember Sunday school or children’s church as a predictable place to sing songs, play games, hear lessons, and make crafts. We sang “Father Abraham,” and shook our arms and legs, and nodded our little heads into dizziness. I remember these antics with nostalgia, but I’m not sure they had any direct impact on my spiritual journey.

In recent decades, children’s ministry has become increasingly louder and more action-packed in an effort to grab the attention of today’s youth. We’ve heard startling statistics about large percentages of young adults leaving the church, and many churches have reacted by borrowing from the entertainment culture in hopes of being “relevant” and “engaging,” making church “fun” to stem the tide of attrition.

We at BeFree Dover have the same desire to disciple children toward lifelong  relationships with God. But we’ve chosen to pursue that mission in a counter-cultural way, out of the conviction that children of all ages are capable of experiencing meaningful encounters with God.

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In DIG, we aim to create an atmosphere for meeting with God, carving out space in our harried world for quiet and stillness, so children can listen to God himself speaking to them, and grow to recognize the voice of their Shepherd.

Catherine Stonehouse and Scottie May, in their book Listening to Children on the Spiritual Journey, explain:

We do want children to know basic biblical facts, but our ultimate purpose is so much bigger. We long to see them meet God and get to know God, not just know about God. Children experience God as they enter the stories of Scripture and see God in action, discovering God’s character as the story unfolds and as they hear their self-revealing God speak to them in the narrative.

The following are distinctives of the reflective engagement method we practice in DIG:

  1.     Atmosphere of Worship

In preschool through elementary school, our classroom schedules imitate the Order of Worship repeated weekly in the regular service.

  • We welcome children; we introduce ourselves; we come to know and be known.
  • We sing praises.
  • We quiet ourselves in this special place so we can listen to God.
  • We hear God’s voice through his Word.
  • We respond as individuals (using art materials).
  • We share in community what God has taught us.
  • We pray.
  • We break bread with our snack (or join the service for communion).
  • We avoid games and one-size-fits-all crafts because we want the focus to be on God’s Story and our individual places in it. We don’t want kids to rush through any part of worship to get to the “fun stuff.”
  1.     God’s Story

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Central to our worship with children is God’s story, as revealed in scripture. God’s story teaches children what God has revealed to humanity about his character and his redemptive purposes. It also shows them that they are a part of God’s Great Story. The Holy Spirit is the real teacher here as the Word of God speaks. 

God’s Spirit is the Teacher. As adults our role is to set the stage so that young learners and worshipers can enter the story, be open to God’s word, and listen for what the Spirit will reveal. (Stonehouse and May)

  1.     Wondering Responses and Sharing

After God’s Word is read, we invite wondering questions about the story. This practice communicates to children that they can actively engage with the story AND with God! They’re not just a passive audience. Teachers and children alike share what the story stirs in their hearts. As we listen to children, we’re given a window into their encounters with God. As they share their reflections, they participate in Spirit-led community with one another. No one is forced to share, but they are acknowledged and affirmed as they do.

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  1.     Listening and Reflecting

Our quiet time of private reflection in DIG gives children an opportunity to listen to the still, small voice of God, as they work out their response to him using art materials. This practice is a realistic reflection of what our relationships with God are actually like outside of the weekly church gathering (see 1 Kings 19:11-12). We listen to God, and we respond to him.

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  1.     Co-Pilgrims

Jesus demonstrates in the Gospels a counter-cultural way of being with children. When his disciples bickered over who would be the greatest in his kingdom, he said,

I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. (Matt. 18:3-5)

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The reflective engagement method assumes that we have something to teach one another – adults and children alike. Some of our finest teachers in the DIG program are older adults whose wisdom and humility have guided them toward children’s ministry. As these adults lead worship in their DIG classrooms, they show respect for the children, and children respond in especially rich ways when they sense that they are a valued part of God’s kingdom.

Parents, I invite you to come worship with us some Sunday and experience spiritual fellowship with children!

This week in DIG, 1/15

January’s Memory Verses

Toddlers-4th Grade: Romans 8:28, 31

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…If God is for us, who can be against us?  (“If God Is For Us,” Seeds of Purpose, Track 9)

5th-8th Grade: NT Books of the Bible: Epistles (Romans – Revelation)

7th-8the Grade*: Philippians 1:9-10

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.

*These students wanted to challenge themselves to memorize verses from their study of Philippians, in addition to memorizing the books of the Bible!

Toddlers: The Lost Sheep

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During January toddlers hear the parable of the Lost Sheep. Possible activities to do with your toddler:

  • Act out the story with your child, using the shepherds found in a nativity set.
  • Read parts of Psalm 23 and John 10.
  • Ask some wondering questions together:

I wonder what the sheep’s names were?

I wonder how the found sheep feels with the Good Shepherd?

I wonder if you know that the Good Shepherd is with you?

I wonder if the Good Shepherd has ever found you?

Preschool: Jesus is Baptized

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In January preschoolers are hearing about the Early Life and Ministry of Christ.

  • I wonder how the people felt when John told them to change the way they live and get ready for the special Son of God?
  • I wonder if it was hard for them to change the way they lived?
  • I wonder if they felt ready to be close to the special Son of God?
  • I wonder what was your favorite part of the story?
  • I wonder if anything was confusing for you in this story?

K-1st Grade: Heaven Breaks Through

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This month younger elementary children focus on the Early Life and Ministry of Christ.

  • I wonder how they felt when John told them to change the way they live and get ready for the special Son of God, Jesus?
  • I wonder why Jesus was baptized?
  • I wonder what it was like to see the light around Jesus and hear God’s voice from heaven?
  • I wonder if the people were ready to be close to Jesus?
  • I wonder what was your favorite part of the story?
  • I wonder if anything was confusing for you in this story?

2nd-4th Grade: Boy Jesus at the Temple, Luke 2:41-51

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Older Elementary children will spend this month learning about the Early Life and Ministry of Christ.

  • I wonder how Jesus felt when he was finally old enough to go to the temple by himself?
  • I wonder how Mary and Joseph felt when they couldn’t find Jesus?
  • I wonder what Jesus meant when he called the temple his “Father’s house”?
  • I wonder what was your favorite part of the story?
  • I wonder if anything was confusing for you in this story?

5th – 6th Grade: What is the Greatest Commandment? Part 1 (Mark 12:28-33, John 14:15)

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Younger middle schoolers will spend January learning about the Greatest Commandment.

  • Why is God worthy of your love?
  • How can you love him more fully, with ALL of your heart, soul, mind, and strength?

7th – 8th Grade: Philippians 1:12-18 – The Advance of the Gospel

This semester older middle schoolers will do a book study of Philippians.

  • Did God speak to you today as you were studying Philippians?
  • What verses were particularly meaningful to you?

This week in DIG, 1/8

Happy New Year!

In 2017 the DIG blog will be posted BEFORE the weekly church service, so parents can use the provided questions to discuss DIG immediately after church. Pull it up on your phone and discuss over Sunday lunch! We hope this will be a helpful change.

Memory Verse

Tomorrow morning children will have the opportunity to share their December memory verse with their church family. Be sure to practice in the car on the way in!

Toddlers-4th Grade: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  (“Be Joyful Always,” Seeds of Purpose, Track 12)

January’s Memory Verses

Toddlers-4th Grade: Romans 8:28, 31

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…If God is for us, who can be against us?  (“If God Is For Us,” Seeds of Purpose, Track 9)

5th-8th Grade: NT Books of the Bible: Epistles (Romans – Revelation)

7th-8the Grade*: Philippians 1:9-10

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.

*These students wanted to challenge themselves to memorize verses from their study of Philippians, in addition to memorizing the books of the Bible!

Toddlers: The Lost Sheep

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During January toddlers will hear the parable of the Lost Sheep. Possible activities to do with your toddler:

  • Act out the story with your child, using the shepherds found in a nativity set.
  • Read parts of Psalm 23 and John 10.
  • Ask some wondering questions together:

I wonder what the sheep’s names were?

I wonder how the found sheep feels with the Good Shepherd?

I wonder if you know that the Good Shepherd is with you?

I wonder if the Good Shepherd has ever found you?

Preschool: The Boy Jesus in the Temple

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In January preschoolers will hear about the Early Life and Ministry of Christ.

  • I wonder how Jesus felt when he was finally old enough to go to the temple by himself?
  • I wonder how Mary and Joseph felt when they couldn’t find Jesus?
  • I wonder what Jesus meant when he called the temple “His Father’s house”?
  • I wonder what was your favorite part of today’s story?
  • I wonder what was your favorite part of your reflection?

K-1st Grade: King of All Kings

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This month younger elementary children will focus on the Early Life and Ministry of Christ.

  • I wonder why the one bright star was so important?
  • I wonder what it was like for the Wise Men to meet baby Jesus, the King of All Kings?
  • I wonder what you would bring to baby Jesus?
  • I wonder what was your favorite part of today’s story?
  • I wonder what was your favorite part of your reflection?

2nd-4th Grade: Jesus Presented at the Temple, Luke 2:22-40

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Older Elementary children will spend this month learning about the Early Life and Ministry of Christ.

  • I wonder why Jewish parents presented their children to the Lord?
  • I wonder what it was like when Simeon took baby Jesus and acted like he knew him and talked to God loudly?
  • I wonder what it means that through Jesus would be “the falling and rising of many” (v. 34)?
  • I wonder what it was like for the prophetess Anna to meet baby Jesus?
  • I wonder what was your favorite part of today’s story?
  • I wonder what was your favorite part of your reflection?

5th – 6th Grade: How are we called to live as Christians? (Rom. 6:1-14, Titus 2:11-14, Phil. 1:6)

Younger middle schoolers will spend January learning about the Greatest Commandment.

  • Is it hard to say “no” to worldly desires?
  • How can you offer yourself as “an instrument of righteousness” to God?

7th – 8th Grade: Philippians 1:1-11

This semester older middle schoolers will do a book study of Philippians.

  • Did God speak to you today as you were studying the introduction of Philippians? What verses were particularly meaningful to you?