Thursday, September 16, 2010

Website for the Bridge 45 Kids!

Bridge 45 is headed into its third year! We're excited for the ministry that will happen in the upcoming months. You'll be seeing more posts here soon about what we're doing with the 4th and 5th graders at Morning Star, but for now, check out our new website for the kids!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Year 2 Scope & Sequence

When we sat down to start planning our second year of Bridge 45, it was a bit more of a challenge than last year to come up with a scope and sequence. Last year we spent the first portion of the year teaching about what the Bible is, where it came from, and how to study it. It was a great way of introducing the lessons we covered the rest of the year because we gave kids tools to use before asking them to use it. Our delemma this year was that new fourth graders entered the class and needed to catch up, but we didn't want the fifth graders to have to go through all the same material again.

We figured out that study tools could be taught throughout the year in small group time, which took care of one major element. The rest of the challenge was in helping the kids see the Bible as a whole without being too repetitive of last year's material. Our solution was to go through the Bible section by section, showing how you can apply all parts of the Bible to your life. Unit One only uses references from the Law and History (sections 1 and 2 of the Old Testament), Unit Two draws from Poetry and Prophecy, Unit Three from Biography and History (first two sections of the New Testament) and Unit Four is from Letters and Prophecy.

We then made a list of what our kids are facing. The points on this list came from the book Leading Preteens and from our observations of the kids. Then came the challenge of pairing the life points up with sections from the Bible. In the end, I'm really excited about what we came up with!

When creating the specific lessons, we referred to a list made by last year's small group leaders and their groups of what the kids liked best about different weeks of Bridge 45. We found that some of their favorite things were when we used video clips to illustrate our points, team teachings, lots of class interaction, and doing more whole group activities (not always staying just in small groups). We made sure that each lesson we planned involved elements of this list. The crazy thing was it took only 4 times of meeting once a week to plan out the whole year!

And even better than a smooth planning process--we're seeing a great response from the kids! Four stories stand out to me:
A few weeks ago I was walking through the cafe at church, and I heard a fourth grade boy asking his third grade friend (not realizing what grade his friend was in), "Why haven't you been coming to Bridge 45?" The friend responded, "I'm only in third grade." Our fourth grader then said, "Well, you should come. It's awesome! It's like the best thing ever!"

The mother of one of our most shy boys recently told me about how much her son loves Bridge 45. This boy hasn't attended any of our classes for at least 3 years now because he has such separation anxiety when his mom drops him off. Nothing seemed to help him. But he started attending Bridge 45 at the beginning of this year, and can't wait to come back each week. He even told his mom that Bridge 45 is "better than recess."

A family that had attended our church for a few years went in search of one closer to home a little over a year ago. The first week of the school year they were back because they missed being at Morning Star. Their fifth grade daughter fell in love with Bridge 45 and asked her mom if they could start attending all three services just so she could be in her class more. She can't wait to invite her friends too! Her mom told me the past year or so has been really hard as they visited different churches, because everywhere they went, her daughter seemed to get lost in the Children's Ministries because they weren't reaching her where she's at.

Our Women's Ministries Director was telling us this week about how a mom in our church that's going through a divorce right now was having a hard time getting to church because in the past, her fourth grade son never wanted to go to his class. Pattie (the Women's Director) strongly insisted (ok, fine, she made her) that the boy try out Bridge 45. He did, and he loved it. Now he can't wait to come back to church, and the mom is able to be ministered to in the service.

All this shows me just how essential it is to reach our fourth and fifth graders exactly where they're at. To understand who they are and how they learn, and to work with it. I feel so blessed that while I hear so many other Children's Ministries workers talk about how they're loosing their fourth and fifth graders, ours are our most enthusiastic attenders.

And... just to make an already long post even longer, here's this year's scope and sequence:

Unit 1—It’s All In the Family Law & History (September 20—November 15)
Introductory Week: Background information on what we need to know about the Bible before heading into the new year.
Weeks 1-3: Parents—God set the example as the perfect parent by protecting His people, giving them second chances, and providing for them.
Weeks 4-6: Family Dynamics—God gives second chances to His people, and we should do the same for our families.
Weeks 7-9: What About…?—God provides for His people in every way. When we are faced with difficult circumstances, we can know that God will always provide.

Unit 2—Prayer Poetry & Prophecy (November 22—February 7)
Weeks 1-3: Who are we talking to? Understanding that God is the God of mercy, justice and truth.
**Christmas: Break from the normal schedule. December 13, 20, and 27 we’ll be using “The Stars of Christmas.**
Weeks 4-6: How do we talk to Him? We can talk to God as someone who knows us—like our best friend, someone with authority—like our parent, and someone with reverence—like someone who is very important.
Weeks 7-9: How does He respond? God responds according to His nature—with mercy, justice and truth.

Unit 3—Reality & Relationships Gospels & History (February 14—April 11)
Weeks 1-3: The reality of Jesus and a relationship with Him. First looking at the importance of having a relationship with Jesus and then looking at the relationships modeled by Jesus—with the Jews, with the Father, and with us.
Weeks 4-6: What the Bible teaches about friendships with those around us—We can look at the example of Jesus’ friendships with the apostles and the example of friendships in the early church, which leads us into looking at our friendships with our church family.
Weeks 7-9: Peer pressure and standing firm in our faith (how our relationship with God affects our relationship with those around us)—God wants us to have discernment, God can soften anyone’s heart, God wants us to stand up for our faith, and God wants us to never compromise.

Unit 4—Growing in Knowing Jesus Letters & Prophecy (April 18—June 13)
Weeks 1-3: Who is Jesus and why did He come? Looking at how He came to serve, teach, love and prepare the way.
Weeks 4-6: Knowing how He wants us to live—joyfully, attentively, with unity and with clarity.
Weeks 7-9: Knowing Him more through personal study of the Bible—understanding what the Bible is, reading the Bible regularly, reading the Bible slowly and praying for understanding.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bridge 45 is Still Alive and Well

Wow! It's been a LONG time since I posted on this blog! We're two weeks into our second year of Bridge 45 and it's going well! I'll post more soon about what we're developing in our curriculum for the second year!

But.... in the mean time... something cool:
I don't remember if I had written on here about how I was asked to present at this past year's Conspire Conference in the same session that inspired Bridge 45 the year before. It was great! I loved being able to share what God has shown us, and how we've seen the benefits of it.

This afternoon, over 6 months after Conspire, I received a call from a lady in Kansas named Regan. She had been in the session Mindy Stohms and I did about fourth and fifth grade ministry, and was inspired to make changes at her church! She was calling because the kids in her program have already outgrown their current curriculum, and she's needing to do something new. We talked about how we formatted our program, what we're studying, etc. and other curriculums I would suggest she look at. She told me that she had bought the CD of our session, and relistened to it for inspiration!

This was so encouraging for me to hear that someone was actually impacted by what we shared! Regan said it meant so much to her to be told to work with what you have instead of being limited by what you don't have. That's what Bridge 45 has been all about for us: we took a look at what resources and people were available to us and made a program that worked within those parameters.

I just had to share my moment of encouragement from this afternoon!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Some Affirmation

On Easter, parents of one of our Bridge 45 kids thanked me for what I had taught the week before (see my last blog post). The dad had been in the room because he's in training to become a small group leader, and had appreciated all that was shared with the kids. He and his wife were telling me it completely affirmed what they are teaching their son, and they appreciated the opportunity for him to see it's not just his parents who think that way. They commented on how hard it can be to have higher standards for what your child watches on TV or video games they play. I was so proud of that mom to hear her say that she always asks what movies will be played at sleepovers her son goes to. If she doesn't approve, she'll offer to provide a different movie. She's received some flack for being a "strict" mom. I wish we had more parents like her! It was nice to be affirmed that these parents appreciated what we're teaching. But more than that, I'm so glad I could back them up. After all, isn't that what we're supposed to be doing?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A GREAT Sunday in Bridge 45

I had such a great time teaching in Bridge 45 on Sunday. It was the first week of the last unit of the school year. I can't believe we're entering the final quarter of this curriculum! It seemed so far off when we started planning last spring. What made this week great wasn't the fact that I taught it. Or that it shows that what we've started really works. What made it great was the response from the kids.

This unit looks at who we are in Christ--both individually and as a part of the church body. For the opening week, I took them through looking at how God has been present in their lives (whether or not they realized it) and then looking forward at how they can honor and obey God in what they'll face in the future. Philippians 4:8 and Jeremiah 29:11 were our passages. To view a complete teaching outline for this lesson, click here.

In looking forward at what they'll face in the future, or may even be facing right now, I used a list from the book, "Leading Preteens," by Patrick Snow. (If you haven't read this book yet, I highly recommend it!) The list covers what preteens today are facing. These are:
  • the fragmentation of the family
  • knowledge and exposure to sexuality
  • technological advances
  • knowledge and exposure to violence
  • neutral moral and religious values

As I asked the kids questions like, "How many of you have friends who have a boyfriend/girlfriend?" "How many of you know someone who likes to watch gross movies where people kiss too much, or look at naked pictures?" "How many of you have a cellphone/Ipod/computer in your own room/TV in your own room?" "How many of you have seen a fight in real life?" "How many of you have played video games, or are friends with someone who has, where there are blood and guts shooting everywhere and body parts getting cut off?" "How many of you have friends who don't believe in God and like it that way?" "How many of you have friends who cheat/lie/disobey parents/steal and are proud of it?"

According to their responses, our kids have been exposed to these things way more than I even anticipated. They seemed to really appreciate the acknowledgement that life is not easy. We then looked at how we the Bible really does address these things. I ended the lesson by having them look at the list of whatevers (true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy) and write down one that they need to work on doing better at, as well what part of their life it is that needs that improvement. I then challenged them to share that with their small group, to ask for their prayer for it, and be open.

Several small group leaders later told me that they personally needed to hear that message (I love it when God teaches both the kids and the leaders!). But not only that, their kids shared at a deeper level than they'd seen all year. One leader compared her group's discussion to what she'd expect from middle school students.

It was a great Sunday. Despite the great discussion, if all that came from it was one or two kids choosing to live differently, evaluate their choices in a godly way, and stand up to their friends, it was effective. I can't wait to hear how the future weeks' small group discussions go!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Last week at Conspire, I spoke in the breakout session, "The Grade 4/5 Experiment." I shared briefly on a method we taught our kids for how to study a passage in the Bible. Unfortunately, I couldn't remember what all the letters meant (it was so frustrating!). So for all of you who were wondering, and those who know are intrigued, here you go:

Sin to Avoid
Promise to Claim
Example to Follow
Command to obey
Stumbling Block to Avoid

We showed our kids that just about every verse in the Bible (except those in the genealogies) will have at least one of these in it. They learned that the first step in understanding what the Bible is saying is to look for these. I heard from one mom that her daughter wrote these on a bookmark and uses it when she reads her Bible.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Unit 4: Who I am in Christ

We purposefully didn't write Unit 4 back when we were creating the others because we wanted to see what worked with our kids first. A couple of weeks ago, Jared (Elementary Director), Caleb (Intern) and I met to plan out Unit 4. We realized that almost everything needed to change. Our original plan for Unit 4 was:

Unit 4—Who I am in Christ
Weeks 1-3: Testimony—hearing that of others and developing your own.
Weeks 4-6: The Church—how each of us fits within the church.
Weeks 7-9: Gifts and Service—the roles we each play in the church.

Our kids are developing quickly, however, they may not be ready to develop their testimonies yet. When I was in high school I struggled with not having a "good enough" testimony. I didn't have a dramatic conversion moment. I'd grown up in the church and asked Jesus in my heart at the age of 3. While I did have periods of more growth than others, I felt inferior to those who were able to present drastic before and after stories. Because of that, I want to see kids realize that there is a rich heritage that comes with growing up in a Christian home. To see that God has still worked greatly in their lives, despite a lack of obvious deliverance from a life of darkness.

We realized, though, that while this is an important lesson for Christian kids to learn, our 4th and 5th graders aren't ready for the depth we wanted to reach. Before we can expect them to write their testimony, we need them to recognize that God is and has been present in their lives. Now, section 1 of unit 4 is about helping them to see that God has been with them. To ask about time where they've moved, been lonely, scared, hurt, anxious, lost, afraid... and to see that God brought them through it. They can't develop a testimony unless they're able to first recognize God's presence in their lives.

The next section will look at their need for other Christians. We'll talk about what kind of situations they might face as they enter 5th grade or middle school--sexuality in their peers, their family breaking apart, changes in technology, violence (either in real life or media), people who don't know God and don't want to. We'll look at what the Bible says about these things and how God wants us to live. And finally, we'll talk about how important it is to have the support of fellow believers as we face these things. To have a small group that holds you accountable. To have leaders that you can honestly share with about what's happening in your life and get good feedback from. I'm excited to think of how this section will help guide our kids into their middle school small groups.

Finally, the third section will talk about how we fit into the church. That God gives us spiritual gifts and we are meant to use them. The students will take a tour of the church and see many of the ways people do use their spiritual gifts. In this section we'll also talk about unity as believers. What a great opportunity to address the rudeness our boys tend to show one another and the mean girls syndrome common among our girls.

I'm really excited about what a great conclusion to the year this will be!