Category Archives: Children’s Ministry

Some Things Don’t Change

by Ryan McAdams

Over the summer, my daughter and a number of her friends graduated from our Sunday preschool (Sparklers) ministry to the elementary school (Sonlight) ministry, bringing the number of children who regularly attend our Sonlight program to between 45 and 50 children. Less than two months later, our church moved to a two-service format which runs the same program for both the first and second services. I won’t bore you with the details, but this resulted in our Sonlight program transitioning from one group altogether to four groups, splitting the older and younger groups, and splitting with the two services. Of course, this resulted in needs for more staff and changes to the way we run each classroom. But, amid all of the changes we made to accommodate this new structure, Sonlight will always comprise the following components:

Teaching the Breadth of God’s Word

We have over an hour with the children whenever we have time with them in Sonlight, and we want to make the most of our time. Though most of the children probably hear Biblical teaching at home, we want to do our part to assist the parents in the making of disciples, even little ones, and we know that faith comes by hearing, and hearing from the word of God. And, believing that all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, we don’t want to limit our instruction to the familiar Bible stories, but proclaim the whole of God’s greatness to the next generation.

A Safe Environment

We run our Sonlight program concurrently with our Sunday School Services to enable our parents to receive the benefit of teaching without distraction. If the parents can’t trust that their children are in a safe environment in the Sonlight classroom, then we give the parents cause to worry and are providing a hindrance to the parents’ learning and thus failing in our goal.

Staff Who Love the Children

While we did have additional staffing needs with the transitions and we do promote service in our Children’s Ministries as a way for a member to begin to involve himself in the church, we don’t want to throw unwilling participants on our staff. We want staff who desire to serve the families of our church body and shepherd the children of the church. Additionally, we want staff who have demonstrated faithfulness and consistency in their Christian character, people who would model Jesus Christ well for the observant children in our care. So, even with the desire for greater numbers in our staff, we won’t just look for warm bodies to fill spots, but rather those who love God and want to use their abilities to serve the church in this particular way.
Though the adjustments for the recent changes may not have finished, I know that however our program looks, we can count on these components to help form the core of our Sonlight ministry, as we seek faithfulness to our Lord and to bring glory to his name in every ministry of our church.

A Sure Foundation

by Lisa Kohno

Take a moment to imagine a cute animated bear’s face on a robot’s body. Now imagine that this “care bear robot” is not just a toy to buy for your child, but it’s actually life-sized and designed to take care of your child. In this day and age, this is not an imagination but rather a very real reality in Japan where these Baymax-like robots are currently being introduced to Japanese nurseries in response to the nation’s acute scarcity of childcare workers (Advisen). Certainly these amiable automations have been programmed to be able to greet a child, comfort them, record their temperatures, and even monitor their general health, but they are far limited in their ability to care for the most important aspect of a child’s life: their soul.

In contrast, our Fireflies Nursery ministry is concerned with both the material and immaterial needs of the infants and toddlers of our church family, as we recognize that caring for a child is not merely ensuring their physical wellness and growth, but most importantly nurturing their spiritual maturation and shepherding their hearts to know, love, and worship Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Yes, a typical day in nursery will entail playing with the children, having snacks, consoling those who are crying, and changing diapers, but what I so highly admire about Lighthouse Bible Church is how we seek to uphold a high view of God and His Word at every stage of life, and this by no means is watered down for our Children’s Ministries.

Thus, from early on we want to set the tone that our Lord is intimately involved in the young ones’ everyday life by emphasizing time to pray, participate in worship, rehearse Scripture memory verses, and teach lessons from the Bible. Some unbelieving friends and coworkers have expressed bewilderment that we actually instruct the children at this young age, but it’s crucial to remember that although their minds may be limited, their spirits are assuredly active and able to grasp simple truths of God. Just as it is with newborn babies and physical food, although we don’t endeavor to feed them a buffet right from the beginning because it’d be impossible for them to intake everything doesn’t mean we don’t feed them at all lest they should starve. Rather, we start with consistently feeding them milk as the basic building block to feed and nourish their growing bodies. Likewise with spiritual food, although they may not be ready to comprehend deep theology and feast on the riches of hermeneutics at their age, it is still vital that they start by feeding off the pure spiritual milk of His Word that they may grow up into salvation until they are ready for more solid food (1 Peter 2:2; 1 Corinthians 3:2).

With this knowledge in mind, particularly on N-2 which is comprised of the older walkers to potty-trained three-year-olds, we teach basic lessons from Scripture about God’s character, remembering that the only sure foundation for the little ones is Jesus Christ (Isaiah 28:16). Because at this age repetition is key, we go over the same lesson for the entire month using pictures, felt boards, and sometimes crafts, seeking to impart great truths of our awesome God in simple words. Some examples of our rotation of lessons include:

  • God is Good
  • God Made Everything
  • Jesus is Alive
  • God is Everywhere
  • Jesus is the Boss
  • God Knows Everything
  • Jesus Loves Me
  • God Always Wins

Although we recognize the young children may not be able to understand every phrase and lesson immediately, we believe that with time and constant reiteration they can grow in their familiarity and comprehension of these basic truths, especially as they mature and move on to the older Children’s Ministries. This is an important place to start since how can they come to love Someone they do not know? Therefore, little by little we seek to help usher them towards a greater awareness of who our God is so they can eventually come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Though it will take patience and perseverance, we press on and will not cease to declare the “sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done” (Psalm 78:2-4). It’s been my great joy to personally witness how shakily waddling one year-olds with blank stares and bad separation anxiety who slump down in their chairs, soon become stable and confident three year-olds who follow along with the motions to our memory songs and enthusiastically proclaim, “God!” or “Jesus!” with shining eyes as we ask them who created them / provided for Elijah / brought the Israelites out of Egypt / stilled the waters and waves / died for our sins and is alive today / etc.

Serving on staff as a single lady has also offered a unique perspective as I am reminded that my mission in life is to make disciples of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20) and be poured out to testify of the Gospel of God’s grace (Acts 20:24), whether that is through marriage and shepherding my own children one day–which isn’t a guarantee–or not. Learning how to joyfully submit and lead the life to which God has called me to now (1 Corinthians 7:17) in His infinite wisdom, incomparable love, and infallible sovereignty, I’m grateful He has graciously placed me in different spheres of influence to carry this commission out in my current stage as an employee / daughter / sister / friend. But I especially give praise that without even having children of my own or knowing the future, He has already granted me the gift of becoming a spiritual mother through this ministry, that I may play a small role in impacting future generations unto Christ. Although not always glorious and definitely with its share of challenges, it is a sweet joy and tremendous privilege to help plant the seeds of God’s truth in the fertile hearts of these little souls and have the honor of partnering alongside the parents in the discipleship of the most precious people in their lives towards our one sure Foundation.

All this to say… if you have been waiting for a sign to join our Fireflies Nursery ministry, THIS IS IT. (Just kidding!) But if you are a female member who loves God and children, I highly encourage you to at least try observing and prayerfully consider serving our church family in this way, especially as splitting to two services now offers more opportunities to get involved and practically apply all that you are learning through the preaching of His Word. Not only is this a valuable ministry to get to know and come alongside solid, like-minded sisters from all different affinity groups (and develop a deep respect for what parents do 24/7 with no break!), but it is also a great way to tangibly live out the “Passion Statement” to love God and people (Matthew 22:37-40) week to week and grow in your own worship of our Lord. Again, it may not be the most esteemed position, but what will you learn through Fireflies Nursery you ask? Well, let me share with you just a few nuggets of wisdom I’ve gained through the past four blessed years…

It’s learning that love is doing the hard work and truly sacrificing for the sake of others rather than simply loving them when they are lovable (Romans 5:8). This means not just holding the adorable babies when they are sweet, docile, and cuddly, but also changing exploding poo diapers and catching spit-up with your bare hands,. It also means patiently consoling an emotionally distressed toddler as they push you away and your ears ring from their screaming, and most importantly, gently but firmly instructing their hearts of their sin and need for a Savior as cold defiance grips their wills and hot selfishness drives their choices. And to do this all being empowered by the love of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14-15) as we get a small taste of how much God loves us as His own children (1 John 3:1) and bears with us compassionately in our mess and rebellion as well, to remember that He likewise disciplines us as a loving Father that we may partake in His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).

It’s learning the paradox of what it means to be great in God’s eyes by becoming last and serving the least (Luke 22:26-27), as we lovingly (and literally) stoop low to minister to the children and esteem it the highest honor to be entrusted with their souls. It’s learning from and being challenged by the kids too, whether we run to our Abba Father as gleefully and desperately as they do when they see their parents walk through the door, or if we are like the ones who hold on to lesser toys/snacks/things of this world thinking they will satisfy us more than the presence of the One who has made us and treasures us. It’s learning to grow in awe and childlike wonder of who our great God is and all He has done for us. It’s learning that God’s laws and boundaries for us are for our good and protection, just as we seek the children’s highest welfare even if that makes them think we are not after their highest joy at times. It’s learning through tears like the children who eagerly await their parents’ return and keep asking where they are, to trust that He is coming back again for us even when we cannot see Him, that we can cling to His character, hope in His promises, and rest in His love for us at all times.

Frankly, it’s a lot about learning our own deficiencies and helplessness too, that God is sovereign when it comes to salvation and it’s up to the Spirit to change hearts (Ezekiel 36:26). Although it has been mentioned serving in Children’s Ministry is sometimes difficult for this very reason as you may not see the fruit of your efforts right away, I trust that God is faithful and I’m thankful knowing the harvest of this ministry may take a few years to see which has taught me to all the more depend solely on God, the power of His Spirit, and persevere in the priority of prayer as we remember, “Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1).

And ultimately, I have learned that when you love anyone, the greatest way we can show them this reality is to love them not in word or talk, but in in deed and in truth (1 John 3:18) all the way to God Himself by consistently pointing to Him and investing His Word into their hearts. So let us do this with abounding joy and confident hope in the power of the holy Scriptures that from childhood are able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:14-15). Let us behold our King and pass on the greatness and glory of God to the next generation, laying a firm foundation in Jesus Christ that we may train up an army of little image-bearers to proclaim all His praiseworthy deeds!

The Blessing of Serving in Sparklers

by Arthur Wang

My wife and I have been serving in the Sparklers preschool ministry for two years, and with our utmost joy, we can say that God has used this ministry to grow us in the knowledge of God’s truth and in love for God’s people. It has been an incredible blessing to serve and teach.

The preschool ages are such a wonderful stage of a child’s life. As many know, they are also the most fundamental years in development. They are so energetic, silly, curious, and can be very receptive to teaching. In Proverbs 22:6, the Bible says “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” If we establish a strong foundation for the gospel message in each child’s heart, our prayer is that God would use those seeds to someday save them. That said, our Children’s Ministry as a whole emphasizes seizing the time we have with them so that they may learn God’s Word while their parents are in service.

Teaching a group of 20 or so preschoolers can have its challenges. Any small distraction can lead to complete chaos during Sunday school lesson time. I naively thought in the beginning that it would be easier to teach to a preschool audience rather than an adult audience. Let’s just say God humbled me in a very big way. Preparing a lesson that did not dilute God’s Word and yet is understandable to a three to five-year old is no small feat. It involves many hours of preparation and creative ideas to engage the children, using age appropriate terminology. Teaching in Sparklers has taught me to be succinct and concise with God’s Word while at the same time not minimizing the valuable truths of the passages we go over each week.

It involves a lot of patience, love, and understanding the unique traits of each special soul. I pray more prior to when I am scheduled to serve. I pray that God would give me the strength and energy to be super enthusiastic around the children. They may be young, but they are also very perceptive and constantly observing. We need to be good testimonies with the aim to exemplify Christ-like behavior.

Some things I really try to emphasize are God’s attributes. For example, what does the story of Jonah tell us? It is not simply about Jonah, but it is about a forgiving God who gave Jonah not one, but multiple chances. In our lessons, I emphasize who God is (holy and just) relative to who man is (sinful and wretched). Even though there is a huge discrepancy between God and man, God lovingly provided His Son as the sacrifice on our behalf for the sin of all men. How amazing is that? We hope to clearly communicate our need of God to the children, being sure to remind them that we are sinners too.

Preschool-aged children, however small they seem, are capable of learning God’s truth by what we formally teach them during lesson time and by what they observe us say and do outside of teaching time.

Serving in Sparklers has been so much fun and a tremendous blessing. God has taught me that it is only by His mercy and grace that any of us are able to understand the great gospel truths in Scripture. We look forward to not only serve, but to grow alongside other Sparklers staff and the Sparklers’ parents as we continue to study and teach the amazing truth of God.

As They Grow, I Grow

by Nelson Kha

It is crazy how six months has gone by since my first day in the Sonlight ministry. For those who know me, I have always been very involved with the music ministry at the church, but the thought of working with kids has never been at the forefront of my mind. Just a little over a year ago, I prayed and asked God to reveal to me where He could use me to help and serve in other ministries other than the praise ministry. The timing was perfect because in the last few members meetings, Ryan shared during the ministry updates that the Sonlight ministry was in need of some help due to the large number of children now at the church. In the little time I have been involved with Sonlight, there are a few things that I was able to glean from it, including how the Sonlight ministry has been a profitable time for me.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

Being at the church for close to 8 years now, I have been given the wonderful privilege of seeing many of the children grow from infants to toddlers, and now to school-age children. They know the Bible! They know the stories! I can recount quite a handful of incidents in which even the youngest ones can retell what they have learned in the last few months. Sometimes, they even remember the stories and lessons better than me! In addition to the teaching time, the Sonlight ministry does a great job having supplemental activities and discussion times when the kids can further participate in applying the lesson to their day-to-day lives. It is during those moments that we as teachers can be a little more intentional with them, helping them better understand the Bible lessons and apply them to their lives. Now at this point, whether they have come to an understanding of the gospel or not, what is encouraging is seeing the children ministries at our church hold fast to the Word and raising the children up in the knowledge of our Lord. As the children continue to learn to love the Lord and others, it’s also a personal reminder for me to love in the same way and consider the lessons being taught.

Lessons after lessons, you will normally see the kids excited to participate and hear God’s Word being taught. They would come in the room, sign-in, grab their seats and are excited to learn. At times I wonder about our own attitude when it comes to hearing God’s Word preached. Do we share the same enthusiasm as these kids do? Why not? Seeing their excitement is definitely refreshing and it is an area where I am being challenged to cultivate an enthused and excited attitude towards the Word of God.

A typical day in Sonlight usually starts with the lesson being taught during first hour. Currently, we are studying through the book of Acts, though we did take a small break during the Easter season. What was helpful though was that the kids were able to follow-up with the life of Christ, then continue on with how the early church was started after Christ’s ascension. Like Ryan’s past Beacon article mentioned, this journey through Acts shed some light into God’s work in Paul’s life and in how God intended to accomplish the mission to make disciples of all nations through the vehicle of his Church. My prayer is that as we finish up our study in Acts, God will use the remaining time to teach the children to see how He intends to draw all nations to Himself and through it, they may see the sovereignty of God. After the lesson, we usually have an activity, which consists of either a game or something that will supplement the lesson. This is a good time for the kids to expel some of that pent-up energy! Right after that, we have a time of praise and then go straight into second hour. Second hour is usually where we have snack time and really get to know the kids during table time. As I mentioned before, this is where the teachers can help the kids apply the Bible lesson to their lives, as well as a chance for us to get to know the kids better.

As this school year concludes and promotion Sunday approaches, I highly encourage those that have been on the fence on whether to serve in a new ministry to serve in Sonlight! This ministry is a great place to witness God’s saving work in the lives of future generations, growing them to love Him and His people. As these kids continue to grow (physically and spiritually), God continues to use them and this ministry to grow myself. I can’t help but say that it is truly a sanctifying process, as I sometimes feel like I gain more from it than what I put in. Long story short, join us!

Fireflies Nursery Update

By Sallie Yang

Lighthouse Bible Church, San Diego (LBCSD) has an ever- growing Fireflies ministry of children aged three and under. The Fireflies ministry is comprised of two groups, N1 and N2. In N1, we care for babies from birth until they can walk; and in N2, we care for those who can walk until they are three and potty-trained. As our church continues to grow, so does the number of children in our care and subsequently, our need for more nursery workers. We seek faithful women who are LBCSD members and have a heart to care for these children to join nursery. If you are interested, please contact Carol Lim, our lead nursery coordinator.

Truly, there is never a dull moment when serving in Fireflies. By the end of nursery, I often have to go home and take a nap! The babies and toddlers command our full attention with all of their energy, personalities, and cute and crazy baby–and toddler–ways. They are a handful, but a joy to take care of. Personally, I enjoy the time I get to interact with them one on one, even if it is just to console them as they are crying. It is a way that I get to display Christ to them and to practice kindness, patience, and love, which are fruits of the Spirit. It is my hope that the kids will have a positive view towards nursery and love being at church.

In nursery, we have the awesome opportunity to share the love of Christ with the children through our interactions with them and teaching time. In N2, we teach simple lessons about God and Jesus to build a foundation for what they will continue to learn as they move on from nursery into Sparklers and beyond. This month we are teaching the kids that God made everything based on Genesis 1. We start the lesson by sharing how in the beginning there were no trees, flowers, dogs, daddies, mommies, and babies. But, there was God. And, God is big and strong. God created the trees, flowers, dogs, daddies, mommies, and babies. God created everything! Our memory verse, Genesis 1:1, ties in beautifully with the lesson this month. It is put to a simple melody and sung with hand motions. The Fireflies memory verse songs can be found in the Resource section on the LBC Children’s page.

We teach the same lesson every Sunday for the whole month, adding a craft at the end of the month to reinforce the truths learned. The lesson becomes really familiar to them by the end of the month. I think it’s particularly encouraging when the kids are able to state the truth being taught even before we get there in the lesson. At the end of the lesson, the kids have the opportunity to color on the take home lesson sheet and memory verse paper. I often use this time to reiterate the truths to them. We encourage our staff to be intentional with the time we spend with the kids.

I love the chance to serve alongside the wonderful women in our Fireflies ministry. We have women from all affinity groups and walks of life. It has been great to meet and get to know ladies that I may not have had a chance otherwise to meet. I’ve been encouraged by their hearts to serve God and love people in caring for the youngest, most vulnerable of our church with such joy and sacrifice.

To God be the glory in all that we do!

The Connection of Acts

by Ryan McAdams

I previously mentioned that we would venture into the New Testament through our curriculum in our Sonlight elementary and Sparklers preschool ministries, and we did have a profitable study through the earthly life of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. But our journey has taken us now to the book of Acts, into unfamiliar territory for many of our young souls.

Through our study, I hope both we the teachers and the students can more greatly appreciate the gracious gift that God has given us in this book. Without the book of Acts, we would all struggle to make sense of the New Testament, most likely inventing wild bridges to correlate the accounts of the life of Jesus to the letters (Epistles) that followed. We would laboriously hunt for the identity of that Paul fellow, and lose the drama of the incredible conversion that God orchestrated for him. Perhaps most significantly, while we would have the Great Commission that Jesus delivered to his followers, to make his disciples in every nation, we would lack some of the understanding of how God intended to accomplish that mission, namely the vehicle of his church.

Jesus reiterated his Great Commission to his disciples in Acts 1:8, saying “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And for the rest of the book, we read how the Holy Spirit brought believers together into churches, starting in Jerusalem, and propagating to Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Traditionally, the church has entitled this chronicle by Luke The Acts of the Apostles, which we shorten to Acts. And while the apostles certainly performed many acts to advance the gospel throughout the earth, the Holy Spirit empowered and drove them to establish the churches all over the Roman Empire and beyond. So, arguably more accurately, some theologians have instead called the book The Acts of the Holy Spirit.

As our pastor Josh recently taught, borrowing a bit from John Piper, God has worked to bring all nations into the white-hot worship of himself throughout both the Old and New Testament ages. Through our study of Acts, hopefully the children can see how God intends to draw all nations to himself in this New Testament age and gain a greater measure of awe for God and his sovereign hand over human history.

Teach Them Diligently

by Leah Shen

LBC Nursery Ministry (Fireflies) serves the infants and toddlers of our church. The Fireflies ministry is divided into Nursery 1 (from birth to about 16 months old) and Nursery 2 (from about 16 months old to 3 years old). I am thankful to be able to serve with ladies of LBC through our Fireflies ministry. We endeavor to come alongside the parents and teach the children, at a young age, about God and truths of the Bible. We pray for their spiritual state and aim to be purposeful in the way we speak and interact with the children. We desire to nurture their spirit and continually point them to Christ.

With the seeds of God’s word, we hope to cultivate in them an awareness of God and our need for our savior, Jesus Christ, through lesson time, songs and Bible memorization. One lesson and one Bible verse are taught for each month. With repetition, truths about God are modeled over and over so that they may begin to understand that, for example, God made everything. A few of the other lessons are: Jesus is Alive, God is Everywhere, God Always Wins, God is Good, Jesus Loves Me, Only God is Big, Jesus is Here and Gods Knows Everything. In addition, we also teach the children scripture memorization through music and hand-motions. Parents can even review the songs on the website! For example, one lesson teaches about Jesus and Zacchaeus, and the memory verse from Proverbs 17:17a, “A friend loves at all times.” We use a curriculum reviewed by our children ministry leaders. What a delight to see the children interested and engaged during lesson time and scripture memorization.

During snack time and free-play time, teaching moments can arise. I view these moments as valuable times to reinforce and to teach the child about sharing, taking turns, and showing grace to one another by being gentle and kind towards each another. We also have an opportunity to pray together for the needs of the children. Praise God for His sovereign hand in their lives. Let us all faithfully pray for each one of them and for their salvation.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it,”(Proverbs 22:6). As a mom whose children have benefited from the Fireflies ministry’s dedication and commitment to serving the children, I am greatly encouraged and thankful. I am thankful that they are able to learn about God at a young age and hope they will hold on to His word in their hearts. Even times when my child may prefer not to be in the Nursery due to separation anxiety, the ladies were gracious in taking care of them. I am grateful to have been able to join in corporate worship during our Sunday services while my children were in Fireflies. By God’s grace, during their time in Fireflies, my children have been given more examples of having a high view of God, treasuring God’s word and keeping it in their heart. So as a mom, I am thankful for the children’s ministry at LBC who continually nurture and pray for their spiritual life. And as part of the Fireflies ministry, I am encouraged by the parents’ faithfulness in teaching their children about God and allowing us to come along side them. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” (Ephesians 1:3). Joy fills my heart because my resources in Christ are adequate. Let us be faithful to God and continually pray for one another, especially for the children that they may come to a saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that they may belong wholly to God.

How Sonlight Serves My Soul

by Justin Lin

Sonlight is one of our church’s Children’s Ministries, and we serve the elementary aged children of the church. It has been a little more than a year since I applied to be a part of Sonlight ministry, and it has certainly been a joyful year. I remember praying to God for ways to serve in the church – a few weeks later, God answered my prayer. I went to a Members’ Meeting and heard the ministry coordinator ask if anyone was interested in serving in Sonlight. I had never thought I was particularly gifted, or even had a specific heart for children’s ministry. But I learned God doesn’t just ask you to serve where you are gifted, but he asks you to serve where He sees fit. He commands you to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” (Matt 6:23), and will faithfully sanctify you through it. Here are a few of the ways God has blessed me and grown me through my time serving the children of the church –

Humility

“‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God.” (James 4:6-7a)

As I joined the ministry, I quickly learned that children usually aren’t “adult / people-pleasers,” yet. I had been asked to lead the singing time for the children on the piano, and for my first week, I had prepared meticulously, listening to the soundtracks on YouTube from Sovereign Grace. I learned “To Be Like Jesus,” and “W-I-S-D-O-M,” and practiced throughout the week. When Sunday morning came, everything went as I had practiced, and as I closed the singing time in prayer, to my shame, I thought about giving myself a pat on the back for how well I thought things went. As quickly as that thought came, I was met with a chorus of multiple children yelling “Mr. Justin, you played that too slow! We always sing it FASTERRRR!” I was so offended – in my mind, I thought they didn’t know what they were talking about, that I played it how it was “supposed” to be played. But God caused me to realize that even in these innocent comments, my purpose was to direct hearts toward glorifying Him, not myself. There was always and will always be room for me to grow, and if I were to be counted faithful each week, I would need to grow in humility before God and these children each week.

Truth

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, or joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Each week, one of the teachers will prepare a lesson from our curriculum, The Life of Christ. I’ve always been surprised at how these lessons are not only relevant for the children, but for the teachers as well. The truth of God does not change, whether you are a child or an adult – it is constant and always applies to your life. Just a couple weeks ago, we examined the different responses of the Pharisees, Judas, and Mary to Jesus Christ. In challenging the children to respond rightly to the Lordship of Christ, I was convicted to examine my own heart, and my response to Christ every day. When we teach lessons to the children, we strive to be doers of the words we teach, to submit to the word of God and grow in Christ-likeness. The lessons we teach in Sonlight are just as much for their souls as they are for us.

Love

“If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46)

Many of the children in Sonlight are at the age when the “Sparklers’ cuteness” has somewhat faded, and the autonomous rebellion begins to shine. I learned that in their youth, they usually don’t thank you or give you the positive/polite feedback I’m used to hearing from adults. Thus, from a worldly perspective we have little or nothing to gain from them. However, true love and service expects nothing in return – as Dr. Street said, true love is not a “50-50 type of love.” The love we show these children should be a reflection of Christ’s love to us, that He loved us while we were in willful and sinful rebellion towards him. Our love for these children is nothing more than an extension of Christ’s love for us, a love that chooses to seek their good and benefit, no matter what they do or say towards us. It is a love of choice, that does not expect anything in return, and, Lord willing, if they are saved one day, I hope they can say that we showed love toward them. Serving in Sonlight helps us to practice Christ-like love.

I never expected to be blessed in these ways when I joined the Sonlight ministry, but God has been faithful to grow me in this time, in humility, truth, and love. During this time, I’ve seen that raising a child really takes the partnership of the church and family together to impress God’s truth upon young hearts in word and action. I pray that no matter how the demographic of our church may change in the years to come, that we would continue to be a church that loves the children of the church, and continues to help families to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” (Eph. 6:4). Praise God for our church, and all that he is doing in the lives of these children!

The Rules of Sparklers

by Paul Chen

  1. Obey the first time
  2. Be kind to everyone
  3. Do your best work
  4. HAVE FUN!

Throughout my five years as part of Sparklers staff, these four rules have been the backbone of how we structure the classroom and instruct the children. Before joining Sparklers, I did not have any experience interacting with kids, let alone leading a classroom full of 3-4 year-olds. When I started, the class was quite smaller than it is these Sundays. We used to meet in what is now the 2nd nursery room and typically had less than 10 kids. Our staff size was smaller with only 2-3 teachers per class. Today, we’re now in a new room and an “easy” Sunday consists of anything less than 20 children and five teachers. While the size of the room, children and staff have greatly increased, one thing that has always been consistent for as long as I have been in Sparklers is the importance of accurately handling and teaching God’s word.

Obey the first time

When you have a room full of 3-4 year-olds, chances are there will be a select few who are misbehaving. Whether it is asking a child to sit still and pay attention to the lesson or trying to encourage a child to participate in the activities, the instruction is not always followed. We try and reinforce that since their parents are listening to the adult lesson, they need to stay in here. We communicate to the kids that sometimes it is hard to obey because we want to do what we want, and we call that a “my way” heart. With a “my way” heart, God is not pleased and instead wants us to trust Him. God promises that for those who trust in Him, He will always help us when it is hard to obey.

Be kind to everyone

For the most part, the kids are pretty well behaved. There are however instances when the children do not get along. This usually happens during free time when we allow the children to play at different stations we have set up in the room. Inevitably, the boys will usually rush towards the wooden trains and gather as many as they can. Due to the limited number of trains and the desire to amass as many as each can, there will be crying and tattletaling about how so and so has more trains. We would try and get the two boys to talk it out with one asking if he can play with the trains and the other being kind enough to share. We remind the kids about the Passion Statement of our church, “to love God and people,” and sharing is an example of how we can love one another.

Do your best work

After the lesson, we usually get into small groups to go over the lesson and answer some follow-up discussion questions. During small group time we will have coloring sheets, memory verse tracing, or crafts. Some of the younger kids will usually take one crayon and color the entire page scribbling everywhere and say, “I’m done!” We go over with the kids that when we’re coloring or tracing, we want to do our best and stay inside the lines and not just “scribble scrabble.” We explain that God wants us to do our best in everything that we do because He is a perfect God. We may not be able to do everything perfectly, but we have to try to do our best.

HAVE FUN!

We try and make the environment as exciting and engaging as possible through the use of props, skits, crafts and games. The biggest challenge when preparing for a lesson is how do I make the presentation interactive that will hold their attention and at the same time simple enough that 3-4 year-olds will understand? One great example is from the flocks worksheet: “If a child were to ask you what you learned from this Sunday’s sermon, how would you explain it to them?” Even through these challenges, the times I have spent in Sparklers have been rewarding. The staff has been able to come alongside the parents and be able to invest in the younger generation.

Blessings from the Nursery

by Carol Lim

This month (August) marks my 10 years here at Lighthouse San Diego. Looking back at all those years of learning and serving at our church reminds me of the faithful One who saved me and sustains me. I’m humbled by the fact that when I first joined nursery soon after becoming a member in Oct 2006, I was looking forward to having fun playing with the babies and toddlers. Since then I have learned much about the importance of children’s ministry, particularly the nursery, and teaching the young ones about the truths of God that are grounded in His Word. God has also been teaching me over the years of how He chooses to use the believers in the local church to accomplish His work, with all the implications of serving and building up “one another” in the spirit of unity, as mentioned in Ephesians 4.

So I just wanted to share a few blessings of being in a part of this ministry:

I get to teach the children the truth about who God is

Whether the children are listening to the story of Namaan being healed from his owies (2 Kings 5:1-15), or of Zacchaeus being visited by his friend Jesus (Luke 19:1-9), the main character for every lesson is always God. He is the one always initiating the love, goodness, power, and friendship to the people. Last month in July we taught that God is everywhere through the story of Jonah. The children learned that although Jonah tried to run away from God in the hopes of hiding from Him, God is everywhere and no one can escape from His presence. Not only did they learn about His omnipresence, but the children also discovered that God is compassionate towards people who do not know Him and wants His people to tell them about Him!

God uses lessons like these not only to build biblical foundation for our children, but also to remind the grownups like me of His awesome character and how that should affect my thinking, attitude, and daily actions. The ultimate goal for our ministry is to draw children to the Savior through the filling of their minds with the truth of God’s Word. What we teach are simple truth statements and simple Bible stories, yet are filled with substantial nuggets of life-changing power. What an awesome privilege!

I get to serve alongside fellow sisters in Christ

Our staff is comprised of ladies from CollegeLife, SingleLife, and GraceLife, with a wide range of ages as well as walks of life. Some of us are married, some are married with children, and some are single and working, studying, or both. We even have a grandma!

We are a diverse group, yet like-minded about teaching and reaching the children with God’s Word. I’m truly thankful for each and every one of them. It’s really neat to see God-given gifts being used in various ways each Sunday. Those gifted with artistic talents come up with really creative ideas for crafts, and some utilize their organizational skills to help create our rooms to be more efficient, beautiful, and safe for the children.

With the recent departure of some college graduates moving out of town, we were a bit short-staffed, especially during the summer, but God is always so faithful in providing our staff needs year after year!

I get to connect with the parents and families as well as minister to them

We’ve been seeing a significant growth in the number of families at our church within the last 3-4 years, and it can sometimes get difficult to keep in touch with all of them. On the days that I serve, however brief it may be, I’m able to re-connect with many parents during their check-in/check-out times. I also enjoy meeting parents who are visiting for the first time as well as frequent attenders.

The nursery ministry seeks to serve the parents by freeing them to worship God without distraction. As they grow in the knowledge of God, He will then be able to use the parents to minister/reach out to others. We also aim to help parents bring about discipleship at home (Deut 6:4-9; 11:8-19; Ps 78:1-7). As they learn the importance of biblical parenting, this will allow more opportunity of parents to teach their children to worship, elicit faith, and to obey God.

Parents of young children oftentimes are attracted by a nursery ministry that is inviting, safe, friendly, and that is filled with warmth. As they hand their children to me, I want to establish and maintain trust with the parents!

I must admit, I’m pretty beat by the time the last child is picked up. The ladies in the room are so tired that we often burst out in laughter in sheer excitement that we get to go home and take a 2-hour nap! But I’m truly thankful for the opportunity to serve in this way, knowing that the seeds of His Word are planted in their hearts, and that God is faithful to save them according to His Will. What a privilege it is for me to know that despite all my shortcomings and weaknesses, God continues to grow me and use me in this local church that I love so much.