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Mountain Life Church’s Kids Ministry

Mountain Life Church’s Kids Ministry
Have you ever stopped and looked at the world through the eyes of a child? The thrill of blowing on a dandelion that has gone to seed and being encased in a puff of white. Or crouching down to watch in fascination as an ant skitters to and fro. Kids not only appreciate the little things in life, but they are also human sponges; ready and willing to soak up new thoughts and ideas. Which is where Mountain Life’s Kids Ministry comes in.

Cullen Wood, the Mountain Life Kids Ministry Director, understands how important it is to share Jesus with children. With a background in early childhood education, Cullen taught preschool and was also the director at a Lutheran school for 15 years before coming to Mountain Life. She even started her own online business, writing preschool curriculums which can be found on her website, www.cullensabcs.com. But she knows in her heart that Mountain Life Kids Ministry is right where she belongs. “Now I see it,” muses Cullen. “God was preparing me for this all along.”
What Makes Kids Ministry Special?
Cullen believes that volunteers are a crucial part of any robust children’s ministry. “We have people serving that are ‘world changers,’ because they are changing these little worlds since kids are in their own little worlds. And the kids are going to filter into their parents’ worlds,” she reflects. “We get to change the kids’ worlds by speaking truth into their lives and they’re going to speak that truth out into the world.”

In addition to a heart for kids, Cullen also has a heart for these “world changers.” She relies on 12 dedicated volunteers to teach the 30 to 50 kids onsite during the 10:45am service on Sunday mornings. “I think this stems from my teaching background, that I really want to appreciate the volunteers,” says Cullen. “Making them feel so valued is important. And making them feel like they’re not just filling a spot, but they have actually been called to do it.”

And then there are the parents. Cullen’s goal is to come alongside the parents and equip them with things to do at home during the week that are an extension of the kids’ ministry curriculum. Enter the famous GO!Bags.
GO!Bags
The GO! curriculum, taught on Sunday mornings, leads kids chronologically through the Bible while also being very interactive. In fact, the tag line of the curriculum is to “get kids out of their seats and into the storytelling action.”

When COVID first happened, there was a time when church services weren’t held onsite. Which meant that Kids Ministry wasn’t onsite either. So, Cullen decided to make the curriculum portable by offering GO!Bags to parents who signed up to receive them. To date, over 100 children are using GO!Bags each month. These colorful bags include a months’ worth of content that kids can do at home:  an activity (either a game or craft), a coloring page, Bible verse memorization, Bible story and prayer. All in clearly labeled weekly folders with directions that make it turnkey for parents. They are available for Preschoolers & Kindergarteners and Elementary kids, whether their family is worshipping onsite or online.

“It’s super user-friendly for the parents,” says Cullen, “When I take the curriculum and tweak it, I am thinking about two things. First, how can I make it easy for families where English is a second language? And second, if a parent doesn’t feel equipped enough to do something like this, they need to be able to just pull it out of the folder and do it.”

Now that more and more families are returning to church, Cullen and the team are tweaking the GO!Bags into a 5x7 family devotional booklet called GO!Devo (Devo being short for Devotions) with three months of content for families to grab and go.
Vacation Bible School
In addition to GO!Bags and Kids Ministry onsite, another important element of reaching young believers is Vacation Bible School (VBS), held every summer onsite at Mountain Life Church. This year’s theme is “Bolt” as evidenced by the green turf grass in the kids’ quad that reflects the sports theme. Held July 19th - 22nd from 9am to noon this year, VBS welcomes potty-trained 3-year-olds through 5th graders for a minimal fee. This year’s program is already so popular that over 115 kids are already registered.

And while it follows the GO! curriculum, there is a decidedly VBS vibe. “The timeframe is so condensed that VBS is exciting, fun, crazy and controlled chaos all at the same time. The intensity of it all is like the curriculum on steroids and it allows kids to get Jesus in a fun and intense way, that is really impactful,” says Cullen.

To corral 115 kids, being moved around to different stations including music, crafts, games, snacks, and Bible stories, means volunteers are crucial to the success of VBS. As of this writing there are 20 volunteers currently signed up, but Cullen needs 80-100 people to make this magical experience happen. As someone who volunteered for VBS when I was in middle school and also when my kids attended Mountain Life, I encourage you to do the same. The church takes on a whole new energy with so many kids around who are genuinely excited to learn about Jesus, singing their hearts out and gobbling down fun snacks like worms in dirt (gummy worms cleverly hidden in chocolate pudding and Oreos.)

When I asked Cullen why someone should volunteer for VBS, she responded with unbridled enthusiasm. “The world is going to be changed,” she says with a smile. “Their world will change, and they will change the kids’ worlds. Plus, there is this whole team camaraderie.”

Cullen’s goal for Kids Ministry, whether it be VBS, GO! Bags or being onsite is simple, yet very profound. “By continuing to come alongside parents and equip them with things they can do at home,” says Cullen, “we are going to help the kids get to know and have a relationship with Jesus.”
By Liz Yokubison
Liz Yokubison is a freelance writer and author. You can follow her on her website, www.lizyokubison.com.

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