Be aware of the flow of each session and maximize time for "teachable moments" as group interest allows. A session isn't a race, and shouldn't feel like one. On the other hand, participants need to feel excited about attending and being part of the group. By meeting their need for challenge, physical activity and enjoyable moments, you build a sense of community that will draw children into the program. If a group is reluctant to engage in reflection and discussion, expand the games or the artistic or musical expression activities and gradually increase time for shared reflection and insight.
When scheduling this program, leave room for your congregational traditions around holidays. Participating in the life of the congregation is as important for children as participating in religious education programming with their peers. Don't miss intergenerational services, such as Flower Communion, and multi-age opportunities such as winter holidays, Mother's Day, Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King Day or Valentine's Day.
The Wonderful Welcome program lends itself well to many aspects of congregational life. For example, Session 11, The Gift of Stewardship, can be used in conjunction with the congregation's pledge campaign. If your congregation is launching a capital campaign and/or a long-range plan to improve the congregational facilities, Session 16, The Gift of Community, talks about the rural American tradition of barn-raising. Consider using elements of the session to involve the children, and perhaps a broader group, in the congregation's process. If your congregation has a Green Sanctuary Committee, engage its members in Session 10, The Gift of Protection, which focuses on our day-to-day connections with nature and our responsibility to take care of the Earth. A Faith in Action activity can involve the children in the work of the committee. A Social Justice committee may like to interact with the children as part of Session 7, the Gift of Helping; an adult committee or youth group could help the children raise money for a Heifer International donation.
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Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.
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