A Journey in Children's Ministry

By Karla Schettenhelm, Director of Children's Ministry

A little more than a decade ago I was working part time as the preschool teacher at COS.  In 2007 there was a crossroads in my life and at COS.  The current children’s ministry director was stepping down in her part time position, and I was in need of a full time work position.  When these things first collided I did not see that they were related, but as I prayed about what I would do, it started to be apparent to me that maybe God had a plan (of course He did, but sometimes it’s hard to see the forest through the trees!)  

Even though children’s ministry in the church was not something I ever considered, I was educated at Concordia Ann Arbor, and had my Lutheran Teacher’s Diploma.  I had worked with children most of my life, and in my professional career had always worked in a Lutheran church.  Children’s ministry director was something that I seemed to be qualified for, but was it where I wanted to be?  

I prayed, I thought, I talked to people, I prayed some more, talked some more, thought some more, and prayed even more!  This seemed to be the perfect solution for me.  Putting together my part time teaching position and the part time children’s ministry position would give me the full time position I needed.  I could fill that position, and it would be what the church needed and what I needed.  Look how God works!  At the exact time I was wondering what I was going to do, there was a solution right where I was.

This new position would cause me to stretch a bit – much of the children’s ministry position is not teaching which is what I was used to doing.  I have had to strengthen skills that I had but had not been using so much, I have had to develop some ways of thinking about things I hadn’t thought about before, I have had to work with ages of children I didn’t necessarily think I liked (I love them all now 😊)

A decade (actually 12 years) later, I am still learning and stretching. God calls us to do those things no matter where we are in life. I am thankful this is where God led me.  I love teaching, and I get to do that with my preschoolers, and with the older children in Sunday school, Elementary Youth Group, etc.  And this children’s ministry work has turned out to be something that brings me great joy!  

I am thankful for all of the children and families that have been on this journey with me.  I look forward to continuing to grow and stretch with you in 2020 and beyond!    
During the last decade our “midweek” program has gone from Pioneer Clubs on Tuesday evenings to Tuesday evening Elementary and Junior high youth groups to Sunday evening Elementary youth group.  Our numbers have definitely continued a downward trend for this program for education and fellowship for these young people.  It is a different world we live in with changing wants and needs for families.  At COS we prioritize Christian education and gathering as fellow Christians.  We want children to have friends at church to walk along side as they develop their faith, values, and character.  We want to have programs and timing that works for our families in the busy world we live in.  If you have any ideas in regards to what works to get your family involved in a “midweek” program or other events with similar purposes please contact me.  I would love to discuss it with you.
Our Sunday school program at COS has teachers guiding our children as they learn God’s Word and apply it to the lives they are living.  We have many teachers who have actually been teaching Sunday school at COS for more than the decade we are finishing.  They and our newer teachers are dedicated to teaching the children at COS about their Lord and Savior.  We have tried a couple different curriculums through this decade to try to meet the needs of our children.  This year we launched the newest Concordia Publishing House curriculum, Enduring Faith.  We are finding positives and negatives as we venture through the lessons.  We will give it the year and possibly more to see if this curriculum is effective in leading our children on their faith walk.

Vacation Bible School (VBS) is one of our largest children’s events as well as outreach events. Did you know more than half of the children that attend our VBS are not members at Christ Our Savior?  Friends, relatives, neighbors, etc. come to learn about Jesus at our VBS.  Our numbers have steadily climbed during the last decade with a sharp increase in 2017 and 2018.  This past year we changed the dates which seems to have had a dramatic effect on our attendance.  In 2020 we will go back to the 3rd full week in June (June 22-26) and anticipate almost 200 children again!  Of course that many children requires many volunteers!  Plan to volunteer this year to see what blessings God has for you through VBS!
We just finished our “Sunday school” food drive, our biggest servant event of the year. This has been an annual event for a very long time, longer than the past decade.  A decade ago this food drive pretty much stocked our pantry until the food drive the following year. Because of the increased use of the pantry we are thankful if this food drive can get us into the new year.  We then depend on our members to donate items the rest of the year to keep our pantry supplied.

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