Much has been said about discipleship – possibly more than any other subject in the church history. What I am about to write to you as a church family is not about imparting new knowledge or some secret insight. I am merely writing to define some terms that we use at HarvestDowntown and to ask for your help.
We define discipleship as spiritual learning and we believe that this best happens through relationship. Most discipleship happens through small groups of 8-12 individuals who consistently and regularly gather to study, share, and speak into one another’s lives. These smaller groups need clear catalysts for the discipleship process. These catalysts serve as guides, directors, or teachers for the disciples. Sometimes this discipling relationship is for a season and sometimes it turns into a lifelong mentoring relationship.
We are committed to being an intergenerational church community where each generation is invited deeper into this journey of discipleship. We believe that our children and grandparents, along with us, are the church of today. The Spirit has been poured out upon all people regardless of age, gender, or position, (Acts 2:14-21).
For 25 years, we have been intentionally investing in the discipleship of the children who come to HarvestDowntown. For many years we called this ministry “Kids Own Worship” but now call it HarvestKids. The purpose of HarvestKids is to serve as a catalyst for the spiritual formation of our children. We recognize that the parents of our children are the primary teachers, mentors, and guides (catalysts) for their child’s spiritual formation, but we want to serve the smaller families within our larger church family by coming alongside the parents in discipleship.
Every classroom has a coordinator, and we have assigned three regular teacher/mentors. There are also classroom helpers who do not feel like they are ready to serve as a teacher or under the age of sixteen. Each adult has been background checked and we are committed to providing the safest place possible for the children of HarvestDowntown and their friends. The curriculum has been chosen because it walks our children through the Bible in a systematic, three-year journey of discipleship. We also are quite pleased with the parent resources provided online and the booklets (“cuddle cards” for the younger kids) that are provided to each child or parent for use throughout the quarter.
I certainly hope that you take a moment to thank our teacher/mentors who serve as catalysts for the discipleship of our children. If you need some more resources or information to help you in the discipleship of your children, many of these servants have years of parenting and discipleship experience and they would love to live the journey with you.
In February, we announced to the church family that all the discipleship ministries of HarvestDowntown were going to be under my (Kurt’s) purview – including HarvestKids. Thankfully, David had organized so many aspects of HarvestKids, that I was set up for success. I also have an amazing wife who happens to be an amazing mentor to children, has been classically trained in curriculum instruction, and who has recently stepped out of teaching in schools – partly so she can invest more in the children of HarvestDowntown. I was destined to succeed!
As families re-engage with school and the socialization of their children, we recognize the incredible need for the church to step into serving as a catalyst for the spiritual formation of our children. Therefore, early in the re-entry to proximity process, we offered HarvestKids during the 10:40 service – not as a service to the parents but to serve the children. This has proven to be just what the kids needed and what families wanted. HarvestKids is packed and each week we move kids around to satisfy health and fire code restrictions along with childcare guidelines to provide the safest possible environment for our kids.
For the last twenty years, Sundays in August were hit and miss when it came to church attendance. In 2020, the rules have changed! It seems to us that individuals and families are done with living in isolation. Parents seem to long for their children to be socialized – particularly in safe environments. To this end, we want to provide the best environment for our children. This means we need more space for HarvestKids.
There are three options that we see for gaining space for this ministry. One, we could build a bigger building. Two, we could open more classrooms. Or, three, HarvestKids@9. We are moving toward adding physical space to our facility – but this does not include space for HarvestKids. The new construction will certainly facilitate HarvestKids and the check-in process, but this will not add classroom space; and it certainly won’t be completed by the Fall quarter! We have room for two additional classrooms, and this is a good alternative – this is certainly an option. The final option is to offer HarvestKids@9.
We need your help!
We are going to be experimenting with HarvestKids throughout the rest of this month to try and continue to meet the needs of our kids while still respecting the capacities of our classrooms. This will require some flexibility on your part with your kids, but we also need to find more who are willing to serve. The simplest option is to open 2 more classrooms. But this may not help the big church capacity limits. So, we would love to offer HarvestKids@9 this fall, but we need workers!!!
The COVID-19 season has left us with a need for teachers. If you can help with this great need, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-310-9098. We ask our workers in HarvestKids to serve one month at a time, be background checked, and be a part of our church community. If God is tugging at your heart to disciple these younger members of our church community – I want to hear from you!