Building Children’s Ministry: the Lugar Brae Uniting Church experience
As we work towards a younger, more engaging Uniting Church, the main aim of the Future Directions framework agreed on by the 2021 Synod meeting, Insights has heard some inspiring stories from congregations focusing on growing the church younger and developing healthy and courageous congregations. One of these is Luger Brae Uniting Church.
Rev. Kevin Kim is the minister at Lugar Brae Uniting Church. Insights talked to him about a journey that started a decade ago and has become a pillar of their congregation over the last couple of years: an exciting Children’s Ministry.
According to Rev. Kim, they started their Messy Church more than ten years ago. They began as they had a few young families with little children in their pre-school and low primary aged kids. As those children grew up, they lost a connection with the young families for a few years, but the kids ministry has developed and grown over the last couple of years.
About nine congregational members are now involved in the team that runs the Messy Church. Thanks to the growing group and young families ministry, they started a new Kids Choir in April with two different rehearsing dates, Thursdays and Fridays.
“Developing the children’s ministry has been one of our mission plans. One of our goals in the kids’ ministry area was to start and establish a Messy Church,” Rev. Kim said.
The group enjoyed the craft activities and games the most, and it made a significant growth up to the beginning of 2020 when everything changed.
Unfortunately, during the first COVID-19 lockdown period, they were not able to gather.
“In fact, we had to wait more than 12 months to have a face-to-face Messy Church gathering in March 2021. At March Messy Church -Easter theme-, we had 30 children and 20 adults, and at the most recent May Messy Church -Mother’s Day-, where the kids’ choir performed for the first time, we had 26 children and 24 adults attending. As a small size congregation, it has been a great success for us,” Rev. Kim explained.
They have enhanced their connections with local schools in Bronte and Randwick through Messy Church and the Kids Choir program. Kids attending both programs are from more than five different schools, strengthening the Children’s Ministry.
When Insights asked Rev. Kim about a memorable anecdote he remembered, he was emphatic when sharing.
“For more than ten years, I have been teaching children a Protestant Christian scripture class at Bronte public school with other church leaders in our community. As we have a big group of students, school teachers help us to run the scripture class,” he said.
“There is a young teacher who has always been supportive, kind and encouraging to our scripture teachers. She and our teachers developed a good relationship. When we started the Messy Church again about two years ago, she joined with her little daughter. She was keen to help run a Messy Church and is now a member of our messy church team. A few months ago, she asked me to baptise her young ten-month-old boy, and we recently had her son’s baptism with lots of their friends and family attending our Sunday service.”
“The challenge for Messy Church or the ‘fresh expressions’ movement is how we move beyond fun craft activities to make Messy Church members the disciples of Jesus. This story is significant for us as we have witnessed this teacher and her family have deepened their spirituality through our Messy Church and open to become better disciples of Jesus.”
Unfortunately, Lugar Brae Uniting Church could not host the ‘Christmas in July Messy Church’ nor the ‘Christmas in July service’ due to the recent outbreak. They were hoping to have a delayed ‘Christmas in July Messy Church’ in August, but it was not possible either. Two choirs, the Lugar Brae community Choir for adults and the Children’s choir, both have practised the songs to perform at this service and are ready to sing in a delayed ‘Christmas in July’ service … hopefully soon.