Thanks so much for your willingness to participate in the nurturing and care of kids at Branches!
In an effort to make this as positive and beautiful as possible, we want to be very upfront with how we view our "kids ministry" at Branches, as well as make you aware of some of the logistical realities of how we work at Branches.
We rent our building for Sunday use (and other times here and there.) When we're not in the building, the Mead School District meets with about 80 students and there are wedding events on many weekends (especially during the summer.) What this means, practically, is that we don't have a ton of space and what space we do have, we have to treat very temporary. All of our furniture is modular as we set-up the space on Sunday mornings and we return the space to a neutral position after services on Sunday mornings.
There are many amazing things that come from this - we pay a very low rent and we use a building that rarely sits empty. But, the space limitations can have an effect on what we are trying to do with kids. We can't split up into as many groups as we would sometimes like, we move more furniture than we wish we did, and we can't paint the walls - even hanging something on the walls is a little problematic.
Rather than being a place where kids are asked to perform and achieve, Branches’ kids programs have been designed as a Sabbath space where kids can breathe, enjoy, observe, and just be.
We worship through music, art, stories, and above all, through play.
We recognize play as a sacred act, a reminder of the light that shines in the darkness.
We work to build real relationships, relaxed, family-style community, and a safe place for kids to ask questions, encourage each other, and experience God together.
Kids may not get stars for memorizing verses, but they will get stars for having fun, resting, and experiencing God on a Sunday morning.
School is often about strict structure, knowledge, tests, and sitting in a chair while someone speaks knowledge about a topic that you will be tested on later.
Kids have school five days a week and we don't want to add another day of school at Branches, especially because we believe the God of the Universe is much more inspiring, exciting, hands-on, fun, and liberating than that! Even for kids!
Just like adults, kids need rest. They need to have a space to relax, to feel safe, to share joys and sorrows, and to simply be. Sometimes this means that the most powerful thing a kid can do on a Sunday morning is play four square most of the morning. We're okay with that.
love, love, love, and relationships.
If there is one thing that we believe all kids (and adults) should understand, it's love. If there are two things, it's love and relationships. Our hope and dream is that every kid who comes to Branches will understand two things:
They are loved by God - and by the kids and adults around them - and can fully experience (see, feel, touch, and listen to) God everywhere and in everything.
They can love that God - and the kids and adults around them - back.
If you haven't noticed, kids do a lot of things better than adults: beginning with love. They're usually more authentic, vulnerable, graceful, creative, and innocent. Rather than snuff these sacred attributes, we hope to step back and let them blossom. Many times it's our job to remove barriers than to add more. It's our job to let them speak more than make them listen. It's our job to learn the narrow way from them, more then teach them the wider way.
This is all of us. When we dedicate a baby, we talk about the entire community of Branches being there. Not just for the child but for the parents and family as well. Whether you volunteer or not, we do hope you take advantage of the privilege of learning from children, walking with them and their families where you can, and sharing a nugget or two of wisdom that you have learned along the way.
Kids are special. They are a glimpse into the divine that we often miss. As volunteers respect them, honor them, value them, and cherish them. Respect their opinions, their experiences, their perspectives, their views, and their openness to learn and listen. Love them, let them rest, let them bloom, and let them know they are as valued as anyone else at Branches, and in this world.
We would love for you to help! We're always looking for people who want to be a part of a kid's life, and our community, in this way. If that's you, please fill out the form below and we will get a hold of you soon!
Safe, Simple, Risky, Giving, and Together.
These words are words that we try to let define most of what we do, including kids ministry. For more information on them, click here.