This article is adapted from a print version of “In the Loop,” a quarterly publication from Cascade Fellowship.
Challenge and change have filled the past couple of years. Before the pandemic, Kids and Students were in a regular rhythm of meetings that had existed for many years. Although this rhythm was familiar, we saw smaller numbers in participation than it had in the past. Families packed their schedules with school, sports, extra-curricular activities, vacations, and more. Then the world stopped. The pandemic emptied the previously-packed calendars, and families slowed down and spent time together. What else happened? Families began assessing priorities and where they were giving their time.
Fast forward to today. Meetings are happening, yet families are cautious with their calendars. Extra-curricular events have returned, but many families have prioritized what they’ll allow filling their time. We realized this as an excellent time for family ministry to rethink how we serve kids, students, and families at Cascade Fellowship.
Our ministry to children has seen a format change this year that will serve our kids’ faith growth while building excitement about going to church! Any child three years old through 4th grade has the choice to leave the worship gathering following corporate singing and prayer to get involved with an age-appropriate lesson in the Cascade Room. This time for kids includes a high-energy worship experience made just for them, skits, a Bible lesson, and a hands-on time designed to help kids know and grow in their knowledge of God. After the gathering, each child gets connected to a small group where a leader will guide them in a discussion that helps them connect the day’s Bible lesson to real life. These groups are vital for our kids! The small group time helps create intergenerational connections that are safe, formative, and memorable throughout their developmental years. Outside of Sunday morning, we also offer children’s programming during our monthly Wednesday night programming and various opportunities throughout the week.
We’ve also changed the meeting style for Student ministry, which has provided valuable insight and feedback to help us make continuous adjustments to serve students and parents in the best way possible. While there is some desire for Student Groups that study and apply God’s word after gatherings, there is an even greater desire to have large group meetings that focus on relationships in addition to learning more about faith. As we continue to adjust what we offer, we are excited to provide large group meeting opportunities, small groups, special events, service opportunities, and mission trips for our Students. We need your help to make this happen!
Family Ministry is a new opportunity at Cascade! We’ve started this ministry by looking at how to partner more with moms and dads in leading their families as believers in Jesus. We have developed a group for parents to grow in their faith while finding support from others in a similar life stage, in addition to connection events and service opportunities. We encourage all adults with kids in the home to get connected with this group and to find support as we raise our children to know the hope and truth of Christ. We’re excited to create new opportunities for faith to be multigenerational and support all families as this ministry grows.
We believe God is affirming our work with kids, students, and families. And we commit to continue watching, listening, and praying to seek the best way to partner with families and see this generation love God, love others, and make disciples.
Pastor Eric VanderWall
Family Ministries Pastor
Kids Ministry Lead