This is a free, full 12-week Pilgrim's Progress curriculum for Children's Church Wallyman
OVERVIEW OF PROGRAM FORMAT
This program was written with four main parts. It starts with small group games that review the lessons, get kids energy out and build relationships. Next is song service in a large group with high energy songs moving to slower worship songs ending with prayer. This is followed by small group interactive teaching stations. To close off the program, you come back into a large group to hear the continued story of Pilgrim's Progress. Feel free to adapt to fit your needs as needed. Following is a larger explantion of each of the four parts:
1. Small Group Games/Activities (10-15 min)
- For this part, kids are straggling in as they are dropped off by their parents at the sign in table
- The thing they do is join their small group (same group every week) and play some games/activities that are fun, interactive and somehow remind them of lessons learned from Pilgrims Progress
- There are several 'game stations' set up and every 4-6 minutes the small groups rotate between game stations.
- Staffing: each small group has a leadeer and each game station has a leader who facilitates that game (Note: the small group leaders show up more often to build relationships, but don't have to memorize any of the program. Game leaders do not need to volunteer as often, but have to learn their game ahead of time.)
- Opening the program with small group games allows kids to come in one by one as they sign in without having to sit and do nothing while waiting for others
- For new kids, instead of sitting down and feeling awkward, they get to know others by playing fun activities. Really good for 'melting the ice' and relaxing everyone
- Gives a place to serve for teens/adults who love kids, but don't have 'up front skills' They just simply show every week and love the kids as they play games together.
2. Large Group Song Service (10-15 min)
- By now kids have had fun in games and are ready for some fun as a big group. We have small group leaders ALWAYS sit with their kids unless they are up front
- We do 3-4 fast paced action songs that get the kids up and doing actions. These include Awesome God, Your Everlasting Love, We Are Soldiers....
- Next, we transition 2-3 slower songs. Start with a medium paced song like 'Lord I Lift Your Name on High' and then one or two slower, simple worship songs like 'I Love You Lord' or 'God is So Good'...
- This way you get more of the kids energy out with fast songs so they can learn later, and also by bringing it down to a worship mode, the kids learn that fun is okay, but there is a place to be serious and worship God from our hearts in a more mediative way. It is important to educate your kids that fun in church is okay, but there is also a time for reverence (this is very foreign to our culture)
3. Small Group Teaching (30-40 min)
- After songs, kids break up into their same small groups they had for games. We had three age groups (5-7, 8-9, 10-11yrs old)
- There are three teaching stations that the groups rotate between every 10 minutes:
- Bible Story
- Memory Verse
- Object Lesson, 1-2 Object Lessons combined (this was adjusted each week as needed)
- This format allows staff to have an easier time teaching and for kids to learn better.
- staff have an easier time teaching becuase the groups are smaller (easier to control), and the teaching is interactive (less memorization)
- kids learn better because it is more age specific (the teacher adapts teaching for the age group being taught, such as 5-7yr olds vs. 11-12 yr olds) and is active learning (kids learn worst by hearing, better by seeing, and best by [doing])
4. Large Group Continued Story (10-20 min)
- This was my Eureka moment after several years of working at camp and doing Children's Church. For decades at camp we have told good Christian stories every night to the kids, stopping the story each night at the most exciting point possible. We then say "if you want to find out what happens next, you have to come back next week..." to moans and groans of spell bound kids. Well, all we didTemplate:Infobox, was put this idea to use in church.
- This way, each week not only is the theme connected to the following weeks, but the story is. And lets face it, kids will always love stories.
- Where the small group teaching is more informal and requires less talent and practice, this part of the program must be done right. Kids need to be on their edge of their seat as you tell the story. Then at the most exciting part possible, with hearts pounding and palms sweaty, end the story and tell kids they need to come back next week.
- By taking a good quality program and simply adding the element of a continued story, I have had the greatest increase in attendence ever. I can't believe we didn't think of this sooner. I am currently going through this entire program a second time in a new church (much smaller) and both the kids and staff love it. Hope you can benefit from the use of this program to help transform kids into spiritual champions. Remember, we are only one generation away from paganism. Serve your kids with excellence.
Small Group Games
We did this in small group teaching stations and activities. Adapt them as necessary.
This portion is where you finish off your program each week by telling about 10 min from the Pilgrims Progress story. The idea is that you end each week on the most exciting part of the story for that week and as the kids are sitting on the edge of their seats say "...and if you want to find what happens next, you have to come back next week." We have done this for decades at Bible camp, why not do it in church!
Story Outline for each day
Recommended Books for Storytelling
I highly recommend "Pilgrims Progress: A Retelling" by Gary Schmidt and Barry Moser. It is shortened but still brings the story alive. Also, the water color illustrations as absolutely incredible.
For a more detailed telling of the story (but too long to use it as a kids book), "The New Amplified Pilgrim's Progress" by Jim Pappas is an excellent detailed account that really makes the story come alive.