Helping youngsters
June 22 2001 by Cathy Hopkins , and Janice Haywood

Helping youngsters | Friday, June 22, 2001
  • Before worship, parents take their preschoolers to the preschool area. Signs mark the way for the parents to locate the nursery/preschool welcome center.
  • They are greeted warmly by friendly, knowledgeable preschool leaders. It is desirable for at least one preschool Bible Study teacher to remain during the worship hour for familiarity with the children and to easily distinguish guests from regular attendees.
  • Parents complete information cards on their children, receive the child's security tag, and leave their child with volunteer teachers who have an awesome opportunity to make a favorable first impression with this prospective family. For this reason we should have our best-trained leaders in preschool ministry - to make a great first impression of the church.

    Information that can be gathered in the preschool area is also vital information needed for outreach follow-up that may not be gathered during worship.

    JH: What makes a parent feel secure about leaving their child in a strange place with people they do not know?

    CH: When the parents arrive in the preschool area:

  • They receive information about the church's preschool ministry.

    Part of that information explains the security system (security tag, beeper, etc.) and policies that give evidence the church has taken responsible steps to insure the safety of their child.

  • They notice clean rooms and floors free of scattered toys.
  • They see teachers using rubber gloves to change diapers, wipe runny noses, and clean wounds.
  • Teachers are on the floor engaging children in learning experiences and sharing Bible thoughts and songs as the preschoolers look at the Read-To-Me Bible.
  • They can observe all of this through the rectangular window in the side of the solid door, making the entire room visible. The parents can see that the teachers are not trying to hide their activities with the preschoolers.

    JH: Perhaps the most difficult question is how can churches find and keep these very important volunteers?

    CH: Volunteer enlistment is ongoing and requires diligence. Men and women of all adult ages should be considered. To encourage this ministry, a church must:

  • Value preschool leaders and assure them often that they are needed and important for your church's ministry.
  • Emphasize the involvement that Jesus had with children as a model (Mark 10:14,16).
  • Train leaders and give them appropriate curriculum and resources to teach.
  • Recognize volunteers with notes, phone calls and volunteer appreciation banquets.
  • Print names of teachers in bulletins and newsletters and send reminder cards.
  • Express from the pulpit appreciation for the wonderful volunteers who are teaching preschoolers as parents worship.
  • Pray for the volunteers and their vital ministry to your preschoolers and your church!

    For more information, contact Cathy Hopkins at 1-800-395-5102, Ext. 435 or cathyhopkins@bscnc.org.

    (EDITOR'S NOTE-Hopkins and Haywood serve on the Congregational Service team of the Baptist State Convention's General Board staff.)

  • Friday, June 22, 2001

    Helping youngsters

    By Cathy Hopkins and Janice Haywood Janice Haywood: I would like for you to know Cathy Hopkins, consultant in the Congregational Services Group and a member of the Preschool and Children Ministry Team. One of her responsibilities is assisting churches in preschool ministry. Cathy, while you have many responsibilities with the state convention, tell us about your ministry with preschool leadership in our churches.

    Cathy Hopkins: As a state missionary, one of the most rewarding parts of my ministry is helping preschool leaders discover what valuable assets they are to the total ministry of the church. I also enjoy talking with pastors and staff about communicating expressions of appreciation for a sometimes thankless, but vital to church growth, ministry.

    JH: Some of your consultations require church site visits, but you also do many telephone consultations. What types of consultations do you handle on the telephone?

    CH: One of the most frequent phone calls comes from pastors and preschool leaders asking, "What can our church do to get volunteers to stay with the preschoolers during worship? People do not show up when it is their turn."

    It's embarrassing for guests to come to church and no one shows up to care for their children.

    JH: What possible challenges do you share with them?

    CH: I first emphasize that one of the most important time periods in a church's week is the worship hour. Many parents start attending church because of the care and spiritual teaching their young children receive. Often as children are turning two years old, parents begin to realize that the family needs to attend church. (Of course we know that babies can also learn about Jesus and His love for them.) This is an opportune time to reach families because parents desire to do all the right things for their children! So you might target parents of two-year-olds for outreach!

    JH: How can a church be inviting to these parents bringing their preschoolers to church?

    CH: Because today's adults can remain anonymous in a crowd, most church guests attend worship before attending a Bible Study group.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    6/22/2001 12:00:00 AM by Cathy Hopkins , and Janice Haywood | with 0 comments
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