Yesterday was a big day for us at Kids Quest. I posted here a few days ago about how we moved to small groups on Sunday’s. That was a big day and something we had been planning for all summer. But it was on September 7th that we were launching 252 Basics as our curriculum that we could combine a powerful small group element with an energetic large group production. I’ll just say it. Today was the best elementary service I’ve experienced under my leadership in years. It was awesome! Let me clarify.

I’ll admit it. I feel like one of the things I do very well is create small group experiences. I can get small group leaders, equip them with materials and create the relational experience pretty easily. However, the production side of a service is not my strength. Musically I am not in my element and it would be much better to have someone else. At most of the churches I’ve been, I haven’t had very many people who were comfortable or well suited to lead a large group from the stage. So usually either I was up there on the stage or someone else was and the quality wasn’t the best. Again, I feel like I’m a very strong communicator to kids, but the music part I’m just not equipped to lead well.

Coming to Gateway I found that we actually had quite a few people who were very comfortable on the stage and quite good. Unfortunately the program wasn’t always suited to take advantage of these people’s strengths. But yesterday was probably the best service I’ve seen in years. It started with small groups. Kids came in and connected immediately with their leaders. After 15 minutes or so, they all combined or the large group time. It was a 20 minute program that was fast paced and with solid transitions. Everyone was glued to what was happening on the stage. Before we knew it, it was already over and kids were dismissed back to their small groups. Leaders then led their kids in a few small group activities for the next 30 minutes. The pacing was very good. Kids were highly involved, they were engaged and they had fun. How exciting!

We’re not done though. There were still several things to tweak. We’re still short several small group leaders. There were also a few things to change in the production/large group (not much though). I also need to invest some money into our equipment. Everything went really well, but it was very difficult to pull off on the audio/visual side.

Here was my take away though… the big win in my book. About 2 months after getting here I killed the “Bible Bucks” program. Actually I’ve killed it at almost every church I’ve come to, usually because I didn’t see how it actually enhanced the experience. Usually it was more of a crutch. The program wasn’t great, but what motivated kids to be involved and active was so they could buy crap at the store. On my first visit to Gateway I noticed that leaders were bribing kids with Bible Bucks to be quite and pay attention. My only comment on this situation is this. If the content we are presenting is actually engaging and worth paying attention to, will we need to bribe the kids to stop talking? Kids don’t talk at the movies. Why? Because the content is good and engaging. Well, today I noticed something profound. I noticed… silence. During the production/large group time the kids were not talking to each other. They were laser focused on that stage. Woo Hoo! How awesome is that?

So, we still have a lot of work to do, but what a great start for the Fall!