Ivy Wilson and her two sons, David, 6, and Jerecho, 8, play a game of pool in the game room of the Youth Building after church service. New to the Rock, the Wilsons have found a home worth coming back to after searching for a church to call their own.
Not knowing where to go, Ivy was referred to the Rock by a friend serving in Iraq. She decided to try it, and now, in her fourth week at the Rock, feels blessed to have found a church where both she and her boys can be fed and encouraged.
"This is great because there are so many things for the kids to do," said Wilson.
The boys are enjoying Pebbles Pathway and agree with mom that they would like to keep coming.
"We like the singing and playing games the best," said Jerecho and David.
Paving the Way
Sarah holding an infant. On an average weekend, the Children's Ministry will take care of 50+ infants
Every Sunday, more than 600 kids crowd the hallways of the Rock Church Pebbles Pathway, the Children's Ministry. Following biblical principles and having a heart for children, the Children's Ministry staff know the importance of instilling the Word of God in children from an early age.
"Research shows that a child's values are set by age nine," said Amy Evangelista, pre-kindergarten through kindergarten coordinator.
The ministry's purpose is to reach San Diego children for Jesus and to partner with parents to guide them on the path to becoming fully-devoted followers of Christ.
Pebbles Pathway serves children newborn through fifth grade at all Sunday morning services, the 5:15 PM service, and up to pre-kindergarten at the Saturday evening service.
In an effort to reach and teach this critical age group, Pebbles workers strive to make the short time each week with the kids really count. This overarching culture of the Children's Ministry is one these servants of the Lord and His kids strive to achieve every week.
"We want Pebbles Pathway to be the best hour of every kid's week," said Evangelista.
Everything done during that hour is geared to fulfilling that purpose. This goal of making that one hour really count in the child's life takes the form of an interactive time where the staff and leaders in the classroom teach the Bible through verse memorization, small group learning, large group presentations and teaching kids how to apply what they learn about God to their everyday lives.
"We're Having Church"
Those whom we entrust our children with for the hour we're in church have an awesome responsibility, and the Pebbles Pathway staff take that responsibility very seriously. They've taken on the duty of reaching and teaching the children of San Diego how to live Godly lives in a fallen world.
Coming to Pebbles Pathway is not just a babysitting hour while parents are in church. The kids of the Rock are being spiritually fed and equipped too.
"This is like a small group where teachers can model Jesus Christ and help kids apply what they learn," said Elementary Coordinator Jeanne-Marie Grewe.
Even a two-year-old can learn to apply obedience or kindness or love to his own life. This is what the Pebbles Pathway staff strive to do at every age group. The workers are spending time with the kids, fellowshipping and building relationships with the kids.
"This is not childcare. We are having church. Our teachers are very serious about reaching kids," said Grewe.
The staff also knows how important is it for the parents to feel comfortable with where their children are while they're in service.
"It's really important that the kids come out saying, 'I want to go back there next week,'" said Janean Bryan, early childhood coordinator.
As part of this strategy, Pebbles Pathway adheres to a value system that should make any parent reassured. These values are:
- Child-targeted-everything done is from a child's point of view
- Bible-taught creatively
- Relevant teaching to impact the real lives of the children
- Intentional Shepherding
"Every decision is based on our values and purpose to teach children," said Evangelista.
The structure is not only one that is loving and nurturing, but one that encourages kids to live the life God would have them live. Part of that structure asks three primary questions:
- Know What (Meaning, knowing what the Bible says.)
- So what? (What does that mean to me?)
- Now What? (What do I do with what I've learned.)
This curriculum helps the Pebbles Pathway staff focus on fulfilling its purpose. The teaching is tailored to each age group in a way that engages the children while helping them become better equipped as young Christians.
"This really takes the Bible and helps the teachers relate it to the kids' lives," said Grewe.
In between praise and worship and learning about God from the Bible, the kids take time to play fun games
At the beginning of the year, the goal of the Children's Ministry was to increase average weekly attendance by 50 percent by the end of the year. At that time there were 380 kids attending per week. That number has grown to more than 600. The ministry is halfway to meeting its goal. Increased attendance means an increased need for able and willing servants for the ministry, and can be a great way to get involved.
"We have an unbelievable sense of community in this ministry," said Grewe. "This is their circle of friends. So we have all the things a small group has. We have prayer together, accountability, Bible studies, and barbeques."
To become part of the Pebbles Pathway staff, you must go through a stringent application process which includes a personal interview, an orientation and training, all of which emphasize the goal of making the one hour at the Rock the best hour of a kid's week. For those wanting to serve but not wanting to stand in front of a classroom, there are many areas of need in this ministry.
"You don't have to have the gift of teaching to serve in Pebbles Pathway," said Evangelista.
There are many other ways people can help the ministry and anyone with some time will be put to work. Such areas include washing linens, replenishing supplies, preparing crafts, washing toys, meeting and greeting kids and parents, and signing in kids. These are just a few of the ways that people can serve the children of the Rock Church.
"Regardless of how much time a person has, we have something for them to do," said Bryan.
Kids Serving Kids
"Gemstones" is way for third through eighth graders to serve the younger children of the Rock. Those interested must also submit an application and go through an interview process. This is a great way for children to serve other children and become involved here at the Rock. It is also a way to reiterate the ministry's goal of reaching and teaching kids.
If you have a heart for serving the Lord but you don't know where to get involved, Pebbles Pathway may be the place for you. The Bible says, Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 Pebbles Pathway is a looking for hearts to serve the Lord and His children in training up our children!
For more information about the Children's Ministry, click here »