Some churches call it Milestones Ministry. But where I currently work, we call it G.I.F.T. or Growing in Faith Together. (Thanks Rich Melheim for the acronym!) In G.I.F.T., kids along with their parents or grandparents gather during the education hour to discover a different topic:
- 2’s & 3’s – Greeting of the Church
- Preschool Bibles
- Kindergarten – The Ten Commandments
- 1st & 2nd Grade – The Lord’s Prayer
- 3rd Grade Bibles
- 4th Grade – Prayer
- 5th Grade – The Creed
Following G.I.F.T., kids then lead what they learned in worship. Fourth graders write the prayers, fifth graders lead the congregation with the Creed, and the littles do the greeting of the church. It’s a G.I.F.T to learn and lead church together. But my favorite events in G.I.F.T. are those geared towards families with kids, newborn to age 3. We do two each year: Easter Egg- stravaganza and the one described below, Christmas Extravaganza.
On one Sunday in Advent, families gathered together to play, pray and practice telling the Christmas story. We learned about Mary and Joseph, the donkey, shepherds, sheep, the angels and Baby Jesus.
We sang and danced the story:
We told the story with puppets and rhyme:
Clippity-clop went the donkey’s feet (stomp feet). Clippity-clop down the muddy street (stomp feet). “Need some sleep,” Mary pled (make a sleepy face). “It’s been a long day, I need a bed” (pretend to sleep).
Knock, knock, knock at the innkeeper’s door (knock, knock). “Any spare rooms for just two more?” (shrug shoulders). “All is filled,” the innkeeper said. (shake head ‘no’). Not one room! No more beds! (shrug shoulders and shake head ‘no’).
Here, here, here, use the stable instead (use hands to wave). It’s warm and dry, and a manger for a bed (pretend to sleep) Sh, sh, sh, what’s that you say? (sh,sh, sh sounds). It’s Baby Jesus asleep on the hay (pretend to rock a baby).
We crafted the story with hand-printed star:
And we took turns laying in the manger:
(Photos by Jeff Burrows)
What we learned that morning is that being together around the meaning of Christmas creates community, and being a community that can dance, sing, and tell God’s story together is a true G.I.F.T.