Over 15 years ago, when I was just beginning in the kidmin world, I had such a burden for children to be given the opportunity to participate in an event that was intentional about Bible study and discipleship. I knew their youth world would be scattered with “disciple now” type events, but why not provide a one-night event for children where they are brought together to:
– study God’s Word in a interactive way
– worship God in a kid-friendly setting
– be poured into by passionate adults and youth
– build relationships with their peers in a safe environment
So, from this vision came 24 Hours 4 Him—a spring discipleship event that begins at 6 p.m. on a Friday night and ends at 6 p.m. on Saturday night. Yes, the kids sleep. We even put them to bed in order of their age. No, we don’t sleep in family homes. We nestle down right in church classrooms so we don’t lose anytime driving back and forth to the church.
Our themes come from great sources like Northpoint’s Superheroes Curriculum, Children Desiring God backyard Bible club lessons, Orange’s past vbs curriculums and more. The entire 24 hours revolves around the theme in hopes of not only helping children understand these truths with their head, but to grasp them with their hearts and then apply them to their lives.
The schedule usually looks something like this:
- children arrive, report to Bible study rooms, and play a get-to-know-you game
- Bible study (by grade)
- 1st & 2nd graders go to bed while 3rd-5th graders participate in special areas (i.e., cooking, crafts, drama, puppets, secret service, etc.)
- 3rd & 4th graders go to bed while *5th graders have a special late night event.
- wake up
- morning celebration
- quiet time
- Bible study
- Bible study
- Bible study
- clean-up, pack-up (kids help put the church back together for Sunday morning.)
- closing worship (parents are invited to attend with their children.)
- go home
- Bible study leaders are parents, college students or older youth.
- Parents come and help serve meals and also make goody buckets for each of the Bible study leaders.
- We have a designated first-aid/meds person that handles any medicine brought by parents for their children during the weekend.
- We bring in a special speaker and worship leader for the worship sessions. (Children also get the chance to lead in worship.)
- Children receive a t-shirt from the weekend and we encourage them to wear it to school the next week.
- Parents receive an immediate email after dropping their children off that shares with them what the children are studying that weekend and ways to continue the learning at home.
- The late night 5th grade activity is fun activity where children make bridges out of various random supplies (i.e., straws, legos, rubber bands, paperclips, etc.). Then, we talk through how Jesus alone is the bridge between our sinful selves and our Holy God. Children then fill out a questionnaire about where they are spiritually, so that we can more effectively minister to them in their remaining months in kids ministry.
I have been blessed at both of the churches I have served at with pastors that understand the importance of children’s ministry and take time to promote and share the vision with others. Below is an excerpt of what my current pastor, Dr. Gary Fenton, is sharing in next week’s church newsletter about Dawson kids’ first ever 24 Hours 4 Him.
“Speaking of children…as we do frequently at Dawson, because ministry to children, preschool, middle and high school students are a priority…this Friday, March 01 6:00 p.m. to Saturday 6 p.m. will be one of the more important 24 hour periods in the church this year. We will host “24 hours 4 Him.” This is an intentional step toward healthy Christian discipleship that involves interactive Bible Study, age appropriate worship and teaching for grades 1-5. In the last several years several books including You Lost Me and Almost Christian have documented that a large number young adults 18 to 30 indicate that their faith is not relevant to the issues they face in life. Many of them have not totally abandoned their faith in God; but they are unsure if and how it relates to their daily life. The Christian faith is unfortunately too often seen as a ticket to heaven, rather than a way of life. Some who drop out may have had experiences with God but have never learned about a daily walk with God. Others may have just heard enough to be confused. During 24 Hours 4 Him children will learn about heroes of the Old and New Testament as the Bible stories will be taught in an age appropriate ways. This is not a child evangelism program but an opportunity for spiritual preparation.
Still speaking of children…If you sense excitement on my part, you are right. The first time I heard of 24 Hours 4 Him I thought it was probably a children’s version of a lock-in during which exhausted kids would be manipulated into some type of emotional decision. Then my first grade grandson participated in one in another state and I saw how helpful and healthy it was for him to hear Bible stories. I learned sleep and rest were built into the program. It was like spending the night at Christian friend’s house that involved healthy Christian teaching. I invite you to be praying this wonderful foundational discipleship event.”
This article originally appeared here.