Reverend Cheryle Hanna, pastor at Fourth Avenue Baptist Church has written a brand new children’s ministry resource that will soon be available. I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about this resource and why she was inspired to write it.
TY: Tell us about your book.
CH: Lessons for the Heart: 52 Ways to Share God with Children is a resource which is part guide, part demonstration, one-part encouragement and will assist pastors, teachers and parents to instill faith, confidence and courage into the heart of every child.
TY: What inspired you to create this book?
CH: In 1999, the summer after my first year in seminary I gave my first Lesson for the Heart to the children at the Shiloh Baptist Church of Wilmington, Delaware. I didn’t know much about Children’s Ministry, but I was raising four young ones, kindergarten to eight grade and thought the hardest part was introducing one to the other. I trusted God would do the rest. I gave what I would say a great deal of thought and planning but never had a written script. In the spring of 2016, the pastor of an emerging church community had to leave his small family and congregation to complete Doctoral research. During the absence, I met with his young sons
each week sharing the Lesson for the Heart I had shared with the children of my own congregation. My motive was to check on them, encourage them and their mother and pray with them. After their father’s return, I thought I would be released but not so. Each week the boys looked for me and the ‘lesson’ for the day. I began writing the Lessons so they could become a part of their service with members sharing the responsibility of sharing the Lessons for the Heart with the children each week. The book was born.
YH: Why will churches find this a helpful resource?
CH: Our churches take the responsibility to teach the children seriously and have committed persons able and ready to share God’s story with the children. Those persons are often not the solo pastor, Preaching Pastor or Senior Minister. The Solo Pastor, Preaching Pastor or Senior Minister is well prepared to share God’s word with God’s people. She or he has taken the required time in the study and prayer. They are ready for the adults. This same person may feel awkward and clumsy when it comes to God’s little ones. In Lessons I have included a 1-3-minute Lesson for the Heart for each Sunday of the year, the supplies needed for each object lesson, a sample script and a concluding prayer. The object suggested to accompany the Lesson is clincher. The object helps the story burrow in the children’s heart and becomes a physical reminder. The object does not need to be fancy or expensive. Children are just as likely to play with the box as the toy that came in the box. Inexpensive is okay.
TY: Why is it important for churches to be effective in their communication with children?
CH: The ways of God are amazing, beautiful, complicated and confusing, all at the same time. The recorded interaction between humanity and God has moments of drama, plot twists, role reversals and surprise endings. Understanding God and the attributes, ways and desires of God for the world is not easy for adults and can be challenging to share with children. But share we must. CBOQ churches have committed to do whatever it takes to share with this generation the transformative power of the gospel. Lessons for the Heart can help.
TY: Anything else you would like people to know about this book?
CH: The 52 Lessons begin with the first Sunday in September 2018 and are connected to a scripture in Hebrew Bible or New Testament listed in the Revised Common Lectionary. Not a lectionary preacher? No worries, each lesson is easily transferred to many other texts by changing a word or using a parallel passage. No rules, only suggestions. Why September? In the adult world the year begins in January and ends in December for children the year begins with the first day of school in September and ends with vacation fun in August. Children view the start of the school year with similar excitement and anticipation adults view January 1. The first day of school means a fresh start, new clothes, new schools and sometimes new teachers. Everything is a part of the fun. The church can come alongside the enthusiasm for the new school year, making a case for the study of God and a new life in Christ. Go big!
TY: How can people get a copy of this book?
Thank you Cheryle! I look forward to getting my copy of this new resource!
Reverend Cheryle Hanna serves as pastor of Fourth Avenue Baptist Church in Ottawa.