Something incredible is happening at the Grace Outlet Seventh-day Adventist Church (GO), Reading, Pa. Church leaders have shifted their focus from ministering to children to equipping children to minister. As a result, “Kids Jam” launched last summer with a “Shipwrecked Adventures” theme. Sabbath school rooms were transformed into an island where kids discovered that Jesus rescues.
But it’s more than changing up Sabbath School. Kids Jam invites children into ministry during the worship service. Kids lead the singing. And children preach. Nine-year old Ainsly Hall presented a sermon about how Jesus rescues us when we are lost and offered an appeal. Other kids who have preached since then include Tyler Newman, 11, Corey Calpino, 13, Mason Horst, 11, and Adelle Hall, 12. Since the start of Kids’ Jam, children are inviting friends to church, running the livestream cameras and power points, and playing instruments with the worship teams.
Sabbath morning isn’t the end of Kids’ Jam. In the afternoon, the kids sing, preach, and mingle with the residents of a local nursing facility. Even the shyest of children are stepping out of their comfort zones and visiting with residents—making the effort to greet each one. Afterwards, the group heads to a local park where they play games that continue to build on the object lessons they’ve been learning all day.
“Kids Jam has helped me feel like I’m a part of the church,” shares twelve-year old Kaleigh Horst. “I watched Adelle read a poem during the first Kids’ Jam service and decided I wanted to do it, too.” Kaleigh did just that the day her brother preached—sharing a poem and singing a special music with her friend, Adelle.
This shift in focus has also helped six children take the next step in their walk with God—they all decided to be baptized last summer. Pastor Dustin Hall baptized his son, Deacon, while first elder Roland Newman baptized two of his children, Tyler and Kaylea, at the park on a Kids’ Jam afternoon. A few weeks later, Mason and Kaleigh Horst were baptized at a lake where their family has built memories biking and kayaking. Then it was Ethan Bradley’s turn to make the commitment.
“Kids Jam is fun day to celebrate our kids, their unique talents and learn about Jesus’ love in a tangible way. We utilize their gifts and talents to serve others, build relationships with God, each other and the greater community, and worship Jesus in a way that they understand,” states Kelly Hall, GO’s children’s and family ministries director. “It’s been such a joy to see the kids doing things for Jesus they never thought they could do--stepping out in faith ready to meet the call and follow Him.”