Chico Grace Brethren Church in Chico, Calif. (Matthew Raley, lead pastor), is about to embark on a new journey: one that brings the entire family together for learning, and fellowship. Starting this month the church will begin meeting as a body – children and adults alike – on Thursday nights during a gathering called The Hub. This new phase of ministry is a response to the need that many in their congregation expressed for deeper connection within the body.
The idea arose this past spring, while the pastor and staff were brainstorming ways to meet the needs of young families in the church. The pastors had noticed that Sunday morning classes were difficult for families to attend, and so they started discussing other ideas.
“Connected with this question was another issue: Children’s Church,” explains Christopher Raley, director of operations at Chico Grace Brethren Church. “We asked ourselves, how can we best minister to our children and give them knowledge and skills that can help them in life? How can we get a broad range of ages interacting together?”
Inspired by the story of another church — who had moved all of their Sunday school classes to an evening class mid-week and experienced an uptake in attendance — they got to work putting out an informational survey to collect data from the church body. What they found was surprising: 72 percent of those who took the survey were interested in the idea of midweek classes. In fact, the majority of those surveyed said they would be more likely to attend a mid-week class than a Sunday morning one. A change was in order.
“We found that most of [those surveyed] thought it was important that children build relationships with other adults in the body,” said Raley. “While we didn’t think a complete shift…to mid-week classes was a perfect fit for us, the idea of having a dedicated time for our families to come together was intriguing.”
And so the idea of the Hub was born.
“The Hub of a wheel is where all the spokes connect. So it will be on Thursday nights here at the church. Our plan is to have a parenthood class, another adult Life Builder option, activities and teaching for kids, and our newly re-named youth group, Crux. While children’s ‘Sunday school’ will not be held [on Sunday], Children’s Church during the service will continue as it is now with a possible expansion to include children up to fifth grade.”
One of the focuses of The Hub will be teaching children skills they can use to serve Christ in practical ways. For example, Raley notes, instead of just teaching children what communion is, they will be taught how to serve it. Then they will put that skill into practice by serving communion, under the supervision of adult leaders, to their shut-in members of the congregation.
“Imagine what it would look like if we put this into practice along with other spiritual disciplines: praying aloud, reading Scripture in front of others. We would be teaching our kids spiritual disciplines while providing the opportunities to exercise them. The possibilities for this are huge.”
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.