Jesus StoryTime: Taking the Gospel to Your Neighborhood

by Emily Cook

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I’ll never forget the night in 2012 when my friend Jami and I sat watching a YouTube video about a missionary in Papua New Guinea who taught the tribal people systematically and chronologically through the Bible. As I observed him teaching them in a simple way in an outdoor setting, I looked at her and asked, “Why couldn’t this be done locally?”

In January of that year I had led a team to start a community-wide Chronological Bible Study in our town with Jami leading in worship. We had seen God do amazing things and we were excited to step out in faith to see how God would use this in our city. In the next few days, I was walking on our square and it became clear to me that we were supposed to use this method of teaching to share God’s word with children in our community from a stage right in the center of town. One thing led to another and before we knew it, we found ourselves in a city council meeting requesting permission to use the stage for ministry. One door was opened after another, volunteers from other churches and ladies from our Chronological Bible Study stepped up to help, and the next thing we knew we were standing on a stage in the square on a hot July morning with kids there to share the greatest true story ever told, how God sent Jesus to rescue us. (See video here)

At the time, my children were 3 and 1. Every Saturday morning throughout that Summer we welcomed children to sing with them and read through the “Jesus Storybook Bible,” starting at the beginning. We picked back up in the Fall and throughout the next Spring and Summer to get through the gospel. When I had my third child, we decided to put the ministry on hold and have since resumed from time to time for Jesus Loves Tipton County outreach events.

This Summer, inspired by Courtey DeFeo’s  #summertoserve challenge, we began to brainstorm with our kids who are now 7, 5 and 2 on how they could revive the ministry since we have so many kids in our new neighborhood. We decided to take some reclaimed wood and build them a stage in our backyard. The kids began to practice and we set a start date for them to launch Jesus StoryTime in June. My oldest hand made flyers, my middle child colored them, and all three of them went out with my husband door to door to pass them out.

On Wednesday mornings at 9:00, we prepare the snack, they set out the chairs and the karaoke machine, we pray together, they rehearse, and then the neighborhood children begin to roll in. The first week, I told my husband it felt like one of those, “If you build it, they will come” moments from the movie “Field of Dreams.”  It was amazing to see it all come together and our prayers be answered once again.

Our goal is for the kids to take ownership over the ministry with our guidance. They pick and practice the music, they welcome their friends and pray, my oldest reads the Bible story, I reinforce the story with a game or craft at the end, then we have a snack. My oldest is gifted in leadership and reading, my middle child in music. We want them to see that no matter how small they are, they are valuable in God’s kingdom and He equips them with these gifts to be a blessing to others.

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Through this we are learning several big lessons. First, I am learning to let go and trust them to lead to the best of their ability. We have lots of talks about excellence and how whatever we say or do needs to honor the LORD because God deserves our best. My 7-year-old is saved, so this has been a great way to disciple him in a fresh way. My 5-year-old is seeking the LORD, and this has presented great opportunities to see how the LORD has been reaching her heart through story and song. This is also putting legs to their prayers. My oldest often prays, “Dear Lord, I pray that everyone would believe in you.” How better to put his faith into action than to share the gospel with his friends?

Additionally, they are learning hospitality, hard work, preparation, and that to do our best work takes practice. We plan to host Jesus StoryTime every Wednesday morning at 10 a.m., with the exception of July 6. This will take perseverance. It will be hot, some weeks we may not have as many friends to minister to, some weeks we may not “feel” like it, but I want them to learn when they commit to something they must stick to it. Also they are learning to work together as a team and in my experience, the people I have worked with in ministry have become some of my best friends. As they learn to serve others together, I hope their friendship will grow stronger and these will be good memories they will look back on one day.

It has been a blessing to see how the LORD has used this ministry the past four years to reach children in our community, while at the same time training my little ones to run with the baton and make this a ministry by kids for kids.  

My hope is that this will inspire you and make you start to think about how God could use your kids’ strengths and gifts to reach those in your sphere of influence in a missional way. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. This could be done with a picnic blanket, a Bible, a song, and a box of frozen Fla-Vor-Ice pops. Maybe it is another ministry all together that the LORD has equipped you for. I encourage you to begin praying for your kids to find purpose in God’s kingdom today. What a blessing it is to see Him work in and through their little lives!

Emily Cook

EmilyCook

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4 comments

  1. Stephanie Redmond says:

    God is doing great things through your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and your obedience to His direction! To God be the glory! Great things He has done!

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