As a Christian church, we exist to honour God by helping local people worship God, grow spiritually, serve others, and reach their communities and the world with the message and love of Jesus Christ.
For most of our history, First Baptist has offered Sunday School classes for a wide range of ages from pre-schoolers to adults. Although exact offerings have varied from year to year depending on attendance, availablity of leaders, and the composition of the church family we could always count on having a core group attend every Sunday.
However, people's lives have been changing in recent years leading to a dramatic reduction in weekly attendance. This has been a noticeable trend for a long time, and one that is seen by many churches throughout the U.S. and Canada. Unfortunately the 2012-2013 school year marked the tipping point for our Sunday School. Many weeks, we had more teachers than students. Those teachers were spending a significant amount of time during the week preparing lessons and far too often no children showed up to their class.
As a result, the Board of Christian Education surveyed those families who were attending Sunday School at least some of the time as well as those who used to attend but no longer did so. With that information and attendance statistics in hand, the Board of Christian Education gathered to consider new ways to provide for the Christian Education needs of our children and youth while being respectful of the gifts of time and talent that our dedicated group of Sunday School teachers have given to the church. The result was the following new project that started in the Fall of 2013.
Historically, Junior Church was the term used to describe the childcare provided during worship services. In recent years it had been an informal environment for children to play together and develop relationships with others in the church. Now Junior Church will once again tend towards a more directed learning experience for the children called Godly Play.
The Godly Play program is currently for children in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 6. They hear a story, usually told with props or pictures, and share their thoughts by answering simple questions. A variety of activities are used to get the children involved in the lesson.
The Godly Play program is available to children during all of the church's regular worship services. They typically stay with their parents in the sanctuary for the first part of worship, are invited to the front of the church for a song, and then head downstairs to their Godly Play program just before the adults hear the sermon.