May Preview Pack

Here’s a look ahead to what we’ll be learning in Heroes Gate in the month of May:

May 3: Toddlers through 4th graders will hear how Philip, filled with the Holy Spirit, helped a man from Ethiopia come to know Jesus (Acts 8:26-40). Club 56 kids will look at what faith looks like in real life and come to see that when we focus on Jesus, amazing things can happen.

May 10: Preschool through 4th graders will be singing on stage in the main service! Please be sure to have your child checked into their classroom no later than 9:15 or 11:15 that morning. Club 56 kids will look at what a “soul” is, how it affects our lives, and how Jesus satisfies our souls.

May 17: Toddlers through 4th graders will hear the amazing story of Saul/Paul’s conversion from being an enemy of Christ to being a follower of Christ (Acts 9:1-19). Club 56 kids will discuss the topic: Why is it important to serve others?

May 24: With it being a holiday weekend, we’re going to have a fun day in Heroes Gate with games in Elementary and a fun video in Early Childhood!

May 31: Summer curriculum begins in Heroes Gate! Preschool-5th grade will begin a new summer series called Metamorphosis in which we’ll be looking at various Proverbs and how they can help us to be “transformed” into the kind of Jesus-followers God made us to be.

Inquiring Minds

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By Teresa Sayles, Children’s Curriculum Specialist

Woodland Hills Church

There’s a distinction between doubt and unbelief. Unbelief is a choice. It’s when someone does not believe something is possible at all. However, having doubts doesn’t mean you don’t believe something is possible – It just means you have questions you’d like answers to in order to form a decision or opinion. That requires being able to ask questions, see evidence, do some research, and have conversations. Some times, we get our questions answered and can move from doubt to certainty without a problem. Other times, those doubts and questions may not be fully answered, but God can help us to believe and move forward in faith despite our not being 100% sure about something.

That’s what our toddlers through fourth graders learned this past Sunday with the story of Thomas’s doubts following Jesus’ resurrection. They heard that God is okay with our questions and doubts and that He works with us in the midst of our questions. After all, faith is coming to the conclusion that you believe something is true and acting on that belief despite the fact that you cannot see or prove it without a doubt. I have faith the sun will rise tomorrow. Am I absolutely certain that will happen? No. Perhaps a giant meteor the size of Mars will come out of nowhere and obliterate the sun tonight. But, all catastrophic events aside, I’m 99% sure the sun will rise tomorrow. I have faith despite not knowing something with absolute certainty.

Similarly, having questions about God or the Bible doesn’t mean a person lacks faith or is choosing unbelief. In fact, questions and doubts are often a sign of someone who is trying hard to believe. When we’re learning something new, we ask questions: “How do you pronounce this word?” “Can I turn right on a red light?” “How should I throw the ball?” Some of the greatest teachers and philosophers throughout history – including Jesus – based their teaching methods around questions and welcomed them as signs that their students were really internalizing the material. In fact, Jesus would often answer a question with a question in order to redirect someone to what He really wanted him or her to learn in that moment. Questions get our brains going and cause us to fully consider what it is we believe. To help us in our faith and belief, God offers evidence of His love, faithfulness, and provision throughout the Bible, history, and creation. When the Israelites complained that God had abandoned them in the desert, He proved His presence by giving them manna to eat. When Gideon questioned whether or not he was the right guy to lead his people in battle, God met the young man in the midst of his doubts. And when Thomas’s logical mind could not get around the seeming impossibility of Jesus coming back to life, Jesus showed up in the flesh and held out his hands, encouraging Thomas to touch the nail holes and then believe.

God isn’t afraid of our questions or doubts. He welcomes them because He wants us to own our faith and know what we believe and why. We may answer one question only to then discover another question, and that’s okay, too. God’s big. There’s no way we’re going to fully understand Him in this life. Questions will always remain, but by asking those questions and striving for truth, we can draw closer to Him.

So the next time your child asks a faith question that may be a bit difficult to answer, don’t worry – It’s okay to say you don’t know. God doesn’t expect any of us to have all the answers. Perhaps you and your child can do a bit of research and see if you can find an answer. And even if an answer doesn’t surface in the end, remind your child that questions are good. Doubts and questions bring us to a deeper, more real faith and understanding of God and His amazing love.

The “Talk”

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By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

The time for the “talk” has arrived. You know the “talk,” the birds and the bees, puberty, and sex, ugh! I’ve taught this topic for years at church, but I’m still caught off guard when my own children begin to transition from a child to an adolescent.

When I started working as a children’s pastor 14 years ago, I didn’t even have kids yet. Then one day, my boss told me I’m going to be teaching 5th grade boys about puberty, body development, and purity. “Whoa, what?” Let’s just say I was not prepared for this topic. While thoughts of looking for another job went through my head, God did something remarkable. As I was praying about this topic and researching everything I could, He reminded me of my life during this transition. I remember being confused, clueless, embarrassed, and misguided. All the anxiety, the fears, worries, and poor choices flooded my mind. My parents never gave me the “talk” and school only provided the basics. I recall most of my education on this topic was from friends and cable TV. I can only imagine how kids today can add the internet to that misguided search for knowledge on this topic.

In that moment, I became aware of the importance of equipping and empowering preteens to embrace their identity in Christ as they navigate the ups and downs of adolescence and teen years. I decided that I could overcome my own triggers and taboos about this subject and figure out a way to provide Godly wisdom around body development. I realized that not only are kids changing physically, but their whole way of thinking, feeling, and behaving are changing as well. In a sense, adolescence is a transformation process of a child becoming an adult. I was caught up on the physical aspect, but all aspects of a child change during this process.

Over the next few years, my colleague and I taught group after group of 5th graders. Then, a few years ago, as my oldest entered 5th grade and I realized that I, as a parent, have the most influence and impact on my child. I’ve established a life-long relationship with my children and created an atmosphere where they can be honest, ask questions, and share their struggles. From this epiphany emerged a workshop where parents and their child can learn about this topic together with a facilitator presenting content and fostering discussion through activities. Also, a resource library and workbook were developed so parents had the tools they needed to have the “talk” with their child and work directly with Scripture to reinforce God’s truth, values, and identity.

As a parent, I know how easy it is to be caught off-guard when adolescence occurs in your child. I know how difficult it is to broach this topic. I know what it feels like to be ill equipped and not have any reference point from previous generations. I know the denial of wanting your child to stay a child and to remain naïve to this topic. I know the fears of the unknown and of uncertainty. I know the fear of my child’s faith being squashed by the temptations of this world. I also know the fear of my daughters giving their heart to another man.

Yet, these are all reasons why we should prepare, share, and care. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”   As children of God and followers of Christ, we have the weapons we need to fight through temptation, discouragement, and deceptions, but do our children? By opening the door to discuss the “talk,” we can begin training our children to use the same tools we’ve been given. Then, as they traverse those tumultuous adolescent years, they will have you as a confidant, an ally, and an advisor instead of keeping you out of the loop. We also have the opportunity to reinforce their identity in Christ. By reminding our children of God’s love, teaching them how to use God’s Word, and staying connected to Christ, they can embrace the same spiritual weapons that God has given us. Our efforts can create a worthwhile legacy to equip and empower children as they transform in body, thought, emotions, and actions to become an adult.

Lesson Trailer for April 19th

Most Sundays, our Elementary kids watch a short “movie trailer” featuring the next week’s story. This Sunday, April 19, kids will hear that it’s okay to have questions and doubts as they listen to the story of Jesus’ own disciple, Thomas, who struggled to believe Jesus had truly come back to life (John 20:19-29).

The Gift of Spring

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By Paula Bowlby, Associate Early Childhood Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

After a long harsh winter, spring is a welcome friend. Spring is a funny type of friend. It is the friend that flits in and out on a whim. You never know when spring will visit or how long spring will stay. Spring always keeps you guessing, it keeps you wondering and keeps you on your toes. Springtime brings sunshine and longer daylight. It brings rain to wash away the dirt and breathes new life into the soil. Spring is the season in Minnesota that feels the shortest sometimes because winter is so long and summer comes quickly.

Spring helps us look at life realistically. Life is always changing, throwing us curve balls and keeping us on our toes. Nature gives a fresh perspective on what God provides us in life. After a long harsh winter, which, let’s be real, we all experience from time to time, God brings in the spring. God breathes new life into us, he gives us light to boost us, he brings in his healing rain to wash over us and make us new.

Spring is a wonderful time of year to get the kids outside and enjoy nature. Walk, talk and really listen to your kids. What are your kids going through? What are they excited about? How can you seize the moment and share God’s love and grace with them? Children give fresh perspective, they have great insight. One of my fondest memories of my childhood is lying in the grass or on the deck, looking at the clouds to find shapes and animals. I met God in those moments. I felt him and talked to him. I remember it like it was yesterday. In the busyness of life, we can often miss these moments. As parents, let’s model “stopping to smell the roses.” Let’s provide moments for our children to just soak in God and who he is. He is good, he is present and he is love, a springtime gift.