September Preview Pack

Here’s a look ahead to what we’ll be learning in Heroes Gate this September:

September 4: Toddlers will discover the Bible is God’s Big Story through a fun, interactive video while Preschool-6th grade will have an extra-fun morning with a very special surprise guest!

September 11: Fall curriculum begins in Heroes Gate! Toddlers and younger Preschoolers (Monkeys and Lions) will watch a final video lesson on how God loves everyone and wants us all to know Him while Preschool-6th grade will be gathered together for one big lesson on the Big Story of the Bible.

September 18: Toddlers-Kindergarten will return to the Story Fort where Paco and his friends will walk them through the story of Creation. 1st-4th graders will also hear the Creation story and be reminded that God loves us, no matter what. Club 56 kids will kick off their year with a discussion on the topic: What is God Really Like?

September 25: Toddlers-4th Grade will hear the sad story of Cain and Abel and learn that it’s important to choose love rather than allowing anger and hate to grow. Club 56 kids will talk about the question: How is God different from other gods?

As we head into this next school year, we are hoping you will prayerfully consider joining us in Heroes Gate. We have openings in nearly every area of our ministry (from infants to elementary, from worship to teach). For more information, you can contact Bethany at or 651-287-2714 or stop by the HG registration desk on a Sunday morning. If you’re ready to go, you can sign up by following this link!

Family Devotional: Connecting to God’s Story

By Teresa Sayles, Children’s Creative Arts Director

Woodland Hills Church

The Bible is not just a book of stories. It’s not a random collection of characters and events. No, the Bible is so much more than that! The Bible is, in fact, one BIG story! All of its stories – from the major ones like the Exodus and King David and Jesus to the seemingly minor ones like Elisha and Naaman and Philip and the Ethiopian – are all connected to one another, creating one big, amazing story! So what connects them all? How can they be one big story? Because they all come together to form God’s Story. It’s a story that began before the creation of the world and continues today with us. That’s right – We’re part of God’s Big Story, too! God is still moving and working in our lives and world, and that makes us all players in his unfolding story! And because everyone is a player in God’s Story (whether they know it or not), that means we all have the ability to change and impact one another’s own individual stories, as well.

As a family, create a Biblical timeline (see below for an example) of the major events and characters you know. See if you can find how some of the stories connect. (For example, David is connected to Abraham because Abraham is his ancestor. Or you might connect the story of Peter and Cornelius with God’s announcement to Abraham that his descendants would be a blessing to everyone in the world.) Place the timeline near where you might do family devotionals or bedtime stories. Then, as you read stories from the Bible, you can figure out where on the timeline the story takes place and know what happened before in the story and what’s coming up.

Timeline with graphics

One Bible that does a terrific job of connecting the stories and laying out God’s Big Story is The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago. With beautiful words and amazing illustrations, it is, by far, our favorite Bible for young children in Heroes Gate!

Remind your kids as you talk about how we’re all part of God’s Big Story that they have a role to play in that story each day. God asks us to be world-changers, even in the seemingly small things, and He promises that through our words and actions, He can do the incredible. As a family, take some time to talk about ways each of you can practically change the world for the better and add value to someone else’s story. And then encourage your family members to do just that! If your son says he wants to greet people with a smile and open doors for people that week, be sure to give him encouragement and opportunities to do so! If your daughter decides she can use her drawing talent to make beautiful pictures for family and friends, get her those art supplies ASAP! Remind them that how they live out their part of God’s Story can influence others’ stories and cause ripple effects throughout the world and history. In fact, that’s how most of the stories in the Bible work – One event or person or people group at a time whom God works through to do the remarkable and change the world.

Music Fest Event Tonight!


We are SO excited to be co-hosting tonight’s Music Fest event at Woodland Hills!  It’s a free evening of music, fun, games, bouncy house, dancing, and tacos for the whole family.  The weather is looking great, so bring some chairs or a blanket, come meet other WHC families, and spend the evening with us out on the green grass in front of the church!  Hope to see you there!

Family Devotional – Worship

By Teresa Sayles, Children’s Ministry Creative Arts Director

Woodland Hills Church

The thousands of athletes competing in the Olympics this summer have had to do a lot of work to get there. And they each have a lot to be thankful for. Many of them would say a big reason they are even at the games is because of the support and encouragement of friends and family as well as coaches and fellow athletes. Although they may win a gold medal seemingly all on their own, that medal really belongs to many who helped that athlete get to the podium.

If an athlete has a lot to be thankful for, then we who know the love of God have a whole lot more we can be thankful about! We know that God’s love for us is never-ending and never-changing – He loves us no matter what! We know that God is always with us and never leaves us, even when things are sad or scary. And we know that Jesus died and rose from the dead so that our broken relationship with God could be fixed and we could be with Him forever! And, on top of all that, God continues to bless us with family and friends and countless other things each day. We really do have A LOT to be thankful for!

Explain to your kids that God doesn’t want us to worship Him because it’s “what we’re supposed to do.” He wants us to worship Him because we love Him so much and realize how He has blessed us and helped us each day! Read Mark 12:28-34 together and point out that in verse 33, the man Jesus is speaking with says that loving God and others is better than giving offerings and sacrifices, the way they were used to worshipping God in those days, and that Jesus agrees with the man, saying that he is wise to say so. The man and Jesus were both saying that God doesn’t care how we worship – What he cares about is why we worship! He wants us to worship because we love Him SO MUCH!

As a family, spend some time worshipping God in unique and fun ways this week. Perhaps you put on some worship music or find some worship videos online and sing and dance together. Maybe you go for a walk on a nice day and praise God for all the cool and beautiful things in nature that you can see. You could create a mural or different works of art showing things that each member of the family is thankful for, or you could choose to show your worship through serving others in your neighborhood or community together as a family.

You can also download this coloring page for your kids to decorate as they think of ways they can worship God this week.

A Colorful Village


By Ruth Richmond, Associate Worship Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

God cares for us through the willing hands of people around us. It’s his design to accomplish his purposes in partnership with humans.  One stunningly beautiful result of this design is that the gifts, talents, faith and even the interests of the people that surround us swirl their colors into our lives. God uses others to help us discover talents and have experiences that reveal our own capacities for things like faith, love and strength.

I have a very colorful testimony not because I took a dramatic turn away from evil, but because all of my life willing Christians dipped, speckled, swirled, and buffed me. They enabled me to catch the light and reflect it in my own way so that I could bring prismatic light to dark places. I was shown my strength and was deeply, honestly connected to the love of God through the Christ followers around me.

My general trajectory was set by the age of six or eight because of the early influencers around me at church.  I wonder what I would be doing today if I’d had different people around me at church as a child?  Don’t you love looking back at your life and realizing a new thread of the narrative that God was weaving in all along the way? It’s a proof of His love that He works so much together for our good regardless of whether we will ever notice or thank Him.

Speaking of that, thank you God, for the rag-tag group of farmers and small town folk at the First Presbyterian Church in Ellsworth, Wisconsin. (Amen!)

Wow, God – thanks for Toots, who taught me about Jesus’ birthday and sang with us in pre-school. Thanks for Bessie, the quiet gray widow who took on the challenge of teaching rambunctious young grade schoolers!  (Amen!)

Thanks for the Pastor and his wife who began to lead the church when I was six. And that she started a choir for the children. Thanks that she was willing to stick with it even though we were squirrely. And thanks that she noticed I could always start a song in just about the right key, because then I noticed that about me, too, and started thinking of myself as musical. (Amen!)

Thank you for the local band teacher John, and his wife, Kay: Deeply passionate educators who joined our church and shared their interest in music contagiously. Thank you for the clarity of their love and for their obedience to leave us when you called them to minister at a school in the Philippines. (Amen!)

She (Kay) was my first and, therefore, my favorite piano teacher. My lessons were right after school. She prayed with me and had me memorize scripture verses. She taught me to play hymns and insisted that I sing them simultaneously. She taught me to write down musical thoughts on paper. I was eight when we started and thirteen when she left. By then, the path was level before me. At seventeen, I wrote my first five songs for piano, all in one sitting. At nineteen, I started working toward a music degree at Bethel College.

Now, I feel closest to God when I am writing musical thoughts on paper. I have worked for fifteen years singing, playing piano, and bringing music to this church. I have little kids of my own to share music with.  And, I’ve just been tasked with supporting and developing the worship area in Heroes Gate, so I have truly come full circle!”

My experience proves that when it comes to kids, it “takes a village”. A village full of willing, loving adults. Not because kids are difficult, but because they’re curious and clear: Ready to have the color and love of their village swirled into them.

I’m going to use this blog to give a little pitch! I am currently looking for accomplished musicians who can support the kids’ worship time in Heroes Gate. The village is forming now. If Woodland Hills is your church, please seek God about joining me and then contact me at

Video Lessons from Sunday July 31st

As we finished our final Fruits of the Spirit lesson on July 24th and will be starting our exciting Olympic-themed Holy Spirit unit this coming Sunday, August 7th, we took a break this past weekend from our regular live lessons.  Instead, we played videos for the kids that taught them about the importance of communication and listening to others and how God makes us brave. These videos come from Life.Church, and we wanted to share a link with you in case you wanted to catch what your child watched this past Sunday (or if they weren’t here and wanted to see what their classmates watched).

For Elementary: Follow the link below and go to the section entitled – “Part 1 – How to Answer: Anger, Congratulations, I’m Sorry” and find the “Teaching Segment Video” area – click the arrow on the right to show the viewing options. Click the “Preview” button beside the MOV, MP4, or WMV formats – whichever you prefer.

For Toddlers and Preschool: Follow the link below and to the first section (Group Elements). Go to the “Message Video” section and click the arrow on the right for viewing options. Click the “Preview” button beside the MOV, MP4, or WMV formats – whichever you prefer.