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Bridging the Gaps - Issue #104

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Sometimes we lose people during transitions. St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City created a new staffing strategy to facilitate the transitions of childhood. When St. Luke's began searching for a Children's Director, the church selected two, Charlie Ludden and Brittany Stanley. They were given the opportunity to be in ministry together as a team -- Charlie as the Director of Older Children's Ministry and Brittany as the Director of Younger Children's Ministry. The church purposefully created two jobs that overlapped in responsibilities related to the major transitions children experience while growing up at St. Luke's.

Brittany Stanley reports that, "by working together as a team, we cover the gaps many churches have among ministry areas. We envision our programs as a lifelong process, and we have implemented a smooth Christian education plan that ensures relationships are formed with people of all ages. As children experience change, they will always know at least one person in their group. If we neglect to work together, the children could get lost in the gaps."

Throughout the year, the children of St. Luke's have opportunities to bond with the older congregational members through their Women's Senior Adult Prayer Group that prays for families expecting a new baby and continues the relationship as the child grows. Older adults are also invited to participate in the Christmas program, and close bonds are created during rehearsals.

"It's all about relationships," says Charlie Ludden. "If we create opportunities for people of all ages to be together and supported during transitions, there will be no gaps to fall through. We all contribute to the growth of our children and youth."

Some Questions for Discussion

  • Where are the gaps in your ministries? How do your volunteer and paid staffing patterns help bridge those gaps?

  • What strategies does your congregation have in place to help people of all ages as they move through life transitions?

  • Are there existing ministries in your congregation that might be modified to increase the opportunities for people of various ages to form healthy relationships and share their faith?

Melanie Gordon is Director of Ministry with Children at the Discipleship Ministries. She may be reached at [email protected].

In 2007 church leaders throughout The United Methodist Church in the U.S. were invited to identify churches that demonstrated the vision of discipleship described in the twelfth chapter of Romans. Over 200 churches were surveyed or visited. Issue #104. © 2011 Discipleship Ministries. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to copy this page for use in United Methodist congregations.

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