Growing a Younger Generation of the Church: Pizza and Praise

Date Posted: 6/26/2019

By Lindsay Peyton
Children’s ministry at FUMC Canton is taking off – and soaring to new heights as it develops its youngest disciples.
When the Rev. Adam Muckleroy was appointed to the church two years ago, he noticed that children’s ministry was practically non-existent.
“There was nothing in place,” he recalled. “It had fallen by the wayside. We were at a point where we needed to get something going again, and we wanted to make something happen.”   

What the church did have going, however, was a thriving day school program, Kid’s Crossing. In addition to year-round classes for infants to school age children, an afterschool program served elementary children.
“Kid’s Crossing was so well-known in the community that we had a waiting list,” Muckleroy said. “But there was really no connection between the school and the church. There was a gap.”
Children who attended the school did not show up on Sundays, he explained. “We didn’t know them,” he said. “Kid’s Crossing was basically just another program we had.”

The pastor contacted Shelly Garrett, the school’s director.  “We wanted to bring her talents into our children’s ministry,” he explained. “And it’s helped quite a bit.”
Garrett came up with a hit idea – pizza and praise sessions on Wednesday nights. Children enjoy a slice, a prayer and activities based on scripture.
“It ties in perfectly with what’s going on in the kids’ day school,” Muckleroy said. “The children are in church already. Why not stay until 7 p.m. and have some pizza?”
The program started with one class a little more than a year ago and has since grown into four, serving kindergarten through high school. Organizers are preparing to add another class this fall for even younger children.
“We’re very proud of the ministry, and we’re very proud of Shelly,” Muckleroy said. “We’re grateful to have this up and running.”
Already, students from Kid’s Crossing are making their way to worship on Sundays and bringing their parents with them to church. “You get the kids excited, and their parents will follow,” Muckleroy said.

Volunteers enjoy working with the children’s ministry and mentoring the next generation, the pastor added. “Our mission is making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” he said. “We’re making a new generation of disciples, and there’s a huge value in that.”
FUMC Canton values offering opportunities for youth leaderships, from having youth lead prayers to joining the praise team in song. Young church members serve communion and help with the offering.
“We plug our youth into various roles in the church and show them what leadership, worship and service look like,” Muckleroy said. “We’re trying to empower a new generation.”