Jam Session and Child Savers

Jam Session and Child Savers
Nadra Kareem

Crime so plagued Jessica Weathers’ neighborhood in East Flat Rock, N.C., that her mother forbade her to play outside.

Then one day two years ago, Jessica and her siblings returned home after school to find a note from East Flat Rock United Methodist Church announcing a neighborhood event called Kidz JAM (which stands for “Jesus and Me”).

“We were excited because there was nothing to do in our environment that was safe,” Jessica, 14, remembers.

Each Saturday, the church dispatches the “Churchmobile”—a truck with a fold-down stage that provides the setup for the sidewalk worship-and-teaching ministry—to low-income communities.

“There are puppets, skits, guys with guitars and, at the same time, we challenge them to live a different way,” Pastor Timothy Porter explains.

Kidz JAM Director Teresa Clement launched the ministry two years ago after watching a program about nationally recognized Metro Ministries, the New York-based sidewalk outreach for kids. Today, 40 children participate in Kidz JAM.

However, Clement stresses, “This is not all about kids, but the relationship you build with the family. When you have a whole family, that’s when you change the neighborhood.”

Before Kidz JAM, Jessica and her family never had attended church. Now each member has been baptized and helps lead the ministry. Jessica even traveled with Clement last year to visit Metro Ministries in New York.

“It was awesome to go up there and experience the way they do sidewalk church,” Jessica says.

In 2008, Kidz JAM earned the 80-member East Flat Rock church the Denman Evangelism Award, bestowed by The Foundation for Evangelism, which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

“It was a validation of what the Lord is calling us to do,” Porter recalls. “This is what a church our size can do.” —Nadra Kareem

CHILD SAVERS

When an unidentified man tried to kidnap her 4-year-old son at a vacation condo swimming pool in South Carolina, Bobbie Cathey experienced every parent’s nightmare.

Jarred by the experience, Cathey was more than happy to participate in a new Amber Alert-sponsored program at her church, the 150-attendee Calvary Assembly of God in Cynthiana, Ky.

Each August, the church holds a Kids Fest event, at which photos, fingerprints and other information about children are placed on USB devices for parents. If their children are abducted or missing, parents can then give the device to police, saving officers precious time.

“It’s almost too simple for churches not to do, especially in the day and age we live in when Amber Alerts are a daily event, unfortunately,” says Calvary’s pastor, Dan Collard. -T.A.

The article “Jam Session and Child Savers” written by Nadra Kareem and T.A. was excerpted from Children’s Ministry Magazine, June/July 2009.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”

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