Church at Play - 2nd Apr 2018

St John's walls hadn’t seen a child in nearly 10 years, but now they’re a second home for many.

Carlton Johnstone, Minister at St John’s Presbyterian Church in Arrowtown, says their new program, Church at Play, has increased their children’s ministry significantly.

“When I arrived, we wanted to create a new expression for the church, an outreach into the community,” He said.

Before his arrival, two years ago, the church had no children.

When Carlton did come, the timing was impeccable. Then, the community noticed a spike in families, with local school numbers jumping from 300 to 600.

“There were families everywhere! Because of this, I wanted to explore how our church could start including them.” He said.

With the help of two new families entering their doors and support from their congregation, Church at Play had a strong foundation for its beginning.

The program is a monthly all-age interactive event that is completely inclusive.

“Non-Christians come too. We promote it at mainly music, and children and parents invite their peers. The kids are just so excited to come!”

Church at Play provides participants with activity stations, games, crafts and dinner.

Each month they are met with a new theme.

“One month, our theme was the environment. We based our teachings off a biblical story.”

As well as teaching them about native birds, one station taught them how to make cling wrap out of bee’s wax!

“You can make them out of cotton, coconut oil and bee’s wax. You need a sandwich press too. They’re quite durable!”

Another theme, about community, saw them send postcards to their local Mayor saying, “Thank you for a great community!”

Church at Play now see’s 50 regulars enjoy crafts and teachings, numbers that are knocking on the church door.

“We have 10 to 15 kids coming to our church now.”

St Johns crèche might have low numbers, but Johnstone says their attention is vital.

“Our Sunday school is not just a crèche, it’s a spiritual journey. We only have three children, but we take them seriously!

St Johns clearly has a heart and vision for the children. Complacency would be easy, but further development is on the agenda.

“This year we are looking at building on the things we’ve created.”

“We might be starting an after-school hang-out zone, which I’m very excited about!”


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