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Launching Your Children's Ministry During a Pandemic?

By Renée Griffith | Posted In Personal Stories

Church planters George and Rocio Carballo launched Vive Houston in southeast Texas just over one year ago—and God asked them to start their kids’ ministry during the pandemic. Knowing the services would begin online, they searched for Pentecostal curriculum and selected Listen Kids.

“Over the last six months, all our services have been online, and that can be tricky for a new church plant,” Pastor Rocio notes. “We were just getting the ball rolling, and then COVID-19 happened.”

Prior to online gatherings, pastors Rocio and George had been looking for a discipleship curriculum that would walk their congregation through the Bible—a congregation with limited biblical knowledge. 

“Vive Houston is in an area where many of the people haven’t had much exposure to the Bible,” explains Pastor Rocio. “When we found Listen curriculum, we were relieved that it was a program we could trust, written by Assemblies of God pastors. It’s self-explanatory and easy to follow.”

“We are just starting to grow as a church body, so I’m the only one running kids ministry right now. I was searching for a curriculum that didn’t have many moving parts or didn’t need a big team of people to pull off. I found Listen Kids which is full of great biblical teaching and engages children, but it’s still simple to implement. It’s very doable for me as the only children’s pastor right now.”

Pastor Rocio wondered if young attention spans would hold over a weekly Zoom call. “It’s been overwhelming for me to see how much fun the kids are having, how engaged they are, and how they are understanding the Bible stories through Listen Kids,” she gushes. She runs a weekly Zoom call on Tuesday evenings that eight to ten elementary-age kids normally attend.

“We start with the game that the app explains. The game uses supplies that kids can usually find around their homes. We all do the game together, and then we get into the Bible lesson.” Pastor Rocio shares her screen so the children can see the videos that illustrate the Faith Verse for each lesson. Listen Kids video hosts include “Dash,” “Austin,” and “Carington”—young teens who take on weekly challenges that drive home a biblical truth.

“For many of our students, this is the first exposure they have had to Bible stories,” explains Pastor Rocio. “It’s amazing to see how engaged they are and how they remember what they’re learning as they participate. We have had three salvations so far over Zoom!”

“We’ve already had some amazing reports from families,” Pastor Rocio shares. “One mother told me that after we learned about heaven through Listen Kids, her daughter is asking to read the Bible together every night. She’s explaining to her family that heaven is a beautiful place and that one day she will go there. It’s awesome to hear from families that discipleship is happening in the home.”

Pastor Rocio is looking ahead to when Vive Houston will meet physically once again. “We will continue to use Listen Kids when we can have children’s church in person for the first time.”  She also anticipates holding two services for children, in person and over Zoom if the need arises. “I’m so grateful Listen curriculum is bilingual because our church is, too,” notes Pastor Rocio. Her husband George preaches one service in Spanish and the other in English for the adults each week. Rocio says that if she has any Spanish-only children, she will hold a separate Zoom call for them.

Pastors George and Rocio remain confident that as the times and methods change, God will be faithful to supply them with all they need to fulfill their calling. “I say that the tools change, but the message never changes,” smiles Pastor Rocio. The Word of God is real and true and wonderful. It’s amazing knowing that these kids, Vive Houston’s kids, are being discipled even though we can’t meet in person.”

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