Here at First Church, we believe that families are God’s plan for passing the baton of faith in Jesus Christ. Our Family Ministries serve preschoolers, elementary, middle and high school students, and parents. The Epistle spoke with ministry leaders Pastor Brad Rogers, Director Sheila Sierts, and Pastor Su Kim. Their task is to guide these ministries of our church toward a bright and fruitful future. We asked them about the vision for our families and how we are intentionally pursuing that vision.

Pastor Brad: Our vision is to ensure that each child we serve comes to know Jesus intimately. We believe that parents play the most significant role in that goal, but another dynamic is vital. We must look at the greatest strength of our church, that is, the warmth and wisdom of our community.

Epistle: What exactly do you mean by that?
Pastor Brad: Well, we know that the best way for parents to inspire their children to have faith is to model their own faith—not only in words but also in actions. But here’s the question: don’t we all have a role in helping to educate the next generation?

Epistle: Is that how you see the role of the Family Ministries staff?
Pastor Brad: Yes, but it’s more! It is also the responsibility of the church. And who is the church? We are. And this church is blessed with faithful members and a staff that has developed a strong, biblically-centered curriculum. Therefore, we are intentionally drawing in more volunteers, especially retirees and grandparents, to establish relationships and teach our children.

Epistle: So, you want to encourage church members to what? Teach Sunday school?
Sheila: Actually, it’s a little more than that. As ministry leaders, we need to look at how our church can “grow young” by carrying on Christ’s legacy. Our team has taken great care to provide programming and a curriculum that imparts biblical truths and is developmentally appropriate. But we can only staff a certain number of paid teachers.

Epistle: You’re saying we need to expand our teaching base to support our teachers and staff? But not everyone in our congregation has experience as a teacher.
Sheila: That’s true, but each of us has life experience and Christian qualities we can share. We cannot grow any ministry through the lens of isolation. We need those with life experiences to come alongside us in caring for our youngest members. I think the success of Family Ministries depends on our seeing with God’s vision… and sharing this vision.

Epistle: And how would the average church member do that?
Pastor Brad: Through simple interaction. All you need is a willingness to help the next generation know Jesus; the curriculum is already there. You know, this whole idea of more volunteer interaction stemmed from my own experience. When my family arrived at First Church, this community of faith truly embraced our three kids and us. What if all the children in our church could experience this support?

Pastor Su: We also had a fantastic experience and were warmly welcomed and encouraged by beautiful lives and testimonies of faith. First Church has been a living witness to my family that the gospel does not have a target demographic.

Sheila: Sharing can be as simple as being a table leader at our Wednesday Family Nights. Currently, our volunteer force is small in number, but their impact is tremendous. They show Christ’s love through their words and actions, and that is something children remember. It makes them eager to come to class when they know they will see a new face and learn new things. Our volunteers often say that helping gives them energy and purpose and makes them feel young at heart.

Pastor Su: They become like family, which is an essential facet of life. In Asian culture, it is common for multiple generations to live under one roof. The same holds true for our church family, and the benefits are significant: stronger bonds, a deeper sense of connection, and the ability to pass on values, stories, and traditions. For example, before COVID, my wife and daughters learned to sew and crochet from some sweet ladies at the church and that proved to be an invaluable skill through the pandemic.

Epistle: Let’s revisit the vision. Tell us how Family Ministries partners with families to lead children into a relationship with Jesus?
Sheila: Our ministry team and the Wonder Years staff work to build relationships with children and their parents, not only in spiritual development and learning but also by supporting them through the many bumps of parenthood. The church staff also partners with us, volunteering to lead the preschool’s Chapel and reading to the kids during Literacy Week. Simply sharing a little time with our children makes a big difference.

Epistle: Let’s close by asking each of you what you love about serving in Family Ministries.
Pastor Brad: I love seeing our families coming to know and understand who Jesus is and growing in their overall biblical literacy. I look forward to seeing how these lives will be forever impacted by the gospel message.

Pastor Su: In my work with First Students, I have witnessed tremendous spiritual growth as these students learn how to live their faith. I am excited by the fruit I see them exhibiting.

Sheila: I love seeing the relationships that develop. When we are willing to embrace and support a family where they are, connections form and deepen over time. It’s incredible to observe how our teachers and volunteers support each other and how they put the families first. They truly lead from the heart.

So, there you have it—a quick snapshot of this ministry’s vision of sharing “the warmth and wisdom” of our faith community. First Church asks that you prayerfully consider your role in our children’s spiritual formation. We invite you to help us cultivate a sustainable Christian ecosystem where our families can flourish and grow.

Testimonial: You Need to Be Sharp

Teaching Sunday school has been one of the mainstays of my faith journey through life. I consider it a blessing to be with children and teens; they are smart, and we both learn something together. When I connect with them, the moment is exhilarating, and the experience enriches everyone. Their questions are probing and challenge me to expand my understanding of the Bible.

Over the past 21 years, I have learned that you need to be sharp, observant, and ready to change in an instant. Today’s youth are exposed to external stimuli constantly, and they expect a fast-paced environment. Keeping up with them enables me to be young again! Teaching God’s Word and dealing with children—It does not get any better than this!

Richard Morrow Jr.
Neon Kids Sunday School Volunteer

Testimonial: A Grandparents Dream

Do you like to feel needed? Do you crave being loved unconditionally? If you answered yes to these questions, you should consider becoming a part of our Family Ministries at First Church!

As a volunteer at the Wonder Years Preschool, I never tire of hearing the children call out when I enter the classroom, “Miss Karen is HERE!” As a classroom assistant, I see great value in cleaning the tables or doing other tasks that free the teacher to focus on the teaching. Having kept some of my materials from former days as a teacher has been delightful as I share activities such as musical plays, like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, with the children. Whatever I do in the hours spent with them is a blessing. I get back more than my heart can hold.

There is such joy in knowing that you are making a difference in the life of a child. It is a grandparent’s dream: you receive all the perks from playing and interacting with them, but at the end of your time, you get to leave as the school day ends and parents come to pick up their children!

Karen Dominik
Wonder Years Preschool Volunteer