Sojourn Policies and Procedures Manual

Sojourn Grace Collective Children’s Ministry

Employee/Volunteer Policies and Procedures Handbook

About Us: The Values and Goals of the Ministry

The mission of Sojourn Grace Collective is emotional, social, and spiritual wholeness. What if our kids could grow up attending church every Sunday without having to deconstruct everything they learn there when they’re in their 20’s and 30’s? What if emotional wholeness was the main priority of children’s ministry so that our kids grow up trusting their own voices and feeling safe and wholly loved as they are? What if our kids could grow up to change the world entirely because they learned as kids how to live in community: to show compassion, to listen to other world views and opinions without judgement, to care for the world around them as well as their own inner world? This is the goal of Sojourn Grace Collective Children’s Ministry. 

Progressive Christian Pioneer, Brian McLaren says this about church and children: 

“In recent decades hundreds of congregations have been doing creative experimentation with adults, especially young adults. But often while the adults are singing new songs, praying new prayers, hearing new insights in sermons or study groups, and engaging in new (and ancient) spiritual practices, the children are being taught the same old curriculum. The methodology may be innovative, using videos and computer screens rather than flannel graph and chalkboards, for example, but the theology kids are taught (is) a system of belief centered on a view of God that needs to be enlarged and matured. . . One new generation of children and youth can bring about a new day in the Christian faith.” (pp. 158-159 of The Great Spiritual Migration) 

At Sojourn we seek to give our children’s ministry not just new methodology but a new way entirely, a new way of doing children’s church. We seek to leave behind old, tired and damaging dogma. Instead, we want to leave space for our kids to wonder and to question and to doubt and to form their own opinions and to think the way they think and to be who they are. We avoid telling kids what to think and work hard to provide space for them to think for themselves. We ask more questions than we do give answers. Our hope is that our kids can build their own community with each other, coming alive in the truth that they are loved, liberated, and empowered. Our goal is to foster that kind of safe space and encourage them on their path. With that kind of ethos in mind, here are some of the values and themes and messages that are incorporated in the Kids @ Sojourn Lessons: 

-Openness

-Self Confidence

-God is Love

-We are called to Love

-Social Justice

-Peacemaking

-Activism

-Respect for all living things

-Equality

-Diversity

-Nonviolence

-Hope

-Power of positivity

-Resilience

-A desire to learn about other cultures, religions, countries, etc.  

Sometimes we find these themes in ancient mythology, sometimes we find these themes in modern poetry, we find them in folktales from all over the world, we find them in the stories of modern day heroes, in our own every day experiences and so so many other beautiful mediums. It’s a joy to provide space for our kids to explore these topics with an openness to hearing what THEY have to say about it all.

Classroom structure:

All children attend the worship service with their families until we break for class/sermon. 

Ages 0-2 are signed in at the check-in station and dropped off with nursery care where they will be held if they need and spend time playing and listening to music. There is no lesson time or curriculum in this classroom. 

Ages 3-5 are signed in at the check-in station and dropped off in the pre-school classroom. This classroom’s main focus is play! We try to follow this schedule but hold it loosely: music and dancing, play and crafts, clean up and story. 

Ages 6-13 are signed in at the check-in station and dropped off upstairs. Their schedule looks like this: 

11:15-11:25-Koosh Ball Rulz (each sunday the kids pass around a koosh ball and share their “happy” and “sad” from the week and answer some other random question for the day to build community) 

11:25-11:30-Brain break/stretch/meditation activity (sometimes yoga)

11:30-11:35-kids volunteer to read quotes/poems/scriptures from the lesson for the day

11:35-11:50-story and discussion time/prayer or meditation 

11:50-12:15 (or whenever parents come) activity stations 

Policies and procedures:

Gentleness: 

At Sojourn we practice gentleness in all things including when behavior is problematic. We never yell or raise our voices or scold children. Conflict sometimes arises and something a child says or does needs to be addressed. We always do so with gentle words; we get on the same level as the child, look the child in the eyes, listen to them and talk to them with respect and kindness. We problem solve with the children to work toward making peace. Whatever the situation, we can always resolve it with gentleness. If an employee/volunteer feels they can’t help a child with a situation, they’ve tried and are not finding resolution, they should text the child’s parent to come help. All employees/volunteers of Sojourn must agree to a gentle approach to working with children and addressing behavior. Employees must be able to articulate a gentle and peaceful approach to working with children when they interview for the position. Employees must also be skilled and experienced in working with children from this approach and come prepared to apply ideas and tactics that help foster this kind of environment.

Interacting with the kids:

As an employee/volunteer of the children’s ministry, it is key to spend classroom time interacting with the children. Time should not be spent on cell phones or chatting with other adults. The focus of the room should be on the children. Employees/volunteers should be actively engaged with children during class. 

Crying: 

Crying happens, mostly with our littlest ones, but a child shouldn’t be inconsolable or miserable during their time at church. If they simply cannot be comforted and they seem miserable, employees/volunteers must call or text the child’s parent.

Safety: 

Injuries and illness- there are simple first aid kits in each classroom with bandaids but anything needing attention beyond that please call or text the child’s parents immediately. Emergencies dial 911.

If a child has a fever, vomits, or simply isn’t feeling well, call or text parents. 

Diaper changes are only to be done by parents. Text or call a parent if a baby/toddler needs a change. 

Bathrooms for 6-12 yr class: Kids can use the bathrooms in the hall outside the classroom and go individually. As a class rule they need to ask first so that you know where they are and keep track of them returning in a timely manner. 

Bathrooms for 3-5 yr class: our current facilities are an open door bathroom in the room so kids can go on their own. Call parents if children need assistance such as wiping or clean up from an accident. 

Reporting: 

If a child ever confides in an employee/volunteer about abuse, the employee is obligated to report this and  this must be reported on the same day. Report to the Children’s pastor who will oversee the legal responsibility and next steps. 

In general if anything ever makes an employee/volunteer uncomfortable, they should let the children’s pastor know. 

If a child has hit, pushed, spit or otherwise used their bodies to harm another individual in class, employees/volunteers need to address the child with gentleness and let parents know what happened upon pick up. Employees/volunteers also need to let the children’s pastor know about these incidents that same Sunday after church or by email. Everything will be kept confidential-having this information helps the pastor know what things we need to work on and how to assist volunteers, parents and children. 

Cell phones and photos: 

Photographing children is prohibited. 

Employees/volunteers must have cell phones on them for communication with other adults at Sojourn and for emergencies. 

Diversity:

Absolutely zero discrimination will be tolerated. Employees should understand and agree that diversity is a key part of the mission and vision of the church and they should desire to actively work at creating a community that fosters true diversity. Employees should use their words to celebrate each child’s unique expression of their identity. Employees should avoid talking to children in ways that perpetuate gender stereotypes and generalizations of people groups.