CAMBRIDGE — A new church partnership wants to ''ignite'' more children to Jesus.|
Ignite, a free after-school program for children has been available at Geneseo First Methodist for several years.
After a recent partnership, the program is offered at Cambridge United Methodist Church, 120 West Exchange St., as well.
The two churches earlier voted to merge resources and operations and form a multi-site ministry.
Ignite became one of those shared programs.
The program meets from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursdays for young people in kindergarten through sixth grade. It began last week and will continue to meet on Thursdays throughout the school year. Information and registration is available by contacting children's ministry director Becky Ritter at the church, (309) 944-2793 or online at peopleneedjesus.org.
Mrs. Ritter directs the program with help from a 10-member church team.
Ignite allows children to experience the Gospel in fun and inviting ways through games, drama, worship and crafts, and gets under way after school with a "nutritious light meal," Mrs. Ritter said.
Students are encouraged to bring their Bibles and to memorize the different Scriptures each week, she said.
''We believe students retain more Scripture knowledge when it incorporates activity, and we will play 'Do you know your Bible?' throughout the year to help students navigate the Scripture,'' Mrs. Ritter said. ''We also use a 'Jeopardy' competition at the end of each unit.
''Instead of merely listening to a Bible story, students actively engage in the action or events of lesson by being the characters, and we use props and our imaginations to bring the story to life,'' she said.
Different memorization methods such as a "Pop a Word" game, using balloons with words from the scripture written on them, also are used, Mrs. Ritter said.
''After we repeat the verse together two or three times, I call on volunteers to fill in missing words of the balloons I pop," Mrs. Ritter said. ''The children love the challenge of remembering the Scripture, especially when many balloons have been popped."
Students also take puzzles home that focus on the key point of the week's lesson.
Games used to reinforce weekly Bible truths, include "Wheel of Fortune," "Doors of Destiny," and "Deal or No Deal."
Two new games this year are titled, "Gator Snot" and "TP Bazooka."
Special music used at Ignite sessions are ''kid-friendly'' with lots of motions, she said.
''We talk about how God is listening to our hearts not our voices, so everyone should feel comfortable to sing," Mrs. Ritter said.
Weekly crafts also reinforce the Bible stories.
Students get rewarded for their efforts with "Big City Bucks," that can be used at a "Big City Store," which offers toys, Christian CDs, T-shirts and other merchandise.
''But the greatest rewards are those the kids are getting in their spirits," Mrs. Ritter said. "We want to see kids 'Ignited' for Jesus.''
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