‘Church weekends away are for children, too’

My phone lit up on the drive home from our church weekend away with a message from one of the parents – ‘Our children loved the keepsake boxes from the weekend away. The boxes now stay beside their beds and the clues inside have been a great talking point and a reminder of what they learned. The clues have become part of their daytime play. Our son even used the clues to strike up a conversation with our neighbour’.

Church weekends away are for children, too. These weekends are precious opportunities that punctuate the church calendar. They offer more than a few stolen moments on a Sunday with the children. They encourage friendships among the children. And crucially, they can be a blessing and encouragement to parents and families and even to those outside our church families.

As I prepared for our recent church weekend away, I wanted to equip parents and congregation members to have real conversations with the children about what they had been learning in the children’s sessions. There is a clear biblical mandate to bring children up in the instruction of the Lord and the wider church family have the privilege of sharing in this task. 

I also wanted to equip the children with resources to help them share their learning with their peers. The question was how to do this effectively. The answer came in the form of keepsake boxes. I ordered plain boxes online, which were inexpensive and easy for the children to decorate. As someone who struggled in art class at school, I found these boxes were an excellent ‘leveller’ for all children across the age span and suitable for varying artistic abilities. I marvelled as I watched each child fill their boxes with reminders from the passage and saw them carefully cherish the truths the items in the box represented.

We spent the weekend studying Luke 15 and in each session, we set about filling our keepsake boxes with memorable clues from our stories. A fluffy sheep to remember that God searches for the lost, a silver coin to remember that just like the woman who searched for her one precious lost coin, lost people are precious to God. A pig to remember how desperate things got for the lost son and a ring and a robe to remind the children that God gladly welcomes sinners who repent. I wanted the children to learn to cherish the truths found in God’s word from an early stage. Replacing traditional paper workbooks with these very tangible objects helped the children to remember key truths and built their confidence to more readily share their learning with others.

As I reflect on this precious time with the children, I grasp more fully the very thing I prayed the children would grasp – God relentlessly searches for the lost and he rejoices when one person turns to him. We really should rejoice in this too. As I think of a little boy using the clues to strike up a conversation with his neighbour, I am reminded never to underestimate the gospel impact of children’s work at our church weekends away.


Clare Stevenson serves as Youth and Children’s Worker at Grace Church Greenwich.

She is passionate about reading God’s word and helping others to do the same. Clare studied Law at Edinburgh University and before moving to London and served as a Children and Families Worker in a Church of Ireland Parish. In her spare time, Clare enjoys running, frequenting coffee shops and the occasional scone!