Where is Love First Being Used?

Love First was introduced in 2016 by Colette Potts, Director of Children’s Ministries at Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church in Falmouth, Massachusetts. As the children’s program at Saint Barnabas continued to grow, Love First attracted a lot of attention, not just from its own parishioners, but from other interested parishes across the nation. In the fall of 2018, five churches (Christ Church, Swansea, Massachusetts; Church of the Epiphany, East Providence, Rhode Island; Christ Church, Plymouth, Massachusetts; Grace St. Paul’s, Tucson, Arizona; St. Luke’s, Fall River, MA) began using the Love First curriculum designed and developed by Potts. The result? Love First is replicable, just like love is, even if it looks and feels different in every parish. Just like we thought: where love is sown, love can grow.

Have you read the book and started implementing parts of Love First principles in your parish? Let us know by using the hashtag #lovefirstproject.

Can I purchase your curriculum?

Yes! If you’ve read the book, though, you know how we think it is much, much more than a curriculum. It’s a framework for children’s ministry. Even so, we’ve found that most parishes don’t have the resources to create their own lesson plans and like having ours on hand to get started and to leave room for creativity in other parts of the children’s ministry. The Love First Collection includes one year of plans for 3 age groups: pre-reader/writer, emerging reader/writer, and reader/writer. (We’ve also started Love First for youth, too!). The second year of Love First is running in our pilot sites, and so far, so good! Check out our lesson plans here.

Will Love First still work for our small children’s program?

The wager of Love First is that the experience of God is authentic in your community. If you have love, then Love First will work. You need only find the ways that people know how to love and need to be loved, and you will find that it can’t help but spread. Having a small children’s program doesn’t mean Love First won’t work; it means it will work differently. With fewer children, you have the capacity to do things that larger programs simply can’t. Start thinking outside the box about how your small group can bring love to others in your community. And if you need help brainstorming, let us know!

Love First can easily be done on a shoestring budget (which is why we created it!), but if your church needs more guidance and assistance, start talking to your rector or vestry about investing in your children’s ministry. A little bit of consultation and guidance (or inspiration and permission!) will go a long way towards rejuvenating your children’s ministry and making your parish’s gifts come alive — and we want to help you do it!

I’m in! What can I do to ready my parish?

If you’ve read the book and are ready to implement the Love First model, there are things you can do immediately. Start meeting with other committees that do outreach and find the places where your ministries overlap (i.e., you should always be looking for ways children can work with others in your church community) and then start talking about love — a lot!

What is your approach to scripture? Why aren’t there more bible stories?

We think the bible is so important, that it is one of the most important ways we have of knowing God. But we also think it’s a really complicated and demanding book – not just for children, but for grown-ups too. So what we strive for is fluency not facts. We think too many formation programs simply fill children with stories, a new story each week, as if mere familiarity with the details of these stories were the same thing as biblical faith. (Not to mention that there aren’t enough weeks in any year for anybody to really give all of scripture its due.) Instead, we focus on just a few stories each year, and invite our children to really dig deep into what each story tells them about God and their neighbors and themselves. What we want is to teach children how to read the bible, not just to help them memorize the important events and figures. Although, as it happens, through the course of an entire childhood, our children will have developed a pretty good familiar with the Bible’s events and figures. But more importantly, they will have built a relationship with God and one another through their reading of the Bible, which is what we think all of us – young and old – are meant to do.

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