“Looking at our target group of children aged seven to 10, we wanted a program that would be fun and engaging but that also included kids looking in the Bible for answers to life's questions,” says Major Denise Walker, assistant territorial youth secretary. “Many kids are engaged by the idea of mysteries and missions so we hope that taking this perspective will add excitement to classes.”
Each Ready to Serve lesson starts with a video where the Ready to Serve Recon Team is given their mission by the commanders, played by Major Randy Hicks and Major Heather Ballantine. The children in local corps will then receive their missions from the team: Michael (Kyle Higgins), Christie (Kathryn Ballantine), Kate (Rodeth Asis), Simon (Ioan Mourat) and Sarai (Alexis Dill).
“The team's purpose is to look for answers in the Bible to help our young recruits out of sticky situations,” says Major Walker.
“If I were a child, I'd be captivated by the adventure in Ready to Serve,” says Kathryn Ballantine. “A lot of kids don't know how intense The Salvation Army used to be in terms of mission and it's neat to get back to those roots in a current way.”
After two in-class missions and videos—during which children focus on a topic from Scripture or learn something about The Salvation Army—the lesson is summed up in a third clip and children receive a life application field assignment. Sometimes this points to the Ready to Serve website, which features information related to missions, games, Bible readings, character blogs and songs. There is also a website specifically for leaders with all necessary class material.
For example, in one lesson, the commander wants the recon team to help a young recruit read her Bible and enjoy spending time with God. The local squads then receive their first mission: uncovering why Christians should read their Bibles. In the second mission, individual recruits are asked to look into different ways they can spend time with Jesus—such as writing songs (psalms) like King David. The third and final video directs recruits to the daily Bible readings on the website.
“We tried to make the program exciting for both small and large corps to use,” says Major Walker. “It should be easy to create excitement in every setting and finances shouldn't be a stumbling block.”
Although not specifically designed as an evangelism tool, the Ready to Serve Bible teaching and Salvation Army lessons are accessible to children of all backgrounds. For example, Simon is portrayed as a “new Christian” so that when Christian or Army-related topics are unfamiliar, another character in the DVD offers an explanation.
“It is my hope that not only Christian kids will see Ready to Serve, but their friends will see and discover that God loves them, and maybe even join The Salvation Army,” comments Alexis Dill.
“Ready to Serve has action, adventure, comedy and a great message,” summarizes Kyle Higgins. “I want kids to enjoy going to their discipleship program and have fun learning about God.”
Visit ReadyToServeTeam.ca for more information.