A new way of "sensing" God: West Side Sensory Seekers event for preschoolers

The West Side Children’s Ministry teaches young children biblical truths through sensory-based activities and encourages families to give back at the first ever Sensory Seekers event.

On a chilly Saturday morning, 50 of the youngest West Side congregants toddled room-to-room through the third floor of W83 Ministry Center. In each room they discovered sensory activities featuring various colors and textures. The scene resembled what one might find at the neighboring Children’s Museum of Manhattan. Unlike at the museum, however, each of these activities was intended to teach the children how much God loves them, how creative he is, and how powerful he is.

At each activity, parents used a guide for talking their little ones through these scripture-based activities: placing mud-colored play-doh over their eyes, casting empty nets to fill with squirmy plastic fish, seeking out the lost coin and sheep, and more. Through the activities, Julia Boyes and Regan Branch, coordinators of the West Side Preschool and Nursery programs, reminded parents that everyday play can be connected to Bible-themed conversations.

Another highlight of the event was the volunteers. A West Side Community Group of young couples served together at the event. West Side Youth Minister Stephen Trafton recruited two of his students to perform live praise music for the tots throughout the morning. Additionally, students from Redeemer’s affiliate college ministry, RUF, chose Sensory Seekers as their February group service project. “It was a great opportunity for one generation to serve another,” said sophomore Katie Nowotny, an RUF student leader.

Children also served one another and the marginalized in NYC by bringing clothes and toys from their homes to contribute to a clothing swap and drive. Parents could shop for items at the swap at no cost; this allowed Redeemer families to support one another, where needs may be present but unapparent. Following the swap, the remaining items were donated to local charities Room to Grow and Avail, a Hope For New York affiliate.

“We are compelled to teach children of every age the gospel of Jesus Christ,” explained Regan Branch, “so we have to make it approachable to them at every level. We want them to hear it, to know it, and to respond to it. At Sensory Seekers we were able to immerse children in Bible stories and gospel truth in an experiential way, and then let them respond to the call to love one another.“

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