- HEY CHURCH FAMILY -
THIS SUNDAY, PASTOR CURT SHARED SOME HARD YET EXCITING NEWS THAT WE, AS A LEADERSHIP TEAM, WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOU VIA EMAIL AS WELL.
A letter from Pastor Curt:
Hi, I'm Pastor Curt. I’ve been the Children’s Ministry pastor here for 11 1/2 years. I am about to step down from my position as a paid staff member at the church in order to create children's ministry curriculum full-time. It's a change I feel God called me to in a very specific way, and Pastor Josh and the elders have been completely supportive. So, let me back up and give you the full story...
I love teaching "Kids' Church" for the K-5th grade students during 2nd service. But I was never super-happy with the video curriculum options that were available for Kids' Church. I had two issues –
1) I thought they were weak on theology. It was a lot of telling the kids what to do or what not to do, but very little explanation on the why behind what we should do or what we shouldn't do, and how it’s based on God‘s character and how His amazing plan for our lives inspires us to want to do the right thing.
2) And I wasn't super-impressed with the quality of the videos either. There wasn't much of a story or plot to really draw kids in.
So, I decided to produce the curriculum that I wanted to teach our kids here at NWHills – a curriculum that taught kids theology and had good story videos with real plots.
So, I planned out 16 units of Spyence Curriculum that would each cover one area of theology and last 6 weeks. Instead of calling them units, I call them Seasons, like a tv show. When kids finish all 16 seasons of Spyence after about 2 years of Sunday mornings, they’ll have a well-rounded understanding of the doctrines in the Bible.
Each week of the Spyence Curriculum includes a video component starring the four Spyentists (the two Spyentists in the middle are my two daughters, Victoria and Emily, and the young man on the left is Victoria's husband, and Secret Agent K on the right is one of their best friends from high school.)
The Spyentists work at Spyence Headquarters (of course) and in each episode, they try to thwart the Evil Robots' latest evil plan. There's a real plot, with real stakes and read danger. It's important and kids care about it, and there are special effects and exciting music and humor that draw the kids in, and most importantly, in each episode, one of the characters learns a Bible lesson during their adventure, and models spiritual growth for the kids in class.
If you're wondering what it looks like when we film these videos, here's us filming in front of a greens screen in W-4 or the brown house, a couple summers ago, as well as a picture of us filming in the youth modular last summer, with James Furlo and Grady Holaday.
And those video segments serve as a perfect introduction to each part of the Kids' Church teacher's lesson. So, in addition to the videos, I also write a teacher's guide that leads the Kids' Church teacher through the lesson they'll teach the kids on Sunday morning.
The lesson includes a fun intro game, a Bible lesson, a memory verse activity, a Spyence Experiment, which is a fun hands-on activity the kids' make and take home with them that illustrates the lesson, and my favorite part – a Top Secret Codeword – a theology term. They learn the term and memorize it's definition and learn how it applies to their life.
Like in this example, they learn about "preservation" which tells us that the Bible has been copied accurately. It's important because it means we can KNOW the Bible we have today is faithful to the original manuscripts and perfectly trustworthy.
So we created one 6-week Season that we called the Prequel Season, and it took 2 years to write and film and edit and get it ready for Kid's Church doing it in my free time, and that was a little discouraging. But... we showed it in Kids' Church and the responses were phenomenal. Kids loved it and they were learning! Kids would run up to me at church months later, excited to tell me the main points from that series.
And then we put some of the videos on YouTube and they resonated with kids and families, and so far they've been watched 500,000 times. Each of them has a Bible lesson and most of them present the gospel, so that's a lot of Bible lessons and Gospel presentations going out from NWHills! The Spyence series was even picked up by a Christian cable television channel called ShalomWorld TV, and at least one video has been translated into Kinyarwandan, a dialect spoken in Rwanda, and being shared with kids in Rwanda.
It seemed to be meeting a need, so I put the curriculum up on my website and around 17 other churches have started using the Spyence Mission X curriculum and the feedback has been incredible – they love it... they want more... they keep emailing, "When can we get the next Season?"
And that's the problem. I want to finish 16 seasons, and working on it part-time on my days off, I have finished 3 seasons in 6 years. At that rate, my daughters will be 50 years old when we start filming the 16th season. So what to do? I was really feeling drawn towards doing Spyence, but I also love my job here, so for around two years I've been praying every day, asking God, "What is your plan for Spyence?"
Then one night recently, I was praying in my backyard and God spoke to me, I heard His voice in my head, the only time in my 52 years that's ever happened to me. God told me, "Cindy Penn and Vicki Biornstad left you a wonderful Children’s Ministry and you need to leave the same thing for the next person. So when you have it ready to hand over to your successor, you're released from your position at church to do Spyence."
I immediately ran into the house to tell Ruth what I had heard from God and she was in a deep conversation with her sister, so instead I typed it into my computer so I wouldn’t forget what God had said, and the next day, I started making a punch list of things I thought God wanted me to finish up at the church.
For instance, I inherited rooms for all the CM classes from Vicki and Cindy, so I got to work finishing up the room remodels, with Randy and Carolyn Teegarden and Mark Curtis and James Fenicottero doing all of the actual work.
And I inherited a list of teachers for each classroom from Vicki and Cindy, so I got to work calling the teachers for each class, to find out who was coming back after COVID so I could hand over a nice list to my successor.
I scheduled Sports Camp for this summer, so the next person would have that on the books already, with the team from Sports Camp coming in to lead it. Anyway, I had a big punch list and I'm nearing the end of it.
So, I gave Pastor Josh notice and my last day as the Children's Ministry Pastor at NWHills will be March 31st. It’s bittersweet because I love this job – I love the volunteer team I work with, I love the kids and the parents I see on Sunday mornings, I love our team in the church office during the week. This has been a dream job and I've been so blessed for the last 11 1/2 years.
This will still be our church home, so I'll still see all the kids and parents and volunteers that I love and all the friends we have at Northwest Hills. And I'm excited to see where Pastor Josh and Pastor Gary and Justin and Mark and Carissa are leading us.
And one thing that has meant a lot to me as I'm going through this transition is thatPastor Josh and the elders have been super-supportive and incredibly generous as they help launch us out to do the Spyence curriculum ministry.
Now I'm really excited about the chance to focus on the Spyence curriculum and work on it full-time. Next month I'll start editing the season which covers Theology Proper (topics like the Trinity, God's characteristics, etc.) and when I finish that, I'll start working on the next season, which covers Ecclesiology (the study of the church).
In summary, I have accepted a full-time position as Head of Curriculum Development at Spyence Headquarters. I don't know how much it pays yet if at all, and there are no benefits, but the secret plans computer room is so cool! And I wanted to thank you, church, for 11 1/2 wonderful years as your Children's Ministry Pastor. This has to be the world's most encouraging, appreciative, supportive church. I look forward to finishing up this month working at church, and next month, attending as a civilian.
Pastor Curt Nelson
You can also watch Pastor Curt share this news at our Sunday morning service today, via our NWH YouTube page.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN ONE OF THE MANY PEOPLE IMPACTED BY PASTOR CURT, WE INVITE YOU TO WRITE A NOTE OF ENCOURAGEMENT AND/OR "THANKS" TO HIM AND DROP IT OFF OR SEND IT INTO THE NWH OFFICE!
We will be having a special service, honoring Pastor Curt, on March 21.
We will greatly miss Pastor Curt but are excited for where God is leading him and how God will use him for the greater Kingdom!