Marleen has been doing children's work for more than 25 years and has been working on the Er for 3 years! method. She tells what her experiences are. She leads the group of 9 to 12 year olds at the Gospel Church Salem, in Wageningen.
What do you do in daily life??
I am the mother of four children and I work as a game therapist.
How long do you do children's work?
Within Salem I have been active for 18 for years.
How long do you work out with the Out! method?
More than 3 years.
What appeals to you as a child worker in the method / lessons?
I find different things attractive: The work forms are varied and creative. It has an attractive design. There is hands and feet given to faith through saving projects, games, the vegetable garden, inviting friends etc. In terms of content, much background information is given to me as a child worker. You will be taken into the context of the lesson. First you will be informed about the importance of the topic of the lesson and it will be placed in the main line of the Bible. I get excited about that. In particular, the constant links between the Old and New Testaments enrich knowledge and with that the Bible becomes more credible and at the same time God more reliable.
"They find the lessons interesting and you get into conversation with them easily"
How do the children experience the lessons?
I feel that they like to come. It is, of course, a unity of seeing each other and being active. They find the lessons interesting and you can easily get into conversation with them through the design of the lessons. The material always offers starting points to talk through the questions and what they know from previous lessons. I think it is important to let them speak and move with it. Especially the thinking children are active during the knowledge part. The DIY children especially enjoy the games and activities. It is surprising to see what they know. They build up a lot of knowledge through the structure in the lessons. In this way they can now place the Biblical persons well in time.
You are also the parent of children. How did your children experience the lessons?
If the child service is discussed, she can tell well about it and she is easily enthusiastic and involved.
At Salem you also work with the vegetable garden lessons. What do you think the value of these lessons is for the children?
It is wonderful to sit with your hands in the earth. To be at work with God's creation. It is valuable that they learn that you are the manager of God's creation and learn to exercise justice in a vegetable garden. Distributing the vegetables and helping organize the picnic from the vegetable garden is valuable. Children can often give little in a church. It is important for every person to be able to give, to be of value to the community. The Harvest Festival as an expression of gratitude.
"What I like is that no standard is set which the children must meet or how they should believe"
The method goes chronologically through the Bible. Do you have the impression that the lessons stay with the children better as a result?
They get an overview of how things are related. There are more leads with new material. As said before, I am surprised at how much the children know by now, I really didn't know that when I was that old. What I like is that there is no standard that the children should meet or how they should believe.
Do you have the idea that the method helps the children to develop a personal faith?
Unfortunately, you cannot measure the growth of faith. But the translation in the lessons into the life of the child is very strong. It all comes very close, also because of the assignments. What I like is that no standard is set which the children must meet or how they should believe, but on the other hand it is very inviting. Trust in God also grows through all the examples that are given. As a leader you have a crucial role to live and explain faith in God. It does not pass by yourself, it must also go through your life. It is raising faith together.
Because of the diversity in lessons and activities, it might be a heavy burden for you as a child worker, how do you experience that?
When I started taking the lessons, I did sometimes wonder how I should do it all. Some things require skills from a teacher, others from a game leader, vegetable knowledge, music, projects. But you can quickly find your way in it. I have seen the value of the different parts and how the children enjoy it. As a team, we distribute projects and set different accents.
What do you think is the greatest value of working with this method?
The entire story of God, man and His world is made alive in a creative and attractive way.
"I would definitely recommend him, because it is a unique way of learning about God and yourself"
Would you recommend the method to other churches and why?
I would definitely recommend him, because it is a unique way of learning about God and yourself. God's plan is made clear and it makes the children curious about a personal life with God.
In the method there is ample attention for the Jewish people and Israel, how do you experience that?
I do not have such a strong love for Israel or the Jewish people. I am surprised by God's love for His people. The lessons confirm that God still has the Jewish people in mind and that they have an important place in His plan. They are the apple of his eye.
What do you want to say yourself?
For me, this is the first method that helps children to play a role in the family of God. And teaches them involvement on creation.