We’ve been doing the Appleseed program for about 8 weeks now, and I am really pleased with the results. I’ve gotten a chance to connect with a small group of girls on a really meaningful level and we’ve had a lot of fun in the process! I thought I’d share some do’s and don’t's of the program in case you were considering it for your own church.
DO THESE THINGS:
- Have the program! It is a great way for the girls to get to know other ladies in the congregation and for some adults to connect with the kids program in a way they might not have otherwise.
- Read through the book before launching the program. I found that some of the chapters/crafts were a little over the girls head or just plain not applicable. I love the concept of exploring what we’re looking at, listening to, talking about (all chapter themes), but it might be worth taking the best of the book and adding your own stuff to it. Email me for more details on what I thought was the best of the book.
- Have snacks! The first week the girls were really shy about eating. However, by the end of the night, they had cleaned up an entire pan of brownies (and there were only four girls!). I found having some snacks on hand really helped to loosen the girls up a bit.
- Be aware of cliques. We had a few girls drop out because they weren’t super good friends with some of other girls, so be prepared for that. There was no bullying or teasing, but I guess they just felt uncomfortable. If I run the program again, I might spend the first week or two doing some “community building” activities in order to solidify the group and keep girls (hopefully) from dropping out.
- Have mentors. Whether you use the Appleseed curriculum or not, be sure to include other ladies in your congregation. It is very rewarding for everyone involved.
- Consider having the mentors come two weeks in a row. One of the ladies shared with me that it was tough getting into the groove of things because she had no background experience. It would have been nice, she explained to come one week to observe and other week to teach/share.
DON’T DO THESE THINGS:
- Run the program for 10 weeks. We’re on week 8 and attendance is starting to fizzle out. Do an 8 week program or even a 6 week program. Better to keep them wanting more than to get tired of it.
- Necessarily buy books for all the girls. Only one of our girls really did the Bible study part at home, and it might just be an added frustration and cost you don’t need. The girls can complete the Bible study all together each week and still get lots of application.
- Be surprised if the girls head off on all kinds of rabbit-trails. The girls we had were FULL of questions, and I was happy to take detours and answer them. I think that’s what small groups are all about. Talking about things that matter to the participants personally. We’ve had chats on spiritual warfare, girl troubles, family situations, and more. The weeks I really enjoyed were the weeks that the girls got “down and dirty” with their questions. I felt like we were really connecting faith to life in those moments.