Have you ever played Angry Birds? The mobile game that allows you to slingshot enraged birds at the green pigs who have stolen their eggs? If you have a smartphone, you’ve probably played at least a round or two. But have you played Angry Birds in real life? Probably not, but there’s a good chance your kids have.

During a recent weekend, Amazing Kids workers built elaborate structures from cardboard boxes and placed plush, green pigs all over them. In each service, the children were then given the outrageously fun opportunity to knock down as many pigs and boxes as possible by launching plush Angry Birds via slingshot. Cardboard tumbled, pigs met their demise and kids cheered. What was the point of this game? It tied in with the week’s lesson on the biblical view of anger.

Pastors Ken and Mary Jackson define the purpose and vision of Gateway children’s ministry as “have fun ... and learn about God!” Pastor Ken elaborates: “Sometimes people challenge that and say, ‘You mean learn about God and then have fun?’ No, it’s have fun and learn about God. If kids aren’t having fun, they’re not going to receive from the Lord and they won’t want to come back. We want the kids to enjoy coming to church every week. While they have fun, we can sow spiritual seeds that will produce fruit in their lives years down the road.”

Life-size Angry Birds is a perfect example of this philosophy. First, have fun: let the kids destroy huge cardboard structures. Second, learn about God: preach a message outlining the biblical view of anger and how the kids can apply it in their own lives.

This applies to every age group, from birth through 6th grade. Every child attends an elaborate classroom, colorfully decorated and filled with toys and games. Each classroom (and even the hallways) tie into the overarching theme of “God’s Amazement Park.” “We want the kids to see that when they invite Jesus into their life, they begin an amazing adventure with an amazing God,” says Pastor Mary.

This amazing adventure begins in the nursery, where workers pray over each and every child. As the children grow older, they receive age-appropriate Bible lessons and listen to and engage with worship recordings. Starting with 3rd grade, services incorporate a live worship band. By the time Gateway kids graduate to middle school, they have essentially attended a normal Gateway service, albeit one with outrageous games, prizes and funny videos.

Through it all, children are guided by talented pastors, speakers, worship leaders and workers who make sure they can experience God in a safe environment. “Having fun and learning about God isn’t just about creating fun and exciting things for the children to do, but it also means creating a safe environment for them. They’re our greatest treasure, and we take their safety seriously,” says Pastor Mary. That’s why God’s Amazement Park hallways remain locked during service. Security guards stand watch at all times, and a secure check-in and checkout system ensures that every child leaves with the right adult.

The level of care, excellence and fun established during weekend services extends to every Amazing Kids event, not just weekend services. In addition to providing childcare for weekly services like Equip and GSA (Gateway Single Adults), Amazing Kids hosts their own special standalone events, including:

  • Summer Camps.
  • Wacky Week Gateway’s version of Vacation Bible School.
  • Fall Festival Imagine the church parking lot filled with inflatables, games, candy and smiling kids and parents.
  • Kids KAIROS Amazing Kids partners with Freedom Ministry for this unique freedom ministry event.
  • Amaze A performing arts program where children can receive vocal, acting and dance training, and gain performance experience.

All of this exists so your children can have fun and learn about God. Frisco Amazing Kids Pastor Josh Blount says, “This isn’t babysitting. We take every service and every event seriously. We want to be good stewards of the children God’s entrusted to us so they can encounter Him.” If that means playing a few rounds of life-sized Angry Birds, so be it.

For more information on Amazing Kids, visit kids.gatewaypeople.com.

For more stories like these, check out our Gateway Life magazine!