Last summer, a family invited their unchurched neighbors to attend VBS at the Nocatee Campus. Those neighbors had a son who invited his friend, Leah Noren, to come with him. After 5-year-old Leah heard how much fun it was, she really wanted to check it out.
Her parents, Leif and Morgan brought her to VBS the second night. Leah really wanted to be there with her friends but was having a hard time adjusting to the new environment. Her mom and dad watched as her VBS leaders welcomed her and allowed her to participate as she felt comfortable.
“Leah was attached at the hip to Jackie [her leader] and Jackie was ok with it,” laughed Morgan. She could see from the interactions that these women cared about her daughter and that made an impression on her.
It didn’t take Leah long to feel comfortable in the room. She ended up having so much fun at VBS that she begged her parents to bring her back on Sunday morning. Morgan said it’s hard to tell your kid no when they’re excited about going to church so they decided to try it that Sunday.
When they got to Chets they were impressed with the organization and how kid-friendly it was. They dropped off Leah and their son Gunnar and were overwhelmed by the love and attention their kids were receiving from the leaders. “They know the kids by name, which makes them feel good. And as a parent, it makes me feel wonderful!”
Morgan and Leif went to the worship service and Morgan said, “something resonated with me.” They loved Pastor Chris’ humble delivery and easy explanation of God’s word. “We started going and just kept going,” said Morgan.
One of the things they love about Chets is that it’s a community church. On their street alone, there are four Chets families. Morgan said, “It’s nice to do life together.”
Morgan says she and her husband appreciate that they can grow spiritually as well as in community with others. “As a parent you’re being pulled in a million different directions,” she said. “But Chets makes it easy to say yes to things because they think about the kids.” During LifeGroups, worship, and Bible studies, there’s opportunities for kids to be spiritually fed too. “It’s easy to concentrate as a parent when you know your kids are being well loved and discipled,” said Morgan.
Seeing the impact that ChetsKids was having on Leah and Gunnar made Leif and Morgan want to have that same impact on other kids. Last fall they began volunteering in the two-year-olds group along with their neighbor Mike.
VBS is the whole reason the Norens started attending Chets so when it was time to volunteer for VBS this year, Morgan was all in. She wanted to give back in the same way that their family had been ministered to.
Morgan served with first graders and she said many of the kids brought three or four friends with them during the week. Their excitement reminded her of the way Leah responded last year. She said “kids don’t fake it.” When they’re excited they actually show it.
Getting to minister to kids and see them responding to the gospel was one of the best things about VBS for Morgan and she says she can only imagine the impact it’s having in their homes. “You don’t realize the impact you have on the community through VBS,” said Morgan. “We were a random family who came because Leah was invited and then she invited us.”