The soft glow of an evening sunset peeking through the stall doors, a horse neighing for attention and the smell of fresh hay bales is the setting for a new type of church in Godley.
Geared only toward ministering to children, the Kidz Bible Club meets at 6 p.m. Sundays in the still-in-use barn which sits on part of the 21 acres of land at Triple Cross Ranch.
Shelby Thigpen, co-owner of the ranch, had already been ministering to children before beginning the club, but just didn’t realize it.
“This summer we had several kids camps at our ranch in Godley and realized there are countless children right here in Johnson County that need a church home,” she said. “When I was a young girl I rode the bus to church and my relationship with Jesus was formed. These kids [at the summer camp] were like I was and if it were 30 years earlier they would be riding a bus to church. However, for whatever reason there are no longer very many bus ministries, certainly not in comparison to how many kids there are. Thus the idea of The Kidz Bible Club was birthed.”
After months of prayer and practice runs, the first club meeting was Oct. 30.
“When kids arrive there are snacks waiting for them just in case they have not yet had a chance to eat dinner,” Thigpen said. “After that they get to play some fun ice breaker games as a group, sing praise and worship songs that are made for them, hear a lesson made for them, pray in small groups according to age with a leader in each group, play another game or two and then wrap up.
“We also have outside activities such as service projects as well as theme nights and special events. We will be meeting in our barn — as we grow we will determine if moving to another location will come into play, but we prefer to keep it where it is, simply because it is a great place for kids.”
Having service in a barn instead of a church building doesn’t seem to bother the kids any.
Stephanie Jones of Godley brought her 12-year-old son, Daniel, to the first service.
“I think this is a wonderful environment for my son to hear about the word of God,” she said. “Daniel really enjoys being around the horses in the barn and Shelby really takes interest in him and all of the kids.”
Thigpen said this ministry is especially designed for the little ones ages kindergarten through 13 years old.
“By providing an atmosphere that encourages them to grow in their faith on a level they can understand, God will grow them into mighty Christians,” she said. “We must face it that this world we live in is a hard one. My thoughts and dreams are — what if we lived in a world where children knew their identity in Christ? Knew what they were created for?
“Knew they were loved no matter what and responded to that love with the same love? Were equipped to handle the things the world throws at them? Were prayer warriors — healing the sick, leading, prophesying” What an amazing world we would live in.”
Thigpen’s daughter, Lindsey Thigpen, is the praise and worship leader for Kidz Bible Club.
“This is a place where everyone is invited to come,” she said. “Some kids feel like they don’t fit in at certain places, but this will be a place where all kids from all backgrounds can come together.”
Shelby Thigpen said the main goal of their ministry is to accept children from all walks of life.
“I believe there are thousands of kids out there trying to fit in when the reality is God has a place for them and the reason they do not fit in is because He has something far better for them,” she said. “We will take up offering each week, but kids are certainly not required to give and there is no registration fee. We will register kids so we can get in touch with their parents if we need to.”
Parents are welcome to attend, Shelby Thigpen said, but they just have to remember it is designed for their kids.
“We are non-denominational, Bible-based and believe a relationship with Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven,” she said. “To take it one step farther — more than just focusing on how to get to heaven, we focus on how to bring heaven to Earth. We have many who will lead and speak — it is our desire that no person is lifted to a high place, rather that God is exalted and glorified.”
Shelby Tischauser of Crowley brought her 12-year-old son, Bentley, and 10-year-old daughter, Aston, to the first service.
“My kids enjoyed it and said they were excited to go back,” she said. “I have very shy kids so that was exciting to me. I really love Shelby and Lindsey’s heart and the things they do.”
While the idea of a church for kids is new, Shelby Thigpen and her daughter are not new to children’s ministry.
“I have been serving in children’s ministry as well as having kids events for over 25 years,” Shelby Thigpen said. “Currently, my daughter is my right-hand man helping me with so many aspects of ministry.
“We have always been involved through the local church. About one and a half years ago, God took us into some apartments in Crowley to reach out to the kids that live there. We had no idea how God would wreck our hearts for these kids. From just hanging out, to Bible lessons, to teaching them hands on serving, to bringing them to our ranch, Christmas events and more we have learned that kids are kids and no matter where they come from they desperately need to know God loves them and has a plan for their lives.
“Our passion is kids — I have never thought how I would like to move up to adults — I have always known my calling is children. I am certain that God loves children in a way we cannot even comprehend and that their faith is as big as it gets.”
For more information about Kidz Bible Club, visit 3crossranch.com.