Church Spotlight 3
Calvary Chapel in Burbank, California
Brian Gerlach is the Children's Ministry Pastor of the Calvary Chapel church in Burbank, California. Their church ministers to about 75 kids.
DiscipleLand (DL): Tell us about yourself.
Brian: I received Christ while living in Modesto, CA in March of 1998. Soon after, God revealed a call upon my life to teach His Word. He later called our family to move to Southern California where I attended the School of Ministry in Costa Mesa, CA. Our family started to fellowship at Calvary Chapel Burbank about six months after moving to Southern California. God eventually made it clear that our family was to move to Burbank and get further involved in the church. After graduating from the School of Ministry, our family took a step of faith moving to Burbank in the summer of 2003. As God blessed the finances of the church, I was able to invest more and more time into the ministry. In June of 2007, I was brought on staff full time as the Children's Pastor. We can't wait to see all that God has in store for the people of this community.
DL: Tell us about Calvary Chapel Burbank.
Brian: The work in Burbank began with lunchtime Bible studies at Disney several years ago. A Saturday night Bible study began in Genesis in July 2000. The vision of a harvest in Burbank was shared with the Anderson family, and they felt called of God to come and pastor beginning in June of 2001. We began a Sunday morning worship service in Luke's Gospel on Super Bowl Sunday, February 2002. In June 2002, we began adult worship services at the One Stop sound stage and children's Sunday school at the office. The Gerlach family moved to Burbank to serve our youth and children's ministries in August 2003. The Lord blessed our church at the corner of Buena Vista and Olive-we outgrew those facilities, and [moved] our Sunday services to The Colony Theatre in May 2004. By God's grace in 2007, we seized the opportunity to purchase and renovate a permanent church home in Burbank.
DL: How were you introduced to DiscipleLand?
Brian: I was attending a Calvary Chapel Children's Ministry Leadership Conference in Murrieta, Ca when I was exposed to the DiscipleLand curriculum. I wasn't really looking for anything because the curriculum we were using was working just fine. In time though, I fell in love with DiscipleLand.
DL: Why did Calvary Chapel Burbank choose DiscipleLand?
Brian: I must say that Dick Crider played a big role in my decision. I shared a couple meals with Dick at the CMLC in 2007 and he shared his passion for DiscipleLand curriculum and the heart behind the company. I could tell how excited and genuine he was about DiscipleLand. I didn't at all feel like it was a sales pitch being presented but rather a gentle and firm conviction that DiscipleLand was an incredible curriculum made by people who are ministry-minded above all else. It really made me curious to find out what DiscipleLand was all about. Dick sent me home with a sample packet to look over. When I saw the level 2A curriculum [How We Got the Bible] on the way home from the CMLC, I fell in love with it! To think that 2nd graders would learn the entire process of how we have received our written Bibles today was amazing. That single unit takes them through the inspiration of God's Word, the biblical authors He used, the part scribes played, the collection of 66 books, the translations into different languages, right to the trustworthy English Bibles we have today. I soon realized that the goal of DiscipleLand was to equip the kids to use their Bibles themselves, which I believe is part of the true call to discipleship. This is obvious because the scope and sequence culminates in level 6 by teaching kids how to do devotions themselves and how to study their Bibles. How cool is that!?
DL: How has DiscipleLand affected the teachers?
Brian: When I made the decision to choose DiscipleLand curriculum I involved the teachers in the evaluation process. My biggest prayer in making the change was that the servants would truly be blessed by [it]. As we all know, most of us resist change. To my surprise I have had only positive feedback from all the teachers. The teachers are truly excited about the quality of the lessons learned and I can see they are growing as a result of their preparation. If my teachers are blessed, then I am blessed!
Here are some comments from my teachers:
The teacher devotional...is a great tool for the Holy Spirit to bring conviction to my heart and remind me that the truths to be taught need to become part of my life first.
-Oscar Rivera, 4th-5th Grade
[I love] the website interaction and for the 4th and 5th grade class, and the teaching through the book of Acts. The kids really have been able to connect with Acts because we are taking them all the way through it.
-Jo Cacciatore, 4th-5th Grade
[DiscipleLand] gives many ideas for one particular part of the classroom so you don't feel bound. It is really great for new teachers because it gives so many great suggestions and even templates for some of the crafts. It is comprehensive of the whole bible. It uses Dee, Cy, and Paul to show the kids how to apply spiritual truths to their daily lives. I also like the options for a weekly, monthly, and quarterly memory verse. Since I teach preschool they need more repetition and I would rather them get one verse down solid then have many verses floating around in their heads.
-Christine Hitt, Preschool
I have grown to be more confident as a lead teacher for Gods K1 class. The devotion specifically written for the teacher is an awesome reflection moment I have, as I sit and pray for guidance and direction to teach a lesson. I call it my "ME Time with GOD!"
-Lilian Ohanian, Kindergarden/1st grade
Our class loves [DiscipleLand]; their responses are always positive and they actually remember what we have taught them.
-Laurie Rivera, 4th-5th Grade
The children are able to learn about many different ways to talk to people about God thru Inspire Action and they are learning a lot about God and their relationship with Him thru activities such as Bible recitation, etc. These are great reinforcements that were missing in some ways before we started DiscipleLand.
-Agazana DaSilva, 2nd - 3rd grade
I think that God really speaks through the curriculum in a way that not only speaks to the children but to the teachers as well. I think it is just as beneficial to the teachers as students.
-Seth Oaks, Kindergarten/1st Grade
DL: Anything else you would like to add?
Brian: I must add that DiscipleLand is very cost effective. One reason is that the teacher books and poster packs can be reused over the years, which will save us money. In addition, most curriculum companies I know of will charge separate for the take-home portion of the lesson. I love the online site that DiscipleLand has developed for grade school kids to learn more, and it's free! The online portion of DiscipleLand also serves as a learning tool that parents can engage in with their children-very cool. I am also very excited about the Newsletter and Blog ideas. As a ministry overseer I am always looking for ways to train and equip our servants. I think these two things will help serve that purpose. I must also add that DiscipleLand has great customer service. You have been so helpful and have consistently modeled a servant mentality in all the interaction I have had with your company. I really feel that we are working together to equip children and that you care about helping those that use the curriculum. I am also aware that DiscipleLand has made much progress in a short time. This tells me that you listen to the feedback of your customers and respond accordingly. [DiscipleLand] is setting a high standard and a great example of servanthood.
Oh yeah, I should note that the teaching supplements you make available online are outstanding, especially the teaching outlines that one can print off for an easy to follow Bible lesson.