Family Circus Children’s Ministry was created by Assembly of God Church missionaries Darrell and Sandy Blatchley in 1993 to create high impact, joyful methods to present the Gospel (#1) to children and (#2) to their families.
The purpose of the Family Circus is to bring the life and joy of Jesus, combining both discipleship and evangelism, to reach lost children, while ministering to the needs of the child, both spiritual and physical.
Each week five to six thousand people of all ages attend the Family Circus church services held under the ‘Big Top’, a big circus tent pitched in the center of the densely populated “Muslim Friendship Village in Davao City, Mindanao City, PHILIPPINES. Approximately 4,000 of the 6,000 member congregation are children, half of which are malnourished. More than 1,000 are adults.
- Annually Family Circus has 250 pregnant mothers (mothers ages 12 and up) who receive prayer support, advice and daily vitamins as our way of blessing their unborn child.
*250 annual births is considered one of the Shepherd’s tools for church growth. Baby dedications are a normal part of each service.
- Family Circus provides free dental care for children age 5 or older each week. More than 2,000 receive this treatment annually. (Short term missions teams are welcome).
- Each week the 2,000 plus malnourished children receive food assistance and multi-vitamins depending upon resources available. Currently a FC cafeteria bakery is under construction with the goal to supply daily hot nutritious meals to the malnourished children.
- Scripture memory and dramatized sermons are the foundation of each service. Both adults and children are encouraged to memorize the Word of God and each week the Scripture text is put to music and sung as a part of their praise & worship. This method serves as a powerful tool to assist the congregation in memorizing the Word.
- At the close of each service there are prayer lines available for all ages, and the kids line up by the scores for a prayer and hug.
- First aid for the children is administered free before and after every service.
The Family Circus, as a church with four walls, was started about seven years ago due to the large number of poor children and their families getting saved on the street under the FC street ministry. There was a lack of motivation in traditional churches to receive these children due to several factors.
Since that time, FC church growth has been phenomenal. The first week, 161 (primarily children) attended the service. The second week 550 attended as their families began coming and the third week attendance was 770 attending. It continues to grow, with current attendance at nearly 6,000.
The first facility the church met in was McDonald’s, which we outgrew in 3 months. Then we rented a little building and held multiple services, stacking the congregation in and growing to a weekly attendance of 3,500 in about 3 – 4 years. We began using the tent in September 2007.
The FC church currently “meets” in two locations, the 4,000 seat tent with two services and a satellite service outdoors near the beach under a covered basketball court. FC also has started monthly ‘Character Connex’ Training Assemblies in the local government elementary schools, teaching 40,000+ kids.
The dramatized sermons originated weekly by the FC church are written, self published, and being used in 30 countries, in multiple languages.
The Family Circus church is a Filipino national church, and is pastured by a team of 30 nationals, and 60 - 100 national volunteers, with oversight, mentoring, and training being provided by missionaries Darrell and Sandy Blatchley. Other local churches receive training freely upon request, and the lessons are used by many national churches. National churches often hear about what is happening and send their staff to view and learn new methods of ministry for the children which is bringing awareness to the national church of the importance of children.
Family Circus methods and lessons have been used to teach, disciple, and evangelize hundreds of thousands. We keep accurate records of those attending in the tent with the goal of raising the children to become warriors and workers for the Lord, both now and in the future.
When “Jesus and joy” are combined it brings “Good News of great joy for all the people.” That’s what the angels said, and that’s how the Family Circus children’s ministry team present Jesus.
Darrell Blatchley was adopted by a pastor. He remembers the difficulties he had adjusting to church as a troubled young boy. Being introduced to the structure and rules of church were a BIG contrast to his former life-style. He also remembers that sitting in a boring Sunday School or church service was like torture.
Darrell began teaching early. His first efforts were in Sunday School as a teenager and then as a leader of the teens church group. His goal was to always keep the message of God dynamic and relevant to the lives of the young people he taught. His first years of public teaching were the first grade. He has a BA degree in Bible from Trinity Bible College, Ellendale, ND., and a MA degree in Cross Cultural Communications. Darrell is the author of several books.
Blatchley Family Facts:
- Darrell’s Birthday - July 9th
- Sandy’s Birthday - September 21st
- Anniversary July 1st
Darrell and Sandy have three sons:
- Oldest son Darrell, aka DD, is in Payette, ID with his wife, Mary Gay,
- Second son Ken is in England with the US Air Force, and
- Third son David is on a US submarine somewhere in the ocean at this time.
Sandy Blatchley is a gifted musician, and talented children’s worker. Her talents include, clowning, puppeting, drama, mime and much more. She is the mother to three sons, D.D. (Darrell Dean) Ken and David, all of whom enjoyed working with their parents in drama, puppets, clowns, Gospel Magic, etc. Thousands of children lovingly call her “Aunt Sandy.”
Darrell & Sandy have been missionaries with the Assemblies of God since 1983. They ministered in Thailand from 1985 - 1995. During their tenure in Thailand they worked with refugees, church planting and created the Family Circus Children’s ministries.
Mindanao Island Philippines 1995 - present
Since 1996 Darrell has written cutting-edge cross-culturally relevant resources for children’s pastors and leaders. Christian workers in more than 30 countries use his children’s church curriculum weekly!
December 2001 - Darrell and Sandy, started the Family Circus church prioritizing children and their families. The church currently averages 3,500+ in attendance, including thousands of children.