This week we caught up with our pastors and leaders of children’s & family ministry to reflect on the season of COVID restrictions, and to look ahead as they begin to ease. We talked about highs and lows, wins and losses, dreams for the future and practical ideas to help as we navigate this new time. Below are some thoughts and resources we collated as we discussed.
As we took time to reflect on the eight weeks since we last talked, most of us agreed we had found a new normal ‘rhythm’ of how we minister to children & families remotely. We discussed the pressure to create ‘content’ and the temptation to fall into the trap of comparison – but we agreed that our aim is truly to value connection with our families over the creation of great content for the sake of production.
So what’s working?
Many of our churches are streaming ‘kids spots’ before, during or after Sundays services for their kids, and in addition, providing ‘family packs’ to help further discussion about the topics of each week. Weekly devotionals, activity packs and mid-week discussion groups seemed to be working well.
Some churches had set up small-group Facetimes with leaders and other children, and others had google classrooms where the kids could hang out with each other virtually. We also celebrated that this season has meant that families are able to enjoy church services all together as maybe they hadn’t done before, and that parents are able to be alot more ‘hands-on’ with the discipleship of their children.
Other great ideas were shared – young adult leaders making ‘lego’ movies of Bible stories for the kids, sharing playlists of kids worship music with parents, hosting Facebook Live Playgroups and writing letters and postcards for kids to receive in the mail. We reflected that even in this season of separation, a new kind of deeper connection with individual families was being established, because we have had to be so intentional to connect with them.
So what’s not working so well?
One widely-discussed topic was how hard it is to know what was working and what wasn’t working for families. A few of us had started Facebook groups for parents to join, but without much interaction from many. We know this is a busy time for parents and put it down to a lack of time to feed back how helpful our attempts have been. We decided intentional follow-up was needed- in the form of caring phone calls, surveys and touching base where possible. Everyone was looking forward to being able to have face-to-face discussions again when possible!
We noted it’s difficult to include and lead the entire usual ‘kids ministry’ team, as leaders’ availabilities have changed in this season, and some were finding it hard to intentionally connect through new platforms and channels. The challenge of talking to a camera instead of to smiling faces was also mentioned. But the biggest challenge of all is really…
How are we planning to move forward? In light of the restrictions that remain, Sunday gatherings together are (and will be for some time) still impossible. And when we do start to gather, what’s the expectation around social distancing for kids and the materials and equipment we use- particularly for very young children! (Read: Babies slobber on everything!)
We discussed the potential to soon re-commence mid-week, smaller ministries, like ‘kids clubs’ and playgroups -or the potential to move these kinds of ministries outdoors. For example, Playgroup in the Park. Some churches were considering having smaller, multiple Sunday services so that smaller groups of people could attend, and other churches suggesting kids stay in the ‘big church’ service the whole time so kids whole households can attend together.
Embracing the ‘New’
Perhaps though, the biggest challenge we face as we look forward, is deciding what we actually want to ‘go back to’. This season has given our churches time and space to think of new ways to equip families to disciple their children at home, and in a much more intentional and hands-on way. In light of this positive change, we discussed what it may look like to continue to be proactive and even more intentional in this area. What will we change about what we ‘always did‘ to help families be better equipped to disciple their children throughout every season?
We talked about intergenerational worship practices – the whole church family worshipping together more often, to learn from and dwell with one another. We reflected on how much our kids have enjoyed doing activities with their siblings of different ages – so perhaps more ‘interage’ activities where kids can mix with other ages. We also talked specific ideas to help parents create rhythms of talking faith at home- like the placemat idea you can check out under the ‘Resources’ below. And an exciting suggestion – that we hear from our very own QB Kids team member, and Spiritual Parenting Pastor- Tracy Valentine, on how we can be helping pastors equip parents and families in their congregations to be walking the journey of faith at home with their kids.
We’re hoping to host a Zoom forum where Tracy can offer this training in an interactive workshop form – so if you’re interested, watch this space.
And – here’s a few links we discussed, too, to add to your ever-growing resource list.
As Restrictions ease:
QLD Department of Education Frequently Asked Questions for Parents
QLD Government Roadmap to Easing Restrictions
QLD Health COVID information about business and activities
Michelle Anthony- Spiritual Parenting book
Reggie Joiner – Don’t Miss It, Parenting Each Week Like It Counts
Thank you to all the leaders who have shared their wisdom and contributed to this list and pool of ideas! We look forward to gathering together again soon 🙂
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