By Rachel Schilling Grow Ministries Congregation Coach
In the sudden shift to close churches and move all our ministries on-line I wonder where did all the children go? Of course, we know they are at home, with the rest of us – but where is their presence in this body of Christ as we know it today?
For me, one of the greatest gifts of encouragement of a Sunday morning, is the moment when a young family arrives at church - straddling bags and toys and children, looking like it has taken them three hours just to leave the house. I just want to run and give them a hug and say, “you made it! Here you are! Here you all are! And what gift your presence is to me – to all of us here.” I understand they may not feel that same joy - I do remember the effort required during those days with small children, but I’m sure many of us who, like me, have journeyed through the different seasons of family life can now appreciate that life together as the body of Christ is incomplete when the children are not present. Similarly we feel an aching gap, if the youth are not present, or in a gathering where the wise and experienced are absent.
For many of us adults, our reality is now watching ‘church’ in all its various forms, unfolding before us on our TV’s or computers. We can gather on our comfortable couches, with coffee, breakfast or dinner, at a time that suits us, even wearing our pyjamas! We can come and go, even skip through parts that are long or that we don’t like! All things that might in fact make church life easier with children.
But where is the child? And how are we supporting the spiritual life of our children through this difficult and strange time? We may not have our regular children’s ministry options available to us but there are many other ways to grow in our faith and learn together with our children and families during this time.
As parents, pastors, ministry workers and volunteers, we want to acknowledge that life has changed significantly for everyone. And most of us are navigating our way through this strange “land” one day at a time. Our role is to support you as a family and as a church.
Here are some questions, thoughts and ideas to consider.
- How you will invite people to be a part of worship prior to Sunday morning?
- How will you make connections with the worship and each family and each home?
- Where can a child or family be participants (not just consumers) of the worship time?
- Email or send in the mail the following week’s Growing Faith at Home, include a personal letter.
- Email families Worship Notes and encourage the children to complete during the on-line service.
- Use a conversation question from Growing Faith at Home during the service or a pre-emptive ‘listen out for ….’ question prior to the Bible reading.
- Ask families to create something and send in a photo to share within your community. For example – decorate a room ready for Pentecost in plenty of red, or have a cake baked ready to celebrate the birthday of the Church.
- Request prayers or song choices to use.
- Can parts be pre-recorded with different people to create worship that involves and includes many people from within the community?
- Have a special kid’s Q and A.
- Have members of your congregation pre-record a Kids chat. You could use the Children's Addresses from Grow Ministries.
- Use a pre-recorded Kids chat like these from Colin Buchannan compassion.com.au/colin (Permission to use has been given.)
- Begin an intergenerational zoom catch up with 3-4 homes of various generations or have people of different generations call each other.
- Use (send out) colouring sheets from Illustrated Ministry
You can read Rachel's full article HERE