Ashley Weir serves as Children’s Minister at FBC Corsicana.
If you have spent any length of time in children’s ministry, you have heard the phrase “Partnering with Parents” in recent years. And if you have paid attention to the news at all, you have heard the phrase “Coronavirus.” Well, that second phrase has taken the first phrase to a whole new level. While I pray this season ends soon, I do believe this time is highly encouraging individuals to own their faith. I have prayed countless prayers wanting my parents to take ownership of teaching their faith to their kids and not relying so heavily on the church. Well everyone, our prayers are being answered. Now is the time for us as the church to equip and let the parents do the teaching.
The grand question is how can the church partner with parents and equip on a whole new level during this unforeseen season? Here are a few things I have found helpful for kids and parents as we navigate this time.
First, there are a few essentials you need to establish if you have not already. If you are new to technology become best friends with a young person and have them help you. Better yet, empower a young or tech-savvy person who may be off of work and looking to fill their time to help you. Find your singles or young marrieds who may be teachers and are suddenly looking for things to do while keeping a safe distance. Provide them with content and let them run with it. Do not feel like you have to do this on your own. Let others rise up and serve.
What other essentials do you need? Without a doubt, you need communication platforms. Social media such as Facebook and Instagram are great places to start. Right now, I believe Facebook is the best platform, particularly the groups portion of Facebook. If you don’t already have a group established for your kids’ ministry, get one set up and encourage people to invite others into the group. You can upload files, post videos, go live, have discussions, all sorts of tremendous things. What about the parents not on Facebook? You need to establish a second platform. For example, I am designating pages on our church website where I will be cross-posting all the things that I will also post on Facebook. If you don’t have a church website or feel that is something you are not skilled at, use Google Drive or send out a weekly email with links and attachments. Bottom line, find a secure and reliable second communication platform other than social media.
Partnering with Parent Tips:
Try to keep a routine as normal as possible.
I know, that sounds crazy with a majority of churches not meeting and canceling weekday programming. As we all know, kids thrive on routine and familiar faces. So, here is what we as a church can do:
- Post weekly Sunday School lessons and modified weekday lessons. Most curriculum providers are waiving their copyright rules right now and allowing us to post their material (please check with your curriculum provider first). Provide those videos for parents on Sunday and Wednesdays on your designated communication platforms. If you don’t have videos for your curriculum, film or live-stream you or one of your volunteers teaching the lesson. This is another great way to involve others if you don’t feel comfortable with filming yourself. Also, you don’t need a bunch of equipment to do this. Most smartphones can meet the need of this temporary solution.
- Post activities for parents to print and provide for their kids (if they have access to printers). I’ve also seen some churches putting together activity kits at the church and having parents do a drive-by to pick up these kits. This allows for everyone to get out of the house for a few minutes.
- Post videos of you and your volunteers just saying “Hey!” and that you love and miss the kids. Something important to note when doing this, talk directly to the kids. Reassure them when this is all over we will be back at the church with their teachers, friends and toys. Try to post this at least once a week to allow kids the opportunity to see you.
- Post questions that kids may have from the lesson with answers to help parents feel confident about teaching or following up on the lesson. Focus on empowering the parents and being available to answer any other questions. Share the resources used when you don’t know an answer to a question and reassure them it’s ok not to know an answer.
- Encourage parents to involve their kids in online worship on Sundays. Remind them to take it seriously. Get dressed for church, sit and listen, worship to the music, engage in the message, and talk about the message as a family after. Encourage them to remove other distractions and focus in. This will be key for families in the coming weeks!
- Encourage parents to engage with their small groups and others during this time.
- If your church subscribes to RightNow Media, encourage families to use this resource for kids videos and bible studies! Orange Kids, and LifeWay Kidsare doing a great job of providing resources for you. Also, our very own BaptistWay Pressis offering free Kids Bible Study resources. While these things are not “normal,” it will be familiar and will help the kids see other faces they recognize, while reinforcing biblical teaching.
Give parents resources to talk about the virus with their kids.
Kids are hearing a lot of what is going on around them about the virus and parents may or may not be addressing it. Kids will let their imaginations get the best of them. Just today, I heard a family who was getting ready to leave the house for the first time in a few days and their little boy was scared because he was afraid it was going to look like a “war zone out there.” Help parents address the fears of the virus with their kids and talk about it.
Here are some resources about the virus:
- Parent Cue: Managing Fear and Anxiety During a Health Pandemic
- The Ultimate Kids’ Guide to the New Coronavirus
The most important part of partnering with parents right now is to be a resource to your families. Whether that is posting links, content or just being a listening ear to minister to their emotional needs. Consider setting up a few Zoom meetings (or any other video platform) to talk with parents or kids. Part 2 of this post will go into more detail on meeting our emotional and mental health needs during this time as well as links and information for resourcing our parents outside of church information.