When churches think about those most impacted by social distancing their first thoughts go to the elderly. There is, however, another highly impacted group…children and youth. Kids are highly social and their interpersonal connections at school and in neighborhoods defines day to day life. Social distancing has a huge impact on the rhythm of their lives. If the church reaches out to children during this time of social distancing that memory of love and care could last a lifetime.
Here are 7 ideas for staying connected with kids and youth during COVID-19:
IDEA 1: ASK CHILDREN AND/OR YOUTH TO CONTRIBUTE TO ON-LINE WORSHIP
Children and youth can easily contribute to online worship services. They can welcome people to worship, participate in responsive readings, read the Scripture passage for the day, offer prayers, or be interviewed for their take on an idea.
IDEA 2: ONLINE CHILDREN’S BULLETINS
Many congregations have a long practice of creating children’s bulletins with activities connected to the liturgical year and the pastor’s message. Those bulletins can still be available online for printing. Birthdays, celebrations and child-focused prayers should also be included.
IDEA 3: ZOOM MEET-UPS WITH SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES OR STUDENT MINISTRIES
One congregation recently began Zoom meet ups for Sunday school classes. Sunday school teachers invite their class to a Zoom gathering where they talk about life, share a Bible story and pray for the kids. A pastor is also finding great joy in doing the same with middle and high school kids each week.
IDEA 4: DRIVEWAY CONNECTIONS
During the week prior to Palm Sunday a pastor and his family visited young families of the congregation in their driveways. He brought palms for everyone and standing at a safe distance told the Palm Sunday story. They waved their palm fronds and he offered a prayer of hope.
IDEA 5: WEEKLY STORY TIMES
One children’s ministry director began the practice of an online story each week for kids of the congregation. Storytime could be readings from a children’s Bible story book or just some good children’s literature which is briefly reflected on from the perspective of a Jesus follower.
IDEA 6: ONLINE CHILDREN’S MESSAGES
Many churches have a practice of sharing children’s messages before the Sunday sermon. That tradition can continue online. The message will be enhanced if it is recorded in a pastor’s or presenters home highlighting hobbies (e.g. baking, woodworking, painting, gardening, etc.) as backdrops and springboards.
IDEA 7: TREAT BOXES
One church put together Easter treat boxes for the families of the church including Easter family devotionals, coloring pages, various activities and Easter eggs filled with treats. A treat box could be constructed for any time.
There are dozens of other creative ways to stay connected to children and youth. If you want to go big, for example, invite a family over for dinner COVID-19 style. Using Facetime, Zoom or another live platform your family and a family from the congregation could gather at meal time remotely. Everyone can share what they have enjoyed or not enjoyed about this “stay home, stay safe” time. A blessing prayer for the meal could be offered, then quick farewells said and meals would be eaten.
What ideas could you share with others?