For nearly fifteen years, we’ve said what happens at home is more important than what happens at church. With marbles, graphs, paint splatters, and more, we’ve shown the best way to influence the next generation is by focusing less on the weekly Sunday morning hour and more on the many, many hours between Sundays. But we never could have anticipated where we are now. Now, all over the world, families are finding themselves in a situation where all the hours are happening at home. What happens at home isn’t just more important. It’s all there is. So, how can you, as the church, still influence and support your families? How can you help parents create a rhythm in this crisis?
Well, for once you have the freedom and energy to care more about what your families are experiencing in their homes than about Sunday programming! Six months ago, we could say “focus more on what happens between Sundays” until we were blue in the face, but in order to do that, you first had to make sure you had the supplies for the slime game, and enough leaders to play it on Sunday morning. And usually, if we’re honest, there’s just not that much time and energy between Sundays to focus on . . . between Sundays too. I hope this is one of the things we don’t lose in the new normal: the rhythm of reaching out to families and helping them create the right rhythm for their home.
As ministry leaders, it’s our job to give parents tools to help them disciple their kids and students at home. But every family in your ministry is different. Every family rhythm is different. So it’s important to give your diverse set of parents a diverse set of tools. For example, by leaving our kid’s programming up and available any time, we encourage families to watch on a time and day that works for them. Facebook and YouTube Live are great, but make sure you’re saving the videos so it’s not a now-or-never situation. Hosting gaming parties for your students is a really fun way for teens to safely socialize. But what about the family who doesn’t allow gaming? Is there an event you can create that could include them as well?
The more tools we provide, the more we encourage families to create a rhythm that works for them, instead of having to move by ours (or more likely, choose to let church go for a season). Along with a variety of tools, think about the language you use when you put out your programming. A crisis requires flexibility. Without flexibility, parents feel additional stress. Our programming is meant to provide a respite from stress, a time to come together and recenter on what’s most important. Make sure your language communicates that intention. Use language that encourages, but doesn’t obligate, families to use the tools that work best for them at a time that works best for them. Use optional language when putting out new material. Encourage families to allow the rhythm of their lives to include or exclude the resources.
Every family is doing the best they can in this crisis. I’ve seen pictures of people serving and giving their life away to others in need during this time. But are we also celebrating the mom who was able to get all the toddlers in her house dressed today? Are we celebrating the dad who was able to have a five-minute conversation with his teenage son? Are you able to celebrate the foster family or group home that had to cancel visitations and replaced them with a house game night? Using our social media platforms and websites to celebrate the different rhythms in each family encourages those family leaders to be free, give themselves grace, and remember that we’re all doing our best!