New normal. Pivot. Unforeseen circumstances. Unprecedented time.

I’ve lost count of the number of terms used to define this season. No matter the terms we use, we can’t do what we’ve always done the way we’ve always done it. This unprecedented time requires a new normal. A pivot in partnering with parents due to unforeseen circumstances.

Have you settled into a new normal yet? Or are you still in survival mode?

For me, figuring out how to bring the fun, creativity, and community of our Sundays-at-church event to a Sundays-at-home experience underscores the benefits of a Lead Small culture. Connecting with all of your families as a ministry leader can be daunting.

But if you leverage your volunteers, you’ve got a sustainable way to connect with kids during this time. We like to call these volunteers Small Group Leaders (a.k.a. SGLs).

First, a few disclaimers.

  • It’s okay to ask your SGLs to stay engaged during this time. They’ve committed to show up in the lives of their few, and kids need to know their church is still a safe place where someone knows their name.
  • Remember this is a difficult season for many. Be aware of everyone’s circumstances as you plan for what works best for your ministry.
  • Whatever you decide, start with what’s sustainable, and clearly communicate with your leaders what their commitment to lead looks like for now.

So what does it look like for SGLs to engage with their few now? Let’s look at the Lead Small principles through the lens of our current reality. These are small steps an SGL can take that lead to a big impact.

Be present

Because showing up matters. So equip them to show up predictably with a video meeting with their few so everyone can connect. Challenge them to show up randomly with a card in the mail or with a social distancing drive-by with posters and music.

Create a safe place

Because acceptance, confidentiality, and honesty can still happen virtually. So, remind them to respect the process. Kids have different responses to crises. Give them resources to talk about crisis and fear in age-appropriate ways. Make sure they know how to communicate any indication of a child being hurt, hurting others, or hurting themselves.

Partner with parents

We believe what happens at home is more important than what happens at church. So, cue the parent to know where, how, and when to find your video content and downloadable resources.

Consider using Parent Cue Guides at https://orangekidmin.com/coronavirus/. They’re designed to be simple and meaningful. And consider using the Parent Cue App to give parents a simple way to talk about faith every week.

Just remember, parents are juggling so much. Less is more. Keep what you’re sending consistent, yet simple for greater impact. Parents and kids are together a lot these days. So consider how to make it special. Brainstorm simple ideas to share with parents for how to make them fun. (National Doughnut Day is June 5th. Just saying.)

Make it personal

Because the most important person you lead in your group is you. Check in with them regularly. (In fact, click here for ideas to help.) Find creative ways to help your SGLs live in community. Create a space for them to share how they’re doing, invite prayer, and have fun together! Consider:

  • Virtual game nights (Jackbox, House Party—the possibilities are endless)
  • Netflix Watch Party
  • Private Facebook Group with daily prompts, polls, gif shares
  • Share a YouVersion reading plan
  • Share worship songs/playlists

Encourage them to prioritize the relationships around them. Marriage, family, and roommates all have the potential to be strained during this time. How can they leverage this time to grow these relationships?

Move them out

It may not seem like there’s very much movement happening right now. But time is moving. It always is.

So move them to enjoy this time with their parents. Move them to send messages to their teachers. Those are relationships kids need to maintain and strengthen.

Move them to be the Church by inviting them to do something significant. Cue them to make cards/posters to share with healthcare heroes or other essential workers.

Be present. Create a safe place. Partner with parents. Make it personal. Move them out. Five small steps that aren’t easy to take without regular in-person connection.

But maybe we can learn something from this new normal.

Your ministry’s pivot could have lasting effects on the family.

Unforeseen circumstances are not impossible situations.

Unprecedented times are remembered.

Let us hold firmly to the hope we claim to have. The God who promised is faithful. —Hebrews 10:23 NIrV