Re-opening your building is a big deal. Closing seemed so much easier.
We’ve all wrestled with the same question: “How?”
Our church answered this question with a phased re-opening. We’ve opened regular services to families, but we haven’t opened our kids’ ministries.
We decided that church entirely online wasn’t a long-term plan for our mission. We also knew welcoming children to our regular services couldn’t meet all the needs of our families or the kids in our ministry either.
We figured that there had to be another way. So, we got creative.
After lots of brainstorming, we decided to open church three ways: the same way, the expected way, and a new way.
1. The Same Way: Church-at-Home Services
We know the same online content we’ve supplied will continue to work for families who love online church and who aren’t ready to return to our building yet. As a result, we decided to continue our online content because some families still need it. Daily posts on social media platforms keep things engaging and predictable for the family. Though online fatigue is real, some are still hanging on. The most important thing to do for these families is to let them know we fully support their choice to attend online. We can’t say this enough!
2. The Expected Way: Family Worship Service
Some families are struggling with online church and have stopped attempting it all together. These families are more than ready to re-enter our building and have longed for something to feel more “normal.” Family services are the expected next step. To make the service successful, we use inclusive wording so families with children of all ages feel welcome. We shorten service times and start each service with worship music that keeps the whole family’s attention.
3. The New Way: Extension Family Services
Even with two great family options, our team felt we could do more. After hearing from some of our families, “my child will not make it through regular service,” our pastor inspired us to try something outside the box. So, we started brainstorming what we could do to help these families win. We couldn’t open the kids’ ministry yet, but we couldn’t ignore their concerns either. We knew whatever we did must reinforce the two ways we’re already connecting—it had to be an extension of our previously scheduled programming. So ultimately, we decided to open a brand-new family service area.
To get this service option running, we:
- Established an RSVP system where families sign up for a table. The reservation comes with one sanitized table for up to 8 people and the family name clearly displayed.
- Taped off large squares on the floor to go around each family table. These clear boundaries give families plenty of space to move around, yet still maintain social distancing.
- Had our Family and Kid Ministry Pastors as live hosts. Our families have been online for three months, so we knew we had to work to regain familiarity.
- Used the same curriculum and content as online. It was tempting to start a new series and use this as a moment to try new material. However, we quickly decided that this environment is a perfect place to engage parents in our curriculum and help them see what their kids experience every Sunday.
- Blended adult and kids’ content. We stream adult worship, announcements, and offering from the auditorium, which allows adults to stay connected and fully informed. Then we use age-appropriate video lessons just like we post online, and include the monthly kid worship songs with a full dance crew.
- Closed the service with Family Small Groups. We provide prepared Small Group discussion questions that allow parents to be the Small Group Leaders, and engage their kids in faith conversations. This is an empowering moment for Mom or Dad.
We learned that this new environment was an excellent fit for those parents who want to return to church, but needed a more kid-friendly, relaxed, and age-appropriate way to do so.
As you reopen your church doors, try to open as many doors as you can to your families. Keep the open doors open, open the predictable ones, but also try to open some new ones. If these current times have taught us anything, we’ve learned that great content will survive, but great connection and reconnection takes creativity, strategy, and work.