Written by Missy Purcell
If you’re a pastor, you’ve likely faced an onslaught of questions as you consider how and when to reopen your church during this pandemic. How many people can gather? Will we require masks? Do we have enough volunteers? How many people will come back?
But guess what? All the questions you’re wrestling with about your church as a whole are the same questions that will have to be answered within your children’s ministry.
As a KidMin Specialist for Orange, I coach children’s ministry teams throughout the country and get a glimpse behind the leadership curtain of many different churches. These days, many of the kidmin leaders I’ve been coaching are voicing the tension of seeing their senior leaders pressured to reopen, even though there isn’t a plan in place for how to restart in-person children’s ministry in a way that’s safe for kids, parents, and ministry volunteers.
With so many competing demands, we aren’t likely to eliminate this tension. So, what can you do to move forward in a collaborative, healthy way? First, start by giving your children’s ministry leaders a voice at the table.
Give Kidmin Leaders a Voice
During COVID-19, no area is as fraught with safety and logistical challenges as your children’s ministry. If you don’t have a children’s ministry leader who’s part of your church leadership team, you’re missing out on some serious ground floor insight!
Children’s ministry leaders already feel the need to speak up about their church’s reopening process, so it’s time to open the conversation and give them an active voice in decision-making, not only during COVID-19, but in all seasons of ministry.
I know the heart and muscle that goes into pulling off a Sunday morning in normal times. The complexity of kids’ ministry in the midst of a pandemic is exponential. They’ve likely put all kinds of protocols in place, including, but not limited to:
- No sharing crayons!
- No more snacks!
- Put stickers on the floor for distancing!
- Do we have enough hand sanitizer?
- Are volunteers being trained for COVID-19 precautions?
- Will we have enough face masks?
- How are we communicating with parents?
- How do we clean the rooms, surfaces, toys, and check-in systems?
- Do we have enough space to split up groups to have smaller classes?
- Will we be able to flip rooms between services?
- What is our process for contact tracing if there is an exposure to the virus?
The list for reopening kids’ ministry—the processes and procedures—can feel as long as a CVS receipt. Not only do your kids’ ministry leaders need to have a voice in this process in order to get their concerns heard and questions answered, your kids’ ministry leaders may have some of the most creative, ingenious ideas for reopening your church as a whole.
Create a Better Experience for Families
Right now, many senior leadership teams are using “congregation first” planning. In other words, they’re thinking about the whole and then moving down into various ministries to consider the implications of gathering again. If your children’s ministry leaders have a seat at the leadership table, you’ll be better able to create experiences that serve families as a whole. And you’ll know when their list of changes, requirements, training, and protocol becomes so long it may be wiser to think about bringing families together in-person or digitally instead of providing independent kids’ ministry experiences.
To create better family experiences in the church, we may need to create new ways to do church moving forward. We may need to imagine a Sunday morning experience where everyone—children and their families—can come and worship and learn and grow together.
Reimagine a New Way Forward
Kids ministry isn’t going away, and someday it may return to the way things were. Right now, though, based on the reality and complexity of many factors, you may need to do something entirely new to meet the needs of families and maintain the sanity and health of your staff and volunteers. I offer some practical ideas in my webinar with Aspen Group.
Revising and coming up with a new way of doing ministry is a healthy thing. Instead of sticking to a particular method, you’re choosing to adapt—to connect, serve, and minister to families based on what’s actually happening in their lives and in the life of your church.
In this season, churches need a new way of seeing and doing children’s ministry, and no one is better positioned to give input on these decisions than your kids’ ministry leaders. They’re already investigating other organizations—daycares, schools, health department recommendations—and evaluating what decisions they’re making that have implications for your church. As they’re able to share what they’re learning, you’ll be better equipped to make decisions about how to safely reopen your church and your children’s ministry.
Collaboration like this provides an opportunity for everyone at the decision-making table, including kids’ ministry, to create better family experiences and reimagine a way forward for your church.