- Value community over content.
We have often prioritised the telling of stories in kid’s programs. A lot of time and energy is given to finding good curriculum and different ways of sharing the bible stories and truths. But Louise says: “While kids definitely need to hear the big story of God, and reading the bible is really important to finding and growing in our faith, the story is actually best seen, heard and understood in relationship. So, while content is important, in a year of uncertainty, relationships between generations and with peers is vital. Encourage gatherings – even if they have to be small. Just because we can’t have everyone together doesn’t mean we don’t get together in the numbers that we can. We all need real-life connection.”
Green Point Baptist found kids were hungry for community. During lockdown, the kid’s ministry went online (along with the adult church). However, after some months, the engagement of the children was waning. So when restrictions were lifted enough to have 100 people in places of worship, Louise Eccleston (Children & Families Pastor) and her team decided to start up kids ministry again; Louise says, “Kids were really missing the connection and the community they have with their friends, and also the connection with leaders.”
Rhonda Lin from Bayside Community Church said: “Bayside has created loungeroom churches that meet once per month. These groups are intergenerational and everyone is loving the opportunity for in-person connection as they worship, talk, play and eat together.”
2. Serve as a team.
When times are uncertain, leaders often choose to bear the burden on behalf of the team. But Louise says: “While leaders are called to serve and often need to carry an extra load, in a crisis it is important to find ways to serve as a team. Start with meeting to pray (in person or via video conference) then dream and plan together, solve problems together and care for and connect with the kids and their families together. Ministry with others is more sustainable and also helps others use their gifts and passions to serve God – which increases belonging and can strengthen faith. Who knows what dream, gifts and new ministries may emerge.”
Rene Smith, Kids Ministry Leader at Belair Baptist, has experienced this firsthand. She says: “I have a team of people and they’ve all got different gifts…Everyone brings different things to the table. For example, I can’t do games – I go blank! Every time someone says lets play a game I think of something very basic like ‘duck duck goose’. But I have a guy that’s really fantastic with activities, and a girl that’s talented at dance and likes doing that with the kids. God uses everyone’s gifts! Not everyone is meant to be teaching necessarily. But he uses everyones passions for him, and what they’re naturally gifted at for growing his kingdom.”
The Kids & Youth team at Northern Life Baptist also dug deep during lockdown, producing high-quality kids skits, a fun music skit to tell the story of the Tower of Babel, and a musical with their own songs retelling the story of the Bible! Team member Steph says: i am generally obsessed with musicals. I thought it was just a weird personality quirk, but it’s amazing what God can use; he brought together a group of us who all have different musical skills and talents to create this project during Covid…Don’t miss the little passions you have. You never know how God could use them!
3. Keep the main thing the main thing.
Telling and showing others that Jesus is King; that’s the main aim! And there are all sorts of ways to do that. Louise says: “Look for opportunities to tell and show the kids and families in the community around you that God is good, encouraging every household to find everyday little ways; offering to pray for a friend or neighbour, dropping in a meal to a family, sending a note, making a call, inviting another family to share a meal in your home or at a park. It might be launching a new ministry – perhaps an after-school kids club or housing and support for women and children escaping domestic violence. Or it may be refreshing an established ministry like playtime or mainly music, or strengthening connections with the local school through SRE, or mentoring through Kids Hope.”
Helensburgh Baptist have practiced this well. Pastor Brad Blacker says: “We started a coffee shop…And with all the connections and new friends we were making through it, we thought, why not connect them to Jesus via LEGO? We get some of our key families together, and we tell a story about Jesus. We give half an hour for the families to talk about that story and build it in LEGO. They then get to share how what they’ve made relates to the story. We finish with prayer and hot chocolates. We’ve done it in parks, at the café, and then during lockdown we started on Zoom. It’s happening weekly now. Some of the kids have become believers and are bringing their atheist parents along. We can see God at work, with families reading the bible together and voicing what it means to follow Jesus.”
For further assistance with welcoming children as fellow disciples, check out the Children & Family Ministries website here.