Stephanie Caro, a senior consultant at Ministry Architects, held two webinars for more than 60 church leaders. “We are all struggling with ways to deliver children’s and youth ministry during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Caro. “We need to find a way to have a fabulous experience and stay safe.”
“People are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated, and tired,” says Caro. “Offering virtual ministry is here to stay. This is not the time to try to do what we have always done with children’s and youth ministry. We need to less. Pick a few events, maybe once a month, and do it well.” Trends around the country.
As church leaders, the tendency is to pile on more and more meetings, curriculum, and events to reach more people. It is impossible to do everything well in the rapidly changing context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Caro emphasized to those in attendance to be creative. Choose one event a month that will invite children, youth, and everyone to connect and grow in faith. Here are a few ideas she presented:
Back to school: Make it the event of the month. Consider drive-by back to school events. Do it on one day for a couple of hours with stations, which could include: making tags for bookbags, a blessing by the pastor, making thank you or blessing cards to make for others.
Fall kick-off, or rally day:This is a time to promote three or four big events you will hold through Christmas. Make it a promotional event with time for prayer and interaction. Hold the promotional event by grade level on Zoom.
Bible Sunday: Handing out Bibles is considered a rite of passage in many congregations. Make it memorable by delivering the Bible to the child’s house. Make a video and show it at the next worship online and/or in-person.
Pumpkin patch: There are a lot of churches that do a pumpkin patch. You can do one this year. Do it by wearing masks—it is better to wear masks; it is an opportunity to make people feel comfortable. One key thing is to spread out the payment table or have an online payment people wandering around somehow identified as a cashier. If you have story or activity time, spread out in stations, or have people sign up for a specific time slot when they attend.
Trunk or treat: Do a reverse Trunk or Treat. People drive up to assigned parking space and stay in that spot. Youth or young adults pass out wrapped candy in baggies to each parked car. Have some entertainment like skateboarding, juggling, dancer. You could also do a drive-by Trunk or Treat.
Decorate your door Trick or Treating: If you are a church with many doors, decorate the doors. Send families on a path to each door to visit and hear scripture and get a treat.
Scavenger hunt for Thanksgiving baskets or food drives: We have many economic struggles; the need is significant. Determine the items needed for the baskets of the food drive. Set up a time that family units will join a Zoom call. During the call, assign families, a food item, and a neighborhood or a selected area. Give each family 45 minutes to go out and collect as much as they can. Take and share photos of people out gathering the food items. Then check back in by Zoom to see how much everyone collected.
Hanging of the Greens: This year, Advent kicks off in November. Encourage families to prepare for Advent in their homes. Take photos to share the “Hanging of the Greens” by a Facebook Group or Zoom call. Set up a caroling experience by neighborhoods or family units.
December—Christmas making it big:
Make it a festive time. Consider delivering treats to different houses. Have a Zoom call to sing Christmas songs, Santa showing up in the Zoom call, and then head out to deliver treats.
Hold a drive-by outdoor Nativity pageant
“There are some things that we know an can expect as we move into the fall and Christmas season. The pandemic is still here. We cannot just assume that things will be the same. We have to make plans for children’s and youth ministry now through Christmas,” says Caro.