This post is part 2 of the How can I minister series.
As the church we are tasked with ministering to everyone and especially so during difficult time. Let’s talk about how can we minister to children, youth, and parents during the COVID-19 virus?
First we need to remember that most children function the best when they have a routine that includes going to the same place and doing the same activities. Right now children are not going to school, not going to church, and not seeing their friends. Nothing about their life is how it was just 3 weeks ago. The church can help by giving children some normalcy back in their life. This can be done through phone calls from Sunday school or other church teachers, online videos of the teachers teaching a class or saying hello. Video conferencing using platforms like Zoom, FaceTime, or Facebook is a wonderful way to help children still feel connected to their church, Sunday school class, GA’s/RA’s group, etc. I myself wondered if a young child would pay attention or be interested in a video conference but then yesterday my 6 year old daughter spent an hour talking to 6 of her best friends from school. It allowed her a little time to have fun, catch up, and play with her friends that she loves and misses. As I listened to her talk about how fun it was I was encouraged that this platform could also be used by churches to continue their regular activities that the children look forward to.
Children also need activities to keep them busy so providing activities for the children is a wonderful ministry. I have seen several Children’s ministers that have dropped off isolation bags or organized scavenger hunts for the children to participate in. We as the church need to think outside of the box for ways that we can minister to children while they are home.
Youth (written by Rev. Wesley Smith)
Just like other ministries, ministering to students can be very difficult during this “Stay At Home,” phase of the COVID-19 Crisis. Not getting to see your students on Wednesdays, Sundays, in the community and at sporting events has to be difficult. Students are so social, keeping social distance seems impossible, but students have many means of connecting without physical presence. Obviously, social media is easy for students. Snap Chap, Group Me, What’s App, and Instagram are means of communicating for most teenagers. Sending regular encouragement, via these means, and creating groups of communications are important. However, don’t forget about the “old school” methods of communication during this time. Student’s love getting postcards, letters, and care packages. Nothing is too small. Remember it is the thought that counts. I would add, make it personal. Include their name or something that the student knows is unique to them. Not just mass addressing it _______ youth group. Also, don’t forget about the good old fashioned phone call. I heard one student minister who called a student and the student was surprised how great it was to talk on the phone. Many teenagers only use their phones to text or use apps. They forget it works for calls! In this time of quarantine, or isolation, don’t neglect or take for granted a phone conversation.
Many groups are using online web conferencing such as Zoom to hold Wednesday Bible study or Sunday school. This allows for virtual face to face communication. Zoom has a free option that allows for forty minutes. This is also Google Meet that offers the same capabilities. Facebook Messenger allows for video conferencing also and there are other paid formats.
It’s important to try and arrange some type of ongoing social and Bible study time during this crisis. Students need the opportunity to “gather,” safely if at all possible. To talk about what they are experiencing and how it’s impacting their faith. One great ministry tool is Right Now Media. It is the “Netfilx,” of Bible study material for all ages. You can pick a study and have the students watch the videos and complete worksheets prior to a web meeting. Contact the GCCBA if you’d like more info!
With all the technology being used, just don’t forget about the “old school” ways to communicate mentioned above. It’s all about showing others they are loved, cared for and not forgotten.
As we all know it is an overwhelming time to be a parent. Many parents are working from home and overseeing their children’s online school work so there are many ways that the church can minister to parents during this time. Some opportunities have been talked about above by providing things for children and youth to do while they are at home. But other ways the church can help is to provide resources to parents. Many parents feel overwhelmed helping their child with schoolwork they themselves might not understand. They may not understand how to help their child use a Chromebook, Google Classroom, or other online platforms being used by schools. This offers a wonderful opportunity for people in your church with these skills to help minister. Churches can do simple things like offering virtual classes to explain these online resources or having people available to assist with schoolwork questions (either virtually or on the phone). I see this as a modern day homework hotline!
Parents are also in need of spiritual encouragement through prayer and scripture study. Praying with and for a parents can quiet and soothe a weary soul. Churches can minister by hosting online Bible studies (via Zoom or other platforms) for parents and doing one at the some time for children so they are entertained while the parents are in their study.
These are only a few ways that churches can minister to children, youth, and parents during the Covid-19 crisis.
If you have other suggestions leave them in the comments.