Recently I Zoomed with a group of ministry leaders to share ideas for Easter worship with children. As we talked, I was struck by the deep love these weary leaders feel for the families and children they serve.
Later that same day, I read Is Everything Fine?, a powerful post acknowledging the toll the pandemic is taking on ministry leaders who feel the pressure of having to develop and deliver fresh ideas week after week after week during this time. Everything, it turns out, is not fine, but thankfully Easter comes whether we feel prepared or not.
So with tired ministry leaders, exhausted parents, and resilient kids in mind, I offer you six creative, meaningful, and easily doable ways to worship with all ages this Easter, whether that worship takes place virtually or in person. Choose one (or more); take it, mold, and use it in any way you like.
IDEA #1: Send every household an Alleluia—a printable coloring page with the word “Alleluia” on it. If you worship live via Zoom, encourage folks to raise their Alleluia, showing it on their screen during worship. You might also include instructions like these: We can’t wait to raise an Alleluia with you on Easter Sunday. Until then, here’s one to remind you that Easter is coming! You can color it (perhaps as part of your quiet time with God) or simply hang it up as is. If you have children in your household, you might want to “bury the Alleluia” on Good Friday by hiding it for them to find on Easter morning as part of your resurrection celebration.
For another take on the above idea, consider using this wonderful butterfly pattern from Illustrated Ministry in place of or in addition to the Alleluia.
IDEA #2: Tell the Easter story using one of these excellent children’s storybook video versions, doing so prior to the Scripture reading of the story.
If you’re meeting by Zoom, you might want to invite people to unmute after the story and share what they noticed during the telling of it.
IDEA #3: Include all ages in a video reading of the Easter story from Scripture. For inspiration, check out this fabulous Easter Story on vimeo. If creating your own video feels like too much for your to do list right now, use the video version as is. It’s wonderful!
IDEA #4: Incorporate art created by the children of your church. Invite children (or people of all ages) to illustrate parts of the Easter story, scan their drawings, and send them to you. Create a slideshow to play as the Easter story is told or during an instrumental piece.
IDEA #5: Make time to dance! At a recent online conference for Presbyterian ministry leaders, speaker Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks included time for a dance party during her message. I think Easter calls for a dance party too, don’t you? As a joyous resurrection song is played or sung, invite worshipers of all ages to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection with a one-minute dance party, moving to the music as they are able.
IDEA #6: Use Story Symbols. Download free copies of Faith Alive’s colorful Dwell curriculum story symbols for the Easter story. Hold them up during key points in the story as it’s told online or in person. Each symbol would also work well to mark individual story stations if you’re able to meet in person and want to set something like that up. (For example, at the Palm Branch symbol you might have a bucket of palm branches from which participants can select one to keep and to carry with them as they explore the other stations.)
And one more thing. Thank you, ministry leaders, for the countless hours you’ve spent over the past year encouraging and equipping families to form faith at home and ensuring that children aren’t being forgotten in our worship services. I see you.
Happy Easter! Christ is Risen!