For the past few months, churches across the CRC have had to be clear about their ministry goals without the luxury of relying on what’s certain. For example, when the certainty of meeting in person was no longer assured, the clear goal of worshipping together as the family of God was not abandoned. Instead, churches experimented with different virtual platforms. Likewise, in-person small groups and bible studies were replaced with Zoom chats and speaker phones. Prioritizing the goal instead of the “how we’ve always done it,” gave churches the freedom to try new things, to be playful and experimental.
The same holds true for children’s ministries. Even though in-person children’s ministries aren’t a certainty right now, churches around the CRC have been getting creative. These two churches prioritized the goal of including children in Sunday morning worship and got creative.
Bethel CRC in Sioux Center, Iowa, went virtual with their worship services. Immediately parents lamented how hard it was for kids to engage with worship online. Working from a clear goal of wanting kids to feel included and engage with the gospel, Pastor John Lee and his wife, Mary Jo, came up with the idea of making short videos with their daughter’s toys. The playful tone of these videos and the lessons embedded in each story not only engaged the kids but set the stage for the adults as well. You can see them here: Pastor John’s Children’s Sermons.
At The Journey Church in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, all ages are included in weekly live Zoom worship. They are welcomed by name as they log on, have the opportunity to be a part of the recorded praise team, have their own Children's Message during the service, and have their birthdays celebrated during the social time at the end of the service. Often, as part of the children's message, they are invited in advance to complete some sort of project and bring it to the Zoom service. Some of these projects included paper boats (Jesus Calms the Storm), decorated walking sticks (Road to Emmaus), and one week they were asked to introduce everyone to their pets (including a chicken!) for a message on Psalm 23.
These playful, creative, and fairly low-budget ideas are all experiments that an uncertain time of ministry calls for. Clear goals in an uncertain time require creative, playful experiments. And who knows, some of these experiments might even stick and make the next few decades of ministry the best yet!