As we continue living through this global pandemic, ministry with children over the summer (and potentially in the fall) will look very different than in prior years. Whatever situation you find yourself in, children’s ministry leaders have the opportunity right now to pause and catch their breath—to conduct a self-assessment as well as a ministry assessment. Here are a few questions to help guide your reflection:
How are you?
Just like the airlines remind us, it’s important to put on your own mask before you put a mask on a child. In these hard times, it is important to make sure you are taking care of yourself.
The past weeks have been a whirlwind of activity—first adjusting to the stresses of a global pandemic, then trying to figure out how to do ministry online, then trying to create a positive Easter experience. And now you’re probably thinking about VBS.
But before you dive into any planning for summer or re-entry, stop for a moment and do a self-assessment. How are you? No, really—how are you?
Maybe your body is craving a nap or a walk outside. Physical activity will help reduce any stress you are carrying. And how is your soul? Are you getting regular time to spend with God? Prayer is where we can be honest with God as we share our burdens, fears, and joys. Make sure you are spending time just being with Jesus.
How are the children in your church?
Just like us, children are experiencing turmoil in their lives. Along with their routine being upended, they may be feeling isolated, scared, and confused. Some children may feel unsafe in their homes, while others are wondering why God just doesn’t stop this virus.
With all the new structures we are getting used to in our homes and society, it is easy to overlook the children in our midst. During this time, one of our key ministry endeavors should be pastoral care for the children in our ministry. In an article for Christianity Today, pastors Jeff Christopherson and Matt Rogers offer 20 Ways to Help Your Children Process the Pandemic. It outlines questions, actions, and attitudes that can be used by parents and ministry leaders who are caring for children.
Are you focusing on the right things?
We can often get distracted and forget what we are really about in children’s ministry. This can easily happen in ministry where we start engaging in activities that, while fun and entertaining, might not have any connection to our ultimate purpose and goals.
As we shelter in place, we have been given a unique opportunity to hit the restart button on our ministries and make sure we are on the best path for our congregation and community. The key to this restart is thoughtful reflection on what your ministry is doing and how well it has been going.
Why does your ministry exist? How is your ministry helping children grow in faith? How are the experiences they have in your ministry helping or hindering this growth? If you’d like some guidance in working through these questions, Faith Formation Ministries developed a one-page resource called Five Big Questions to Ask About Your Children’s Ministry, which helps you evaluate or re-evaluate the framework of your children’s ministries.
What new ideas are waiting to be embraced?
In these past weeks, we have all worked hard to pivot, recreating our face-to-face ministries either online or in other creative ways. But we will not be going back to the same world—we will emerge from this pandemic in a world that has been profoundly changed.
As Les McKeown states, it’s not enough to pivot. Pivoting involves keeping your eyes on what you have been doing. Instead, we should be embracing innovation, looking toward the future and imagining new ways of doing ministry. It is critical that children’s ministry leaders move from a pivot mindset to an innovation mindset, asking questions like these:
- What would it look like to rethink how children grow in faith?
- What might a home-based discipleship ministry look like?
- How might your church embrace intergenerational worship and ministry?
Yes, these innovative ideas require some thought. They also require creativity and risk. But don’t be afraid. We have been given a significant opportunity. Rarely do we get the time and space in ministry to dream. Asking “What if…?” can open up all kinds of creative possibilities.
In the midst of a global pandemic, it would be easy for us to focus on just getting by. But I believe that children’s ministries can emerge from this experience stronger and better with leaders who are thriving instead of just surviving in ministry. Asking these questions and spending time in reflection and evaluation can be life-giving not only to yourself but also to your ministry.
If you have any questions about children’s ministry self-assessments or innovation, contact Mimi Larson, Faith Formation Ministries’ Children’s Ministry Catalyzer, at [email protected]. Or contact one of FFM’s regional catalyzers who can come alongside you and help you strengthen the faith formation efforts in your congregation.