Suggestions and Resources for Leading Kids Ministry during a time of social distancing.
These resources were shared at GROW Online, presented by Amy Csoke & Wendy Rampold.
A NEW WAY
Think marathon not sprint: not band-aid solutions, not a pause, but a new way of connecting. Consider what is within your means because...
Think long-term: if what we do now works, why not have it be a part of our church even after this social distancing time is over.
Think opportunity: There are a ton of free resources (for churches and parents!) explore them and see what works! Also use this time to reflect on the DNA of your church - and as you do this ask how is our church ministering to families (and kids!) on Sunday and beyond.This is also a time for your church to set up a digital policy within your child protection guidelines (Plan to Protect - https://www.plantoprotect.com/en/services/resources/covid-19-response-landing-page/covid-19-response-resources/
THE SUNDAY EXPERIENCE
What will Sunday morning worship look like?
Kids and Adults have separate experiences.
Pros: Easier for you as kid’s min leader (and for your pastor likely), lots of free resources.
Cons: Takes away family ministry opportunity, kids and parents worship and learn separately, logistics for a family to watch on Sunday morning (or perhaps they watch the church service together and the kids service at another time).
Pros: Family ministry, kids are a part of your church, opportunity to revisit how you do church.
Cons: Much more work, non-Christian families may not have church then.
Consider Shrek: for kids but loved by all ages. Consider an integrated service - not just a kids minute (though that is a step in the right direction! At least consider children and families as you plan).
Tips for a multi-generational service:
Bite Sized: We engage with digital information in a bite sized way. Most kids shows are short or bite sized too (TVO show example)
1. Scene Change: If you can edit the video have different people contribute or do it in different places (i.e. sit in your child’s toy area for the welcome).
- Connect Church (Ajax) edited video: https://youtu.be/k3icvRXRCCE
- Or check out how Corner Church (Oshawa) has used a YouTube playlist to do this
2. Short is Sweet: If you can’t edit the video, be thoughtful about timing (nothing too long and a smooth flow).
Consider Delivery: Think of how you teach kid’s their Bible story through games, songs, activity sheets and crafts. Most kids (and adults!) are not auditory learners, so how can we help them better engage with the service (especially sermon)? Consider asking your pastor if you could team up or brainstorm ideas together to help their sermon integrate or speak to kids better.
Use objects: If you’re talking about Jesus in the boat - tell the kids at the start of service to find a boat (or make a boat using paper or found material) and then during the sermon tell them to pull out their boat and have it act out the story as you read Scripture. Or do an object lesson within a sermon.
Use breakouts: I love to ask questions when teaching it helps the kids process. Why not ask your pastor to make time for discussion at home. This could be at the start of their sermon “a minds on” where they ask a question related to their sermon and allow time for the family to discuss it (and possibly give feedback in the live chat!), in the middle or end with a question to help them consider application or connect with the story (a rhetorical question or an application challenge).
This is also great as it positions the parents as a “small group leader”.
Consider Activities: Consider sending activities to the families before service for them to use with their kid’s as it goes along. Perhaps a craft, colouring page of the Bible story or word search (Easter pages are pretty easy to find free online), service outline activity page (see resources). Ask the kids to send pictures of these after service for you to look at (and maybe share on social media?
What might Sunday School look like?
You can choose to run your class online (using Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Google Hangouts) or send the resources to parents (many curriculum companies have loosened their licensing rules at this time - check with yours!). I like how this church posted theirs: https://www.nlnc.org/online (one teacher even made their own video the first week! FYI: My son was VERY excited to see a short video message from his teachers this week - it matters so much to them!).
This is a chance for the church to equip and support parents in their vital role as the primary discipler of their children (please note, there are some children in your church who may not have Christian parents! Consider resources that are child centred vs family centred based on your demographic...or do both!)
Here are some ideas:
Family Activity Sheet
Make your own! This can be based off the pastor’s sermon or your own ideas (or based off the Sunday school lesson). Example: if the pastor preached about Jesus calming the storm: have the family talk about a storm, how powerful it is, how they feel during a storm, re-read the Bible passage and talk about who has control over the storm and how that makes us feel, then have them make “calm down bottles” where kids can shake up the water and watch it settle.
Social Media LIVE/Videos
Use your church’s social media account to go live (or post a video) with something for the kids! They can watch it with you live (bonus interaction), or later. This is a great way to get your volunteers back involved. Ideas include: baking lesson, craft, Bible Story, worship time, guitar or piano lessons, science experiment.
Stay connected mid-week. You can play some games, catch up, do an activity together, the options are endless. My kid’s and I did one this past week. Things I learned:
Plan for 5-10 minutes of chat time before going into the activity as they figure out how to log in.
Teach them how to use the system (i.e. mute, grid view)
Play a game that is easy but fun (I kept score and they LOVED it - using a resource listed below for a simple “Bring Me” home edition).
Do a Bible time with them. I kept it simple: we read a passage and talked about what stood out to us and what we can learn from it - they always amaze me with truth they find from the Scripture.
Pray together - we listed all our prayer requests and took turns praying. It was a powerful moment and helped me see what is on their hearts and minds.
Contests + Challenges
Give the kids (or families) a challenge and ask them to do it and share the video.
Flipgrid.com is a wonderful way to do this safely! Set up an account as an educator and then share the link with the kids (well, guardians of the children) in your church - with that link they can upload images to the account.
Ideas include: a talent show - get the kids to film themselves with a talent (dancing, music, reciting a poem/scripture, sport skill, comedy), memory verse challenge, storytelling, sharing something from the Bible time.
An important thing to consider is how you will best communicate with families (does your church have an online policy) My church has a Facebook Group, others use WhatsApp, emails or Remind. Our church youth group has an instagram account because our youth are all on that - so consider where your people are and the best way to connect with them.
DISCIPLESHIP AT HOME
This time is a HUGE opportunity for us as parents, and for us as the church - to better consider what does discipleship in the home look like.
1) The best disciplers are disciples themselves.
Shepherd the parents!
Parents - model an authentic relationship with Jesus!
Get into the Word - read the Bible everyday. When your kids see you valuing the Bible, they will too! Allowing God to work in your life and having the fruit of the Spirit produced in you will better allow you to model Christ (*cough* survive this time without hurting anyone *cough*)
Have praise parties - praise changes hearts (ours, AND our kids!) - when I get stressed with the kids I’ll throw on a worship song and dance away with my kids. It lightens the mood and God works on my attitude.
Pray - don’t just pray with your kids. Pray alone. Also, pray with your kids! Set up a prayer list (maybe make it cool - hello Pinterest!) and pray together and celebrate when God answers prayers!
Serve Others - this is a tricky time for serving, but there are windows! One mom on our district taught her kids how to sew and they are making face masks for the local hospital.
2) Learn from one another.
Don’t just think the flow of knowledge is from parents to kids. We can learn from kid’s too!
I have learned so much from my son about God and His love (and patience!). Consider how you might do things differently with this in mind. Whether it’s one of the resources you use for family discussions, Bible time or whatever! For me, as a mom, it means being honest and thoughtful when we have talks about God, prayer or our Bible time. It means listening to my son’s answers and not just guiding him to what I believe “the correct answer” to be.
3. Pray together
Set up a prayer journal or poster and ask kid’s to add to it, and go back and celebrate when the prayers are answered. Prayer doesn’t just need to be serious - check out Pray and Play resource below for some ideas on how to engage in prayer in creative ways as a family.
EUREKA: Newest Children’s Curriculum from the Church of the Nazarene https://www.thefoundrycommunity.com/3-weeks-of-free-eureka-curriculum/
FULL KID’S CHURCH EXPERIENCE (video teaching + activity guide)
Best Day Ever (at Home) free resource (just create account) - https://open.life.church/resources/4622-best-day-ever-at-home-kidspring
Please take a good look around open.life.church website (once you’ve logged in) as they have MANY MANY wonderful resources.
MEETING HOUSE KIDS - http://kidsandyouth.themeetinghouse.com/kids/
We use them and I like that the teaching is right from the Word and that they are based in Toronto so it’s more relevant to our church culturally than many American resources. The videos are on YouTube so you can just send the links out.
DEEP BLUE VBS: https://growcurriculum.org/vbs
A 4 day curriculum with a great theme on growing as disciples. It will take some modifying, but it seems to have a ton of resources!
Online Hangout Ideas
Kahoot - kids can use a computer or cell phone to play these trivia games from anywhere. Create your own (connect it to the Bible time if you’re doing that!) or use a pre-made one!
Primary Playground - I use her scavenger hunt resources for the “Bring me” game. https://primaryplayground.net/scavenger-hunts/
Flipgrid.com - Allows kids to upload videos online in a secure setting. Great for memory verses, talent shows, etc.
Family At Home
Splink (D6 ministries): https://d6family.com/splink/
D6 is based on Deuteronomy 6 - the call for discipleship in the home. They have resources available - like Splink which is a free email you sign up for that sends you activities to do as a family each week that help families set up teachable moments and meaningful discussions.
Parent Cues App https://theparentcue.org/app/
This is an easy to use daily devotional for families. Simply plug in your kid’s age and they will update the app each day with one for the whole family (babies included!)
Guardians of Ancora https://apps.apple.com/ca/app/guardians-of-ancora/id956556678
Resources here: https://content.scriptureunion.org.uk/resource/guardians-ancora-family-activity-bank)
This game app allows kids to play through the story of Jesus’ life. I let my son play through a story then read the story from the Bible and talk about it. There are many family devotions you can use to accompany it on the Bible App!
YouVersion Plans https://www.youversion.com/the-bible-app/
In the app you can click on Plans and then "Find Plans" to search various Bible reading plans. You can select a parenting plan or even plans for kids.
The Bible App for Kids https://www.youversion.com/the-bible-app-for-kids/
This is an excellent resource for younger children that helps them engage with the Bible in a unique way. Plus you can print off colouring pages & other resources https://open.life.church/preschool
3 weekly fitness activities for the family that include discussion questions. A wonderful resource especially for families at this time (kids need to move! Parents need to move too! Why not combine it!).
Pray and Play https://playandpray.net/
Ideas on how to creatively pray together!
Talking to kids about Coronavirus resource https://orangekidmin.com/coronavirus/)
Available in Spanish too
Bible Guide for Kids - Kids Read Truth https://shereadstruth.com/downloads/
Straight from the Bible, this free PDF is a great workbook for your kids to explore the Gospel of Matthew
Digital Resource List from my global colleagues
Focus on the Family https://www.focusonthefamily.ca/covid-19
Hillsong Kids https://www.youtube.com/user/hillsongkids
Family Ministry Blog: https://refocusministry.org/
I really value this ladies blog and view on ministry. She also has a ton of resources listed.
Webinar on doing church in this time: