Leading your children well in lock down
Let’s face it we are all making it up as we go along! Well maybe not so much now, but none of us had trained in, discussed, or pre-prepared things for ‘virtual kids ministry’ – certainly not in these current circumstances. What follows are some reflective thoughts which have helped us continue, rather than become stagnant; to focus rather than get phased; to lead our children, and to do it as well as we can.
1. Be you
Churches, children, leaders – one size does not fit all!
Our children are living in very different days right now, and what they need to know is that when it comes to our faith, all that we have taught them, and in the journies we've been on with them so far – that faith is unchanging! We all feel more able and willing to be led when we can trust, and have a sense of certainty, in those that are leading us. As leaders we need to show certainty in very uncertain worldly times. How everyone else is doing is more visible than ever right now. We have more time to check things out and allow self-doubt to set in! Comparison really can steal our joy, especially when lockdown intensifies everything!
You fit your church, you know your church; the families, the children, their stories. You understand and relate in a way no-one else can – you are perfectly positioned for this, whether you like it or not (Esther 4:13-14), and the best way you can lead them well is by being true to you being true to them.
2. Be resourceful
Staying true to who you are however, does not mean you have to feel restricted. In so many ways our daily lives are more directed than ever before, whilst at the same time the isolation has allowed for a greater freedom and space. Space to think, to imagine, to ask the ‘What about?’ and the ‘What if?’ questions. If ever there was an opportunity to do something different, or give yourself an excuse to try something out – now is the time!
There is a freedom opportunity to try, and a freedom to fail and try again! Every effort will be appreciated, by those you do it for (the children), their families, and most of all, by God who you are giving it a go for!
WARNING! Do not measure your success by any ‘likes’, ‘emojis’or ‘views’. This only takes your eyes off the heart of why you do it. Focus on God, and have faith in the seed that is sown.
use what you have
not all of us have all the tech; not all of us have the know how
we don’t all have the same access to props, costumes or support. But you know what? Neither do all of the kids
we are however all equipped by God to do what he asks of us [2Tim 3:17)
if you have a phone, make a call
if you have craft supplies, share a make
if you have pen and paper, write a letter
Use your everyday things, in your everyday situations, to share about an everyday God that children can relate to everyday.
3. Be resourced
The dictionary refers to a ‘resource’ as 'a source of supply, support or aid, that can readily be drawn upon.’
Lots of people are doing lots of things - devotionals, online services, family worship, kids clubs, holiday clubs, Zooming , streaming ... things that I’ve never heard of, nor have any idea of how to go about achieving. I’m sure you’ve seen them, but how have you responded to them?
The dictionary definition does not say ‘a resource is there to intimidate you, shame you, point out what you should be doing but are not, for your kids!’
We are a body, a family. We serve each other, and resource each other in our given roles, opportunities and abilities. Life right now is stressful enough; there are enough worries and personal concerns to boot. The kids are at home, our teams are self-isolating. We haven’t got our usual back up to support us. The materials out there is not meant to make life more difficult; they are God endorsed gifts for us to use, to draw on, not necessarily for us to reinvent, but rather to take the pressure off. So use them and resource your children and their families.
4. Be relational
The very core of faith filled children’s work has always been, and should always be, ‘relationships’. Their relationship with God, and our relationship with the children as we ‘co-journey’ with them. Beyond programmes and silly songs, beyond worship, teaching and fun, we lead by example. We build a foundation of trust, we journey life together with them and with God, and hope that over time they will start to go to God first.
For us whatever we did in lockdown, doing nothing was not an option. We didn’t want any relationships to suffer, in fact, we recognised this as an opportunity for relationships to grow in faith, and support.
There were a number of children on the perimeter, or who, either due to special needs or vulnerability, already found accessing the kids programme in the church setting difficult, so we didn’t want any progress made to slip backwards and make things harder after lockdown.
We were aware of the extra pressures on families and the pastoral needs/questions/worries which may be concerning our youngsters. If it was a lot for us to get our heads around ... how much more must it be for them?!
We were concerned for their mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as their spiritual. A call, a message through a parent, a family face-time, a postcard ... all just enough to reassure, to encourage and to touch base; to keep relationships living and breathing, being fed, and being allowed to grow in new ground.
It has felt very strange not going into the church building. It has felt even stranger not having a room full of children in front us. Your children’s ministry may not look the same right now; you may feel it has taken a different turn, but the heart of leading children well hasn’t changed. We put ourselves in their shoes, see the world through their eyes, and we walk with them, showing and sharing God's way through. We connect with them, and more importantly we connect them to God.
So don’t panic! Nothing has changed! We are simply finding new paths to lead children to the same destination - shouldn’t that always be the way?
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