By Brittany Nelson
A global pandemic changed the way we minister to kids and families in 2020, and we’re still working through those changes as we begin 2021. We’ve all been waiting for things to go “back to normal,” but let’s be honest, normal has now been changed forever.
So, what does children’s ministry look like post-pandemic? What should children’s ministry leaders be thinking about as they continue to navigate this season? How can ministry leaders best serve the kids and families they lead in a current and post-pandemic world?
Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind:
Be a traffic-light church.
One simple but profound analogy that helps people talk about COVID-19 is a traffic light. A traffic light has three colors: red (stop) yellow (proceed with caution), and green (go). Your church probably has people who fall into each traffic-light category.
The red-light people are those who don’t want to leave their homes because the risk is not worth it. Red lights will return to church but not until they feel it is totally safe to return to the outside world.
Yellow lights believe there is a reason to be cautious and will abide by the rules set. They’ll wear a mask and will obey social distancing. Yellow will return to church, but perhaps not immediately.
Green-light people don’t wear masks or use hand sanitizer. They believe we should not shut down everything. Green lights will immediately return to church with no worries.
As a ministry leader, your church will have people of all different lights: some red, some yellow, some green. It might be easy to try and cater to just the red lights or just the green lights in your church, but how can you minister to the whole traffic light?
How can you be a traffic-light children’s ministry? How can you creatively offer a safe opportunity for the green-light families to gather and connect? What can you do to communicate your precautions with the yellow-light families? How can you minister to the red-light families who won’t be stepping foot in your building for a while?
It can be easy to focus on the group that shares the same mindset we do, but if we adopt the traffic-light approach, we can “be all things to all people” for the sake of the gospel and honor one another’s opinions (1 Corinthians 9:22).
Author Simon Sinek said, “Creativity begins at the moment we don’t know what we are doing.” If that quote doesn’t sum up this season of ministry, I don’t know what does. I know you’ve had to be creative over the last year, finding new ways to reach kids and families. While it can be exhausting, keep pursuing that constant creativity.
Now is your chance to try new things! Get creative with your offerings, and don’t be afraid to tweak things as you go. You have the wiggle room in this season to test something out, see if it works, and adjust as you go. Experiment and try new things, letting go of perfection along the way.
Make sure everything you do has a purpose. One positive thing that came from stripping back our ministries to the bare minimum is that quarantining showed us how important connections and relationships really are.
Rather than jumping back into everything you were offering pre-pandemic, take a good, hard look at your programs. Was everything you offered in line with your ministry’s vision and goals? Don’t be afraid to drop the programs and offerings that filled up your calendars but maybe didn’t fill the true needs of your kids and families.
Don’t drop digital.
Even as you see higher in-person attendance rates, don’t let go of the digital ministry you’ve started during quarantine. Consider continuing your online and digital resources so families (especially those with young children) can continue to stay connected to your ministry. And as you work to reach a generation of digital natives, do your homework and stay up-to-date on the world of technology and how you can use it in your children’s ministry.
To yourself, your staff, and your families. We’re all coming out of a traumatic experience of sudden change, leaving many feeling shocked, anxious, worried, angry, sad, stressed, apathetic, over-it, and more. Give yourself grace as you navigate this new way of doing ministry in a post-pandemic world. Give your staff grace as you work together as a team to serve and lead your people. Give kids and families grace as they figure out their new normal.
Celebrate the wins.
In Joshua 4, God’s people stacked 12 stones on top of each other to help commemorate the good works God had done. What are the stones you’re stacking to help you remember God’s faithfulness? Write down and take note of the celebrations and wins in your ministry and share these with your team and staff.
If no one’s told you this lately, you’re doing a great job, kidmin leader. One verse that God has put on my heart and in my mind this season is Esther 4:14…
“And who knows but that you have come to your royal [ministry] position for such a time as this?”
You are in your role, at your church, leading your kids and families during this crazy season of ministry for a reason, and God placed you there during this time because He knew you would be exactly what your church needed.
While the pandemic may have caught us off-guard, it was not a surprise to God. Be encouraged today, children’s ministry leader. God has led you to your position for such a time as this, and He will continue to be faithful through it.
Brittany Nelson is the founder of deeperkidmin.com, an online hub of digital resources made FOR children’s ministry leaders BY children’s ministry leaders. She is passionate about equipping and cheering on leaders who serve the next generation.