Why in-person Children's Ministry matters during COVID
Can we just forget about Children’s Ministry till COVID ends? The thought of doing children’s ministry at your church in a socially distant world may be daunting.
For some, you may have tried and struggled and think Children’s ministry can’t work at this time.
For others, the challenges of running ministry with children while wearing masks and social distancing have put you off before you even started.
There are so many challenges to overcome that it can seem like it is too much effort to try.
Yet I believe that it is not only possible, but essential for our young people to be able to meet together for effective Children’s Ministry through this time.
Why do I believe that it is so important?
Training In The Way Of The Lord
Children have not decided what they believe yet. It’s critical that they are trained in the ways of the Lord, to develop a lifelong faith (Proverbs 22:6). This age is fundamental for children in deciding what they believe. They are like an empty cup waiting to be filled. If they are not filled with godly values and direction now, the world around us will happily fill them with other values. Then we will find ourselves having to dig up one foundation to lay the right one. That is a lot harder to do.
Perspective Of God And Church
Children are developing habits and learning what matters at this age. If they get used to going to the beach on Sunday mornings, then there is a risk that families stop coming to church, as it is no longer part of their routine. If they are absent from church, but going to school, the beach and restaurants – the children will pick up that Church is less important than these things. This establishes a view of God as something we do if we have time, rather than as central to our lives.
Children need to be around other children who also believe.
Hebrews 10:24 tells us to spur one another on to love and good deeds. We all engage and learn in different ways, particularly when we are younger. Children learn best in child friendly environments where they can see that following God is fun and something that other children do. Unless they are placed in that environment, they rarely get the opportunity to learn and grow together in an environment that is suited to their styles of learning. As a result it can seem to them that Church is for adults and has nothing to say to them. Just as we are inspired and encouraged by being with people like us, so are little children. By meeting together with others their age, they can challenge each other and help each other to grow closer to God.
Sharing Our Struggles
We all go through struggles and challenges in our lives. We all need people who can help us to stand firm and persevere. As well as COVID-19, children are facing bullying, being told to love, but finding it hard and struggling to read their bibles every day. If left on their own, they can feel like it is just them and give up on Jesus. 1 Peter 5:9 remind us that there are other Christians facing the same struggles as we are.
As adults we don’t fully understand what children are going through. We may have been through similar challenges, but times have changed and life is different. Equally children can’t see that we were once children too – we look too old! So it is important for them to be with children who understand the world they live in and can help them relate to God in it. When children get to meet together to study God’s word, they get the opportunity to share their struggles and realise that they are not the only ones finding it hard to follow Jesus. As they share how they handled it, they can encourage one another and pray for each other.
The thought of facing the obstacles and doing Socially Distant Ministry may be hard, but let’s take a lesson from Joshua.
God’s Power And Plan
When Joshua faced the challenge of entering the promised land, he too might have felt daunted. He had lost his mentor, Moses and was now responsible for up to 2 million people. And these people were not easy to handle. They were easily distracted and had a reputation for disobedience (maybe like your children!), so it wouldn’t be easy to lead them. On top of that the challenge ahead of him was huge (just like the challenges of doing socially distant ministry) – he had to lead them into battle against powerful enemies.
Yet God tells him in Joshua 1:6-9 to be strong and courageous for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. He reminds Joshua that he is not alone in facing this challenge. He reminds Joshua that He will go with him into this challenge. This gives Joshua confidence that he can do it, because God is going with him to help him.
The same is true for us as we face the challenge of ministering to children in a socially distant world. The children may be difficult and the obstacles may be great. Yet our God is bigger. He walks alongside us as we face these challenges and reminds us that in His strength, it is possible.
I have seen this to be true over the last year as I have done socially distant ministry with children from 6-14 in school, church and even at the beach. I have found that there are ways to overcome each of the challenges we face and still provide an exciting and engaging programme to help the children grow closer to God. There will be difficulties along the way, but God has not been surprised by this situation. He has prepared a way for us to continue. He will walk with us and guide us through each situation we face.
I want to encourage you. You too can do this. God will walk with you every step of the way.