Churches across the nation have spent almost a year waiting for the “new normal” to start. For many places of worship, the time has finally come. Regular services and extra activities are finally getting back in to full swing. For those in the children’s ministry, the question now remains, “What exactly is the new normal?” Keeping children enthused about church was already difficult. How can children’s ministries today incorporate new normal practices while also keeping kids happy? Let’s take a look at church for kids in the new normal way.
Talk About It
Make sure to allow plenty of room for kiddos to talk about how they feel about how things have changed. It is easy to forget that kids have been greatly affected by the pandemic and the subsequent changes as well. Although most children appear to be quite resilient, there can be a few which are more affected than others. Be on the lookout for kids who seem to interact differently after the pandemic than they did before. Another sign that a child has been adversely affected by the stress of the last year is a withdrawal from interacting at all or a fear of interacting.
When it is time to discuss something that must change due to COVID, give the kids time to talk about that. If they have opinions to share, allow them to. It may also be a great idea to purposefully plan a few lessons that focus in-depth on how the pandemic has affected them. They could share these feelings through pictures or writing.
Keep The Fun Alive
There has been quite a focus on destroying the virus, but don’t forget to keep the fun alive. One of the reasons many children have been greatly affected by the pandemic is because COVID precautions appear, in a child’s mind, to kill all the fun. So many fun things had to be canceled or changed. There needs to be a huge effort in children’s ministry now to assure children that church is still fun. This is still a safe place to come learn, see friends and play.
A spirit of fear should be avoided. Even if youth workers are nervous or fearful, it is very important that they do not project this onto the children in youth ministry. God does not give us a spirit of fear. (2 Tim 1:7) Children should see a spirit of strong faith, courage, and fun. Fun should still be a part of church because children need to see that serving God is enjoyable. In a child’s mind, enjoyment means fun.
It may take some extra creativity to keep the fun in activities while also following new normal protocols, but it is possible.
Take Time To Reconnect
Churches have spent a lot of time apart over the last year. It may be necessary to give kids involved in youth ministries a chance to reconnect. This can be accomplished by planning reunion type events to kick off the return to church. Although you may not use the word “reunion”, it would be a time for kids in youth ministries and classes to get back together and reconnect after this long separation. Here are a few ideas for a reunion type event.
- ‘Howdy Partner’ Welcome Back Party- Kids would love a cowboy/cowgirl themed party to kick off the start of a new normal.
- “Aloah Luai” Welcome Back Party- The warmer weather begs for tropical themes. How about a Luai themed Aloah party. The word “Aloah” is the traditional greeting in Hawaii, but few people realize that the word also has deep spiritual meanings concerning peace and love. This theme could easily be woven into a devotional time for the kiddos encouraging them to find peace in God during these times of change.
Although a welcome back event should be tons of fun, it can also be a great time to allow people to process their feelings concerning the pandemic. Incorporating a devotional time during the welcome back event will give youth ministers and youth participants both a chance to share how God helped them through this difficult time, important lessons that were learned, and what they are now looking forward to in the new normal.