Ministering with Children in a Virtual World


As we navigate this time of social distancing and ministering with children and families in a virtual world, we have pulled together some helpful resources for children ministry leaders.  If you have ideas or resources that you are using in your church, please pass them along to Susan Groseclose so that they may be added here as well.

Children's Ministry leaders are invited to join in on a weekly Zoom call on Thursdays at 10:00 am for the upcoming weeks. This is a place to connect, check in and share ideas and resources. To join you may follow this link.

The Holston Conference Children's Ministry Network Facebook page offers a wealth of resources you may find useful. The Holston Conference Children's Ministry Team is adding ideas and resources on a weekly basis. 

Other Children and Family Ministry Resources:

Cokesbury Kids offers a weekly midweek pause, Deep Blue Virtual Sunday School, and Holy Moments Worship

Virtual Day Camp offered by United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries

Discipleship Ministries is offering "Things We Can Do" 

Ministry Architects is offering Facebook Live chats, tips, and cohorts for children's ministry leaders

Discipulado Intergeneracional - Hispanic resources offered by Tanya Marie Eustace Campen, Director of Intergenerational Ministries in the Rio Texas UMC Conference 

Illustrated Ministry is offering free downloadable coloring sheets

Leanne Hadley - check out Holy Listening Stones and other resources to help families discuss gratitudes and challenges during this pandemic

TN Conference Next Gen Kid Ministry

Arkansas UMC Conference Kids Ministry

Digital Resources-

Webinar: Using Digital Technologies for Faith Formation

Vibrant Faith Digital Resources

Thanks to the North Alabama Conference for compiling this list.

  • Streaming Services:

    • Facebook Live: Click here for instructions and tips.

    • Instagram Live: Click here for instructions.

    • YouTube Live: Click here for instructions.

  • Communication & Collaboration Services:

    • Facebook Groups: Groups are a place to communicate about shared interests with certain people. You can create a group for anything — your family reunion, your after-work sports team or your book club. Read more here.

    • Zoom: Zoom is an online video conferencing app for either one-on-one or group video meetings. There is a free version, but there are limits (a 40-minute max duration). Read more here.

    • Google: Google is offering its enterprise version to G Suite and G Suite for Education users, which includes access to advanced Duo & Meet video-conferencing capabilities like meetings for up to 250 participants and live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within the domain. Read more here.

    • Microsoft: Microsoft is offering Teams for free. Teams is a collaboration tool with chat, video calling, personal and team file storage, and more. Read more here.

    • Slack: Slack is a collaboration app with a free version, but they also offer webinars and one-on-one consultations to help you navigate your own transition to a remote workforce. Read more here.

    • GroupMe: Think group texting but with access beyond a cell phone. GroupMe offers both browser and cellular technology for group messaging. This is a great tool for youth groups! Read more here.

    • Trello: Trello is a free production management tool that you can use for communication and tracking different conversations and/or projects. Trello’s simple and flexible design lets your team collaborate and organize everything (literally, everything—from the day-to-day operations of your business to your next family vacation). Read more here.

'Safe Gatherings' will help prevent abuse of the vulnerable

Photo by Anna Earl on @annaelizaearl

ALCOA, Tenn. (Aug. 28, 2019) -- In Holston Conference, background checks are required for clergy, children and youth workers, and some disaster-relief volunteers.

Holston Conference has opened an account with a company to streamline the screening as well as education of church staff and volunteers. The purpose is to prevent the abuse of children, youth, and vulnerable adults in church settings.

Safe Gatherings” is an online program that costs $45 per applicant. Many Holston church leaders received an introductory email from the company in mid-August.

For $45, each applicant receives:

> Processing of two electronic references
> National county of resident 7-year background check
> Multi-county of resident 7-year background check
> National and state of resident Sex Offender Registry check
> Applicant tracking for church administrators
> 90-minute online abuse prevention and boundary awareness training


Upon successful completion of the Safe Gatherings application, background, and reference checks, each applicant will receive documentation of approval valid for three years, and will have continued access to the online training and program for one year.

“I think it’s important for us to vet the people we’re putting in charge of children, youth, and vulnerable adults,” said the Rev. Terry Goodman, director of clergy services. “We will slowly integrate this program into the conference.”

Holston joins about 13 other United Methodist annual conferences that have accounts with Safe Gatherings, Goodman said. About five Holston congregations are already using Safe Gatherings, including First Broad Street, First Cleveland, Wheeler, and Rock Springs (Kingsport).

Safe Gatherings will save money on the current $109-$149 fee per person for the required background checks on clergy, Goodman said.

Safe Gatherings will not save money for children and youth workers, who are currently spending about $20 per person for background checks through Trak-1, said Laura McLean, associate director of connectional ministries for youth and young adults.

However, Safe Gatherings offers online training; certificates providing proof of screening and education; and a system network that helps churches and administrators keep up with multiple workers.

The “Safe Sanctuaries” program, which all Holston Conference churches are required to implement and follow, requires background checks for all staff and volunteers working with children and youth, McLean said.

Many churches are taking a fresh look at their Safe Sanctuaries training and policies, after all Holston clergy were required to complete sexual ethics training this spring, McLean said.

Charge conference paperwork is also inspiring local-church staff to revisit their Safe Sanctuaries policies, McLean said.

Safe Sanctuaries training may be scheduled by emailing McLean at or Rev. Susan Groseclose at or by calling the Holston Conference connectional ministries office at 865.690.4080.

Visit the Safe Gatherings website at or call 888.241.8258.