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.

Commentary: Holy Week at home isn't gloomy. It's an opportunity.

Alex proudly shows off her Easter goodie bag from Concord United Methodist Church.

Letter to The Call


When I saw the news story, “Holy Week looms while churches improvise" in last week's edition of The Call, I found the title to be disturbing.

In the back of my mind I thought, “This sounds doom-filled.” I know it was an article of how churches are dealing with the fast-changing coronavirus world we are living in. 

However, I wanted to give you my perspective of what I have seen over the last few weeks as a children’s director at a large church in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Our first week or so of the coronavirus pandemic was slow. Spring break was happening, and so many families were vacationing at home and not real worried. Kids were busy in their neighborhoods.

Then the shutdowns began, and kids were out of school longer and longer. When the church buildings were closed, our children's department had already begun Sunday school via Facebook Live. We soon added daily noon devotions for kids and their families and Wednesday-night Zoom classes for three different age groups. 

My ministry assistant and I were brokenhearted when we had to cancel our annual Easter egg hunt scheduled for Palm Sunday on April 5. We decided to take our crafts and eggs and make bags for our kids. Our church chef offered to bake cookies for every bag. 

We went through our rosters and attendance records, scouring and cleaning them up -- a task we had put off multiple times before. Now we were really digging in and checking. We got a solid list of 300 active children from birth through 5th grade. We printed out our new directories, divided them up, and asked for help delivering bags. We told our volunteers the delivery process was much like “ding dong ditch.” They were instructed not to stay and chat, but just to “knock, drop, and go.”

Easter goodie bags, ready to go!

All 300 bags were delivered.

Immediately, I received responses from families. One family in particular, who I haven’t seen since fall, sent an email that left me in tears. The mother said she was home together with her husband and little girl. She said this time had changed them. They sit down to meals at the table, pray together, and are taking the opportunity to slow down and re-center. This child didn’t have strong ties within the church, but she was delighted to receive the bag of goodies. The family immediately had an Easter egg hunt in the yard. I received pictures of a smiling little girl who was excited for a simple treat and for being remembered. 

I find that the “Holy Week looms” title disturbing because -- although we are experiencing inconvenience, fear, worry and anxiety – Holy Week isn’t looming. It’s waiting on us. It’s an open invitation to worship Him with our families, without all the hustle and bustle we normally experience. No sport practices and games, no extra activities and distractions, just a time with family and God.

In his online sermon last week, Pastor Wil Cantrell told parents that in this challenging time, their faith will truly be on display. Our kids are watching us. Holy Week isn’t looming – it will still unfold, and it will still end with the glory and riches of Easter. There will be His glory and our families, and worship will occur in a whole new re-centered way. I miss the laughter in the church halls, but our families are being presented with the chance to really stop and see what’s important right now.

I know there are many Christians who are home alone. My heart breaks for them. Our church is doing all they can to connect with them, and I know other churches are, too. But if the coronavirus pandemic had to happen, I think Easter is the ideal time. Easter can finally be the pure joy of Easter. This Easter will be family and God. Hallelujah.



Email letters to The Call at annettespence@holston.org