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How the COVID Shutdown Changed our Church

Sundays during the outbreak shutdown were significantly different. Children’s ministry leaders were trying to figure out how to minister in order to kids without being in the room. Parents truly realized their function as spiritual frontrunners when they couldn’t drop kids off within a classroom. We all quickly began to see what had worked in our discipleship of family members and what had not been operating.

I’ve offered in family ministry for over twenty years. Returning from the pandemic shutdown caused me to ask some difficult questions. What if the industry of family ministry has gotten so good at providing kid and youth encounters that we have hurt the particular church as a whole? That will thought hit me personally when I heard friends saying their chapels would not reopen in case kids ministry may not reopen. Churches were stuck because the model we had always depended on had to change, even if it was short-term.

Most chapels, whether megachurches, chapel plants, established chapels, or revitalizing church buildings, do the same type of ministry. We have experiences for kids. We have experiences for students. We now have service and classes for adults. Functionally, that will model has served us pretty well in the church for a long time. For the past few generations we have siloed ministry, we now have entertained, and we have got spent millions of dollars trying to out-do the world and serve kids’ choices. Yet research tells us that 70% of students eventually leave from the church.

What if this post-pandemic season was an opportunity to try something different?

When our cathedral returned to conference in person, God brought about some changes that none of us noticed coming. We did not start kids ministry right away. We, like all of you, were navigating what our congregation was ready for and needed time to re-staff our volunteer teams.

As we prepared, we realized there were a decision to make. Kids were going to maintain our worship providers. We needed to determine what that experience looked like for them. I challenged our staff to create a worship experience that will kids and teenagers didn’t just endure, but rather one in which they could engage in praise.

Our employees jumped on board. All of us completely recreated the worship service. We moved most of the praise to the end to accommodate when kids start to get wiggly. We incorporated a “Family Minute” in the middle of the sermon. This portion involved a game or a subject lesson that illustrated the sermon, yet gave kids (and adults) a mind break. We sang songs that kids and teens knew and also became deliberate about teaching kids songs the adults knew. We produced sermon notes that will went right along with the sermon for kids in order to draw on and fill in blanks.

We made these changes anticipating them to be short term. The church responded therefore well. Our kids engaged. Our teenagers had been actively involved. Our own adults welcomed them and enjoyed getting all generations collectively.

We adored it so much that even when we restarted groups for kids ministry we changed the structure so that they could still be in the worship service. We kept the changes we all made.

Our own worship pastor constructed more on this idea. He restarted choir, but he started it with students and young adults. Once every few weeks our praise services are led with thirty young people leading in worship. Their energy has been contagious and has had an incredibly positive effect on our church.

These changes might sound like dramatic changes for you. They may unfit your church. I’m not suggesting this is actually the right solution for every church. But it continues to be for us. We are truly experiencing multi-generational worship week in and week out. It is a beautiful thing.

The big picture question for you to consider is certainly: how is your cathedral going to function due to what you learned in this pandemic? This season continues to be extremely challenging, but it has also opened up new opportunities to minister to families. We have the chance to reset our philosophies and our methods. Take time to pause, assess, and pray as to what God wants to fag this season in your families and through your church.

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