The coronavirus pandemic will have medical and economical effects, but it doesn’t have to affect the spiritual growth of the families we serve. While we don’t quite yet know the full extent of this virus’s impact, we do know we have to be prepared. My pastor related the pandemic to a weatherman’s warning of an upcoming hurricane. It may be as bad as they predict; it may not. Either way, we have to be prepared. Use the ideas and resources below to prepare for the effects of this virus and equip families during this uncertain time, and check out all of our COVID-19 tips, resources, and ideas here.
If your church will continue to meet:
- Make a plan. You may not be closing this weekend, but chances are you might in the future, and you should still adjust practices based on the current circumstances. This free training and checklist from MinistryGrid walks you through how to prepare and execute a plan to address the coronavirus. Wheaton College also created a helpful PDF guide with similar ideas and tips. Take advantage of resources like these so you don’t have to feel like you’re in this alone or starting from scratch.
- Check in with your volunteers. Do you have elderly volunteers serving in your nursery? A new mom serving in preschool? Or a family with an immune-compromised child? These volunteers may not feel comfortable serving at this time, and we need to let them know that’s OK. I know volunteers will be difficult to come by (as if they aren’t already), but giving your volunteers the opportunity to step back if they feel they need to communicates that you care about them.
- Give kids the chance to talk about it. Provide time/space in your morning for kids to talk about the coronavirus. They probably have a lot of feelings, thoughts, and questions about what’s happening, and when we invite them to share those, we help teach them church is a safe place. This also allows us the opportunity to teach about God’s faithfulness and encourage kids with Scripture and prayer.
- Clean EVERYTHING. Hand sanitizing stations, sterilizing all the toys, disinfecting all the surfaces (especially doorknobs and handles). Do what you can to deep clean your ministry space and encourage kids to be mindful of washing their hands. (Here’s a fun idea a friend of mine shared about encouraging kids to “worship while they wash.”)
- Adapt practices and procedures. Does the way you pass out snacks or greet kids when they walk in the door need to change to help prevent the spread of germs? Can you encourage kids to give elbow bumps instead of high fives? Our church removed the “meet and greet” time during our service and is stopping the practice of Communion for a few weeks. Look at your weekly practices and evaluate what might need to change during this temporary season.
- Communicate with parents the precautions you’re taking. Let parents know what your worst-case-scenario plan is and what you’re doing in the meantime, whether that’s through an email, text messaging, video, or all of the above. This will build trust with your families and help them feel more comfortable attending.
If your church will go “online” for a while:
- Check with your curriculum company about possible resources. I know both LifeWay and Orange are providing digital resources free of charge for this time. Check both the LifeWay Kids FB Page and the Orange Kids FB page for posts with details on the free resources they’re sharing.
- Record your own video or do a FaceBook Live to teach your regularly-scheduled lesson. You could even provide ideas for activities and discussion questions families can do together. Here are my favorite apps/platforms for hosting church online, and be sure to read these 5 tips for engaging kids through video!
- Leverage social media. As church becomes digital for the next few weeks, use your ministry social media accounts to provide ideas, encouragement, and even activity ideas for families. Use Instagram and FB to share activity ideas. Create a Spotify playlist of your favorite ministry worship songs for families to listen to at home. As schools begin to close too, your families will appreciate the simple ideas to keep kids engaged while everyone is stuck at home.
- Send church home! Check out one of the resources in the DKM Marketplace designed specifically to help families have church at home. Possibilities include Easter Family Devotional boxes, Easter Faith Challenges, an Easter family craft, Fruit of the Spirit Church-in-a-Box Series, and more!
- Equip parents to talk with their kids. While it’s important that you give kids time and space to talk about the coronavirus at church, it’s even more important to help parents talk about the coronavirus with their kids at home. Michayla White (INCM President) shared some great questions to ask kids, and Orange has a free Anxiety Conversation Guide for both preschool and elementary age. Whatever resource you use, provide parents with a way to help their kids process and navigate this situation.
- Be an ambassador of correct information. Check with your local and state recommendations and help communicate pertinent information to your congregation (the CDC has the most accurate info and resources for local businesses, schools, and churches). Don’t play into the fear and panic surrounding this pandemic. “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV).
- Pray. Pray for those affected health-wise. Pray for those affected financially. Pray for peace and calm in the hearts and minds of your community. Pray for your leadership team as you all lead through a crisis. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)