The pandemic has brought some changes to church life, and children’s ministry has been no exception. Since March of 2020, we’ve done a variety of things to support the spiritual life of kids, from online gatherings, to at-home guides for families, to occasional in-person gatherings, and our in-the-garden program this summer which was offered twice a month for each age group.
This fall, we were able to resume some of our regular opportunities, offering Spark! for elementary kids and Ignite! for middle and high schoolers once a month. We also resumed Children’s Church once a month.
As I began planning for the new year, the element that remained elusive is the question of providing Children’s Church three Sundays a month, which has worked well in the past. Children’s Church, being during worship, is primarily volunteer-led. While we have many amazing children’s church leaders, the uncertainty of the covid time, and the general pandemic stress that many families are under, has meant that we’re not quite able to provide children’s church as often as we would like.
I’m also very aware that part of the fatigue of this pandemic is the uncertainty. Between covid exposure notifications, new variants grabbing the headlines, and cancelled events, it feels like our schedules are always shifting. With that in mind, and alongside the wise leadership of our moderators and church council, I’ve prioritized consistency in our plans for Jan-May. I wanted to develop a schedule that was sustainable, even if it meant easing into a schedule for Children’s Church rather than jumping into more than we can manage right now.
Here’s our base schedule for age-specific offerings:
- Spark! For elementary school kids, 2nd Sunday after worship
- Ignite! For middle-high school kids, 4th Sunday after worship
- Children’s Church during worship, 4th Sunday
In addition to those set Sundays, there’s another children’s church opportunity each month. One Sunday a month we’ll be joined by a professional storyteller in worship. Following the story she tells in the sanctuary, she’ll lead an additional storytelling time for children, accompanied by either me or Sarah.
If you like to plan ahead, each month’s schedule, including the storyteller dates, will be published a month ahead.
I know I’m not alone in my eagerness for a return to weekly opportunities for Children and Youth, but as I’ve pondered where we are, I’m very confident that the spiritual needs of kids are being met with this balance of age-specific and intergenerational offerings. Developing a worship space that is inclusive of children has been a priority of my work here, as well as Sarah’s. Involving kids in worship leadership, the coloring table, having the nursery in the back of the sanctuary, the length and pacing of the service are all decisions we’ve carefully made in order to ensure our space is open to people of all ages and abilities. The added availability of Children’s Church twice a month this winter/spring is a solid rhythm for this time, and it will put us in a good position to make decisions about how to move forward.