Summer is here, and kids ministry leaders everywhere find themselves re-entering into the joys and challenges of conducting busy summer ministries like VBS, attending summer camps, and creating summer programming to re-engage kids and families. It has been encouraging to see so much momentum around vacation bible school this summer. If there was any question as to whether kids would return to at-church events, the answer is a resounding, yes!
The good news is that the positive response we have seen to summer ministry events would seem to indicate that kids and parents are ready to come back to church. Ready or not, kids are coming back, and we need to make sure we are ready to go when they arrive. It may be tempting to take a break and relax with a major vacation getaway and let ourselves let down after camp and VBS are over, it would be wiser to take a brief respite and quickly reset our sights on fall. The reality is that the calendar is not our friend. Time is short, and, if we are honest, many of us are not really ready. If you feel like you have been running late and making a lot of last-minute decisions you are far from alone. We have all been functioning in a reactive mode, shrouded in uncertainty, without the ability to plan as far ahead as we would prefer.
Although we don’t have eons of time to regroup, we do have a window of opportunity to make preparations over the next few weeks so we can get out in front of what we hope will be a significant fall influx. But we cannot afford to delay. Now is the time to make key decisions and take important actions as we anticipate the restart of our kids ministries, some or all of which may have been on mothballs for the last 18 months.
We cannot afford to simply return to what we did a year and a half ago. This is time to reassess, reevaluate, regroup, reenlist, reengage, and possibly reinvent our kids ministry strategies, programs, and personnel. We need to re-design our ministries to make sure that they are well informed by the current state of our culture and make adjustments where necessary. In many regions churches have already returned to ministry as usual where they no longer require leaders or kids to wear masks or to enforce strong guidelines on social distancing, however it is wise for us to continue to implement standards and practices that minimize contact and maximize space for everyone in attendance. If you have not already reviewed and updated your guidelines, now is the time.
The Lifeway kids team has created two important and helpful e-books that you can find at lifeway.com/kmfa. 6 Considerations for Reopening your Kids Ministry gives insight in regards to standards of practice for safety, cleanliness and volunteer preparation and 10 Attributes of an Unshakable Kids Ministry helps you reevaluate your priorities so you can best serve kids and families as we emerge into a new post Covid season.
We anticipate what may be the largest fall kick off for kids ministries anywhere, ever, so we would all be wise to create strategies specific for re-engaging kids and families who have not attended regularly over the last 18 months, and to welcome and invite new families from the community to visit our churches this fall. Summer is a great time to offer fun family events in your fellowship hall or parking lot to attract and connect with kids and their families. This is a great opportunity to proclaim that your kids ministry will be back in a big way this fall. Starting this conversation early will help kids and families prepare now to be back then. To help you host a successful relaunch event, the Lifeway kids team has also provided a handy kit for creating your own fall relaunch celebration. The Go Time Kit is a printable download that will help you outline an experience for families that will reestablish relational connection between your church and the community you serve and restart momentum as we get ready to press go.
As we anticipate a massive return of kids and families to our churches this fall nationwide, we as kids ministry leaders need to not only gear up to re-open our doors and prepare our spaces for kids to be back, but also reevaluate our strategies in light of a world that has changed. Whether we are ready or not, fall is coming, and it is coming fast. Now is the time to get ready, and to reset, so that we can be all-systems-go as we near September and the relaunch of our kids ministries.
Chuck Peters is Director of Operations for Lifeway Kids. Before his role at Lifeway, Chuck had an extensive career in television and video production. He is a 3-time Emmy Award Winning producer, director, writer and host. A graduate of Columbia Bible College, Chuck, and his wife, Cris, have served vocationally & voluntarily in Student and Children’s Ministry for many years. They have four amazing children: Tally (21), Tristen (20), Tyson (14) and Tate (11).