7 Reasons Why Social Distancing Makes Kid’s Ministry Tough

There are so many conversations happening about re-opening church following the quarantine and shut-down. One of the most puzzling factors for churches is what they should do with kids. Maybe you’ve heard about churches who are starting back with limited or no kids’ ministry. That’s so different from the “norm”. Why are many churches not willing to jump right back in? Check out these seven reasons below.

  1. Toddlers and preschoolers can’t measure six feet. Our smallest congregants require a whole lot of touching, snuggling, and close, personal care.
  2. If kids are with their friends, you aren’t going to be able to keep them six feet apart. Under normal circumstances, kids have trouble recognizing others’ personal space. Now consider that these kids haven’t been around their friends for nine weeks. They are going to be so thrilled. Is it fair, or even healthy, to ask them to stay distanced from their buddies? That’s a lot to ask volunteers to manage.
  3. If kids are together, they need to be together. When I try to envision a kids’ worship environment or a small group where everyone is spaced far apart and there is limited interaction, it makes me sad. I mean, can we even serve goldfish?
  4. Our environments thrive when they are warm and friendly, not sterile and smiles are covered by masks. One mom said, “I don’t want my kid to come to church and feel like we are at a hospital.” I know kids are probably getting accustomed to seeing masks in grocery stores or other public places. But a stranger passing by wearing a mask is different than your teacher at church greeting you from behind a mask. For all I know, masks are here to stay for awhile, but let’s take some time to help us all adjust.
  5. Daycares are a different story. One argument that I’ve heard for opening kids’ ministries is that daycares have been open the whole time. The daycares (at least in our area) were very limited in who they served. They had the same small group of kids every day. They were also very restrictive about adding in more kids. It was still a very limited environment. That is tough to replicate in children’s ministry. We can have smaller groups, but we can also have totally different kids from week to week.
  6. Volunteers may not be available. As things reopen, many people are assessing the risk for themselves. Many people are ready to jump right in. Many are hesitant. Senior adults have been advised to still be cautious. One of our volunteers is medically vulnerable and may not come back until a vaccine is available. Kidmin leaders and volunteers need time to restructure if needed.
  7. We have to figure out hygiene and disinfecting. The day I heard someone suggest we would need to throw out all play dough and disinfect every marker in between services, I knew we weren’t ready to come back. Obviously churches are going to need to re-evaluate their procedures for the long term. However, let’s take some time to figure out what will be reasonable going forward.

I think it is important to remember that this is a season. Just like our “stay-at-home” season didn’t last forever (though some days it felt like it), this will not last forever either. My encouragement is twofold. First, don’t work so hard to accommodate guidelines that you make church a super weird experience. Parents and kids worshipping together is a beautiful thing. I wrote about that recently here. Second, don’t completely ignore guidelines and potentially put your church and community at risk. Find a place in between those extremes where your church can gather and worship, even if it looks a little bit different. You may be surprised. You may see God doing unique things in this season that you never anticipated.

Comment

  • It is complicated for sure. I appreciate your perspective and looking at the big picture.

    We have done deeper cleaning mostly because we have high use, generally 6 days a week and have the time.

    We do have high expectations of our processes as adult leaders, not unrealistic expectations for the children.

    It does create opportunities to improve ministries. And it gives everyone permission to start fresh.

    I can’t wait to see families again at church but we want it to be appropriate for children… clean, safe and secure. I really believe these days will allow a great restart, continued family ministry connection and a revival in the heart of believers to live stronger for Christ’s sake

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