My Quarantine Ministry Lessons – So Far
I am certainly no expert on how to do kids’ ministry during a pandemic. None of us are. We are all just trying to keep our heads above water and making it up as we go. I wanted to share eight things I’ve learned so far. I would love to hear the lessons you’ve learned along the way.
- Connection is more important than perfection. There is some great, high quality stuff coming out. It can almost feel overwhelming if we are trying to keep up with the onslaught of resources. But I really feel that your families need connection more than they need something perfect. They need to know that someone cares. They need familiar faces and voices.
- Ministry has to be highly personal. People need people. Your ministry success right now is not producing stuff as much as it is checking on people and helping families feel remembered and connected. Especially at this stage, people feel isolated. We have to connect as much as we can.
- Parents are overloaded right now. Between worries about finances and jobs, figuring out home school, working remotely, and just the chaos of the world in general, parents are beyond capacity. Stress levels are super high, which affects kids too.
- We assume too much what parents need/want. I have heard a few children’s ministers complaining that parents are not engaging with the great material we are sending out. The issue might not be the parent. Let’s make sure we are really understanding what parents need right now, not just going off of what we think they should be wanting. I sent out a simple survey to our parents just to try to evaluate if we were helping or adding to the noise. Ask real live parents to share with you what they need and what resources are helpful.
- Show grace to all the people. You’ve probably seen the Facebook quote about how none of us know how to live in a pandemic, so no wonder we don’t know what we are doing. This applies to the parents in your ministry. This applies to the people who say snarky things on social media that hurt your feelings. This applies to your co-workers who you are mis-communicating with as you all try to figure out how to work together remotely. We are all a mess. We are all emotional. We all need grace upon grace.
- Show grace to yourself. You are in a situation where you are having to make ministry decisions on the fly with information changing every twelve hours. None of us are trained to do that. You made the best decisions you could make in the moment with the information you had. That’s all you can do. I’ve second-guessed myself a hundred times on our Good Friday plan. Canceled, then refigured, then canceled, then wondering if we should have done it. In the grand scheme of things, it just doesn’t matter.
- You’ve got to find a rhythm. The first few weeks of shutdown were like a massive fire drill. Everything changed overnight. Everything was urgent and we were all in crisis-mode. But we can’t live there. Now that we know we are here for at least a few more weeks, we can’t live in crisis. Find a rhythm. Determine what really has to be done and what is really beneficial.
- Self-care is super important. This is a whole different version of busy. You are likely also juggling personal stresses and increased home responsibility. You may be trying to figure out how to connect a congregation from your living room. You’re dealing with your own anxieties and fears. Find healthy things to do. My top three have been: walking every day on my own, FaceTiming some of my best friends just to laugh, and memorizing Scripture so that when my brain starts going down dark paths I have something else to focus on.
What are you learning as you navigate ministry?