Three Possible Phases for Re-Opening Children’s Ministries

The questions I’m getting asked the most these days revolve around plans for re-opening kids’ ministry. These are such unique days we are encountering and there is no blueprint of how to manage children’s ministry. Every single community is different because the government standards and recommendations are different from state to state and in some places, even county to county. What works for a peer’s church three states over may not work for yours. Actually, in these crazy times, what works for the church down the street may not work for you!

In my opinion, there are three very generalized phases (are we tired of that word yet??) for churches to consider for re-opening their children’s ministry.

  1. Family Worship – I believe there are way too many unknowns for most churches to open and immediately have kids’ ministry. Families will worship together for a little while. I won’t rehash this one, but I have recently written my thoughts for pastors and for parents.
  2. Re-Opened, But Re-structured – Once churches feel comfortable transitioning to kids moving into classroom environments, it may still not look like it did in February. Churches may not have as many volunteers available or classes may be split up to create smaller groups of children grouped together. At this point, children’s ministries should not open everything, but rather focus on doing the essential things well. For example, if your ministry typically has two hours of kids’ programming on Sundays (small groups and kids’ worship), consider just doing whichever of those you can best manage at this time. If you typically do Wednesday and Sunday night, just focus on Sunday. Your church families and volunteers have been in a very different pace of life the past few months. Start slowly.
  3. The “New Normal” – I know we are tired of this phrase too. Even when (if?) social distancing is gone and gathering size limitations are a thing of the past, your ministry should still look different. Why? Because, hopefully, in the time where every single thing changed you learned a few things. You probably had your eyes opened to what was working and what wasn’t. You realized what content you provide that your families considered “essential”. You realized which pieces of your ministry everyone really could live without. You learned how to do some things better. You figured out where your priorities were skewed and your systems were broken. If you didn’t figure any of those things out, I suggest you spend some serious reflection time before you get to this phase of re-opening! This time is a key time to make a fresh start in your ministry. Lord willing, life will begin to resemble “normal” again in the coming months, but that does not mean that you have to do exactly what you were doing exactly like it has always been done.

Re-opening is an enormous task. There is no precedent for this. While we may feel alone in making these decisions, we have a wisdom that is more valuable than all Twitter, Facebook, and blogger musings. Psalm 32:8 contains a beautiful promise. “I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with my eye on you, I will give counsel.” God has amazing things ahead for your ministry and will lead you every step of the way!

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