Many churches responded swiftly when covid restrictions were introduced in March 2020, with children’s, family and youth ministry being at the heart of the response.
It is encouraging to learn, both from research and from examples within our diocese, how many churches launched online activities and other means of support. These have included online services and groups, such as toddler groups, messy church and online Christingle services. Other ideas have included treasure hunts, outdoor activities, and outdoor services such as muddy and forest church. Children’s and youth workers and volunteers have worked hard to keep in touch with families, making phone calls, leaving activity bags on their doorstep, and going for socially distant walks.
In some contexts, the use of social media and online groups has strengthened relationships and attracted the engagement of new children and families. Many have been excited and enthusiastic, rising to the challenge of trying new things and reaching further into the community.
Nonetheless, continually evolving restrictions, the prolonged nature of the pandemic, furloughing of employed workers and digital fatigue, has significantly impacted the nature of children’s and youth ministry. Nearly a quarter of churches reported a decrease in engagement with children and young people; not unexpected when 30% of respondents said they were not able to run any activities specifically for the younger generation during lockdown. Churches are also reporting the loss of volunteers during lockdown, many deciding not to return to their roles. For many churches, the Coronavirus pandemic has made them feel even more cut off from children and young people in their communities.
With the imminent lifting of restrictions, it is tempting to return to a flurry of pre-covid activities and groups for children and youth. It is important to take time to reflect on what has happened, what has been learned and how this can improve the effectiveness of ongoing ministry. Paying attention to how to re-connect with children, young people and families at this time, considering their need’s is especially important moving forward.
To engage with and explore this area further please see the following sessions:
Opening up well: Re-engaging with young families and baptisms
Tuesday 13th July, 10.30-11.30am or Tuesday 3rd August, 10.30 – 11.30am
A session for clergy, children’s workers and volunteers that gives an opportunity to consider and discuss ways of re-connecting with young families and includes those who may have missed an opportunity for baptism during lock down. The session will include ministry to young families, including toddler groups and all year round opportunities to help them connect with church.
Opening up well: Re-engaging with children and young people.
Tuesday 20th July, 10.30-11.30am or Tuesday August 10th, 10.30 -11.30am
A session for clergy, children’s workers and volunteers that gives opportunity to discuss and give thought to how to re-connect with children and young people, considering the current context and lessons learned through lockdown. The session will be an opportunity to hear examples of good practice and to have discussions with others.
To book a place at any of these sessions please email Richard Barrett - email@example.com
Or for further information and support contact Laura Edwards - Laura.firstname.lastname@example.org