By Kerry Provost, Awana Canada
What may seem like an insurmountable obstacle can lead to some awesome creative discipleship ideas for kids and families.
When the pandemic began earlier this year, the staff team at Awana Canada made the decision to limit face-to-face interactions with partner churches.
We encouraged everyone to to follow Canadian health advisories and suggestions regarding “social distancing.” We asked they consider how ministry can be an example of caring and caution in neighbourhoods and communities.
It was a decision made not out of fear, but with the intention to protect the most vulnerable people with whom we come in contact.
Full disclosure, though, when this decision was made it felt a bit like a punch in the gut or a serious inconvenience at best.
Socially, I am a hugger. I need a fairly constant dose of people around me and can easily feel isolated or lonely. During the first weeks when the kids were home, this presented some challenges when it came to getting things done. I, like most, am a creature of habit. COVID has forced me to consider these habits and re-evaluate them in light of all the changes that have been forced upon me.
Creative Discipleship Ideas
Shortly after Awana’s decision, I saw a note from one of our church partners in Quebec who had written a letter to families about the temporary suspension of their ministry activity. They encouraged parents with some specific suggestions for how to engage their kids at home.
Other pastors let us know about alternate ways to conduct Sunday services, and some neighbourhood friends came up with creative ideas to get through the weeks, and now months, ahead with family.
It reminded me: While there is no doubt that restrictions are inconvenient, we can also see challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles. Here are nine creative discipleship ideas to help you create opportunities at home.
1. Stay connected.
As a leader, let your kids know that when ministries and activities do resume, you will be there and ready. In the meantime, consider staying in touch virtually or recording lessons for kids to watch at home. Relationships, discipleship, and conversations are not cancelled!
2. Schedule game time at home.
Try a family favourite board game or if you are more ambitious why not try some Bible trivia or a mini quizzing tournament? If your ministry has a Facebook group or other digital presence, encourage families to share their creative ideas.
3. Memorize Scripture.
Choose short sections for your kids to learn. Ask families to record kids reciting a passage and giving a short explanation of what the verse means to them. If you have permission, share the videos to encourage others.
4. Write a note of encouragement.
Encourage kids to send a thank you note to a leader for all that they have done to bless the ministry so far this year, or a note of encouragement to a friend or church member.
There are many acts of service that can be done during times of “social distancing”. Encourage kids to be creative with what they can do for their community. Write letters for elderly people in a nursing or retirement home that is closed to visitors. Consider a litter pick up at the park or around the church. Bake cookies for a neighbour or do some yard work for someone you know.
6. Get those creative juices flowing.
Ask kids to create a game that would be fun to play with friends once you can meet up again!
While activities are suspended and you have more time at home, encourage families to dedicate one night to prayer for those impacted by the pandemic. Use a world map to travel across the globe praying for healing, encouragement, financial losses etc.
8. Be a blessing.
Encourage kids and families to consider how they can bless someone in their communities who is directly impacted by this pandemic. Local physicians, insurance offices, medical clinics, travel agencies, and local businesses have temporarily shut their doors. What would it mean if you dropped off a plant, some baked goods, or even a thank you note? These people are being stretched right now and they would likely be encouraged by a small act of kindness.
Encourage kids to write out their thoughts. Write one entry for each day school is out or a program is cancelled. As a leader, you can suggest some specific questions or ideas such as: How does being at home change your relationship with family? How do you stay connected with your friends? What fun game ideas can you come up with? How do you feel about your relationship with God? Journal entries can lead to interesting future conversation points once in-person ministry resumes.
If you are intentional with some creative discipleship ideas during this time of restriction, you will impact some little lives in significant ways. We might all be better off as we think creatively about ways to engage and disciple from a distance.
Imagine the impact: families encouraged by your leadership through challenges, encouraged to engage meaningfully with their own children in partnership with you, and encouraged to creatively care for their own communities.
There are opportunities in times like this, we just need to get over the inconvenience and be adaptable.
This article is an edited version of an Awana Canada blog post, and is used with permission.