There are a few words that make me cringe like ‘change’ and ‘transition.’ I like to have a plan. I want to follow that plan. And it’s a good plan because I’ve been planning the plan for a long time, thought thru “all” the possible scenarios, and planned for unexpected changes.
Enter the pandemic of 2020.
Plans went out the window. I couldn’t have imagined a scenario like a shutdown and, therefore, I had no plan. The changes brought on by Covid-19 were unlike anything we had ever seen before and made previous life changes look like child’s play. Besides the transitions that were happening in my home, life at church changed so fast that, in some ways, we’re still playing catch up. So it was time for new plans. New ways to accept, manage, and welcome change so life could continue in new ways.
Time to Dig Deep
Throughout the pandemic and particularly at the beginning, people yearned for leadership. I was desperate for someone to tell me what to do and how to do it because I felt lost. I can only imagine that the people we serve every day in our churches felt some of that same longing and hopelessness.
It was time to dig deep—and our Children’s Ministry Team did! Now, nearly two and half years after the shutdown, there are a few things I’ve learned—and am still working on—that helped our ministry make its way thru and out to the other side. God willing, we will never face another global shutdown again … but we will face changes. And I believe the lessons I learned during that massive change will help during future transitions.
Simplify During Transitions
I haven’t met Kelly Johnson, but I would like to thank her someday for coining the KISS principle—keep it simple stupid. KISS does not imply that the user is stupid—but instead that even the simplest solutions in a complex and intelligent world can really work!
During times of change and transition, people need to know that you see them, hear them, and are there for them. Think of it as meeting basic needs—when in crisis, our families just want to know we care and can support them thru a difficult time. For example, during Covid-19, we started just calling and checking in on our families.
We prayed with families because none of us knew how we would get thru it all. Something as simple as a phone call kept families connected to our church. Parents truly appreciated the reach out!
I am intrigued by how Jesus often FED people first and then taught them. It’s kind of like how my mom always had a small bag of snacks in her purse on Sunday mornings. If my hands and my mouth were busy and my belly was full … then (maybe) I could listen and learn.
During Covid-19, our families needed, and still need, to have basic needs met. Next time you face a time of change or transition, keep it simple. Reach out. Phone calls can take just minutes but have a lasting impact! Our families need to know that, despite the chaos around them, the church is their family and will support them in any way we can. Meet needs first.
Reallocate During Transitions
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.Colossians 3:23
Nowhere in our team’s job descriptions did it say things like:
- Make two calls a month to each family.
- Package quarterly care packages for families and deliver to their doorsteps.
- Host drive-up Back to School and Christmas Eve services so families can worship in their cars while listening to the radio.
- Design and film a Vacation Bible School program that can be done completely online and from the comfort of home.
Yet that’s what we did. Our pre-pandemic responsibilities were centered around ministry in and around our building, yet we could not be together for months on end. So, we had to juggle and reallocate duties. We relied more heavily on the communication team to make sure everything was in sync since face-to-face communication and Sunday morning announcements were out.
Our whole team—not just ministry leaders—was reaching out to families. Some of our team members were even able to help out in other departments needs in those areas because of their strengths and passions. Not only did that build morale, but it encouraged growth in our teams as we supported each other during times of change and transition.
Play to Your Strengths
One of the most exciting things we did during the pandemic was parking lot worship. We had the capability to broadcast our service over a radio station so families could participate in a ‘drive-up theater’ style worship in our parking lot. We could remain socially distant, but still see faces and be together!
Our church had been doing family worship services around key moments in faith and life—back to school, Advent, and Ash Wednesday—so we decided to try an ‘in-person’ parking lot prayer service for a back-to-school celebration. Our church wasn’t worshipping indoors or in person at the time, so this change was actually very exciting and welcomed. And it was an awesome boost for our team—we loved designing family worship services, so we just changed the location.
We had worship music, and students and teachers led prayers for parents, kids, and faculty headed back to school. Families could see each other in their cars. Kids even stood up and out of their sunroofs and horns honked in celebration of the end of the world’s longest summer and the beginning of a new school year.
God Remains the Same
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.James 1:17
I still get chills when I think about that service … while it was obvious that we were in the parking lot and separated by our cars because of the pandemic, it was good. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good. The joy and excitement we all felt as a church because we did our best with what we had were so palpable. Families left excited about a school year ahead. Kids left pumped because they were allowed to stand up on their seats and hang out the sunroofs. God was praised for another summer under our belts and an exciting school year ahead.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.Hebrews 13:8
Despite all the changes in our world, communities, and churches, God is still the same. The same God who helped us form our pre-pandemic plans will help us as we transition into post-lockdown life. Lean into our God who never changes. He gave you the strengths you have to use for His glory.