More than half a year has passed since I worshiped in my church building. My congregation last gathered in person on March 8. My most vivid memory of this final service was something that happened afterwards. I saw that a nearby family left something behind: a plastic storage container holding a half-eaten waffle their preschool-age son nibbled on during worship. I took the container home with me, planning to wash it and return it to them the following Sunday.
Oh, how I miss my church family!
Lately I’ve realized that I especially miss seeing the amazing changes in the little ones who are part of my congregation. I loved witnessing their spectacular advances from week to week and month to month. Since March I’ve missed out on watching these and many other milestones unfold:
Those newborns I saw in March have become crawlers.
Crawlers have become walkers.
Walkers have become runners.
Cooers have become talkers.
If you’ve felt challenged by how your church’s ministries have felt slowed, stunted, or even reversed during the pandemic, here’s a source of inspiration: the youngest members of your community are growing in spectacular ways. Their brains and bodies are developing on trajectories that lead to exciting new advances in mobility, communication, social skills, and more. And you may have discovered that some new babies have joined or will be joining your church community through birth or adoption—a great cause for celebration!
Here are a few tips to increase the visibility of families with little ones so that your church community can delight in them (and serve them):
- Ask parents to post “In March and now” photos on your church’s social media to show their child’s development over the last 7 months.
- Start now to recruit knitters, quilters, and other craftspeople in your church to create a simple Christmas gift that can be given to each young child in your congregation.
- Meals are appreciated by families with young children long after the first few weeks when a new little one joins the family. Ask families if they’re interested in receiving some freezer meals, take note of any dietary restrictions, and ask your broader church community for volunteers to prepare and deliver the food.
- Post pictures of your empty sanctuary, fellowship hall, and church nursery with captions that express how you miss having little ones in these spaces.
- Ask parents if you can provide the names of their family members to a prayer partner in the congregation.
I still have that waffle container. I’m waiting for the day when I can give it back to the family when we gather back in our building. (By then I’ll be giving it to a family of four—hooray for new babies!) Until then I’ll be missing those little ones and anticipating all the ways they’ll wow me with their amazing development.