As time presses on during this pandemic crisis, churches around the world are getting creative. They’re finding ways to reach their adult congregations, youth groups, and even school-aged children. But what about families with younger kiddos? How can we make sure that our littlest ones know that they are loved and supported by their church? Here are three ways to connect with your congregants in the birth through age five range, as well as their parents, when gathering together just isn’t an option:
- Webchats: one of the simplest ways to check on your families with young children is to hold “virtual office hours”—times during the day that you can arrange with parents to have a quick virtual family chat. While large group videoconferences (like on Zoom or Google Hangouts or Facebook Messenger) are good for older children, that can be a little overwhelming for littles. Instead, schedule with one family at a time, for short sessions. During this time you can say hello and check in on any needs the family may have.
- Old-Fashioned Mail: Taking a walk to the mailbox may be the most exciting part of a family’s day! Sending out postcards to young children is a great way to let them know they’re missed. Your messages can be short and sweet (since these are pre-readers anyway) and can include photos of favorite parts of children’s ministry they may recognize. Good options: Smiling faces of caregivers, familiar toys or classroom equipment, a puppet, or something else fun!
- Videos (Songs and Stories): Little ones, though attention spans be short, really enjoy doing singalongs and story times with people who love them. Hosting a short, 15-minute-or-less live event on social media can be a great way to engage your families with young children. Encourage parents to request songs or stories for future events. Remember that, although repetition is especially delightful to young brains, really long songs or stories may not be. Plan to change up your activities every couple of minutes. A few quick songs, fingerplays, and a short story may be exactly the right amount of material to let these families know that they are still close to your hearts.
Bonus idea—if budget/possibility allows, many schools and churches are finding that families really enjoy having care packages (safely) delivered on their front porch. Some single-serve goldfish crackers, some crayons and coloring sheets, and maybe some stickers might be just the thing that makes the families feel less isolated and more part of a big church family.
Regardless of which methods you ultimately choose, even a small gesture from the church can mean a lot to families who are struggling. Here’s a treat: as you connect with the parents and kids, there’s a surprise built right in—the joy you’ll get from seeing and hearing from people will give your weary heart a boost too!