The end of the summer approaches fast and the new church program year is about to begin. In family and children’s ministry, this moment in the pandemic is a strange place between life as we knew it before COVID-19 and kids who do not yet have access to the vaccine. In my congregation there is a wide range of families who have been engaged with online or hybrid church activities, those who have engaged in outdoor and in-person church activities, and those who have not been back to church since March 2020.
This summer I decided to reach out to the families I had not seen in a while and offer to make a visit to their homes. My congregation comprises people from all over our area, and making visits to families takes some planning.
I always take a big tote bag with some important items. I like to bring each family a Spark Family magazine and Spark Story Bible to enjoy. If the kids are reading age, I like to spend some time showing them the different Bible stories and activities. I also like to bring along a few lawn chairs, a picnic blanket, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, crayons, paper, glue sticks and scissors. You never know what creative inspiration might hit while you are chatting about David and Goliath or Esther.
I call or email ahead by a few days or a week to ask if I can come make a visit outside. I let the grownups know that I would like to see everyone, but I am primarily there to visit the children. In good safety practice, I make sure that the parents attend with their children, we sit outdoors, and we mask if that is more comfortable for them.
One thing I have realized in this time warp of the pandemic is that the kids are all at new developmental and emotional places, compared to where they were the last time I interacted with them. I catch up on how they have grown—both physically and mentally. I try to think ahead for each child and prepare a little fun activity based on a Bible story. We talk about God and share ways that God is with us at home, at school, and in our lives every day.
The joy of reconnecting with families and hearing what they have experienced for the past many months is wonderful. It feels good to bring Good News and comfort to them after this time of separation and isolation.