Ministering to Preschoolers and Children in Challenging Times

Originally Posted on September 23, 2020

Webinar Transcript

– Welcome this morning, from Prattville, Alabama. I hope you are doing well around the state. Certainly, as we’ve done these series of Ministry in Challenging Times, we’ve gone through senior/adult ministry, student ministry, other aspects of ministry. And today, we get to look at preschool and children’s ministry in challenging times. And we are so grateful, again, Office of Leader Karen Churchill, to have you with us today. Grateful for our leader, Mike Jackson here, and in the background, Doug Rogers, always grateful for him. Certainly we’re grateful to have Patty Burns and Belinda Stroud with us today from the office of Sunday School and Discipleship, specifically in the area of preschool and children. And we’re grateful for their knowledge and what they’ve gleaned in these last weeks and months concerning what we’re currently challenged with today, and I know that as school is on again, off again, that people are wondering exactly when to do and what to do. And so, again, prayerfully, this will be a great positive time for you. Again, right before our leader in this office, Brother Mike, and would you please lead us in an opening word of prayer, please, sir?

– I will, thank you guys for being a part of this event today. For those of you who are joining the webinar, we welcome you. For those of you who are giving leadership, Patty and Belinda, we appreciate your willingness to share. We here in the LeaderCare Church Health office have been trying to help us navigate some of these challenging days with hopefully very relevant, very on-time, or timely type topics. Thank you for your tuning-in and your support of that. Whatever we can do from our perspective, we wanna help you. Just feel free to call upon us. Best thing we’re gonna be able to do for you and wanna do for you is pray for you, and we wanna do that right now, let’s pray. Father, you are God, and we thank you that you’re in control of all that goes on around us. None of this has caught you off guard, none of it has taken you by surprise. So Lord, in these days, in which you’re the sovereign Lord God of the universe, help us to put our trust in you, help us not to fear, but help us to trust you. Father, in these uncertain times, in these times that are truly unprecedented, Father, help us to know that as we lean wholly upon you, that you will guide our paths. Thank you for being there in the midst of difficult times. Father, I realize that some who are viewing in this webinar have suffered the loss of loved ones, have maybe tested positive for COVID-19. Many of them are struggling what to do with children in preschool ministries. Some of them are making tough decisions about church and its ongoing ministries. Others are struggling with what to do family-wise with their children as a new school year is right upon us. So Father, give us wisdom. Your word tells us if any man lacks wisdom, let him ask. Thank you for the wisdom you’re imparting to those that are gonna be leading in this webinar. Thank you for the behind the scenes work of Doug Rogers, for Ken Allen’s faithful service through our office here, and helping lead these events. And Father, again, I just pray that you would bless Alabama Baptist, that we would hold forth a light in the midst of dark times. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

– Amen, thank you, Mike. And again, the format will be that Patty and Belinda will take about 20 minutes or so and share with us, and then we’ll have time for question and answers. And so Patty, without further ado, take it away.

– Thank you, Ken, thank you, Ken and Mike, both. It is a privilege to serve in the office of Sunday School and Discipleship in the areas of preschool and children’s ministry. It’s very dear to my heart. And Belinda and I just wanna come and give you some encouragement. We wanna give you maybe some things to think about, some suggestions, some questions, because we’re all going through this together and we all need to network, and to be a team. But first and foremost, we need God’s wisdom, we need his guidance. We know that every church is different. Every church is unique, God created us that way. We know that some things that are gonna work for one church may not work for another. Sizes, locations, the different things that all play into that. So we’re hoping that through this webinar today, some of the things that we say will affect some of you, and some of it may not, but we do hope that you can take away some things that you can use in your church and in your community as you reenter, and as you start ministering again in-person, hopefully very soon with the families in your church. The first thing we know that we need to do is we need to pray, and we know Colossians 3:23 says that we are to do everything with our whole heart and as unto the Lord. And so, as we are looking at reentering and reopening our programs, we definitely wanna pray and we wanna seek God’s wisdom and we wanna seek His guidance. That’s always our first step because that’s our foundation. That’s what we will base everything else on. And so we’ve been praying, and as we pray, and we feel God is leading us in the direction that we should go, and our timing, we don’t necessarily need to, I don’t think, reinvent the wheel, if you will, for reentering our building. There is a lot to think about, but I have a little acrostic that I came up with that really says simple is best. And so I’m just gonna run through that with you and maybe it’ll give you some ideas, and then Belinda’s gonna come on in a little bit and she’s gonna share more about reentering, and programs, and things like that. So to begin with simple. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. If it’s important enough for us to make a new policy, which reentering our building, reentering our nursery, our preschool programs, we may need to look at some of the policies that we’ve had in the past. We may need to add some new policies. If it’s important enough for us to change or to add, we really need to enforce it. And then we need to lead by example. Again, we’ve prayed, and we’ve prayed, and we know that we’re going in the direction that God is leading us. We’ve talked with our team, we’re all on board. And so we just need to have the confidence that we are doing what God is leading us to do, and that we are doing what’s best for all who are involved, for the church as a whole. And so that would be the S is say what you mean, and mean what you say. The I would be for information overload. Make sure that your church family, your volunteer staff has all the information they need. And sometimes information overload can seem overwhelming, but we want them to know what’s going on. We want them to stay up-to-date. And so we want that information to be as accurate as possible. And so coming from the pastor, from your leadership team, the staff, the children’s pastor, these are the places where we can find accurate information, and as we give that information, we wanna stay as positive as possible. Because again, people are tired, some people are scared, and we just need them to know that we, as a church staff, we, as church leadership, we are praying and we know that God is in control of this and He is gonna get us through this. So we just give them the information that we have and we give them the most positive in the best way we know how. The M of simple, I would say is move forward. We don’t wanna remain stagnant. We know what has worked in the past, and so let’s keep doing those things. Let’s move forward with those things. But we also know that there were some things that we were doing before this pandemic hit that maybe weren’t working so well. This might be a good time to weed through those and maybe eliminate some of those things. It may be the time to look at adding and changing some things. Our church families have been away, and we wanna make sure that when we come back we are giving them the best programs as we possibly can. And so think about what worked before COVID, what were you doing, what was well, what was well-attended? What were your families really engaged in? Keep those things, and work on those to make them even better. But maybe there were some things that you were looking at and you were praying over, God, what should we do with these? And maybe now is the time to eliminate those from your schedule. I would say the P of simple is pray and plan with a purpose. I’ve already spoken about prayer. It’s the first thing that we should do, it’s the most important thing that we should do. We don’t wanna say, “God, will you join our plans”? We wanna say, “God, you have the plan, would you please draw me into it? Show me that plan, talk to me, get me involved with that, because I only wanna go where you’re going.” And so we pray, and we ask God to give us that plan, and through our prayers. And then we wanna make sure that our plans have a purpose. That what we’re doing is clear, and why we’re doing it is clear. Make sure your church, your staff, your volunteers, they understand the why of what you’re doing. Why we’ve planned this for our children. Why we’re not doing this anymore, why we are doing this. I think when people understand, they’re gonna be, it’s gonna be easier for them to jump on board, to support it, to be positive about it. And sharing, you know, the overload of information, making sure that that’s accurate, we also wanna make sure that as we share that information, we’re sharing the purpose behind what it is that we’re doing. The L of simple, I would say is love on your people, and lead them well. There are some folks out there that are really lonely, and you know, I have been a preschool children’s pastor, I have been a family minister at a couple of different churches, I know many of other preschool children’s pastors, and so we need to tend to, we sometimes tend to think about the families that are in our ministry, but if we could think about the whole church, if we could think about those that’s all of our volunteers that serve, and if we could love on them well, if we could just send a note, make a phone call, let them know they’re not forgotten. Ask ’em a question, send them something, make a front porch visit, just some way for them to know that they’re not forgotten, and we are still a church, and we are still involved, and we are still wanting them to be engaged. So love on them and lead them well, making sure that everything that we do is positive and that our attitude is good. We need to make sure, in my opinion, to make sure all of our church family knows that they are loved, and that we are looking forward to meeting with them again, and hopefully really, really soon. And then I would say the E for simple, to go back to simple, is engage your kids and family as much as you possibly can. Have plans to keep them engaged, and to keep them involved. I have seen so many wonderful creative ideas recently with Vacation Bible School, and the ways that churches have involved families, and more so maybe than ever. And so we wanna make sure that we continue to do that even after the reentering, even after we go back into our regular programs, we wanna make sure that we are engaging these families in Bible study, and in fellowship, and in worship. You know, we know a lot of churches that we have spoken with have started back with their corporate worship, and they’re doing it as family worship. Families are sitting together. They haven’t gone back to children’s church or extended care. And so what are we doing to help those families? You know, Bible study, some of us have been doing Zoom Bible studies. Some of us have been doing take-home pages, we mailed the take-home pages. Connecting with families with the lessons online are some ways that we have been engaging. Having worship kits in the worship service, having a preschool kit and a children’s kit, where they can follow along and be engaged in the worship service. And then there’s just some fun fellowship ways. Many folks in the preschool children’s ministry world, some friends of mine have done some cool things like drive-by pizza parties, where the kids come by, their parents drive them by the church and they grab a soda pop and a slice of pizza, or one friend rented an ice cream truck and drove it through the neighborhoods and kids could come by and they could get an ice cream. Pop-in visits, where they take a bag of popcorn and a can of Coke. And they’re just saying, hi, we miss you, we love you. We have not forgotten you. And so these are just some simple things to think about as we look at reentering, as we look at restarting our programs, some things that maybe will trigger some questions or some comments. But we’re gonna slip away now, but Linda Stroud’s gonna come in here and she’s gonna talk with you a little bit more about kids’ ministry and how we can minister to you guys through the pandemic, Belinda.

– Good morning, thank you Patty, for those wonderful words about how to make this complex situation a little bit more simple. My name is Belinda Stroud, and I have the opportunity and privilege to serve you as state missionary in the office of Sunday School and Discipleship. Patty and I work there as a team, and I focus primarily on childhood discipleship and Bible drill. And I work with the children’s ministry while Patty works with VBS and preschool. I did wanna give you an opportunity to learn about our website that we have specifically for kids ministry at the State Board of Missions. It’s called KidzlinkAL, and it is full of resources and things that the State Board of Missions offers for you and your churches. The first thing I wanna make you aware of is during these COVID times, we have created a resource called preparing your children and preschoolers to come back to your church building, and it is under the resources tab under blog, and you can go to it there, and it just has a lot of suggestions, and ideas, and questions that you may wanna ask yourself, and your church, and your church members as you prepare for children and preschoolers to reenter your church buildings. We know that schools are deciding now whether or not they’re gonna be virtual and online, or if they’re going to meet in person, and so a lot of the decisions that they’re making are helping us make decisions in churches as well. But we hope that this document will help you as you’re navigating through those waters. LifeWay also has a great resource called “6 Considerations for Reopening Your Kids Ministry.” You can go to their website and access this, and just enter in your email address and they will send you the E-book. It also has some wonderful posters that you can put all over your church building, in your preschool, and children’s classrooms to remind workers about how to wash their hands, parents about staying distanced from each other, children from staying distanced from each other. I think there’s about 24 included in that. So that’s a resource that is very, very valuable and it’s free, all you have to do is go onto their website and enter your email address. Then I want to specifically talk to you about how we can minister to families with children during this time, and become disciplers of children. I think if anything is positive in the COVID days, it’s that we’re seeing parents become the spiritual leaders in their homes. And we have several wonderful resources that we want to assist you with this, because I think we’ve all gotten busy and we have neglected that area. As parents, as church leaders, we tend to just say, “Let’s just take ’em to church and they can learn what they need to learn there.” But we know in Deuteronomy 6 that the Lord gives us specific guidelines about how parents are to be the spiritual leaders. So we want to work along with parents and families, and we want to train them in how to lead their families in spiritual ways in a more effective way. So under our resources guide, you will see Families in The Word. This is a PDF that you can download every quarter. We update them each quarter, and you can just hand these out to your church members. You can have them available for them. You can email them to them. But it has verses, and books of the Bible that they can go through together as a family and learn each quarter, and just get into God’s word in their homes. It’s a real simple resource and something that doesn’t take a lot of money or a lot of time, but I think it could be very beneficial. And each year we will go through 25 verses. So as a family they can learn 25 verses, they’ll read 10 Bible stories, and read through several books of the Bible if they use this resource. In over a three-year period of time, they will have learned 75 verses as a family. And these are the verses that LifeWay uses as the foundational verses that we want our children and preschoolers to know before they enter the student ministry area. So we think that they’re important verses, and something that families would love to learn and would benefit from.

– The next, next week, we are going to be holding a webinar on August 4th, from 6:30 until eight. And Bible drill leaders in Georgia, and North Carolina, and I have worked to create a resource for you called Four Ways to Learn Bible Skills, or do Bible Drill in a Socially Distanced World. We’re gonna talk about how families can do this at home. We can do this while we’re being online. We can do it at church, and we can do it while we’re discovering God’s world, and it has a ton of resources in it. It has activities that you can do with 25 verses. It has activities you can do with 10 key passages, or Bible stories that they can be used at church or in the home. It has ideas about how to be online, how to hold a Zoom meeting, that holds games that you can play with children and preschoolers in your church over Zoom. It has good insight about how to open your church back up and have children in the classroom, and what that’s going to look like. And then finally, it has games and activities that you can play outside, maybe in a swimming pool or a backyard, a park, if your church parking lot’s large enough you can do it there. So we hope that you will join us for that, Four Ways to Learn Bible Skills, or do Bible Drill in a Socially Distanced World, on Tuesday, August 4th. Then also we have two other training events that we wanna make you aware of. One Great Sunday are videos that are always online on our One Great Sunday website, and new ones will be uploaded on August 1st. And David Anderson from the Louisiana Baptist Convention has done five great videos for training for preschooler workers and for children’s workers. They’re 15-minute videos. You can have your leadership watch them at home. They can come to the church and watch them together. However you would like to use those, and they can be used anytime and are not time-specific. Then also, usually we have a great training session at Shockoe the first weekend of August, but this year, because of the pandemic, we have gone virtual, and it is called the Pinnacle. So each week in August we will be focusing on a different age group. And you can go to our website, PinnacleAlabama, and watch the recorded version if you would like, with the great leaders that we have leading these conferences. They’ll have a Q&A time at the end, and then they’re just wonderful resources for us. So I hope that will be a benefit to you. that you will check it very frequently, and that, as we are updating it, and that we can be a resource to you in many, many areas at the State Board of Missions, but specifically in children and preschoolers. So I think now we’re gonna take some time to take some questions, and hopefully answer some of those for you, things that you have specifically on your heart, and might be beneficial to your specific church situation.

– Yeah, we’ve got one, and it’s a question about, and probably not the easiest question maybe, but maybe not. Activities and games for preschool and children in the classroom. So you guys know some things that they can do for activities and games in person, preschool and children in the classroom?

– Linda, I’m gonna let you start with that one, ’cause you may have some things in that Bible drill material.

– Yes we do. There’s one section called Discovering God’s Creation, and there’s a lot of games and activities in that section, and as well as families getting into the word. That resource is specific. It can work either in the home or in the church setting, and there are a lot of good games and activities in that as well. One thing I’ve noticed over the past few months is churches that are meeting together and having children and preschoolers in their classrooms, they’re providing either a taped off area for them to have for them specifically for that person, or a hula hoop. And so that’s worked real well as they are trying to do games and activities. But when that resource will probably be online, August 4th is our target date for that, so if you will go online, then there’ll be several games and activities that you can use for that.

– Great.

– And this I-

– Go ahead.

– I might would add to that, Ken. You know, if you are going to be meeting in your classroom setting and not outside, one way to help with the social distancing, to give you more space in your room, would be to really remove any of the furnishings that aren’t necessary maybe in a preschool classroom. You know, I remember when I was a kid, we always sat on the floor, and so moving some of that so you can space the children out, because there’s a lot of games that we play and we could continue to play. I mean, if you use “Simon Says” or “I Spy” as something to review a Bible lesson, you can still play those at social distancing. You can still play them in a group at social distancing. So I would just consider, you know, what Belinda said, taping off some space, playing the games that you’re used to playing, just keeping in mind that we need to keep the children apart, or as best we can. But one thing that some folks have been doing is eliminating some of the things in the classroom to actually give more physical space for the kids.

– Super, here’s another question. Are recommendations now for all of preschool and children’s workers to be masked when they regather or is this to be determined at that time, whenever it is? All right, so recommendations for preschool and children’s working to be masked. Is that, have y’all seen, heard anything concerning that? I know that generally the governors, and again, we’re getting into an area where I would really need to read specifically, but I think that when you’re within six feet of someone, either outside or inside, you’re supposed to be masked. And so I would think that’s wherever you are, that would be true. So I would assume if you’re gathered with children and you’re within six feet of them, then the recommendation would be to be masked. Anything that you guys would wanna share, or.

– I just know that in, and I have not memorized the CDC guidelines, but in reading several of those, especially with weekday programs that have been reopened, it is a suggestion, and it’s highly suggested that you keep your social distancing, and if you can wear masks, to do so. But I have not heard of any churches specifically who have gone back, who have said masks will be required by their leaders. Again, you know, our governor has said six feet, wear your mask, it’s for the safety of others. I would say, as a preschool teacher, I know that we need to consider what a mask looks like to a child. I was talking with these VBS leaders the other day, and they had an escort system where the parent brought the child to the check-in station and then an escort took them back to their classroom, and then they would bring them back to the car when it was time to pick up. And there were a few children, when the escort went to get them, and they had the mask on, they just wouldn’t go to them. They cried, and they have, it’s made them very upset. And so the escort, the volunteer had to ask the parents, “Would you mind if we removed the mask just to keep your child where they feel comfortable”? And of course, the parent was fine with that. I do know that, and Cindy Thomas just mentioned it in chat, that there are some clear masks out there that could help with that situation. I have not purchased any, I’ve seen them around. But for a child to be able to see your smile, your face, I think that would help a whole lot. But as I said, a lot of churches have not gone back yet with their preschool and children’s programs. And I have not heard of any specifically that have said we will require when we go back, but then again, we’re in the process of making those decisions right now.

– And I know Cindy Thomas has mentioned a clear mask. So she says, “I have a clear mask to show you,” so that possibility is out there. I know that my daughter’s soon gonna be going back as a worker, she’s a college student at a daycare, and I believe they’re gonna have the face shield, so that will be, that will be a clear thing as well, and of course, having fun with it. Any kind of mask that might be child-related, that might disarm them to some extent, anything like that that could help would be a good thing. I’m looking at a couple of things, and I know that I’ve asked Doug about some links that people have asked about as well. But the registering for what you’re doing upcoming, where do they go again to register for that? Is it at Pinnacle that they go to register?

– It is, it’s at Pinnacle. And I would like to mention that Jeremy from LifeWay will be on with us on Tuesday night talking about childhood discipleship. Then we have Houston’s First Baptist, Tony Bianco, on Thursday night, he will be doing a conference about the use and misuse of technology in socially distanced world. We know that we have tried to steer children away from that in many ways, in many areas. And now they’ve been put on it as far as virtual learning, and Zoom Sunday school, and things like that. So he spoke at the LifeWay ETCH Conference last year and did a phenomenal job, and is very up-to-date on that. So I think that will be very beneficial to both parents and church leaders. Then we will talk, Cindy Thomas will be leading us that Saturday morning, and on “Nothing Less,” a book that LifeWay came out with of research about what we need to do to minister to the children in our church, and what is the biggest, significant factor that they have in learning and growing toward the Lord. Then on Sunday afternoon, Danielle Bell, from Dawson Memorial Baptist Church will be with us, and she is going to be leading the conference on safety and security, and what that means just in general ways in our church, and how important that is, and then specific to what we need to do in COVID days, because that’s a very big topic, and something we don’t need to ignore, even though we’ve got a lot of other plates spinning with COVID changes, and things we’re doing to set up our classrooms, as far as that goes. And then Patty could probably tell us what she’s gonna be offering in the Pinnacle.

– We start on the 24th with Landry Holmes from LifeWay, and he will be sharing what is out there in preschool and children’s curriculum, what we can look for that’s new, what’s updated, what they will be offering as long as, as well as anything that would be online, virtual. So join us for that one on the 24th. That’s at six o’clock that evening. And then we have Beth Henderson coming in. She’s gonna talk about teaching all around the room. We know that the preschoolers definitely learn through visual and through hands-on, and so she’s gonna be talking about how you can use your entire room to teach the lesson. And then Letha Paulk is gonna be coming, and she is going to share about how to use sensory boxes to share with your preschoolers as you are teaching. And then on Sunday, Beth Baldwin will come in and just give us some basics, reminders, encourage us in how to use our preschool material, how to make the most of it, what to do with that. And then we’ll have a panel of all of these ladies following Beth’s teaching session, where they will answer some Q&A about preschool ministry. So really excited about those, and some really good topics.

– Okay, and so all of those will be found on Pinnacle.

– Yes.

– Let’s see, thoughts on masks, and we kind of somewhat, to some degree, answered some of those or something about masks anyway. Taking another, thoughts on taking temperatures upon entry, or teachers wearing gloves, et cetera.

– I got a question, Ken. As an interim pastor, ladies, can you give us some insights about how we can engage children and preschoolers in our worship? Now, the church I’m serving as interim, we’re not seeing a lot of children and preschoolers because their parents are fearful, and sometimes the parents are just frustrated that children won’t sit still during worship service, but we try to tailor our worship services to about 45 minutes where I’m serving. But do you have any insights for us as pastors and worship leaders, how we can engage children and preschoolers in worship? Patty or Belinda?

– Well, I think providing something for them every week when they walk in the door is a great idea. Just a Ziploc bag, maybe full of crayons, a chenille stem. One church I saw was having the children draw a picture as the pastor spoke the message that day and then give them to the pastor as they were leaving, or put them in a certain box, and then they could be displayed the next week when they came to church and see that. Also maybe providing a little snack in there if your church wanted to do that so that they could just stay engaged. There is a great book called “Parenting in the Pew” that we recommend a lot to parents, and it just talks about the importance of worshiping together as a family. And it would be a good resource for churches to provide for parents just to help moms and dads wrap their head around what it’s like to worship with children, and how it’s okay for their children to squirm, and it probably bothers them a lot more than it bothers everyone else. But children are learning so much by being in corporate worship with their family. So while I think it’s a difficult time because a lot of children are not used to going into church with their parents. I think it’s a great opportunity for us to teach some of these things that we’ve needed to be teaching, and for parents to learn, and for children to learn how to be in a corporate worship setting and to worship the Lord together as a family.

– I agree, and I would repeat everything that Belinda just said, kids kits, worship packs, worship notes, whatever you wanna call them, I did them for years before this ever came along with the children who had become too old to go into children’s church. And we’ve just kind of culled that down a little bit and we have a preschool pack, and then we have a children’s pack. The children’s pack follows along the pastor’s message a little bit more. It asks for them to be engaged in, you know, what was your favorite song in the worship service today? Who was the person who led the opening prayer? Here are some words to listen for in the scripture. Some different things like that for the older children, where the younger children it was more activity-based, you know, draw a picture, a dot-to-dot of something. We have seen where some have put like a little pack of Smarties in there for the preschoolers to snack on while they are in class. But, you know, I agree with Belinda. Family worship, I think, is really important. I think God calls the parents to be the ones who lead their children. We come alongside them and we help them with that, and, you know, I don’t know if you’ve ever sat in the back of a worship service before, but adults seem to wiggle and squirm a good bit as well. And so to expect our four or five-year-olds, or even our third graders to come into worship and sit still is probably unrealistic, knowing that adults have a hard time with that too. But many, many churches that we have talked to through the past week, that is what they’re doing. They have individual packs prepared, and then that goes home with them. We don’t get back those crayons. We don’t get back those baggies. That all goes home, and we just do a whole new batch for the next week.

– My daughters would be jealous. They would want something like that as well, no doubt. I also, during the pandemic, and as we regathered where I’m serving as interim, we did a parent child dedication service a few weeks back. It was a little different than what I’d normally done as a pastor through the years, ’cause normally I do a lot of touching. I would hold the child, or that kind of thing, but we made it a very special service. I had parents and grandparents involved, and engaging, and reading scripture, those kinds of things, as well as had a challenge for the parents, for the family, and for the congregation as a whole. But I tried to make it special so that folks felt like we were focusing-in that day on those two participants and their families in our parent/child service. And I would encourage churches, if they have not done one of those in a while, to look at that possibility. Usually those are done at Mother’s Day or Father’s Day in many of our churches. If you did not do those because you’ve not met, or were not meeting at those times, consider doing that and place an emphasis on children, especially those in a parent/child, dedication service. But Patty and Belinda, I thank you for the insights, that’s helpful to me. And I like the resource, “Parenting in the Pew.” I’m gonna look that up and make it available to some of the folks where I serve currently in an interim situation, thank you.

– Thank you Mike, for the question, again.

– Jill.

– Go ahead.

– I was just gonna say, Jill Arrington just posted on the chat a really good thought. You know, oftentimes we’ll have kid’s ministry days where we allow the children to pray, to be the greeters, to take up the offering. We’re not really passing the plate these days, but to just engage kids in leadership roles, how awesome that is. They enjoy participating, and so this might be a really good way to pull them in to lead in the opening prayer, or the offering prayer, or benediction, different things like read scripture, different things like that.

– Again, since we, go ahead.

– Well, I was gonna also say, I’ve seen several churches who, if they’re able to stream their service in another area of their building, they have set up a building with tables and chairs around the table for family units to sit. They may have Play-Doh, and markers, and crayons, and things like that at that table. So the parents can be there with the children and let them maybe color a picture, or do something while the message is being spoken, but they still participate in the music and the other aspects of worship in that way, even though they are separated from the rest of the congregation. And one other I saw recently was a pastor was leading music himself and he was doing preschool and children’s songs with motions and that really engaged the children and made them feel like they were part of the service.

– It brings a good element to the worship service, to include everyone in the process from the children on up. It really does engage everyone in the worship of the Lord. A good idea, and again, if you have a good many families that are coming, any kind of thing where you’re looking at, like you mentioned, having a venue where you’re around tables, or whatever, where it’s a two service thing, where you have a particular age in one and particular age in another, or just whatever, thinking through. I know it’s hard to separate ages in the church, but again, these are kind of a little bit of a strange time anyway that we’re living in. We kinda covered some on the masks, but there was still that question on, I don’t know if you guys have seen in many places that are taking temperatures, and again, some of this may be, future as we get together more with our children, et cetera. But taking temperatures upon entry, and teachers wearing gloves, any thoughts from you guys or what you have seen or have heard?

– I spoke earlier when I was given the simple outline about the possibility of needing to change some of our policies with our preschool and children’s area. And that may very well become something that we need to add to our policy, is that we’re gonna do a wellness check as they come in, taking temperatures and what have you. And somebody asked, I don’t know if it was in a webinar or a Zoom meeting that I was in, but what do you do if somebody comes in and they do have a temperature? You know, do you just say go home, or what do you do? And someone suggested in that meeting that you have a holding space where they can be socially distanced, because sometimes your temperature is affected by just walking in from outside, or having been in an air conditioned space, or whatever. So give them the opportunity to come back and have that checked again, because I think we all want to keep each other safe. We all are caring for one another. And so I know that if someone does feel that way about the temperature, we can help them. We can take that temperature and we can let them be a part of the classroom and be engaged if they are coming in well. Belinda, what have you got on that?

– Well, several day cares that have opened, but I haven’t heard specifically for Sunday school or small groups at church. But I know a lot of day cares are taking temperatures. And I think as much as anything, it gives reassurance to everyone who is coming to the church building that it is a safe environment and we’re taking precautions. But I think with everything we’re mentioning today, that there’s not a one-size-fits-all, and every church is very different. It’s just like all of us, we’re all different. And you have to look at the makeup and just what’s going on in your community, how high cases are. Some communities they’re way up, some communities there’s not very many at all, and size of church makes a big difference. So I think also it would be good to survey the people in your church before you reopen, and say, “How do you feel about these things? How would you feel if everyone’s wearing a mask? How would you feel if we took your temperature? Is that going to be okay with you”? Just to get a general idea about what the response for the church membership would be in that, because I think each individual situation is going to be different-

– And many people are, at least to some degree, beginning, I don’t know if getting used to is the word, but certainly there are many places that we’re going, where that forehead check is becoming the norm. So it may not be too bad in the church either. Again, there’s a couple of chats here that are good information as well. Daniel Waid mentioned what they’re doing, what they’re looking at from Wheaton concerning planning, a planning template there, Cindy Thomas mentioned about taking temperatures as well, and also printing security tags. So thank you for those, for those comments too. Again, as you guys were sharing this, I was jotting notes, and you want parents to feel as comfortable as possible, and when you were sharing Patty, that’s what came to my mind, is that you’re doing everything that you can in leadership and in that area to provide a secure, and that’s true, no matter what, no matter the circumstances. Just making sure those parents feel as comfortable as they possibly can, communicating that to them so that they will feel comfortable allowing their child to reenter again at that time, whatever that time may be. What kinds of kids’ ministry resources do you have for Spanish as a first language, if any?

– Very good question. I know, basically, what I know is through Vacation Bible School, many resources there. But I, off the top of my head, do not have any of those to pass along. I would be very happy to find who is asking that question and get you some.

– Daniel Waid.

– Okay, and get you some of those.

– Pastor, in Marshall Association.

– Okay, be happy to find some of those that we can send to you. Belinda, do you have something?

– No, I don’t specifically. And a few years ago, I actually investigated this pretty thoroughly as I was trying to do some ministry with some of my friends in Belize. LifeWay does offer a few items in their curriculum line. They have some VBS items, they have a team kit item, and I think they have Sunday school curriculum that is in Spanish. I will be happy to get with you too, I know one of our churches had some Spanish students in their Bible drill program a few years ago and we were working on getting some of our Bible verses translated in some of our curriculum, as far as that goes, into Spanish. So I will reach out to them and see what they were able to do with that, because I know that that’s a big need and many of you are reaching families that do not always speak English.

– [Patty] Right.

– All right. Well, let’s see. Yeah, in there, there on Sand Mountain, I was DOM up that way, and Daniel’s in that area. There are just thousands of Hispanics that we have a couple of churches that are up there, that are Baptist churches, but we’re really scratching the surface. And a lot of our local churches are also doing ministry to the Hispanic community at large in that area. So it is a big deal being from, not from that area, but having been a Director of Missions in that area.

– Well, I also, on the VBS state team, Zuli Lemus and her husband Carlos are at Autauga Baptist Association, and she does VBS training for Spanish churches and folks who are doing missions with Spanish-speaking, so that’s another resource that we could pass along. I’m sure they know a whole lot more about that than Belinda and I do at the moment.

– Yeah, Annel Robayna’s in our Associational Missions Office, and is our liaison to the Hispanic church. He too, Daniel, would be a great resource for you as well. Annel Obayna there, Robayna. All right, let’s see, here’s another question. Has anyone written new COVID policies yet that would like to share, as well as written COVID policies for teachers to let them know what is expected of them? Things they can or cannot do with children, maybe a place that everyone could share their policies so nothing is overlooked? So certainly, as we go forward, there may be websites or things, links that you guys may know of, that we can publish or let folks know about as we go forward with COVID policies for children. Y’all know of anything at this point, or a resource?

– I know there’s a lot of people asking that question. That is, it’s a popular question. And Belinda, I don’t know if I’ll have the name right, but Danielle Bell on Facebook has a page for children’s ministry leaders. Do you know the name of it?

– No, I can’t recall it right off the top of my head, but I think she has developed some policies for that at Dawson. And Karen, we will get your email address and I will search out some for you and see if anyone has any specific to that yet. I do know there have been day cares, like I said before, that have opened, and they’ve gotten policies written, and we could pass some of those along to you. We’ll be happy to do that. And if anyone else would like to receive those, if you could just put your name in the chat, we’ll be happy to get those emails to you. I do know one thing that one of the children’s ministers I was talking to said that they did include in their policies, and that they said at a moment’s notice, things can change. So I think we’re used to having time for things to change, but we’re becoming more and more used to not having time for things to change. And I think we do need to communicate that with our churches, that we’re gonna make the best decisions we know to make right now, and in a moment’s notice that may have to change. And so in a moment’s notice, you may have to disband Sunday school and everybody go to worship together, or things like that. So that would be a good thing I think I would include in there, but we’ll be happy to pass some of those along and get some of those resources to you all.

– Again, there’s been a comment there from Mr. Mark, for some sample policy there. All right, super. Okay, I think at this point we have made our way through the questions. I hope I did not miss any of those as we went through. Again, this video will be available. It takes a little bit of time to get that through the process where it is published. Again, it would likely be several days, or perhaps up to two weeks, but everyone who is registered for this will receive a confirmation email that it is published, and so grateful for those that accomplish that for us. And again-

– Hey, hey, Ken.

– Some great thoughts.

– [Doug] Ken, it’s Doug in the background. Real quick, we’ll also send out an email with a lot of resources and upcoming webinars, so you’ll have access to that in print, and it’ll be sent to anybody who registered for this. So I’ll send that out today with links to the webinars, as well as to the resources. So watch for that today, and then the video in a couple days.

– Yeah, someone has mentioned real specific kind of things that are part, that would be a part of policies, including permission for using sanitizer, hand sanitizer on preschoolers. And again, other mentions here of suggestions to include permission for use. Let’s see, children’s ministry ideas and encouragement, Danielle Bell page, which y’all were mentioning I think.

– Yes.

– And so, there we go. Thank you, guys. As we get to this point, I almost feel like it becomes, at that point, there’s a lot of different details that are part of really engaging with the children. And so this is a conversation that certainly will continue in other venues and other formats. Looking at what LifeWay has. I was looking on facts and trends this morning. They had an article from, I think, that was a LifeWay resource on “Four Ways to do VBS,” and so there’s a lot of resources that are out there. And just, we all have to remain students during this time of what is needed to navigate the world that we live in today. Any other thoughts that you guys might have as we get here toward, toward the end of our time together?

– I would like to mention, Ken, Patty mentioned that Landry Holmes will be on the Pinnacle Webinar. I think it’s August 25th, and he will be going over what LifeWay has to offer specifically for life groups and Sunday school for children and preschool. And he also probably would be a good resource for their Spanish literature that they have. So that would be a good time. They’re going to be offering a few things virtually and a few changes to the curriculum this fall. So as churches are thinking about reentering, that would be a good webinar to be a part of.

– And I would just add the information overload, you know, we want parents to feel comfortable. We want them, we want families to come back to church knowing that we’re doing everything we possibly can to keep their family, their child safe. And so sharing that information as we have it, updating it as we have it, you know, what Belinda said, I can’t think of a better time to be flexible and to take things as they come, and following our pastor’s lead most definitely. And the document that we shared with you about the six considerations, Belinda mentioned that it has some posters attached to that. Having signage all over your building once you come back, just to remind people, we have sanitizing stations, wash your hands as often as you can, even signs that say this classroom is full, you know, come back at such and such time, or whatever, some really good resources there. And then I think it’s, is it Daniel or David that just posted? Daniel Waid, this post that he just put here in the chat is a really good conversation with several children’s ministry leaders from all over the place. One of ’em, Jan McGregor from LifeWay, and they have some really good information in there as well about reentering and restarting programs.

– Which one specifically is that, the 21 steps?

– Yes.

– Okay.

– Yes, the 21 steps.

– Doug’s brought that up. Thank you, Daniel, for that. Super, a lot of good resources that are out there. And taking an hour or two to comb through, and look at, and get some of the best practices that are out there would be a really good thing to do.

– And if folks would just keep their eyes open, Belinda is wanting to have some more maybe Zoom meetings with preschool children’s ministers, where we can network, because, you know, as we have seen in this, the questions as well as the chats, we’re learning from one another, and we wanna just keep that conversation going.

– Yeah, I love the idea y’all mentioned of the ice cream truck. I’ve heard of churches doing that. And when they’re doing that, they’re ministering to the owner of the ice cream truck by buying perhaps $150 worth of ice cream, and then they’re ministering to the child as it’s given away. And I even, we were talking about this yesterday that they even use police officers to go with them that would pass out the ice cream to the children in places. So just a multiple type layers of ministry that was from that. We serve the Creator who, in essence, as you mentioned, the idea of prayer that gives us creativity. And so we need to be using Him as our source, our ultimate source and resource, as we look to, again, just thinking outside of the box, as we think through how to do it with adults through the Office of Leader Care and Church Health, we think in terms of small as well, and that might not be a bad thing, too, with our children is to think small, think in terms of getting all the first graders together. Maybe, again, Belinda was noting that we have churches of different sizes. And so where you might be able, one church may be able to get all of ’em together, and it’d be a small group, where another church it may be just be their first graders that are getting together. And so a lot of different creative ways in order to try to minister in these days. Well, again, thank you both for your time and attention in this. And as I’ve heard from what’s coming up this weekend, and other sources, and webinars, Pinnacle, on and on, there’s so much more to be explored that will be at your disposal. And we hope that you’ll take advantage of them as well. And I wanna share with you from our office, and again, thank you, Belinda and Patty. We appreciate your hard work, and your homework to get to this point. I wanna share with you that on August the 11th, our next webinar through our office here will be “Forecasting the Near Future.” And so as you come up to just normal things that you would do, such as deacon election, et cetera, we’re gonna be offering that for church leaders, “Forecasting the Near Future,” on August 11th. And we’ve got other things that are kind of in the cooker now that I am really excited about, that maybe we’ll do two weeks later from this date, but we’re working on it. And I’m excited for the possibilities of this local church going forward. So look forward to sharing with you. Hopefully by then we’ll have some finalization of the project we’re working on here in the facility. So again, great to have you with us today. God bless you all. And let’s have a closing word of prayer. Father, again, we’re grateful for your goodness and your kindness. Thank you that we can be a part of ministry in your kingdom. And Father, as we gather, as we hear from those in the chats, and the questions, and from Belinda and Patty, this is a kingdom endeavor. As we look to the different resources that are out there with LifeWay, other state conventions, we’re grateful that we can be the body of Christ coming together to continue, Father, for the Great Commission, to go forth, even during this time. Lord, we know that there is no pause on sharing the gospel, and that you want us to continue safely and with wisdom to share the Good News. And so, Father, we pray that you would use this particular area in the church to continue that work of people hearing the only Good News that saves. Thank you again, we praise you, love you. In Christ’s name we pray, amen. God bless you all. We trust and hope that you’ll have a great day. Bye-bye.

– Thanks, Ken.

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