PENSACOLA–With an indefinite stay-at-home order in place, children’s ministries in Florida are exploring new avenues for teaching kids about the love of Christ. Right now, families are confined at home, which have become the sole place of learning, play and worship.
With physical meetings out of the question, children’s ministries are turning to alternative sources of communication, spanning from good-old fashioned mail to new technologies through social media. While many churches have started doing kids worship through Facebook and their websites, the outreach doesn’t end on Sunday.
Hillcrest Baptist Church in Pensacola mailed postcards to every child in their ministry. In addition, they created a social media schedule of certain posts like Memory Verse Mondays, Time-Talent-Treasure Tuesdays, Wacky Wednesdays, Think-About-It Thursdays, and Family Fridays that involve the entire family. They have provided teaching and worship elements on Facebook for kids on Sunday, as well.
Hillcrest’s Kids director Melinda Madison said, “Relationships matter, no matter how we approach it. We must be the church outside of the building and remain intentionally missional.”
To continue building those relationships, Hillcrest’s children’s team carefully packed and distributed goodie bags with crafts, activity pages, and scripture readings drive-thru style. Hillcrest’s children’s ministry team is also making sure they reach out to volunteers weekly, either through calls or text messages, to ask how they can be prayed for and to plan ways they can reach their kids.
Pine Terrace Baptist Church in Milton does prize drawings based on online participation to keep kids engaged. If a child recites Bible verses, shares something they have learned, or completes their worksheet, they have a chance to win a prize which will be delivered by mail.
The church urges leaders to keep in contact with the children in their classes. And through that outreach, the leaders are encouraging kids to write letters to schoolteachers and to the homebound.
“My prayer is that God would use this time to get us all back to the basics, said Shelley Waters, Pine Terrace’s children’s director. That He would help us see areas of opportunity in ministry and within our families where we can come alongside them in prayer and support, not just during these times, but especially when we come back together.”
Hiland Park Baptist Church in Panama City is also finding ways to creatively love families in their ministry area. Although newborns and their families cannot be visited, the church is making sure they celebrate the new lives by mailing packages to the growing families.
They also are mailing out activity kits to families. The first deliveries were a preschool pizza kit and a family movie night kit, complete with a bag of popcorn, gummy snacks and kid’s movie tray. The kits include a schedule of all online activities, along with Bible lessons for the month, pre-printed and ready to go.
According to Tammy Kirkland, director of children’s and preschool ministries, “We don’t want kids church to be ‘another checked-box’ for the week. Our goal is to prayerfully and strategically continue our partnership with parents so we can disciple their children amidst all the obstacles and changes. We’re really just trying to love our families in any way that we can continue to tell the story.”
First Baptist Church in Panama City is taking steps to reach out to children in their ministry by offering “Story Time for Kids” three times a week on Facebook Live with their minister of childhood education, Ginger Owens. This special story time allows for personalized interaction, so the children know they are cared for and loved.
Zoom calls have been helpful, said Owens, because they allow kids to interact with each other and their teachers while apart. First Baptist’s children’s team is also sprinkling the town with chalk art, leaving leave scripture verses and personal messages in church families’ driveways.
“Our preschool and children’s team is thinking of ways to reach kids and their families that show they have not been forgotten and we still care for them and looking forward to seeing them soon,” Owens said.