Lake Wales church invests in children, families with drive-thru activities

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LAKE WALES–Connecting with children and families during this time of a pandemic has proven to be challenging for Florida Baptist churches. 

Yet, First Baptist Church of Lake Wales knows making this connection is vital to investing in this next generation. 

While the congregation has built “a strong online presence with families,” said Candice McKeon, children’s ministry director, church leaders wanted to “get the kids away from the computer screen. Between learning from home and normal screen time, we decided that online connection groups would not be our focus.”

So instead, the church began sponsoring “FBCLW Kids Konnections Drive-Thrus” designed to inspire and lift spirits of children in the central Florida community.

First Baptist Church of Lake Wales, Easter, Coronavirus ResponseThe first drive-thru event was “Eggstravaganza,” held on Thursday before Easter. Children ministry leaders invited the children–and of course their parent drivers—to enter under the portico where a costumed bunny and teachers handed out 252 Easter baskets filled with plastic eggs, candy and an Easter-oriented craft for kids. 

The idea proved so successful that the church began a weekly Kids Konnections Drive-Thru. During these events, families again drive through the children’s area and receive an age appropriate bag, for ages up to 5th grade, filled with the week’s lesson, activity, snack or treat, and a note from their teacher. 

“The turn out and support has been wonderful,” said McKeon. “Each week we have handed out 50-70 bags!

First Baptist Church of Lake Wales, Easter, Coronavirus Response“We open this to the community,” she added, “and it is serving as an outreach tool during this time as well. Our youth group even took the time to chalk the drive-thru area to deliver a colorful entrance for families.”

As the children are driven through, teachers make hearts with their hands as expressions of love in the “hugless” environment. 

The teachers also sent cards and an activity to each student—3rd through 5th graders. The activity included a scripture card to color along with an addressed envelope. These colorful messages of hope and love were then sent to church members unable to leave their home during the quarantine.

“We are showing that the church is not the building, it’s the people,” said McKeon.

 Ministering to families is a priority of the Polk County church, located in the very center of the Florida Peninsula. 

Early on during the quarantine, Pastor Scott Markley urged parents not to “squander” this unique, concentrated moment with their children, but to “use this time wisely to invest in your children and disciple them,” he said.

“The reality of this is you may never experience weeks like this with your children.  Make them enjoyable, memorable and valuable so one day you and your children will look back and say ‘wow, God redeemed that time for us.’”

By Candice McKeon, First Baptist Church of Lake Wales, May 14, 2020

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