Updated: Aug 12, 2020
If you’re like me, your mind has been racing since March. When social distancing guidelines were put into place, it became a scramble to adapt and keep moving forward with ministry. It was like driving on a long road trip and hitting construction and detours without warning. We want to keep moving forward, but we don’t know the best road to travel or directions to take. As exit signs for fall get closer and closer, there are some questions to ask and variables to consider that can get you and your leaders down the right road.
Remember the “Why” of your Trip
Many of us have a clear destination in mind. We know “why” we have chosen to go along this journey with our kids and leaders. We desire to make resilient child disciples that belong to a family of faith, believe biblically-sound teaching, and become like Christ in every walk of life. This is the place our ministries strive to reach and take our children, no matter the obstacles or bumps in the road. When we keep our hearts and minds on the goal to which Christ has called us, it helps us make the right decisions and not frantically follow the flow of traffic around us.
Determine your “What” before You get to it.
I’ll be honest, I’m bad about waiting too long to get over in the far lane to make my exit. I always think I have more time than I actually do, and this inevitably leads to cutting it close when I merge or missing my exit altogether. As you plan for the fall, determining your exit ahead of time can save you from last minute decisions you might regret in the later. Undoubtedly, many of you have been considering and praying about what your ministry needs to do this fall for several months now. Do you have in-person ministry at your church? Do you run clubs virtually online? Do you equip parents to take over the wheel at home? Or, do you opt for a route that’s a hybrid of the three? As you consider WHAT you should, ponder the follow questions and ideas to determine the correct off-ramp for your ministry.
What is my church doing? For some of you, the “what” has been decided for you by your church. If your church is serving completely online, then online ministry might be the only course of action you have. For others, your church is meeting in-person, and you have to determine if it is best to have your Awana ministry meet in-person as well. The "what" will be different for every church and decided upon by multiple factors such as : the amount of Covid cases in your community, the comfortability of the parents, the direction of local school systems and the willingness/capabilities of your leaders. As you seek to determine your "what," ask questions, take surveys and get an overall impression of how those around you as you weigh your options.
Consider your destination. It can be easy to cling to what is easy or what seems normal in the midst of crisis. There is nothing wrong with things being easy or having a sense of normalcy, but those things are not the main goal or destination. The destination is making resilient child disciples. When we keep the goal in mind, we filter our decisions through it, which leads us in the right direction. So, while meeting in person might feel normal for some, it may not be the best overall decision in making resilient disciples, and while virtual ministry might be easier for some churches, it may not be the best route for making disciples who belong to and become like Jesus. You know your kids and leaders better than anyone. As you picture their faces and consider where they are at emotionally and spiritually, you can determine the road to take them down that will best lead them to their destination.
Don’t let the “How” Distract You.
Once you've decided what you will do in regards to virtual ministry, in-person ministry or home ministry, then you must navigate how you will navigate your club once you pick an exit. If you’ve ever taken an exit in a big city, then you know the frustration of narrow roads and one way streets. It can be confusing for a new-comer to find his or her way through the streets. Similarly, some of you have chosen an exit with terrain to which you are not accustomed. Some of you believe in-person ministry is best, but you’re not sure how to run a club with social distancing guidelines and procedures. Some of you know virtual ministry is the route you need to take, but the thought of technology makes you nauseous. Perhaps, you see home ministry as your greatest option, but have no clue how to encourage and equip parents to take the wheel. If you are lost in the “how,” here are some questions and thoughts to consider:
The goal is connection... not perfection. You may not be able to do things at the level or capacity you once did, but that does make the journey pointless or your ministry any less vital. The goal of your ministry is not to craft polished lessons, create rigid schedules or execute prefect activities. Your goal is to connect with your kids, so that you can connect them to Jesus. Don’t lose your “why” in the winding roads of the “how.” You never know how powerful and life-changing your time, care and efforts can be in a child’s life.
"The goal of your ministry is not to craft polished lessons, create rigid schedules or execute prefect activities. Your goal is to connect with your kids, so that you can connect them to Jesus."
How do you want your kids to remember you? Often times, the greatest memories of a road trip come from the unexpected stops that come along the way. As your clubbers look back on their journey, will they remember leaders who fought to love and care for them despite the detours? Will they remember disciple-makers who made space for them in their schedules and hearts? Will they remember a church that did something?
As your clubbers travel towards their destination, they won’t remember how
good your video quality was in your virtual lesson or how perfectly executed your guidelines and procedures were for a game during activity time. Your kids will remember the loving, caring adult that did whatever it took to get them to their destination of belonging, believing and becoming like Christ.