Reach Kids, Equip Leaders, Change the World Blog

A few short days after our decision to limit our staff's face to face interactions on behalf of Awana, we have heard from many of our partnered churches with both questions and encouragements. The recent press release was about our staff team only, however, our recommendation is that everyone follow Canadian Health Advisories and suggestions regarding "social distancing", and consider how your ministry can be and example of caring and caution in your neighbourhood and community. I would like to stress that for our part, the decision to restrict staff movement was not a decision made out of fear but one intended to help protect the most vulnerable people we come into contact. 

Full disclosure, when this decision was made it felt a bit like a punch in the gut, or a serious inconvenience at best. Socially, I am a hugger. I need a fairly constant dose of people around me and can easily feel isolated or lonely. On top of that the kids are home and this presents some challenges when it comes to getting things done. I, like most, am a creature of habit and this situation has forced me to consider these habit and re-evaluate them in light of all the changed that has been forced upon me. 

And then I saw a note from one of our church partners in Quebec who had written a letter to families about the temporary suspension of their ministry activity. Parents were encouraged with some specific suggestions to engage at home. At the same time, several pastors we know came out with alternative ways to conduct Sunday services, and some neighbourhood friends of mine thought creatively about how to move through the weeks ahead with family. While there is no doubt that current restrictions are inconvenient, I hope that some of what I share today will challenge you to think about your situation, not as an obstacle but rather as an opportunity. 

1. Encourage kids and families to practice the next section of their handbook, plus one extra for good measure. Let them know that when ministries do resume, you will be there and ready. Award season is upon us and you want to see those kids that have worked so hard this year finish what they have started. 

2. Families can schedule their own game time at home. A family favourite board game or for the more ambitious why not try some Bible trivia or a mini quizzing tournament. If you have an Awana facebook page, encourage families to join the page and share their creative ideas with others in the group. 

3. Ask kids to record themselves saying  their next section memory verses with a short explanation of what the verse means to them. Ask them to send it along to you for credit of continued work well done. With parents permission these may also be shared as a means of encouragement to others. 

4. Ask kids to send a message to a leader or someone at their club for each week missed. This might be a thank you note to a leader for all that they have done to bless the ministry so far this year, or a note of encouragement to a friend or church member. 

5. There are many acts of service that can be done during times of "social distancing". Encourage kids to be creative and consider what they can do for their community. Some suggestions might be to write letters for elderly people in a nursing or retirement home that is closed to visitors. This would be a great time to consider a litter pick up at the park or around their church. Maybe baking cookies for a neighbour or some yard work for someone you know. 

6. Ask them to get those creative juices flowing. Why not create a game that would be fun to play when ministry resumes. Something quirky for a comeback night maybe? 

 

7. Dedicate one suspended ministry night to prayer for this pandemic and those who are impacted by it. Use a world map to travel across the globe praying for healing, encouragement, financial losses etc. 

8. Ask kids to consider with their family what they could do to bless someone in their community who is directly impacted by this pandemic. Consider local physicians, insurance offices, medical clinics, travel agencies, local businesses that have temporarily shut their doors. What would it mean to them if someone dropped off a plant of some baked goods or even a thank you note. These people are being stretched right now and they would likely be encouraged by a small act of kindness.  


9. Write one journal entry for each day that school is out or that program is cancelled. The number of journal entries and types of questions will likely depend on how isolated your community is. As a leader you can help by suggesting some specific questions or journal ideas. How did being at home, change your relationship with family? How did you stay connected with your friends? What fun game ideas did they come up with? Did they feel disconnected or still connected with friends, leaders, family, God. When club resumes these will make interesting conversation points. 

10. Consider recording and sending out large group lessons each week. 

Many of you are facing cancelled events, cancelled mid-week programs, cancelled services on Sunday. But relationships are not cancelled, discipleship is not cancelled, conversations are not cancelled....

I believe that if you are intentional about this time you may be able to to impact some littles lives in some significant ways. We might all be better off for having to think creatively about ways to engage and disciple from a distance. Imagine families being encouraged by your leadership through challenges, encouraged to engage meaningfully with their own children in partnership with you and encouraged to creatively care for their own communities. There is opportunity in times like this, we just need to get over the inconvenience and be adaptable. 

Please stay tuned for more ideas and resources in the days to come. Follow/like Awana Canada @awanacanada facebook for updates, ideas and resources. consider sharing your own creative ideas and resources and let us know if there are specific ways we can support your ministry through this time. 

Comment

On Thursday, March 19, 2020, Judy Crowe said:

We have set up Virtual Handbook time. We asked leaders if they would like to participate first. We then assigned a number of clubber to each leader and sent the leader details about where each clubber was in their handbook. (Its really helpful to have a handbook in the hands of the leaders. Some leaders referred to their children's handbooks, to others, we delivered handbooks). Parents were emailed the phone number of their child's virtual handbook leader to call or facetime. We had good response our first week, even though it came with very short notice. One Sparkie's mom facetimed his leader. The Sparkie was in his uniform, and his little sister was in her Cubbie uniform. Mom asked to take a screen shot! Our Cubbies Director, Maury Michie, went above just this! He did a virtual story time with his wife, Cynthia, providing puppet support (behind the back of the sofa he was sitting on). He uploaded it to youtube and sent the link to all Cubbies, along with the activity page. Maury wanted some continuity for our Cubbies, as many are missing their favorite time of the week, and can't fully understand all the changes that are happening around them. One of our Large Group leaders is planning to do the same for our Sparkies and T&T next week!

 

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