By Kristin Devine Mueller
As I look toward the start of a new school year, I was struck by the fact that our previous school year ended so abruptly. In fact, it never really ended. We just stopped. We stopped school, church, Kids Out Loud, nursery, Special Needs ministry, Kids Club – it all just stopped, and we never closed out the season in any of those areas. As we move into the fall, I’m realizing how hard it’s going to be to start as well. All the routines we have become accustomed to won’t exist this fall, and we’re all starting something that seems very precarious and uncertain. So what does it look like to continue on in ministry, but mark the beginning of something new?
The answer, put simply, is that things are not going to look the same. And that is ok.
As we move into the fall, we will hold our plans for Children’s Ministry loosely. We’ll put some dates on the calendar for some of the things we know and love. We hope to offer nursery care and preschool classes again, beginning sometime after Labor Day. We know it’s difficult to engage a 2, 3, or 4 year old in worship, so our first stage will be to open classrooms for those ages. Our hope is that this will open the door for families who are comfortable to return to worship together with their children who are kindergarten and older. We hold this plan loosely because we will need to adapt our plans if the number of cases in our community continues to rise, but we move into the fall with the hope and prayer that we can offer age-based experiences for our little ones this this fall.
As we move further into the fall, we’ll look at opening up our classes for elementary-age students at some point in October. We honestly don’t know what will happen as our children begin to meet in school classrooms again. Due to all the uncertainties, we in Children’s Ministry are choosing to sit back, wait, and follow the lead of the schools in our community. We value the collective wisdom of our school leaders in this area. We feel that this is a time to wait and proceed as we see effectiveness in the path that others have taken.
All that being said, we know there is a desperate need for connection in our world, our community, and our church right now. So we will move into the fall, not with a Rally Day or Kick-Off, but with some new ways to build community and relationships among our church families.
We know there is value in seeing each other, and so our plan is to orchestrate a way to have fun with each other each month. We’ll host one social gathering each month, working our best to be outside, maintain social distance, and protect the health of those in our community. This is a stressful month, so this month we’ll offer another “Parking Lot Playdate” on Sunday evening, August 16, at 7pm. We hosted a playdate in July, and we were able to open up a large portion of our parking lot for kids to run, bike, roller skate, scooter, and simply play. You are invited to come and play, or to simply sit outside in lawn chairs and enjoy time outside in the presence of others from our church community.
We know that being at home, all together as a family, can be both a wonderful experience and an incredibly frustrating and isolating experience, sometimes in the same afternoon! This fall, we will be working to pair each family up with one or two others from our church, so that you can offer each other support and encouragement. Each relationship will look a little different, but our hope is to create smaller groups of community among our church family so that you know you are not alone in this season.
Things won’t look the same this fall. It will be hard to let go of what we know and expect to happen. My hope and prayer is that you will see God at work in the new, and that we as a church will connect in ways that are stronger and richer than what we ever expected to happen.