Help! Our children's worker's been furloughed!
Updated: Jun 19, 2020
Another hurdle for churches at this time is the reality that many paid children's and youth workers have been furloughed. This makes it even harder for churches to maintain connections with children, since volunteers are frequently under enormous pressures of time, juggling endless tasks and responsibilities. This video considers how churches could do this in a simpler and easier way.
A few thoughts to ease the pressure of producing online "Sunday School":
It doesn't need to be massively long! In our research, the videos ranged from three minutes to 45 minutes and I would definitely say that those which were 30 - 45 minutes were not necessarily any richer or any better at supporting a child's faith journey than those which were significantly shorter. So if you can just provide five or 10 minutes of meaningful content that you know is relevant and applicable to the children, that will be really worthwhile.
It's doesn't need to be a huge production! Keep things simple. In fact, online education theories repeatedly talk about how simple is better because too many things in the background can be very distracting and actually prevent the learning experience from being as effective. So just keep it simple. A few easy ways that you could add interest: filming segments in slightly different locations/backdrops around your house or outside, using different people to film different segments, including a few pictures or props.
Key priorities: include some Bible content (telling a Bible story, reading a passage or a few verses), a prayer, and a bit of stillness/reflection. If you are struggling for time, some things are probably less important to include: kids worship (you could signpost them to access some in youtube), craft, quizzes, activity sheets, games.
Try to guess what the kids may ask! It's easy for kids to misunderstand and misinterpret content if it is presented online, and we cannot assume that they have anyone available to answer their questions. So as well as presenting Bible content, it's great to include a couple of minutes explaining it and helping the child to apply it to their context.
Just be yourself. Speak from your heart. In the research there was a huge range of personality types presenting online sessions. And this is great! - we are all unique!!! So let the kids see your personality and how your faith is part of your life. One thing to remember, even though it's tricky....Whilst you are recording your session try to imagine that you are in the church hall with a group of squirming children, and you are battling to keep their attention!....try to be as vibrant and energetic as you usually would be. This is really hard when you are recording in an otherwise silent room, but it will help the kids to connect much more effectively when the watch.
Share the role!...Make sure that it's a whole church effort....rather than trying to do everything yourself, try to use the skills of others to video edit etc, deliver items to families, or to video different segments for you to blend together. You may find that people who are not keen on face to face kids work usually would be very happy to support in this way.
Get everyone praying for each other. In the research there were a couple of churches who had set up a system of rotating round families in turn, so that the church would pray for a different household each day. This is such a great model for kids to see, and be part of.
So, try not to feel overwhelmed....just do what you can in these difficult times! Whatever you are providing for the children in your church, it is better than nothing and will be of help to them and their faith journey. Be realistic - do what you can, and pray for God's spirit to work through it. Well done!